“Learn how to cook– Try new recipes. Learn from your mistakes, Be fearless, and above all, have fun.” ~ Julia Child.
While I am a bit of a novice in the kitchen (though I have made spanakopita, which I’m told is no easy feat!), I am slowly rolling up my sleeves and trying out new recipes in the kitchen, and the best part of all is that I’m excited about it. I used to stick to what I knew: Chicken, potatoes, salad, pasta, and tacos. But in the last few months I’ve made and loved black bean burgers, spicy ancho turkey chili, sticky garlic chicken with brown rice and broccoli, and a stir-fry with interesting veggies and whole wheat noodles. Nothing has been super difficult (let’s face it, when I come home from work it’s all about easy/quick/healthy), but everything has been very yummy (and it’s been fun to incorporate things into my diet that I like but sometimes forget about such as zucchini, faro, and quinoa). While I love letting you know what I’m up to– whether it’s making a green smoothie (Me? Drinking green smoothies?! Never say never) or chicken enchiladas– I think you’ll agree: Life is more fun with food. And food that is good for us? Well, even better!
Here are some of my staples:
Breakfast: “Never work before breakfast, if you have to work before breakfast, eat breakfast first.” ~ Josh Bilings.
I’m new to the whole “green smoothies” thing and still trying to figure out if I need both a blender and a juicer (nobody can give me a definitive answer on that yet!). This website really helped me as I began the whole “Green Smoothie Journey.” It’s called Simple Green Smoothies, and I found it by accident one day, just tooling around on the internet trying to learn more about how to get my 5-10 servings of fruits and veggies in. http://simplegreensmoothies.com/. Since I was new to how I could possibly “drink my kale,” I was drawn to the smoothie recipe on their website called Beginner’s Luck. I tried it, but I’m just not a mango person. So now what I do is use whatever is in my house! (These days it’s usually spinach, kale, carrot, cucumber, and apple for sweetness). But play around with it: This website gives some great tips on how to make a good smoothie.
Cinnamon Roll Smoothie on Food Mouth http://food-mouth.com/, for when you want something that’s not green first thing in the morning. Or anytime, really. I just love the combo of oats, almond butter, cinnamon, and cacao nibs, but since I don’t have any coconut water in the house, I just sprinkle a little bit of shredded unsweetened coconut on top, and voila! A tasty morning treat.
Clean Egg Muffins found on Oxygen Magazine’s website. http://www.oxygenmag.com/. I love eggs, but I’m too lazy to whip some up in the mornings before I rush out the door to work. Now I don’t have to! Make ahead of time and fill with your favorite veggies!
Peanut Butter Banana Muffins. So yummy. I’d still prefer a smoothie, granola, or Ezekiel bread with almond butter, but sometimes, let’s face it, you just need a muffin.
I saved the best for last. Coconut Macaroon Granola. Found on Kris Carr’s website (what? I look at Kris Carr’s website? I know, shocking. Wink-wink-you-know-how-much-I-love-her!). The recipe is Abra Pappa’s. So tasty with almond milk and a sliced up banana, and so easy to make! www.kriscarr.com
Lunch: “If I had a time machine and could travel to any time imaginable, I know in my heart I’d probably just set that thing to lunchtime.” ~ Anonymous.
Mashed chickpea salad. I adore tuna, but sometimes I need a change. Since I looove chickpeas (hummus! More hummus please!), I decided to give this a whirl. The recipe made a tremendous amount for just me (I couldn’t convince SHL to eat much of it) but it was definitely one to add to the repertoire. I found it on the Simple Veganista website. http://thesimpleveganista.blogspot.com/.
I also love salad, but I’m always looking for a new way to spice it up other than just the “usual.” Check out this BLT Chopped Salad with Corn, Feta, and Avocado from How Sweet It Is (you can always omit the bacon if you want to). http://www.howsweeteats.com/ (How sweet it is to be loved by you, by you).
Oh! And if you’re just going to eat a regular old garden salad with good old stand-bys like tomatoes, carrots, peppers, and cucumbers, you can also throw some beans on there, not to mention seeds (I like the combo right now of pumpkin, flax, chia, and hemp. You can buy a little box of them all together at the grocery store).
Avocado and Heirloom Tomato Toast with Balsamic Drizzle. I really enjoy the website Blissful Basil. www.blissfulbasil.com and whether it’s summer or not, I can always be tempted with bread, avocados, and tomatoes.
Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers from So, How’s it Taste? (So, how does it taste? Also on my list of things to try. Let me know if you make it!). http://www.sohowsittaste.com/
Dinner: “After a good dinner, one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relatives.” ~ Oscar Wilde
30 Minute Spicy Ancho Turkey Chili on Pinch of Yum http://pinchofyum.com/. So comforting now that it’s getting cold out, and the faro is a nice change-up in the chili.
Pasta stir-fry. Love being able to tweak this to whatever kind of veggies I’m in the mood for, and the whole wheat noodles add a little bit of heartiness to this dish, found on the Food Network (you can’t go wrong with the FN!). www.foodnetwork.com
Vegetarian taco salad. This was one of the first things I started making when I was diagnosed. I love Mexican food, but was trying to find a healthier way to eat it. You can add chicken (my personal choice is organic) but the beans, rice, and vegetables can be really satisfying all on its own. I found it on www.eatingwell.com.
Sticky garlic chicken and broccoli. I’ve been trying to eat a little bit less animal protein lately, but in the mood for chicken, this seemed too delicious to pass up (and it was!). I used a little bit less soy sauce and omitted the “sambal oelek” because a) I didn’t know what it was, and b) I didn’t want to buy it just to use for one recipe. I added more broccoli to my plate than chicken, but the combo was pretty delicious! www.pinchofyum.com
Healthy Mexican Sweet Potato Skins. Basically, if it’s Mexican, I have to try it. And sweet potatoes (packed with calcium, potassium, and Vitamins A and C) are so good for us! Guess where I found this recipe? Come on, guess! I bet you’ll never get it! www.pinchofyum.com. I left out the light cream cheese and used some Greek yogurt instead!
Black bean burgers! Am I obsessed more with the Pioneer Woman, or with her black bean burgers? Hmmm, it’s a toss-up. But given my infatuation with beans these days (yes, I heard it), these do not disappoint. Eat them with a bun or by themselves, with lettuce and tomato, cheese or no cheese, ketchup, mustard, mayo, pickles, whatever tickles your fancy! http://thepioneerwoman.com/.
I think that some sweet potato fries would go lovely with these black bean burgers, don’t you? Slice up some sweet potatoes thinly and put them on a baking sheet. Toss some olive oil with whatever spices you like: chili powder, cayenne, paprika, salt and pepper. Sprinkle the mix over the potatoes and cook at 425 for about 20 minutes! Yum!
Zucchini noodles with tomatoes and corn, by the lovely www.kitchn.com. I have yet to make this, but I just got a spiralizer, so that I can try zucchini instead of pasta!
One Pot Cheesy Turkey Taco Chili Mac. Can I just say “Yum??!” That about sums it up. There’s nothing like combining some of your favorites all with the beauty of a one-pot clean-up at the end of dinner. I love the combo of different kinds of beans with lean ground turkey and whole wheat pasta. To cheese or not to cheese? Totally up to you, but the diced cilantro and scallions on top really make the meal. Find it on http://www.skinnytaste.com/2014/12/one-pot-cheesy-turkey-taco-chili-mac.html. I’m sure that there are other great meals also to be found on their website, www.skinnytaste.com.
Looking for an interesting way to use that quinoa in your pantry, perhaps even with a picky family member? I found this side dish that’s satisfying and delish. It brings the interesting texture of quinoa together with family favorites like mozzarella and tomato! I found it on Pop Sugar’s website (www.popsugar), and the recipe can be found here: http://www.popsugar.com/food/Caprese-Quinoa-Bake-Recipe-35253600.
Snacks: “If I’m not supposed to eat late-night snacks, then explain why the fridge has a light…” ~ Anonymous.
Pour a tablespoon or so of olive oil over the edamame, sprinkle a little bit of salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese over it, and bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.
Favorite homemade hummus and spiced pita chips. You could just buy a bag of Stacy’s and a tub of Sabra, or… You could make this! www.sallysbakingaddiction.com.
Carrot + Apple Slaw. Who knew that sunflower seeds and cilantro could go so well together? www.blissfulbasil.com.
Guacamole. Alton Brown. Need I say more? www.foodtv.com
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/guacamole-recipe.html. (You can pair it with the aforementioned spicy pita chips that you’ve just made!).
No-bake energy bites. Picture this: Oatmeal, peanut butter, coconut, honey, chocolate chips, vanilla extract and chia seeds, all in a little bite of pure goodness. I use dairy-free chocolate chips, but you can play around with this recipe and customize it into anything that you’d like! Thank you Gimme Some Oven (www.gimmesomeoven.com) for the recipe, found here! http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/no-bake-energy-bites/.
Desserts: “All I want is peace, love, understanding, and a chocolate bar bigger than my head.” ~ Anonymous.
Banana chocolate chip breakfast cookies. http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/. Why breakfast, I don’t know. I could eat these any old time! (With no butter, which is awesome, I recommend eating them with a glass of almond milk or a cup of coffee). I use dark chocolate chips!
Skinny Almond Joy Milkshakes. I have been wanting to try this for for-ever! On my list. If you try it first, please let me know how it is. But please promise me that you’ll put it in a cute little mason jar with a straw. It just doesn’t seem right any other way.
Raw Brownies. My Mom says that while they’re good, they don’t exactly taste like brownies, and I don’t disagree (in fact, I just made a pan of “real” brownies for Thanksgiving, and then a pan of raw brownies, and yeah, the “real” brownies with sugar, butter, flour, and chocolate chips are heaven. But the raw brownies are still a great sweet treat when you just don’t want those other heavier ingredients). I stumbled upon this website called Deliciously Ella http://deliciouslyella.com/ in an episode of my Self magazine. I just love her accent! (You can follow her on Instragram too!).
Here is a video where you can watch her make a batch of these “raw brownies.” http://deliciouslyella.com/recipe/how-to-make-raw-brownies/. Who knew that a treat could be so good with just 4 ingredients? Cacao powder (not be confused with cocoa powder, there is a difference), agave or maple syrup, dates– which make it ooey gooey, and pecans (though you can pretty much use whatever kind of nut you have in the house, but pecans do have a nice caramel flavor for a brownie. I only had walnuts this last time and they still turned out great).
I’ve also heard that Sweet Potato Brownies are good from multiple sources now, but I’m still too on-the-fence to try them! (check out Ella’s recipe for sweet potato brownies, also on her website as well).
*New Addition to the blog!* Ella’s at it again with this amazingly delicious Almond butter fudge! I’ve made this a bunch of times now, and it last saved my sweet tooth while everybody else was eating key lime pie (not that there’s anything wrong with that! I had just gotten back from Hawaii where I had decadent chocolate anniversary cake… Moist, gooey, chocolate…But I digress…). I felt just as satisfied having some of this “fudge.” I recommend keeping it at the least in the fridge, if not the freezer! It will get very mushy otherwise. Kris Carr posted her recipe on her own blog, see here: http://kriscarr.com/recipe/almond-butter-fudge/.
“Dunk-Dunk” After-Dinner Sweet Treats:
Another one from Pinch of Yum (www.pinchofyum.com) my friends. Check out my blog post “What (Sweet) Treats Lie Ahead” to find out more about the cranberry-dark-chocolate biscotti and how they fell apart on me but were still a hit! #almondmilktotherescue. http://pinchofyum.com/cranberry-dark-chocolate-biscotti.
Also gluten-free brownies from a website called Top With Cinnamon, found here: www.topwithcinnamon.com. The recipe for the brownies can be found here: http://www.topwithcinnamon.com/2014/04/flourless-browned-butter-brownies-gluten-free-grain-free.html.
Juices and Smoothies:
I stumbled across this recipe on where else but Pinterest. It was a snowy (as in, office is closed snowy) Monday night, and you’d think all I would want would be some hot chocolate with those cute little marshmallows on top. But once I saw this frozen strawberry concoction, I just couldn’t get it out of my head until I tried it! So yummy! I will be checking out www.hummusapien.com for more delicious recipes, but in the meantime, here is their strawberry chocolate chia smoothie! http://www.hummusapien.com/strawberry-chocolate-chia-smoothie/.