Recipe: Protein Banana Bread Muffins

Morning! I hope you’re having a wonderful day 🙂 The husband and I are lucky enough to have the day off. Just a friendly reminder to remember WHY we get this lovely three day weekend.

Things have been fantastic on the Tone It Up nutrition plan, and one of my favorite parts is that I have found new inspiration to try new recipes. I mean, how long has it been since I did a recipe post?! Sad.

I had three bananas that were waaaaay past their prime. Well for me that’s like a day after being perfectly ripe, I cannot stand overripe bananas! But I hate to see them go to waste, so I started looking up ideas. One of the first things that game to mind was banana bread. I’m a huge fan of baking, but I find it hard to make easy gluten free substitutions. This was one of my first recipes that came out pretty great on the first time.

Protein Banana Bread Muffins

(Adapted from this recipe)

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Three large ripe bananas
Three scoops chocolate protein powder (or vanilla, whichever you like, I’ve heard that non-whey protein can be better for baking but use what you prefer)
1 1/3 cup flour of choice. I used quinoa but use while wheat if you’d rather. You can also blend to make your own custom mix.
1/4 – 1/2 cup sweetener. I used a combo of Xagave and stevia powder. This will affect the end calorie count, if that’s relevant to you.
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 egg whites
1/4 cup vanilla unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350*

Mix all the dry ingredients together, then add and mix all the wet ingredients.

Line a cupcake tin and spray with nonstick spray.

Fill the liners with the batter. These don’t rise much so you can fill them relatively high.

Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Try to let them cool before you totally devour them 🙂

Alternate cooking method: poor batter into a greased bread pan and bake for about 40 minutes.

These are yumm! The quinoa flour isn’t an exact replacement for wheat so I’m not making promises but these are great! Super filling and very high in protein.

Current Food Loves

Hi there! I hope your week is going swimmingly. I feel like I haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep in at least a week, and it’s really starting to take it’s toll. I am stressed about some things coming up with work, and it’s just not working for me.

I think it’s fairly obvious that I get very into certain foods, eat them up, then don’t look at them for months at a time. It’s just how I roll. Here are some foods I am currently loving and show up a few times a week on my plate.

Chinese Walnut Chicken:

Love this recipe! I’ve adapted it from an old copy of the Woman’s Day Encyclopedia of Cookery from 1966 that my mom gave me (it was my grandma’s before that). It’s a recipe that we had ALL the time growing up, so it’s a comfort food for me. I tweaked the recipe, and I just love it! I’m actually having left overs for a snack today 🙂

Eggless Salad Wraps:

The tofu eggless salad made an appearance last summer as well, and it’s BACK! I like to mash up tofu with spicy mustard and wrap in a whole wheat tortilla with whatever veggies are around, and then add LOTS of pickles. It’s just not the same without the pickles! Then I add some more spicy mustard, just in case. (To go tip: wrap the wrap in foil and peel it away to make an easy and less messy on the go lunch! I think my boss appreciates it when I am not running around with food all down my shirt… oh wait… that still happens…)

Dinner Salads:

One of the main reasons we tend to eat out is that I usually don’t want to make dinner. Enter the salad. I am trying to keep the fridge stocked with yummy salad items I can throw together to make a lean and green dinner. This one had grilled chicken, beans, tomatoes and cucumber. Yum!

Chobani Yogurt

More specifically, Chobani Champions, yeah, the kids one. LOVE IT. They are 100 calories, 8 grams of protein and cheaper than the regular Chobani. Also, I used to not be able to eat any kind of yogurt without a horrible tummy ache, but for some reason, no problemos here! Win!

Quinoa Tortilla:

Holy amazing! I got this recipe from Gina’s wonderful blog The Fitnessista. (One of my all-time fave blogs! She is so inspirational and so down-to-earth, and her daughter is as cute as a button!) Yesterday I had one topped with black beans, avocado, and salsa. AMAZING.

What are some things you’re loving to eat lately?

Salad Weather

Happy Friday!! This week has been seriously NUTS for me. Seriously. I am really looking forward to enjoying an adult beverage later.

I had this whole post ready about loving this warm weather, then it goes ans SNOWS. Hi, it’s April 6th people. Not OK. So if it’s not sunny spring weather where you are, take a look at this pic and pretend it is before we get on with the rest of the post 🙂

I grew up in California near Santa Barbara (that pic was taken out one of my parent’s windows) then slowly made my way south to Orange County when I went to college (in Long Beach) and then got my first job. There are essentially three types of weather: pleasant, rainy, and hot. And even at that they tend not to be extreme (except for the hot, once it was something like 108, I wanted to cry but my tears would have just evaporated anyways). So moving to Utah, a place that truly has all four seasons, has been really exciting (don’t get me wrong CA is great, but this is just so new to me).

One thing I noticed in my first year here is how my tastes change throughout the year. Once the temps start to rise, I suddenly abandon my love affair with soups and other comfort foods and start craving yummy fruits and veggies. Especially salads.

In the past week I think I’ve had more salads than I have this whole year. It’s awesome. But whether you are at a restaurant, the salad bar, or making one at home, salads can become fairly high in calories fairly quickly. Here are things I keep in mind to make my salads amazing and healthy.

  • The greens: I am a huge hearts of romaine lover, not a real mixed greens gal, but I always try to throw some other greens in with my romaine to vary the nutrient content.
  • The veggies: The more colorful the better! Different colors mean different nutrients so the more the merrier.
  • Add quality protein: This is really only necessary if you are planning the salad as a meal, not a side. I usually add in a lean protein like hard-boiled egg whites,quinoa, tuna, beans, or grilled chicken, steak, or fish. I ALWAYS grill extra meat when I can to have some on hand for quick salad assembly.
  • Choose one “rich” item: I wasn’t really sure how to best describe this, but this is what I do. If I am going to put in cheese, I don’t use a creamy dressing (I usually never have them really) or add in pine nuts or something like that. If I want a creamy dressing, then no cheese or nuts. If I throw in avocado… well I think you get the picture. Get the idea? Sometimes I will use cheese and avocado, but only if I am using the cheese as my source of protein.
  • Use a smart salad dressing: Salad dressing seems to be the place where most people go wrong. Don’t worry, for years I wouldn’t touch a veggie unless I couldn’t see that it was a veggie due to the amount of ranch dressing. Like I said, if you do use a creamy dressing, don’t add cheese, avocado, or whatnot, and be sure to measure it! I think everyone tends to over do it when they just pour it on top. I love the Bolthouse Farms creamy dressings because they are made with yogurt and contain less than 50 calories per tablespoon. Otherwise use vinegar-based dressings or just drizzle on a little balsamic (this is super yummy if you have cheese on the salad, it kind of makes its own dressing), its delsh. My biggest tip for enjoying your salad with less dressing is to make sure that you toss it super well. This helps it coat all the veggies and you won’t even realize you’ve used less.  

Writing all this made me super hungry for a salad, even id it is still snowing out…

What’s your favorite way to enjoy a salad?

Recipe: Chicken Curry

Evening friends! How are all of you doing this evening? I am a sleepy panda! I don’t know what my dealo is, but I am just wiped!

Most days when I am super tired I lean towards takeout, which isn’t the healthiest of habits to get into. Tonight I was brainstorming ideas for dinner, but only things that we had in the house. Well, we had veggies, chicken, and curry paste. DONE. Which turned out perfectly because of this:

I love how Janetha is always posting about what national food day is, and a part of me is always bummed that I don’t usually celebrate. NOT TODAY! Woooooohoooooooo!

Chicken Curry:
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 more cups veggies of your choice: bell peppers, cauliflower, potato, peas, etc.
1 large spoonful curry paste (or you can use pre-made curry sauce like from Trader Joe’s)
2 cups almond milk
2 cooked chicken breasts, chopped

Dice all the veggies and saute. Add the chicken, almond milk, and curry paste. Cover and heat through. You can serve with rice if you’d like.

I mean, easy right? I LOVE curry, and since moving to Utah, I’ve been separated from my beloved Trader Joe’s curry sauce, I haven’t made it that much. No longer!!

What is your favorite take out? Mine is between thai, cafe rio, or sushi.

Making Resolutions

Happy Friday!! I decided somewhat last minute to take today off, for a few reasons. One, I was feeling a little fried, and I saw on my pay stub that I have nearly 80 hours of PTO, and I had finished all my work for the week. Win. I slept in, now I am sipping coffee and blogging, and it’s amazing.

Pretty much everywhere you look in blogland, you see 2012 recaps, or super detailed resolutions for the bloggers, which really got me thinking about how I am fairly on the fence about the whole resolutions thing, and here is why: If you really want to make a change, why wait until a certain date on the calendar says to?

But, on the other hand, the end of the year makes a great excuse to look at where you were a year ago, where you are now, and use the turning of the calendar to refocus on getting what you want out of life.

This year, I am taking the time to set a few goals for the year, but at the same time, I am not doing anything drastic, just because it’s 2012. Maybe that’s why a lot of resolutions are failed or forgotten, some of it is forced by the calendar, and people aren’t 100% behind themselves. (Don’t get me wrong though, I think that a lot of people also have great resolutions and excel at them, it’s different for everyone.)

So this year I’ve decided to set some goals I would like to achieve. Nothing drastic or dramatic, but things I really want to accomplish.

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1. Run a half marathon. This will be a fast one to nock out, since it’s 4 weeks away. After my first, I will see if maybe I want to run another one, the Salt Lake City half sounds like fun!

2. Reach my goal weight of 140 lbs by my 25th birthday (Aug. 31).

3. Vamp up the blog. The last few months have been great, and now that I feel like I’ve found my groove, I just want to keep going.

4. Get back into dance.

5. Set up, and stick to, a budget with the husband so we can move towards a new car and a house 🙂

6. Apply to get my masters in strategic communications from the University of Utah (once I’ve been in Utah for a year so I can get the resident’s rate).

So here is the kicker, it’s one thing to set goals, but you need to create a plan for success. 

1. I feel like I am already half way through the half marathon goal, so that one is already set. IF I decide to do the second one, I am going to look into a longer training plan, that includes more cross training. If I decide not too, I am still going to continue running. Let’s face it, I am hooked.

2. So this is a three parter, but ultimately it boils down to consistency. One, to broaden my fitness horizons with new workouts, new challenges, and continually pushing myself physically. Two, eat a balanced, healthy diet with the goal of weight loss in mind. No crash diets or detoxes or quick fixes, they don’t work. Three, get into the game mentally. I have a tendency to ebb ad flow when it comes to my weight loss focus, and that’s not going to help any.

3. I have some exciting plans for this, but I think I’d rather keep it as a surprise for you.

4. I miss it SO MUCH! I found a few studios I want to try in the area. Time to bust out my leotards and ballet shoes. This is something I’ve been putting off because I feel “too big” to go back to dance. But really, at 400+ calories an hour, what better way to get toned?

5. It’s just something good to do every year to keep things on track.

6. This is something I’ve been toying with for a while, and I think it’s a great time to do it.

I am sure that other things will come up, but I think that this is a great place to start 🙂

How do you approach the new year? 

Vegetarian Lasagna Two Ways

Good morning! I hope you are having a lovely day. I love when I have Mondays off, because the whole week I think it’s a day earlier than it is, and then BAM, it’s Thursday. Haha. It’s the little things, clearly.

Here is that lasagna recipe I promised you! I made it vegetarian because my sister-in-law is a vegetarian, and it’s cheaper to cook that way anyways. 🙂 I used the following measurements to make two lasagnas, one with gluten free noodles in an 9×13 inch pan, and another with butternut squash “noodles” in a smaller pan (it was either 8×8 or something else, all I know is that it came in the Pyrex set and it fit’s inside the other one, haha).

But for regular people, I think you should use the recipe below to make ONE lasagna, either with noodles OR squash. It will yield a thicker lasagna with more layers, always a winner.

Vegetarian Lasagna (serves 8-10)
1 box no-boil noodles of choice (whole wheat or gluten free) OR 1 butternut squash, peeled and thinly sliced into “noodles”
1 jar marinara sauce of choice
1 big container of part skim ricotta (21 oz. I believe?)
1 package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 egg
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 lb. mushrooms, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. Italian seasonings of choice
3/4 cup shredded mosarella
1/4 cup shredded parmesean cheese

First you need to preheat the oven to 375* and prep the various components for the layers. Mix the ricotta, spinach, and eggs into a large bowl, set aside.

Chop the onion and mushrooms and add to a pan to saute in olive oil. While those are cooking, grate the carrots. Once the mushrooms and onions are cooked and starting to brown, add the carrots and all the seasonings. Cook all of that together until everything is wilty and the carrots are starting to brown. If you do this at a low heat, it should be fine, but if you are impatient like me and do it at a higher heat, add a little water to the pan if needed.

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Here comes the fun part, layering!! Here is the order to follow (you should get about 4 layers in, so plan accordingly):
sauce
noodles or squash
ricotta mixture
mushroom mixture
repeat!

You want sauce on either side of the noodle layer. Finish the last layer, top with remaining sauce, and top with the shredded cheese! So the last layer will go sauce, noodle, sauce, cheese. But don’t sweat the layering, I can pinky promise you that no one will go OMG YOU SKIPPED A RICOTTA LAYER. It just won’t happen.

Bake at 375* for about 45 minutes covered with foil for the first 30 minutes so that the cheese doesn’t burn. Behold the cheesey goodness.

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I made these a few days ahead of time, stored them in the freezer, and then popped into the oven. It was amazing! If you are using no-boil gluten free noodles, letting it sit for AT LEAST a day before baking is the ONLY way to get the noodle texture right. Otherwise they seem too raw.

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Another yummy pic for good measure.

Healthy Holidays Part 4 + Recipe: Mac(less) & Cheese

Hi there!! Happy Sunday to you! I’m all cozied up on the couch, my husband is watching football, and I am blogging. Fun times. We also got a sugar cookie scented candle, which just makes everything cozier, in my opinion.

This weekend I am making a table centerpiece involving a ridiculous amount of gold glitter. I can’t wait. We (read: me, my husband could care less) decided to go with a gold and cream color scheme this year with our decorations. I can’t WAIT to get our tree next weekend. Here is a sneak (and unfinished) peak of an element of the center piece:

One aspect of having a healthy holidays that I think is sometimes overlooked is stress. I think for a lot of us for so many reasons (money, family, travel, work, and just being busy) really leads to more stress, which no matter what your goals are is not healthy.

So remember to do what you need to do to reduce your stress. Shop online to avoid the crowds (this has been huge for me), space out your purchases so that they don’t overwhelm your bank account (this is why we bought all our decorations before we bought a tree, it helps), and most importantly of all, remember what the holidays are all about.

It’s about spending time with the people close to you, not stressing about having six people at your house for dinner, or getting a gift for the hostess of that party you are going to, or how much money you spent on your family’s gifts.

Take some time this week to write out what is stressing you out and what you can do to change it. Or, if there’s nothing you can do to avoid it, take some time to deal with your stress better. Hit the gym and work out that stress (running really helps me) or maybe try out a new fitness class. Schedule some alone time that is not holiday related at all like reading or cleaning (unless that makes you stress more) and don’t feel bad about it one bit!

Another huge one that I realized over Thanksgiving, is letting go and remembering to ask for help. Something I am not good at, especially in the kitchen. I decided to put my husband in charge of the yams. It worked out just fine, and was a lot less for me to worry about.

One last tip, be aware of unhealthy ways that you react to stress and find a new way to relieve it. For example, my familial stress leads RIGHT to me grabbing something unhealthy and pigging out. Not worth it! I’ve started putting on some music and going for a walk, and it really helps 🙂

And, if you really want some creamy yummy comfort food that won’t leave you feeling like you completely ruined your goals, try this Mac(less) & Cheese recipe. It’s pretty amazing!

Mac(less) & Cheese (makes 4 servings) 

1 spaghetti squash, cooked and cooled slightly (see how I cook them here)
1/3 cup goat cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, divided
salt and pepper to taste
paprika for garnish

Preheat oven to 375Âş. Once cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh of the squash into a bowl. Add goat cheese, 1/4 cup of the parmesan cheese, and the salt and pepper. Mix well.

Transfer to a baking dish. Top with remaining cheese and bake until cheese on top is melty, about 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven, sprinkle with paprika and pepper and enjoy! We had it with a turkey burger, and it was amazing.

Even my husband, who is not a squash fan loved this. He mentioned something about the amount of cheese in it making it as good as it is, but it really wasn’t that much cheese, so I figured out the nutritional info, just because I was curious.

Not too shabby! I think the fat factor was from the goat cheese. If you feel like that’s too much use half goat cheese, half nonfat plain Greek yogurt.

Are you stressed about the upcoming holidays? If so what about? 

And a somewhat random question: Do you like having nutritional info included in recipes you find online? I’m not sure if I want to include it all the time, but I know it can be helpful.