Pumpkin Vanilla Chai Protien Oats + #Giveaway for Hot Cereal / Rice Cooker

This post and giveaway sponsored by Hamilton Beach, however all opinions, comments, content and enthusiasm are my own.

One morning this summer I made a family favorite recipe for Pumpkin Protein Muffins. When the kids woke up to the amazingly “autumn” smell of cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin baking, they were disoriented. . .. but excited, nonetheless.! “Is it already Thanksgiving, mom? Did we sleep through the first day of school and Halloween and wake up in the middle of the fall holidays?” 

By the way, I’m giving away a really awesome Rice & Hot Cereal Cooker from Hamilton Beach this week – this counter top appliance will Change. Your. Life.  Hop to the bottom of the post to enter.

Pumpkin Vanilla Chai Protein Oats in Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker

That got me to thinking. Why DO we primarily limit cooking and baking with pumpkin to the months of September through December?  While fresh pumpkins may be seasonal, the canned puree is equally as nutritious and a heck of a lot more convenient. Pumpkin ( a fab source of fiber, vitamins Vitamin A, and healthy complex carbs) is a veggie I’d like to see more of in my life for the entire year!  And, so here I am in September, as cliché as it may be, sharing a pumpkin recipe – but, good gourd, this one is workable into anyone’s busy schedule, 365.

Pumpkin Vanilla Chai Protein Protein Oats -- 288 calories, 26g protein, fiber and healthy carbs to fuel your day or workout. Plus, this recipe is made in a rice cooker in just 5 to 10 minutes.

Pumpkin Vanilla Chai Protein Oatmeal – why, hello creamy pie-and-coffee-shop inspired morning concoction that is actually as nourishing as delish. I’ve used a blend of old-fashioned oats mixed with my favorite seeds (hemp, chia, flax, pumpkin – you can tweak as you like) along with pumpkin puree, creamy almond milk, and vanilla protein powder to bring each serving into the approximate 25g protein range which is what I strive for at my morning meal

Now Foods Products used in Pumpkin Protein Oats from thefitfork.com

***Please note, the recipe nutrition will vary based on the protein powder you use (I used Vanilla Whey Isolate from Now Foods) and mix ins (I used the Triple Omega Seed Blend from Now Foods) . With just 288 calories per hearty serving, I’ve kept this sugar-free recipes under 300 calories buy using my preferred cup-for-cup measure sugarless sweetener (Sugarless Sugar Baking Blend from Now Foods).

In a rush? This recipe takes less than 15 minutes to prepare. If you’re in a super morning rush, set everything out in the rice cooker (except the perishables) the night before and finish off in the morning. Oh, and did I mention that there is caffeine built right into this recipe thanks to steeping chai into the liquid used to make oatmeal. It’s genius.  Of course, please use caffeine-free tea if you are sensitive.

hamilton-beach-rice-cooker-2Did you notice how I alluded to a Rice Cooker? The convenience factor here is that I’ve made this pumpkin oatmeal recipe in a Rice Cooker!  You heard me right – rice cookers aren’t just for cooking rice anymore, you can make some amazing recipes in a rice cooker like cheesy grits, steamed salmon with rice and veggies, chocolate cakes and more!  I’ve made my recipe in the 4-20 Cup Rice and Hot Cereal Maker from Hamilton Beach, it’s the best small kitchen appliance evahhhhh!  I’m giving one away, jump to bottom of post to enter!

hamilton-beach-rice

I resisted getting a rice cooker for a really long time, thinking it would just hog up space in my cabinets and rarely get used – not the case! It’s more of a “multi” cooker than a “rice” cooker and I it at least once a week to prepare a meal for the family – even my teens know how to make simple recipes for dinner in it. Plus, with a 20-cup capacity, it’s perfect for meal planning – I often double or triple my batches of rice, quinoa, oats or whatever I have going in in the cooker and then freeze portions for later in the month.  It’s a busy mom’s best friend!

Have you cooked anything unusual in a rice cooker? What is your favorite fall flavor? Should pumpkin be a year-round thing? Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennifer

Enter Giveaway Here:

 

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Pumpkin Vanilla Chai Protein Oatmeal (Rice Cooker)
Print Recipe
Enjoy the delicious flavor of pumpkin in a warm and nourishing bowl of oatmeal that has been pumped up with protein powder and seeds. Whips up in 10 minutes in rice cooker!
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 2 minutes
Cook Time
13 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 2 minutes
Cook Time
13 minutes
Pumpkin Vanilla Chai Protein Oatmeal (Rice Cooker)
Print Recipe
Enjoy the delicious flavor of pumpkin in a warm and nourishing bowl of oatmeal that has been pumped up with protein powder and seeds. Whips up in 10 minutes in rice cooker!
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 2 minutes
Cook Time
13 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 2 minutes
Cook Time
13 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Add almond milk, water and tea bags to large glass measuring cup and microwave until hot, approximately 3 minutes. Remove from microwave and let steep another 3 minutes. Discard tea bags and set liquid aside.
  2. In bowl of rice cooker, add oats, nutrition boosters (seeds, etc), protein powder, sugar substitute, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix together until combined.
  3. Add pumpkin to bowl and pour in milk/tea mixture. Mix together until everything combined.
  4. Put lid down on rice cooker. Set timer for “heat/simmer” for 5 to 10 minutes until thickened to desired consistency. I prefer mine thicker!
  5. Serve warm in bowls with Greek yogurt and pecans or other garnishes. May store leftovers in refrigerator for days or in freezer for 6 months.
  6. To make in microwave, place all ingredients in 2 quart lidded casserole and microwave on high for 4 to 6 minutes, stirring halfway.
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Lower-Fat Blue Cheese & Fire-Roasted Tomato Queso – Good Game Day Grub!

Lower-Fat Blue Cheese Queso makes a great football game day snack served with baked chips, pretzels or veggies.Football parties, tailgating and fall season gathers require dip to draw people together. Just think of all the great gossip, high-fiving and friendly smack talk that has gone down in, what I like to call, the “Chip and Dip Zone.”

But, maybe you hesitate to enter the ZONE for fear of the cheesy dip – is it made of mystery processed “cheese,” loaded with fat upon fat, or just boringly bland?  I’ll admit, these thoughts cross my mind, especially flashbacks of tepid fake orange stadium cheese on stale round tortilla chips.  That’s why I came up with my Lower-Fat Blue Cheese & Fire-Roasted Tomato Queso – it’s bold and it’s better for you made with REAL ingredients.

Lower-Fat Blue Cheese & Fire Roasted Tomate Queso makes a great football game day snack served with baked chips, pretzels or veggies.

I think you’ll definitely widen your mind (and mouth) in appreciation for my Blue Cheese & Fire-roasted Tomato Queso. This unique cheese dip marrieds the audacious attitude blue-cheese with the smoky laid-back goodness of tomatoes roasted over flames. I’ve used my fav brand of blue cheese (Simply Artisan Reserve Blue Cheese Crumbles) and canned fire-roasted tomatoes which.  Of course, canned tomatoes are convenient and taste great in recipes, but did you know that they contain more lycopene (a free-radical destroying antioxidant) than those fresh off the vine? It’s true!

litehouse-blue-cheese-queso-snack-tray-beer-day

While this cheese dip recipe requires a whisk, it’s quite easy prepare, coming together in just 15 minutes or less– and you can keep it warmed for a party but pouring into a small slow cooker. It was first whipped up to celebrated International Beer Day with Litehouse Foods.  Using low-fat dairy products help keep this snack sensible in moderation and, if you are on a gluten-free diet, it is easy to swap out flour used in the roux with a gluten-free flour blend (I use Living Now Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour, it’s inexpensive and provides the right texture for my recipe)

Serve Lower-Fat Blue Cheese & Fire-Roasted Tomato Queso with veggie sticks, artisan chips, or chunks of crusty bread. I’ve even reheated the leftovers and poured over cooked zoodles and topped with shrimp for an impromptu “pasta” dinner.

If you are hosting a huge football party, you might want to consider adding my Healthy Snack Stadium to your spread of snacks, appetizers and game-day grub.

Healthy Snack Stadium - TheFitFork.com

[Tweet Not yer stadium cheese dip! Lower-Fat Blue Cheese & Fire-Roasted Tomato Queso #fitfluential #livinglitehouse”]

What football team(s) are you rooting for this season? Are you typically an at-home or stadium spectator? Please share in comments, xoxo Jennifer

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Lower-Fat Blue Cheese Queso makes a great football game day snack served with baked chips, pretzels or veggies.
Blue Cheese & Fire-roasted Tomato Queso
Print Recipe
Up your game day grub with this lightened up queso featuring the bold flavors of blue cheese and flame-kissed tomatoes. It's even a winner at dinner served over zoodles or pasta!
Servings
10 servings
Cook Time
15 Minutes
Servings
10 servings
Cook Time
15 Minutes
Lower-Fat Blue Cheese Queso makes a great football game day snack served with baked chips, pretzels or veggies.
Blue Cheese & Fire-roasted Tomato Queso
Print Recipe
Up your game day grub with this lightened up queso featuring the bold flavors of blue cheese and flame-kissed tomatoes. It's even a winner at dinner served over zoodles or pasta!
Servings
10 servings
Cook Time
15 Minutes
Servings
10 servings
Cook Time
15 Minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, warm milk (without boiling), stirring occasionally.
  2. At the same time, heat butter in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add flour to melted butter and whisk continuously, cooking until it is bubbling and has turned lightly golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Stream in heated milk, whisking continuously, and continue to cook over medium heat until mixture bubbles and thickens slightly. Add cheeses and whisk well until melted smooth and incorporated. Add Italian Herb Blend, dried red pepper flakes, green onions and drained tomatoes, stirring until combined.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour into serving bowl and garnish as desired.
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Almost Time for “If Girls Ran The World” Virtual Run – Join Team TheFitFork!

Did you see my post in late August about my partnership as a Role Model  in the upcoming If Girls Ran the World (IGRTW) virtual running event? I case not, I wanted to share more info and provide a gentle nudge to join me in this important female-focused cause that runs the entire month of October 2016.

If Girls Ran the Word virtual running event October 1 - 31, 2016.

It’s going to be starting in just a few weeks, don’t miss out! Here are some questions you may have:

if girls ran the world jenniferl

What is IGRTW? IGRTW is a non-profit that supports girls and women around the world by providing tools, skills and opportunities they need to rightfully pursue a safe, happy, healthy and abundant life. The virtual running event is happening the entire month of October with a special day dedicated on October 11th. Participants around the country join virtual teams and will be each logging miles, supporting each other and the cause, and raising funds for charities that support women and girls.

What charity does IGRTW benefit? Well, as a Role Model and team captain, I was allowed to choose the charity that was the closest to my heart. I chose the The Hunger Project, a strategic non-profit dedicated to the sustainable end of world hunger. Their vision is a world where every woman, man and child leads a healthy, fulfilling life of self-reliance and dignity and they rely on native women as the major change agents within communities receiving aid.

Is The Hunger Project the only charity? No, there are many others – Girls in Tech, Susan G. Komen and Every Mother Counts are examples of others. Check out the others here.

What’s in it for participants? First, you get to help empower women at the grassroots level and have the opportunity to donate or raise funds yourself to maximize the impact (but this is optional). Second, you will be motivated to exercise every day from Oct 1 to Oct 31 to help keep the movement going. Third, there is registration swag, the opportunity to win cool fitness-related prizes and more.

Do I have to actually run? Of course not, but if you can great! You can also ride a bike, row, walk or do something else to log miles – and YOU set the mile goal so that it remains totally attainable, whether 1 mile or 1000 miles. We want this to be a win-win for everyone! If you aren’t physically able to exercise, your support (financially, cheerleader-wise or any other way you see fit) is completely welcomed!

I hate to beg, but I’d be honored and humbled to have you join my team. Please register for the If Girls Ran the World virtual running event and join my team. I hate to hit you up, but nce you read through mission of If Girls Ran The World and The Hunger Project, I’m pretty sure you’ll want to chip to the cause a bit. It doesn’t have to be a lot – even $5 or $10 would help me get to my goal of raising $500. But, please note, you don’t have to donate to join my team – just join for the running support if you like!

Is there a discount code? Yes, use code BFF at REGISTRATION to save 50% — which makes the event only $12.50.

How do I join your specific team? After you register, go to Team Jennifer – TheFitFork.Com and join, that’s it! Drop me an email if you have questions or troubles at jennifer@thefitfork.comb

if girls ran the world runner 2

 Thank you so much for reading all the way through and for your consideration of this important cause!  If you have troubles signing up or joining my team, please send me a message at jennifer@thefitfork.com  Love ya! XOXO – Jennifer

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Run Buns off with Me at Schlotsky’s #BunRun – Austin Sept 24

Are you ready to run (or walk) your buns off?! Just wanted to let y’all know (especially my Texas friends) about the 34th Annual Bun Run hosted by Schlotzsky’s. It’s going down on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016 beginning at The Domain (11401 Century Oakes Terrace).

Jen

I’ve run this race so many times, I love it! In fact, last year I came in 3rd overall woman among some young, fast ladies – whoot, whoot!

schlotskys bun run 2015 start line

But, whether you race, run, job, walk, push a stroller or whatever, it’s a win-win for everyone! You get a chance to get out and get a little exercise with your friends or family in beautiful ATX – and maybe do a little post-race shopping at the Domain. Plus, by participating, you also support the race beneficiary, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). Millions of people around the world live with Type 1 Diabetes – it’s a life-threatening, autoimmune disease that affects children and adults alike – there is no known cure! However, maybe there will be one day soon, thanks to research initiated by JDRF and funded by your generous donations and participation in events like the Bun Run. More on how Schlotsky’s Supports JDRF.

schlotsky-step-up Another way Schlotzsky’s has been helping to put an end to diabetes is by partnering in the   month-long Step Up! Campaign.This “Give $1, Get $1” in-store promotion offers guests a coupon for $1 off their next Schlotzsky’s purchase for every $1 they donate. It’s a no-brainer decision to make at the cash register.

Schlotsky's Bun Run 2016

More info on the Sept. 24th 2016 Bun Run:

It’s the perfect race for casual runners and serious racers! In addition to a flat and fast certified 5K course for adults through Austin, there is a Kid’s K, which is an easy 1K race for kids 12 and under. Additional activities during Bun Run events include:

  • Team Challenge – Challenge your friends, family and coworkers to a friendly competition
  • Fastest Dog in Austin – Register your dog to run alongside yo for the 5K, complete with a chip timer to track their time
  • Kid’s Korral at the Expo – Fun activities including inflatable soccer, face painting, special treats and more

You can REGISTER HERE! See you on the start line!

schlotsky's pizza

Oh, and I won’t lie, PIZZA is my favorite thing to get at this sandwich shop!

What is your favorite menu item? Have you ever run the Bun Run? Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennifer 

 

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Why a Daily Treat Trumps a Weekly Cheat Day


Why a Daily Treat Trumps a Weekly Cheat DayTreats, desserts, goodies, nom noms, whatever name you longingly call a little something sweet after or between meals don’t have to be off limits or induce guilt. In fact, if you are craving something outside of your normal healthy-eating routine, it’s better to go ahead and satisfy the urge with a reasonable-sized portion rather than setting aside an entire day to pigging out on whatever “cheats” you want.

Outshine Simply Yogurt Bars perfect post workout.

Really, when you think about it, no food is a “cheat.” All food provides calories, which translate into energy to burn through the day. —  however, as most of us know, some food provides better quality energy than others!  Most experts would recommend keeping your treats to 200 calories or less and don’t feel obligated to indulge everyday if you don’t really want it!  If you calorie needs are in the range of 2,000 per day, then a 200 calorie treat makes up only 10 percent – just make sure your remaining diet is balanced with lean protein, healthy whole grains and lots and lots of veggies and some fruit.

Why a Daily Treat Trumps Weekly Cheat Day

1) Guilt- Free: Postponing a treat or small splurge and labeling it as “bad” also sets you up for an unhealthy relationship with food, it creates guilt.  A day set aside to “cheating,” how can that be a good thing?

2) More- Consistent: A daily treat is there every day if you want/need it!  Our bodies respond better to consistent behavior, rather that dieting and overindulging to the extremes.

3) Enjoyment: Enjoy your food, all of it. Being well, healthy and happy means living your life embracing food for what it can do for you and not obsessing over a specific diet, what is good or bad, or setting unrealistic expectations.

4) Extra Energy+: A daily treat can give you those extra calories and other important nutrients you need on days when especially active. You definitely need to consider your activity level when planning snacks!

4) Hormones Happier: Studies have shown that with calorie and carb restriction, Leptin (the hunger hormone) is altered, messing up its ability to tell your brain you are full and to stop eating. Similarly, T3  (the thyroid hormone) can be decreased by calorie restriction and extreme dieting, creating a backfiring situation where your metabolism slows down.

5) Sustainable for Life: With a daily treat, there are no feelings of abstinence,  meaning its easy to keep an overall healthy diet for life.   If you’re eating a variety of colorful, whole foods the majority of the time, a treat now and then or every single day has no harm!

Outshine Simply Yogurt Bars

You know, some days I slice myself a piece of chocolate cake and other times I’m completely satisfied with a healthy snack like these New Outshine Simply Yogurt Bars I found at Target*  – they totally take, errrr, the cake!  I really appreciate how Outshine® uses simple and honest ingredients  — 100% yogurt, blended with real fruit, that’s it!  These healthy treats contain no artificial colors or flavorings* and are not gunked up with high fructose corn syrup – with each lick and am treated to simply the bright, delightlful flavor as Mother Nature intended. *Check the Store Locator for other locations.

Outshine Fruit Bars I Outshine Simply Yogurt Bars are available in seven creamy and yummy varieties including Strawberry, Peach, Blueberry, Pineapple, Lemon, Strawberry Banana, and Mango. Also good to know, each frozen bar contains live & active cultures, 5 grams of protein, and 10% of our daily requirement for calcium. The company also makes all fruit bars and fruit & veggie frozen bars!

Of course, Outshine Simply Yogurt Bars make a smart choice to eat after a workout – that little blast of protein helps speed muscle recovery.

Outshine Simply Yogurt Bars

And, because Outshine Simply Yogurt Bars are so sensible, I like to occasionally dress these healthy frozen snacks up a little more with my favorite sundae toppings – like today I used the Blueberry bars and topped with whipped topping, fresh blueberries, granola and crushed dehydrated raspberries (those are the “healthy red sprinkles”).

You can find  Outshine Simply Yogurt Bars at Target, Safeway or other convenient locations.

Outshine Fruit Bars Instagram

Also, check out Outshine on Instagram — they have a very cute, vibrant and happy page!

What is your snacking philosophy? What is your favorite healthy dessert or yogurt flavor? Any big plans for these last days of warm weather? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer 

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Sheet Pan Ginger-Honey Chicken w/ Sweet Potatoes, Apple, Fennel

ginger-honey-sheet-pan-chicken-close-upI’ve had 99 problems this week, but at least getting a quick healthy dinner on the table wasn’t one of them thanks to this Sheet Pan Ginger-Honey Chicken with Sweet Potatoes, Apple & Fennel. This dish is so simple to prepare, just a couple minutes of chopping, tossing on a cookie sheet and drizzling with a quick sauce to keep everything moist white it to roast for 30 minutes – and only one pan to clean up!

Ginger Honey Sheet Pan Chicken with Apples, Sweet Potato and Fennel a simple yet hearty sheet pan dinner with loads of seasonal vegetables and a touch of honey and ginger. Easy clean-up, great for weeknights!

honey-ginger-sheet-pan-chicken-pouring-on-dressingA bed of fresh, seasonal vegetables  make a “lift” for the chicken breasts, ensuring they cook up nice and evenly – plus, I butterflied each massive breast to make a more reasonable-sized portion and speed up cooking time.  I originally developed this recipe for Litehouse Foods using their Organic Ginger with Honey Dressing which marries all my ingredients with just a touch of sweetness and the brightness of ginger.  In case you can’t find this dressing in the refrigerated section of your produce department, I’ve adapted the recipe (and noted how to do the bottled dressing swap).

apple-sweet-potato-onion

Fennel is one of the ingredients in this dish, and one I should definitely use more often. The scent of fresh fennel is amazing. It smells like black licorice but the cooked bulb has a very mild taste, you can use it as you would an onion. The crunchy raw bulbs and feathery stems can be used in salads, dips, and such to add an herby, aromatic effect.

jennifer fisher thefitfork brainpower5kIn other news, I jumped into my first 5k since the spring and was thrilled to come in 2nd overall female despite the hills, humidity and feeling slightly off my game at the start (in training and sleep). Had the lead until halfway when a girl about half my age made her move and I just could never muster up a surge. But, anyway, it’s all good and gets my head and heart back into the game for the Fall season.

So, what non-cookie recipe have you made on a baking sheet? Have you ever tried fennel? Are you running this fall — 5ks, marathons, or around the neighborhood? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer 

 

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Ginger Honey Sheet Pan Chicken with Apples, Sweet Potato and Fennel
30min Sheet Pan Ginger-Honey Chicken w/ Sweet Potatoes, Apple, Fennel
Print Recipe
A simple yet hearty sheet pan dinner with loads of seasonal vegetables and a touch of honey and ginger. Easy clean-up, great for weeknights!
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Ginger Honey Sheet Pan Chicken with Apples, Sweet Potato and Fennel
30min Sheet Pan Ginger-Honey Chicken w/ Sweet Potatoes, Apple, Fennel
Print Recipe
A simple yet hearty sheet pan dinner with loads of seasonal vegetables and a touch of honey and ginger. Easy clean-up, great for weeknights!
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F degrees.
  2. Cut bulb off fennel stalks and slice bulb, removing core and root. Set aside 2 tablespoons of snipped feathery leaves from stalks to use as garnish.
  3. Drizzle oil on large rimmed baking sheet and fill with cut sweet potato, apple, onion and fennel in single layer (some overlap okay). Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Add chicken on top of vegetable layer, sprinkle entire pan with five spice.
  5. In small bowl, whisk together "dressing" of olive oil, vinegar, honey and ginger. Drizzle approximately 1 ounce of dressing over top of each chicken piece (alternatively, use 1/2 cup of the store-bought dressing - Organic Ginger with Honey Dressing from Litehouse Foods.
  6. Place in oven on center rack and roast for a total of 30 minutes (up to 40 minutes depending on chicken thickness), drizzling the chicken with juices collected with a baster or large spoon approximately halfway through cooking time.
  7. Garnish with snipped fresh fennel.
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“Gimme Mo” Mojo Citrus Guacamole

"Gimme Mo" Mojo Citrus Guacamole brings a Latin American twist to your favorite avocado dip -- loaded with garlic and zesty oranges!  Dollop on salads, sandwiches or fish tacos! Or, just dip a chip at your next party!We eat guacamole by the truckload over here and I see nothing wrong with that! — I mean, HELLO heart-healthy, creamy, satiating fats! This simple pleasures is a staple in my life, dolloped on my salads, sandwiches and veggies sticks. Making a yummy meal and NOT having guacamole within lifting distance from my lips feels like a hot date that didn’t end with a kiss. Such a bummer!

I’ve used avocados every which way and have a dozens of guacamole recipes in my mealtime rotation. A recent creation is “Gimme Mo” Mojo Citrus Guacamole with a sensational Latin American-inspired twist that is perfect for plantain chip dipping, toast smearing and fish taco topping.

"Gimme Mo" Mojo Citrus Guacamole brings a Latin American twist to your favorite avocado dip -- loaded with garlic and zesty oranges!  Dollop on salads, sandwiches or fish tacos! Or, just dip a chip at your next party!

Before jumping into this quick and easy guacamole recipe, let me give you the quick 411 on the magical sauce that inspired it. While originating in the Canary Islands, mojo is a simple sauce that is now splattered and slathered on nearly everything edible in Central America, the Caribbean and parts of the southern U.S. With as many regional variations as there are uses for this quintessential Latin condiment, I’m most familiar with the Cuban preparation. Cuban mojo is made with olive oil, sour citrus juices (like bitter orange and lime juice), oregano, and garlic – loads and loads of garlic. It’s often used as a marinade for pork, chicken and seafood, a dip for fried plantains or yucca, or for dressing veggies and potatoes.

I love the mojo flavor profile and have done past recipes like Mojo Steak Kebabs and Mojo Chicken with Grilled Oranges (below) are both delicious!  This guacamole would be a perfect complement to both! Not only can “Gimme Mo” Mojo Citrus Guacamole be served atop a main dish on the dinner plate, to the side of a salad, or in a festive dip bowl – it also makes a clever single-serve presentation scooped into the emptied halves of the orange peel.

grilled chicken breasts and oranges

I originally developed this recipe for the new Guacamole Herb and Spice Blend from the Instantly Fresh line at Litehouse Foods.It’s a mixture of freeze-dried herbs and seasonings (including cilantro, garlic, red onion and red chili) that make it easy to get the guacamole bowl filled to the top “chop-chop” without endless slicing and dicing!  There are no preservatives or other yucky chemicals in this convenient spice blend that you can pick up on the spice aisle or in the produce department (although it doesn’t need to be chilled).  If you find a bottle, just swap out the red onion, jalapeno and cilantro in the recipe below for 4 tablespoons of this magical spice blend.

Litehouse Foods Instantly Fresh Guacamole Blend

Are you an avocado addict? How many would you guesstimate you eat in a month? What is best thing you’ve dipped a chip or carrot stick into lately?  Please share in the comments, XOXO – Jennifer 

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“Gimme Mo” Mojo Citrus Guacamole
Print Recipe
This Latiin-inspired take on guacamole adds loads of garlic and zesty orange juice! The perfect condiment for your main dishes . . . but mainly for dipping!
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
0 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
0 minutes
“Gimme Mo” Mojo Citrus Guacamole
Print Recipe
This Latiin-inspired take on guacamole adds loads of garlic and zesty orange juice! The perfect condiment for your main dishes . . . but mainly for dipping!
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
0 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
0 minutes
Instructions
  1. In bowl, mash together peeled and pitted avocados with orange juice and lime juice (if avocados are extra large, you may need a small splash extra of each).
  2. Stir in onion, pepper, cilantro,oregano (or 4 Tbsp swap of the guacamole blend mentioned in blog post), salt and garlic.
  3. Use zester, to remove approximately 1 tablespoon zest from orange. Stir into guacamole.
  4. Peel orange and cut away any pith and most membrane. Dice into small chunks. Gently stir into guacamole.
  5. Serve as dip or condiment for sandwiches, burgers, fajitas, salads, etc.
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No-Fail 15-min Beef & Veggie Fried Rice – So Simple a Kid Could Cook it and Did

egglands-best-beef-hah-with-street-corn-salsa-jennifer-fisher-voteI have a proposition! I’ll share my 15-minute Beef & Veggie Fried Rice recipe and with all the time you save on dinner, you’ll spend the 1 minute it takes to vote for me in the Eggland’s Best “America’s Best Recipe Contest”! My regional-inspired recipe is for Texas Egg and Steak Hash with Chipotle Street Corn Relish (copied the photo below so you know exactly what to vote for) — thank you, thank you!

 

15 minute Beef & Veggie Fried Rice

Now, onto the 15-minute Beef & Veggie Fried Rice recipe (originally developed for Beeflovingtexans,com)  — it’s a win on so many levels. Not only is it a lightening speed dinner solution, it can be kept simple enough that an older kid can make it. Honestly, realizing that my teenage boys were completely capable of cooking dinner every once in a while was a light bulb moment for me. What a relief to know I can call ahead and get them to start dinner on those crazy days when I’m stuck in traffic, sitting at another kid’s sports game or even trying to finish up my own workout.

15 minute Beef & Veggie Fried Rice is a super-quick way to get a vibrant and very healthy meal on the table. Plus, its simple enough that younger kids can help and older kids can cook on their own!

One of the tricks to cooking the recipe so quickly is super-thinly cut sirloin steak — a method that also stretches my food budget as it makes the meat look like, well, a larger quantity than it actually is!  So, just firm up your steak in the freezer for 10 to 30 minutes or before getting after it with a super sharp knife across the grain in razor-thin slices (like 1/8″ or less if you can).  When the meat is this thin, it literally takes 3 minutes or less to cook with the stir-fry method — toss in the hot, hot skillet and stir around constantly and quickly just long enough to take the “red” of. Beef should still look pink when you take it off the skillet as it will continue to cook a tiny bit, trust me, it will always be juicy and tender this way! Do NOT leave it in the skillet or wok as you continue to cook the veggies, that will just cause a lot of undesirable toughness.

skillet-vegetables-for-fried-riceAnother WIN is my recipe also includes a scramble of eggs, an assortment chopped vegetables selected by the young chef (a good trick to get kids to eat more veggies), a simple sauce and pre-prepared rice.  Of course, you can cook your rice the old-fashioned way, but in a hurry and with the kids, I either keep those rice pouches from the frozen aisle on hand or meal prep my own and package into portions.

Love to use crunchy nuts for the top, NOW Foods has a great selection of organic options — cashews may be my favorite!

wiliam-and-beef-sirloin-fried-rice

William, the 16-year old chef who picked out all the yummy veggies for this recipe and cooked them up for his mama! 

So, no need to call for Chinese take-out to solve dinner – make your own healthier version in less time than it would take the delivery guy to show up. What’s even better than this? Getting the kids in the kitchen while you kick your feet up!

Coconut Macadamia Nut Fried RiceLooking for a more exotic fried rice recipe? Try my Coconut Macadamia Nut Fried Rice, it is soooooo swoon-worthy!

So, do you get your kids in the kitchen to cook? What’s in their repertoire? If you could only have 3 veggies (or fruits) in a stir fry – gasp – what would they be? Please share in the comments below – XOXO , Jennifer 

 

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15-minute Beef & Veggie Fried Rice Recipe
Print Recipe
Get a vibrant and very healthy fried rice dinner on the table in less time that it would take to wait on delivery -- faster, fitter, fresher and easy enough for older kids to prepare!
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 10 minute
Cook Time
5 minute
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 10 minute
Cook Time
5 minute
15-minute Beef & Veggie Fried Rice Recipe
Print Recipe
Get a vibrant and very healthy fried rice dinner on the table in less time that it would take to wait on delivery -- faster, fitter, fresher and easy enough for older kids to prepare!
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 10 minute
Cook Time
5 minute
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 10 minute
Cook Time
5 minute
Instructions
  1. Bring large skillet to high medium-heat. Add olive oil and add cut sirloin and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 4 minutes or until no longer red but pink n the middle with edges browning.  Remove from heat immediately and drain on paper towels.
  2. Spray same skillet (now empty) with cooking spray. Add eggs, garlic and ginger and cook, stirring vigorously, until scrambled. Scoop out of skillet to rest next to beef.
  3. Place bag of rice in microwave and cook on high for 4 minutes. Or, used 10 ounces of previously prepared rice. Remove and set aside.
  4. Add remaining olive oil to same skillet (now empty again) and stir fry vegetables on medium-high for 3 to 5 minutes or until crisp tender. Exact time will depend on size and type of chopped vegetables.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low and add cooked rice, cooked beef and cooked eggs back to skillet with vegetables. Stir to combine.
  6. Quickly mix together soy sauce and Sriracha. Evenly drizzle over top of mixture and stir well to combine, continue to cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes until heated through.
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