One of the most requested foods my oldest son asks me to bake when he comes home from college to visit is a big batch of muffins. From pumpkin muffins to blueberry muffins to banana chocolate chip muffins, I’m always happy to oblige my son! With limited cooking skills, he’s very grateful – at least I think that’s him saying “thank you” with his mouth stuffed full of my newest muffin Vegan Chai Tea Spiced Apple Muffins.
These are perfect to make ahead for quick breakfasts and snacks, plus they freeze fabulously – so of course extra were made to send back to college. Read on to get the full recipe and the cookbook that inspired these easy vegan muffins. Continue reading →
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.
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 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
***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.
Did 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!
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!
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.
In bowl of rice cooker, add oats, nutrition boosters (seeds, etc), protein powder, sugar substitute, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix together until combined.
Add pumpkin to bowl and pour in milk/tea mixture. Mix together until everything combined.
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!
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.
To make in microwave, place all ingredients in 2 quart lidded casserole and microwave on high for 4 to 6 minutes, stirring halfway.
This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk.
Slurping your smoothie from a straw is so last year. The tastiest trend in town is to “eat” your smoothie in a bowl with a spoon! Not only do chains like Jamba Juice offer these frozen, fruity and fiberous concoctions but smoothie bowls are blowing up social media – just search the hashtag #smoothiebowl and you’ll get over 85K results.
One of the benefits of smoothie bowls (other than getting a ton of nutrition in one easy-to-make meal) is the artistic license. I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy make my food pretty – Mother Nature has given us so many colorful and amazingly delicious ingredients to work with. Instead of throwing all your smoothie goodies into the blender, the key to a smoothie bowl is to make a thick base smoothie and then add the remainder of your fruits, whole grains, seeds and such to the top.
Unsweetened Almond Coconut Milk from Almond Breeze creates a creamy base for any smoothie bowl or blended beverage. Made from real almonds and coconutmilk, this alternative to diary milk contains medium chain fatty acids; is lactose, soy and gluten-free; is an excellent source of calcium; and works with vegan and kosher diets. I also love how it has no added sugar and only 45 calories per one-cup serving. Another great thing – Unsweetened Almond Coconut Milk from Almond Breeze is available in a shelf-stable version which means that I can keep my pantry stocked for last-minute meal making.
I appreciate how I can keep shelf-stable Almond Breeze in the pantry, on hand for when cravings strike!
If you love the exotic spices of cha (like cardamom, cinnamon, star anise, cloves and more), but need something more than just of a cup of tea in the morning, by Coconut Chai Smoothie Bowl is the perfect way to get your crave on while kick-starting the day with a little caffeine. I topped my bowl with hemp seeds, cacao nibs and strawberries, but feel free to beautify your bowl any way you see fit.
In addition to breakfast, I’ve been digging into Coconut Chai Smoothie Bowls for a post-workout snack and healthy dessert after dinner – use decaff tea instead. Don’t forget to look for Unsweetened Almond Coconut Milk, it’s one of my favorites from all the yummy Almond Breeze products — the shelf-stable versions are usually on the cereal aisle.
We’re staying up late and sleeping in; all the family is on a slower pace thanks to the welcomed winter break. We’ve been watching old movies like It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street – tonight, we’re getting silly with National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. The kids always want snacks for movie night (and so do I) so we’re making two healthy treats – Chocolate Protein Chai and Caramel Almond Popcorn.
The Chocolate Protein Chai is a warm, wonderful drink I created for the Core Power blog. A healthy alternative to gourmet coffee shop beverages, this spicy, silky and satisfying treat is pumped up with protein from the high protein shake base and has much less sugar too! Check out the Core Power blog to get the simple instructions – it’s much easier than explaining your order to a barista!
For crunching satisfaction, my recipe for Caramel Almond Popcorn has always been a family favorite. It’s salty-sweet and popped right in the microwave in a brown paper bag without any fats or chemicals (like those nasty store-bought bags). Afterward, almonds are tossed in and it’s finished paleo-friendly drizzle of coconut oil and honey. Finger-licking yum!
Playground Swing Lunges – try 3 sets of 20!
After all this lounging around, tomorrow we’ll get moving. Maybe an easy run or bike ride with the kids and a stop at the playground for some improvised TRX moves like these park swing lunges.
So, what is your favorite healthy snack for movie night at home? Or, if you prefer the theater, do you sneak in healthy snacks to avoid the fake-cheese nachos and oily popcorn? Tell me what you take!
Have yourself a merry little Christmas and let all your treats be light. Dig into my favorite healthy chocolate recipes and your troubles will be out of sight. Troubles out of sight? Okay, there are still a few holiday headaches going on at my house (nothing major), but at least sabotaging all my hard work on the track and in the gym isn’t one of them. Now, if you’re looking for splurge chocolate recipes, check out my Best-Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies or Chocolate Mint Crinkle Kiss Cookies.
When friends and family gather near over the holidays, many of my delicious chocolate recipes are made as special requests – some I even package up in pretty wrappings to give as Christmas gifts. How can you not love holiday treats that are as healthy as they are heavenly tasting – it’s a win-win when your willpower is waning!
I don’t even need to rationalize making all my healthy chocolate recipes; research does it for me. Studies have shown that the flavanols (compounds found in cocoa) have antioxidant properties that help repair damage done by free radicals. The flavinols can also help reduce the risk for heart disease by relaxing artery walls and preventing blood platelets from getting clogged up.
The more cocoa in the chocolate the better it is for your health; this means darker chocolates are healthier than milk chocolates. Eating raw cocoa can be a bitter shock at first; ideally you should try to eat chocolate that is made from 70% cocoa – even this takes some getting used to. But, I think we’re all willing to hang in there when it comes to eating chocolate, right?! So, let’s get to the recipes!
It’s still pretty warm here in Austin, so we’ve been enjoying this frosty and festive Chocolate Peppermint Sorbet I created for the Core Power blog. Made with the Chocolate Light flavor of Core Power High Protein Shakes, it’s the perfect treat for recovery after a long run or hard workout.
If you have company coming and they are living the caveman lifestyle, you might what to whip up a batch of these Salted Pistachio Chocolate Cookies. The cookies are dairy-free, gluten-free with a sweet-salt addictive quality!
Craving a candy bar, but aren’t willing to give in? My recipe for Chocolate Date “Candy Bar” Bites makes a healthy and heavenly substitution. Also Paleo-friendly, these chocolate treats make a thoughtful gift packaged up inside a sparkly gift tin – that is, if you don’t eat the whole batch up front.
Power up a holiday breakfast with a handful of Chocolate Strawberry Protein “Donut” Holes. Protein powder giveS my baked doughnut holes a little extra oomph and will satisfy your hunger until lunch! I’ll let you in on a secret; I like to sneak a few as a bed time snack!
Another chocolate breakfast yum-yum (and fantastic healthy snack) is my Choco-Cherry Protein Granola. Eat by the handful right out of the container or sprinkle over Greek yogurt – this doesn’t last long at my house.
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread is great anytime of the year; have a piece with your salad, as a snack or a sensible addition to your morning cuppa Joe. Oh, and this one is paleo-friendly and gluten-free too!
And finally, check back next week and I’ll share my blog post for steamy, silky Chocolate Chai made with Core Power protein drink (and other healthful stuff) – they sell something similar at Starbucks, but this is way better for you!