Tag Archives: Gluten Free

Energy Bites

Energy Bites.jpg
Every afternoon I find myself looking for something…

A cup of coffee? A cookie? A nap?

I don’t know what it is but 2:30-3:00 pm is a tough time of day for me. I try my hardest to avoid that cup of coffee, because as good as it will taste, I will kick myself come 9:00 pm when I’m trying to relax for bed and my brain is going a million miles a minute thanks to the caffeine that seems to linger in my body. As for the cookie… well… most days I do have my Banana Oatmeal Cookies on hand, but they don’t always satisfy my craving.

Thank goodness Pinterest was invented. A while back I found a recipe for Energy Bites and they became a staple in my fridge. Then I got lazy and stopped making them.

Last week I was heading to over my friends house to help her take some photos and she told me to bring something to photograph for my blog as well. (As you can tell from most of my photos, I use my phone to take them. While I’m getting better at it, it’s not the same as using a DSLR.) As my brain started scrambling for something I could quickly “make & take” I remembered these little life savers.

Much to my dismay, the link I had on the old post no longer worked and while Pinterest has tons of these gems, I couldn’t find one that looked right. Thankfully I rarely clean out my junk drawer, so I dug through it, hoping to find the piece of paper I had scribbled the recipe on…and I did, but it was ripped, so I tried to fill in the gaps and came up with these, which were perfect to me.

Energy Bites Square

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup (dry) oatmeal (I used old-fashioned oats)
  • 2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or vegan chocolate chips)
  • 1/3 cup honey or agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed. Cover and let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour.
  2. Once chilled, roll into balls of whatever size you would like. (Mine were about 1″ in diameter.) Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.
  3. Makes about 20-25 balls.

Don’t be afraid to have fun and experiment with these. Swap out the chocolate chips for some dried cranberries or raisins. Toast the coconut or add some chia seeds to the mix. Changing the type of nut-butter you use will change the flavor profile too!

*If you are doing the 21 Day Fix, you can use these as a yellow container treat. I would count 2 of them as a serving.*

Have you ever tried making Energy Bites? There are sooooooo many different versions of these out there, I would love to hear of variations you’ve tried and liked.

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Gluten-Free Peanut-Butter Banana Muffins

Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

There are some days you just crave a muffin, and that’s okay! Just make sure that muffin isn’t the size of your head and loaded with sugar and empty carbs. You know exactly which muffins I’m talking about. They are the ones that look amazing when you walk past the bakery section in the grocery store. The ones that I’m pretty sure have eyes, because I can feel them staring at me, trying to make eye contact and whispering “buy me”, as I walk past as fast as possible, trying to ignore them.

Let’s not even discuss the variety packs of 24 that warehouse stores like Sam’s & Costco sell…. sigh.

Just because we are eating cleaner, avoiding extra sugar and processed flour doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy a muffin with our coffee from time to time. In my most recent 7-Day Clean Eating Jump Start group, one of the members shared a recipe for Peanut Butter Banana muffins so I gave them a shot with a few changes.

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These muffins really hit the spot and you could have fun with them by changing the flavor profile with different nut-butters, using different egg substitutes (I’m not a pumpkin fan, but using the pumpkin puree with some cinnamon would probably make some you very happy) as noted or by adding some mini chocolate chips to them (if you have nut or dairy allergies, I highly recommend the ones by Enjoy Life).

Remember, clean eating doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the things you love. It just means you enjoy them in a smarter way!

If you’re doing 21 Day Fix, you could enjoy these as one of your yellow container swaps!

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{Product Review} Vega Bars

Recently, I was selected to be a Sweat Pink Ambassador for Fit Approach and I couldn’t be happier. I have met so many fabulous, fit and strong women in this community and I love that we can all share our knowledge, motivate each other and support one another, as we conquer our workouts one squat at a time.

As an ambassador, I had the opportunity to participate in a campaign for Vega, which allowed me to sample some of their newest bars to hit the market…and man were they good!

If you’re not familiar with Vega, they offer plant-based, gluten-free, non-GMO, nothing artificial nutrition options. To view their guiding principles CLICK HERE.

 

Vega Bars

 

As you can see from the photo above, Vega truly has your day covered …and sometimes it’s even covered in chocolate!

The first bar I tried was the Vega Sport Protein bar in the Chocolate Mint flavor. It featured 15 grams of protein, 2.5 grams of BCAA’s and 2 grams of glutamine, which made it a great post workout option. Since your body needs fuel within a certain time period after a tough workout, these would be a perfect addition to your gym bag…because sometimes you need to run errands before going home, right?

vega sport protein

Post workout nutrition is important…don’t skip it!

 

Next up was the Vega Snack Bar! I love to snack and I know you do too. When I opened the box of treats Vega sent me, I couldn’t wait to tear into the Dark Chocolate Mixed Nuts and Sea Salt. I decided to show a little restraint and save it for when I was out running errands and feeling hangry. The snack bars are perfect for these scenarios! How many times have you been stuck in a long line at the grocery store and began drooling over the candy bars or chips they showcase up the registers? We work too hard to sabotage ourselves, so be prepared for when hunger strikes with a snack like this! Trust me.

Vega Snack

I always keep an emergency snack in my bag.

 

Then there are the days that are just hectic and start with time not being on your side. Thankfully Vega even offers Vega One bars, which are total meal replacements! This morning I had to grab a Chocolate Peanut Butter bar and it was goooooood. The Vega One bars are packed with 12g complete plant-based protein, 4g fiber, 1g Omega 3, 1 serving of greens, 1 billion dairy-free probiotics, 25 added vitamins and minerals and antioxidants. That’s pretty awesome considering all you have to do is unwrap and eat!

Vega One

Emergency carpet cleaning? Vega One can power you through!

 

The final bar I tried was the Vega Sport Energy Bar in Apple Cherry. There are days were I cram a run or a workout in wherever I can, because I have other things I need to tend to first. These days become tricky because I can’t time my nutrition properly. Having an energy bar like this on hand, gives your muscles the fast-acting, long-lasting whole food energy they need to endure. The energy bars contain 27g carbs from whole food ingredients, high and low glycemic carborhydrates for immediate and sustained energy, as well as 1g Omega 3.

Vega Sport Energy

Your body needs proper energy before you workout. Fuel it right.

As you can see, Vega offers a wide variety of bars to fit your daily nutrition needs. I really enjoyed the taste of all of these. Some were better than others, but that also comes down to personal taste. (I love anything with chocolate). For more info on these items, be sure to visit the Vega Blog.

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(I received a variety of VEGA bars from VEGA and Fit Approach to review. All opinions in the post are my own, honest feeling on the item.)

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Sausage and Vegetable Casserole

I apparently have two speeds when it comes to this blog, over productive and complete slacker. I truly apologize for that.

It’s been a crazy few weeks. Between snow storms, everyday tasks and studying for my certification, I’ve been highly overwhelmed and stressed. When I get that way, I try to remove things from plate that aren’t essential to day to day living, so blogging tends to take a back burner, which I hate, because I enjoy doing it.

With that, I’ve still been in the kitchen and sticking with clean eating (with the exception of the Papa John’s Pizza and the burger I had while at Super Bowl Boulevard the other day – more on that soon) and I have a new recipe to share with you!

I found the inspiration for it on Pinterest of course. It’s more like a crustless quiche than a casserole but I’ve never made a quiche so I can’t say for sure, therefore we shall call it a casserole.

Sausage and Vegetable Casserole

Sausage and Vegetable CasseroleIngredients:
1lb Italian sweet sausage (you can use hot if you prefer)
¾ lb broccoli florets (about 4 cups)
2 medium zucchini, sliced into ¼-inch thick rounds
½ medium onion, finely chopped
1 small pepper (any color), chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
¾ teaspoon fine grain sea salt, divided
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
A pinch of red pepper flakes
3 free-range organic eggs
½ cup milk (you can use non dairy)
A handful of fresh basil, chopped
A pinch ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Place sausage on a baking sheet and roast for about 30 mins (Turn them halfway through cooking. Slice into 1/4 round pieces, like the zucchini)
3. Grease an 8×8-inch baking dish and set aside.
4. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and a pinch of salt and saute for about 2 to 3 minutes until translucent. Add broccoli florets, zucchini, pepper, black pepper, ½ teaspoon of salt, red pepper flakes and about ¼ cup of water.
5. Cover with a lid and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes stirring often. The vegetables should brown a bit and must be thoroughly cooked, but still retain some of their crunchiness. Turn off the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
6. In a large bowl whisk eggs, milk, ¼ tsp of salt and nutmeg for a couple of minutes until fluffy. Add chopped basil and stir to combine.
7. Add the sausage and vegetables to baking dish and spread them on an even layer. With the back of a spoon press them down gently.
8. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese (if desired).
9. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.

This was a quick a simple recipe to make. You could add any vegetables you have on hand to it and you could even use chicken if you prefer. I was craving sausage and peppers but I didn’t want to have bread or pasta, so this worked out perfect.

I haven’t tried too many new recipes lately. Since I’ve been so pressed for time, I’ve been sticking with what I know and keeping meals very simple.

If you have tried any new recipes that you loved, please send me a link to them! I’m always looking to try new things.

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{Slow Cooker Recipe} Asian Five-Spice Pulled Pork

There are days that I don’t know what I would do without my slow cooker. Those days are usually Mondays. I don’t know what it is about Monday that usually leaves me running around like a chicken with their head cut off. Maybe it’s getting back into that weekday routine after being relaxed all weekend, or maybe it’s because I tend to cram everything humanly possible into the few short hours that the kids are in school. My guess is a combination of the two, but thankfully, the invention of the slow cooker makes one Monday task an easy one.

As I mentioned in my Eating Healthy On A Budget post, I like to purchase meat in bulk. I have staple meats that are always on hand in my freezer, ground beef, pork loin, chicken thighs and chuck roasts. These are staples for me because they can be prepared using different cooking methods, and are perfect for tossing into the slow cooker while still frozen!

Sometimes I plan my week with grand intentions of trying tons of new recipes, but then I wake up with a headache, end up having to go out somewhere or just flat out don’t feel like cooking (I know, that last one is crazy, but it happens from time to time). Those are the times I thankfully for my supply of frozen meat options, my slow cooker and my collection of recipes on Pinterest!

This recipe is actually intended for pork ribs, but I didn’t have pork ribs…I had a pork loin roast, so I figured why not?!

Asian Five-Spice Pulled Pork
Recipe Inspired by The Clothes Make The Girl

Asain Five-Spice Pulled PorkIngredients:
2-3lb pork loin roast
2 tsps Chinese five-spice powder
1 tsp garlic powder (I used a garlic pepper combo)
2 Tbsps apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsps coconut aminos
1 Tbsp tomato paste
salt and pepper
1 sliced jalapeno (optional – I used some jalapeno hot sauce because I didn’t have a fresh jalapeno on hand)

Directions:
1. In a small bowl, mix together the salt, pepper, Chinese five-spice, and garlic powder, then massage the mixture onto the pork.
2. If using the jalapeno, toss the sliced piece into the bottom of the slow cooker. Add the vinegar, coconut aminos and tomato paste. Stir well to combine the tomato paste with the liquids.
3. Add the pork roast and cook on low for about 8-10 hours.
4. When the pork is done, shred and mix with the juices in the slow cooker. Serve.

This pork had a wonderful, sweet flavor with just a hint of spice from the jalapeno. I served this with sweet potato mash and sauteed spinach, but this is yet another dish that would work perfect as a lettuce wrap. There are really very few meats that wouldn’t work well as a lettuce wrap, right?!

I’ve clearly been on a Asian kick with my meals this week. I think it might just be an excuse to eat lettuce wraps and Sriracha, because that is exactly how I used the left overs from this meal today.

Do you own a slow cooker? If so, do you use it a lot or does it just sit on a shelf in the pantry?

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Easy Korean Style Beef

Yesterday was one of those days where time just got away from me. I meant to do my meal planning and some meal prepping, but I ended up taking down the Christmas tree and cleaning up the living-room. Before I knew it, the Broncos vs. Chargers game was on and I still didn’t know what I was cooking for dinner. These are the times I am thankful for Pinterest!

I opened up my laptop, plugged in the words healthy, ground beef and recipes and I had plenty of options to choose from. I knew right off the bat that chili was not an option since Mike is not a fan of it. I was not in the mood for red sauce so meatballs were out. Thankfully I stumbled on this recipe inspired by Korean Bulgogi, which is traditionally made using thin slices of marinated beef.

Easy Korean Style Beef
Recipe adapted from Kim Kim Cooking
Serves 4

easy korean style beefIngredients:
1 pound lean grounded beef
1 tsp olive or coconut oil
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp chopped ginger
1/4 cup soy sauce or coconut aminos
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water

Directions:
1. In a pan or wok, add oil and heat over medium heat.
2. Add the garlic and ginger, cook for about 2 minutes.
3. Add beef, stir well.
4. Add brown sugar, soy sauce, and water. Stir will to mix with the beef.
5. Cook for 7 minutes over medium-high heat, until cooked through.

This meal was super quick to prepare and cook. I made some jasmine rice to serve this over, and I added snap peas to the pan as I cooked the beef. Of course I topped everything with Sriracha, because…..Sriracha! The Sriracha actually balanced out the sweetness of this dish really well. Today I had the left over beef and snap peas as lettuce wraps for lunch, and that was a really yummy too!

Meals like this just show that you don’t have to spend a ton of money or time in the kitchen to have a healthy meal. What is your favorite quick, healthy meal?

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{Slow Cooker Meal} Jerk Chicken

Yesterday afternoon, I was doing my workout and began debating what to make for dinner. I remembered I had a recipe for Jerk Chicken that I wanted to try. So as soon as I was done, I ran downstairs, mixed some recovery drink and began prepping my spices and chicken for cooking.

Now the recipe I found wasn’t a true Caribbean style jerk chicken, but it has spice and looked really tasty, so I had to give it a try.

Slow Cooker Jerk Chicken
Recipe from Ancestral Chef
Serves 6

jerk chickenIngredients:
12 chicken legs
4 teaspoons of salt
4 teaspoons of paprika
1 teaspoons of cayenne pepper (add more or less depending on how spicy you like your chicken)
2 teaspoons of onion powder
2 teaspoons of thyme
2 teaspoons of garlic powder
1 teaspoons of black pepper

Directions:
1. Mix all of your spices together in a bowl to make a rub for the chicken.
2. Rinse your chicken legs in cold water, then place into a bowl. Sprinkle the chicken with the spices and rub them into the meat thoroughly. Make sure you try to get it under the chicken skin, too.
3. Place your rubbed chicken into your slow cooker (no liquid is necessary to cook this dish)
4. Set the slow cooker on low heat and cook for 6 hours or until the chicken meat falls off the bone (slow cooker times and setting vary so adjust accordingly).
5. You can serve the chicken on the bone, or remove them since the meat falls off so easily.

This recipe made my kitchen smell amazing and was very moist and flavorful. I used the full teaspoon of cayenne pepper and didn’t find it to be very spicy, but feel free to use less if you are sensitive to spicy food. You could even substitute with other spices that are more traditional to the Caribbean style if that’s what you prefer. Play with it. Have fun! That’s what cooking should be about!

I served the chicken with some mashed cauliflower, and steamed snap peas. Everything was simple, quick and healthy, which is so important to me.

What kind of recipes do you tend to gravitate to? Do you like to try new things or do you tend to stick to what you know?

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{Healthy Comfort Food} Pot Roast & Mashed Cauliflower

Thanks to the polar vortex nonsense, it’s been super frigid across the country and what is better on a cold day, than watching movies, cuddling under warm blankets and eating some yummy comfort food?!

For this recipe, I substituted the usual decadent, mashed potatoes for mashed cauliflower and I really enjoyed it!

Garlic Studded Pot Roast
Serves 6

pot roastIngredients:
1 boneless beef chuck roast (about 3 pounds)
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and cut in 1/2 lengthwise
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 Tbsps olive oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 cup peeled and chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
2/3 beef stock or red wine

Directions:
1. Using the tip of a sharp paring knife, make 10 small slits deep all over the pot roast. Insert the garlic cloves as deep into the slits as possible.
2. Season the roast on all sides with the salt and pepper.
3. In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over high heat. Carefully add the meat and sear on all sides until well browned, 4 to 6 minutes per side.
4. Add the vegetables, carefully add the stock or wine and cover the pot.
5. Reduce the heat to low to medium-low and cook until the roast is very tender, about 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Turning 2 or 3 times during the cooking process. (Add a little more water, stock or wine as needed so that a little liquid always is on the bottom of the pan.)
6. Allow the meat to rest 10 minutes. Slice or pull the meat apart into serving pieces and serve with the vegetables over the mashed cauliflower (recipe below).

Mashed Cauliflower
Serves 6

Ingredients:
1 large head of cauliflower
2-4 Tablespoons pastured butter ( I used coconut oil because that’s what I had – you won’t need as much)
1 Tablespoon garlic salt
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Cut the cauliflower into large pieces.
2. Place cauliflower in a pot of water. Make sure it is fully immersed.
3. Bring water to a boil. Let cauliflower cook for about 15 minutes. (It should be very easy to pierce it with a fork.)
4. Drain the water from pot. Leave cauliflower on low heat, and mash with a potato masher.
5. Add butter and seasonings.
6. Mix well. Serve hot.

I was a little unsure if Mike would like the mashed cauliflower, instead of traditional mashed potatoes, but he really enjoyed them and said he didn’t feel overstuffed like usual after eating dinner. That’s a big win to me…now if only I could get the kids to eat them…sigh!

Have you tried making your favorite comfort foods healthier? If so, what have you substituted?

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Baked Chicken Fajitas

Everyone has those nights when they need something quick and easy to make for dinner. You may not be into meal prepping yet (which is a life saver) or maybe you just don’t feel like eating what you prepped again, but you also don’t want to sabotage your healthy eating. This recipe is perfect for those nights!

Baked Chicken Fajitas
Serves 4

baked fajitasIngredients:
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
2 tbsps olive oil
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp mexican oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
a handful of cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 jalapeno, sliced (you can remove the seeds if you prefer less heat. I used a small can of fire roasted green chilies because I didn’t have a jalapeno on hand)
1 large onion, cut into thin strips
2 medium peppers, cut into thin strips (use any color you have on hand)

Directions:
1. Place the chicken strips in a gallon sized zippered bag.
2. In a small bowl combine the olive oil, cumin, chili powder, oregano, garlic powder, and salt. Sprinkle over chicken; toss to coat.
3. Put in the refrigerator to marinate 30 min. to overnight.
4. When ready to bake, Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, then coat a 13×9 baking dish with cooking spray and place the marinated chicken strips in.
5. Add tomatoes, jalapenos, onion and peppers to the dish and stir to combine.
6. Bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink and vegetables are tender.

This recipe came in handy yesterday! I was busy studying for my midterm most of the day and didn’t think about dinner until late. Mike and I started working out together at night, so I was able to prep this, toss it in the oven and by the time we were done with our P90X3 workout, our post workout meal was ready and waiting! How perfect is that?!

If you are following a paleo or gluten-free lifestyle, serve these as lettuce wraps and top with a little guacamole, a squeeze of lime and hot sauce, if you desire. If you are non-paleo, but gluten-free, you can use white corn tortillas and if you are just eating clean, serve these with whole-grain tortillas and top as you wish. This is really a great recipe for entertaining too, since it is easy and healthy, but can fit different nutritional lifestyles with ease.

Do you have any healthy, easy, go-to recipes that you rely on when you’re short on time?

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Beef Bone Broth…Who Knew?!

While collecting recipes this past week, I finally decided to give bone broth a try. I’ve seen quite a few people on Instagram share photos of their crockpots loaded with bones, veggies and water, but I had no idea what the benefits of this broth were and why they were doing this. Then I decided to consult my good friend Google, since he always has the answers (he’s such a know it all…it’s a little obnoxious sometimes).

If like me, you are not aware of the benefits of consuming bone broth, please take a moment to READ THIS you’ll thank me after you do.

If you ARE familiar with bone broth, well….WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME ABOUT HOW AWESOME AND EASY IT IS?!

This is the recipe that I used for mine. I already have a chicken carcass in the freezer and plan on making a batch of chicken bone broth after I roast another chicken next week.

Slow Cooker Beef Bone Broth
Recipes from NomNomPaleo
Makes about 4 quarts

Bone BrothIngredients:
2 carrots, chopped medium
2 celery stalks, chopped medium
1 medium onion, chopped medium7 garlic cloves, smashed
3.5 lb of beef bones (I used beef marrow bones)
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
water

Directions:
1. Add the vegetables to the bottom of your slow cooker. Then place the beef bones on top.
2. Tuck the bay leaves between the bones, sprinkle with salt and then drizzle the bones with the apple cider vinegar.
3. Add enough water to cover everything.
4. Set your slow cooker to cook on low for 10 hours. (After speaking to some friends, I set mine for a second time and cooked it for 20 hours. After reading the above article, I’ll be cooking it even longer next time.)
5. When the broth is done, pour it through a fine strainer and discard the solids. (we gave our dog one of the bones as a treat)
6. Portion into tupperwares and place in the fridge. If your bones were fatty, you can skim off some of the fat after it separates and sets in the fridge. The broth will turn into a beef gelatin, so don’t be alarmed.

The broth will keep in the fridge for a few days or if you freeze it, it’ll last for several months.

So far I’ve tried heating up the broth and drinking it like a tea and I’ve also sauteed some veggies and then heated the broth with them to make a quick, healthy, lunchtime soup. From now one, I’ll be using this in place of boxed stock for all of my recipes as well. Why should I spend my hard earned pennies on boxed stock that isn’t as good for me as the liquid from the Gods?!

On a side note, Mike and I also started P90X3 last night, so keep an eye out for a review of it once we complete week 1!

Have you tried bone broth? If so, I’d love to hear anything different you do in your recipe. If you’re new to this, are you considering making it since reading this post?

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