Mocha-Chocolate Chip Muffins

I love coffee. I love chocolate. I love baked goodies (the healthy versions, of course). This recipe consists of all of all of these things. So by now you should have realized something.  And that is.. this recipe is awesome.

Oh. I almost forgot to mention that this recipe is free from any refined sugars, grains, gluten & dairy. BOO-YAH. …Who even says boo-yah anymore? Um. Moving on to the recipe before I embarrass myself any further…

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup pureed butternut squash
  • 1 cup nut-butter of choice (peanut, almond, cashew, sunbutter, etc.)
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg (whisked)
  • 2 tbsp cocoa/cacao powder
  • 2 tsp espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips (or dark chocolate) (**I only only put 2 chips on top of each mini muffin, as I feel like there’s already enough chocolate in the muffins!)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350f/175c
  • Steam/Boil butternut squash until it’s tender (you’ll be able to easily stick a fork in it)
  • Use a food processor/blender to puree the butternut OR mash by hand (I’ve done both)
  • Mix all ingredients together
  • Evenly distribute batter amongst 24 mini muffins
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes

Substitutions:

  • Sweet potato in place of butternut squash
  • Crunchy or smooth nut-butters – your preference
  • Substitute another sweetener for the maple syrup (agave nectar, honey, etc)

Enjoy as part of breakfast, brunch, snack, dessert.. Hey, if you want them for lunch: go for it, who am I to judge? Though, I would recommend you accompany it with something a little more nutritious as well.

My excellent assistant, stirring away.

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Sniff test! Yup, that’s good and chocolate-y.

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Into the muffin pan they go! Bake for 15 minutes or so and..

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Voila! Look at these cuties!

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And a close up just to tease you.

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..What are you still doing on here? GO MAKE THESE!

Strawberry-Banana Smoothie

Perfect for a snack, pre or post workout, or even breakfast (though personally I would need something a bit more filling).

Goodies required:

  • 1 banana
  • 5 strawberries (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter, or nut butter
  • 1 cup spinach
  • Handful of ice – for thickening the smoothie
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 tbsp flaxseeds (optional)

Blend all of it together! Put the liquid and softer items at the bottom so that it blends together better.

Both seeds I listed are optional, however both have great nutritional contents so, why not add them? The same goes for the spinach; trust me, the first time someone suggest to me to put spinach in a smoothie I thought, ew! Would it even blend up? That would have to taste awful.  But in reality, you can’t taste it since there’s so much fruit in it – even it does alter the color a bit.  Give it a try, what’s the worst that could happen?! 🙂

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Spinach-Turkey Meatballs

If you’ve never had spaghetti squash, you truly must!  And for those of you who have; you know just as well as I do how amaze-balls (yes, I went there) spag squash is.  What’s so great is you just have to slice it in half, scoop out the guts, and then bake it face down in the pan for about 1 hour.  You then scoop it out, and can serve it virtually any way you want.  It really takes on whatever seasoning or flavors you put in it.  I usually go for either pesto or a tomato sauce, but the possibilities don’t end there.

This recipe is for spinach-turkey balls, which I paired with spaghetti squash (see, my rant wasn’t completely pointless) and a homemade tomato sauce.  I really love these meatballs, however, since making them the first time I found that they could have some more flavor, so I added sauteed fresh basil & some minced garlic in with them.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb ground lean turkey OR chicken
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tbsp parmesan cheese (optional)
  • 2 tsps garlic powder (or a little more for flavor)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 cup spinach, chopped
  • 1/4 cup wholewheat bread crumbs
  • 1 splash almond milk (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 375F or 190C
  • Mix chopped spinach, diced onion, egg, cheese (if using), and milk until a paste forms.
  • Add meat, and then fold in the remaining ingredients.

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  • Roll into 1-2inch balls and place on baking sheet with parchment paper for an easy clean up (or lightly grease the pan)

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  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until brown

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IDEA: If you wanted to make a burger rather than meatballs – you could easily just form these into a patty instead, and either bake them or cook them in the oven.

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I sauteed veggies to go along with it, and made homemade tomato suace; it was a big hit even for my friends and family who typically scoff at my “healthy” alternatives and such.

 

Busy bee

My mom has always called me a busy bee, and I guess it really is true.  I tend to keep myself extremely busy with work, school, gym, cooking, errands, trying to have a bit of life.. You know how it is!

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Fortunately, this fall semester is coming to a close in just about a week now, so I’m going to have a little bit more free time on my hands.  Which means more time to make posts on here!  There are so many recipes that I’m eager to share.   There are also many topics that I want to discuss, such as the benefits of lots of foods, plants, herbs, etc.  I want to address some questions that I’ve had, that some of you may have, such as: what is an omega-3, fatty acid, Do I need them, and if so why, and where can I get it?  Vitamin A, B, C, D, E, K? Iron? Potassium? Is all saturated fat, bad fat?

I think one of the reasons I love health and nutrition so much is I’m constantly learning, and trying new things.  The biggest problem we have as a whole, is we simply don’t know what it is that our bodies need.  Hopefully that’s where I can come in 🙂

How to make aloe vera water, or juice!

About a week ago my boyfriend and I were watching a few documentaries on health, nutrition and wellness.  Holy Moly – they’re so eye opening!  Anyway, lots of foods and herbs were being named and one thing that stuck out to me was aloe vera.  Aloe vera? What?? How do you eat aloe vera? I thought it was only used in lotions and for sunburn?

Aloe vera is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, and full of healing properties. 

Well, then we ended up at this very strange and weird “World Supermarket.”  When I say they had nearly everything, I mean it: from guava, avocados bigger than your fist, to dried shrimp and fresh beef tongue.  I’m trailing off again.. ANYWAY, they had aloe vera! Huge aloe vera leaves for only $.99.  Needless to say, we took that bad boy home with us.

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While in the store we also kept seeing “Aloe Vera Juice” and “Aloe Vera Water” – It was extremely tempting to get some, however after reviewing the nutrition labels and seeing that they loaded it up with a ton of garbage and sugar, I decided I could try to make our own. Anddd, It was unbelievably simple to do!

To cut the aloe vera – you want to remove the green rind, so slice longways.  You also want to be sure to not use the ‘yellow’ gel (closest to the rind), as it can cause stomach cramps and diarrhea (not so cute!).

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You’ll slice until you have just a slab of clear aloe vera.  Just a tip, keep a towel handy as you’re doing this because aloe vera is extremely slimy!

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If you’re like me and you bought a big leaf, then you’re going to have a lot of extra.  I stored the remainder of mine in a mason jar, in the fridge.  However, if you used a smaller leaf, perhaps from aloe vera you’ve grown yourself, you probably will only have about 2 tbsp, which is exactly the amount you need for this “juice”

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To make the juice/water:

2 tbsp aloe vera

8 ounce (1 cup) of juice or water.

Mix in blender, and drink immediately, or store in air tight container in the fridge.

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I personally don’t drink juice, so I did water, then squeezed one slice of lime into it.   It didn’t have much of a taste, so the lime really made it.

You can consume this juice/water, whatever you want to call it up to twice daily.

Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato soup

This was my first attempt at this recipe, and it was sooo good (Is the cook allowed to say that?) Well, I think this soup is actually one of my favorite dishes I’ve made so far!  I found a recipe on instagram, and had to try it.  It was made without any of the additional things I added to it after the soup had been made (mushroom, chicken, cauliflower, etc) – to me just plain soup is not filling enough but YOU should cook it however YOU want it.

And without further adieu.. The recipe!

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Ingredients:

– 4 Tomatoes

– 1/2 Onion

– 1 Red Pepper

– Garlic clove

– 1 cup vegetable broth (or chicken, your choice)

– 1 cup coconut milk (your choice of milk – optional*)

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If you want more than just a plain (but still yummy) soup:

– 1/2 mushroom

– Chicken Breast

– 1 cup cauflower

– 1 diced tomato

Directions: 

1) Preheat oven to 350 F (or 175 c)

2) Dice the onion, red pepper, garlic, (3) tomatoes.

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3) Line a baking dish with aluminum foil for easy clean up, and put the above ingredients in the dish.

4) Add a few dashes of dried herbs to the mix; whatever you have and like: I did paprika, italian herbs, oregano, basil,  and parsley.

5) Bake for 20-25 minutes

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6) Scoop your now roasted vegetables into your blender or food processor (until you get a texture you’re happy with)

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7) Combine 1 cup broth, with the vegetables.  *If desired, add the coconut milk now.  I added it because it just made it smooth, and creamy, and lessened the kick of the paprika* and bring to a boil.  Stir often!

8) You can either stop now, or continue to add like I did.  I just boiled cauliflower, diced 1 tomato, sauteed the mushroom, and shredded a left over chicken breast – then topped with a little goat cheese.

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Bon Appétit!

Paleo Buffalo Chicken Soup

Last night I must’ve known that today was going to be a hectic, long day.  I say this because I told myself, make a crock-pot dinner tomorrow morning before work – and I am SO thankful I did.  I got this recipe from someone I follow on instagram – and her website is actually: http://paleonadime.blogspot.com.  I tweaked the recipe a bit, and am really happy with how it turned out.  However, I did add corn which is not paleo; therefor this version is paleoish! 😛

Recipe:

1 lb chicken breast (diced or shredded – your preference)

1.5 cups carrots (I sliced full carrots but you could use baby carrots)

1 diced sweet potato 

4 cloves minced garlic

1 diced onion

2 cups chicken broth

1/2 – 3/4 cup hot sauce (Use as little or as much as you like depending on your preference)

1 can(15 0z)/cup diced tomato

1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce 

1 can (15 oz) white kidney beans

2 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp cumin

1 tbsp paprika

Salt / Pepper to taste

Mix all of these together in your crock pot; cook on low for 8-10 hours, or high for 4-6 hours.
I actually cooked mine on low for 6 hours and it was fully cooked & the veggies were soft.
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Keep in mind that if you don’t like some of the veggies or other ingredients in here – you can either A) substitute ingredients OR B) simply not include them.  The original recipe called for 2 ribs of celery, sliced.  However, I don’t like celery so I omitted it.  One of my favorite parts of cooking is tweaking the recipe to make it a little different each time – so don’t be afraid to alter recipes and try new things!!