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!

Transformation

Transformation

Not all that long ago I wasn’t conscious of what I consumed, and I didn’t exercise on a regular basis. With that being said, I wasn’t as bad as I could’ve been, however I was no where near where I should’ve, needed, or even wanted to be. In 8 months I turned that around, and took control of my body. With eating a generally clean diet, and regular exercise, I’ve come a long way. Now, there’s no stopping me.

Look out world ūüôā

Who says making quiche is hard?

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My favorite food is breakfast. Or even better, brunch. ¬†I don’t know what it is about these delectable foods that we get to consume in the AM that I love so much, but I do. ¬†Quiche however, is an exception. ¬†You can have quiche with literally any meal. ¬†Breakfast? Yes. Brunch? Aww yea! Dinner? Oh, why yes you can. Snack time? Don’t mind if I do. ¬†Pair your quiche with a salad and some balsamic vinegar and you’ve got a fantastic meal.

Unfortunately though, there’s this illusion that quiche is hard to make. ¬†I’m here to tell you on the contrary, quiche is quite simple to make. ¬†You can make it as a big quiche for everyone to share, or in muffin tins so everyone can just grab their own. ¬†Honestly, I prefer mini quiches.. Probably because they’re just so darn cute. But also, you don’t have to make the entire batch the same. ¬†Which would be especially useful if you had a vegetarian friend coming over, but you would personally like some ham or sausage in yours.

All right, all right.. I’ll stop blabbing on now.

What you’ll need:

*The veggies you put in is going to depend on what kind of quiche you want to make! The one below is just for spinach and mushroom. You can easily add cherry tomatoes, peppers (aka capsicum), onion, artichoke, etc.  With all of these I would do about about 1 cup.

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 8 oz (or 1-2 cups) baby-bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup shredded cheese of your choice (optional)
  • Splash of milk (optional)
  • 1 tbsp basil and/or oregano (optional)

Steps:

  • Preheat to 375F/190C
  • Sautee mushroom
  • Using about medium heat, cook the spinach until wilted

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  • Mix all ingredients together
  • Lightly spray pan with cooking spray (or put liners in)
  • Fill about 3/4 full

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  • Bake for 20-25 minutes

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If you would prefer to do these in a bigger dish, you don’t have the change anything for the recipe, only add about 10 minutes to the cook time. ¬†Use the toothpick trick to check if it’s done.

Grinch Fruit Kebabs

I found this idea on Pinterest, so I unfortunately can’t take the credit for these cuties. ¬†Over the holidays I saw several different versions: some opting out of the banana altogether. ¬†Another (which I think is my favorite) was chopping just a little bit of the grape off so that it could stand on it’s own – so then they’re standing upright on the plate. ¬†I believe next year that’s how I will make these. ¬†They were just so easy to put together, and I actually had majority of the ingredients.¬†

 

HO HO HOpe everyone enjoyed this Holiday season! Now, I’m ready to start the new year!

 

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Chocolate-Avocado Muffins

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I don’t know about you, but even though I eat clean, does NOT mean I don’t have a sweet tooth. And because of this, in order to refrain from having guilty pleasures ohh I don’t know..everyyyday: I find healthy alternatives to foods that usually would blow my diet completely out of whack. ¬†(Also, can I just say that when I use the word ‘diet’ I mean it by the kinds of foods that I habitually eat – rather than a ‘restricted’ food list). ¬†I’d apologize about stepping onto my soapbox buuut, I’m actually not sorry ūüėČ

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cup Wholewheat OR wholemeal flour
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup or agave nectar¬†
  • 3/4 cup almond/coconut/OR soy milk (your preference)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa or cacao (preferably dark)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 medium avocado, pitted
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon¬†

OPTIONAL:

  • 1/2 cup (dark) chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, etc)

 

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INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Mix avocado, oil, vanilla together in food processor or blender until smooth.
  • Gradually add the rest of the dry ingredients, adding milk as you go so that it makes them easier to mix

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  • Put in muffin tins, or even do in a bread loaf if you prefer
  • Bake for 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean
  • Now.. ENJOY YOUR SCRUMPTIOUS AND HEALTHY MUFFINS ūüôā

 

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Oh, and if you’re wondering if you can taste the avo; no, no you can’t. So enjoy those extra nutrients in your muffins without having to suffer through an avo (though, avocados are lovely anyway!)

Aloe Vera Benefits for Skin

Hi there!

It’s been a little bit since I posted about how to make aloe vera juice, and I really want to elaborate about the health benefits of aloe. ¬†

Aloe is a superfood when you consume it; aiding in digestion, immune system, and even weight loss. ¬†In addition to this, it’s amazing for your skin. ¬†Yes, yes, yes – we’ve all bought the crap in the bottle when we are sunburnt to a crisp. ¬†HOWEVER, sunburn is only one of the many ways aloe can be used. ¬†Aloe vera has been used for more than 5,000 years – to the Egyptian times. ¬†Aloe vera has been used to treat burns (not just sunburn!), cuts, eczema, psoriasis, and even acne. Yes, ACNE. ¬†

I’ve always struggled a bit with acne. ¬†I’ve never had very problematic acne, however I’ve never had a very clear face, and though I had to admit it, I get the few random pimples on my back, and chest, and worst of all.. arm pits! ¬†A little over a month ago I started breaking out really bad in my underarms, due to a few different reasons. ¬†With all of the lifting I’ve done over the past 6 months, my body has changed. ¬†A lot of my shirts no longer fit; they’re so tight on my arms that the seam is right in my arm pit — causing an acne-like rash. ¬†My sports bras were not helping this matter either, in fact they were just making it worse. ¬†I became so self conscious of it that I wouldn’t wear a tank top to the gym like I typically would. ¬†In addition to feeling like a hideous creature from this rash, it hurt.. and it hurt bad.

For weeks I had tried everything; various dermalogica (which is what I typically use on my face since I have extremely sensitive skin) products, scrubs, astringent, masks, toothpaste, the list could go on and on. ¬†I tried different variations of all of these products and nothing worked, I wasn’t getting ANY relief.¬†So after no prevail, I decided to use the aloe on my skin as well. ¬†I put it on my face, neck, chest, and underarms twice a day. ¬†

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When I say that after one day I could already tell a difference, I’m not kidding. ¬†I couldn’t believe it. ¬†After a week of using aloe vera the rash in my underarms was gone, and my face was very clear. ¬†My face was not only clear, but very soft as well. ¬†Last week I was told that I have such a good complexion.. I was in shock, I’ve NEVER been told that before. ¬†

After using aloe vera on my skin I feel so much better about myself. ¬†I’ve never been one to wear very much makeup, however I nearly always put at least a little foundation on the “problem spots,” even though the makeup is one of the things that makes me breakout in the first place. Now, I rarely use any foundation (except for maybe for the big, dark spots under my eyes) because my face is that clear! ¬†¬†

We spend so much money on all of these “beauty” products that are full of all kinds of garbage that aren’t good for your body. ¬†We spend all of this money on beauty products that sometimes, and when I say sometimes I mean most of the time, don’t even work. ¬†So then we spend more money buying other products to cover up blemishes, etc.. Where is the logic in this?! Simple answer, there is none.

Food for thought: When you put lotion on, your skin soaks it. ¬†Have you ever thought of where it’s going? It’s absorbed into your skin, and goes into your body; to your blood, organs, etc. ¬†Now, have you ever really taken the time to look at the ingredients in your lotion? I encourage you to take a look at it, and google the ingredients that you aren’t familiar with. ¬†Are they ingredients you would want to eat? No? You wouldn’t want to consume these ingredients? Then why are you putting them on your skin, to be absorbed into your body.. just as if you ate it. Gross, right?

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 ūüôā

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 Рthen 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! ūüėõ

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!!