Coconut banana chocolate protein pancakes

Part of what I love about cooking is how much flexibility I have with my food.  I can open my fridge and just create dishes from what I have on hand, throwing a little of this, and a little of that to build flavorful meals.  So when it comes to baking, or anything where ratios and measurements are concerned, I tend to shy away.  I like getting the occasional inspiration from recipes, but not following them.

This is something I’m trying to change my mind set about.  Measuring shouldn’t be my enemy, and I can still make recipes “my own” while following someone else’s direction.  So I wanted to try out something I hadn’t made before, protein pancakes.  My view of pancakes was always that the batter was a difficult thing to perfect.   You were either using a box mix (no thank you), or measuring out ingredients exactly (yikes), or you were ending up with a disaster.  I’m actually not a huge fan of regular pancakes, they leave me feeling too full and weighed down, but this healthier version piqued my interest and I decided to start researching it.

In looking around the internet at recipes I realized that most of them all had similar base ingredients and similar ratios.  Happily, I decided to compile a general outline to follow and then decided to put my own twist on them.

The result: Coconut banana chocolate protein pancakes, drizzled with honey, natural peanut butter and dark chocolate dreams peanut butter.  A-MAZ-ING.

Coconut banana chocolate protein pancakes

I’ve decided to count this as a positive step and compromise in my fear towards recipes and a hopeful move in the direction of easing my fear of baking.  😉 There will be more experiments to come I’m sure!

Here’s what I used:

1 scoop protein powder (I use Garden of Life Organic Raw Cocoa Protein)

½ cup egg whites

½ organic banana

¼ cup organic oats

1 TBS organic coconut flour

1/8 cup (Silk) coconut milk

1/8 TBS baking soda

2 dashes of cinnamon (optional)

Dash of nutmeg (optional)

Blend it all together.  You can use a regular blender or I used my smoothie blender cup (kind of like a magic bullet but cheaper haha)

Cook over medium low heat in a skillet sprayed with coconut oil.  You know they’re ready to flip when bubbles start to form and pop!  This made 3 decent sized pancakes for me, and yes, I ate them all. 

I finished them off with a drizzle of honey, and then melted in the microwave a healthy tablespoon of Whole Foods fresh ground natural peanut butter and Peanut Butter & Co Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter.  Simply delicious!!


Healthy Cauliflower “Fried Rice”

I’ve been having really hectic weekends lately.  Between the semester almost ending and all the presentations and school work that go along with that, and all of the friends in my life having babies and getting married, I haven’t had much time to prep my weekday meals like I usually do.  What this means for me is I’ve been eating a lot of salads and tuna haha. 

Luckily, last night I finally had some free time to get back in my favorite place, the kitchen.  I wanted to make a dish that I knew would yield a lot of food for me, but wouldn’t be a lot of work because I was exhausted! I love this dish because it’s not only packed with veggies, but it’s simple and easy to make!! I’m not a huge fan of take-out food, but if you’re a fried rice lover, I highly suggest trying this instead.  It’s a much healthier and more nutritious option and you will be pleasantly surprised at how much it tastes like you’re actually eating fried rice!

cauliflower fried rice

You can really throw whatever veggies you want into it, but here’s what I used:

  • ½ onion diced
  • ½ red bell pepper diced
  • ½ yellow bell pepper diced
  • Hand grated 5 baby carrots (because that’s what I had in my fridge!)
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • Fresh grated ginger

You’ll also need:

  • 1TBS oil (I use extra virgin coconut oil)
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 TBS low sodium soy sauce
  • Any protein you may want to add
  • salt and pepper of course 😉

Start by sautéing your onions in 1 TBS of oil until translucent.  Then add the garlic, ginger, and other veggies and cook through.

While the veggies are cooking, cut off the florets of the head of cauliflower.  Some stem is ok, just not big pieces of it as it doesn’t process as nicely as the florets do.  Pulse them in your food processor until you get a rice-like consistency.

Add the cauliflower rice to the pot of veggies and stir to combine.

While the added cauliflower is cooking through, I whisked together the 2 eggs and scrambled them in a separate small pan. 

To finish, add the soy sauce and scrambled eggs, (add whatever cooked protein you would like at this step too) mix it all together and voila! Dinner is served! This made 4 servings for me, but really I wanted to eat it ALL! I served it with some hand cut chili spice sweet potato fries that I made also, but that’s another post! Hope you enjoy!!

cauliflower fried rice and chili spice sweet potato fries

Breakfast fail to fix — Busy Morning’s Peanut Butter Banana Nut Oatmeal

Busy happens.  In my life busy is what I love and what I thrive off of, but even for me occasionally there ends up being too many things to do in a day.  For instance, I haven’t put a blog post up in about a week.  I’ve started writing many posts but haven’t been able to complete them because I have too much going on and they get pushed aside.  However, one thing that doesn’t get pushed aside is my health.  It’s so easy to think in terms of the present and instant gratification.  Yet, I make a conscious effort to stay aware of my food and health decisions in the now because I know they will affect me later too. Busy or not, I still cook for myself and eat well and maintain my active lifestyle, because I make it a priority.  But! Like I said, I understand busy.  My dishes haven’t been creative, and certainly nothing special enough to be picture worthy in my eyes.  But I stick with it and I plan ahead and even if my food isn’t pretty, it’s delicious and healthy and I feel great after eating it, and that’s what matters most.

I wanted to share my breakfast from this morning because it was almost an epic “too busy” fail moment.  Oatmeal is something that’s quick and easy to make for breakfast, and filling and nutritious too, so I turn to it a lot on hectic mornings.  I boil 2/3 cup of water, add 1/3 cup of old fashioned oats, and simmer on medium for about 5 minutes.  This morning I let the time get away from me and I came back to over-cooked oats! But instead of getting frustrated, I improvised.  I added a little bit more water, a bunch of cinnamon and mashed an entire banana into the mixture and let it heat through.  Tasted like banana muffins so I kept going…crumbled some walnuts on top and a big spoonful of natural peanut butter and it was amazing!  I will definitely make this again, and not just the days I mess up my regular oatmeal haha.  It’s just another simple breakfast idea, or fix in my case, to keep on hand for those busy, hectic mornings when you just don’t think you have time to eat healthy.

peanut butter banana nut oatmeal

peanut butter banana nut oatmeal close up

Daily Don’t Forget: WATER!!

One of the simplest changes you can make in your day that has great health benefits is to drink more water!

First thing in the morning, as soon as I wake up, I drink a BIG glass of cold water.  Drinking at least 16 oz of chilled water in the morning can boost your metabolism 24%!! Throughout the day I try and fill my water bottle at least 5 times while I’m at work, and then I drink another 2 bottles of water at the gym typically.  While it does mean that you’re making more trips to the bathroom, haha, the benefits definitely make it all worth it!!

  • Water helps convert food to energy, and staying hydrated ensures that your organs work properly and helps your body absorb nutrients. With these benefits and an increased metabolism, it can easily add up to being an aid with weight loss!
  • Water flushes out toxins in your body and helps in the removal of waste.
  • It also regulates body temperature and helps protect your organs and joints.
  • Drinking more water and staying hydrated can also give you more energy and better concentration since a major cause of fatigue is dehydration.
  • Hydrating enough also means your skin gets the health benefits: clearer skin and less visible wrinkles!

Lulu Lemon water bottle

I’m lucky enough to have purified water at my job so I use my awesome glass water bottle from Lululemon while I’m at work.  But I also carry a Brita water bottle with me to the gym so I’m not going through tons of plastic bottles throughout my day.

So try it out tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day.  Make it a “don’t forget” and you’ll be glad you did.  You’re body will thank you and you’ll feel great.

Zucchini noodles with fire roasted tomato, artichoke, and tempeh sauce

Meatless Monday is a trend growing in popularity, and I love the idea of people incorporating more healthy, meat-free meals into their diet.  While I’m someone who can, and has, gone strict vegetarian in the past, I decided to take the opportunity to experiment more with vegan options for dinners on Mondays. Vegan can be a scary word to some, and even I never thought it was something I would be able to do, mainly because of my love for cheese. But since cutting dairy from my diet, I’ve found it’s really not that far from how I usually cook anyways.

Zucchini noodles with fire roasted tomato, artichoke, and tempeh sauce
The sauce is a mock meat sauce made with organic tempeh with flax, organic fire roasted tomatoes and artichoke hearts. Tempeh is a great source of protein and alternative for vegans and vegetarians. It’s made up of fermented soy and brown rice and this particular kind I purchased also had flax in it. It has a distinct nutty flavor and can be used in a variety of dishes.

Instead of using pasta, I made my favorite alternative, zucchini noodles.  Its a staple in my summer meals when I literally have friends giving me tons of zucchini from their gardens because they can’t eat it all.  It’s light, crisp, and refreshing all while upping your veggie intake and providing you with tons vitamin C and fiber to fill you up.

The sauce: Crumble 1 package of organic tempeh into small pieces, sauteing in 1 TBS of organic coconut oil until lightly browned.  Add 1 can of organic fire roasted tomatoes, and dice and add 1/2 can of quartered artichoke hearts.  Season with garlic and onion powder, oregano, salt and pepper to taste.  I also kept about 1/4 cup of water on the side which I added occasionally to make the sauce slightly thinner because I prefer my sauces that way, but it’s optional.  Simmer for about 20 minutes to let all the flavors come together.

The “noodles”: I used 2 medium sized organic zucchini, and it made about 3 servings worth of noodles.  Trim the ends off the zucchini and use a vegetable peeler to peel the length of the zucchini into linguine-like strips.  Work you way around the zucchini peeling until you get to the center of the vegetable where the seeds are .  You can either eat the noodles raw or throw them in a steamer basket for a few minutes to soften them up some.  Be careful to not over cook them because they will get mushy.  You want them “al dente” like a pasta would be 😉

Because I miss my cheese so much, I also sprinkled some nutritional yeast on top, which has a nutty cheese-like flavor.  And there you have it! Light, vegan friendly and delicious!