[Veggie] Burgers

Maybe it’s because it’s summer time. Or maybe it’s because they’re really easy to make. Either way, I’ve been eating a lot more veggie burgers recently. For some reason, when you say “veggie burger” to a carnivore, they get this horrible idea that a veggie burger is some sort of grey-ish patty, with unidentified pieces and parts of dirty and tree bark.

But that’s not the case with these. These are full of delicious and healthy ingredients. Which is more than they can probably say for that frozen patty of… something.

All judgement aside, I’ve tried and tested some new veggie burger recipes, so if you’re looking for something to whip up for dinner, give these a try!

Lindsay and I made these yesterday. We stuck pretty close to a recipe we found online here. Then we stuffed it into a pita with cucumbers and plain greek yogurt. Refreshing and delicious.

I’ve also been cooking up some old favorites:

Kidney Bean Burgers & Black Bean Oat Burgers

Sometimes I just eat them on top of spinach. Sometimes I eat them plain. Sometimes I cover them in ketchup. Really, any way you cut it, you can’t go wrong. They’re easily cooked in batches & frozen, to be used on a lazy night.

Of course, if you’re looking to grab a veggie burger around Richmond, there are some great options:

The black bean burger from Carytown Burgers & Fries will always be one of my favorites.

And Burger Bach has some great options for both vegetarians and meat eaters as well.

As for frozen burgers, the Spicy Black Bean burger from Morningstar Farms is one of my favorites! So if you’re  trying to eat less meat (or you’re already a vegetarian) don’t skip out on summer cookouts! Just BYOBurger and come prepared with one of these alternatives! (Tip: If you’re cooking veggie burgers on a grill, it’s best if they’re frozen, since they are a little more inclined to fall apart!)

What’s your favorite veggie burger?

Healthy Shakes & Hardywood Brewery

Can I state the obvious for a second here? It’s hot. Like really hot. Like I didn’t know it was possible for places to be this hot/humid. But it is. So you have two options:

  1. Complain about the heat every 5 seconds
  2. Pour yourself a cool glass of something

Since I like to see the glass (literally) half full, I went with #2.

While my fro-yo addiction is still going strong, I occasionally satisfy my desire for some cold creamy deliciousness in a slightly cheaper and healthier way. After making an impulse vanilla-wafers purchase, I realized I should do something more than consume the whole box as I dipped them in dark chocolate dreams peanut butter (although that’s a perfectly acceptable thing to do, just so we’re clear on that). I also had some frozen strawberries I wanted to use up, so this was created in my kitchen:

Strawberry Shortcake Shake

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 3 packets stevia (or 6-8 drops of liquid stevia)
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • pinch xanthan gum (optional, but it makes it thicker!)
  • 4 vanilla wafers

Blend everything except the vanilla wafers in a blender until very smooth. Add in 3 of the vanilla wafers and pulse until combined, but you’ve still got some cookie chunks. Crumble the last wafer on top.

The whole shake has 290 calories and 27g of protein and 6g of fiber! For full nutritional info, click here!

If that doesn’t cool you off, then you’re crazy.

Despite the heat, I ventured out to the Food Truck Court at Hardywood Brewery with my friend Kate. I’d been to the Food Truck Court when it was at the VMFA  (you can read about it here) so I knew what to expect, but I’d never been to Hardywood, so I was excited to check the place out.

This place was so cool! Kate’s friend showed us around, and I couldn’t believe how huge the place was! Honestly, it deserves a post all it’s own, when I can spend more time tasting! Maybe I’ll stop in for one of the events, because the summer concert series sounds like so much fun! You can read the whole Hardywood Brewery story here!

Mr. Darcy seemed to enjoy the place, despite the heat, and Kate and I shared some chips & guacamole from the Habenero food truck.

We didn’t get to stay too long, because Lindsay and I were going to the driving range with the boys. Not because I’m a golfer (although this picture could prove that wrong) but because I love whacking golf balls. My dad says I have “good club speed” which is a nice way of saying “sometimes you swing so fast you miss the ball.” But that’s ok. The point is to have fun, and I always have fun!

Which do you prefer: salsa or guacamole?

Feeding the Boys

I like a good challenge. Especially when it’s around getting people to eat more vegetables. So in an attempt to get our friend to eat a few more vegetables, Lindsay and I invited a couple of boys over for dinner, and whipped up a healthy-ish dinner for them.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. It’s Wednesday, and this is what I’ve been eating!

Breakfast

A smoothie with a side of trail mix breakfast cookies

I’ve been using frozen spinach in my smoothies, because it’s way cheaper than fresh. You still can’t taste it, and I’m still getting the benefits of the greens. I call that a win-win.

Lunch

I brought a whole wheat pita from home, and I planned on stuffing it with hummus and veggies, but I was happily surprised to find tabbouleh salad in the cafeteria!

I also added in some cucumbers, tomatoes and onions. It was filling and delicious! I love the flavors in salads like this.

For a grain-free tabbouleh recipe, try this one!

Dinner

Ah the dinner.Making a vegetarian dinner for a bunch of non-vegetarians isn’t easy. We wanted to make something hearty and filling, so they wouldn’t miss the meat. I also didn’t think it was a good idea to attempt any kind of s0y-meat product, because… people get weird about that. We got our inspiration from this recipe, but ended up changing it up a bit, partly because I don’t have a grill!

Whole Wheat Pasta & Roasted Vegetables

  • 1 lb whole wheat spaghetti noodles
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 vine tomatoes
  • 3 bell peppers
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 crown of broccoli
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • Salt, pepper, oregano, basil, & parsley

Preheat the oven to 400. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil and rub with a clove of garlic. Slice your tomatoes and bell peppers into large pieces, cover with foil, and bake for about 30 minutes or until beginning to brown on the bottom. Chop the broccoli and put in a sauce pan, with enough water to cover it. Bring to a slight boil and cook until just tender. In another pot, bring water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the directions. The hardest part is getting all three of these things to be done at the same time, but don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Drain the pasta, and add in 1 tbsp olive oil. Serve the pasta topped with all the vegetables, a little parmesan cheese, and all your spices. Easy-peasy.

After we were full of pasta and veggies, we decided the night was calling for some fro-yo, so we walked over to sweet frog, and I consumed this delicious monster:

I went with chocolate & cake batter flavors with as many toppings as I could cram into the cup. (For more random/cliche instagrams, you should follow me.)

So. Delicious.

What are you making for dinner?

Trail Mix Breakfast Cookies

Last week, I mentioned my trail mix salad. Basically, a short cut to a delicious salad.

So maybe I’ve had trail mix on my brain a little too much. What can I say? I love the stuff, but it’s also pretty dangerous. (The serving size for trail mix is ridiculous. Almost as ridiculous as the serving size for ice cream.)

Anyways. I wanted to make some cookies, inspired by trail mix, but still relatively low in calories. They came out less like a dessert, and more like something you’d grab for an on-the-go breakfast. Actually, I think they’d be quite awesome crumbled up over a bowl of yogurt. But that’s just my guess.

Trail Mix Breakfast Cookies

  • 2 medium, ripe bananas, well mashed (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup flour or almond meal (if you’re trying to stay GF)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp rasins
  • 1 tbsp dried cranberries
  • 1 tbsp crushed walnuts
  • 1 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut

Make sure your bananas are well mashed. Stir in vanilla until combined. Add in your oats, flour, baking powder and salt until well mixed. Ten add in chocolate chips, raisins, cranberries, walnuts, and coconut flakes. You could also add in almonds, dried fruit, or anything else you might find in trail mix. I literally pulled those things out of some Wholesome Goodness Yukon Mix.

Drop rounded tablespoons onto a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray (otherwise they will stick!) and bake at 350 for about 12 minutes. They will be a bit brown on the bottom, but should stay looking light. It makes 12 medium sized cookies. They’re really chewy and moist, and they’re relatively healthy, for a cookie :)

These cookies only have 70 calories and 2g of fat!

For full nutritional info, click here.

Consider this your excuse to eat cookies for breakfast.

The rest of the weekend can be summed up here:

Dirty Dancing theme party with my roommates (Me, Rachel & Stephanie… we don’t normally dress like that) and browsing the market downtown on Saturday with Lindsay. We ran into Brian and had a fun time looking through all the cool art. I love how there is always something going on in Richmond. I think it’s part of why I love the city so much.

If you could justify eating any cookie for breakfast… what would it be?

Easy Oreo Truffles

Tonight, we’re having a going away party for my roommate, who is moving up to D.C. (I’ll miss you, Stephanie!) There will be drinks and all that good stuff, but I got a specific request to make some oreo truffles. I made some for a long time ago, but I never posted the recipe.

Can I even count it as a recipe? It’s so easy.

Should I admit how easy these are?

I guess I should. Because you probably came here looking for an easy recipe. Well these aren’t really healthy. Sorry. But they are easy!

Easy Oreo Truffles

  • 1 package of Oreo cookies (or any sandwich cookie)
  • 1 8oz package of cream cheese
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (I used semi sweet)
  • Coconut (or sprinkles, or crushed peanuts, or anything for sprinkling on top!)

Crumble up the entire package of oreos. It would be easiest in a food processor, but I did it in a blender. You could also just smash them up with a rolling pin in a giant ziploc bag. Totally up to you. Mix in your cream cheese. You can do this in a bowl, or toss it into the food processor.

In a separate bowl, melt 2 cups of chocolate chips in the microwave. (Put it on 50% power, and stir every 30 seconds, so they don’t burn!) Next, roll the oreo/cream cheese mixture into balls. Use a fork to dip them into the melted chocolate.

Place them on wax paper, and sprinkle with optional toppings. I did some coconut, some plain. I also wanted to use crushed walnuts but I didn’t have any on hand.

Trust me, these are simple, but they’re pretty much a guaranteed success.

If you’re just super disappointed that I didn’t have a healthy recipe to share… then go check out these Chocolate Oatmeal Bites. It is all about balance, right?

And, in case you missed it, check out my guest post on Kat’s blog!

What would you sprinkle on top of some Oreo truffles?

Going Overboard

Or maybe going underboard.

The past couple of weeks have been a combination of too much junk food and not enough exercise. It happens. Blame it on Texas, blame it on half-off wine, or blame it on general summer activity. If only walking to Sweet Frog counted as exercise.

So I’m making an effort to get moving. Life has been crazy busy, but that’s no excuse to skip a workout!

I made a step in the right direction on Sunday, when I got myself back in the gym. (No, not that gym.) THIS gym!

I forgot how much I love gymnastics. I also forgot how much my calves would hurt the next day. Ouch. Talk about a calorie burn.

I’ve also tried to return to balanced eating. (Note: eating an entire bag of love grown granola at your desk does not really count as balance.)

Breakfast

I’d been getting really hungry in the middle of the morning, so I pumped up my breakfast with a little extra protein. (For details on the protein powered yogurt, click here!)

Lunch

Ready for the easiest lunch ever? Here we go.

  • Step 1- Open bag of greens
  • Step 2- Add a handful of trail mix (I used Wholesome Goodness Yukon Mix)
  • Step 3- Add balsamic vinegar

Enjoy!

Dinner

I love veggie-packed dinners, but they tend to take a little more thought and preparation. I made it easy on myself and went with a classic stir fry. I did, however, mix in a little something new.

Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, which are amino acids derived from soybeans, taste just like soy sauce. I used a bag of Trader Joe’s frozen veggies, 1 1/2 oz rice noodles, a few sprays of olive oil, and some of the Braggs.

The results was delicious & veggie packed. Plus it was low in calories and sodium. Win-win! Have you tried Bragg’s amino acids? I really couldn’t believe how much it tasted like soy sauce!

So I’m starting to get back on track! If I can’t get to the gym, I try to squeeze in a workout at home, or a walk in the evening. It’s the little things that add up to big changes!

How do you maintain a balance?

Summer [Blogger] Adventures

The weekend was a bit of a blur, but I think that’s because time really does go by faster when you’re enjoying life!

I got to spend quite a bit of the weekend with various bloggers, which is always a good time. One of the best parts is that no one questions why you whip out your camera every 30 seconds. Everyone respects the need to Instagram each moment. Tweeting is second nature. Yep, it feels quite nice.

Friday night, GabbyLaurenShannonKatherineBrittanyValerie, and I went to Happy Hour at the VMFA. They actually have a pretty fantastic happy hour. 1/2 bottles of wine from 5-8pm. Can you beat that? Probably not. And even more conveniently, the food truck court is located a few steps away. So Lauren, Valerie and I met up with the always-fashionable, Brian. Dinner from food trucks, enjoyed outside on the lawn. I was more than content.

Saturday morning, Brittany and I went to the Farmer’s market to pick up some tomatoes for a #CanItForward adventure. Before our canning, we stopped by Fresca on Addison, a local vegetarian restaurant, for some lunch. I had the OMGarlic sandwich, with a kale salad. It was the perfect light lunch.

We spent the afternoon in the kitchen, laughing and talking while we attempted to can some salsa. I can’t really tell you how it is… since it’s in a can… and should probably be there for the next few months, in order for the whole “canning” concept to really work, but I’m sure it’s going to be excellent.

Later that night, my roommate graciously made dinner for me (& her boyfriend, and our friend Erin). Technically, the main dish was ribs, but I turned the salad into a main dish, and let me tell you, it was amazing.

Black Bean & Avocado Salad

This recipe is gluten free & vegan

  • 2 cups black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 2 avocados, sliced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

This is a pretty simple recipe, and you really just need to throw it all into a giant bowl and serve. I wouldn’t recommend making it ahead of time, since you don’t want the avocado to look brown. It also helps if you mix the lemon juice and the olive oil together before mixing into the salad, because it’ll distribute a little better.

I had this with a slice of zucchini bread, and it was a pretty filling dinner! It’s gluten free, vegan, raw, and delicious. I’m definitely going to be making this again soon. It’s light & fresh and perfect for a warm summer night.

Overall, I’d say it was a pretty fantastic weekend!

What summer foods are you enjoying?

Spreading the Love

A few weeks ago, at work, we had a little “ice breaker” activity in one of our big team meetings. We had to create our favorite brand out of play-doh. (Whatever that means.) I immediately decided on Love Grown Foods since they’re just awesome.

I was explaining to my co-workers why Love Grown was such a cool company, and everyone was intrigued! I ended up winning a Starbucks gift card out of the whole ordeal. Not bad, right? But that’s not all! I posted the picture to the Love Grown Facebook page, and they told me they would send me coupons for some free granola!

And then, they far exceeded expectations. They sent me two HUGE boxes of samples. There was seriously probably 100 mini bags of granola, plus big bags of each flavor, a t-shirt, a notebook, stickers, and tons of coupons! I was like a granola fairy, running around work, passing out bags of granola.

As if I didn’t already LOVE them, I just couldn’t stop smiling :)

I’ve been eating this granola non-stop for the past couple of days. I have a bag in my desk drawer, and I’m pretty sure I eat a handful of it every 7 minutes.

Obviously, there are plenty of normal things you can do with granola. But I wanted to glam it up a bit… so I decided to play around with it. And add chocolate, because you really can’t go wrong when you add chocolate.

Prepare yourself for some addictive snacking.

Chocolate Granola Bark

Melt the chocolate chips on a sheet of wax paper in the microwave until soft. When they’re soft, spread it around with a fork, so it makes a thin, but consistent, layer. Crunch your granola up, if it’s really clustered. Then sprinkle across the chocolate. Top with coconut and salt. Gently press the toppings into the chocolate, (so they stick) and pop it in the fridge for 30 min. Crack into bite size pieces and spend the rest of the evening trying not to consume the whole plate.
I’ll warn you… this is addicting. And it might be my new favorite way to eat granola.

How do you eat granola?

Mexican Lasagna

It’s healthy. And gluten free. And easily vegan. And simple. But really, it’s healthy.

I know, that’s what I was thinking. More room for margaritas.

But wait, wait. It’s Wednesday. So let me recap some of my eats really quick. Then we’ll get on to the lasagna, I promise.

Breakfast

Holy coconuts. I was out of granola, and wanted to add a little texture to my banana smoothie. I added a couple tablespoons of unsweetened coconut and it made this smoothie amazing!

  • 1 banana
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 4 handfuls ice
  • water to thin
  • 5 drops stevia
  • 2 tbsp coconut flakes

Lunch

Have you tried this soup from Trader Joe’s? It’s seriously good. Super un-photogenic, but really good. And I have a secret love for Lipton Green Tea. I know, the aspartame will kill me, but I like to pretend it’s better than my previous diet coke addiction. And an apple, well, you can’t judge that.

Snacky Snacks

Ohhh my gosh. These ginger snap cookies are amazing. I could eat the whole bucket. I also had a new (to me) Luna bar flavor which I loved. Luna bars, you’re delicious.

Dinner

Ahhh the dinner. The lasagna!

So I based it off of this recipe, except that one wasn’t vegan, and I also made mine a little simpler. Because I figure, things should be easy.

Mexican Lasagna

Serves 6- vegan & gluten free

  • 1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup canned fat-free refried beans
  • 1 cup corn salsa (I used the kind from Trader Joe’s. You can use just plain corn if you have to)
  • One 10-oz. can diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • Five 6-inch corn tortillas (Use these! They’re so tasty and low calorie!)
  • 3/4 cup soy chorizo (or Lightlife soy crumbles)

Sautee the green pepper & onion over medium heat for 6-8 minutes or until soft. I didn’t use olive oil (just a bit of non-stick spray) but that’s up to you. Stir in the soy chorizo/soy crumbles. Remove from heat.  Cut your tortillas into triangles (four per tortilla, so you have 20 total) Then you’re just going to layer the ingredients in your pan. Start with some peppers and onions and soy chorizo, top with refried beans, top with corn salsa, top with tomatoes, top with tortillas, & repeat. (You should be able to do two of each layer.) At this point, you can add cheese if you want to. If you’re one of those people. Ha.

Bake in the oven at 350 for about 15 minutes. Then serve and enjoy!

Those we’re my eats this week… what are you eating?

Grocery Budget Recap

The past week as been a blur!

I’m sad that vacation is over, but I’m kind of excited to get back into my routine. The whole trip was amazing! I already shared with you some of my eats from Dallas, so let’s skip to Ohio:

My best friend Alexa surprised me, by coming back to Columbus from St. Louis, so I was thrilled to have her around for the week! We went to Jeni’s Ice Cream, because it’s literally the best ice cream you will ever have in your life.

I had a trio of dark chocolate, goat cheese with cherries, and brambleberry crisp. The goat cheese was unbelievably creamy, ad the brambleberry crisp had chunks of pie crust in it. Yes. It’s reason enough to visit Ohio. You can also check out the Jeni’s cookbook, if you’re too far for ice cream.

I spent the weekend in Southern Ohio for a family reunion. Normally I could squeeze in some exercise with hiking or swimming, but it was over 100 degrees, so we spent most of the day inside. I did manage a 2 mile treadmill run, and a circuit workout in the tiny gym. Planks are my friend.

Anyways…

Grocery Budget Recap:

I’m a little late on my recap of June goals, but I’m happy to report that I slashed my grocery budget in half! I normally spend over $300 a month in groceries (which is ridiculous, I know) and in June, I only spent ~$150!

The 3 things that helped the most:

  1. Eating leftovers (from restaurants, or from the night before. I used to be really bad about this. I wouldn’t even take home leftovers from restaurants, because I knew I wouldn’t eat them. Taking them with me to work, rather than buying something in the cafeteria has been awesome.
  2. NOT going to the grocery store just because I was out of something. No yogurt? A smoothie for breakfast will be just fine! I used to go to the grocery store 4+ times a week, justifying it because I wanted fresh produce, or I needed “just that one thing” but forcing myself to make substitutions saved me time, and a lot of money!
  3. Skipping out on pricey snacks, and buying cheaper things in bulk! Sure, Arctic Zero is one of my favorite snacks, but at almost $5 a pint, it need to be more of an “every-once-in-awhile” treat, rather than an every night thing. Making my own protein ice cream is way cheaper!

Some of my favorite budget friendly snacks:

Click for more info: Cheap Frappuchino, Veggie Quesadilla, PB2 & Apple.

I’m really going to try to stay on track in July, as well. It’s not easy, since I absolutely love the grocery store, but I’m going to do my best!

Have you accomplished any goals recently?