They’re Called Healthy Fats, Right?

I have a fat loaded recipe for you today.

Which really isn’t my kind of thing. (I’m more of a carb-oholic.) I don’t really have trouble passing on most high-fat things. But this recipe is, well, kind of awesome. And at least some of the fat is healthy fat.

Plus, it’s gluten free… so, if you’re into that sort of thing, you’re in luck. Or if you like delicious things, this is for you, specifically.

Sometimes, things are just meant to be. Not in the “Oh my gosh did you see that bartender, I think we’re soulmates” kind of way, more like the “Oh yeah, I totally should have seen that coming” kind of way. Follow me?

Avocado Egg Cups

  • 1 avocado
  • 1 egg (yolk)
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Salk & pepper optional

Slice your avocado in half and remove the pit. (I whack the pit with a knife, and then it generally lifts out just fine. Otherwise you can scoop it with a spoon.) Crack your egg, and separate the yolk and the white. You’re actually just using the yolk for this (but I have plenty of other recipe ideas where you can use the whites. Like this one.) Then separate the yolk into to mostly-equal parts, and fill the pit of the avocado with the egg yolk. See? It’s like it was made for this. Then sprinkle each half with a little cheese and red pepper flakes. I also added the salt and pepper, because it’s fun. Then I baked it in the oven at 400 for about 7 minutes, or until the cheese got all brown and bubbly.

This is the kind of dish that will impress your friends at brunch. It’s also super easy. And full of those healthy fats. (Ok, ok, it’s also packs in some less than healthy saturated fat… but the avocado does have some great omega-3′s!)

Alexa is coming to visit me this weekend, so you can be sure that the camera will follow us wherever we go ;) I’ll have plenty of recipes to share with you! (And if you’re in Charlottesville on Sunday for the blogger meet up… I might even have some treats for you!)

Any big plans for the weekend?

Getting In The Greens

I haven’t been hitting the grocery store as often as normal, so I ran out of greens on Sunday, and wasn’t able to make it to the grocery store until last night. The lack of fresh produce and veggies meant that I was eating a lot of smoothies and yogurt, which I love, but they don’t really pack in a lot of greens the way I normally do.

I think my body was craving greens, because I loaded up on them yesterday.

Breakfast

Ok, this makes me sound a little high maintenance… but every morning starts off with 3 essential drinks.

  1. Water (+ lemon and apple cider vinegar)
  2. Protein shake (+ frozen spinach)
  3. Coffee (+ almond milk and stevia)

I look ridiculous with so many cups on the table. But don’t judge. It’s my thing.

Lunch

I was getting good at packing my lunches, but I was craving a salad. So I had the exact same salad as last week.

This was romaine, chickpeas, tomatoes, onions, carrots, feta, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. So delicious. I could just eat this forever.

Snacky-Snack

I can’t make it through the day without an afternoon snack. Sure, I could probably just eat a bigger lunch, but I kind of love having an afternoon snack. So I usually have something to much on at my desk. I’m addicted to these soy crisps. No greens here, but these actually pack in a decent amount of protein, which helps keep me full until dinner.

Dinner

I ate a light dinner, because I was meeting some girls for drinks at Secco, and didn’t want to be stuffed.

My co-worker (Hi, Angela!) gave me some okra, which I’d never cooked with, but I figured would probably be good roasted.

I sliced it up with a mandolin slicer, sprayed it with a bit of olive oil, sprinkled on some salt and pepper, and roasted it in the oven at 400 for about 15 minutes. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t my favorite. I think okra is probably best fried. Oh well.

I had this with some vegan mac n’ cheese, and it was perfect! I hadn’t had that in forever! Couscous + soymilk + nutritional yeast. Add a little salt and pepper, plus a little paprika, and it’s quite good.

What greens are you eating today?

My New Favorite [Healthy] Snack

This weekend was the perfect balance of activity and laziness.

Friday night, Lindsay and I went to an Etsy Craft Party meet up, where we made postcards and travel journals. It was so fun chatting with all these amazingly crafty people (especially when I’m not one of them… I just admire them).

After the Etsy meet up, we headed over to Ipanema Cafe for the Tumblr meet up. (Yep, I’m on Tumblr, too. Are you?)

We hung out with some awesomely cool hipters, and ate a ridiculous amount of vegetarian food. Oh, Ipanema. You’ll always have a special place in my heart, even if the lighting is so dim I can’t get a decent picture.

Saturday, the weather was rainy and grey all day, so I ran on the treadmill while watching episodes of Portlandia. (See? Sticking with the training plan.) And then Lindsay and I spent the better part of Saturday watching episodes of The New Girl.

We did cook up a vegetarian dinner, which turned out quite well, considering we just pulled together what we had in our pantries.

First we made these stuffed peppers (but with quinoa instead of rice.)

I went back and updated the original recipe post with the new picture, since my photography has come a long way… and those old pictures were pretty ugly.

But after the peppers, we were still craving a little something, so that’s when we decided to make these:

Garlic Roasted Chickpeas

  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic minced (or 1/4 tsp garlic powder)
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper

Toss your chickpeas and olive oil together in a large bowl until the chickpeas are lightly coated. Stir in the rest of the ingredients so the spices are evenly coating the chickpeas. Spread onto a foil lined baking sheet, and pop in the oven at 450 for about 20 minutes, stirring the pan halfway through. They’re done when they shrink up a little bit, and get crunchy on the outside.

 

These won’t last long. They’re super delicious. Crispy, salty, and just the right amount of spicy. And it takes almost no time at all to get these ready for the oven. Oh yeah, and they’re healthy.

This is totally going to be my new favorite snack.

What’s your current favorite snack?

New & Exciting Goal!

I was a little scared to actually announce this as a goal, because once I announce it… I feel like I have to do it. But that’s good, right? (I think it’s called accountability…)

I just signed up for the Richmond half-marathon in November!

I’ve always wanted to try running a half marathon, since the longest distance I’ve done so far is 10K.

As for a training plan, I’m planning on loosely following this plan from Fitness magazine.

But I have a few important imperatives:

  • I refuse to decline social events for “training” – I’m not an Olympian. I don’t have to give up fun for running.
  • I will not get out of bed before 8am on a weekend, unless I’m in the mood to do so, which I won’t be, ever.
  • I will not let running dictate my diet. I’ll eat when I’m hungry, I’ll stop when I’m full. None of that craziness.

So I think I’ll call this the “How To Run A Half Marathon And Still Have A Life” plan.

 

One last thing, time to announce the winner of the Nasoya Giveaway! (I can’t figure out how to paste in the Random Number Generator picture… but it was #89!)

Congrats, to Min of Savor the Rainbow! E-mail me your shipping info, and I’ll have Nasoya send out your prize pack!

Alright, who has some tips for me?

New Eats & Summer Finds

Sometimes it’s embarrassing showing you my eats for the day. Mostly because I often find myself in a food rut, and I eat the same things over and over. Hey, go with what you like, right?

But the past few days, I’ve really branched out, and tried tons of new restaurants and foods. It’s been fun, and I’m finding myself craving new things (hello, feta!) so even though the day started and ended with some favorites… I did try a few new things!

I can’t believe I used to be the kid who didn’t want to try any new foods. Live and learn, right? So here’s a little bit of what I’ve been eating lately:

Ok fine, some things never change.

Yet another one of these smoothies, eaten in a Skippy jar (because after I made those PB cups, the jar was almost gone!) I also had a komucha tea. I wish I could drink these all the time, but at $4 a pop… it’s kind of a special occasion.

I’ve been obsessed with feta these days. So I switched up my usual salad routine and went with this combo:

Romaine, carrots, onions, tomatoes, chickpeas, feta, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. So tasty. I also had some vegetable soup but it didn’t taste very good, and wasn’t very pretty… so no picture.

For dinner, Brian and I went to the Food Truck Court at the VMFA, and since last week I went with a sandwich from Rooster Cart, I figured I needed to try something new this week. I finally tried the Boka truck!

They had a special Sherry Tomato Tako, which was marinated mozzarella, tomatoes, greens, & house made croutons, so basically a delicious salad on a taco. I loved every bite.

You’re not actually surprised to see more frozen yogurt, are you? Come on. Lindsay and I talked our guy friends into going to Sweet Frog with us to end the day with a little unnecessary sugar. I got chocolate & cake batter, obviously, since it’s the best combination.

If you haven’t entered the Nasoya giveaway, it’s not too late!

Have you tried any new foods recently?

Spicy Peanut Tofu (+ A Giveaway)

I have a confession.

I’ve been a vegetarian for about 7 years, and I’ve never prepared tofu. (There was that one time when Brett made me dinner, and I watched him cook tofu. Does that count?) I know, I’m a poor excuse for a vegetarian ;)

Thankfully, the awesome folks at  Nasoya offered to send me the Spork Foods, Spork-Fed cookbook, and some coupons for tofu, so I could give this a try! (They also gave me some awesome shorts. More on that later.) I flipped through the cookbook, which has tons of vegan recipes. They don’t all use tofu but I wanted to try one of those, because I’m always looking for a new adventure.

I flipped to this recipe with spicy peanut sauce, and since I love all things peanut, I figured this would be a good place to start. I did make some tweaks and substitutions along the way, based on what I had in my kitchen. I don’t keep as many vegan products on hand these days, so I had to get a little creative.

Tofu Satay with a Decadent Peanut Sauce

Based on the recipe from Spork-Fed Cookbook

Tofu Ingredients

  • 1 block extra firm tofu
  • 2 tbsp vinegar (it called for rice, I used regular)
  • 1 tbsp natural tasting high heat oil, plus 2 tablespoons (I used coconut)
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar (I used plain granulated sugar)
  • 2 tbsp tamari (I omitted this)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp finely ground pepper

Peanut Sauce ingredients

(I changed this a lot, so it’s not quite like the original!)

  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 almond milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp red pepper flakes

First things first, you have to press your tofu. I just put mine on a plate, and stacked another plate on top of the tofu, and topped with some heavy books. After an hour or so, it was good to go! I sliced it into 8 triangles. Then I mixed together the next 6 ingredients, and marinated the tofu in that for about an hour. While that was marinating, I mixed together the peanut sauce.

I just grilled the tofu on my George Foreman for about 3 minutes. You could also use a grill pan (or a regular grill) but I didn’t have either of those, so George did just fine! I had the peanut sauce on the side for dipping, and ate this with some mix veggies stir fried in soy sauce.

And now, you have a chance to win some goodies of your own!

One lucky reader will win:

  • A copy of the Spork Fed cookbook
  • (5) Coupons for one free Nasoya tofu product
  • A pair of Tofu U gym shorts; (Tofu U is Nasoya’s online tofu college teaching users how to press, prep and cook tofu)

To win, all you have to do is leave a comment telling me your favorite way to use or cook with tofu! [If you have a link to a favorite recipe, I'd love to see those, too.]

You can get a bonus entry for  liking my Facebook page! (Just let me another comment so I know that you did!) The winner will be announced on Friday!

Good luck!

Protein Powder Reviews

I don’t use a lot of protein powder, but I do use it often.

Almost every morning begins with a smoothie, including half a scoop of protein powder. That extra little kick of protein keeps me full in the morning.

When I’m really in the mood for a protein packed lunch, I’ll go for some Greek yogurt with a scoop of protein powder stirred in. (That’s a double punch of protein!)

Since my vegan days (and now my vegetarian days) I’ve tried a lot of different kinds of protein powder. There are still tons more out there, but these are a few I wanted to share today:

1. About Time Whey- Is it fair to start off with my favorite? I absolutely love the Birthday Cake flavor. This is the only protein powder I’ve been able to drink with just water, although I still prefer it in a smoothie. It dissolves well, it has a great flavor, and it doesn’t have added sugars (it’s sweetened with stevia) so it packs 25g of protein in just 100 calories.  When I first ordered it from Amazon, they accidentally shipped me the chocolate flavor, so I’ve tried that one as well. It’s good, but I do prefer Birthday Cake.

2. Designer Whey- This one is easy to find (it’s sold in most Trader Joe’s, grocery stores, etc.) and the overall taste isn’t bad. I’ve tried both chocolate and vanilla (I think I prefer the chocolate). These are reasonably priced, so I’d consider this a second place. I still have some on hand, which I’ve used in different recipes, and it seems to come out fine.

3. Vega- If you’re a vegan, you’ve probably come across this plant based protein. Honestly, the taste isn’t bad. I liked the berry flavor best (which is strange, since I don’t normally prefer the fruity ones) but my biggest complaint is how expensive it is. Plant based protein seems to be more expensive in general, but at almost $50 a tub, I can’t quite justify that.

4. Gen-Soy- I also tried soy protein back in my vegan days, and this was my least favorite. It had a bit of a funky flavor, and it didn’t seem to dissolve as well in my smoothies. I was also using soymilk at the time (I’ve since switched almost exclusively to almond milk) so I was also a little wary of adding even more soy to my diet. This one lost on taste, texture, and ingredients.

I’ve also tried hemp protein powder and rice protein powder but I didn’t like either one, and I couldn’t remember the brands, so I decided not to post a formal review. I’ll just say I didn’t like them and leave it at that ;)
If you’re not into shakes or smoothies, there are plenty of other things you can do with protein powder:

Apple Cinnamon Protein Muffins &Protein Pancakes

My roommates make fun of my when my giant 2lb tubs of protein come in from Amazon, but I always have to have some on hand! I think my next protein recipe will be some kind of homemade protein bar… lately I’ve been so on-the-go that I’ve needed some protein packed snacks! If you have a recipe to share, let me know!

Do you use protein powder? If so, do you have a favorite brand?

Summer Eats [On The Run]

I don’t think I’ve been home for more than 15 minutes at a time, which isn’t too unusual… but it means that I haven’t had time to throw together much more than a quick bite.

But it’s summer, and that’s a perfectly acceptable excuse, right? Right. Don’t tell me you have a bunch of time you were trying to waste in the kitchen. If you do, then feel free to come over and cook for me.

In the mean time, here are some great, quick meals that I’ve been munching on!

Breakfast

I decided to switch things up a little this week, and finally try the sample of Coach’s Oats that the company sent me a few weeks ago. I don’t eat oats a lot, but what I liked about these is, they cook really fast!

Coach’s Oats is similar to steel-cut oats in its nutty texture, but instead of 30 minutes, Coach’s Oats cooks in only five minutes! The groats are toasted to bring the natural sugars to the surface of the oat, and then cracked into small pieces. This patented Cracked n’ Toasted™ process means that Coach’s Oats is never mushy, always naturally delicious and cooks in just five minutes.

It had been awhile since I’d had a bowl of oatmeal! These had a slightly different texture than the rolled oats I’m used it, but they tasted great, and I loved how fast they cooked! I’m definitely keeping a pack or two of these at my desk for an emergency lunch. With a spoonful of peanut butter and some cinnamon, it was quite delicious, not to mention filling.

Lunch

Since I haven’t been cooking much, I haven’t been able to pack leftovers for lunch. Yesterday I just grab some Chobani on my way out the door, mixed in a little protein powder and blueberries.

Holy yum. I seriously will never get sick of this. If I don’t eat this for breakfast, it definitely makes it into another meal. It’s that good. My un-pictured afternoon snack consisted of a mini bag of pretzels and a handful of peanut butter M&Ms. Yeah, it was snack drawer day. No judging.

Dinner

Keeping with the on-the-go theme here, I grabbed dinner at the Food Truck Court with Kate, Lindsay, and Brett.

I went with the El Presidente from Rooster Cart, since the last time I got it with Lauren, they were out of avocado, and Brian raved about how amazing it was with avocado. It lived up to the hype for sure, even if the photo is a little ugly.

Dessert

I may have whipped up a batch of peanut butter cups… as a “welcome to the neighborhood” box for some friends that moved near by. And they may be so easy that they will belong in the 5-ingredients-or-less recipe section.

And my roommates and I may have eaten some. All in the name of testing.

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

  • 2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 6 sheets graham crackers
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter (I used Smooth Operator from PB & Company)
  • Sea salt

Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave (about 4 minutes on 50% power) and in a separate bowl, mash up the graham crackers, powdered sugar, and peanut butter. Drop the peanut butter mixture into muffin liners, (about 3 tbsp each) and then cover with chocolate. Sprinkle with sea salt, and pop in the freezer for about an hour. And there you go.

One last little thing… if you didn’t get a chance to check out the brand new I Heart Vegetables Facebook Page… go on over and give it a “Like” ;)

What are your on-the-go staples?

Finally Facebook-ing

Ok. I did it. I joined the world of Facebook.

I mean I already had a Facebook. But now my blog has a page of it’s very own!

Be a friend, and give it a “like” :)

Click here to go to the I Heart Vegetables Facebook page!

 

Then whip up a plate of these super easy Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries, and call it a day!

 

Hope you’re all having a great Monday!

Navigating the Grocery Store

Let’s get back on track people. Seriously, let’s do it.

Ok, I can blame last week on my birthday. But this week, it’s time to get back to basics. More vegetables, less junk. It’s that simple.

Or so it seems.

Do you ever feel like you keep making the same goals over and over again?

It’s frustrating, I know. I know, because I make them too. So let’s start with healthy eating (what else?!) and where it starts. You may think it starts at the “what’s for dinner” idea… but it’s actually before that.

When you walk into the grocery store, you’re making choices for the rest of the week.

There are two common mistakes people (me) make:

1. You don’t buy healthy food

2. You don’t buy healthy food you actually like

If you don’t have healthy food on hand, you won’t be able to make good choices. And if you don’t buy healthy food that you actually like, it’ll just go to waste.

So here are the staples that I buy at the store, that keep me reaching for healthy food all week:

Clockwise:

  • Almond milk- I like unsweetened vanilla and I use it in my smoothies and my coffee
  • Frozen fruit- I’ll either mix it with yogurt or eat it right out of the bag!
  • Egg Whites- Easily cooked in the microwave with a little string cheese, for a protein packed snack
  • Apples/Bananas- The perfect grab and go snacks (and I use a banana in all my smoothies!)
  • Onions/Tomatoes- Versatile for everything from stir fry to salsa
  • Beans- Canned make it easy for last minute dinners
  • Greek Yogurt- I’ll eat this for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacking!
  • Salad Mix- You’re more likely to eat your vegetables if they’re already washed and ready!

These are the things I stock my cart with when I’m really trying to get back on track. I love pretzels, granola, soy crisps, cereal, and other healthy-ish snacks, but sometimes I have trouble with portion control. Sometimes instead of trying to control it, it’s best to just not have it around. But hey, maybe you’re not all as tempted by Peanut Butter Puffins as I am ;)

I find that lots of veggies and protein tend to be the best way for me to fill up and stay energized. While it’s easy for me to munch my way through a box of cereal, it doesn’t leave me feeling full. I’ll be sticking to protein packed yogurt bowls, and lots of vegetable stir fries!

I started the week off on a pretty good note, with a green smoothie for breakfast, a garlicky kale salad for lunch, and a chipotle burrito bol for dinner. (Hey, I can’t pass on Chipotle!)

What are your grocery store staples?