[Low Cal] Creamy Peanut Butter Dip

I have a slight obsession.

If you’ve spent more than an hour or two with me, you’ll quickly learn I have an addition to peanut butter. Let’s not call it a problem. Because it’s so delicious, that seems unfair.

It only becomes a problem when I can’t talk my spoon out of taking a dip in the jar. Over and over.

Anyways.

We all know apples + peanut butter = amazingness. 

The problem is, it takes like, 3 tbsp of peanut butter to sufficiently dip an entire apple. And while I love peanut butter, I do have to face the facts, that 1 measly tablespoon packs in 100 calories. Wow do those add up quickly. What’s a girl to do?

Whip up a batch of this creamy peanut butter dip, and start snacking!

Creamy Peanut Butter Dip

  • 3 tbsp greek yogurt (plain or vanilla can work)
  • 2 tbsp peanut flour (see note below)
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of stevia (optional)

Note: If you can’t find peanut flour (or PB2) and you don’t feel like ordering it from Amazon, feel free to use regular peanut butter! It’ll be a little higher in fat and calories, but at least it’s good fat! You can reduce it down to 1 tbsp and it’ll still be super creamy and peanut butter-y.

Just mix all your ingredients together in a small dish, and start dipping! I also think this would be pretty good on toast, with pretzels, or… with a spoon ;)

Delicious.

I don’t know about you, but this week seemed to fly by. I’m happy it’s the weekend, but the weekdays we’re pretty fantastic on their own. On Wednesday, I did get a chance to go to Kuba Kuba, where I hadn’t been since my vegan days, (where the menu was a little more limiting…) so I was excited to try the Roasted Red Pepper and Asparagus Tortilla.

This spanish style omelete was delicious, especially with a little hot sauce on top. It was also super filling! I ended up taking half of it home for later. Our server was friendly, and it reminded me how happy I am to be in a city with so many great local spots. Richmond, you’re pretty great :)

Have you ever had Cuban food?

Staying Warm & Tree Trimming

I love this time of year, when fall begins turning into winter. I’m not a huge fan of the cold, but any excuse to make hot chocolate is fine with me.

I’m now the proud owner of my first (fake) Christmas tree:

We decorated that bad boy on Monday night, and I think it looks pretty good. I’m allowed to say that, right?

It wouldn’t feel like the holiday’s without some sugar cookies, so these happened:

If you’re looking for a good sugar cookie recipe, I used this one from my roommate, and it’s quite good.

Also, did you know that basically every brand of regular store-bought frosting has hydrogenated oil? If there are “natural” brands out there, I couldn’t find them. Anyone have suggestions? So for the frosting, I thew this together:

Simple Butter Creme Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter, softend
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 -4 tbsp milk (I used almond milk)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt

As long as your butter is softened (but not melted) this is pretty easy. I didn’t even use an electric mixer. Just a fork, and some bicep (tricep?) muscles. Stir until smooth. Add sprinkles if you’re feeling extra festive.

Oh, and you know what goes well with cookies? Hot chocolate. Hey, I don’t make this stuff up.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate

  • 3/4 cup water or milk
  • 3 tbsp hot chocolate mix
  • 2 tbsp peppermint schnapps (optional, obviously)
  • Whipped cream + crushed candy canes

Heat up the first two ingredients, add some schnapps, (or peppermint extract!) and top with whipped creme and crushed candy canes. Doesn’t get more festive than that.

What are some of your favorite things about the colder weather?

Wheat Berry Greek Salad

If you’re like me, you might still be full from holiday festivities. I think my body was in shock for a few days from the amount of sugar I consumed. Hey, it happens. So you might be on the hunt for a lighter recipe. Something simple & healthy that can get you back on track after a little holiday splurging.

I’ve been obsessed with the Wheat Berry salad at the Ellwood Thompson’s hot bar, so I decided to whip up my own version at home!

If you’ve never had them, a “wheat berry” is the entire wheat kernel. They have a slightly crunchy texture, and add a nice heartiness to lighter salads. I love tossing them on top of greens. I guess they’re like a cross between quinoa and rice, in terms of texture.

Wheat Berry Greek Salad

  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup wheat berries
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 tbsp chopped sundried tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • Pinch of salt

Start by bringing the water and the wheat berries to a boil. It’ll take about an hour for them to cook. Once they absorb the water, they will be tender. Drain and set aside and let cool. Once the wheat berries are room temperature, toss them with the olive oil, cheese, sundried tomatoes, grape tomatoes, parsley and salt. I sliced the tomatoes in half, but you can leave them whole. Either way, it’ll be delicious.

Just how good are they?

Like barley and lentils, wheat berries pack plenty of fiber and protein. Just a 1/4 cup (uncooked) have 6g fiber, 6g protein, and only 160 calories. Also, they’re super cheap! Definitely worth giving them a chance.

While I was home in Columbus, I did managed to squeeze in a hilly run, as well as a couple of Jillian Michael’s workouts. If you haven’t tried her power yoga DVD, I highly recommend it! You can read the full review here, but I can promise your triceps will be sore the next day!

What do you eat to get back on track after a holiday?

Laid Back Friday

What a glorious day of eating, relaxing, and spending time with family!

Me, my grandma, and my mom. Aw, three generations.

Kate came home with me for Thanksgiving. A pretty freaking sweet +1, if I do say so myself.

Awkward family photo? Sure.

I’ll be back on Monday with a new recipe for you, but for now, I’m going to spend time away from the computer, and catch up with my family! I hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend!

Last Minute Baking

I love baking. A night spent in the kitchen, particularly with friends, is a night well spent.

Monday night, I went over to Conor’s house, to bake a bunch of goodies for a bake sale at work, to benefit the Richmond Food Bank. Baking for a cause? Heck yes.

Since we were trying to make tons of goodies, I kept my recipes super simple. First, I whipped up a batch of vegan chocolate pumpkin cupcakes, with some pumpkin spice frosting.

Wait, you know the pumpkin trick, right?

Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes

  • 1 16 oz can pumpkin puree
  • 1 box devils food cake mix

Mix the two together, and drop 1/4 cup batter into cupcake liners, and bake at 350 for about 15 minutes. For reals. That’s a thing.

Then I made some frosting, and sadly, I can’t share the recipe, because I kind of just made it up as I went. It was lots of powdered sugar, some canned pumpkin, a little vegan margarine, and a lot of pumpkin spice. Blended to perfection. Basically. But you could always just add a few tablespoons of pumpkin, and some pumpkin spice to a can of vanilla frosting. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone. Or you could use this coconut frosting. Why not, right?

After that, I whipped up some gluten-free peanut butter cookies, because they’re so easy.

We might have made a bit of a mess. It happens. And it’s so worth it. Now I need to go pick a recipe to make for Thanksgiving!

What are you baking these days?

2 Years of Veggie Loving

It’s fitting that my 2 year “anniversary” of staring this blog coincides with Thanksgiving. It sounds cheesy to say, but I’m truly thankful for this blog, and all that I’ve learned from it! It’s given me the opportunity to meet some amazing, supportive, inspirational people, and it’s allowed me the unique opportunity to literally “look back” on everything that has happened.

I honestly want to just say a huge thank you to every single one of you that has stopped by this blog. It still amazes me that people out there keep coming back to hear my crazy ramblings on how much I love vegetables ;)

Blogging has opened up so many opportunities, and pushed me to try things I never would have considered before. Here are some of my favorite moments from the past 2 years, captured in blog-form.

The first (unofficial) Virginia is for Bloggers meet up, (look how it’s grown!) where I have met so many amazing people!

My attempt at incredibly random forms of exercise, including roller derby and pole dancing. As well as my first cooking class, my first race, and my so many blogger meet ups!

An ever expanding list of delicious Richmond restaurant reviews, where I’ve tried new favorites like TVP tacos and all sorts of Pakistani food.

And let’s not forget all of the recipes I’ve had fun creating over the past couple of years.

*Click the photo to go to the recipe page!*

It’s been a fantastic 2 years, and I’m excited to see what this next year holds!

Thank you to each and every one of you :)

CrossFitting In

I’ve been putting it off. But I finally gave CrossFit a try. It’s so different from my normal workout style, I figured it would be a good way to push myself into something new! Now that I’m running a lot less, I’m looking for new classes to keep me from getting bored. CrossFit seemed like a good thing to try.

So let me be totally honest. When I walked into CrossFit RVA I kind of expected to hate it. It just seemed so different from everything I’d done before, and the gym is seriously intimidating. At first. But the thing is, everyone turned out to be so friendly! The trainers were super nice, and everyone was cheering each other on. It really was like a little community! (And even though I was a total newbie, everyone was so supportive!)

Each workout is a new circuit, and the hardest part of the whole thing was remembering all the parts of the circuit ;) I got to try all types of different lifts, which was kind of cool. I think my favorite part was the box jumps. Can I do that all the time?

What I Liked

  • The instructors demonstrated everything, and had us practice with PVC pipes before we tried the moves with weights.
  • From the warm up to the actual circuit, you keep moving! I’m definitely sore today!
  • The people were so friendly and encouraging! I looked like a total dork, but they cheered me on anyway.

What I Disliked Am Still Thinking About

  • I’m not sure what my fitness goals are… and I’m not sure that “lifting heavy things” is on there. ;)
  • Since I’m totally new to a lot of the lifts, I was a little afraid of doing something wrong, and hurting myself (although the trainers were readily available!)
  • CrossFit is expensive. I already have two gym memberships, plus gymnastics, so it starts to add up.

Overall, I’m really glad I tried it! I’ll definitely be going back, and it really was such a different workout than I’m used to doing. I love circuit type workouts because they’re so efficient, and I like that the CrossFit classes change each day, so your muscles never get used to a certain workout!

And the trainer said he’d never seen anyone smile so much during a workout. Oops? I guess I was pretty excited ;)

Have you ever tried CrossFit?

City Eats in RVA

Ok fine. I admit it. Sometimes I go an entire weekend without ever really cooking anything. Stop judging! It happens. When you’re in walking distance of so many cute restaurants, it’s hard not to bounce around from one place to the next. Since I had a long weekend, I had even more time to hit up some of my favorite local spots.

So here’s What I Ate Wednesday: RVA Edition.

Breakfast

I woke up to a typical smoothie. Nothing exciting. But after breakfast, I headed to Lamplighter for a cup of (strong) coffee.

If you’re looking for a super hipster coffee shop, this is your place. It was such perfect weather, I sipped on this cup in the sunshine. Perfect way to spend a morning.

Lunch

For lunch, I met up with Conor at Kitchen 64 and had my favorite salad… Greek. Love me some Feta.

Dinner

Sunday night, I stopped by Don’t Look Back for some delicious tacos. I had a black bean taco and a TVP taco. I loooove TVP. (I know, I know, textured vegetable protein doesn’t sound delicious, but trust me. It is.)

This place is so freaking delicious. I blogged an “official” review on Virginia Bloggers here. But the point is, if you live in Richmond, you should go eat there. It’s also pretty cheap, at $3 a taco. Just go. Tell them I sent you.

Richmond

With a city this beautiful, how can I not go exploring? Richmond, you’re wonderful.

Do you have a favorite local coffee shop in your city?

The Perfect Weekend

I think it actually was the perfect weekend. I literally can’t think of how to make it better. Let’s take a look at Saturday:

I woke up around 6am, to eat a quick smoothie before the race. For the record, a banana smoothie in a Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter jar is the perfect pre-race fuel, in my opinion.

Then met up with Valerie and Martha, and headed to the starting line. I had a bit of pre-race jitters, but I was mostly excited. Since it was my first half marathon, my only goal was to finish, regardless of how slowly I needed to run.

The weather ended up being sunny and cool, but not too chilly. The course was fun, and I’d never really run on the north side of Richmond before, so it was nice to have some new scenery. I could totally see why this race is voted America’s Friendliest Race, because there were people all along the way cheering us along!

The best part was definitely getting close to the finish line and seeing Kate and Alex holding the best sign ever:

Seriously, I have the best friends. And after I crossed the finish line, I was high on endorphins ;)

The afternoon consistend of multiple cups of coffee from Crossroads. Maybe it was the caffeine. But at some point I decided I needed to own a Nintendo. I don’t know why, but it needed to happen. So my guy friends helped me pick out everything I needed. We literally ended the night eating cupcakes & pizza while playing video games. What can I say? I had the dream night of an 8th grade boy. It happens.

I do have one super quick, super simple recipe to share! I didn’t get my *real* camera out all day, so I apologize for the instagrams!

[Super Simple] Peanut Butter Frosting

  • 1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup almond/soy milk
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Does these even count as a recipe? Honestly, I don’t know. But it’s great when you have a box of cake mix, but no frosting on hand. Mix your peanut butter and milk of choice first. Slowly add in the powdered sugar until you reach your desired consistency. Depending on how creamy/oily your peanut butter is, you might need to add a little bit more milk. If you don’t use it right away, and it starts to set, just add another little splash of milk.

Simple. Delicious. Done.

What was the best part of your weekend?

Banana Bread [Protein] Pancakes

I had a post all planned for today.

A nice update on the Get Well Challenge, the meeting with my dietician, picking up my race packet for the half marathon tomorrow… all those cool things. (Which, by the way, are all going quite well.)

And then this happened:

Breakfast for dinner.

But not just any breakfast. Don’t get me wrong, pancakes for dinner has a time and a place. (Like pretty much any time and place.)

But wait. These aren’t your run-of-the-mill pancakes. Not at ALL. And not just because they’re gluten free, but also because they’re absolutely packed with protein. Packed. Yes, yes, I’ve made protein pancakes before, but I admitted they were a little dry, and I was looking for improvements. I decided to revisit them, and I’m so glad I did. These basically taste like fresh out of the oven banana bread, in pancake form.

Banana Protein Pancakes

  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 banana, mashed
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of stevia or sugar

They’re super easy to make! Just throw it all in a bowl and mix. The cook like regular pancakes! I topped mine with a tablespoon of Justin’s Hazelnut Butter. All you Nutella lovers, put down that jar of sugar and grab real hazelnut butter. It still has some sugar… but it actually tastes like hazelnuts. Win-win.

Click here for the full nutritional info. Basically, you’re looking at 375 calories, 7g fiber and 40g protein. I actually only at half the batch, topped it with the hazelnut butter, and finished off the rest of the Chobani container. Perfect.

Anyways, I’m keeping today pretty low key, resting up for the half marathon tomorrow! I’ve put together a pretty awesome playlist. I’m not going to lie. I wouldn’t necessarily defend these songs as the best, but they’ll get your butt in gear. If you have a Spotify account, you can download it here!

What’s your favorite pancake topping?