Avocado Pesto Hummus

I’m loving the fact that it’s now light out until about 7pm.  What I’m NOT loving is that it’s still dark out when I go to the gym.  There’s nothing less motivating than waking up when it’s still dark out.

So while it’s still light out, I had all these hopes and dreams for magical creations I was going to make after work, photograph, enjoy and blog about.  Then I remembered that more cooking means more washing dishes and that suddenly sounded unappealing.  As much as I wanted to hit up Trader Joe’s for a box of Puffins for dinner, I decided to make something quick and easy.

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And seriously guys, this was all sorts of amazing.  You really need to make this, spread it on toast and stuff your face off.  That’s what I did.  Why should you?

Top 5 Reasons You Need to Make This:

    1. It’s healthy!  Lots of good fats from avocado
    2. It’s vegan! Let’s love the Earth a little bit more and eat less meat (especially if you’re in California.  There’s a drought folks!).  This spread still packs in the protein.  This whole recipe (which serves 4) has about 29g of protein!
    3. It’s crazy delicious.  Seriously.  So good.
    4. Avocado. Enough said.
    5. It’s ready in about 3 minutes, and you’re hungry so what are you waiting for?

BONUS REASON: It’s a great excuse to eat bread, not that you need one. Avocado Pesto Hummus 3

Avocado Pesto Hummus

1 can (15oz) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 avocado, pitted and peeled
1 clove of garlic
1 tbsp nutritional yeast, heaping
1 small handful of fresh basil leaves (I used about 7 large leaves)
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or Vitamix (which is what I used).  Pulse until combined.  I wanted mine a little bit chunky so I didn’t pulse it too long, but if you want it smooth you can do that too.

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Spread on your favorite bread or serve with pita chips or raw veggies and enjoy!

Do you need any more convincing?  I’m not sure how else to tell you this is basically delicious and awesome for you.  Eat it up!

Are you an avocado lover? Please tell me you are!

Moroccan Spice Blend

As we’ve previously discussed, dinner is a struggle for me.  Waking up at 5:15am to workout, then going to work all day leaves me little motivation to make a meal when 5:30pm rolls around, especially if it’s just for me.  I’m one of those people that prefers to cook for others.  Cooking for myself is extremely unappealing.

When Jesse has dinner with me, it’s awesome.  I tend to make an actual meal, but most days, on my own, I tend to snack.  So I’m trying to come up with better solutions.  My number one solution right now is to keep it simple.

So in my quest to keep things simple, yet flavorful, I discovered a Moroccan Spice Blend that is so versatile you can basically kick up any plain dish without adding fat.  The best part is you can control how much salt goes in it.

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Moroccan Spice Blend

Adapted from Epicurious

1 tsp  cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt (or less if you’d like)*
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp  cinnamon
1/2 tsp  coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp mace

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Combine all ingredients until well blended.  Store in an air tight container until ready to use.

*Feel free to adjust the amount of salt.  You can completely omit it, if you’re trying to go low sodium.  You can also add more if you like things salty (the original recipe calls for 1 tsp of salt, but I tried that and thought it was too much.  1/2 tsp was more to my liking).

I mixed up a bunch to keep on hand for easy meals.  So far using this blend I’ve made: Moroccan Spiced Chicken Thighs and Moroccan Spice Tilapia.

Super easy! In both cases, I sprinkled the chicken (bone-in thighs, skin and excess fat removed) or fish generously with the spice blend and baked.  Both times it turned out awesome! I can’t wait to keep making this. If you’re interested, I can do a full recipe post on either of these.  Let me know if you’re interested.

Tonight, the ultimate quick dinner for 1:  I took a piece of tilapia, covered it in moroccan spice blend, then roasted it along side some asparagus for 17 minutes at 400F.  Done in less than 20 minutes, and easy clean up.  I like it.

Give this Moroccan Spice Blend a try! It’s a great way to add a ton of flavor while still keeping things healthy.

What’s your favorite quick and easy weeknight meal?

Healthy Baked Turkey Meatballs

This past weekend was a very Italian weekend for me.  I went to the Getty Villa.

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If you’re in Southern California and haven’t been to the Getty Villa, you should go.  I grew up here and had never been.  It’s a beautiful museum built to look like a villa you would around Pompeii or Herculanum around 30 AD.  It’s seriously beautiful, not to mention the exhibits are awesome.

To add to the Southern Italian-ness of the weekend, Jesse and I also saw Pompeii.  While I question the historical accuracy, I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It’s as if Titanic and Gladiator came together to make one ridiculous film.

If there’s one thing Pompeii taught me, it’s that Jon Snow is hot in a skirt.  After leaving the theatre, the one thing both Jesse and I had to comment on was Jon Snow‘s abs (because Kit Harington will forever be known as Jon Snow to me).

Image source: Torontosun.com

First we thought, those have to be digitally enhanced or airbrushed.  No one can have abs like that.  Of course then the conversation transitioned to: how does one get those abs?

I did some research.  Basically, if you want abs you have to lose fat and build muscle (no surprises here). Vanity Fair confirmed with an interview by the actors of the movie:

The four-hour workout: two hours of fight training with weapons, an hour of weight lifting, an hour of cardio, and an 1,800-calorie diet “designed specifically for our bodies to be attuned to lose fat and pop out muscles,” Akinnuoye-Agbaje told us.

Great.

So for the rest of us that aren’t working out for four hours a day or consuming a diet “designed specifically for our bodies to be attuned to lose fat and pop out muscles,” we should probably just stick to eating clean and maybe increasing our protein.

I’m not really in the market for Jon Snow abs (yep, that’s what I’m calling them now), but getting fit is always a good idea.  So to help you in that direction, I made you dinner:

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Healthy Baked Turkey Meatballs

1 lb lean ground turkey (from 1 package in the meat section)
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1 tbsp fresh chopped mint
1 tbsp fresh chopped rosemary
1 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400F.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Using your hands work together all ingredients and form into golf-ball sized meat balls.  Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cooked through (note: this might vary depending of the size of your meatballs and your oven). healthyturkeymeatballs2

Serve over cauliflower puree, on spaghetti squash or with your vegetable of choice and enjoy!  This recipe will make about 20 meatballs.

This low carb (paleo, gluten-free) meal will get you in the right direction to getting those Jon Snow abs.  Or if you’re like me and you just want to be a little bit healthy, to balance out an enormous piece of cake, this meal is great for that too.

Anyone else see Jon Snow’s abs in Pompeii and have their jaw drop?

German Nachos (ish): Baked Fries with Sauerkraut, Sausage and Muenster Cheese Sauce

I love mustard.  No really.  Like a lot.  For as long as I can remember, mustard has been one of my favorite condiments.  Even the cheap yellow mustard you get on Subway sandwiches (no mayo, extra mustard please).  I love it.  It adds such a nice flavor profile to most foods.

But fancy mustard, that’s a whole different ball game.

Recently, I got in touch with the guys at Green Mountain Mustard.  They make fancy pants mustard, but in the least pretentious way possible.

But anyway, these guys know mustard.  They sent me two jars of their mustard so I could make an EPIC grilled cheese sandwich.  While the grilled cheese sandwich is still  in the works, I had this idea and had to make it asap.  It involved one of the mustard flavors they sent me: Deli Dirt.  Their Deli Dirt tastes like all the goodness of a deli put into one little jar, and this mustard is THICK.  It’s basically the consistency of hummus, which is awesome.

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I’m in love.  And thus, this creation was born:

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One of the things that I love about mustard is that it adds a ton of flavor to food without a ton of fat (or calories).  You know I like to make things as light as I can.  So while this looks fatty and decadent, it’s a little bit lighter than you would think (please note, I’m not actually saying this is healthy, but it’s better than eating something deep fried). mustardfries3

Oh and I should probably mention that I had no idea what to call this.  I couldn’t really call it a “Pile of Deliciousness,” which is what it is.  So instead I thought of a more Pinterest-friendly name: German Nachos (ish).  Ish is a really important qualifier here.  Enjoy.

German Nachos (ish): Baked Fries with Sauerkraut, Sausage and Muenster Cheese Sauce

3 large potatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Deli Dirt mustard
1 sausage (bratwurst are tasty. true story.), sliced
1/2-1 cup sauerkraut
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp Deli Dirt Mustard
1 cup milk (I used non-fat)
3 oz Muenster cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 425F.  Slice potatoes into fry shape.

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Toss with 2 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tbsp of Deli Dirt.  Sprinkle with salt and lay on a cooling rack that is placed over a baking sheet.

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This will help your fries get crisp all around and keep the bottoms from burning.  Bake 30-40 minutes or until fries are golden and crispy (start checking them after about 30 minutes, since everyone’s oven is different and you might have cut yours thinner than mine).  While your fries bake up, have a dance party.  This is not optional.

10 minutes before your fries are ready to go (aka 20 or so minutes after you put them in the oven), brown your sausage in a pan and set aside.  Then make your cheese sauce.

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Melt butter in a sauce pan, add flour and stir together.  Cook for 2 minutes or until golden.  Stream in milk very slowly while whisking to break up any clumps that form.  Once you’ve added all the milk and whisked smooth.  Whisk in the mustard and cheese.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Now assemble.  Lay some fries on a plate.  Top with sauerkraut (you’ll note in the recipe I said 1/2-1 cup, because I love sauerkraut and ended up adding a ton more after I photographed, but if you don’t care for it as much, add less) and sausage, then drizzle with cheese sauce.  Serve immediately.

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This recipe will serve 2-4 people.  Confession: Jesse and I devoured the entire thing.  I don’t feel guilty.

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The perfect bite will include a bit of potato, sauerkraut and sausage.  I promise it’s delicious.  If you wanted to keep this low carb, I bet this would be delicious if you replaced the potatoes with spaghetti squash.  Ok, I might have to try that ASAP.

I can’t wait to try more recipes with this awesome mustard.  Don’t worry, grilled cheese is coming soon!

Do you love mustard? What’s your condiment of choice?

What It’s Like to Do a Juice Cleanse

Juice cleanses are EXTREMELY popular these days.  In general, I try to shy away from fad diets (oh yeah remember, Paleo? No thanks!), but I decided to give a juice cleanse a try for one reason: I don’t really see it as a fad diet, because you don’t generally do it for more than a few days.

I see juice cleanses as more of a reset button.  A way to get you back on track.  A lot of people concentrate on the healthy eating reset aspect of a juice cleanse, but I was reading The Juice Cleanse Reset Diet and one of the authors mentioned how she was over-worked, stressed and not feeling great and juicing really helped her.

That really spoke to me.  I usually try to avoid talking about work on my blog, but recently, it’s been really stressful.  I haven’t been sleeping well, I’ve had terrible headaches for days on end, and it’s been affecting my mood and energy level.  This morning when I woke up (after yet again sleeping through Crossfit, something that makes me really angry at myself), I knew I needed to change something.

Now before I go any further, I should tell you, I work at Ritual Wellness on the weekends.  So I’m very familiar with their cleanses and their juices.  All their juices are cold-pressed and certified organic, which in my opinion is important.  Why bother to do a juice cleanse if you’re going to concentrate pesticides along with your nutrients?

Ritual is a pretty awesome company owned and operated by two inspiring women.  I’ve been working there for a few months, not really wanting to do a juice cleanse, but enjoying the positive healthy environment.  But then yesterday, I decided I needed something to reset myself.

Just as a full disclaimer: I am an employee of Ritual Wellness, but I purchased this cleanse on my own and the opinions are my own.

1 Day Cleanse

That morning I woke up with big dark bags under my eyes and I knew something had to change.  So I drove over to the Ritual JuiceBox at the CAMP on my way to work (job #1, NOT at Ritual) and picked up a one-day Seasonal Reset Cleanse.  If you’re in the OC area, you can stop by any one of the 3 locations and pick up a cleanse (if not you can order online and have it delivered to your door).  It’s super easy.  At the store, you can sample all the flavors to make sure you like them and go home with a cleanse you’ll like.  I picked up the Season Reset Cleanse, but instead of the seasonal flavor, which is Cranberry Orange right now, I chose Red Energy because I like it better.   So here it goes…

8:30am: Juice #1: Green Lemon: Lemon, Spinach, Romaine, Kale, Celery, Cucumber, Green Apple

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I started drinking this in the car right after picking it up.  I really like this juice, but I’ll be honest, you might not.  That’s true for all the juices, not just this one.  Green juices are an acquired taste, because they don’t taste like the boxed crap from concentrate that we’re used to.

The good thing is, the more you drink them, the more you love them.  If you rarely eat vegetables and are a little picky, you probably won’t think they taste amazing, but really that’s the whole point of the cleanse for many: to reset your palate so you learn to like fruits and vegetables.

I also had a cup of black coffee when I got to work, because I’m addicted. I already had a headache when I woke up, so I didn’t want to make it worse.

10:30am: Juice #2: Red Energy: Beet, Apple, Carrot, Pear, Celery

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I love Red Energy.  It’s just plain tasty (in my opinion). It was a welcome treat mid-morning.  I realized it takes me about 30-45 minutes to get through a bottle, so I constantly feel like I’m consuming something.  I’m generally not hungry in the mornings so this was no problem for me.

1:00pm: Juice #3: Spicy Greens: Romaine, Ginger, Pineapple, Turmeric, Cucumber, Celery, Lime, Parsley

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Probably my least favorite of the juices, but still tasty.  Started to feel mildly hungry around this hour (or maybe it just feels like lunch time?), the juice and water helped.

Note: by this point I’ve had about 30 ounces of water in addition to the juice.  I’ve peed probably 10 times… TMI?

3:30pm: Juice #4: Spicy Lemonade: Alkaline Water, Raw Agave, Lemon, Cayenne

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I meant to have this one at 3:00pm, but I had a meeting from 3-:330, so I held off until after.  I think since I was busy I haven’t had a chance to think about hunger at all.  But surprisingly I’m not that hungry and I definitely don’t feel sluggish.  So that’s a plus!

5:30pm: Juice #5: Sweet Greens: Kale, Romaine, Cucumber, Spinach, Celery, Green Apple

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I had this one a little bit after I got home.  I do this thing where I walk in the door and set the timer for 10-15 minutes.  In those 10-15 minutes I pick up or clean something.  Then after those things are done, I can relax.

The first sip I had of sweet greens was amazing.  I love that you can taste the apple (although you might not notice it at first).  I had been looking forward to sweet greens all day, because I know I like it.

7:30pm: Juice #6: Cashew Crunch: Cashews, Vanilla, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Raw Agave

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The last one of the day.  I was totally ready to have this and be set for the night.  Then Jesse came over and ate a burrito in front of me.  #FML

The smell made my stomach growl, but the cashew crunch was very satisfying so I resisted the burrito.  I’ve had Cashew Crunch a lot for breakfast.  It usually does a good job of keeping me satisfied through lunch.  So as the last juice on the cleanse it was great to have something so satisfying.

I slept well and the next morning I woke up feeling like I could do another day.  For me the decision to only do a 1-day cleanse was largely a cost factor.  I’m currently in money-saving mode, but otherwise I would have liked to try another day or two.  If we’re being honest, yes the juices are expensive, but what do you expect with 3lb of organic produce in each bottle?

I’m sure to get the full benefits of a reset palate and more detoxing, 3-5 days is more the ideal cleanse length, but I still think I benefitted from a 1 day cleanse.  I got the feeling of reseting my body (as cheesy as that sounds) and de-stress for a day.  I think the fact that I didn’t have to think about meals or anything was great, the juices were packed and ready to consume.

I was surprised that I wasn’t hungrier throughout the day (and I didn’t crave anything).  But I suppose that makes sense, you’re consuming something every few hours.

Overall, I’d love to try this again.  And maybe I’ll decided to do a longer cleanse in the future, but right now my budget is keeping me at a 1-day cleanse.

What about you? Have you ever tried a juice cleanse or wanted to try one? 

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

I’m thinking of changing my blog subtitle to:  A blog about balancing health with a constant desire to eat cake.

Because that’s really what it’s about.  I love baking and making deliciously fatty food, but I spend the better portion of my life trying to figure out how to be healthy and fit.  It seems like the two just don’t go together, but I think I’m making it work and this is a prime example.

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It’s not “skinny” anything.  It’s Cauliflower Pizza.

I’ve been seeing Cauliflower Pizza crusts all over the internet for a while.  Cauliflower is slowly becoming the new Kale.   You know, the healthy thing that we all need to be eating all the time.  I still eat kale all the time, but I’m seriously enjoying finding new ways to cook with cauliflower.  Let’s let this food trend continue!

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Cauliflower Pizza

12 oz cauliflower (1 bag from Trader Joe’s), grated
1/2 cup percorino romano cheese, finely grated
2 eggs
salt and pepper to taste1/3-1/2 cup pizza/pasta sauce
1 cup Monterrey Jack Cheese, grated
Toppings: Caramelized Onions, Sausage, Any other toppings

Pre-heat oven to 425F.

In a bowl, mix together grated cauliflower, percorino romano, eggs salt and pepper.  Press onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Try to get it as thin as you can so the pizza turns out nice and crisp.  Bake about 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden.

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Remove from oven, spread with pasta sauce, then sprinkle with cheese and desired toppings.  I used pre-cooked sausage, caramelized onions, and artichokes.  Put back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes or until your pizza is nice and crispy and golden!

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Allow to cool a few minutes.  Then serve and enjoy! This recipe makes one large pizza.

I was a fan of this.  But let’s be clear.  Just like the two-ingredient paleo pancake DOESN’T actually taste like a pancake, this isn’t REALLY like pizza.  That said, it’s still super tasty!

Jesse and I agreed it really does taste like cauliflower and egg, which we were pleased with.  I think if I had pressed it more thinly throughout, it would have tasted better because the crispy edges were awesome!

So be sure to press it really thin when you try this!

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I definitely want to try making this again.  Next time I think I’ll do caramelized onions, goat cheese with prosciutto and arugula.  Sounds awesome right?  This is a good template recipe that you can adapt to fit basically any flavor profile, while staying a little bit healthier.

What would you put on your cauliflower pizza?

Arugula Salad with Lentils and Spiced Butternut Squash

Hi everyone!  I hope you all had a very happy Christmas, ate lots delicious food and spent time with family.

With my family, our holidays revolve around food and this Christmas was no different. We ate tons of tamales

and the only times we weren’t eating were the short walks we took to hang out with the neighbor’s llamas, ponies and donkeys.

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No, I’m not back in Peru.  People in LA County have pet llamas.   But other than llama sighting.  We mostly ate.

I don’t know about you, but after Christmas eating, I need vegetables.  Well really, I just think I need to eat normal, so that’s what I’m trying to do, but adding a few extra vegetables in there for good measure.

This morning, I finally tried Kodiak Cakes.  If you follow me on Twitter, Instagram or Like Foodologie on Facebook, you’ll remember that I won a few boxes of Kodiak Cakes through their 12 days of giveaways.  I decided to make some this morning

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Along with their red raspberry syrup.  Overall, they’re super tasty! What I especially love is that they use all natural ingredients (and not to mention easy! You just add water!).

Then for lunch, I had this amazing salad.

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It might not look that magical, but I promise it is.  It’s light but hearty enough to be a meal on its own. The mint makes it taste fresh and clean.  I’ve been making this salad for years so to be perfectly honestly, I can’t remember where I discovered it.  Someone deserves credit, I just can’t remember who.

Arugula Salad with Lentils and Spiced Butternut Squash

adapted from somewhere I can’t remember…

1/2 butternut squash, diced
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp cumin
1 tbsp olive oil
3/4 to 1 cup lentils, dry
6 cups arugula1/4 cup fresh chopped mint
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
4 oz (or more) goat cheese

Pre-heat oven to 375F.  Toss diced butternut squash with paprika, cumin, 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet at bake for 15 minutes. Toss and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until crispy and cooked through. Please note: this cooking time may vary depending how how big you diced the butternut squash and how intense your oven is, so check it every so often and toss to make sure it doesn’t burn.

While the butternut squash roasts, cook the lentils.  Cover in water and boil about 20 minutes (or until tender).  Once cooked through, rinse and set aside.

Once the lentils and squash are ready, assemble the salad.  In a large bowl, toss together arugula, mint, 2 tbsp olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Scoop some of the salad on a plate, top with goat cheese, lentils and butternut squash. Serve and enjoy!

Feel free to made adjustments. I love mint so I’m a fan of tons of mint.  Don’t love mint? Omit it.  Out of goat cheese or hate its guts? Replace it with manchego! If you don’t like manchego, then we just can’t be friends.  But if you want to make it vegan and omit the cheese, I’m a-okay with that.

I have a feeling this is going to be salad week for me.  Be on the look out for some healthy eats and New Years resolutions in the days to come!

How was your Christmas?  What was the best thing you ate?

Banana Protein Pancakes with Persimmon Topping

I was totally going to start this post apologetically, but then I remembered this article in Huffington Post about the 23 things women should to stop doing.  #sorrynotsorry

So instead I’m going to talk about how much I love pancakes, because all of a sudden I’m obsessed. Ok not really, I made them twice.  Once pumpkin style and now these guys…

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Really what I like about this is how full it keeps me.  For someone who often thinks about eating lunch at 11am, these pancakes made me not even think about food until 1pm.  Crazy, right?  I’m totally pleased.

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You should make these. Just saying…

Banana Protein Pancakes with Persimmon Topping

For Pancakes:
2 tbsp buckwheat flour
2 tbsp almond meal
3 tbsp protein powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of ginger
pinch of cinnamon1/2 banana, mashed (about 3 tbsp)
1 egg
4 tbsp milk (or almond milk)*

For Topping:
1 tsp butter
1 persimmon, diced
2 tbsp rum
pinch of ginger
pinch of cinnamon

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.  Add wet ingredients and stir to combine.  Heat a greased skillet over medium heat.  Spoon 2 tbsp of batter to form each pancakes. Once the top starts to bubble, flip over and cook an additional minute.  Plate and set aside.

Melt 1 tsp butter in a small skillet.  Add persimmon and spices cook a few minutes, tossing occasionally. Add rum and stir.  The liquid will steam and sizzle. Once it’s mostly evaporated, turn off and pour on top of pancakes.  Serve with maple syrup (optional).  This recipe makes 4-5 pancakes for 1 person.

*Note: the amount of milk necessary might vary depending on what type of protein powder you use. I used Spiru-tein which has a thickener in it.  If you use a different protein powder, you might need less liquid.

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Just to throw it out there, this persimmon topping would be totally awesome on the Pumpkin Protein Pancakes I made last week.  Just saying… get your antioxidant on with pumpkins and persimmons.

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Ok so enough about pancakes…

I go to Peru in two days and I’m totally not ready.  So much work has to be done. I haven’t packed. I’m not feeling ready.

This always happens to me.  I have mini anxiety attacks anytime I go anywhere.  Weird right?

How do you prep for a trip? Also, what’s your favorite pancake combo because I’m always looking for new tasty ways to switch up breakfast!

Pumpkin Protein Pancakes

Let me just tell you… these pancakes made my day magical.

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I started the day by running with Ms. Allison from Sweet Potato Bites.  That lady is faster than me (check out her running page!), so it’s awesome to keep up with her!

After the run, I wanted a good breakfast.  For the past few months, I’ve had a smoothie for breakfast pretty much everyday, but today I wanted something warm and Fall-like.  And we all know… Fall = Pumpkin.

All season, I’ve been avoiding pumpkin flavored foods, because honestly most of it just tastes fake.  I’m probably the only person in the world that doesn’t love the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks.

So this morning, in my quest for a warm Fall breakfast, I had a bright idea.  Pumpkin pancakes with REAL pumpkin inside and on top.

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Pumpkinpalooza in a pancake.

So I started with an amazing stack of pancakes and then topped them with a mixture of pumpkin puree, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon and mace (with some water to thin it out).  Seriously delicious.  Please try it.  But first to make the pancakes…

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Pumpkin Protein Pancakes

2 tbsp buckwheat flour (spelt or all purpose works too)
2 tbsp almond meal
3 tbsp protein powder (I used Spiru-tein Vanilla Protein)
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of ginger
pinch of mace
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 egg
4 tbsp pumpkin puree (plus extra for topping)
2-3 tbsp almond milk**

Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl, stir to combine.  Add dry ingredients and mix together.

Heat a large skillet and grease (with butter or non-stick spray).  Scoop 2 tbsp of batter to form each pancake.  Cook until it starts to bubble, then flip and cook an additional minute.

Serve with a mixture of pumpkin, maple syrup and spices or your favorite pancake topping.  This recipe makes 4 pancakes.

**The amount of almond milk might vary.  Spiru-tein protein powder has some sort of thickening agent in it that makes it thicken up, so if you use a different protein powder you might need less liquid.  Try adding a tbsp of liquid first and if you need more to thin out the batter, add more.  If your batter is too thin/runny, you’ll get flat pancakes so you want the batter to be a little thick.

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I seriously loved these pancakes.  The topping reminded me of Trader Joe’s Pumpkin butter.  Amazing.  But what I really love is that you get all the awesome health benefits of pumpkin, that you definitely don’t get from a Pumpkin Spice Latte (p.s. totally not trying to hate on the PSL! It’s just not for me).

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I’m seriously considering making a few batches of these and having them the next few mornings, reheated.  If they taste great reheated, I’ll let you know.

So tell me, what’s your favorite way to eat pumpkin this season? 

Aside from this healthy version, I love love love this Creamy Pumpkin Pie, but also Pumpkin Pecan Bundt Cake and Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.  One day I won’t want to eat sugary things every.single.day…

P.S. 1 week til Peru!!!!

Mushrooms in Red Wine over Polenta (with a poached egg)

Today was the first day I cooked in about 2 weeks.

For me, that’s unheard of.  Literally the last thing I made was these Mocha Protein Cupcakes.  No a single thing has been made other than microwaving soup from a box and veggie patties.

I’ve been busy, but let’s not concentrate on that.  Today, I knew I needed to cook.  I needed comfort food.  Usually for me, comfort food is a cookie, but lately, all I’ve wanted is lamb stew.  Umm… random? Yes.

Lamb is a little out of my price range right now, so I went to the store and bought some beef.  I started making beef stew with a bottle of cabernet a friend gave me not too long ago.

With half a bottle of wine and my stew on the first of many hours of stewing, I had a bright idea.

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I enjoyed this with a glass of wine while listening to Boleros.  Boleros is a genre of Spanish music, popular with people my grandmother’s age.  I have the musical taste of an 80 year old hispanic woman.  If we’re being honest, it’s probably my most listened to Pandora station.  It makes me think of my grandmother, who loves to wake up and put on music to listen to with breakfast.

So tonight, with my boyfriend across the country, I listened to sad music, think of my grandma, drank wine and ate a tasty comfort meal.

I’ll stop sounding so melodramatic, because despite the obvious missing of the boyfriend, it was a pretty relaxing meal for me (which was much needed because I’ve felt like I’ve been on the go for the past three weeks).

In terms of benefits to you: This is a super easy meal. It’ll be ready in roughly 15 minutes and it’s pretty healthy and the egg is totally optional, meaning this can be totally vegan.

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Mushrooms in Red Wine over Polenta

1/2 cup corn meal
2 cups chicken/vegetable broth
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 an onion, sliced
8 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1-2 tbsp fresh herbs (I used Rosemary and Sage)
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs (optional)

In a saucepan, mix together cornmeal and broth.  Put on medium heat.  While it comes to a boil, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat and add onions cook a few minutes.  Add mushrooms and cook another few minutes (about 5), stirring occasionally.

If you’re not good at multi-tasking, you can do each one at a time, but I’m a fan of multi-tasking so while the mushrooms and onions cooked, I stirred the cornmeal/polenta.  Once the polenta is thick and starts to come off the side of the pan when you stir, divide onto two plates, like so:

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By now the mushrooms should be about ready.  Add garlic, herbs, salt and pepper and cook for a minute. Add wine and stir.  It’ll bubble, steam and reduce.  Once the majority of the liquid is gone, turn the heat off.  Try a mushroom to make sure you added enough salt, adjust accordingly.  Then divide the mushroom mixture over the polenta.  You can serve it just as it…

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Or you can be a rockstar and add a poached egg, for extra protein and deliciousness.  If you don’t know how to poach an egg… google it?

Just kidding.  Check out this blog post from Smitten Kitchen.

Place your poached eggs on top of your mushroom-polenta creation.  Sprinkle with paprika, cheese, pepper, whatever else you like and enjoy!

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This recipe is perfect for two people, but it’s easy to make for one (which is what I did and just had leftover mushrooms for tomorrow).

This might be my new comfort dish of choice, because 1. easy, 2. delicious, 3. warm and 4. wine.

What’s your comfort food of choice? 

For me, Ice cream is probably my ultimate comfort food, but if we’re talking about meals: thick fatty soups (think creamy tomato) with grilled cheese sandwiches.