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got to love chocolate

Ok, so I’m a chocoholic…I would say that I eat chocolate at least once a day in some form or another.  Breakfast this morning was a chocolate lovers paradise!

Stew Leonards whole grain toast smeared with homemade chocolate almond butter!!  I whipped up this almond butter last night, since I was craving something healthy, sweet and chocolatey.

(oopps – guess I couldn’t wait to take a bite before I snapped this photo! :))


Almonds do have a high fat content, but they are very good for you!  They are a great source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils, protein, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc and vitamin E.  They are great for your body, and for your heart!  A small handful of almonds is a great snack because they will fill you up, and are easy to bring on the go.

I bought some raw almonds at Trader Joe’s last week, so I decided to try to make my own almond butter!  It is a very easy process, and if you buy your almonds somewhere like Trader Joe’s (where they are cheap!) then you’ll save yourself some money as well.  Buying almond butter at a store can be upwards of $10 a jar!  I purchased a 1 pound bag of raw almonds for $5.49, and only used 1 cup for this recipe!  I still have over 1/2 of the bag left.

Homemade Chocolate Almond Butter

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Raw Almonds
  • 5-6 ounces Dark Chocolate
  • Splash of Agave Nectar

Directions:

  • Take 1 cup of raw almonds and throw them into a food processor (or blender).

  • Process on high, until the almonds form an almond meal (a flour-like consitency).

  • Add 5 blocks of chocolate bar (or about 5-6 ounces of chocolate).  I added 3 blocks, then went back for 2 more to make this butter more chocolatey!

  • After the chocolate is blended into the almonds, add a few squirts of agave nectar for sweetness.  I used Almond flavored, since I had it in my cabinet, but anything will do.

(this flavor of almond agave nectar is delicious!  It has a slight almond flavor, definitely not too overpowering.  I’ll give it a try in tea sometime!)

  • Continue to blend until the mixture creates a butter-like consistency.  It will be a big drier than store bought nut butter, but still spreadable and even more delicious!

Well, it is delicious straight out of the jar!  And, it was even more tasty on my whole grain toast!

Next up for breakfast was a new smoothie flavor that I have been dying to try!

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Frozen Cherries
  • 1/2 Banana (next time i’d use the whole!)
  • 1 tablespoon ground Flaxseeds
  • 1 scoop or packet Amazing Grass Kidz Chocolate SuperFood
  • 1/2 cup Almond Milk
  • Squirt of Agave, if desired
  • Handful ice cubes
  • Water if needed

Directions:

  • Add all ingredients above to a blender and blend until smooth!  I needed to add about 1/2 cup water to make the consitency drinkable.

Trader Joes Frozen Cherries – they have great prices on their frozen fruit, so I always have a freezer full of it!

Yummy banana thrown in there!

Ground flaxseed

The Amazing Grass products are definitely an aquired taste for me.  I cannot get over the wheatgrass flavor, but I do love the chocolate products (of course!).  I used the Kidz Chocolate Superfood here because I find the taste to be more chocolatey than their other products.  It is great in smoothies, and a great way to get some veggies into your breakfast!

I am a big fan of almond milk in my cereal, smoothies, and tea!

Almond agave

Add a handful of ice, and blend!

That was my kind of breakfast. 🙂

half marathon training

I recently found out that my name was picked to run the New York City Half Marathon on March 21st!  I am not sure that I am really ready (mentally or physically) to fully train for another long race yet, but I am excited for this adventure.  I have decided to log in my workouts on my blog under my Running Laps tab at the top of the page, so that you can follow my progress (and to keep myself under check)!

Since I have planned to ski a lot this winter, and I am enjoying doing more cross training and weight lifting to get stronger, I am going to try to take more of a cross training approach to this training session.  I am still going to try to keep my mileage up around 30 miles per week, but will most likely only run 4 days a week instead of 5-6.  My plan is to have 1 long run day and 1 speedwork day each week, amongst my other workouts.  I am not going to follow a strict schedule like I normally do, so we’ll see how this goes!

Overall, I think that my body will feel better and get a well deserved break from all that running I have been doing. 🙂  I am thinking of this half marathon more as a way for me to stay motivated over the cold winter months than as a PR race!

quinoa with oven roasted tomatoes

What is quinoa?  Quinoa (pronounced: KEEN-wah) is an annual herb of the goosefoot family that is cultivated for its starchy seeds which are used as food and ground into flour.  It is a high-protein whole grain which contains essential amino acids.

We love quinoa and made another delicious quinoa dinner tonight!  The prep didn’t take too long, but make sure you get the tomatoes into the oven early because they will definitely take the longest.

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

Ingredients:

  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Splash of Olive Oil
  • 1 tablespoon Brown Sugar
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Pinch of Pepper

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • Cut cherry tomatoes in half

  • Place open side up in a baking dish

  • Spritz or drizzle tomatoes with olive oil

  • Then sprinkle with brown sugar, salt and pepper

  • Place tomatoes in oven, and bake for 30-40 minutes, depending on size.  Keep checking every so often to see if tomatoes are done.  They should be slightly wrinkled and very tender.

  • Our tomatoes cooked for 30 minutes!  Let tomatoes cool before serving.

Quinoa with Vegetables

adapted from 101cookbooks.com

Serves 4-6, depending on type of dish

Ingredients:

  • a splash of extra-virgin olive oil
  • a pinch of fine grain sea salt
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1.5 cups rinsed quinoa
  • 1 cup corn, fresh or frozen
  • 1 1/2 cups kale, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup pesto
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • 1 cup oven roasted cherry tomatoes (recipe above)

Directions:

  • Place 1.5 cups of quinoa and 3 cups of water in a saucepan; bring to a boil

  • Once it comes to a boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until tender.  When ready, quinoa will have small spirals off of each seed.

  • Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and salt in a saute pan over medium heat.

  • Add onion, and cook until tender.

  • Add quinoa and corn and cook until hot and sizzling.

  • Once sizzling, add the kale and cook a few minutes until wilted and tender.

pre-chopped

chopped

  • Then add the pesto (we used store bought, but you could make your own!) and stir until well blended.

  • Once mixed, add the toasted pumpkin seeds and stir.

(place on a baking sheet, and toast for a few minutes until browned)

  • Serve with oven roasted tomatoes on top!

We both loved this meal!  The pumpkin seeds gave it crunch, and the tomatoes added a little sweetness to the dish.  The pesto was not overpowering at all, just a little flavor.  Give it a try!

Does anyone have any delicious quinoa recipes that are a must try? Or is their another grain that you love?