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sweet potato gnocchi

I have had 2 giant sweet potatoes sitting on our counter for over a week now and wanted to make them into something yummy and comforting for our Friday night dinner.  I decided on Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Maple Butter -yum!

I looked up a few recipes and got some inspiration from Kath and Giada and went to town.

Ingredients for Sweet Potato Gnocchi

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 2/3 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1.5-2ish cups whole wheat pastry flour (use what you need)

Start by cooking the sweet potatoes in the oven at 375°F for about 60 minutes.

Then, cut open and let cool for 10-15 minutes.

After the potato has cooled, scrape out the insides and dump them into a bowl, leaving the skins out.

Add the cottage cheese, salt, cinnamon and pepper and mash it all together.

Then begin to add the flour a little bit at a time until a soft dough forms.

Lightly flour your counter or another surface and place the dough on it, then cut into 4-6 sections.

Roll each section into a long rope about 1-inch wide.

And, cut into 1-inch sections.  This recipe makes tons of gnocchi!

I ended up freezing about 3/4ths of this for later!

Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil and add the gnocchi in 3-4 batches in order to keep them from sticking together.

Cook about 2-3 minutes until they float to the top.  They should be tender, but a little firm.  (You do not want mushy gnocchi!)

Remove them from the water when done and continue with each batch.  Add the cooked gnocchi to a strainer and run cold water over them to stop them from cooking and sticking together.

Once all gnocchi are cooked, you are ready for the sauce!

Ingredients for Maple Butter Sauce

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup

Add the butter and coconut oil to a saute pan over medium heat and cook until it browns a little.

Then add the thyme, cinnamon and maple syrup and stir to combine.  Add the gnocchi and saute for a few minutes until their sides become browned.

Serve the gnocchi warm with a side of roasted broccoli* and maple steamed spinach**.

These gnocchi turned out great!  They were surprisingly flavorful and super filling.  A bit sweet from the maple syrup and cinnamon, but savory from the thyme.  We both absolutely loved these and can’t wait for leftovers!

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*For the roasted broccoli, I cut up 1 head of broccoli and placed it in a pan to cook.  Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees while you are making the gnocchi.

**For the maple steamed spinach, add 1 tbsp of water and 1 tbsp of maple syrup to a saute pan over medium-low heat.  Add a bunch of spinach and cover.  Leave covered for a few minutes until lightly steamed.  It has just a hint of sweetness from the maple syrup.

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cookies for breakfast?!

I jumped in the pool for a swim this morning – 2000 yards in about 40 minutes.  I did a long warm-up and cool-down with some speedwork thrown in there to get my heart rate up.  Felt great!

Once home, I tried out another new breakfast this morning  – a breakfast cookie!  Or, in the blog world, a Fitnessista Breakfast Cookie!  The Fitnessista even made a how-to-make video.

It was absolutely delicious!  Overnight, the oats and chia seeds harden a bit to make the mix more cookie-like, instead of more oatmeal-like.

Last night, I mixed up 1/3 cup of rolled oats, 1/2 tbsp chia seeds and 1 tbsp raw almond butter.

Then, I added in 1/2 mashed banana, 1 tbsp vanilla hemp protein powder, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp vanilla and 1/8 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk.

And, then the best part!  The mix-ins of my choice: 1 tbsp hemp seeds, 1 tbsp shredded coconut and raisins.  All mixed up.

I scooped the mix onto a plate and formed it into a cookie.

And, it sat in the fridge overnight where everything hardened up.

This morning I took the cookie out of the fridge and it had definitely hardened up and tasted almost like a chewy oatmeal raisin cookie.

I topped my cookie with a thin spread of Cinnamon Maple Almond Butter, 1/2 sliced banana and a sprinkle of coconut.

Along with a chai tea latte.

These breakfast cookies (and the overnight oats from yesterday morning) are great for people on the go.  All of the preparation is done at night which is a good way to be able to eat a hearty breakfast while not taking any extra time out of your already jam packed morning!  You could eat either of these breakfasts without toppings (they just make it more fun!) and bring either of them with you to eat at work.  Just grab-and-go!

By adding some protein powder to the breakfast cookie, this makes a great post-workout breakfast to aid in muscle repair.

Yum! Yum! Yum!  I love cookies for breakfast.

A perfect way to start a FRIDAY!

okra chips

I packed up my lunch and headed over to Barnes & Noble for lunch today to get some work done…on my lunch break…from work.

I had 2 leftover Millet Patties (I guess these lasted me the whole week!), leftover veggies from last night’s omelets and okra chips!

These okra chips were great, but very crunchy and loud.

On to dinner.

I got my dinner inspiration from one of Heidi’s recipesBrussels Sprouts & Apples.

I chopped up my brussels sprouts and apples into bite size chunks and sauteed them in 1 tbsp of olive oil, 1 tbsp of pure maple syrup and 1 clove of garlic.

After about 7 minutes on medium-high heat, I added some raisins and chopped pecans and mixed together until warm.

While I was chopping and cooking, I put some quinoa on to cook.  I mixed the quinoa with a little salt, pepper and dried thyme.  Then, served the brussels sprouts & apple mix over it.

Super delicious with a mix of fruits, veggies, fats and complete protein!

overnight oats

Last night, Brant and I feasted on a simple dinner – Veggie Omelets!

The other night some friends mentioned that they sometimes eat omelet’s for dinner, and I could not stop thinking about them!  So, I gave into my craving and whipped up a super simple dinner.

Two egg omelet with spinach, red pepper, broccoli, red pepper & artichoke spread and mozzarella cheese.

And a slice of Raisin Pecan bread with Mango Butter.

This was delicious!

This morning I was up bright and early for a spinning class.  My favorite instructor teaches on Thursday mornings, and I have missed it the past few weeks, so this morning I was determined.

But, when I got to the gym 30 minutes early, the class was full!  I was bummed…but, I made due and ran for an hour, then did a 20 minute cool-down on the elliptical.

I am usually cutting it close when I take the spinning class because I need to race around to get ready for work since it ends later than normal.  Therefore, I set up my breakfast and packed my lunch last night.

For breakfast, I tried something new – Overnight Oats!

Last night before going to bed, I put the following into a bowl:

  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

And, mixed it up.

I covered the bowl and placed it in the fridge to sleep.

This morning, after I raced back from the gym, I rushed to the fridge to look at my concoction…

WOW!  It worked!  The oats absorbed the liquid, and made a creamy mess.  I mixed it up and added some toppings, just as I would do to oatmeal and yogurt – 1/2 sliced banana, 1 tbsp peanut butter, 1 tbsp berry jam and a sprinkle of raspberry granola.

This was great.  I can’t really compare it to oatmeal because it tasted so different to me.  Different in a good way, almost like I had just mixed oatmeal into yogurt.  I think it may be a good alternative to oatmeal in the summer.  I love how the chia seeds gelled up and made the mix thicker and creamier.

I also had some tea to warm me up!  It’s chilly out today.

Looks like a busy day ahead!

stability & strength

I finally started  my day with a workout!  It has been over a week since that has happened. 🙂

I chugged some water, then got down to business with a stability/strength routine.  It is extremely important to make sure that your stability is top notch.  Not only do we use stability while we exercise, but we use it in everyday life.  Did you know that 70% of ACL (and other joint injuries) take place in non-contact events, such as stepping off of a curb?

I am a runner, and we run in a straight line (well, most of the time), so it is rare that we change planes of motion as other athletes do.  Think football players darting all over the field and changing the way that they move in a matter of seconds.  Therefore, our joints are normally not as stable as other athletes.  This also proves true for the swimming and cycling that I do!

I have been experiencing some knee and ankle pain lately, and talked to a few trainers and did research myself, and decided that I need to take a step back from strength training to stabilize my joints.  This does not mean that I need to stop lifting weights, but it does mean that I am going to lift lighter weights and do more circuit training in the coming weeks.

  • Instead of doing bicep curls, I will do bicep curls standing on one leg.
  • Instead of doing lunges, I will do a lunge + lift.
  • Instead of doing tricep kickbacks, I will do them while in a static squat.
  • Instead of doing chest presses, I will do chest presses on a stability ball.

You get the idea, right?

(Source)

These stability moves will strengthen my core, legs and arms and sometimes prove to be better for the normal person than a heavy strength routine that so many of us are accustomed to these days.

Stability is important in our everyday lives, and I want to get myself more stable in my joints in order to improve my athletic performances, and to decrease my risk of injury.  Everyone should start a new routine with stability.

(Source)

I started my new program today with the following 35 minute routine:

  • Chair squats with hammer curls (3 sets)
  • One leg squats, alternating legs (3 sets)
  • Bicep curls on 1 leg, alternating sides (2 sets)
  • Static squat with triceps kickback (3 sets)
  • Overhead press on 1 leg, alternating sides (2 sets)
  • Chest press on stability ball (4 sets)
  • Lunge and lift, alternating sides (2 sets)
  • Static quarter squat with YTA arm movements (2 sets)
  • 12 Pushups to Plank for 1 min. (2 sets)
  • Situp circuit – Vups, Bicycles, Worm (2 sets)

My legs were screaming – so. many. squats.  It was GREAT!

If your goal is to tone your muscle, and not gain bulk, make sure to lift weights s-l-o-w-l-y!  So many people bring the weights up and down so quickly, when in fact, the weights should be lowered slowly in order to engage the muscle.  Try it out, you will see results!

On to breakfast!

Oats with nut butter for post workout fuel to aid in muscle repair.

Steel cut oats with almond milk, banana and ground flaxmeal.  Topped with 1 tbsp maple cinnamon AB, 1 tbsp South America berry jam, 1 tbsp kaia chocolate granola, coconut flakes.

I actually made it look pretty today, despite the fact that I was running out the door.

Lunch consisted of more Millet Patties, on a bed of spinach mixed with pom-orange poppyseed dressing.

And, Key-Lime yogurt with Raspberry granola.

The yogurt was awesome, and more like a dessert.

Snacks included a grapefruit, dried pineapples and cinnamon almonds for some pre-run fuel.

Hopefully this rain holds off for my run!

heart thrives

A few months ago, the very generous folks at The Healthy Baking Company offerred to send me some of their Heart Thrive energy bars to sample.

Heart Thrive Bars are vegan energy bars made with wholesome ingredients.  Each package contains 2 bars (1 bar being a serving) which pack about 160 calories each, 6 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein.

From the website: Heart Thrives are delicious, VEGAN and NON-GMO energy bars.  Made with oats, soy and dried fruits, each Heart Thrive supplies 30% daily protein, fiber and calcium.  Heart Thrives are made from imgredients with a low glycemin index that metabolize slowly providing sustained energy for hours.

I ate the majority of these bars as pre and post workout snacks.  They sat well in my stomach during the workouts, and gave me the energy and protein that I needed immediately after the workouts.

They offer 7 different flavors of the bars, and all of them were delicious.  But, below are my favorites!

Chocolate

Come on?!  Did you think that I would have a favorite other than chocolate?!  I think not. 🙂  This was by far my favorite – next to Apple.  It was moist, and had the perfect amount of chocolate chips baked in.  It tasted more like a chocolate chip cookie than an energy bar.

Apple

Definitely my second favorite.  This was extremely moist and had big chunks of apple in it.  I ate the second of the 2 hearts heated up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream…oh yes, I did. 🙂

Lemon Poppyseed

This was great too.  It reminded me of a Lemon Poppyseed muffin, and made my house smell like they were baking in the oven when I heated this up.

The other flavors were great too, however, I felt like the Apricot, Date, Raisin and Cranberry all tasted very similar.  None of them jumped out at me, even though I enjoyed each and every little heart.

I would absolutely buy these again in my 3 favorite flavors.  I am always looking for healthy alternatives to protein bars for my long run days.  Check here to find out where you can purchase these Heart Thrives.  I have seen them at my local health food store!

quick eats

I started out my morning yesterday by oversleeping!  My body/mind is still exhausted from my crazy weekend in NYC, so I am all about letting it rest and recuperate so that I do not get run down.  So, yesterday was another ‘rest’ day in the workout world.

Once I got up, I was psyched to remember that I had juice waiting for me in the fridge from Liquiteria!

Grasshopper: apple, pear, pineapple, wheatgrass & mint.  YUP – this was delicious.  Not too sweet, not too minty, and I could not even taste the wheatgrass.  Why can’t the juices that I make taste this good?!

Along with my juice, I had 2 slices of Millet toast.  One slice with cashew butter and cherry jam, one slice with homemade Maple Cinnamon Almond Butter.  Honestly, this almond butter is the best thing since sliced bread.

Lunch included some leftovers from last night.  I was so happy that the recipe made so many Millet Patties because they are delicious.  And, perfect for leftovers.  They are good hot, cold, on top of a salad, as a burger, however you want to eat them.

I served 2 millet patties over arugula with peppers, cucumber and an pom-orange poppyseed dressing.

This dressing literally took 2-minutes to make: squeeze 1 orange into a small container, add a splash of pomegranate juice, a pinch of salt and pepper, and a shake of poppyseeds.  Shake up!  This will last me for at least 2 days.

Also part of lunch: Wallaby Vanilla Bean yogurt with Kaia Foods Chocolate Granola.

Yum, this might be my favorite flavor yet!  (Although, I got a tip that they have a maple flavor!!  I will be in love once I find it, I just know it!).

My afternoon snack consisted of another New York City goodie – a raw moonpie from One Lucky Duck!  Super delicious.  It was so rich and chocolaty…and huge…but, I couldn’t stop at just half. 🙂  Dessert before dinner, right?!

And, dinner was one of my favorites – Ten Minute Asparagus and Brown Rice made by Kate!

Along with a salad from Lauren which was jam packed with goodies – mushrooms, peppers, carrots, onions, radishes, dried edamame (which were delicious!).

Just as delicious as it always is.

Yum!  Thanks, girls for a super dinner!!

What a long, but great day!