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time to bake

I found an article this afternoon on CookingLight.com that gives 8 ideas for healthy office snacks!  I wanted to share it with you for more snack ideas since I recently did a tip of the week post on snacking.

From the article:

Working eight or more hours a day can make it difficult to eat healthfully unless you plan ahead. Research shows that eating every four hours helps to keep your metabolism charged and your energy level high. Before you dig in your drawer for spare change and head to the vending machine, plan ahead and stash low-calorie, nutritious snacks in a cabinet, drawer, or your briefcase. Each of these snacks has less than 200 calories and are sure to satisfy when the 3 p.m. cravings hit.

8 Healthy Office Snacks (from Cookinglight.com)

  1. Whole Wheat Crackers and Peanut Butter
  2. Fruit
  3. Popcorn with Parmesean
  4. Nuts (one ounce)
  5. Instant Oatmeal
  6. Mini Pitas with Hummus
  7. Granola Bars (like Larabar’s)
  8. Veggies with Low-Fat Ranch Dressing

I would switch up #8 for veggies and hummus, since packaged salad dressings often contain unhealthy oils.

On to dinner, which was simple tonight, but very delicious!  BLT’s with eggplant, lettuce, tomato, cheese and roasted red pepper spread on whole wheat toast served with sweet potato fries!

I spread one slice of toast with a Laughing Cow Cheese wedge and the other side with Roasted Red Pepper and Artichoke spread.

Then, eggplant bacon, lettuce and tomato!

With baked sweet potato fries.

I needed dinner to be simple so that I could whip up some baking creations for our little dinner party tomorrow night!  I will be cooking the main course tomorrow, but wanted to get the bread and dessert out of the way tonight.

Last time I was at Trader Joe’s I picked up a box of their Beer Bread Mix.

The mix is only $1.99 and is a combination of the following ingredients: wheat flour, cane sugar, baking powder and salt.  Not bad for a mix!  All you have to do is add a bottle of beer, stir it up and bake.  How easy is that?

You can add different beers in order to alter the taste.  I imagine that adding a light beer would taste much different than a dark beer.  I stuck with something in the middle that we had in our fridge.  I decided to make muffins for our dinner tomorrow instead of a loaf.

While the beer bread was baking, I set out to make a dessert.  I was searching recipes, but decided to keep it simple once again and make blonde brownies with the option of brownie sundaes for anyone who may want one!  I had a coupon for some Nasoya Silken Creations, so I decided to use it in my dessert recipe.  I always love to try new products, and you can’t go wrong with a free coupon. 🙂

I was nervous to try a new product with friends coming over, but if they come out awful, I have my Chocolate Clusters as back up!

Blonde Brownies

from Nasoya’s website


  • 1 cup Silken Style Creations Vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup flour (I used unbleached white whole wheat flour)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter or canola oil (I used coconut oil)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I used turbinado sugar)
  • 1 cup dairy free semi-sweet chocolate pieces (I used dark chocolate chunks)


  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Mix the oil with the sugar, then add the vanilla silken creation to the mixture.
  • Mix together the flour, salt and baking powder in a separate bowl.
  • Add the flour mixture to the liquid mixture and mix just until combined.
  • Fold in chocolate chips.
  • Pour into a greased 8×8 pan.

  • Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until cooked.

Of course, we had to try a brownie warm out of the oven.  Yum – they came out great!  Super moist and lots of chocolate chips.


quinoa stew and macaroons

My yogurt maker made delicious yogurt!  I’ll post towards the end of the week with some ideas and uses for it. 🙂

It was Day 2 of my weight training today, so I worked out my Legs & Abs.

5 minute warmup – jumping jacks


  • Lunge & Lift – 3 sets of 12
  • Stability Ball hamstring curl – 3 sets of 12
  • Mountain Climbers – 1 minute
  • Calf Raises with 10 lb weights – 3 sets of 12
  • Squat jumps – 1 minute
  • Deadlifts with 10 lb weights – 3 sets of 12
  • Step-ups with 10 lb weights – 3 sets of 12
  • Burpees – 1 minute
  • Leg lifts – 2 sets of 12


  • Crunches – 3 sets of 15
  • Reverse Crunches – 3 sets of 15
  • Bicycles – 3 sets of 20
  • Frogs – 3 sets of 10
  • V-ups – 3 sets of 10

5 minute cooldown – jumprope

Tough workout tonight, my legs were burning during those squat jumps and burpees!  I’m sure I’ll be sore tomorrow, but it was worth it!

Then, it was time for dinner and baking!

Tonight on the menu was our favorite – quinoa!  You probably think that we eat quinoa all the time.  Well, we do!  It is a delicious grain (actually, it’s a seed) and it pairs nicely with any type of vegetable.  Quinoa is about 15% protein, which is very high for a grain, so we rarely eat much other protein with it.

We used a recipe out of one of the Moosewood Cookbooks tonight.  These cookbooks are great, especially for vegetarians.  They make all sorts of delicious recipes.

Quinoa cooks like a couscous does, very quickly.  I started dinner by rinsing 3/4 cup of quinoa (it is important to rinse the quinoa because the seed produces a natural coat to protect itself from insects and you want to rinse this bitter coat off) and placing it in a pan with twice as much water to boil.  Once it boils, you just reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until all water is absorbed.  A few minutes before the quinoa was cooked, I added some corn to the mix.

Meanwhile, I chopped up my veggies: garlic, onion, green pepper, zucchini, summer squash and tomatoes.

Add the onions and garlic to a pan heated with olive oil and cook until tender.  Then, add the pepper, zucchini and squash and cook until a little browned, 5-10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes along with 2 cans of diced tomatoes and a tablespoon of thyme and cover, simmering until the veggies are all tender.  Then add salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste.  We like our food a little on the spicy side, so I added extra pepper flakes!

Serve the stew over a scoop of the quinoa mixture!  The quinoa really works nicely with the stew.  It is a much lighter dish that it would be with a rice.  Delicious!

Quinoa with Vegetable Stew

adapted from Moosewood Restaurants Low-Fat Favorites

Serves 4


  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 summer squash, chopped
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (no salt added)
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Rinse the quinoa and add to pan with water.  Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes until tender and fluffy.
  2. When quinoa has cooked for about 10 minutes, stir in the corn, and continue to cook.
  3. Meanwhile, saute the onions and garlic in olive oil over medium heat, until the onions soften.
  4. Add the pepper, zucchini and squash; cook until slightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the tomatoes and thyme.  Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, until veggies are tender.
  6. Add red pepper flakes, then salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Fluff the quinoa mixture, spoon it onto individual serving plates and ladle on the vegetable stew.

Nutrition Facts: About 300 calories per serving.  9.2 grams of protein and 6.5 grams of fat.

My dessert creation of the night were some delicious Almond Coconut Macaroons and Chocolate Almond Coconut Macaroons!  We are having some friends over for dinner this week, so I needed to try some things out.  I can’t serve just any old thing to my guests. 🙂

I got this recipe from another foodie’s blog and they came out perfectly.  Plenty of almond and coconut flavor.  I added extra sun-grained chocolate chips to the chocolate ones which makes them much more chocolaty and sinful!

I buy my raw almonds and raw coconut whole because you get more bang for your buck, so my first task was to chop them all up.  I ground up the almonds in my food processor until they were almost to a flour-like texture.  I did the same with the coconut, but made sure it had more texture.

Once chopped, I mixed all of my ingredients together and formed them into ice-cream scoop sized balls.  These are supposed to be placed in a dehydrator, but mine isn’t large enough, so instead I turned my oven on to 170°F (the lowest it will go) and “cooked” them for about 4 hours.

Almond Coconut Macaroons

borrowed from Joggerslife.com

makes 9 macaroons


  • 1 Cup Raw Almonds, ground (flour-style)
  • 1 Cup Raw Ground Coconut
  • 2 Medjool Dates, spun in food processor
  • 1/8 Cup Raw Agave Nectar
  • 1/4 Cup Raw Honey
  • 1 Tablespoon Almond Extract

Double Chocolate Almond Coconut Macaroons

borrowed from Joggerslife.com

makes 9 macaroons


  • 1 Cup Raw Almonds, ground (flour-style)
  • 1 Cup Raw Ground Coconut
  • 2 Medjool Dates, spun in food processor
  • 1/8 Cup Raw Agave Nectar
  • 1/4 Cup Raw Honey
  • 1 Tablespoon Almond Extract
  • 1/2 Cup Raw Cocoa Powder
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Sun-Grained Chocolate Chips

Directions for both recipes:

  1. Preheat oven to 170°F. (or use a dehydrator at 105°F for 6-8 hours)
  2. Combine all ingredients.  You’ll know it’s perfect when everything sticks together easily.
  3. Form batter into round balls, and place on parchment lined cookie sheet.
  4. Allow to stay in oven for 3-4 hours, or until macaroons are firm to the touch. (mine took 4 hours)

These babies are so good.  I could eat them all day long!  They would be great topped with a little almond butter, or even broken up over some coconut ice cream!

I will be making these for family and friends in the very near future!  They just might be the 2010 Christmas cookies!  By then, maybe I’ll have a bigger dehydrator. 🙂

breakfast cookies & nut butter

Just another Sunday over here in Boston!  Lots of time spent in the kitchen trying out new things!

My first creation of the day was a breakfast cookie that I had been dying to try.  They are all the rage with food bloggers out there, so I decided to try it out.  I kind of did a combination of the cookies I have seen on my favorite blogs, so here is goes.

The cookie is actually a perfect breakfast with ample fat, protein and carbs in the mix.  You mix all of the ingredients together, put the mixture onto a plate to form a cookie shape, and pop it in the microwave.

Oatmeal Breakfast Cookie


  • 1/3 cup oatmeal (I used rolled oats)
  • 1 tablespoon nut butter of choice (I used banana raisin!)
  • 1 scoop Amazing Grass Chocolate Mix (or protein powder)
  • 1/8 cup Almond Milk (regular milk would work as well)
  • 1/2 mashed banana
  • small handful raisins


  1. Mix oatmeal, protein powder and nut butter of choice together in a small bowl until it creates a clumpy mix.
  2. Stir in almond butter and mashed banana until well combined.
  3. Add in mix-ins of choice! I chose raisins here to work with the banana raisin PB that I chose, but other great mix-ins would work as well.
  4. Put mixture onto small plate and form into cookie shape.
  5. Pop in microwave for 4 minutes, or until it springs back like a fresh baked cookie! 🙂
  6. Top with whatever you want: more nut butter, banana, jam, etc.
  7. Enjoy!

This process didn’t take any longer than a regular bowl of oats!  It was a nice change to my normal breakfast.  I felt like I was eating something completely sinful, but it wasn’t!

Cookie formed before cooking

And, after being cooked!

And, with my toppings of choice – scoop of banana PB, 1/2 banana and sprinkle of raisins!

Next up, I whipped up another batch of nut butter.

While eating my chocolate almond butter this week, I found it to become drier as the week went on.  I was not sure if this was just due to it being more natural or not, but today I figured out that it was due to the fact that I had used my small food processor!  The large one is much more powerful, and turned my hazelnuts and pecans into a smooth and creamy nut butter!

Nut butter is so easy to make!  Just throw all of your ingredients into the food processor and blend.  Keep blending until they become smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes.

Today, I used hazelnuts and pecans.  I roasted them for 2 minutes, and then let them cool before blending because I had read that they blend easier this way.  They definitely did, but by toasting them you do lose some of the nutrients.

Chocolate Cinnamon Pecan Hazelnut Butter


  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts
  • 1 tablespoon cacao powder
  • 1 tablespoon cacao nibs
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon


  • Toast hazelnuts and pecans for 2 minutes, let cool.

  • Add nuts to food processor and blend until all chopped.

  • Add cacao powder, nibs, honey and cinnamon and blend.

  • Blend until creates a smooth and creamy nut butter.

This came out much better than my almond butter!  It tastes great, with just a hint of spice from the cinnamon!

I have my yogurt maker going right now…it should take about 9-10 hours!  I’ll be back with a post for that once it is done and I can try some. 🙂

raspberry lemon cake

It was a great Saturday!  A weekend at home to get a lot of random stuff done!

One of my new years resolutions was not only to keep up my running, but to start lifting weights again and get stronger.  The past 1.5 years I have been so involved in my running, that I never had time to lift weights (or the motivation after running 40-50 miles a week!).  My goal is to lift weights three times per week, alternating between the different parts of the body.

After doing some research, I have decided to split my 3 days into these sections (performing them on non-consecutive days):

1. Shoulders, Chest and Triceps

2. Legs

3. Back and Biceps

Gina at The Fitnessista put together an Intro to Iron Pumping workout for Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point, and I really like how she set it up.  Working out those 3 different muscle groups above on non-consecutive days will give my muscles ample time to rest and repair themselves to form into lean muscle.  It is important to keep up the cardio as well in order to burn fat and calories, but weight lifting will tone me much more!  I am not going to follow the plan exactly, I will make up my own routine, but I just like the concept of it.  I plan on adding core work after each weight session (or just fitting it in 3-4 days per week).

So, today I started this plan with Shoulders, Chest and Triceps.  I did my cardio first – 35 minutes on the treadmill (32 min running for 4 miles, 3 minutes walking).  Since I am also training for a half marathon, today was a 4 mile pace run.  I kept my pace very well and kept the incline at 1.0.  Then came the weights, then core work and then I cooled down with 10 minutes on the stepmill and stretched.

Weight Session – Shoulders, Chest and Triceps

  • Overhead press with dumbbells (3 sets of 12, 10 lb weights)
  • Triceps dips (3 sets of 12)
  • Front raise (3 sets of 12, 7.5lb weights)
  • Triceps kickback (3 sets of 12, 10lb weights)
  • Dumbbell upright rows with 15lb weighted bar (3 sets of 12)
  • Stability Ball pushups (3 sets of 10)
  • Chest press on Stability Ball (3 sets of 12, 15lb weights)
  • Lateral raise (3 sets of 12, 7.5lb weights)
  • Cable triceps extension (3 sets of 12)

Core work – this set will work all of the ab muscles!

  • Crunches (3 sets of 15)
  • Reverse Crunches (3 sets of 15)
  • Bicycle Crunches (3 sets of 20)
  • V-ups (3 sets of 15)
  • Frog Crunches (3 sets of 12) – these are hard!!
  • Planks! (3 minutes: 1 min straight, 30 sec left side, 30 sec right side, 1 min straight)

Overall, a great workout today!  It worked out to be about 30 minutes of weights and 15 minutes of core work, so hopefully this will fit into my schedule nicely with me doing a shorter, more intense cardio session on weight days.

Before the gym, I snacked on some new chocolate greek yogurt that I found at Whole Foods and a banana!  You can imagine how excited I was!!!

I still prefer plain yogurt with my own add-ins, but this is a great treat.  It would be perfect for a dessert if you just need something a little sweet.

The ingredients and nutrition facts are not so bad, but I could have used some fat to power through my workout!  I was feeling pretty sluggish during my cooldown.  Next time I would add a little peanut butter to my banana.

Once home from the gym, Brant and I needed lunch asap!  I whipped up another delicious smoothie while our leftover BBQ Chicken Pizza heated up.

In the mix this time:

Strawberry-Banana Blueberry Smoothie


  • 1 Banana
  • 10 Frozen Strawberries
  • 1/4 cup Frozen Blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon Flaxseed
  • 1 heaping tablespoon raw Cacao Nibs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Almond Milk
  • Handful of ice
  • Water as needed

Raw Cacao Nibs – super healthy and delicious!

Throw all of the above in a blender and blend away!

I took an exciting trip to Price Chopper today for grocery shopping to check out the NuVal scores in action.  They rank foods that are more nutritious throughout the store.  It’s pretty cool and I was shocked at some of the scores!  Check out more about NuVal on Tina’s new blog!

Once home, I whipped up some dessert for some friends tonight!

Raspberry Lemon Cake

*adapted from Super Natural Cooking

Makes 1 loaf of bread


  • 1.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1.5 cups natural cane sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup raspberries
  • 3/4 cup raspberry jam
  • juice from 1/2 lemon


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in small bowl and whisk to combine.
  3. In large bowl, use mixer to beat butter until smooth.
  4. Add the sugar and beat again, scraping down the sides a few times to end up with a nice, even, creamy blend.
  5. Add eggs one at a time, beating each egg fully before adding the next.
  6. Stir in the vanilla and lemon juice until well incorporated.
  7. Add the dry ingredients and stir just to combine.  Do not overmix!
  8. Fold in raspberries.
  9. Scoop half of the batter into a buttered loaf pan, then add half of the jam staying clear of the sides of the pan.
  10. Add the rest of the batter on top and smooth until level.
  11. Plop remaining jam on top of the cake, then drag a butter knife through the jam so that it creates a marbled effect (mine did not come out correctly!!)
  12. Bake cake for 50-60 minutes, until it bounces back a bit when you puch the top with your finger.
  13. Let cool in pan, then slice and serve at room temp.

We served our cake with vanilla bean ice cream and a homemade raspberry sauce.

Raspberry Sauce


  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water


  1. Heat all ingredients over medium heat until hot and bubbly.
  2. While cooking, break up raspberries with your fork.
  3. Serve while hot.

The cake was very moist!  So moist, that is caved in the middle. 😦  But, that did not ruin the taste – it was delicious!  Everyone enjoyed it! 🙂

vegan treats

I am not a vegan, nor am I a vegetarian…but, I do stay away from red meat (personal preference) and don’t eat too much other meat.  I love grains and beans and veggies and fruit!  I also love sweets, so when I found a few blogs with numerous recipes for vegan sweets, I decided to try some out!  It seemed like the perfect time, being the holiday season and all.

These are the types of recipes that I love because they are made with minimal, healthier ingredients.  I am not saying that all of the ingredients in these recipes are healthy, but they are healthier than normal sweets can be (so you don’t have to feel as guilty when you induldge)!

(recipes borrowed from LoveVeggiesandYoga.com)

Vegan Peanut Butter Cups

makes 2 huge PB Cups (next time I will make mini’s)


  • 6 ounces dark chocolate (they recommended baking chocolate, but I have lots of dark chocolate bars on hand that I used).
  • 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter
  • small handful chopped unsalted peanuts
  • optional: dash of vanilla (or agave)

Chocolate & PB


  • Melt 3 ounces of chocolate (in microwave or stovetop).

ready to melt...

  • Pour chocolate evenly into 2 muffin liners and place in fridge or freezer to harden a little.

melted chocolate in muffin liners

  • In the meantime, mix 2 tablespoons of PB, peanuts (or just use crunchy PB – we were out!) and vanilla in a small bowl.  I popped it in the micro for 15 seconds to make it more easily blendable.

PB, peanuts and vanilla after 15 seconds in micro

  • Take muffin liners with chocolate out of the fridge and place a scoop of PB mixture into each.

scoop PB mixture onto hardened chocolate

  • Melt remaining chocolate and pour over the PB.

making a mess with melted chocolate!

smooth out a little after pouring over PB

  • Refrigerate until hardened (I put them in the freezer for about 30 minutes).

waiting to be eaten in the freezer!

ready to eat!

with muffin liner off - check out those ridges!

  • YUM!  So rich and chocolatey – delicious!

showing off the PB filling!

These were delicious!  Next time I would make the PB cups in the mini muffin liners, because these were too big and rich for me to eat in one sitting.  After licking all that chocolate off of my fingers while making these babies, I could only get myself to eat a few bites of this.  Mini PB cups would be awesome!

Next up:

Vegan Chocolate Coconut Snowballs

makes 12-15 snowballs


  • 1.5 cups shredded coconut
  • 3/4 c maple syrup or agave
  • 3/4 c cocoa powder
  • Dash Vanilla Extract
  • Optional: 1/4 c coconut oil

Ingredients for Snowballs

unsweetened coconut


  • Put all ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix by hand.

before mixing

after mixing

  • Roll into tablespoon sized balls and place on cookie sheet.

ready for freezing


  • Place in freezer until hard, about 1 hour.

hardened and ready for eating!

  • Eat and enjoy!

YUM YUM YUM!  These snowballs were to die for…I will seriously have these on hand in my freezer all the time!  And, they were so simple to make!