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super sunday

I started my day with a 5 mile treadmill run at the hotel gym (which consisted of 1 treadmill, 1 stationary bike and 1 elliptical).  Luckily, no one else was there!  It always feels great to sweat after a night of drinking.

We were headed to a post-wedding brunch, but I was starving, so I re-fueled with a post-run recovery drink (8 oz Chocolate Almond Milk, 1 packet Chocolate Amazing Meal, ice cubes).  It was delicious!  This is my go-to recovery drink while on the go.  The Amazing Meal tastes great, especially mixed with almond milk, but it tastes best when ice cold.  I also had a packet of plain instant oatmeal with flaxseeds and a banana.

A few hours later, we hit up the brunch where they had a wonderful spread of food.  I ate some scrambled eggs, a slice of zucchini bread, spinach and fruit salad.

Brunch totally screws up my eating!  I snacked all afternoon…yogurt, pita bread, hummus, dried fruit and a supercharge me cookie.  I didn’t eat a lot of all of this stuff, but it still feels like a lot because I’m snacking all day instead of eating 3 meals.  Oh well.  Life is too short to worry about it! 🙂

This afternoon, we hit up the South End Open Market (SOWA), where we picked up some local greens, hummus and pita bread.  They all made an appearance for dinner this evening.

Mixed greens and Pea shoots!

Tabbouleh and Whole wheat pitas.

Then, I whipped up some cookies, granola and nut butter for gifts.  Homemade gifts are the best (well, I think so at least).  They come from the heart and are made with love!

Super Charge Me Cookies (original recipe from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan).

To bring with us to the LOST finale party tonight.

Modifications to recipe:

  • 2/3 cup almond flour instead of flour
  • 3 tbsp cashew butter instead of almond butter

I have made additional changes in the past, but the original recipe is so good that it’s hard to change too much. 🙂

Crazy Nut Butter

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup raw hazelnuts
  • 1 cup raw brazil nuts
  • 3/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup raw peanuts
  • 1/2 cup flaxseeds
  • 4 tbsp chia seeds

Throw all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.

Be patient while blending.  The nuts will go through stages, but will eventually become smooth and creamy!  This process took about 12 minutes for me.

This made a ton of crazy nut butter!  I filled three 1/2 pint jars.

Chai Granola

*I got the inspiration for this recipe from Sarah at The Smart Kitchen.  I used most of the dry ingredients, but varied the wet ingredients to what I had on hand!

  • 5 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup oat bran
  • 1 cup chopped raw almonds
  • 1 cup chopped raw cashews
  • 1 cup chopped unsweetened banana chips
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 heaping tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • 2 tbsp brown rice syrup
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup dried ginger, chopped

1.  Add all dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl, including spices (but leave out raisins and ginger, as they may burn while cooking).  Mix well.

2.  Add all wet ingredients to a bowl and heat on a stove top over low heat until all melted and mixed together.

3.  Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and mix very well.

4.  Pour mixture onto 2 parchment lined baking sheets and cook at 375 degrees for 25 minutes, or until slightly browned (take out once at about 15 minutes to mix).

5.  Add raisins and chopped ginger, then place back into the oven for 5-7 minutes.

6.  Take out and let completely cool before storing in an airtight container.

7.  Enjoy plain, with milk or sprinkled over yogurt!

Time for dinner!

I made up a big salad with farmers market greens, tomato, cucumber, orange pepper and feta sprinkled with olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano.  With tabbouleh, kalamata olive hummus and whole wheat pita bread.

Off to watch the LOST series finale!!

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crazy nut butters

It was a boring day in the food department over here!  And, a super dreary day in the weather department.  Luckily, the rain made me motivated today and I got a lot of work done.

Breakfast was the same blend of oats that I had yesterday, and lunch was leftover pizza from yesterday!  So, pretty boring!

I did take a few breaks from my work to do some fun things.

Break #1 – A trip to the new Fresh Market that opened up!

I have been waiting for this place to open up, but I have to say that I was not super impressed.  The produce department was very small and very expensive!  It seemed like the main parts of the store were the meat counters, and the prepared food counters.  It was fun to check it out though.  They had a small bulk foods aisle with nuts and trail mixes.

I picked up some things I haven’t seen or tried before – Okra Chips!

And, fresh pressed Cashew Butter!

Even though we ended up going to another grocery store to buy all of our produce for the week, the Fresh Market was still a fun place to check out!  I would definitely go back there for specialty items.

Break #2 – A trip to the gym!

I was in need of a good sweat session today after spending the majority of the day working!  So, I jumped on the stepmill for 40 minutes, then did an easy 35 minutes on the treadmill.  All while watching a Lifetime movie!  So cheesy, yet so addicting and fun. 🙂  I love Lifetime!

Break #3 – Nut Butter Craziness!

I have an ongoing list of fun treats and meals that I want to make.  I have had a few nut butters on my list for awhile, but after seeing Jessica’s Pistachio Coconut Butter post this week, I knew that I needed to make these today!  So, I broke out my nuts and food processor and got started.

First up, Pistachio Coconut Butter.

I doubled her recipe and used 1 cup of pistachios and 6 tablespoons of coconut.

All thrown into the food processor and blended until smooth!  She adds maple syrup, coconut oil and vanilla too which I threw in towards the end of the blending.

It took awhile, but I was psyched when I saw this!

Pistachio butter!!!  It worked!  This is sweet and salty, with an awesome coconutty flavor – yum!

Next up, Chocolate Cherry Almond Butter!

Another one of Jessica’s masterpieces.  If you haven’t seen her blog before, definitely check it out here.  She has amazing recipes!!

I basically followed her recipe, except I omitted the canola oil and salt.  Instead, I doubled up on the dried unsweetened cherries and added 1 tbsp of maple syrup.

I literally threw the almonds, cherries and raw cacao powder into the blender and turned it on.

This took about 10 minutes of solid blending (with me scraping down the sides a few times, and adding the maple syrup) to get a buttery consistency.

This almond butter has the perfect amount of sweetness from the cherries and maple syrup.  This will be delicious on toast or as an AB&J sandwich!

And, finally Chunky Salted Sunflower Seed Butter!

This has popped up in stores everywhere, so I have been wanting to give it a try.  I put 1 cup of raw unsalted sunflower seeds into the food processor with 1 tsp of salt.

I turned it on, and just let it spin for about 10 minutes.  It came out very creamy!  Then, I stirred in about 1/8 cup of raw sunflower seeds because I wanted this to be chunky.  YUM – crushed sunflower seeds are delicious!  Very nutty tasting…I guess I would just use this in place of peanut butter.

My 3 nut butters were a huge success!  They all came out smooth and creamy, but definitely a different consistency than what you would buy in a store.  It just screams homemade when you taste it, and I love that!

Then, I had a photo shoot, of course.

The pistachio coconut butter is definitely the winner in my book!  It is sweet and salty, and the pistachios and coconut surprisingly compliment each other very well.

Making your own nut butters is such a great thing to do.  It will save you a ton of money, especially if you like the specialty nut butters like I do.  A jar of organic almond butter can run you $10-$12 these days!  And, pistachio butter – forget it!  Only specialty shops sell it, and it is pricey.  So, why not make your own?!  All you need is a food processor of very high speed blender (like a Vita-Mix) and the nuts of your choice.  They can be raw, roasted, with salt, without salt – basically, whatever you want.  And, the mix-ins are endless.  Check out Trader Joe’s for a huge nut selection for cheap!

I eat a lot of nut butter, but homemade won’t last as long because there are no preservatives, so I like to make mine in small batches.  Plus, then I can change up my flavors more often!

agave – good or bad?

I have seen a lot of articles lately on agave nectar, and how some people believe that it is just a glorified high fructose corn syrup.  I’m not sure that I agree with it to that extent, but it is still sugar, and sugar is not good for us!

Agave nectar has the highest amount of fructose of all sweeteners and is much much sweeter than most as well.  It has become very popular in the diet world becuase it is marketed as a lower calorie sweetener that will not raise your blood sugar as much as other sweeteners.  It is used in many low calorie recipes nowadays as well.

Numerous articles and blog posts have been written about the agave nectar over the past few months.  Check some of them out if your interested:

The Truth about Agave Nectar

Eight Facts about Agave Nectar

 All About Agave

Debunking the Agave Myth

I’m really not sure what to believe at this point.  I am sure that it is a battle that will be going back and forth between health guru’s for months to come.  I am torn on the subject, and will continue to use agave (and other honey and natural sugar products) as I do because I honestly do not use them a lot.  You will never see me using artificial sweeteners though, due to the chemicals.  What I do know, is that no form of sugar is good for you, but eaten sparingly, it is not going to kill you!  (And, be careful – forms of sugar are in so many things that you do not realize!)

Anyways, on to breakfast!

I skipped the gym this morning, due to my late workout last night.  I have a lot of trouble working out one night and then the next morning.  Does anyone else have this problem?  I think my body needs more than 9 hours in between a workout!

So, I started my day with some cleaning and a fruit smoothie!  I was craving berries and bananas this morning, so I whipped up this:

 

Berry Banana Smoothie

  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen berries (I used the Berry Cherry Mix from Trader Joes)
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple (you can’t really taste it, but it makes the smoothie sweeter!)
  • 2 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

Mixed up to perfection!

 

 

A little while later, I toasted up a Banana Nut Vitatop that I was sent to sample.

Vitatops are 100 calorie muffin tops that contain about 5 grams of fiber.  They have a few more ingredients than I would like, but they tasted good!  According to their website, Vitalicious is the inventor of the 100-calorie snacks.  Now, normally I would stay very far away from 100-calorie snacks because they are often loaded with crap!  Even though the bag of oreos is only 100 calories, they are still oreos!  However, I had read a lot about Vitatops on other blogs, so I figured I would give them a try.

Just because something is labelled as low-fat or 100-calories, does not mean that it is good for you.  Many of the 100-calorie packs out there are purely used as marketing.  Oreos are popular, so obviously if they come out with oreo packs that only contain 100 calories, consumers are going to buy them.  At least Vitatops are made with more natural ingredients.  They do not contain anything artificial or any preservatives, which means that they need to be kept in the freezer.

Overall, I liked my Vitatop.  It was fairly moist and definitely tasted like a banana nut muffin.  I did feel better about eating this than another bakery or store bought muffin!  I will not eat them all the time because I prefer a more natural breakfast or snack (such as oatmeal or a piece of fruit), but I will try the other types I got when I am running out the door or in need of a healthier muffin (the top is the best part, anyways!).

I toasted mine and spread some Almond-Hazelnut butter on the top for more staying power, but I guess I forgot to snap a picture!  I really enjoyed my treat this morning.

Almond – Hazelnut butter is the best!  No, seriously, best nut butter purchase I have ever made.  And, the ingredient list: Almonds and Hazelnuts! 🙂

Time for leftover Pad Thai for lunch!

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


Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  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


Ingredients:

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

Directions:

  • 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. 🙂