Tag Archive | Recipes

Valentine’s day shake

Happy Valentine’s Day, my friends! I hope you have all had a special day today. I know some people don’t like this holiday, but I do…any excuse for an entire day to say ‘I love you’ to your loved ones is a great day in my book!  Although I am missing my valentine this year, I’ve been able to ‘celebrate’ V-Day with him two days in a row because of the time difference…can’t beat that!  Plus, I’m spending the weekend with my sister and Mom, so that is helping to fill the void for me. We just popped some bubbly and cooked a dinner of roasted veggies and fresh haddock. Yum. Yum. Yum.
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I always find it fun on holidays to look back at the previous year and reminisce , so today I did just that in my camera.  On Valentine’s Day last year, Brandon made me my very own edible arrangement and cooked a wonderful coconut shrimp dinner. I much prefer eating in and celebrating together just the two of us on this holiday, so it was perfect.  I’ll never forget it! Love you, B.

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And just for fun, this was our first  official Valentine’s Day together:
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You know how college is…eating carbs before you drink your weight in booze….whoops, guilty! ; )

Anyway, since I’ve had a very busy last two weeks between three exams, applying for grad school, and maid of honor duties, I just haven’t had the opportunity to blog. I’m planning on doing  a catch-up post this week for sure, but with a spare few minutes tonight, I wanted to share this delicious Valentine’s Day protein shake I made this morning for my Mom and me as pre-workout fuel. It’s choc-full of strawberry and chocolate, gluten-free deliciousness, and I enjoyed every sip. I hope you do too!

Valentine’s Day Shake
(Serves 2 as a snack)
-2 scoops Arbonne chocolate protein powder (or any chocolate protein powder would do)
-1/4 cup-1/2 cup almond milk (plain or vanilla)-I used Almond Breeze vanilla, and started with 1/4 cup. Then I added a little more at the end of blending.
-1/2 to 2/3 cup ice water
-1 scoop Arbonne fiber boost (optional) 
-8-10 frozen strawberries
-1/2 tsp cinnamon
-handful of spinach
-1 tbsp flax (optional)
Crushed ice (to thicken if needed)

Instructions:
1) Put all ingredients into blender and blend until smooth. Add more almond milk or ice water as needed. (I tend to like my shakes thick, so I always add less liquid. To me, a shake is best eaten with a spoon!) However, if you prefer a more liquefied shake, just add more water or almond milk. If you’d like it thicker, just use less.
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2) Optional: Garnish with a strawberry to make more festive and enjoy!

What are you up to this weekend?
Did you have a fun valentine’s inspired meal today?

We are cheer’sing our girls weekend tonight, and tomorrow we are off to go veil shopping. Yay! Oh, and we are snuggling with the puppies : –) I will also be indulging in some Valentine’s Day caramels tonight…can’t wait!

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two weeks of cleansing: the good, the bad, the hungry

Hello, hello! How is Monday going for you? Today I am semi-celebrating because today I made it to day 14 of my cleansing goal. I am psyched. Plus, I feel great too.

I want to back-up for a minute and briefly explain why I started this clean-eating cleanse.  My Mom recently started a ‘clean-eating 30-day detox’ plan with her clients, and since it’s a part of her business, she practices what she preaches. Personally I think it’s wonderful that she participates in it right along with them, even though she doesn’t necessarily have to.  Anyway, at first, I really was not into the whole “cleanse” or “detox” idea. I never have been simply because I consider myself a pretty healthy eater. I always eat 3-5 fruits a day, I drink a lot of water, I do my best to eat healthy fats at each meal, etc.  You know the drill…however, after hearing multiple testimonials regarding how great people were feeling on the cleanse, I decided it might be a good idea for me to try. Besides, since I live with my parents right now and basically eat the same meals as my Mom anyway, it was a lot easier to do the cleanse than to not do it.
These are some of our cleanse-friendly dinners: (please excuse the Christmas plates!)
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Another reason this was important for me to try out was for health reasons. A couple of years ago I underwent serious testing for celiac disease (all of which came back negative), but some of my issues surrounding it haven’t gone away. I figured two weeks of this cleanse might help me self-diagnose myself. Am I gluten intolerant? Is my dry skin a result from that? Is dairy affecting my skin?
So I began. Two weeks of no gluten, no caffeine, no dairy, no artificial sweetener, no corn.
At first, I was like um…can I eat anything? Little did I know, I could eat a lot of things!
These foods became my staples:
-Almond milk
-protein powder
-gluten free oats
-fruit (blueberries, apples, oranges, pears, strawberries, grapes, clementine’s)
-Vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, parsnips, squash, cucumbers)
-Nuts (almonds and walnuts)
-grains (quinoa, brown rice, lentils)

The good of cleansing
-The cleanse forced me to try new things.
I am pretty much a creature of habit when it comes to food. For instance, I have eaten oatmeal and fruit with yogurt for breakfast about 6 days a week for the last 4 years of my life. I never imagined drinking a protein shake for breakfast would be appealing to me. However, after doing this for 2 weeks straight, I now look forward to making my daily shake. A few of my favorites are blueberry vanilla and pumpkin pie spice, both made with Arbonne vanilla protein powder (recipes coming soon!)
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Plus, I am now a fan of vegan cheese, gluten free pizza crust, rice chips, and more.
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-My skin improved
May I just say that this is the thing I am most happy about? The past few months I’ve had some skin issues, including breakouts, dryness on my face and hands, and unwanted bumps, all of which caused me serious frustration. Why was I have skin issues at 27? My answers: dairy and gluten. I’ve never had clearer skin and my dry hands are 10 times better. I’m certainly not going to cut dairy or gluten out of my diet completely, but I’m going to lower my intake of them, and stick to almond milk!

-I broke some habits
I was well aware I had a caffeine (iced coffee) addiction before this cleanse. It was such a habit for me to make a stop at Dunkins’ on my way to class. Well, not only have I shaken my caffeine headaches, I’ve also saved a lot of money by eliminating my coffee shop trips. Since coffee wasn’t an option for me on the cleanse, I branched out and drank a lot of caffeine free tea. Well, I am happy to say I now have a new favorite. Have you ever made a chai tea latte at home? I hadn’t, but now I am addicted. Here’s how:
Ingredients:
1 cup vanilla almond milk  ( I used almond breeze)
1 decaf spiced chai tea bag
Directions:
1) Warm almond milk until steaming on the stovetop.
2) Place teabag into mug, and then pour the steaming milk into the mug with tea bag. Let sit for 1-2 minutes.

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Voila, you now have an 80 calorie chai tea latte. You can thank me later! Smile

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-You become much more aware of what you’re putting into your body
I love meal-planning and food-planning, so I enjoyed this aspect of it. Plus, I’m now much more conscious of my choices and the nutrients I’m consuming.

The bad of cleansing
-Breaking food habits is HARD. For the first few days, I felt like I couldn’t be in the kitchen. I was having peanut-butter withdrawals, I just wanted a peppermint patty, and I really wanted to snack on my skinny-pop popcorn. Also, the lack of iced coffee in my life was not fun for the first few days. Caffeine headaches are some of the worst headaches in my opinion.

-You have to be prepared
If you’re normally an organized, prepared person, then this isn’t necessarily a bad thing! However, if you’re not, you have to be aware that preparation is a key to a successful cleanse. I packed my food bag for classes every night before bed.
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If I hadn’t prepared, I would have been hungry, and most likely would have deterred from the cleanse. Packing ample amounts of fruit, almonds, almond butter brown rice tortillas, overnight oats, gluten free crackers, and protein bites for my long days helped me to stay on track, even when I wasn’t home.
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-Socializing can be challenging
How hard is it to go out to dinner and drinks and not have your favorite cocktail or glass of wine? It’s pretty hard for me. Luckily, I’ve laid pretty-low socially for the last couple of weeks due to my exam schedule and family commitments, but there were a few nights in particular (ESPECIALLY on the Super Bowl, when I REALLY wanted a glass of white wine).

-It’s really  important to pay attention to food labels
I love reading food labels (guess I’m going into the right career!) but if you don’t, this might take some practice. Reading is key to see if a particular food or product contains dairy, gluten, artificial sweeteners, corn, etc. You will be very surprised at what certain things include…quite frankly it’s frightening!

The hungry (like my spin on the good, the bad, the ugly ? hehehe!)
-For the first few days, you might feel constantly hungry.
I certainly felt like I did, but looking back I think this was my mind craving the things I wasn’t eating (peanut butter, popcorn, chocolate,  yogurt, etc.).

-It may be a bit expensive at first
Buying gluten-free, dairy-free items can tend to be pricey, at least when stocking your cupboard and fridge. However, you won’t have to buy oatmeal, crackers and bread each week either, those things will last. The things you’ll buy weekly, things such as fresh fruits and vegetables ,cost A LOT less than boxed, processed foods, and since you’ll be eating in quite a bit, you’re saving yourself money there, too!
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Our gluten-free, vegan,  homemade pizza

-If/when you tell people you’re cleansing, be wary of the reaction.
People may be excited for you, or wonder what it is about, or may think you must be starving yourself or simply have no interest what-so-ever. That’s okay, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Just stick to your goal.

Overall,  I truly never felt like I was food deprived or starving. I’m so happy I followed through with the cleanse, and I’m looking forward to continuing to implement the things that I learned, in addition to trying new cleanse-friendly recipes. Although I will slowly introduce dairy and gluten back into my diet, I’ll eat them in lesser amounts, and choose gluten-free when I can. Oh, and I am most definitely enjoying a margarita tonight with my Mom!

Have a great Monday, friends!

Have you ever tried a cleanse? If so, how did you like it? If not, would you do one?
Are you gluten or dairy intolerant? If so, have any fun recipes to share?

All smiles…and Cake Pops

Today I am all smiles because today’s the day Brandon arrives home from Australia. Hip hip hooray!!!  Can.not.wait. to hug him : )
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Confession: Ever since Brandon moved to Australia, I have a tradition of reading all the cards and notes he’s ever given to me each time we are about to be reunited. I’ve done this every time we’ve been apart and I even brought them all with me to Australia and did this when he went away on business trips. I like having them close to me because it just makes me feel like he’s with me.  Handwritten cards and notes=happiness in a box. They are the best gifts of all.

Truthfully though, I have a hard time stopping smiling around Christmas. Anyone else like this around this time of year? The joy in the air is absolutely contagious in my opinion! Last week I was all smiles in Connecticut with my sister and her puppies in Connecticut. Mostly we just shopped, did wedding-related, crafts, and baked, but I am pretty sure it was my favorite week of the year!
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I do believe that baked goods play a huge part in the joy of any time of year, but it’s especially apparent at Christmas. Baking and enjoying holiday goodies with my family is one of my favorite things about Christmas, so yesterday I decided I would devote a few hours to baking. Cleaning-up aside, baking is truly my favorite hobby. Cake pops were first up on my baking agenda since I’ve been excited to make them ever since I found a cake pop pan at T.J. Maxx. I’m pretty sure this pan is available at major stores, too, since cake pops are all-the-rage right now, but this was my first attempt using it and I absolutely loved it. Perfectly round cake pops, yes please!
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I am all about making desserts healthier, but for Christmas, I think the old-fashioned way is the best way, so real butter and real sugar make these cake pops a real winner! I opted to make chocolate cake with white chocolate and milk chocolate glazes, and lots of sprinkles of course. This homemade chocolate cake is super simple to make, too. Plus, with the help of the pan, it’s a fool-proof way to nearly perfect cake pops. I adapted this recipe directly from the pan wrapper itself, and it’s a definite winner. My Dad and I went crazy over the dough and the finished product.  If you make these, I think you will too!
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Christmas Cake Pops
Ingredients
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
3/4 cup sugar
3 TBSP unsweetened cocoa (I used Godiva brand)
2 eggs
3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
24 holiday lollipop sticks ( or regular, but I couldn’t resist the holiday sticks I found at Michaels!)
white chocolate, milk chocolate, or any type of chocolate for melting
Assorted sprinkles for decorating (optional)

Directions
1) Heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, grease cake pop pan and set aside.
2) Combine semi-sweet chocolate chips and butter in a medium pan on the stovetop and melt over low-heat, stirring until smooth. Then remove from the heat and transfer to a medium mixing bowl.
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3) Add the sugar and cocoa  to the bowl and mix until well blended, then add the eggs in one at a time and mix until blended.
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4) Lastly, add the flour and salt to this and stir until well blended.
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5) Now add spoonful’s of the batter to the bottom of the cake pop tin (the side without the holes). Make sure you mound the dough over each hole, this way it forms a perfect circle!
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6) Place the top of the pan over the bottom half and secure the clips. Bake for 15-18 minutes. (Mine took about 17 minutes). Check them with a toothpick at 15 minutes to be safe! Once your toothpick is nearly clean, remove them from the oven.
7) Let them cool in the pan for 5-8 minutes, then remove from the pan and place them on a cooling rack.
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8) Now re-grease the cake pop pan and repeat steps 5-7 to use up the remaining dough.
9) While the cake pops are cooling, set out your bowls of decorative sprinkles. I used 4 different kinds because I have a sprinkles problem : –) Then use a double boiler to melt your chocolate (I melt about 1 cup of chips at a time). I started out with white chocolate first.
Side note: This is the biggest bag of chocolate chips I’ve ever used!
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10) Once melted, dip an end of your lollipop stick in the chocolate first, then stick it into the cake pop and roll in chocolate, shaking off any excess chocolate. Then decorate with sprinkles and place on parchment paper. Repeat this process until the cake pops are covered!
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These are perfect for any holiday party! I love them because they’re perfect if you’re looking for a  portion-controlled dessert and they are just so darn cute.
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Merry Christmas!

What’s making you smile today?

Do you have any traditions with your boyfriend/husband/significant other?

What’s your favorite type of cake pop?
Mine is vanilla with pink frosting (you know, the one at Starbucks!) but chocolate is a close second!