Tag Archive | spinach

Lately & A Protein shake for coffee lovers

Hello, hello! Here we are on the last day of July…can you believe it? I sure can’t! Just 5 more weeks and I move back to Massachusetts with Brandon…eeeek! Where has summer gone? It is FLYING by. Since my schedule has pretty much been all over the place the past few months, it seems like time is going by faster than ever. Some nights I’m in Maine, others I’m in New Hampshire, now-and-then I head to Boston, and I try to get to Cape Cod when I can. On-top of that, there’s been weddings, work every weekend, and apartment searching. Needless to say, life lately has been very busy, but fun too! Lately in the last few weeks I:
…attended a beautiful wedding:
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Our friends Anna and Matt said ‘I do’ in a beautiful outdoor ceremony, filled with heart-felt vows, readings, wonderful people, and so.much.love. I adored every second of it!
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…have spent my days off with my Mom:
Sadly, my time of living back at home with my parents is quickly coming to an end, so I’m trying to soak in as much time with them as possible. My Mom and I have planned an outing each week where we do something together that we both love. Last week, we shopped and had lunch on the water. This week, we worked out together, shopped again, and went blueberry picking.  I couldn’t love this lady more. 
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…have been addicted to making the same breakfast, every day:
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Truthfully, I get into breakfast ruts quite often, meaning I eat the same thing over and over again every day. However, when I decided to do a gluten-free, dairy-free cleanse a few months ago, I began starting my day with a homemade protein shake for breakfast (along with a bowl of fruit) and to this day I am still hooked on this combo, even post-cleanse!  This recipe is just too good not to share. For the coffee lovers out there, I think you’ll love this shake. To me, it tastes just like a Starbuck’s Frappuccino, without the added calories and extra guilt. I literally eat/drink this 6 days a week before work in the morning. It’s delicious, satisfying, gluten-free, dairy-free, gives me the coffee taste I crave AND keeps me full for hours.

Double Coffee Lover’s Protein Shake
Ingredients
1/2 cup reduced sugar Almond Milk (I use Original or Vanilla Almond Breeze brand)
5-6 frozen strawberries (mostly de-thawed)
1 handful of fresh spinach (washed and dried)
2 scoops Arbonne Vanilla Protein powder
1 packet instant coffee (I use Nescafe Taster’s Choice hazelnut flavor)
1 TBSP decaf instant coffee
1/2 cup crushed ice (to start)
2 TBSP cold water
Shake of cinnamon

Directions
1) Add almond milk, thawed strawberries, protein powder, and spinach to blender.
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2) Using a coffee mug, mix instant coffees together with a splash of water and stir for a few seconds until it’s mixed together. Then add this liquid to the blender.
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3)Top with crushed ice, water, and cinnamon.
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4) Blend until mixed well. If the shake is too thin, add more ice. If it’s too thick for your liking, add more water and/ or Almond Milk if desired. Enjoy with a spoon or a straw!
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I can’t get enough of this protein shake. I make mine thick enough to eat with a spoon, but it’s delicious through a straw, too. If you try it, I hope you love it.

What have you been up to lately?
Do you make shakes for breakfast? If so, what’s your go-to recipe?
Do you “eat” your shakes, or am I the only one?  Winking smile

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Light ‘n easy greek pasta salad

Hi friends, happy weekend!Hope everyone is having a restful Saturday and Sunday. It was a busy week for me full of studying, classes, practicals, and labs. I had my first exam yesterday (Saturday exams=horrible!) and I finished my first class, too. That, coupled with some hardcore morning workouts and a week of regular classes left me quite exhausted come yesterday afternoon.  Sleeping in today followed by blueberry pancakes for breakfast was like a dream, and was just what I needed! I <3 the weekends. Normally, I prefer to go the homemade route for pancakes, but this little gem came in handy for a lazy Sunday:
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They may not be the best for you nutrition-wise, but they sure do taste good.  We’re all allowed to splurge every now and then, especially on Saturday’s and Sunday’s in my book!

Anyway, since this week was quite busy, I resorted to making simple dinner recipes all week, including taco salad, homemade pizza, and a night of breakfast for dinner, too. It was nothing fancy, but it did the trick! Since this week was pretty boring on the meal-front, I thought I’d share something I made last Saturday for a dinner party that was pretty exciting in my book. I’m calling it Light ‘n Easy Greek Pasta Salad (minus the olives!). I have made this twice now, and I think I enjoyed it even more this second time around. Not only is it healthier than a traditional pasta salad (it’s mayonnaise-free and I reduced the amount of oil used in the original recipe), it’s also packed full of crisp vegetables and antioxidants, and you can use whole-wheat pasta for added nutrients. That is a win-win in my book!

I haven’t always been the biggest pasta-salad lover, simply because I despise mayonnaise, and the majority of pasta salads offered at restaurants and stores seem to be mayo-based. However, this recipe combines my love of feta cheese, cucumbers, spinach, and a olive-oil based dressing all into one. Just look at these colors!
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It’s also super easy and quick to make, too. I recommend boiling your water for the pasta first, and while it’s boiling, do all of your vegetable chopping and make the dressing. By the time the pasta is cooked, most of the work will be done!

Light ‘n Easy Greek Pasta Salad
Adapted from All Recipes Greek Pasta Salad
Ingredients
Dressing:
2 cloves garlic, finely minced (I used a tablespoon of pre-minced garlic)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water

Pasta Salad Ingredients:
Salt
1 pound whole-wheat medium shell pasta
3/4 cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 dry pint cherry or grape tomatoes, chopped in half
1/2 large red onion, chopped
6 ounces reduced-fat feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved (optional) I omitted these, I am not an olive lover!
3 cups firmly packed baby spinach

Directions:
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until done, about 8 minutes or so. Drain and rinse under cold water, then transfer the pasta to a mixing bowl.

2. While the water is boiling and the pasta is cooking, chop the vegetables and set them aside. Then  make the dressing. For the dressing, whisk together the garlic, oregano, mustard, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, water and olive oil in a small bowl, until well combined.
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3. Add the dressing, spinach, and vegetables to the pasta, then crumble with the feta cheese, and toss it all together. Refrigerate until you are ready to serve. Enjoy!
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We enjoyed this on the side of barbequed chicken, zucchini, and a simple tossed salad. It was the perfect end-of-summer- in-Australia meal. By reducing the amount of olive oil used in the original recipe and adding water to the base, it lightened-up this pasta salad even more, without bringing down the taste. This is becoming a repeat recipe in our house. I just love when that happens!
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Do you have a favorite pasta salad recipe? Please share!

Tasty Two Bean Soup

 

If you live in New England, then you’ve been dealing with this cold and harsh winter too…and it’s only February! Get me out of here! I’m so so tired of the snow. However, one thing that helps me deal with the frigid days and nights is a warm soup…so that’s what I made tonight. It’s a nutrient packed, vegetarian soup, chalk-full of greens, beans, and taste!
Spinach for the iron component-check.
Beans and lentil for the fiber and protein components-check, check.
Spices, red wine vinegar, and parmesan cheese for additional flavor-check, check, check!

I prepared this soup in less than 30 minutes, an instant winner in my book, especially for a weeknight. The hardest part was motivating myself to peel the carrots and parsnips!

tedious task=complete!

At the last minute, I decided to add lentils for additional fiber, and I‘m so happy I did! The lentils added a chewy, dense component to the already-nutritious soup. Customize this soup to your liking…I certainly did. I’m not the biggest fan of celery, so I opted for parsnips. In place of kale (which I love, but my grocery store was out), I opted for spinach. Another substitution of mine included kidney beans in place of black beans. Any sort of bean mixture will do, so you can use what you have on hand. You can find the original recipe here. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to have seconds! Enjoy!

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped parsnips(I substituted parsnips in place of celery)
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth, divided
6 cups of spinach (I used spinach in place of kale. My grocery store was out!)
2 (15-ounce) cans no-salt-added cannellini beans, rinsed, drained, and divided
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added kidney beans, rinsed and drained ( I used these in place of black beans, either will do!)
½ cup uncooked lentils (optional)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

Directions

 

1. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and cooking spray to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion, carrots, and parsnips, and sauté 6 minutes or until tender. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt and garlic; cook 1 minute.

veggies

2. Stir in 3 cups vegetable broth, spinach, and lentils. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes or until spinach is tender.

extra greens

 3. Place half of cannellini beans and remaining 1 cup vegetable broth in a blender or food processor; process until smooth.

the best mini invention on earth

4.Add pureed bean mixture, remaining cannellini beans, kidney beans, and pepper to soup. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, vinegar, and rosemary.

all together

 

finished product!

5. Top with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, enjoy!

the first bowl...of three :(

Three bowls later…i’m officially satisfied. What are you waiting for? Go make this…now!!