Bulk up Your Bruschetta!!

It’s Friday!!  Are you having any parties over the weekend?  Having people over to watch the game?  Looking for an easy and healthy appetizer you can share with friends?

I love this because it is super cheap, easy, healthy and can be put together ahead of time making it great to take on a picnic!  All ingredients can be picked up at your local Trader Joe’s!  My good friend Heather Helfand first introduced me to this delicious recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 1 jar of Trader Joe’s Bruschetta IMG_20130928_170440_492
  • 1 box Trader Joe’s cooked lentils
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • **Optional 1/4 crumbled goat cheese or chopped vegan cheese
  • 1 bag Trader Joe’s Veggie ChipsIMG_20130928_170428_817

Directions: (why this is sooo amazing! Easy as 1-2-3)

  1. Open the lentils and place them into a large mixing bowl.  Break apart the lentil chunks.
  2. Mix seasonings, bruschetta, and cheese (if you would like).
  3. Enjoy!IMG_20130928_170256_909

So good my dad (Mr. I Must Have Meat in Every Dish) scarfed it down! I didn’t tell him the dish was vegan/vegetarian but he was enjoying it to much I couldn’t break it to him ;).

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Energy Booster Shake!

My new favorite shake!! I completely fell in love with this a few weeks ago because of its deliciousness and the energy I get from it!!

First things first…make the walnut milk~

Ingredients:

  • 1 c walnuts
  • 1 tbsp organic honey
  • 3 c filtered water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Soak 1 c walnuts at room temperature for at least 1 hour.

2. Rinse walnuts.

3. Combine walnuts, water, honey, and vanilla in a blender.

4. Blend until smooth.

Store in the fridge :).

Now for the Energy Booster Shake~

Ingredients:

  • 5 chopped dried dates
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1 c ice cubes
  • 1 c walnut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp almond butter

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender.

2. Blend until smooth.

3. Enjoy the deliciousness and the energy boost!! Top with a bit of nutmeg if you would like :).

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How to Travel Healthy….a Trip to the Central Coast

Vacation…mmm…a time we all live for. Traveling is one of my favorite things to do. Anthony and I try to get out of LA at least three times a year to explore, meet new people, and break away from the day to day routine. This vacation was to a home away from home for me….to the central coast. I was lucky enough to live in San Luis Obispo for four years during college and everyday I dream of moving back! It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to…the beach, the mountains, the fresh air, and the people….the pace of life is just perfect and it is amazing how people not only acknowledge each other (not very common in LA) but actually strike up conversations with each other. We met so many interesting great people on this trip and learned just where to go!

I used to think of vacation as a time to go all out and eat whatever I wanted…to throw the diet and fitness plan out the window.  But I found that by day two I would have no energy and felt overall pretty crappy. And who wants to feel like crap on their vacation?! Not me! So last year I started experimenting on what are the best traveling snacks! We still enjoy a lovely latte in the AM and Anthony enjoys the continental breakfast, special little sweet treats we find at local bakeries (if they cater to the GF&DF), and of course an over the top dinner! Packing snacks, breakfasts and lunches is not only great to give you more energy and nutrition but also save a ton of money….more $$ for shopping or fancy dinners out!

Yes this does require some planning and prep work but trust me it is worth it! Here is what I brought with us~

Drinks:

  • 2 large bottles of water
  • 2 gallon jugs of water
  • 1 refillable water bottle
  • 1 bottle of Champagne/Sparkling Wine

    Toast

    Toast

  • 1 bottle of red wine

Breakfasts:

  • Fresh fruit…apples and bananas
  • Homemade Granola
  • Almond milk (love the Trader’s boxed…no refrigeration needed until opened)
  • Protein powder and shaker bottle

Snacks:

  • Trail mix
  • Pop chips
  • Snack Bars- Luna, BeKind, Pure….
  • Banana Chips
  • Dried Fruit
  • Cut up raw veggies and hummus

Lunches:

  • Chickpea salad and Salami with mustard
  • Quinoa Chicken Salad and Goat Chevre with Spicy Red Pepper Jam

Sweets:

  • Chocolate covered almonds
  • Chocolate Stuffed Raspberries

Recipes of Health and Deliciousness!

Homemade Granola:

Ingredients-

  • 2 c Gluten Free Oats
  • 1/2 c raw almonds
  • 1/2 c raw walnuts
  • 1/4 c sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 c flax seeds
  • 1/4 c dried cranberries
  • 1/4 c yellow raisins
  • 1/4 c shaved coconut flakes
  • 1/4 c agave
  • 2 tbsp grapeseeds oil
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ginger
    Almond,, Walnuts, Sunflower Seeds, Yellow Raisins, Dried Cranberries, Coconut Flakes

    Almond,, Walnuts, Sunflower Seeds, Yellow Raisins, Dried Cranberries, Coconut Flakes

    Flax Seeds, Grapeseed Oil, Agave, Cinnamon, Ginger

    Flax Seeds, Grapeseed Oil, Agave, Cinnamon, Ginger

    1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.
    2. In a large bowl mix oats, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and coconut flakes. In a small bowl mix grapeseed oil, agave, cinnamon, and ginger.
    3. Mix the liquid ingredients into the dry, thoroughly.
    4. Spread mixture thinly onto baking sheet.
    5. Bake for a total of 3o minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Until golden brown.

      Dig in!

      Dig in!

Chickpea Salad:

Ingredients-

  • 1 can rinse and strained chickpeas
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 c chopped cherry tomatoes
  • 2 c chopped spinach
  • 1 c chopped cucumber
  • 4 stalks of diced green onion
  • 1/3 c chopped cilantro
  • black pepper
  • pink sea salt
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp grapeseed oil

Lemon Basil Dressing-

  • Juice 2 small lemons
  • 1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 2 tbsp dried basil
  • black pepper (to taste)

Dressing Directions-

  1. Mix all ingredients in a salad dressing shaker (If you don’t have one get one!). You will use this for both salads!

Salad Directions-

  1. Marinate chickpeas in black pepper, salt, basil and grapeseed oil for 2 plus hours (best overnight) in a large tupperware.
  2. Mix all other ingredients into marinated chickpeas.
  3. Top with lemon basil dressing. Mix and taste. Add more if desired.
    Chickpea Salad with Salami @ Tolosa Vineyard

    Chickpea Salad with Salami @ Tolosa Vineyard

    Best place to picnic among the vines!

    Best place to picnic among the vines!

Chocolate Stuffed Raspberries:

Ingredients-

  • Clean and dried raspberries
  • Trader Joe’s Semi Sweet Vegan Chocolate Chips

Directions-

  1. Stuff individual chocolate chips in the center of each raspberry. Enjoy 🙂

    Chocolate Stuffed Raspberries

    Chocolate Stuffed Raspberries

Quinoa Chicken Salad:

Ingredients-

  • 1 baked chicken breast, chopped and cooled
  • 10-14 spears of asparagus, baked and cooled
  • 1 c cooked quinoa, chilled and mixed with 1 tbsp grapeseed oil and 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 c chopped marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1 chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/3 c crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/4 c chopped cilantro
  • black pepper

Directions-

  1. Mix all ingredients in a large tupperware.
  2. Top with crushed black pepper and the lemon basil dressing. Mix. Taste. Add more if needed.
    Quinoa Chickpea Salad

    Quinoa Chickpea Salad

    Quinoa Chicken Salad with Goat Chevre and Spicy Red Pepper Jam and Rice Crackers

    Quinoa Chicken Salad with Goat Chevre and Spicy Red Pepper Jam and Rice Crackers

    Some Fun at Mitchella Winery after lunch

    Some Fun at Mitchella Winery after lunch

    Breathtaking Backyard

    Breathtaking Backyard

Tips!

  • Make and chop as much of this stuff before hand!
  • Plan and plan…make it fun!
  • Make dishes that you are proud to serve

Must Have Equipment-

  • Cooler (for everything you are bringing on the trip)
  • A good picnic basket/backpack complete with full set silverware and napkins
  • Ask the hotel if you can get a fridge in the room…most have this available…you just need to ask
  • Cutting board, wine opener, small sharp knife

Have fun! Enjoy yourself and Explore 🙂

Laetita- Arroyo Grande

Laetita- Arroyo Grande

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Tolosa- Edna Valley

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My ladybug friends in Pismo

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Watching the sunset off the rooftop…love Seacrest Inn

Dinner Buona Tavola in downtown SLO

Dinner Buona Tavola in downtown SLO

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AM workout…our walk for a delish latte…of course some exercise

Tobin James

Tobin James

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Calcareous- Paso Robles

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Ventana Grill…Pismo Beach

Wondering Avila Beach before our appointment at the Sycamore Hot Springs :)

Wondering Avila Beach before our appointment at the Sycamore Hot Springs 🙂

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Monday morning walk on the beach…freezing but had to get some work in… and what a better place?

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Amazing view from gazebo in Pismo…our hawk friend in the tree

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Great views even in the fog- Pismo Beach

A trip to New Frontiers...Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake and GF DF chocolate cake...our sweet trip for the drive home

A trip to New Frontiers…Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake and GF DF chocolate cake…our sweet trip for the drive home

We had such an incredible trip! Our healthy snacks made it easy for us to do as much as we did and feel as good as we did! Of course we loved our fancy dinner out, enjoying all the wine, amazing hot springs and some delicious desserts! The money we saved made a fun shopping trip on our way out in downtown SLO ;).

Til the next trip 🙂

An Afternoon Pick Me Up

By the time 3pm rolls around I often find myself a bit sluggish…especially if I’ve spent a day in the office. Often times most of us find our tummies grumbling for some sugar filled treat, hoping the instant sugar rush will wake us up during this afternoon lull. However, as we all have discovered that “sugar boost” lasts 30minutes to an hour and then we often find ourselves with less energy and more tired then before the snack :(. So what’s the best snack to keep the energy up and prevent an instant crash? Well, any snack that is rich in protein, balanced by carbohydrates and fat.

“Keep it simple”, my 2013 resolution. So one afternoon I decided to do just that and mix almonds (fat and protein), coconut flakes (a nice crunch), and semi-chocolate chips (a dash of sweet). Super simple and quite delicious! Great for a snack on the run, sitting at the computer or on a weekend paired with a chilled Chardonnay :)!

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 c raw almonds
  • 2 tbsp semi-sweet chocolate chips (Trader Joe’s are vegan)
  • 2 tbsp coconut flakes20130422_164922IMG_5697IMG_5694

 

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients. And Done! One and done ;).IMG_5688

 

The Vegan “Amazeballs” Chocolate Shake

Mmmm….who doesn’t love a rich and creamy chocolate shake? What if you could have one that is healthy for you and actually tastes good!? Too good to be true right?….not in my book! One of my missions in life is to create food that is healthy and delicious!

With my life being as on the go as it is I have to say probably at least one of my five meals a day is a protein shake. To keep it interesting I’ve come up with several recipes depending on my mood :). This has become one of my top. It also works as a delicious guilt free dessert!

First things first if you don’t have a great protein powder, find one! I have tried several throughout the years; some good, some bad…some crazy expensive and some more affordable. Last year I finally found mine, PlantFusion. I love it because it is free of most allergies (including my dairy and wheat sensitivities) and tastes delicious! PlantFusion can be pretty $$ at WholeFoods but is a great deal on Amazon.com and Vitacost.com. Whatever protein powder you find make sure you shop around!

Ingredients:

  • 1 serving vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp gluten free oats
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp raw cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp unsalted raw almond butter
  • 1 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 4-6 ice cubes
  • 2 tbsp shaved coconut flakes20130416_16383520130416_16405120130416_163846
    Chia Seeds

    Chia Seeds

    Raw Cocoa Powder

    Raw Cocoa Powder

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    Coconut Flakes

    Coconut Flakes

    Directions:

  1. In a blender, use the ice crush function to break down the ice and banana chunks (this makes the blending process so much smoother).
  2. Add protein powder, chia seeds, oats, vanilla, almond butter, cocoa powder, and almond milk. Blend until smooth.
  3. Add coconut flakes and blend for another few minutes to desired consistency. I love add a few extra on the top of mine!

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The Dreamy Picnic

So it’s Wednesday, hump day and I often find myself dreaming of past mini vacations. Today one of our recent vacations came into my daydream…our trip to San Luis Obispo! One of my favorite parts of this trip was our yummy picnic wine tasting; healthy amazing food, great Chardonnay, amazing vineyard scenery, and the beautiful Central California sunshine I mean it’s pretty much my idea of heaven.

Edna Valley is such a blissful place. I mean I may be a bit biased since I lived up here for four years while I attended Cal Poly SLO but you have to be crazy not to fall quickly into love with this amazing place.

On our vacations I pack us healthy stuff for breakfast, snacks, and lunches…this not only saves you money but also saves your waistline. For this picnic I pulled out all stops packing some of our favorite treats!

  • Fresh grapes
  • Fresh strawberries
  • Goat Chevre topped with Wild Maine Blueberry Jam served with rice crackers
  • Quick and easy salad in the Tupperware bowls: spinach lettuce, sliced cherry tomatoes, chopped green onion, a splash of crumbled feta and a dash of black pepper served up with some olive oil and balsamic!
  • And for Anthony (the every growing boy) a simple turkey sandwich: whole grain bread, fresh oven roasted turkey breast, spinach lettuce. sliced tomatoes and our (yes I had to have a bite) fav raspberry honey mustard
  • Of course a big bottle of H2O

What’s great about this vineyard picnic? You can pick your fresh bottle to go along with your meal during your wine tasting. Chamisal is such a homey vineyard. They brought out our Chard in a wine cooler and a few glasses (less to pack).

So sit back relax and take some time to enjoy the wine, company, and delectable picnic….it’s truly heaven!

Okay daydreaming stops! Back to work time but with a joyous smile on my face!

Late Night Munchies

Saturday night Anthony and I returned home around midnight after a long day at Redlands Relay For Life. We had stopped for dinner and I had a glass of wine. Returning home still with a slight buzz I craved chips, crackers…anything snacky crunchy! I work pretty hard all week to keep my diet clean and lean….so don’t I deserve a binge? Or is it that I work so hard all week and really should not destroy it in one night just to satisfy my taste buds? Do I really want the tummy ache in the AM?

A light in my fuzzy brain finally went off …. my fav yummy filling snack … the Almond Butter Apple Butter Rice Cake!

Why I love this?

  • Easy peasy
  • Slightly sweet
  • Creamy and fulfilling
  • Feels like a cheat but isn’t!

Serves: 1

Takes about: 5 min

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp all natural unsweetened almond butter
  • 1 tbsp no sugar added Fuji Apple Butter (I love Ha’s from my local Farmer’s Market!) you can also use jam or jelly
  • 1 white or brown rice cake

Directions:

  1. Spread it any way you like and take a huge bite!! Told you it was easy!

 

Ghetto Fab Crumble Granola!

My all time favorite breakfast, snack, and even dessert is granola! However the store-bought stuff can be loaded with sugar or cost ‘an arm and a leg’ so I usually make my own. However with our current lack of a large oven my granola cravings have not been fulfilled :(.

Last night after a long night of training I decided to figure out a way to make RAW SUNKISSED GRANOLA! And its even good without the sun for those impatient ones (ME ;0)!

Why I love this recipe:

  • Super duper healthy!
  • Full of fiber
  • Full of flavor
  • Can be used as a snack, a topping, or a cereal!
  • And the prep fits into my crazy hectic schedule!

Time: 15 minutes to prep, 30 minutes to fridge soak, 3 or more hours of refrigeration (I recommend over night), and optional 1-2 hours in the glorious sun!

Serves: 4 people

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 c coarsely chopped almonds
  • 1/4 c chopped prunes
  • 1/2 c chopped dates
  • 1/4 c chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 c gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp grapeseed oil

Directions:

  1. Place the chopped almonds, prunes and dates in individual dishes. Place 1 tsp vanilla in with the almonds. Fill each dish with water so that the items are covered. Refrigerate for 3 minutes.
  2. In a mixing bowl combing rolled oats, walnuts, ginger, and cinnamon. Mix throughly.
  3. Drain the almonds, prunes, and dates. Add into mixing bowl.
  4. Add the vanilla, honey, and grapseed oil to the mixture. Stir throughly.
  5. Place mixture in a Pyrex dish (if you are sophisticated) or in a Tupperware (my ghetto fab way). Pat the mixture down so that it is flat and even.
  6. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, my way: overnight it!
  7. Enjoy now or for some extra crispness dumb the refrigerated granola onto a plate and bake in the sun for 1-2 hours. WATCH FOR BIRDS AND BUGS THIS STUFF GIVES OFF SOME YUMMY SCENTS!
  8. Enjoy the amazingness of fresh raw ingredients!

 

Baked Brussels!!

As a child I absolutely hated brussel sprouts…the smell, the taste, even the look of the strange things! This year I finally grew up and gave them a second try. The trick…marinating the mini-brussels of lettuce and then baking them. I mean who doesn’t like something crunchy and full of flavor??

Serves: 2

Makes a great side dish or snack!

Time: 40 mins

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 c quartered brussel sprouts
  • 1 tsp spicy brown mustard
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • crush black pepper
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar

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Directions:

  1. Preheat oven 400 degrees.
  2. Mix the spicy brown mustard, garlic, olive oil, and crushed black pepper.
  3. Pour onto the quartered sprouts and allow marinate 5-10 mins.
  4. Place brussel sprouts on a foil lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 18-20 mins
  6. Remove from oven drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Put back in the oven for 5 mins
  7. Enjoy.

Kale Chips!

Who doesn’t love a crunchy salty snack especially with this warm spring weather? The standard potato chips just aren’t for me…high in calories, fat and void of any nutritional value. Why not try something green? Like Kale! Try some of this amazingness during your evening TV line-up.

Servings- 2

Time- 15mins

Ingredients-

  • 3 c of kale, I love the Trader Joe’s pre-cleaned and pre-cut! Makes life easier
  • 1 tbps olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt

 

Directions-

  1. Preheat toaster oven to 400 degrees
  2. Prep kale- clean, pat dry, and break into chip sized pieces
  3. Toss the Kale in the olive oil and sea salt
  4. Spread evening on a foil lined baking sheet
  5. Bake 8-10 mins. Enjoy!

Healthy food can satisfy some unhealthy cravings!