Spring-Ready Smoothie Bowl

Procrastination.

Heard of it? Yes.

Experienced it? Yes.

Regretted it? Yes.

Learned your lesson for next time? No.

Unfortunately, this relentless noun is pretty much the only excuse I can offer for why I haven’t blogged in four months. That, and the fact that the plastic blue dishes in my apartment don’t exactly scream “photograph me.” For some reason, amidst my cost-conscious dishware shopping, I didn’t think to consider the Instagram-worthiness of my purchases.

However, there’s good news. I decided to procrastinate procrastinating (think about that) AND I recently saved enough money to buy a $4.99 ceramic bowl from Target that’s much more photogenic than its plastic cabinet-mates. So, I am now ready for my comeback post.

When I was trying to decide what recipe to feature, I considered a few different options:

A paleo pizza? Those buckwheat pancakes that I can’t stop (and won’t stop) posting on social media? The delicious smoothie bowl that I’ve been making for dinner after my work-outs? Then I remembered that I hadn’t yet found the funds to purchase the matching ceramic plate at Target, so my selection was quickly narrowed to recipes requiring bowls… thus my choice was easy.

BOWL-OF-PALEO-PIZZA.

Just kidding… even though I am now very intrigued by the idea of a pizza bowl. Maybe next post.

Until then, I bring you my new dinner staple. The green smoothie bowl.

Benefits of eating a smoothie out of a bowl instead of drinking from the glass? For one, it lasts longer. I can’t tell you how many times I have made a smoothie, poured it into a glass, sat down, chugged it, stood up, and shamelessly opened the refrigerator. Eating a smoothie out of a bowl with a spoon forces you to slow down and you feel like you’re eating a real meal (which you are). Second, pouring a smoothie in a bowl allows you to sprinkle on an infinite amount of toppings. These toppings not only make the smoothie 10 times more awesome and pretty, but they also give you that satisfying crunch that you need. Granola, nuts, seeds, fruit, cacao nibs, coconut… the possibilities are endless. So without further ado…

IMG_1286

Green Smoothie Bowl:

  • 2 Big Handfuls of Leafy Greens (Kale/Spinach/Romaine/Arugula)
  • 1 Spoonful of Tahini (or any Nut Butter)**
  • 1 Scoop of Plant-Based Protein Powder
  • 1 Cup Nut Milk
  • 1 Serving of Fruit (1/2 Frozen Banana, ½ Apple, 1 C Blueberries, 1/2 C Strawberries, etc)
  • Ice, as necessary
  • Toppings: A sprinkling of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, granola, unsweetened coconut flakes, sliced almonds, cacao nibs, dried fruit, chopped fruit, etc.

** Note: I use Tahini because if I buy a jar of any nut butter, I dive my spoon right into the jar and it’s gone in 3 days.

Now, for those of you shaking your head and beginning to plan what toppings you’re going to get on your burrito bowl for dinner… I urge you to reconsider. Yes, I know people usually prefer something savory and substantial for dinner – like salmon, broccoli, and a sweet potato. Or a hearty salad. Or Chipotle. But think about it – after you eat your savory dinner, how long before you’re craving something sweet for dessert?

Guilty.

With this smoothie bowl, it takes away the craving to indulge in a sugary treat before bedtime, and it also satisfies your craving for something savory when you add a drizzle of nut butter or roasted/salted nuts and seeds (my favorite are pepitas and sunflower seeds).

So, what are you waiting for? Spring has sprung. Bathing suit season is upon us. And let’s be honest, your winter jacket probably isn’t the only thing you’re eager to shed.

Pad Thai Quinoa Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing

A long, long time ago, I was in a serious relationship with pasta.

Spaghetti, penne, tortellini, ravioli, fettuccine, and any other type of noodle that I could get my knife and fork on… I devoured it in a mere blink of an eye. This relationship never wavered or faltered. It was an utter devotion to the infamous carb and grew stronger as each year went by.

My relationship with pasta peaked as I discovered Noodles & Company, along with their delicious array of pasta dishes from different parts of the world.  I would frequent Noodles & Co. at least twice a week, usually selecting the classic mediterranean penne rosa or the asian pad thai dish, depending on which region’s cuisine I was craving at the time. Looking back on this relationship, I think it may have been one sided (on my part), because the endless helpings of pasta didn’t exactly gift me with a chiseled physique. However, with every relationship, you remember the good times, you learn from your mistakes, and you move on.

Fast forward about 8 years, and I would like to think that my eating habits have changed a bit.  I am now in many different culinary relationships. From kale and coconut to avocados and salmon… I get around.  However, these new culinary relationships are definitely two-sided, satisfying my taste buds while also improving my health. Overall they’ve been fairly stable relationships and I do not have any urgent complaints. But even so, I still get that occasional urge to hop in my car, speed to Noodles & Co., and chow down on a heaping plate of pad thai.

Enter: Pad Thai Quinoa.

I know what you’re thinking. It will never work. But believe me, it really, truly does.

I found a recipe online last week and with my family’s approval, I made a Pad Thai Quinoa Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing for dinner one night. It was delicious! My dad even told me I could make it every week if I wanted.  And most importantly, it took me right back to my pasta-feasting days, minus the gluten and the 830 calories (thanks, Noodles website).

Pad Thai Quinoa Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing

Pad Thai Quinoa Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing It’s perfect for summer because you can serve it cold and you can even add some grilled chicken or shrimp if you want! (I used coconut aminos instead of soy sauce, but everything else I kept the same as the original recipe). I will definitely be making this again when I get those carb-loaded cravings that are bound to occur. But I don’t even feel like slightest bit of guilt about it.

Some people say you can’t eat healthy and still enjoy your favorite foods.

But I say… I’m pretty sure that’s just an excuse for you to not cancel your Noodles & Co. order that you already made for tonight.

Fiesta Shrimp Lettuce Wraps

I’m back! College ended. Graduation happened. Summer arrived. And I am once again laying on my parents couch, bored out of my mind, pretending that I will be going back to school in three short months.  And while I’m living in this … Continue reading

Easy Crock Pot Recipes for the Busy (Lazy) College Student

Last week marked the beginning of something great. The beginning of an exciting, loyal, and everlasting relationship with… my crock pot. Despite my impending graduation date and my post-spring break sadness, I have managed to find something else to gush over.  Why it … Continue reading

Warm Sweet Potato and Pear Winter Salad

While many of you may have finally ventured out into the snowy conditions today, I’m assuming there are still quite a few of you curled up on the couch who refuse to bundle up, shovel off your cars, and brave the questionable roads.

Even though snow days were the highlight of our childhoods, they don’t hold the same excitement in adulthood. You are quarantined inside your house, forced to perform excessive manual labor if you want to flee, and will most likely end up getting snow in unwanted places, no matter how many layers you put on before heading outside.

And although sometimes it’s nice to lay around all day and have nothing to do, those of us who are trying to keep ourselves away from the pantry/kitchen/cookie jar are challenged to practice much more self control than we were originally prepared for.  Because even though you can’t go to the gym, run your errands, go out shopping, or meet a friend for lunch on a snow day, you CAN microwave some popcorn, make some chocolate chip pancakes, boil a box of pasta, and bake a multi-layer cake on a snow day.

On lazy days like these, our bodies all of a sudden become infinitely more hungry, asking for more food just moments after finishing a meal.

It’s 1pm and I have no plans for the rest of the day. There’s nothing good on TV and no matter how many times I click refresh, my Facebook newsfeed is still the same. Well, I guess I’ll make something to eat so I can pretend I’m being a productive human. 

Next thing you know, it just reached noon and you’ve already had breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And now you’re planning dessert.

What’s worse is that none of these meals consist of healthy, crisp salads. Because who craves a mix of cold vegetables during weather conditions when there could potentially be a wooly mammoth living in your backyard? So instead, you turn to your next best option – a nice, big bowl of warm pasta with steaming tomato sauce and maybe a side of fresh mashed tomatoes topped with melted butter. Basically the same as a salad right?

Lucky for you, I have a healthy, warm recipe for you to make tonight (assuming you didn’t already eat your dinner in your boredom-infused eating frenzy).

Warm Sweet Potato and Pear Winter Salad

Ingredients: 

  1. 1 sweet potato
  2. 1/2 head of broccoli
  3. 2 large handfuls of spinach
  4. 2 handfuls of baby bella mushrooms or 2 sliced portabellos
  5. 1 sliced pear
  6. 1 sliced red onion
  7. 1 handful of walnuts
  8. 2 handfuls of mixed greens
  9. 2 Tbsp olive oil
  10. 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  11. 1 Tbsp maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Slice the mushrooms, onions, sweet potato and pear and put into glass baking pan drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice
  2. Place pan into preheated oven at 425 degrees and roast for about 15 minutes, until vegetables/pears are tender
  3. Spread spinach over top of roasted pears/vegetables and mix so that it will slowly wilt
  4. Cut broccoli and steam in microwave for about 2 minutes, until tender
  5. Toast walnuts
  6. Whisk olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and maple syrup into a dressing and drizzle over mixed greens
  7. Add roasted vegetables and pears, steamed broccoli, and toasted walnuts to the bed of mixed greens and divide salad onto 2-3 plates

warmsalad

The roasted pears and toasted walnuts are a perfect complement to the other warm vegetables and all together they provide a delicious, healthy snow day dinner.

Spaghetti Squash with Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Now that the time has come where I can’t even venture to my mailbox without a huge winter coat, scarf, boots, and gloves, I have found myself craving some of my favorite comforting, carb-loaded dishes.  But seeing that I would have to rename this blog to A Bigger Bite if I wanted to include these beloved recipes, I decided to craft a lighter version of one of my all-time favorite meals.

Ever since I can remember, a heaping plate of pasta topped with pesto has been my go-to indulgence.  (Just see Dinner with Grandma to find out why…) So since spaghetti squash seems to be the new trend this fall, my roommate and I decided to join the band wagon and indulge, while still adding our own flare to the meal.  I bring you…

Caprese Spaghetti Squash with Pumpkin Seed Pesto

INGREDIENTS:
Spaghetti Squash:
  • 1 Spaghetti Squash
  • 1 Tomato, chopped
  • 6 Oz Fresh Mozzarella (omit for vegan alternative)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Pesto:
  • 1/2 C raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 handful of fresh basil
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • Pinch of sea salt
INSTRUCTIONS:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Lightly grease pan
  3. Cut spaghetti squash in half and scoop out the seeds (You can save them to roast later!)
  4. Place squash face down on pan and cook 30-45 min, until soft
  5. Put all ingredients for pesto in food processor and pulse until smooth, pesto consistency
  6. Let squash cool enough to touch, and then scoop out “spaghetti” with a fork
  7. Toss with mozzarella, tomato, and salt and pepper
  8. Top with pesto and voila!

*Serves 2

IMG_4632

 

Acorn Squash Stuffed With Quinoa and Pistachios

A few days ago, I stepped outside of my comfort zone and made a recipe that seemed a bit more intimidating than usual. When my friend told me that I was “selling myself short” after writing off a few complicated recipes I had seen, I decided to accept the culinary challenge.  I’m not very experienced when it comes to cooking with fall foods (squash, pumpkin, sweet potato, etc) so I recently found myself in a food-rut, longing for the colorful salads and green smoothies from the summer. There was only one thing to do – take the leap and dive into these seasonal staples.

I came across this roasted acorn squash recipe the other day while browsing through Weekly Greens, and realized I just needed to go for it.  To my surprise – it took less than 30 minutes total for prepping and cooking, it was delicious, AND it was roommate approved.

I made two separate batches – one with feta, one without, and both were equally appetizing.  For the vegan alternative, I just doubled the amount of pistachios that the original had called for.

Image

Now to my next leap of faith?
I have somehow mustered up the courage to make peace with my juicer so that I can (hopefully) endure another 3-day juice cleanse.  College life has once again gotten the best of me, so in an attempt to rid myself of the various toxins that come with this 4-year package, I have declared today Day 1 of my juice extravaganza.

Stay tuned…

A 21st Birthday to Remember…

Follow my blog with Bloglovin It’s official. Fall is here, people. So pack up your bathing suits, bring out your box of boots and sweaters, and hunker down under a fleece blanket. Since you’re now hopefully in “fall-mode” after following … Continue reading

The Summer’s Final Chapter

This blog post is a little bit different and a lot more special.  This is because, as I head off to school today, I am finally able to reflect upon the last 3 months, outlining the stress and uncertainties I … Continue reading

Coconut-Lime Grilled Chicken Salad

On Sunday, I decided to get a head start to the week by pre-selecting about five different recipes that I wanted to try to make for dinner. Since my parents are away in North Carolina, and unable to cater my every meal, I thought this week would be a great test to see whether or not I can survive for the next year, living in a house where I will be required to cook (or order takeout) for myself each day. On one hand, if I fail this test, I guess I’m screwed and should probably open up my current job search to include sushi restaurants, since I could benefit from an employee discount. However, if I succeed, this year could be the beginning of a culinary adventure!

After making a list of the various ingredients I would need, I headed to Wegmans to stock up. Little did I know, my attempt at being a mature, independent, and capable adult would be shattered simply by approaching the free-sample stand they had set up of organic peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The following is an excerpt from my conversation with the guy giving out the free samples:

  • Me: Hi! Can I try one?
  • Old Man: Where’s your mom?
  • Me: Ummm.. I’m just by myself..
  • Old Man: Well, how old are you dear?
  • Me: 20…
  • Old Man: Oh! Well now I’m embarrassed… I just needed to make sure you were at least the age of 14.. you know, for liability reasons, since younger kids aren’t always aware of peanut allergies that they may have.

Um, what.

…So you can understand my increased uncertainty and overall concern regarding my independence, after just being mistaken for a preteen.

Anyway, I am finally moving past that unfortunate experience and am now prepared to share the dinner I made last night. I wanted to do a simple salad with grilled chicken, so I took a leap of faith and threw some seasonings and juices into a bowl to make my own marinade. And to my surprise, it worked! Here’s the recipe:

Coconut-Lime Grilled Chicken Salad

Marinade:

  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp coconut aminos (you can substitute low-sodium soy sauce, too)
  • a few generous shakes of jerk seasoning
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp Himalayan Salt

Salad:

  • few handfuls of mixed greens
  • 8 cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced

I coated 3 chicken breasts in the marinade and let sit for 10-15 minutes while the oven was preheating to 375.

Since I have no grill skills, I cooked the chicken in the oven for about 15 minutes.

Then, I sliced one of the breasts, served it on the salad, and drizzled the leftover marinade on the top, as a dressing.

IMG_3516
It was actually one of the best grilled chicken recipes that I’ve tasted, so I’m pretty impressed with myself. Let’s hope the next four dinner recipes that I have planned for the week don’t fall short. Except, when you think about it, there aren’t really any expectations when you have a 13-year-old in the kitchen.