Sunday, March 29, 2015

Brussel Sprout, Sausage, and Yellow Squash Pasta

This was a result of basically having a lot of little amounts of stuff left, if I'm being perfectly honest.

But, as sometimes happens, things that aren't exactly planned out turn out the best!

I tested it out one more time just to make sure I wasn't so hungry the first time anything would taste good!

This is super filling and delicious.  This recipe makes one serving but could be easily doubled or tripled!  The thing about pasta is that, on its own, a serving isn't that big.  But this recipe bulks it up with a lot of goodness so it's an extremely satisfying dinner!

As a note, I used a combined spice - the Penzeys pasta sprinkle - in this.  If you don't have that, you could just use garlic, oregano, basil and thyme, which is the combination of the sprinkle.  Just a dash of each should work!

I also used the precooked sausage crumbles in the interest of saving time, but feel free to cook up your own sausage!

Brussel Sprout, Sausage, and Yellow Squash Pasta

1/2 cup cooked pasta
3/4 cup chopped yellow squash
1 cup chopped Brussel sprouts
2 tsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. Penzey's pasta sprinkle
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup sausage crumbles (precooked)
2 tsp. reduced fat mozzarella
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Reserve about a 1/3 cup of the cooking water.

Heat the olive oil and garlic over medium heat, saute for about a minute.

Add squash, Brussel sprouts, pasta sprinkle, red pepper flakes, and salt/pepper and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add in the sausage and cook for another 6 minutes (or until the veggies are done to your liking.  I like mine a bit charred and crunchy so I added another minute or so).

Add reserved pasta water to create a 'sauce' - cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Add in 1/2 cup of cooked pasta and combine.  Sprinkle cheese over the top to melt.

Serve immediately.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Fantastic Friday Four

In celebration of the BEST day of the week, a new series on the blog!  Random, fun things (four to be exact) that I'm loving or that are making me happy each week!

1.  Early Sunrise candle from Yankee Candle.  I'm very seasonal when it comes to candles, so it's a tad unlike me to burn this bad boy when it's still so cold because it's definitely a spring candle, but I couldn't help it.  Smells so fresh and clean!

2.  This Pasta Sprinkle from Penzeys is absolutely fabulous and great timesaver!  I used it in my sausage and brussel sprout pasta recipe (coming soon!).  It's a blend of garlic, oregano, basil and thyme.  Loving having this one jar instead of juggling all four!

3.  My custom blend of oatmeal from  Still testing out a few things from there but LOVING what I've had so far!  My blend contained quick rolled instant oats, coconut sugar, whey protein, chia seeds, along with chocolate and peanut butter flavors!  I topped it with half a banana and some PB2.  Delicous!

4.  The Ocean Trust Tropic Heat Martini from Bonefish Grill.  Sweet and spicy, pineapple and jalapeno and absolutely delicious!  Totally reminded me of my cruise last summer - and made me look forward to my cruise this summer :)  And even better - for every purchase, $1 goes to the Ocean Trust charity! 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bars

You may or may not be sensing a theme here.

I love chocolate and peanut butter.

Alas, stuffing my face with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups is not an option when trying to live a bit healthier.

But these?  These are not a bad option.

I had wanted to try my hand at making some of my own protein bars for a couple of reasons.  One, you can control what goes into them, and two, they are not cheap in the store. 

My afternoons are long, with tutoring and working out after school, so it's my go to mid afternoon snack of choice to give me a bit of a boost and get me through a run or a 21 Day Fix workout.

I found this recipe on Oh She Glows and decided to adapt it a bit to fit my needs.

The recipe made 12 protein bars, and, using MyFitnessPal recipe calculator, they came out to be about 180 calories per bar, which is on par with what a store bought protein bar would be.

I keep them in the refrigerator and a week later, they are still delicious!

No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bars
Adapted from Oh She Glows
(Makes 12)

1 1/2 cups of oats, blended into a flour
1 scoop of chocolate protein powder (I used my Vegan Chocolate Shakeology)
1/2 cup organic chocolate crisp rice cereal
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 tbsp. mini dark chocolate chips
1/2 tbsp. coconut oil

Blend oats into a flour.  Combine with the protein powder, salt, and cereal into a large bowl.  Add in peanut butter, maple syrup, and vanilla extract.  The dough will be stiff and a bit sticky!

In an 8x8 pan lined with wax paper, press the dough even into the pan, using a pastry roller to even it out.  Freeze for about 15 minutes.

Melt coconut oil and chocolate chips in a small saucepan, stir until smooth.

Take the bars out of the freezer, and even spread chocolate over the top.  Pop back into the freezer for another 15 minutes.

Take out and slice into 12 portions.  Keep either in the freezer or an airtight container in the fridge!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Healthy Crockpot Breakfast Casserole

It's probably no secret by now that the crockpot is one of my favorite kitchen tools ever.

Especially for meal prep.  Most Sundays feature me and the crockpot, getting a meal ready to take for lunches for the week.

It's probably also no secret at this point that I love breakfast food for just about any meal.

This crockpot breakfast casserole is very versatile - you can throw in any veggies or breakfast meats you want - this was just the combo I came up with.  I lightened it up considerably by using half eggs and half egg whites, as well as reduced fat cheese.

It comes out to about 7 1 cup servings.  That with some fresh fruit is a great breakfast or lunch!

Crockpot Breakfast Casserole
(Serves 7 - 1 cup serving each) 

6 eggs
1 1/2 cup liquid egg whites
1 cup unsweetened almond / coconut milk
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 1/2 cups chopped broccoli
4 oz. cracked pepper turkey breast
2 cups reduced fat cheddar cheese
3 1/2 cups shredded potatoes (I used a 20 oz bag of Simply Potatoes)

In a stand mixer, whisk eggs, egg whites until combined.  Add in milk, salt, pepper, and mustard and whisk until all the ingredients are combined.

Spray the crockpot insert.  Layers some of the potatoes on the bottom.  Top with some of the turkey (chopped) and broccoli.  Then, sprinkle about a 1/3 of the cheese.  Repeat these layers twice, ending with a layer of cheese.  Pour egg mixture over the top.

Cook on high for 2 hours, then switch to low for 3.  Or cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Fabulous Finds: Seapoint Farms Dry Roasted Edamame 100 Calorie Packs

I'm a sucker for a good snack.

I'm also a teacher who needs the mid-morning pick me up as much as the kids do.  And, being a teacher, I can't leave my room to get said pick me up.

So, I'm always interested when I see snacks that don't need to be refrigerated, are healthy, and more importantly for me, portion controlled.

I spotted these in the organic section of Stop and Shop and knew I had to give them a try.

Especially after I checked out the label!

Low in sugar, high in protein, and 100 calories?

My next fear was that it would be an impossibly small portion.  However, there was a lot of edamame packed into that little bag!

The edamame itself had a nice salty crunch, a perfect substitute for chips or even, for someone like who doesn't like them, any kind of nut.

I've been having these everyday this week as my mid-morning snack and they definitely helped tide me over until lunch.

Keep and eye out for them!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Crockpot Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal

In case it isn't yet obvious, I kind of love oatmeal.  What's more, I love trying to invent "new" combinations.

This one?  Not very imaginative.  But a peanut butter cup for breakfast sounded good.

Word of warning, this isn't overly sweet, so if you like a bit of a sweeter oatmeal, I would add in maybe a teaspoon or 2 of honey or pure maple syrup.  It does have a light sweetness, especially when you get a chocolate chip!

It is warm and creamy and comforting, a great weekend morning breakfast!

Also, this could definitely be made on the stove top, I just love my little mini Crockpot so much! It also could easily be doubled or tripled!

Crockpot Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal 
(Serves 1)

1/2 cup of oats
1 cup unsweetened almond / coconut milk (or milk of choice)
2 tbsp. PB2 (or 1 tbsp. natural peanut butter)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp. mini semisweet chips

Combine oats, milk, PB2, vanilla extract and 2 tsp. of the chocolate chips in the crockpot bowl.  Stir, and cook for an hour, checking after about a half hour to give it a stir.

Once done, top with remaining chocolate chips.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Smoked Gouda Breakfast Burrito

Mmmmm cheese.

Unfortunately, I love it.

What I don't love is all the fat free stuff out there.  Tastes terrible, doesn't melt.

So I made a decision a while ago that if I'm going to eat cheese?  I'm going to go with 1 portion of either full fat or reduced fat cheese.  I'd rather have a smaller bit of the good stuff than a lot of the icky stuff!

I was shopping in Target one day and ran across a pack of sliced smoked Gouda.  I love love love smoked Gouda, however, I've never seen it in sliced form.  So in the cart in went.

This breakfast burrito was hearty and delicious, and the smoked Gouda added both delicious flavor and creaminess!

Started with some veggies.  Green and yellow squash in coconut oil.

Threw in some sun dried tomatoes.

Added in some egg whites, the cheese, and some hot sauce and piled it all into a whole wheat wrap!

(FYI - I'm terrible at "wrapping" anything!)

Smoked Gouda Breakfast Burrito
Serves 1

1 tsp. coconut oil
1 cup zucchini and yellow squash
2 tbsp. sun dried tomatoes
1/2 cup of egg whites
1 slice of smoked Gouda
1 whole wheat wrap
Hot sauce
Salt and pepper

Heat small frying pan over medium heat.  Melt coconut oil and add in zucchini and yellow squash.  Cook for about 5 minutes, or until desired doneness.  Add in the sun dried tomatoes and cook an additional minute.

Reduce heat to medium - low.  Pour egg whites into pan.  Add salt, pepper, and a few dashes of hot sauce.  Gently stir the mixture.  Egg whites will begin to set.  Continue gently pushing the mixture around the pan until the eggs are the texture you like (Mine took about 5 - 6 minutes and they were pretty firm, which I like).

Tear the smoked Gouda into pieces and add into pan, stirring to melt (about an additional minute).

Place the eggs into the center of the burrito and wrap up!


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Fabulous Finds: Silk Almond Creamer

I'm a teacher, so it pretty much goes without saying that coffee is my lifeblood. 

And as much as I'd like to be able to drink it black (aka calorie free), I can't.

Of course, the creamers I like are full of sugar.  And while I splurge every once in a while, on a daily basis, I'm aiming to be a bit more healthy.

I've been a convert to Silk unsweetened vanilla almond milk and the unsweetened coconut almond blend for a while now.  It's fewer calories, and while I don't have an issue with dairy, I find that I feel a little bit better when I use that as opposed to skim.  I also find it to be a bit more creamy.

So when I saw this in the store, I knew I had to try it.

I loved seeing the dairy, gluten and soy free label.  While I don't need to be "free" of any of those things, I do like to watch my intake.  And non - GMO is also a score. 

It's fewer calories than traditional creamers, clocking in at 20 calories per tbsp. serving.  For me, I do need to use 2 tablespoons but the ingredients are all readable so I feel ok about it.

It adds a nice creaminess to your coffee (or tea!), and a hint of sweetness from the vanilla.

I haven't seen it everywhere yet, but if you are a coffee lover, keep an eye out!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Warm Maple Brussel Sprouts, Pear, and Bacon Salad


I mean, with this combination, what could be bad?

I found this recipe on How Sweet Eats and decided to adapt it a bit.  Not a huge fan of blue cheese, and I did a few other little modifcations.

The result was delicious!

Now I served this salad warm, but it would also be delicious at room temperature!

Warm Maple Brussel Sprouts, Pear, and Bacon Salad
(Adapted from How Sweet Eats)

4 slices maple bacon
2 bags of shaved brussel sprouts
2 tbsp. pure maple syrup
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 large pear, chopped
4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

Heat large skillet and cook bacon until crisp and it has rendered some fat (about 5 minutes).  Remove bacon with slotted spoon and place on paper towel to absorb extra grease.

Add Brussel sprouts to grease, stirring gently to coat (you will have to add these in stages since the shaved brussel sprouts are pretty bulky, but they will wilt down!).

Cook until softened / wilted, and stir in maple syrup.  Cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, and add salt and pepper.  Crumble the bacon and add back into skillet.  Then add half the goat cheese, and stir to combine.

Put mixture in serving bowl and add the chopped up pear, stirring to combine.  Add the remainder of crumbled goat cheese on top (if you are going to serve the salad at room temperature, then wait to add the goat cheese until right before serving).

Serve immediately OR let cool to room temperature.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Favorite YouTubers: The Domestic Geek

I'm sort of addicted to all things YouTube.  Honestly, it's a fantastic resource.  So here's to a new series on the blog!

The Domestic Geek is one of my favorites!  She uploads tons of great recipes, and many healthy eating tips and meal prep videos.  She's also really fun and engaging.

This was one of my favorites - she takes you through her weekly meal prep!

Definitely check out her channel and subscribe if you want some terrific recipes!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Blog Bites: Baked Brie with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Thyme

Try this dip.  It's a Pinterest discovery from Menu Musings of a Modern American Mom!

This was absolutely amazing (and easy!).  It would be a great thing to make ahead and then just bake when guests arrive!

I served it with pita chips, but it would also be delicious with a nice, crusty bread.  It was bubbly and creamy and delicious!

Baked Brie with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Thyme