Monster Cookie Protein Bites

Confession time: I’m not a morning person. I set anywhere from 5 to 8 alarms, depending on how early I have to get up and usually end up having to rush around to be ready on time. The first thing that I cut from my routine is always breakfast. Now, if you ask any dietitian, they’ll probably tell you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day – so skipping it makes me a little sad. 😉 Sometimes I keep granola bars on hand, but that gets expensive after awhile.

A few years ago, I discovered these magical things called protein balls. Basically, you can put any ingredients in that you want, but it usually starts out with a base of quick oats, nut butter, and some honey. Then you add what you like and adjust it from there. It’s a great way to get some protein, healthy fats, and whole grains all at the same time!

Plus, you can make them way ahead and grab a few on your way out the door. Not to mention they are SUPER easy to make! That’s what I call winning!

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2 cups quick oats
1 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup raw honey (crystallization normal)
2 scoops vanilla protein powder
1/4 cup mini m&m’s
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

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Stir all the ingredients well and use a small cookie scoop to form them into balls!

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Enjoy pushing snooze a couple extra times… you can thank me later 😉

Garlic Parmesan Hasselback Zucchini

I finally took my whole 1-week of vacation this month. I spent the week at “home” in the Hoosier state, hanging out with family and catching up with old friends. It was nice to be there a little longer, but my time went much faster than I planned. We did watch the circus one night (a must when you grew up in the “Circus Capital of the World” after-all), played some volleyball with the cousins, and even tried a new restaurant on cue with the new Farm-to-Table trend.

In between all that, my days (or at least mornings) were spent driving 40 minutes to Fort Wayne for mom’s 20-minute radiation sessions and then driving all the way back. She has been doing pretty well, although this week her throat and tongue have really been bothering her. So say a prayer if you get a chance. We appreciate it.

hasselback zucchini

Of course, while I was home I got the opportunity to help harvest things from my parents’ thriving garden. My dad planted something like 6 zucchini plants, so one day we harvested about four 5-gallon buckets full of zucchini. You should have seen the stack. Unfortunately, when we went to church that Sunday, all the cars were locked (funny how that works), so I ended up taking home quite a bit.

I made grilled zucchini, sauteed zucchini, shredded zucchini and carrots, zucchini bread, and even gave some away. Then one of my cousins visited Indiana and my mom sent back MORE zucchini for me! I had just gotten our August recipes in at work and one of them was this delicious-looking hasselback zucchini. So I thought “What’s to lose?”

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It’s a pretty simple recipe. Start off by preheating your oven to 425 F and lining a baking sheet with foil. You could also do this on the grill, with a layer of foil to keep it all together.

Slice the zucchini every 1/2-inch or so, being careful not to cut all the way through the bottom.

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Using shaved Parmesan cheese, place a slice in between each cut.

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Mix together 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper.

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Use a pastry brush to cover all the zucchini. Place in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the zucchini is tender and the cheese is starting to brown.

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Enjoy!!

hasselback zucchini

Greek Quesadillas

If you haven’t noticed, I’m a huge fan of quesadillas! You can do so much with them!! They don’t have to be just cheese and salsa – today I’ll be showing you all a super colorful, nutritious Greek-inspired quesadilla. Yum…

Here’s what you’ll need:

Spinach
Roasted Red Peppers
Sliced Black Olives
Red Onion, diced (I buy mine already chopped because onions make me cry! lol)
Feta Cheese
Oregano
Mozzarella Cheese
Whole Wheat Tortilla Shells

Start off by roughly chopping your spinach…

Greek Quesadilla

Next, the roasted red peppers…

Greek Quesadilla

Start layering ingredients on your tortilla shell…

Greek Quesadilla

And keep building…

Greek Quesadilla

Add the dried oregano (I can smell it now)

Greek Quesadilla

And last of all, top with mozzarella and another tortilla shell. Place in a pre-heated skillet with some vegetable oil.

Greek Quesadilla

And cook until the spinach is wilted, the cheese is gooey and melted, and the tortilla is nicely browned and crunchy! Delish!

Greek Quesadillas

Raw Kiwi Tartlets

No, I haven’t forgotten about this blog! Seriously, I promise! Goodness, it seems like time flies and I don’t quite have enough of it for everything. BUT in honor of National Nutrition Month, I am going to do my BEST to post on here more often! It’s not that I haven’t been making recipes to post – I just never get the time to actually post! Anyway, enough about that… Here’s a recipe that seriously tastes AMAZING! Plus – it uses all raw ingredients, no sugar, no flour, all good stuff!

Here’s what you’re gonna need:

1 cup dates
2 cups raw pecans
½ tsp cinnamon
3 bananas
½ cup coconut milk
5 kiwis, peeled and sliced into rounds

And…a food processor! Start out with the nuts, dates, and cinnamon in the food processor.

Raw Kiwi Tartlets

Pulse until it’s finely ground…like this:

Raw Kiwi Tartlets

Divide that up into tart pans – or whatever you have that’s about that size. This will be your crust! It’s slightly sticky so you can press it together pretty easily. The dates also sweeten the tarts naturally so you don’t have to add all the extra sugar.

Raw Kiwi Tartlets

Don’t worry about cleaning out your food processor too well – just add the bananas and milk. Pulse until it is a thick liquid with no chunks.

Raw Kiwi Tartlets

Pour into the tarts, over the crust.

Raw Kiwi Tartlets

Peel and slice your kiwis…

Raw Kiwi Tartlets

And top off your tarts! So simple, and SO delicious! Yum. 🙂 These don’t keep long, so don’t try to make them ahead too far in advance!

Raw Kiwi Tartlets T

Swiss Turkey Quesadilla

This may be a little late for thanksgiving leftovers, but I’m a huge fan of turkey and cranberry so I have to share this. 🙂 Plus, when you add in some Swiss cheese on a tortilla shell, it just becomes out of this world. Ah. maze. ing.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • tortilla shells
  • neufchatel cheese
  • cranberry sauce
  • turkey
  • green onion
  • swiss cheese

Swiss Turkey Quesadilla

Spread some neufchatel cheese on a tortilla shell, then top with some cranberry sauce.

Swiss Turkey Quesadilla

Chop up the turkey and green onions.

Swiss Turkey Quesadilla

Then top your cheese and cranberry mixture with them.

Swiss Turkey Quesadilla

Finally, top with some good ol’ Swiss cheese. (:

Swiss Turkey Quesadilla

Place in your preheated, greased skillet and cook to golden, gooey perfection!

Swiss Turkey Quesadilla

Cut that perfection in half and serve warm!

Mmm…. that’s what I’m talking about (:

Swiss Turkey Quesadilla

Pear, Brie, & Pumpkin Tartlets

Need a simple, elegant appetizer for the holidays? This great treat is only 70 calories, and is a great healthier treat. The pear and pumpkin are good sources of fiber which will help you stay full longer, and the brie has a little protein and fat to make you more satisfied after eating it. Let me introduce you to Pear, Brie, & Pumpkin Tartlets:

Pear Brie & Pumpkin Tartlets

Yes, those beautiful little tartlets are only 70 calories a piece. It’s not too good to be true 😉

Here’s what you’re going to need:

  • 1 (15 oz) can pure pumpkin
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1 package frozen mini fillo shells
  • 8 oz Brie cheese, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 1 Bartlett Pear, sliced thin into ½ inch strips

Fist of all, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Mix the pumpkin, honey, and spices together in a small saucepan over medium heat. (Tip: you can substitute these spices for about 2 tsp of pumpkin pie spice to make it easier)

Pear Brie & Pumpkin Tartlets

Bring to a simmer and cook until thick and shiny.

Pear Brie & Pumpkin Tartlets

Next, get out your fillo shells and place them on a baking sheet. Then start slicing the brie into 1/2 inch squares that are about 1/8 inch thick.

 

Pear Brie & Pumpkin Tartlets

Put one cheese square into each shell. It’s okay if they don’t fit perfectly – they’ll melt down when you put it in the oven.

Pear Brie & Pumpkin Tartlets

Once the pumpkin mixture has thickened up, spoon a teaspoonful over each piece of cheese.

Pear Brie & Pumpkin Tartlets

Now it’s ready to pop in the oven for about 8-10 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly.

Pear Brie & Pumpkin Tartlets

While they are in the oven, start thinly slicing your pear. I chopped each slice into about thirds.

Pear Brie & Pumpkin Tartlets

Take them out of the oven, and top with a pear slice or two.

Pear Brie & Pumpkin Tartlets

Yum… Bite-sized perfection!

Pear Brie & Pumpkin Tartlets

 

 

Eggplant Zucchini Lasagna

Eggplant Zucchini Lasagna

Lasagna is a great place to sneak in some extra veggies. This recipe uses fresh zucchini and eggplant to add some extra plants to your diet. This is another recipe that I made with my friend Chef Maggie (: So special thanks to her for her help.

What you’ll need: 

  • 1 pound extra lean ground meat (I used venison)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 small eggplants
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 TB vegetable oil
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 16 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 TB Italian seasoning
  • 1 TB parsley
  • 1 TB oregano

First of all, brown the ground meat. Add in the diced tomatoes and set aside.

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Next, saute the zucchini, eggplant, and garlic in a little bit of vegetable oil. Set aside.

saute zucchini and eggplant

Finally, make the cheese mixture. Mix together the three cheeses and the dried herbs.

cheese mix

Now boil the lasagna noodles until they are al dente. Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease a 9×13 inch pan and spread tomato sauce on the bottom. Then start layering noodles, cheese, tomato sauce, sauteed veggies, meat, and repeat.

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After the last layer of noodles, spread the remaining tomato sauce on top. Use a large piece of wax paper to press and compact the layers together. This will help prevent it from bubbling over and making a mess in the oven.

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Sprinkle some additional mozzarella, Parmesan, and herbs on top. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 15 minutes until sauce is bubbly and cheese starts to brown.

oven ready

eggplantzucchini lasagna

Artichoke, Spinach, & Chicken Calzone

Who doesn’t love pizza? One of my favorite things is to make my own pizza. It’s so much better when you make it yourself. It doesn’t only taste better, but it will be a million times more healthy. This spin on the delicious calzone uses whole wheat crust, and sneaks several healthy veggies in as well. It was amazing paired with a simple salad and some fresh fruit for dessert.

Yum.

So what are we waiting for? Let’s get cooking!

calzone

First, the dough:

5 cups warm water
15 cups freshly milled white wheat
3 TB SAF yeast
2 TB honey
1/4 cup olive oil
4 tsp salt

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
Proof and sponge dough by placing the following in bowl: 5 cups wheat flour, honey, oil, yeast. Mix and let sit 30 minutes. Then, add the remaining flour and salt. Knead for 5 minutes. Cover let rise until double. Form crust.

Shape the dough

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Now, the filling:

1/2 cup canned artichoke heart, chopped
3/4 cup fresh spinach, finely chopped
1 cup canned chicken, shredded
1/2 cup mozzarella
1/2 cup Parmesan
2/3 cup ricotta cheese
1 tsp basil
1 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp chili flakes

Artichoke, Spinach, and Chicken Filling

Mix together thoroughly and feel free to add more or less of any ingredients to your preference.

Divide the filling evenly between the crusts.

add the filling

Fold the dough together and shape the edges, pinching together so the filling will not seep out. Place onto a baking sheet sprinkled with flour or cornmeal to prevent sticking.

Shape the crust

Let rise for about 10 minutes. Mix 1/4 cup olive oil with 2 TB Parmesan and 1/4 tsp garlic powder and brush on the crust.

Brush with oil mixture

Bake at 400 F for 20-30 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly.

Serve warm and ENJOY! (:

calzone

Honey Ricotta Acorn Squash

We found some acorn squash on sale at a local farmer’s market this week. Acorn squash is a great veggie – low in calories and high in fiber. It is a good source of Vitamin C, magnesium, Vitamins A & B6. It even has some calcium and iron.

We had several squashes so we went ahead and used 2 of them, but you could easily just do one if you only have a couple people. When choosing acorn squash, you should look for squash that has smooth, dull skin and is heavy for its size. It should have no soft spots or blemishes. If it is lighter weight, the moisture has evaporated and it is drying out. You should also look for a small-medium size orange spot which indicates that it is mature. Too large of an orange spot shows that it was overripe and it will be stringy and dry.

What you’ll need: 

  • 2 acorn squash
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 10 oz ricotta cheese
  • 4 TB honey
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg

First of all, preheat the oven to 400 F. Then wash and quarter the squash – you’ll need a pretty sharp knife. 🙂

To make it easier to chop, you can pierce the skin several times with a fork and place in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. This will soften it and make it much easier to cut.

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Scoop out the seeds with a spoon.

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Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Grind fresh salt and pepper to taste. Using parchment paper will help make clean up easier too, if you desire.

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Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the edges are starting to brown and the flesh is soft – a fork is a great way to test this.

Top each quarter with a dollop of ricotta cheese. Drizzle honey and top with a sprinkle of nutmeg.

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Serve warm and enjoy!! Yum.

Honey Ricotta Acorn Squash

Recipe adapted from mattbites.com

Pumpkin Pie Rice Krispies Treats

Okay, okay. So it’s not quite pumpkin-everything season yet, but I did eat some pumpkin pie ice cream the other day which may have played a role in the reawakening of my love for pumpkin. I mean, what’s not to love? It’s a veggie – low in calories while providing a nice punch of vitamin A and even some fiber, vitamin C, B6, iron, magnesium, and calcium. With all these great things going on, why not sneak it into as many things as possible? Not to mention, the spices that go with it have their own benefits and taste absolutely amazing.

Today I decided to create my own version of pumpkin pie rice krispies treats. This is a very easy recipe, and rice krispies treats are a fairly low calorie, low fat snack – adding pumpkin just makes it that much better.

What you’ll need: 

  • 1 cup pure pumpkin
  • 1 TB butter
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1 bag (10 oz) marshmallows
  • 8 cups rice krispies

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I made my own spice blend for this recipe, because it’s cheaper and I love being able to customize it to my preference instead of relying on some pre-made blend that I have no control over. If you want to just use pumpkin pie spice, that’s totally fine – just use 2-3 tsp plus 2 tsp cinnamon! After preparing your spices, set them aside and save for later.

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The biggest problem with adding pumpkin to rice krispies treats is that it can make the rice soggy. The best way to prevent this is by heating up the pumpkin to evaporate the extra water. The first time, I tried this on the stove top and heated the pumpkin over medium heat with the 2 TB butter for 15-20 minutes or until it was very thick – stirring constantly.

However, I found that an easier and much quicker way is to use the microwave for this step. Eliminate the butter, and heat the pumpkin for 2 minutes on full power. Stir, and heat for an additional 2 minutes, if needed. Finally, take several paper towels and press excess water out. The pumpkin will be very thick – get as much water out as possible!

Mix the pumpkin and marshmallows in a saucepan, and heat over medium heat until the marshmallows are completely melted. (Hint: You can also do this step in the microwave – heat for 2-3 minutes at 70% power until marshmallows are completely melted. Just make sure you keep an eye on it so it doesn’t explode in your microwave.)

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Add the spices and mix well. Add rice krispies and mix well. Place into a greased 9×13-inch pan. Press into shape using wax paper.

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Allow to cool and harden slightly before serving. Enjoy! 🙂

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