Category Archives: Food

The Doughbar Doughnuts

Last week REB and I indulged in a treat he had shipped to our house from The Dough Bar – protein doughnuts! As promised, here’s a quick review on them, what they are, how they tasted and overall thoughts!**

For those of you who don’t know what it is, The Dough Bar was started by a husband-and-wife team in California with a mission to provide a healthy alternative from traditional doughnuts and theirs are handmade, baked, lower in carbs and sugar and full of protein. It’s a great way for people to indulge in something sweet without straying from their fitness goals. They created this company, which will ship a box/pack of doughnuts right to your door.

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Orders are placed on a Thursday through their site, and then shipped on a Tuesday. And they sell out quick! It’s a pretty hot commodity I guess! REB placed the order the Thursday prior, they were shipped on a Tuesday and we received them on a Thursday; so about a week turn around time from order-to-door.

Upon arriving, the packaging was cute! I liked how they looked like homemade, hand packed boxes because they are. I also liked their little note card that explained their mission, how to eat them, store them and how to spread the word of the product and business.

My favorite thing is what they stood for: “We are excited and humbled to share our vision with you – which is defined by nutritious eating, active living, and giving back to others.” They find ways to give back to the community and charities. A portion of sales go towards a charity of their choosing for the month, like helping reduce childhood obesity or helping kids get up and moving. I really liked this about them!

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So now, onto the doughnuts! The doughnuts are in vacuum sealed plastic and the glazes that come with are in little plastic containers. REB ordered a dozen doughnuts in various packs/flavors:
• The Classic Variety Pack with 1 of each: Maple, Cake Batter, Chocolate and Vanilla
• A 4 Pack of Cookies & Creme
• A 4 pack of Vanilla Bourbon

We put half the doughnuts in the freezer to help keep them fresh since we knew we weren’t going to eat them all in that day. We placed them in the fridge to thaw overnight when we were ready to eat them the next day or whenever.

The concept to consume is pretty simple: remove doughnut from plastic, place on plate, warm in microwave for 10-15 seconds. Warm the glaze in the microwave for 5-8 seconds until melted/thinned out, drizzle over doughnut, add garnish if provided. E N J O Y !

We did find we had to warm the glaze up in batches of 3-4 seconds at a time since we didn’t want to melt the plastic container it came in, but other than that, the whole process is pretty fool-proof.

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Cookies & Creme with Oreo Crumble

Now, here’s the thing: you have to take these for what they are. These are not Krispy Kreme doughnuts, nor are they trying to be. You aren’t going to bite into it and taste something from your local bakery. However that said, these are not bad at all.

I will say that there are certain flavors I favored over others. For one thing, the chocolate did not remotely taste like chocolate or look like a chocolate glaze, which was a little bit of a disappointment. The vanilla bourbon and maple were probably my favorites – the glaze was more like an icing and tasted delicious! The doughnuts are pretty dough-y and can seem a little chewy, but again, you’re nuking them in the microwave and they’re baked, not fried.

Here’s the breakdown of Macros per doughnut on average (this includes the glaze):
Calories: 179
Carbs: 21-23g (depending on flavor/glaze)
Fat: 5g
Protein: 11g
Fiber: 2

Overall I am pleased with the product. It was a no-guilt treat for us. I know some of you might think “Well, if I’m going to treat myself, I’m going all out” and that’s totally fine! I’m not a big doughnut person to begin with, but these are something I can feel OK about eating every once in a while if I want that sweet treat or need something with protein post-lifting/working out a shake won’t cut it. They are a little expensive, but they are handmade, hand packaged and shipped from California. Plus, I really like their mission and the way they give back to the community, too! If you guys try them, let me know what you think!

What is your favorite doughnut flavor?

 

 **I was not compensated for providing this review. Nothing in this post was sponsored. The views and opinions are my own!

Vegan Chicken Curry

Last week in my Instagram account some of you may have seen a photo I posted of a vegan chicken curry recipe I had made. I have been wanting to share this recipe for the past week!

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The recipe is my take on my dad’s chicken curry recipe which he used to make when I was a kid. We didn’t eat a lot of meat in the house (like ever, since my mom is a vegetarian and did the majority of cooking) but every now and then he would bust out the pressure cooker, some chicken, his spices and spend hours making this delicious curry.

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Daddio!

My dad is incredibly charismatic, hardworking, serious but still has his silly and fun side and he instilled so many characteristics my sister and I carry with us today.

My parents are now jet-setters. I think I might have mentioned that once or twice before, but they are. My dad is a professor of engineering at a private technical school up here in Michigan and he takes a sabbatical every year and teaches overseas. My mom, retired from secondary education, goes with him because, well, why would she stay here in the cold by herself? So I pretty much don’t see my parents from about December-June each year. It’s hard, sure, but I just think of how they finally get to have time together, seeing the world! Plus he gets to teach in a far more relaxed environment every where else in the world than America where stress and long hours are the norm.

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Parents at my wedding

I miss my parents a lot – a little more than usual – and realized that I missed just having a comfort meal with them. My sister and I can each probably name off 10 things my mom makes that we absolutely love that we consider comfort food. But for both of us, my dad’s chicken curry was by far our favorite thing he made for us (well, ok aside from his famous Sunday French Toast).

I emailed my dad and asked for his recipe, but he’s been so busy teaching, so I decided to try to take a stab at making his curry with vegan chicken. And I have to say, it turned out pretty well! I used Gardein Chicken Scallopini as the protein, but you could easily use tofu if that isn’t your thing. Meatatarians can of course use chicken.

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Just a few simple ingredients and this was ready to eat in about 45 min., including inactive time. I remember it took my dad a few hours to put his chicken curry together since he’d let the chicken marinade, then cook in the pressure cooker, he’d also make the garam masala fresh. I always make a giant batch of masala so I had that on hand, and using vegan chicken meant no pressure cooker!

So my version might not be exactly like his, but it certainly was comfort food for me and reminded me of Saturday night dinners at home.

And, it felt like maybe all of us weren’t so far away from each other.

Vegan “Chicken” Curry
 
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A vegan take on South Indian chicken curry
Author:
Recipe type: vegan, vegetarian
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 cups meatless chicken breast protein (Gardein Chicken Scallopini or similar; about four scallopini pieces), thawed slightly and cut into cubes/pieces
  • 2 tbsp lemon, juiced
  • 1 large garlic clove, grated
  • ½-inch piece ginger, grated
  • ½ tsp red chili powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ½ cup yellow onion, chopped (1 small onion or ½ medium onion)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tsp ginger, grated
  • ½ tsp (or more if you desire!) garam masala (make your own or buy store bought)
  • 1¼ cup tomato sauce (3/4 of a 15-oz. can)
  • ½ cup lite coconut milk
  • Salt to taste
  • Cilantro leaves for garnish
Instructions
  1. For the marinade:
  2. Combine chicken pieces, garlic and ginger paste, turmeric powder, chili powder, cumin powder, lemon juice and salt into a small bowl. Stir to coat all pieces. Cover bowl with saran wrap and set aside for 15-20 min.
  3. For the curry:
  4. Add olive oil in a saucepan or large skillet until heated. Add onion and sprinkle with pinch of salt to help sweat them out. Cook until 2-3 minutes until onion is soft and translucent.
  5. Next add the garlic and ginger and cook 1-2 minutes.
  6. Add tomato sauce and garam masala. Cover and cook 5 minutes until simmering. Give it a quick taste, add more garam masala if needed.
  7. Add chicken pieces back in, leftover marinade and all, stir, cover and cook 5-8
  8. minutes.
  9. Add the coconut milk, stir, give it another taste and add more salt or spices as needed. Leave uncovered and cook another 5 minutes.
  10. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve over rice, quinoa or grain of choice.
Notes
Could substitute Greek yogurt instead of using coconut milk if you want it vegetarian vs. vegan
Could use chicken instead of vegan chicken for the carnivores!

What comfort foods remind you of home?

“Chicken” Noodle Soup

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Polar Vortex 2.0 is in full force! Again. It’s rather annoying and inconvenient if you ask me. People who start giving me the “Well, you live in Michigan, Aparna. What do you expect?” crap will get my death stare. I realize where I live, thank you, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy it any more or less. However, I do realize that complaining about it doesn’t change the fact that we probably haven’t seen the worst of winter yet in Michigan. Please, don’t throw things at me for saying that.

So in and effort to ensure we are warmed to the soul and don’t end up looking like this…:

…we’ve been eating a lot of soup. Now, this can get challenging and tricky when you’re like me and want to make sure everything you’re currently cooking – soup included – fits into the whole “let’s be friggan’ healthy” lifestyle.

Let’s not forget that I live with someone who, like any normal person would, gets bored with certain recipes when they go on repeat each week, so I need to keep things interesting. While I don’t mind having a hot bowl of chili or minestrone or Pho every night, REB isn’t as inclined or excited by it. I don’t think. I’m sure he’s starting to get to his limit of “Seriously? No carbs or cheese again tonight?”, but he’s being a good sport and he’s also being highly supportive. Then again I do most, if not all, of the cooking so is he really in a position to complain? I keed, I keed! I appreciate his feedback and input probably the most out of everyone since he has to eat whatever I end up making. Or at least try to. I’m getting off point.

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He made a very good point to me earlier in the week though. He told me to quit trying to be all food-bloggy-fancy-schmancy and just make something simple but flavorful and filling. I said to myself, “Hey I can’t do that!” and that’s how this soup came to be. Yes, it was yet another soup recipe I made during the week, but it was simple, full of flavor and actually pretty OK for you in terms of fiber, protein, fat, etc.The biggest factor: it was filling and good enough that if you went back for seconds or thirds, you wouldn’t feel so guilty doing so. Plus it’s a classic! Whenever I think of chicken noodle soup I think of the Campbell’s soup commercial with the kid who turns into a snowman from playing outside but a warm bowl of chicken noodle soup from his mom warms him right up!

I listened to him and kept this soup and its ingredients pretty simple but it was perfect. And while we are no where near the end of winter here in Michigan, we at least have some options to help keep us warm and satiated. With that in mind, my complaints about the cold will get toned down a bit.

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But don’t worry. I’ll probably complain a whole bunch about the heat once we get into the dead of July. I’m sorry I’m not sorry.

“Chicken” Noodle Soup
 
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Beat the cold winter blues with a hot bowl of this classic soup fit for vegetarians and vegans alike!
Author:
Recipe type: soup, vegetarian, vegan
Serves: 5
Ingredients
  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • ½ small white onion, diced
  • 3 whole carrots, peeled and cut into discs
  • 2 celery stalks, wiped clean, halved length-wise and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon (about 4-5 sprigs) thyme, finely chopped
  • 4 cups (32-oz. carton) low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1½ cups unsalted vegetable stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 oz. whole wheat wide egg noodles
  • 1½ cups (about 24 strips) frozen meatless chicken strips (Simple Truth brand or similar), thawed and cut into bite size pieces
  • Chopped parsley for garnish
Instructions
  1. tart by heating olive oil in a stock pot or Dutch Oven over medium heat.
  2. Add onions, carrots, celery, garlic and thyme and stir well
  3. Cook until softened but not browned
  4. Next add vegetable broth, stock and water and stir
  5. Bring soup to a boil, will take about 10-12 minutes to bring to boil
  6. While soup is coming to boil, take the frozen meatless griller strips, place in microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds-to-1 minute or until thawed. Cut strips into bite size pieces
  7. Once soup is boiling, add the meatless chicken and noodles and cook until noodles are al dente, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Ladle 1 or 1½ cups into bowls, garnish with chopped parsley and enjoy!

 

Bibimbap

There are only a handful of recipes that I can say without a doubt I’m proud of making and I’ve achieved a gold star in my kitchen for making.

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That is true for this bibimbap I made last week. I had originally planned on making quinoa “fried rice” for dinner complete with egg on top and loaded with vegetables and spicy ingredients, and then I thought to myself: what if I put it in a bowl and labeled it as a bibimbap instead? Ta-da!

The first thing I had to do was look through my fridge and pantry and make sure I had at least four main ingredients: sesame oil, soy sauce, sriracha or chili sauce and ginger. Everything else I could compromise on not having in the dish (though that would have been a disappointment).

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I definitely want to experiment with different ingredients next time, and maybe even different marinades and spices. You could also make this carnivorous with some pork, Korean-style grilled beef or chicken!

I always take it as a good sign when the husband requests a dish be made at least once a week or once every two weeks as one of our meals for the week. And I can’t argue with him there on that one.

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Bibimbap
 
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Simple bibimbap loaded with quinoa, shiitake mushroom, marinated tofu and vegetables.
Author:
Cuisine: Korean
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 7 oz. (1/2 block) extra firm tofu, pressed (to drain out liquid) and cut into cubes
  • 2 teaspoons ginger, finely minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons lite soy sauce
  • ½ cup seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoon Mirin or rice vinegar of choice
  • ¼ teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • ¼ teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
  • ½ cup carrot, cut into thin strips
  • Non-stick spray
  • ½ cup (about 3-4 oz.) shiitake mushrooms, wiped clean, de-stemmed and sliced
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 2 eggs, cooked either over easy or sunny side up (or made the way you like)
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons Sriracha or chili garlic sauce to top
Instructions
  1. Combine cut tofu, soy sauce, garlic and ginger in a large zip-close bag or container and toss lightly to coat well. Be careful not to break up the tofu.
  2. Let marinade and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Toast sesame seeds in a small dry pan over low heat, until fragrant
  4. In a small bowl, combine thinly sliced cucumber, sesame oil, Mirin (rice vinegar) and toasted sesame seeds.
  5. Toss well, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  6. Heat a large, dry deep skillet over medium or medium-high heat
  7. Add tofu and cook until browned on all sides, about 5-8 minutes.
  8. When tofu is browned, remove from skillet and set aside.
  9. Next add non-stick spray to pan and cook mushroom until browned, about 5-8 minutes
  10. Begin arranging your bowl:
  11. In two large bowls, split quinoa in each (1/2 cup each). Divide mushrooms, cucumbers, carrots and tofu in half and arrange around outer edge of each bowl.
  12. In the same pan you toasted the sesame seeds, cook one egg for each bowl. We chose to cook our over easy, but you could do sunny side up, poached, whatever your preference.
  13. Top each bowl with cooked egg and sauce of choice

 

 

Guest Post: Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

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I’d like you all to say a big hello to Richard! He is Amber’s husband, now a good dude friend to both REB and me, and he also happens to be a fantastic cook.

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Something Amber and I started last year was A&A Night where we would get together once a week because both our hubby’s were busy studying with schoolwork or had class. Sometimes I would cook and sometimes she would, but most of the time Richard would step up and cook for us. And I am grateful that he does! A recipe of his that I have enjoyed on more than one occasion is his vegetarian shepherd’s pie. It’s time the world know the secrets behind his delicious recipe. I asked Richard to share this recipe on my blog in a guest post and he happily agreed to write it. I hope Richard will come back and share more recipes on the blog, but for today here’s his herbivore-friendly shepherd’s pie!

Thanks Aparna! Before I started living with my future wife in 2007, microwaving a burrito or making boxed mac and cheese was the extent of my cooking expertise. This suited me just fine when I was single because I’m very lazy and cooking real food seemed to be more trouble than it was worth. When I moved in with Amber she was a student and since I had no job and wasn’t in school yet, cooking duties defaulted to me and my microwave classics were no longer sufficient. My creations in those early days weren’t always nice to look at or particularly edible, but I slowly learned a thing or two and figured out how to make pretty decent food.

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Fast forward to 2014 and I still do all the cooking. Amber and I have been married for almost six years and she’s been a vegetarian slightly longer than that. I’m not a vegetarian, but making a meat and non-meat version of dinner each night sounded like a bummer so our dinners are straight up vegetarian. This has forced me to be more creative and try new things because it’s easy for me to make an awesome meat dish, but an amazing vegetarian dish takes a bit more effort and finesse.

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I rarely follow a recipe when I cook. I tend to get inspiration from a recipe and then make my own version of it which often leads to multiple variations of a particular dish as I tweak things here and there to perfect it or change certain ingredients. My shepherd’s pie is a good example of this because it’s so easy to change what you use as the filling to keep yourself from getting bored with it. The version posted here uses frozen vegetables because it’s super easy and sometimes you just need a really easy dinner option.

Without further ado, Richard’s vegetarian shepherd’s pie:

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5.0 from 1 reviews

Guest Post: Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
 
Simple dinner that’s pretty damn tasty.
Author:
Recipe type: vegetarian, main dish
Cuisine: vegetarian
Serves: 5
Ingredients
  • 4 medium potatoes (any will do, I used russet)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup of milk
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ½ tablespoon sriracha (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 small white onion diced
  • ½ tablespoon fresh garlic diced
  • 2 cups chopped mushroom (any variety)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1½ cup frozen peas
  • 1½ cup frozen carrots
  • 1 pound soy crumbles
Instructions
  1. Cut up potatoes into large chunks, place into a pot, and cover with water. Boil potatoes until soft, about 20 mins.
  2. Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a stock pot over medium-low heat.
  3. Dice white onion and garlic, add to stock pot.
  4. Preheat oven to 375.
  5. Once, onions begin to turn translucent (about 5 mins), add frozen corn, peas, and carrots.
  6. In a measuring cup or bowl combine vegetable stock, soy sauce, and sriracha. Whisk together and add to stock pot 5 minutes after frozen vegetables, bring to a simmer (don’t worry if it looks a little soupy, the soy crumbles will soak everything up).
  7. Chop mushrooms and add to stock pot along with soy crumbles.
  8. Allow mixture to heat through, add salt and pepper to taste, and then transfer to a 9″ x 13″ baking dish (or any suitable dish or dishes).
  9. Drain potatoes and place in large bowl, add butter and mash. Add milk and salt/garlic and mash some more.
  10. Distribute mashed potatoes evenly over filling and put the whole thing into the oven. After 30 minutes in the oven you’re ready to eat.

 

He’s being humble folks – he’s a great cook and this recipe is proof of that. Give it a try, you will love it! He is right though. You can totally alter the ingredients for the filling, or maybe even use mashed sweet potato for the topping if you want to get more fiber in there. But honestly, a bowl of this shepherd’s pie is totally perfect as is, especially during this Michigan Polar Vortext nonsense.

A big thank you to Richard! I hope you will return soon to share another tasty recipe!

 

Way Rad Bowl of Pasta

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I didn’t know what else to call it. It has so many preparation-detailed ingredients that the full name would be something too long and annoying. So way rad bowl of pasta it is, because that’s what it was.

Sooo yeah. Remember how I said I wasn’t eating carbs and I missed them oh so much, but I refused to eat them? I kicked myself in the ass and told myself “moderation and portion control, betch” and then made this way rad pasta dish. And I would make it again, too.

I made this the night before our treadmill finally made its appearance in our basement gym, when I knew I would be running like mad the minute the delivery guys left my house. So I decided it would be best to pretend like I was running a marathon thereby validating a big bowl of pasta.

Although the base of this recipe comes from Cooking Light, I had to make some changes so it could fit into my “let’s be friggan’ healthy” lifestyle.

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For instance, I used whole wheat pasta, used a lighter cheese, and since we needed some kind of protein in there other than cheese, I threw grilled portobello “steaks” on top. So my version was born and was received well by both me and the man of the house.  I can’t get over the smokiness and spicy flavor this dish had, but tossing it all together with seared tomatoes and fresh spinach in a chili garlic sauce? Fuhgettaboutit.

Make it. Moderate it. Portion it well. Eat it. Delicioso. Fin.

5.0 from 2 reviews

Fettuccine with Chili Garlic Sauce and Portobello Mushroom
 
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A robust bowl of whole wheat pasta, seared tomatoes and fresh spinach tossed in a chili garlic sauce, then topped with sliced portobello “steaks”.
Author:
Recipe type: pasta, vegetarian, main dish
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 8 oz. whole wheat fettuccine, or long pasta of choice (linguine would be yummy)
  • ½ cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 1½ tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (use ¼ if you prefer less spice)
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 15-oz. can organic tomato sauce
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 2 oz. part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 4 portobello mushroom caps, de-stemmed and gills scraped out
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil, add pasta and cook according to package directions, about 7-9 minutes, or until al dente
  2. While the pasta cooks, spray a large skillet with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Arrange tomatoes cut side down and cook 1 to 1½ minutes or until tomatoes start to soften or burst. Remove from skillet, transfer to bowl and set aside.
  4. In the same skillet, add the 1½ tablespoons olive oil over low heat.
  5. Add the red pepper flakes and sliced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 3-5 minutes.
  6. Add the tomato sauce and salt, stir and cook 5-7 minutes or until warmed through.
  7. While the tomato sauce simmers, the pasta should be done so you can drain and set aside.
  8. Get your grill pan ready or a separate pan and grill up portobello caps until browned and grilled well.
  9. Slice mushrooms and set aside.
  10. Once the sauce has thickened slightly, add the spinach, cheese, and drained pasta and toss well to coat.
  11. To serve, add mixed pasta to bowls, spoon a few grape tomatoes around the outer edge of bowls and top each bowl with sliced mushroom.

Vegetarian Lasagna Soup

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Five truths about this soup:

  • It took less than 40 minutes to make
  • It was crazy easy to make and something I’ll make again
  • It made me forget about carbs…almost. OK, not at all
  • It was approved by my husband
  • I had to make it at 3:30 p.m. in order to make use of natural light and it was still a bitch to photograph, and still doesn’t look that great

The truth is, I miss carbs. I miss carbs so freaking much. And I’ve been craving my brother-in-law’s lasagna. He makes legit lasagna. The kind that takes, like, 4-6 hours to make and as much as I tease him that it takes this long to make, it’s totally worth it.

I’ve been doing really well with my whole “let’s-be-friggan’-healthy” mission and have been trying to find recipes I can make that A). are delicious, B). are husband-approved, C). make enough for my lunch leftovers the next day and D). are relatively low in calories, fat and carbs.

So I made this soup thinking it would make me forget about missing the real-deal lasagna. And while it didn’t stop me from missing the real deal, it was a great alternative, totally hearty, still had a little pasta in it and was so full of flavor. Plus it made more than enough for leftovers for both me and the PhD student I live with, so that’s a win.

Vegetarian Lasagna Soup
 
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Hearty, flavorful, slightly spicy and filling! Adapted from Recipe Runner.
Author:
Recipe type: vegetarian, soup
Cuisine: italian
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ½ large yellow onion, small dice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz. Baby bella mushrooms, cleaned, de-stemmed and sliced
  • 2 medium zucchini, diced
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 15-oz. can no-salt-added petite diced tomato
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (use less if spice isn’t your thing)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves (or 1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped)
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic salt
  • ½ cup uncooked Ditalini pasta (or any small pasta of your choice) — if you’re going low-or-no carb, just leave this out and substitute in cauliflower or more mushrooms!
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Start by heating olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat
  2. Add onion, mushroom and garlic and cook 3-5 minutes
  3. Add zucchini and cook another 2 minutes.
  4. Add broth, tomato sauce, diced tomato and spices/herbs
  5. Stir and let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally
  6. Add uncooked pasta, stir and cook another 10 minutes, or until pasta is cooked
  7. Remove pot from heat and stir in cheese
  8. Ladle into bowls and enjoy!

 

Vibrant Bites: Raw Coconut Truffles

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I had mentioned on various social media sites that I was going to start having guest posts from fellow bloggers and health nuts and now it’s time to start the fun! This is my dear friend Michelle, who will share some healthy tips and recipes with all of you once a month in a bit we like to call “Vibrant Bites”.

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I’ve known Michelle since 2008 when we worked together as professional nomads. We both got along very quickly and became friends almost instantly. She is also one of the only friends I have who has struggled with healthy habits and weight the way I do and still am. We could relate on so many levels. She has always been athletic and strived for a healthy lifestyle, and now she’s moved out to Seattle to start a new adventure and I’ve never seen her happier! She is currently studying to become a health coach and has started giving me some great advice and tips to make small changes that will make for big changes in the long run (I’m always happy being my friends’ guinea pigs!). We decided to collaborate together and I’ve invited her to come share a post on my blog once a month. We’re going to call them “Vibrant Bites” since her web site is Vibrant Health Coaching. Check it out! She’s starting out a great thing. 

She recently made the recipe we’re sharing on here now: Raw Coconut Truffles. When you chill them in the fridge and then take a bite, they taste just like cookie dough. Intrigued by her Facebook picture of these, I told her I would recreate them and then have her come share the recipe, the benefits of the ingredients in it and any other tidbits that will help all of you! I made them and OH. MY. GOD. They are GOOD. So without further ado, take it away Michelle!

Hey there everyone, I am pleased as punch to share this recipe with you to kick off Vibrant Bites! I am currently training as a Holistic Health Coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and will receive my certification in July 2014. I’m really stoked about that because I love geeking out about healthy food, exercise and how to live your life more vibrantly and naturally.

To me, living vibrantly means finding a balance in your diet, relationships, physical activity, work and spiritual life that makes you feel energetic and happy. By making small, sustainable changes, we all can discover our individual, unique path to happiness and wellness…my job as a health coach is to guide you to YOURS!

So…these Raw Coconut Truffles, where do they fit in? They are homemade treats that are reminiscent of eating raw cookie dough, but are packed with nutrients instead of processed sugars.

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Dates are rich in dietary fiber, potassium, calcium, copper and magnesium. The natural sugars do not cause a spike in your blood sugar like white sugars and I’m a fan of sweetness from whole foods over processed foods as a general practice. The fiber is a treat for you gut, making you feel full and assisting in keeping you, ahem, regular.

Cashews are heart healthy, vanilla is a natural aphrodisiac (woohoo, talk about more vibrant relationships hehe!) and dark chocolate is full of antioxidants that help free your body of free radicals which cause damage to your cells. Dark chocolate is also a great source of flavonoids, which may help to lower blood pressure. Shoot for at least 60% cacao, but I always just grab the highest cacao kind available.

Shredded coconut is low carb but packs a whallop in the fat department. Use sparingly as I still would prefer to see someone eat some organic, unsweetened coconut in a homemade goodie than a procesed Almond Joy.

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Try it out, be creative and do your best not to eat the whole batch at once! xoxo Michelle

A big thanks to Michelle and check back next month when she offers up another Vibrant Bite! Happy Monday, friends!

Raw Coconut Truffles
 
A healthy poppabale snack that tastes just like guiltless cookie dough
Author:
Recipe type: snack, healthy, vegan
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 cup (8 oz.) pitted dates, roughly chopped (take out pit if unpitted)
  • 1 cup raw, unsalted cashews, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut, plus extra to roll balls in
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup dark chocolate chips (can use mini, semi-sweet, whatever, just shoot for at least 60% cacao)
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients, except chocolate chips, in a food processor and pulse/mix until the mixture is dough-like.
  2. Fold in chocolate chips (I used my hands cuz why not?)
  3. Take 1 or 1½ tablespoons of mixtures and roll into balls
  4. Roll in unsweetened shredded coconut, chopped nuts, or whatever, if you like
  5. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
  6. Chill for 45 minutes or up to 2 hours
  7. Makes 12-16 balls, depending on size you roll
  8. Store in your fridge or freezer.

 

 

Ratatouille Quiche

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It’s just a matter of time until my 30th birthday and that 31 Before 30 list doesn’t look any smaller. REB told me to re-purpose or rewrite certain things on the list, but I told that would be cheating and I couldn’t live with myself [dramatic moment]. I’ve come to the realization that I am not going to even be able to tackle half the items on that list.

But that’s life. And life has taken over. Everything.

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I’ve made myself too busy for words and I’ve literally dug myself into a hole. Deadlines at work, working longer, later hours, being a grouch at home, obligations on weekends… I need to learn to say “no” to people. But I also have this compulsive need to please people, so this hole I dug has become home.

So in an effort to decompress and not think about anyone but myself, I looked at my bucket list and decided I was going to tackle something. Making a meal entirely out of farmers market finds. Done.

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I have been waiting almost a month to share this recipe with everyone, and I am so happy I finally get to!

I went to the market a while back with a plan of what I wanted to make, and then completely changed it when I walked by several tables with the most delicious looking peppers, eggplant, squash, zucchini and tomatoes. I instantly thought of ratatouille, but then thought that would be more appropriate for a fall-time dinner. The only way I could think to lighten and “summer” it up was to make a quiche and pair with a light, refreshing salad. So that’s how this quiche came to be.

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Aside from some basic ingredients (like balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper) and crust (because I am not a baker and I hate making pastry shells, so I bought a frozen whole wheat crust), everything for this meal was from the market.

This quiche was perfection. It wasn’t too heavy and I paired with a side salad of fresh arugula and basil. The basil was purchased at the farmers market, but also from my friends who have a community garden. They had an abundance of basil and were generous enough to give me some leaves!

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 I may not get everything done on that list, or even come close to crossing a few more items off between now and the big 3-0. But, it was at least still a fun experiment to try and I did get to cross off some things! So that makes me pretty happy. And I get to eat something delicious here and there when my life hasn’t taken been taken over by work. That’s always a good thing in my opinion.

Ratatouille Quiche
 
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Author:
Recipe type: quiche, vegetarian
Cuisine: brunch, French
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 frozen whole wheat crust (take it out while you are prepping and cooking, so it’s ready to use when you’re done – does not need to be fully thawed)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup eggplant, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 cup zucchini, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 cup summer squash, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 cup bell pepper (red and/or green), cut into ½-inch pieces
  • ½ cup red onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh Thyme, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup Gruyere cheese (or similar), shredded
  • 5 large eggs
  • ½ cup skim milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. In a large skillet or pan heat 1 teaspoon olive oil until hot
  3. Add eggplant, zucchini, summer squash and onion and cook 8-10 minutes until softened and tender
  4. Sprinkle salt, pepper and fresh thyme, and stir
  5. Transfer cooked vegetables to a bowl and set aside.
  6. In a separate, large bowl, beat eggs
  7. Add milk and whisk until combined
  8. Place prepared crust on a baking sheet (will prevent any spills!)
  9. Pour cooked vegetables into crust
  10. Sprinkled with shredded cheese
  11. Carefully pour egg mixture on top of vegetables
  12. Bake for 30-40 minutes until eggs are cooked, or when knife inserted in middle comes out clean.
  13. Serve immediately

 

 

Grilled Peaches with Honey

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Before I get to the amazingness that is this recipe, you should understand how it came to be, because it’s not as simple as “I wanted to make a fruit dessert and this sounded good.” Don’t get me wrong, that is kind of true, but there’s more to it than that.

This past weekend, I embarked on what my best friend Jackie and I call “BFF weekend”. She lives about an hour away in Metro Detroit and while you would think that’s not too far and we see each other all the time – we don’t. She and I have been friends since we started college (lived on the same floor our Freshman year) and though we had our ups and down, she’s my girl and we’ve always been the best of friends. So now instead of just hanging out for a few hours, we make a whole weekend out of it. And since the price of gas is ridiculous, I found an Amtrak ticket for $30 round trip and decided to use that as my way there and back. Best. idea. ever.

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Jackie, her hubby and I decided to have a day of culture in Detroit and be tourists in our own city. Detroit gets such a bad rep and while there are areas that aren’t the safest, any city can be like that. There are areas of Detroit I never feel unsafe or weird around, and if you really look, the architecture and culture is just beautiful. So we spent the day at the art museum (DIA) and then walked around. We ended the night at the MGM Casino, where I lost $12 once again proving my point that 1). I bring bad luck to all those around me in a casino 2). I suck at gambling and 3). It’s a good thing I don’t really like gambling because I suck at it. My wallet and I stay happy that way ;)

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The entire time we were at the museum, we kept saying, “We should make grilled peaches for dessert.” But then we basically ate our way through Detroit and by the time we got back to their house, we were too full to even think about dessert despite stopping at the store to pick up the ingredients for it. Fail on us.

The weekend came to an end and I was still thinking about grilled peaches, but the thought quickly vanished when I saw my boys who came to pick me up from the train station. I came home and saw a package had arrived from one of my other best friends – Allison in MS. She sent me a southern care package of all local items in and around Oxford, MS!!

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From top right to bottom right: Two jars of honey from their honey bees. Uh yeah, did I forget to mention Allison and her hubby harvest bees?! One honey was from kudzu blossoms and the other wildflowers. She also sent me grits, and how-to guides on growing herbs. And finally kudzu jelly and hot sauce. I was in heaven.

But what caught my attention was that honey, because almost instantly my mind went back to the idea of grilled peaches. And with grilled peaches came the rest which included the frozen vanilla Greek yogurt we had in the freezer, the ginger snap cookies in the cupboard and that glorious, beautiful honey that kept staring at me from the counter.

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So I made grilled peaches for dessert, and thought about all my friends and what they mean to me. I might have also been thinking, “Damn, why didn’t I grill up two peaches instead of one?” but that’s just an afterthought.

Grilled Peaches with Honey
 
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A dessert so perfect for summer, you will make it year round!
Author:
Recipe type: dessert
Cuisine: summer, peaches, honey
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 peach, halved
  • ½ tablespoon butter (optional)
  • ½ cup frozen vanilla Greek yogurt (or ice cream of your choosing)
  • ¼ crumbled cookie of your choice (I used ginger snaps, about 2-4 mini cookies)
  • 1 tablespoon honey (I used wildflower and kudzu blossom) to drizzle
Instructions
  1. Heat grill or stovetop grillpan over medium heat
  2. Add butter to melt (optional but it will help the peaches from sticking to the grill pan)
  3. Cut the peaches in half around the pit
  4. Place peaches cut side down on grill and grill for 5 minutes on one side
  5. Flip and grill on the peel side for another 5 minutes
  6. The peaches are done when you see those beautiful grill marks
  7. Place peaches in bowl or plate
  8. Top with frozen vanilla Greek yogurt and crumbled cookies
  9. Add drizzle of honey
  10. Enjoy!