Saturday, April 29, 2017

Healthy Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Healthy Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Healthy Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
Recipe from "Ambitious Kitchen"
  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted and cooled (I used extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1/3 cup honey or agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini (about 1 medium)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce (you can also use greek yogurt!)
  • 1/2 cup Almond Breeze Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 1/2 cup regular or mini chocolate chips (I used a little less)
  1. Preaheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 cup muffin tin with cupcake liners and generously spray inside of liners with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Squeeze shredded zucchini of excess water with a paper towel. This is important, so don’t forget!
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, add coconut oil, honey, vanilla, egg and egg white; mix on medium-low until smooth and well combined. Add in zucchini, applesauce, and almond milk; mix again. Slowly add in dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Evenly divide batter into prepared liners. Bake 22-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean. After 5 minutes, remove muffins and transfer to wire rack to finish cooling. Enjoy!
To keep muffins dairy free, use dairy free chocolate chips.

I love adding a few extra chocolate chips (2-3) on top of each muffin before baking to make them look pretty, but it's up to you!

It's a cold and snowy April day in Southern Colorado.  Despite there being leaves on all the trees, as there should be this time of year, we have wet, gloppy snow coming down.  Hopefully we don't lose any tree limbs and hopefully we don't lose heat and power with limbs falling on above ground power lines.  We briefly took the dogs for a walk this morning, but it was cold, wet, and WINDY.  When I came home from our brief morning walk, cranking up the oven seemed like a really good idea. I made these Healthy Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins from  These muffins are delicious and taste just like cake.  My muffins are a little crumbly but I am not complaining.  Did you hear me say... "they taste like CAKE?!?" 

Waldorf Salad with Cottage Cheese

Waldorf Salad with Cottage Cheese

I am not sure what made me think up this combination; I think I was lying in bed one morning and it just sort of *popped* into my head. 

Have you ever had Waldorf Salad?  My mom made it sometimes... I remember it on our Thanksgiving table a time or two.  I think my mom's version of Waldorf Salad had apple, celery, walnuts, raisins, and mayonnaise (or Miracle Whip).  Good stuff!  I also had Waldorf Salad at my mother-in-law's house.  I think her version had apples, grapes, celery, and walnuts or pecans, but her salad was made with whipped heavy cream that was slightly sweetened.  Also good stuff!

Here is a lighter and super easy version of Waldorf Salad with Cottage Cheese.  I did not really measure my ingredients; I just sort of tossed things in a bowl and gobbled it up.  It is GOOD (and healthy)!


1/2 to 3/4 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1/2 apple, chopped (I used a Gala apple)
2 tablespoons celery, chopped
1 tablespoon raisins
1 tablespoon walnuts, chopped
a dash or two of ground cinnamon

In a serving dish, top cottage cheese with remaining ingredients.  Dig in! Enjoy!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Slow Cooker Banana Nut Steel Cut Oats (Make Ahead)

Slow Cooker Banana Nut Steel Cut Oats

Wow, these are NOT impressive photos whatsoever.  Sorry about that. Whatever the case may be, I am glad I have made this recipe.  I found this recipe on Facebook and, since I had all the ingredients on hand, I felt obligated to make it. It's like an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

I love making steel cut oats in the slow cooker and freezing the individual portions.  I reheat each portion with a gob of unsweetened almond milk.  It is easier to reheat the frozen portions if you let them thaw out first (in the refrigerator over night at a minimum).  I also topped my oats today with a few more banana slices and a few more walnuts. Yum! This recipe is not very sweet so you may wish to add a little brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup when you enjoy your Banana Nut Steel Cut Oats.

Slow Cooker Banana Nut Steel Cut Oats
Adapted from (*)

1 cup steel cut oats
1 banana, mashed (I used 1 1/2 bananas)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (I added a little extra)
2 cups unsweetened almond milk (or milk of your choice)
2 cups water
2 tablespoons flax seed meal (optional)
1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt (I used kosher salt)

Toppings when serving:  banana slices, brown sugar/honey/maple syrup if desired

Place all ingredients in slow cooker and stir until well combined.
Cover with lid and cook on LOW setting for 1 1/2 hours and stir well especially along the bottom edges to loosen any oats that may be sticking; cook an additional 30 minutes if needed.  Serve immediately.

If making this as a large batch and you would like to freeze individual portions (see photo below), allow the oatmeal to cool by removing the slow cooker's lid and removing the ceramic crock from the slow cooker. When the oats are approximately room temperature, portion out the oats using a small plastic container or measuring cup. I made 8 servings which were slightly more than 1/2 each.  Next plop the individual portions onto a cookie sheet which has been lined with aluminum foil (I spray a little non-stick spray on the aluminum foil first).  Place the cookie sheet into the freezer until the oatmeal mounds freeze/harden and then transfer them all to a gallon sized zip close plastic bag.  It's easiest to reheat these portions if you allow them to thaw in the refrigerator at least over night. To reheat, I pour a generous amount of unsweetened almond milk over each portion and microwave on HIGH for about 2 minutes. Top as desired with additional banana slices, walnuts, and brown sugar/syrup/honey.

(*)  I really only made slight changes to this recipe.  I added in more banana than the original recipe called for and I added in 1 tablespoon of chia seeds.  The main change I made to this recipe is cooking time.  The original recipe indicates you can cook the oats overnight in the slow cooker on LOW for 8 hours.  My experience has been that it only takes about 2 hours to cook steel cut oats in the slow cooker. I have read, however, that you can place all they oatmeal ingredients into a glass bowl that will fit into your slow cooker and then add enough water to fill the lower half of your slow cooker.  That way the oats will cook more gently/slowly and you can cook the oats overnight on LOW and it will be ready for you in the morning.  I've not tried this method myself, but if you see recipes that call for cooking oatmeal OVERNIGHT in the crock of your slow cooker, proceed with caution. You might end up with overcooked and crusty oatmeal.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

W.I.A.Y. (What I Ate Yesterday)

The last few mornings I've noticed the most gorgeous lighting looking out the front of our house (looking west toward the foothills).  It's a brief fleeting moment where the sun hits the tree tops in the distance, made more dramatic by some dark clouds in the background.  It only lasts for a minute or two and I am always pleased when I catch it before it's gone. 

I've been sick the past week.  Long story... perhaps I will share more in another post.  This week I am focusing on hydrating, eating really healthy, and walking. We are going for two walks a day; I am aiming for 15,000 steps a day.

Breakfast today was steel cut oats, banana, walnuts, chia seeds, almond milk, and cinnamon.  I had this oatmeal in my freezer (you can see more HERE about Make Ahead Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats).

Lunch today was my new favorite soup. It's a recipe I've come up with to use up left over odds and ends in the refrigerator/freezer/pantry. It's a very flexible recipe and you can find the recipe HERE.

Dinner tonight was another favorite.  Zucchini noodles (Zoodles) topped with Tomato and Basil Marinara Sauce (Barilla brand from a jar).  Into the sauce, I add cooked, crumbled Jenni-O brand Italian Seasoned ground turkey. I also add in extra garlic powder, dried oregano, dried basil, and crushed red pepper flakes.  My husband his dinner with bow tie pasta; no zoodles for him.

After dinner, I decided to play with my food a bit. Yes, I am a bit stir crazy being home sick this week.  Is it only Wednesday?  I saw this recipe idea on Facebook this morning.  I realized I had all of the required ingredients on hand which means I am ethically and morally obligated to make the recipe post haste!  Right?!? 

The recipe called for a cucumber.  You cut the cucumber into 1 inch lengths and scoop out the insides but you leave a bit at the bottom to make a cucumber cup.  Next, you combine 1/2 cup cottage cheese, 1 can of drained tuna, 1/2 cup of corn, and season it with salt and pepper. You can chop up the cucumber you scoop out and add it to the cottage cheese and tuna mixture as well.  To finish off the dish, you scoop your yummy tuna mixture into the super cute cucumber cups.  Viola!

I went a little rogue with this recipe.  I found a can of Bumble Bee Tuna in my pantry.  It's tuna in olive oil and it is seasoned with pesto.  In place of corn, I added finely diced red bell pepper and sweet onion.  I love the idea of this recipe, I just did not care for my execution.  I learned I do NOT like tuna in oil. It has a greasy feeling in my mouth.  I also learned that it's better to use a cucumber with a wider diameter. My cucumber was a super narrow English cucumber and I did not have much room for scooping or filling.  Finally, it's important to make your cucumber slices only 1 inch high, otherwise this is hard to eat this.  But like I said, I LOVE the idea of this recipe.  Can you think of fun combinations?  Just think of the recipe base as 1/2 cup cottage cheese and 1 can of tuna.  What would you add in?

Lemon zest and Dillweed? 
Dijon Mustard, celery, and onion?
Sweet pickle relish?
Finely diced jalapeno?

I'd love to know what clever ideas you may have for these cute cucumber cups. 

So this concludes my What I Ate Yesterday (WIAY) post.  I am actually typing this up the night before I post this and I think there is a glass of cabernet sauvignon and some roasted almonds in my very near future.  Good night!

Up next... Slow Cooker Banana Nut Steel Cut Oats...

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Turkey and Veggies Soup: Leftovers!

Turkey and Veggies Soup

I made this soup on Easter in an effort to use up fresh ingredients I had on hand (so that nothing would go bad or go to waste). It ended up being one of my favorite soups EVER. I did not take the most precise measurements! So I am typing this up to help me remember what I did so that I can duplicate this soup in the future. 

Ordinarily when I make soup, I use about 4 cups of chicken broth and a can or two of fire roasted diced tomatoes as a soup base.  This time around, I had no canned tomatoes but I found a plastic baggie containing about 1/2 cup tomato paste in my freezer so I used that.  I just threw the frozen tomato paste popsicle right into the chicken broth in the soup pot.  Turns out the chicken broth/tomato paste combination makes a really nice soup base.  For spices, I added in dried oregano, dried basil, dried marjoram, and garlic powder.  I used veggies I had on hand and I used the quantities I had on hand, but you can add in more or less based upon what you may have on hand and based upon what you like (or don't like). 

Turkey and Veggies Soup

1 pound lean ground turkey (93% lean); Jennie-O brand
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt (if your broth or tomato paste have added salt, use less salt or none)
1/2 onion, diced (I used a sweet onion)
1 to 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely diced
4 cups (32 ounces) chicken broth (reduced sodium)
4-6 tablespoons tomato paste (no added salt) -- about 1/2 of a 6 oz. can
2 to 3 handfuls of fresh spinach or more if desired
1/2 to 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

In a medium sized skillet, cook, crumble, and brown the ground turkey.  While the turkey browns, add in the 6 spices (from marjoram to salt listed above). Continue cooking until no pink remains; set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium to medium high heat.  Add in the bell pepper, carrots, celery and onion.  Cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes.  Add in the garlic and cook 1 additional minute.  Add in the chicken broth, tomato paste, ground turkey, and spinach. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover with a lid, and simmer until veggies are desired tenderness.

Adjust seasoning with additional salt, pepper, and sugar, as desired.

We went for a nice long hike on Easter Sunday. Here are some photos from our time on the trail.

We encountered just a little bit of snow up high.

My hike ended up being longer than expected!  It's usually about a 6 mile hike round trip. On the way down the trail, I realized I had left Sandy's leash at the very top of the trail. I hiked back up to retrieve it.  It was a nice leash. I got a good workout!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Carrot Cake Flourless Blender Muffins

I've been craving carrot cake.  I've especially been craving the kind with a big old layer of cream cheese frosting up on top.  Around Easter, I found plenty of carrot cake and carrot cake cupcake recipes on line and they looked amazing.  I decided to go for a healthier carrot cake muffin and basically added grated carrot and some other ingredients to the flourless blender muffins I've been making for months.   

The base of the muffins is always oats, eggs, bananas, applesauce, honey, Greek yogurt, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  I've made a number of different varieties by adding in ingredients such as zucchini, coconut, nuts, coconut, chocolate chips, and so on.  Ordinarily the recipe makes 12 muffins, but since I add over 1 1/2 cups of extra ingredients in this recipe, it's better to make 14 or 15 muffins out of this recipe.  I made 12 muffins this time around and the muffins took much longer to bake and it was difficult to tell when they were done.  The other thing I noticed about these muffins is that, when the muffins first come out of the oven, it's hard to get the paper liners off of the muffins cleanly.  The next day, however, the paper liners come off much more easily.  Foil muffin liners may work a bit better and of course you can avoid this problem all together by not using muffin liners at all (just make sure you have a good non-stick surface and you use non-stick spray in your muffin pans).

Carrot Cake Flourless Blender Muffins
Yield: 12 muffins

2 cups old fashioned oats (use certified gluten free oats if desired)
2 ripe bananas
2 eggs
1/4 cup Greek yogurt or light sour cream
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 Tbsps honey
1 1/2 tsp baking powder 
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/3 cup raisins
2 finely grated carrots, small to medium size (about 1 cup)
Optional:  additional chopped nuts to sprinkle on muffins before baking


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In your blender, pulse together all ingredients except for the chopped nuts, raisins, and grated carrots. Pause to stir if ingredients do not blend well at first.  Blend until well combined.  Pour contents of blender into a large bowl.  Add in chopped nuts, raisins, and carrots; gently fold in ingredients until well incorporated. 

2. Pour batter into muffin pans lined with paper cups. Makes 14 - 15 muffins.  If desired, sprinkle additional chopped nuts on top of the muffins.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the tops are puffed and golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Monday, March 27, 2017

WIAY (What I Ate Yesterday)

WIAY (What I Ate Yesterday)

I've decided that it is a good idea to take photos of everything I eat in a day when I am trying to get back on track with eating healthy and keeping portions in check.  Let's just say I've been eating out too much lately.  Yesterday was a good healthy eating day and knowing I was keeping track of everything for this blog post kept me from snacking when I was tempted to snack!

BREAKFAST:  An Oroweat Multigrain Sandwich Thin with peanut butter, banana, and chia seeds.

LUNCH: A Unwich with turkey, provolone cheese, mashed avocado, cucumber, tomato... all wrapped up in romaine lettuce leaves.


Above... a flourless muffin made with banana, chocolate chips, and almonds.  Here is a recipe LINK.
Below... an apple.

DINNER:  Below... a green chili turkey burger and salad.  Recipe link is HERE.

SNACK below:   Yogurt & Fruit Parfait... Greek yogurt, thawed frozen mixed berries and cherries, and homemade granola.

Not pictured:  wine and popcorn!