Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Peanut Butter Banana & Oat Muffins

I actually posted this recipe a very long time ago (if you want to see how far my picture taking skills have come, check it out here!).   Also I find it funny that I said my old version was healthy, although it was probably close to the "healthiest" thing I was making back then!  Anyway, I had a craving for them and in an effort to "clean" to them up, I revamped the recipe, but only slightly. 

I replaced the brown sugar with coconut sugar and used natural peanut butter (the 'no need to stir' kind).  The only other thing I would have kept, if I had any on hand, would have been wheat germ.  If you have some, add about a 1/4 of a cup, it certainly won't hurt and it will add iron, calcium and lots of vitamins.  

Coconut sugar is not that sweet, I use it all the time as a replacement to white and brown sugar, but let's face it, it's not the same taste AT ALL.  I think between the banana, peanut butter and vanilla, these were sweet enough for me, but you could always do 1/4 cup coconut sugar and 1/4 cup brown sugar to sweetened it up slightly.  Although, if you are like me, who is trying to cut out refined sugars all together, I think you'll be fine without it!

Yields 12 muffins

Peanut Butter Banana & Oat Muffins

3 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup coconut sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
2 bananas, mashed
1 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.  In a large bowl, combine the oats, coconut sugar, baking powder and salt.  Add the vanilla, milk and eggs.  Stir until everything is combined.  Add the banana, peanut butter and dark chocolate chips (if using).  Using an ice cream scoop, fill each of the muffin cups about 3/4 of the way full. Bake for about 25 minutes until golden on top.

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Southwestern Quiche

The night I made this was one of those nights where I was scrambling for time and didn't have a clue about what do for dinner (hate that!).  This came together quickly, cooked perfectly and we loved it! 

The thing I love about a quiche is that you can make them all your own.  Whatever ingredients you feel like adding...go for it!  Bell peppers?  Ham, bacon, sausage?  Sure!  The cheese I used was a Mexican blend with spices already added in.  But you can use cheddar, pepper jack, or whatever your preference is.  

I love how the black beans sink to the bottom to almost form a crust.  I added cilantro on top for a bit of freshness and it went SO well with the dish.  So the next time you are stumped for dinner, think eggs!  They aren't just for breakfast.  Enjoy!

Serves 6-8

Southwestern Quiche

8 large eggs
1/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2/3 cup low-sodium black beans
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, pepper jack or a blend)
Cilantro, for garnish
Salsa, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Coat a 9-inch pie dish with cooking spray.  In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, water, salt and pepper.  Pour the egg mixture into the pie dish.

Sprinkle the black beans and tomatoes on top of the egg mixture. Top with cheese.  Bake until the egg is set in the center and starting to brown, 30-35 minutes.

Let cool for about 10 minutes, then cut into wedges.  Serve garnished with cilantro and salsa if desired.

(Source:  adapted from Cookin' Canuck)

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Friday, October 24, 2014

No-Bake Pumpkin Spice Bites

Just let me say...OMG.  I made these for the first time a couple of weeks ago...and as soon as I run out, I make them again!  I keep these in the freezer and swear I grab one (or three) every time I'm in the kitchen.

Totally addicting!  A great snack, quick breakfast or dessert.  The chocolate chips are optional and dried fruit such as cranberries or raisins would be a good substitution.

These become very soft at room temperature.  I highly suggest keeping them in the freezer - even then, they don't get too hard to bite into it.  At the very least, keep them in the fridge.  And whatever you do, just MAKE them and keep them around for as long as pumpkin spice is the flavor of the season!    

Yields 24 balls

No-Bake Pumpkin Spice Bites

2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (or dried fruit, optional)
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1/2 tablespoon flax seeds
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl.  Scoop onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper with a small cookie scoop or form into 1" balls with your hands.  Place in the freezer for 30 minutes before eating.  Store in the freezer or fridge (will be a little soft). 

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Hummus to me is always just one of those things that I never imagined I would ever make.  I mean store bought is delicious, and I always buy a really good-for-you organic brand so what's the point?  Ok, so that was before I looked at how EASY it was to make and before I tasted what was the best hummus I have ever had!!

The taste is different than store bought, better - fresher.  And there are so many different ways to make it that I can't wait to make more and experiment!  Roasted red pepper has always been my favorite so that's what I decided to start with.  This recipe makes a TON.  If you are not serving it for a party, might I suggest halving it - it only keeps for about 5 days in the fridge (and this recipe yields 3 cups). 

Canned organic chickpeas.  Jarred roasted red peppers.  Tahini paste, which is not as unusual an ingredient as you might think it is.  I found it in my organic section of my grocery store next to soy sauce and other sauces.  Not nearly as daunting a task as I thought it would be!  Seriously easy, folks!!  I would not lead you astray!    

Yields 3 cups

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

1/2 cup tahini paste
1/4 olive oil
2 (14 ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups jarred roasted red peppers, rinsed and patted dry
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more/less to taste)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
cilantro (optional)

Whisk the tahini paste and olive oil together in a small pourable measuring cup.  Set aside.

Process the chickpeas, red peppers, garlic, salt and cayenne in a food processor until almost completely ground.  Scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  With the machine running, add the lemon juice and process for 1 minute.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then begin processing again, slowly adding the tahini mixture.  Continue processing until the hummus is smooth and creamy.  Garnish with additional chopped red peppers and cilantro if desired.  

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. 

(Source:  adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)

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Monday, October 20, 2014

My T25 Transformation

I did it!  I just recently completed all 10 weeks of Focus T25 and let me just say, it got me in the best shape of my life.  The workout, plus drinking Shakeology daily, plus eating clean (most of the time!) AND the support from my accountability group is the perfect equation for RESULTS!

Shaun T. (Hip Hop Abs, Insanity) designed T25 for people that are short on time.  You get an hour's worth of results in only 25 minutes!!  You push play and you get it done!  At the same time that I started the exercise program, I also started drinking Shakeology.  What is Shakeology you ask?  Well, that's a whole OTHER blog post waiting to be written, but in the meantime, if you click here, you can go to my site and check it out (or fill out the form at the bottom and I'll be in touch!).

At first I drank Shakeology as my breakfast or after workout recovery.  I'm obsessed with the energy it gives me!  No mid-afternoon crash, no zombie mom!  Now that I've hit my goal weight, I drink it as a mid-morning snack and to maintain my weight.

My results?  Well, let's just say I'm pretty thrilled!  The picture on the left was taken 6 weeks after having baby #3.  I've always been on the thinner side, but never toned.  I didn't exercise, I ate what I wanted and my energy levels reflected that.  I was sick and tired of feeling so...tired!!  Cue an opportunity to become a Beachbody coach - a decision that has changed my life (cliche but SO true!).  T25 was the first workout program that I EVER did.  So if I can do it, so can YOU.  It works for anyone, at any fitness level.   

I share clips of the moves on Instagram and Facebook to show potential challengers how much fun it can be!  It's tough, don't get me wrong, but it's AWESOME!

Let's talk details about the program.  It is 10 weeks long, broken into two 5-week sections, Alpha Focus and Beta Focus.  Alpha is your foundation (the first 5 weeks) and Beta is more dynamic.  Weights or resistance bands (included) are needed for Beta.  But don't sweat it - there is a modifier in all 10 weeks.  It took me at least 3 weeks before I was completely off the modifier!

Are you interested in starting on a fitness journey of your own?  Or have questions about how Shakeology can hep you?  Fill out this form and I will be in touch.  There are programs to suit every lifestyle and fitness level - I can help you find the perfect one! 


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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Whole Wheat Strawberry Pancakes

Saturday mornings have become synonymous with making pancakes in our house.  We've stopped using a boxed mix and instead whip up a batch of whole wheat pancakes that are out of this world!  Be sure to check out my banana version.

On this morning, we had some strawberries that were just about to get tossed.  Into the pancake batter they went!  Use any berries you like, blueberries would be fantastic as well.  

They are light and fluffy and fool proof.  Perfect pancakes every time!  We tend to make ours pretty tiny and usually we get about 18 pancakes.  Try them this weekend!!

Yields about 18 pancakes

Whole Wheat Strawberry Pancakes

2 cups white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon honey
2 large eggs, beaten
1 3/4 cup milk
1 cup chopped strawberries
butter for frying 

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add the honey, eggs, milk and whisk until everything is combined.  Carefully fold in the strawberries.  Heat a griddle or pan over medium heat.  Add butter to melt and coat the bottom.  Spoon batter onto griddle or pan, using about 1/4 cup.  When bubbles start to form on the top, flip the pancakes and cook on the other side.  Remove from pan, repeat with butter and batter.  Serve with maple syrup. 

To freeze: place pancakes in a freezer bag.  Heat for a minute in the microwave to serve!

Posts may contain affiliate links.  That means The Art of Comfort Baking will automatically receive a small commission, but your cost will remain the same!  Thanks for your support!

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

{Clean Eating} Peanut Butter Meltaways

I wasn't really sure what to call these - they are like a cookie, but they pretty much melt in your mouth as you are eating them.  Very peanut buttery and dense.

And they sure are rich!  Make sure you have a glass of milk handy.  This recipe doesn't yield a lot, but it's really about all you need.  When I was craving something sweet, I would eat like 1/2 of one of these and I was good.

Yields 9 cookies

{Clean Eating} Peanut Butter Meltaways

1 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients.  Pulse until everything comes together.  Use a small cookie scoop to drop cookies onto a baking sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes and let cool completely before removing from cookie sheet.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

(Source:  Adapted from My Whole Food Life)

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Meal Planning and Prepping Made Easy!

I'll be the first to admit that I am not great about planning our meals or prepping for the week.  Then what happens?  I run short on time or short on ideas...and then we end up getting take-out!  No more!  It's all about the planning...

I wanted to share a very simple, very easy way to start off meal planning and prepping your meals for the week.  I choose Sundays as my planning and prepping day.  My husband is around to help with the kids while I'm in the kitchen and it makes it so much easier!  Or he and my 4-year old help some when they can.  It's a family affair!  

This was a Rosemary Olive Oil bread that I made on Sunday - well just the dough.  I let it sit overnight then baked it the next day.  And I had just run out of my homemade red sauce so I made a huge batch - 8 of these 32 ounce deli containers.  Seven went into the freezer, 1 into the fridge.  

I also LOVE freezer meals.  Prepare a couple at a time, then you'll have a meal in a pinch when you know you'll have a super busy day ahead.  (Please forgive the Instagram husband took my camera for a product shoot and I still didn't have it back when I took these!)

Meal planning will save you time, energy, money and STRESS!  You'll be able to control the nutrition in your family's meals.  It's an all around win-win!!  And without further ado, here are my simple, but effective meal planning and prepping tips.  I've included a few of our favorite weekly recipes as well.  

Meal Planning/Shopping

1.  Grab your calendar.  What does your week look like?  

Slow Cooker meals obviously work great on days that you are running all over creation.  Dinner is ready by the time you sit down with literally no effort on your part!  Plan a larger meal when you know you'll have more time, like a Saturday or Sunday. 

2.  Keep a list of your favorite weekly meals and ALWAYS keep those ingredients on hand.  

We are creatures of habit and tend to have the same things from week to week.  And there is nothing wrong with that!  Obviously as a blogger, I like to try new things, but that takes planning as well.  And if I know my kids absolutely love something (like my Stir Fry!) then why wouldn't I make it every week?  

3.  Plan your breakfast, lunches and dinners for the week.  

Use a Weekly Meal Planner or a chalkboard and write it all down! 

Take a look in your pantry, fridge and freezer and make your grocery list for any ingredients you are missing based on your plan.  Avoid buying items you already have, unless they are on sale and you are stocking up.  

* Our favorite breakfasts are overnight oats and Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes (make a huge batch and freeze them!).

* Snacks - hard boiled eggs or Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins are a favorite. 

* Lunches for the kids are easy - usually PB&J and fruit.  For me and my husband, I like to make a salad that will keep in the fridge for the week, like this Southwestern Quinoa Salad.  Or turkey sandwiches in a wrap or on whole wheat bread.  

4.  Make the most of your grocery shopping.  

Buy in bulk or buy extras when your pantry staples are on sale.  I always laugh at my husband when he tells me we are out of something - especially when it's peanut butter or coffee, or something we use EVERY day.  Doesn't he know by now that I have an entire shelf in one of our cabinets dedicated to "overstock" of those items?  Publix does BOGO every week - and you can bet that if peanut butter is on sale, I'm walking out of there with at least 4 jars!  

We shop at Sam's Club where we get our meats and eggs - and it's all good stuff!  Cage-free, and never any hormones or antibiotics added.       

Meal Prep

As a disclaimer, I am not the type of meal prepper that makes all of my dinners for the week on Sunday and stores them in individual portions for easy reheating later.  That does not appeal to me at all.  Just KNOWING what I will be making each night - or having a freezer meal or two on standby - is more than enough planning for me.  So here's what I do on Sunday to prep!  

1.  Start with a clean kitchen!  

Empty dishwasher, all utensils, pots, pans and measuring cups clean and ready to use.  As you use something, rinse it quick or if you know you won't need again, put it straight in the dishwasher.  This is how I do NOT end up with a complete disaster of a kitchen at the end!

2.  When you return from the grocery store, organize everything on the counter in piles according to your recipes.  

Of course put the freezer stuff away, but generally leave out everything you are going to use (your meats can go in the fridge too if it's not going to be the first thing you use).  

3.  Pull out your list of meals for the week and get cooking! 

I start with things that either need to sit for awhile before cooking (like yeast breads) and easy stuff, like cooking hard-boiled eggs for snacks.  Overnight oats are usually one of the first things I knock out too (so easy!!).  Other than that, there is really no rhyme or reason to what I get done next.  I just keep checking things off my list and moving along.

Even though I don't actually cook my dinners in advance, I will do the prep work for them.  Chop and prepare the veggies and portion out the meat I'll need for each night.  Those steps alone save me so much time each night!  

Remember to chop once, use twice.  If you have diced onion in two different recipes, dice it all at once and separate what you need for both.  Work smarter, not harder!

Bonus Tip:  if you have the budget and ingredients, consider doubling your meals as you are prepping.  A ton of Slow Cooker meals can be made ahead as a freezer meal.  Last Friday night, I was making Oven-Baked Fajitas.  I already had the chicken, the peppers and onion out, so I just kept slicing - and ended up with 3 meals total!  One for that night and two that I tossed all the ingredients into freezer bags and will save for another week.

I do this with lasagna too.  I'll always make two at once, and one goes into a foil baking pan and right into the freezer.  

4.  Put all the food away - fridge or freezer.

Tupperware containers, gallon freezer bags, deli containers and mason jars are all necessities for meal prepping.  Here are some of my favorite items for storage (with clickable links for easy purchase!):

Overnight Oats: mason jars, Weck canning jars, or even save nicer jelly jars (like Bonne Maman) and reuse them!

Freezer Slow Cooker Meals: Glad gallon size freezer bags.  Fill the bags, then flatten out as you seal it.  Store laying flat and you can keep stacking them and stacking them (see picture)!

Salads, prepared veggies and meats, soups and sauces:  deli containers in various sizes (16 and 32 oz) or Glad food storage containers.

And finally...

The whole process beginning to end will probably take you 3-4 hours.  This is why I do mine on Sunday when my husband is around.  Most of all, I just need him to keep the kids busy, but it's not always that easy.  I like to have my daughter (who is 4) help me when she can.  She is great at making muffins!  My son, who is almost 3 likes to "help" also but you know how that goes.  So, really, who am I kidding - my meal prep probably takes closer to 6 hours, haha!  But with the kids involved, I don't feel so removed from being part of the family that day.

We have found that meal planning and prepping is the easiest and best way to have healthy and nutritious meals all week long.  It takes the guess work out of dinners, it saves you time and money - no food goes to waste!  You shop for what you need and WILL use.

I hope these tips will help you get started!   Please post your questions in the comments if I missed anything!  

Posts may contain affiliate links.  That means The Art of Comfort Baking will automatically receive a small commission, but your cost will remain the same!  Thanks for your support!

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Southwestern Quinoa Salad

I made this as a side for dinner one night and ended up eating it for lunch for the next 2 days.  It's hands-down my absolute favorite way to prepare quinoa right now!  The flavors are still very summery, but hey, when it's 80 degrees and October then I think it's all right.  

Everything about it tastes so fresh - and it keeps perfectly in the fridge!  It made a perfect quick lunch for me that week.  I've also made this with diced Roma tomatoes and I actually do prefer it that way.  I'm not a huge cherry tomato fan but they looked good in the store and I knew they would look pretty in the salad (great reason, right?).  And they do give that added burst of sweetness that goes really well with this salad.

I always seem to come back to my all time favorite flavor combinations - lime, cumin and cilantro.  If your lime is really juicy then you may want to add a little less than called for.  But if you add too much, another splash of olive oil should tone it down.  Just add to your taste.  

 Serves 6

Southwestern Quinoa Salad

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons red onion, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper

Place the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse until the water runs clear.  Bring quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until quinoa is tender and water has been absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

Whisk olive oil, lime juice, cumin and 1 teaspoon of salt in a small bowl.  Combine quinoa, tomatoes, black beans and red onion together in a separate bowl.  Pour dressing over quinoa mixture; toss to coat.  Stir in cilantro, season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve at room temperature or chilled.

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Peanut Butter Greek Yogurt Fruit Dip

I think everyone has their own version of this dip.  With or without cinnamon, more peanut butter, less honey or vice versa.  This is how I make it - and honestly I really had to watch how much of everything I put in, in order to actually "write" this recipe.  Because I usually just throw it together without measuring.  Which honestly, you can't mess it up...  

It's so delicious with crisp apples or bananas, strawberries or your favorite fruit.  Kids love it!  And it's good for them!  Don't you love it when it's kid AND mom approved??

Greek Yogurt Fruit Dip

1 (6 oz) container plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine the ingredients together, mix well and serve with fruit.  Store covered in the fridge.

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I'm a super busy mom of 3 and a Beachbody coach. Follow along as I try to find a balance between eating good food and keeping my family healthy and happy! We eat mostly clean with a few fun treats thrown in every once in awhile. Thanks for stopping by!

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