Banana “Pancake” Muffins

banana pancakeMy dear friend Alex put out a request that I tackle the most important meal of the day, breakfast.

Growing up, I remember my dad always reminding us of how important breakfast was to fuel our mind and body as we headed off to school, and I still believe in that today. Nothing is more important than feeling your best as you tackle whatever your day has in store for you!

So, Alex, I hope you enjoy this breakfast treat I have in store for you todayūüôā

Banana¬†“Pancake” Muffins

What you need:

2 very ripe bananas

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1 egg

1 tsp of pure vanilla extract

1/4 tsp baking powder

a dash of cinnamon

What you need to do:

Preheat the oven at 350.

In a medium sized bowl, peel and mash the ripe bananas with a fork. Don’t mash them to the point where they are puree, but just enough that there are very little lumps in the mix.

Then, add the egg, vanilla, walnuts, baking powder, and cinnamon, and continue to mix the ingredients. Make sure everything is mixed through thoroughly.

Take a cupcake pan and spray with whatever cooking spray you have on hand (I use Trader Joe’s coconut oil cooking spray). Coat each tin entirely, as you don’t want anything to stick.

Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop some of the mixture into each tin. My mixture made  7 muffin cakes.

Place the cupcake tin into the oven and cook for 13 minutes.

You can check on the muffin cakes just as you would when cooking a cake by using a fork and puncturing the center of the cake. When the mixture is no longer sticking to the fork your muffin cakes are done!

Honestly, these muffin cakes had so much flavor that¬†you don’t need to add anything more to them! It was a treat that served as breakfast.

You can certainly make a big batch of these ahead of time and eat them throughout the week.

Enjoyūüôā

Open-faced Turkey and Portobello Mushroom burger

burgerI have a bad habit of taking out a bunch of meat for the week and not really planning through my dinners (although, I am trying to get better with this). So I found myself with a container of turkey meat ready to go, but also a ton of veggies that were about to go bad as well. I needed to put on my thinking cap and figure out how to merge the two.

That’s how I came up with today’s recipe: open-faced turkey and portobello mushroom burgers.

What you need:

Portobello mushroom caps (1 per person/serving)

Ground, lean turkey meat ( I had a pound,but you can use what you have)

1 onion

Garlic powder

Red pepper flakes

Franch dressing (optional)

First, I popped 2 portobello mushroom caps into the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes.

While the mushroom caps were cooking, I chopped up the onion and sauteed it.

With the mushrooms cooking, I started to prepare the turkey meat. I knew I was not going to serve the whole 1 pound package of meat for dinner, but I figured any extra burger could be used for lunch the next day.

I put the meat in a mixing bowl and added a dash of garlic powder and a dash of red pepper flakes. I mixed all of this together, and when I was done, I grabbed my trusty 21DF red container to help me portion out our servings.

I am SO happy I have these containers, because before, I probably would have just split the meat between two servings. The pound of meat is enough for almost 3 burgers!

Anyway, once the onions were done cooking, I cooked the burgers in the same pan (no need to create more mess!). Just pay attention to the cooking time to make sure the burgers are cooked through, but still juicy. Feel free to use a knife to cut the middle to take a peek.

By the time the burgers were ready, so were the mushrooms. Take the mushrooms out of the oven and place 1 on each plate. Then, top the mushroom with a burger. I decided to use my Franch dressing we still had around instead of cheese. The Franch dressing counts as a protein, so I figured it was a better choice than cheese.

Add a little sautee onion and you got yourself a healthy, crave-worthy burger that I guarantee you will be making again!

21DF peeps: 1.5 green, 1 red

Sweet Potato Pancakes

sweet potato cakesAfter I made my Super Sweet Potato Skins for the Super Bowl, I was left with some extra sweet potato filling. I HATE wasting food, so I turned to the internet to figure out what the heck I could do with the extras.

I found this recipe for sweet potato pancakes, and I figured I would give it a shot. I am SO happy I decided to get adventurous!

What you need:

  • 1/2 cup sweet potato, microwaved until soft and mashed (However, I used about 1 1/2 cups of sweet potato that was leftover from my skins)
  • 2 eggs (you might be able to get away with 1-will try the next time I make these)
  • 1 tbsp almond meal
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (add only if you are not using extra from the skins recipe- this was already added)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla (same as the cinnamon)
  • coconut oil, for pan

Mix all the ingredients, except for the coconut oil, in a large bowl. Sweet potatoes should actually be counted as a carb, so I used my yellow 21DF container to measure the servings.

The first one I made was wayyyyy too big, so I cut it back to 1/2 a yellow container.

Heat a pan with a tablespoon of coconut oil, and then use the yellow container (or about 1/4 cup) to measure out your servings. This mix made about 12 pancakes.

The batter came out very runny, so I let the pancakes cook for a few minutes on each side trying to firm them up some. Cook these as you would a regular pancake.

They certainly did not come out like the pancakes in the photo from the original recipe (do they ever?), but they sure were a delicious treat. I did not have to serve them with any additional toppings. They were sweet enough to satisfy any craving!

I served the pancakes as a side to my open-faced Turkey and Portobello Mushroom Burgers (stay tuned for the recipe).

21DF peeps: 2 pancakes= 1 yellow

Pizza, Pizza!

Chocolate CakeI’m Italian. Pizza is easily one of my favorite foods. If you don’t like pizza, we won’t be friends. No, seriously;¬†my favorite restaurants in the city are no doubt places like¬†Marta,¬†Keste, and our neighborhood favorite,¬†Salvo’s.¬† If you aren’t on a “getting lean” mission like I am, go there. If you are, just trust me, they are amazing. We will reunite someday….

Sorry, I  got off topic.

Anyway, in an effort to get lean in the kitchen, and make some crave-worthy food, I decided to jump on this spaghetti squash bandwagon I have been avoiding.

I just wasn’t grasping the concept of how a squash could actually pass off as a “pasta” or “pizza”. But, since we were getting lean, I knew I had to give it a shot.

I have made numerous spaghetti squash recipes, and I can’t wait to share them with you!

But to start, I am going to let you in on our FAVORITE one: spaghetti squash pizza. This recipe actually inspired me to start this blog. After I posted a picture of it on Instagram, I received so many texts asking for the recipe.

As always, this is an EASY recipe, and can be adjusted to what you have on hand.

Cook time: 45 minutes

Serving size: 2

What you need:

1 medium/large spaghetti squash (ultimately, you want at least 3 cups of cooked squash)

1.5 cups of lean meat (here I use Trader Joe’s soy chorizo-it’s amazeballs-see pic below)

1 cup tomato sauce (low sodium/sugar)

1 cup of raw greens (I like to use spinach or kale)

1/2 cup of part-skim mozzarella

2 eggs

1/2 tsp of oregano

1/2 tsp of garlic powder

1/4 tsp of paprika

parchment paper

One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give for anyone wanted to make any spaghetti squash dish is cook the squash ahead of time.

I cook the squash at 350 for about an hour. Mostly because i’m running around the apartment doing other things, and probably cooking at least 2 or 3, but it does need a good while to cook through. If you anticipate making any squash dish during the week, just get this part out of the way. It will seriously cut down on the weekday cook time.

First, mix the squash, eggs, and spices together until combined. Transfer the “dough” onto the parchment paper, and smooth out to the shape of a pizza. Pop in the oven for about 30 minutes.

While this is cooking, you can get your toppings ready. We are OBSESSED¬†with Trader Joe’s soy chorizo. I have been using this as our topping because it adds a little more flavor to the pizza. However, you can use whatever “meat” you’d like. I just heat it on the stove for a few minutes until it is cooked through

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I then gather up the kale and cheese, so we are ready to go once the “crust” is ready.

When the squash is ready, remove from the oven and evenly distribute your toppings.

Throw back in the oven for about 12-15 minutes.

DISCLAIMER: this is a fork and knife pizza! I have not yet perfected the crust so that it is crispy, so stayed tuned!

This is probably one of the most guilt-free dishes I have ever made. I can literally eat a full half of this and it counts for almost nothing since it mostly comprised of veggies!

Once again, this is a dish you can make your own. Feel free to add whatever you favorite topping is, but make sure to go easy on the cheese (I know, that’s the best part), but that is where the calories are going to come into play here.

Let me know if you try this recipe!

21DF peeps:

Half a pizza equals-2 green, 1/2 purple, 1 red, 1 blue

 

HEALTHY homemade Ranch Dressing

ranchI literally cannot believe this recipe.

I had the idea of finding a “healthy” ranch dressing recipe for our super bowl festivities, but I honestly did not think it would be THIS good.

I couldn’t wait to share this with everyone, and kept it out of my Super Bowl recap because I thought it was totally deserving of it’s own post!

Guilt-free Homemade Ranch Dressing

Or as Pete likes to call it…”Franch Dressing” (Fake Ranch Dressing)

What you need:

1.5 cups Greek yogurt

2 Tsp dill weed

2 Tbsp garlic power

4 Tbsp parm cheese

4 Tbsp of olive oil

In a food processor, mix all the ingredients except for the olive oil until smooth.

Slowly add one tbsp of olive oil at a time.

You can add more olive oil to give the dressing more of a liquid consistency, if you desire. I tried to keep this healthy, so I did not add that much to mine, so it came out more like a dip consistency, but it was INSANELY good.

We used this as our buffalo wing dip, but I can’t wait to try it with another dish!

Another guilt-free, crave-worthy success in our kitchenūüôā

Super Bowl-SUPER HEALTHY

Denver-Broncos-quarterback-Peyton-Manning-by-Patrick-SmithGetty-Images-Super-Bowl-50-DRC-1234_natq6d

Sorry for the delay in posting our Super Bowl spread. I was too busy celebrating Peyton Manning, and the Denver Broncos Super Bowl 50 victory.

This was our second year hosting a Super Bowl party, and as much as I would just like to pig out on all the traditional game day foods, I knew I had to throw in some lean options! One of our friends actually said, “I hope Lauren isn’t making JUST healthy food.” Can’t really blame them! But, I hope they enjoyed my healthy take on some¬†traditional football grub.

Super Sweet (Potato) Skinssuper sweet potato skins

What you need:

8 medium/large sweet potatoes

1 package of turkey bacon

1 package of part-skim mozzarella

Cinnamon

Pure Vanilla extract

To get started, cook the sweet potatoes in the oven at 350 for about 45 minutes to an hour (depending on how large the potatoes are).

While the potatoes are cooking, you can get started on the turkey bacon. Heat a skillet and use a little cooking spray (I use Trader Joe’s coconut oil spray). Cook the turkey bacon so its on the well-done side. Set the bacon aside.

Once the sweet potatoes have been cooked through, remove from the oven, and let them cool for a bit.

Then, cut the potatoes in half, and scoop out the majority of the potato so that you are just left with the skin. Put the extra potato in a mixer safe bowl.

When you have scooped out all the potatoes, add some cinnamon and pure vanilla extract to the extra potatoes. I did not measure this out because I was going by taste;I suggest doing the same.

Using a hand mixer, blend the extra potatoes until smooth. Taste the mixture to determine if it is “sweet” enough for you. Once satisfied, begin to build your skins!

Scoop a little of the mixture back into the skins. I tried to just cover the skin, not a heaping mound.

Once all of the skins have a little of the potato mixture in them, add the bacon!

I tried to cover the whole potato with some turkey bacon. I ripped off pieces of the bacon and distributed it evenly over the potato.

Finally, add the cheese!!!! I tried to not go crazy with the cheese, as we are keeping it lean, people! Use just enough to cover the top of the skin.

Pop these bad boys back into the oven for about 15 minutes to let the cheese melt.

I served the skins with a side of plain greek yogurt (no sour cream!!!), and they were DELICIOUS!

If you try these at your next gathering, let me know!

 

Pete’s Perfect Pepper

pete's pepper blogStuffed peppers have always been a go-to for me. They are an easy way to get loads of nutrients in a small and delicious dish.

Recently, I found out that¬†my stuffed peppers are my fiancee’s favorite dish that¬†I make, so it’s only fitting that this is my first recipe post!

I will lovingly call this dish… “Pete’s Perfect Pepper”.

My stuffed peppers are always different because I basically use whatever I have in the house. No matter what, try to stick to these basic categories: 1) the pepper (duh); 2) a lean meat; 3) a little carb; 4) a light sauce.

Total cook time: 30 minutes

What you need:

2 medium/large green bell peppers

1.5 cups of lean meat (for this recipe I used tomato basil chicken sausage from Trader Joe’s)

1 cup tomato sauce

1 cup cooked quinoa

First, boil a pot of water and place the peppers into the water. Let them cook until they are soft, but not falling apart.  Depending on the size of the pepper, this usually takes about 15/20 minutes.

While the peppers are cooking, get your stuffing ready!

Today, I used 1.5 cups of lean meat for our stuffing (3/4 cup for a single serving).

I don’t like to waste the tops of the peppers, so I sautee them quickly, and throw them into the stuffing mixture for some extra veggies.

A little carb helps keep the stuffing together. I usually stick to quinoa, but you can use brown rice or even lentils. Quinoa is naturally gluten-free, and is known as a “super food” because of all the nutrients it packs in its small shell. Even though quinoa is a “seed”, it is categorized as a carb since it is prepped and eaten as a grain. I used to make the mistake of eating large portions of quinoa, so just keep an eye on how much of this you are eating on a regular basis. For this recipe, I keep it to one serving per¬†pepper, which is 1/2 cup .

Finally, it’s time to get¬†saucy! I use a simple tomato sauce for all my stuffed peppers. I tend to think this goes well with any lean meat you are using. 1/2 cup is plenty for each pepper! Another tip to keep in mind, make sure you don’t pick a sauce that has too much sugar or sodium in it. Be sure to read the labels!

Now its time to put it together! Mix the stuffing together so everything is coated in the tomato sauce. Remove the peppers from the pot, and stuff them!

If you would like to add cheese, you can add a little part-skim mozzarella to the top of the peppers. The heat of the pepper should melt the cheese nicely.

Voila! You have yourself a lean veggie, super-food packed meal!

Any leftovers are great for the lunch the next day! Or you can turn the stuffing into some other fun dishūüôā

For my 21DF peeps, here is the breakdown:

1 green, 1 red, 1 yellow, 1/2 purple, optional 1/2-1 blue