Sunday, October 7, 2012

"Mounds" of Oatmeal

Lately, I have been craving oatmeal!  While part of this craving comes from the Fall weather that has finally settled in, it also happens to be one of the few things that sounds good and comes together quickly for an early breakfast. 

Early for me really does mean early.  Since I'm currently working both a full-time and part-time job, I’ve been getting up at 4:30 am to get in my workout before heading off to work. On the days I work both jobs, I don’t get home until after 9:30 and let’s be honest…a workout is certainly not going to happen then.

Since I am NOT a morning person, getting up this early is a huge feat for me.  Breakfast needs to be quick and painless, but also pretty filling since lunch seems to be happening later and later each day.

I find that oatmeal is a perfect combo of warmth (for cold mornings) and creaminess and is a perfect neutral pallet to spice up in any way that makes your little heart happy!  I have a multitude of flavors I want to share; I’ll do my best to spread them out and not overwhelm you with too many oatmeal recipes at once.

This recipe was originally designed for my husband.  He’s a fan of almost anything coconut and loves chocolate almost as much as I do.  It’s a creamy combo of coconut and dark chocolate that makes breakfast feel like dessert!

Side note:  typically rolled oats are cook at a ratio of 1 to 1 (oats to liquid).  However, I have found that an additional ½ cup of liquid increases the volume just enough to hold me over on super long days and creates a extra creamy texture.

Mounds (or Almond Joy) Oatmeal

½ cup rolled oats (make sure you use certified gluten-free oats if you need the gf factor)
¾ cup unsweetened coconut milk (I like the Trader Joe’s brand, but any of the brands that come in a carton will work.)
¾ water
2 tablespoons shredded unsweetened coconut, divided
Sweetener to taste (I like mine with 1 packet of Splenda)
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon dark chocolate chips
OPTIONAL:  ½ tsp almond extract – to make an Almond Joy flavor

Combine oats, water, coconut milk, 1 tablespoon shredded coconut, sweetener and salt in a small saucepan.  Bring mixture to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10-12 minutes until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
 If using almond extract, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the extract.
Pour into a bow and top with the remaining 1 tablespoon shredded coconut and dark chocolate chips.

If you want to skip the stove-top all together, simple combine oats, water, coconut milk, 1 tablespoon shredded coconut, sweetener and salt in a microwave-safe bowl.  Make sure the bowl has plenty of room in it to accommodate the oatmeal mixture as it boils.
Microwave on high for 5-8 minutes, in 2-3 minute intervals, stirring in between.  If you are worried about bowl size, make sure you watch it carefully.  Spilled oatmeal in the microwave is not a fun mess to clean up, TRUST ME! J
If using almond extract, stir in once oatmeal is cooked to your liking.
Top with remaining 1 tablespoon shredded coconut and dark chocolate chips.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Healthy Gluten-Free Vegan Chai Spiced Banana Muffin/Bread

I didn't start out with the intention of creating a vegan treat.  It all just happened by coincidence.  But let me tell you...this coincidence is one deliciously yummy, dense, moist (yes, I went there) flavorful treat!

When I made Butternut Squash Chili last week (recipe coming soon), I want something carb-ish to go along side it.  However, I've never really been a fan of cornbread and I've recently wondered if I may have some issues with corn.  I remembered reading a blog post once upon a time that paired chili with banana muffins.  Realizing that I had massive quantities of ugly, brown bananas on my counter (and who wants a cold smoothie right now), muffins to go with the chili sounded like a match made in heaven.

I personally have a great love for fall spices.  I think they add a wonderful warmth and depth to many recipes.  If you aren't a fan of ginger and cloves, you can certainly leave them out and increase the amount of cinnamon.  If, like me, you love them, please try this recipe with them included. Even if you aren't sure, I'm betting you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Stash the extras in your frig and zap them in the microwave for a delicious and fast breakfast.  A smear of all-natural peanut butter or almond butter is an incredible accompaniment to them!

Healthy Vegan Chai Spiced Banana Muffin/Bread
1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
3/4 cup sorghum flour
3/4 tapioca starch
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp xanthum gum
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup agave or maple syrup OR 3/4 cup coconut sugar, palm sugar or brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup non-dairy "buttermilk" - 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut or almond milk plus 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
3 over-ripe bananas, mashed (mine equated to just about 1 1/3 cups.)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Pre-heat your oven to 330 degrees (after reading a couple other blogs on quick breads and muffins that recommended this oven temp, I tried it out and loved the results.  You can of course cook them at 325; however, you'll need to increase the time.)

In a glass measuring cup, combine the unsweetened non-dairy milk and vinegar.  Let this sit for at least 5 minutes to "curdle".

In a mixing bowl, combine all of your dry ingredients.  If you are using coconut, palm or brown sugar, add this in with the dry ingredients.

In a separate mixing bowl, combine all your wet ingredients.  Add in the "buttermilk" and then gently fold in the dry ingredients.  Be careful not to over mix the batter.  You want to mix just enough so that everything is incorporated.

Pour into either your prepared muffin tins or loaf pan.  Make sure that they are either lined or greased well.
Bake muffins for about 20 minutes and bread for at least 60-75 minutes.

I have made both of these multiple times and each time, the cooking time had varied.  I think it has something to do with the differentiating humidity out here.  Just watch your muffins/break carefully.  You want them to spring back when touched and a toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean.

Linked up to: Whole Food Fridays  Pennywise Platter Thursdays

Friday, August 3, 2012

It's Never To Early In The Year For Pumpkin!

I’ve been absent from the blog lately and I apologize for that.  I’ve been having a fair number of food and digestive problems and have been doing some contemplating on how my diet needs to change.  Because of that, and a new workout schedule that keeps my nights pretty packed, I haven’t been cooking much of anything that is blog worthy…and I’ve missed it!

I’ve got some good things coming down the pipeline, but for now this is one of my new favorite breakfasts.  I’m loving the return of oatmeal to my diet.  I cut it out a while back when I tried the whole grain-free thing, but I’ve realized that my body needs a certain amount of good carbs to function well.  (More on my new found food plan in the near future) 

This breakfast is perfect for non-morning people like myself.  Throw everything in the crock-pot the night before and the left-overs warm up super easily!

While some of you may think “Pumpkin in August?  That’s crazy!!” I happen to believe that pumpkin is delicious (and needed) all year round.

Crock-Pot Pumpkin Steel-Cut Oatmeal
½ cups steel-cut oats
5 cups water
15 oz pumpkin puree
¼ cup sweetener (I used agave, but brown sugar or maple syrup would work too)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
½ - 1 tsp cardamom (I love cardamom so I use lots!)
½ tsp salt

Dried cranberries
Chopped pecans
Additional sprinkle of cinnamon
Splash of milk

Pour everything into a crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours.  I like to line my crock-pot with one of those fancy liners.  It makes for much easier clean up!

Share over at Whole Food Fridays Real Food Wednesdays Pennywise Platter Thursday Gluten-Free Friday

Thursday, May 3, 2012


A few years ago (now that I think about it, it may have been more than a few years.  Man, I'm getting old.), my family took a trip to New York City.  Confession time:  I LOVE this city.  I love the hustle, the people, the sites, the sounds...all of it.  I've never been bothered by the "rudeness" of New Yorkers or the mass amounts of people everywhere.  Its such a change from my every day life that I actually enjoy it.  I could visit this lovely city every year and still find new place and sites to enjoy.

Anyway, back to the story....
My dad decided to take us to dinner at a restaurant on the west side of Central Park called Rosa Mexicano.  I honestly can't remember what I had for dinner than night, but I do remember the guacamole.  This was truly the best guacamole I've ever had.  They bring all the ingredients out and fix it for you, table side.  The flavors were incredibly fresh and bright and wonderful and simple.  Simple was the best part.  I like being able to taste the avocado in my guac and not have it be overpowered by other flavors and spices.

Over the years, we have worked on re-creating the creamy deliciousness of this guacamole.  I think we've finally done it.  I could eat the entire bowl-full, with a spoon...forget about the chips!

The great thing about this guacamole is that it is SUPER easy!  Quite often, I don't measure any of the ingredients and just throw things in the bowl until it "tastes" right.  Just be careful to not "taste" it all!


2 ripe avocados
1/2 tomato, seeded and diced
3 tablespoons yellow onion, diced finely (I don't like big chunks of onion flavor)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 jalapeno, chopped (deveined and seeded, depending on the level of heat you want)
Juice from 1/2 of a lime
1-2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
Salt, to taste
Optional: a couple dashes of your favorite hot sauce in addition to or instead of the jalapeno

Scoop out the flesh of the avocado and mash lightly.  Add remaining ingredients to the bowl and mix together until well combined and avocado is as chunky or smooth as you prefer it.  Taste and adjust as necessary.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Southwest Veggie Frittata

To me, eggs are one of the greatest "blank canvases" when it comes to cooking.  You can spice and flavor them in tons of way.  I'm always a sucker for Southwest flavors and find them sneaking their way into a lot of my meals.  I find that eggs and Southwest flavors blend very well together.

This meal works well for breakfast or dinner or warmed up for lunch the next day.  It is also a great make-a-head meal.  I made ours the night before and put it in the refrigerator.  I pulled it out of the frig about 20 minutes prior to cooking so the eggs could come up to room temperature before baking.


2 cups sweet potatoes, diced 
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalepeno, diced (remove seeds and veins if you don't want too much heat)
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms, diced
1/2 cup black beans
1/4 cup roasted green chilies, diced (canned ones work just fine)
8 eggs (or 16 egg whites)
2 tsp cumin
zest of 1 lime
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425.  Line a baking sheet with parchment.  Toss sweet potatoes with oil and place on baking sheet.  Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until nice and soft.  (You could always just boil the sweet potatoes, but I love the flavor they provide when roasted.)

In a bowl, whisk together egg whites, cumin, lime zest, salt and pepper until well combined.  Add in onion, garlic, jalapeno, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, sliced mushrooms, black beans and chilies.

Put roasted sweet potatoes into the bottom of a greased baking dish.  Pour egg mixture on top.  (The capacity of mine was 2 quarts.  An 9 x 13 would work as well, but you may need to adjust the baking time.)  Bake for about 35-45 minutes, until the eggs are set and the edges are slightly browned.

Slice and serving with sour cream and avocado.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

My Favorite Green Smoothie

I am in LOVE with this smoothie! There have been days when I've had one for breakfast and dinner (yes, I've been slacking in bit in the cooking dinner department).  Not only is it creamy and smooth and wonderfully delicious, it's packed with both fruits and veggies.  It's a great way to get excellent nutrition to start (or end) my day. 

Don't let the combo of veggies freak you out.  I had never thought about adding avocado to my smoothies until I read a recipe using them to create a creamy chocolate shake.  I decided to give it a try and man, I'm so glad I did!!

Yes, avocados are a little on the high side when it comes to calories, but the nutritional benefits definitely outweigh the addition of the calories. Avocados contain folate, potassium, monosaturated fats (the good fats) and are very high in fiber.  They have also been shown to help lower LDL and raise HDL.

My second favorite addition to this smoothie....the kiwi!  I'm addicted to them right now.  While not technically a superfood, this little green gem is packed full of vitamins A, E and C, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes.  It's also a great source of fiber, packing almost twice as much as spinach.  Take that, Popeye!

And those little chia seeds...great source of both protein and fiber.  If you don't like the feeling of the seeds whole in your smoothie, you can always grind them into a powder prior to adding them in.

It's easy to add in a little extra protein when I drink these after a workout, too!  Add a little vanilla protein powder or Greek yogurt (plain or vanilla) and you've got a great post-workout smoothie!


1/2 cup diced pineapple, frozen
1/2 banana, sliced and frozen
1 kiwi, peeled, sliced and frozen
1/4 avocado
1 cup spinach
2 inch chunk of cucumber
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp chia seeds
1/4-1/2 cup water
optional add ins: 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder or 2-3 tablespoons Greek yogurt

Place almond milk in the blender first, then add remaining ingredients, only adding 1/4 cup water.  Blend on high until everything is blended well and smooth.

Depending on your fruits and blender, you may need to add an additional 1/4 cup water to get and keep everything moving.  Add it slowly and in small amounts so your smoothie isn't too runny.

NOTE: To make things easier, I put the pineapple, banana and kiwi in food saver bags and freeze them together.  That way I can just grab one bag from the freezer and I'm ready to go!

Linked to: Allergy Free Wednesdays, Mix It Up Monday

Monday, April 23, 2012

Italian Chicken Roll-Ups

The other day I had a craving for Italian food. Normally, that isn't something I crave. Since the majority of it contains pasta and I'm not a huge fan of gf pasta, I don't eat much of it. However, thoughts of tomato sauce and cheese sat in the back of my head all day while I was working.

In honor of my hubby's Italian heritage (which means I really should work on creating more Italian recipes for him) and what I found in my refrigerator, I came up with these Italian Chicken Roll-Ups. The hubby has raved about them and asked for them for dinner repeatedly.

I served our roll-ups over sauteed spiraled zucchini noodles, but they would also be delicious over any regular pasta, gluten free pasta or quinoa. 


2 chicken breasts
4 wedges Laughing Cow Light Swiss* (see note)
1 1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning
1/2 - 2/3 cup chopped spinach
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 cup spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Lightly grease an 8 x 8 baking dish.

Trim chicken breasts and cut in half, width-wise.  One at a time, place each piece inside a gallon size baggie and pound flat to about 1/4th of an inch.  You want it as thin as you can get it without creating holes or ripping your chicken.

In a bowl, combine the cheese, Italian Seasoning, spinach, salt and pepper.   Spread a fourth of the mixture onto each piece of chicken.  Roll each piece up and place seam side down in the baking dish. 

In a separate bowl, combine the Parmesan cheese and garlic powder.  Sprinkle mixture over the tops of the roll-ups.  

Bake, uncovered for 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and pour sauce over the top of the chicken. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the top and return the pan to the oven.  Bake for another 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

NOTE: each wedge is just about an ounce.  You could substitute in 4 ounces of any soft, spreadable cheese i.e. ricotta, cream cheese, etc.

Linked to: Heart & Soul Hop, Gluten Free Wednesdays, Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Spinach Artichoke Dip

A couple years back, I made a spinach artichoke dip for a party the hubby and I went to. The hubby loved it and so did everyone else. Unfortunately, the only thing I could remember about it was that it wasn't healthy at all!

When the hubby asked me to make it again for our Superbowl party, I was stumped. I knew I couldn't make it the same way (I had no idea what recipe I had used). We've been working hard to change up the way we eat lately. Not that we are dieting; we are just trying to be more healthy all around. As I was researching recipes on the Internet, I couldn't find one I like or felt wasn't too unhealthy.

Unfortunately, time was running away from me that Sunday. We had people showing up in 30 minutes and other than buying some cream cheese, I hadn't given the dip a second thought. Luckily, we always have spinach and cheese in the drawer. I threw a bunch of things together and this is what we ended up with. I didn't pre-cook my spinach. No one seemed to notice. If you would prefer to use frozen spinach, make sure it is very well drained. Squeeze out as much water as you can before using!!

I'm assuming it was delicious as I had to quickly snap a picture of the hubby's plate in order to get something to put on the blog. I apologize for the quality of the picture!


5 cups fresh spinach, chopped
2 wedges Laughing Cow Light Swiss, softened
5 tablespoons grated Parmesan
8 oz 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
1/4-1/3 cup skim milk
1 cup artichoke hearts, chopped **see note at end
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, laughing cow cheese, grated Parmesan, garlic and Italian Seasoning. Add in 1/4 cup milk. Stir in spinach and artichoke hearts. If the mixture feels too thick, add the remaining milk, a tablespoon at a time.

Pour mixture into a 1.25 quart ceramic baking dish (I used the small one in this set). Sprinkle grated mozzarella on the top. Cover with tin foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Serve with fresh veggies or gf crackers for the gluten-free; sliced baguette or pita for the non-gf.

If using frozen artichoke hearts; thaw, drain and chop. If using canned artichoke hearts, rinse some of the oil off first, before draining and chopping.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Coconut Rice

We don't typically eat much starch or grain at our house. I find that most of them, even the ones that are gluten free, don't agree with my tummy. However, every once in a while, we splurge a little and I seem to do ok.

The night we had our Sweet and Spicy Pork Roast with Mango Salsa, we accompanied it with some coconut rice. I have to was delicious. A perfect combination with the mango and spice. The coconut flavor was definitely in the forefront, but not overpowering. I included some dried coconut when I cooked the rice. If you find that you don't like the texture of dried coconut, you can simply leave it out!

1 cup water
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup rice (I used jasmine rice as that is what I had on hand, but regular white or brown rice work just as well. The brown rice adds a nice nutty flavor.)
3 tablespoons dried, unsweetened coconut
pinch of salt
handful chopped cilantro

Combine water, coconut milk, rice, coconut and salt in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a gentle simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit for 10 additional minutes. Fluff with a fork and stir in cilantro.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sweet and Spicy Pork Roast with Mango Salsa

It has been quite some time since I have posted anything here. Working two jobs and a hubby in law school keeps us pretty busy around here. I have found that I rely more and more on my crock-pot to make dinner happen. The majority of my upcoming posts will be focusing on crock-pot and/or make a-head meals...for breakfast and dinner! I really struggle with breakfast at times :)

However, last night I found myself with a night off and a generous amount of time to make dinner. That doesn't mean this meal took a generous amount of time. It was actually very easy! I threw the roast in the oven, put the rice on half way through and it turned out wonderfully. The only secret....making the salsa AT LEAST one day in advance. It needs time to sit and "marinate" in the fridge. I had originally planned to make this meal last weekend, so my salsa sat for a few days. It was still delicious, probably more so than it would have been the same day.

We love Asian flavors at our house. This is a great way to bring a new sweetly spiced flavor to a traditional pork roast. The honey allows for a slight crystallization on the outside, sealing in the moisture and flavor. The sweet chili sauce and siracha add a slight heat to the
roast, which is easily modifiable to your individual taste!


2-3 pound pork roast (mine was a top sirloin roast from Costco)
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
1 tsp honey
2-3 tsp siracha (adjustable to your personal heat level)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Trim fat off pork roast, as personally desired. Rub ginger and garlic powder mixture on all sides of the roast. Place in the oven for 40-45 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the sweet chili sauce, honey and siracha. Set aside.
When the internal temperature reaches about 140 degrees (pork is safely done about 145 degrees), turn on broiler to low. Brush the outsides of the roast with the chili sauce mixture and place back underneath the broiler to allow the sauce to crystallize on the outside. I ended up brushing the sauce on 3 or 4 times. I did have a little sauce left over that I put on the table with the roast.
Remove the roast from the oven and tent with foil for about 10 minutes. Slice and serve with mango salsa. We ate ours with coconut rice and steamed broccoli. I will post the rice recipe tomorrow! :)

*I didn't have a roasting pan so I just line a baking sheet with tin foil and placed my roast on that. If you have a roasting pan, that would probably be a better option.


1 mango, peeled and diced small
1/3 onion, diced small
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and diced small
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced
1/2 tsp cumin
pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients together and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving.