Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

Experimenting today with the ripened bananas I have left in my kitchen and decided to experiment with a few different ingredients to see how delectable and nutritious I could make these little muffins.  Given I had a craving for chocolate today, I decided to spice up the typical banana muffins and add in some more flare and protein.

These guys came out quite delicious and was a fairly quick and simple baking process with no more than 15-20 min prep time and 15-20 min baking time.  I decided to add protein because I’m always looking for ways to incorporate more protein into my diet.  These were the perfect delivery method for a grab and go breakfast or snack.

I first mashed the bananas and started mixing and whipping the liquid ingredients.  Second, I added the dry ingredients of coconut flour, oat flour, plant protein powder, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, hemp seeds and mixed it till the mixture was very thick and smooth. I ended up adding some coconut milk to the mixture to keep the consistency moist for pouring into the muffin tins.

After mixing very well I added about a cup of chocolate chips to the mixture. Depending on your love for chocolate or your craving for the day,  you can add more or less but I prefer to have a multitude of chips in my cookies and muffins!

Makes approx 12 medium-large muffins.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Grease and line your muffin tin and set aside

In medium mixing bowl, mash your bananas and add in your honey, vanilla, coconut oil, applesauce, eggs, coconut milk and almond butter.

Mix in your coconut flour, baking soda and oat flour and allow to sit for 2 minutes to thicken up. The mix will look runny at first but as the coconut flour absorbs the liquid the consistency will become more like a cake batter. 

Add in the chocolate chips and mix so the chips are evenly distributed.

Pour your combined mixture into your muffin tins and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the muffins start to rise and the top wills start to develop a golden brown color.  The muffins should be dense and fully cooked at this point.  You may want to do the fork test to ensure the muffins are cooked all the way through.  

Let cool for 5-10 minutes and enjoy!

Ingredients:

Liquid Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 -3 ripened bananas
  • 3 tbsp honey or agave
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 3 tbs melted coconut oil or butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup almond butter

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 scoop of plant protein (I used plant fusion)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp hemp seeds or chia seeds (optional)
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips

Here’s the end result!

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I hope you all enjoy!!

 

 

Pumpkin Protein Muffins

After a pumpkin craving struck I decided to take action and bake this weekend.  Just the smell of baked goods in the oven is enough to make you want to snuggle up on the couch with a fluffy faux fur blanket, sip on some ginger tea and indulge in delicious baked goods. When something tastes this good, it kinda feels like cheating but I call it, “clean cheating”.

Rather than add much dialog here I’ve outlined the recipe and ingredients below.  I also took some pics of the ingredients and the process along the way.  Don’t mind my photography skills as this are down and dirty shots intermittent with baking!  Hope you find these helpful!

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Combine all ingredients into a large mixing bowl:

  • 1 cup organic pumpkin puree
  • 3 large eggs (2 egg whites and 1 full egg)
  • 2 tbsp raw agave or maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 2 scoops Plant Fusion Vanilla Plant Protein
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4-1/2 cup almond or coconut milk

Mix all ingredients together – depending on how dense you want the muffins you can add more almond milk/coconut milk as desired.

Once all ingredients are blended spoon mix into muffin tin so its fills approx 3/4 of the way.  Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick or fork comes out clean when put into a muffin.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle with coconut sugar and almond butter topping(below).

Topping:

  • 2 tbsp agave
  • 2 tbsp well mixed organic raw almond butter

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Meatless Monday Lentils

I try to make an effort to post on a regular basis but I’m a bit lagging due to my busy schedule.  I have very long and full days starting with a 5am wake up for the gym, working all day and finding time to shop for groceries and cook can sometimes be a chore.  I really make an effort to ensure I eat clean on a daily basis and to do that it requires additional time and effort especially when I live in a city with so many great restaurants!  By the time I get home I don’t start prepping dinner until 7:30, which can make a very hungry boyfriend start to scavenge if I don’t work fast!  I say this because I am absolutely certain all of you deal with the same types of challenges everyday, which is why I started this blog.  Clean eating can sometimes be a chore, but it’s so worth it for your health, the health of your family and your wallet!

I decided to start with lentils because they are loaded with protein on a vegetarian dinner night and quite filling.  I wanted to use what seasonings and veggies I already had with an exception of a few extra items where I typically like to find inspiration at my local Chelsea market.   As I peruse the produce aisle I notice a bright pop of color coming from the beautiful peppers.  I was drawn to these very fall and festive looking vegetables and decided to pick up bright red and orange peppers and make stuffed peppers.  After grabbing a few more flavor boosters like garlic, onion and paprika its time to head back to my cooking haven to start dinner before the scavenger comes out.

Start by boiling the lentils, for those take by far the longest to prepare!  30-40 minutes is pretty typical to boil and simmer so the prep time can be painful when you are in a crunch.  To save yourself some time, try putting the lentils in the crockpot with the seasonings. You can use the below ingredients and cook them on low all day to get a nice pot of fully prepared lentils upon arrival.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup green lentils

3 cups water

2 Cloves fresh garlic

4 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp basil or small handful of fresh chopped basil

1 tsp paprika

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1-2 tsp cracked pepper

1-2 tsp salt

2-3 large peppers in bright colors

1/3 cup goat cheese

Start by preparing your pan with the garlic and olive oil.  Try to crack open your garlic clove and chop into into fine pieces.  Let the olive oil and garlic start to coat the pan to prepare to add the lentils.  Bring the lentils to a good boil and begin adding the remaining ingredients one by one as the lentils are boiling.   After all ingredients have been added and lentils are boiling, bring the lentils to medium and let simmer for 35-40 minutes, while stirring and watching for the water to dissolve into the lentils.  Keep adding water 1/4 cup at a time until lentils are soft.  For a little added creamy texture, try adding almond milk.  It really brings out the flavor and adds a nice creamy consistency(right).

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While lentils are finishing up, prepare the peppers by cutting in half and removing the core and seeds.  Clean them out so there is a nice opening to lay out the lentils evenly.  Place the half’s in at least a 1-2″ deep pan and drizzle some of the above seasoning and/or olive oil. For some added flavor, crumble goat cheese to the bottom of the peppers.  Once the lentils are soft, add them to the peppers and top with goat cheese.

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Place in oven on 350 and heat for approx 10-15 minutes or until peppers are browned at the edges and starting to soften.  Below is a picture of my final product:)

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Work snacking healthy and simple

Looking for some nutritious snacks at work without all the prep time?  There are just some days we all don’t even have time to use the restroom, so why would we have time to go out to lunch let alone prepare lunch the night before?  The alternative then becomes the processed, sodium packed foods you find in your frozen food aisle at the grocery store, salad bar at work or the nearest food emporium.  This can not only become expensive but it tends to typically contain hidden calories and fat even though you think you are eating healthy!

The other option is taking time to meal prep on Sunday or the night prior.  Now I’m a huge proponent and love to prep, but with life, work, families and etc. it sometimes becomes an impossible feat.  Most of us are not in the business of body building and have many other priorities so it becomes this monster of a task to have healthy prepared meals in advance.  Now in the absence of having prepared meals, you start to snack and if you were any where like I do, the snacks are NOT healthy!

I’m here to help make this easy and take out the guess work and added stress.  I’ve had numerous creative trials with my office snacks & lunches and as long as you have a few simple ingredients it takes 2 minutes to create something delicious and nutritious.

Things to pack for this easy snack.

  1. Plain Greek Yogurt.  I prefer Fage or Siggi’s plain because they are low in sugar (<5g) and high in protein (15-17g) per 150g container (or individual size).
  2. Granola.  Whether it’s prepared or homemade the secret is to look for natural granola without the sugar.  My gauge is typically to search for granola with 10g of sugar or less, which is hard to find!
  3. Fresh Fruit.  Always have some on hand to add to any smoothie or bowl.  Berries and bananas are a staple for me because they are easy to add.  While traveling a banana and apple work great.
  4. Protein Powder.  No matter where I am, its always on me.  Either opt for a small container or the single serve pouches are great for carrying in your purse, suitcase, cupboard, laptop bag for work and etc.  Never leave home without it.  I prefer plant based options like Plant Fusion, SunWarrior, VegaOne, Garden of Life and many more.
  5. Superfoods.  I buy bulk hemp seeds, dried goji berries, chia seeds, maca powder, spirulina and more to have on hand at all times.  These can be easily added to any smoothie or bowl and are easy to take in small plastic containers or ziploc bags.  There are many health food stores that also sell individual pouches of these items as well.

Directions:

  • Mix a scoop of the protein powder(or 1 serving size) with the greek yogurt (1 serving size).  Once you have formed a good mixture that is evening mixed you are ready to add the toppings.
  • Chop up 1/2 banana and lay the slices on the mixture
  • Add your fresh or dried fuit
  • Add 1-2 tbsp of granola

Sprinkle with your superfoods and you are ready to enjoy a tasty protein packed snack!

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Strawberry protein powder + greek yogurt 2 tbsp Goji berries 1/2 Banana 1/2 tbsp chia/hemp seeds 1 tbsp granola

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Let me know your thoughts on what you like to see posted!  I’m no journalism major by any counts but I love sharing healthy recipes, workouts, and just inspiring in any other way I can to help YOU lead a healthy life.

Why is breakfast to important??

We hear it time and time again from scrolling through our social media feed, numerous studies published on the benefits of breakfast on our health to memories of mom saying as a kid why we HAD to eat our breakfast before we left for school.

Why does breakfast get all of this hype? Why do the breakfast freaks swear by this and non breakfast eaters can’t imagine downing a bowl of oatmeal to save their lives.  Its an endless debate and I believe if anyone attempts to incorporate a healthy breakfast into a daily routine for 2 weeks, you will see for yourself why this magical meal is the kickstart to your day.

Here are just a few benefits us breakfast lovers enjoy on a daily basis.

1.) Energy Boost.  According to studies published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, consuming a breakfast high in fiber and low in carbohydrates will make you feel less tired during the day.”

2.) Eating breakfast helps you jumpstart your metabolism and burn more calories. “The key: eating a breakfast that’s high in Resistant Starch (RS). Found in foods like bananas and oats, RS actually signals your body to use fat for energy.” Shaun Chavis, Health Magazine

3.) Improves Concentration. In one study, Jianghong Liu, an associate professor in the School of Nursing, has found yet another benefit of eating an early morning meal: higher IQ scores.  Eating a well balanced breakfast–such as eggs, oatmeal, yogurt, and fruit–keeps “blood sugar levels steady and allows optimal cognitive function throughout the day.”

4.) Improves overall health. For example, Harvard conducted a 16-year study of 26,902 American men aged 45 to 82 and found that those “who skipped breakfast had a 27 percent higher risk of CHD compared with men who did not.  There are numerous studies on the overall improved heath benefits in relationship with eating a well balanced breakfast.

5.) Improves your memory. There was also a study released in the Journal of Physiology and Behavior that discovered that eating breakfast, such as oatmeal, improved the spatial and short-term memories of elementary school children.

Here are some examples of a well balanced, healthy breakfast that you can start incorporating into your daily regimen.  It takes planning and preparation to eat clean and the saying goes…”if you fail you plan you plan to fail” so start planning!  Cheers to a healthy day!

At home or at work staple: 1/2 grapefruit + 1 slice Ezekiel bread + 1 tbsp raw almond butter + 1/4 sliced banana
Awesome post workout fuel when you are starving! 1 slice Ezekiel bread topped with 2 egg whites + 1 slice of Ezekiel bread with 1 tbsp almond butter and 1/4 banana sliced on top.
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Quick and easy high protein breakfast. 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt (no sugar) topped with raw granola (as clean as possible with low sugar), fresh raspberries, 1/4 sliced banana and drizzle with raw honey for added flavor if needed.

Raw Vegan Chocolate Mousse Parfaits

I work in a beauty office where everyone is constantly on diets.  Whether it’s trying to cut out sugar, count calories, remove carbs or whatever the latest fad I try to keep my colleagues excited about eating HEALTHY food.  By doing so, I have them focus less on what they shouldn’t eat and more of what they SHOULD eat.  Healthy, raw food does taste good you just have to learn how to make it work for you.

Today I made raw vegan chocolate mousse parfaits for everyone and made one batch with a natural sweetener(honey or agave) and one without.  Working within the constraints of no sugar, yes not even a natural sweetener like honey or agave, I was able to make it work.  As it turns out the non sugar crew, along with the sweetener crew, LOVED the mousse.  So much in fact they commented it was not only satisfying but tasted great and was extremely filling.  Below is a pic of some of the parfaits I made for my office crew along with the recipe.

Happy mousse making!

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Unsweetened Chocolate Mousse Parfaits

Makes about 5-6 parfaits:

2-2.5 frozen bananas

1 refrigerated avocado

1/4-1/3 cup raw unsweetened organic cacao powder (add more if you want to make darker)

1/4 cup raw almond butter

1/2 cup almond milk (add more if texture is too thick to mix)

Mix in a food processor or NutriBullet until smooth

Topping:

Top with 1/2 banana sliced into 5-6 pieces

Sprinkle Raw organic cacao nibs

Sprinkle Raw unsweetened coconut flakes

Drizzle with raw organic almond butter

Getting started is the hardest part….

People are always asking me how I stay on track with my eating and how I get motivation to workout so consistently.  The answer is you need the discipline, simply stated that’s the trick.  You need a goal, whatever it may be.  You want to start with a small goal and gradually add to it or set more goals once you have achieved your initial goals.  Start with working out an extra day a week or an extra 30 minutes or just simply starting.  Sign up for a new physical activity that you’ve never tried in addition to your regular workout routine.  You need to mix it up in order to stay on track.  no one wants to get bored with a fitness regimen, that’s the quickest way to give up on your goals.

I’ve counseled many friends and family and how to get started, that’s the hardest part.  Making that decision to actually start moving forward is the biggest step.  Once you decide to get started you can start making goals and checking them off.  The more goals you achieve, the more motivated you will be to stay the course.   Here are a few tips to get you started:

1.) Choose a time of day to workout and stick to it.  Some of us are AM fitness freaks and some of us are PM fitness owls.  Whatever your preference, set a time of day that works in your schedule so you can ensure you stick to it.

2.) Try something new.  Start by trying the pilates or yoga class at the gym you’ve always wanted to try.  Not only will this mix up your routine, but it will hold you accountable to show up to class:)

3.) Be active in some way at least 3-4 days a week.  Even if its for 30 minutes, try to get in some type of activity.  If you can’t go the gym, take a walk or try an online workout class.  Get your body moving and you’ll start to build up that motivation little by little to continue.

4.) Try cooking at home.  Rather than going out to eat for every meal, try eating at home and preparing your own meals.  This is the only way to ensure you know what ingredients are being put into your meals.

5.) Be conscious of what you eat.  Starting a food journal is probably the easiest way to get started.  Whether is downloading a food tracking app like MyFitnessPal or even if its just tracking what you eat in your phone or in a notebook.  This will start to hold you accountable and give you a better idea of what you are consuming daily, which can be extremely eye opening to some.

Start with these easy steps and you’ll be well on your way to transitioning into a healthier lifestyle.  Stay tuned for more tips!  Enjoy!