Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cake for Breakfast?!

Pin It   I got up this morning to a chilly 34 degrees and decided to postpone my run until later in the day when it's a little nicer out....yes I know I'm a wimp. :p  Not being able to go back to bed and not quite ready to tackle my day's To-Do list yet, I headed into the kitchen.  Remember that Chocolate Peanut Butter Microwave Cake I talked about awhile back and said I had yet to perfect the recipe? I had a few people ask me about it, so I decided to get back to work on it this morning.  I thought about changing the name to a Chocolate Muffin because it was breakfast time and all, but quickly decided against it.  Who says you can't have cake for breakfast?! Having chocolate cake for breakfast sounds like a great start to any day if you ask me. :)  My cake is a little more nutritious than the kind you probably had for your birthday this year however.  It is made with protein powder instead of flour, uses yogurt instead of oil or butter, and is sugar free.  Don't worry if you don't have any of these ingredients though there are plenty of substitutions to try (I just can't vouch that they will be as delicious as my version because I haven't tried them). 

Notice that peanut butter is no longer in the title of this recipe.  To be honest, the last time I tried this recipe the only way I could eat it was to smother it in peanut butter to cover up the grainy taste of the cake.  The cake I made this morning is so moist and chocolaty that there is no need to top it with anything, but of course you are more than welcome to as always.  :)
2 Egg whites
1/3 scoop protein powder (I used a vanilla whey protein, but you could also sub whole wheat flour)
3-4 tbsp Vanilla yogurt (make sure to buy a brand with low sugar or if you don't have yogurt I've heard of people subbing pumpkin or applesauce)
2 packets Stevia (you could probably use honey or agave if you reduce the yogurt a little)
1 tbsp Unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp Baking powder

1. Spray microwavable bowl with cooking spray.
2. Separate the egg whites into the bowl and discard the yolks.
3. Whisk in the rest of the ingredients until well blended.
4. Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes until a fork comes out clean in the middle (time depends on your microwave).
5. Top with peanut butter if desired and enjoy!
Makes 1 serving.

Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 126
Total Fat: 2.3g
     Sat. Fat: 1.3g
Cholesterol: 21.2mg
Potassium: 228.8mg
Total Carbs: 13.7g
     Dietary Fiber: 1.8g
     Sugars: 4.3g
Protein: 19.7g (WOW! What a great way to start your day!)
Vitamin A: 3.8%
Vitamin C: 1%
Calcium: 13.3%
Iron: 8.5%

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Nutritious Vs. Vicious Take 2: Customizable Soup VS. the Horrors of Ramen

Pin It I usually don't post recipes that you don't have to actually cook, but I thought I'd share what I made for a quick lunch today for those of you who hate spending time in the kitchen (other than to eat :p).  This recipe is great for those who like Ramen too.  I really hope that nobody is eating Ramen because they think it's good for them...I hope that only reason would be for taste or convenience.  That stuff gives me the shivers....Once package has wayyyyy over 1000 mg of sodium!  If convenience and taste is what you are after this recipe is perfect for you because not only is it convenient, but it's also  nutritious-n-delicious.  Another great thing about it is that it is customizable to your tastes, budget, and time.

Again, I know my pictures are not the greatest.  That's because I just take them on my phone due to lack of time (and photography skills...).  The reason I keep apologizing about this is because I know some of my recipes look down right disgusting in pictures, but I promise they are good and Kara approved. :)
1 cup Hot water
1 1/2 tsp Chicken soup base*
4 oz. Pasta Zero Shirataki Fettuccine***
1 serving of your favorite Whole wheat noodle
1/2 cup Trappey's Tomatoes, Okra, and Corn in a can****
1/2 cup of your favorite Vegetable mix, canned or frozen
3-4 oz. of Lean meat of your choice

Lots of notes today...
* Make sure to look for low sodium soup bases because some can be very high in sodium.  You will find it in either individual packets or in a small jar of powder.
**I used fettuccine for my soup and cut up the noodles a bit to make it easier to eat, but you can use whatever type of noodle you want.  Also to save time cook up a bunch of noodles and keep them in the fridge, so all you have to do at lunch time is reheat them (same goes for the meat).
***This is a low carb pasta alternative I recently discovered.  It might not be in every grocery store, so check their the Shirataki noodle website to find vendors.  It is usually by the tofu.  I have found Woodman's to have the best price for this.  It is a little more expensive than normal noodles, but it is really fun to try.  Make sure you rinse the noodles well before using and don't worry if it smells a little fishy at first.  I promise it doesn't taste like fish!
****This was something new I tried because I am normally not a huge fan of canned vegetables.  It was surprisingly good though! I love okra!  Good change up from the normal vegetables :)
*****I didn't add my meat to the soup today because I felt like eating it plan, so you won't see it in the picture.  You can use anything from cut up leftover chicken to lean ground beef to cubed tempeh or tofu.  It's totally up to you!

1. In a microwaveable bowl stir soup base into the water and microwave for a minute.
2. Stir in pasta, vegetables, and protein and heat another 2-3 minutes depending on your microwave.
3. Enjoy!
Makes 1 serving.

Nutrition Facts:
Based on the ingredients I used (Watkin's chicken soup base, Shirataki Fettuccine, and canned Tomatoes, Okra, and Corn; I didn't calculate the protein into the nutrition facts because I ate mine on the side)

NUTRITIOUS                                                  VS.                                  VICIOUS
                                                                                                    (Whole Package of Ramen)
Calories: 80                                                                                 Calories: 380
Total Fat: 0.5g                                                                            Total Fat: 14g
     Sat. Fat: 0g                                                                                 Sat. Fat: 7g
Cholesterol: 0mg                                                                        Cholesterol: 0mg
Sodium: 755mg*                                                                        Sodium: 1660mg
Potassium: 0mg                                                                          Potassium: 0mg
Total Carbs: 15g                                                                        Total Carbs: 52g
     Dietary Fiber: 3g                                                                       Dietary Fiber: 2g
     Sugars: 5g                                                                                 Sugars: 2g
Protein: 2g**                                                                                 Protein: 10g
Vitamin A: 2%                                                                          Vitamin A: 0%
Vitamin C: 22%                                                                        Vitamin C: 0%
Calcium: 14%                                                                            Calcium: 0%
Iron: 4%                                                                                     Iron: 20%
*This is still pretty high...but can be lowered with frozen instead of canned vegetables.
**Make sure to add a protein or have some on the side.  Protein is what will keep you full after lunch, so you aren't grabbing junk food an hour later.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Coconut oil: Yay or Nay?

Pin It About a year I was introduced coconut oil: a supposedly healthy ingredient to cook with.  For those of you who don't know anything about coconut oil, it is white and has a soft waxy-like texture at room temperature.  It can easily be melted into a liquid and when placed in the fridge it hardens pretty fast.  It's unique qualities make it fun to experiment with in the kitchen.
If you read a few of my blogs in the past few months, you would know that I was told that despite all the hype about coconut oil being healthy there really was no evidence that proved coconut oil's health benefits.  I don't know if I just misunderstood what I was told or what, but I was definitely misinformed.  I was sick trying to pick which side of the debate was right about coconut oil, so I decided to pay a visit to my nutrition professor to see what he had to say.  It turns out that he had actually written a whole chapter on fats for a Sports Nutrition textbook, so he knew all about the different types of fats and how they worked in the body.  I really enjoyed listening to his explanation of how each different type of fat was broken down in the body.  I am also excited to take more nutrition classes in grad school, so I can be a better resource to my readers. 
Long story short the whole debate on coconut oil boils down to one of the biggest rules of nutrition: Moderation.  It's a hard concept for a lot of people to grasp (me included...I really like my carrots and peanut butter :P).  Even the healthiest foods in the world should be enjoyed in moderation.  It is dangerous to over consume one food item because that means you are missing out on all the health benefits of another food.  We need to eat a rainbow of foods.  :)
Going back to the coconut oil, there have been plenty of studies showing its health benefits, but that's not to say you should consume a jar a week being that it is a high calorie food.  Two of coconut oil's main benefits are that it can play a role in raising HDL (good cholesterol) and increase the breakdown of fat.  If you still are curious about the great debate over coconut oil check out RD411's article:

Well now that we got all that serious business out of the way how about a fun recipe?

Adapted from
**These can be made into thin mint cookies or chocolate peanut butter cookies.

4 tbsp Coconut oil
1 scoop protein powder (I used vanilla whey protein powder)*
3 packets Stevia
1/3 cup Unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2-1 tsp Vanilla extract
1/2 tsp Peppermint extract (for thin mint version)
1 tsp Peanut butter extract (for chocolate peanut butter version)
*Note: 1 scoop of protein powder is about 1/3 cup.

1. Melt the coconut in a microwave safe bowl until it is a liquid (about 40 seconds).
2. Mix all ingredients together and desired extract.
3. It will be runny yet so use a spoon to make small cookie-sized piles on a flat plate.
4. Freeze until firm end enjoy!
Makes 12 small cookies.

Nutrition Fats:
Calories: 59
Total Fat: 5.5g
     Sat. Fat: 4.5g (from the coconut oil)
Cholesterol: 5 mg
Sodium: 5.4 mg
Potassium: 10.8mg
Total Carbs: 1.7 g
     Dietary Fiber: 0.4g
Sugars: 0.2g
Protein: 2.6g
Vitamin A: 0%
Vitamin C: 0%
Calcium: 0.8%
Iron: 3.6%

99% Veggie Pizza

Pin It Friday I got to have another fun baking night with my roommate Catherine.  What was on our menu for the night? Pizza.  99% Veggie Pizza.  We decided to attempt a cauliflower crust pizza.  Cauliflower crust???  Yep!  No flour needed.  Before you turn your nose up at the thought you have to try this recipe.  Cauliflower doesn't have a very strong taste to begin with, so when mixed with pizza seasonings and topped with your favorite pizza toppings and sauce it's delicious.  I used several other cauliflower pizza recipes for inspiration, but as usually my recipe turned out pretty different.  There was only one thing I screwed up on while making the crust...I forgot to add the egg to hold it together.  The crust still turned out good; it was just a little crumbly.  So if you decided to make this recipe, I would highly recommend not forgetting the egg. :P
The reason that I am calling my new recipe 99% Veggie Pizza is because the only thing in the entire pizza that is not a vegetable is the cheese (and egg), which can be optional if you want.  You could even add some protein to your toppings making  it a little less than 99% veggie, but still 100% delicious and nutritious. 
Adapted from Dashing Dish
2 cups Cauliflower, chopped (1/2 a head)
1/3 cup Lowfat cottage cheese
1 tsp Pizza seasoning
1/2 tsp Garlic powder
1 large Egg white
1 cup Green/red peppers, chopped
1/2 cup Onions, chopped
1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
Pizza Sauce
1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
2. Spray a 9x9 baking dish with cooking spray. 
3. Rinse and chop up cauliflower and place in a food processor.  Pulse until rice like (not pureed).  If you don't have a food processor just keep chopping with your knife.
4. Microwave cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl for 8 minuted stirring halfway through.
5. Stir in the cottage cheese, pizza seasoning, and garlic powder and microwave another 2 minutes.
6. Stir in the egg white and press the cauliflower mixture into the bottom of the baking dish.
7. Top with desired pizza toppings.  Catherine and I used onions and peppers. We also kept the sauce off until after it was baked and then we put it on top, but it is up to you if you want to add it here I am sure that would work too.
8. Bake for 20 minutes.
9.  Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake another 10 minutes until golden around the edges.
10.  Serve with pizza sauce and enjoy!
Makes 2-4 servings depending on how hungry you are. :P
Nutrition Facts:
*Based on 4 servings.
**Nutrition facts do not include pizza sauce of additional toppings.  Add an additional 30 calories for 1/4 cup pizza sauce.
Calories: 88
Total Fat: 2.8g
     Sat. Fat: 1.7g
Cholesterol: 9.2mg
Sodium: 189.7mg
Potassium: 358.9mg
Total Carbs: 8g
     Dietary Fiber: 2.2g
     Sugars: 4g
Protein: 8.8g
Vitamin A: 5.8%
Vitamin C: 92%
Calcium: 13.1%
Iron: 2.6%

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Guac Guac Guac...Guac Guac..Guac Guac! Guacamole Soup!

Pin It If you didn't get it the first time you read it, you are supposed to read the title like the old Nickelodeon theme song.  "Nick Nick Nick...Nick Nick..Nick Nick! Nickelodeon!"  I'm lame I know.  It just popped in my head when I was trying to think of a title, so I couldn't resist.  :)

Newho!  I just got back from a wonderful spring break trip to Puerto Vallarta with my family and I am already having guacamole withdrawals. 
I could not even give you an estimate of how many avocados my family and I consumed while we were down there.  So good! And even better yet good for you!  Avocados are loaded with health benefits.  Here are just a few:
1. Promotes heart health
2. Wide-ranging anti-inflammatory benefits
3. Optimized Absorption of Carotenoids (I should be careful with this one being as I'm still a little orange from my beta carotene overdose...haha!)
4. Supports cardiovascular health
5. Promotes blood sugar regulation
6. Anti-cancer benefits
For more detailed information on avocados benefits check out:

I decided to fix my guacamole craving by making some Guacamole Soup!  I know its getting a little warm to be having soup, but I love having a big batch around because its so easy to heat up when I am sort on time in between classes and meetings.  I was also excited to use the Westsoy Tempeh  I got during my first experience at Woodman's in my soup.  I was like a kid in a candy store! That place is huge and offers lots of fun new foods AND for a decent price.  I can't wait to go back!

Another fun fact about this soup is that all the beans are not from a can.  I just took on a new challenge to use less canned goods for two main reasons.  1) Canned goods often contain extra sodium 2) Its CHEAPER to buy dried beans.  I am excited to take on this new challenge and I want to challenge yourself to do the same :)

* I wish avocados didn't turn brown. :( 
2 cups Chicken broth (I used Watkins Chicken Soup Base)
2 cups Water
1/2 cup Dry black beans
1/2 cup Dry white beans

1 cup Chopped onion
2 small-medium Avocados
2 cups Zucchini, pureed
2 cups Chicken broth
2 cups Water
15 oz can No salt diced tomatoes
1 tbsp Lemon juice
1/2 tsp Crushed red pepper
2 tsp Taco seasoning, low sodium
1 tsp Garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1 package Westsoy tempeh (3 servings worth or you can substitute any other lean protein ex. chicken)
1. Add the first four ingredients to a slow cooker. Cook on high until boiling then turn to medium and cook until beans are tender.  I don't have an exact time, but it usually takes a few hours.
2. After the beans are cooked drain and set beans aside in another bowl.
3. Cook onions in medium skillet with a little olive oil cooking spray until slightly brown and tender.
4. While the onion are cooking, mash up the avocado in a large bowl.
5. Whisk in the pureed zucchini, chicken broth, and water.
6. Transfer liquid to the slow cooker and stir in the tomatoes, lemon juice and seasonings.
7. Chop up the block of tempeh or choice of protein (already cooked) to small bite size pieces.
8. Add choice of protein to soup and bring soup to a slight boil again.
9. Reduce to medium and add in beans.
10. Cook another 5 minutes and then enjoy!
Makes about 13 cups.
Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 111
Total Fat: 4.3 g
     Sat. Fat: 0.5 g
     Poly. Fat: 0.3 g
     Mono. Fat: 1.5 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 154.7 mg
Potassium: 158.9 mg
Total Carbs: 14.7 g
     Dietary Fiber: 5.4 g
     Sugars: 2.2 g
Protein: 7 g
Vitamin A: 4.2%
Vitamin C: 8.4%
Calcium: 4.7%
Iron: 7.6%

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

My New Challenge

Pin It I've decided to challenge myself with creating a unique birthday "cake" for each of my roommates.  I wanted to do something different, so I decided to incorporate my roommate's favorite food into their "cake" somehow.  And when I say "cake" I mean cake, pie, bar, or whatever happens to spark my creativity at the time.  My first challenge happened to be my roommate who is head-over-heels in love with popcorn, so I decided that I had to make her something with popcorn for her birthday.  As I was brainstorming, I thought about the popcorn truffles I had made awhile back and the yummy popcorn balls my grandma makes, but I hate repeating recipes...  It was then that I got the idea of a Popcorn Cake!  Perfect for her!  Although not completely healthy, it definitely had its perks being full of fibrous popcorn.  All I did was layer popcorn (mixed with melted marshmallows), chocolate,  peanut butter, and then another popcorn layer.  I also decorated it with mini Reese peanut butter cups and it turned out so cute.  The only downfall was that it was a little hard to eat...but delicious none the less.

My next challenge was something with sweet potato in it.  One roommate was kind of hesitant at first saying, "Your not putting sweet potato in her cake are you...That's disgusting!"  I told her not to worry and that if sweet potatoes were the birthday girl's favorite food I was ready to step up to the challenge.  After looking through a little bit for some inspiration, I was ready to take on the challenge.  The results: Delicious (and even nutritious this time)!  Everyone (minus one who hates pumpkin pie) love it and the four of us devoured just about the whole pie in one sitting.  YUM.

Not my best decorating job I makes up for it in its taste I promise. :)
1 1/2 cups (3 small) Sweet potatoes
2 tbsp Coconut oil (again just trying to use it up...not the healthiest oil)
2 tbsp Lemon juice
1 tsp Pumpkin pie spice
Dash of salt
Few drops of butter extract (optional)
3 medium Eggs, separated (large eggs would probably work too...I just had medium on hand)
1/4 cup Brown sugar
6 packets Stevia
2 tbsp Unbleached all purpose flour (make sure you buy the healthier version of white flour by buying unbleached)
3/4 cup Buttermilk (3/4 cup skim milk with splash of lemon juice)
Whipped topping of choice (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
2. Poke a few holes in each potato with a fork and microwave until soft and tender (I can't give a specific time due to microwave variations, but start with four minutes and then flip the potatoes and adjust the time from there).
3. Scoop cooked potatoes into a food processor and puree.
4.  Add the coconut oil, lemon juice, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and butter extract to the food processor and blend until smooth again.  Make sure to stir down the sides a few times.
5. Separate the eggs and set the whites aside.  Add the yolks, brown sugar, and stevia to the potatoes and blend.
6. Add flour and blend just until combined.
7. Transfer potatoes to a mixing bowl and stir in the buttermilk until combined.
8. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form.
9. Gently fold the egg whites into the potato mixture and then pour into a greased 9x9 baking dish.
10.  Bake for about 35 minutes until center of pie is set.
11.  Let cool completely before serving with your favorite whipped topping (health of course!).
12.  Enjoy!
Makes 16 servings.

Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 58
Total Fat: 2.5 g
     Sat. Fat: 1.8 g
Cholesterol: 30.2 mg
Sodium: 35.3 mg
Potassium:  77.4 mg
Total Carbs: 7.4 g
     Dietary Fiber: 0.4 g
     Sugars: 4.5 g
Protein: 1.8 g
Vitamin A: 36.6%
Vitamin C: 1.3%
Calcium: 2.6%
Iron: 1.9%
Oh and I can't forget to share this funny moment with you:
As soon as my roommate set her piece of pie on her plate she dumped it right onto her pants!  Whoops!  Then of course later as we headed out on a late night Target adventure she looked like she wet her pants...awkward....haha.  Good times, good times.  P.S. This was the same roommate who turned her nose up to the idea of a sweet potato cake and then ended up loving it. :)

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