Sunday, April 29, 2012

#YOLO: Cheesy Cauliflower Casserole

Pin It Good morning everyone!  I know it's been a few days since I've posted.  I have been cooking, but nothing has come out blog worthy in awhile.  I only want to share the best of the best with you!  Last night I was in need of some meals for the week, so I decided to make some sort of casserole that's super easy to reheat.  I wanted to try something new and out of the ordinary.  I love trying new things!  There are so many textures, flavors, and food combinations out there to try.  This is why I rarely repeat recipes (unless they are my absolute favorite).  Why waste time trying stuff you have already had when there is so much more out there to explore?  Life is short and as today's generation would say #YOLO.  :)


3 cups Acorn squash, mashed (could probably use other varieties such as butternut squash too)
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup Skim milk
1 tbsp Olive oil
1 lb Venison chops, cut into small pieces
1 tsp Onion flakes (or cut up and use an onion I just didn't have any on hand)
1 tsp Garlic powder
6 cups Kale, ripped into bite sized pieces
16 oz. Frozen cauliflower
1 cup Chicken soup base (low sodium)
1 cup Lowfat cottage cheese
1 cup Part-skim mozzarella
Top picture is the overflowing kale
and the bottom is the cooked down kale
1. Poke a few holes in the squash and microwave until tender.  I did mine in 3 minute intervals turning it each time.
2. Once the squash is cooked cut it in half and let it cool off a little for easier handling.
3. Scoop out about 3 cups worth of squash and mash in a large bowl.
4. Add in the nutmeg and desired amount of salt and pepper.
5. Stir in milk until well combined.
6. In a  skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat.
7. Add in the venison, minced onion flakes, and garlic powder.
8. Cook until almost completely done and add in kale.  It will probably overflow the pan, but it will cook down quickly. 
9.  Add a little water to the pan to create some steam to wilt the kale a little faster.
10. Lightly mix until kale is tender.
11. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
12. Dump the frozen cauliflower in a microwavable bowl with a cover and microwave for 8 minutes stirring halfway through. 
13. In the meantime, stir together the cottage cheese and half of the mozzarella in a small bowl.
14.  In the large bowl with the squash mix together the venison/kale mixture, cauliflower, and chicken soup base.
15. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.
16. Spread half of the squash mixture into the bottom of the pan and evenly drop spoonfuls of the cottage cheese mix on top.
17.  Add the second half of the squash and top with remaining mozzarella.
18. Bake for 40-50 minutes until top is slightly golden.
19.  Let stand for another 15-20 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
Makes 8 good sized servings.

Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 211
Total Fat: 5.4 g
     Sat. Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 49.1 mg
Sodium: 327.2 mg
Potassium: 90.1 mg
Total Carbs: 17.7 g
     Dietary Fiber: 3.8 g
     Sugars: 3.8 g
Protein: 24.6 g
Vitamin A: 98 %
Vitamin C: 82.6 %
Calcium: 19.6 %
Iron: 13.6 %

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Updated Classic: PB&J Popcorn Bars

Pin It About a week ago I received an email from one of my good high school friends asking if i had any suggestions for a healthy dessert high in protein for some dinner she was in charge of making dessert for.  I was super excited to be able help her.  Helping people cook/bake and eat healthy is my favorite thing to do!  If you ever have an recipe requests or nutrition questions please don't hesitate to ask. :)

Anyways...I got right to work sorting through my recipes and trying to come up with a perfect dessert for her party.  Her only request was that the recipe was vegetarian and gluten-free.  I have to be completely honest here in saying that I don't know a tonnnnn about eating gluten-free, but I knew enough to come up with a fun healthy recipe.  I decided to use popcorn as the base of my recipe because I had heard most popcorn was gluten-free.  You just have to make sure it wasn't made or packaged in a factory with other gluten products which could potentially contaminate it.  With that being said making sure the rest of the ingredients were gluten-free and vegetarian friendly was a breeze.

With a little inspiration from a few different recipes I finally came up with PB&J Popcorn Bars.  Two American classics all rolled into one.  How much better can it get?! 

After mixing up the ingredients, pressing them into the pan, and licking off the spatula (I couldn't resist!), I confidently put the bars into the oven to crisp them up just  a bit.  I was super excited to taste test them!  Once they were cooled I cut them up, took a few pictures, offered one to my roommate, and took a huge bite of my own bar.  My reaction: Eh...  "Great." I thought, "This is not party or blog worthy."  I am not sure what it was about them, but I was not crazy for them.  Disappointed I put the rest in a container and put them in the fridge.  Later on that night when the rest of my roommates came home I had them try the bars to get their opinions.  My roommates are the best taste testers ever and I know I can always count on them for brutally honest opinions.  I was shocked at their reaction... They LOVED them! After hearing their reaction I had to try another one myself and I ended up changing my mind about them.  They were much better after hardening up in the fridge some more.  So finally after some convincing by my favorite test tasters I decided the recipe was party and blog worthy.

Cooking and baking is always an experimental process. Recipes don't always turn out like you hope they will.  I cannot even tell you how many times I've made flopped recipes.  Friday I attempted a Cinnamon Bun Cake and it definitely did not turn out how I wanted unfortunately. :(  But that's the fun of baking!  You get to use your imagination, experiment a little, and taste lots of food (bad AND good).  So don't get discouraged if nothing you make ever turns out. Keep trying!

Alright I am sorry for such a long post's the recipe:


1/4 cup Honey (or agave to make the recipe vegan)
1/2 cup Natural peanut butter (I used Natural Skippy even thought it is not completely natural)
2 scoops Vanilla protein powder (Use a soy protein powder if vegetarian or vegan)
6 cups Popcorn (Air-popped or stove-popped; no bagged microwave popcorn!)
1/2 cup Craisins

1. Pop the popcorn over the stove or in an air popper.
2. In a microwave safe dish, heat the peanut butter and honey for about 30 seconds.
3. Mix the peanut butter and honey well and microwave again if needed (mixture should be pretty runny, but be careful not to burn it).
4. Stir in the protein powder. You may need to add 2-4 tbsp of water here to keep the mixture runny although it shouldn't be super runny.
5. Fold the peanut butter mixture into the popcorn with the craisins in a large bowl.  It is ok if you crush and break the popcorn a little here.
6. Firmly press batter into a greased 9x9 pan.
7. Optional:  I baked mine at 350 F for about 5 minutes.  I am not sure if this step is necessary, so feel free to try without.
8.  Let bars firm up in the fridge before serving.
Makes 9-16 bars depending on how big you want them.

Nutrition Facts:
Based off of 16 servings.
Calories: 113
Total Fat: 5.4 g
     Sat. Fat: 1.2g
     Poly. Fat: 0.6 g
     Mono. Fat: 0.3 g
Cholesterol: 8.1 mg
Sodium: 82.7 mg
Potassium: 24.3 mg
Total Carbs: 12.1 g
     Dietary Fiber: 1.2 g
     Sugars: 7.5 g
Protein: 5.4 g
Vitamin A: 0.1%
Vitamin C: 0%
Calcium: 1%
Iron: 1.6%

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Nutritious Vs. Vicious Take 3: Fettuccine Alfredo

Pin It Fettuccine alfredo seems to be one of the most popular dishes at places like Olive Garden.  My sister orders it wherever she goes and I know a lot of my friends do too.  I am not exactly sure what it is about it that makes it so addicting, but I decided it was my turn to take a stab at turning it into something nutritious-n-delicious.  I have tried making it with tofu in the past, but I wanted to try something different this time... and by different I mean cauliflower.  Yep.  Cauliflower.  I am sure many of you are reacting to this in the same way that two of my roommates did.  They were freaking out and exclaiming that they hated cauliflower, it is gross, and that they refused to try it.  Like normal, I just ignored their comments and told them to just wait and see how it turned out.
As I got to work, everything was going smoothly until I realized half way through the food processing step that I probably should have cooked the cauliflower a little more before pureeing it.  My end results were not quite as smooth as I had hoped it would be, but even so it sure did taste delicious.  This is a great way to get your veggies in for the day without even knowing it!  I will admit the Cauliflower Alfredo is not quite the same as the stuff you will find at Olive Garden, but I don't think it is appropriate to compare the two anyway.  Olive Garden Alfredo should be a treat every once in a while if you must; whereas, Cauliflower Alfredo can be enjoyed several times a week if you so choose.


Sorry about the picture quality again...I was too lazy to get out my camera so I just used my phone. Haha.
1/2 head of Cauliflower (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup Water
1 tsp Chicken soup base (low sodium)
1 tsp Onion flakes
1 tsp Garlic powder
1/2 tsp Basil
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 cup Skim milk
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan

1. Cook (steam, boil, or however else you want to cook it) the cauliflower until pretty soft, but not mushy.
2. Heat the water and stir in the chicken soup base, onion flakes, garlic powder, basil, and Italian seasoning until mixed well.
3. Add all the ingredients in the food processor (blender might work too) and puree puree puree!  Let it go until completely smooth only stopping to scrap down the sides once or twice to make sure it all gets incorporated.
4. Return sauce to a pot or microwavable dish and heat a little more before serving.
5. Serve with Nasoya's Shirataki Fettuccine noodles or sub regular 100% whole wheat fettuccine noodles.  I also added cut up chicken to mine to get my protein in.
6. Enjoy!
Makes about 5 half cup servings.

Nutrition Facts:
Because this is a Nutritious Vs. Vicious post I decided to compare my alfredo to Olive Garden's.  I know I said before they are not comparable I just want to show you how vicious their alfredo can be.  Therefore if you are really craving some alfredo try this recipe before you head on over to Olive Garden and eat over half a days worth of calories in one sitting.  (Note: I am not trying to dis Olive Garden in anyway.  It is ok for an occasional treat.  I just want to open your eyes to what you are putting into the body God has so beautifully created for you.)
The nutrition facts are based on the sauce alone.  I used the nutrition facts for the Alfredo Dipping Sauce from Olive Garden.  The actual dinner portion with chicken and noodles is a whooping 1440 calories....scary.

NUTRITIOUS                                VS.                        VICIOUS
Calories: 56                                                                    Calories: 410
Total Fat: 2.5 g                                                               Total Fat: 38 g
     Sat. Fat: 1.6 g                                                                 Sat. Fat: 24g
Cholesterol: 8.5 mg                                                        Cholesterol: ?
Sodium: 274.6 mg                                                          Sodium: 520 mg
Potassium: 179.6 mg                                                      Potassium: ?
Total Carbs: 4.5 g                                                          Total Carbs: 8 g
     Dietary Fiber: 1.1 g                                                        Fiber: 1 g
     Sugars: 2.4 g                                                                  Sugars: ?
Protein: 5 g                                                                     Protein: 7 g
Vitamin A: 1.4%                                                            Vitamin A: ?
Vitamin C: 31.9%                                                          Vitamin C: ?
Calcium: 10.7%                                                              Calcium: ?
Iron: 1.4%                                                                       Iron: ?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Birthdays Birthdays Birthdays

Pin It Is is just me or are a ton of people born in April?  I mean seriously I know 1...2...3...4...5...6...and I can keep going!  Crazy I tell ya.  I'm not complaining though!  I love birthdays especially other people's birthdays.  I think I get more excited to see other people open their presents than I do opening my own presents.  It's so exciting!  Haha.  Plus I'm really enjoying my birthday cake challenge

The first birthday cake of the month went to my sister Kailee.  When I asked her for a list of her favorite foods to get inspiration from, she said that she loved Maple Brown Sugar Poptarts.  Definitely not a health food, but I was up for the challenge.  I won't post the exact recipe here because I kinda maybe sorta didn't write all the ingredients down...but I'll give ya some guidelines in case you want to make a Poptart Cake of your own. 


The base of the cake is inspired by my PBJ Bars (minus the peanuts and the jelly and plus a few slight modifications).
Poptart Filling
This was inspired by the famous garbanzo bean cookie dough dip a lot of people have been blogging about lately.
I am going to be honest with you on this one and say the frosting can from a Betty Crocker box and wasn't the healthiest...gasp!  I know I know...  I was just trying to make my sister happy.  Haha.

1. Make two thin cake sheets.
2. Frost one layer and top with the other to form the poptart.
3. Frost top.
4. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts:

Again I'm sorry for the late of detail in my recipe, but I want to challenge you to make your own and use your imagination.  Not too long after I made the Poptart Cake, I had to get my gears turning again to think of what to make my roommate for her birthday.  Recently, I found the cutest pink pig gummies at the Wholesale grocery store.  I couldn't resist buying them for her because she loves pigs almost as much as I love giraffes.  It was then that I decided to make her a pink pig cake with a secret ingredient.  Dun dun dunnnn.  You guys are lucky that you get to read what the secret ingredient is before you try the cake.  My roommates weren't so lucky.  I refused to tell them until they tried and it and to my surprise they loved it!  I got a kick out of them trying to guess the secret ingredient too.  :p 
I have to put another disclaimer on this recipe because it is definitely not as nutritious as it could be being as it uses a boxed cake mix, but hey who says you can't overdose on sugar on your birthday?!


1 box Chocolate cake mix
1 can (about 15 oz) Pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)*
1-1 1/2 cups Water

*I promise you won't taste the pumpkin at all!

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Mix all ingredients together making sure all the clumps are broken up.
3. Pour into a greased 9x13 pan.
4. Bake 30-50 minutes until toothpick comes out clean in the center.

Nutrition Facts:

Note: I used folded up aluminum foil like a cookie cutter to shape the cake like a pig.  Then I used the leftover frosting from my sisters cake to frost it and added a pinch of red jello mix to dye it pink.  Pretty resourceful huh? :) 

Sorry Jordan...I just had to add this!

3P Balls...Peanut Butter. Pretzels. Protein.

Pin It Growing up I was never a huge fan of pretzels.  I don't know what it is about them.  They are just not a snack I usually crave....unless there's peanut butter involved.  :P  Yum.  Pretzels & Peanut Butter = Great Combo.  Wanna know what an even better combo is?  HONEY & Peanut Butter.  Seriously.  When my sister and I were little my mom would mix up honey and peanut butter for us to dip our chicken strips in.  Sounds kinda gross I know, but believe me....its good.  Give it a try! 

So tonight I got the urge to do some late night experimenting and came up with 3P Balls.  Peanut butter, pretzels, and protein.  How the heck did I ever come up with such a recipe you say?  I know a few of you have been asking me where I get all my crazy recipe ideas, so I decided to let you in on my little secret... The truth is  about 50% of it comes straight from my head.  The other 50% comes from inspiration I get from recipes I find on,, and my other favorite blogs.  I love finding new recipes and they redesigning them to make them my own.  Tonight's inspiration came from Chocolate Covered Katie's No-Bake Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars.  Here's a quick recipe comparison so you can see how I've made the recipe my own:

CCK's Ingredients:                                                       Nutritious-n-Delicious Ingredients:
1 cup rice crispies                                                        1 cup Crushed pretzels  
packed 1/2 cup oat flour                                              1 scoop Vanilla protein powder
1/4 tsp salt                                                                    1/4 cup Coconut flour
1 tsp pure vanilla extract                                              1 tsp Vanilla extract
5 tablespoons agave                                                     1/4 cup Pure honey
3 tablespoons pb                                                          1/4 cup Natural peanut butter
optional: handful of broken-up pretzels
optional: double batch PB Magic Shell

A lot of times it's like a game to me.  I love taking vicious-n-delicious recipes and making them nutritious-n-delicious.  I'm always looking for new challenges, so send me a recipes and I'll give it a make over!  Alright I suppose you are ready for the recipe now.  Enjoy these as dessert or as a quick protein packed snack!

1 cup Crushed pretzels (about 10 pretzel rods)
1 scoop Vanilla protein powder
1/4 cup Coconut flour (May work with other flours as well, but I have not tried them)
1/4 cup Pure honey
1/4 cup Natural peanut butter
1 tsp Vanilla extract
Optional: chocolate for dipping bottoms in or drizzling on top

1. Mix the crushed pretzels, protein powder, and coconut flour in a medium bowl.
2. Add the honey and peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl and heat for about 30 seconds.
3. Stir well to combine and then add in the vanilla.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well to form a dough.
5.  Form balls with your hands and set on a plate.
6. Let set in the fridge for awhile or dunk/drizzle on chocolate.
7. Enjoy!
Makes about 15 balls.

Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 83
Total Fat: 2.8g
     Sat. Fat: 0.8g
Cholesterol: 4.3mg
Sodium: 128.3mg
Potassium: 28.7mg
Total Carbs: 11.5g
     Dietary Fiber: 1.2g
     Sugars: 5.1g
Protein: 3.6g
Vitamin A: 0%
Vitamin C: 0%
Calcium: 0.7%
Iron: 3.2%

P.S. The latest birthday posts are on their way!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tofu Stir Fry...Don't Let the Name Scare You!

Pin It I don't have too much to say about this recipe except that its super easy, quick, and of course nutritious-n-delicious!  I quickly whipped up some Tofu Stir Fry after putting the finishing touches on my roommates birthday cake (recipe soon to come!) and enjoyed it as a nice dinner.

Oh and one more thing before I share the recipe... I want to thank Nasoya for the Tweet the other day about my Customizable Soup.  I was so excited to see that both Nasoya and Woodman's Food Market commented on my blog! Crazy!


1 cup Frozen stir fry vegetables*
4 oz. Pasta Zero Shirataki Spaghetti noodles (cut into littler pieces)
1" thick slice Firm tofu**
Lite soy sauce (to your liking)
*There are a ton of different varieties out there, but my favorite lately has been the asparagus stir fry mix. 
**Bare with me on this one "Tofu Haters" won't taste it at all in this dish because it quickly takes on the soy sauce flavor.  I dare you to try it! Or if you absolutely refuse to try it you can substitute chopped chicken breast.
1. In between two pieces of paper towel press the excess water out of the tofu and then cube it up.
2. In a skillet over medium heat, dumb in all the ingredients and lightly fold to incorporate. Note: Be careful not to mix too harshly because the tofu will crumble.
3. Cook and stir occasionally until tofu starts to brown around the edges.
4. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 140
Total Fat: 3.5g
     Sat. Fat: 0g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Sodium: 1175mg*
Potassium: 0mg
Total Carbs:14g
   Dietary Fiber: 3g
     Sugars: 7g
Protein: 11g
Vitamin A: 15%
Vitamin C: 12%
Calcium: 22%
Iron: 10%
*This is high because of the soy sauce...just be sure to eat low sodium foods the rest of the day and you should be fine. =]

Chicken Taco Pizza (or Wrap if you so please)

Pin It As I was brainstorming which meals I wanted to cook up for the week, I decided I wanted to use up the frozen chicken tenderloins I had in the freezer.  I highly recommend cooking meals up ahead of time by the way.  Especially if you are as busy as I am as a college student.  A lot of people's reason for eating convenience/fast food  is that that simply have no time to cook a meal for themselves every night.  I totally understand that, but there are ways to work around it.  It is so important to be fueling your body with real food especially when you are so busy.  You may think you feel perfectly fine running on McDonalds, boxed foods,  Ramen, Easy Mac, and frozen microwave dinners, but what you don't know is how much better you would feel if you were running on real food.  I dare you to try it! 

I do my best to find at least one-two hours a week to cook up a bunch of food to have as leftovers for the week.  And no this doesn't mean you have to eat the same thing seven days in a row.  I normally cook up 1-2 types of meat/protein or make a casserole/hot dish of some sort or a big batch of soup.  Then I make sure I have fresh veggies and  some type of healthy carb (ex. Cooked up quinoa, whole wheat noodles, lentils, chickpeas).   Make sure you wash and chop the veggies ahead of time because I know in the middle of your busy day when are in a pinch for time, you're not going to want to waste any time washing and chopping.  Make your veggies as quick and easy to grab as your favorite sugary granola bar.  Preparing a few things ahead of time, allows me to get creative  throughout the week. 

Here is two of my favorite recipes from the week:
Shredded Taco Chicken
4 pieces Frozen chicken tenderloins (or about 16 oz frozen chicken breasts)
1/2 cup salsa
2 tsp Low sodium taco seasoning
1 Low carb tortilla (or 100% whole wheat)*
1/4 cup Refried beans (I used spicy fat free beans)
1/2 cup Baby spinach
1/4 cup Mozzarella cheese

1 Low carb tortilla
1/2 cup Baby spinach
2 tbsp Lowfat cottage cheese
2 tbsp Salsa
*Look for tortillas high in fiber and low in bleached white flours

Shredded Taco Chicken
1. Dump all the ingredients for the shredded taco chicken in a slow cooker and mix together.  Add just enough water to barely cover the chicken.
2. Cook on medium-high for several hours until chicken can be easily shredded.
3. Shredded chicken with a fork and drain most of the liquid.
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Lightly spray a tortilla with cooking spray and place greased side down on a cookie sheet. Note: the spray helps brown the tortilla for a crispier crust.
3. Evenly spread out the refried beans as the sauce and cover with spinach.
4. Top with taco chicken and sprinkle with cheese.
5. Bake 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted and edges look crispy. Enjoy!
1. Layer the spinach, chicken, salsa, and cottage cheese on the tortilla.
2. Wrap and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts:
1 Whole Pizza
Calories: 281
Total Fat: 8g
     Sat. Fat: 3g
Cholesterol: 75mg
Sodium: 706.3mg
Potassium: 397.5mg
Total Carbs: 20.5g
     Dietary Fiber: 9.8g
     Sugars: 0.5g
Protein: 38.3g (!!!!)
Vitamin A: 31.5%
Vitamin C: 3.5%
Calcium: 36.5%
Iron: 20.5%

*Sorry I don't have time to calculate the nutrition facts of the wrap....I am so behind on my blogs!

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