Peanut Butter Banana Energy Balls

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One of my friends had posted a link to these energy balls on Facebook a while back.  They looked so good at the time, and because they were no-bake it made them all the more easy to whip up a batch.

Original Recipe: Nature Box No Bake Energy Balls

I made a few changes because I do not regularly have banana chips on hand, so I replaced the dried fruit with fresh fruit and added besan flour. 

Using besan or chickpea flour kept the integrity of the bite by maintaining the gluten-free label but you could also replace the flour with almond or coconut or any type of gluten-free flour. 

It basically is used to suck up the extra moisture from using the fresh banana instead of the dried.

Peanut Butter Banana Energy Bites

My adapted recipe is:

Peanut Butter Banana Energy Balls

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup of cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup of besan flour (or any gluten-free flour)
  • 3 tablespoons of maca powder
  • 1 banana sliced
  • 1/2 cup of all natural peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup of honey

Stir together the oats, cocoa powder, maca powder and besan flour.  Add the sliced banana and mash into the dry mixture.  Add the peanut butter and the honey and stir until thoroughly combined and the mixture comes together into a ball.  You made add a little more flour if the mixture still seems wet to touch. 

Roll the mixture in bite sized balls and place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper.  Refrigerate until set.  Keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

I’ve munched on these little tasty treats because they really curb those cravings for chocolate or sweet stuff.  But still eat them in moderation.  Depending on the size of your bites each one should be about 50 calories or less.  The maca adds a nice earthy flavor and packs a punch as a natural energy booster. 

Not familiar with Maca Powder ~ check it out here.

Rosemary, Riding and a Post Card from Charleston

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My mom and her sister returned from their road trip to South Carolina visiting my cousin.

~

These were the gifts she brought back for the kiddo & I.

Bottle of house red from Biltmore Hotel.

Oven Roasted Okra & a Key Lime Dip they served at the hotel as well.

A few t-shirts and when I arrived home to a fun postcard from Rainbow Row, Charleston SC!

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After stopping by her house after work on Friday she was in the process of cutting down her giant Rosemary Bush!

I grabbed a few pieces to cook with this week!

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Saturday morning I was registered for PA Motorcycle Safety class to learn to ride!  OMG so much fun!

I have one more in classroom session, and one more on road session, a written test and a road skills test and I will be officially licensed to drive a motorcycle!

The instructors were absolutely great!  If you are looking to learn to ride, I highly recommend taking the course.

Ultimate Bucket List Item #9 ~ Check!

After my class, I wasn’t ready to retire from riding so we took another long ride in the evening and it was absolutely beautiful.  Great night for a ride.

We were so tired from riding all day that me and the BF  slept through  watched a movie.  

He picked out Life of Pi.

I think he enjoyed it ~ me ~ well I got some much needed Zzzzz’s

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Sunday morning I headed to the veggie store and stocked up on fresh fruit and veggies for the week!

 Strawberries were only $3.49 for a 2lb tub.

Bought myself two and prepped one for the freezer!

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The 70 degree weather was coming to a quick end as the clouds started rolling in, but not before me and the Nerms took a good mile and half walk around the hood.

She’s whoopped and definitely needs to get out a bit more.

~

Social skills could use some work.

~

And that was pretty much my weekend!

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Hoping that this week goes by fast! Vrooooooooooom ~ Vroooooom  I’m ready to ride again!

Peace!

Empty Salad Bowl

There is hope yet for my co-workers! I admit, I preach about eating healthy and lately my co-workers are really getting a good dose.

The community microwave in my office pumps out some really unhealthy meals, and I try to educate when I can about how bad some of the stuff is that they are putting in their bodies.

But today was different…..we had our first cookout of the season! (we usually grill about 3-4 times a season in the warmer months)

We broke out the grill somewhat early this year, but I’m glad we did, as the weather here is finally starting to break.

Burgers, chicken, hot dogs, the normal faire. I decided this time to change it up from my usual homemade pasta salad to a fresh garden salad!

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It was super yummy! Fresh romaine with mixed baby greens, shredded carrot, mini pearl tomatoes, kalamata olives, parmesan, romano and Asiago cheese shreds, slivered red onion and homemade croutons!

All the comments started pouring in:
“Of course Deb brings the healthy stuff!”
“Green vegetables are good for you, that’s NOT BBQ food!”
“That looks like rabbit food!”

Blah Blah Blah……

And after all that yammering about healthy food, they demolished the salad bowl. Every single one of them had two helpings of salad! They got to taste a little bit of my world and they all loved it ~ I walked away with an empty salad bowl and a happy heart!

Mission Accomplished!

What healthy dishes do you bring to company potlucks?

What’s Happening…..

I’ve got so many things going on right now it’s hard not to be excited. 

I recently joined in for the first time the Healthy Living Blogs Spring Tea Swap.  On Monday I received via email by tea swap match. 

So I’ve been trying to decide which two of my favorite teas I will be sending to my match up buddy.  It’s a little hard to narrow it down to just two and it’s slightly overwhelming thinking “What if they don’t like those flavors?’  I would hate to send someone that I don’t even know teas that they don’t even like. 

But I guess the basis behind the tea swap it to broaden your horizons and try new things!  So I have one flavor picked out right off the bat and the other flavor it’s a toss up.  I will decide by the end of the week and will be sending them off via snail mail. 

If you are interested in reading about the Tea Swap you can find the info on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #HLBtea

As well as joining the HLB Tea Swap I also joined up to be a Foodie Pen Pal for the month of May! 

The Lean Green Bean

Lindsay over @Lean Green Bean is the kind host of this awesome food swap.  I’ve been reading about all the swaps for the past few months and decided I just didn’t want to miss out on the next one. 

You can check it out by heading over to her site and signing up too! 

If you’re interested don’t forget to sign up by May 4th! 

And then there is the Blend Retreat!  This weekend retreat of Bloggers and Friends (hence the name BLendS) is only three short weeks away! 

 
I'm Attending Blend

I’ve been counting down the days. 

My airfare is booked, I’ve got gals lined up to share a shuttle with and now all I need to do is starting figuring out what to pack and how to pack it. 

Apparently, there is so much more that I will be coming home with, that I need a ton a extra room!  I wasn’t planning on checking my bag, but as I keep reading posts about the weekend, I’ve got to either take a week sized back (not a weekend sized bag) or plan on shipping my goodies via UPS!  The Sponsors have apparently been very generous to us! WHAT!  OMG….I’m so excited! 

The two things I’m most excited about is:

1.) Meeting everyone that writes a blog I read. I have been learning so much from these gals, and can’t wait to tell them in person how thankful I am to have come across their blogs.   It will be fun to meet the face behind the blog! 

Plus getting to meet like-minded people who love  food, fitness and taking pics and writing about all that stuff too is just incredibly cool! 

AND…….

2.) The 4 mile hike that is scheduled to take place on Saturday afternoon in the mountains of Utah!  Nikon buddy get ready to be overworked!

With all this going on, I can’t help but be super excited! 

What plans do you have to look forward to over the next couple of weeks?  Are you attending the Blend Retreat? 

Not Quite My Mother’s Chicken Noodle Soup

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There are some things that as hard as you try it’s just “not like my mother made it”.  One of those things for me is Chicken Noodle Soup.  My mom makes the most flavorful chicken noodle soup.  And as hard as I try to replicate it ~ I just can’t! Total bummer! 

You know as I mentioned a few days ago, the kiddo had his wisdom teeth out.  One thing I don’t do ~ TEETH!  Gross!  As a child he pulled every single one from his head on his own!  (I started young with teaching him independence!  LOL!)  Not that he had to get these giant suckers out on his own, but the follow-up care, he’s done mostly on his own too!  Sorry bud!  Just can’t do it!

Anyhoooo, back to my soup.  No teeth, sore gums, soft food.  So it’s Chicken Soup on the menu.  Chicken Soup makes everyone feel better.  There is just something about a warm bowl of broth that makes you feel better from the inside out.  Being a soup lover anyway, this is one of my top comfort foods. 

Unfortunately, during this time of need, my mother and her sister decided to take a Thelma and Louise road trip to visit my cousin who recently moved down south.  So I was left to my own devices to make a pot of chicken soup on my own for my son who can’t chew.  How hard can it be, right? 

Not really hard at all, but something was just missing.  Don’t know why, don’t know how, but it’s just not the same.

Here’s my attempt at My Mother’s Chicken Noodle Soup.

Chicken Stock

  • 1 whole chicken, preferably organic, patted dry
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 3 carrots, skinned and cut in half
  • 3 stalks of celery, halved
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of peppercorns
  • 6 cups of water
  • salt to taste

Heat a large stock pot over medium high heat and add the olive oil.  Heat oil for a minute and add the chicken breast side up into the pot.  Brown on all sides for about 10 minutes (5 minutes per side, approx).  Browning adds a nice color to the stock if you like your stock to be deep golden brown.

After both sides of the chicken are browned, add the onion, celery, peppercorns and water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a slow simmer and cook for about an hour.  Boiling your chicken will create a cloudy stock so keep it to a slow simmer.

After about an hour, I adjust the salt to taste and simmer for another 45 minutes to an hour.   At this point, take the whole chicken out of the stock and when cool enough to handle cut into quarters. (This makes it easier to store in containers). Strain the stock to remove the solids. 

Place the chicken pieces back into the stock and transfer to a heat proof bowl placed in an ice bath, and let cool to room temperature.  Leaving the chicken pieces submerged in the stock ~ refrigerate overnight.

The next day remove the chicken pieces from the broth and pull the chicken from the bones, discarding skin and bones.  Shred the chicken and return to the stock. 

Chicken Noodle Soup

  • 4 cups of chicken stock (see above)
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 2 cups of wide egg noodles, cooked according to package directions
  • 1/4 cup of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat the stock to boiling and reduce heat to simmer, cook carrots approx 6 minutes until tender.  Add the egg noodles and the parsley.  Adjust the seasons with salt and pepper.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup (Photo credit: VancityAllie)

It was a great soup, but whatever my mother does to hers, it’s just not the same as mine.  The kiddo was also pleased to have something warm and satisfying to eat while his chompers were down and out.

I MUST make time to go lurk over her shoulder one day so that I don’t miss out on this family recipe.  We have a few cherished things my mother makes, that none of us have been able to replicate! 

Chicken Soup and Potato Salad (Hmmmmmm……….this could be a bucket list item ~ learn to make soup & salad like MOM!)

Chime in and tell me what favorite things your mom makes that cannot be replicated no matter how hard you try?

Black Bean & Corn Turkey Chili

My weekend was filled with cooking and baking ~ again.  I’ve been baking cakes for the past six weeks or so and even though I love the creative side of a themed cake, right now ~ I’m just so OVER IT!  I don’t want to look at another cup of flour or stick of butter for weeks.  I need a break from it.  For the first time in a while my creative juices are just not flowing freely.  Never mind the fact that I feel a little overwhelmed with all the deadlines that are coming up these next few weeks.

My class is winding down with only two more sessions to go and I haven’t even started my paper yet.  Fortunately, it should be an easy one this semester.  My topic is Group Dynamics over Social Media!  What fun!  But I’ve got to get down to business and get that out of the way because it is weighing heavily at this point in time and with the creative juices being sucked up by themed cakes, I’m not feeling the motivation to get it started like I need.  But never fret ~ I will get it done.  Like the BF says, “I have all the faith in you that you will get it done!”  He’s such a gem and my biggest motivator when I take on these off the wall projects.  Not that school is off the wall, but with all the added projects I add to my life, he always knows I’ll pull through.  I need that a lot of times ~ you know, just to know that someone is pulling for you can make or break your day!

Turkey Chili!  I know how does all that fit into this post, well the kiddo had his wisdom teeth pull at the end of last week and with all the complaining over the weekend that “he had to have some meat”, and with the weather reverting back to January type temps, chili seemed to fit the bill perfectly.  This is what I threw together this weekend with things I already had in the kitchen.

Black Bean & Corn Turkey Chili

Black Bean & Corn Turkey Chili

Black Bean & Corn Turkey Chili

  • 2lbs ground turkey meat
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 heaping tablespoons of your favorite chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 can of crushed organic tomatoes ( I used a quart size jar of my canned tomatoes from the summer)
  • 1 can of organic black beans or 2 cups of prepared black beans (see my crock pot method here)
  • 1 can of organic white shoe peg corn or 1 cup of frozen corn
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • greek style yogurt, for garnish
  • shredded cheese, for garnish
  • lime wedges, for garnish

Add the olive oil to a large heavy stock pot.  Heat on medium heat and add onion.  Sauté onions for 2 minutes and then add in the ground turkey meat.  Cook the turkey meat until no pink remains approximately 10 minutes.  Remove the pot from the heat and drain any fat from the pan.  Return to the stove and on medium heat add the chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.  Sauté until fragrant. ~ maybe a minute or so.  Add the tomatoes plus any liquid to the pot and stir well.  Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium low.  Simmer for 40 minutes.  Add the beans and the corn and stir until heated through, maybe 5 more minutes.  Turn off the heat and let stand for 15 minutes for flavors to meld together.  Adjust salt and pepper.  Serve with garnishes of lime wedges, yogurt and shredded cheese.

I wouldn’t normally use black beans in my chili, but since I didn’t have green bell pepper or a can of kidney beans I adapted and replaced them with the black beans and corn.  All in all, I think the family liked it with the black beans much more than using the kidney beans.  (I’ll have to remember this for next time).  

And since the kiddo couldn’t chew, the finely ground turkey meat worked out well.  He was able to satisfy his craving for meat but was able to eat the chili like a thick soup with minimal chewing.  SCORE 1 FOR MOM!  Plus we have meals now for the rest of the week when I’m running around like a crazy women trying to check things off my list!  SCORE 2 FOR MOM!

I really have missed prepping meals on the weekend for the upcoming week.  When I don’t do it ~ it adds a layer of stress to my week that really shouldn’t even be there.

Thank goodness I had time this week to prep my meals.  I love my Sunday Food Prep!

How do you prepare for the upcoming week?

 

 

 

Chick Pea Salad w/ Quinoa, Cilantro, Avocado & Lemon Dressing

OMG!  This salad is so freakin’ good I thought I was gonna eat the whole damn bowl!

The picture caught my eye, but the taste grabbed my heart!  I’m in love!

Chick Pea Salad w/Lemon Quinoa, Cilantro & Avocado  

Recipe Adapted from DivaDish

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  • 1 cup cooked tri-color Quinoa (red, black and white)
  • 2 cups cooked chick peas
  • 1/2 cup ripe tomato, chopped
  • 2 cups spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • juice of 3 lemons
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

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Add to a large mixing bowl the quinoa, chick peas, tomato, spinach, cilantro and red onion.

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Add in a separate bowl, lemon juice, mustard, olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper.  Whisk dressing until fully emulsified.

Add dressing onto the other ingredients and mix to combine. Adjust salt and pepper.

This salad is packed with so much goodness from the quinoa, chickpeas and spinach all the way down to the avocado and tomato!  There is absolutely nothing bad about this salad except that I think there might not be enough to share!  Serve with a big loaf of crusty Italian bread!

Toss one together and let me know how you like  LOVE IT!

Enjoy!

 

Sunday Food Prep ~ Pesto Edition

It’s food prep time again folks!

I have been slacking in the food prep department as of late, but I’m back on track this week for sure.  I know how important it is to do my food prep but on the weekends when I’m running around like a crazy person I most definitely struggle getting healthy meals on the table during the week.  Today is the first day in a several weeks that I’ve been able to sleep in and wake up knowing I’m doing some major food prepping; and I LOVE IT!

I’ve had a breakthrough this week as I’ve been ordering my herbs for the summer season and with that I realized I had a ton of pesto that I made last year that I needed to use up.  So this week is my Pesto Edition.  Lots of fun stuff using up some of the pesto that I’ve had stored in my freezer all winter long.

First lets start with the pesto since it’s the star ingredient in this weeks Food Prep series.

My Italian roots have made sure that I love Pesto and that I have it in my freezer at ALL TIMES!

                               Basil Pesto

English: Basil leaves (Ocimum basilicum).

English: Basil leaves (Ocimum basilicum). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • 3 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more if needed to make smooth paste
  • 1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese, grated

Put basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic clove and salt in a food processor or blender.  Pulse a few times until leaves are uniform in texture and chopped.  Turn on the food processor and stream the olive oil until a smooth paste forms and comes together. If you need additional olive oil add slowly until you get the right consistency.   Add cheese and pulse a few more times until fully incorporated.

From here since I usually put 2-3 tablespoons of pesto into a ziplock back and freeze.  Pesto freezes so well there really isn’t any reason not to use up the extra fresh basil anytime of year whether it’s from the summer bumper crop or if you purchase a large bunch mid winter.  I never, ever waste fresh basil.

Pesto has a strong flavor so a little goes a long way.  Here are some of the ways I like to use my fresh Basil Pesto in addition to the recipes in this post.

I like to add it to cooked pasta,  toss it with steamed red potatoes, to dress fresh steamed green beans, add it to olive oil and vinegar as an easy way to make pasta salad and lightly drizzle it over steamed or baked salmon.

I had some major inspiration attending the Philly Farm and Food Fest last week especially from one local vendor that does fresh, organic, non-gmo hummus.  The Lancaster Hummus Co.  offered up some really unusual flavors of hummus.  They had samples of every flavor they offer on their website including my favorites from the day Chipotle Black Bean, Pumpkin Butter & Lemon Kale.  They offer up 8 unique flavors, so if you don’t like making your own homemade hummus, The Lancaster Hummus Co is a great alternative to a quality hummus.

Since I love hummus and had taken some pesto out for a few other recipes this week, I opted to make a Pesto Hummus.

Pesto Hummus 

Pesto Hummus

Pesto Hummus

  • 2 cups chick peas, skins removed
  • 1 tablespoon Basil Pesto (see recipe above)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of water

I cannot stress enough the method to smooth creamy hummus is to remove the skins.  It seems like a tedious task, but like everything else, the extra work pays off.  The texture of this hummus from removing the skins just cannot be compared to any other.

Pesto Hummus

Pesto Hummus

Add the beans, pesto and the salt to a food processor.

Start to process in the food processor adding the water until a smooth paste forms and the mixture loosens up.

Add the olive oil and continue to process until smooth and creamy; approximately 3 minutes.

This recipe for Creamy Pesto Dressing is what prompted the rest of my pesto creations this week.

Creamy Pesto Dressing

Creamy Pesto Dressing

Creamy Pesto Dressing

  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Basil Pesto (see recipe above)
  • salt to taste

I used my hand blender for this, but it can also be made using a food processor or blender.  Add all ingredients to blender and process until well blended.

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I plan on using this Creamy Pesto Dressing to dress chicken salad later in the week as well as for use as a salad dressing throughout the week.  It’s a great alternative to Caesar dressing and it’s a much lighter version since I replaced the sour cream with fat-free yogurt and used light may instead of the full fat version.  The taste does not sacrifice with the lighter substitutions.

Check back later in the week as I will be posting the recipes from the rest of the things on my menu.

Carrot Pineapple Banana Bread

Browsing recipes over the weekend I came across this recipe from Averie Cooks and it caught my eye because of the combination of pineapple, banana and carrot! Plus her pictures are mouth-watering which was one of the reasons I made the bread in the first place.

Besides that it’s just a beautiful looking bread and tempted my taste buds so much, I actually had all the ingredients on hand so I HAD to try it out for myself.

I did omit the instant pudding to keep it chemical free but leaving out the pudding did not, in my opinion, sacrifice on flavor, moistness or taste. She notes in her original recipe here, that if you omit the pudding you should increase the sugar and flour but I did neither of those and my bread came out wonderful.

I split the recipe into one 8×4 loaf pan and 4 jumbo muffins. The muffins make it easier for my son to grab n go in the morning when he’s short on time (which is everyday) for breakfast! 🙂

Pineapple Carrot Banana Bread

Pineapple Carrot Banana Bread

So here is the version of the Carrot Pineapple Banana Bread that I baked on Sunday.

Pineapple Carrot Banana Bread

Adapted from Recipe by: Averie Cooks

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 6 ounes plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup grated carrots, loosely packed
  • 1/3 cup crushed pineapple
  • 1/3 cup mixed rasinins & cranberries
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Melt butter and let cool slightly. Add the remaining ingredients.
  3. Mix the remaining ingredients in a large bowl.
  4. Stir to combine, taking care not to overmix.20130417-124510.jpg
  5. Spray or lightly oil baking pans.
  6. Divide batter evenly among pans. (I used 8×4 and jumbo muffin tin)
  7. Bake muffins for 25 minutes. Bake the loaf pan for 10-15 minutes longer.
  8. Let cool in pans for 5-10 minutes and then remove to cooling rack to finish cooling.

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This was super easy to make.  I’m sure it would freeze rather well if you wanted to do a few batches to same on time later! 

Go ahead, whip up a batch and tell me how YOU liked it!

Praying for Boston

I just want to say that the events that transpired yesterday at the Boston Marathon are both extremely disturbing and very unsettling. 

My heart goes out to those that lost love ones, to those that have been injured and have a long recovery ahead of them, to those families of the victims that will be their support group, to all the runners that worked so hard to run those 26 miles that did not get to finish their race and to those that live in Boston ~ your sense of security has been violated but I have faith that you will all stand together and take back what was once yours. 

Such a senseless tragedy I will never understand.

Pray For Boston

I have met so many new and wonderful people through blogging and most of them are part of the running community.  I am glad to be a part of such a wonderful supportive group. Even as recently as yesterday people are stating they will not be afraid and will run again in Boston!  I am glad to be part of a strong and dedicated group. 

For many years I worked with a great group of people from Massachusetts (none of them runners, but all of them from the Boston areas) and they all have such spirit and tenacity that will get them through this horrific tragedy.    My friends from Boston are like no others!

My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by this senseless act of violence today.  Please keep everyone is your thoughts and prayers as they pick up the pieces and try and find a new normal.

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