Shamrock Smoothie

healthy shamrock smoothie

Hmm, who doesn’t love a delicious Shamrock Shake from Mcy D’s? Especially around St. Patty’s day! They’re super delicious, butttttt, there’s one BIG problem. They are TERRIBLE for you. In fact, there’s proof this year stating several reasons why you should skip the “shake” (read it here).

My boyfriend bought a bottle of peppermint oil about 6 months ago, and since then, we’ve only used it about once. So I decided to mix-up a minty-shake one day while I was craving an entire sleeve of Thin Mints (because how can you eat just one?). Turns out, there are quite a few “healthy” alternatives to McDonald’s Shamrock shake, but mine’s a little bit different. Hope you enjoy! Bonus: no hidden ingredients here!

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Ingredients 

  • 1 cup almond milk (I used 1/2 water, 1/2 almond milk)
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 avocado
  • A whole bunch o’ spinach (or kale). I used 1/3 of a bag.
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint oil
  • Generous drizzle of agave nectar, or honey (use as little or as much as you’d like, depending on how sweet you like it)
  • 1 tbs chia seeds!
  • Cup (or more) of ice
  • Optional: Protein powder (I recommend vanilla or plain), dark chocolate on top 🙂

DirectionsIMG_4357

  • Blend it, duh!
  • Enjoy without the guilt!

Happy St. Patricks Day!

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Amaaaazzzzzing Crockpot BBQ Chicken

Crockpot BBQ Chicken

This is by far one of the best things I have ever made in my crockpot. Also, it is, without a doubt, the best smelling meal I’ve ever made in the crockpot. I tried this for the first time just a few days ago…and then again today, tweaking the recipe just a teensy bit to make it just right. And boy oh boy, is it right.

Have a few chicken breasts, some basic condiments and a crockpot? Get ready, baby. Don’t have any of the above? Jump on it.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs boneless chicken breasts, defrosted
  • 1 1/4 cup BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Rays)
  • 1/4 cup light Italian dressing
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp A1 steak sauce
  • sea salt to taste

Directions

  1. Season the chicken breasts lightly with sea salt (to taste), and place in your crockpot.

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken2. Combine BBQ sauce, Italian dressing, brown sugar and steak sauce in a mixing bowl.

SlowCooker BBQ Chicken3. Pour sauce mixture over chicken breasts in your crockpot. Cook on HIGH 3-4 hours (or low 6-8 hours).

Slowcooker BBQ Chicken

4. Once the time is up, shred the chicken with two forks. It will be so tender, it will fall apart. Once the chicken is shredded, cook on low (or select the “keep warm” setting if your crockpot has it) for another 20-30 minutes.

Slowcooker BBQ Chicken

Side note: if you take a peak at the crockpot while the chicken is cooking, it will look EXTREMELY saucy. Don’t worry … it’s supposed to. Once you shred the chicken, the sauce will blend with the chicken to make the perfect consistency.

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Serve as a sandwich or eat it plain (my favorite!). Enjoy!!

Crockpot BBQ Chicken

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Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup

Welp, we are officially knee-deep in soup season. Chicago was hit pretty hard with cold weather last week, so I couldn’t help but crave a big bowl of delicious soup. And it just so happens that a few weeks back while I was in Boulder, I had an amazing tomato basil soup from this incredible sandwich shop called Dish Gourmet (it was so good, I ate there multiple times). With that said, I knew exactly what soup I wanted to make. I started doing some research, and came across a recipe from Creme de la Crumb. I adapted the ingredients and cooked it on the stove instead of the crockpot.

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Go on, make it. You know you want to dunk your face in a giant bowl. Or maybe that’s just me…

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tomato basil

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Ingredients

  • 4 cups vegetable broth (I used low-sodium)
  • 2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 large white onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed black pepper or more to taste (I used lots more. I love pepper!)
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream OR half+half (you may choose to use more depending on how creamy you like your soups)
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese + more for topping (optional)

Instructions

  1. Add tomatoes, and next 7 ingredients (through salt) to big ol’ pot. Cover and cook on low for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. (You may also cook in the slow cooker on low for 4-6 hours. I went for the stovetop this time because I started dinner later!)
  2. About 30 minutes before serving transfer soup to a blender (I used our Blendtec) or food processor and puree until smooth, then return to pot (or slow cooker).
  3. Cook soup puree on low, then slowly stir in the heavy cream (or half+half) and parmesan cheese. Important: DO NOT let the soup/cream sit on the stove. The cream will break out into weird little dots. You must keep stirring it, until it all blends into the soup.
  4. Pour into bowls and top with additional parmesan cheese, basil & delicious bread (CARBS…yummy!!).
  5. Try not to eat the entire pot!

Let me know what you think in the comments below! Do you add anything else to your tomato basil soup? What do you serve it with? I’d love to hear your ideas!

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Orange Detox Smoothie

When I first thought about making a smoothie for breakfast this morning I said to myself “SMOOTHIE, are you kidding!? It’s FREEZING outside!” It’s -30 (or something) today in Chicago. After it gets below 20 degrees, it doesn’t even matter what the exact temperature is, I start planning my move to someplace warm. Side note: I’ve been planning my move out of Chicago every winter since I moved here. 7 years ago. I’m clearly not moving. #wishfulthinking

orange detox smoothie

Anyway, back to the smoothie. I considered making something warm, such as oatmeal or eggs and toast (because, ya know, that would actually make sense) but I kept going back to the smoothie. I decided I wanted one so bad because my body is craving a good detox, probably because I haven’t been able to get outside and workout. Sure, I’ve been running stairs in my building when I can, working out on my TRX bands, doing push-ups, etc., but I still feel like I haven’t really worked out. I’m a runner, so a good workout means running 4+ miles. And I REFUSE to run outside if it’s below 20 degrees, so I’m in a rut. With that said, bring on the smoothie.

Orange Detox Smoothie chia seeds

I wanted to keep things clean, so I decided to juice some carrots and a handful of spinach (if you don’t have a juicer, just purchase unprocessed carrot juice from your local health grocer, and blend the spinach leafs with the rest of the ingredients in the smoothie). Then I stuck to my number 1 rule when juicing/making smoothies: stick to the color group. I’ve had trouble in the past with mixing lots of greens and oranges. The color turns out completely brown and doesn’t always taste great. I checked my freezer and found some frozen bananas (I always keep frozen bananas on hand!) and mango chunks. Off I went! Hope you all enjoy.

orange mango banana smoothie with chia seeds

orange smoothie
Photobombed by Gracie!

Yields: 1 smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup carrot juice (freshly squeezed if you have a juicer. If you do, I used 3 whole carrots. If not, buy unprocessed carrot juice from your local health grocer)
  • Handful of spinach, juiced or blended (I juiced mine along with the carrots)
  • 1/2 cup water (or more depending desired consistency)
  • 1 cup ice cubes (or more, again, depending on desired consistency)
  • 1/3 cup mango chunks (I used frozen)
  • 1 banana (I used frozen)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds blended (optional), I used mine as toppings)
  • 1 scoop protein powder (of choice. I use Garden of Life Raw Protein, plain. It’s vegan, gluten free, dairy free AND USDA Organic!)
protein powder
My favorite protein powder!

Directions:

  • Juice carrots (again, store bought carrot juice is fine)
  • Throw all ingredients into blender
  • Blend until desired consistency
  • Serve immediately and enjoy!

Carrot Juicecarrot juice mango bananaspinach juice

Stay warm!

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Slow-Cooker Turkey Chili

slow cooker turkey chili

 

Hmm, who doesn’t love a big bowl of chili on a chilly afternoon? As if that doesn’t sound good enough, how about slow-cooker, ready-when-you-get-home-chili? This recipe is EXTREMELY easy and it will have your house smelling amazing by the time you come home from work. Also, I tried using Jennie-O’s Italian Seasoned ground turkey to spice things up a bit — it turned out delicious! The great thing about chili is that you can throw in whatever veggies, beans, spices, etc., that you like. You really can’t go wrong!

 

turkey chili

JEnnie-O turkey chili

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Add cheese, plain greek yogurt (more protein and WAY better for you than sour cream!) on top or throw the chili on a baked potato or mac n’ cheese!

What I used:

  • Jennie-O Italian Seasoned ground turkey
  • 2 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can chili beans
  • 1 can great northern beans
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • chili powder to taste
  • cumin to taste
  • hot sauce to taste
  • salt to taste
  • garlic to taste

Directions

  • Cook ground turkey per directions on package, set aside
  • Saute green pepper and onion, set aside
  • Drain and rinse beans, set aside
  • Pour all ingredients into slow cooker
  • Add seasoning to taste (I like my chili spicier, so I add lots of spice and hot sauce – yum!)
  • Cook on low for 6-8 hours

Serve immediately. Keep for up to 1 week in fridge.

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Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Delicious #pumpkin smoothie

The other morning, I scavenged my fridge for something to whip up for breakfast. Jumping from buying a rental property to bringing a puppy home, hasn’t left me with much time to make a trip to the grocery store (or blog…more posts to come – I promise!). I found a few eggs, orange juice, almond milk, and some leftover canned pumpkin from this recipe. I was in the mood for a smoothie, so I decided to mix things up a bit (pun intended) and try making a smoothie that matched the season. I wasn’t too sure how it’d turn out, but I absolutely loved it! Kyle (my boyfriend) said “It tastes like the offspring of a banana and a pumpkin!”

Delicious #pumpkin smoothie

Delicious #pumpkin smoothie

Delicious #pumpkin smoothie

Delicious #pumpkin smoothie

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Serves two

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup canned pumpkin (I use Trader Joe’s Organic pumpkin)
  • 1 frozen banana (tip: bananas turning brown before you can eat them? Take the peels off and throw them in the freezer – it makes for a colder smoothie and you will always have some on hand without them going bad!)
  • 4-6 ice cubes
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 squeeze of agave nectar (add until desire sweetness)
  • 1 tbsp flaxseed
  • 1 tsp chia seed
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Optional: I like to throw in instant oats and/or almonds if I have them on hand. They add extra texture to the smoothie!

Tip: Want to add more protein to curb your hunger? Toss in some plain, vanilla or chai tea flavored protein powder for an even more satisfying meal!

Instructions

  1. Throw all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into a glass and top with pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and/or granola!

Cheers!

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Upgraded Trader Joes Pumpkin Bars

pumpkin bars cover

I was at Trader Joe’s last week when I saw a box of Pumpkin Bar baking mix. For only $2.99 I thought, what the heck? I took a look at the ingredients and decided I was going to mix things up a bit. Instead of using one (1) stick of butter which is what the recipe called for, I tried 1/4 cup of coconut oil and some water instead. Additionally, I used organic brown eggs and threw in some dark chocolate chips and pecans. Mmm, were they good!

ingredientspumpkinbar

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IMG_9424Ingredients

  • Box of Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bar baking mix
  • 2 organic brown eggs
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup pecans

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Line a 8x8x2 baking pan w/ cooking spray (I use olive oil spray).
  3. Remove baking mix bag from box. Empty contents into a mixing bowl.
  4. Crack the eggs and throw them into a separate bowl.
  5. Whisk the melted (or room temperature) coconut oil, water + eggs together.
  6. Slow take wet ingredients and mix them into the bowl with the baking mix. Stir until there are little to no lumps.
  7. Fold in the dark chocolate chips and pecans.
  8. Spread dough into pan, spreading it out evenly.
  9. Bake for 28-30 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick comes out of the bars clean.

I enjoyed my bars warm with a nice big glass of almond milk!

Happy Friday!

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Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pancakes

Gluten Free pumpkin pancakes

Gluten Free pumpkin pancakes

Gluten Free pumpkin pancakes

Gluten Free pumpkin pancakes

Gluten Free pumpkin pancakes

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin (I use Trader Joe’s Organic pumpkin)
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil (or butter)

Instructions

  1. Whisk the eggs, canned pumpkin, vanilla and maple syrup.

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  1. Sift the cinnamon and baking soda into the wet ingredients.
  2. Melt 2 tbsp of coconut oil (or butter) in a skillet over low/medium heat. IMG_9345
  3. Pour the melted coconut oil into the batter.
  4. Spoon the batter (about 1/3 cup at a time) into the skillet. When the batter starts bubbling, flip the pancake once to finish cooking. IMG_9350
  5. Top with any of the following:
    • Bananas
    • Apples
    • Pecans
    • Walnuts
    • Chopped turkey bacon (follow instructions on packaging)
    • Maple syrup

I topped my pancakes with chopped bananas, sliced honeycrisp apple, pecans, turkey bacon crumbles and maple syrup. The sweetness of the pancakes, fruit and syrup taste wonderful with the salty flavor in the turkey bacon (plus, added protein!). The pecans add a nice crunch to pull it all together! Also, feel free to stir in your favorite plain or vanilla flavored protein powder to the batter for an even more satisfying meal.

I like to serve these pancakes with my HEALTHY homemade version of the pumpkin spice latte (pictured below) to make a completely satisfying breakfast. Recipe coming soon!

Gluten Free pumpkin pancakes

This meal is a great way to start your Saturday or Sunday off right before a day of Fall activities such as apple picking or football watching! Hope you all have a great weekend!

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Homemade Slow-Cooker Applesauce

slow cooker applesauce copy

Nothing beats homemade applesauce. Making it in the slow-cooker is extremely easy and your home will smell divine while the apples and cinnamon simmer all day long. Mmmm, the smell of fall. Plus, you can enjoy one of your childhood favorites without the preservatives!

To mix things up a bit, I like to use a variety of different apples when making this recipe. I used 10 apples (makes 4-5 mason jars); honey-crisp, granny smith and gala. Feel free to get creative and throw in your favorite apples!

APPLES

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About 2 hours in!
IMG_94281 hour left to go! The smell was amazing!

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Once the apples can be mushed with a spoon, transfer them to a blender or a food processor. Once you get the sauce to the consistency of your liking (I didn’t blend all of the sauce, only about 80% of it to leave some chunks in) pour it into jars or tupperware.

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It made 5 mason jars! So. Much. Apple. Sauce. I can’t wait to share it! Saucayy!

Ingredients

  • 10 medium apples (I used a combination of Granny Smith, Gala + Honey-crisp)
  • 1 cup water
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (feel free to add more or less depending on how sweet you like your applesauce!)

Instructions

  1. Rinse, peel, core, and slice the apples.
  2. Place the apples in the slow cooker. Add the water, lemon juice, cinnamon, maple syrup and brown sugar on top of the apples.
  3. Set slow cooker to high for 4 hours (or low for 6-7 hours), stirring occasionally. The apples will slowly turn into a wonderful sauce.
  4. To get the apple sauce to the consistency of your liking, transfer the apples to a food processor or blender once they are completely soft.
  5. Pour into mason jars and refrigerate for up to 1 week or serve immediately while it’s still warm!

– tnn

Greek Yogurt Strawnanaberry Bread

strawnanaberry bread cover 2

Mmm, who doesn’t love a delicious slice of banana bread? I am OBSESSED with it! I purposely don’t eat bananas so that they turn super ripe and brown — perfect for a delicious homemade bread! I decided to step it up a notch and create a recipe with tons of fruit. Bananas? Check. Strawberries? You betchya. Blueberries, too? What the heck! And if that doesn’t sound good enough…how about nixing the butter and throwing in some Greek yogurt to boost the protein? Hell yeah! Sign me up.

I do have to warn you, though. This bread is muuussssshyyyy. I personally love a slice of mushy banana bread — whenever I order Starbucks’ banana nut bread (I try not to, though. Those suckers are PACKED with calories, fat and sugar. The nutrition facts are scary!), I ask the barista to grab the mushiest slice because I’m weird like that. Anyway, back to my warning: this baby is muuusssshyyyyy. If you don’t care for the mushier breads, (cough, my boyfriend, cough) then this one probably isn’t for you. The greek yogurt and loads of fruit make it quite dense (and delicious)!

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Ingredients 

1 3/4 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (optional)
1/4 cup honey (or 1/2 cup brown sugar)
2 large ripe bananas (brown/yellow color)
2 organic brown eggs
6 ounces Chobani Strawberry Banana Greek Yogurt
1/2 cup diced strawberries*
1/2 cup blueberries*
Handful of walnuts (optional)
*Fruit can be fresh or frozen. If you go with frozen, make sure it is thawed before mixing it in.
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Start by combining flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, mash bananas with a fork until they are ooey-gooey
  3. Add eggs and honey…mix until smooth!
  4. Add greek yogurt
  5. Whisk until everything is well combined. I like to leave a few lumps to add more texture to the bread.
  6. Pour the dry ingredients slowly into the wet ingredients, and mix until JUST combined.
  7. SLOWLY fold in the strawberries, blueberries + walnuts (optional)
  8. Pour batter into a greased loaf pan (I use olive oil cooking spray) and distribute evenly.
  9. Bake for one hour, or until the top is golden brown/crispy and a toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Transfer to a cooling rack and try your very hardest to let the bread cool for at least ten minutes before digging in!

Yields 12 Slices (or 6 BIG slices 😉  )

Schmear some homemade almond butter (recipe coming soon) on top of your strawnanaberry bread and enjoy for breakfast (pictured above)!

-tnn