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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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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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

Buffalo Cauliflower Bombs

buffalo cauliflower bombs

I’ve been going through this weird phase lately where chicken is completely grossing me out. I can’t even bring myself to eat one of my favorite snacks…buffalo wings. So, I decided to hop on Pinterest to search for a recipe to get my buffalo fix.

I came across these “buffalo cauliflower bites”. At first I thought they sounded interesting but COMPLETELY weird all at the same time (if you’re not going to eat meat, don’t pretend to). Butttt, after flirting with the idea of making them for a few weeks, I decided to go for it. I adapted a few of the recipes on Pinterest to make a healthier version (coconut oil instead of butter, for example). They did not taste like chicken, but the spicy flavor and texture were pretty close to boneless wings (and, bonus! a TON healthier). I ate these bombs, with nothing else, for dinner. They were the bomb dot com.

buffalo cauliflower bombs

buffalo cauliflower bombs

buffalo cauliflower bombsbuffalo cauliflower bombs

Serves: 2-4 as an appetizer (or 2 if you’re eating it as a meal)

Ingredients
1 head of cauliflower

For the batter
– 1/2 cup flour (use whole wheat or gluten-free flour if you want to make it even healthier)
– 1/2 cup water
– Dash of Frank’s Wing Sauce
– 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

For the buffalo sauce
1/2 cup Frank’s Wing Sauce
2 Tablespoons coconut oil (room temperature)

Steps

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with tin foil and spray with non-stick spray (I use olive oil spray) and set aside.

Wash the head of cauliflower and cut into a variety of pieces (note: the smaller the pieces, the crispier they get. Yum!)

In a medium bowl, mix together the batter ingredients.

Dip each piece of cauliflower into the batter until fully and evenly coated. Place onto the prepared baking sheet.

Bake for about 15 mins./until the batter just hardens.

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In a small bowl, mix together the buffalo sauce ingredients.

Once the cauliflower is done, remove from the oven and dip in the buffalo sauce. Again, fully and evenly coat each piece.

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Put back into the oven and bake for 7-8 minutes, until the sauce has mostly dried and the cauliflower is crispy.

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Remove from the oven, let cool, then enjoy! Dip in ranch or blue cheese dressing!

Enjoy!

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p.s. My boyfriend and I recently purchased a home to run as a rental property. We closed last Thursday, so things have been super chaotic. I promise once we get the house ready to go I will be posting a ton more. The picture below just shows how hectic my life has been… hammering while the buffalo cauliflower bombs were in the oven (not recommended). New blogger + new home owner doesn’t mix that well!

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This Sh*t is Bananas “Ice Cream”

homemade Banana "ice cream"

Okay, guys. This Sh*t is actually bananas. So please, play some Gwen Stefani while you read this and drool…or, you could just listen to nails on a chalkboard. That works, too.

Ah, ice cream… now we’re speakin’ my love language. Ice cream is probably one of *the* biggest reasons that I run and juice. Sad, right? Well, if you eat ice cream 4 days/week (on average) like I do, you have to work for it SOMEHOW. Also, it probably doesn’t help that Aldi has by far *the* best selection of ice cream and it’s only 2 bucks and some change for a gallon. Anddddd queue “Highway to the Dangerzone” from Top Gun riiiiightttt now.

But, I digress…

Every now and again after a long run, I’ll blend frozen bananas as a delicious (and super sugary) post-run snack. It has the consistency of melting soft-serve ice cream, so I decided to freeze the blended bananas in a plastic container. A few hours later, I was in for a huge surprise… it tasted like ICE CREAM. Holy guacamole! Since then I’ve tried mixing in cocoa powder, peanut butter, and strawberries to create a variety of flavors. Again, I’m telling you this shit is bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

homemade Banana "ice cream" homemade Banana "ice cream"

Step 1: chop up 5 bananas and lay them out on a cookie sheet. Freeze over night.

homemade Banana "ice cream"homemade Banana "ice cream"

Step 2: throw the frozen nanners in the blender and blend. Note: you may need to push the bananas down towards the blade with a metal spatula or spoon while the blender is on (don’t use plastic…I’ve may have had a few chunks of plastic in my ice cream a time or two…). Also, you do not need a fancy schmancy blender to make this. I would normally use our Blendtec, but it was at my bf’s when I made this. I have a $30 blender and it worked just fine!

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Step 2.5 : if you want to make the chocolate banana ice cream, simply add a little bit of cocoa powder to the blender.

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Step 3: If you are more of a soft serve fan, eat the ice cream as soon as it is blended. Otherwise, if you’d rather it taste more like regular ice cream, pour it into a container and stick it in the freezer for a few hours (it will keep up to a week).

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Step 4: Indulge without the bulge. (And without the dairy! I’m allergic to dairy so this is a great treat without having to take 3+ lactose pills)

homemade Banana "ice cream"homemade Banana "ice cream"

homemade Banana "ice cream"

Enjoy!

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ps:

homemade Banana "ice cream"