Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Almond Butter and Edible Arrangements

Wow these past few days have been busy! I've been helping my dad paint the living room and I rediscovered my hatred for home improvement. I don't think anything brings out emotion like home improvement, thank goodness that's over.

Yesterday morning I had a doctor appointment and I had to run to Kroger afterward to drop off a prescription. That's always a good excuse to browse their gluten free aisle in my books! Hard to believe, but I've never had almond butter before. I know some people who rave about how good almond butter is, so I found a single serving sample packet of almond butter and gave it a try. It was totally delicious! I spread it on flavored rice cakes and had it with my lunch.
So this morning when I had to run back to pick up the filled prescription I bought a jar of organic all natural almond butter.

Last night was another crazy night in the house. My mom is having foot surgery today, so I've been running around trying to do nine million things for her. I was exhausted by dinner time and did not feel like making anything elaborate. I kept it pretty basic with a salad.

In the salad is:
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1/3 cup iceberg lettuce
  • 1.5 cups fajita chicken
  • 1 hard boiled egg, sliced
  • 1/4 cup avocado 
  • 2/3 cup bell peppers- red, orange, and green
  • 4 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1 tablespoon dried tart cherries

For an after dinner treat I had some strawberries, red grapes, and chocolate covered granny smith apple slices from an edible arrangement bouquet. I'd never had granny smith apple slices covered in chocolate before, but I was pleasantly surprised. It is a bit different, but still delicious. 

Hang in there, it's halfway to the weekend! Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Gluten Free Chia Muffins

  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free all purpose baking flour
  • 1/2 cup gluten free oats
  • 3 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (check labels to ensure it's GF)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (check labels to ensure it's GF)
  • 2/3 cup blueberries- fresh or frozen (I used a combination of both)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons safflower oil
  • 1 cup milk, any kind
  • 2 bananas mashed- should equate to 1 cup

In a small bowl combine chia seeds and milk. Allow to sit and thicken. 

In a large mixing bowl combine dry ingredients first- GF flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.

Once the dry ingredients are mixed together add in the wet ingredients- egg, vanilla, safflower oil, mashed banana, and thickened milk/chia seed mixture. Make sure everything is completely mixed.

After a batter forms add in blueberries and chocolate chips. If you don't like blueberries strawberries work well too and are just as good! 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin tin with aluminum tins- DON'T USE PAPER TINS! The batter is sticky and makes getting the paper tins off muffins a nightmare. So unless you feel like eating paper do yourself a favor and us aluminum! 

Pour batter into tins. It will make 12 large muffins, or 18 smaller muffins.

Bake at 375 degrees for 18 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into a muffins comes out clean. 

These muffins freeze great! I usually make a giant batch to keep me a couple weeks. If you're going to freeze the muffins allow them to cool completely and then place in a gallon ziploc bag or airtight container in the freezer. Just remember to peel off aluminum muffin tin before microwaving! 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Pineapple Chicken Skewers and Roasted Vegetables

Dinner has never smelt so good! I thought maybe I was just extra hungry from my run, but when my dad- aka the pickiest eater ever- said dinner smelt good I knew I had done something right.

Chicken skewers are one of my favorite foods. There is so much you can do with them and it's really hard to go wrong or mess them up. While my mom went and had dinner with a group of friends I took charge and made a healthy dinner for my dad and I. It's hard to go wrong with pineapple chicken skewers and roasted veggies, even for a picky eater like my dad.

Roasted Vegetables
  • 8-10 baby red potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 red, 1 yellow, and 1 orange bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 green zucchini, sliced
  • 1 yellow zucchini, sliced
  • 3.5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons organic low sodium chicken broth
  • pinch of garlic or garlic salt
  • pinch of pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and spray with nonstick cook spray.

In a large mixing bowl toss cut potatoes and vegetables in olive oil. Make sure all vegetables get coated in olive oil.

Then toss in garlic/garlic salt and pepper and mix again.

Evenly spread vegetables out on baking sheet.

Bake for 30 minutes. Take out and stir. Bake for an additional 25 minutes.

Pineapple Chicken Skewers
  • 1 cup fresh mango, sliced
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple chunks
  • 1 teaspoon gluten free low sodium teriyaki sauce
  • 1.5 teaspoons brown sugar
  • pack of 3 or 4 chicken breasts
  • additional 1 cup pineapple chunks
  • 1 red and 1 green bell pepper, cut into chunks
  • 4 or 5 kabob sticks

In a blender blend together 1 cup pineapple, mango, and teriyaki sauce. Blend until smooth.

After blending stir in brown sugar.

Cut chicken breasts into chunks and place in medium sized mixing bowl. Pour pineapple, mango, teriyaki, and brown sugar blend over chicken and stir together. 

Using the kabob sticks assemble chicken, pineapple, and green and red peppers in whatever order you choose. I made some skewers just pineapple and chicken, others pineapple, chicken, and bell peppers, and some just bell peppers and chicken.

Line a pan with tin foil. Place assembled kabobs sticks in pan. If desired you can pour the extra pineapple, mango, teriyaki, and brown sugar blend over kabob sticks in pan or you can pitch it.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until the chicken is done. Make sure to check several pieces of chicken as not all chunks of meat on the kabob are cut evenly. The juices will run clear when the chicken is done.

I turned the roasting vegetable baking sheet sideways and stuck the kabobs in the oven at the same time. 

Place any leftovers, either vegetables or kabobs, in an airtight container and in the refrigerator. Leftovers heat up in the microwave or oven great! 

*Tip for heating up in oven. Pour a little bit of low sodium chicken broth over kabob/vegetables before heating up in oven to retain moisture.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Delayed Easter, Running, and Food

What a weekend it's been! Phew, so many recipes to post from this weekend. I gotta get cracking this week to get them all up for you, good thing the semester is over!

First up, on Saturday my mom made a delayed Easter dinner for me since I wasn't able to be home on Easter. Most people I know have ham for Easter, but our Easter wasn't a traditional dinner, mostly because I am not a big fan of ham. I forgot to take pictures of the food- sorry! My mom made roasted turkey breast, red potatoes, a veggies plate with an assortment of bell peppers, cucumber, and carrots, and I made roasted asparagus (click for the recipe). 

I had decorated Easter eggs on Friday and they turned out pretty ok I thought. One of the tips I thought I'd pass along is instead of trying to punch out the holes on the back of the egg dying kit use a muffin pan and toss paper liners in them. Instead set a wet egg in the muffin pan and it will dry way faster and the paper lines make clean up a breeze (AKA- It's mom approved!).

Today I finally got back to pounding the pavement and went for a three mile run. I have to get back in the groove training for the upcoming 10k. I was lazy and took two days off working out after moving back home, but I felt sluggish without working out. It felt great to be out running again. I also did something I haven't done before, I went running without headphones. It was so peaceful to not think about anything other than pushing forward and enjoying the moment.

After running I don't like to eat right away. Instead I showered, helped me dad around the house, and then whipped up a big bowl of oatmeal. I used:

-3/4 cup gluten free oats 
-1/2 cup light and fit vanilla greek yogurt
-a kiwi 
-a few sliced strawberries 
-1/2 sliced banana
-handful of blueberries. 

I love loading up my oatmeal with fruit. It makes the oatmeal delicious and satisfies my sweet tooth.

My mom went and had dinner with a group from our church, so I made my dad tropical chicken skewers with roasted vegetables. I will post that recipe tomorrow. For dessert I made a healthy chocolate milkshake, I will post that later too.

Phew, that was a LOT. I didn't want to make the post a mile long, so I will post the other recipes tomorrow. Enjoy the last few hours of the weekend!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Power Protein Salad

Here is the salad post I promised last night! The chicken, hard boiled egg, and avocado make the salad rich in protein helping to keep you full longer, and the dried cherries give the salad a sweet kick.

  • 1 1/3 cup baked chicken sprinkled with fajita seasoning
  • 2.5 cups deep green blend- blend of kale, baby spinach, romaine lettuce
  • 1/3 cup red pepper, sliced
  • 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup avocado, sliced
  • 1/4 cup baby carrots, sliced
  • 1 hard boiled egg, sliced
  • 3 heaping tablespoons shredded Mexican cheese
  • 2 tablespoons dried cherries

If you want the cheese to be slightly melted, once the salad is assembled sprinkle cheese on top and microwave for 15-20 seconds.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Home Sweet Home

It's officially the weekend and the semester is OVER! Finals are over, I'm back home for the summer and I could not be happier. I was wired from finishing my last two finals yesterday and driving home so I didn't get much sleep last night, but that did not stop me from jumping back into the kitchen today!

Because of finals I wasn't able to go home for Easter or do any of the traditional Easter festivities with my family. My mom is awesome though and said we'd have a delayed Easter once I got home. This morning I got to color eggs like I was a kid again, although I'm pretty sure I ended up with more of the dye on me than on the eggs. I think the eggs turned out pretty ok! I will post more about our delayed Easter dinner this weekend.

After dying Easter eggs I whipped up a batch of granola to munch on and I played with Cora. She never complains about getting extra attention! Cora was also helped me sort through some of my boxes this afternoon.

I made a delicious salad for dinner loaded with protein. I will make a post listing what is in the salad in a bit. 

Finally to round out the day I made gluten free chia muffins- I will also get the recipe up this weekend. With all baking the house has smelt heavenly today!

I'm off to relax and get to bed early, between the moving and all of today's festivities I'm exhausted! Enjoy your Friday night and check back this weekend for the recipes!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Finals Week

I am slowly going stir crazy. I hate having my finals so spread out, I'd rather take them all in one day and be done! My first final this week wasn't until today at four, and don't get me wrong I've been studying hard, but you can only study for so long before you just lose it.

I think it's safe to say I have lost it. I have packed up everything I possibly could, repacked, stared at what I had packing trying to think if I could pack anything else, and studied my brains out. I have also started making lists of foods I want make once I'm home. I have a few recipes I can't wait to test out on my family- especially since my dad is the pickiest eater EVER. He's a meat and potatoes man. I'm going to try to get him like healthier foods and maybe even gluten free foods.

Anyways, after my final this afternoon/evening I got back and was hungry for dinner. I had leftovers of crockpot teriyaki chicken. I heated it up and threw it over a salad I picked up at the grocery store. I topped it with a bit of taco cheese, mostly because I am trying to clear out the fridge without wasting anything. 

In the salad is:
-2 cups mixed greens
-shredded carrots
-cherry tomatos
-sliced red cabbage
-2 tablespoons taco cheese
-1 cup shredded teriyaki chicken, heated up in excess liquid (then poured over salad)

I didn't use any dressing. I used some of the extra sauce that I had stored in the container as a dressing. It was sweet and made the salad delicious. 

The only thing getting me through this week is knowing that once I finish my last exam on Thursday I am a free woman! It will be summer and I can head home to see my family and Cora!

Have a great night and check back soon! I will be posting tips on how to make a moving to and home from college easy, affordable gifts for Mother's Day, and of course more gluten free recipes. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Crockpot Teriyaki Chicken

Happy Crockpot Monday! I am back in action with another crockpot meal for you. Finals week is a perfect week to use the crockpot. Heating up food is much easier than fretting over trying to make something. 

I kept this weeks meal very basic. There is only a few ingredients and I already had everything on hand and it only took a minute to throw it all together.

You will need:
  • pack of chicken breasts- I used chicken tenderloins (If you use frozen chicken breasts the cook time does not change and you don't have the thaw the chicken before putting it in crockpot)
  • 1/2 cup gluten free teriyaki sauce
  • 1/4 cup gluten free soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup organic low sodium chicken broth
  • OPTIONAL: 1 tablespoon, or 1 clove, minced garlic 
  • OPTIONAL: 1/4 cup brown sugar, loosely packed- with or without it the meal is delicious

Put chicken breasts in crockpot.

In a large bowl stir together teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, chicken broth, garlic, and brown sugar, if you're including those. 

Once all ingredients are combined pour mixture over chicken. Make sure all chicken breasts are evenly coated. If needed use a fork to flip chicken over to get both sides coated.

Cover and cook on low for 5 hours or high for 3-4 hours. Check chicken to make sure it is fully cooked before serving.

Shred chicken with a fork before serving. Serve over rice or quinoa.

Store in an airtight container with excess liquid, to keep moist and retain flavor, for up to a week.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Asian Quinoa Salad

Ah, the sweet smell of spring- well minus the allergy part it is a sweet smell. With finals next week leftovers are a glorious thing. I had made asian peanut salad earlier last week and had just enough leftovers for one more meal.

I heated up leftovers and threw it over mixed greens for a salad. I also added 1/3 cup of quinoa into the mix for added protein. Plus quinoa with the peanut oil sauce tastes amazing! Check out the link for the recipe to the asian peanut salad.

For the quinoa I cooked 1 cup in organic low sodium chicken broth, to give it some flavor, according the package instructions. Most brands of quinoa vary in cook time or the instructions are different, so be sure to check before cooking it.

Once I had my salad thrown together I topped it with some asian rice noodles, found in the international aisle of the grocery store. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Welcome to Finals Week (and how to survive it)

Ah finals week. Did you just mentally cringe reading that? It's ok I may have too. 

Finals are a stressful time and there is a lot riding on those tests. Heck sometimes finals are worth half of your grade. Personally I think it's ridiculous to have finals in the first place, especially when I have been tested all semester long. Whatever, I don't make the rules I just have to follow them.

I thought I'd pass along a few tips that I have learned that have helped make finals less stressful, and I thought I'd throw in some funny images to help make the topic less painful.

1. Time management! Managing your time well is crucial to doing well on finals. Trust me I know most college students are professional procrastinators, but I have learned how to beat the procrastination tendency. I simply don't procrastinate. Make a list of all the subjects you have to study for. Plot out time during the day to study for each of the classes and stick to your schedule. If you don't want to make a schedule then just make a list for every day and cross items off as you go. As you begin to cross off items you will feel accomplished and like you're not wasting your time.

2. Do not go out and party the weekend before finals. I don't party to begin with, but I do know it's tempting to go out with friends because you won't see them all summer. However, it is in your best interest to not go out. It wastes a lot of time that you could have used for studying. 

3. Do take time to relax. I know this semi contradicts the last point, but you cannot study 24/7. Even if passing a class depends on this final don't study all day. Cramming is not going to help you learn the material. Every 30-45 minutes take a break from studying. Get up, take a walk, get a drink of water, do something to give your brain a rest. Studying takes a lot of energy so giving yourself a break will help you focus better and retain the material better.

4. Don't neglect personal hygiene. This seems like a DUH moment, but I have seen some pretty greasy looking people come out of the library during finals week. It's good to spend a lot of time studying, but for the sake of other people take ten minutes out of your day and take a shower. And please brush your teeth. Thank you. From all of us.

5. Do not freak out. Freaking out about how much you have to do won't accomplish anything. Be organized, make a list of what you have to do and do it. When it comes time to take the test don't panic. Know that you studied hard and are prepared.

6. If you didn't learn the material the first time around you probably aren't going to learn it now. I realize how crazy this concept is, but if you weren't responsible enough to show up to class for the semester and learn the material then the only one you screwed is yourself. Cramming is not going to help here.

7. Review old tests and quizzes. Most professors I've had take questions for the final from old quizzes or test they've given. It's an easy way for them to write the exam with minimal effort put in and it helps me because I was already tested on the material and know the answer. 

8. Get enough sleep. Getting 7 to 8 hours sleep a night is so important. Sleeping gives your body a chance to rest and repair itself. Not getting enough sleep weakens your immune system making you more susceptible to getting sick, which no one wants to be sick during finals week. Going to bed early isn't fun, but it will pay off. Enough sleeps keep your attention focused and your mind sharp so you can go forth and conquer finals!

9. Exercise. Working out is a great thing for your brain and body. It gives you a chance to destress. Sitting all day is not good for your body or health. Even taking a twenty minute walk will improve your mental abilities and will help you feel refreshed.

10. Eat healthy. Food is fuel for you body. Don't fuel your body with sugars and loads of carbs during exam week. I know it may be tempting to grab the microwave macaroni for dinner but making a salad or eating fruit or sautéed chicken and veggies is better for you. Plus when you eat healthy you feel better and you definitely want to feel your best during finals. If you're crammed for time make a giant meal the night before finals week (hello crockpot!) and heat up leftovers over the course of the week. I have TONS of healthy, easy, and large serving size meal ideas in my recipe index so check it out.

11. Cramming is a bad idea. It will give you headaches. Don't do it. Period. 

12. Don't wait until the night before to study. You won't learn the material and you won't retain the material. It's just as bad as not studying at all. Study ahead of time and you will thank yourself when you're taking the exam. 

13. Contrary to popular belief your professor is not out to ruin your life. Professors are paid to be there for students so use them! Ask lots of questions about things you don't understand or even think you're unclear about. You pay to sit in their classroom so ask questions. Utilize their office hours. Their office hours are designed for you to go to and ask questions. Most professors like when students come and ask questions or want advice. I can't tell you how many times professors I've had finished telling or explaining to me what I needed and then launched into a story. Honestly I think professors get lonely during their office hours. Put your tuition dollars to work and go to their office hours!

14. Find a good place to study. Not everyone can study in their apartments because they will get distracted. Others can't study at the library because there is too much going on. Study where you will be the most productive. If it's in your bedroom do it there or if it's at the library do it there. Finals are all about you so do what works best for you. 

15. On exam day allow yourself plenty of time to get ready and the get to class. Sometimes the unexpected happens so be prepared. Above all do not freak out. And do not freak out when you are handed the exam. (Hopefully) you studied and studied hard so you will know the material. Take a deep breath and relax. Don't rush yourself through the exam and don't base your progress on how fast everyone else is getting done. Work at your own pace and do your best work. 

16. You can and will survive finals! And you will do a good job too! Finals week is stressful, but at the end of it you're done and you're free. Don't fret about what answer you may have gotten wrong, let it go. When you are done with your last exam step outside, enjoy the sweet sunshine on your face, and breathe in the sweet smell of freedom!!

This will be you after finals.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Healthy Asian Peanut Chicken Salad

Maybe it's the ants in my pants or all the snot in my head (the joys of being sick), but I just did not feel like breaking out the crockpot today. GASP! I know it's crockpot Monday, but it wasn't in me today. I do still have a great recipe to share with you though!

Have you ever had an Asian salad with peanut sauce? Totally delicious, but the nutrition facts aren't quite so amazing. I had a hankering for an Asian salad, so I threw together my own peanut sauce. It still tastes amazing, I promise you won't be able to tell the difference, but it's way healthier. 

You will need:
  • 1/4 cup low sodium, gluten free soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/2 cup PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter
  • pack of chicken breast tenderloins
  • vegetables of choice, I used 1 bell pepper and broccoli- snap peas, shredded carrots, and any kind of onion are really good in the mix too.
  • Optional: top with a heaping tablespoon of chopped peanuts

Spray a skillet with nonstick cook spray. Heat to a medium-high heat.

Sauté the chicken until it is thoroughly cooked through. Flip so chicken can evenly cook on both sides. When the juices run clear it is done. 

As the chicken is cooking in a bowl combine soy sauce, PB2, rice vinegar, honey, lime juice, and water. Stir until there are no chunks of PB2 remaining. 

Shred cooked chicken and set aside.

Turn the heat down to a low setting. In the same skillet, respray with cook spray so nothing will stick, sauté the veggies until lightly browned. 

Once the veggies are browned, add the chicken back in and pour in the peanut sauce. Use a spatula to gently toss around the vegetables and chicken making sure everything is coated with peanut sauce. 

After everything is coated remove from stovetop (be sure to turn the stovetop off!) serve over a blend of mixed greens. Or serve over quinoa, rice, or rice noodles. 

Nutrition per serving (not including what the recipe is served over):
Calories: 226
Carbs: 14
Fat: 5 grams
Protein: 31 grams
Sodium: 556 mg
Sugar: 9 grams

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Not So Funday

Today has not been a Sunday Funday. I've spent most of the day in bed sick. It's always a great to get sick the week before finals. Sigh. I am praying that this passes quickly- if anyone has any tips on how to get over a cold quickly please share!

I've had no appetite today, but I have forced myself to eat. It hasn't been pleasant though because my stomach has been upset. I really did not feel like eating dinner, but my mom texted me and suggested I eat scrambled eggs and oatmeal, so I did. 

I had two scrambled eggs and 2/3 cup oatmeal.

With my oatmeal I mixed in 1/2 a banana, 1/3 cup blueberries, and a kiwi- I'm hoping the added Vitamin C will help me beat this nasty cold.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and watch out for germs!