Saturday, February 28, 2015

One Dozen Chocolate Chip Cookies

I finally had time to hang out with a friend who I had not seen in a long time. We have both been crazy busy with school and life in general, but I always enjoy spending time with her because she has lupus too so she knows the struggles. We were diagnosed within a few days of each other, kinda crazy right? What's even more crazy we didn't know we had the same doctor until after we were both diagnosed. Since I knew I was going to see her I wanted to bake her a treat. 

Normally I would try to do something fancy but I was short on time and didn't have time to make a run to the grocery store. I used what I had on hand to make her a dozen chocolate chip cookies. This recipe is great for one or two people because it doesn't make a full batch of 2-3 dozen cookies. I made sure to have taste testers before giving them to her, special thanks to my neighbors since I don't like sweets. 

One Dozen Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 1/2 cup and 1 tablespoon whole wheat, all purpose or gluten free all purpose flour would work too
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tin foil, parchment paper or a baking liner. If you use tinfoil spray a light coat of nonstick cook spray or coconut oil on it so the cookies do not stick.

In a mixing bowl combine flour, brown sugar, baking soda and sugar. 

Add in the wet ingredients- butter, egg yolk and vanilla extract. Mix until the batter is combined but do not over mix. 

Fold the chocolate chips into the batter.

Place the dough in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. Chilling the dough will prevent the cookies from being runny and spreading out.

After chilling drop about 1 tablespoon of dough on the cookie sheet. 

Bake cookies at 350 for 10-12 minutes. Check the cookies for doneness. The should be golden around the edges and on top. 

Allow cookies to fully cool before storing.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Dragon's Teeth Hike and a Whale Show

No matter how many times I come to Maui I fall more and more in love with it. I am an outdoors person. I love being outside, I love exploring and in Hawaii outdoor adventures abound! I literally don't think I could ever tire or be bored with this place. I was looking last night at jobs available on the islands. I still have a year of college, but it is something I am seriously considering (call me crazy I know). 

The other day I convinced my dad to go to Dragon's Teeth with me. It's a lava formation that looks like teeth because it's all jagged and pointy. It is really beautiful, but ridiculously hard to find because it's between the Ritz Carlton (which by the way is beautiful!) and residential homes. On a detour we ended up on the beach by the Ritz Carlton- seriously one of the most beautiful beaches and we had it to ourselves! I could stare at the beautiful ocean forever.

If you decide to go to Dragon's Teeth be prepared for a hike. I was a dummy and left my water bottle in the car (and my good shoes) because the map didn't say how long the trail was. The hike can be challenging at times because the path is so narrow and rocky. Beyond a doubt it is all worth it. I have hundreds of pictures from the hike because no matter which way you turned the view is breathtaking!

Call me nerdy but the lava formations fascinated me! It's so crazy to think all of Hawaii, much of which is lush green and beautiful beaches, was created by a volcano. It blows my mind!

Then while my mom and I were eating lunch a humpback whale and her calf were jumping. They put on a heck of a show that lasted upwards of 10 minutes! Whales are such beautiful creatures and so majestic to watch. 

I have a ton more adventures and whale pictures, but I will try not to overwhelm you with a zillion photos. Yesterday I checked out Iao Valley and I hope to post that adventure soon and I had the BEST acai bowl EVER! Please let me know if you have any suggestions of awesome places to explore or eat on Maui, I'd love know! 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Island Life

I am going to have a billion posts to write up when I get back, but I want to try to get some up while I am here. Maui is so beyond beautiful. Every day is a perfect day. Island life is so different from normal hectic life- it's definitely something I could very easily get used to. 

The warm weather is definitely helping my lupus pains. I have had almost no pain and it has been wonderful! My morning workouts have been even more glorious and I have been adding an additional walk to my normal weight lifting and cardio routine. This beautiful beach is at the end of one of the paths I like to walk. I don't think I could ever tire of views like this! 

I am not a snacker at all, but the other day I was really hungry in the middle of the afternoon. I have been a lot more active here because I am always swimming in the ocean or the pool, going on hikes and walking everywhere. Normally I would wait until dinner to eat, but dinner was still hours away so I made a refresher smoothie. 

Refresher Smoothie
  • 1/2 small banana
  • 1/2 cup small frozen strawberries
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 3 tablespoons Dannon Light and Fit vanilla greek yogurt

Add all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. 

You don't have to add in the greek yogurt, but it does make the smoothie thicker. This recipe makes a perfect single serving size smoothie. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Cinnamon Flax Scramble

Breakfast is beyond a doubt my favorite meal of the day. I just love breakfast food and I love experimenting to make new breakfast foods. 

Recently I have gotten into making healthy omelets. I posted a picture of this omelet awhile ago, but I hadn't yet posted the recipe so I wanted to get it up. It is delicious and topped with warm nut butter it is pure perfection! 

Cinnamon Flax Scramble
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
  • 1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 small banana, mashed
  • 3 tablespoons egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon honey or sweetener of choice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Spray a skillet with nonstick cook spray and heat to medium-low setting.

While skillet is heating in a bowl combine mashed banana, cinnamon, flax seed, honey, vanilla and egg whites. Stir until everything is well combined and not overly lumpy.

When the skillet is heated pour prepared mixture into pan. 

Cook the mixture like you would an omelette. You can flip it or stir it, but either way cook until the mixture is no longer runny. It should be lighter brown in color. 

When done place on a plate and scrambled it up with a fork or spoon.

I topped mine with the other half of the banana, a small handful of blueberries (around 1/8 cup) and 1 tablespoon of Wild Friends vanilla espresso almond butter. I wanted the almond butter to be warm and slightly melted so I heated it up for 30 seconds and drizzled it on top. Any nut butter or fruit would be delicious on top.

Nutrition (without toppings, single serving):
Nutrition Facts
Servings 1.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 126
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 0 g1 %
Saturated Fat 0 g0 %
Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg0 %
Sodium 79 mg3 %
Potassium 309 mg9 %
Total Carbohydrate 26 g9 %
Dietary Fiber 6 g25 %
Sugars 13 g
Protein 6 g12 %
Vitamin A1 %
Vitamin C11 %
Calcium12 %
Iron16 %

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Journey

Long flights give me the opportunity to catch up on my backlog of posts. At least that’s what I told myself anyway.

My first flight was short, only an hour and a half so I didn’t feel like dragging my laptop out. My second flight was four hours and by that time I had been up almost 24 hours with the time zone changes so I slept. On my third flight and I finally pulled out my laptop.

I don’t mind flying but last night was downright stressful. I had a connecting in Minneapolis/St. Paul but I only had 15 minutes between flights. Of course my first flight pushed back from the gate and there was a maintenance problem (just my luck). Fifteen minutes later I was starting to panic, I could not afford to get into Minn. late. We finally took off late and managed to land only a few minutes late.

I had a carry on suitcase, but the overhead bins were so small I had have it checked gate side. By the time I got my I had eight minutes to run from the beginning of terminal C to the middle of terminal F. No stress there right? I was literally running through the airport. When I reached terminal D a worker told me to get on the tram and it would get me to F faster, only problem was they told me to get on the wrong tram! It took me back to the beginning of C! I was in full-fledged panic and sprinted through the airport like a mad woman. I was hurling “excuse me’s” like no one’s business. I made it to my gate looking like I had run a marathon, but I made it. My section was almost finished boarding.

I got into LAX early, but our gate was occupied so we spent the next half hour driving around the airport until a gate could be found for us. By then I was exhausted and really just wanted a hot shower. I hoped on the hotel shuttle and finally got a shower and crashed into bed by midnight. I had four hours until my wake up call.

Thankfully I am planner so I had packed a quick breakfast. I had picked up a straw propeller gluten free single serving oatmeal cup, maple flavored, at Target and had a small banana with a Jif naturals on the go peanut butter container. The oatmeal was so delicious-definitely the best gluten free oatmeal I’ve had. I also had a cup of coffee because the hotel had a Keurig in the room. I HATE COFFEE but I needed something since I was running on so little sleep.

LAX security was pretty dead since it was so early. I made it to the gate with plenty of time to spare so I just chilled out. The last leg of the journey seemed to drag by but we finally landed in Maui! 

After finally getting unloaded and settled we headed out to pick up groceries. I don't like to constantly eat out. One it's crazy expensive and two I much rather make my own meals so I can put in everything I like. We did go out to dinner last night because after two long days of flying no one felt like cooking. 

Today is going to be a relaxing beach day. I have to do some research while I am here, but I am going to soak up every minute of warmth. The warm weather also brings much needed relief to my lupus pains. I think that is a viable excuse to move! 

I am off to enjoy my first workout in paradise! Have a great Saturday and aloha from paradise!  

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Adventure Time

Despite the bitter cold and wind it is a beautiful Thursday! The sun is shinning, the sky is bright blue, what could be better? I want to let you guys know this little birdie is about to embark on an adventure! I am beyond excited to get going, but have no fear I will be blogging throughout. I have recipes to share, plus I will be sharing local food, adventures and of course lots of photos! Be sure to follow me on instagram to catch all of the photos I will be sharing! I can't wait to share all of my experiences with you, but for now it's back to last minute packing before leaving for the airport. Any guesses where I will be going? Stayed tuned to instagram to find out :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Meal Prep: Salmon Salad

The cold weather can stop any time. I am not one to generally complain but this cold weather has been really really cold. Props to anyone from Boston or Maine I would have fled for California a long time ago. I tolerate snow but when its frigidly cold out not even my lupus medicine can stop the aching in my hands. Which is precisely why I plan on moving somewhere warm someday. 

I have been doing a decent amount of cooking and meal prepping recently. With a zillion things going on at the same time it can make healthy eating hard. Meal prep makes it a lot easier. Over the weekend I baked a few salmon fillets to have throughout the week. I have been loving having salmon in my salads recently. Not only does it pack a protein punch it also contains omega-3's which are great for your brain. 

This salad is my go to and definitely one of my favorites. All it is is 2 cups organic spring mix lettuce, a few slices of roma tomato, 2 red onion slices- separated, 1 4oz salmon fillet baked and seasoned with lemon and herb season and fish seasoning and topped with 1 tablespoon of feta cheese. Sometimes I will throw sliced almonds or walnuts in and dried cranberries are really good too. 

To keep the salad part from getting soggy I keep the prepared salmon in one container and the prepped salads in different containers. In the morning before I head out the door or if I am home for lunch I just take one salmon fillet chop it up, usually heat it up (if I can) and then throw it in the salad container. Add an apple or greek yogurt and you have a great healthy lunch that will prevent the 2pm crash! 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce

Happy Crockpot Monday once again! This freezing cold weather is way too cold for my liking, but it makes good crockpot weather. On the bright side of all this arctic weather is that once spring finally comes it will look like we all lost 40 pounds because we ditched all the layers! But really spring any time you want to show up would be great and the sooner the better!

I had a hankering for spaghetti last week so this week I made it in the crockpot. I know, I know crockpot spaghetti sounds weird and you'll probably think I am crazy by the end of this, but that is ok because it is yummy! I don't eat beef so I made it with ground chicken, you can definitely use ground beef or ground turkey, and since noodles are not an option I served it over spiralized zucchini noodles. For leftovers I cooked up spaghetti squash to have with it. 

This is not as thick as a traditional spaghetti sauce- I'm not a giant fan of super thick sauce. It's a super easy meal that is great for busy week nights and it's healthy! 

Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce
  • 1 lb ground chicken 
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 28 oz organic petite diced tomatoes
  • 6 oz organic no salt added tomato paste
  • 1.5 teaspoon minced garlic, or more to taste
  • 8 oz baby bella mushrooms
  • pepper to taste
  • dried basil to taste

Place all ingredients in the crockpot. It does not what order they go in or how you layer them.

Cover the crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.

Stir everything in the crockpot very well before serving. Serve over noodles of choice- I served mine over zucchini noodles and topped it with parmesan cheese. 

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. 

Nutrition per serving (serves 6, 1 serving= 1 cup):
MACROS: 13C/6F/18P
Nutrition Facts
Servings 6.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 178
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 6 g9 %
Saturated Fat 1 g7 %
Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 57 mg19 %
Sodium 216 mg9 %
Potassium 167 mg5 %
Total Carbohydrate 13 g4 %
Dietary Fiber 2 g9 %
Sugars 4 g
Protein 18 g37 %
Vitamin A18 %
Vitamin C18 %
Calcium4 %
Iron12 %

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Apple Chip Salad

When did my life get so crazy? I feel like face planting into my bed and staying there for the next week or so. I am slightly OCD and normally everything in the apartment is very neat and organized. Right now it looks like a bomb exploded. I'm half tempted to tell the landlord to bring in a bulldozer when I am at class, except I don't think the neighbors would appreciate that. 

There are piles of textbooks, notebooks, papers and lists everywhere. The apartment seriously needs a good scrubbing, but life has been so crazy I just haven't had time. Not to mention the back log of posts I have is rather extensive. The ability to pause time would be seriously amazing right now. I'll get off my soapbox now though.

Awhile back I shared a recipe for one of my favorite snacks, cinnamon apple chips. Apple chips are a good anytime snack in my opinion, but I love using them as salad toppers. Confession: the last batch of apple chips I made lasted less than 3 hours. Whoops. In that three hours this salad was made and quickly devoured. 

The salad is made of 2 cups organic baby lettuce, 1/2 vine ripe tomato cut into chunks, 1/8 cup avocado chunks, 1 hard boiled egg, 1/2 tablespoon crumbled feta cheese, 1/2 tablespoon organic dried cranberries, heaping 1/2 tablespoon coarsely chopped walnuts and 3 cinnamon apple chips. There may have been four, but in the process of assembling the salad one (or ten) may have been eaten... 

I do not like salad dressing so I did not use any. The natural sweetness of the apple chips was enough for me and I thought was a perfect addition to the salad. I am all stocked up on apples and will be making more apple chips this weekend!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Chicken Meatballs and Zucchini Pasta (with Crockpot Version)

Happy Meatball Monday! Wait what?! I know, it's not a Crockpot Monday today. I needed something different this week for my meals, but have no fear this can easily be made into a crockpot meal. 

It's strange to think I had never had a meatball before last fall, crockpot turkey meatballs were the first time I ever had meatballs. I love turkey meatballs (I don't eat beef), but I wanted to try something different. When I purchased my vegetable spiralizer I knew I had to make zucchini pasta and since I was trying new things I wanted to try "spaghetti" and meatballs, yes that is right I have never had spaghetti and meatballs before (my dad doesn't like spaghetti what can I say?). Instead of making turkey meatballs  I opted for chicken meatballs, also a first, and they turned out so good! 

The meatballs are made with almond flour and gluten free breadcrumbs and packed with flavor. They paired so well with the zucchini pasta that I am working on making my own homemade pasta sauce to complete the pair. The meatballs are not hard to make and they could be put in the crockpot- see note at end of recipe instructions for crockpot version. 

Chicken Meatballs
  • 1 pound lean ground chicken
  • 1/3 cup almond flour/meal
  • 1/8 cup gluten free breadcrumbs (or more almond flour)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • pepper, to taste
  • basil, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, tin foil or a baking mat. If you're using tin foil lightly spray tin foil with nonstick cook spray.

In a mixing bowl combine almond flour, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, olive oil, garlic, pepper, basil and egg. Mix until everything is well combined.

Add ground chicken into mixing bowl and stir to distribute breadcrumb mixture throughout.

When the chicken and breadcrumbs have been combined, use your hands and roll meat into 1-1.5 inch meatballs. 

Place formed meatballs on baking sheet and repeat with remaining meat. 

Bake meatballs at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. To check if meatballs are done slice the top open on one. There should be no pink and the tops of all the meatballs should be a golden color. If they're not done bake for an additional 3 minutes and check again.

I served my meatballs over zucchini pasta. I finally caved and bought a vegetable spiral slicer (so worth it!). I just fed the zucchini through it and it came out as noodles, which are totally delicious! 

*CROCKPOT VERSION- If you want to cook the meatballs in the crockpot place formed meatballs in crockpot. You can brown the meatballs on all side before putting them in the crockpot to seal in flavor, but you don't have to. Dice up 1/2 medium sweet onion and put it in crockpot with meatballs. Pour a 28 ounce jar of organic peeled and crushed tomatoes over meatballs. Cover crockpot and cook on low for 6-7 hours or high 3-4 hours. Serve meatballs over zucchini pasta. Store leftovers in refrigerator or freeze for later use. 

Nutrition for 1 meatball (based on 29 meatballs):
Nutrition Facts
Servings 29.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 36
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 3 g4 %
Saturated Fat 1 g3 %
Monounsaturated Fat 1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 19 mg6 %
Sodium 35 mg1 %
Potassium 2 mg0 %
Total Carbohydrate 0 g0 %
Dietary Fiber 0 g1 %
Sugars 0 g
Protein 4 g8 %
Vitamin A0 %
Vitamin C0 %
Calcium2 %
Iron2 %

*And a special shout out to my awesome brother for getting me the coolest oven mitt ever for Christmas! It's a cow and it's completely hilarious!