Meatless Monday: Curry Chickpea Patties

Hey y’all! Hope you had a great weekend!

I have a serious case of the Mondays today…like we’re talkin hit the snooze button 4 times, get out of bed, take a shower, then get back into bed until the last possible second kind of case of the Mondays.

Before I send you guys off to my delicious recipe, I’ll share a couple of quick photos from the weekend – it was a great one!

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I kicked Saturday off with a long FAST run that was cut short – I was running late [no pun intended, har har!] for ultimate frisbee practice and really had to pee, so instead of running home I just stopped at Yvette’s place and we shot over to practice frisbee with our team!

Later that evening, Kristin and I represented Team America at the Beer Olympics! I didn’t do great at most any of the events, but it was still a fun time — I think our Chuck Norris trucker hats at least gave us spirit points!

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If Saturday was about sports, Sunday was about FOOD! Scott hosted brunch and Yvette found a recipe for French toast roll ups (stuffed with strawberries and Nutella) that was a Pinterest win!

Then I grabbed a Lyft to my parents’ neighborhood to see Alex, who was in town from NYC. We all BBQ’ed and he made me a bacon-wrapped hot dog. Score! Also, Mike & I had a photoshoot because we realized that our hair is currently the same length. #twinsies!

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ANYWAY, after a weekend of lots of activity, but also lots of indulgence, I always crave healthy clean eats to get my system re-energized. That’s why I’m bringing you a Meatless Monday post today!

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These curry chickpea patties are SO flavorful, and they’re healthy to boot! Lots of protein and fiber in these guys. Plus the leftovers are perfect for reheating and bringing for lunch — see above 😉

However, to get the recipe, you’ll have to shoot over to Becky’s blog, where I’m guest posting today!

Do you bring your lunch to work? What’s your favorite tip for avoiding eating out?

 

Mango-Macadamia Granola Bars

So it’s no secret that since I’ve started eating “healthy” – or whatever – I’ve become a breakfast eater.

My breakfast game was at its all time peak during my couple of months of unemployment late last year when I got to make breakfast at home every morning. Toast, eggs, cheese and salsa, yessssss #allthethings

HOWEVER, that’s unfortunately not the norm. I usually eat Greek yogurt and a little somethin’ somethin’ on the side. What that somethin’ somethin’ entails changes from week to week… I have made skinny muffins. I’ve made protein muffins. I love muesli…and I even made muesli bars.

For this week’s What I Ate Wednesday, I’m sharing what I’ve been eating for breakfast lately:

The past few weeks, I’ve been eating homemade granola bars!

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You’ll notice that, unlike my other breakfast muffins and bars, there is no “skinny” or “protein” in the title of this recipe.

That’s not to say they aren’t healthy! Made primarily of oats, uncooked quinoa, and flaxseed, they’re leaps and bounds better than any processed bar you’ll find in the supermarket. Plus they have a LOT less added sugar (only 3 tbsp of honey for the entire batch!).

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But they’ve also got a fair amount of nut butter…and chocolate.

The point of these granola bars isn’t that they’re low cal, or fat free. It’s that they are full of nutrient dense foods that are good for you, and some healthy fats that make them DELICIOUS.

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Plus, mango + macadamia nuts + coconut = tropical summer vacation. Am I right?

Mango-Macadamia Granola Bars
adapted from Cooking Light’s Cranberry-Pistachio Energy Bars
makes 9 bars

1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/4 cup quinoa, uncooked
1/4 cup dried mango, chopped
1/3 cup chopped macadamia nuts
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut, shredded or flaked
1/4 cup flaxseed meal (or just grind up flaxseed!)
1 oz chocolate (chips or chunks)
1/4 cup almond butter or peanut butter
3 tbsp honey
1/2 tbsp coconut oil

Note: This is an extremely flexible recipe. I’ve also made it with pepitas and dried cranberries. Use whatever kind of dried fruit, nuts, nut butter, or oil you want!

Preheat oven to 350* F. Arrange oats and uncooked quinoa on a baking sheet and bake until slightly toasted and starting to brown, about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Meanwhile, combine mango, macadamia nuts, coconut, chocolate and flaxseed meal. Once cooled, add oats and quinoa.

In a stovepot, mix nut butter, honey, and coconut oil. Heat to a boil, whisking constantly. Boil for 1 minute and add to oat/nut/coconut mixture. Add to a greased 8×8 inch pan and bake at 350*F for 12 minutes, or until starting to brown.

Let cool before cutting into 9 squares. Eat at room temperature or cooled…the squares will keep for 1 week in the fridge!

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What is your breakfast go-to?

New Obsession: MixMyOwn Muesli

Did you eat breakfast daily as a kid?

My brother and I sat at the table and eat cereal every morning throughout my childhood. Usually it was something “healthy”, (are Frosted Flakes considered healthy? 😛 ), but every so often we’d get treated to Lucky Charms or Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Unfortunately, Cookie Crisp never found its way into our pantry. Thanks a LOT, Mom!

When I hit high school and started taking a 7am zero period sophomore year (which I then continued, in addition to a full course schedule, through senior year…seriously, who was I?!), breakfast took the back burner. As anyone in my family can tell you, it takes a lot to get me out of bed in the morning, and I usually prefer to set the alarm as late as humanly possible, then rush out the door. I need my maximum possible amount of sleep!

As you can imagine, the no-breakfast habit continued into college for the most part. My meal plan included 14 meals per week, which allowed for lunch and dinner every day. Sometimes I’d treat myself to breakfast at the dining commons and grab lunch at a cafe on campus, but I by no means ate breakfast regularly.

In France, my breakfasts were usually a coffee and chocolate covered gaufre (waffle) from the vending machine at the university that I snacked on during class. (Oh my god, I miss those!) When I lived in an apartment senior year, my breakfast usually consisted of some kind of chocolatey Pop Tart, or a Luna bar.

Long story short: I had a very unhealthy relationship with breakfast for a long time 😉 Suddenly, I no longer wonder how I weighed nearly 20 pounds more than I do now just 3 years ago when I graduated!

When I moved home after college, to deal with being unemployed and bored, I got myself into a little routine: I started each day with a small breakfast and a workout, followed by a bigger breakfast/lunch. I forced myself to like bananas, because they were the easiest pre-work out breakfast option.

Nearly 3 years later, I can’t remember the last time I didn’t eat breakfast. During the colder months, I eat a lot of oatmeal. During the summertime, I usually have Greek yogurt and some kind of granola bar. This summer’s obsession was toast + Laughing Cow wedges. But when I went to Blend Retreat back in May, I tried overnight oats for the first time made with muesli…and I was hooked. It was basically like cold oatmeal, but tasted soooo much better than that sounds 🙂

In the middle of my recent toast and Laughing Cow breakfast kick, I was contacted by Klara from MixMyOwn Healthy Breakfast, who offered me a free sample of their product. Fresh out of muesli (thus the reason for the toast and Laughing Cow kick!), I jumped at the opportunity. MixMyOwn has a few muesli mixes they create themselves, but the coolest thing about the site is that you can create your own cereal/granola/muesli! And what really appealed to me was that they use all natural ingredients:

By offering nearly 100 responsibly chosen ingredients, including a variety of 100%
natural, unprocessed, organic, non-GMO, preservative free and sugar-free options,
MixMyOwn provides an alternative to processed cereals and snacks.

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So I went to work and Mixed My Own personal muesli…and it was amazing!

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I had no idea where to start…just check out all these options:

“A customer can choose from 31 types of dried fruits including 13 types of freeze-dried fruits, 20 types of nuts and seeds, and other healthy ingredients to add to the bases.

MixMyOwn offers 8 premixed breakfasts, as well, including: Kids Mix, Fitness Mix, Gluten-free Mix, Antioxidant Mix, Tutty Nutty, Very Berry, Strawberry Almond Mix, and Classic Mix, and even these can be adjusted to suit the customer’s unique needs”

I knew I wanted to make my own, rather than going for a premix. So I decided to go for a tropical theme! In addition to oats and various grains, I added: flaked coconut, dried mango, dried papaya, chia seeds, macadamia nuts, and because I still had a little bit of extra $ left, I splurged on a vanilla bean.

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Oh my gawwwd. SO good. I love the variety of textures, and you could tell that all the ingredients were high quality. I’m glad I went with the coconut (even though I’m not a huge fan)… I have always disliked shredded coconut, but I’m now sold on flaked coconut!

I also love that they include the nutrition stats for your mix:

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Look how low in sugar it is! Just 2.5g! I mix about one serving/half a cup of muesli with a cup of almond milk and a few more chia seeds, store it in the fridge overnight, and VOILA! Amazing breakfast.

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I definitely recommend trying out MixMyOwn! Especially if you’re picky about your oats 🙂

PLUS from now until the end of September you can get 20% off your order with the code HEALTHYBREAKFAST. Perfect timing, since I’m about to run out of my mix!

As I mentioned, I received my MixMyOwn mix free of charge…However, all opinions are my own!

What’s your go-to breakfast?

If you eat oatmeal/overnight oats, what’s your favorite combo of ingredients?

Meatless Monday: Zucchini-Corn Fritters

Labor Day is the worst.

For me, it has always marked the end of summer. No more pool days, no more white pants, goodbye 9pm sunsets, goodbye barbeques!

I have had an epic weekend, however, which I will share pictures of tomorrow. Wine, grape stomping, college friends, Sunday Funday, Nutella…If I have to say bye to summer, I might as well send it off right…right?

These past few years, I’ve also begun to love summer produce. Tomatoes have always been one of my most hated foods…but between the months of June and September, I find myself popping fresh cherry tomatoes like candy. Every meal is accompanied by corn on the cob, and I can’t remember the last stir fry I made that didn’t involve zucchini.

Luckily for us in California we get summer produce year round! For a price 😉

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This summer, I’ve been trying to perfect the zucchini fritter. It’s such an easy Monday night meal – there’s minimal prep needed; just scoop together a bunch of veggies and fry ’em up! My ratio was always off, though…too wet, too crumbly, etc. Last week, I finally hit my sweet spot and they turned out delicious! But really, who doesn’t like fried food?

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So make these tonight, make them next week or next month, and enjoy the lingering produce of summer!

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Unfortunately I learned that taking pictures of food isn’t super easy to do with a cast on your thumb…haha.

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#epiclyblurryfoodphotos

Zucchini-Corn Fritters
loosely based on Zucchini Fritters by smitten kitchen

makes 4 fritters

1 medium zucchini
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped basil (fresh) or 1 tsp basil (dry)
1/2 cup corn, removed from cob
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder (optional)
oil, for frying

Shred zucchini with a box grater or, if you’re smart and lazy, a grater attachment on your food processor. Place in a strainer and sprinkle salt over the shredded zucchini. Let stand for 10-15 minutes, then using a clean towel or thick paper towels, wring out all the excess water. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

To the lump of zucchini, add salt, pepper, basil, corn, and egg and mix. Add flour and baking powder and combine until well incorporated.

Heat about a tablespoon (or more if desired) of oil over medium-medium high heat. One at a time, scoop blobs of zucchini batter into the pan. Let cook for about 3-4 minutes, or until brown, then carefully flip to the other side. Once it’s on the other side, you can flatten it out a bit so it has a fritter shape. Let cook on the other side for another 3 minutes and remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Serve immediately!

Meatless Monday: Vegan “Caprese” Pizza

If you follow me on Instagram/Twitter/Facebook you probably saw this picture on Friday:

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I went to the store after work intending to buy white wine and avocados (standard Katie-Essentials) and somehow 2 bottles of kombucha and a tray of tofu found their way into my basket (um, not so standard Katie-Essentials). Most normal people, when strolling through the grocery store, will pick up “impulse purchases” like chocolate….cookies…chips…

Me? I’ve apparently gotten to a level of healthy blogger status that my impulse purchases are tofu and kombucha. Really…who am I?!

As far as the kombucha goes, I’m trying to incorporate more non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated beverages into my diet. I realized when filling out that Healthy Living Survey on Friday that the only drinks I consume on a regular basis are water, tea, wine & beer. Whenever I sit down to read blogs or watch my TV shows in the evening, I often pour myself a glass of wine out of boredom more than anything else. Apparently, I can’t just sit and watch tv – I need to be sipping on something! I figure kombucha is a healthy alternative, since I don’t drink soda or juice.

The tofu though…I can’t really explain. I guess I was just buying it as an experiment and a challenge, since I’ve never cooked with it before. I also might have been inspired by Becky’s BBQ Tofu Pizza. 🙂

I am actually often not a fan of tofu. I used to actually pick out the slimy pieces of tofu in my miso soup as a kid, the slippery texture really freaked me out. However, I’ve challenged myself to figure out a way to cook it in a way that I like, and I’ve discovered it’s actually really easy!

My first trial involved the stove and I tried sauteing it in a stir fry – not so great.

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My second try was a success, and made its home on this pizza. I decided to let tofu stand in for the more traditional mozzarella cheese and call this baby a caprese pizza! It does have all the other traditional ingredients – giant tomatoes from my boss’s garden, and a kick of basil in the [cheeseless] pesto. I drizzled a little balsamic on top and voila! Vegan pizza.

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Baking the tofu in the oven gives it a nice crispy exterior and an all-around firm texture. Plus, it’s a perfect meal for one that will be ready in less than 30 minutes. Winner winner chicken tofu dinner?

Vegan “Caprese” Pizza
serves 1
inspired by Becky’s BBQ Tofu Pizza

1 whole wheat tortilla or pita
2-4 tablespoons vegan pesto (I whipped one up that did not include cheese)
2-3 slices tomato (about 1/4-1/2 inch thick)
5 oz extra firm tofu, cubed (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Begin by preparing your tofu – preheat oven to 375F and grease a baking sheet. Place tofu on baking sheet (if you’d like to roast the tomatoes, you can add them too) and bake for 20 minutes, flipping all the pieces once halfway through.

Meanwhile, prepare your pesto (if making yourself) and the balsamic drizzle. Heat balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and boil for about 5-10 minutes, until it becomes syrupy and reduces in size by almost half. Remove from heat and set aside until needed.

Place tortilla in oven for last few minutes of baking the tofu. Remove the tortilla and tofu (slash tomato) and start assembling: spread pesto on the tortilla, and top with tomatoes and tofu. Drizzle with balsamic glaze. Cut into slices and eat like a pizza, or just dig in!

Have you ever cooked with tofu?

Peel’d Juice Cleanse Day 3 + Recap

Hello from foggy San Francisco!

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I finally escaped the wicked heat of Sacramento and escaped to the permanently chilly City by the Bay for a quick day and a half. I hope you all had a safe 4th of July- mine involved BBQing in the park with my friend Meghan and her law school friends, then reminiscing over drinks with my old college roomies, Tyler and So-Ky, later in the evening. This may be the first year ever that my 4th did not include some kind of fireworks! We couldn’t see any from downtown when we were having drinks, and its illegal to light off your own in SF. Regardless, it was a good time and a much needed escape. Spending time with college friends and re-telling the same old stories over and over from the glory years is always a great pick me up 🙂

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Now I’m back in Sac and here to finish off my chronicle of the Peel’d Juice Cleanse!

Day 3

Since I had trouble falling asleep on Tuesday night, I wasn’t as well rested, but I woke up with a flat stomach again on Wednesday. Since I was at my parent’s place where they have a reliable scale, I also realized I had dropped a couple of pounds from my normal weight (last time I weighed myself on my gym’s *inaccurate* scale, I was 2 pounds above my normal weight midday, but I’m not sure what I was on Day 1 of this cleanse). This is a little worrisome since I have been trying to maintain weight and not lose any, but at the time I figured the weight loss probably wouldn’t be permanent.

Breakfast (9:30 am)

Smoothie (celery, oranges, pineapple, ginger, almond milk, protein powder)
Also ate: A banana and handful of nuts

The verdict: Kind of a weird smoothie, I was definitely chewing my way through it with the celery. Still tasted OK though!

How I felt: I have a bit of a headache that morning, probably because of lack of sleep. In general I’m not feeling extremely different than usual.

Lunch (1:30 pm)

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Bittersweet Cranberry (Cranberry, celery, green apple, oranges)
Also ate: Half a bell pepper, remainder of my summer squash, cherry tomatoes & cilantro sauteed in coconut oil with salt & pepper. And of course…more nuts 🙂

The verdict: I could have sworn this juice was grapefruit! I loved it.

How I felt: I started getting really hungry around 4:30pm, so I had my dinner juice early. I was feeling really weak, and like I wanted to just give up and have a normal dinner. I think realizing that I had possibly lost 4 pounds made me feel like I was depriving myself a little bit too much.

Dinner (6:30pm)

Green Goblin juice
Also ate: Went out to dinner and had a salad with roasted red peppers, olives, marinated onions….and chicken & feta. Oops 🙂

The verdict: same green juice from the first 2 days.

How I felt: I decided to just go for it and not omit the cheese and meat from my salad. I was feeling pretty weak and started second guessing my choice to do a cleanse. And guess what? I didn’t feel awful afterwards. It was still a pretty clean meal.

Post-Cleanse Thoughts

So I think the Peel’d cleanse is great. I like that you can eat any fruits or veggies you want, because I think everyone should eat more veggies 🙂 I think its an excellent quick fix if you’ve been having tummy problems or want to realign your diet and adopt some good habits. I would have probably benefited more from the 5-day cleanse than I did from the 3-day cleanse because frankly this was pretty close to my normal diet, just gluten free (I don’t eat meat or dairy more than a couple of times per week)…so I didn’t see a huge difference after 3 days. I base a lot of my meals around veggies as it is. But the added nutrients from the juices did help me feel healthy! Who needs a multivitamin when you’re getting so much good stuff in the form of juice?!

But to be completely honest, I don’t think I was in the right place to be doing a cleanse this week. For me, the cleanse ended up being my regular diet minus 1/3 the calories, maybe even half. Long story short, I’m currently going through a breakup and I started to realize that the cleanse was kind of becoming a justification for eating less, and though I don’t think I can say I was starving myself, I was definitely not in a healthy place emotionally. Being depressed messes with my appetite as it is. Let’s say I’m already a dramatic emotional mess and likely to not eat as much, then you give me a diet plan where all I eat are low calorie fruits and veggies….you’re pretty much asking for trouble. This is part of the reason I broke the dietary restrictions on Wednesday: I recognized that what I was doing might not have been my healthiest choice.

So that’s that. For anyone in the Sacramento area looking to learn more about Peel’d, check out their website. I actually think if you’re going to do any juice cleanse, doing one like theirs is probably your best bet! Any juice cleanse where the #1 rule is to not starve yourself is a good thing in my book. They also sell their juices every Saturday at the Midtown Farmer’s Market! I actually really liked all of the juices I had on the cleanse. Perhaps the purchase of a juicer is in my future 😉

Hope you all had a great 4th of July! Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Peel’d Juice Cleanse – Days 1 and 2

After hearing good things and seeing Peel’d at the Farmers Market selling their juices every weekend, I decided to jump on the bandwagon and do the Peel’d juice cleanse. Peel’d creates fresh juices every morning that they deliver not only to people wanting to detox, but also to people who “simply want to supplement their current lifestyle and diet with nutrient rich juices”. Something that I like about Peel’d’s detox program is that, in addition to the allotted smoothie and 2 juices per day, you are allowed to eat as many fruits and vegetables as you want (raw or cooked). It isn’t an all-liquid diet, like many cleanses are.

In fact, the first rule of the Peel’d cleanse is: “DO NOT GO HUNGRY. This process isn’t about depriving yourself, but feeding yourself large amounts of foods that will nourish, support and heal you.”

Foods not allowed on the detox are:

  • Corn
  • Wheat
  • Refined Sugar
  • Soy
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Meat
  • Beans
  • Nuts (large amounts)

Peel’d also recommends snacking on olives, avocados, and small amounts of nuts as a snack.

No hangry Katie? I definitely like that approach. Normally, the Peel’d program lasts 5 days: Monday through Friday. I was unsure about jumping into the 5-day plan, since it seems kind of drastic, especially for someone who likes to exercise throughout the week and needs a lot of protein as a result. When I saw that they were offering a special 3-Day Independence Day program for $66, I decided to go for it.

Included was:

3 smoothies and 6 fresh juices
Daily menus
An intro email with a meal plan, including snacks and awesome soup/salad ideas for dinner

For an extra $10, I could have also gotten the juices delivered to my apartment each morning. However, I opted to just pick them up on the way to work.

Before the Cleanse/Why I Did It:

You’re supposed to cut out caffeine and alcohol before the cleanse to “prepare”, and I can say I cut out caffeine, but alcohol…certainly not. I had at least 2 beers a day Wednesday-Sunday (plus more on Thursday and Sunday because of dodgeball and kickball), and some pretty non-clean food, thanks to a summer BBQ, froyo with the roomie, and some post-kickball chicken fingers. As a result, I didn’t fall asleep until 4:30am on Saturday night and was up for an hour at 3am Sunday night feeling hot, bloated, and nauseous. Of course, there are many factors playing into that, including but not limited to: 105+ degree weather, increased beer consumption, and some emotional stress I’m going through right now. That being said, I felt like a cleanse was probably a good idea, especially if I have more fun on the horizon with the 4th of July coming up.

I recently read in Women’s Health that cleaning up your diet for several days before a vacation or expected period of unhealthy choices will set your body on the right path and prepare it for that period of time. It seemed like a fun experiment, and the shortened 3 day length didn’t seem too intense.

Day 1

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Breakfast (9:15 am)

{Though some of the guidelines suggest splitting up the smoothie, I decided to have the whole smoothie with breakfast, since I’m used to having a large breakfast.}

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Strawberry Smoothie (Spinach, Strawberry, Banana, vegetable protein powder, Almond Milk)
Also ate: white nectarine…and about 3-4 glasses of water throughout the morning.

The verdict: Delicious! Tasted a lot like my own strawberry & banana smoothie. I didn’t even realize there was protein powder in it until I read the daily menu e-mail Peel’d sends out.

How I felt: The smoothie was filling enough that I didn’t feel the need to raid the breakroom jar of mixed nuts every 30 minutes like I usually do. I did start to get a bit of a headache, which could be attributed to several factors (didn’t sleep well, no caffeinated tea in the morning, been crying a lot lately)…My stomach started grumbling around 12:30, so I grabbed a couple of walnuts and left for lunch at 1 instead of my usual 1:30 or 2.

Lunch (1:30pm)

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Blueberry Juice (Celery, blueberry, green apple, lemon)
Also ate: Zucchini, pattypan squash, & green bell pepper stir-fried in coconut oil with s&p.. and a handful of nuts. A couple more cups of water.

The verdict: WHEW, now I know why Becky doesn’t like juice with celery in it. Luckily, the tart lemon + green apple kept this juice pretty tasty.

How I felt: I went home for my small stir-fry lunch and had the juice after I came back, thinking it would delay hunger for a while. It worked! My headache definitely dulled a bit, but stuck around.

Dinner (6:30-7pm)

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Green Goblin Juice (Kale, cucumber, celery, lemon, lime, apple, ginger)
Also ate: cauliflower, green beans & peas steamed with garlic & ginger. I was satisfied, but decided I probably should also have a salad. Made one with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, and half an avocado with simple balsamic vinaigrette (balsamic, garlic, dijon, and olive oil). Had another glass of water and dandelion tea.

The verdict: Pretty good for a green juice! I’d had it before at the farmers market, so no surprises there.

How I felt: I had the juice right when I got home around 5:45 so that I wouldn’t be starving while I made dinner. After and during eating, I was so surprised I wasn’t more ravenous. I think I was right to fix up a salad even though I wasn’t hungry for it, because I probably would have gotten snacky later if I hadn’t.

Day 2

I fell asleep early (at 11:30pm) and woke up naturally around 7:30am, 10 minutes before my alarm went off. Amazing. I also woke up with a flat stomach – something that hasn’t happened in weeks! A welcome reprieve from the bloating I’ve experienced lately.

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got too excited biking on Tuesday and a bunch of the smoothie & orange juice spilled 🙁

Breakfast (9:15 am)

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Green Smoothie (Cucumber, kiwi, mango, almond milk, veggie protein powder)
Also ate: half an avocado and a handful of nuts…and about 2-3 glasses of water throughout the morning.

The verdict: I was leery because it smelled like celery (apparently that was cucumber!), but there was an awesome vanilla flavor from the protein powder that made this green smoothie delightful!

How I felt: I got hungry much quicker after this morning’s smoothie (probably because I spilled part of it on my bike ride and had part of an avocado instead of the more filling nectarine), but after a handful of nuts, I easily made it to 1pm again. No headache today!

Lunch (1:30pm)

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Green Goblin Juice
Also ate: Summer & pattypan squash, green bell pepper, & cherry tomatoes stir-fried in coconut oil with s&p and fresh basil. Another handful of nuts (Starting to fear I’m having too many, but it’s the only acceptable snack in our office!) and another glass or 2 of water.

The verdict: Already had this juice 🙂 It was definitely more lemon-y today which I loved!

How I felt: A little bit of dry mouth…maybe this 5th day of 100+ heat is finally catching up with me.

Dinner (Juice at 5:30pm, Dinner at 7:30pm)

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Orange Juice (Pineapple, yams, lemon, green apples)
Also ate: My mom made Pasta with Giardiniera Sauce and I had a bowl of the sauce (basically, a ton of veggies). Also some broccoli, a banana, and salad (chard, mushroom, carrots, olives, fennel, and a simple vinaigrette of apple cider vin + dijon + olive oil).

The verdict: This was the best juice yet!! It mostly tasted like pineapple.

How I felt: Great most of the evening! If I ever felt snacky I just grabbed a glass of water or some olives. I started feeling nauseous around bedtime, I’m not really sure what that was about. Possibly the heat again…

Sooo that’s it for days 1 and 2!

I’m already 1/3 done with my last day, but I figured I’d break it up little bit since this is already a really long post.

So far, I feel good on this detox but not OMG AMAZING. I think that’s partly because I’m not doing the full 5-day cleanse, and partly because I already eat pretty healthily…Unfortunately, I’m noticing that my appetite is already pretty low because of the aforementioned heat and emotional stress, so I’m predicting the biggest results I’ll get from this experience are a flatter stomach and a couple of pounds lost…which I’m not really looking for. But I do feel better than I did this weekend!

Stay tuned for more!

Have you tried a juice cleanse or a detox program before? How did you like it?

Enjoy your 4th of July! What are your plans? I’m heading to San Francisco to escape the heat 🙂

Meatless Monday: Lemon-Basil Breakfast Hash

Told you guys I had a Meatless Monday post waiting for ya!

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And it involves mini peppers and mini potatoes…because mini is always cuter, right?

Despite the fact that I just called this dish cute, it’s actually a pretty hearty meal. Potatoes are pretty filling, but since they’re so starchy and carby, they’re not the kind of filling that will sustain you for many hours. That’s where the other components come in to save the day!

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I got really into beets this spring since my dad was growing them and they always looked so pretty at the Farmer’s Market. They stain everything, but I love their earthy taste and they are so pretty! Sweet mini bell peppers and onions add crunch, and pinto beans give this hash some bulk.

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Finish it all off with some fresh basil and a squeeze of lemon and you have yourself a perfectly light and refreshing, yet filling, summer breakfast! Or if you’re like me, you don’t really wake up until 10 or 11 on the weekend and there becomes a thin line between breakfast and lunch 🙂

I am proud to report that the basil plant I bought at the grocery store about a month ago is still alive and kickin’! However, we are currently on Day 3 of an 8 day streak of triple digit heat. 104, 107, and 106 degrees on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday…and it’s only getting hotter. So who knows if the plant will last much longer.

This quick 1-skillet dish would be great for a hot day like today (108 degrees!), but I’ve chosen instead to do the 3 Day Peel’d Juice Cleanse. I learned about it from my friend Sarah who did their traditional 5-day cleanse last month (Hi Sarah!). Consuming only juice for 3 days isn’t exactly my cup o’ tea…However, in addition to the allotted 2 juices and 1 smoothie per day, Peel’d allows you to eat as many fruits and veggies as you want: “This process isn’t about depriving yourself, but feeding yourself large amounts of foods that will nourish, support and heal you.” Olives, avocados, and nuts are also listed as ideal “snacks”…win!

I will definitely be writing a recap later in the week, but until then, I’ll just leave this here…and dream about potatoes:

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Lemon-Basil Breakfast Hash
serves 1

2 mini potatoes
1/2 small onion (about 1/2 cup)
2 mini red or orange bell peppers
1/2 medium-sized beet, cooked (I roast mine in a foil packet in the oven at 400F for about 45 minutes)
1/4-1/2 cup pinto beans, drained and rinsed
3-4 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons
juice of one lemon
salt & pepper
oil, as needed for cooking

Cut everything into similarly-sized pieces. Heat your choice of oil over medium heat in a saute pan. Add onions, stirring to coat. Let them sweat for about a minute before adding the potatoes. Again, stir to coat. Season with salt and pepper, and let cook for about 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Mix in bell peppers and beets and cook for another 5 minutes. Add desired amount of pinto beans and lemon juice, and cook until heated through. Remove from heat, mix in basil leaves, garnish with lemon wedge (add more lemon if you’d like) and enjoy!

Avocado-Cilantro Hummus

What a crazy 24 hours for politics, you guys.

I’m sorry, I know it’s tacky to talk about religion and politics or whatever, but indulge me in this and I’ll indulge you all with POSSIBLY my best side dish recipe ever.

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{actually, considering the fact that I work in politics and live blocks away from the State Capitol, it’s a wonder that I don’t talk about it more!}

So first of all, Halle Berry was at the State Capitol yesterday. Yes, the one I live blocks away from.

She was testifying in support of a bill that would impose tighter restrictions against the paparazzi when it comes to photographing children [of celebrities]. Bill authors and bill sponsors get semi-famous people to testify from time to time, but I think Halle Berry takes the cake for most famous/fabulous in recent memory.

Next up: Wendy Davis is a BAMF.

source: NPR

She filibustered for 11 hours yesterday…while wearing fabulous pink sneakers of course. I actually listened to a good 2 hours of her filibuster at work, and then my roomie and I streamed the last 2-3 hours of it after we got home from work. The crazy/amazing thing about this is that during what seemed like every second of that time, old white dude after old white dude would try and bring up bogus points of order or interrupt her to get her all tripped up. She was advocating for a woman’s right to choose. And the men kept trying to silence her. What’s wrong with this picture?

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OK now LAST political thing before we get to this deliciousness:

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I have a picture to share.

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This is me and my family at my aunt Martha’s wedding in.. judging by my bangs…1994. It was me and my brother’s first wedding. Normal family picture, right? Happy family, happy to see our aunt joined in love with her partner.

Yup. Partner. The first wedding I ever attended was a gay one, y’all.

My mom retells the story about how a confused 8 year old me asked her, “Who is Aunt Martha marrying?” and was shocked when she replied, “Her ‘friend’ Michelle”. This early understanding that love can be found between two of the same gender has affected my outlook ever since.

That union eventually ended, and my aunt found her true soulmate a few years later. They were one of the first couples in line at City Hall in San Francisco to make it official when gay marriage was legalized. They have since moved to Connecticut, where they renewed their vows and made it official again when CT legalized gay marriage, this time with their young daughter by their side.

So you can see I am elated today that the Supreme Court essentially upheld the decision that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. It is an issue near and dear to my dad’s family: A regular American family who goes to church every week. No degenerates, no hoodlums, no drag queens. Just normal folk!

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It’s a very happy day, and you can bet you’ll find me celebrating at the Capitol this evening!

I got this bracelet from our friend Amanda, who is the Chair of the California Young Democrats LGBT Caucus (and who I met last year…at a gay wedding). I feel like it was my most appropriate jewelry to wear today!

OK, you have all been patient…and now you are awarded:

DSC_0609I bought Avocado-Cilantro Hummus from the Farmer’s Market two weeks ago and I have been dreaming about it ever since. But it cost $5 for a teeny tiny tub, so I decided to take matters into my own hands: I bought $2 of avocados and cilantro instead of the hummus, and got to work. It ended up just as great as the original, and the avocado made the texture of this homemade hummus thick and smooth. Probably my best hummus yet, and really, who doesn’t love avocado?

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[proof that my nails are rarely perfect. haha]

Avocado-Cilantro Hummus
makes about 1.5 cups

1- 16 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (reserve the liquid!)
1 small bunch cilantro, stems removed
1 tbsp tahini
zest and juice of 1 lime (2 if needed)
1 garlic clove
1 avocado
pinch of cumin
pinch of salt & pepper

If desired and if you have time, peel the skins off the garbanzo beans. Discard the skins.

Place garbanzo beans, cilantro, tahini, lime juice/zest, and garlic in bowl of a food processor. Blitz until everything is a coarse meal, stopping to scrape down the sides occasionally. To get things moving, add up to 3 tablespoons of reserved garbanzo bean liquid. Keep processing for a minute or two until mostly smooth, and all the cilantro is incorporated.

Add avocado and spices to food processor. Keep processing until completely incorporated and mixture is smooth…if needed, add more lime juice rather than more reserved liquid.

Will keep in fridge for up to 3 days. Like guacamole, it will start to brown after about 3 days.

Muesli Protein Bars

***Muesli Fusion chose these Protein Bars as a finalist in their recipe contest!! If you like what you see, PLEASE head over to Facebook and click on my recipe – Muesli Protein Bars (Blonde Ambition Blog)…all you have to do is click! Voting closes this FRIDAY, June 21st! THANK YOU!!!***

I think I’ve mentioned a few times that I have been really into overnight oats lately. This is in large part due to the fact that I acquired a bag of Muesli Fusion at Blend, and I l-o-v-e it.

When I heard Muesli Fusion would be sponsoring one of our breakfasts, I was actually pretty skeptical about the whole idea of muesli. I thought, “It has no added sugar, so it’s not crunchy like granola…it’s basically just oats and fruit??” whyyy would you eat raw oats and fruit?

Fortunately, Muesli Fusion totally proved me wrong. One beef I’ve always had with overnight oats is that it’s too mushy. I am a texture freak, I need to have SOME kind of crunch or chew in my oatmeal/overnight oats. And Muesli Fusion’s An-Ox totally provides that. It has walnuts, dried goji berries & blueberries, and cacao nibs. Perfect solution!

I’ve all but decided to eliminate plain oats from my grocery-staple list and replace them with muesli. Seriously, I love the stuff.

Last week, as I was approaching the end of my bag of An-Ox, I remembered that Muesli Fusion is hosting a recipe contest. The challenge: to create a recipe featuring Muesli Fusion cereal.

Challenge accepted!

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I really wanted to make homemade granola muesli bars, but every recipe I found used at least 1/2 cup and usually closer to 1 cup of sugar/maple syrup/honey/etc. One of the most advertised characteristics about Muesli Fusion cereals is that they have no added sugar, except that which comes from the added fruit, and I really wanted to keep a somewhat low level of sugar in my recipe.

What I ended up with not only has less sugar than a store-bought granola bar, but also, thanks to a few scoops of protein powder and crunchy quinoa, packs a good 8 grams of protein per serving!

Instead of tons of sugar, this recipe uses only 3 tablespoons of honey, as well as the natural sweetness of banana.

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Though An-Ox already has a bunch of good add ins, my inner texture freak came out and I added a few crunchy ingredients: chia seeds, quinoa, and almonds.

I maaaaay have also used chocolate protein powder and added chocolate chips…but doesn’t everyone love feeling like they’re eating dessert for breakfast?

These aren’t your typical crunchy granola bars, but I love them all the same. The version with chocolate chips that I made clocks in at around 200 calories, only 5g of fat, a whopping 7 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein. This version has about 11.5g of sugar, which would be a fair amount lower if you omit chocolate chips.

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So will you join me in eating dessert for breakfast?

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PS. If these sound like something you’d like to try making yourself, please re-pin this post on Pinterest! I could get a prize if I get the most pinned recipe! Click this link to re-pin 🙂

PPS. If you aren’t feeling up to the challenge of creating a new recipe…try entering Muesli Fusion’s summer giveaway! No purchase necessary, no blog post needed. Just like their Facebook page!

(Chocolate) Muesli Protein Bars
makes 8 bars
pin this!

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (you can also use skim milk or any unsweetened non-dairy milk)
3 tbsp honey
1/2 ripe banana, mashed
1 tsp chia seeds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups Muesli Fusion An-Ox
2 scoops chocolate protein powder (I used Onnit Hemp Force, but you can use any kind! Doesn’t have to be chocolate!)
1/4 cup sliced almonds, or full almonds roughly chopped (measure after chopping)
1/4 cup uncooked quinoa (or cooked. depends on what consistency you’re going for! i kinda par-cooked mine, haha)
1/4 cup chocolate chips (optional, will increase amount of sugar in bars)
1 tbsp flour (optional, if needed)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium-large bowl and mix well to combine. Set aside. Mix remaining dry ingredients in a separate bowl. When evenly mixed throughout, slowly add dry ingredients to bowl of wet ingredients, making sure everything gets evenly incorporated. Mixture should be pretty wet, but if you think it looks too wet, feel free to add about a tablespoon of flour.

Ideally you will use an 8×8 or 9×9 pan for these bars. Spray your pan with oil and press the batter tightly into the pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, checking at the 20 minute mark to see how done they are. You will want them to be firm in the middle, and to look dry. Remove from the oven and let cool a bit before removing from pan. Let cool completely to room temperature before cutting into bars…it should make about 8!

Keep in an airtight container, or individually wrap the bars in saran wrap, and keep in fridge. Should keep for about a week.