Cocoa Banana Protein Balls

Happy Monday everyone!!! What a weekend we just had. We had a BUNCH (and I mean a bunch!) of family members come in to town for a surprise party for my father-in-law! Our weekend was filled with so much fun, food, sun, and of course a ton of new memories that I’m so thrilled we got to make! I was so excited to see cousins, aunts, uncles, and of course have a few of them stay in our new home.

To help with preparation and getting the house ready the week before, I made these yummy little balls for on-the-go snacking and to help keep my energy high each afternoon. I love small, easy snacks that I can pop in my mouth after work to help give me a little energy boost before exercising or working on things around the house. These were so easy and delicious, I definitely can’t wait to make them again!

A fun thing about this recipe is it is vegan and gluten free, so if you follow a special diet or have any type of dietary restriction, this may be a good recipe for you to try! You can also add different ingredients to tailor the flavor to your liking. Different additions, such as coconut flakes, can change up an otherwise simple and easy ingredient list.

I hope your week goes by fast and these little tasty bites give you a little extra energy to tackle your to-do list!! Have a great week y’all!

Cocoa Banana Protein Balls

  • Servings: 12-15 balls
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 banana
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup raw, unsalted cashews
  • 2/3 cup raw, unsalted almonds
  • 1 large Tbsp unsalted PB
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp vegan vanilla protein powder
  • pinch salt
  • pinch cinnamon

Directions

In a food processor, grind cashews, almonds, cocoa powder, peanut butter, banana, cinnamon, salt, and protein powder. Stop to scape the sides once or twice. The ingredients may start to form a paste-like consistency. If a large “doughy” ball starts to form, that is ok. Continue to pulse or grind until you get a consistency you like (I tend to go for a fairy smooth texture with a few chunks here or there).

Use your hands and a small spoon to form small, gum-ball size balls. Put on a plate and cover with foil or in an air-tight container. Let refrigerate and harden for at least 15-20 minutes before trying! Store in refrigerator for up to 1 week (can freeze for longer use). Enjoy!


Breakfast Banana Bread

I love a good banana bread! Actually… I don’t think I’ve ever tried a banana bread that I didn’t enjoy. I definitely know what makes banana bread delicious (in my opinion), and that is lots of banana flavor and a little bit of crunch. I also prefer my bread to not be too sweet and to have a dense, moist texture.

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Aside from my love for banana bread (and really all things banana for that matter), I think I have said many, many times how much I enjoy breakfast food. Whether it’s a hearty smoothie bowl or a big bowl of oats, breakfast is definitely my favorite meal of the day. For these reasons, I decided to try to combine the two and make a banana bread that wasย  not only delicious, but could serve as a quick breakfast when I don’t have a lot of time.

A few other fun facts about my food preferences that explain a few of the ingredients in this recipe….

  1. I LOVE raw nuts like walnuts, cashews, pistachios, and almonds. I eat raw nuts every day as a snack or find ways to add them to my meals. I love a good crunch and they health benefits of eating a variety of nuts aren’t too shabby either!
  2. I love a good salty/sweet combo. I always have a difficult time picking savory or sweet when it comes to breakfast. Pancakes and waffles are always so comforting on a Saturday morning, but there is also nothing like a good hearty egg sandwich oozing with smashed avocado.

With that said, this recipe turned out better than I expected. I’m so excited to share it with you and hope you give it a try! I love it with a little nut butter spread on top after warming it for a few seconds in the microwave. Store this bread for 5-7 days in the refrigerator.

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Breakfast Banana Bread

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients

  • 2 medium sized bananas, mashed
  • 1 whole large egg
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • granola (for garnish/on top)

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

In a medium size bowl, smash banana until fairly smooth. Whisk in 1 whole egg, coconut sugar, olive oil, and almond milk.

Fold in flour, oats, baking soda, and spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt) until all flour is moistened. Lightly chop walnuts into smaller pieces. Stir in walnuts and cranberries.

Lightly grease a loaf pan and evenly distribute the batter. Top with granola of choice and an extra sprinkle of cinnamon. Bake for 28-30 minutes or until the center is firm and the top is golden brown. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.


Super Green Walnut Pesto

Happy Thursday everyone! For me, it’s my Friday, and I am so darn excited to paint a little in our house tomorrow. We decided on… do I dare say it… a shade of gray… that will hopefully warm up some of our rooms and highlight some of our furniture and accents. I swear I do like other colors besides white and gray! (sometimes)

Two nights ago I was driving home from work and couldn’t for the life of my think of what I wanted for dinner. My mom and I were talking about pizza, and somehow pizza turned into pasta, and pasta turned into thinking of a new sauce that I could make from scratch. I decided to make pesto, but a not so traditional pesto, that I could secretly hide some extra green in it. Have a mentioned before how hard it is to get Jeff to eat vegetables?

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This pesto was BOMB. Literally, I was eating it with a spoon. Jeff liked it also, and I know it was truly enjoyable for him because he ate the leftovers the next day. Can I tell you just how much it makes my heart swoon when I come home and find leftover containers EMPTY in the kitchen sink. That is how I truly know when one of my recipes is a success!

I called this a “super green” pesto because it truly is really, really green. I don’t mean clean, green… although that is pretty appropriate as well…. but it is literally really green and bright in color. This pesto is so unbelievably easy and delicious, you can bet I will make it again ASAP.

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I hope you give this yummy little recipe a try. Don’t be afraid to play around with it or substitute different greens. Let me know if you find a substitution that you love! I’m sure others would like to know as well ๐Ÿ™‚

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Super Green Walnut Pesto

  • Servings: approx. 1 3/4 cup total volume
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • ~3 cups raw greens (I used ~1 cup kale, 2 cups spinach)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup walnuts
  • pinch of kosher seal salt
  • pinch of back pepper
  • 3 med size garlic cloves OR 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup water

Directions

It a food processor, pulse greens with olive oil. Once there is a little more room in the food processor, add walnuts, salt, pepper, and garlic cloves. Pulse or grind on low until garlic is fully chopped and incorporated.

Scrape down the sides of the container and add ~1/3 cup of water. Continue to pulse or blend until the pesto is the consistency you prefer. If you like it to me a little chunky, you can just stir in the water to help thin it our instead of pulsing.

Serve over grilled meats, warm pasta, or with warm bread. Enjoy!

 

 


All The Christmas Goodies!

Good morning everyone!! It’s 2 days after Christmas, and I am tired and ready to get back to a normal routine! While the past few days have been amazing, I am ready to go for a run, meal prep, and cook an easy and simple dinner tonight.

The past few days have been filled with lots of yummy food, family, friends, and drinks. We spent our first Christmas morning in our new home, and it was so nice to be able to wake up and cook a delicious breakfast for Jeff and I. I think I have eaten more chocolate and cheese in the past 72 hours than I have all year!

I have 2 yummy recipes to share that definitely should make your holiday menu next year. One is an easy sweet and salty snack that your guests will love, and the other can be added to your holiday brunch. Like I mentioned, chocolate has been a key ingredient in my diet the past few days so you can expect it to be a key ingredient in these recipes as well!

I love breakfast food, so any time I get a chance to make it a little extra special I jump on the opportunity! While my usual breakfast consists of eggs, oatmeal, or a smoothie filled with fruits and veggies, special times call for something a little more fun and definitely on the sweet side. Jeff and I both have a serious sweet tooth, so why not indulge a little on Christmas morning?

Side note —- it’s ok to indulge during the holidays!! A day or two of eating foods that aren’t in your “typical diet” is not going to make or break your health and fitness goals of 2017. So don’t sweat the small stuff and enjoy what is in front of you!

The two recipes I’m going to share today are for my Christmas Reindeer Chowย and Baked Chocolate Chip French Toast.

If I had to pick a favorite it would probably be the reindeer chow, but only because I’m a sucker for a salty and sweet combo. They are both super easy and can feed a crowd. I hope you all enjoyed your holiday weekend as much as we did! Merry Christmas and happy almost New Year! Let me know what you think if you give these recipes a try!

Christmas Reindeer Chow

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2-3 cups pretzel sticks
  • 1/3 cup red, green, and brown M&Ms
  • 3/4 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup lightly salted peanuts
  • 1 cup cinnamon Chex cereal (optional)
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbsp powdered sugar

Directions

Cover a large cookie sheet with wax paper.

Spread all ingredients out evenly onto wax paper. You can break apart some of the pretzels so all pieces aren’t so big.

Melt the white chocolate either in the microwave or with a double boiler. If microwaving, be sure to stop and stir every 15-20 seconds to avoid the chocolate from burning.

Drizzle the white chocolate on top of the pretzels, marshmallows, peanuts, cereal (optional), and M&Ms. Use as much chocolate as desired.

As the chocolate dries, sprinkle powdered sugar over the top of the ingredients. Let site for 15 to 20 minutes or until the white chocolate is fully dry. Once dry, break apart the mixture into bite size pieces. Some of the M&Ms and peanuts may fall off; that’s ok!

Put your Reindeer Chow into a large decorative or festive bowl for serving! Leftovers can be kept in a ziploc bag or air tight container.

Baked Chocolate Chip French Toast

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients

  • 1 loaf of freshly baked bread (I used a whole wheat loaf from a bakery)
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice (I used 1%)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (other options – fresh blueberries, blackberries, peaches, peanut butter chips, white chocolate chips, chopped nuts, etc.)

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut loaf of bread into large chunks. Set aside in a large mixing bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk 2 eggs, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Once the sugar has dissolved, pour milk and egg mixture on top of the bread. Massage the bread to assure all pieces are moistened.

Grease a medium sized baking dish that is shallow enough to contain any extra liquid that may not be absorbed. Evenly distribute the bread in the pan. Sprinkle dark chocolate chips on top (I pushed a few into cracks between the bread as well).

Allow bread to bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top starts to become golden brown and crispy. Serve warms with a side of fruit, nut butter, syrup, or honey on top.


Cranberry Chocolate Pumpkin Bars

Yes… they are as good as they sound! Hi everyone! I feel like I haven’t been on here in ages, but with good reason. I have some fun updates that I will share in a later post this week, but for now… the pumpkin bars!

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These are so easy, gooey, and delicious. I have eaten one literally every day since I made them and they are the perfect ending to any meal. The base of these bars are oats, whole wheat flour, pumpkin, and banana. They are sweetened up with a little dried cranberries and a few dark chocolate chips. They only take about 20 minutes to bake and last for ~1 week covered or in a sealed container (I keep them cold in the refrigerator).

These bars would be the perfect addition to a holiday brunch or get together with family and friends. They are not too sweet and provide just the right about of pumpkin flavor. I hope you give these lovely little bars a try! Happy December friends!

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Cranberry Chocolate Pumpkin Bars

  • Servings: 12-18
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 brown banana
  • 1/2 can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (not packed)
  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 egg
  • pumpkin pie spice (about 1/4 tsp)
  • cinnamon (~1/2 tsp)
  • pinch pink salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mash 1 banana with 1/2 can pumpkin puree. Add brown sugar and mix until it’s fairly dissolved. Stir in 1 egg, vanilla, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt.

Add dry ingredients (oats, flour, baking soda, and baking powder) and mix until all when ingredients are moistened. Stir in dried cranberries, walnuts, and dark chocolate chips.

In a greased baking dish, pour batter and spread out evenly. I used a square 9×9 baking dish. If wanting thinner bars, choose a larger size dish.

Let the pumpkin bars bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the edges start to pull away from the dish. Allow at least 10 minutes for cooling before cutting into squares for serving. Store in an sealed container or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.