Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

I love fall!  I love the cooler weather, the warmer clothes, and the fall foods.  I don’t love how tight my pants feel when I eat the traditional fall foods, though, so I’m always on the lookout for healthier fall treats.  These pumpkin muffins are perfect for this–they fit into my food plan so there is no need to feel guilty, they don’t make my pants tighter, and they taste awesome!  Win win!

I’ve been making these muffins for the past couple of years, and they really are awesome any time of year since you can get pumpkin year round (in my area anyway), but there is nothing like making pumpkin treats when the weather cools down and the leaves start changing color.  The recipe calls to top each muffin with pumpkin seeds, which is delicious, but when I don’t have pumpkin seeds I use the same amount of chopped walnuts.  Either way is great!

For those on the same Fix eating plan, each muffin is 1 purple and 1 blue container.  That’s right, these don’t even count as a carb!!!  #winning

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins (from the Fixate cookbook)

2 oz cream cheese

1 tbsp pure maple syrup

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

1.5 cups almond flour

3/4 tsp baking soda

1 dash sea salt or Himalayan salt

2 tbsp raw pumpkin seeds OR chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Prepare nine muffins cups by lining a muffin tin with paper liners and coating with spray.  Set aside.

Combine cream cheese and maple syrup in a small bowl; mix well and set aside.

Combine egg and pumpkin in a medium bowl; mix well and set aside.

Combine almond flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.  Mix well.

Add almond meal mixture to egg mixture and mix until just blended.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin, filling each cup a little less than 1/2 full.

Spoon 1 heaping tsp of cream cheese mixture into the center of each muffin.  Fill muffin cups evenly, about 3/4 full, with remaining batter.

Sprinkle muffins evenly with pumpkin seeds/walnuts.

Bake 16 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown and toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Transfer muffins to a rack and cool.

Enjoy!

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Making Breakfast Simple + Healthy

Am I the only one who struggles with breakfast?  It’s either too complicated, not tasty, not healthy, or not filling, right?  It’s taken me a long time to find a breakfast routine that works for me longer than 1 week and doesn’t feel too monotonous.  I still love having my Shakeology in the morning, but doing longer and tougher workouts means that I’m a little hungrier in the mornings than normal, and I need some more protein in my life.

For the past several weeks I’ve been rotating between two different breakfasts, and it has been working SO well for me!  Even though it’s the same two meals, they are recipes that you can easily swap out ingredients to make it taste completely different for some more variety.  Plus, both recipes allow for some really nutrient-dense foods to help me start my day off with good nutrition, which sets me up for success for the rest of the day.

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Try these in different variations–switch out the fruits and veggies to find what you like the best!  Comment with your favorite recipe

Veggies and Scrambled Eggs

2 eggs, scrambled

2 green containers veggies–spinach, chopped onion, chopped red pepper, mushrooms, etc

**I like to sautee the chopped veggies first, then cook the eggs, and serve the cooked eggs/veggies on fresh baby spinach.  It’s so easy!

 

Greek Yogurt Breakfast Parfait

1 red container 2% plain Greek yogurt

1 purple container fresh fruit–strawberries, blueberries, peaches, etc.

2 tbsp sliced almonds

Layer ingredients in a bowl–yogurt first, then the fruit, and then the almonds.  Mix if desired and eat cold.

My Go-To *Healthy* Sweet Snack

I have been obsessed with this recipe since my friend Laci brought these treats with us on our trip to New Orleans this summer–chocolate, peanut butter, and coconut are three of my favorite treat ingredients, so a treat that fits my meal plan, packs some awesome nutrition, and has very few ingredients?  #winning

This recipe comes from the great Danielle Natoni who I had the pleasure of meeting during our New Orleans trip–she is amazing!  So thank you, Danielle, for this awesome recipe.  This has quickly become a staple for me to help me with my sweet cravings, and is so easy to throw in my bag and carry around with me if I find myself hungry and no healthy options to turn to.

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You can use any flavor Shakeology with this recipe, but I highly recommend chocolate because, well, chocolate.  And peanut butter.  Go big or go home, right?  These are so easy to make and they keep really well in the fridge.  Good luck not eating all of them at once, because I could literally do that.


Vegan Chocolate Shakeology Balls (from Danielle Natoni)

1 scoop Vegan Chocolate Shakeology

1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter

1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1/4 cup raw, local honey

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix with a rubber spatula until well mixed.  Put in fridge for 5 min before forming into balls.  Roll into balls about the size of the circle your thumb and forefinger make if they are touching.  Keep in a plastic baggie in the fridge for about 1 week.  **This recipe will make about 7 balls, enough for one for each day of the week as a sweet snack.

Busy Mom Chicken-Stuffed Peppers

I love my Fixate cookbook–I have a handful of recipes from it that I make all the time (Grandma’s Tomato Sauce and the Clean Eating Sloppy Joes are a couple of examples), and now there is a Fixate cooking show on Beachbody On-Demand that I watch every week to get new recipe ideas!  I was watching it last week and got reminded of this stuffed pepper recipe that is so good, but also a little involved and complicated.

On the show, Bobby Calabrese (the chef) mentioned that instead of buying chicken breasts and cutting them up into bite-sized pieces to cook, you could just get ground chicken to save some time and energy.  GENIUS!  I’m not sure I would ever have come up with that on my own, but it’s such a simple tip!

The original recipe calls for quinoa and corn, but I opted to leave those out because 1) I don’t really like corn, 2) I didn’t want that many carbs in this meal, and 3) I was being lazy and didn’t want to add quinoa.  If you love corn and don’t care too much about the extra carbs, feel free to add 1 cup cooked corn and 2 cups cooked quinoa to the filling when you add the black beans.

If you want to make this recipe even easier and quicker, you can skip the whole baking step and slice your peppers into large strips and use them as a chip alternative.  You could also skip the peppers altogether and just eat the filling alone, or in taco shells or with tortilla chips.  Check your grocery for pre-chopped onion and minced garlic in the jar.  That saves a few steps, as well!  Last, instead of chopping the cilantro I usually just tear it by hand as I add it to the dish and that is a lot faster, as well.

Enjoy!

Busy Mom’s Chicken-Stuffed Peppers (adapted from Fixate)–serves 4

4 bell peppers (any color), cut in half and seeds/ribs removed

2 tsp olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb ground chicken (can up this to 2 lbs to bulk up the filling if you prefer)

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 tbsp cumin

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp paprika

Salt, to taste (at least 1/4 tsp)

1 cup tomato sauce (I used plain canned tomato sauce, no salt or sugar added)

5 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

1 tbsp lime juice

Optional: 1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese

Optional: Hot sauce, to taste, for serving

Preheat oven to 375F. Place peppers skin side down on a baking dish (spray with cooking spray).  Set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat until hot.  Add onion and cook for 5-8 minutes, until soft and translucent, stirring frequently.  Add garlic and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add ground chicken, cumin, chili powder, paprika, and salt and cook, stirring frequently, until chicken is cooked all the way through and no longer pink.

Add tomato sauce, black beans, cilantro, and lime juice and reduce heat to medium low.  Stir together until all ingredients are fully mixed and heated through.  Remove from heat and turn heat off.

Scoop a heaping 1/2 cup of filling into each pepper half.  Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes, until peppers are soft.  If desired, top each pepper with cheese and bake for 3-5 more minutes uncovered until cheese is melted.

Let cool about 5 minutes before serving. Top with hot sauce if desired.  Each serving is 2 pepper halves!

 

Clean Eating Orange Chicken

I love Chinese food, especially orange chicken.  When I saw this paleo orange chicken recipe, I made it just a few days later!  This is a pretty involved recipe, so it’s definitely not a quick weeknight meal, but I made this one afternoon when I was home alone and then ate on the leftovers for a few days.  This would be a good meal to make on the weekend and then save it for a quick Monday night dinner.

I did switch out some ingredients based on what I had on hand, so the way I made it isn’t Whole30 approved or necessarily paleo.  I switched the tapioca starch for cornstarch and used coconut oil instead of avocado oil because that is what I had on hand.  I served this with brown rice (the instant kind you cook in the microwave for a minute) over a bowl of fresh kale.  This would be great with broccoli tossed in, served with cauliflower rice, or with fresh spinach.  It was a great mixture of sweet and spicy!

Clean Eating Orange Chicken (slightly adapted from Food Faith Fitness)

Serves 4-6

For the sauce:

3/4 cup 100% orange juice (I used fresh Cara Cara oranges to squeeze my own)

Zest of half an orange

1 tbsp coconut aminos

1 tsp rice vinegar

Pinch red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp cornstarch

2 tsp hot sauce

 

For the chicken:

2 tbsp coconut oil

3 tbsp cornstarch

salt and pepper to taste

1 lb chicken, cut into cubes (I used boneless skinless thighs, but you can use chicken breast or tenderloins)

 

In a small bowl, whisk together orange juice, zest, coconut aminos, rice vinegar, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper.  Set aside.

In a medium skillet, melt the coconut oil (for the sauce) on medium heat.  Sautee the garlic and ginger, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Stir in the orange juice mixture and cook on high, stirring constantly.  Meanwhile, put 1 tsp cornstarch in the now-empty medium bowl and set aside.

Once the orange juice mixture is boiling, add 2 tsp hot sauce to the cornstarch and stir together until smooth. Whisk into the boiling sauce and continue to whisk for 2 minutes.  Lower heat to medium and cook until sauce is thick and glossy, stirring constantly.  Pour into a bowl and set aside to thicken while you cook the chicken.

Melt the coconut oil (for the chicken) in the skillet (or in a larger one if you prefer).  Put cornstarch and salt/pepper in a large ziplock bag and shake to mix.  Put chicken cubes in bag and shake to completely cover  chicken with cornstarch mixture.

Put covered chicken in skillet (don’t overcrowd them–you may need to cook the chicken in multiple batches).  Cook chicken until browned on the outside and fully cooked (an instant-read thermometer should read at least 165 F), 2-3 minutes per side, turning once.

Once chicken is cooked, put in a large bowl and pour the thickened orange sauce over it.  Gently stir/toss the chicken with the sauce to completely cover each chicken piece with the sauce.

Serve with rice, broccoli, cauliflower, or greens.  Enjoy!

 

Gluten-Free Pancakes

I’ve found a great gluten-free waffle recipe, so I wanted to find a great gluten-free pancake recipe, too!  We love eating breakfast together in my house, and it’s so special to have my little man help me make waffles, pancakes, or french toast and then enjoy the fruits of our labor together.

This was the first gluten-free pancake recipe I tried, and it was great!  The original recipe called for buttermilk, which I didn’t have on hand, so I subbed in equal parts plain greek yogurt and milk.  The original recipe calls for blueberries, but you could use any kind of fruit or choose to leave fruit out of the batter and just top the pancakes with fresh fruit and pure maple syrup.

I used a 1/3 cup measuring cup to scoop out the batter, and it made 4 medium-large pancakes.

Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Pancakes (slightly adapted from Bakepedia)

  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-Free Baking Flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk OR 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt+1/2 cup milk)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (for the pan)

Combine all ingredients except the oil.  Mix until completely combined, but not completely smooth.

Heat a skillet on medium-low heat.  Melt oil on skillet.  Use a 1/4- or 1/3-cup measuring cup to spoon batter onto skillet.  Cook for 3-4 on one side until bubbly.  Flip and cook 1-2 more minutes until golden brown.  Top with fresh berries and pure maple syrup.

 

 

Insanity Max:30 Results!

This week, I finished Day 60 of my 60 day program!  I have NEVER finished a program this long before, so I am so excited and proud of myself for finishing this program.  When I decided to do it, I was really nervous about it because I have only ever completed the 21 day programs–the 30 day programs I’ve *almost* finished them, but have never gotten all the way done.  I was afraid that I would be setting myself up for failure with an 8-week program, but I realized that the only thing stopping me from finishing a program is ME!  There is no reason I can’t finish a 60-day program other than my own excuses, so I decided that I would be successful, I committed to the program, and I followed through!


I didn’t do the program perfectly–not every workout was done on the exact day it was supposed to be done, but every workout WAS completed!  I finished all of the workouts in the 60 days without going over on days, which is what I had committed myself to.  I am really proud of that!

As far as nutrition, I’ve talked pretty openly about how that has been a struggle for me.  I was very focused on proper nutrition while I was doing the Whole30, but it was very hit and miss the rest of the time I did Insanity Max:30.  I still got great results that I’m really excited about!


Here are my general thoughts about the program:

  • I love that they are 30  minute workouts.  It makes it so much easier to fit these in my schedule!
  • I love that there are 2 rest days each week!  If I was able to get my workouts in Mon-Fri, it made my weekends more relaxing to not have to worry about fitting workouts in or getting up extra early.  On the weeks where I didn’t get all 5 workouts in during the week, I loved having 2 rest days making the schedule more flexible if I needed to move things around.
  • I love that I was able to stream the workouts online!  Not messing with DVDs, being able to just go down to my basement, and not worrying about travel time or getting ready to leave to go somewhere else to workout made it so much simpler for me to be consistent with this program.  I was able to use my computer or my phone to work out, depending on where I was and what my schedule looked like.
  • I love that there was no equipment!  I just needed my workout clothes and my shoes (and some people work out barefoot!).  So easy!

The workouts are HARD.  I modified most of the moves most of the time, and I still got a great workout every single time.  I was really sore, so I drank some Beachbody Performance Recover to help me not be so sore–it makes a huge difference, doesn’t count as any of my portion containers on the eating plan, and tastes really good!  I was able to push harder in each workout because I wasn’t struggling through feeling sore from the workout before.

I love how I felt doing IM:30!  I see a big difference in my body, but I feel better, too.

  • I am stronger–I was able to do more moves full-out instead of modifying everything.
  • I was getting less winded earlier on in each workout, which helped me be able to push harder and get even fitter each week.
  • I was able to do higher tuck jumps by the end of the 8 weeks
  • I was able to do longer plank holds by the end of the 8 weeks
  • I was able to take less breaks throughout the workouts
  • I was able to do more push-ups each round

And there is a difference in my body, too!  The scale says there are only 2.6 lbs difference in these two photos, which in the past would have devastated me, but today, I really couldn’t care less.  My clothes fit better, my body looks different, and these workouts make me feel like a badass.  The scale can suck it.

I’m still deciding on what I’m going to do next, but I’m pretty sure I’ve decided on doing yoga for the weekend and then going into 21 Day Fix Extreme starting Monday, April 10. I’m also going to be submitting my before and after pictures to the Beachbody Challenge to get a free shirt for Insanity Max:30!  I have made some awesome progress with this program, and I’m excited to keep going!