Blueberry Bliss Muffins

Something about baking makes me quite introspective (see some earlier posts here, here, and here). As I was baking these muffins, I started to reflect on how food (and really anything that brings us pleasure) is a lot more enjoyable when you actually work for it. It’s easy to buy food that other people prepare, but when you actually prepare your own food and take time to learn about what appeals to you, the result is a lot sweeter (…or saltier depending on the recipe 😉 ). Obviously, as the writer of a food blog, I’ve realized this quite a long time ago, but sometimes you have to remind yourself to enjoy your own hard work and recognize that the best things are things that you can imagine, work for, and create (and that goes way beyond the topic of food!)

Back to the muffins, the following recipe is full of fiber and antioxidants from the wild blueberries. If you can’t find wild blueberries, regular blueberries (fresh or frozen) will work just fine.

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole grain flour (whole wheat, whole spelt, whole brown rice, etc. all work)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1.5 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tbsp. safflower oil
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk (I used hemp milk for this recipe). Add more if needed.
  • 1.5 cups frozen wild blueberries
  • 1/2 cup oat bran

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F
  • Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and oat bran together in a large bowl and mix well.
  • Add the oil, applesauce, non-dairy milk.
  • Add the wild blueberries (no need to defrost if you’re using frozen ones).
  • Grease a muffin tin or use muffin tin cups. Using a spoon, transfer the muffin batter into each cup evenly.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes. The muffins will be ready when golden in color and if the “toothpick test” comes out clean (insert a toothpick into the center of a muffin. If done, none will remain on the toothpick after removing if from the center of the muffin).
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  • Enjoy!

-Jess

Sunrise Spelt Brownies

If you’re wondering about the title of this post, let me explain. I created this recipe while being awake at 6 AM which is just a few minutes past sunrise where I am, and thinking about how I really wanted a brownie. As a nutrition enthusiast, I realize brownies are not an ideal breakfast food, but a girl can dream and dreaming leads to creating. Make no mistake, these definitely aren’t a health food, but using whole grain spelt flour adds a bit of fiber. These brownies aren’t super chocolatey, so feel free to add chocolate chips or something else to add more flavor. FullSizeRender-9

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 3/4 cups of whole grain spelt flour or other whole grain flour of your choice (use brown rice flour to make this gluten free)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 7 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup dark agave nectar
  • 1 cup unsweetened soymilk
  • 1/2 cup earth balance vegan spread
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  • Measure dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder) and mix together in a large bowl.
  • Melt the earth balance spread, measure apple sauce, agave nectar, vanilla extract, and unsweetened soy milk and combine in a bowl. Mix with a whisk or spoon.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well.
  • Grease a brownie pan and using a spoon, transfer the brownie mixture to the pan, spreading with the spoon if necessary.
  • Bake at 350ºF for about 27 minutes (figure 25-30 minutes is ideal, check with a toothpick for readiness).
  • After baking, allow to cool, cut the brownies, and enjoy (in moderation!)

 

-Jess

A Berry Good Smoothie

The spring semester has come to a close! (yay). I’ve completed another year as a nutrition student, and now I have just another year until I’m done with my master’s. One thing that got me through finals was having quick meals packed with nutrition. A favorite meal during finals (and whenever, really) is the following smoothie recipe. It’s packed with protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and it’s delicious!

A Berry Good Smoothie

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  • 6 oz. blueberry or vanilla coconut milk yogurt (I use so delicious brand). You can also use almond milk yogurt or any other kind of dairy-free yogurt that pleases your tastebuds
  • 1 frozen banana, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup frozen mixed berries
  • 1 scoop vegan (or not) protein. (I use Garden of Life Plant Protein in smooth vanilla flavor)
  • 1/2 cup soymilk (or nondairy milk) + 1/2 cup water

Combine all ingredients in a blender, and blend on high until uniform in texture and appearance. Pour into a large cup and enjoy! This makes a large portion, so feel free to share with a friend or divide into two and enjoy half of it for a snack later.

-Jess

Feed Your Soul!

I’m finally done with another semester of being a nutrition student, yay! This semester was probably my toughest one yet because of the amount of courses I decided to take, along with yoga teacher training, balancing a job, and trying to fit in time for my own yoga practice. One thing that definitely helped me this semester was fitting in time to de-stress. Yoga helped, as did some other activities, such as baking, spending time outdoors, and curling up with a good book. If you find yourself overwhelmed, I recommend doing some activities that take your mind off whatever is stressing you out. During my finals week, I realized how important it is to do things that feed your soul instead of focusing either exclusively on work/obligations or doing things that provide a sense of fleeting fun.

Although technically the following recipe isn’t a “baked good”, it still kept me occupied in the kitchen and turned out to be a really healthy, filling little treat. Coming up with cheaper alternatives to my favorite packaged snack foods is now an official hobby, so I present to you, my raw balls. Okay, get your mind out of the gutter. These delicious balls are made of (mostly) all raw ingredients and are chock full of healthy, plant-based fats and fiber. They also make a great present if you haven’t bought your holiday gifts yet.

 

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Chocolate Chip Variation

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups medjool dates (make sure you take the pit out of them!)
  • 3/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (Trader Joe’s sells a vegan version)

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine pitted dates, nuts, and vanilla extract. Transfer to a food processor and process/pulse for a minute or two. The mixture should be easily moldable with your hands. If the mixture is too sticky, add a few more nuts by the tablespoon, and continue to use the food processor. If the mixture has too many nuts and won’t mold together with your hands, try adding a few more pitted dates. Transfer back into the large bowl and add chocolate chips. Mold into ball shapes with your hands and refrigerate. Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Cherry Variation

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups pitted medjool dates
  • 3/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of cocoa powder

Directions:

Combine pitted dates, nuts, dried cherries, and cocoa powder together and transfer to a food processor. Process until blended for about a minute of two. If the consistency is too dry and the mixture won’t mold with your hands, try adding a few more dates. If it’s too sticky, add a few more nuts by the tablespoon. Transfer to a bowl and then using your hands, mold the mixture into ball shapes and refrigerate. Enjoy!

-Jess

Roasted Veggie One-Layer Lasagna

For the past few weeks (up until now), I haven’t been inspired to cook anything exciting but I am excited about something…my classes for fall semester start next week! I’m excited because it means I’m one step closer to my master’s and the beginning of my career. On a food-note-I wanted to make a dish for the next few days so that when I come home, I can just heat this up for an easy lunch or dinner (or healthy midnight snack). The following recipe is chock full of nutrients in the form of root veggies and whole grains. You can also roast some green veggies, like kale or brussels sprouts and add them to this recipe (which I didn’t do, but just thought would taste amazing). If you’re not a vegan, feel free to add some cheese, but this version I made is vegan.

photo 3-11Ingredients (serves 3)

  • 6 sheets/pieces of whole grain lasagna
  • 2 large beets, chopped into cubes in a size to your liking
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1.5 cups tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil or olive oil (but not extra virgin olive oil, because this is going in the oven)
  • 1 additional carrot to be grated
  • pepper, to taste
  • a sprinkle of garlic powder

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit
  • Place chopped veggies, pepper, and 1 tbsp. oil in an oven safe dish and mix so that the oil covers the veggies
  • Roast veggies at 400 degrees for 30 minutes
  • While the veggies are roasted, boil a large pot of water
  • When the water comes to a boil, place sheets of lasagna in water. Don’t break them to allow them to be fully submerged, just wait until half of them become pliable enough to fit entirely in the water.
  • After 8-12 minutes, the pasta should be ready.
  • Remove from stove and drain. Then, pat dry or lay them across a surface to dry
  • Remove the roasted veggies from the oven after 30 minutes
  • Grease another oven-safe dish and then lay three of the lasagna sheets down on the dish
  • Add a layer of tomato sauce to the lasagna sheets
  • Add most of the roasted veggies and sprinkle garlic powder, add 1 tbsp. oil, and another layer of tomato sauce if desired
  • Add the second layer of lasagna sheets (you should have three remaining) on top of the roasted veggies/tomato sauce mixture
  • Add one more layer of tomato sauce on top, and (optional) a few more roasted veggies on top of the sauce
  • Grate a carrot using a cheese grater and add on top (like you would with cheese)
  • Stick in the oven at 400 degrees for 6-8 minutes
  • Remove from oven, allow to cool, and serve (or save for later)
  • Enjoy!

-Jess

Oat-rageous Oatmeal Ideas

Left: Oats with apples and almond butter. Right: Oats with Heritage Flakes (dry cereal) and a peach

Left: Oats with apples and almond butter. Right: Oats with Heritage Flakes (dry cereal) and a peach

Have you grown tired of eating your oatmeal with brown sugar? Well, prepare to be amazed with some delicious oatmeal ideas.

Before I get to that, let’s discuss how healthy oats actually are! Oatmeal has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), decrease overall inflammation in the body, decrease blood pressure, and keep you full for a long time. When choosing an oatmeal variety, stick to the old-fashioned kind and not the instant one-minute kind and try to stay away from any with added sugars or fake dried fruit in the ingredients.

Here are some delicious, nutritious oatmeal ideas for your eating pleasure:

  • Cook oatmeal according to the directions on the box. Then chop an apple and add to the bowl. Top with 1-2 tbsp. of peanut butter and sprinkle with cinnamon. You can also slice a banana in addition or in place of an apple.

    mmm Oatmeal, Apples, & Peanut butter!

    mmm Oatmeal, Apples, & Peanut butter!

  • Prepare the oats, and blend berries in a blender. Mix the berries in with the oats and not only do you get a huge amount of nutrients in that bowl, you also get a beautifully colored masterpiece. Top with other fruit, such as an orange and coconut flakes for a nice finish. To add some healthy fats, you can also add almond butter or mixed nuts.photo-13
  • Cook oats, and add in canned pumpkin and top with raisins and cinnamon.
  • Use oats in a savory dish by replacing them in any recipe that calls for rice, quinoa, barley, or any other grain. Oats have a mild flavor, and when seasoned correctly can be done right in savory dishes.
  • Add a fiber-full  dry cereal to your oats, if you want some extra fiber!
  • Add oats to your favorite cookie or muffin recipe for some fiber. You may have to increase the amount of oil or liquid ingredients, but unlike flour, oats will not immediately soak up the liquid ingredients so play around with the recipe you’re using.

    Oats in a muffin makes this a healthy fibrous breakfast

    Oats in a muffin makes this a healthy fibrous breakfast

  • Eat oats for dessert! Cook oats, and then add 1 tbsp. of cocoa powder (I like 100% cacao, unsweetened). Add a tbsp. of brown sugar, some cinnamon, almond or peanut butter, and your favorite fruit.photo 5

 

Those are my favorite ways to use oats. What are some of your favorites? Feel free to post a comment if you’d like to share, and don’t forget to visit and like my new Facebook page for Vitamin Valentine for additional daily nutrition, motivation, and health news and updates.

 

-Jess