Fitness Therapy

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I forgot to mention yesterday, but WOW! You guys eat early! Maybe I should do a New Year’s Resolution to start eating earlier?

Ooh and I had fun reading about your eating styles! Glad to see I’m not the only one who gets skittish when it comes to ordering meat at a restaurant. Unless the restaurant states they source quality meats, I assume it’s factory. Ew.

On to today’s eats…

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I had a hard time thinking of something interesting to eat today, but finally came up with a simple yet savvy concoction.

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Of course, breakfast wouldn’t be complete without lovely, hot, comforting coffee in a Christmas mug. I love the shape of this mug!

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I ended up making french toast with Great Harvest Whole Grain Goodness.

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I made a quick apple-maple topping.

Quick Apple Topping Non-Recipe: add 1 small-chopped apple (remove skins if you want, but they have a lot of nutrition), 1/4 cup water, 2 – 4 tbsp maple syrup (depending on how sweet you want), and 1/4 tsp cinnamon. Cook over medium heat to a boil, then simmer till apples are tender and sauce is reduced to your liking. Serve over french toast, pancakes, etc.

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Hubby and I had leftover baked ziti and homemade focaccia for lunch.

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Mmm…re-baked focaccia. :)

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I had a simple salad for some veg – organic baby spinach with red quinoa and balsamic vinaigrette. I’ve put grains, like wheat berries, in salad before, but I first saw quinoa in salads at Foodbuzz at the Fresh Express tasting table.

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And I had some steamed edamame a little later.

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Lookie what I got! The new ZLife, whic is the Zumba magazine.

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Speaking of Zumba, I taught a fabulous class tonight. I busted out a new song I choreographed, called Mira. :mrgreen:

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Once upon a time, I went with some friends to a cool club in Miami called “Mango’s Mambo Bar.”

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There, I saw girls in skimpy outfits dancing to hot Latin tunes, from Merengue to Reggaetton. The girls were hot, but to me…the dances were hotter! I used inspiration from that trip to choreograph my new Zumba dance – Mira by Fulanito (featuring Truko). My class loved it, and I had fun teaching it! Woohoo!

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I’m still working on my crochet ripple blanket, but I have a few other things in the works.

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Any guesses what this is?

Fitness Therapy

I tweeted this earlier today:

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I feel like workouts can be so therapeutic. I like getting different therapeutic value from different styles of exercise. I’ve found comfort and a feeling of refreshment from yoga. I’ve found freedom and endurance in running. I’ve found empowerment and excitement in Zumba. I wonder what other people think about how their workouts make them feel. I had a few people tweet back at me with their versions of therapy, but I’d like to hear from you guys, too…

What’s your fitness therapy? How does it make you feel during or after?

Rosemary Focaccia Encore + Pre-Run Eats

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Happy Thursday friends! We’re only about 2 weeks away from Christmas! I’m not even worried about that yet, though…I am scared of the 5k I’m doing! Eeks!

On to some eats…

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Oops, I did it again. I made more focaccia. I can’t resist delicious carbs.

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You know what else is a delicious carb? Donuts. Breakfast of champions.

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Breakfast = Donut + Fried Local Egg

If you’ve read this blog for very long, you probably know I’m mildly obsessed with donuts. It’s no wonder I don’t try to make them at home. (Oh wait, I already made doughnuts from scratch once…hehe).

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I used my lunch break to work on homemade focaccia. I used the same recipe as last time.

Since my yeast didn’t work out so hot last time (though thank goodness it didn’t affect the delicious flavor), I tried a couple things based on suggestions from my twitter friends.

Change #1: I let the yeast/sugar/warm water cure in the stove. I turned it on warm just before putting the yeast in…then I turned the oven off, so it was warm but not hot.

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I still used my KitchenAid to knead the dough…just like that commenter said to do (see previous post on focaccia for the note).

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Change #2: I let the dough rise in the oven using the same method as above – turn it on warm, add item to rise/etc and turn oven off.

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Change #3 (not related to yeast): Instead of using coarse salt, I used my fancy pink salt. I figured…why not? I already spent the money on it and there seems to be a ton leftover from my first caramel experiment.

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Homemade focaccia is a wee bit messy, but overall quite simple. The ingredient list is short and the work involved is not much at all. Dare I say focaccia from scratch is easy?

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Even if you can’t get your yeast to work right (which by the way…it didn’t quite seem to pan out for me this time (I’m starting to think I need new yeast, even though this one isn’t supposed to expire till late 2011), you should get something tasty and chewy like this.

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PS It’s pretty much vegan (unless you count yeast – I’ve heard vegans can be on the fence for this one, though since I’m not vegan, I’m not certain…though there could be a vegan substitution).

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The recipe was a success again! I’m only hoping to try some different toppings next time – maybe pickled veggies or slices of tomato? Hmm…

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I’d really like to try some other homemade breads…I’m a carbaholic!

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Since I used my lunch break time to bake, I whipped up a quick lunch – just TJ’s breaded halibut, frozen peas, and some of the focaccia…fresh from the oven!

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I taught Zumba tonight. I told my class about my new quote-inspired Zumba shoes and that I hoped that they would remember to love themselves more and take the thought with them after they left class.

I also led one of the new songs I choreographed – Eyes Like Yours by Shakira. It has a very cute body/hip twist in it! ;)

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Check out this tiny silver tree in my sun room.

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My MIL got hubby and me these cute little ornaments and I think they go perfectly with this tree.

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And here’s the main event. We did it! We finished decorating it!

Dear running friends, please give me some tips! What do you eat before you run? How long before you run should you eat it? I know I usually try to eat small meals about 2 hours before Zumba…wasn’t sure if it was the same. Also, the 5k is in the morning and I’m hoping to get as much sleep as possible. Thoughts? Suggestions welcome! :)

Morphing Soup + Broccoli Cheddar Individual Breakfast Casseroles

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I know you guys are probably tired of seeing these, but I can’t help myself! I have half a loaf of bread I need to finish asap (and I don’t want to freeze it), and I’m having a blast trying different flavor combinations out for you guys!

Yes…I made more TCL Breakfast Cups aka Individual Breakfast Casseroles. Things in small versions are just more fun to eat, no?

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Today I went meat free with…

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Broccoli cheddar!

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Fresh out of the oven.

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Golden and dee-licious!

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Perfect with a nice, safe apple.

Broccoli-Cheddar Breakfast Cups (for 2)

*Recipe makes 4 breakfast cups for 2 people, but can easily be tripled (or multiplied further) to feed a crowd*

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices bread, cut into cubes/chunks (I used hearty whole grain bread)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 cup broccoli, chopped (fresh or frozen should work)
  • 1/4 cup cheddar cheese (chopped small or shredded)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground mustard
  • dash garlic powder, pepper, turmeric (optional)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare a muffin tin with non-stick spray (4 cups for the original recipe).
  2. Whisk egg, milk, and spices in a medium bowl.
  3. Add bread pieces, stir till bread is equally covered.
  4. Gently mix in broccoli and cheese and let sit for 5 minutes.
  5. Distribute equally into 4 muffin cups, pressing mixture gently into the cups.
  6. Bake for 24-28 minutes, until tops are golden brown and egg is cooked through.
  7. Let rest 5 minutes, or until safe to touch, before serving (careful, they’re hot!).
  8. Enjoy!

***

And for lunch, I had another leftover hodge-podge.

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I decided to use up some of the failed-tofu (trying to make lemonade out of lemons, ya know?) and some spinach.

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I re-heated some of that 3-bean veggie soup I froze into individual servings earlier this week and then added in the tofu and spinach one the soup was hot to heat the tofu through and wilt the spinach.

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I must say, I was really pleased with my work.

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I even re-heated the sweet potatoes and they were pretty good the second time around.

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This lunch was MUCH better than yesterdays…hooray!

Do you morph soup? I like to throw in leftover ingredients, especially cooked veggies and grains. What are your favorite ways to morph your soup?

Coco-Loco French Toast Cups with Coconut Cream Sauce

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Did you guys figure out what yesterday’s mystery breakfast was? I saw at least 1 correct guess and a couple others that were close! Nice job friends!

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I concocted a fabulous new TCL recipe – Coco-Loco French Toast Cups with Coconut Cream Sauce.

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I used some 12-grain Nature’s Pride bread using a coupon I received as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program to create this recipe in hopes of winning a golden ticket to the Foodbuzz Festival later this year.

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My inspiration was my recent trip to the Bahamas where I fell even more in love with all things coconut. I wanted to create a recipe that is something I’d like to eat on a tropical vacation but that would also be fabulous year-round.

Here are some photos from the prep and cooking:

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Cubed bread.

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Custard

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Sopping up the custard.

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Ready to bake.

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Baked up and golden brown. Now we just need sauce.

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Add a splash of exotically sweet coconut cream sauce

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…and a garnish of tropical fruit (I used papaya, but pineapple, mango and/or kiwi would be fabulous, too!)…

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…and you’re ready to…

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…dig in!!!

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Nommmmm! This recipe was sooo easy and tasty!

These french toast cups would be fabulous:

  • as an easy and affordable meal
  • to entertain a large group – it’s easy to multiply
  • to host a brunch or breakfast
  • to bring to a pot luck
  • to use up old (but not spoiled) bread
  • to serve 2 (just divide everything by 3, use 1/2 cup coconut milk in sauce) – that makes 2 cups per person
  • for your dairy-free friends
  • for when you want a breakfast that makes you feel like you’re on vacation

Coco-Loco French Toast Cups Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices bread, cubed
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 tbsp coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F and coat a 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients, except the bread.
  3. Add bread and gently fold bread into custard mixture so the bread even soaks up the custard. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  4. Spoon the bread mixture evenly into the muffin cups, pressing gently into the cups.
  5. Bake 18-22 minutes until the tops are golden brown and the egg is cooked through.
  6. Let rest 5 minutes before serving (careful, it’s hot!).
  7. During the last 5-10 minutes of cooking, start on the Sweet Coconut Cream Sauce (see recipe below).
  8. Serve french toast cups with the sweet coconut cream sauce and garnish with fresh tropical fruit and shredded coconut.

Sweet Coconut Cream Sauce Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 can coconut milk (minus the amount needed for the french toast cups)
  • 1 1/2 tsp tapioca starch (or corn starch)
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 3 – 5 tbsp sugar (depending on how sweet you want the sauce)

Directions:

  1. Combine coconut milk and sugar in a small pot over medium low heat. (note – once the sugar is dissolved, you can taste-test to see if you want to add more sugar to the sauce)
  2. Heat till mixture is warmed through, about 5 minutes (careful to not boil).
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the tapioca starch and water. Add tapioca mixture to the pot and whisk to combine.
  4. Continue heating till mixture has thickened up (shouldn’t take long, just a minute or 2).
  5. Serve with french toast cups and enjoy!

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Enjoy!

Easy Sunday Afternoon

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After our fantabuloso brunch today, hubby and I felt like we had the rest of the day pretty wide open. It was truly the first time in a long time (maybe years?) that I felt like the house was put together enough that I didn’t need to worry about it. And not only that, but I felt like I had some free time. The concept of free time typically escapes me, but today, hubby and I had an easy, stress-free afternoon and it was lovely.

I have a million things I’d like to do for the blog…for the house…but, I decided to just realx.

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I got comfy in some PJ’s and a big sweatshirt and watched the Hot Tub Time Machine with hubby and Bailey. Pretty funny movie!

We noshed on some leftovers from the brunch party, pretzels and cookies. Those chick peas are going to be like my new popcorn! They’re so fun for snacking!

***

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Hubby and I decided to do breakfast for dinner. We had Whole Grain Goodness toast with a dab of real butter and some steamed broccoli with a bit of real butter.

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And the star of the show – a broccoli-cheddar omelet. I’ve forgotten how delicious broccoli and cheddar taste together! This omelet was divine!

We got to enjoy dinner whilst catching up on a DVR’ed Cold Case. I never get to clear out my DVR because I never have time to watch anything! Every time I actually get to watch something I’ve recorded, it’s like a special treat.

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We just haaaad to incorporate leftovers into dinner somehow. Twist my arm why don’t-cha

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We had the rest of Britney’s blueberry pie and a Vegan Green Monster muffin each. Yummmmers!

Potentially big week ahead for me. Hopefully some fun fitness news and definitely a wedding this weekend. You know what that means, right? ;)

Think I’m going to try to catch up on another Cold Case. Gosh I love that show!

Have a great week everyone!

Green Monster Muffins Recipe

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It’s heeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrreeeeeeee!!!!!!!

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Green Monster Muffins batch #1 came out dry, but this time I think I’ve got it!

As a reminder, I loved the idea of using a vegetable in sweet muffins/breads when I made zucchini bread recently. What other veggie is often used in sweet recipes? Spinach – the main ingredient in the very popular Green Monster smoothies! Inspired by the Cooking Light zucchini bread, I worked hard to develop a recipe that would work with spinach.

Here are a couple things to note with the recipe.

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#1 – when you measure the cup of packed spinach, make sure you pack the spinach is real good. I mean press down on it really hard in your measuring cup. You want it to be about 1 cup after you process it, not before.

In fact, my spinach was bursting out of the top just a bit.

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#2 – when you process your spinach it will start out looking like quite a bit of spinach.

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See – after you process it, it reduces in size quite a bit. And pretty much you process it till the food processor stops chopping the spinach. At some point, the blade really doesn’t chop the spinach any more size the volume is so reduced.

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And in case you’re curious, here’s about what the texture of the spinach looks like when it’s done processing.

#3 – Don’t skip the lemon zest (unless you just don’t like the flavor of lemon)! I feel like I often skip zest on recipes because I don’t think you’ll be able to taste it, but you totally do and the zest adds great flavor!

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In my recipe, I suggest stirring walnuts into the batter, but since I had someone with a walnut allergy taste-testing later I only added some to the top of half my muffins.

Pre-baking

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Post-baking

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Last time, the muffin was dry, but this time it was quite most! I may tinker with adding a wee bit more flour to see what happens, but I’m happy enough with it to share the recipe this time.

PS Next up I’m going to work on vegan and gluten-free versions so everyone can try them! :)

Green Monster Muffins Recipe
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This is the original green monster muffin recipe! Most spinach muffins are savory but these are sweet! Forget artificial colors, these muffins are naturally a beautiful, vibrant green color thanks to the surprise ingredient – spinach! Sneak vegetables into your loved ones eats with this easy muffin recipe. The green color makes these great for Halloween or St. Patrick’s Day!

Click here for the Vegan Green Monster Muffin Recipe
Author:
Serves: 12
Ingredients
Dry Ingredients:
  • ¾ cup oat flour (note: you could probably sub flours of do 1½ cups total of a single flour, instead of 2, if you’d like)
  • ¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
Wet Ingredients:
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 single serving applesauce (or ½ cup)
  • 1 cup PACKED, triple washed baby spinach, chopped by food processor into small bits (see photos above)
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ – 1 tsp lemon zest (depending on how lemon-y you want it)
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts, plus extra for topping, optional ingredient
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare a 12 cup muffin tin with non-stick spray.
  2. Add dry ingredients into a medium bowl and whisk together.
  3. Whisk to beat egg and sugar together till light (I did this by hand for just a couple minutes).
  4. Whisk in the rest of the wet ingredients.
  5. Pour dry ingredient mixture into the wet ingredient mixture, add ¼ cup walnuts if desired, and stir gently just to combine – do not over-mix.
  6. Pour muffin batter into muffin tin cups – about ¾ full each. If using walnuts, sprinkle walnuts on top of each muffin.
  7. Bake for 14-17 minutes until centers set or a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
  8. Cool until safe to touch and enjoy!
Notes
Check the comments below for some great mixin and substitution ideas by readers! My favorite suggestion is to add blueberries. Yum!

Don’t skip the lemon zest for the best flavor!

***
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Enjoy!

Sneaky way to get the kids to eat their greens, no?

I actually think these muffins look really pretty because of the vibrant green color

Plus, these would be super festive for either Halloween or St. Patrick’s Day!! :)

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