Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Quinoa Jambalaya

One of my New Year's resolutions this year is to branch out and prepare meals I've never made before. It's easy to get stuck preparing and eating the same dinners each week. If you don't experiment with new ideas, you'll quickly become bored with your kitchen and menu. The kitchen is a creative space. So let's keep it interesting by trying at least one new recipe a month. Look forward to trying new recipes and gaining new skills! When you do this, you'll discover more about yourself too. Sometimes you might make a meal you don't like, and that's okay! The success comes with branching out of your comfort zone.

I was intimidated by jambalaya, but I made it manageable with this recipe. Stews, chilies, and soups are nice because you can throw the ingredients in a pot or slow cooker and let it cook itself. After a cold, windy day in Alabama this jambalaya was the perfect way to wind down and warm up.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Total: 70 minutes
Prepares: 10-12 servings

Here's what you need:
3 stalks celery, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
2 jalapenos, diced
15 oz frozen cut okra
3 C vegetable broth
0.5 C water
14.5 oz canned diced tomatoes & green chilies
1.5 C quinoa
4 links Andouille sausage
1.5 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 TBSP olive oil
1/4 tsp red cayenne pepper
2 TBSP Sriracha sauce
1 TBSP Cajun seasoning
Here's what you do:
1. Dice the veggies, slice the sausage into thin rounds, peel the shrimp.
2. Heat 1 TBSP olive oil in a large pan and add the celery, onion, and peppers. Stir occasionally and sauté until the veggies are soft, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the remaining olive oil, sausage rounds, and stir occasionally for another 5 minutes.
4. Stir in the vegetable broth, water, quinoa, tomatoes and green chilies, frozen okra, Cajun spice, and cayenne pepper. Reduce to medium-low heat and allow to simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until the quinoa is cooked. Stir occasionally.
5. Add the shrimp and allow to simmer until the shrimp are cooked and pink.
6. Add additional seasoning, sauce, or salt and pepper for extra flavor! If you don't want it as spicy, try using only 1 jalapeno or removing the seeds. I'm on a spicy kick so I wanted all the spice I could get!

Calories 233
Fat 10g
Carbohydrates 18g
Protein 17g
Sugar 4g
Sodium 1332 mg
I have several containers full of left-over jambalaya. I put a few in the freezer and some in the fridge, so I'll be eating this for a while! It takes time to dice the veggies, but once the jambalaya is ready you'll realize it was all worth it (especially during those lazy days when all you'll have to do is reach into the freezer and heat it up)!

Pro tip: Use a food processor to dice the veggies. It'll save you time and isn't near as tedious.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

butterscotch banana bread bites

I usually make muffins or quick bread with my extra bananas but decided to give these bites a try. These will make your house smell like delicious banana bread, have the gooey texture of a soft baked cookie, and are so sweet and delicious you wouldn't even know there isn't added sugar (only that in the butterscotch chips)! My roommate didn't believe me when I told him they weren't "real cookies." Without eggs, added sugar or oil these bites are guilt free and satisfy that sweet craving. They were gone in two days because I couldn't stay away!! I had them for dessert, breakfast, and a snack before my run! I get nervous trying new pre-run foods but these were great.

Makes ~12 bites

What you need:
2 very ripe bananas
1 C oats
1/4 C butterscotch chips
1/3 C shredded unsweetened coconut
1/3 C chopped walnuts
1 tsp ground cinnamon

What you do:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a bowl, mash the bananas and combine all other ingredients. 
3. Shape the mixture into round bites and place on a cookie sheet. The recipe should make about 12 bites. I sprayed my cookie sheet with Pam to make sure they didn't stick.
4. Bake for 15 minutes and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts:
1 Serving = 1 Bite
Calories 106
Fat 6g
Carbohydrates 13g
Protein 2g
Sugar 6g
Sodium 6mg

If you want to warm them the next day, pop them in the microwave for 12 seconds, perfect!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Baked Cinnamon Pears [with vanilla greek yogurt]

With it being so cold lately, I have been craving a warm sweet treat. Sooo I tried my hand at some baked pears and LOVED THEM. It's healthier than a regular desert and is super easy to make. With some Greek yogurt on top, it's the perfect winter dessert.
Here's what you need:
4 pears
Vanilla Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 TBSP melted butter

Here's what you do:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Skin, half, and core the pears.
3. In a bowl combine the butter, cinnamon, and vanilla and brush the pears with the mixture on each side.
4. Bake for 30 minutes on each side on a buttered 9 x 13 baking sheet, basting with the pan juices every 15 minutes.
5. Once the pears are done top with a spoonful of Vanilla Greek yogurt and enjoy!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Banana Dark Chocolate Muffins

Things have changed a lot for me lately. I am no longer living at home with my parents... but instead have moved to Birmingham, am attending Samford University for graduate school (I am getting my Masters in Public Health and doing a Dietetic Internship), and am living with 3 boys. It's weird, I know.

One thing I have learned about living with boys is that they often buy food they have no real intention of eating. Example A: one of my roommates purchased 6 bananas. Bananas go bad quickly. He did not eat a single banana. What happened? I made 3 batches of banana bread and muffins. I think now they're buying bananas just because they know I won't let them go to waste. BUT they were delicious so here I am to share the recipe!!
Here's what you need:
1 stick (8 TBSP) butter
2 very ripe bananas
2 eggs
1.5 C flour
1 C sugar
1 tsp baking soda
0.5-1 C dark chocolate chips (I just eye-balled it because I love chocolate and oftentimes go overboard)

Here's what you do:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cream the butter and sugar.
3. Beat the eggs and combine with the butter/sugar mix.
4. Mash the bananas and add to the mixture.
5. Mix in flour, sugar, chocolate chips, and baking soda.
6. Pour into muffin pan and bake for 25-30 minutes.

I also made this into bread. I combined the ingredients exactly the same but baked the bread for about 45-60 minutes. Just keep an eye on it and make sure it doesn't burn!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Delta Dash 2014

A couple of weeks ago I participated in the Delta Dash. I wasn't even sure what it was when I signed up for it, but quickly realized it was an obstacle-filled race somewhere between 3-4 miles. The obstacles included crawling in the mud, going down a slip-n-slide, carrying logs, flipping tires, climbing over slicked walls, and much more!
Around halfway through I started being told I was the second place girl! I was so surprised because I had been running with a friend and we were just trying to have a good time. I finished as the second place girl and was pretty proud of that!

At the awards ceremony I realized the first place finisher received a bronze alligator. Well... if I had known that I might've tried to win. I mean... who doesn't need a bronze alligator in their home? Oh well! I had a great time and would definitely do it again!!
We arrived clean and caffeinated and left muddy and tired but had an awesome time doing it!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

August's Resolution

Now that the 8th month of my year of resolutions is here I am having a tough time deciding what to do. Each month I have done something different but for this month I think I'm going to try something that goes along with my resolution from July. My resolution for August is to only go out to eat once a week. I find myself spending a lot of money at restaurants because it is an easy way to see friends and be social. I love going out to eat... I love everything about it. Except I find that most of my money goes there. I've tried this a couple times before so we'll see how it goes!

Resolution Recap:
1. January - spend less time on my phone
2. February - take Denny to the park twice a week
3. March - avoid chips
4. April - dress like an adult
5. May - read 3 books for fun
6. June - try foods I normally wouldn't
7. July - budget
8. August - only go out to eat once a week

Monday, July 21, 2014

How do I start enjoying running?

I've had lots of friends come to me for running advice, but the most common question I get is: How do I start enjoying running? Running isn't easy, especially in the summer. The best times to run are early in the morning or late in the evening and for most people that isn't ideal. After answering this question a few times I've come up with a list of ways to start truly enjoying running. Hopefully this will help!

1. Start out slow. If you pile too much on your plate and start out too heavy you will be sore, miserable, and discouraged. If you start slow by doing shorter runs a few days and week and building up from there you will be able to see progress and your endurance building. You will become more confident in your ability to run and soon be able to go for longer without stopping. For someone just starting out running I recommend you walk-jog-walk-jog each for a few minutes until your endurance builds up. Push yourself but don't increase distance or mileage too quickly or you risk injury. Try running 3 days a week, cross training (swim, elliptical, or bike) 2 days a week, and take a few days off. Improvement doesn't come quickly but it will come. Having confidence in your running will help you enjoy it more.

2. Timing. Pick a time of the day that isn't absolutely sweltering. I prefer the morning but the evenings are nice too. I know with the summer it is hard to convince yourself to exercise when there are more fun things you could be doing. If that is the case, the morning is probably the better time for you to go. Wake up, get it over with, and go on with your day!

3. Where do I run? If you go to Map My Run you can make your own routes or find those that others have made. This way you can plot exactly where you want to go, see exactly how long it is, and you are less likely to get lost. Change it up! If you do the same route each day it is likely you will get bored and lose interest. Start from your house one day but another day try starting from a coffee shop, school, or work to get a change of scenery. If it is too hot do not be afraid to run on the treadmill!

4. Sign up for a race. Once you feel good about your running find a local race to sign up for! It gives you something to train for and working towards a goal will motivate you. For me, I would rather have a training plan (easily found on Pinterest) to stick to than to try and run without one. Once you complete the race you will be so proud of yourself and more confident than you were before! Races are a fun way to get together with a group of people that enjoy the same things you do. Everyone is working hard and working together and the crowd that gathers to cheer will push you and keep you going!

5. Find a group to run with. Many cities will have local running groups that are always welcoming new members. Ask your local gym if they know of any groups or try searching for them online. It is always easier to make running a social event than a solo struggle. It is also fun to do races with friends. That way you are all excited about the same thing and can keep each other accountable!

6. Get a good playlist. A good playlist can go a long way while working out. Make an up-beat playlist that you can sing along to and soon you'll find yourself distracted and enjoying the music and not paying attention to how hard it is to keep yourself moving. Try Pandora, 8tracks, Songza, or Spotify for free music to listen to while you run!

7. Endorphins - You will feel SO MUCH BETTER after completing a run! Nobody ever went on a run, came home, and regretted it. Everyone has those bad days, and those are inevitable, but each bad day will better prepare you for the next one to come. You will be glad you went, happy it is over, and ready for the next good run. Plus... your dessert or beer will be that much more deserved after a nice run!
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