Guy Day Friday [Protein Energy Bites]

Have I mentioned that our stove has been broken for more than 2 weeks now? It’s terrible. We’ve used our griddle and crock pot for meals but seriously, there is SO MUCH you need a stove for! My husband is likely getting tired of me telling him we should just forget the warranty company and go buy a new one (I REALLY WANT TO BE ABLE TO USE A STOVE!). Anyway, I made these delicious protein energy bites to travel with us for the holidays and since they’re no-bake, it worked out perfectly.

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Ingredients: 

1 c. quick oats (I actually used steel cut)
2 TBS chia seeds (PACKED WITH PROTEIN!)
1 TBS flax seeds
1/2 cup Chocolate Chips (or dark chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, raisins, craisins, almonds, walnuts)
2/3 c. coconut flakes
2/3 c. peanut butter (I used crunchy! Almond butter would also be good!)
1/3 c. honey (or agave nectar!)
1 tsp. vanilla

Optional:

1 TBS protein powder

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Directions: 

Mix all ingredients in same bowl until combined well (I used my hands but a wooden spoon would work too)

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Put in refrigerator for 30 minutes until mixture cools/hardens a bit

Roll out into 1 inch balls  on wax paper

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Should make 20-25 balls per batch. Keep refrigerated. Good for up to 5 days (I doubt they’ll last that long after you try the first one! SOOOO good!).

Let me know if you try other ingredients, I’d love to know what flavor combinations you come up with!

My month as a (mostly) vegetarian!

For some reason, I decided I would be a vegetarian for the month of September. Probably not the smartest move since I had two full weeks of travel and events every weekend; but I obviously didn’t consider that when I made my decision. I did allow myself to have fish and shellfish – and I ended up having A LOT of it. I’m probably pumped full of mercury right now, and fiber from all the vegetables I had.

For breakfast, I mostly stuck with my vegan chocolate Shakeology. I have so much energy from these shakes – and I’ve totally stopped drinking coffee! A few times I had eggs or oatmeal for breakfast but that’s usually reserved for days when the hubs is home. Lunch was usually a salad or pasta (whole wheat, of course). I always had plenty of snacks on me like almonds or walnuts, fruit: blueberries, apples, bananas, scuppernongs, avocado, carrots & hummus, and greek yogurt with granola. Leftovers always serve as a delicious lunch, too, but I have always had a hard time re-heating fish so only when I had other food the night before did I take leftovers for lunch.

When I went to the conference, I had a veggie panini one day, pasta another and a veggie pizza from Wolfgang Puck Pizza Bar on the way out of Indianapolis. For dinner, I was able to get a little more creative (and spend a little more time). I had salmon, sea bass, garlic lime shrimp pasta, vegetarian lasagna, vegan potato salad, and veggies and quinoa for dinner when I made it at home. When we were out and about, I had tofu, eggplant tacos, scallops & shrimp, various types of fish, shrimp pho, a black bean quesadilla, more veggie pizza and veggie burgers.

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Now, I say “mostly” vegetarian because I cheated a few times. The first was at an event where I had a piece of pork. I didn’t see vegetarian options, so I chose meat. Another night, I couldn’t get Mac’s wings out of my mind, so I grabbed 8 of them on the way home and devoured them. Last weekend, we hosted “Drinktoberfest” where we offered bratwursts, and I inhaled two of them. I probably could have avoided those 3 meals of meat but I didn’t. My husband laughs at me often about not having willpower (especially when it comes to Mac’s wings).

I’m okay introducing some meat back into my life but I think I’ll try like once or twice a week and do vegetarian meals the rest of the week. I feel a little better. Can’t say I’m any lighter but that probably has to do with all those guavaberry coladas in St. Martin and the Exact Target conference last week (it was open bar everywhere I turned).

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I think my next challenges will be no alcohol for a month and maybe a no sugar month. Sugar will be hard because I love dessert. I could probably just eat dessert for my meal. And I definitely eat it first when the option is there. I can avoid alcohol but it’s tough with all the weddings we have (I need a little liquid encouragement to dance).

Have you ever tried being vegan or vegetarian? What was your motivation? Did you miss meat / animal products?

Pumpkin Everything

With the arrival of Fall this month, I immediately starting craving all things pumpkin (except for Starbucks’ PSL, I know, go ahead and hate me). It’s easy to crave comfort foods in the Fall, especially as the weather gets cooler and we want to be full and warm. So trying to be conscious of that, I’ll share my favorite pumpkin recipes and then some healthy recipes to offset some of the unhealthiness of those.

First, (since I love dessert so much), 3-ingredient pumpkin cookies. They claim these are “low fat” but I wouldn’t overindulge. They are quick and easy and great if you need to take something to a holiday party or work function.

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Next, pumpkin chocolate chip bars. These are heaven in your mouth. I won’t make any low-fat claims, but I will tell you how amazing they are. They will be devoured wherever you take them. That is, if you can get them out of the house; my husband wants to eat them all the second I make them.

Pumpkin Stew is another favorite. You make it and serve it right in the pumpkin, which will surely wow your guests (or kids). This one takes a little longer to make but will be well worth it. It’s a hearty meal, too. Make sure to scoop out some pumpkin with each serving to give everyone a little more of the pumpkin flavor.

For breakfast, I’d serve pumpkin pancakes, maybe with chocolate chips or caramel drizzle on the weekends but plain maple syrup will do the trick, too. You can’t go wrong with maple syrup. Oh and bonus? These are gluten-free (enjoy, Christina!).

Lastly, pumpkin chili, because everyone loves chili in the colder months. You add in black beans and garbanzo beans to make this recipe delicious, but we’ve always been fans of having 4-5 kinds of beans in our chili, so I say the more the merrier. This is a vegetarian recipe, but you could certainly add meat if you wanted. I would probably recommend ground turkey.

Now, looking for a few healthier fall meals and side dishes? These will be loved by your friends and family, so start cooking!

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Potato & Green Lentil Salad, a vegan side that’s actually pretty easy to throw together. I used baby red potatoes, but as the recipe says, you can really use whatever you prefer. Since it’s vegan, there’s no mayo which is a plus in my book! I loved the mustard-y flavor of this dish and that it was served warm, and not as gooey as traditional potato salads.

Vegetarian stuffed Greek peppers are not just colorful, but also flavorful. You can put so much goodness in one of these babies and even customize it for each person. Another favorite is this quinoa stuffed portabellos. I made these for dinner one night and was surprised at how full I got! I even had extras for lunch the next day.

15247_10100998721121973_1725917825394690934_nSince being a (mostly) vegetarian this month, I’ve eaten a lot of fish. Couldn’t cut seafood out of my diet, too! This roasted salmon and brussels sprouts recipe is perfect for fall. Brussels sprouts are definitely one of my favorite veggies to have for dinner – especially in the fall!

Lastly, I love this easy recipe for rolled oats turkey meatballs. I would suggest mixing in 1 TBSP of an organic (low sodium) tomato sauce to give them a little more flavor, especially if you’re not planning to use for spaghetti and meatballs. I ate mine as the meat for my meal, with a side of veggies. Usually 3-4 meatballs fills me up. You’ll want to play around with the recipe the first few times you try it.  *You’re supposed to stay under 2300 mg of sodium/day. Be aware of how much is in the packaged or canned food you’re eating. When possible, go with unprocessed foods!

I’d love to hear your favorite fall or pumpkin flavored foods – please leave a comment with a link to the recipe. Always looking for new ones to try! Speaking of, I’m dying to try this white bean, kale and sausage recipe I found on Pinterest! It will have to wait until October though, I’m finishing out September strong with vegetarian meals.