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Posted on Apr 29, 2013 in Giveaway, Recipes | 5 comments

Melon Refresher Smoothie

I know you guys are strewn all throughout the country… and the continent… and the world! So I’m not sure exactly what the weather situation has been like in your individual areas over the past few weeks, but let me tell you: In the DC area, weather has been crazy this spring. We have gone from winter to summer to winter to spring  (oh, please, PLEASE let it finally be spring!), all within the timespan of a few days! A couple weeks back, I swear, it was 38 degrees one day and 90 the next. That hot (hot, hot, hot!) summer weather stuck around for a few days, and boy, did I feel it.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever explained that summer is actually my least favorite season. I know, blasphemous, right? Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot the things that summer brings: pool parties, beach trips, ice cream trucks, and tons of general feel-goodery. But summer also brings with it lots of things that I don’t love: Mosquitos, humidity, and—oh yeah—the heat.

I am not a slight woman. This much has been, and will always be, true. Whether I’m 250 pounds or 150 pounds, I will always have big ol’ bones and this 5’9” frame and I will always, always be the sweaty beast that I become when it’s 90+ degrees outside. I know that paints an extremely attractive picture of me, but seriously. Is there anyone in the world who gets as sweaty as me when the weather is hot? I doubt it.

Given my proclivity for transforming into the aforementioned Sweaty Mess Formerly Known as Gretchen, I’m constantly on the lookout for ways to cool me down, inside and out. The out usually means I exist solely in sundresses and flipflops from May – September, while the inside means I’m eating lots and lots of cooooool foods. So when the weather unexpectedly spiked, what do you think I did? Yep, I immediately sought out a light and refreshing new smoothie recipe to cool my sweaty soul.

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Plus, I won’t lie, I really, really wanted a reason to use my new Vitamix. Hehehe.

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Enter: the cantaloupe smoothie.

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I know, sounds kinda weird, right? Well, let me assure you, if you are a melon lover of any kind, you will lo-o-ove this smoothie. It’s sweet but oh-so-light, cooling and very refreshing. I sucked down half my glass without even realizing it, that’s how wonderful it is. This can be made with any kind of melon, too. I happened to have a perfectly ripe cantaloupe on hand, but it would be awesome with honeydew, or even watermelon! Especially watermelon, actually. Mmm, watermelon… And with only five—count ‘em, FIVE!—ingredients on the list, you can be sure this is going to be a staple in my summer eats rotation.

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Melon Refresher Smoothie

Half a cantaloupe, seeded and cubed (~3 cups)
1 cup Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Almondmilk Original (unsweetened or not, your preference)
2 tbsp sugar
1 cup ice
Drizzle of honey (add more or less to taste)

Regular blender instructions: Put ingredients in blender in order listed, blend on high for 30 seconds, or until smooth.

Vitamix instructions: Put ingredients in blender in order listed. Start on Variable speed 1 and quickly increase to 10, then high. Blend for 15 seconds.

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This recipe makes about three 12-ounce servings… or, if you’re me, two 18-ounce servings. Heh. You can store extras in the fridge for a couple days (you may need to shake or re-blend for a few seconds). Enjoy, and keep cool out there!

almondbreezelogoThe above post was sponsored by Blue Diamond Almond Breeze, but all content is 100% my own.

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Posted on Mar 28, 2013 in Recipes | 3 comments

Savory Rosemary Bread Pudding

Hi folks! Sorry I’ve been MIA these past couple days. As you may know, I’m in Houston right now visiting my adorable newborn niece (1 week old today!) so blogging has admittedly fallen to the wayside. But I figured I would check in at least once today while baby Mia is sleeping to bring you a delicious new recipe!

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The weather in DC lately seems to be flipflopping between Winter and Spring lately. Sunny and 65* one day, snowing the next. So I find my appetite to be in this weird pseudo-wintery place. In fact, even though it’s officially supposed to be Spring, I’ve lately found myself craving hearty winter foods. So when the time came for me to dream up a new recipe using Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Almondmilk, I ended up whipping something up that brought me straight back to the comfort and warmth of the colder months (and, yes, I do realize this is somewhat ironic as today it was 70* and sunny in Houston, but regardless): a savory bread pudding!

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Bread pudding is actually (and somewhat surprisingly) one of my favorite desserts. Sean is constantly baffled by this, but for some reason there’s just something about the ooey, bready stuff that I go nuts over. Of course, since I gave up desserts for Lent, and it’s not quite Easter yet, I had to swap the sugar for seasonings.

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The result was a warm, steaming bowl of deliciousness that actually reminded me a lot of stuffing. Which is awesome, because I love stuffing, but can’t bring myself to eat it on not-Thanksgiving days. Y’know, cause I pretty much eat enough ON Thanksgiving to last me the rest of the year. Heh.

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This recipe actually ended up being super easy, crazy delicious, and, because I used P28 high-protein bread, quite nutritious, too! And if you want to make it vegan, all you’d have to do is sub-out a vegan bread option (since I don’t think P28 is). Easy peasy. It can stand alone as a quick and easy lunch dish, or be a wonderful side dish.

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Savory Rosemary Bread Pudding

Ingredients:

4 slices P28 high-protein bread (or other bread of your choice)
2.5 cups Almond Breeze unsweetened original almond milk
1/2 medium white or yellow onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1.5 tsp dried rosemary
1 tbsp butter
Salt & pepper

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375*.
2. Toast your bread slices until dry and crunchy. (An alternative would be to simply use stale bread.)
3. In a pan with high sides, saute onion, garlic, and carrots in butter until vegetables are soft, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add almondmilk, rosemary, and salt & pepper, and bring to a simmer.
4. Chop toasted bread into even cubes, and put in a bowl with the chopped green onion.
5. Pour the almondmilk and vegetables over the cubes, and lightly toss until mixture is combined. Let sit until liquid is fully absorbed (just a minute or two) and pour into a casserole dish (I used a 9×9).
6. Bake for 30 minutes, or until top of the pan is golden brown. Feel free to turn on the broiler at the end for a minute if you prefer an even crispier top layer.

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And if my own word isn’t enough to convince you of this deliciousness, believe me when I say that Harry and Daxter were literally salivating to get some of this goodness for themselves. Unfortunately for them, there’s no way I was gonna share. 😉

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Nutritional info per 1/4th serving (which ended up being a big heapin’ bowlful, and probably more than you would eat if you were serving this as a side): 200 calories, 8 g fat, 18 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 17 (!!) g protein.

almondbreezelogoThe above post was sponsored by Blue Diamond Almond Breeze, but all content is 100% my own.

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Posted on Feb 26, 2013 in Food, Recipes | 7 comments

Smoked Salmon Egg Cups (with Almond Breeze!)

Happy Tuesday, all! I’m here with a brand spankin’ new recipe for you — one of the extra delicious variety.

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Well, it’s extra delicious if you happen to love eggs, smoked salmon, and dill. If you don’t like any of those things, then you need to change this might not be up your alley, hahaha. I present to you: smoked salmon egg cups!

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Now, as you guys know, I am a notorious breakfast skipper. Or, at least, I was in my past (grossly unhealthy and overweight) life. It always made sense to me to skip it, as the chronic starvation diet yo-yoer that I was told me that skipping a meal = skipping calories which must = weight loss. FALSE. Skipping breakfast just meant my metabolism was sleeping until I crammed a cheesesteak into my mouth at lunch. Skipping breakfast just meant that I was more likely to make bad choices later in the day. So now I say, boo to skipping breakfast.

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Which is where these beauties come in. See, while I really do try my best not to skip breakfasts anymore, I am unfortunately a creature of (bad) habit. Also, I really, really love to sleep. So if my breakfast doesn’t come in grab-and-go form, it usually doesn’t get eaten. Unfortunately, most grab-and-go breakfasts are sugar-laden bakery-style treats (mmmm, heavenly) and since I’m trying to actively cut down on both my simple carbs AND my sugar consumption, those aren’t a very viable option for me anymore. So I put together a recipe for a breakfast that’s portable (and adorable) using just four simple ingredients: eggs, smoked salmon, fresh dill, and unsweetened Blue Diamond Almond Breeze almond milk.

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They turned out great! They’re dairy-free, if you’re like me and tend to experience a bit of… discomfort… when you have milk. You can also use these same ingredients to make an omelette (I do 2 eggs with ~2 tbsp of almond milk for my omelettes) if you’re better at, um, mornings than I am. But you know how much better things are when they come in miniaturized muffin-form anyway, so this really works out for everyone. These would also be fantastic to serve for brunch! Already individually portioned, they’d be right at home next to a pile of silver dollar pancakes and some bacon strips. Nom.

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This recipe makes 12 egg cups, so that’s enough to have two each morning for 6 days! Or three for 4 days. Your choice. They keep in the fridge for up to a week, and while I think they taste just fine cold or at room temp, you can zap them in the microwave for a bit if you like. (Just not too long. Seriously. Not only will they overcook if you reheat them for too long, they will also burn your prints right off for your fingertips. #tested)

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Smoked Salmon Egg Cups

Ingredients:

6 large eggs
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened Blue Diamond Almond Breeze almond milk (Original flavor)
3 oz. smoked salmon, diced
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 350*.
2. In a bowl, whisk eggs, chopped dill, almond milk, and salt & pepper together until thoroughly combined.
3. Spray muffin tin with nonstick baking spray and distribute smoked salmon evenly throughout the cups.
4. Pour egg mixture over the smoked salmon, filling the cups about 2/3 of the way.
5. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes, or until eggs are no longer jiggly. They may expand in the oven, but will deflate once they have been removed from the heat. If you have any issues getting the top to solidify, pop them under the broiler for an additional minute.
6. Enjoy!

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As I’ve said, these are just wonderful. I’ve been having two egg cups with half a high-protein bagel with sunbutter or PB, and sometimes a banana or some grapes. SO delicious, SO filling, and SO good for you! They did come out quite dill-y, which I love, but if you’re not as into that as I am, just scale back the dill a bit. Or you can leave it out all together if you like. I bet they’d taste epic with basil instead, too. Mmm, maybe I’ll try that for next time.

Happy breakfasting!

almondbreezelogoThe above post was sponsored by Blue Diamond Almond Breeze, but all content is 100% my own.

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Posted on Jan 24, 2013 in Food, Recipes | 12 comments

Vacation in a Glass

Hi dee ho, friends! Guess what? We got SNOW here last night! Finally! I mean, technically it had snowed like twice before, but this time it really stuck and is pretty and causing traffic issues all over the metropolitan DC area. Hooray!

Now, as we recently learned (re-learned?) I spent a good deal of my life growing up in Canada. So, I really like snow. I actually like winter a lot. I’d rather be curled up in a warm blanket than sweating my buns off in the August humidity any day. Of course, that isn’t to say that I don’t get my fair share of the winter blues. I’ve actually been having a touch of the SADs lately (Seasonal Affective Disorder), truth be told. Which essentially means I’ve been even moodier and more emotional than normal. (The horror!) And also means I’ve been fantasizing about hopping on a flight to Miami pretty much every other day. (I think writing my second book by the poolside sounds kind of nice, don’t you?)

Unnnnfortunately, the reality is that I have no money and even less vacation time, and probably won’t be able to swing the weekend vacation of my winter dreams. So when I was tasked with creating a recipe for Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Almondmilk (my favorite!!) I knew exactly the direction I wanted to go in.

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A smoothie that is meant for those mornings when I suck at eating breakfast, and also for when I come down with a bit of the winter blues. Two birds, one stone, that whole thing.

Oh yeah, and because it’s me, I made it all healthy and crap. 😉

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The concept is pretty darn simple. Throw the ingredients in a blender and go to town. If you have a really nice, high-speed blender like a Vitamix or Ninja or something, all the better!

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Also, if you have a high-speed blender, you can use frozen fruit ingredients instead of fresh ones and give this smoothie more of a milkshake-like consistency. But that’s not quite as winter compatible, given that it’s already been below-freezing this week.

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Healthy Tropical Breakfast Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 cup Almond Breeze Almondmilk Coconutmilk Blend (THIS IS MY FAVORITE THING EVER, BTW)
1/2 cup pineapple chunks + juice
1/2 a banana
5 – 8 strawberries
Generous handful of spinach
1 cup ice

Directions:

Dump into a blender. Blend.

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Pretty simple, huh? Of course, the addition of the spinach means that the smoothie turns into a terrible mucky color, but I promise you can’t taste anything spinach-y WHATSOEVER! Nutritional stats look like this:

Calories: 200, Fat: 3 grams, Carbohydrate: 40 grams, Fiber: 6 grams (!), Protein: 3 grams

A little high on the carb front (cause it’s got fruit, which equals sugar) but a surprisingly awesome amount of fiber and a little bit o’ protein to boot. Not too shabby for a delicious breakfast smoothie, IMO! And of course, there’s the part where it tastes really yummy, too.

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Also, I got bangs.

The above post was sponsored by Blue Diamond Almond Breeze, but the photos, words, and, most importantly, opinions are all my own.

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Posted on Jun 29, 2012 in Food, Recipes | 13 comments

Refreshing Summer Meals

So I have some thoroughly exciting news for you all: my car’s A/C is working again! My amazing mama, who simply couldn’t bear to see her beloved youngest child suffering in the heat any longer, offered to take it into the shop and get it checked out for me. They recharged it and put that dye in it to check where the leak is, so while the A/C isn’t technically FIXED, it is working again. At least until all the freon leaks out again. But that could be tomorrow, or it could be next summer. Here’s hoping it’ll be much closer to the latter!

The timing of this fix really couldn’t be better, considering that we’re in for another set of HOT days over the weekend.

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Eep. On the bright side, there is nothing that curbs my appetite more than having to peel my sticky thighs off of a chair. In fact, the very idea of eating anything warm on crazy hot days — let alone turning on the oven! — makes me actively (and dramatically) wretch. So hey! Maybe this summer I will actually stop making excuses and finally drop these last 20-ish pounds! Hey, a girl can dream, right?

In that vain, I thought it might be a fun Friday thing to offer up a few of my favorite light, summery, (mostly) no cook recipes. Usually, the biggest thing they require is boiling something on the stove, and you can always do that ahead of time (maybe in the dead of night? When the sun is gone? And the sweat is only pooling in the creases of your body rather than actively dripping down your extremities? Heh. Gross.).

Hokay!

 

Ha! As if I would start with anything other than my delicious, sweet & savory, tropically-twisted Mango Guacamole. This stuff will change your life, I swear it. And look! Not a stove nor a pan nor a baking dish required! Just a bowl, a spoon, and some sweet chopping skillz.

 

My girl Cassie has some banging recipes on her site, and one of the ones that caught my eye most recently was this Cold Greek Quinoa Salad. The only thing that requires heat is cooking the quinoa. Otherwise, it’s a refreshing, chilling salad that’s full of nutrition and flavor! Yum.

 

My Healthy Chicken Salad recipe is another one that requires just one cooked ingredient: the chicken! Why not take advantage of that summertime tradition and cook ’em up on the grill? Of course, if the thought of manning a hot grill on a hot day isn’t your ideal summer activity, you can always find pre-cooked chicken at the store. You could even tear up a rotisserie chicken for this! You have as many options as your laziness will allow. 😉

 

Finally, I recently saw this recipe for Summer Macaroni Salad on Gina’s fantastic blog. It looks absolutely delicious and is a rather low-calorie pasta option: only 115 calories per cup!

So tell me: what’s your favorite easy, breezy summertime recipe?

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