Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Banana Blondies with Brown Sugar Frosting

As you know, a big focus for this blog is healthy, yummy food. Ever since doing Whole30 in January, I have noticed how much better I feel when putting good food into my body. Eating healthy food doesn't need to be boring and that's what I want to share with you all.

That being said...I'm not a robot. I still love me some sugary desserts. Not only that, I was having company over and wanted to bake something special for my friend who can't eat chocolate. You read that right, she CAN'T eat chocolate. It makes her extremely ill. How horrid is that???

Anyway, I was scouring Pinterest (as I do) to find an awesome chocolate free recipe. That isn't an easy task. Almost everything has SOME form of chocolate in it. Then I found this epic post from Cookies & Cups. Banana Blondies with a scrumptious brown butter frosting. Brown Butter is the new thing, so not wanting to be left out of the craze, I couldn't pass this one by.

These Blondies are super easy to make & come out all fudgy & dense and beautiful. I'm very sad that I don't have more to stuff in my face right now. I made my friend and her partner take some home and I only had one (or 5 or whatever).

Without further ado...
Banana Blondies with Brown Sugar Frosting
Ingredients:
Blondies:
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup light brown sugar
1 egg 
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1 medium ripe banana, mashed

Brown Sugar Icing:
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp milk
1 cup icing sugar

Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously spray an 8 x 8 baking dish with cooking spray or butter. Make sure it's nice and greased up.
  2. Using a stand mixer (or hand mixer) combine the melted butter and sugar until smooth. Add in the egg and the vanilla and mix until completely combined. (On a side note, at this point I got a HUGE piece of shell in the batter and I kid you not, it took me 5 minutes to scoop it out. Let this be a lesson - crack your eggs in another bowl before adding to your batter)
  3. Set mixer to stir - add in the salt, flour and banana and combine until smooth
  4. Pour your batter into your prepared baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes. Take out at 20 minutes and test with a toothpick. If it comes out wet and slimy, leave in for another 5+ minutes. It's ready when the center of the blondies is firm but still spongy to the touch.
  5. When finished, remove and let cool for about 40 minutes.
The Frosting:
While the blondies are cooling - make your icing. This stuff is crack. It truly makes every difference with these blondies, so do not skip this step!
  1. In a medium pot, melt the butter. Add the brown sugar and milk. Keep stiring and bring to a boil. As soon as it starts to boil, remove from heat.
  2. Using a whisk, stir in the powdered sugar in batches. The icing will become nice and thick.
  3. Spread this glorious mixture on the blondies while they're still warm.
  4. Let cool for a little while longer & serve
Source: Cookie & Cups

That's it! Okay, it's a little bit of work, but I promise you, they are SO worth it!

Enjoy! xo

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Healthified Buffalo Chicken Taquitos

Hello There Friends! I'm really excited to share this recipe with you. They were inspired by something that I saw on Pinterest (where else?) and the Healthified Buffalo Chicken dip that I posted a ways back. These things are epic. Crunchy, gooey, cheesy...epic.

However, before I get to those, I want to tell you a story. This is a story about a girl who has a blog and a big idea. She started blogging because she had discovered she really loved two things - running and baking. For those of you who aren't following so far, this story is about me. The soul purpose of this blog was to share fitness & running tips along with sharing some of my favourite baked treats with you guys.

For almost two years, I've been blogging here. I've shared my woes, my joys and of course, my favourite recipes. Most of them are adapted from other recipes I've found on the internet, a couple are my own. For most of the time, they were posts about over the top, decadent treats. When I first started, I was running a lot, so I could bake those treats with all the sugar, butter and chocolate I could find.

Then real life hit. The following 1.5 years was a lot of emotional growth, trials and tribulations. I lost focus of why I started this blog in the first place. I became obessed with taking the PERFECT photo & if I couldn't do that, I didn't post. I felt like if it wasn't perfect, it wasn't worth doing (this is a common theme in my life, but more on that another time).

Anyway, the point to all that dribble drabble is that I've taken a step back and thought about what I want to do here. First and foremost, I want to keep cooking & baking and sharing my favourite recipes with you.

Secondly, I want these recipes to be (mostly) healthy. Eating well has always been really important to me, but even more so after I did the Whole30. I felt how good I could feel when eating a well balanced diet full of fruits and veggies. I want to keep that going and help show others that it doesn't have to be hard to eat well.

Finally, I want to share awesome workouts, tips and tricks and share my ongoing journey with you.

The pictures might not be artsy & well laid out, the posts might be more spread out, but this blog is really important to me and I hope you'll stick around to see where it goes. P.S. I love you for following me to this point.

NOW - onto these amazing morsels. 

I say that they're healthified because I made them with light cream cheese, lower fat sour cream and poached chicken. I also rolled them up in whole grain tortillas (as opposed the the nutritionally empty flour tortillas).

Note: I made the chicken for these in the slow cooker to get them nice and moist and easy to shred. Feel free to poach or bake them, it's totally up to you. 

These make a yummy meal (with plenty of leftovers) or a fantastic appetizer if you have a crowd.

P.S. I have no idea what a taquito is, but that's what they're called on Pinterest, and we all know Pinterest doesn't lie. 

Healthified Buffalo Chicken Taquitos
Prep Time: 20-25min
Cook Time: 20-25mins
Serves 6-7

Ingredients:
2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2 cups)
8oz light Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup Frank's Red Hot Sauce
3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
6-8 large whole grain tortillas

Instructions:
  1. Before work (or in the morning) place chicken breasts in the bottom of a slow cooker (with about 1/4 cup of water) and cook on low for 8 hours. Alternatively, you can poach your chicken breasts if you don't have all day.
  2. When ready to prepare, preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. Once chicken is fully cooked, shred it with 2 forks and place in the bowl of a stand mixer. You can do this by hand, but if you have a mixer, it's much easier. Add cream cheese, sour cream, Frank's & cheese.
  4. Mix until combined.
  5. Spoon a decent amount into the middle of a tortilla and roll up. Place "flap" down on the cookie sheet. 
  6. Continue until you've used all of the mixture.
  7. Place cookie sheet into oven for about 20 minutes. Once time is up, remove cookie sheet, turn all the taquitos over and bake for another 5 minutes.
  8. They're ready when they're sizzling and a nice golden brown on top.
  9. Remove & carefully cut in half - be super careful, they are HAWT.
  10. Serve with carrot and celery sticks & your favourite dip! Be careful when eating (especially if serving to children) because the middle is super, super hot (just ask the blistering roof of my mouth)
Inspired by: Chef in Training

That's it! Hope you love these as much as I did!

- Lisa

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Things to Know Before you Start Your FIRST Whole30

Guys, I finished Whole30! I cannot believe that I did it. When I first started I was SURE I was going to want to quit at some point or at the very least cave and sneak a little summin summin in. While I did have a tough weekend after week 3, I pulled myself together and finished.

I have to say, I feel very proud of this accomplishment. If I ever wondered what kind of willpower I have, I certainly found out. A bonus, I feel freaking AWESOME. I haven't felt this good in as long as I can remember.

Now, I don't think I would have been as successful as I did if I didn't do my research. I looked at blogs, I read reviews, found recipes, planned meals, had a game plan, the works.  For those of you starting Whole30 for the first time, here is a (lengthy) list of things that helped me before I started & something things that I wish I knew.

Either way - no matter your age, lifestyle or gender, I really recommend this program if you're looking to get yourself out of a bad eating rut & want to jumpstart your body & eating habits.

Things to Know Before you Start Your FIRST Whole30:
  • BUY THE BOOK - it's only $10 for the eBook or $20 for the hardcover
    • The program creators have an amazing way of explaining WHY certain foods are off the list and HOW these foods can impact your body negatively
  • If you're not going to buy the book - read the whole website
  • Pre-Whole30 PLAN
    • This program takes A LOT of planning - it is not something you can just start the next day 
    • Know what you can & cannot eat, find recipes that sound interesting to you & understand what you're getting into
  • Have a game plan for each week:
    • Know what is coming up (events, long days, dinners out) so that you can plan accordingly
  • Do yourself a favour and buy ALL new spices 
    • If you can't remember when you bought fresh spices last, chances are, they're old. Go get new spices
    • The ones I used the most - Cumin, Paprika, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Oregano, Chili Powder, Cayenne Pepper, Sea Salt, Fresh Black Pepper.
  • Don't do this program if you're looking to loose a lot of weight quickly - that is not the spirit of the program
  • Do not do this program if you're going to have a lot of occasions in which you will want to "cheat" (weddings, your birthday etc)
  • The first couple of weeks are expensive - you need to buy some things that you don't have immediately 
  • It's not hard to eat out
    • Just make sure you look at the menu first before you go & decide ahead of time what you're going to have
    • The safest bet is grilled chicken w/ greens & oil/balsamic dressing
  • Figure out your triggers
    • For me, watching TV or a movie at night after a long day - I want to reach for a snack. Now, I do my nails, read a book, drink herbal tea, CLEAN. Just need to keep my hands busy
  • It is HARD sometimes
    • Most days, I loved the program. There were a couple where all I wanted to do was buy a bag of chips and stuff my face 
    • These days SUCKED. I was irritated, emotional and angry. Jon was awesome and told me to keep going & that it was going to be worth it. He was right.
  • Have a support system - it is SO much easier to do this with someone else, especially when you have days like the above.
    • Even if it's your partner who is at least eating the same meals as you - that's what Jon did and it was SUPER amazing
  • For the first week or so, you will be hungry
    • It takes awhile to figure out how much food is enough to fill you up between meals
  • Prepare snacks for when you get hungry so that you're not reaching for junk
    • I had a jar of almonds on my desk at work and a piece of fruit
  • It's a challenge to explain the program to others
    • Most of the time, when I tell people about the program I see a lot of scrunchy noses and a lot of "Ohhh, so like you can't really eat anything?"
    • The best way I've found to describe Whole30 is a "Healthy Lifestyle Challenge"
  • Don't deprive yourself
    • Make sure you eat as much as you need - there is no need to count calories or fat. Just pick good food to eat and the rest will follow 
  • Have an exit strategy - think about what you're going to do at the end. 
    • It's all well and good to do this for 30 days, but the whole purpose is so that you can change your habits for life, have a plan for that
There you have it! It's a lot to take in and a lot of things to consider. If it helps, I enjoyed the experience so much that I think I'll be doing this program once a year, after Christmas & New Years and all that. It's a perfect way to re-set. 

Have you done a Whole30? If so, do you have any tips to add? I'd love to hear from you!

If this is your first time, feel free to reach out, I'd love to talk to you about it!

Good Luck!

- Lisa