Healthy Mocha

Healthy Mocha

For when you need some sweet comfort but don’t want to undo your whole healthy day. This is warm, rich, and yummy. It comes in at under 100 cals. You’re welcome.

Healthy Mocha

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1-2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (based on chocolately preference)
  • 2 tsp instant coffee granules
  • 1-2 tbsp pure maple syrup (based on sweetness preference)
  • Tiiiiny splash of pure vanilla
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon

Preparation:

Heat almond milk either in microwave or on stove top. Once hot, add cocoa, coffee, maple, cinnamon, and vanilla. Stir until smooth and frothy. Enjoy this 90 calorie sweet treat!

Tropical Mint Smoothie

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This past weekend I picked up a beautiful bunch of mint (for only $1!) at the Farmer’s Market. I placed it in a cup with water so it would keep until I decided how I was going to use the gorgeous little bushel.

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I have plans for a Greek inspired dinner this week utilizing the mint, but there’s plenty to go around! So this morning I started my week off right with a healthy mint smoothie. Inspired by Women’s Health Magazine’s weekly #Shareyoursmoothie campaign, I made this beauty for #MintSmoothie week. I was in a rush, so I threw together what I thought would go best with mint, and it turned out delicious. Really put a minty pep in my step!

Tropical Mint Smoothie

Yield: 1 serving

Ingredients:

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/4 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1 cup-1 1/2 cups coconut water
  • 1/2 tbsp chia seeds
  • handful of fresh mint leaves

Preparation:

Toss all ingredients into your blender – chia seeds last so they don’t get stuck to the bottom. Blend together and enjoy immediately! This smoothie comes out to just about 200 calories so it’s a perfect post-workout drink as well!

Note: You don’t have to use frozen pineapple and banana, but I find I like the texture of frozen fruit so much better than adding ice.

Mint Smoothie 4

Mint Smoothie 3

I threw all the ingredients into the blender, then ran out the door and drank my smoothie on the way to work, along with a little baggie of my homemade granola. :)

Mint Smoothie 1

Zucchini Bread with Chocolate Chips

Zucchini bread

The whole food internet world is lamenting over their excess of zucchinis. Every other day I see a post that tells you what to do when you’re fed up with zucchini, or how to control your squash population problem. It’s a serious crisis. Everyone needs to just calm down and take a breather. Stop making ribbons, stuffing, and pureeing. Just get back to the basics and make a damn cake. That’s basically what zucchini bread is anyway. Who gets tired of cake?

Zucchini bread is so welcoming, fragrant and charming; how can I say no when my zuke is just begging to be made it into a bread? This one is not quite as healthy as my last, but it’s still mostly healthy! It’s hard for me to abandon my health-nut nature entirely, so I simply lowered the sugar content by swapping in naturally sweet applesauce in lieu of more sugar, and used whole wheat flour and olive oil. I threw in dark chocolate chips for good measure, without measuring.

Although I studied other recipes in making this one, I’m proud to say this recipe is entirely my own!

One trick I find helpful, that I haven’t seen in other zucchini bread recipes, is to add the salt for the bread directly onto the grated zucchini. This draws out excess moisture.

While the zucchini is draining, get all of your other ingredients ready.

Zucchini Bread 1

Mix all of the wet ingredients.

Zucchini Bread 2

Then mix all of the dry ingredients.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix well. Then distribute between loaf pans, muffins tins, or whatever else you might be using.

Zucchini Bread 4

Zucchini Bread 3

Bake for 50 minutes at 350 degrees. It could be more or less time, depending on your oven.

Zucchini Bread with Dark Chocolate Chips

Yield: 2 loaves, or; 1 large loaf and 6 large muffins, or; 24 small muffins 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups grated zucchini (1 large or 2 medium)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 3 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (more or less to your liking)
  • Optional: chopped walnuts or pecans

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8×4 inch loaf pans. Or if, like me, you only have 1 loaf pan; grease 1 loaf pan and a muffin tin.

First things first, wash your zucchini and then grate on a box grater into a strainer. I mix the salt with the zucchini at this point, because it helps draw out some of the moisture. Let the zucchini sit and drain for about 10 minutes, then take a thin kitchen towel or cheese cloth and squeeze the excess water out.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Mix in the applesauce, oil, sugar, and vanilla. Then stir in the grated and drained zucchini.

Combine the flour, spices, baking soda, and baking powder. Add in the chocolate chips at this point too so the chips get some flour all up on them and don’t sink to the bottom when they bake.

Stir the dry mix into the wet mixture. Divide the batter into the 2 prepared loaf pans, or into 1 loaf pan and a muffin tin. You can also make ALL muffins if your heart so desires!

Bake loaves for about 50 minutes. It might need more or less time, but at this point test and see if a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center. Muffins will only take about 20 minutes, but test them the same way to ensure they are done.

Zucchini Bread 2

Zucchini Bread 3

Zucchini bread open

Zucchini bread open 2

Nom nom

Zucchini Bread 5

Brunch: Cafe Osage

Brunching [v.]: To eat brunch. e.g. “They go brunching every Saturday at 11.”

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In a few bullets, here’s why brunch is so fantastic:

  • You’re combining two meal into one, so basically you have free reign to eat whatever you want, guilt-free.
  • There are yummy and pretty cocktails involved that are made especially for this special meal.
  • You can get whatever you want. Smoked fish on toast? Of course! Steak with potatoes? Sure, why not? Salad with a side of cake? Ok then!
  • It’s usual, yet celebratory. I don’t know why it feels so special, but there’s just something about it. :::turns to gaze out window:::
  • You can do it almost anytime. You who rises early, brunch is for you. You who rolls out of bed with a hangover at 2pm, brunch is still there for you.

In short, brunch is perfect and the weekends are for brunching. Don’t mess with perfection.

I’ve gotten in the lovely habit this summer of going to morning yoga in Tower Grove Park, strolling through the Farmer’s Market on my way out, and heading to brunch with friends thereafter. This relaxing ritual gets me through the work week.

This past weekend, some friends and I went to Cafe Osage for a birthday brunch.

Osage outside

The venue is simple and beautiful, spacious and earthy. It’s located inside of Bowood Farms in the Central West End. They use produce and herbs fresh from their garden to create menu items, which makes for an excitingly local dining experience. The staff is friendly and, although we had to wait for a table, their gift shop, nursery, and restaurant feline kept us well occupied.

My one gripe about the restaurant is the wait time. I am pretty forgiving when I know my food is being cooked-to-order. I have no problem waiting for that extra quality and care. But we sat there and waited a good long while before we even got our drink orders in, then another 45 minutes just waiting for our drinks, THEN, we were able to finally order our food and waited another 45 minutes. The food was very good and I enjoyed the experience very much, but the wait would deter me from going back if I didn’t have 2+ hours to spare.

Osage 6

I ordered an espresso to start.

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Others got Bloody Mary’s, which were apparently wonderful!

(Check out Lauren, the chef, photo-bombing the Bloody shot.)

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And others got fancy brunch cocktails. I think this one was called the Botanical Garden. Pretty, no?

Osage 2

I ordered the Salmon Salad, which came with: mixed greens, hazelnuts, lemon hazelnut vinaigrette, a goat cheese baguette, and salmon of course. The fish was cooked to perfection, and I really liked the tart vinaigrette. The hazelnuts provided the perfect crunch, and everyone knows a good goat cheese toast is the way to my heart.

Osage 4

Another popular order at our table was the Greens, Eggs, and Ham. This came with poached eggs, prosciutto, and arugula, all piled atop a whole wheat crostini. The yoke had just the right amount of runniness to give the rocket some richness. Simple, and well done.

Osage 3

Another tasty choice was the Turkey Club, which came with: roasted turkey, Nueske bacon (from Wisconsin), hardboiled egg, lettuce, tomato, and tarragon mayonnaise on sourdough bread. I liked that the Club was a generous portion and did not leave one wanting for bacon.

We all enjoyed our meals, just not the wait time, but I will most likely be back. I support quality restaurants that utilize local ingredients. Although next time I go, I will make sure to get the bison burger, because I now know that they raise their own Bison on Bowood Farms. Plus, I’m long overdue for a good bison burger.

Poached Cod with Tomato and Saffron

Sea bass 1

My dear friend, Lauren, invited me over for a cooking date one weekend, and the picture above was part of the deliciousness that we made.

Lauren is a trained chef (unlike me, who learned from the Food Network and binge-food blog sessions, with one hand on the keyboard and the other elbow deep in a box of frosted mini-wheats…), so everything that girl makes is good. Lauren had some saffron she had “come into possession of,” so we decided to put it to good use. We wanted something light and summery, but rich and satisfying … cue in, the tomato and saffron poached cod!

We tied on our aprons, poured ourselves some fancy Moscow Mules, and cooked this beautiful seafood dish along with some pesto roasted cauliflower, using ingredients from Lauren’s garden. We paired the dish with fresh baker’s bread and ended with vanilla-scented peaches and cream for dessert. It was a picture-perfect summer dinner and I can’t wait until we do it again.

Poached Cod with Tomato and Saffron

Recipe from Bon Appetit

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or ½ crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 14.5-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • pinch of saffron threads
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 5-oz. skinless cod fillets

Preparation:

Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and Aleppo pepper and cook, stirring often, until fragrant (garlic should not take on any color), about 3 minutes.

Add tomatoes, crushing with your hands as you add them, wine, bay leaves, saffron, and ½ cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until flavors meld, 5–7 minutes; season with salt and pepper.
Reduce heat to medium-low; season cod with salt and pepper and place in skillet. Cover and cook at a bare simmer until cod is opaque throughout and beginning to flake, 5–7 minutes (thicker pieces will take longer to cook).
Gently transfer cod to shallow bowls and spoon poaching liquid over.

 

Maple Pecan Granola

Granola 2

I literally wince every time I look at the price of store-bought granola. I’m not exactly sure what is so special about their granola that makes it almost $10/bag … but there has to be some sort of magic involved. If not, then it’s just not worth it I say. It’s much more satisfying and economical to make your own. Plus, you know exactly what’s going into it, which is very important to me. I love this recipe because there’s no sugar, butter, or other sneaky extras making this a healthy snack for anytime. You can also swap out the nuts and fruit for whatever your favorites are! I used walnuts along with the pecans this time.

I was also quite proud of this particular batch of granola, because to get the shredded coconut I had … cracked open a fresh one, scraped out the flesh, pulverized it in the food processor, and then toasted it myself. My gold star should be coming in the mail any day now.

Most people eat their granola on top of yogurt or with milk, I usually take the barbarian route and grab a mouthful with my bare hands. Granola is an art. You do you.

Maple Pecan Granola

Recipe from Joy the Baker 

makes about 12 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans  (walnuts work too!)
  • 8 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 heaping cup coarsely chopped dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, toss together coconut, pecans, rolled oats, cinnamon, and salt.

In a medium suacepan over low heat, stir together the oil, maple syrup, and honey.  Stir until melted together.  Remove from heat and add vanilla extract.  Stir together.

Add the wet ingredients, all at once, to the rolled oat mixture.  Toss to coat, insuring that all of the dry ingredients are coated in the maple syrup mixture.  Divide the mixture between the two prepared baking pans.  Spread into an even layer.

Bake granola for 45 minutes to 1 hour, removing the pans from the oven twice during baking to toss and stir.  Once mixture is evenly browned and toasted, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.  Add dried fruit and store granola in an airtight container at room temperature.

Granola will last for several weeks … in theory. In reality, it will be gone within the hour.

Granola 4

Granola 3

Peach Crisp

Peach Crisp 2

As was said in James and the Giant Peach: [when cooking with peaches], “marvelous things will happen!”

I love Ree Drummond. She has some pretty great recipes and this Peach Crisp is one of my absolute favorites. It’s silly how easy this crisp is to make and even sillier how delicious it is. Ladle some hot peach crisp into a bowl, pour the cold maple cream sauce over top and then ask someone to pinch you because you’ll be seriously concerned that you’re dreaming. Then maybe take a straight shot of the cream sauce and call it a day.

Peach Crisp with Maple Cream Sauce

Recipe from The Pioneer Woman 

Ingredients:

  • 5 to 6 whole fresh peaches from Eckerts!
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 whole lemon
  • 7 tbsp real maple syrup, divided
  • 1-1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 3 tbsp light corn syrup

Preparation:

In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, light brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt using a fork or pastry cutter. Cut butter into small pieces and gradually add to flour mixture until evenly mixed.

Peel peaches into a bowl. Add the zest from half a lemon. Squeeze juice from lemon half and stir in with peaches and zest. Add 2 tablespoons real maple syrup to peaches, stir well.

Pour peach mixture into a small pan (8” or 9” square) and cover evenly with crumb topping. Cover with foil and bake at 350ºF for 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 20 to 30 minutes or until crisp and brown on top.

Maple Cream Sauce:

Pour whipping cream into a saucepan. Add 5 tablespoons real maple syrup, 3 tablespoons corn syrup and stir over moderate heat until thickened and reduced by about one-third, approximately 15 minutes. Refrigerate mixture until it is cold and thick, or set the saucepan into a small bowl of ice (the ice will melt and turn into ice water). Stirring your mixture, it will cool and thicken in about 15 minutes. Drizzle sauce over peach crisp. Serve warm.

Peach Crisp 3

I savored this crisp with my family over several cups of lovely Teavana Earl Grey Vanilla Creme tea :)

Earl Grey Vanilla Creme Tea

 

Oh, aaaand I may have Snapchatted the crisp bubbling …

gifboom peach

 

Zucchini Bread

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Zucchini’s are a staple of summer. I love them in all kinds of ways, but one of my absolute favorites has to be baked inside of a healthy bread.

This recipe was adapted from one I found via Whole Foods, but I made it even better by swapping in honey for sugar, and olive oil for canola oil. I also had some pure pumpkin puree leftover from the scones I shared with you in my last post, so I used that instead of yogurt. This bread is dense but healthy and delicious. It’s a totally guilt-free breakfast, snack, or dessert. This bread is not very sweet, so it’s good with jam or honey on top. If you would like a sweeter version, you can click on the Whole Foods link below for a recipe with sugar in it.

Zucchini Bread

Recipe adapted from Whole Foods

Ingredients:

  • Natural cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt (or pumpkin puree)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup honey (to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray an 8-inch loaf pan with natural cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, oil, applesauce, yogurt/pumpkin puree, honey, and vanilla. Add flour mixture and stir until well combined. Fold in zucchini and walnuts then transfer batter to prepared pan and bake until risen, deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes.

Note: As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I don’t like to lose the crunchiness of nuts by baking them inside the bread, so I just toasted the walnuts and sprinkled them on top. You can do either or both, if you would prefer!

Cool in pan on rack for 30 minutes then remove bread from pan and continue cooling on rack.

 

Pumpkin Scones

Scones filter

My brother and I dedicated a good portion of this summer to the Harry Potter movie series. We called it our “Summer of Potter Festival,” and set out to watch every movie in the series over the course of about a month. When I’m having a dedicated movie night, I love to have relevant treats to snack on while I’m watching. So we drank a lot of British tea and ate a lot of popcorn and pumpkin scones.

We knew the festival would end eventually, but it was still sad when the day finally came. That doesn’t mean I can’t keep eating pumpkin scones though, right?

This recipe is from one of my favorite baking blogs and makes for totally scrumptious scones. My one deviation from the recipe was sprinkling the pecans on top at the end, rather than baking them into the scones. There’s just something I don’t like about nuts inside of baked goods … I need that crunch!

Pumpkin Scones with Brown Butter Glaze

Recipe from Joy the Baker 

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup, 6 ounces) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup buttermilk, cold
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

For the Glaze:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons whole milk

Preparation:

Place rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and all of the spices.  Add the cold butter to the dry ingredients and toss to coat.  Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, break the butter down into the dry ingredients.  Work quickly so that the butter remains cold.  Some of the butter will be the size of oat flakes, others will be the size of small peas.

In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, pumpkin puree, and vanilla extract.

Add the wet ingredients, all at once to the dry ingredients.  Stir together until almost thoroughly combined.  Add pecans and stir until no dry flour bits remain.  Using a large ice cream scoop, scoop scones dough by the 1/2-cupful onto the prepared baking sheet.  Leave about 2-inches of space between each scone.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until browned slightly with dry tops.  You can insert a toothpick into the center of a scone to test for doneness.

Allow to cool completely before glazing.

To make the glaze, in a small saucepan melt butter over medium-low heat.  The butter will begin to crackle and pop.  After the crackling subsides a bit, the butter will begin to brown.  Continue to cook until the butter smells nutty and the butter solids begin to brown.  Immediately remove from the heat and transfer to a small bowl.

In a medium bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, browned butter, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of milk.  Whisk together and add more milk as necessary until your desired consistency is reached.

Generously drizzle scones with glaze.  These scones are best served within 2 days of of baking.

Note: Joy mentions this recipe makes about 12 scones, but I must have made mine quite a bit smaller because I got upwards of 2 dozen small scones. They were the perfect size in my opinion. That is, you don’t feel badly about scarfing 2 or 3 at once. I also agree with Joy that the scones are best within 2 days. They were still ok after that, but became oddly soft which I didn’t love.