Friday, May 20, 2016

Banana Cranberry Breakfast Cookies

This recipe is simple to prepare and your body will be happy being fed such a healthy cookie! Can be enjoyed for breakfast, snack or even dessert. They are packed with protein and fiber and made without sugar or eggs.


1 cup quick cook steel cut oats (Trader Joe's brand)
¼ cup ground flax seed
¼ cup Tera's whey (vanilla flavor)
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 very ripe bananas
½ cup fruit juice sweetened dried cranberies

To make:

Preheat oven to 350° F. In a bowl mix together oats, flax seed, whey, chia seeds, and cinnamon. In a separate bowl mash bananas. Add the mashed bananas to the flour mixture and stir to combine. Fold in dried cranberries. Using a ¼ size measuring cup, scoop batter onto a parchment or a silpat lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Sweet Potato Feta and Arugula Quiche

I made this quiche last week and had to make it again. It's that good. The crust is simple to make and chock-full of healthy fats from the flax and chia seeds. A piece of this for breakfast will keep your stomach happy and full till it's time for lunch. This recipe is gluten free and vegetarian.

Sweet Potato Feta and Arugula Quiche

Ingredients for the crust:

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon oat flour
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
¼ cup ground flax seeds
2 tablespoons chia seeds
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 egg

Ingredients for the filling:

1 small white onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 medium sweet potato, diced (about 3 heaping cups)
2 cups packed arugula
5 eggs
⅓ cup feta cheese
1 tablespoon pesto, store-bought or homemade
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
¼ teaspoon red chili flakes

Generous grinds of pepper

To make:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, mix together oat flour, flax, chia seeds, and parmesan cheese. Create a little well in the flour mixture and add the egg and olive oil. Mix well and let sit for 5 minutes. Form dough into a round disk and place between two sheets of wax paper. Using a rolling pin, flatten out the dough. Carefully remove the sheets of wax paper and place dough into a greased 9-inch pie dish. Press dough into the dish and up the sides. Pierce dough several times with a fork and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside until your filling is ready.

In a large frying pan on medium-high heat, add butter and oil. Once it’s nice and hot, add onions and 1 teaspoon salt. Give it a quick stir and cook for about 1-2 minutes. Add the sweet potato and cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes. Add Italian seasoning, pepper and red chili flakes. Cook for about 3 more minutes. Add arugula, gently stir and remove pan from heat.

Crack eggs into a bowl. Reserve one of the yolks. Add pesto to the bowl of eggs and whisk for about a minute. Using a pastry brush, spread the reserved egg yolk all over the inside of the crust. Layer half of the sauteed veggie mixture, half of the feta cheese and half of the pesto egg mixture. Follow the same steps with the remaining ingredients. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

Friday, May 6, 2016

PB Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

For the days when you really need something sweet and want to stay on track with your healthy eating habits. This PB Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough will do the trick. It's protein packed, full of healthy fats, gluten free, and made without refined sugars. 

PB Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

1 scoop vanilla protein powder (Tera's Whey)
1 tablespoon Pb2 powder
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon chocolate chips
Salt to sprinkle on top (optional)

To make:
 In a small bowl, add all ingredients except chocolate chips and salt. Using a fork, mix to incorporate all ingredients until a dough consistency forms. Add chocolate chips and stir into dough. Transfer to a bowl and top with a sprinkle of salt.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Banana Mug Cake

Cake for breakfast... Mug cake that is! This mug cake recipe is simple to whip up and you can feel good about starting your day off with a healthy and protein rich treat breakfast. I shared this recipe on my Instagram but wanted to share it here as well.


1 banana, half mashed and reserve the other half to slice for topping
2 tablespoons soy milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 heaping tablespoon almond butter
1 egg
½ teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons coconut flour
2 tablespoons whey powder
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ packet of stevia (I use NuNaturals)
Tiny pinch of salt

To make:

 In a bowl, mash half of the banana. Add almond butter, olive oil, soy milk, and almond extract. Mix well to combine. Add in coconut flour, whey powder, baking powder, stevia, and salt. Mix to incorporate batter. Pour into a large greased mug and cook for 2 minutes in the microwave. Top with whatever suits your mood. I topped mine with a dollop of plain greek yogurt, sliced banana, 1 chopped date, drizzle of honey, and hemp seeds.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Curried Garbanzo Beans

Last week was the first time in my 28 years of life that I did my taxes all by myself. It may sound silly but I’m extremely proud of myself. Instead of calling my mom to ask her what something I didn’t understand meant I trusted in google. One of my goals for this new year was to push myself more each day. I’ve relied so much on my mom throughout my life. Not financially in my adult years but for pretty much everything else. I guess that’s what moms are for though. Ever since I was 19 I have felt mentally stuck at that age. The thought of being 28 is almost strange. It’s not old but I’m older and want to feel like a real adult.
This past summer I took a trip to Europe with a friend. I did most of the planning and organizing (which I enjoy very much) of hotels, transportation, etc. My mom was present in the planning process as she was a travel agent, has been all over the world, and now was living vicariously through this new trip I was embarking on. It was helpful to have her information and advice. I knew that once I was over there she wouldn’t be there to help me along the way. I had to figure it out for myself. I did, as stressful as it was sometimes. It brought me out of my comfort zone and I’m grateful for that experience.
With my tax refund I’ve decided to take that money and plan a trip to Italy this fall. All of the family from my dad’s side live there. We’ve never met in person but thanks to Facebook we have been able to connect and keep in touch. I’m so excited to finally meet all of them. I feel like it’s a part of my life that isn’t fully complete. The warmth and welcoming from all of them when we started writing to each other was incredible. I look forward to catching up on a lifetime with them. I also look forward to pushing myself again as I explore Italy. My brother and I will be traveling around by ourselves for the first leg of the trip before we link up with family.
I’ve been fortunate to find inexpensive flights but travel is expensive and I need to budget and save as much as possible these next 9 months. Which now brings me to food, the main focus of this blog. In the past, I’m guilty of spending lots and lots of money on food. I would look at my account balance and be shocked by how much I would spend. It’s one of the easiest things to frivolously blow cash on. Before my last trip I budgeted like never before. It felt good seeing more money in the bank and I was still eating well even though it was rice, beans, and veggies most nights. It got me in the habit of going to the store and only eating what I made at home. Occasionally I would go out and eat with friends but It was nowhere near the amount I used to go out. My work schedule has also been helpful as I do a meal prep at the beginning of each week. I usually make a breakfast bread or granola and for lunches either soup, salads, or veggie patties. These meals are cost-effective and I don’t spend money on those two meals during my work week.
Below is a recipe for Curried Garbanzo Beans. I made it earlier in the week but had to make it again because of how good it was. It can be eaten by itself but I like to stretch it out by serving it with brown basmati rice, over a bed of spinach, or even added to brothy  soups. It’s protein and fiber rich which will keep your tummies happy and satisfied.

Curried Garbanzo Beans


1 Tbs canola oil
½ white onion, chopped
1 can garbanzo beans
½ cup frozen petite peas
1 Tbs + 1 tsp garam masala, ground
1 Tbs tikka masala, ground
3 generous dashes of smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste
red chili flakes to taste
2 Tbs coconut cream
½ cup low sodium vegetable stock
1 Tbs tomato paste

To make:

Over medium-high heat, add oil to a medium-size frying pan. Once it’s hot add your onions. Add a pinch or two of salt and let brown slightly for about 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garam masala, tikka masala, paprika, red chili flakes, and salt and pepper. Mix spices to evenly coat onions. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes. Add in peas (they don’t have to be thawed) and garbanzo beans. Again, stir to combine all ingredients. Lastly, add in coconut cream, veggie stock and tomato paste. Once everything as been stirred to combine, turn the heat down to medium-low and allow to simmer for 10 minutes while stirring occasionally.

Friday, January 8, 2016


Of every country we visited on our trip, Amsterdam had by far the best food. The five extra pounds I came home with (not in my suitcase) were probably due to all the amazing eats. I can’t say we had a bad meal here. During our last few nights in Sweden, Ash and I searched photos of delicious looking food through Instagram and Yelp. De Foodhallen was at the top of our list. This is a must when visiting Amsterdam. It’s a quick tram ride away from the museum quarter making it a great place to relax and grab a bite or two after a museum-filled morning. They also have a cool art collective next door as well as other shops with neat finds.
In addition to Amsterdam having the best food, it was the most fun to visit. There was such a diverse mix of cultures. Much different from what we experienced in Sweden. The architecture is charming and beautiful. My heart lit up as we took a taxi from the train station to our Airbnb. Looking out the window as this magnificent city moved past evoked a feeling of such excitement. I knew that we would have the most amazing time here.

Where we stayed:

Booking an Airbnb for Amsterdam was rather difficult. There was not much availability and the prices were as steep as the stairs. I was worried that the one I booked was too far out from the city center but it ended up being absolutely perfect! It was about a 20-25 minute walk from the main areas we wanted to see, such as the Anne Frank Huis, Red Light District, etc. After spending our days in the heart of the city, with its thousands of summer tourists, it was nice to come back to our quiet neighborhood. We enjoyed relaxing evenings, more eating and watching boats pass along the canal. We lucked out as the time of our stay was during Sail Amsterdam. It’s a maritime celebration that happens once every five years. Tall ships from all over the world travel to this festival. Click here to check out this Airbnb listing.

 What we ate:

Oriental city - Huge selection of Chinese food. We ordered an assortment of dim sum. Everything was delicious but the sesame prawn toast is where it’s at. If you order one thing, get the sesame prawn toast!

Boca’s  - Cute little spot that has the most amazing mini sandwiches. Get a few or several to sample and share. We tried the bitterbal, hamburger with foie gras, gamba croquettes, and gouda with whole grain mustard. This place also had good seasonal beer on tap.

De Foodhallen - This place is a foodie’s paradise. We found it through Instagram and couldn’t wait to try everything.
  • Bulls and Dogs serves gourmet hotdogs. We tried the Luxurious dog - A pork sausage with wild mushrooms, truffle sauce and hazelnuts. 
  • The Rough Kitchen has an amazing pulled pork sandwich.
  • De Ballen Bar offers a sample of one of each bitterballen. They are like mini croquettes.

  • Petite Gâteau specializes in mini tarts. We got several to share because we couldn’t just decide on a couple. Some of their flavors include chocolate hazelnut, salted caramel, panna cotta (our favorite), caramel apple, and chocolate.

The Happy Pig
- Best waffle I’ve ever eaten. Seriously the best! We also tried the the pancakes here but nothing could come close to the waffle.

The Pancake Bakery - This is a famous spot in Amsterdam. They offer savory as well as sweet pancakes. I would forgo the savory. Their poffertjes with butter and powdered sugar are a must. These tiny little pancakes are delicious drizzled with stroop (traditional dutch syrup). We also tried The Dutch, a pancake topped with stroopwaffle chunks, cinnamon ice cream, chocolate flakes and whipped cream.

Cheese - Lots of cheese shops sample their offerings so make sure you pop into a shop or two. Gouda is their specialty.

Ivy & Bros - The best iced coffee I have ever had. It comes with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Enough said.

Home Cooking - There were so many places we wanted to eat but we did need to watch our budget as well. The great thing about renting an Airbnb is having a kitchen to use. We stopped at a nearby grocery store and stocked up on breakfast and snack essentials the first day we arrived. I couldn't believe how inexpensive groceries were. We filled up an entire basket and spent about $20. Each morning I cooked us breakfast consisting of a scramble with a side of yogurt, muesli, and fruit. Some bread too, of course! 

What we did:

Anne Frank House - I would highly suggest taking a tour through the Anne Frank House. It’s best to purchase tickets in advance so you don’t have to wait in a mile-long line. All the tickets were sold out during the time of our stay, so we ended up purchasing a walking tour including admission through a company called Get Your Guide. After a 1 hour guided walking tour of the city, it ended at the Anne Frank House where we got in without having to wait in line. It’s pretty mind blowing walking though all the rooms in the house. If you haven’t read her Diary, I suggest reading it before you go. You will have a much stronger connection and understanding when you tour the house.

The Rijksmuseum - If I had my way, I would have gone to a lot more museums but time did not allow. We decided on one and that was the Rijks. I wish I could have spent the whole day here. They have paintings from famous artists such as Van Gogh, Vermeer, and Rembrandt. It was a really cool experience. The museum quarter is beautiful.

Canal Cruise - We did this one afternoon after stuffing our faces at The Pancake Bakery. It was about an hour long ride and took you along the canals.

Red Light District - Definitely worth walking through. I always thought it was just one little area but it’s actually spread out. Some of the alleyways are so narrow you have to walk in a single-file line. I also thought the girls were behind closed doors but they have their doors open, standing in the doorway making eye contact. It was quite awkward.

Smoking Pot in Amsterdam - There are many coffee shops in Amsterdam but The Bulldog was the first ever pot shop. We stopped in at one of their locations, The Bulldog Energy, after meeting and talking with this sweet English guy we met sitting along the canal. We noticed him smoking a joint and asked where he got it. We had actually already been inside the shop, you know, just to check it out. But we got nervous and left. Neither one of us smoked much back home and even though it’s completely legal in Amsterdam, it felt so strange. Once we got over the initial nervousness and fear we had the best time. What’s nice is they offer different strengths so we were able to get a mild strain. You have to smoke in Amsterdam! It was so cool being able to sit along the canal and light up a joint.  It’s so normal there which is really refreshing. Not all coffee shops are the same. We tried a muffin from one place which was really good. Another day my friend got a brownie from a place in the Red Light District and it was terrible and stale.

Amsterdam, you were truly a delight. I can't wait till the day I return but for now I can look back on the great memories I made in your city.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Our Time In Sweden

The whole point of our Europe trip was to attend Ashley's friend's wedding. Before we knew where else we would be traveling, Sweden was going to be our home base. We spent one of the two and a half weeks in this beautiful country. Knowing that we would have friends to show us around, I didn't research as much as I did with the other countries we planned to visit. Before this trip, Sweden was not a place that I had immediate plans to visit. There were no negative notions about this country but places like Prague, Amsterdam, and London screamed out my name. During my stay I developed a special place in my heart for this Scandinavian country. The people, the architecture, the language, and of course, the fika made my stay so incredibly enjoyable. I look forward to returning there one day.


Where we stayed:

We flew into Stockholm and spent our first few days in the Södermalm neighborhood at Hellstens Malmgård. This hotel is conveniently located near the Zinkensdamm T-bana stop. It's also walking distance to Gamla Stan and the city center. The hotel is situated a little off the beaten path in a nice garden setting. The property itself is beautiful with old-world charm. Our room was small, which should be anticipated in European hotels. The neat thing about our room was that it had a loft. A sturdy wood ladder led up to the large, open area with low ceilings and two low-to-the-grounds beds. The bathroom was small but had modern renovations. I really loved the communal areas the hotel offered. There were small tables and chairs in the main courtyard; and in the foyer right outside our room, a lounge style wooden chair, couches, and coffee and tea were available. I spent one evening hanging out in that awesome chair journaling and reading. The hotel also had a great selection of books that previous guests had left behind. The breakfast here was great. It was your traditional European hotel breakfast of fresh baked breads, meats, cheeses, fruit, yogurt, as well as cooked eggs and sausage. This hotel totally reminded me of a bed and breakfast my mom and I stayed at while visiting Boulder, Colorado. I hope to one day bring her to this gem because I know she would love it.

What we ate:

Beijing8 - A modern and fresh Dim Sum spot we stumbled upon. I highly recommend the steamed broccoli. It was cooked perfectly and the thicker bits of salt sprinkled on top really brought out great flavor. The duck dumplings were spicy and delicious. The chicken dumplings, on the other hand, were too basic for my taste but great for those non-adventurous eaters. The staff here were nice and friendly.

Weindels Konditori - Being our first day in Sweden, we knew we needed to get our fika on. For those who aren't familiar, fika is an important part of Swedish culture. It's a coffee break usually accompanied by a pasty or other nibble. It  This looked like a cute place so we decided to give it a try. My espresso was great! All the coffee I had during our stay in Europe was on point. We also got a few pastries to share. The pastries were good, some better than others. We did stop into another Konditori the next evening called Eclair, which I much preferred.

Our first fika!

Légumes - It's a known fact that the Scandinavian countries can break your budget. Lucky for us we found this great and inexpensive place to have dinner. Légume offers vegan and vegetarian friendly fare in a buffet-style setting. The food is served to you but you pick and choose what you want and can go back for seconds, or thirds if you are really hungry. They had a wide variety of hot and cold dishes to choose from. The food was really good. It was filling and healthy which is also a plus. If I remember correctly, the cost for my meal was 85 SEK which is about $10 USD.

Barobao - Stopped in this place for a quick snack. The pork belly bun was all I tried but boy was it delicious!

What we did:

On our first day in Stockholm we explored the Söder neighborhood. It was suggested that we stay in this neighborhood as it's the new up and coming area of Stockholm. It offers plenty of shops, restaurants, and beautiful buildings to gawk at. The following morning we walked to Gamla Stan. This is a must when you travel to Stockholm. Gamla Stan or "Old Town" is one of Europe's most well preserved medieval city centers. Meandering the narrow streets takes you back to another time.


Where we stayed:

For our first two nights in Uppsala we stayed at the Park Inn by Radisson. I chose this hotel because for the wedding, a bus was going to shuttle us to and from the venue. I wanted to be close to the drop off spot since I knew we would be drinking and didn't want to walk far in a foreign place. The hotel was very nice and tailored to Americans. The room and bathroom were larger than most European hotels. It even had a fitness center which I used one night. Breakfast was included and was enjoyable as well. It was similar fare to what we had at our previous hotel.

For the remainder of our stay in Uppsala we stayed at Martin's father's house. He was going to be out of town and was so kind to let us stay in his beautiful home. It was by far the best place we stayed during our trip.

The wedding: 

Before our trip, I had met Jess twice through Skype while Ash and I planned our itinerary. It wasn't until the wedding when I finally got to meet her in person. Jess and her entire group of friends and family made us feel so welcome. I can't say enough how nice everyone was. The entire wedding was in Swedish and during dinner when everyone made their speeches, her friends at our table were kind enough to translate. The wedding and all it's tiny details made the evening a memorable one. I'm so thankful I was able to be part of their special day.

Hand painted signs by her family. That vintage 1950's bus in the background is what we arrived in.

Beer on the table was crafted by Martin, the groom.

Both the bride and groom are vegetarian so they opted for a full vegetarian dinner.
Jess was pretty excited for us to try the Utedass.

What we ate:

Once we moved over to Martin’s father's house we had a full kitchen to take advantage of. Jess cooked us dinner a couple nights, making falafel one night and fried halloumi burgers another. I had never tried halloumi before but I noticed it quite a bit on menus throughout our trip. In London, Ash ordered vegetarian fish and chips using halloumi in place of the fish. It was so good. Something about the saltiness of the cheese and the crispy outer coating is just delicious. We did go to breakfast one morning to a cafe that Jess had suggested.

Café Linné Hörnan - This place is a dream. I wished that I lived in this beautiful city so I could come to this cafe every morning for coffee and a pastry... or two. To say the least, it was a very enjoyable experience. Along with an americano, I tried their cardamom kanelbullar and a super dense and moist hazelnut cookie (didn’t get the name). The strong and fresh flavors were such a delight and they paired so well with the coffee.

Another meal I greatly enjoyed was one that Jess prepared for lunch. It’s a traditional Swedish cheese pie called våsterbotten paj. Similar to a quiche but more cheese and less of an egg texture. It was really fun to be able to try a classic specialty made by a local in their home. Jess and Martin were such great hosts. Their kindness and calm nature was a pleasure to be around. Spending time with their adorable son was also a plus.

Something else to add onto your list of things to try is Mjukglass (soft serve) with sprinkles. There are kiosks all over Stockholm and Uppsala that sell them. American sprinkles don’t even come close to how good the sprinkles in Europe taste. It was like a crunchy candy coating covering the soft serve. Amazing.

 One thing I learned is that Swedes love their candy. We came across loads of candy bins throughout the city. Naturally we had to try some! Anything chocolate with hazelnut was my favorite. There were quite a few of the gummy varieties I really liked too.

What we did:

Jess and Martin took us on a bike ride through the city of Uppsala to Gamla Uppsala “Old Uppsala” to see the Royal mounds. These ancient burial mounds date back to the 5th and 6th century. There is also the Church of Gamla Uppsala as well as a museum.

The Uppsala Cathedral is not to be missed. This incredibly beautiful church dates back to the 13th century. It is the tallest in the Nordic countries. You must go inside and take in all the exquisite detail. It's truly amazing.

View of the Cathedral from where we were staying.
  A walk through the Botanical Garden and the Uppsala University Library.

On our last full day in Sweden we took a day trip to Stockholm. We stopped for lunch at Vigårda. They offer so-so burgers (beef, chicken and vegetarian options) but great sides and dipping sauces at reasonable prices. Before we made our way towards Djurgarden bridge we stopped at a Systembolaget to grab some wine. Systembloaget is a government owned chain of liquor stores. It is the only retail store allowed to sell alcohol. We thought it would be nice to have a drink out on the water as we were going to rent a pedal boat. Being out on the water was a fun adventure. I didn’t realize how hard those pedal boats work your legs but it was a great experience shared with great people. Sweden and everyone I met during my stay will always have a special place in my heart. I can't wait to one day return and explore more of this great and beautiful country.

Ash spotted this girl walking in front of us and asked if she'd take a photo with me. She was super sweet.