Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Almond Butter Whey Cookies, Part 2.

So, those Almond Butter Whey Cookies from my last post? Well, I decided to follow up on those and experiment with making them more moist. I think I found the trick... Add a ripe banana!

My revised recipe:

  • 2/3 cup oats
  • 1 tbsp creamy almond butter (could also use peanut butter)
  • 1.5 scoops whey protein powder (I used Designer Whey's vanilla variety)
  • 1 egg white (or 1/4 cup liquid egg whites)
  • 2 packets Stevia (or sweetener of choice; I used 2 tbsp of granulated Splenda)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 cup carob chips (optional; I used semi-sweet chocolate chips)
  • 1 small ripe banana
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • dash of salt

-Pre-heat oven to 350˚F.
-Whisk dry ingredients together.
-Mash the banana and mix well with wet ingredients; add to dry ingredients.
-Use a teaspoon to scoop the batter onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper & sprayed with non-stick spray. The mixture will be a bit runny. Aim for 12 cookies.
-Bake for 10 minutes.

I ended up with 12 this time (2 are missing from the picture after Doug and I did a little quality control).

MUCH better! The mashed banana made a big difference. Plus, it added a nice banana flavor to complement the chocolate and nut butter. What more could I ask for? Moist, fresh chocolate chip cookies ready in well under 20 minutes.

The nutrition changed a bit though; instead of the original 30 cals per cookie, my revised recipe makes these 58 calories per cookie. Still not bad at all, considering how much more satisfying they were than the first batch. Glad I decided to give this recipe another shot!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Treats in the heat.

Last night's dinner was another specialty a lá Doug. There was brief talk about taking advantage of a special at Domino's Pizza, but remembering how much cake I ate over the weekend and into Monday, I quickly shut that idea down. So back to healthy meal planning we went.

We ended up with a Quinoa salad, topped with grilled chicken and homemade vinaigrette dressing:

For the salad mix, Doug tossed together diced tomatoes, sliced radishes, green onion and cooked quinoa. For the dressing, he whisked together:

  • Minced garlic
  • Lemon juice
  • Olive oil
  • Dijon mustard
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Ancho chile powder
  • Dried cilantro flakes
  • Salt & pepper

The chicken was cooked on the grill and brushed with Famous Dave's Texas Pit BBQ sauce. If you want to go meatless, this salad would go great with black beans and corn.

Fresh, clean flavors and a great summer dish that required minimal use of the stove. Works for me! And apparently it also worked for Randal, who did a great job of cleaning up some quinoa that spilled on the floor:

Before dinner, I already had dessert on the brain, so I decided to try a couple of recipes I had seen in the latest issue of Oxygen Magazine, both of which featured whey protein powder.

The first recipe was a batch of Almond Butter Whey Cookies:

Bite-sized, of course:

For this recipe, you'll need:

  • 1/2 cup Oats
  • 1 tbsp creamy almond butter (I used Barney Butter; it's so smooth!)
  • 1 scoop whey protein powder (I used Designer Whey's chocolate variety)
  • 1 egg white (or 1/4 cup liquid egg whites)
  • 2 packets Stevia (or sweetener of choice; I used a generous tablespoon of granulated Splenda)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 cup carob chips (optional; I used semi-sweet chocolate chips)

(I also added about a tablespoon of cocoa powder for extra flavor, along with a dash of salt.)

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a bowl, then stir in the wet ingredients with a spoon. The dough will be really sticky and kinda difficult to work with, but mix as well as you can.

Use a teaspoon to make the dough into golfball-sized portions. Bake in a 350˚F oven for 10 minutes. I ended up with 10 cookies instead of 12, but whatevs. Each cookie is about 30 calories!

Things to do differently next time: While the chocolate flavor in these cookies was spot-on, Doug and I both agreed that they were DRY. Like really, really, I-need-copious-amounts-of-milk-stat! dry. I'm already planning to make another batch, but I will definitely play around with adding milk and/or unsweetened applesauce to give them some much-needed moisture. A little softer, and these could be a pretty satisfying, guilt-free treat when the chocolate craving hits.

The second recipe I tried was for Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups:

In a blender, add:
  • 4 oz water
  • 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder (I used Designer Whey)
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter (I used Peanut Butter & Co's Dark Chocolate Dreams)
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1-2 packets of preferred sweetener (I used a generous tablespoon of granulated Splenda)

Blend until well mixed, pour into a muffin tray and freeze for 1-2 hours. (I used a mini muffin pan and ended up with 10 cups total.)

Things to do differently next time: As far as the recipe goes, I don't think I'd change much because they tasted pretty darn good. But they're also super-messy to eat because it's basically like eating pieces of a frozen fudge bar without the stick. That said, I think this recipe would work as a really great base for a low-cal ice cream. I'm going to try mixing it with a few cups of almond milk, freezing it and seeing what I end up with. Given the creaminess of the cups, I think the ice cream would turn out pretty good.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Perspective; I has it.

The summer has been pretty insane and non-stop so far, thanks to various appointments, social gatherings, adopting Randal, making time for family visits, traveling to Vegas, weddings, graduations and of course, making time for the usual workouts and healthy eats.

On top of all that, I also applied for a new position in my department. I've completed the two interviews, but I'm starting to think I won't get an offer. As with any position, I recognized and accepted the possibility that I wouldn't get it, and that's totally ok. No hard feelings. Playing the waiting game has still been a bit stressful though, so when I found myself lying awake at 4 am this morning, wondering if today would be the day I finally get some news, I rolled out of bed and changed into my workout clothes. I made my way to the gym and did something I haven't done in a loooooong time; I ran 4 miles.

I wasn't particularly fast and I took my share of walking breaks, but I felt so damn good, I just kept going. And although my running can be sporadic at times, one thing's for sure; I almost always clear my head in the process and feel pretty damn optimistic about, well, everything.

When life gets busy (see last two months and counting), I tend to lose sight of how good I have it right now.

So, how about a quick recap of the things I'm thankful for, eh?

-My awesome, smart, hilarious friends
-My family
-My current job (money's tight, I'm a little bored, but bills are still getting paid; others haven't been as lucky in this economy and I need to remind myself of that.)
-Wholesome food
-My strong body
-My confidence and sense of self-worth (didn't have either of these for a good chunk of my life; changing my lifestyle these past few years has made all the difference.)
-My intelligence
-My sense of humor (Doug tends to roll his eyes at most of my jokes, but if I can still make myself laugh every day, that's good enough for me.)
-Peanut butter
-Studying for my PT certification

I guess I'll stop there, but the point is, I've got a lot going for me already. That's not to say everyday has been smooth sailing; there's been ongoing financial struggles, arguments, tears, crappy eating and terrible workouts. But that's life. You can't control most of the things that happen to you, but you can control how you respond. Choosing a positive attitude is easier on some days than others, but it's always an option with little-to-no risk involved. What have you got to lose by recognizing the good things in life?

This morning's run helped me come to such a conclusion. Since I don't know what the rest of the day will bring, I at least know that for 50 minutes this morning, I was centered and at peace with myself and my body. I'm thankful that my legs carried me though and that those endorphins lifted me up to a new level of optimism.

Alright, enough of the hippie stuff. In short, no matter how the day (or month or year) ends up, life, as it is, is pretty bitchin'. And really, how can I ever be upset when I know I've got this face to come home to?

So, with that said, I suppose I'll close this post with a gentle reminder to pause and reflect on the good in your life. Sure, things could be better, but they could also be much worse. Make the most of what you have. And run! (Or walk.) And eat your veggies. Heh.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bro-ing it up in Vegas.

Um, where the eff did June go? I guess I shouldn't complain about summer going by so fast because I hate the heat, but having time to breathe and y'know, remember what day it is would be kinda nice.

Anywho, Monday, I got back from a long weekend in Vegas to celebrate my sister's 21st birthday. And also kinda celebrating 5 years with Doug:

Ignore the red eye.

It was a great trip, filled with public drunkenness and drag queens, but of course, the main thing I want to talk about is THE FOOD!

My mom treated us all to a buffet at the Paris hotel the first night, but after that, Doug and I quickly decided that we didn't want to do the buffet thing during the whole trip. We stuck to cheaper, non-buffet eats (thank you Panda Express for supplying us with veggies!).

We did however make not one, but two special trips to a new favorite joint, Hash House a Go Go. I originally saw them featured on Man vs. Food and wrote the name in case we got the chance to actually visit. Turns out, they were located in our hotel (stayed at the Imperial Palace), so we made plans to eat there for breakfast. The dish that beckoned? Sage Fried Chicken & Bacon Waffles, topped with fried leeks and a maple reduction:

Ultimate food porn. I wanted to get a better picture, but I was also eager to try my first bite, so I threw down the camera in a hurry, attacking the poor dish like a lion on a gazelle.

Definitely a chorus-of-angels-worthy dish. My only regret is that we didn't think to share one plate; this place serves up H-U-G-E portions. Oh well. We munched on the leftovers during the day, so we could skip snacks and lunch. This method came in handy for balancing my walk-around-vodka munchies.

Since we enjoyed breakfast so much, we decided to go back for dinner. Complimentary buttermilk biscuits, topped with a warm honey glaze:

Sometimes, there just aren't enough calories in day... I would've loved to tried these babies with some sausage gravy!

Next, we ordered an appetizer; Tiger Prawns, fried in cornmeal:

Served with a creamy chipotle sauce and garnished with fried angel hair pasta. I must admit, I haven't been to too many places that focus on presentation, so this made the trip so much more enjoyable!

Next, we decided to SPLIT a burger. We learned our lesson from the Chicken 'n' Waffles incident and knew that one burger would be plenty for the two of us. And it was. This is the #5 burger, stuffed with cheddar, applewood bacon and avocado:

Hot damn. Another winner! So, next time you're in Vegas and looking to splurge, pleasepleaseplease don't pass this place up! Aside from their location in the Imperial Palace, they also have a stand-alone location near the Sahara. Oh, and their original location is in San Diego as well.

Lots of calories consumed, but we also walked everywhere, so everything balanced out pretty well. We had a blast, but it's great to be home. I've had my share of excess for the year, haha. Hope everyone's having a great week!