Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese and WIAW #24

It’s time for another round of What I Ate Wednesday – I’m pretty excited to share my latest fall recipe this week!

Thanks again to Jenn for hosting WIAW. For those of you who don’t know, Jen over at Peas and Crayons hosts WIAW every week – check out her blog for more information on it and to find some new blogs to read.

Before we get to the rest of my eats, here’s the star of the show:

Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese!

So delicious. And so easy to make. No need to get it from Dunkin Donuts or Trader Joe’s! What’s the secret? Pumpkin butter! It’s basically a two to one ratio of cream cheese to pumpkin butter and a bit of pumpkin spice. Here’s the recipe!

Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese

Makes enough for 2 bagels.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp of cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin butter (recipe here)
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Directions:

  1. Let cream cheese soften at room temperature for about 30 minutes (makes it easier to mix).
  2. Add the pumpkin butter and pumpkin pie spice and stir to combine.
  3. Enjoy!

Breakfast

Breakfast was a delicious sesame bagel from New York Bagels topped with pumpkin spice cream cheese. It was amazing after my 3.5 mile run! (By the way, if you missed Monday’s running post, check it out and enter the giveaway!)

Lunch

Lunch was a chopped spinach salad with apple, cheddar cheese, chicken, and walnuts. The first salad that I ever liked was from this place called Chop’t in DC. Basically, they chop up all of the ingredients really small so that you get a piece of everything in each bite. My recreation wasn’t quite the same, but it was decent.

Snacks

I had two afternoon snacks. The first was really good grapes from Central Market.

Later I had an apple topped with some pumpkin butter.

Dinner

Dinner was a soup made by my Mom with zucchini, carrots, spinach, tomatoes, sausage and quinoa. I don’t remember the name of it, but it was good!

Finally, I ended the night with a glass of sauvignon blanc and the presidential debate. And that’s what I ate Wednesday Tuesday! I’m off to Las Vegas tomorrow for a fun filled wedding weekend and, knowing the bride, lots of delicious food!

Posted in Gluten-free, Recipes, WIAW | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Zooma Half-Marathon and Handana Giveaway!

I have some exciting news! I can’t believe I’m actually putting this in writing, but I am signed up to run a half-marathon! 13.1 miles! I will be running the Zooma half-marathon in Austin, Texas in March.

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In addition, I’m serving as an ambassador to the race! I first heard about Zooma races through Peanut Butter Fingers. When she tweeted that they were looking for ambassadors and I saw that there was an Austin race, I decided to apply. I thought it would be a great push for me to actually run a half-marathon if I got accepted. I honestly didn’t think I would be accepted since I am a beginner, but I was! So now I’m committing myself to training to and giving it my all. My goal is to finish. I’ll be running and going as fast as I can, but I’ll definitely be taking walk breaks (I may even try the Jeff Galloway method). Hopefully I will finish the race, love it and make a better goal for my next race.

Where is my running at right now? Well, I haven’t talked too much about running on my blog lately simply because there hasn’t been much to tell. I haven’t stopped running, but it’s been too hot in Houston and, until recently, I’ve only been running about 2-2.5 miles 2-3 times a week. Now the temperatures are finally beginning to drop and I’ve been increasing my distance a bit and making sure to run three times a week. It’s safe to say that building up to 13.1 miles is going to be very hard, but I hope I can do it!

If you’re in the area or want to take a trip to the great state of Texas and run the race with me, registration is officially open! The half-marathon and 5k are on March 23, 2012. The course will take you through the beautiful Texas hill country and there will be a post-race party catered towards women with mini spa treatments, wine tastings, live music and more. It looks like fun to me!

Handana Giveaway!

What better way to celebrate my goal of running 13.1 miles than a running giveaway?! I recently got in touch with Katie at Handana after seeing a handana reviewed on another blog. What’s a Handana? Good question!

It’s basically a sweat band that wraps around your hand and wrist. Unlike a normal sweat band, it’s not bulky or uncomfortable and you can hardly notice you’re wearing it. When I run outside, I often struggle to keep the sweat off my face, especially in the Texas heat. Obviously you can’t run outside with a towel, so this is a great alternative.

I tested it out on all of my runs last week. Verdict? I loved it! It’s comfortable and highly functional. I also wore it to my yoga class. I don’t do hot yoga, but my class is at a hot yoga studio and the flow classes are generally about 85 degrees, so I get very sweaty. My Handana was a lifesaver in yoga – especially because it can be hard to grab a towel when you’re in yoga poses!

All in all, I highly recommend a Handana for anyone who likes (but doesn’t like) to get sweaty. That’s why I’m giving one away to a lucky reader! How can you enter? Just leave a comment about how you like to get your sweat on. I’ll use a random generator to choose the winner and announce the lucky person next week.

If you don’t win, you can purchase your own Handana at myhandana.com. If you like them on Facebook, you’ll be able to keep up with all of their great deals and promotions. Good luck!

Posted in Fitness, Giveaway, Running | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

Pumpkin Granola

Happy Friday! For me, this is a fabulous Friday because my grad school midterms are over and one week from today I will be in Las Vegas with Luke for one of my best friends’ wedding! I am so excited to be a bridesmaid and can hardly wait! I will be watching Father of the Bride this weekend to fully prepare :) .

To make my Friday even better, I went on a 3 mile run and came home to a delicious breakfast of pumpkin yogurt and, you guessed it, pumpkin granola!

Pumpkin butter (recipe here) is truly the most essential ingredient for all fall recipes. Pumpkin granola might just be my favorite use for pumpkin butter, but there are so many that it’s hard to say! As long as you have pumpkin butter on hand, this granola is super easy to make and you’ll have a healthy and delicious fall inspired snack in a flash. I added pepitas (pumpkin seeds) to this batch, but you can make it plain or add anything you that looks good – almonds, raisins, etc. – be creative!

First, preheat your oven to 325 and mix together the oats, pepitas (if using), cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl.

Next, stir in the pumpkin butter, honey, and canola oil.

Spread it out evenly on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 325 for 25-30 minutes, flipping a couple times.

Let cool for 30 minutes and enjoy!

Pumpkin Granola

Makes about one medium mason jar.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup pepitas (optional, almonds would be great too!)
  • 6 tbsp pumpkin butter (recipe here)
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp canola oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and pepitas (if using).
  3. Stir in the pumpkin butter, honey, and canola oil.
  4. Spread the mixture out on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 325 for 20 minutes, flipping a couple times.
  5. Let cool for at least 30 minutes and enjoy!

*Note – the granola will harden as it cools. You may think it isn’t done after 20 minutes, but it will be once it cools!

Posted in Brussels Sprouts, Gluten-free, Recipes, Snacks | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

What I Ate Wednesday #23 – Green Pumpkin Smoothie

Another Wednesday has rolled around – time flies when midterms start creeping up on you!

This month, What I Ate Wednesday is all about making use of all that pumpkin lying around to concoct some healthy treats (at least that’s how I see it!). Like this one…

We’ll get to the recipe for this green pumpkin smoothie in a minute!

I’ll be making plenty of healthy pumpkin snacks and treats this month, that’s for sure! I won’t, however, be giving out anything but candy on Halloween. I know most candy is full of sugar and crazy processed, but I just don’t think you can take candy out of Halloween. I don’t want to be the house kids skip because they’re giving out apples instead of snickers. But until October 31st, I’ll keep my healthy focus!

Thanks again to Jenn for hosting WIAW. For those of you who don’t know, Jen over at Peas and Crayons hosts WIAW every week – check out her blog for more information on it and to find some new blogs to read.

Breakfast

Breakfast was nothing other than overnight oats – pumpkin of course! I’m still perfecting the recipe, but adding real pumpkin (in addition to pumpkin butter) is definitely the way to go!

Lunch

Lunch was a green pumpkin smoothie before I headed off to class. Now, I know that may sound incredibly weird. Not to mention, the green color isn’t too appetizing (but you could say it’s spooky!). The taste, however, is like liquid pumpkin pie! Word of advice: it’s really filling! It’s definitely more of a meal than a snack.

Green Pumpkin Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 2 handfuls of spinach
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/4 cup vanilla greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup apple cider
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin butter
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Directions:

  1. Put all the ingredients in a blender or immersion blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Enjoy!

Back to WIAW…

Between classes I had another Trader Joe’s brownie and oat bar. I’ll be buying these often!

Dinner

Dinner was crockpot Mexican chicken, rice, and a spinach salad followed by a glass of sauvignon blanc. We’re finally starting to get cool fronts in Houston and when they come, we take advantage of the weather and eat out by the pool. I can’t wait for the weather to stay like this!

And that’s What I ate Wednesday Tuesday! Hopefully I’ll have a new recipe up soon while I’m avoiding studying for midterms!

Posted in Gluten-free, Recipes, Smoothies, WIAW | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

What I Ate Wednesday #22 – Pumpkin Overload!

Happy Wednesday! What I Ate Wednesday Tuesday can basically be summed up by pumpkin this week. Since making my pumpkin butter earlier in the week (which made foodgawker by the way!!!), I’ve been going a little crazy and eating pumpkin butter at almost every meal. You can never have enough pumpkin, right? :)

Thanks again to Jenn for hosting WIAW. For those of you who don’t know, Jen over at Peas and Crayons hosts WIAW every week – check out her blog for more information on it and to find some new blogs to read.

Breakfast

After my short morning run (due to the gross heat and humidity today) I had some delicious pumpkin overnight oats with banana. I’ll be posting a recipe for them soon! I’m probably going to tweak my recipe and give them more pumpkin flavor by adding actual pumpkin to the mix. We’ll see!

Lunch

Lunch was amazing. This combination may sound strange, but I promise it is delicious! I made a quesadilla filled with pumpkin butter, cream cheese, and sliced banana. Seriously good.

In between classes I had a Trader Joe’s Brownie and Oat Bar. It was one of the very few things I picked up at the TJ grand opening in Houston last Friday (because it was a mob scene!). It was a good find and really tasty! When I got home, I snacked on an apple with, you guessed it, more pumpkin butter!

Dinner

Dinner was marinated chicken along with spicy roasted cauliflower (recipe here), sweet and sour butternut squash (recipe here) and brown rice. I’m so happy butternut squash is coming back in season!

Post dinner I had a bowl of ice cream topped with, yes, more pumpkin butter! The perfect pumpkiny end to a fall day!

If you’re a pumpkin lover, stay tuned for more pumpkin inspired recipes coming your way!

Posted in WIAW | Tagged , | 11 Comments

Pumpkin Butter: Hello Fall!

It may not feel like fall yet (at least in Texas), but it’s sure beginning to taste like fall! Nothing tastes like fall more than pumpkin, except maybe pumpkin and apples…

Pumpkin Butter!

And the smell… it’s like walking into a Yankee Candle store this time of year. There’s just nothing better than the scent of pumpkin and spices cooking in the kitchen!

I made my first batch of pumpkin butter last fall and I simply fell in love. I couldn’t believe I’d never had it before. I started adding it to everything. You wouldn’t believe the things you can do with this pumpkin goodness! Add it on top of ice cream or yogurt, spread it on toast or a homemade muffin, dip your hand-picked apples in it, make granola, add it to your morning oats…the list goes on and on! I’ll be showcasing some of my favorite recipes that use pumpkin butter soon, but first you need the prime ingredient!

Oh and did I mention it’s pretty healthy too?

Even better, it’s one of the easiest things to make. 30 minutes and some wonderful aromas permeating your house and you’ll have this quintessential fall condiment!

First, combine all the ingredients together in a medium sauce pan. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for about 30 minutes until it thickens a little bit. Stir frequently!

That’s it! Enjoy!

Pumpkin Butter

Adapted from SkinnyTaste

Ingredients:

  • One 29 oz can of pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling!)
  • 3/4 cup apple cider
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 3 cinnamon sticks (you can also use about 3 tsp of ground cinnamon)

Directions:

  1. Mix all of the ingredients together in a medium sauce pan.
  2. Bring it all to a boil, reduce the heat, and let it simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Enjoy!

This will last a few days in the fridge or you can freeze a batch because, trust me, you’ll run out and want more!

Posted in Breakfast, Gluten-free, Recipes | Tagged , , , | 22 Comments

What I Ate Wednesday #21 – Healthified Box Mac ‘N Cheese

Happy Wednesday! It’s time for another round of daily eats!

One of the healthy habits that I’ve adopted over the past year or so is adding veggies into my dinners. Sometimes, that calls for being a bit creative! See my dinner for a twist on how to add (or hide!) veggies in your basic box of Mac ‘N Cheese.

Thanks again to Jenn for hosting WIAW. For those of you who don’t know, Jen over at Peas and Crayons hosts WIAW every week – check out her blog for more information on it and to find some new blogs to read.

Breakfast

Because I forgot to make my overnight oats the previous night, breakfast was a yogurt bowl – vanilla greek yogurt topped with pumpkin flax granola, a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of chia seeds. Tasty, but nothing hits the spot for me in the morning quite like overnight oats! I also had a granola bar between classes to keep me satiated until lunch.

Lunch

Lunch was an everything bagel with cream cheese along with an apple. One of the perks of being back in Houston is my proximity to good bagels! I’m very picky about my bagels and only like really good, authentic, “New York-like” bagels. I will almost never eat a bagel from the grocery store – once you’ve had good bagels, you can’t go back! Delicious!

Dinner

Dinner was good ‘ol mac ‘n cheese! I used to eat velveeta boxed mac ‘n cheese all the time as a kid. Healthy? Not really. Cheesy and delicious? Definitely. Since then, I’ve experimented with ways to amp up the health factor on boxed mac ‘n cheese. First, I usually buy Annie’s Organic Deluxe instead of Velveeta because I like the ingredient list better. Next, I add veggies. Occasionally I’ll just mix in some roasted veggies and call it a day. My favorite thing to do is puree veggies and hide them in the sauce. You can barely taste the veggies, so you still get that great childhood taste. I highly recommend trying it next time you want an easy dinner!

First, slice a large zucchini and a large summer squash and roast them at 425 for about 15 minutes.

Next, use an immersion blender to puree the veggies.

Then mix it in with your cheese sauce and you’re done! Simple, healthier, and delicious!

Posted in Pasta, Recipes, WIAW | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

Spinach and Sweet Potato Quesadillas

The last week has been very busy for me. You know how when you’re in college and you’re taking finals and you long for the days when you have a 9 to 5 job with no papers, finals or homework? And then you graduate, get a real job, and long to be back in school even if it means studying for finals? Well, I was like that. Now, after three weeks of grad school, I find myself jealous of those 9-5ers again! I forgot how overwhelming school can be at times. I guess the grass is equally green on both sides!

When I’m busy, I often stick to super simple meals. (Don’t we all?!) One of my favorite simple meals that has never failed me my whole life is a good ol’ quesadilla. I had a phase growing up where I ate a quesadilla every night for dinner. Every. Single. Night. For months! It’s safe to say my quesadillas today look a little different…

These days, I try to add a few veggies into my quesadillas. Want to know a secret? Adding veggies makes a quesadilla more tasty! Who knew?! Not my 15 year old self, that’s for sure! My favorite combination is sweet potato, spinach and cheddar. I swear, sweet potatoes and Mexican food are a match made in heaven.

This meal is simple, easy to make, quick, and delicious! The only step you have to do ahead of time is roast your sweet potato. I tend to like to roast a couple on the weekend to have ready on hand for meals throughout the week. That way, this dinner comes together in less than ten minutes.

Directions aren’t really necessary, but for any quesadilla novices out there, here ya go!

Chop up your sweet potato and roast it at 425 for about 30 minutes, flipping once. (I usually do this ahead of time.)

Chop up your spinach and grate your cheese.

Assemble!

Then throw a teaspoon or so of olive oil on a skillet over medium high heat. Cook the quesadilla for about 3 minutes per side, until the cheese is melted and the tortillas are lightly browned.

Enjoy!

Spinach and Sweet Potato Quesadillas

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 2 whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces and roasted
  • 1/2 cup chopped spinach
  • 3/4 cup of sharp cheddar cheese (or to your liking)
  • 1 tsp olive oil for cooking
  • your salsa for dipping *This is necessary for full flavor potential!*

Directions:

  1. Peel and chop your sweet potato into bite sized pieces. Roast it at 425 for about 30 minutes, flipping once.
  2. Chop up your spinach and grate your cheese.
  3. Assemble your quesadilla. Place an even layer of sweet potato, spinach and cheese over one tortilla, followed by another tortilla on top.
  4. Throw a teaspoon or so of olive oil on a skillet over medium high heat. Cook the quesadilla for about 3 minutes per side, until the cheese is melted and the tortillas are lightly browned.
  5. Enjoy with your favorite salsa!
Posted in Mexican, Recipes, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Almond Encrusted Tilapia with Honey Lime Sauce

Almond Encrusted Tilapia – Doesn’t that sound fancy?

Not only does it sound and look delicious, but it’s much easier to make than you might guess. I had seen a few recipes for almond encrusted tilapia on different blogs and kept bookmarking it. I think I automatically assumed that it would be difficult to make just because of the word “encrusted”.

The first time I made it, I realized that it was actually quite easy. I also realized that it was in desperate need of a good sauce to pull the dish together. Without a sauce, it’s okay, but I don’t like to eat things that are just okay! I remembered a sauce that I used as a a marinade when making my Tropical Fish Tacos, and figured an adaptation of the marinade would work wonderfully to add the perfect flavor to the tilapia.

The result was a huge success! Luke agreed that the sauce was just what the fish needed to take it from ordinary to extraordinary. And remember, I’m not a big fish person. A fish has to have loads of good flavor for me to enjoy it. This almond encrusted tilapia with honey lime sauce meets my requirements!

Now that I have a few fish recipes that I like, I try to add fish to my meal rotation once or twice a week, as recommended for most people. So if you’re looking for a new way to add fish into your diet, give this recipe a shot! It’s a simple way to impress!

First mix your sauce together in a small bowl and set aside. Then season the tilapia fillets with salt and pepper and dip them in the flour, followed by the egg whites.

Next, coat the fillets in the chopped almonds. Make sure each side gets a nice layer!

When you are ready to cook, heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the tilapia fillets. Also place the honey lime sauce in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Boil for about 5 minutes, until it’s slightly reduced.

Cook the tilapia fillets for about 3-4 minutes on each side, until cooked through.

Enjoy!

Almond Encrusted Tilapia

Serves 2.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tilapia fillets, about 3/4 lb
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup chopped almonds
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp lime juice
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp ginger (powder)

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the lime juice, honey, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and ginger. Set aside.
  2. Season each tilapia fillet with salt and pepper.
  3. Chop the almonds if you need to. You can also do this in a food processor.
  4. Put the flour in a shallow bowl, egg whites in another, and chopped almonds in another. Dip each tilapia fillet in the flour bowl, followed by the egg white bowl and the almond bowl last.
  5. When you are ready to cook, heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the tilapia fillets and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side, until cooked through.
  6. While the tilapia is cooking, place the honey lime sauce in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Boil for about 5 minutes, until it’s slightly reduced.
  7. When the fish and sauce are done cooking, drizzle the sauce over the fish and enjoy!
Posted in Fish, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

What I Ate Wednesday #20

Good afternoon! I have a new love for Wednesdays. I only have one two hour class in the morning, so it’s a short day with lots of free time! This month’s What I Ate Wednesday Theme is “Fall into good habits”.

What a great theme! In my opinion, most of living a healthy lifestyle is about habits. It’s much easier to find time to workout if you make a habit of waking up and working out. Or having a veggie with every meal. After you do it for a while, you feel weird when you don’t do it. I used to never work out or eat vegetables. Now I truly feel off when I have a meal that had no veggies or if I don’t workout on a Tuesday. We’re all creatures of habit. The hardest part is making the decision to change unhealthy habits and adopt healthy ones. So take the advent of fall to “Fall into good habits”!

Thanks again to Jenn for hosting WIAW. For those of you who don’t know, Jen over at Peas and Crayons hosts WIAW every week – check out her blog for more information on it and to find some new blogs to read.

Breakfast

My breakfast was a little different than usual. We were all out of vanilla and flavored Chobani’s, so I couldn’t make my standard overnight oats and had to make do with plain non-fat greek yogurt for breakfast. I’ve never been a fan of eating plain greek yogurt alone, or even loaded with berries. I figured that at the very least, I could use the plain Chobani to make Honey Chobani by adding a couple teaspoons of honey. It worked like a charm! (of course!) I topped it off with blueberries and pumpkin granola. Pumpkin will be making many appearances in my future breakfasts – it’s my favorite part about fall!

Lunch

Lunch was a quick spinach smoothie, an apple, and some sliced strawberries before I went to my three hour block class. Fruity and delicious!

When I got home from class, I had a “homemade” brownie. I experimented with a gluten-free brownie mix the other night and it turned out great! I couldn’t even notice that the brownies were GF. They were nice and fudgy just like I like them! If you have celiac or gluten intolerance, try out the Bettie Crocker Gluten Free Brownie Mix when you want a quick “homemade” treat! (I only used a GF mix because my Dad has celiac – I don’t promote GF diets unless you need to be on one!)

Dinner

I had dinner at Bellaire’s newest restaurant, Costa Brava Bistro. It opened about a week ago. My Mom and I were impressed! Bellaire doesn’t really have any higher end good restaurants, so I think this will be a welcomed addition. We started with the complimentary crostinis that were accompanied by an olive tapenade and olives.

For dinner, I had the roasted duck with cassoulet and my Mom had the snapper with crab stuffed pepper and patatas bravas. Both were delicious!

And that’s what I ate Wednesday Tuesday! Stay tuned for my latest kitchen feat – Almond Encrusted Tilapia with Honey Lime Sauce. It’s quite tasty and easy too!

Posted in Restaurants, WIAW | Tagged , , | 11 Comments