Chocolate Covered Strawberry Smoothie

The last couple of weeks have been interesting.  Housing hunting in Portland continues to be slightly unpleasant and more competitive than I generally like.  We have seen a little less than 30 homes at this point and have just put in our third offer.  We shall see how it goes!  This has been an interesting process because I spend my working hours with folks who are experiencing homelessness and battling this fiercely competitive housing market in a very different way.  They are fighting just to find any place to live, while I am looking for a home from the comfort of my safe apartment that I can afford.  Despite how frustrating buying a house has been, I finish each day feeling grateful to be in this position.  We are incredibly lucky and I won’t forget that. 🙂

The stress of all of this has sent my sugar cravings through the freaking roof!!  Does anyone else experience this?  You are going through something stressful and you are suddenly the Cookie Monster devouring every sweet in sight!  I’ve been trying to reach for natural sweets, such as dates, but at work I have been slightly less successful.  We get weekly donations of pastries from Starbucks and cupcakes from Saint Cupcake so I am always surrounded by surgary, buttery, bready foods.  It’s intense!

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It’s a new week, however, and I am ready to tame the sugar beast!  I am starting this week with a new resolve and hope to access other coping mechanisms for stress.  In addition to my morning work outs, I will try going for a little walk at times where I feel like I need that chocolate cookie staring at me (i.e. when I am feeling particularly stressed).  Other tactics I have found are helpful for me when I am overwhelmed include cleaning (I know, I’m weird) and taking a minute to breathe and drink some water.  I also made some tasty date and nut bites (using this recipe) and can rely on the deliciousness of chocolate Shakeology too!

I made this smoothie for the first time a couple of weeks ago and it really was like drinking a chocolate covered strawberry.  However, instead of a couple strawberries dipped in chocolate, it was a big ol’ glass of cold, creamy, super foods that tasted like ice cream!   Perfect for post-work out or to cool off on a warm afternoon (if you are lucky enough to be in sunny Sping/Summer weather already!).  This has definitely been added to my regular smoothie flavor rotation 🙂

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Smoothie | scottileona.com

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Smoothie

Serves 2

Strawberry Layer

Add to your blender the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 4-5 large organic frozen strawberries
  • 1 scoop Strawberry Shakeology
  • Large handful+ of ice

Blend and pour between two glasses.  Place the glasses in the freezer while you make the chocolate layer.

Chocolate Layer

In your blender, combine:

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 scoop Chocolate Shakeology (I used the vegan one)
  • 2 tsp almond butter
  • Ice

Pour on top of the strawberry layers and enjoy!

Happy Monday!

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Ground Mushroom Tacos

Nick and I have an interesting and evolving balance of eating preferences in our house.  Nick is allergic to peanuts and other related legumes, such as lentils, garbanzo beans and soy.  (Thankfully, this allergy doesn’t include all nuts or beans!)  He also appears to have an intolerance to gluten so we are cutting that out.  He eats meat and I occasionally eat fish, but prefer to eat vegetarian the majority of the time.  So we have a range of things to balance around meal times, from allergies that could cause death, intolerance that causes discomfort/illness, to preferred eating styles.  Although it sounds really complicated, it doesn’t have to be and we have found ways to make it work.

By default, Nick eats mostly vegetarian and will occasionally buy chicken, ground turkey, and occasionally sausage to have with dinner or lunch throughout the week.  I will also make foods he can’t eat, like lentils or very occasionally tofu, to have for lunch or dinner when he isn’t home.  To save time and money, however, the majority of our meals are comprised of ingredients we can eat.  The meat/no meat thing is easy and I think we have gotten really good at that.  What is proving to be a little more tricky is our new conversion to little-to-no gluten.  It’s only tricky at this point because we have quite a bit to learn, particularly around gluten free baking.  For example, I excitedly purchased a large bag of gluten free all purpose flour and thought, “well that was an easy switch.”  That weekend I made some waffles with it and after one bite Nick asked what type of flours were used (his body reacts quick!).  I looked at the ingredient list and the first one listed was garbanzo bean flour!  Doh!  So begins the process of learning the many different flours and how they work…more to come on that!  Do you have multiple eating styles to balance in your house?  I’d love to hear how you do it 🙂

Mushroom Tacos, scottileona.com

One favorite recipe of ours that is both gluten free and vegan is Ground Mushroom Tacos.  The texture and flavor of the ground mushrooms is similar to ground beef, so these are great for those meat eaters that like their textures!  🙂  Furthermore, mushrooms can act has a faux meat in so many instances (think portobello burgers, mushroom gravy with biscuits, and mushroom marinara sauce) without soy.  They are also quick to prepare and this recipe will have dinner on your plate in 30 minutes or less, making it an ideal mid-week-stressed-to-the-max dinner.  Mushrooms also boost a great number of health benefits, including:

  • Naturally low in calories, sodium, fat and cholesterol
  • Rich in B Vitamins
  • Antioxidants
  • Fiber
  • Only vegan, non-fortified source of Vitamin D (important for those of us dwelling in the Pacific Northwest!)

We also topped our tacos with healthful veggies, including kale, grated beets and carrots, and avocado.  Serve them with beans you cooked over the weekend to save time and add protein.  YUM!

Ground Mushroom Tacos, scottileona.com

Recipe

By Scotti Leona

Makes 5 tacos (Serves ~2)

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 red onion
  • 4 oz mushrooms (any kind will work, I used shiitake because that is what came in my CSA)
  • Cumin
  • Oregano
  • Salt and pepper
  • 5 corn tortillas
  • Kale
  • Carrots and beets, shredded
  • Avocado

Method:

  1. In a pan, saute the onion in coconut oil until softened
  2. Pulse the mushrooms in a food processor until finely chopped
  3. Add the mushrooms to the onion and continue to cook a little
  4. Add the cumin, oregano, salt and pepper, and if you want a little spice, throw in some paprika or chilli powder
  5. Divide the mushrooms among warmed tortillas and top with carrots, beets, kale and avocado (or whatever you want!) 🙂

Stuffed Poblano Peppers with Amaranth

A few months ago, I discovered amaranth at my local food co-op and decided to give it a try.  I had read about this lovely little grain in the Thrive Energy Cookbook by Brendan Brazier and I first tried it out as a rice substitute in this stuffed poblano peppers recipe.

Amaranth

Amaranth is a tiny grain that looks a little like quinoa and packs a serious nutritional punch.  This gluten free grain contains:

  • Three times the average amount of calcium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Vitamin C – Amaranth is the only grain documented to contain this!
  • Complete protein

I love amaranth because it cooks up quick and is super versatile.  In addition to using it as a substitute for rice, you can make it into porridge and eat it for breakfast!

To cook amaranth, rinse 1 cup under cold water.  Boil 2 cups of water on your stovetop and add the amaranth.  Reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the water is absorbed.  To make a thicker porridge-like consistency, use a 1:3 grain to water ratio and mix in desired spices.

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Stuffed Poblano Peppers with Amaranth

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 poblano peppers
  • 1 cup cooked amaranth
  • 1 cup cooked pinto beans
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • Sharp cheddar cheese, grated (omit or use a dairy-free alternative to make this vegan)
  • Avocado, tomato, cilantro and lime for garnish

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350*F.  Cut the peppers in half and remove the stem and seeds.  Brush the peppers with olive oil and place on a baking sheet.  Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or so to soften the peppers.
  2. While the peppers bake, mix the amaranth, beans, corn, cilantro and green onions in a bowl.  Add some cumin, cheyenne, salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Remove the peppers from the oven.  Fill each pepper with the amaranth stuffing.  Top each with a little shredded cheddar cheese and place back in the oven until everything is warmed through and the cheese is melted.
  4. Serve with avocado, tomato, cilantro and lime.  Enjoy 🙂

Homemade Graham Crackers

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Last month Nick and I attended a birthday bash at Crater Lake for our bestest bud.  Neither of us had ever been there, although it has been on our list since the day we moved to Oregon!  Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States.  It was formed around 7,700 years ago when Mount Mazama volcano collapsed and created a large caldera that eventually filled with rain and snow melt.  It is an understatement to call Crater Lake breathtaking.  There are really no words to describe how blue the water is.  I also loved the huge lava rock formations and the trees that surround the lake.

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There is a road that goes around the perimeter of the lake and twice a year the park closes part of that road to cars so cyclists can enjoy it all to themselves!  We enjoyed the 33 mile scenic ride, which included over 3,800′ of climbing, PLUS the 10 mile ride each way from our camp ground that included another 800′ of climbing.  By “enjoyed” I mean our legs and lungs were screaming with each climb.  However, at each break, our minds were BLOWN.  It was awesome in every sense of the word.

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We all took turns preparing the meals for the group and enjoyed a variety of campground gourmet.  The item that really topped my list, though, were homemade graham crackers that my lovely friend Christine brought.  They had a thicker texture than store-bought crackers and were way more flavorful.  An added bonus: we can identify all of the ingredients!  Of course, we took that health train off the tracks by making s’mores with these glorious crackers…but hey, what’s a camping trip without s’mores?

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Christine found her inspiration for these Homemade Graham Crackers from The Post Punk Kitchen, with a few additions and changes.  Below is her recipe.  I can’t wait to make these at home and enjoy as a snack with tea or fruit!

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Homemade Graham Crackers

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Graham Flour
  • 1/3 cup turbinado sugar (this adds some extra texture and crunch, you can also use regular sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon extract
  • 1/4 cup milk of choice

Instructions

  1. Preheat the over to 350* F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  Make a well in the middle and pour in the oil, molasses and vanilla and cinnamon extracts. Mix the liquid ingredients into the dry until well combined and crumbly.
  3. Add the milk and stir to combine.  Use your hands to knead the dough a few times until it holds together.  Christine recommends if the dough is dry and crumbly to roll out, you can try adding a tbsp or so more milk.
  4. Line your work surface with parchment paper.  Place the dough on the parchment paper and work dough into a rectangle.  Sprinkle with flour and use a rolling pin to flatten out the rectangle until it is about 10 x 14 inches.  The dough should be about 1/8 inch thick.
  5. Trim the edges and cut the dough into 8 crackers.  You may be able to get some more crackers from the trimmed edges, so roll it out and cut them up!  No need to waste good dough, right?  Very carefully transfer the crackers to the baking sheet.  Poke each cookie with a fork a few times.
  6. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes.  12 minutes gives softer cookies, that according to the Post Punk Kitchen, are better for making ice cream sandwiches!  What!  That sounds like something I need to do!  14 minutes gives you crispy cookies.  You decide how you like ’em.
  7. Let cool completely on the baking sheet.

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Nom.  Now let’s go camping!  Oh, wait…it’s winter now.  We can still camp in our living rooms, yeah?  😉

 

Blueberry and Minty Peach Vanilla Shakeology

Hello there!  I hope you had a lovely weekend.  Portland continues to bask in summer’s glory with sunshine, delicious produce, and SO many weekend activities!  It’s hard to keep up with everything that goes on throughout the summer!  

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I am now in week 12 of training for the Portland Marathon and seriously can’t believe the race is only 7 weeks ago!  On Saturday my long run was 16 miles.  16 miles!  That is 3 miles longer than I have ever run before.  It was by no means easy.  It was hot, I got tired, and walked more than I would prefer.  I did, however, finish and that is my main goal for the race.  I’ll keep trucking along and putting my best foot forward with each run 🙂

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Last weekend, Nick and I picked fresh peaches on a farm on Sauvie Island.  We came home with a box of huge, juicy peaches that entice me every time I open the fridge!  With those on hand, along with the huge bag of blueberries I picked on Sauvie Island and froze, I had the perfect solution for lazy summer days.  To keep cool on Sunday before heading to the second day of MusicFest NW, I headed straight for the blender and whipped up a Blueberry and Minty Peach Vanilla Shakeology.  Pure perfection.

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Blueberry and Minty Peach Vanilla Shakeology Recipe:

Serves 2

For the first layer, combine in a blender:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 handfuls of frozen organic blueberries
  • 1 scoop Vanilla Shakeology
  • Ice

Blend and split between two large glasses.  If it’s really warm in your house, place the glasses in the freezer while you make the second layer.

 

For the second layer, combine in a blender:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 organic peaches
  • 6-8 (or to taste) fresh mint leaves
  • 1 scoop Vanilla Shakeology

Blend and pour over the first layer in the glasses.  Stick a straw in there and enjoy!  ❤

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Baked Vegetable Tempura and Soy Glazed Salmon

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Recently, Nick and I booked a two-week trip to Japan.  This trip is to celebrate my completion of graduate school and to just get the heck out and see the world!  We have been asked by almost everyone we have told, “Why Japan?” and our answer is, “Why not?!”  There are so many places all over the world we want to visit, so we had to just start by picking one and this year, Japan won!  We are so incredibly excited!

The night we booked the flights, we wanted to celebrate with a healthy Japanese-inspired food.  We made baked vegetable tempura and it was absolutely delicious!

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To make, you will need:

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  •  A bunch of asparagus
  • 1-2 sweet potatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • 1 Zucchini
  • 2 eggs
  • Panko bread crumps

 

 

The amount of each vegetable depends on how many you are preparing for.

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  1. Preheat oven to 450* F.
  2. Toss the chopped vegetables in whole wheat flour to lightly coat
  3. Dip each piece in a bowl containing the eggs, scrambled
  4. Next time the vegetable pieces into a bowl of Panko bread crumbs
  5. Line the veggies up in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes or until browned

 

 

 

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We served ours with a ginger soy glazed salmon.

To glaze the salmon, you’ll need:

  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 salmon steaks
  1. Simmer the soy sauce and grated ginger in a small saucepan.  Once it starts to simmer, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the honey and mustard.
  2. Cook the salmon skin side up on a lightly oiled pan for about 5 minutes
  3. Flip over and spoon some of the glaze over the top
  4. Transfer the salmon to a baking sheet that is lightly oiled or lined with aluminum foil for easy clean up.
  5. Stick the salmon in the oven at 350* F until done, about 5-10 minutes.

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Nick made a dipping sauce for the tempura with Dijon Mustard, honey, Chinese hot mustard and a little champagne vinegar, but of course he didn’t measure anything out!  Play around with dipping sauces, those are fun to create with whatever you have in your pantry or fridge.  🙂

If anyone has traveled to Japan and has suggestions of things we must do, please share!

 

Orange Black Bean Hummus

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My other half is allergic to peanuts and many of peanut’s relatives, including garbanzo beans.  This means that regular hummus is typically a no-go in our household unless its just for me (which is neither fun nor economical) or Nick wants to endure a stomach ache, itchy throat or other unpleasant side effects (also not fun, healthy or economical).  He likes the taste, texture and many ways to use hummus though, so this often leads to him risking it!  Not too long ago, I found a local brand (King Harvest) that makes a black bean hummus and it is really delicious!  Shortly after that, I was flipping through the book Quick Fix Vegan and came across a recipe for black bean hummus that uses orange juice to add an interesting flavor.  I immediately gave the recipe a shot and it has become a new favorite for snack and meal preps!

Black beans are an excellent source of:

  • Protein (a single one-cup serving of black beans provides almost 15 grams of protein, which is equivalent to the amount of protein in 2 ounces of meat!)
  • Fiber
  • Vitamin B1
  • Iron
  • Folate
  • Manganese and Magnesium
  • Phytonutrients
Fun graphic I found on Instagram :-)

Fun graphic I found on Instagram.  Click on the image to see larger version 🙂

Oranges add to the nutrition benefits with:

  • Lots of Vitamin C
  • More fiber and folate
  • Vitamin A and B1
  • Potassium and calcium

 

 

 

 

 

Lastly, sesame tahini (sesame seed paste or sesame butter found in most health food stores) provides:

  • Protein
  • Fiber
  • Folate
  • Riboflavin, niacin and thiamin (all of which help convert food to energy, maintain skin and keep your nervous system functioning well)
  • Sesame seeds are one of the best sources of copper, a powerful antioxidant and a necessary mineral for your immune system and for enzymes that produce energy, build connective tissue and metabolize iron
  • Iron and phosphorus
For more information: Nutritional Facts of Roasted Sesame Tahini, The World’s Healthiest Foods: Black Beans,  The World’s Healthiest Foods: Oranges

I purchase my black beans from bulk bins at my local food cooperative and cook about 1 cup (yields about 3 cups cooked) at a time to use to prepare a few meals or snacks throughout the week.  Not only is hummus incredibly easy to make, making it from scratch saves a lot of money!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice (about half of a medium sized orange)
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 1/2 cup of cooked black beans
  • 2 tablespoons sesame tahini
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Chili powder and cilantro to taste

Place everything in a food processor and blend!

Enjoy as a dip for vegetables, a spread on sandwiches, with pita chips, or any other way you enjoy hummus 🙂