Monday, January 30, 2017

Snap Kitchen: Healthy Meals for New Parents

Snap Kitchen is a delicious, healthy meal option for new parents, offering a variety of fresh meals for purchase in-store or for pickup/delivery on the Snap Kitchen app.

My husband travels for work almost every week and we have a 2 month old baby at home. I'm always looking for easy meals to have ready for us on busy days, including dinner for me when he gets home late. I was excited for the opportunity to order fresh meals from Snap Kitchen this weekend to enjoy this week! Snap Kitchen has seven locations in Chicago. I visited the Lakeview store on Sunday after ordering a few meals using the iOS Snap Kitchen app. Check out my experience in this video:

As you can see, I came home from Snap Kitchen and immediately prepared lunch for us by heating up the Vegan Chili and Pulled Pork Enchiladas.

We both thought the meals were very good! The Vegan Chili had a spicy kick and the Pulled Pork Enchiladas were super flavorful.

I ordered meals for pickup using the Snap Kitchen app, available for download on iTunes {for iOS users}. I selected a few different meal options for lunch and dinner:

Snap Kitchen also offers breakfast, snacks, drinks, and dessert. Delivery is available within three miles of store locations.

I picked my meals up at a local store - I ordered via the app and my meals were ready in 15 minutes.

Snap Kitchen is the perfect healthy option for new parents like us that are busy juggling work and a new baby. The prices are reasonable for fresh prepared meals - I found the meals to be less expensive than dining out.

Every meal we have tried so far is delicious! I had Banana Pancakes for breakfast this morning and I plan to enjoy the Spicy Coconut Chicken Soup for lunch tomorrow. Next time I'll order a few more breakfast options as well as snacks and sides.

Snap Kitchen currently has stores in five cities across the country: Chicago, Austin, Dallas / Fort Worth, Houston, and Philadelphia. Learn more about Snap Kitchen on their website, Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. Download the Snap Kitchen app on iTunes.

Have you tried Snap Kitchen?

Friday, January 27, 2017

Blueberry Pie Slow Cooker Oats

Blueberry Pie Slow Cooker Oats is an easy breakfast recipe in your slow cooker or crockpot, made with steel cut oats and fresh blueberries.

I already have two posts this month focused on breakfast - Flourless Chai Latte Banana Bread Muffins and a roundup of 10 Healthy Breakfast Ideas. I have one more breakfast recipe to finish out January and it's my favorite flavor combination yet: Blueberry Pie Slow Cooker Oats.

I combined fresh blueberries with steel cut oats, almond milk, pure maple syrup, almonds, cinnamon and vanilla.

This has got to be the easiest breakfast recipe ever. It's perfect for busy weekdays or lazy weekend mornings.

I started my slow cooker this morning to make these oats so we have a warm breakfast option the chilly weekend.

I prefer lightly sweetened oatmeal, so I used 1/3 cup of maple syrup for this batch. Feel free to add more maple syrup or brown sugar if you are looking for a sweeter breakfast.

My favorite part of this recipe is how the blueberries melt into the steel cut oats - it reminds me of warm summer blueberry pie. Can it be July already? :)

Blueberry Pie Slow Cooker Oats
Yields: 6 servings

1 1/2 cups steel cut oats
2 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 1/2 cups blueberries
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/8 cup raw almonds, chopped
2 cinnamon sticks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

*Add all ingredients to a slow cooker / crock pot and stir.
*Cook on high for 3 1/2 hours.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Thai Stuffed Peppers with Peanut Lime Sauce

This vegetarian recipe for Thai Stuffed Peppers with Peanut Lime Sauce is full of healthy ingredients and perfect for Meatless Monday.

We had a wonderful weekend in Chicago, with very unseasonable weather - it was 60 degrees and sunny on Saturday! I spent time attending the Women's March in Chicago, which was a powerful experience. No matter what your political leanings were in the divisive 2016 election, I don't think you can argue with how energizing it is to see thousands of people coming together to share common values. The Chicago march was incredibly peaceful. My favorite moment was talking to an 11 year old boy walking next to me about his sign and how happy he was to be there with his mother. On a lighter note, I also finished my first official RUN this weekend - 3 miles. I'm running the Shamrock Shuffle 8k race in April so I'm planning to slowly work my way back to regular running over the next few months.

I spent the rest of my weekend hanging out with this guy - working on his smiles:

Back to the reason for this post! I followed up my run on Sunday by lunching on Thai Stuffed Peppers with Peanut Lime Sauce. This vegetarian recipe turned out even more delicious than I expected.

Stuffed peppers don't get enough love as a healthy dinner option. I often see pepper recipes on Pinterest that are filled with cheese and heavy meats, but it's just as easy to make a healthier version.

I started by steaming four bell peppers in the oven, using the kitchn's method {explained in the directions below}. I'm giving special credit to my husband K for helping get this recipe on the table!

I used this "exotic blend" of mushrooms, which includes shiitake, oyster, and baby bella. Any combination of mushrooms will work in this dish.

Mushrooms are sauteed with chopped yellow onion, red bell peppers strips, and Pad Thai Sauce before being combined with cooked quinoa. Pad Thai Sauce includes tamarind, sugar, fish sauce, and salt. I also made Peanut Lime Sauce to top the peppers after baking {see the recipe below}.

The peppers only need to bake for 20 minutes before they are ready to serve.

Make sure to add Peanut Lime Sauce and chopped cilantro before serving.

For me, the more cilantro the better. :) I'll be having a leftover stuffed pepper for a Meatless Monday lunch today and I can't wait.

Thai Stuffed Peppers with Peanut Lime Sauce
Yields: 4 servings

4 bell peppers
3/4 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth or water
1 small yellow onion
1 Tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces mushrooms {I used a mix of shitake, baby bella, and oyster}
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced in thin strips
2 Tablespoons Pad Thai Sauce
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons unsalted peanuts, chopped
3 Tablespoons of cilantro

Peanut Lime Sauce~
2 Tablespoons unsweetened peanut butter
Juice of 1 lime
1 Tablespoon coconut oil {melted}
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

*Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
*Pre-bake four bell peppers. Remove the inside of each pepper, including the seeds. Add a few tablespoons of water to the bottom of a baking dish. Cover the peppers tightly with foil and bake for 10 minutes.
*While the peppers are baking, cook quinoa according to package directions. I used 3/4 cup of dry quinoa cooked in 1 1/2 cups of water.
*In a separate pan, saute a small chopped yellow onion in a Tablespoon of olive oil for ~3 minutes. Add mushrooms, half of a chopped red bell peppers, and Pad Thai Sauce. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Continue cooking over medium heat for ~5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the quinoa when it's done cooking and stir to combine.
*Fill four peppers with the quinoa and mushroom mixture. Top with chopped peanuts and bake for 20 minutes, or until the peanuts are lightly browned.
*While the peppers are baking, make the Peanut Lime Sauce - whisk together peanut butter, lime juice, melted coconut oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, and salt.
*Before serving the peppers, top with Peanut Lime Sauce and chopped cilantro.

What's your favorite vegetarian recipe? I'm linking up with Running on Happy and Fit Foodie Mama for Meatless Monday!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Flourless Chai Latte Banana Bread Muffins

This recipe for Flourless Chai Latte Banana Bread Muffins is perfect for breakfast or warmed as a snack.

This post contains affiliate links.

I love using warm spices during cold months, and chai is at the top of my list. The first time I tried this muffin recipe I used only chai spice, but the flavor wasn't strong enough. For my second attempt, I added more spice and Chai Latte concentrate. The chai flavor is perfect now and really shines through!

I used almond flour to make these muffins flourless. I also tried baking the muffins using ground almonds instead of almond flour, and it worked well. Note: Flourless muffins don't rise the same as recipes that use all-purpose flour.

I have a few other flourless recipes on this blog, including Flourless Carrot Cake Oat Bars, Flourless Pumpkin Spice Muffins, and Flourless Carrot Cake Muffins. I think this Chai Latte version is my new favorite.

Try this muffin recipe if you're stuck indoors this weekend and want to make your kitchen smell amazing.

I'm planning to enjoy one {or three} muffins this morning with my coffee before a yoga class.

Flourless Chai Latte Banana Bread Muffins
Yields: 12 muffins

2 cups almond flour
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup chai latte concentrate
2 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted
2 eggs
3 teaspoons chai spice**
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

How to~
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
*Mix wet ingredients - mashed bananas, chai latte concentrate, coconut oil, eggs, and vanilla extract.
*Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl - almond flour, brown sugar, chai spice, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add dry ingredients to the wet and mix only until combined.
*Add batter to lined muffin tins and bake for 25 minutes.

**If you don't have access to chai spice, Fit Foodie Finds has a great DIY Chai Spice Mix recipe.

{Adapted from all recipes Banana Muffins II recipe}

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

10 Healthy Breakfast Ideas

This list of ten healthy breakfast ideas is perfect for the new year, including green smoothies, muffins, overnight oats, and more.

Are you eating healthier in the new year? I read that it's best to start dietary changes with one meal and work from there. I realized I have a fairly long list of breakfast recipes on this blog. I picked ten to feature in this post, for healthy breakfast ideas in the new year. I typically eat oatmeal or a yogurt bowl for breakfast, but I like to mix it up in the morning with smoothies and muffins too.

Apple Cider Breakfast Muffins

This is my favorite muffin recipe, using apple cider, apple pie spice, and baking apples. Baking with apples should happen all year instead of just during fall months.

Superfood Kiwi Green Smoothie

I created this smoothie last winter when K and I were working through a 60 day "no added sugar" challenge. It's delicious and incorporates tons of healthy ingredients, such as kale, collard greens, and carrots. I promise it's tasty enough for breakfast.

Flourless Carrot Cake Oat Bars

Anything carrot cake-flavored that can be made healthier is perfect for breakfast. These bars have an oatmeal base and work well for snacks too.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Green Smoothie

This is a classic green smoothie {it's not green because the blueberries overpower the color!} that we enjoy regularly in my house. PB&J flavors can be made healthier when you add lots of greens and use unsweetened fruit instead of jam or jelly.

Lemon Cream Pie Overnight Oats

I love overnight oats - this is one spring version that's super creamy and easy to put together.

Apple Pie Chia Pudding

I was skeptical of chia pudding for a long time but this flavor combination can't be missed. The best part of this breakfast recipe is the apple butter stirred in for extra sweetness.

Chai Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats

I made steel cut oats in the slow cooker for the first time with this recipe, after an early pre- Thanksgiving snow last year. Chai flavors are the best in oatmeal.

Green Smoothie: Chocolate Covered Strawberry

Cocoa powder is the star of this green smoothie, which is naturally sweetened with bananas and frozen strawberries.

Flourless Pumpkin Spice Muffins

You haven't put your pumpkin away for the year yet, right? I need to make another batch of these muffins soon. They are made with coconut flour and full of tasty pumpkin flavor.

Maple Cinnamon Chia Overnight Oats

I made overnight oats for the first time with this recipe, and it's also one of the first breakfast recipes posted on this blog. It's hard to go wrong combining maple and cinnamon flavors.

What's your favorite healthy breakfast?

Saturday, January 7, 2017

2016 Favorites and Wishes for the New Year

I'm a few days late posting a recap of the year, but it's always better late than never, right? Last year I posted my "Favorite Things 2015" as a year-end overview. I have the same recap for this year plus my wishes for 2017.

As I shared last year, I think the end of the year is a wonderful time to practice gratitude and think about goals for the months to come. Here are a few favorite highlights from 2016:

Favorite Life Change: Becoming a Family of Three

Baby C was born a few weeks early, before Thanksgiving. We are soaking up every minute of the newborn stage, mostly while hibernating indoors. I will be on maternity leave until mid-spring and I'm looking forward to experiencing new things everyday with this sweet boy.

 Photo by Bella Baby

Favorite Trip: Sedona, Arizona and the Grand Canyon

Last February, I took a weekend trip to Arizona with friends to visit Sedona. We also took a day trip to the Grand Canyon on Leap Day. The weather was clear and beautiful. It was an amazing way to spend the "extra" day in 2016.

Favorite Recipe: Caprese White Bean & Pasta Salad

This wasn't my most popular recipe post visited in 2016 {that goes to my Taco Zoodle Bowls, posted in 2015} but it was my favorite: Caprese White Bean & Pasta Salad. This is a simple vegetarian recipe that we enjoyed often last summer. I like to use quinoa pasta or whole grain pasta for extra nutritional value.

Favorite Workout: Biking in Florida

Last January we went on a short weekend trip to Florida to visit my in-laws who stayed on Marco Island for two months. We spent one day biking on Sanibel Island and Captiva Island, and it was gorgeous. I highly recommend it if you are visiting southwestern Florida at any point.

Favorite Blog Post: Interview with Elite Runner Alexi Pappas

Early last spring I had the opportunity to chat with the sweet Nike Pro runner Alexi Pappas for an interview by phone, prior to her running the Shamrock Shuffle 8k race in Chicago. Alexi went on to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics on behalf of Greece! Follow her on Twitter for details on her running life.

Favorite Race: Shamrock Shuffle 8k

I ran the Shamrock Shuffle 8k race last April just 5 days after finding out I was pregnant. I didn't run another race the rest of the year, and stopped running altogether at the end of June. I'm so excited to get out there again this year and to give baby C a ride in the jogging stroller this summer once he's big enough.

Favorite Midwest Trip: Door County

K and I spend the 4th of July holiday in Door County {Wisconsin} every year with family. We love visiting our favorite spots and spending time outdoors. I posted a recap of our Door County weekend in July. For more about Door County, check out these posts:

Wishes for the New Year

Instead of making "resolutions" for the new year that won't necessarily stick around past a month or two, I like the idea of coming up with "wishes." I am looking forward to spending time with my sweet baby and making the best out of 2017.

Here are my wishes for the new year:
  1. Be intentional about spending more time with family and friends.
  2. Get back into shape post-baby + try new fitness classes every month.
  3. Run 4 races {distance to be determined}.
  4. Continue reducing sugar in my diet {here's a great article from the New York Times on the subject - What Not to Eat: The Case Against Sugar.}
  5. Reduce screen time + read as many books as I can - both to baby C and myself.
 Happy 2017!