Chocolate Overnight Oats – 2 Ways!

When you’re as busy as I am, especially heading into a new school semester, overnight oats are the perfect on-the-go breakfast. You can make them in less than 10 minutes the night before and in the morning you just grab them on your way out. I try to save time anywhere I can – yet I am still always 5-10 minutes late for everything (I’m working on that). I love chocolate, so I usually try to make chocolate-based oats, which ends up tasting like a dessert for breakfast! Here I am sharing my go-to recipe, which can be adapted to fit any chocolate-y craving. My favorites are chocolate, coconut, and almond and chocolate, banana, and peanut butter!

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Chocolate Overnight Oats

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder

Directions:

1.) Mix all ingredients together in an airtight container. Top with desired toppings and leave in the fridge overnight (covered).

2.) In the morning, mix everything together. Add more maple syrup if not sweet enough. Enjoy hot or cold!

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Avocado BLT Pizza

Anyone who knows me sees that I eat avocado pretty much every day (it might be an addiction). I also looooove bacon and goat cheese, which luckily doesn’t hurt my stomach at all. So this recipe was right up my alley! You might be thinking “Avocado instead of pizza sauce? What??” but I promise it’s just as glorious as it sounds. And so easy to make! This is a great recipe to whip up on a Friday night when you don’t want to cook. Just keep some pizza crusts in the freezer and you can have this pizza ready in less time than delivery!

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Avocado BLT Pizza

Ingredients:

  • 1 pizza crust (I usually buy the frozen ones)
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 4 slices bacon, pan fried and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup goat cheese
  • Handful of arugula

Directions:

1.) Bake pizza crust according to instructions.

2.) Mash avocado in a small bowl with garlic, red pepper, and salt and pepper. Spread on baked pizza crust. Top with halved cherry tomatoes, bacon crumbles, and goat cheese. Bake for another 5-10 minutes or until cheese begins to melt.

3.) Top with arugula, cut into fours and enjoy!

Buffalo Chicken Salad with Lightened-up Ranch Dressing

I LOVE buffalo sauce. I find it funny that I used to hate anything spicy, and now I’m buying jars of jalapenos and Frank’s Hot Buffalo Sauce like it’s going out of style. Oh how things change! I also love my salads, so I figured why not combine my two loves into one? I prefer making homemade ranch dressing because it’s much healthier, I know all the ingredients, and I can make it lactose-intolerant friendly. Store-bought ranch (even the ranch seasoning packets) almost always have buttermilk as an ingredient, so I have to stay away from that. Not everyone with lactose intolerance can handle yogurt, but it doesn’t give my stomach any issues, so I used yogurt as the base for this dressing. It’s so yummy and tastes even better once it sits in the fridge overnight! This is one of those “I am claiming this is a recipe but it’s really a handful of things thrown together to suit my tastes” type of recipes. Which means you can adapt it to match your tastes too – like it less spicy? Use mild buffalo. Want to make more chicken? Just up the amount of sauce when baking. Like your dressing thicker? Use more yogurt. Go wild!

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Buffalo Chicken Salad with Lightened-up Ranch Dressing

Adapted from: The Skinny Fork

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 lb. chicken breast tenderloins
  • 1/2 cup Frank’s Buffalo Sauce (I like hot!)
  • 1 lb. salad mix
  • 1 carton cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 4 tbsp blue cheese crumbles
  • 4 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp mayo
  • 2 tbsp milk (I use soy)
  • 1-2 tbsp dried dill flakes
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard (optional)
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

1.) Spray a 9 x 13 glass baking dish with cooking spray. Lay out tenderloins and smother in buffalo sauce. Bake for about 20 minutes or until center is no longer pink. Let cool and shred chicken.

2.) To make the dressing, combine the yogurt, mayo, milk, dill, garlic, mustard, and salt and pepper in a bowl. Whisk together. Feel free to add more of any ingredient as necessary, adding more milk to thin it or more yogurt/mayo to thicken. Put in a jar or container in the fridge; it will last about a week!

3.) In a large bowl, make your salad! Top salad mix with a handful of tomatoes, diced pepper and cucumber, and 1 tbsp each of sunflower seeds and blue cheese crumbles. Top with 1/4 cup of shredded chicken and the amount of dressing you would like. Enjoy!

Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff (Dairy-Free!)

As I have mentioned before, beef stroganoff is my favorite meal, yet now that I am lactose intolerant I’m aiming to be dairy-free at home. But when I found a dairy-free recipe for stroganoff, I was more than skeptical. How can it be stroganoff without the sour creamy sauce?! A dairy-free version would certainly be sub par. Maybe even inedible. The secret creamy ingredient in this recipe is coconut milk. Insert more skepticism here. I LOVE coconut, but in stroganoff? Yet since the recipe got great reviews, I decided to trust the recipe creator’s promise that the other flavors would mask any coconut taste. I also really wanted to try a crock pot version of this meal, since that makes my life wayyyy easier.

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And let me tell you, it was SO GOOD. I went in with about as much skepticism as possible and came out praising Amy at Wholesomelicious for creating this seemingly-unlikely-to-impress-my-stroganoff-taste-buds recipe. I want to find her and give her a hug. Oh, and I also may have licked the bowl clean. It was that good. Coming from a beef stroganoff connoisseur, that means it is awesome – trust me!

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I actually ended up adding more coconut milk to the crock pot after taking these pictures (and eating the first bowl). I found the taste to be even better after that, making me even more excited to eat the leftovers. I also found that it looked the exact same color as my sour cream version, which made me happier. But depending how creamy you like the sauce, you can experiment to your taste. You can also add more/less beef, mushrooms, add in other veggies…I will definitely be trying some other variations! It made 5 servings for me, because I like a lot of sauce, but you could definitely get 6 servings out of this recipe.

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Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff (Dairy-Free)

Adapted from: Wholesomelicious

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs stew beef
  • 1/2 cup diced white onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1 1/4 cup beef stock
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup red or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp onion flakes/powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 to 1 cup canned full-fat coconut milk
  • 3 tbsp. corn starch
  • Egg noodles

Directions:

1.) Add beef to 6 quart crock pot and top with onions, garlic, and mushrooms. Pour broth, soy sauce, and vinegar over the beef and veggies. Add garlic and onion powders and stir. Cook on low for at least 5 hours.

2.) At the last 30-60 minutes of cooking, add the coconut milk (shake well before adding) and the cornstarch. Stir in and continue cooking on low for 30-60 minutes, until sauce is thickened.

3.) Serve over egg noodles or another pasta, rice, veggies, etc.

I’m Back! With a Baked Stuffed Zucchini Recipe

I am back! I feel like I have been away from the blog forever, and it basically has been – my last post was in February. February?! Working a million hours a week plus school plus (trying to have) a life has pushed other things to the wayside. But I am back and my first focus is better time-management to fit in more blogging! Maybe if I tell my professors this, they’ll give me less homework once fall semester starts….here’s hoping.

Life updates: I am still working my full-time research job but quit my part-time bartending gig to start clinical hours for school. It was hard to leave, and I do miss it, but I know it was the right decision in the long run. I feel much less stressed and, while I did replace it with another part-time job, the new job counts for hours for school plus it’s giving me the real-world nutrition experience I need. So far I really like it! Being in a hospital and getting to see first-hand how patient meals are planned, made, and delivered has shown me SO MUCH in just 4 short months. A good sign that I am on the right career path 🙂 Oh and I got a cat! Her name is Margo and she’s pretty sassy like me. She makes a great addition to my little apartment living.

I also have recently been diagnosed as lactose intolerant. Which sounded like a death sentence to a cheese-addict like myself. However, I have found that cutting out dairy for the most part isn’t too bad. It’s allowed me to be a little more adventurous with cooking and a lot less dependent on cheese for flavor in (almost) every dish. So I am trying to be dairy-free while eating and cooking at home and saving my dairy “splurges” for special meals out, with the help of my good friend Lactaid. I never thought I’d be saying that…

So now it’s time for a recipe! This summer I’ve been eating an abundance of zucchini and squash, and I don’t hate it. My brother’s friend has a farm and I’ve stopped there when I can to get some fresh veggies. Shout-out to my friend and her mom for recommending I make baked stuffed zucchini – it was so delicious! I sort of threw together this recipe with what I had on-hand, so you can play around with it too. Add cheese if you aren’t deprived of all that is good like I am (sorry, I’m still being dramatic about my newly cheese-less life). It’s also a great freezer meal if you have tons of zucchini to use up!

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Baked Stuffed Zucchini

Ingredients:

  • 2 large zucchini, cut in half
  • 1/2 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • veggies! (I used diced onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, spinach)
  • 1 cup pasta sauce
  • Cooking spray
  • Spices, salt, pepper

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 350 F. Cut both zucchini in half, lengthwise, and scoop out the “pulp” inside. Save the pulp. Place zucchini halves, cut side up, on sprayed baking dishes or cookie sheets.

2.) In a large skillet, sauté olive oil on medium heat and add garlic. Let cook for about a minute and then add in zucchini pulp and veggies. Sauté until soft, then add ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Turn off heat and add pasta sauce. Stir everything together and add spices/salt/pepper, if desired.

3.) Scoop beef and veggie mixture into the zucchini halves. If there is extra filling, you can save and top off zucchini halves after baking or mix with pasta for another meal (that’s what I did!) Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes or until zucchini is tender. Top with extra pasta sauce and cheese (if desired).

 

Asian Peanut Chicken

So this recipe was sort of a last-minute experiment, but somehow those always end up tasting the best! I wanted a protein/veggie combo for lunches this week, rather than my usual salad. So I decided on roasted sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, and some sort of chicken. I had recently seen a Pinterest recipe for a peanut sauce on noodles, so I figured “why not try making that with chicken instead?” Let me just say it is SO YUMMY and tastes like something you would get for take out, but much healthier. The sauce is so peanutty, yet a little salty and spicy, with the perfect consistency – even reheated. You could switch up the protein, make it over rice, quinoa, zucchini noodles, veggies, or serve with veggies and potatoes like I did! I like meals that I can make quickly yet also customize – since I tend to crave different things every other minute 🙂

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Asian Peanut Chicken

Adapted from: Kelley and Cricket

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp diced onion
  • 1 tbsp light olive oil
  • 1 lb chicken breast tenders, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2-3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 2 tsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp sweet chili sauce (or sriracha)
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil

Directions:

1.) Over medium heat, melt butter in a skillet. Add onion and cook until translucent.

2.) Add olive oil and chicken cubes to skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, for a few minutes. Turn heat to medium low and add peanut butter, vinegar, 2 tbsp soy sauce, maple syrup, and sweet chili sauce. Stir until chicken is fully cooked.

3.) Remove from heat and add sesame oil. Stir again and add another tbsp soy sauce, if you’d like it to be a little more salty!

Mini Banana Breakfast Cheesecakes

Happy hump day! I love breakfast, but I tend to eat the same things during the week…usually peanut butter and banana toast, yogurt parfaits, or overnight oats. I like things that I can grab and eat in the car or at work. So I wanted to try something new! These cheesecakes are the perfect little treat…feels like you’re eating a dessert for breakfast! Grab one with a piece of fruit and you’re good to go. I also tried freezing some and they were just as good defrosted, so you can make these ahead and defrost them as you need them!

Note: I adapted these from a recipe that was supposed to make 2 cheesecakes, and I wanted to double it to make 4. I ended up having way too much filling but only enough crust to make 4. So for the other 4, I used Larabars that I smushed into a crust. Larabars are made from dates, nuts, and spices…so simple yet so yummy! You could actually make your own “Larabar crust” if you use a recipe similar to this or this and press it into the muffin tins. I actually ended up liking the taste of the Larabar-crust cheesecakes best, and they’re easier to make 🙂 But I put both options for crust in the recipe below!

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Mini Banana Breakfast Cheesecakes

Adapted from: Amy’s Healthy Baking

Ingredients:

Cheesecake filling:

  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 12 oz light cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 3/4 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes

Crust:

  • 4 Larabars (I used Pumpkin Pie, which was a seasonal flavor, but any fruit-based flavor would be good!)

OR

  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 300 F. Spray 8 muffin tin wells with non-stick cooking spray.

2.) IF USING LARABARS: Split each bar in half and press each half into the bottom of the muffin tin wells. (don’t need to bake)

IF USING OAT CRUST: In a small bowl, mix together oats and applesauce. Divide evenly among the 8 wells and press into the bottom. Bake for 8 minutes. Let cool in pan.

3.) In a medium bowl, mix the cream cheese and honey until smooth. Then add in the mashed banana, vanilla extract, coconut, and cornstarch and mix well.

4.) Pour filling over crusts and bake for 20-25 minutes (centers will be slightly jiggly). Cool to room temp in the pan, then cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving.