Chocolate Cherry Protein Smoothie

This is my new favorite smoothie.  As in I have it twice a week (at least).  Sometimes  I make a double batch and freeze one.  Then I grab it out of the freezer on the way to the gym and, after a workout and shower, it’s just thawed enough to stir and drink.  Which is pretty much having your cake smoothie and eating drinking it too.  Or something like that.

It’s going to be a bummer when our Costco stops carrying frozen organic cherries, as they make this smoothie possible.  Cherries make the smoothie seems indulgent and give a nice, rich flavor.

Chocolate Cherry Protein Smoothie

Chocolate Cherry Protein Smoothie

  • 1 cup frozen cherries
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I like Sun Warrior Vanilla Rice Protein)
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • few ice cubes

Directions:

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.  Add more non-dairy milk (or water) as needed to get the desired consistency.

Options:

  • freeze leftover coffee into ice cubes and use in place of water ice cubes to give a slight coffee flavor
  • freeze chocolate coconut water (I used the Zico brand) and use in place of water ice cubes
  • use chocolate almond milk for even more chocolate flavor

Chocolate Cherry Almond Bars (grain free)

Chocolate Cherry Almond Bars | the lively kitchen

I have this thing with bars.  Which sounds like I’m about to admit a drinking problem, so I better clarify. (although I do have a tea drinking problem lately….)

I have this thing with energy bars. As in I can’t go grocery shopping without picking up at least one.  As in I’m quite territorial about my ‘bars basket’ in the pantry and my husband knows to ask which ones he can have since I’ve (ridiculously) over-reacted more than once when he innocently grabbed a bar I was saving for a special day. As in I consider them ‘treats.’  Pretty much – don’t get between me and my bars.

This homemade bar recipe has become a new favorite in our house.  It makes 12 which means I don’t have to hoard them.  They are also grain free, kid friendly and pretty customizable.  Plus, the husband just grabs one from the fridge on the way to work, leaving my precious ‘bars basket’ in the pantry alone.  {insert mischievous grin}

Chocolate Cherry Coconut Bars | The Lively Kitchen

Chocolate Cherry Almond Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond flour or almond meal (I use Trader Joe’s Almond Meal)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup buckwheat (optional)
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup diced dried cherries

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper.
  2. Combine almond meal and salt in a food process, pulse twice.
  3. Pulse in coconut oil, water, honey and vanilla
  4. Pulse in coconut, sunflower seeds, almonds, buckwheat, pumpkin seeds, chocolate chips and diced cherries just until combined.
  5. With wet hands, press mixture into the prepared pan.
  6. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
  7. Let cool completely before cutting with a sharp knife.  I use the parchment paper to lift the baked bars out of the pan, place the whole pan worth on a cutting board and then cut them with a large butcher knife.
  8. Store bars in fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Apple Cinnamon Baked Doughnuts

At some point before my kids hit middle school I pledge to get the hang of the school morning routine.  It’s quite honestly pathetic that I am still struggling with getting the girl and husband out of the house by 7:20, especially since generally I’m not trying to get myself or the boy out of the house at that hour too.  At one point in my life all four of us were leaving the house by 7:30 – the husband and I both for work and the kids for daycare – but somehow with the whole stay-home mom gig, I’ve simultaneously eased up on the morning schedule and created a harried pace.  Ironic juxtaposition – my middle names.

I have learned that having a pre-made breakfast like pumpkin bread, peanut butter and banana breakfast cookies and/or Oatmeal and Wheat Bread Machine Bread for toast cuts a good 5 minutes out of the breakfast prep.  And those 5 minutes are golden.  Those 5 minutes are the difference in me getting to drink me tea or not.  Which, truthfully, sets the tone for the rest of my morning.  Hot tea  = gonna be a good day!  Cold tea (or, worse, no tea) = oh dear.

(I’ve also learned that packing the entire lunch for the girl and husband the night before saves me a good 10-15 minutes, but that requires mammoth motivation in the evening hours when the couch and a good book are screaming at me to join them.)

I modified my  Baked Vanilla Doughnuts recipe recently when I was craving something with apple cinnamon flavors.  They turned out great and made two mornings into hot tea mornings.

These could be baked into muffin tins too – just watch them closely the first time to determine bake time.

IMG_7898

Baked Apple Cinnamon Doughnuts

Enough for 6-7 doughnuts (or about 6 muffins)

  • 1/2 c whole wheat or spelt flour
  • 1/2 c white flour
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • dash nutmeg
  • 1/4 c + 2 Tbsp buttermilk
  • 1/2 -3/4 c shredded apple
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Optional Glaze Ingredients: 3/4 c powdered sugar + 2 Tbsp milk

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly coat a donut pan with cooking spray.

2.  Combine flours, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl and stir well with a whisk.

3. In a second bowl, combine buttermilk, egg, apple and vanilla, stirring well with a whisk.

4.  Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Don’t over-stir, as it will make the donuts less tender.

5.  Either spoon batter into the donut pan, or, if you’re a perfectionist like me, pipe the batter into the pan using a large plastic bag with the corner cut off.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until donuts are slightly golden on bottom.

6. Cool in pan about 5 minutes and then cool completely on a wire rack.

7.  When doughnuts are cool, top with glaze.

8.  Enjoy.

Sesame Ginger Peanut Dipping Sauce

This has become my new go-to sauce to keep in the fridge.  We eat it over steamed vegetables and brown rice, stirred into plain hummus and even as a salad dressing.  I just picked up more peanut butter at the store last night, so I have ‘make peanut dipping sauce’ on my to-do list for today.  Once the Monday motivation hits….

Random story (skip to the bottom for the recipe): My girl, age 7, all of the sudden loves peanut butter.  As in requests PB&J sandwiches for lunch instead of just tolerating them, eats peanut butter + celery for after school snacks and recently looked at me like I was the greatest person in the world when I gave her peanut butter + sliced apples.  I am taught over and over again that kids come around to things on their own time – be it with eating peanut butter, potty training, learning to read and so much more.  It’s pretty cool to watch, but it’s also a lesson I keep learning the hard way.

Sesame Ginger Peanut Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 c low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 c unsalted peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds or Gomasayo
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 minced garlic clove

Directions:

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Will need to shake before serving.

Fall Flavors Protein Smoothie

Alternative Title #1: Pumpkin-less Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Alternative Title #2: Is it odd to drink squash?

Alternative Title #3: Butternut Squash Smoothie – give it a chance!

I’m slowly developing more than just a taste for Butternut Squash.  For the last few years I’ve slowly increased my fall/winter squash consumption and have moved past eating it because it is good for me, past tolerating it, past ‘it’s not so bad’ and am now in the ‘who knew I could actually crave butternut squash?’ territory.

Olives, don’t get any ideas.  I will never crave you or even tolerate you.

Last week I had some roasted butternut squash in the fridge.  On that same day I wanted a smoothie.  I knew I wanted it to have a nutritional punch, but I wasn’t feeling the green smoothie.  (sorry kale)  I remembered seeing a smoothie recipe with butternut squash and thought I’d try making my own.  The smoothie turned out quite tasty, tasty enough that I took a few sips and then reached for my camera.  It’s gotta be good if I deem it blog worthy.

——————

Fall Flavors Protein Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 -3/4 cup roasted butternut squash (canned pumpkin could work too)
  • 1 carrot (if your blender can handle it)
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I like Sun Warrior and Garden of Life rice protein)
  • 1/2- 1 cup water – depends on how thick you like your smoothies
  • a bit of ice if you like your smoothies extra cold (which I do)

Directions:

Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth.

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If prefer to consume your butternut squash with a utensil besides a straw, try these recipes from this blog:

Fall Quinoa with Roasted Butternut Squash and Onions

Butternut Squash and Coconut Bisque

Zucchini Lemon Spelt Muffins

Ah zucchini – the poor little veggie that becomes almost a culinary burden in the hot summer months.  It can’t help being such a prolific garden plant. Except in my ‘garden.’  I use the term loosely.  But seriously, I’ve never successfully grown even one squash of any kind.

Luckily it’s bountiful and cheap at the farmer’s market.  For main courses, zucchini stars in the following recipes:

Summer Vegetable Brushetta pasta

Zucchini Quinoa Lasagna (from Peas and Thank You)

Vegetable Sautes over rice or quinoa

Stacked Vegetable Enchilada Bake

For breakfast, though, this recipe is pretty stellar.  I think the secret to baking with zucchini is to squeeze the ever loving tar out of it.  Get out all the moisture you can – I use a couple of clean dish towels and pat/press vigorously. On advantage to using zucchini in whole grain flour recipes is that the fiber in the grains absorb the moisture better than white flour.

I used spelt flour in the recipe, as I’ve been experimenting with it in baked goods.  When the kids are in school again and I can have a complete thought At some point, I will do an Ingredient Spotlight post on Spelt.  For now, know it’s a whole grain and it works well in the following muffin recipe.

Zucchini Lemon Spelt Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups spelt flour (could use whole wheat or all purpose flour)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp grated lemon rind (save the lemon for the icing)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup coarsely shredded zucchini, patted dry
  • 3/4 c refrigerated coconut milk (not the canned kind) + 2 Tbsp coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 egg
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest and salt in a large bowl.  In another bowl, combine zucchini, milk, oil and egg and stir well.
  3. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and stir gently to combine.
  4. Place batter in 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes, checking for doneness around 15 minutes.
  5. Remove from pans immediately and cool on a wire rack.

You could stop there.  Or you could add some completely unhealthy glaze.  Which I most certainly did.

Lemon Sugar Glaze

Mix Together – 1 cup powdered sugar and 2-3 Tbsp of fresh lemon juice

Quick Zucchini and White Bean Saute with Spanish Style Quinoa

My Monday went a little something like this:

  • Insanity workout with the husband at 6am
  • Made husband’s smoothie and lunch (the post-workout energy surge made me unexpectedly generous), made my smoothie, the kid’s smoothie and both the kid’s and my 2nd breakfasts.  Cleaned kitchen.
  • Gym for yoga and uninterrupted shower (bliss)
  • Got the little guy a haircut.
  • Stopped at a small farmer’s market and bought, among other things, 12 cucumbers.  They’ll be gone by Friday.  Cucumbers, we can’t quit you.
  • Came home to drop off farmer’s market goods and eat lunch. Cleaned kitchen.
  • Got a car wash that unfortunately took an hour.  Kept kids entertained for much longer than anticipated.
  • Home for an hour – kids did 30 minutes of room time and 30 minutes of PBS kids.  Started part of dinner in the rice cooker -thank you to who ever came up with appliances with a programmable timer.
  • Birthday party from 4-6.
  • Costco with two kids hyped up on birthday cake and brandishing goodie bag snap bracelets like swords. As always, went in for 4 things, came out with 3 times that.
  • Home to unload Costco goods, washed dried birthday party ice cream of the little guy’s face and make dinner ** for the husband and me (the kids ate at the party). Cleaned kitchen.
  • Watched some Olympics with the family.
  • Got on the computer for the first time – hello world!
  • Bedtime for the kids.
  • More Olympics with the husband.
  • Read for a bit (working on Gone Girl and it’s insane) and then bed time.

Full day.  Which is my favorite kind of day.  Which is good, since I have a lot of them.  The kids and I do best with a pretty full agenda.

** The impromptu dinner turned out better than expected, so I’m giving it a spot on the blog.  We actually ate the entire meal on Monday night with no camera in sight, so I made it again today for photography purposes.  As a bonus, we now have a fully made dinner in the fridge.  Which is my favorite kind of dinner (you know, the kind that is already made).

It’s also good cold as a salad, especially with some diced avocados.

Need a good way to use some summer produce? Everything except for the white onion came from the farmer’s market.

 

Quick Zucchini and White Bean Saute with Spanish Style Quinoa

Ingredients:

Spanish Style Quinoa

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1.5 cup water
  • 1 large ripe tomato
  • 1 small to medium onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Zucchini and White Bean Saute

  • 1 Tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 medium zucchini sliced and quartered
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. For the quinoa: place tomato, onions and garlic in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

        

2. Put tomato mixture, water, salt and quinoa in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed.

3.  While quinoa is cooking, add avocado oil to a skillet and heat to medium high.  I like using a cast iron skillet to get maximum browning on the veggies.

 

4.  Cook the onion and red pepper for about 3 minutes and add the zucchini.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until vegetables are soft and fragrant.  Add the white beans and cook for 2-3 minutes or until beans start to get a little brown in spots.  Stir frequently.

5. Serve the vegetables atop the quinoa.

 

Vegetable Stacked Enchilada Bake

After checking the votes on Monday, Vegetable Stacked Enchilada Bake barely beat out Dill-icious Green Dip as the recipe you’d like to see first on this blog.  The green dip recipe will be up next week, so if you favored the dip, fret not. 

My husband and I were both raised in Texas and are suckers for Tex-Mex style dishes.  My kids aren’t as sold on them yet, but not for lack of trying on my part.  On nights I make a dish like this, I save a few tortillas and make bean and cheese quesadillas for the kids.

You could turn this dish into actual enchiladas, but I don’t really have the patience to roll up each individual enchilada on a weeknight.  I think layering the tortillas and the filling creates a dish that tastes the same in less time, which is a win in my book.  Plus, I’m able to get a lot more ‘filling’ into the dish, which, let’s be honest, is the healthier part of vegetable enchiladas. 

The step-by-step instructions are below and the whole recipe (for ease of copying and printing) is placed at the end of the post.

Vegetable Stacked Enchilada Bake

Ingredients:

  • 1 14oz can Fire Roasted Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp diced oregano
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 medium cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1 small to medium onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 6 corn tortillas
  • 1 large ripe avocado, sliced
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • juice of one lime
  • 1/2-1 cup of shredded cheese
 
 
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400F
2.  Mix together tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, oregano and honey in a bowl.
 
3. Saute garlic, onions, zucchini and bell pepper in oil over medium high heat, until browned and softened, about 5 minutes.
 
4. Start with a 10×7 baking dish.  Layer about 1/3 cup of tomato sauce mixture – just enough to cover the bottom.  Place a layer of corn tortillas.  I used 2 whole tortillas and 2 quarters of a tortilla.
 
5.  Top with the sliced avocado and corn kernels.  Drizzle lime juice over the avocado and corn mixture.
 
 
6. Layer the sautéed vegetables over the corn and avocados.
 
7. Add the black beans.
 
 
8. Put another layer of tortillas over the vegetable mixture, pour all remaining tomato sauce over tortillas and top with shredded cheese.
 
 
9. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
 
10. Uncover and bake another 5-10 minutes until cheese melts

 

 

Vegetable Stacked Enchilada Bake

Ingredients:

  • 1 14oz can Fire Roasted Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp diced oregano
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 medium cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1 small to medium onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 6 corn tortillas
  • 1 large ripe avocado, sliced
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • juice of one lime
  • 1/2-1 cup of shredded cheese
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400F
2.  Mix together tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, oregano and honey in a bowl.
3. Saute garlic, onions, zucchini and bell pepper in oil over medium high heat, until browned and softened, about 5 minutes.
4. Start with a 10×7 baking dish.  Layer about 1/3 cup of tomato sauce mixture – just enough to cover the bottom.  Place a layer of corn tortillas.  I used 2 whole tortillas and 2 quarters of a tortilla.
5.  Top with the sliced avocado and corn kernels.  Drizzle lime juice over the avocado and corn mixture.
6. Next top with the sautéed vegetables.
7. Add the black beans.
8. Put another layer of tortillas over the vegetable mixture.
9. Pour remaining sauce over the tortillas and top with shredded cheese.
10. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
11. Uncover and bake another 5-10 minutes until cheese melts

Summer Vegetable Bruschetta Orzo

I made this for dinner on Monday and the husband and I devoured the whole recipe.  It’s going to be in heavy rotation this summer, as it’s a great way to use the abundant tomatoes, basil and zucchini that summer provide.  I’m going to double the sauce recipe next time, as it is so light and flavorful.

The kids were a bit ‘meh’ on the cooked vegetables, so they had plain orzo with some parmesan cheese.

  Summer Vegetable Bruschetta Orzo

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 6oz (about 1 cup) sliced mushrooms
  • 2/5-3 cups sliced and quartered zucchini (about 1 medium zucchini)
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1.5 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup diced fresh basil
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • parmesan or feta cheese for topping
  • 2-3 cups cooked orzo (or any pasta of choice)

Directions

  1. Cook orzo (or any pasta of choice, but we loved it with orzo) according to package directions.
  2. While orzo cooks, heat oil in a sauce pan over medium heat.  Add mushrooms, zucchini and garlic cloves and saute 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes, onions, basil, vinegar and salt and pepper.  Cook 3-4 more minutes.
  4. Serve sauce over orzo and top with parmesan cheese or crumbled feta cheese

Naturally Green Doughnuts! (aka Baked Vanilla Doughnuts)

 Alternative Titles: Shrek Doughnuts, Nickelodeon Doughnuts, Kermit Doughnuts

After my two successes using beets to make a natural pink food color, once to color buttercream frosting and once to make pink sugar cookies, I started thinking about what other fruits or vegetables I could use to get colors other than pink.  I’m all for abolishing gender stereotypes in parenting my son and daughter, but, seeing as how my son wants a Ninja Turtle cake for his upcoming birthday, I’m thinking I should expand the available color palate for future baking projects.

Then I read this naturally colored rainbow cake post at Itsy Bitsy Foodies.  First I  feel like a total slacker for never attempting such an impressive kitchen experiment (check out all the colorants she screened). Then I think ‘score, someone has done all the work for me!’   I think it was Einstein (Happy Birthday, by the way, to Mr Einstein) who said “A hundred times every day, I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of men, living and dead,and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received. “

 So, in the spirit of exerting myself to give as much as I have received, I took the idea of using spinach as green food coloring from the Itsy Bitsy Foodies and applied it to a baked doughnut recipe.   Because Einstein was totally talking about green doughnuts.

To make the natural green color, I juiced about 3 cups of fresh spinach.  I can’t think of a way to create a smooth, concentrated green colored liquid without a juicer, so if you are juicer-less, you can use store-bought food color or just let the doughnuts be naturally off-white.

I added spinach juice to both the batter and the frosting, but got a much bigger color impact in the frosting.   I couldn’t add more than 3 Tbsp of spinach juice to the batter without needing to compensate for the added liquid.  As you can see below, the 3 Tbsp didn’t add too much green to the finished baked good.

 If I try to make a more green baked good in the future (like, say, some Ninja Turtle green cupcakes), I will use my dehydrator to further concentrate the green spinach juice so I can get more color into the batter without adding to much liquid.  See Husband, I really do need all those random kitchen appliances.  Really.

Baked Vanilla Doughnuts with a Naturally Green Glaze

Ingredients

 1 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c sugar
1.5 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp salt
3/4 c buttermilk – can also use 3/4 c milk + 1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 eggs
1/4 c honey
1 Tbsp butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly coat a donut pan with cooking spray.

2.  Combine flours, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl and stir well with a whisk.

3. In a second bowl, combine buttermilk, eggs, honey, butter and vanilla, stirring well with a whisk.

4.  Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Don’t over-stir, as it will make the donuts less tender.

5.  Either spoon batter into the donut pan, or, if you’re a perfectionist like me, pipe the batter into the pan using a large plastic bag with the corner cut off.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until donuts are slightly golden on bottom.

6. Cool in pan about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

Green Glaze  

  • 1 c powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp fresh spinach juice (or milk, for a white glaze)

Mix sugar and juice/milk together until smooth and thick.  Add more liquid or sugar as needed to get consistency right.  Spread over cooled doughnuts.

These work equally well as muffins:

The spinach juice is absolutely taste-less in the frosting.  My husband and kids loved these and they’d be perfect for St. Patrick’s Day.