Caramelized Banana French Toast

Hello there! We are nearly through the week- thank God! Going into the office on a Monday always throws me off.

I’ve teased you with pictures of the end result of this recipe on Instagram, so I figured it was time for me to share it with you. I feel a little bad, though, because it’s so easy it’s barely worth calling a “recipe” 😉

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While you could make this with whatever bread you have on hand or prefer, we opted to use Ezekiel bread for its health and digestion benefits. The first time I made this I used regular milk, but I used hemp milk next time because that’s what we had on hand so I think you could probably use whatever you prefer. There are optional add-ins, too!

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Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 4 pieces of bread of choice(Ezekiel, whole wheat, sour dough, homemade, etc.)
  • 3 eggs, whisked
  • 1/4 cup milk of choice (cow’s milk, almond, hemp, etc.)
  • few dashes of cinnamon
  • 1/2- whole banana, sliced
  • 1 tbsp. coconut flakes (optional- we did use this)
  • 1 tbsp. ground flax seed (optional- we did use this)

Directions,

  1. Whisk the eggs and then add in your milk and whisk some more. Finally add in the cinnamon and ground flaxseed and coconut flakes (if you’re using those).

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2. Place the bread in the egg mixture and let the bread soak it up really well before flipping it over and then eventually placing it in the pan. Continue this with all of the pieces of bread.

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3. Slice your banana and add it to a greased section of the pan cooking your bread. Let it brown up/caramelize on both sides before removing and placing atop the cooked French toast.

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4 Top with maple syrup and serve!

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I’m not a huge French toast person (much prefer pancakes), but I have to say that these were good enough to potentially make me into a French toast lover! The Ezekiel bread is pretty dense to start with so it ended up having a nice, hearty texture after it was cooked.

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The caramelized bananas added an incredible flavor to the whole dish- it’s so interesting how the flavor of a banana can change so much from eating it right out of the peel and then after it’s been cooked.

I definitely suggest whipping these up the next time you’re looking for a weekend breakfast changeup!

Questions for you: What’s your favorite weekend breakfast? Do you prefer sweet or savory?

 

A Healthier Quesadilla

Good morning! I’ve been meaning to get you this recipe, but for one reason or another it just wasn’t able to happen until today. I promise you, though, it’s worth the wait!

Quesadilla’s aren’t a common occurrence around our house, not because they’re not delicious, more because we just never think to make them. Tacos, though? You bet we keep those on a frequent rotation- I love, love, love all types of tacos and we’ve mastered a few “recipes”  (fish tacos, steak tacos). After our most recent bout of quesadilla’s, I know these will become a staple, too!

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For these, I decided I wanted to get creative and offer 2 types: standard peppers, onion, spinach & chicken and then another that was a little less traditional, but perfect for this season: butternut squash, brussels sprouts & goat cheese. Both came out really great and it was hard to choose our favorite since they had such different flavors from one another.

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On top of the veggies, we opted to use the mini Ezekiel wraps we had in our freezer, which ended up working out great because they didn’t get soft and soggy like traditional flour tortilla’s tend to get when you fill them with cheese and sauteed veggies. I also got all fancy and bought some nice, sharp cheeses and shred my own cheese rather than buying a bag of shredded cheese… not necessary, but it was a nice touch!

The only downside of these is that it took a little bit of time to prepare the veggies initially, but the good thing is that if you make a big batch of everything, it’s so easy to whip up more quesadilla’s the next day! Oh, and my hands got REALLY messy as I was assembling the ‘dilla’s… totally worth it, though!

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Ingredients

  • Ezekiel wraps- figure out how many quesadilla’s you plan on eating to determine how many wraps are necessary. Also, if you use bigger wraps, you may not need to make as many quesadilla’s
  • 2-4 boneless, skinless organic chicken thighs
  • 1 small red pepper, sliced thinly
  • 1 small onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 butternut squash, chopped into small pieces (I bought an organic one that was already skinless so I just had to  chop it up)
  • 1-2 handfuls of Brussels sprouts, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 handful of baby spinach
  • 1 small block of Gouda or sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 (or so) cup of crumbled goat cheese
  • EVOO & S/P/Garlic powder to taste

Directions

1. Cut up your veggies & heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add in the EVOO and sautee your onions & peppers first. To help speed up the cook time of the Brussels sprouts and butternut squash I steamed them before sauteeing them. Once they softened up, I added them to the skillet for a bit (after I had removed the peppers & onions). When the Brussels sprouts & butternut squash are done cooking, throw a handful of spinach into the skillet; remove once it’s wilted.

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2. Once the veggies are cooked, remove them from the pan and place into separate bowls. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook for 3-5 minutes on each side, or until they are cooked all the way through. We like to sprinkle salt, pepper & garlic powder on each side while they cook.

3. While the chicken is cooking, shred your cheese 7 set aside.

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4. Once the chicken is done cooking, turn the heat down on the stove a bit and place one wrap/tortilla on the greased skillet you’ve been using (why waste more dishes?!). Add a thin layer of cheese, your chicken & veggies (changes based on what option you’re making) and the put a final layer of cheese on top before you cover it with the other tortilla/wrap. Let it cook for a few minutes- at least- on each side so that the inside is nice and melty and the outside is a little crispy.

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5. Once they’re cooked, slice & serve with a side of homemade (or store bought) salsa.

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These were such a fun Friday night meal and I love that there are endless options for the different types of quesadillas you could make. We loved these so much we ate them for lunch the next day, too!

Questions for you: Do you like quesadillas or tacos better? What’s your favorite quesadilla or taco filling?

 

2 “Must Try” Healthy, Fall Dishes

Good morning! Thank you so much for all your sweet words on my post yesterday. I totally had one of those “omg we are getting married in 8 months” feelings yesterday. It’s so surreal, really. In an unbelievably, awesome way!

But, today isn’t about wedding talk. It’s about food talk. Because food talk is right up there behind health and fitness talk for me, which means I love talking about it  🙂 I have 2 recipes, both coincidentally from Alexis, over at Hummusapien.com, that have been huge hits. One of them I’ve actually made FOUR times at this point- crazy, right?!

The first one, though, is her Vegan Butternut Squash Pasta dish. I made a lot of variations to the recipe, making it not vegan in any way, shape or form, but I can only assume that if it tasted good with variations, it must taste equally as good if following the recipe to a T.

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Here are the variations I made if you’re not looking to follow a vegan diet:

  • I tried a new-to-me gluten free “pasta” made with just brown rice flower and water and you literally couldn’t taste a difference.
  • 3-4 chicken thighs, chopped into small cubes and sautéed with garlic, salt, pepper and EVOO
  • spinach, broccoli & onions- chopped small and sautéed in a pan with plenty of EVOO, salt, pepper and garlic
  • 1/8-1/4 cup shredded gruyere cheese (separated)- I added half into the amazingly delicious butternut squash/cashew/vegetable broth/maple syrup “sauce” (side note: I literally could’ve just drank that mixture- it was that good!) and then topped the casserole with the other half before I baked it.

My friends were skeptical at first because it didn’t look terribly appetizing, but everyone raved about it and went back for more- I call that a success!

The other recipe that has been a huge hit with friends and RM, specifically, are her Paleo Pumpkin Bars. As I said earlier, I’ve literally made these 4 times- sometimes with pumpkin spice chips, sometimes with chocolate chips and most recently just with pecan pieces to make them a super healthy sweet treat. I mean, can you ever have too much pumpkin?!

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These are moist, chewy and ridiculously flavorful- you really have to make these. It’s an order and you will thank me later 😉

I want to hear from you though! What’s a recipe you’re loving these days and have made more than once? Is there any that I just HAVE to try? I’d love to have some new recipes to add to our rotation!

Tastes of Fall: Chicken, Quinoa, Kale & Goat Cheese Stuffed Acorn Squash

Good morning! I’ve got a delicious- and easy-  recipe for you today. Anyone else like to cook according to the season and, well, what’s in season? I love seeing all of the pumpkin, squash, and apple recipes floating around the blogisphere these days. Athena posted this delicious looking Autumn Kale Salad recipe last week, Alexis posted this Vegan Butternut Squash Pasta recipe that I’m dying to make and Lexi posted these fantastic Pumpkin Sticky Bun Muffins that I actually made last weekend!

I could literally go on and on, but today I want to share a fall recipe that I made the other week. I based it off of this recipe that I made last year, which was basically identical to the meal we had at The Local in Newton. Regardless, I realized that I hadn’t actually POSTED a recipe for this meal so I figured today was as good a time as any 🙂

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All you need for this recipe is an acorn squash, kale (or spinach), chicken (or shrimp or steak), quinoa (or rice or a blend) and goat cheese (or feta or none)… as you can see, you can really do what you want to make this recipe your own!

Ingredients (use as a guide, but feel free to substitute as you see fit!)

  • 1 medium acorn squash, baked
  • 3-4 chicken thighs, baked
  • small bunch of kale, de-stemmed, rinsed & baked
  • Quinoa or rice or a blend (I had a medley on hand so I used that)
  • 1/4-1/3 cup of goat cheese
  • dash of cinnamon (for acorn squash)
  • EVOO (for kale  & chicken)
  • Coconut oil
  • salt & pepper & garlic powder

Directions

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 425*, cut your acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Coat the flesh of the acorn squash with coconut oil and place face down in a baking sheet. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the squash is soft. Once it’s soft, remove from the oven and sprinkle some cinnamon on the flesh. Set aside.
  2. While the squash is cooking, cook your quinoa or rice according to the directions on the back of the package.
  3. While the squash and quinoa are cooking, prepare your kale by washing it, de-stemming it and placing it in a baking dish. Coat with salt, pepper, garlic powder & plenty of EVOO. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until it has wilted.
  4. Once you’ve gotten a handle of the foods in steps 1-3, prepare your chicken. I cut mine into cubes, coated with EVOO, salt, pepper and garlic powder and sautéed in a skillet until it was cooked through.
  5. At this point, everything should be cooked and it’s time to assemble everything. I combined the kale, quinoa and chicken in a small bowl and then stuffed the acorn squash halves with that mixture. Finally, I topped each stuffed half with a sprinkling of goat cheese and broiled for a few minutes until the cheese started to brown.

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What I loved about these was that even though it was a lot of separate things to cook, they could pretty much all be done simultaneously since the squash takes some time to bake and the quinoa and kale don’t need tending to once they’re cooking.

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All of the flavors in this dish really complimented each other and left me “mmm’ing” after each bite. The savory flavor from the kale mixed with the sweetness from the squash was on point!

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These also reheated really well and sine the squash was cooked enough that it was soft it was easy to peel away from the skin. You could eat the skin if you wanted lots of extra fiber, but I opted to take the skin off 😉

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Like stuffed peppers, I call this a one stop dinner dish since you’ve got veggies, protein and healthy fats all in one place! This is a great fall recipe- let me know if you try it 🙂

Questions for you: What’s your favorite fall recipe? Are you a pumpkin lover? What’s your favorite kind of squash? Do you prefer kale or spinach?

 

 

Loaded Quinoa Salad

As I mentioned yesterday, I randomly threw together a quinoa salad that ended up coming out good enough to share! In the summer, I love light and refreshing meals (similar to this zoodle recipe) because they pair so nicely with the hot weather 😉 Winter time? Sure, I love being in the kitchen for hours with the stove going, whipping up a bunch of delicious things, but when it’s hot, the last thing I want to do is start my stove.

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Our plan last Friday was to grill up some burgers and when I asked what RM wanted to go with them, he just said “veggies. you pick what kind”. Since I am not one to go boring or basic with side dishes, I spent some time thinking about what I could make that would be quick, easy and veggie-filled.

Thinking about what I had in my fridge helped get things going:

  • cucumbers from my dad’s garden
  • tomatoes from the fresh garden section at Whole Foods
  • mozzarella cheese
  • avocado

From there, I thought about how I could throw those together, while coming up with something different than the Caprese Orzo Salad I made when my parents were here. Enter: Loaded Quinoa Salad. In addition to the ingredients above, I picked up an ear of corn and can of black beans… and frozen microwaveable quinoa! Have you guys heard of this? It’s amazing- in three and a half minutes I had some delicious quinoa ready for my use. Normally I’d just make it on the stovetop, but I had already packed all of my pots and pans so I needed to figure something else out. This worked perfectly.

Loaded quinoa salad

Ingredients

  • 1 bag of frozen quinoa, cooked according to the package
  • 1 ear of corn, steamed and kernels shaved off
  • 1/2 can of black beans, rinsed
  • 4 small garden cucumbers, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 big handful of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/2-1 cup mozzarella, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 avocado, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup EVOO
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • S&P, garlic & basil

Directions

  1. Cook quinoa according to the package and steam the corn. Chop up the veggies & cheese and drain the beans and add to a big bowl.

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2. Once the quinoa has cooked, let it cool. Once the corn has cooked, take a knife and shave the kernels off.

3. While the corn and quinoa are cooling, assemble the dressing by combining the EVOO, white wine vinegar, lime juice and herbs/seasonings in a small container or glass.

4. Once the corn and quinoa have cooled, add them to the chopped veggies, beans and cheese and mix well.

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5. Drizzle the dressing over everything and continue to mix until it looks as though everything has been coated with the dressing.

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We just ate this as a side dish with our burgers, but there are so many other ways to enjoy it, too!

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The other night I topped a bed of spinach with this and it was such a nice change up to my normal, boring salads!

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The colors and various textures/flavors in the dish created a little party in my mouth and I found myself continuing to go back for more spoonfuls!

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Not only is this great for weekly dinner sides and lunches, but this is also a great dish to bring to a party as it’s different than most salads you’ll see. I highly suggest giving this a try!

Questions for you: What’s your favorite summer salad? What do you make when you don’t want to start the stove?