Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Pumpkin Smoothie Bowls

I don't understand smoothie bowls. Is it just a smoothie in a bowl? Really? That seems messy. But at the same time, I do tend to eat my smoothies out of a shaker with a spoon. So maybe putting them into a bowl will be prettier and more effective.

Regardless of if you put this in a cup or a bowl or pour it straight into your mouth, it's officially pumpkin season!! I absolutely had a pumpkin spice latte in my hand at 9am on September 1st but figured it needed to get a little more official before starting the influx of pumpkin recipes that happens every fall. And apples, definitely apple recipes.

While pumpkin-everything is a big deal in America, I've found it's not as common in the UK. Canned pumpkin was in the America international foods section of the grocery store! And is more expensive so am using sparingly. I used pumpkin for this smoothie recipe and then made pumpkin muffins to spread the good word of pumpkin-everything.

Almond milk, vanilla protein powder, canned pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg are blended together in a blender. This makes a nice orange color, very pumpkiny, but I then added avocado to thicken it up. I also usually add spinach so it turned out a little green.

Poured into a bowl, I added a row of walnuts and chia seeds. From my Instagram research, it's apparently the cool thing to do to line up your toppings like a rainbow of flavor. For actually eating it though, I mixed it all together.

And it really wasn't that strange! The thickness of the shake and the crunch of the walnuts made it feel more like something you would eat out of a bowl.

  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 2 scoops vanilla protein (I prefer Arbonne plant protein)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • Walnuts, chia seeds for topping (optional)
  1. Blend everything but the walnuts and chia seeds in a blender until smooth.
  2. Pour into a bowl
  3. Top with walnuts and chia seeds (or other nuts and seeds). If you're on the go or don't want to eat a smoothie out of a bowl, you can add the chia seeds and other add-ins straight to the blender.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Muffin Monday Recap

There are 52 Mondays in a year (sometimes 53). Not that I make muffins every single Monday although I'm feeling the pressure but that's a lot of muffin variations. To me, the standard muffins are blueberry, poppyseed and those delicious cinnamon coffee cake ones at Dunkin Donuts. Woah. Serious deliciousness.

If we take a step back, there are distinct categories of muffins. We've got:

  • Poppyseed- my personal favorite because lemon! But orange was pretty tasty too.
  • Banana- A surprising crowd pleaser! I though banana bread would trump every other banana variety but banana walnut was the most complimented!
Almost a Cupcake
  • Chocolate- chocolate for breakfast?! Yes please. 
  • Pumpkin- just add Nutella. Still a muffin, really close to a cupcake. 
  • Vegetables- sneak your vegetables wherever you can, even if it's in a muffin!
  • Oats- basically baked oatmeal in a handy muffin shape

So far, the classics have been the most popular but I'm looking to expand. I've starting getting requests including another pumpkin variation and then I would like to go for some more oatmeal-inspired ones.

What are some of your favorite muffin flavors? 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Lemon Chia Pudding

It's been awhile since we had a good lemon recipe up here! Chia pudding is one of those really simple things to make that I don't make often enough. I could easily just eat this plain, maybe adding a little cocoa powder if I have a chocolate craving. But lemon pudding was right up my alley!

Just like with plain chia pudding, we are primarily mixing chia seeds with milk to create a nice jelly consistency. But we are also adding some lemon juice and zest to the mix. If you've ever made lemon bars or lemon curd, you know that the bright yellow color is not actually from the lemons. The egg yolks required for lemon bars and curd is really what makes these things bright and zesty yellow!

The same is true of this chia pudding. Lemon juice and zest don't add much color to the mix but once we add some turmeric powder, it turns a nice golden color. Turmeric has been making its way into my pantry as a buzz word super food of late. It doesn't have too much flavor, in my opinion, but is commonly used in Indian food.

This is super simple: whisk together chia seeds and milk. Add the lemon zest and juice. Give it another stir. Lastly, add the turmeric. If you prefer something sweeter, you can add some maple syrup or honey for sweetness. Really whisk this together to prevent clumps of chia seeds. I like to store this in a jar so I can also give it a good shake.

Allow to set until the chia seeds have absorbed the milk, usually overnight. This turned out very tangy so if you like more of a subtle lemon flavor, only use half a lemon. Serve chilled with raspberries on top!


  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 3 Tablespoons chia seeds
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  1. In a measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together the chia seeds and milk.
  2. Sprinkle in the lemon zest and pour in the juice. Stir to combine.
  3. Mix in the turmeric powder. Give it another whisk to prevent chia seeds clumps from formin.
  4. Store in the fridge in a jar or lidded container. Give it a good shake before setting aside overnight to gel-ify. 
  5. Serve chilled, topped with raspberries or whipped topping! 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Banana Walnut Muffins

When you tell people about a goal or an initiative, it keeps you accountable. When you make a hashtag about it, you're really dedicated. And with great power, comes great responsibility. I've started worrying that I will run out of muffin types soon, thus putting #muffinmonday at great risk. I really thought I had made banana walnut muffins before and this would be a repeat but alas, I thought about making banana walnut muffins last year but the bananas went...bananas. So I made maple walnut instead.

Therefore--banana walnut muffins are new and exciting!! Hurray muffin flavors!!

This recipe capped off the last of my muffin pan liners. Such timing. I ended up finding this recipe on Pinterest after consulting my cookbooks and mostly finding banana bread. I'm sure you could put banana bread batter into muffin shape and call it a day (a dense muffin day) but let's focus on banana muffins. Nice and fluffy with some good crunch added in there.

I still had gluten-free flour from the previous week's muffin recipe so these are also gluten-free. But there is added sugar and bananas themselves are pretty sweet too.

Bananas are mashed and then mixed together with eggs, oil, milk and sugar. The flour, oats, salt, baking powder and soda are whisked together in a separate bowl and a well is created to pour in the wet ingredients. My well runneth over...

Mix it all together with a wooden spoon and it starts to get thick and be very battery. Lastly, the walnuts are folded in. I also had leftover walnuts from carrot cake muffins so this worked out well. Alternatively, you could mix in chocolate chips because chocolate.

Baked until golden brown in a 350 degree oven, muffin perfection.

I love the smell of muffins baking on a Sunday afternoon. Pour yourself a cup of coffee, sit back and inhale (the muffin air and then the warm muffins themselves).


  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups flour 
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup walnuts, chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a muffin tin and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together the eggs, bananas, milk, oil and sugar. It's easier to pour if you mix it in a measuring cup.
  4. Create a well in the flour mixture (just moving some of the mix to the side). Pour the egg mixture into said well.
  5. Stir the wet and dry ingredients together until no flour streaks remain.
  6. Fold in the chopped walnuts.
  7. Spoon into the prepared muffin tin, filling 2/3 full.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
  9. Allow to cool slightly before peeling off the wrapper. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Sweet Potato Quinoa Burgers

I'm not a vegetarian. I love burgers and steaks and fried chicken but I've also learned to eat my vegetables. This is not to say I don't respect the meatless lifestyle and I know it works for a lot of people but I need me some iron. I do enjoy making vegetarian dishes though, especially when going to dinners with veggie friends or potlucks.

I've discovered that in addition to carrots and broccoli, I actually enjoy a lot of vegetables like zucchini, green beans, eggplant, tomatoes (fruit?) and sweet potatoes (not just as fries either).
This recipe hails from a couple years ago when I started cooking for myself more often and in a healthier fashion. The recipe originally called for a blackberry salsa but I found regular salsa, hummus or yogurt pairs well too.

Let's begin. Quinoa is cooked according to instructions in one pot while diced sweet potatoes are cooked in another. The timing usually works out so that they are both done at the same time. Half of a red onion and a clove of garlic can be chopped while everything cooks and a can of black or kidney beans should be drained and rinsed. Black beans are apparently harder to come by in the UK so I used kidney beans this time. 

Once the potatoes are cooked, drain any excess water and rinse in cold water to help cool faster. Mash with a potato masher or large fork. Add in the red onion, quinoa, some cumin and beans. Mix until all ingredients are combined. At this point, the mixture is still hot so I put it in the fridge to chill.

 When the mixture is no longer hot to the touch, form into patties. These can be baked in the oven, lightly fried in skillet or grilled outdoors. The patties can also be made ahead of time for a barbecue, kept refrigerated until party time.

I tried these with sliced avocado instead of any sauce and it was a great addition! Eat with a fork or sandwiched in a fluffy roll.


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 medium sweet potato (or 2 small), peeled and diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 can kidney (or black) beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  1. In a small saucepan, cook the quinoa according to instructions (usually 1:2 ratio of quinoa to water).
  2. In a larger pot, cook the diced sweet potato by covering with water and bringing to a boil. Cook until the sweet potato is tender and can be pierced with a fork.
  3. Drain the sweet potatoes and rinse with cold water. Return them to the pot and mash with a potato masher or fork.
  4. Stir the cooked quinoa, beans (drained and rinsed), chopped onion, garlic and cumin into the mashed sweet potatoes. Stir until everything is mixed together.
  5. Allow the mix to cool until you can easily handle without burning yourself.
  6. Form into patties and lay on a baking sheet (if baking, otherwise, heat oil in a frying pan and brown on each side like you would for pancakes or fritters). 
  7. Bake at 250 for 10 minutes, turn patties over and bake for another 10 minutes. 
  8. Serve with salsa, jam, yogurt or avocado!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Carrot Cake Muffins

There was a cafe near my apartment when I lived in Boston that was conveniently located between my apartment and the gym. One of the first times I went to a gym class on a Saturday morning, I stopped into this cafe on my walk home, feeling very accomplished for the day. Being only 9am, I stopped in for a cappucino (a luxury then which has now become a routine) and a muffin. They had a muffin called a Morning Glory muffin which contained carrots and zucchini. I justified the muffin with the whole gym at 8am and containing vegetables thing.

Carrot Cake muffins are similar in that they contain vegetables and you're basically eating a cupcake but calling it a muffin. This version, however, was gluten free and has no refined sugar so it's even better! Granted, when I brought these to the office, I didn't mention the gluten free or sugar free part for fear no one would eat them. Embrace the change, people.

The first time I made carrot cake anything, I sat there using a grater to get shredded carrots. Then I got a food processor and it changed everything. Definitely use a machine if you have one! It saves so much time. Let's also add applesauce to the list of things not readily available in London. I ended up with one choice of applesauce that had cubes of apple. I could probably have pureed it in a blender or food processor but the chunks of apple were actually a nice touch. Once I go apple picking, I will just make my own for use in recipes.

Flour and oats are whisked together in a small bowl and set aside. In a larger bowl, whisk together your eggs, applesauce, baking magics (powder and soda), cinnamon, vanilla, salt and maple syrup. This is where we get our sweetness! Stir together the wet and dry ingredients until you can't see any flour. Next come the goodies! Raisins, carrots and walnuts are folded in. Be generous, be kind. Don't over fold, just get a nice distribution so you have a little bit of everything in each bite.

The batter is nice and thick, no pouring here. Spoon a large spoonful of batter into each muffin wrapper (about half-way). Bake for 15-20 minutes until firm and golden brown.

Allow to cool slightly before unwrapping, otherwise the paper will stick to the muffin and it gets a little messy. I served these the next day after storing in a tupperware container.

(makes 18-20 muffins)

  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1 cup gluten-free flour (oat flour would also work)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups grated carrots
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners and set aside. Alternatively, grease the muffin pan instead of using liners.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the oats and flour. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, applesauce, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Whisk until blended.
  4. Stir the oats and flour into the bowl with the wet ingredients. Mix until just incorporated and you see no more dry ingredients.
  5. After using a food processor to chop up the carrots and chopping the walnuts into small pieces, fold into the batter. Don't forget the raisins!
  6. Once the carrots, walnuts and raisins are mixed in, spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin. Fill each cup about 1/2-3/4 of the way.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and firm. 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Norwegian National Cake

Let's add a little world culture into the mix, shall we? As you know, I moved to London in May and have been excitedly exploring the city and getting adapted to the slightly different culture here. One of the things I was most excited for in moving was the accessibility to other countries and ability to travel more often. This started with a cruise around the Baltic Sea this summer which was an amazing way to sample a lot of rich history and culture in a short amount of time.

Part of the cruise was in Oslo, Norway. I got to see The Scream and the Vigeland Sculpture Garden, two big highlights in Oslo. But I found myself with a bank holiday weekend (basically a long-weekend) and a friend who really wanted to see some fjords in Norway so back to Oslo we went! Granted, fjords are not in Oslo so we drove west to Bergen and also stopped in Flam. This takes approximately 7 hours, btw.

Along the way though, we saw so much of Norway and the different landscapes. There were mountains and rocky plateaus, as well as huge cliffs and waterfalls. They definitely could have filmed Lord of the Rings here. We even had to stop for sheep crossing the road to go back into the hills!

Some must-haves of Norwegian cuisine include:
  • Norwegian National Cake: We were on our way to a piano bar when we saw Cafe Cathedral which had a great patio. But it was against their policy to only serve drinks so we ordered this cake so we could enjoy the atmosphere (and some wine). Layers of light cake are sandwiched with a fluffy meringue or whipped topping. Almonds are also incorporated, almost like an almond sponge cake. It was super light without being overly sweet. That seemed to be a theme among sweets, nothing very heavy or overpowering. 
  • Brown Cheese: This is a very common site, with most places offering brown cheese sandwiches which is a roll with a slice of brown cheese on them. We stopped in Flam at a highly recommended (and most excellent) cafe where you could add brown cheese to waffles! You could also get jam etc. but brown cheese seemed more authentic. 
  • Skillingsboller (Schilling Cake): These are similar to cinnamon rolls but the ones I saw didn't have very much cinnamon filling, just a light dusting of sugar. The rolls are also a lighter dough than American cinnamon rolls but still delicious. Originally, these were sold for just a schilling, hence their name. Now they're a little more expensive but are readily available at Starbucks as well as homegrown bakeries like Baker Brun right on Bergen's wharf. 
If you're a big nature lover, definitely consider Norway when you're planning your next trip! The fjords can be boated around, hiked in or just cruised through. Regardless, you'll get stunning views and very fresh mountain air to clear your head.