Power Muffins

Power Muffins

Sometimes, you just want a big squishy muffin. Most times, it would be better if you were eating fiber, whole grains and fruit. This muffin recipe is a compromise. It met my craving for something sweet, but has an admirable nutrition profile. Fiber! Good fat! No white sugar! Otis Spunkmeyer, be damned.

Lately, one of these little babies–warm and buttered, obviously–has been showing up on my breakfast table quite frequently. I add an egg and a side of fresh fruit to round things out.

Power Muffins

3/4 cup rolled oats

3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup ground flax seeds

1/4 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut flakes

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup dried cranberries

2 small, firm pears (I bet a large apple would work too!)

1/4 cup melted coconut oil

3 tablespoons blackstrap molasses

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup buttermilk at room temperature

2 large eggs

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Optional: 1/2 cup toasted walnuts

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and prepare a standard 12-cup muffin tin.

In a medium bowl, combine the oats, flour, flax, coconut flakes, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, salt and dried cranberries. Set aside.

Grate the pears using a box grater. You should have one cup of shredded pear.

In a large bowl, use a hand mixer to combine the coconut oil, molasses and brown sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until fluffy. Mix in the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla, then finally the pear. Put your mixer away.

Add the flour mixture and fold it in with a wooden spoon. Resist the temptation to over mix.

Fill the muffin cups to the point they are almost full. (These will only rise a smidge.) Top with the walnuts, if using. You should press these into the batter just a bit so they won’t fall off after baking.

Bake until the tops are golden brown and feel firm to the touch, about 22 minutes. Let them cool just a bit before serving.

*I was inspired by this recipe from Whole Grain Mornings.

Tried It: Tahini Swirl Brownies.

Tahini BrowniesWhen it comes to super strange sounding recipes, I’m like a crow with something shiny. Just. Can’t. Resist. I’ll reference my trials of chocolate mouse made with avocado and corn-based ice cream. And so, when I spotted a recipe for brownies with a tahini topping in my March copy of Cooking Light, I had to try it it.

You’ve experimented with tahini, I hope? It’s sesame seed paste; the stuff that makes hummus taste like hummus. The texture is like extra oily peanut butter, but for whatever reason it has a real dry-your-mouth-out quality, in my opinion. I usually keep tahini on hand, but have always used it for salad dressing, as a binder for veggie burgers or in hummus. I was totally intrigued by the sweet application.

You know what? It worked! I made a few tiny changes to this brownie recipe: I used a little more brown sugar in the tahini mixture, subbed coconut oil for the sesame oil and threw in a handful of chocolate chips. YUM!

What kitchen experiments have you gotten into lately? Were they delicious, or a bust?

Nesting (Should be resting.)

39 weeks

Hello, 39 weeks. I didn’t think I’d see you. Measurements have shown our little guy to be husky from the start, and for whatever reason, I thought he’d make his debut early. Not so much.

Freezer StashI’m feeling pretty large and in charge, but otherwise, I’m mostly comfortable. I’ve been working like a crazy person, trying to write 4-6 weeks ahead for my freelance clients, and I’m pleased to say that I’m there! Things are on autopilot, and I should be able to enjoy at least a few weeks of downtime with our new addition.

And now…

We wait.

In the meantime, I’m blowing off nervous energy by cooking like the apocalypse is coming, and stuffing our freezers to the gills. For those curious what a pregnant lady stashes for postpartum meals, here’s a running tally:


Mains, His and Hers: 



Furthermore, the house is clean. My work is done. Baby clothes are washed. Hair has been cut, and toes polished. Hospital bags are packed. Nursery is as done as it’s going to be. Clearly, we have food. Come on little man, we’re ready for you!

Pregnancy Nutrition: Healthy Eating for You and Your Baby

preg nutrition

I am thrilled to have a guest blogger today, the super-talented Melissa Schollaert of Real Nutritious Living. When she and I talked about doing a little blog trade, I asked her if she could fill me in on holistic nutrition for pregnancy. As soon as I got her post, I wondered why I didn’t ask earlier! Read on for Melissa’s great thoughts on keeping you and baby nourished through all three trimesters:

When you are pregnant, the food you eat matters more than ever. In each trimester your baby continually develops and it’s important to use specific and smart nutrition to ensure your healthiest possible pregnancy. Below are a few of my favorite go to tips to help you accomplish just that.

First Trimester: Your baby’s nervous system is forming in the first trimester and if you are not taking in enough calcium, your body will leach it from your bones in order to give it to your baby. It’s important to avoid that at all cost!

  • Salt – Drink mineralized water; eat sea vegetables (kelp and dulce), Himalayan and Celtic sea salt daily.
  • Calcium – Leafy greens and seeds, especially sesame seeds. It’s important to note that caution should be exercised with eating nuts. They should not be consumed daily as research shows this leads to a 50 percent increase in childhood asthma.
  • Folic acid – 800mcgs in your prenatal vitamin and in asparagus, liver, lentils, broccoli and citrus.
  • Protein – 80 grams/day.  Some research shows lower risk of pre-eclampsia and other complications with adequate protein, and some women report less morning sickness when they consume this much protein.

SECOND TRIMESTER: Your baby’s skin and bones are forming in the second trimester, and requiring much more magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C and collagen than ever.

  • Magnesium – Eat foods high in magnesium like buckwheat, millet, seeds, and everyone’s favorite, raw chocolate. If you are getting muscle cramps, foot cramps, and restless legs at night or headaches, then we suggest supplementing with high quality magnesium oil. I recommend not ingesting it; but doing a 20-minute foot soak at night with 2oz magnesium oil to 64 ounces hot water.
  • Vitamin A – Shelf your current fish oil and switch to Green Pastures High Vitamin A Butter Oil.
  • Vitamin C – Add lemon to your morning water and a food based C, like Premier Research Labs and eat C rich foods like bell peppers and berries.
  • Collagen – My favorite food source of collagen is drinking 2 cups of bone broth daily. It will assist in collagen production. Here are instructions on how to make bone broth.

THIRD TRIMESTER: Baby’s brain is growing quickly in the third trimester, and taste buds are continuing to develop. This is the phase where baby will develop tastes for the foods you eat. The lungs are developing and baby is beginning to utilize their organs on their own as well as eliminate waste.

Foods that support lung function include lotus root and all antioxidants like turmeric, acai, cloves, apples and red, yellow and orange bell peppers.

The other food focus should be on pastured animal meats, high quality egg yolks, grass fed beef and wild fatty fish. This is the phase to add back high quality fish oil. We believe the best for baby and mama is fermented cod liver and butter oil (Green Pastures makes a great one.)


  • Trans fatty acids (e.g., hydrogenated oils)
  • Junk foods including commercial fried foods
  • Sugar and sweeteners
  • White flour
  • Caffeine – including soft drinks and coffee
  • Soy
  • Fluoridated or chlorinated water

Melissa Schollaert is a Holistic Health & Nutrition Counselor and founder of Real Nutritious Living. She’s been an on-camera expert for ABC, NBC, and GoodDayLive, with her writing published on a number of healthy living and nutrition websites. Melissa also teaches cooking classes and workshops at Whole Foods and various other retail outlets. She’s an avid yogi, always improving surfer, and a firm believer in faith, love, and the healing power of green juice. She’s got a heart for helping others achieve their health goals to attain their healthiest, happiest life.

Visit her blog: www.RNLblog.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/realnutritiousliving

Twitter: @realnutritious

Iron Woman Lasagna


It was bound to happen. I’ve been a vegetarian for 18 years now and have never had any trouble with a classic no-meat worry: Iron. And then, last week at my 30-week check up–BOOM. Low iron.

Iron PillsI should have known. I was feeling sluggish, had horrible dark circles under my eyes and my heart was skipping more beats than usual. (I have MVP, so I’m used to some irregularity.) I was getting out of breath too fast and my pretty pregnancy hair was starting to break. I blamed all this on the dreaded third trimester, but turns out it was my stupid iron levels. Baby Sprout, bless him, depleted my stores.

SpinachI have new iron pills which I’m not a big fan of. I’m taking them every other day for now, as they are hard on the stomach. In the meantime, I am on a mission to get my mojo back by packing my diet full of iron-rich food. So far, that’s meant oatmeal, dried beans, leafy greens, tempeh and blackstrap molasses.

Last night, I made lasagna that’s chock full of these iron-laden staples. In the recipe that follows, spinach, whole wheat noodles, nutritional yeast and white beans all bring a significant supply to the table. Oh, and it tastes good. Like reeeeealllly good. You’ll want to remember the white bean/ricotta/sun dried tomato combo and use it as dip for the Super Bowl.

The beans I used had a little rosemary infused and it gave them great kick. Feel free to add in a little to your blend for the same effect. Enjoy!

Iron Girl Lasagna

9 100% whole wheat lasagna noodles, cooked according to package directions

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 cups yellow onion, chopped

2 cups mushrooms, chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

6 ounces fresh baby spinach

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 heaping tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 cup ricotta cheese

1.5 cups cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes (oil packed), drained

2.5 cups of your favorite pasta sauce, divided

2 cups shredded cheese (I used an Italian blend)

  1. Cook the noodles according to package directions. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add onion and mushrooms; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook 1 minute. Add spinach; cook until just wilted. Stir in the salt and pepper.
  3. Place ricotta, beans and sun dried tomatoes in a food processor or high speed blender; process until smooth.
  4. Spread 1 cup sauce in bottom of a 13×9 inch glass baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 3 noodles over sauce; top noodles with all of the spinach mixture. Sprinkle evenly with nutritional yeast.
  5. Top with 3 more noodles, then the ricotta mixture. Layer on another 3 noodles.
  6. Spread remaining sauce over noodles; sprinkle with cheese.
  7. Cover and bake at 350° for 45 minutes.
  8. Turn on broiler (do not remove dish from oven). Uncover and broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

*I used Cooking Light’s Kale and Mushroom Lasagna as the base for these instructions. (Lasagna layers can be complex!) FYI, I made the vegetarian adaptation of that recipe last week and it was mighty fine.

Un-Brie-Lievable Root Veggie Mashers

Root Veggies

If you’ve read this blog for any time (thanks!) you know that I’m pretty intense when it comes to waste. I save apple peels for smoothies, vegetable scraps for broth and use cornbread crumbles as stuffing, and that’s just the beginning. I learned the frugality from my Gran.

With that “use it all” mentality, you can imagine my disdain when I looked in the company fridge and saw several barely touched wheels of brie hanging out after a holiday party. The cheese was way too fancy for it’s destiny of being ignored –>mold –>trash. And so I took some home with me and got to experimenting.

I love this cheesy combo of winter’s heartiest root veggies. It will feel familiar to mashed potato lovers, but boosts nutrition and fiber content. The lowered calorie count from these vegetables doesn’t hurt!

Root Veggie Mashers with Brie and Panko

1 medium turnip, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 medium rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 Yukon gold potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes

(for a total of 5 cups root veggies)

1/2 wedge of brie (which equals 4 oz), rind removed

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon coconut oil or butter

1/3 cup seasoned panko bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place the root vegetables in a medium size pot. Cover them with cold water, then head over to the stove.

Bring the vegetables and water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low boil–just a few bubbles in the pot. Let them boil at this pace for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, shred the brie cheese with a box grater.

After 15 minutes, check your vegetables. They should be fork tender. Remove from heat and drain.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the brie, salt, pepper and coconut oil or butter. Pour the hot root veggies on top.

Use a hand mixer to blend the vegetables, cheese and spices. You want to get it relatively smooth and well integrated, but a few chunks are nice!

Transfer the root veggie mixture to a greased 1.5 quart casserole dish. (I think an 8×8 pan would work as well!) Top with the seasoned panko.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, until the casserole is warmed through, bubbly and the panko is lightly browned.

Sweet Potato Casserole Yogurt

Sweet Potato Yogurt 1

Congrats! You survived Christmas! I hope yours was as merry as the day we enjoyed with family. Vore and I saw my parents and his mom then relaxed at home for the evening. How’s that for a successful holiday?

If your house is anything like ours, the fridge is absolutely brimming with leftovers. Turkey, ham, dressing, and casserole–one of the sweet potato variety. We eat ours whipped with butter, then topped with a pecan brown sugar crumble. It’s good, but whoa–super sweet.

Today, I got a little creative with the leftovers and thought I would share. I stirred 3 tablespoons of the sweet potato casserole (topping and all) into 6 ounces plain Greek yogurt. I then topped with a teensy bit of the crumble, a few walnuts and a drizzle of agave. What a fun way to reinvent leftover casserole! This could become a new fave.

What are you doing with all the leftovers?

What’s Cookin’? The Christmas Edition

From Thanksgiving until Christmas, I turn into a cooking machine. I bet you do, too!

I thought I’d share a few things that have come out of my kitchen and the recipes that made them great:

Date, Walnut, and Blue Cheese Ball from Cooking Light

Cheese Ball

Gingerbread Boys from Southern Living


Eggnog Ice Cream from Use Real Butter

Eggnog Icecream

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake from Cooking Light

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

I’ve also made Honey Yeast Rolls + Baby Blue Salad from Southern Living and Legendary Bookout Dressing + Gran’s Birthday Bread Pudding from yours truly. And that just scratches the surface! What is coming out of your kitchen?

“Use Those Peels!” Apple Pie Smoothie

I'm so tasty

Remember a couple of weeks back when I made that gorgeous apple pie?   {Pats self on back for successful Martha Stewart moment.}   It left me with one tiny conundrum. Waste.

You see, the recipe called for PEELED apples, and I absolutely loathe throwing perfectly nutritious food away. So I covered a cookie sheet with parchment paper, lined those peels in a single layer and froze them for later use.

When my apple pie craving came back, I recreated the baked good experience in a much easier way–drinkable goodness. Unlike that “once-in-a-while” slice of pie, this smoothie deserves a place in your every day nutritious rotation.

“Use Those Peels!” Apple Pie Smoothie

1 cup Granny Smith Apple peels–frozen and loosely packed

1 medium banana sliced and frozen (roughly 1/2 cup slices)

1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1 tablespoon brown rice protein powder

3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Optional: your favorite sweetener, to taste

Place all ingredients in a high speed blender and whirl away. The apple peels do take a moment to break down. I used the “high” speed on my Vitamix to obliterate them. I hope you enjoy as much as I did.

Fool Your Picky Eaters! Hide Their Veggies.

Black bean soup text

It all started with a chili night gone wrong. Vore and I had divided and conquered the grocery shopping for the week, me going to Whole Foods and him Publix. I asked him to bring home dried black beans, but forgot to put kidneys and garbonzos on the list. On chili day, I had the peppers, onions and black beans, but not a whole lot else. Whoops.

All was not lost! This led me to think of an all time favorite: black bean soup at Panera Bread. Gosh I love that stuff! I did a little googling for copy cat recipes, and they all left me feeling blah. So I did what any respectable food blogger would and made up my own.

However, I kicked it up a notch. There are almost as many veggies lurking in this soup as beans! This one pot supper is positively loaded with nutrition and fiber. As for the picky folks in your house? They’ll be none the wiser. Who’s ready to sneak some veggies into a hearty winter soup?

Hidden Veggie Black Bean Soup

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped (approx 2 cups)

1 large red pepper, chopped (1.5-2 cups)

1 large green pepper, chopped (1.5-2 cups)

1/2 cup chopped carrot

1/2 cup chopped celery

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2-1 teaspoon salt (depending on the salt in your beans and broth)

1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder

6 cups beans, divided (1 16 oz package dried beans, cooked or 3 cans, drained)

24 ounces vegetable broth (3 cups)

Heat a large pot over a medium high heat.

Add the vegetables as you chop them. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent and everything starts to break down a bit. Stir in the garlic and spices and cook for a minute or so more.

Pour in the vegetable broth and 4 cups beans, bringing the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat. Add the bean mixture to a high speed blender of food processor and blend until smooth. I did this in two batches in my Vitamix.

Return the puree to the pan and stir in the remaining beans. Heat on the stovetop until your desired temperature is reached, then serve with sour cream, cheese, chives or whatever suits your fancy.

***Congrats to Melissa! I used Random Number Generator to pick a winner for The Unforgettable Photograph Giveaway and her comment was selected!