Maple Blueberry Breakfast Quinoa

14 Jun

It’s June 14th.  It’s raining.  It’s 60 degrees outside.  Do I even have to say my run this morning was not the most fun I’ve had on the pavement at 5:15 in the morning?  And I slipped and fell – I’m talking slid-into-homer-type fall.  Mother Nature, are you going to cut us New Englanders a break any time soon?

This dreary Tuesday morning called for a comforting and warm breakfast.  I decided to experiment with quinoa.  Let’s just say I’m already having a better day!

To tell you the truth, I wish I had made just a little more… as in double that.  But since I was just experimenting and figured I could totally bomb this, I didn’t want to lose good food had it not gone well!!

Serves 2… or 1 person with a big appetite!

Ingredients:

1/3 cup dry white quinoa

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/2 cup water

3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Spoonful of Greek nonfat vanilla yogurt

Dash of salt

1/3 cup sugar-free maple syrup

1/4 cup

blueberries (I used frozen but fresh would work too)

Directions:

1.  Toast the quinoa and cinnamon in a medium saucepan on medium heat for about 3 minutes stirring frequently.  Add milk, water and vanilla and bring to a bowl then cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the quinoa is cooked, stirring occationally.  Add yogurt at the end while still simmering and mix well.

3.  Heat maple syrup and blueberries in mini saucepan bringing it to a low simmer – the blueberry juice will turn the syrup a pretty purple color!

3.  Drizzle the warm blueberry maple syrup over the quinoa in a cereal bowl and voila! a comforting summer breakfast is born!

– Alex

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Jamie Eason’s Homemade Chocolate Protein Bars

13 Jun

Ever since jumping on the healthy train a few months ago, I found myself navigating around websites on the internet to gather as much information as I could about living a healthy lifestyle.  I picked up magazines dedicated to clean eating and exercising.  I researched information about the body and how it really works when it’s fed carbs, proteins, fats, and so forth and so on.   All of these things let me to discover Jamie Eason – A fitness model, writer, and spokesperson for Bodybuilding.com.  She is such an incredible woman to look up to because she changed her life around at just 22-years-old when she had a breast cancer scare.  Her doctor suggested she start changing her eating habits which ultimately motivated her to begin living more healthily by eating cleanly and exercising regularly.

She is my go-to person to get nutrition and fitness advice from.  Between her blog and Bodybuilding.com, I’ve collected recipes and fitness tips that have contributed to my own weight-management and fitness successes.

This is one of my favorite recipes of Eason’s.  Store-bought protein bars can be extremely expensive, not to mention ridden with sugar and artificial ingredients.  These protein bars (more like brownies or pieces of cake, if you ask me) are not only easy to make but a great on-the-go snack you can count on for nutrition and a chocolate fix!

Ingredients:

1 cup oat flour (just a cup of rolled oats ground up to a flour consistency)

4 egg whites

2 scoops vanilla protein powder

1/2 cup Splenda

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

8 oz berry flavored baby food

3 tbsp. cocoa

4 oz water

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Mix dry ingredients (oat flour, protein powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa) in a large bowl.

3.  Mix wet ingredients (egg whites, Splenda, baby food, water) in a medium bowl.

4.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well.

Don't let the baby food scare you - the berry flavor brings out the cocoa flavor like whoa!

Looks and smells like cake batter now!

5.  Spray cooking dish with non-stick spray and add batter to dish.

6.  Bake 20-30 minutes and let cool completely before cutting.

I like to individually wrap these in plastic and keep them in the fridge.  My favorite way to eat them is to chop up one square and mix it with a cup of nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt.  It tastes like cookies n’ cream!

I eat this as a snack or even as a guiltless dessert 🙂  Enjoy!

– Alex

Do your body a favor. It’ll thank ya!

13 Jun

It feels like forever since the last post!  Let’s change that with a little delicious nutrient-rich smoothie bowl, shall we?

This morning was an EXCELLENT workout for me.  I took a day off yesterday and so my body was literally craving a hard run and intense P90X session to follow.  I even threw in a 15-minute ab workout just because I was feeling that great… Why?  Because weekends I usually indulge a little bit here and there : an extra scoop of (fat free, of course!) frozen yogurt on Friday, some mini chocolate chips in my yogurt on Saturday, a Starbucks Skinny Frap on Sunday…

Not this weekend. Nope.   I was totally on target with every single little thing that went into my mouth and tummy.  Nothing but clean eating for this girl!  So naturally, I was super fueled and ready to go this morning before the birds even started chirping away.  Successful Monday morning: CHECK!

Now, I lucked out this morning but not every Monday morning feels as great which is why this smoothie bowl is perfect get your body back on track because it’s packed full of nutrients from fruits, spinach and lots o’ protein.  Don’t be intimidated by the green color – I swear you will not even taste the spinach!!  Top it off with some sweet and crunchy granola and you’ve got yourself a power meal.

Ingredients:

1/2 frozen banana

3 frozen strawberries

1 scoop vanilla protein powder

1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk

2 pinches xanthan gum

Small handful of ice

1/3 cup cold water

Generous handful of fresh baby spinach

1/4 cup granola

Directions:

Throw everything but the granola into a blender and puree until smooth and creamy.  Top with the granola and enjoy a tasty, healthy, refreshing snack (or breakfast or lunch or dessert for that matter)!  Your bod will thank ya!

– Alex

Perfect Parfait

9 Jun

I popped my parfait cherry today.  Never before today had I ever made a parfait before but for some reason I had been thinking of the idea all day and decided to give it a shot.  It was absolutely scrumptious and really hit that snack spot.  I thought I’d share because it’s a decently healthy snack in the middle of the day when you just need a pick-me-up to get you through until dinner.

Eek you can kinda see my face... creepy.

And here’s how I layered it:

A generous spoonful of Stonyfield Greek nonfat vanilla yogurt

1 tbsp. Bear Naked Fit vanilla almond crunch granola

A couple banana cubes (I used 1/4 medium sized banana altogether)

1 tbsp. White Chocolate Wonderful peanut butter

Repeat

Then I added just a few cashew halves on top for an extra salty crunch

Tip:   Be careful with your portions here.  It can easily turn into a diet-buster if you’re not mindful of the amount of ingredients you use.  I used just one 5.3 oz. package of yogurt and I measured out the granola and peanut butter so that I didn’t go overboard – which I very well would have since these are some of the most delicious foods I have in my house at the moment!!

Happy snacking and enjoy!

– Alex

Chicken & Sweet Potato Rainbow Skewers

8 Jun

I have had this dinner planned for tonight since yesterday morning when I went to the grocery store.  It is such a summery meal made of mostly peppers and red onions onions with some chunks of chicken marinated in teriyaki sauce and sweet potato cubes.  Holy healthy!  Let’s get started!

First I preheated my oven to 350.  Then I washed the chicken breasts and cut them into small chunks.  I marinated the chicken with teriyaki sauce for about 30 minutes.  While the chicken was marinating I chopped up a yellow, red and green pepper as well as a whole red onion and put each of them into their own bowls for easy skewing!

I also zapped a small sweet potato in the microwave for about 3 minutes and cubed it.

By then it was time to assemble the skewers and which way I liked.  There was no particular order, just played around for a bit until the skewers were nice and full.

I placed them on a baking rack, little salt, little pepper, and into the oven they went for about 20 minutes.  The finished product was absolutely awesome.  Nice and crunchy peppers and onions, juicy chicken and sweet, sweet, sweet potatoes!  This meal covers just about every desire one could have in a summertime meal.

There are only 2 skewers here on my plate but they were so tasty that I went back for a third!

– Alex

Where’s the dirty?

8 Jun

I realize this blog isn’t dirty yet, trust me.  But I’ve been the one posting so far while my sister (in-law) Jackie works all day long.  Being a stay-at-home mama does come with its perks like having a few minutes in my morning to blog while Keira eats her breakfast and especially during nap time (YAY for nap time!!).

Jackie is the dirty birdy.  Well, my mind falls into the gutter quite often as well but it’s JACKIE who really takes it to the next level.  I promise you as soon as Jackie gets a minute, you’ll be laughing soon… right Jack??

Don’t get us wrong here.  This blog is intended to share healthy recipes and good fitness and nutrition tips.  But who doesn’t like a laugh every now and then?  We promise it won’t be a blog Grandma would turn her nose up at.  We have parents and grandparents too, even if they don’t know how to navigate through the interweb!!

Since the name of this blog is “Clean Plates, Dirty Minds” and there has YET to be even a single dirty reference, I thought I’d share a picture I took last week while grocery shopping.  Now, I go grocery shopping at least once a week.  So that means at least once a week I’m in the nuts section (ha-ha).  Ever since starting up a solid workout regimen almost 5 months ago, my body has started intensely craving salt.  It used to be sweets (don’t get me wrong, I still get those once in a while) but I think since I’ve been sweating a whole lot more daily (with exercising and whatnot), my body is starting to crave that saltiness I lose while working out.

After starting my new healthy lifestyle, I switched from snacking on cookies and crapola of that nature to mixed nuts – salted of course.  Here’s what I found at my local Stop & Shop… it gave me quite the giggle.  The best (actually, more like inappropriate) part about this is that these are on a shelf fit for the eye level of a child!

And since it’s Wednesday….Happy Hump Day!!

– Alex

10-Minute Tilapia with Mixed Veggies

7 Jun

I am a seafood fanatic.  I haven’t met a tuna, scallop, salmon, cod, haddock, flounder, shrimp, etc., etc. etc. that I didn’t enjoy sinking my teeth into.  In fact, I originally wanted an all-seafood wedding… but that didn’t fly with my beef-and-potatoes-loving husband of mine.

Tonight was a tilapia kind of night for me.  There really isn’t anything special about this dish at all – and it doesn’t even look that pretty but it’s extremely easy to make and so beautifully flavored that it just seems more special than it really is!

All I did was cook the tilapia fillet in a pan with dry white wine and fresh lemon juice over medium heat.  I salted it sparingly and peppered it too.  I also added a dash of lemon pepper seasoning to both sides.  I then moved it to the oven where I broiled on high for about 2 minutes and voila!  A delicious lemony tilapia was ready in just minutes.  Paired with some steamed carrots and broccoli made this dinner light, tasty and above all: healthy!

Aren't the colors great??

– Alex