Blueberry Muffin Energy Balls

It’s almost the weekend, and I am ecstatic because I’m leaving for California tomorrow to visit a friend! She has some fun things planned, like getting manicures, eating at amazing restaurants, shopping, and taking a hike. There aren’t too many places I enjoying visiting as much as California!

I totally blame pregnancy, but my desire to snack has increased tenfold over the last couple months. So, as I make the four hour plane ride to Los Angeles, I’m going to need to be prepared with some good snacks that aren’t going to make me feel horrible after sitting for that long. Enter Blueberry Muffin Energy Balls! I have made these energy balls from The Healthy Maven a few times, and each time my entire family has enjoyed having these around as a sweet treat to reach for. I’ve made them using different combinations of nuts based on what I had in the pantry, and every combo was just as good as the others. The way the nuts mix with the dried blueberries, dates, and lemon makes for quite the delicious snack that is filling, satisfying and portable…as I will soon appreciate tomorrow!

Next time you’re craving the flavors of a blueberry muffin, give these a whirl as a healthier option.


Blueberry Muffin Energy Balls

Yield: 20-25 balls, depending on size

Recipe source: The Healthy Maven

What You Need

  • 2 cups nuts (I used 1 cup of walnuts & 1 cup of almonds but have also used cashews too)
  • 1 cup dates
  • 1 cup dried blueberries
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon, juice of half a lemon
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

What To Do

  1. Add nuts to food processor. Process until nuts are pea-sized.
  2. Combine nuts with dates and dried blueberries and process until all ingredients have broken down and are a bit sticky.
  3. Add in lemon zest and juice and vanilla extract.
  4. Process until all ingredients come together to form 1 large sticky ball.
  5. Roll into small balls and store in fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer.


What’s In My Fridge

When Cooking Light posted on their Instagram a picture of the inside of a fridge, they were asking followers to post a picture of their own fridge as a way to share healthy food ideas. I thought this would be a good opportunity to give you a peek inside my refridgerator and share with you some of my favorite staples.


Yogurt: My son has asked for yogurt first thing in the morning for as long as I can remember. Because of this, we always have a solid selection of yogurt options stocked. My favorite yogurt is Siggi’s because it doesn’t contain a lot of sugar, they have great flavors, and there are no weird ingredients. For a treat we buy Noosa. The sugar content is contrary to Siggi’s, but it’s creamy smooth consistency is absolutely dreamy. I also love the Wallaby Organic Plain Greek Yogurt. I prefer the slightly thinner consistency, compared to many other thick Greek yogurts. We eat this with granola, honey or a little jelly mixed in. I also keep this on hand for baking and sauces that may require yogurt. Last, Lifeway ProBugs Kefir in pouches is something I keep on hand for my son when he requests more yogurt for a snack later in the day.

Fruit: We almost always have a vast selection of fruit in the house. While I don’t find myself reaching for fruit as often as I should, my son drives this category as well. He loves berries, so raspberries and blueberries are often readily available. As you can also see, we have a good citrus selection with clementines, oranges and grapefruits in the fridge. We also snack on apples with peanut or almond butter often.

Vegetables: I buy carrots on every grocery trip because we are either cutting them up and having them as a snack with hummus, or I’m using them for soup or another recipe. Kale, lettuce and broccoli are other vegetable staples; however this week organic cauliflower was on sale, so I picked up a head of that instead of broccoli!

Hummus: My husband is a big fan of Costco, so it was like hitting the jackpot when he found the Hope Spicy Avocado Hummus available there in a large size! I love many of the Hope hummus flavors, but this is by far the best. I also love the Oasis and Cava hummus brands. We are always snacking on hummus with fresh veggies and pita chips.

Cheese: So many types of cheese! We love Organic Valley string cheese and Mini Babybel for snacks. We also keep sliced cheddar around for sandwiches, and shredded cheddar and shredded mozzarella for quesadillas and mini pizzas.

Carbs: I love English muffins! Sometimes I eat them for breakfast with peanut butter, but mostly we use them for egg sandwiches on the weekends. I’m a huge fan of the Rudi’s Organic Whole Grain Wheat English Muffins because they are soft and delicious! I also use English muffins to make my son individual pizzas for an easy dinner option. Other carb items often found in the fridge are whole wheat tortillas and corn tortillas. The whole wheat tortillas are used for turkey wraps for lunches or quick cheese quesadillas. I cook a lot of Mexican food, so the corn tortillas get used for turkey or veggie tacos.

Other: Items that are also seen in this picture include, pre-peeled garlic and pre-peeled shallots. I am all about the convenience of these items, so when I’m feeling particularly lazy or short on time, I love little short cuts. I also like to buy pre-chopped onion for busy or lazy weeks. Leftovers can often be found in the fridge since I cook often, duh! Chicken broth, for soups and other recipes. Have you ever had Farm Ridge Foods Half Sour Pickles?! I had them at a party and they were so good, I hunted them down! Last, but certainly not least, eggs. We go through a decent amount of eggs. I bake with them, we will have eggs for breakfast, lunch or dinner, or I make egg salad.


Ever since our kitchen renovation, our condiment selection has been a little lacking. We normally have a much more impressive selection of sauces, but apparently it’s taking us longer than two months to get back to where we were!

Salsa: I am pretty loyal to the Frontera Salsa. I just love their flavors and how they are so great to cook with. I’m a big fan of the Tomatillo and the Guajillo flavors.

Tomato sauce: If you’ve never tried Rao’s tomato sauces, you’re missing out! They’re the best jarred tomato sauce I’ve ever had, and the Arrabitata spicy sauce shouldn’t be overlooked. The price tag on these are bit hefty, but whenever they are on sale, I stock up! Rao’s makes any simple Italian dish ten times better!

Hot sauce: It’s a rare day when my husband doesn’t add some sort of hot sauce to something I’ve made. Our standards are Cholula and Sriracha. Unlike my husband, I don’t spice everything, but I do use Cholula for eggs and Sriracha for Asian sauces or on top of homemade fried rice.

Butter: I love Melt, a non-dairy coconut oil butter spread. We use this on toast, veggies, or in a pan for cooking. It’s slight coconut flavor makes it oh-so-delicious! Earth Balance non-dairy butter sticks are something I use for baking. Not pictured is also real deal organic butter, which I try to use very sparingly!

Other: Jelly, mustard, chocolate hazelnut spread, salad dressing, miso paste (for Asian sauces), catsup, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and ground flax meal (used for baking).


Finally, the drink portion of the fridge…

Milk/creamer: Although my son doesn’t drink a ton of milk, we still manage to go through a lot of milk in our house. We also keep at least a few different types of milk on hand. We always have organic 2% cow’s milk. I love Organic Valley’s milk, but this week I happened to have bought Horizon. We also always have almond milk, either Silk or Califia Farms unsweetened vanilla. I make a latte every morning, so I use either kind of milk for that. We’ve also been on a big cereal kick, so milk is a necessity. Smoothies, baking and hot chocolate are other ways we use up our milk supply! If you’re a creamer person, I am a huge fan of the Silk Almond Milk Vanilla Creamer. This is great in coffee, or sometimes I add a splash to my latte to sweeten it up.

Other: Tazo Chai Tea Concentrate, San Pellegrino sparkling water, La Croix sparkling water, Suja Organic Mighty Greens Juice, and Kevita Kombucha are among some of the drinks we keep on rotation in our refridgerator.

I hope you enjoyed the tour through my fridge. I would love to know if you have any fridge staples that you keep stocked!




Horchata Hot Chocolate

I have been a lover of all foods that are warm and drinkable for as long as I can remember. As a little girl, I’d go to my grandma’s house for sleepovers; she’d keep the house stocked with packets of chicken noodle soup and hot chocolate, two of my favorite things. Although I’ve progressed past soup in packets, to this day, I am still soup-obsessed and tempted by hot chocolate, year-round.

When I was home in Des Moines for Thanksgiving this past November, I was at a friend’s house and she served me her concoction of Horchata Hot Chocolate. If you’re not familiar with horchata, it is a drink originating in Spanish speaking countries, and it is usually made from rice or ground almonds. It has a milky consistency and it often include cinnamon and vanilla flavors. Horchata can certainly be homemade, but lately I’ve been seeing bottled horchata at many grocery stores. When my friend made this for me, she used Anderson Erickson brand, which is only found in Iowa and Missouri. I have recreated this recipe using Califia Farms Vanilla Coconut Horchata with Almond Milk. I love this brand of almond milk, and their horchata was no exception. I’ve seen Califia Farms sold at Target, Whole Foods, and other regular grocery stores nationwide.

This Horchata Hot Chocolate is like taking basic hot chocolate and kicking it up several notches. I love the extra depth of flavor from the cinnamon, vanilla and hint of coconut that this adds to the hot chocolate. Plus, this drink is so easy to throw together on a cold day. Don’t forget to top it with marshmallows or whipped cream!

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Horchata Hot Chocolate

What You Need

  • 16 ounces of store-bought horchata (I used Califia Almond Milk Farms Horchata)
  • 3-4 tablespoons hot cocoa mix, (adjust to what package says for liquid amount)
  • Suggested toppings: marshmallows, whipped cream, or chocolate shavings

What To Do

  1. Heat 16 ounces of store-bought horchata in the microwave or on a small sauce pan on the stove.
  2. Using a whisk, stir the hot cocoa mix into the hot horchata until it has dissolved and is well incorporated. Taste and adjust hot cocoa mix according to desired chocolate taste.
  3. Serve hot and top with suggested toppings.


Detox Monday: Veggie Pita Sandwich

Being that it is the 11th day of the new year, I am very late to the New Year’s Resolution conversation. Since this is my first post of the year though, I thought I’d still say my piece! Most years I come up with something I really want to change or work on in the new year, but this year I came up empty handed. That’s not to say that I don’t have things that need work and attention; it’s just that I spent no time thinking about a worthwhile resolution this year. With a toddler running around and a baby in my belly, I don’t really have a lot of extra energy to devote to something new! However, I completely respect that this time of year, a lot of people are trying to eat healthy and work out. I am a huge proponent of both, but I know that when you’re not used to doing it, making the switch can be difficult and daunting. I feel that the only way to really succeed at eating healthy is by still enjoying foods you love in moderation, and by eating meals that are healthy AND satisfying.

I have made these Veggie Pita Sandwiches several times, and I think they are a great lunch option for someone trying to eat healthy and feel satisfied. I use whole wheat pita bread and stuff it with hummus, sliced hard boiled egg and veggies. Figuring out what to eat for lunch is often challenging, and I love having these easy sandwiches in my rotation. These Veggie Pita Sandwiches are not only great for starting healthy eating in the new year, but also for anytime of the year.

If you are someone who is working on a New Year’s Resolution, good luck to you!

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Veggie Pita Sandwich

Yield: 2 half sandwiches

Serving Size: 1/2 sandwich

What You Need

  • 1 8-inch whole wheat pita, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite hummus
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, sliced thin
  • 2/3 cup baby spinach leaves
  • 1-2 Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 12 English cucumber slices

What To Do

  1. Take half of the whole wheat pita bread and open it up to access the inside, being careful not to tear the bread. Spread 1/4 cup of hummus on both sides of the inside of the pita pocket. Next layer egg slices, cucumber slices, tomato slices and spinach leaves inside the pocket. Repeat on the other half.
  2. Enjoy with a side salad, cup of soup, or fresh fruit.


Detox Monday: Mediterranean Chickpea Bowl

It took me about a week to recover from Thanksgiving with my family in Des Moines. After having cake or pie after every dinner, and then random bites of pumpkin bars in between, a detox is needed right now more than ever. Or at least a dessert detox! The sugar influx was a clear sign that the holidays are indeed here. Our December calendar is quickly filling up with fun plans; this means that the more healthy meals we can squeeze in in between all the indulging, the better.

As part of this Monday’s detox, I’m starting the week with a Mediterranean Chickpea Bowl. I really hope you love this dish as much as I do! I’ve made this recipe several times, and I’ll continue to rely on it for a healthy, flavor-packed vegetarian meal. We have fun with this because it’s fully customizable to each person’s liking. I start my bowl by topping the whole wheat couscous with the baked chickpeas, followed by a generous serving of tomato-cucumber salad, a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts, and finally a heavy-handed drizzle of lemon tahini sauce. Once all the toppings are added, I mix everything together for a delicious one-bowl meal. You can make it your own by adding crumbled feta in place of the tahini sauce, or by subbing roasted broccoli and cauliflower for the tomato-cucumber salad. My husband likes to add sriracha to the top of his bowl. There are so many different ways you can build your bowl!  I will admit, it does take a little while to prepare each component of this dish, but its not difficult and the reward is a Mediterranean Chickpea Bowl that tastes just as good today as it does left over. How do you plan to build you bowl?!

(P.S. Please excuse my iPhone pics; I left my DSLR in Iowa!)

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Mediterranean Chickpea Bowl

Serving Size: 4-6

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen's Baked Chickpeas with Pita Chips

What You Need

  • 2 15-ounce cans cooked chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced, divided
  • 1 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika or sumac
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, spoonful of harissa or a couple shakes of your favorite hot sauce (all adjusted to your heat preference)
  • Few gratings fresh lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoons coarse sea or kosher salt
  • 3/4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • For Tomato-Cucumber Salad
  • 1 English cucumber
  • 3 Roma tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 3-4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (could also use fresh mint or cilantro as an addition if desired)
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • For Lemon Tahini Sauce
  • 3-4 tablespoons tahini sauce from Trader Joe's or tahini (if using tahini, consider adding 1 minced garlic clove; the TJ's sauce already has garlic in it)
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Salt
  • 4-6 servings of cooked whole wheat couscous; could also use quinoa or brown rice for gluten free

What To Do

  1. Heat oven to 375°F. In a large, heavy pot such as a Dutch oven, heat olive oil in the bottom of the pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add garlic and saute garlic and onions together for 3 to 4 minutes more, until everything is wilted. Add spices, zest and salt and cook with onions and garlic for one minute.
  2. Add drained chickpeas and broth to pot. Bring mixture to a boil and boil for one full minute. Place a lid on the pot and transfer it carefully to the oven. Bake chickpeas for 20-30 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Once chickpeas are baked, stir in 2 tablespoons or more of chopped fresh parsley.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare couscous according to package directions.
  4. Prepare tomato-cucumber salad: Peel cucumber, slice in half the long way and using a spoon, scrape out inside seeds. Dice cucumber and place in a bowl. Dice tomatoes and add to cucumber. Add chopped red onion and 1/4 cup of chopped parsley to other vegetables. Mix together and dress with juice from 1/2 lemon, 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper. Feel free to adjust proportions of vegetables and dressing to taste.
  5. Prepare lemon tahini sauce: Whisk 3 tablespoons Trader Joe's tahini sauce or well-stirred tahini in the bottom of a bowl. Whisk in the juice of 1/2 a lemon, 1 minced garlic clove (optional) and 2 tablespoons water until smooth. Whisk in 1/2 cup plain yogurt until smooth. Season with salt. Taste, and add more tahini sauce or anything else as needed.
  6. Toast pine nuts: Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven while the chickpeas bake for 5 minutes, tossing once or twice to toast unevenly. Let cool.
  7. To assemble, place a scoop of couscous in the bottom of the bowl, top with chickpeas, tomato-cucumber salad, toasted pine nuts, and a drizzle of lemon tahini sauce.

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