Bread and Breakfast

In honor of #TBT, I’m finally sharing this post I wrote in February, but never completely finished. I came across it in my drafts and decided to add the finishing touches because this is still one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants. We have been back multiple times since our initial visit and enjoy taking out of town guests there because all of the menu items are fresh, unique and delicious!

20140215-152742.jpg

It was love at first bite. I had been wanting to try Lulu’s Bread and Breakfast for a while now and decided to check it out with my parents while they were in town (Las Vegas). The country chic restaurant, open for breakfast and lunch, was beautifully decorated for Valentine’s Day, so love was already in the air before checking out the mouthwatering menu.

20140215-152951.jpg

We started with the cinnamon roll “appetizer.” It tastes as good as it looks. No skimping on the cream cheese frosting here! The roll itself is more of a croissant than the usual doughy cinnamon roll, which made for a nice texture.

20140215-152748.jpg

My Dad got the Benicio Del Porko, a unique take on Eggs Benedict made with corn bread, pulled pork, poached egg and barbecue and hollandaise sauces. The corn bread was an amazing addition! I’m glad I waited to write this post because this dish was named the “Best Benedict” in Las Vegas Weekly‘s Best of Vegas 2014 issue this week.

20140215-153044.jpg

I had the “New Year’s Resolution,” aptly named since it is a healthier menu item made with egg whites and a spinach tortilla. Since this first visit we have tried the S.O.B (egg sandwich with chicken chorizo, green chiles, avocado and cotija cheese), grilled cheese made with brie and apricot preserve, sweet potato hash and Captain America (egg sandwich with sausage, ham and white cheddar), which were all delicious.

20140215-153049.jpg

In addition to the great food, I also love the decorations and casual atmosphere. Instead of a boring table number, they give you a unique card (we got “nest”) to put in the Coca-Cola holder. It added a fun, quirky touch. We enjoy sitting outside on the patio, which you can do most of the year being in Vegas. Definitely a restaurant worth trying next time you are in town!

20140215-153156.jpg

Açaí Bowl

acai

I have read a lot about açaí bowls in magazines and on Pinterest, so I finally tried one at a local cafe. It was cool, refreshing and (best of all) healthy! It didn’t look too hard to make at home, so I decided to give it a try. While looking at various recipes online, I came across Sambazon açaí smoothie packs. The frozen puree, which can be found at Whole Foods, makes for a tasty treat that can be made in minutes. The açaí mixture is blended like a smoothie and then topped with your favorite fruits and granola. The colorful concoction is a simple summer snack!

Below are some variations from fellow bloggers that I look forward to trying:

20140427-221624.jpg

Açaí Bowl

Ingredients

For the açaí mixture:

  • 2 ounces unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup strawberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • Açaí Smoothie Pack

For the topping:

  • sliced banana
  • sliced kiwi
  • sliced strawberries
  • fresh blueberries
  • granola
  • sliced almonds
  • coconut chips
  • honey

Run frozen smoothie pack under hot water for 5 seconds. Add ingredients for the açaí mixture to blender and blend until smooth. Pour into bowl and sprinkle with desired toppings. Enjoy!

20140427-221618.jpg

Basil Quinoa with Red Bell Pepper

quinoa

I promise I don’t live off of cookies and cupcakes although it might seem that way from my blog posts. More often than not, I try to cook healthy meals. There were a few ingredients in our fridge that I wanted to use up, so I decided to make a healthy side for dinner with red bell peppers, basil and quinoa. It makes about four servings and paired perfectly with our tilapia and broccoli.

Basil Quinoa with Red Bell Pepper

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine cold water and ice cubes to make an ice bath. In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Add basil to boiling water, stirring once and then draining immediately. Quickly place basil in ice bath to cool. Remove and gently squeeze out excess water.
  2. Place basil, cheese, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic in a food processor. Cover and process until nearly smooth.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together warm, cooked quinoa and bell pepper. Add basil mixture and stir until coated. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Breakfast Pita

pita 2

Breakfast is an important, yet inconvenient meal. I always feel best when I start my day off with eggs, but it’s so much easier to just pour a bowl of cereal when you’re in a rush. While I had time this weekend, I tried making this breakfast pita with some ingredients I had around the house. It tasted great and only took about 5 minutes to make! It’ll definitely be my go-to breakfast from now on since it’s healthy and easy to whip up.

Breakfast Pita

Ingredients

  • 1/2 whole grain pita
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1/4 cup mango peach salsa

Place sliced avocado in pita and set aside. Scramble eggs over medium-low heat, adding spinach when almost cooked. Mix in the spinach, until eggs are fully cooked and spinach is warmed up. Place into pita, then add salsa.

Kale Banana Berry Smoothie

smoothie 2

With swimsuit season rapidly approaching and the weekend-long feast I had while my parents were visiting, I’m feeling the need to improve my eating habits. Smoothies are an easy, tasty way to add fruits and vegetables to your diet. It’s nice that you can easily disguise those good-for-you foods that aren’t your favorite. For more protein, add a scoop of vanilla protein powder.

Kale Banana Berry Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup milk (I used nonfat, but I’m sure almond, soy, etc. would work well, too)
  • 1 cup fresh kale
  • 1 cup frozen berry blend (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries)
  • 1 banana

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

Kale Chips

20140127-200102.jpg

Looking for a crispy, salty and healthy snack? These kale chips are satisfying and simple to make! I’m not a big veggie fan, so this is my favorite way to add some green into my diet. With the thin, delicate texture, they almost melt in your mouth. It’s also fun to experiment with different oils and seasonings. Below is the basic recipe and a few additional ideas to enhance the tasty treat!

Ingredients

  • 1 head kale, washed and thoroughly dried
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Seat salt, for sprinkling

How to

  1. Preheat oven to 275F. Line baking sheet with foil and set aside.
  2. Remove the ribs from the kale and tear into bite-sized pieces. Place in large bowl and toss with olive oil and salt. Be careful to not over salt.
  3. Evenly spread kale on prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, then flip leaves. Continue cooking for an additional 10 minutes, until crisp.

Other ideas:

  • Spice it up with jalapeño olive oil and Cajun seasoning
  • Use garlic oil and truffle salt to enhance the flavor
  • Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese

Pesto Spaghetti Squash

20140125-173537.jpg

I made the mistake of going to Trader Joe’s on an empty stomach, which means I wanted to try everything!! The garlic herb chicken sausage caught my eye and seemed really versatile. Since I had a spaghetti squash waiting to be used at home, I decided to make a healthy pasta dish with some of my favorite flavors. The pesto and garlic herb sausage worked perfectly together! I will definitely be making this filling, flavorful meal again.

Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Brussels Sprouts and Chicken Sausage

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium-sized spaghetti squash
  • 16 oz. fresh Brussels sprouts, sliced in half
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 chicken sausage links (I used garlic herb), sliced into 1/4-inch thick coins
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup pesto
  • Parmesan cheese, for topping

How-to:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F and line baking sheet with foil. Slice spaghetti squash in half (lengthwise). Scoop out seeds and place cut-side down on prepared baking sheet. Cook for 35 minutes, until tender.
  2. Meanwhile, place sliced Brussels sprouts in a large bowl. Add 2 Tbsp. olive oil and salt, toss until evenly coated. Place on foil-covered baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes, until crispy on the outside and fully-cooked inside. You might want to flip them halfway through to get both sides.
  3. While Brussels sprouts are cooking, heat remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook, turning occasionally, until lightly browned, about 6-8 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook for an additional 2 minutes, until garlic is fragrant and sausage is browned.
  4. Use a fork to scrape out the “spaghetti” strands and place in large bowl. Add cooked Brussels sprouts, sausage and pesto. Toss until fully incorporated.
  5. Serve warm with freshly grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

Qrazy for Quinoa

20140121-213739.jpg

So many quinoa recipes, so little time. This is one of my favorite ways to prepare this versatile superfood. You can eat the basic patties with healthy toppings and sides or treat it as a burger patty sandwiched between a bun or bread. It’s also easy to make it lactose-free and gluten-free with a few substitutions. I’ve been trying to cut our dairy products to test if I’m lactose-intolerant, but it is so hard because I love cheese. Luckily, I discovered some great substitutions that I used while cooking this flavorful fare.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups quinoa, cooked (recipe below)
  • 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded (I used GO Veggie!® Lactose-Free)
  • 1/2 cup lowfat cottage cheese (I used LACTAID®)
  • 1 medium-sized zucchini, shredded
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • Canola oil for frying

How to:

  1. To cook the quinoa, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add 1 cup of quinoa and reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, until water is absorbed. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa, cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, zucchini, eggs, flour, sugar, cumin, salt and garlic powder.
  3. Lightly coat frying pan with canola oil and heat over medium-low heat. Drop 1/4 cup quinoa mixture into pan and press with spatula to lightly flatten to 1/2-inch thick. Cook until golden-brown, about 4 minutes on each side.
  4. Serve with favorite sauce and burger toppings. I topped mine with sliced avocado. I tried it with calorie-free bacon ranch dressing, but wasn’t a fan. I think Tzatziki would be really tasty with it.
  5. It makes about 10 patties, so I placed the ones I wasn’t going to eat right away on a paper towel to soak up some grease and then wrapped them in wax paper, put them in a Ziplock bag and stored in the freezer.

20140121-213750.jpg

Baked Zucchini Chips

20140119-160559.jpgLooking for a healthy snack? These baked zucchini chips are crispy, flavorful and will satisfy cravings for salty, crunchy potato chips. I really want to like vegetables, but have a hard time finding ones I like and how to prepare them. A little breading and seasoning go a long way because I LOVED these! (I know they obviously aren’t as healthy as the plain vegetable, but it’s a start, right?) They are simple to make, with only 10 minutes prep time and few ingredients. 20140119-160629.jpg

Ingredients

  • 2 zucchini, sliced (1/4-inch thick)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp. crushed red peppers
  • 1/4 cup milk

How to:

  1. Preheat oven to 425F. Line baking sheet with foil and lightly spray with canola oil.
  2. Whisk together cheese, bread crumbs, salt, garlic powder and crushed red pepper in shallow bowl or plate. Pour milk into a separate bowl.
  3. Dip zucchini slices in milk then into bread crumb mixture until lightly coated. Place on prepared baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes, until browned and crisp. Serve warm. I dipped them in light ranch dressing.

20140119-160648.jpg

Pad Thai Spaghetti Squash

20140118-113552.jpg

Mmm… I love pad thai, but wanted to make a healthier version. Hence the spaghetti squash! I love the taste and texture of this delicious meal. It makes 4-6 servings, so hello leftovers and lunch tomorrow!

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium-sized spaghetti squash
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and shredded
  • 1/2 red pepper, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. peanut oil
  • 3 Tbsp. sweet chili sauce
  • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts, crushed
  • 1 chicken breast, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces

How-to:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Cut the spaghetti squash in half, lengthwise. Spoon out seeds and sprinkle cut sides with olive oil. Place squash on baking sheet with cut side down and roast for about 45 minutes, until tender. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Use a fork to scrape out the “spaghetti” and place into colander to drain for about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, beat together eggs in a small bowl.
  3. In another small bowl, create the sauce by mixing together the sweet chili sauce, soy sauce and lime juice.
  4. When squash is ready, heat peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Pour in eggs and scramble until almost cooked. Add red pepper, carrot, chicken and squash noodles. Add a few pinches of salt and toss together. Add sauce and stir until coated. Cook for about 2 minutes, until vegetables are heated through.
  5. Garnish with crushed peanuts, cilantro and green onions.

If you’re a spaghetti squash fan you might also like my recipes for Chicken Alfredo Spaghetti Squash, Santa Fe Spaghetti Squash Casserole and Spaghetti Squash with Pumpkin Parmesan Sauce.

Caprese Chicken Salad

20131001-220935

Crazy for caprese! I love the combination of flavors, textures, and freshness in this recipe: ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, basil, and a drizzle of balsamic. It requires few ingredients, but results in a lot of flavor. My boyfriend went to Wyoming to visit his parents last weekend and came back with home-grown tomatoes from his mom’s garden, so we put them to good use with this delicious dinner!

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinaigrette
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 4 slices mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tomato
  • 4 large basil leaves
  • 2 cups spinach

How-to:

  1. Prepare chicken (on the grill or however you prefer). While cooking, pour balsamic vinaigrette into small sauce pan and heat until boiling. Stir in butter until melted, then simmer.
  2. Place chicken on bed of spinach. Top with mozzarella cheese, basil leaves and tomato slices. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette. Serve warm.

Easy Egg Salad Sandwich

eggWhether it’s for home, school or the office, egg salad sandwiches are a healthy and substantial lunch. Although with spoonfuls of mayo it can be highly caloric and fatty. Instead, I like to use nonfat cottage cheese. This makes for a high protein, low-fat meal that will keep you full until dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 2 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1/4 cup nonfat cottage cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. light mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tsp. mustard
  • sprinkle of salt
  • whole wheat pita pocket

How to:

  • In a small bowl using a fork, cut the eggs into small chunks.
  • Stir in cottage cheese, mayo and mustard. Sprinkle with salt.
  • Spoon into pita pocket.
  • Keep refrigerated.

Tropical Smoothie

20130721-102305.jpg

Refreshing and nutritious! Smoothies are a healthy choice for a sweet treat, as long as you pick the right ingredients! This one is simple, flavorful and healthy. It gives you the health benefits of Greek yogurt as well as Vitamins C and A from the fruit. Just blend and enjoy!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
1 banana 
1 cup of pineapple, mango, strawberries and papaya mix (with no sugar added!)

Berry Tasty and Healthy!

fruit

Looking for a healthy snack? Berries and Greek yogurt is a great combination! These frozen treats are perfect to take to the office or serve at a picnic. It’s also a festive blend of fruit for a patriotic party. Definitely a 4th of July favorite!

20130713-140016.jpg

I used blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries, which I dipped into vanilla and honey-flavored Greek yogurt (the vanilla turned out to be my favorite). Start by lining a baking sheet with wax paper. Using a toothpick or your fingers, dip the fruit into the yogurt. Then place them on the baking sheet and freeze. Serve chilled.

20130713-140024.jpg

Banana Berry Smoothie

20130702-221031.jpg

From breakfast to dessert, smoothies are a great option for a quick and nutritious treat. When I got home from the gym this afternoon I wanted something easy to make, healthy, filling and refreshing, so I whipped up this fruit-filled drink. It only takes 3 ingredients: non-fat plain greek yogurt, frozen mixed berries and a banana. I used 3/4 cup yogurt, 1 banana and about 3/4 cup berries, but you can play around with the ratio. Selecting the right ingredients is important because they can take a smoothie from healthy to high-calorie, high-sugar, etc. When selecting a yogurt, make sure it is protein-packed and low in sugar. As for the fruit, use either fresh fruit or frozen fruit that does not have added sugar. Just blend it up and… ta da! You’ve got yourself a simple, healthy treat!

20130702-221024.jpg

Santa Fe Spaghetti Squash

I love cooking with spaghetti squash. It is so easy and fun! It’s a great alternative to pasta and can be used in a variety of ways. I’ve always eaten like spaghetti, adding sauce and meatballs or chicken. However, I came across a casserole recipe and thought I would give it a try!

20130620-152243.jpg

Ingredients:

For the casserole

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can chopped green chiles, 4 oz.
  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen corn (I used frozen)
  • 1 packed cup chopped fresh spinach
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. salt

For the crust

  • 1/2 cup corn meal
  • 1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp. hot water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and cut squash in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out and discard the seeds from the middle of each half. Place squash in 9″ x 13″ casserole dish, place cut sides down. Pour 1/2 cup water into the dish and bake until tender, about 35 min. Let cool and turn off oven. Once it’s cool enough to handle, rake a fork back and forth to remove the “spaghetti.” Place into a bowl for later use.

20130620-152254.jpg

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and saute the onion, garlic and red bell pepper until tender. Add the black beans, corn, green chiles, spinach, cilantro and chili powder. Stir until heated through. Remove from heat and stir in the spaghetti squash (as much as you want; I didn’t use all of it), lime juice and salt until combined. Spray an 6×10 or 8×8  casserole dish with cooking spray. Pour in mixture.

20130620-152307.jpg

Now we’ll make the crust. In a small bowl, mix together the corn meal, hot water, salt and honey. Spread the mixture smoothly over the casserole mixture. Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is firm and beginning to brown around the edges.

Enjoy!!

20130620-152403.jpg

Ten Things to Try This Month

10
I’m not playing an April Fools joke when I say it was sunny in Seattle today! I believe that spring is a time for fresh starts (like a clean closet!) and new adventures. Here are some of my favorite things that I think you’ll enjoy, too! They are definitely worth giving a try this month.
  1. Yoga at Yoga to the People. Every time I go to the Vinyasa class I leave with that “yoga high” feeling because I’m mentally relaxed and have had a great workout.
  2. Gone Girl. If you like a good mystery and intriguing characters with complex relationships, this is the book for you! I don’t want to give too much away because it is a page-turner full of unpredictable twists!
  3. The Voice. I understand being sick of singing competitions, but you can’t go wrong with Adam Levine and Blake Shelton. I was skeptical about Shakira and Usher being the new coaches, but I was pleasantly surprised– they are really funny!
  4. Wreck it Ralph. This is not just a movie children will enjoy. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry (literally, my roommate cried during it). It’s a great story with great characters!
  5. Lauren Conrad’s blog. I wish I were her best friend so that I could borrow her clothes and have her style my hair. Instead I’ll just have to settle for the next best thing: following her blog, which is full of style ideas, recipes and advice for life that every girl should know. From organizing your fridge and cleaning out your closet to dating and party planning, these posts are useful and entertaining!
  6. The famed “sock bun” that is all over Pinterest. Once you perfect it, you’ll want to wear it everyday. It’s a quick and easy way to look put-together (even if you haven’t washed your hair in a day or two…).
  7. Mint.com app for your phone. It’s a simple way to keep track of your bank account and monthly budgets. The visual time lines and pie charts it creates help you visualize where your money goes. It will email you weekly summaries of your spending, too, so it’s obvious if you’ve been having too much fun at the mall recently. Since I started using this app, I have become much better at saving because I don’t want to see those “over budget” alerts.
  8. Healthy desserts. Swimsuit season and a sweet tooth don’t mix well. Maintain your fit figure and satisfy those cravings with fruit dipped in dark chocolate! Store some in the freezer so that you’ll always have a quick treat on hand.
  9. Lady Antebellum’s new music. Their latest single, “Downtown,” is a catchy and upbeat song that you can’t help but sing along to! Their new album comes out May 7 and I will be purchasing it ASAP!
  10. Add a pop of color! Brighten up your basic jeans and t-shirt ensemble with coral flats, an orange cross-body bag or a mint statement necklace.

Hope you all have a great month :)

SlimKicker Giveaway!

scale

As much as I enjoy splurging on sweet treats, eating healthy and staying fit is important to me (need to look good in those cute clothes, right?!). When I was asked by a representative from SlimKicker, a healthy-living app, to do a giveaway on my blog I was really excited and I hope you will be, too, my beloved readers!

SlimKicker is a diet and fitness tracker that takes your diet/fitness goals and turns them into a level-up game. You upload an image of something you’ll reward yourself such as a new handbag, and when you reach a certain number of points, they’ll remind you to reward yourself with that. SlimKicker also has coupon codes for diet/fitness retailers such as Medifast.

Thanks to SlimKicker, you have the chance to win this digital food scale! To enter leave a comment on this post with an idea for a new health or fitness challenge! Previous challenges have included no soda for a week or squatting during TV commercials. Click here to see more current challenges. The deadline to enter is March 27, 2013 at midnight, so you have one week to think of a fun, creative idea. The staff from SlimKicker will pick the winner and send you the prize!

Good luck! Thank you for taking the time to participate and read my blog :)

Dark Chocolate Oat Clusters

Need a quick chocolate fix? Here’s a cookie that is healthy and made from ingredients you already have in your kitchen! They are delicious and literally take 5 minutes to make. Perfect for satisfying those dessert cravings without ruining your diet.

20130318-204436.jpg

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons 1% low-fat milk
  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

How to:

  1. Place the peanut butter, milk and chocolate chips in a saucepan; cook over low heat until melted.
  2. Stir in the oats; remove from heat.
  3. Line a plate with wax paper. Using a spoon, drop 8 ball-shaped portions on wax paper.
  4. Let it set in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes before serving

Health facts per serving (2 cookies; makes 4 total):

  • Calories: 160
  • Fat: 8g
  • Protein: 5g
  • Carbohydrates: 19 g
  • Sugars: 7g

20130318-204514.jpg

20130318-204522.jpg