eggplant & kale nooch bowl

21 09 2012

as some of you may know, i’ve been attempting to shift to a more plant-based diet.  i’m not ready to commit to being vegan (and not sure if i ever will be!), but i had already pretty much limited my animal-based food intake to fish and dairy, and have now found that further reducing the amount of dairy in my diet gives me less digestive issues and higher energy.  exploring vegan pantry staples has been a fun exercise for me — for example, nutritional yeast (nicknamed “nooch”) is a go-to product, but was totally new to me.  this simple dinner satisfied my craving for earthy, umami flavors and hearty (almost “meaty”) textures, but was entirely plant-based… filling, but surprisingly light.  cooking method after the jump.

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ZICO & perfect fit “coco-butter monkey cups”

31 08 2012

this week i’m participating in tone it up’s “beach week” — a week of scheduled workouts and slim-down meals designed to make the most of the last few days of summer.  karena and katrina have teamed up with ZICO to host an exciting contest; the best recipe incorporating chocolate ZICO and perfect fit protein powder wins a 3-month supply of both of those products!

i legitemately use perfect fit almost every day, and ZICO is one of my favorite special treats… so, needless to say, i got really excited about this contest.  the result of my frantic brainstorming was these “coco-butter monkey cups” — they are dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegan.  recipe and details below!

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grilled eggplant quinoa salad

30 08 2012

another day, another quinoa salad, right?!  lately i feel like i have been obsessed with quinoa… but in all seriousness, it’s so tasty, and so good for you compared to other rice-y/grain-y options!

a while back, i received a few bottles of chile olive oil because of my participation in an HGEats twitter chat.  although i have significantly reduced the amount of oils i use in my cooking, there is always room for some good “healthy” fat, and i knew i wanted to save these samples for something special.  this past weekend, my parents came over for a combined birthday brunch (my mom’s birthday and mine are just five days apart!), and i whipped up this salad with veg from my CSA share.  it’s TIU-approved and is actually quite versatile — delicious with the veggies still warm from the grill, still delicious chilled in the fridge the next day.  click through for the recipe and olive oil review.

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birthday blackberry ginger cupcakes

29 08 2012

i have two non-bento posts lined up for this week… i hope my regular bento readers don’t mind!

this first post is a review of two new products that i received courtesy samples: wholesome chow vanilla cake mix and tropical traditions coconut oil.  i am happy to say i loved both, and can tell you this only after putting them to good use in a true test… the cupcakes for my own birthday party!  i made a vanilla cupcake with chunks of crystallized ginger, filled with homemade blackberry jam, and topped with vegan cream cheese frosting.  these were a delicious combination of flavors, and while not low-calorie, certainly more healthful than typical store-bought cupcakes which contain processed flours and “bad” fats.

recipe and reviews below!

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mexi-wrap bento and mon bento box review

4 08 2012

tomorrow i’m going on another hike (same adventure company, different location and different friends).  since i’m going as part of a larger group this time, everyone is bringing their own food — no need for a two-person bento, so i made a simpler lunch for just myself.  i’ve got some mexican and spanish flavors in this one, and it’s packed in my new mon bento two-tier box.  click through for details on my lunch, the wrap recipe, and my product review.

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healthy hike bento

28 07 2012

i haven’t been posting much because i have been on the tone it up 5 day slim down, which meant pretty regimented (read: boring but healthy!) lunches that were not super photogenic. but tomorrow i am headed upstate with my girl @KBurger for a 5+ mile mountain hike, which gave me a great opportunity to pack a big multi-course lunch in my three-tier vivo (a present from my hub that had gone unused until now). everything in here is TIU approved and i am so excited for a day of exercise in the fresh air! details and recipes after the jump…

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protein-packed pesto bento

15 07 2012

i know my last bento also had cherry tomatoes and a sprig of fresh basil, but don’t those flavors just scream SUMMER to you?  i can’t get enough of them.  tuesday’s lunch (packed in advance today with leftovers) contains my healthier take on pesto… i wanted a dish that would be TIU nutrition plan-approved for M3, which means limiting/eliminating dairy and keeping the carbs in balance with protein, vegetables, and fat.  my solution (and pesto recipe) below…

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