Pumpkin Apple Lentil Muffins (Gluten-free)

Pin It PIN IT!

Sneak in some extra protein to your morning routine with these luscious pumpkin apple lentil muffins, made with an assortment of Bob’s Red Mill healthy products!

Gluten free lentil muffins

This morning is going to be one of those mornings where I forget pouring my coffee into a mug and instead just guzzle it directly from the pot. Good thing I work from home where such practices are widely acceptable on account that the only living things who will witness the act have four legs and can’t speak. But don’t worry, that won’t stop them from immensely judging me.

lentils

I’m going to saveur these moments because when I enter back into the world of full-time office employment, such practices will be frowned upon. I’m also working on trying to adapt to a normal routine again, which is proving more difficult than I first imagined. When you get used to working from home, you get used to some comforts. For example, your showers move from 6:30 am to 3:30 pm, and they happen only because your hair is so caked with flour and batter you can’t get a brush through it. Your wardrobe of skinny pencil skirts and chiffon blouses quickly turn into oversized t-shirts and yoga pants, many of which have these strange stains you can’t figure out where they came from.

best muffins

Grease? Months of flour? Butter? Your hair is no longer styled, but simply plopped into a high bun. Instead of engaging and intelligent conversations with colleagues and like-minded adults, my conversations now involve a high-pitched voice and a “whose a good boy” after every sentence. The giant closet of shoes have been replaced by flip flops, high boots and Keds. The saddest part is that one can go with spinach in their teeth from 2 – 6pm because no one is around to tell them so.

apples

Such a glamorous life, don’t you think? These reasons, among many (which heavily involve my sad, pathetic bank account) are reasons why I’m excited and nervous to get back to a routine and a 9-5. To further help prep myself for such a transition, I’ve been making goodies that I can eat and go when I’m inevitably running to catch the bus, like these pumpkin apple lentil muffins!

perfect soft muffin

Each muffin is loaded with protein (thank you Bob’s Red Mill lentils and peanut butter) so it keeps you full well into lunchtime (has your stomach ever grumbled in a conference room full of people? Not pretty). Plus it’s made with fabulous fall produce, like pumpkin and apples, which make every bite that much more enjoyable. Not to mention they are completely gluten-free, which means no post-wheat bloat in those tiny little skirts.

Maybe transitioning won’t be so difficult after all.

Pumpkin Apple Lentil Muffins (Gluten-free)

Luscious glazed muffins2

CLICK HERE FOR THE PRINTABLE VERSION OF THIS RECIPE!

Yields about 14 muffins.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: About 15 – 16 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup high quality all purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1/3 cup almond meal
  • 3/4 teaspoon Bob’s Red Mill xanthum gum
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie mix
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup lentil puree* (see below)
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup apple butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 large apple, chopped

For the glaze:

  • 1 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light cream

*To make lentil puree, simply cook 1 cup of Bob’s Red Mill red lentils as the package indicates. Once fully cooked, place into a food processor and pulse with 1/4 cup of water until pureed (mixture will resemble canned pumpkin or almond butter).

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, almond meal, xanthum gum, baking powder and pumpkin pie spice. Make a center into the middle and add in the egg, lentil puree, peanut butter, pumpkin puree, brown sugar, applesauce and apple butter. With a wooden spoon, stir the mixture until fully combined. Gently fold in the pecans and apples.
  3. Spoon the batter into the paper liners, filling about 3/4 the way full. Bake for about 14 – 16 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool slightly.
  4. Meanwhile, make the glaze by whisking the powdered sugar and light cream together. While the muffins are still slightly warm, glaze.

Nutritional information per serving (1 muffin)

Calories: 173
Fat: 7.5 grams
Carbohydrates: 25.8 grams
Fiber: 1.6 grams
Protein: 4 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 5

Creamy Corn Chowder

Pin It PIN IT!

This creamy corn chowder is a great use for the rest of your favorite summer sweet corn!

Best corn chowder ever

I might, finally, be ready to open up the cans of pumpkin stashed in my pantry. I was pushing it off and pushing it off, but now, as the leaves start to fall off our trees and my body subconsciously yearns for chunky sweaters and horror movies, I can’t stop thinking of turning all the things into pumpkin.

fresh-corn-500x432

I blame the internet and the food bloggers who started making pumpkin pies in August.

Perfect corn chowder

But I’m not saying goodbye to summer without one last recipe that uses it’s fabulous bounty. This creamy corn chowder is made with the rest of that summer sweet corn, peppers and fleshy avocados. As much as I hate to say goodbye to my favorite produce, I have to say I’m a little excited to welcome in the superstars of Autumn, like squashes, pumpkins and crisp apples.

fresh corn

I think this soup is the perfect transition for me. It doesn’t scream summer like my strawberry ice cream but it’s not 100% fall like my whole wheat pumpkin bread. It’s right in the middle. It’s made with summer ingredients but is best served warm, which makes it a great dinner table addition for those crispy fall evenings. It’s the best of both worlds, I think.

Creamy end of summer corn chowder

And there’s bacon. And avocado. So, duh.

Creamy Corn Chowder

luscious chunky soup

CLICK HERE FOR THE PRINTABLE VERSION OF THIS RECIPE!

Serves about 6.
Prep time: 10 – 12 minutes
Cook time: About 15 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper, chopped
  • 5 1/2 cups fresh corn (or about 6 ears)
  • 2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • Crispy french bread for garnish
  • Shredded parmesan for garnish

Directions: 

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Add a dash of salt. Remove the husks and the hair from the corn. Rinse off each ear to remove any remaining hairs. Add the corn, cover and cook for about 3 – 5 minutes, or until corn is cooked. Remove from heat and let sit in water for an additional 2 – 4 minutes. Let cool completely and then slice corn kernels off the cob with a knife, discarding the cobs.
  2. Melt the butter in a dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the shallots and cook about 3 minutes, or until softened. Add the pepper and cook another 4 – 5 minutes, or until softened. Add 5 cups of corn and chicken broth. Mix in the rosemary, thyme and salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Let simmer for about 10 minutes or until tender.
  3. Pour the soup into a large blender and blend until pureed. Return the soup to the dutch oven. Mix in remaining corn, 3 slices of chopped bacon and heavy cream. Stir to combine. Heat another 5 minutes, or until warmed.
  4. Pour into 6 bowls and garnish with remaining chopped bacon, avocado pieces, crispy bread and parmesan cheese. Add some pepper to garnish.

Nutritional information per serving:

Calories: 243.5
Fat: 13 grams
Carbohydrates: 24.6 grams
Fiber: 3 grams
Protein: 6.6 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 6

Simple Strawberry Ice Cream

Pin It PIN IT!

Savor those last few days of summer with this easy and light simple strawberry ice cream!

simple strawberry ice cream

I have to give my friend Gina a big HIGH-FIVE for her post a few days ago. She shared this beautiful fig frozen yogurt and wrote a perfect dietribe about how we need to stop wishing away seasons just because we’re excited for the next one. I could not agree more. As much as I love fall, I’m still not ready for summer to go. And this simple strawberry ice cream on the 5th day of September is complete proof of that.

perfect ice cream

I love pumpkin everything, apples are my jam and I could (and probably would) marry a butternut squash if it was socially acceptable. But you know what else I love just as much? Fresh, juicy heirloom tomatoes, gorgeous figs, plump strawberries and zucchini. Don’t even get me started on cherries. I’m just not ready yet to say goodbye to these luscious pieces of summer produce.

Creamy strawberry ice cream

And I’m not going to. So while the rest of you may be making ALLTHETHINGS pumpkin, soup and the like, I’ll be eating ice creams, making zucchini cakes and biting into giant heirlooms as if they were apples. I mean, that doesn’t mean I haven’t yet indulged in a PSL or started googling knee-high riding boots, because I have. But I’ve also been sweating out 45 pounds every time I take Oscar out, so the thought of fall is about as far away as my birthday in my mind (which happens to be in December).

Soft serve ice cream

So please, for the love of all the beautiful produce still showing up at the farmers market, can we stop wishing away our days?

Simple Strawberry Ice Cream

Creamy strawberry ice cream2

CLICK HERE FOR THE PRINTABLE VERSION OF THIS RECIPE!

Serves about 8.
Prep time: >5 minutes
Chill time: 3 hours+

Ingredients: 

  • 1 1/2 cups ripe strawberries, hulled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons low-fat milk (I used 2%)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup light cream
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons pure strawberry preserves

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, mix the chopped strawberries and lemon juice together. Cover and let sit.
  2. In another bowl, whisk the sugar, low-fat milk, heavy cream, light cream, vanilla and strawberry preserves together with a whisk until combined (and sugar is dissolved).
  3. Mix in 1 1/4 cup of the strawberries and cover with saran wrap. Chill for at least an hour.
  4. Once chilled, pour the mixture into the freezer basin of your ice cream maker. Turn on and let churn for about 15 minutes. Add in the remaining strawberries and churn for another 5 – 10 minutes, or until soft, thick and creamy.
  5. Serve immediately or freeze for a firmer consistency.

Nutritional information per serving (about 1/2 cup):

Calories: 222.5
Fat: 10.5 grams
Carbohydrates: 25.6 grams
Fiber: >1 gram
Protein: 1.8 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 6

Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup

Pin It PIN IT!

If you’re a soup lover and could eat it all year long, you’ll love this super easy chicken tortilla soup! Just a handful of ingredients is needed!

Best chicken tortilla soup

I’ve always been a “closet” chef. As a kid, I was always experimenting with ingredients, flavors and products in the kitchen (much to my poor brothers, the taste testers, dismay). Granted 99% of them were horrible, but it was still the act of creating them that I loved the most.

soups

That bug to invent exciting recipes hasn’t gone away, and thanks to my job at SheKnows, I’m constantly pushing the envelope with my dishes. It’s exciting, but still overwhelming at the same time. When you’re making something new that you’ve never made before, there’s always that chance of failure, that worry that it’ll turn out terribly. Normally that’s not an issue, but when you’re on the tight budget I am, any ingredients that are wasted are a complete loss of money.

One pot tortilla soup

Because of my job, I rarely make the same thing twice. Unless it’s really, really good. And this easy chicken tortilla soup falls right into that bucket. I made it a few weeks ago and since it’s been made twice. My husband, whose not a huge soup fan, requested it again before I leave for 15 days down under.

Best chicken tortilla soup2

I love complex, exciting recipes, but I also love simple, easy and flavorful. This soup isn’t just easy, it’s very budget friendly and uses ingredients you probably already have on hand. The best part about it is that it doesn’t taste easy, or budget friendly. It tastes like you spent 14 hours stewing it with the fanciest of ingredients.

Spicy chicken tortilla soup

It just warms your soul, and what’s better than that after a long day.

Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup

One pot easy chicken tortilla soup

Serves 5.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 – 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1/2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • 1 habanero, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 large bell pepper, chopped
  • 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup beer (I used an amber ale)
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can of diced tomatoes with chiles, undrained
  • 3 cups shredded chicken (I used this crock pot recipe)
  • Juice from two limes
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 1 avocado, pitted and chopped
  • 1 cup part-skim cheese
  • 1 flour tortilla, toasted and chopped

Directions: 

  1. In a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the shallots, garlic clove, jalapeño, habanero and bell pepper. Cook about 4 – 5 minutes, or until vegetables are softened. Pour in the beer, chicken broth and tomatoes. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to low.
  2. Add the shredded chicken, 3/4 cup of the cilantro, 1/4 cup of the basil, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and the juice from the two limes. Let simmer another 5 minutes and remove from heat.
  3. Pour the soup into five bowls and garnish with sliced avocado, shredded cheese and chopped tortilla.

Nutritional information per serving (1 bowl):

Calories: 392
Fat: 14 grams
Carbohydrates: 20.4 grams
Fiber: 5 grams
Protein: 24.4 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 7

My 10 Favorite Travel Photos This Year

Pin It PIN IT!

We’re doing things a little differently today and in lieu of a new recipe, I’m going to share something just as near and dear to my heart. I thought I’d put together 10 of my favorite travel photos from this year and share them with you! I’ve had a whirlwind summer, 5 countries, countless cities, and that’s not even including my January – April, which included 4 US cities and two Southeast Asian countries. I’ve had an amazing year so far traveling and it’s not over yet. I still have 5 more countries to visit this year and a few more cities to check off my list too.

10414463_10101966442625218_3090674185944543466_n

Probably the most rewarding part of traveling the globe isn’t just the fact that I get to tell stories of the places I go or meet with people who’ve lived in a world entirely different than mine, it’s getting to photograph everything I see. When I can’t find the words to sum up an experience, I don’t, I share a photo. Photography is a rather new passion of mine, but it’s become as engrained in me as writing. Not a day goes by that I don’t use my camera or my iPhone. I’m constantly looking at the world through a photographer’s eye. This has opened me up to new experiences and adventures I never would have even though about (The Giving Lens, for example).

10403994_10102028736527738_8124725194034238159_o

Even though I’ll always be a writer, I wanted to share pieces of my photography passion with you too and show you some of my favorite photos taken in Thailand, Singapore, Peru, Iceland, England, Kenya, San Francisco and Canada. I hope they inspire and excite you to visit some of these magnificently beautiful places.

elephants.jpg

The elephants in the Amboseli National Park, Kenya. It was one thing to get super close to the elephants in Thailand at the sanctury, but it was another to be this close to them in their natural habitat. When this photo was taken, there was a family of at least 50 wondering around both sides of our jeep. We got so close to them, an 8 year old male elephant actually touched the face of another travel writer with his tusk as he explored the jeep. It was a once in a lifetime experience.

iceland.jpg

The Snaefellsnes mountain range in Western Iceland. We got to hike and drive around these majestic mountains on one of our last full days in Western Iceland. Even though I only got to see a small portion of this country, every single corner held something beautiful to see, whether it was a gushing waterfall, an iconic glacial hot spring, a black sand beach or a sea of snow capped mountains. 

  10003588_10101786624147888_24908298_o

When I was working with The Giving Lens in Thailand, we spent a few days at COSA, a non profit outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand that helps girls who have been victims of sex trafficking. After that, we visited a few hill tribes where many of the girls came from, and where many who are sold into trafficking are taken from. This little girl had such sad eyes, it was almost as if she could see what might be coming in her future. This image is hard to look at, even now.

10403779_10101935355329408_1779133021705132664_o

On a much happier note, this is one of my favorite photos from my trip to San Francisco. This was taken at Silver Oak, one of the most beautiful wineries and vineyards in Napa. It was a perfect day with my family celebrating my older brothers birthday and I think that’s why this one makes me so incredibly happy. I only get to see my entire family once or twice a year, so having those few days with them was awesome. That and Napa Valley is just breathtaking.

ZEBRA

I fell head over heels in love with the zebras in the Masai Mara Reserve in Kenya. I’ve always been fascinated by these stunning animals, but to see them running, nursing and grazing in their own habitat unobstructed by cages or zookeepers was incredible. These moments left all of us speechless and we sat in silence as we watched this completely natural and beautiful act happen right in front of us.

flowing waterfall.jpg

Alberta, Canada is easily one of the most gorgeous places on the planet, and this photo inside one of the many parks only further defines my point. This small waterfall is right inside Johnson’s Canyon, a set of hiking trails and waterfalls that’s right outside of Banff National Park. I took over 150 photos inside this canyon alone.

10517626_10102001043539708_8615672618330426678_o

This list wouldn’t be complete without an iconic photo of Machu Picchu. I took over 1,000 photos of very short time in Peru, and this is my absolute favorite of Machu. There was this mystical fog rolling over the hills and the light was coming in perfectly on the left side, giving my photo these amazing rays of light and speckles of lens flare. It adds such a dramatic and enchanting element to this completely magical place.

IMG_7423

So this photo was actually taken on my phone, surprisingly enough. Bath, England is one of my favorite places in the entire world. The city is so quirky and unbelievably beautiful. All of the buildings are made with this iconic Bath limestone that dates back to the Roman times. There is so much history steeped in every stone and around every corner, it’s hard not to feel transported back in time when you walk the cobblestone streets.

1796906_10101785475414958_128931996_o

This was taken in an alleyway of Haji Lane, the Arabic and Middle Eastern corridor of Singapore City. Singapore, and this area especially, is constantly bustling with traffic, people walking around and noise everywhere. This little alleyway though was quiet and still, and all you could hear was the sound of traffic behind you. It was a rare moment of tranquility that I just had to capture. That and the colorful buildings made for a beautiful photograph.

stone henge

Last, but certainly not least, is one of the most incredible places I’ve seen, Stonehenge. What made my time there so unique was the fact that we got to see this world wonder for sunrise. Not only that, but there was this epic fog that added to the mystery and the beauty of these prehistoric stones. We also got to walk around inside of the stones, which is an incredibly rare experience. Being next to these pieces of art that have been around for thousands of years was a truly special feeling.

Isn’t it amazing how just one photograph can transport you to a new place entirely?

Next Page   >>