Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Rocky Road Cupcakes

I always love finding excuses to bake goodies, since I'm trying to stay on the healthier side of things, and over this past weekend it was one of my coworker's birthday. She told me she loves anything chocolate, and I thought about doing a big chocolate layered cake, but with my school schedule, I just couldn't find the time to make every layer. However, I settled for making these delicious rocky road cupcakes! 

I have been wanting to try making these cupcakes for quite some time now, so to hear of a birthday, was the perfect opportunity to whip out my muffin tins and baking bowls. 

I ended up using a chocolate fudge cake mix, since time wasn't necessarily on my side. I then whipped up a chocolate mousse, which consists of: 1 cup heavy whipping cream, 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon chocolate syrup, and a couple tablespoons of cocoa powder.
If you have a favorite chocolate mousse recipe you like to follow, go ahead and use that instead. I tried following a recipe that had you melt down chocolate and then fold it into the other ingredients, however, it became too watery and lost its texture and firmness. But if you have a technique that works, or if you're just a baking wizard, then stick to melting chocolate... & teach me your ways.

I then scooped out a bit of the insides so I could fill it with the chocolate mousse, and then I smoothed it out on the top to work as the frosting. To decorate my cakes, I drizzled on some fudge and plopped on a couple tiny marshmallows. Decorating is my favorite bit, but for these guys I could be messy instead of uniform or symmetrical. 

I hope you try making these scrumptious cupcakes! If you're a chocolate lover, I'm sure you'll love these! What's your favorite cupcake flavor/combination?

Besides chocolate, I do enjoy a good ole red velvet!

Much Love! Xx

Friday, February 12, 2016

4 Quick & Easy Breakfast Options For The Picky

I am someone who doesn't eat breakfast, like ever. Which is really sad because I want to like breakfast but there's so much standing in the way: 1) I always sleep in, 2) I get sick off of certain food items, and 3) I've never really strayed from the cereal, eggs, and pancake path, so everything is getting a bit old, if you know what I mean.

For my 'New Year's' Resolution, I wanted to eat more regular meals (and drink more water, but that's a different story), not sporadic meals. 9 times out of 10 I'd skip breakfast, nibble a bit for lunch, then grab something small for dinner depending on the day. Some day's I'd have class super late and wouldn't get home until 8 at night, or 11 if I was working. However, this semester my classes don't start until at least 12:30, which gives me plenty of time to get my beauty rest, take my time getting ready for school, and most importantly, sit down for breakfast.

With time on my side, I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and get a bit "crazy". Since I would consider myself a picky eater, I came up with a couple of different breakfast ideas that were quick, easy, and light on the stomach.

Idea #1 is a breakfast sandwich of sorts. It contains avocado, grape tomatoes, bread > toast, ham, a bit of cheese and an egg. I cut the tomatoes in half, then sliced the avocado into strips (I only used half the avocado to make one sandwich, but if you'd like two then you'd probably need the whole thing). I then toasted my bread while I fried my egg (Don't forget salt & pepper!). I also cooked up some honey ham not only to get it on the same level as the egg, but to get some of the added water out; since the ham is supposed to be for sandwiches. To assemble the sandwich I put the egg down first, then the ham, along with a handful of cheese (keep in mind my hands are small, so your amount of cheese will most likely be different). Next, I spread out the avocado (which you don't have to, but I thought that it would make it easier to make), and popped on a couple halved tomatoes. TA-DA, complete. Not going to lie, I was a skeptic when it came to adding avocado and tomatoes to a breakfast sandwich, but it creates a whole new taste and makes it fresh and healthy. I absolutely love this breakfast sandwich, and will most likely be having this more often! If you have any other breakfast sandwich combos, please leave me ideas down below; I'd love suggestions!

Idea #2 is your simple fruit and yogurt, but taken to the next level; parfait. I used, vanilla yogurt, chocolate granola, mixed berries & pineapple as my fruit of choice, chex cereal (corn & rice), and a bit of agave*. First, in a tall glass scoop in a couple tablespoons of yogurt to act as the base, then add a handful or two of granola. At this point I added my fruit, but you can do another layer of yogurt before the fruit. After the fruit, I did a layer of yogurt then a bit of chex cereal to give it a bit more crunch and a different taste (a good taste!). I did one final layer of yogurt and sprinkled some granola on top along with a couple pieces of berries and a drizzle of agave to make it look pretty. The fun thing about parfaits is that you can build them anyway you'd like with any ingredients you choose. The next time I attempt this, however, I'm going to do more layers of fruit and a bit more of the chex cereal because it was so good! If you give this a try, post it on twitter or instagram and tag me; I'd love to see your creations!

Idea #3 is your average bagel, but dressed up a bit. For the bagels you'll need; bagels (flavor of your choice), cream cheese, peanut butter, choice of fruit, agave*, and chocolate chips. I'm not a huge plain bagel and cream cheese fan, but I switched out a plain bagel for a blueberry one, and chose a strawberry cream cheese to accompany it for starters. Honestly, one half of a bagel & cream cheese is enough for me so one side I did the cream cheese, while on the other half I decided to spread a bit of peanut butter on. Sticking with the peanut butter half, I added the chocolate chips to give it a bit of crunch and come on, you can never go wrong with chocolate; yes even at 8am. Back on the strawberry cream cheese side, I sliced up a banana and placed them around the bagel, then plopped some raspberries in-between the bananas, and to top it off I drizzled a bit of agave to give it a sweet taste.

Idea #4 is a breakfast smoothie; perfect if you are in a hurry and want something on-the-go. I used; kefir, one banana, frozen strawberries, old fashion oats, and a teaspoon of agave*. Instead of kefir you can use yogurt or almond milk; I use kefir because it's easier on your stomach, but it's basically a watery yogurt. A smoothie is pretty simple; throw all of your ingredients in a blender and blend it up. Quick & easy! You can most definitely use ice, I don't because my blender is so old that it leaves chunks of the ice, no matter how long I blend it for. And yes, a blender is on my list for future purchases.

*Agave is basically the organic healthy version of honey, so you can absolutely use honey instead of going out to buy a bottle of agave!

I hope these breakfast options have given you some ideas if you're a picky eater like myself, or just want to try something new that is still quick and easy.

Much Love! Xx

Friday, February 5, 2016

Naked® Review

I've been trying to stay healthy since I've moved into my own place and so far it's been decent. Between my crazy school schedule and working random hours, I don't always get to sit down and have a full course. So, while I was at the store I decided to look into different juices that would give me all of the nutrients I need while giving a boost of energy and still tasting delicious.

I've heard many great things about Naked drinks, that I thought I would give them a try. It really sealed the deal when I walked into the store and saw that there was a sale going on. 'Perfect!' I thought, I can try a couple different juices since it was 3 for $10. I decided to pick up "The Green Machine", "Pomegranate Blueberry", and "Orange Mango". 

"The Green Machine"
I'd have to say this was my least favorite which makes me quite sad considering I had high hopes for this one. I think for myself, I was drawn to the fruits that were in it and then the spinach & kale, but didn't take into account for the wheat grass, ginger, garlic, and alfalfa. I mean, I'm pretty sure alfalfa is something you'd feed to rabbits or some sort of gerbil... or maybe I'm thinking of something completely different. Either way, I wasn't expecting all of the extra greens that are blended into the pulp that it is. I take that back, it's not really a pulp but it does have a thicker consistency like a smoothie. If you're a health nut and like all sorts of greens and protein, then this is the drink for you! With an overall calorie count of 140 (based on an 8oz serving), The Green Machine is packed full of Vitamin A and has a good handful of potassium. This drink really is 'BOOSTED'.

Rating: 5.9/10
Likely to buy again: Unlikely, unless I use it as a smoothie base and add other fruits to it.

"Pomegranate Blueberry" 
This was by far my favorite out of all three. Who doesn't love pomegranates and blueberries?! I mean if you don't, then I'll trade ya, or you could just give it to me. either way it's a win-win.  This juice is filled to the max with goodness; red grapes, green grapes, half an apple, handfuls of blueberries, and of course a pomegranate. I could literally drink this all day every day, it's that good. The consistency isn't thick at all (at least I don't think so), and it tastes super fresh. If you enjoy berry flavored drinks then this will not disappoint. This beverage has 150 calories (based on an 8oz serving), has 9% potassium, and 2% calcium. Doesn't exactly scream 'packed full of vitamins & minerals', but it is Purely delicious!

Rating: 9.9/10
Likely to buy again: VERY likely. In fact I know I will. 

"Mighty Mango"
This one was my second favorite. It was a bit thick, but not too bad. I'd say it has the same consistency as the Pomegranate Blueberry drink. If you enjoy citrus flavored drinks, but not too powerful on the citrus, then I'd say this drink would be a good one for you. It has mangos, oranges, apples, a bit of banana, and a splash of lemon. I wanted to give this drink a try because I've never really had a mango based beverage, so I thought this would be a good opportunity. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't my absolute favorite. I think If this was an orange based beverage with a hint of mango I would of loved it more. Don't get me wrong, it's still really good, but I think next time I'll pick up the 'Orange Mango' one and give that a try! With 150 calories (based on an 8oz serving), it has 100% Vitamin A and 10% Vitamin C! 
Rating: 8.1/10
Likely to buy again: Likely.

Overall, I really enjoyed these juices and I will certainly pick up more the next time I pop into the grocery store. I am starting to get more and more into these kinds of beverages so if you have any suggestions on any other brands and/or flavors, let me know in the comments! 
Here's to healthy choices!

Much Love! Xx