Chocolate Banana Ice Cream

Summer is officially here. It’s safe to say that I am SO ready for fall. No, really, I am. I don’t have to worry about being all sticky or sweating in public, my hair won’t be all frizzy and huge, I won’t suffer when I’m trying to sleep at night… should I go on?! Plus, clothes for fall are WAY cuter. Amirite?! I think that I’m just a rare being who enjoys fall over summer. I’m okay with that. 🙂

This treat is perfect for those hot days/evenings when you just have to have something cold. Typically, whenever we have bananas in the apartment, they never last. We eat ’em up. That wasn’t the case recently, though. Something needed to happen with the 3 sad looking bananas. They were starting to turn brown. I cut them up into chunks, threw them in a freezer bag, and called it a night. Banana ice cream. That’s what I was going to do.

I first made banana ice cream just over a year ago. I knew frozen bananas in a smoothie were a game changer, so, why not just make a soft serve ice cream? Back then, I made peanut butter banana ice cream. It was delicious! I haven’t a clue as to why I never made it again. Until now.

I had peanut butter and almond butter in the pantry. I was thinking of doing an almond butter banana combo. Troy had mentioned that he didn’t want the almond butter to be overpowering, though. Geez, babe. Way to be demanding! With that being said, I decided to just omit the nut butter and make it simple. As I was making the ice cream, it hit me. Unsweetened cocoa powder. DUH! Guys. It tasted like a frozen chocolate covered banana. It took me back to times when I enjoyed one of those. Did you ever have one at like fairs or amusement parks? I believe my mom used to buy them at the grocery store, too. It was perfection!

Let’s move on to this chocolate banana ice cream. It’s super easy to make. 3 ingredients. Really. That’s all you need. You could actually just get away with 2 if your bananas are sweet enough. But that’s your call, my friends. What I’m trying to say is that you will absolutely love this recipe. Especially if you’re trying to watch what you eat but still want to indulge. 😉

What you need:

  • frozen banana chunks (I used 3 bananas)
  • 2 and 1/2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons of honey (optional, if your bananas are sweet enough already)

Equipment:

  • food processor (I’m betting that a blender would work, too. But, I haven’t tried it.)

Directions:

  1. Put the frozen banana chunks into the food processor.

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  2. Pulse to break up the chunks. I had to go in with a knife to break up the bigger chunks that wouldn’t break down. Having smaller pieces before putting into the processor will help with this.
  3. After the bananas are broken down, you can then put the speed on low. I went between low and high. What can I say, I was impatient. 😉
  4. While it’s spinning, you can drizzle in the honey from the opening at the top of your machine. Or, if you prefer, you can stop it, take the top off, and then drizzle it in. Doesn’t matter, as long as it gets in there!
  5. Keep spinning the bananas until it all smooth and has the consistency of soft serve ice cream.
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  6. At this point, put your cocoa powder in. Turn it back on low (or high) just to combine.
  7. You can serve as is. Or, transfer to a bowl and put it in the freezer to firm up some. (I put mine in the freezer for about 10 minutes. We couldn’t wait any longer!)
  8. Scoop into bowls, and eat it allllll up!IMG_2690
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Be sure to taste along the way. Does it need more sweetness? Perhaps you want more punch of chocolate. The best part? Besides being insanely quick and easy, you can mix in whatever you want! Nuts, sprinkles, nut butters, fruit…let your creativeness run wild!

This for sure was a satisfying treat after a long day of work and dealing with yucky weather (aka summer). 🙂 Creamy, strong banana flavor with a hint of chocolate, sweet, and cold. Cannot go wrong.

Hope you all enjoy! Let me know what you think! Oh! And let me know what you put in yours!

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Spinach and Herb Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin with Baked Potato

This recipe is courtesy of my husband, Troy. We had a pork loin in the freezer and wanted to use that up. Since Troy is a wonderful chef, I left it up to him to come up with what to do with it. I believe the first thing he said was to stuff it and roll it up. I was down for that. I initially wasn’t going to post this because I wasn’t going to be home yet to take pictures, and I didn’t want to bother Troy with it. But guess what, he was awesome enough and took pictures. 🙂 Isn’t he just wonderful?! I may be biased….

This recipe is almost Whole30 approved. I plan on doing an update on my journey and current thoughts as to why I chose to do what I did. Intrigued?! But that’s later. Back to the food because that is ALL that matters.

The food was absolutely amazing, and it hit the spot. It’s very flavorful and you can pick and choose what to include in it. The pork is versatile, which is a great thing. So, don’t feel the need to stick with what I did. Okay?

What you will need for the pork:

  • 2 pound pork loin
  • 2 sprigs of chopped thyme
  • 4 sprigs of rosemary (chop up one sprig)
  • 3 minced cloves of garlic
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
  • 6 pieces of bacon (we like thick cut)
  • 2 handfuls of baby fresh baby spinach (or kale if you have that lying around)
  • meat tenderizer (or a hammer…j/k)
  • butchers twine
  • tin foil

What you will need for the baked potato:

  • 2 russet potatoes
  • salt
  • pepper
  • chopped green onions (or chives)
  • chopped bacon (from the pork when it’s done)
  • cheese (optional)
  • butter (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Clean the pork loin of silverskin (that’s the thin layer of white on top of the meat) and some of the fat.
  3. Butterfly the pork. You will be making 3 incisions. Starting with the loin either vertically or horizontally (whichever way you feel more comfy), you are going to cut it length wise, about 3/4 of the way through. Do not cut all the way through. You will then need to butterfly each of the halves. Once you have the first center cut, open the loin up. Cut each half right down in the middle 3/4 of the way down. Remember not to cut all the way through. It will not be a flat surface. It looks more like there are triangles on each side. Don’t worry about that, you’ll be taking care that in the next step. (If this seemed complicated to follow, I’m sure there are videos online. The way that Troy did it was a lot easier than ways you may find online.)
  4. Take the tenderizer (the side with the spikes) and pound both sides completely. You’re not looking to make the loin bigger, you just want the meat to be tender.
  5. Add salt, pepper, chopped thyme and chopped rosemary, and minced garlic. Lay flat all of the spinach.IMG_3980
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  6. Starting at one end, start rolling it all up.
  7. Next, you’re going to need the butcher’s twine. Cut 4 equal length strings. Long enough to go around the loin. Tie each end of the pork loin tightly. Then, with the remaining 2 strings, tie them around the middle of the loin. Troy did the fancy thing of trussing the pork, but this is made simple. If you are interested in learning how to truss, I’d say Google it. 🙂IMG_7683
  8. Rub mustard all around the pork.
  9. With the 3 sprigs of rosemary, fit them underneath the strings so they stay in place.IMG_6287
  10. Take one piece of bacon, cover one end (so you are covering the opening). While holding the ends of the bacon, take the next piece and place it over the loin and over the ends you’re holding, then tuck it under the loin. Do the same thing with the other end of the loin. The last 2 pieces of bacon will go over the middle.IMG_9539
  11. Take 2 pieces of foil and wrap each around each potato leaving it open on top. Think of it as placing the potato into a comfy basket (without a handle).
  12. Place the bacon wrapped loin into an oven safe corning ware. Do not cover. The foil wrapped potatoes can also go into an oven safe dish.
  13. Bake the pork loin and potatoes for 45-55 minutes. Depending on your oven. The bacon will become crispy on top. Push on the loin when you take it out; it should be relatively firm. The potatoes should be soft in the center. You can use a knife to determine if it is done.IMG_0587
  14. Let the pork rest. After it has rested, peel the bacon off, and cut the strings off. (I stuck the bacon back into the oven on a baking sheet to get them more crispy).
  15. Cut the loin into 1/2 to 3/4 inch slices.
  16. Slice a slit along the top the potatoes. Do not cut the ends or go all the way through. Push on the ends to make it open up and look restaurant style. Caution: it will be very hot. Then use a fork to “fluff” it all up. Top it with your favorite toppings! We used the bacon from the pork, chopped it up, and put it on top.
  17. Plate all the food.
  18. Enjoy!

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YUM! Doesn’t it look delicious?! I’ll admit, I ate it all. And very quickly. It was pretty much like I haven’t eaten in centuries.

Spinach Arugula Salad with Fresh Veggies and an Egg

This is a salad that I made for my husband and I. We both were not starving and didn’t want anything very heavy. So, a big fresh salad it was! I got most of the ingredients for this salad from Blue Sky Green Fields that were delivered to my place of work. They deliver farmer’s market quality foods. Everything they have is super fresh and delicious. Plus, I get to go online shopping for this and avoid the grocery stores. Win win! They are also local. Go Cleveland!
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Doesn’t it all look SO scrumptious?! It was such an exciting day at work when those boxes came. Shall we move on to the salad? OK, let’s go.

I didn’t put how many of the veggies you will need. This is totally up you and how much you want to eat. This can easily serve 2 people. Especially with the 2 eggs. If you’re just making this for yourself, use one egg and less spinach and arugula. What will you need? Well, this can be totally up to you and what you currently have in your fridge. The veggies in my salad is what I currently had. So, feel free to to add or omit any of the ingredients.

  • Baby Spinach
  • Arugula
  • Rainbow Carrots (the purple is my favorite. So pretty!)
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Crimini Mushrooms
  • Yellow Pepper
  • Radishes
  • Yellow Onion
  • 2 Large Egg
  • Coconut Oil (for frying the egg)

I made my own dressing. Just a very simple vinaigrette.

  • Olive Oil
  • Rice Wine Vinegar
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Onion Powder
  • Minced Garlic
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Troy snickered at me when I told him what was in the dressing. He said it I didn’t quite need both of the vinegars. Hey man, I don’t know what I’m doing half the time in the kitchen! Therefore I just put things together. This vinaigrette actually turned out super delicious. Take that, fancy chef!

  1. Cut up the carrots, mushrooms, tomatoes (optional, I halved mine), cucumber, pepper, onion, and radishes.
  2. Toss the spinach and arugula into a large mixing bowl. I used about 2 handfuls of spinach, and about 1 handful of arugula.
  3. Throw in all of your chopped veggies. You don’t need to mix them all quite yet.
  4. Make the dressing. I eyeballed everything. I know, I’m sorry. I’m trying to get better with my measurements here. Start off with the olive oil, though. Then, the vinegars. But add a little at a time. Now you can add the onion powder, garlic, salt and pepper. Whisk it all together. Then try it. You want it to be flavorful. A little on the sour side.
  5. Pour a little of the dressing over your mixing bowl of the goods, and then use your hands to combine. You could use whatever utensil you would like. But you know what they say, your hands are the best kitchen utensils. If you think it seems a little on the drier side, then add a little more. Keep in mind that you want to be able to taste your veggies, not the veggies drowning in the vinaigrette.
  6. Once that is all combined, heat up some coconut oil (I used the coconut oil spray from Trader Joe’s) in a small pan over medium/low heat. Crack open your egg into a small bowl/cup. This is to avoid any shells. When the oil is hot enough, dump your egg into the pan. I was aiming for over easy, but it turned out to be over medium. So, keep your eye on your egg! Definitely just takes minutes.
  7. While your egg is cooking, serve your salad into the bowl/plate you will be using. When your egg is finished, slide that yummy egg on top of your salad.
  8. Eat it!

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I wish I had styled it a little better to highlight all of those fresh veggies, but it still looks pretty tasty! This is a perfect salad if you’re staying healthy. You could add some chicken for the protein. Or just keep it meatless! Up to you! It’s so versatile. I hope you enjoy it!

Stay Strong! Don’t Give In!

That’s what I’ve found myself saying lately while at work. Not out loud of course, but in my head. I knew that when I took this job that I would sitting down all day. Sure, I get up to go to the printer a lot, or I make my way to the restroom/lunchroom, but it’s not enough. I’ve started doing a lot of squats. Hello pancake butt! I DO NOT want that. I mean, who does?! Enough about the sitting. As I’m sitting on the couch writing this… 😉

Nothing prepared me for the amount of food that I would be coming across often. Now that I am on my healthy adventure, I want to take a closer look as to what goes into my body. There are a lot of sweets that come into that office. Cake. There is literally always cake. Someone’s birthday, this person is retiring, that person has been here 20 years, etc. I’ve never seen so many cakes in such a short amount of time. Yesterday, there were doughnuts. Um, yes please. Then there was Panera pastry this morning. Gimme. But not only are there sweets, there are savory food, too. Leftover Italian foods, sandwiches, bagels…. all thrown into the lunchroom for the people to eat. Yes, those foods can be lifesavers for when you didn’t have time to pack your own lunch or you ran out the door without it. But if you are trying to watch what you eat, it could not end up well.

As I’ve stated before, I love sweets. I want all the sugar all day everyday. Let’s be honest. And bread? Another weakness of mine. See where this is going?! Does anyone else encounter the food struggles of working in an office? Even if you don’t work in an office, my tips can be useful. And I hope they are!

How to stay strong and not give in:

  • Ask yourself if what you want to eat is worth it. Truly worth it. If you had that doughnut, would you feel sluggish later on? Perhaps guilty? I know I would, and I want to stop feeling ashamed. I really wanted a doughnut yesterday, but when I asked myself if it was worth it, I answered no. But, that’s me.
  • Have a stash of your own food. If you are feeling the temptation to cave into something that is off your list, head to your own stash of healthier items. Keep a combination of different food. Salty, crunchy, slightly sweet…
  • Keep in mind WHY you are not eating a particular item. For me, it’s sugar. Why am I not eating refined sugar? Because I want to feel good. I want to become healthy. I don’t want to keep relying on sugar to improve my mood. I also want to look good. Don’t lose sight of your goals.
  • You shouldn’t deprive yourself because you’ll most likely end up going overboard on what you’ve been not having. With that being said, if you do reach for that cupcake, then for the rest of the week try to be really on top of what you’re putting into your body. If you were saving that cupcake for Saturday and you end up having one on a Wednesday, then on Saturday, be really good with your meals.
  • Pack your lunch. It’s a lot easier to do when you have leftovers. In my opinion, you will be less likely to eat leftover sandwiches or pizza in the lunchroom when you have your own cute lunchbox waiting for you in the smelly fridge. No one likes to waste food. That’s money down the drain.
  • Stay hydrated! You might be confusing hunger with just being thirsty. Reach for some water first before that bagel. If you are still hungry, then go for it. If you’re trying to be healthier, opt for perhaps only having half. I know, it’s tough. Trust me.

You are the one that is in control. If you want that piece of cake, have it. I just ask that you ask yourself why you want it and if it’s worth it. If you think it is, then go for it. 🙂 No judgement.

I hope these tricks/tips can help you in your day to day life at work. It’s just what I have come up with from my experience. Do you have any tips?

My Whole 30. Again.

I had done the Whole30 months back. I discovered it when I read another blogger was currently doing it. I started to read more and instantly got super excited to try it out. I’ve been struggling with my weight for like ever and thought, well, why not! I won’t go into what Whole30 is, but feel free to check it out for yourself here.

Before I did Whole30, I felt okay. Not great, but not horrible. I was always tired, sluggish, everything gave me heartburn. I wasn’t the world’s healthiest eater, and did indulge in my sweets. And bread. Oh how I love me some crusty bread. With cheese. Oh dear. Moving on… On the flip side, I wasn’t a terrible eater either. I ate fruits and veggies and other healthy foods. As to working out. Well, that was pretty much non existent. I was going to the gym for a good while, but fell off that wagon. Has anyone experienced that?! I better not be alone here!

I had been wanting to change how I looked and felt, and Whole30 was a great first step. 30 days. That’s all I needed to try it out. I could do it. And I did! The first week was…OMG…GIMME ALL THE FOODS! But I stuck to my guns and did not cave in. GO ME! The next three weeks were a breeze. Honestly. The food was delicious and I wasn’t wanting sugar all that much. I was happy without it. The best part? NO HEARTBURN! Yup. It was wonderful! My Tums bottle stayed in the cabinet. Buh Bye! I also was feeling energetic. Happy. Alive. I could conquer the world. By the end, I had dropped 20 pounds. My clothes were fitting so much better. I could see a difference. Especially in my face. It was such a glorious feeling. I was really proud of myself for finishing 30 days strong. I honestly did not think I could do it. I for sure gave myself a pat on the back.

And then it ended. Oh boy. I should have just stuck to it! I didn’t fall back into my horrible eating habits, but I didn’t keep up all of the changes I had made. Silly me. I’m back to feeling sluggish, gross, and I have heartburn. Tums pretty much lives on my bedside table. Ugh.

Tomorrow is the start of my journey again with Whole30. I know I can do this. I will do this. I want to feel and look better. Join me on my adventure, won’t you? I’ll be blogging my ups and down. And posting on Instagram with the hashtag #mapgettingfit

This is the beginning of getting back to being healthy. I have NO desire to fit into society’s idea of the ideal weight/shape/look for a woman. I believe I’ll always have curves. I’m more than okay with that.  This year I’m going to start accepting and loving who I am. This is my one and only shot, right? I’m only getting this one body, I should probably treat it better. 😉 However, I do love me some cupcakes… I don’t plan on depriving myself of what I enjoy, I just need to learn on how to do it a lot better. You know, not going overboard. Enough of my babbling, right?!

Has anyone done Whole30? I’d love to hear your stories. Or if anyone has any tips, recipes, comments on diet/exercise, I’d love to hear ’em! Here I go!

Rosemary Shoestring Sweet Potato Fries

I don’t know about you, but I’m obsessed with fries. I can have them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and anywhere in between! However, they have to be crispy. There are some occasions where they could be a little on the softer side – maybe you’re using thick cut fries as a vessel for chili. Yum. Then it’s okay for no crispiness. But today, I was in the mood for some crunchy delicious fries! Recently, as in the last few months, I fell in love. I met a sweet potato, and fell oh so hard. Now, you’re probably wondering to yourself, “What?! How can she be alive for SO many years and JUST now be loving the sweet potato?” Well, you just hold on here. Let me tell you a story…

My first job, I worked in a daycare as an infant teacher. Don’t worry, I didn’t teach much. Just basically hung out with the tiny humans. Adorbs. Anyway, I think it was around Thanksgiving and we were having a potluck. Gimme all the foods! I don’t remember what was actually brought in except one dish. The sweet potatoes. They were covered with brown sugar, maple syrup, and marshmallows. Now, I adore all of those ingredients minus the potato since I haven’t had one prior. I thought to myself, what could go wrong? I have a huge sweet tooth, and who doesn’t enjoy a potato. When I took my first bite of that concoction, I’m pretty positive all my teeth had rotted instantly from all of the sugar. My oh my, I did not like that! I couldn’t even try it again! No way! None for me! I was ruined! Scarred for life! Until a few months ago…

I wanted to become a lot healthier. I’m not a fan of my weight, and I heard of the Whole30. I instantly became intrigued. It was a strict diet, but I had a feeling I could do it. I can go more into detail later about how Whole30 works. For now, lets just keep talking about the beloved sweet potato. Sound good? So, I read about how the sweet potato is actually pretty darn good for you, so I wanted to have it in my diet. My husband was all for it, too. The first night he made me dinner on our Whole30, he had cubed up the sweet potato and dusted them with some Indian spices. I thought I had really enjoyed Indian spices. Nope! I really did not like those potatoes! I couldn’t believe it. Could it just be that I don’t like the actual potato?! I had to try it just one more time. The next morning, my husband made me breakfast. I know, I’m a lucky gal. Sweet potato hash! Fried egg on top, veggies, bacon, herbs. Yum. I absolutely LOVED that breakfast. It finally happened. That’s where my affair with the sweet potato started. I’m sorry it took me this long to love you, sweet potato.

Now, shall we get on with this recipe?

I used two medium sized potatoes. It was just for me and the hubby. I kept the skins on. You should too. They are good for you. Got it? I cut those bad boys in half. Laid the flat side down on the cutting board. Then cut slices. I kept them pretty thin to make sure I can get them thin enough. I’ll be honest, I’m a horrible cutter. Chopper? Not sure what the correct word is here, but I need to work on my cuts to make them even! sliced_potato

Once I had those slices, I took about 2-3 at a time and stacked them. From there, I cut them into strips. Again, you want them thin to ensure the crispiness. I did that for the rest of the half potato, and then worked on the remaining potatoes. strips_potato

Now, aren’t those just beautiful?! And the knife! I feel somewhat comfortable using the big chef knife, but use whatever knife you feel comfortable using. Make sure that it’s sharp. You always want to use a sharp knife. Once you have all of the fries, you’re going to give them a water bath. This is to remove starch from the potatoes. I filled up a big mixing bowl with cold water, dumped the fries in, and swished them around with my hand. Then, just emptied the water. Simple! I laid a tea towel down on the counter to throw the fries down for them to dry. You could use paper towels here if you choose to. You want to remove as much as the moisture as you can. I used the paper towels for this part since I didn’t feel like looking for another towel. Ha! waterbath tea_towel

Next, is the baking sheet. Oh, make sure you have the oven set at 400 degrees. Preheated oven is a must! You could line your baking sheets with foil, or wax paper. I have fancy baking sheets where nothing sticks to them. They’ve got the grooves on them. With the dried fries, place them onto the baking sheet. I used coconut oil spray to coat my fries. Feel free to use olive oil. Toss to coat. Then make sure the fries are in one even layer. If they overlap, they will be soggy. No thank you! Once you have them evened out, next is the seasonings. Salt, pepper, garlic powder, fresh rosemary, and a touch of cayenne pepper. fries_bakingsheets

Ok, so the first sheet, I didn’t feel like laying them out one by one. They are crowded on that baking sheet. Wit the second one, I took the extra 2 minutes and laid them out. Once it’s all seasoned, throw them into the oven! I baked them for 9 minutes, then rotated. I set the timer for 8 minutes, but kept my eye on them since they weren’t all even. There were some that were burning, I removed them first. At this point, the kitchen was smelling pretty darn good. I could not wait! When they looked tasty to me, I took them out. plated_fries

And there you go. Easy. That was just my plate. I didn’t share. You don’t have to either, I give you permission.

Enjoy!