coconut date bites

I love having healthy snacks around the house, especially since we’re always on-the-go and someone is always hungry. I’ve had dates just waiting for me for months and Orange Blossom honey from Waxing Kara that I’ve been dying to try. Combine those ingredients with a string of rainy days and something was bound to happen in the kitchen.

Toss everything in the Vitamix or food processor and these bites are ready in less than 20 minutes. Yum.

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Ingredients 
2 cups Pitted Dates
1 cup Nuts (I like walnuts or sliced almonds)
1/2 cup shredded coconut + more for dipping
2 tbsp honey (I used Orange Blossom honey from Waxing Kara)
2 tbsp vanilla

Directions
Combine all ingredients in a Vitamix or food processor. Roll into small balls and dip in shredded coconut. Makes 30 balls.IMG_2341

Enjoy!

 

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sweet potato bruschetta

Spring means fresh herbs in my garden.  My favorite herb – and the one I cook with most – is basil.  I feel like you can do a lot with basil, but I’m still a sucker for bruschetta.  This sweet potato bruschetta is a healthy take on the traditional kind, made with grilled sourdough bread.  I swap bread for sweet potatoes; You still get the crunch and flavor but without all of the guilt!

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Ingredients
Olive oil spray
1 large sweet potato, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch thick ‘coins’ (unpeeled)
½ red onion, chopped
½ cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
½ avocado, chopped
a few sprigs of fresh basil leaves
a drizzle of balsamic glaze

Directions
Preheat oven to 450F.  Spray a baking tray with oil and spray the potato coins with the oil, being sure to coat both sides.  Lay coins flat on the tray in a single layer and season with sea salt and cracked black pepper.  Roast potato coins for 15 to 20 minutes; carefully flip coins over and roast for another 15 minutes.  Broil for 2 minutes.  In the meantime, combine onion, tomatoes and avocado in a bowl.  When the potatoes are done, remove from oven and place onto serving plates.  Top each coin with bruschetta salad mix and garnish with fresh basil leaves. Drizzle with balsamic glaze, serve, and enjoy!

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Enjoy!

 

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kale & butternut squash salad

I’m kind of obsessed with kale & squash right now. They are healthy. Runner’s World Magazine lists them as a “seasonal superfood”. And they are just so damn tasty.

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It’s starting to get cold at night, so I’ve been craving hearty but healthy and not too filling. My kale & butternut squash salad is the perfect combination of all three. Pair that with delicious & unique flavors, and you have a salad that everyone can enjoy.

Ingredients
Kale
Butternut Squash
Pomegranate Seeds
Shallots/Red Onion
Pecans
Lemon
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
Fresh Salt & Pepper

Directions 
Heat over to 350 degrees. Cut off top/bottom of butternut squash. Using a peeler, peel skin off of the butternut squash. Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds (discard). Slice into small sections and cut into chunks. Drizzle with EVOO and roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until done.

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While the squash is cooking, prepare the pomegranate seeds and kale. Our Whole Foods sells ready-to-go pomegranate seeds but at $9.99 for a small container , I opt to prepare them myself. It can be tricky and not-so-pretty at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s actually quite easy. Check out this tutorial here. Wash kale thoroughly and chop, and cut shallots into thin slices. In a small bowl, mix together EVOO, juice from one lemon, salt and pepper.

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Prepare the salad while butternut squash cools. Kale, shallots, pomegranate seeds, and pecans. Top with roasted butternut squash and drizzle with lemon dressing.

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Enjoy!

 

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salsa verde chicken

I registered for & received a crockpot for my wedding. 4.5 years ago. And I haven’t used it since.

That all changed 3 weeks ago when I decided I wanted to cook more and had a little extra time on my hands. Cooking with a crockpot is fun! You just throw everything in and come back 8 hours later. viola. Dinner.

I was craving fajitas or some variation of the dish, so I decided to try {salsa verde chicken}. For starters, this recipe is so easy (hello, 3 ingredients + seasoning), but what I loved most is that there are endless possibilities with this dish. Avocado, cilantro, salsa, tortillas, cheese, you can add – or take away – anything you want and it’s still delicious!

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For dinner, I ate salsa verde chicken with tortilla, cheese, cilantro, avocado and a side of sauteed peppers & onions; for lunch the next day, I served over rice with avocado and cilantro. Both ways are yummy – or you can make it any way you want!

Ingredients
1.5 lbs of Chicken
8 oz jar of Salsa Verde
1 beer (I used a lager because I’m pregnant and there aren’t many alcoholic choices in our house, but I’d probably use Corona or Modela next time)
1 tbsp cumin photo 1 (7)
salt & pepper

Toppings (add or delete as desired) 
cilantro
avocado
cheese
sour cream
sauteed peppers & onions
rice & black beans
cheese
tortillas

Directions
Combine ingredients in crockpot, stir to mix everything together. Program to 8 hours and start. 30 minutes prior to serving, shred chicken. Serve as a fajita, over a salad, or alone.

Enjoy!

 

How do you like to eat your fajitas?

 

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mexican quinoa

There are too many {wonderful} words to describe mexican quinoa: delicious. healthy. colorful. fresh. flavorful. easy.  BJ was in the mood for a healthy dinner, and mexican quinoa did not disappoint.  It’s versatile enough to be a main dish or a side dish; and whether you’re eating with family or hosting a party, mexican quinoa is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

Ingredientsphoto 1 (18)
1 1/2 cups quinoa, cooked
1 can black beans
1 can corn
grape tomatoes, halved
red onion, chopped
green onion, chopped
handful of cilantro, chopped
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp whole grain Dijon mustard
Salt & Pepper
toppings:
avocado, diced
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions
Cook quinoa according to packaging.  Meanwhile, chop tomatoes, red & green onion, cilantro.  Once quinoa is cooked, add all ingredients and combine.  Top with shredded cheddar cheese and diced avocado.

enjoy!

 

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Caramel (pop) Corn

There’s one thing I can’t resist buying when I’m at the Chicago Airport, and it’s Garrett’s Caramel Corn.  I love caramel corn, but there’s just something about Garrett!

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Blame it on the babe, but I was craving caramel corn – and no where near Chicago.  So, I did what any pregnant woman would do and I made some.  Yes, I made caramel corn.  It’s much easier than it looks and oh, so delicious.

Ingredients
Popcorn (I use light butter)
3 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. water

Directions
Cook popcorn as directed, set aside.  Over medium to high heat, combine butter, sugar, and water in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring for 4-5 minutes. Mixture will change from thick & bubbly to dark brown & liquid.  Pour bag of popcorn into a large bowl, and top with a thin stream over popcorn, stirring to coat.

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 Enjoy!

 

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Pineapple Coconut Smoothie

All I want is pineapple.  I seriously can’t get enough of it.  Maybe it’s because pineapple is packed with good fiber to help digestion and vitamin C to boost the immune system – or maybe it’s because pineapple is delicious.  Either way, I’m loving pineapple.

When I visited my sister Lindsey in Panama, we could buy pineapples for $0.75 – talk about fueling a pineapple addiction!  We also experimented with a Pineapple Coconut Smoothie that will rival any $12 Pina Colada.  This smoothie is healthy, packed with nutrition, and is perfect for breakfast or dessert.

Pineapple Smoothie

Pineapple Coconut Smoothie


Ingredients (serves 2)
2 cups Pineapple
1/2 Frozen Banana
1 cup Light Coconut Milk*
2 tbsp Shredded Coconut
1 tbsp Flax Seed (optional)
1 tbsp Chia Seed (optional)
Ice

Directions
Add ingredients to a blender, blend until smooth.  Top with shredded coconut.

Note: Light Coconut Milk can be substituted with Almond Milk, Soy Milk, Non-Fat Milk or Water.

 

Enjoy!

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Vegetable Lettuce Wraps

After a week in Dallas, all I wanted was vegetables.  Lots, and lots, of vegetables.  It’s not that I ate unhealthy, but Texas is a state that’s all about meat and BBQ.  And meat and BBQ is what I ate. When in Dallas.  That being said, I like my greens and if I don’t get greens…well, I’m not very happy.

BJ – a man all about protein – was skeptical about this all-vegetable meal but even he was pleasantly surprised with the {flavorful} outcome.  My vegetable lettuce wraps are quick, healthy, and delicious!

lettuce wrap

Ingredients
Boston Bibb Lettuce (6-8 leafs)
Cabbage (I used red & green)
Radish
Red Onion
Mung Bean Sprouts
Carrots
Avocado
Pickled Cucumbers (homemade with Red Wine Vinegar)
Basil
Cilantro
Salt & Pepper

{Semi-Homemade} Peanut Lime Sauce
1 tbsp Peanut Sauce (in the Ethnic Food section)
2 tbsp Soy Sauce
1 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
1 tsp Honey
Juice from 1 Lime

Directions
Chop/julienne all vegetables and set aside in separate bowls.  To pickle cucumbers, cut cucumbers to desired sizes and cover with red wine vinegar and salt/pepper.  Once ready, assemble lettuce wraps; I prefer: lettuce, cabbage/carrots, radish, red onion, mung beans, avocado, basil/cilantro, and finally, peanut lime sauce.

lettuce wrap

Enjoy!

 

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Potato, Kale, and White Bean Soup

Last week it was cold and dreary, especially for March. My wishful thinking for Spring and sun and warmth clearly isn’t working, so I did what I do best when it’s cold: make (warm) soup. I’ve been on a kale-kick lately, so I knew I wanted kale in the mix. Add some potatoes and beans for protein, fiber, and substance, and I had a pretty delicious soup.

I knew BJ would like this soup, but I wasn’t expecting the (overwhelming, positive) response I received from my little sister. It was almost like my soup was the best meal she had ever eaten. (A compliment I don’t take lightly) She’s with my parents this week, and wants my mom to make it for her…again. Katie – this one’s for you! xo

soup

Ingredients
3 medium Russet Potatoes, cut into small pieces
1 bunch of Kale, torn into bite-sized pieces
2 cans Cannellini Beans
1 Onion, diced
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
6 cups Chicken Broth
1-2 cups of Water (optional)
2 cloves Garlic
1 Bay Leaf
Italian Seasoning
Red Pepper Flakes
Salt & Pepper
Optional: Gruyere Cheese for topping

Directions
Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat; cook and stir the onion until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Pour in the chicken broth and water; stir in the potatoes, S&P, Italian Seasoning, and Bay Leaf. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Add the cannellini beans, kale, and simmer, for 30 more minutes. Optional: grate Gruyere cheese and top each bowl of soup with a helping of cheese.

Enjoy!

 

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no bake oatmeal & peanut butter balls

At the beginning of January, I decided to {mostly} eliminate wheat from my diet (you can read about it here).  This initially posed a huge problem – I love all things wheat and salty.  Pretzels, saltine crackers, more pretzels, pizza, pasta – you name it, I love it (and want to eat it).   

So, I had to get creative with my snacks.  Blue corn chips have helped with the salty/crunchy that I crave, but I’ve been eating a lot of carrots, hummus, tatziki, {homemade} plantain chips, and these delicious little oatmeal & peanut butter balls.  I’ve been making a version of this recipe for years (peanut butter, oatmeal, and honey) but decided to add a few extras into the mix.  This recipe is so easy and quick – but the best part is that it’s healthy and satisfies all types of cravings!  

oatmeal balls

Ingredients (I tend to eyeball of my measurements, but for those that like exacts – here you go)
2 cups Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
3/4 cup Peanut Butter (I prefer smooth)
1/4 cup Honey
1/4 cup Coconut Flakes
1/4 Flax Seed
1 Tbsp Chia Seed
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
Optional: chocolate chips, raisins, chopped nuts

Directions
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl (you can warm up the PB in the microwave to make it easier to work with).  Mix well with a spoon, and then mix together with your hands.  Put mixture in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to slightly harden and form together.  Remove from refrigerator and use hands to create oatmeal & peanut butter balls.

Enjoy!

 

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