Jun 012015
 

This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk.

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Blue Diamond.  I’ve been choosing Blue Diamond at my local markets for several years now, long before I became part of the Blue Diamond Tastemakers program.

Last month I was sharing a whole bunch about the new-to-me Blue Diamond deliciousness.  Honestly, I have been really impressed with all the new products and flavors that Blue Diamond has been rolling out over the past several months.  The flavors are bolder and better than I expect before tasting them, the protein content in the nut-thins hit my happy spot, and adding some coconut to the deliciousness of Almond Breeze is a flavor combo I’ll never complain about.

In terms of impressing me, the newest fresh-to-the-shelves product I’ve received to review has been no different: Hint of Honey Vanilla Almond Breeze Almondmilk. It’s rich and creamy with a slight sweetness that rounds out the flavor perfectfully.  I’ve tried it latte-style with the help of my Mr. Coffee Latte, to thin out my post-workout smoothies, and as a substitute for water in my morning oats.  I’ve also used the honey-delicious-AlmondBreeze in a popsicle recipe I share below because I’m all about the cooling-down these days.

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I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but here in the CDNY it seems that we’ve skipped right over spring and headed straight for early summer.  We have one window unit air conditioner at the apartment, which we keep in the bedroom because sleeping well is a top priority for my overall health.  This means all the other rooms of THS HQ can double as a hot yoga studio, even when the oven remains in the off position. [Let’s not talk about what it feels like when I dare to turn it to the on position, okay?]

All in all, though, it’s not THAT bad.  Maybe it’s the several years spent on the gulf coast of Texas, but even the hottest days here in NY seem incredibly bearable, especially with all the best tools to my disposal.  I keep a pitcher of water in the fridge so I can always cool down via hydration.  The back porch is a fantastic spot to spend some time when the air near my computer feels stale.  My go-to at-home summer wardrobe = a running skirt and a tank, hair in messy bun on top of my head, and occasionally a BAMR band.

Another cool-down tool I’m swearing by these days are treats coming from the freezer.  I’ve been making smoothies more regularly than ever before in my life and recently realized that I could easily turn all my favorite smoothies into popsicles with the help of my dollar store plastic popsicle mold.  The steps are SO EASY and the outcome is well worth the [very little] effort.

popsicle round up

Destination Beach Vacation Popsicles
I love island-flavor popsicles for closing my eyes and imagining the heat I’m feeling is because I’m enjoying a moment of R&R on a beach vacation. 

Ingredients:

The steps are simple:

  • Fill a single serve [16 ounce] smoothie cup with frozen fruit, Greek yogurt and coconut.  Slowly add Almond Breeze to fill line on cup.
  • Blend into smoothie-like consistency.
  • Pour or spoon into popsicle mold and add sticks or plastic holders.
  • Freeze for several hours until firm.

12 popsicles

Popsicle Recipes to Cool Down with This Summer
With the addition of honey in many of these recipes, I feel especially kitchen-confident subbing in the Hint of Honey Almond Breeze Almond Milk for my own freezer creations! 

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Lime Pina Colada Popsicles from Back to Her Roots. Another tropical vacation straight from my apartment freezer? Yes, please!

Vanilla Peach Pops from Love and Lemons. Who would turn down a classic flavor combo like peaches & cream?

Key Lime Pie Ice Pops from Freutcake. Pie turned popsicle?  I can get down with that.  I love the gram cracker outer crust on these beauties.

Papaya Coconut Popsicles from Floating Kitchen. I love the look of a layered popsicle – so gorgeous!  And papaya and coconut are another imagine-yourself-watching-the-waves flavor combination to embrace this summer.

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Bumbleberry Chia Pops from The Healthy Everythingtarian. This advice from my girl Holly in this post pretty much sums up life for me: “Wherever you are at, be there. Push forward. Eat popsicles.”

Blueberry Lemon Popsicles from Try Anything Once Culinary. High School Heather fell for berry flavored lemonade at chain restaurants and I’ve never stopped being a fan of the partnership sweet berries and sour citrus.  These popsicles make me dream of another favorite summertime treat, Lemon Ice from Culver’s.  Yummmmmmmmmmmm.

Summertime Dessert Banana Berry Acai Popsicles from Lauren Lives Healthy. I totally agree with Lauren that the best way to beat the heat come summertime are frozen treats. These antioxidant boosted treats will totally do the job in my book.

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Green Smoothie Protein Pops from Eating Bird Food. These seem like a great post-workout cool down treat if you ask me!

Almond Coconut Fudgesicles from Bliss N Balance.  Almond + coconut + fudge = my favorite mini-candy bar treat – an Almond Joy!  I’m digging this flavor combo!

Pineapple Mint Popsicles from Fitnessista. Pineapple Mojitos are one of my favorite hot weather cocktails, and these popsicles fall right in-line with those flavors.

Watermelon Whole Fruit Popsicles from Nutrition by Angelique. These popsicles are made with 100% fruit, using puree, slices and chunks.  What a great way to amp up your fruit servings during the hot summer months!

May 252015
 

This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Nut Thins.

Did you listen to the 2nd episode of our #ProteinPartners #ProteinChallenge series of the Sound Bites Podcast?  Melissa and I were chatting about the goal to get 25-30 grams of protein at each meal and that one strategy I have been using to get there is adding up the little things.

I’m a snacker, a muncher, a fill-your-plate-with-two-bites-of-everything-er, and it’s not uncommon for me to play the snack game when it comes to meal time.

For example, my favorite office snack plate lunch might get a boost in the protein department thanks to adding a serving of almonds and some cheese and/or deli meat to my lunch pack. But what I really think helps me get to the “goal zone” protein wise is being choosey on the items in my lunch that doesn’t always add protein in the meal.  I’ve been seeking out the types of these foods that do have a few grams of protein in a serving; being picking with my crackers, veggies, spreads and dips.

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Which explains while I was uber-stocked when I looked at the back of the box of Blue Diamond Almond Nut Thins I received as part of the Blue Diamond Tastemakers program and saw that a serving of these crackers brings in 3 grams of protein.  These are delicious, with a slightly nutty taste adding a depth of flavor regular ole crackers just don’t offer. I’ve been eating them smeared with peanut butter and preserves, served with salsa and shredded cheese – nacho style!, and as a device of getting spinach artichoke dip into my mouth on the double. SO TASTY!!

Blue Diamond Nut Thins come in a slew of flavors to boot! I’ve already started the hunt for some of the Artisan, cheese and honey thins in my local markets.

16 Dips to Share this Summer

I’ve also been on the hunt for dishes to share with friends on our deck this summer and dips and spreads are topping the list.  Here are a bunch of recipes I’m itching to make [and eat!] at THS HQ.

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Caprese Dip from Amee’s Savory Dish. My pal Amee calls this stuff crack dip and I can’t blame her!  There is a local Italian place, Johnny’s that has the most DELICIOUS caprese salad with made fresh daily mozzarella that is simply amazing and reading through this recipe has my mouth watering in the same way as that local favorite.  I need to get some basil plants for the porch STAT to help make this dip a regular thing in my life.

Honey Goat Cheese Spread from Ari’s Menu. There was a point in time that I “wanted a goat” as a pet for the pure intention of more goat cheese in my life. Thus, this speaks to me.

Easy Layered Dip with Sweet Potatoes from MJ and Hungryman. I am CRAZY about sweet potatoes and try to use them in my meal plan every week.  The sweet potato spin on a classic like layer dip is something I can totally get behind.

Pesto White Bean Dip from Koko’s Kitchen.  Pesto lovers unite! Loving this dip for the protein power packed in the white kidney beans, too.

The Best Vegan Buffalo Dip (not pictured) from Zeelemons. I’ve been fortunate to taste this dish made by Jona and she’s not lying – it’s DELICIOUS. I’m a fan of the non-vegan buffalo dips, too [this one is my go-to: Iowa Girl Eat’s Buffalo Chicken Dip] which made the yum-tastic level of this dish even more impressive, in my opinion.

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Corn Guacamole with a Zing from Diary of a Semi-Health Nut.  I love recipes from Amanda because she keeps it simple but never skimps on flavor.  I’ll take a bowl of this with a margarita, please!

Single Serving 5-Minute Taco Dip from More Than Just Dessert. Taco dip is a Midwestern MUST for any party, and I love that Emily made it nice and simple for me to make for myself any darn time I want. WIN!

Creamy Feta and Sun Dried Tomato Dip from The Wannabe Chef.  I’ve never met an Evan recipe I didn’t like and since feta does, in my honest opinion, make everything “betta,” I’m all about this one for my next party platter. I love a dip that works well with both veggies and crackers, don’t you?

Healthy Caramelized Onion Dill Dip from Chicago Jogger. Is there an ingredient more wonderful than the caramelized onion? It’s definitely one of the most favorites in the THS Kitchen and pairing it with dill makes this dip hit the very top of my “To Make ASAP” list.

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Spicy Avocado Dip from Alma’s Days. This dip looks delicious in the photo and I love Denise’s idea of pairing it with cocktail shrimp to compliment the Old Bay flavoring in the dip.

Zesty Carrot Dip from A Fit & Spicy Life. A nutrient packed veggie dip that hits the vegan, gluten free and paleo check boxes makes this dish super party-with-your-health-pals friendly.

Chocolate Party Dip from The Wannabe Foodie.  I’ve made this dip before and think it would be especially delicious with the Pecan Nut Thins that I’ve been hunting for at the market ever since I saw them on the Blue Diamond website.

Garlic Greek Olive Hummus.  I haven’t made hummus in FOREVER and this needs to change immediately.

Clean and Simple Black Bean Dip (not pictured) from Treble in the Kitchen. This dip would pair perfectly with the Spicy Avocado Dip above. Let’s have a fiesta!

 

What is your favorite dip or spread to share with friends? 

Apr 242014
 

Last month, the friendly folks at Nasoya contacted me with a generous offer; a chance to try Nasoya TofuPlus, the first and only line of tofu “beefed up” with the nutrients commonly lacking among those actively reducing meat in their diets. 

I have cooked with tofu a dozen times or so in the past, and I really like that it’s a protein that easily takes on the flavor of whatever sauce or seasoning you pair with it.  This time around, I decided to try a new to me cooking method with the TofuPlus that Nasoya provided for my review when I read about this pan shallow-oil-frying experience on Domestic Superhero.  The General Tso’s Tofu recipe sounded like a delicious alternative to take-out, so I was sold.

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And then I failed. Maybe it was that I wasn’t paying the closest attention to the frying pan as I prepared the dish, but I totally ruined the tofu.  And every attempt at my fixing dinner left me more and more frustrated. Eventually, sadly, into the trash it went. From here on out I’m sticking to my normal methods of tofu cooking, my favorite of which is in the oven using this simple method Caitlin taught me years ago.

Nasoya is a brand I buy and support on the regular. I highly suggest you sign up for their e-newsletter – I get coupons in my inbox often.  All Nasoya Tofu is Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified as well as gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian/vegan.

Two of my goals for Spring are to eat more meat-free meals and to spend more time cooking in the kitchen.  I recently put together a Pinterest board of tofu recipes to consider adding to my meal planning over the coming weeks.  Here are 20 of my favorites I wanted to share with you! (Why keep all the delicious ideas to myself? That’s just rude!)

20recipes

1. The Perfect Baked Tofu – as mentioned above, this recipe from Healthy Tipping Point is wonderful, and the baking method is my go-to for cooking tofu no matter the sauce or flavoring of the meal.

2. Lemongrass Tofu Noodle Bowls from The Healthy Everythingtarian. With a Sesame Soy Vinagrette this is the kind of light with a punch of flavor meal perfect for a warm sunny day.

3. Crispy Breaded Tofu Strips from Oh She Glows.  I’ve never made tofu nuggets or strips, and as a self-proclaimed Queen of Condiments, I’d love to see what they best dip in.  And Ang’s recipe is a Weeknight Dinner recipe featuring sweet potato fries – my favorite snacky side dish!

4. Tofu Fritatta from VeggieGirl.  Load it up with veggies!

5. Southern Style Biscuits and Gravy from Sinful Nutrition.  I’ve been trying to make protein in each meal a priority, and this would be a great weekend tofu breakfast to fill me up and fuel me for the day in a delicious way.

6. Kelly recently wrote about this Pineapple Tofu and Vegetable Stir Fry on Brownies and Zucchini, which is on my meal plan for next week. She rated it an A- in the easiness factor, and an A+ in taste, so how can I pass that up? Plus, I’ve been craving pineapple these days, so adding some to dinnertime will be welcomed!

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7. Pineapple Cashew Fried Rice from How Sweet Eats. Totally adding tofu to this recipe, as she suggests.

8. Tofu Cauliflower Crock Pot Garam Masala from Treble in the Kitchen. I love using my crock pot when my schedule feels extra busy and I’ve never had garam masala before, but I’ve seen it popping up on lots of blogs lately. Cheers to trying new things!

9. DIY Kindfood Buddha Bowl from Chelsea’s Healthy Kitchen.  This is another dish that looks so light and refreshing, perfect for a spring day.  Love all the beautiful, fresh produce in this recipe!

10. & 11. Come from one of my absolute FAVORITE blogs for recipes these days, The Adventures MJ and Hungryman.  If you haven’t started reading this healthy recipe blog from a RD-to-be, I have two Thai tofu suggestions to get you started: Shrimp and Tofu Pad Thai & Thai Chicken Tostada with Spicy Peanut Sauce

12. Grilled Lemon Basil Tofu from Eating Bird Food. Now that the weather is warm and the evenings are getting long, grilling is the only answer.

13. Spring Roll Salad from Zeelemons. This SCREAMS Spring. This salad (like most salads) sounds super easy to master and the flavor combos sound delicious!

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14. Buffalo Tofu Wraps from Food.com. Because I’m a fool for buffalo flavored anything, and these wraps seem like perfect eat out on the deck food.

15. Orange Sesame Tofu via Chia Seed Me. The photo of the finished product in this post makes my mouth water upon viewing.

16. Caramelized Tofu from 101 Cookbooks. If caramelized onions are amazing, then this recipe is sure to please, right?

17.Marinated Tofu Burgers from She Knows.  Burgers are another out-on-the-deck, warm-weather, long-evening meal, and these seasoned with rosemary and maple syrup seem like the perfect option to give a try. 

18. Tofu-Avocado Salad from (never)Homemaker would be a fantastic sandwich spread for a picnic in the park.  Dear local friends – let’s make it happen!

19. Cappuccino Cloud Cheesecake from Chocolate Covered Katie. Because tofu in dessert is alright by me!

20. 3 Ingredient Chocolate Butterscotch Pudding from More Than Just Dessert. Because tofu in a SUPER EASY dessert is alright by me, too!

 

What’s your favorite tofu recipe?