Celebrating My Favorite Snack

HAPPY NATIONAL PRETZEL DAY!! Pretzels are my snack of choice because they bring everything to the table.  Soft or hard, with or without salt, there are endless varieties of pretzels guaranteed to satisfy! From pretzel buns, to chocolate coated, and even being put inside of M&Ms, it seems that there is no place pretzels can’t be taken (figuratively and literally).  My personal preference when it comes to pretzels would have to be a hard sourdough or a regular twist pretzel dipped in peanut butter. I basically could eat any kind of pretzel dipped in peanut butter to be honest!

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My mom, brother, and myself (from right to left) at Julius Sturgis back in 2005.

If you wanna celebrate National Pretzel Day in all its glory, here are some great ideas:

  • If you are willing to make the trip or live in the Pennsylvania area, head over to Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery. This over 150 year old landmark hold interactive tours where guest learn to tie their own pretzels and watched them get baked off! I’ve actually been there, and can attest to it being a fun and interesting experience!  CHECK OUT THEIR WEBSITE HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION!

If you’d rather celebrate in the comfort of your own home here are some awesome recipes you may be interested in:

  • Feeling ambitious enough to make your own soft pretzels? Take them to the next level by adding spinach, artichoke, and bacon!! Check out Half Baked Harvest’s Spinach, artichoke, and bacon stuffed beer soft pretzel here.
  •  Try out this sweet and salty Carmel Pretzel Brownies.(I may actually make these tonight!) RECIPE HERE

MY TIP: If you live in an area where Wawa convenient stores are located, stop and eat one of their delicious soft pretzels. You will not regret it, and if you are not doing for yourself, at least do it for me!

Enjoy your day, today & enjoy your pretzels, always!!!

NEW TAKE ON TOTS

Let be completely honest here, we all know that tater tots are perfect in every single way. From breakfast to dinner, and even as a midnight snack, there no time of the day that I would object to eating a nice crispy tot (well, maybe before I went for a run or something, but that’s besides the point). I personally enjoy my tots to be crunchy and crispy, but even when they’re soggy, tots aren’t half bad.  So you’d wouldn’t believe my excitement when I came across a recipe for LOW CARB TOTS, which are made with cauliflower instead of potatoes! With my craving for tot and love of cauliflower, I had to try this recipe!!!!

CHECK OUT THE RECIPE I USED HERE!

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Of course I took the liberty in changing up the recipe  a little to make it a little more accessible and flavorful!

TIPS, HINTS, AND CHANGES!

  • Processed with RookieChange: This recipe calls for raw cauliflower; HOWEVER, I used frozen cauliflower and it worked well.
  • Tip: If you are using frozen cauliflower, MAKE SURE YOU FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS AND  YOU PRESS ALL OF THE EXTRA WATER FROM CAULIFLOWER.
  • Hint: The recipe suggest you let the mixture sit, HOWEVER, I didn’t and do not think it’s necessary, especially if you are on a time crunch.
  • Tip: I didn’t use any onions, but I added some chopped spinach leaves to my tots for added flavor. I suggest adding chopped carrots or broccoli to the mix for different flavors and texture!
  • Change: I only used a little bit of pepper jack cheese, to cut down the calories (or maybe because I only had a little…) and it tasted great! Add however much or little you’d like.

Review of the Recipe: The outcome of these cauliflower tots were better than I’d expected! Unlike normal tots, they had  more flavor, due to the combined cheese. ALSO, this was my first time frying anything, and it was definitely A LOT easier than I had imagined,which pleasantly surprised me!   Not to say I’m going to be frying everything from now on, but it’s a great feat to check off my bucket list! Next time I make these, I am going to try and bake them, instead of frying, just to make them a bit healthier!  I personally didn’t make the chipotle mayonnaise, but instead dipped mine in hot sauce!

FUN FACT:  “Tater Tots” is actually a registered trademark of Ore-Ida.

My Take on TACOS

Being home for spring break and having what seems like an abundance of time and resources to concoct a culinary masterpiece, I combined three recipes I had been dying to try and held a healthy alternative to the classic taco night for my family!

When you think of the classic taco, you think soft/hard corn or flour tortilla, some kind of protein (beef, chicken, or fish), some sort of salsa or pico de gallo, maybe some rice and/or beans, and cheese. All those wonderful ingredients evoke the flavors of comfort and excitement on your tongue.  I LOVE TACOS, I love most Mexican food to be completely honest because most dishes give such a depth of flavor!

So I took those normal elements and found an alternative to make them a bit healthier by creating a lettuce wrapped taco stuffed with jalapeño-lime chicken, spicy quinoa with corn and peppers, and a zucchini, corn and tomato salad.

The quinoa I made was based off of THIS RECIPE, with some added changes to make it my own!

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The quinoa was a nice spicy addition to the tacos. It could be used as a side dish or inside the taco (I did both). Along with the jalapeños the recipe states, I also added some red bell peppers for a more mild flavor. In the taco, it acted as beans and rice as quinoa adds a starchy element and the corn and peppers add a little bursts of flavor and freshness.  Adding the cocoa to the quinoa really gave it that mole kind of flavor, really adding to the Mexican flare.

Hint: Quinoa is a pretty bland grain and so much flavor can be added and changed to make quinoa go with any type of dish you are making!

The zucchini and corn salad is based off THIS RECIPEphoto 3 copy 3This salad is great because it is so versatile! It can be served hot or cold and can be used in the taco or as a side dish! With only 62 calories a serving, this salad is a fresh and delicious way to lighten up a taco! I also added diced tomatoes to my own salad to add more a different note of flavor to the salad.

For the jalapeño-lime chicken I followed THIS RECIPE precisely.

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This chicken’s lime and jalapeño flavor went incredibly well with the similar flavors of the other ingredients incorporated into this taco. Tip: Let the chicken marinate for around 24 hours. I only let mine marinate for about 2 hours, and it definitely would have had a lot more flavor if I would have let it marinate for a longer amount of time.

So after all the elements were made, it was now time to assemble this healthy alternative to your normal taco!

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HOW TO ASSEMBLE:
(assembling the taco really gives artistiphoto 1 copy 7c freedom, but here are some tips on how I did it!)

  • First you need to have your lettuce wraps washed and ready to be stuffed   (I used iceberg lettuce, but romaine would work as well!). The light flavor of the lettuce really lets you taste all the different flavors of the various elements of the taco and it also adds another element of crunch!
  • Then add a layer of your quinoa, followed by a few pieces of chicken ( I found that 3 medium pieces worked the best for me), then add a little of the zucchini salad, followed by as much salsas and cheese you desire!
  • ENJOY! AND MAKE A COUPLE MORE WITHOUT FEELING GUILTY!

 

Processed with RookieI made this meal for my parents when I was home for spring break and it was a hit! My parents are pretty health conscious and really think about everything that goes into their bodies (for the most part). They also LOVE spicy food, so I was inspired by them to create this meal! The prep time of the entire meal really didn’t take too long and because the meal has individual elements that can stand on their own, there is a lot room to change it up and make it your own or simply make one of the elements of the taco a solo meal!

ENJOY!!

Not Your Grandma’s Lasagna

In my earlier post Proactive “Pizza”, I expressed my experience turning the classic pizza, into a delicious healthy alternative with the use of cauliflower crust. That definitely put me on a kick to try and use veggies as alternative ingredients in my favorite dishes! This week, I took on one of my all time favorites: lasagna, BUT definitely not your grandma’s lasagna, a Zucchini Lasagna.

As you can see from my this and my other posts, for not being even a little bit Italian, I REALLY LOVE ITALIAN FOOD.

Lasagna has been a staple in my house growing up. It was dish that my mom and I would make on a Sunday afternoon and  the left overs would last for the entire week.  Although there are several different elements, from boiling the pasta, making the ricotta mixture, slicing the cheese, and finally assembling it all together and cooking, the somewhat tedious process of making the dish always reminds me of home.

What is great about this dish is that zucchini does not have a pungent flavor and when cooked, it’s consistency allows it to perfectly act as the pasta for the dish. Therefore, cutting out some calories and carbohydrates, while adding a veggie to the dish, who could ask for more?

I came across this recipe on Pinterest (obviously! ) and based my own meal off of it, altering it a little and making it my own, of course!

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Top: My finished product right out of the oven!
Bottom: The first slice of my Zucchini Lasagna with a sprinkle of cracked pepper.

HINTS & TIPS:

  • I am not a fan of ground meat, so I did not include it my version. You could totally use ground turkey, beef, or even tofu to customize the dish to your taste!
  • Tip: Cut the Zucchini a little bit thicker then suggested to give it more of a pasta feel.
  • Hint: Zucchini is made up with a lot of water and when cooked in the lasagna has the ability to make the dish a bit runny if you do not let it sit! So make you follow the directions to salt your zucchini’s after cutting them.
  • Tip: LET IT SIT FOR AT LEAST 15 MINUTES BEFORE SERVING.  This will let the lasagna cool and allow for all the cheesy goodness to set together.
  • Hint: If you do not have time to make the sauce or simply do not want to, jarred sauce works well with this dish. Personally I used half jar sauce and half the crush tomato sauce adding different textures to the dish, which I really enjoyed! 
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Another picture of the lasagna with a stamp of approval!

Review of the Recipe: I. LOVED. THIS. RECIPE.  5 stars!! Although it was time consuming, it was totally worth it! Being a college student, I now have dinner for the entire week. I might actually like this better than traditional  lasagna (Yes, you read correctly!) because you get all the great flavor, but it isn’t as heavy. This is also a dish that you can customize and make your own, which I love. I will definitely be making this again, and I even sent the recipe to my mom recommending that she try it!