Treat Yourself Tuesday: Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins

img_3448Two weeks in a row? What’s happening with me! I had a few days where I actually felt like I had a lot of energy, so after getting a bunch of work done I decided to work on my blog.

Last year I posted pumpkin muffins. They’re low-calorie and low-fat. They are still pretty good. But this year it’s not about restricting. You shouldn’t have to feel bad about food. It’s about making food you love and enjoying it. Just don’t go overboard. That’s the point of Treat Yourself Tuesday. So this year here are much more indulgent, but probably much more delicious, pumpkin muffins.


What you’ll Need:

  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (an extra 1/2 tsp for topping)
  • 1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup sugar (an extra 1/4 cup for topping)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 (15oz) can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1 tsp cold butter (for topping)

img_3447Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl mix together the flours, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, mix together the sugars, oil, water, eggs and pumpkin. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Spoon batter into muffin cups (about 3/4 full).

In a separate bowl mix together the 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Cut in pieces of the butter and mash together with your hands until the topping is chunky. Sprinkle this mixture over the muffins and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick is inserted into the muffins and come out clean.

Enjoy fall! Enjoy muffins!



Delicious Summer Recipes!

I’ve been lazy about positing. Mostly because I’m at the beach, and unfortunately I’ve still had quite a bit of work to do here. But here’s something I wanted to share for awhile! I know for many summer might be winding down, but lets face it, it’s still going to be hot for awhile. So if you’re still looking for a great treat here’s some delicious summer recipes for your next BBQ, or just to keep cool.

Summer Berry Sorbet with Homemade Whipped CreamIMG_2506

This is the perfect treat to cool down, and you don’t even need an ice cream maker. (Although admittedly it’s just so much easier. Wish list for Kara: ice cream maker to go with my KitchenAid blender.) It’s only a few ingredients, so prep only takes a few minutes. The whipped cream makes for a really delicious addition, especially when the sorbet begins to melt.


basil watermelon slushWatermelon & Basil Summer Slush

A great drink to cool down with! If you’re planning on having people over on a hot August day, this is the perfect thing to cool them down. (If you really want to have a party just add a shot of vodka 😉 haha.) It’s extremely flavorful and the flavors are perfect for summer. The recipe makes one drink so make sure to multiply if you’re having company!


IMG_1482Seared Tuna with a Chili Soy Blood Orange Glaze

I love this recipe. I’m also a sucker for seared tuna. This works well for summer because it’s still somewhat cold. The edges are seared but its not a heavy or hot meal. Technically blood oranges are a winter fruit, so you may have some trouble finding them. If you can’t, you can always use regular oranges. Crush a few raspberries into the marinade and that will be closer to the flavor of a blood


salmon with border

Grilled Salmon with Ginger Soy Glaze

Fire up the grill. This is another great fish dish for summer. This glaze is incredible and really infuses a lot of flavor into the fish. Add some grilled veggies as a side and you’ve got an entire meal. It’s also much a quick and easy meal to make during the week. This is also a great option for those who want another option for the grill besides meat.

IMG_2510Savory Sweet Potato Burrito

I love sweet potato burritos. It sounds funny, but it’s amazingly good. I first had one at this great place in West Philadelphia. I then tried to replicate the recipe to the best of my abilities. I never thought about a sweet potato burrito before, but really it’s pretty incredible. This is another delicious summer recipe. If you haven’t had sweet potato in Mexican food before, definitely give this a shot.



Image-1-1Grilled Chilies Rellenos

Another great Mexican-inspired dish.  love the added tastiness of the grill, however you can of course do this in the oven. But who doesn’t love the taste of the grill? The mix of the poblano pepper, cotija cheese and chicken thighs is awesome. I think chicken thighs are really underutilized sometimes. This is something a little different than just the typical burgers and fries to throw on the grill.


zuchhini pasta w/ borderZucchini Pasta w/ Old Bay Ship, Heirloom Tomatoes & Fresh Corn

Zucchini pasta is such a great option for summer! It won’t weigh you down in the same way normal pasta will. Plus who doesn’t love Old Bay on shrimp? This is a great light summer dish that’s perfect for dinner. Zucchini pasta is extremely easy to make. You don’t even need one of those veggie pasta makers. I just use my cheese grater! Use all the great summer vegetables in this dish.

bruschetta with borderSummer Bruschetta

I really am not a fan of raw tomatoes. But I love this bruschetta recipe. Fresh tomatoes, corn and goat cheese makes for a delicious summer recipe! This is also such an easy and great option for entertaining. Check out the recipe!


FullSizeRender(3)Egg White Lemon Crepes w/ Berry Filling

A light crepe filled with summer berries! The light lemon flavor really comes through nicely in the crepe. These are really easy and quick to make. Top with some tasty whipped cream and serve it up for breakfast. Great for yourself or the entire family. You can really put any berries in the filling, but take advantage of all the in season berries. They’re so good right now!

IMG_2432Green Bean Fries

This is a great side dish for the summer. If you’re firing up the grill for burgers and want a side of fries, here’s a summer veggie option instead. They aren’t the same as normal fries obviously, but they’re crispy and delicious. A quick breading and they’re off in the oven. So easy to make! Think of this side the next time you’re making dinner or want a healthy snack.



Fresh Corn & Quinoa Congee

I am sorry to all the people out there who have grown up with congee. This won’t be nearly as wonderful as anything your family used to make. But man this is still a delicious recipe. Quinoa is an awesome substitute for rice, and the fresh corn screams summer. It’s a great breakfast or lunch option. Honestly, I could eat it all day long.


IMG_1791Green Pea and Avocado Soup

This soup is great for summer, not only because of the fresh peas and avocado, but because this can be served hot or cold. I’m not the biggest fan of cold soups, but this is really flavorful and perfect when you don’t feel like eating something hot in the summer heat! Serve alone or with any protein you want. I chose fish. YUM.


So this is the 2016 list. Let me know whether or not there’s anything you like to see, or if you like the recipes or not!

Whole Wheat Granola Pancakes w/ Berries & Sweet Yogurt Topping

IMG_1827I got the inspiration for these pancakes after having brunch at Bryan Voltaggio’s Family Meal in Baltimore. The menu has granola pancakes on the menu with a berry jam and creme fraiche. And it was delicious! I like pancakes, but I’m usually a bigger fan of a savory breakfast. But these were amazing. So I decided I wanted to make my own version.

Now, there’s a lot of sugar involved in this recipe. Sugar feels like a very polarizing substance right now- with so many options on how to sweeten your favorite dishes. This recipe involves a lot of sugar. Whether it’s raw sugar, honey, agave, stevia or an artificial sweetener- use whatever you prefer.

One serving makes about 8 pancakes.

What You’ll need:

1 cup whole wheat flour

¾ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

A couple dashes of cinnamon

1 egg

¾ tsp vanilla extract

1 cup unsweetened applesauce

½ cup skim milk

1 cup granola

1 cup plain yogurt (i used greek, but use whatever kind you like best)

1-2 cups your favorite berries (frozen works great!.. I used strawberries and blueberries when I made mine, but any work!)

¼-½ cup water (as needed)

Your favorite sweetener (i used a combination of splenda and honey throughout the recipe… most of this will be to taste, so I’m not giving an exact amount.. especially since the kind of sweetener varies.)

non-stick cooking spray for frying

For the pancakes:

FullSizeRender(4)Combine the whole wheat flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a bowl. mix well. In a separate bowl, combine the egg, ½ tsp vanilla extract, applesauce and milk. Mix well. Pour the wet ingredients in with the dry ingredients. fold together. Don’t over mix. Because of the applesauce, the mixture will be lumpy that’s ok! Coat a griddle or pan with non-stick spray. Heat the man to medium heat (this will work better for these pancakes.

Scoop ¼ cup of the mixture into the pan. Make sure the batter is spread thinly (it FullSizeRender(10)doesn’t naturally spread as well as a normal pancake batter so you have to help it out a bit). Sprinkle a handful of granola (or as much as you like) on top of the pancakes (just like you could do for blueberry or chocolate chip pancakes). Once browned on the bottom, flip the pancake. Cook on the other side. (Because these pancakes are denser than traditional pancakes…make sure they care cooked all the way through. They do take a little more time.)

For the yogurt sauce:

In a bowl: combine the yogurt, ¼ tsp vanilla extract, and your sweetener (to taste. I ended up using about a tablespoon of honey… but i also like it sweet!)

For the berry topping:

On medium-FullSizeRender(11)low heat, warm a pan on the stove. Mash the berries before adding them to the pan (if you’re using frozen fruit, mash as you’re cooking after they’ve defrosted). Add the berries and ¼ cup of water. Add some of your favorite sweetener! You generally don’t need much because the berries are sweet enough on their own. If you’re not that into sweets, you can probably leave out the sweetener completely. Stir occasionally until the berry mixture reduces down. Add water as needed, if the sauce gets too quick too fast. It should be the consistency between a syrup and a jelly.

Layer the pancakes with the yogurt sauce, and top with the berry topping. Enjoy!IMG_1827 IMG_1829

Turkey Bacon Quinoa Hash w/ Poached Eggs & Avocado

IMG_1626So on The Secrets I talk about how much I LOVE quinoa. If you’re a big rice or grain eater, it’s an awesome substitute. In my opinion, it absorbs flavor so much better than rice. So It’s great for stir fry. I wanted to do a hash, but wasn’t really interested in using potatoes. So Instead I took some liberties and decided to make and quinoa “hash” with turkey bacon and veggies. And of course a poached egg…. I do love a runny yolk. Add some avocado and I’m sold. So here we go.
Calories: 580 (It’s a little higher than what I normally post… but note this makes a TON of hash and includes two eggs and HALF an avocado. if you want to make half the amount of hash it’ll be around 440… that still includes the egg and avocado… just less of the breakfast hash. I’m working overnights right now and breakfast is my dinner, so I’m usually looking for something a little heartier when i get home from work.)
What You’ll Need:
2 eggs
1 cup cooked quinoa
2 cups broccoli florets
1/2 cup chopped bell peppers (any/all colors)
2 strips turkey bacon
1/2 avocado
1tbsp white vinegar (for poaching the eggs)
garlic powder
chili powder
(I’m not giving an exact amount of herbs/spices. It’s going to have to be pretty aggressively seasoned. So just keep tasting until you’re happy!)
In one pan, saute the broccoli and bell peppers. Season with salt and pepper. Chop up the turkey bacon and throw in a separate pan. Saute until done. Add the turkey bacon into the pan with the broccoli and bell peppers. Add the quinoa. Season with salt, pepper, garlic, chili powder, garlic powder, basil and oregano until you’re happy with the taste… That quinoa can really suck up flavor! Poach two eggs (see below for instructions). Slice the avocado Take the hash, put it on a plate, top with the poached eggs and avocado. Enjoy!
If you’ve never poached an egg before, don’t worry it’s super easy! I was intimidated at first but it’s not that bad. Take a pot (pretty big pot. should be fairly deep), and fill with two inches of water. Add a tablespoon of vinegar and bring to a boil on the stove. Take 2 eggs, put each in a separate small bowl (I use custard cups). When the water is rapidly boiling, turn the burner OFF. Take a large spoon or spatula and stir the water until you get a whirlpool. (Don’t be shy… the water should really be spinning, the egg whites need to wrap themselves around the yolk. this is why you need a deep pot.) One at a time, take the eggs and SLOWLY lower the egg into the center of the pot. DO NOT DROP IN THE EGG. Get as close to the water as possible and slowly lower it in. Once you’ve done this with both eggs (no you don’t have to re-stir in between eggs… they should be fine) cover and let sit for 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to gently remove the eggs from the water. It’s easier if you have the hash already plated. You can just put the eggs directly on top. I promise it’s easier than it looks!

Butternut Squash Corn Cakes w/ Turkey Bacon, Spinach & Sunny Side Up Eggs

eggs & butternut squash corn cakeI love breakfast, I love a runny egg and I love eggs benedict. I wanted to find a way to make recipe that was as satisfying, but offered something a little different. It combines eggs, spinach turkey bacon The cakes have jalapenos in them, so it has a little heat. Although if you don’t like jalapenos, just take them out. And if you’re not a fan of runny eggs… just make a fried egg and put it on top. (if you’re a Hollandaise fan, I apologize I left it out this time to make it a little healthier.) The corn cakes are really griddle cakes, and are not fluffy like a pancake. But they’re very satisfying… just know that that intention is for the cake to be more dense. It definitely makes it a heartier dish.

A couple things to note before we begin the recipe. First, The recipe will make about 3 corn cakes. the calorie count and recipe only accounts for two. Just like pancakes… you always want to leave a little extra batter in case the first one doesn’t come out. Second, you won’t need a TON of butternut squash. Unless you plan on eating a lot of butternut squash in your future, I suggest buying frozen or already chopped butternut squash. To have to break down an entire butternut squash and cook it just for these corn cakes seems excessive… but hey if you’re up for the challenge… go for it!

Calories: 360

What you need:

1/4 cup cornmeal

1 cup butternut squash cubes (cooked… at least to the point where a fork can easily poke though the cubes.

3 tablespoons skim milk

1 tablespoon egg whites

1 tablespoon chopped jalapenos

1/4 teaspoon salt (extra salt for seasoning)

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

2 slices of turkey bacon

2 cups spinach leaves

Dash of chili powder

Ground Pepper

Here we go. In a bowl add the salt, baking powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cornmeal. Mix together well. In a separate bowl, mash the butternut squash to the best of your ability. Add the milk and egg whites. Mix together. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture. stir until smooth. (will be a little gritty looking because of the cornmeal.) fold in the jalapenos. Heat up a skillet sprayed with olive oil or cooking spray. make two medium-sized cakes (You should have leftover batter. This is just as a buffer. Feel free to use how you please. But you should have just enough batter to make three.) Cook over medium heat until the bottom is brown. Flip until the other side is brown and cakes are done. remove from heat.

In a separate pan, throw the spinach in a pan along with salt, pepper and a tablespoon of water. Cook until water has burned off and the spinach is cooked/slightly wilted. Remove from heat.eggs and corn cakes 2

Spray another pan with non-stick spray (olive-oil). Cook two pieces of turkey bacon in a skillet, along with two eggs. Eggs should be sunny side up (fried on the bottom, but egg yolks still runny. When both the eggs and bacon are done, remove from heat.

On a plate, put down two of the corn cakes. Top each one with a slice of turkey bacon (cut in half or thirds so it has a nice bed of turkey bacon, and it’s not just one long strip), the spinach and finally the egg. Top the egg with a dash of salt, pepper and chili powder.

Goes great with a side of avocado.

Low-Calorie Breakfast Tacos

Over the last few years I’ve been in a love affair with, what I consider to be, the MOST AMAZING  breakfast burrito in the universe. (my friends think I’m insane.) It was a constant staple for me while I was living in the Washington DC area.

Now I am aware there are breakfast burritos in Philadelphia. But there are 2 problems. First, I’m not sure I believe I can ever find one that’s as soul-satisfying as the one I’ve grown to love. (Yes, I know I’m being a little dramatic.) Second, I’ve been doing so well at eating healthy, and I didn’t want to get derailed because of a burrito.

So to make a long story short, I wanted to find a healthy way to satisfy my craving for this burrito. So I came up with this healthier recipe for breakfast tacos.

(UPDATE! Turns out La Tortilla factory also makes a large tortilla, so you could make this same recipe into a burrito! I’ve yet to try but it should be the same recipe just with one big tortilla instead of two little ones!)


Makes: 2 Breakfast Tacos  

Calories: 287

What you’ll need:

-3/4 cup egg whites

-1/4 cup poblano peppers chopped

-4 tbsp Black refried beans (I used Amy’s brand, I’m sure others are out there)

-1/4 cup shredded white cheddar cheese (I used Horizon brand)

-2 whole wheat low carb/ high fiber tortillas from “La Tortilla Factory” (They’re fantastic, and only 50 calories a tortilla. Of course you can use whatever tortillas you like, but these were a huge help in getting the calories lower. Of course if you’re looking to cut carbs all together make it a lettuce wrap!)

-2-3 tbsps of your favorite salsa (I used a poblano salsa made by 365. Can you tell I love poblano peppers?)

-Salt & pepper to taste

-lettuce & tomato if you so choose. And of course your favorite kind of hot sauce!!!

Heat up skillet. If needed, spray with a non-stick spray. Add the egg whites, poblano peppers, salt & pepper to the skillet. Scramble the egg mixture. Cook until firm.

Take the tortillas. To make them even better heat the tortillas on a skillet & brown. Gives it a great texture. Alternatively pop them in a microwave to warm.

Heat up refriend beans on microwave or stove.

Fill the tortillas with the scrambled eggs & refried beans. Top with salsa and cheese.

Make it your own by adding, whatever veggies you like like lettuce, fresh tomatoes and hot sauce. (I used a habanero garlic hot sauce. Really gave the tacos a flavor boost.)