Category Archives: Recipes

Blueberry Banana Oatmeal Protein Pancakes {dairy free + gluten free}

Hi friends!

Things have been quiet over here this week… because my real life has been hectic!

The “canals” in The Venetian in Vegas, where I had dinner one night this week

The past week has been a whirlwind, between getting through the busiest time of the year for my publicist job, celebrating a friend’s birthday locally in San Diego (with a private Pilates class & smoothie hangout!), then packing, getting organized, and setting off to Las Vegas for work. Last night I flew from Vegas to New Jersey, where we are in the midst of wedding busyness leading up to my brother’s wedding this weekend. So, as you can imagine, there has been a lot happening in my world.

BUT! Today I’m back to share one of my favorite recipes. It’s a goodie!

Pretty much everyone that knows me well knows about my love for pancakes. They’re my favorite fancy breakfast, hands down.

I’ve shared some very yummy pancake recipes on the blog before, but today’s recipe takes the [pan]cake.

See what I did there?

I actually shared a variation of these pancakes on the blog a couple years ago, but since then, my batter recipe has evolved a bit. Over the last few years, I’ve made these pancakes so many times, I can make them with my eyes closed. Sometimes I change them up a bit, subbing in chocolate chips for blueberries or topping them with strawberries, but the basic batter combination always remains the same:

Oats. Vanilla protein powder. Banana. Almond milk. A pinch of salt, cinnamon, stevia, vanilla extract and baking powder. And that’s all there is to it!

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Chocolate Pistachio Energy Bites [gluten free]

I’m such a sucker for any kind of place where high-quality food is the focus. Farmers’ markets. Gourmet food shops. Italian markets. Bakeries. I love it all. It’s no secret that I love experimenting in the kitchen, and finding new foods and ingredients gives me inspiration to try new recipes… plus I just love eating food, obviously.

A few weeks ago, I was walking to a Starbucks to work for awhile before meeting a friend for dinner, when I passed by a spice shop. I’ve seen it before when it was closed for the day, but this time it was open.

Naturally, I walked in the shop and moseyed around smelling and tasting things. I wound up leaving with some goodies – all that were new to me, with the exception of local cinnamon infused honey (I pretty much buy that whenever I see it!).

For San Diego area locals, the shop is called Savory Spice in Encinitas, and it’s super fun to pop into if you’re a spice nut like I am!

One new-to-me thing that I bought was pistachio extract. I’m a fan of pistachios, but for some reason they’re a forgotten nut to me sometimes. I’m constantly all about peanut butter, almonds + almond butter, cashews + cashew butter… but pistachios seem to fall by the wayside. Then I make something with them and am reminded that I dig em.

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Pasta Shells with Easy Arugula Cherry Tomato Sauce [vegan]

Sometimes keeping it simple is the best.

Every Easter when I was growing up – and really, almost every other holiday – my family would go over to my grandma’s for a big family get together. I’ve talked about my amazing grandma before, but she loved to cook for everyone – and she pretty much always overdid it with how much food she made.

There would be a ridiculous amount of dishes for everyone to enjoy. From a giant antipasto salad and homemade breads, to a gigantic spread for the main course, to probably half a dozen desserts, complete with her annual bunny-shaped Easter cake, my grandma always spent days preparing. She also always made me eggplant parmigiana because I loved it (and later on, I developed an allergy to it, probably from eating it too much!).

One type of dish that my grandma made for holidays was a simple pasta. It was usually designated as a go-to for the picky eater kids in my family, but everyone typically wound up scooping some onto their plates. She would often make a cavatelli pasta with just a homemade tomato sauce. It was maybe her most simple dish, but we all ate it every time.

Today, in honor of the upcoming holiday and my grandma, who we lost just about three years ago and I miss so damn much, I wanted to share an easy pasta dish. This one comes together in 30 minutes or less, and the stars of the sauce are heirloom cherry tomatoes and wild arugula.

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PB & J Banana Muffins {vegan + gf}

As with most food bloggers & writers, I love to bake and cook for loved ones. Whenever we have guests in town, I enjoy feeding them well. A lot of the time when I meet up with girlfriends, I’ll bring them some of my latest kitchen creations to try. I show my love for people by making them nutritious, delicious food.

When I stay at my parents’ house in Jersey, it’s fun to make snacks, dinners, and desserts for everyone to enjoy. A few weeks ago when I was there, I was a little off of my Chef Nicole game because I was under the weather, but I still whipped up some yummy recipes for them.

One night I made creamy spring veggie & asparagus puree soup for dinner, because I knew my mom would dig it (She did!).

I also made my most recently published Shape recipe, blueberry banana Greek yogurt muffins.

Continuing with the blueberry theme, I also made bluebery oatmeal chia bars one morning – except when I took the baking dish out of the oven, I mistakenly placed it on a burner that was on low heat….and then left it there for hours. I was in the kitchen the whole time and didn’t even smell the bars and pan burning because my sinuses were all congested! It actually worked out well because my dad loves burnt things. They wound up being super dry, but he was a fan of them anyways…so it was only half a kitchen fail!

Another muffin recipe that I decided to make were peanut butter & jelly banana muffins. I first shared the recipe on here years ago when I was a newbie blogger, and I hadn’t made them in quite awhile. My dad loves PB & J (and so do I!) so I thought he’d like these. I always like having muffins, bars, or energy bites around as a healthy snack, and we all snacked on these muffins throughout the week.

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Sunflower Butter Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies [gluten free]

Hi friends!

I have been down for the count with a killer ear infection + upper respiratory sickness. It’s a major bummer because I’ve gotten sick the last couple of times that I’ve visited Jersey to spend time with family, despite my nonstop rubbing of essential oils and drinking of green tea. I almost never get sick otherwise, and I think it’s the combination of a cross-country flight (the woman next to me was coughing the entire time!), going nonstop making plans with family & friends, the weather change, being around my adorable but very germ-y nephews, and drinking wine multiple days in a row. So, now I’m back home in Cali, resting up this week and taking it easy so that I can get back to normal.

But let’s talk about something more fun… like cookies! Breakfast cookies that is.

These sunflower butter banana oatmeal breakfast cookies were my second failed attempt at a green sunflower butter recipe for St. Paddy’s Day. The base of these normal colored cookies are rolled oats and almond meal. They’re sweetened with mashed banana, honey and apple sauce. You can sub in maple syrup to make them vegan as well.
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Mediterranean Barley Stuffed Peppers

Hi friends!

How was your weekend? Did you celebrate St. Paddy’s Day? I was flying cross-country all day Friday on the actual holiday, but I had a chance to celebrate the Irish holiday yesterday with my parents. I’m in Jersey this week visiting family, and went to a winery yesterday with my parents that had a live Irish band playing. It made me want to be back in Ireland hanging out at pubs with my family!

So, let’s dive into the real topic at hand today: Mediterranean Barley Stuffed Peppers – an easy Meatless Monday dinner idea!

I’ve always been a fan of stuffed peppers, and for this recipe, I wanted to do something different in terms of grains. I usually will use brown rice for stuffed peppers, but this time I decided to try barley instead and loved it.

I like to make a nice sized pot of grains at the beginning of the week to use for a few different meals, so this time, I cooked up some barley and used some for this recipe, then some another night with veggie burgers and sautéed zucchini.

You can always swap out the barley for whatever other grain you feel like – such as farro, cous cous, or rice for a gluten free option.

These peppers take a Mediterranean twist with the inclusion of crumbled feta, red onion, artichoke hearts, avocado, red onion and portobello mushroom. I always love making meals Mediterranean-style because the ingredients commonly used in this type of fare are so healthy and flavorful!

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Healthy Chocolate Chip Matcha Banana Muffins [vegan + gluten free]

This is the story about how I tried three times to create a naturally green recipe and totally failed… but came up with two yummy recipes in the process!

St. Paddy’s Day is coming up this Friday, and I was actually thinking ahead a few weeks ago when I decided I wanted to come up with a sweet recipe that had a green hue, sans food coloring.

I first heard that the chlorophyll in sunflower butter can turn baked goods green when it interacts with baking soda/powder when a friend of mine accidentally wound up with a green colored sunflower butter recipe, so my original idea was to make sunflower butter banana muffins. The result? They did not turn green, and they also turned out a bit dry, so it was a no go.

I decided it was possible that because I mixed all of my muffin ingredients together in my food processor, it too vigorously combined the ingredients and broke down the baking soda properties too much to successfully interact with the sunflower butter enough to turn them green. So for attempt #2, I made sunflower butter breakfast cookies that I only mixed by hand until the ingredients were combined.

While the cookies turned out yummy & I’ll be sharing that recipe soon, they did not turn green at all. Whomp whomp.

Feeling over the whole sunflower butter idea after two failed attempts, I moved onto another idea: making something with matcha. Matcha is a green tea powder with powerful antioxidant properties and a bright green color.

So for naturally green recipe attempt #3, I made matcha chocolate chip banana muffins. The batter was looking like it may have had a green hue to it prior to baking, but when I pulled them out of the oven, I practically screamed, “NOO, they look normal!”

While these muffins aren’t green in color, it turns out they’re delicious, so I’m sharing the recipe with you today. Made with oats and banana, they have some of my favorite healthy baking hacks – including the use of apple sauce & coconut oil. They’re sweetened only with maple syrup, banana and dairy free dark chocolate chips, and the matcha flavor is subtle.

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Healthier Fettuccine Alfredo with Spinach & Tomato

Hello strangers!

So, last week was probably the first full week that I did not post on this little corner of the internet of mine since I started this blog. Trust me, it wasn’t by choice!

I was pretty much in technology hell all week. My beloved computer had been running really slow, and I was troubleshooting and running back and forth to the Apple Store like my life depended on it – because well, it kind of does. I work on my computer every single day and depend on it as a publicist, blogger, freelance writer and health coach. So, you can imagine that I have a lot of stuff on this computer of mine!

To make a long story short, the good news is that my computer was salvaged and is now working fast. But what’s the bad news? Apple restored my computer without consulting me first, and wiped out many of my photos that I saved only on my computer + an external hard drive that randomly stopped working last week. And since my computer was running so poorly, I wasn’t able to successfully back up my photos. Believe me, I tried.

So yea, I’m majorly bummed about the photos being lost. I keep thinking of my travel photos, wedding shots, and captured family memories that I’ll probably never get to see again.

(Yes, my photos are now set up to automatically go to “the cloud” every day so that this never happens again.)

But on the bright side, I can recover some of them by looking at my past posts and social media, and saving them back one by one. Luckily I’ve posted a ton of photos on this blog of mine! And, I can resume working on my computer and it not take me 4x as long to do things. I know this sounds like such a first world problem, but with how much I rely on my Mac, the whole situation was very stressful. I’m thankful for yoga, baking and my bike trainer for keeping me sane when I wanted to rip my hair out!

So that’s that, but let’s get to the good stuff today… aka pasta.

Today’s recipe is one that I’ve been making for years. I first started making this dish after I had a craving for fettuccine alfredo, but when I ordered it out at a restaurant and ate half of the dish, I left feeling too full and kind of sick. That’s the thing about consistently eating healthy & light: When you eat heavier food once in awhile, your body does not like it! So, I did what any good food blogger would do: I came up with a lightened up recipe that leaves me feeling satisfied but not stuffed.

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Blueberry Cashew Butter Energy Balls + 5 Of My Favorite Vegan, Gluten Free Energy Bite Recipes

When it comes to my eating patterns, I’m definitely more of small meals & snacks kinda girl. I like to eat every 3-4 hours, and feel like my body operates best this way.

If I eat a big meal, my belly feels heavy and too full, but when I eat smaller meals & snacks throughout the day, I feel great. Because of this, I always have lots of snacks around: in my purse, gym bag, car and obviously my pantry. Having healthy snacks around is the key to me not getting hangry!

One of my favorite kind of snacks is energy balls. I like to whip up a batch during the weekend to have on hand throughout the week. But since I get bored easily, I like to switch up my energy bite combos & am constantly coming up with new kinds. My latest energy ball creation are these Blueberry Cashew Energy Bites.

Made with rolled oats, cashew butter, raw cashews, hemp hearts, dried blueberries, and honey, they’re the perfect little snack full of healthy fats, carbs and protein.

{Note: Maple syrup, agave, or brown rice syrup can be substituted for honey to make them vegan.}

These blueberry cashew energy bites are my latest creation published on Shape. Get the recipe here!

And since I’m constantly making energy balls for my snacking pleasure, I’m also sharing 5 other kinds of energy bites that I love today. Check em out!

Chunky Monkey Protein Bites. Because banana + peanut butter + chocolate = the best combo ever!

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Healthy Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cinnamon Cookies {vegan}

Does anyone else just all of a sudden get in the mood for baking sometimes?

The measuring and mixing, pouring and stirring, baking and cooling. The smells of something delicious coming together and the anticipation of taste testing. It’s therapeutic to me.

Last week as I was jotting down a bunch of things to nab at the food store and planning out what healthy snacks I’d make this week, I got bitten by the baking bug. And I didn’t feel like just following a recipe, I was in the mood for experimenting and getting creative.

Today’s recipe is a result of that baking bug. These cookies center around a few of my favorite things: the combination of chocolate + peanut butter & cinnamon.

Cinnamon is without a doubt my favorite spice. I’m constantly sprinkling some on my fruit, in my smoothies, and on my toast. It gives meals a bit of something extra, au naturel.

I also love pairing cinnamon with peanut buttery goodness. Cinnamon sprinkled on top of sliced banana, topped with peanut butter. Oats with baked apple chunks, peanut butter & cinnamon.

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