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I am not a sugar addict, but I must admit I do have a small sweet tooth, and I love love love the combination of chocolate and peanut butter.  I often enjoy a small piece of chocolate after lunch and after dinner.  My go-to sweet treat is often a mini Reese's Peanut Butter cup, although lately I have been eating the leftover cheapie chocolate I bought for the boys' Christmas stockings.

I feel guilty every time I eat the cheap bits of chocolate, because I know that if I'm really going to splurge on a sweet treat, it should be something really good that I am truly enjoying.  

I've also been interested in eating something that it a little less processed.  I've heard about the Newman's Own Organic Chocolate Peanut Butter cups, but they are so pricey, and they are pretty big (I don't think they make minis) and still have a fair number of calories, fat, etc.

So, I embarked on a journey to make my own (healthier) chocolate PB treats.  What I ended up with is an amazingly delicious sweet treat that you can enjoy without one gram of guilt!!

These Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Balls  (CPBP) are based off of this recipe, but I made one modification involving Chocolate PB2 to make it even less caloric.

Ingredients:
  • 1 mixed cup of Chocolate PB2 (I estimated this used about 4 tbsp of the powder -- you can find the PB2 in the Health/Organics section of the grocery store -- it has 85% less calories than regular peanut butter!)
  • 1 cup Natural creamy (or crunchy if you prefer) peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar (I was just shy of a half a cup)
  • 2 scoops vanilla whey protein powder
  • sea salt, to taste (I used my Kosher salt, and it really makes all the difference!  I used just a dash of it, but it adds an awesome crunch and taste to the balls)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (I used 2 tsp because I always double the vanilla)
  • If you find the mixture is too thick, you can add a little water.  I did not need to add any water, since the PB2 makes it a little on the gooey-er side.  It was just the right consistency for me.
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips (I used a mix between dark and milk chocolate)


Directions:
  1. Mix up your PB2.
  2. Mix all ingredients (except for chocolate) in a bowl.
  3. Roll mixture into balls (about 1 tbsp in size, maybe a little smaller).  I made 66 balls.  Place in a dish and refrigerate for 30-45 minutes.
  4. Once balls are chilled, melt your chocolate (I melted mine in the microwave using 15 second increments until it was just melted).
  5. Dip your balls in the chocolate.  Since these balls are pretty rich, I only dipped one side of the balls in the chocolate.  This also left a nice clean side for putting it back in the dish.
  6. I put these back in the fridge and then ended up transferring them into two small freezer bags (I basically had a single layer of balls in each bag) and putting them into the freezer.  They are sooooo awesome fresh out of the freezer, but they are also good after they've been sitting out for awhile.


I used caloriecount.com to calculate the calories on these and 1 ball has 27 calories, 1.7 g. of fat, 2.4 g. of carbs, and 1.1 g. of protein.  That's about half the calories, half the carbs, more than half the fat, and almost the same amount of protein as the original recipe.  An actual Reese's Pieces Mini PB Cup has 44 calories, 2.6 g. of fat, 5 g. of carbs, and .8 g. of protein.

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The other evening I made cheeseburger zucchini boats for dinner (inspired by a pic I saw on Pinterest), and boy were they delicious!!  Seriously good!  I actually fed the boys deconstructed cheeseburger zucchini boats (along with a quarter of a whole grain English muffin and strawberry applesauce), and they both had clean plate club!  They had to eat their meat and zucchini before they could have seconds of the English muffin and applesauce, and they had no problem eating everything.
Bob was actually out for the evening, so I went ahead and made two whole zucchinis, which meant that I had enough for a nice leftover lunch the next day.  I added some reheated steamed veggies to my lunch and it was super filling!  This meal was definitely a winner, and I will be making it again.  I think Bob will like it, too!

This was another one of those meals that illustrates to me how easy "clean" eating is.  This all came together so quickly for me and used a small number of fairly inexpensive ingredients.
Ingredients (I didn't really measure anything, just threw it all together!)
  • 1 lb. pckg ground beef (I used 85% lean and drained off the grease)
  • Sprinkle of Mrs. Dash
  • Sprinkle of garlic powder
  • Sprinkle of McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Shredded cheese (I used reduced-fat cheddar)
  • 2 zucchinis

Directions
  • First thing to do is preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  • Cut your zucchinis in half length-wise.  Then take a paring knife and cut out a wedge of the center of each half (basically, make your "boat")
  • Put your zucchinis on a baking sheet that is lined with aluminum foil (for easy clean-up) and pop them in the oven to cook while you're doing your meat
  • Brown your meat in a skillet over medium-ish heat
  • Sprinkle in all of your seasonings.  I say, you can't have too much flavor, so be generous with your sprinkling.  Add whatever seasonings you prefer!
  • Once your meat is cooked through, pull your zucchinis out of the oven and put your skillet on a hot pan holder next to your baking sheet.
  • At this point, I pulled meat out for the boys' plates, topped the meat with the shredded cheddar, and cut off some zucchini and added it to their plates.
  • Fill your zucchinis with your cooked meat and then top with as much shredded cheese as you please
  • Pop it all back in the oven to bake just until the cheese is melted and starting to bubble


This worked for me!  The zucchini cooked enough to not be raw but still had a nice density and bite to it.  It complemented the cheesy ground beef perfectly!

You can eat this as your entire meal, or you can serve it with a side of steamed veggies.  It also paired very nicely with my leftover steamed broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower.  The ground beef and cauliflower was especially good together!

Enjoy!
 
Lunch today was leftovers of this beautiful dish.  And yes, I've been looking forward to lunch ever since I woke up :)

Today's lunch had quinoa instead of jasmine rice, though.  

So seriously, last night's dinner was fan-freaking-tastic!  And (bonus!), one of the reasons I put it on the menu was to use up a large quantity of broccoli slaw that would have otherwise gone uneaten and probably would have gotten soggy and yucky in the fridge.
I had leftover broccoli slaw from the super yummy buffalo chicken rolls I made a previous weekend (sorry, no pictures!).  The recipe for this dish didn't really call for broccoli slaw; it actually uses a bunch of veggies chopped up as matchsticks.  But, I had the slaw and needed to use it!  The recipe also called for oyster sauce and mushrooms, neither of which I had and neither of which I wanted to buy.

So, I adapted the original recipe and it still came out damn tasty!  Imagine if I had followed everything to order.  
The kiddos got deconstructed steak rolls, but I'm sad to say that they weren't a huge hit :(  It's too bad, because I was pretty proud of how colorful and healthy their plates looked.  Unfortunately, they mostly just played with the edamame.  Taylor ate his rice and I think he ate one of the green peppers. He may have put the red pepper in his mouth.  That's about it.  Oh well.  Try and try again!

I have to say, this was an extremely delicious meal.  The veggie filling was so good, I could eat it straight out of the pan (and may have actually done just that last night).  
I definitely adapted this from the original recipe to make it slightly cheaper for myself and also a bit quicker to make.  Making it a little easier was done out of necessity, since the little ones were getting restless.

If I could do it over again, I would make this on a Saturday when we had a little more time to "do it right."  I would give it more time to freeze to make it easier to slice, and I would definitely build in more time to marinate the steak in the soy sauce.  I would probably also buy the oyster sauce to make the sauce according to the original recipe.  But seriously, we will definitely be making this dish again!  Bob loved the fact that he could eat it with his fingers like a sushi roll.  I ended up using a fork and knife to eat it like a respectable person :)

Here's a quick version of how we made last night's delicious meal:

Ingredients:
  • flank steak (1 lb. or so)
  • broccoli slaw
  • red pepper
  • green pepper
  • soy sauce
  • sesame oil
  • squeeze garlic
  • squeeze ginger
  • salt and peppa
  • edamame (to serve on the side)
  • boil in the bag jasmine rice (to serve on the side)

Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • medium squeeze of garlic
  • Original recipe called for 1 tbsp. oyster sauce, but I just used a drizzle of fish sauce ('cause that's what I had), and I added a couple shakes of soy sauce to make it look brown.  'Cause that's how I roll.

  1. Freeze flank steak for 15-30 minutes to make it easier to slice.  Slice into 1/8 inch strips, against the grain. Pound them thin so they'll cook up fast.
  2. Meanwhile, make sure all of your veg is chopped matchstick style (slaw is already like that)
  3. Saute veg in with some olive oil and add about 1 tbsp. soy sauce (I just shook it over the pan a few times).  Add about 1 tsp. of sesame oil (drizzled over the pan).  Add a big squeeze of garlic and a big squeeze of ginger.  Add a few shakes of salt and peppa.
  4. In the original recipe, you're supposed to marinate your sliced steak in some soy sauce and pepper.  If we had time, I would totally do that, because I bet it makes it even more awesome.
  5. Once you've got your filling done, you take you steak slices and lay them out.  Put a little filling on each end and roll it up.  Stick a toothpick through to hold it all in place.
  6. Heat your saute pan with about 1 tbsp. veggie oil.  
  7. Add about 5 rolls and sear on both sides for about 1-2 minutes.  Add about half your sauce and put the lid on the pan and let them cook for 3-5 minutes.
  8. Repeat for remaining rolls.
  9. Servie with edamame and rice.

Original Recipe

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!
 
Today's lunch is brought to you by last night's dinner: chicken kabobs with zucchini, red pepper, and onion, along with a brown rice/quinoa blend.  Bob marinated the chicken in a bottled Teriyaki sauce that even has little Teriyaki seeds in it.  The vegetables were tossed with olive oil and a premade Chicken seasoning.  The whole dinner was ahmahzing!

So today's lunch was leftovers + carrots and three wondrously ripe strawberries.

Delish!  I love all of the colors in the box, too :)
 
 
Here's the other dish we made out of the leftovers.  I don't even know what to call it!

Again, it doesn't look pretty, but it was quite tasty.  Originally, we were going to make a quick Shepherd's Pie.  We were going to add corn and edamame and top it all with microwave mashed potatoes and bake it in the oven.

But, we had leftover baked spaghetti squash, so Bob threw the spaghetti squash in the saute pan and added the beef & 'shrooms.  He added some Tabasco sauce to his, but I was very happy with my dish with no added spice.
Lunch today consisted of leftovers from last night's crock pot beef & mushrooms, a small amount of brown rice, and leftover roasted green beans.

It may not look pretty, but this lunch hit the spot!

You know, I had forgotten about this recipe until I found it by looking through my older blog posts.  I've only posted about a couple of recipes, but I thought I would make this yesterday, and we are already getting so many other meals out of it.  It's pretty crazy how versatile this dish it.


Because the beef & 'shrooms have tomato sauce in the base, I think it went very well with the pasta-like spaghetti squash.

Overall, I think I am ready to take a bit of a break from beef, but these meals were quite different.  I loved the use of the spaghetti squash with the meaty sauce.  I had been considering trying to do some kind of ground beef, diced tomatoes, squashy thing, and this ended up being pretty close and making good use of leftovers.

Looking forward to tomorrow evening's Buffalo chicken burgers!
 
Hey look at me!  I'm back, and I'm writing.  Well, I'm taking pictures of my lunch, anyway.  So, I miss writing, I really do.  I've been craving it, actually.

At the same time, I am making some super yummy lunches.  A lot of them include leftovers from some super yummy dinners.  Pretty much all of them are involving lots of whole foods, which is really representative of the way I've been eating lately.

I've found myself being so excited about what I'm eating for lunch, that I want to take a picture of it.  This, I think, is too much oversharing for Facebook, so I've decided to try to post my daily lunches here.  Especially if they are lunches worth sharing ;)

Today's lunch is shredded turkey (leftover from last night's ahmazing dinner), quinoa, and some cut up red and green peppers.  After I heated it all up, I added some Sriracha sauce.  Delish!
 
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This was another wonderful meal that served for two dinners.  Last Sunday we made a delicious crock pot beef & mushroom dish, which we served with brown rice, and we repurposed the leftovers last evening for a delicious Shephard's pie.  The picture may not look overly beautiful, but the result was highly tasty.

Below are the two recipes for our two delicious (and pretty easy!) dinners.

Crock Pot Beef & Mushrooms

We served this with brown rice and roasted asparagus.  The rice and veg helped to really differentiate this from stew, which is often how any beef crock pot dish ends up tasting.  This definitely did not taste like stew.  It did, however, taste beefy and comforting and delish!
  • 1 1/2 lbs. stewing beef
  • 1 small pkg. white mushrooms (the recipe called for canned, but we like to use the fresh mushrooms)
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic (we use the store-bought paste you can get in the produce section)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1-2 stalks celery (the recipe didn't call for this, but we used it sense we had it on hand)
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 jar of beef gravy
  • 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper


  1. Brown meat, mushrooms, garlic, onions, celery in butter in skillet.
  2. Mix gravy with meat mixture.  Add the rest of the ingredients to the mix.  Pour into slow cooker.
  3. Cover, cook on low for 8-9 hours.
  4. Serve over cooked noodles or rice.


Leftover Shephard's Pie

This is an easy favorite of ours, the original of which is derived from Bob's mom's recipe.  We simplified it even more by using microwave mashed potatoes and, obviously, the leftover beef & mushroom crock pot recipe.  I thawed the frozen corn and peas and then microwaved the leftover beef & mushrooms (on 2 minutes at power level 8), so everything was pretty warm when we put it into the oven.  Because of that, it only need between 20-30 minutes.
  • Leftover crock pot beef & mushroom
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed (eyeball it)
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed (eyeball it)
  • 1 pkg. microwave mashed potatoes (I kind of wish we had used 2 packages)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Prepare mashed potatoes according to package directions.
  3. Mix meat mixture with thawed corn and peas.
  4. Top with mashed potatoes.
  5. Bake in oven for between 20-30 minutes.  Pie should be boiling/bubbling.  Let bubbles for at least 5-10 minutes, if not longer.  
  6. Also, be sure to let pie sit for awhile to cool a bit.
  7. Serve with biscuits, if desired.