Almond Berry Smoothie

The warmer weather has inspired me to break out the blender and get back to making smoothies. I love hiding greens in my smoothies to add more protein, vitamins and fiber to my diet.

I have always loved the Health Nut smoothie from Tropical Smoothie Cafe, but 1. it has a lot of added sugar and 2. I don’t have TSC near me, here in Chicago.

I took it upon myself to create my own copycat version of this nutrient packed drink! Here is what you need:

1/2 frozen banana

1 cup frozen blueberries

3/4 cup frozen mango

As much spinach as you like (I use about 2 handfuls)

1/4 cup raw almonds

1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Combine all your ingredients and blend to desired texture. I use a Nutribullet to make mine.

You can add almond milk or water along the way to thin it out a bit. All the frozen fruit makes it pretty thick, so it’s also great for a smoothie bowl! I like to add shaved coconut, more almonds and cut up banana on top to enjoy it as a meal.

This smoothie is so easy to make and will keep you full as a breakfast option, or after a workout. It tastes like blueberries, and the banana adds just a touch of sweetness.

Personally, I don’t use any type of protein powder, but I know at TSC most people order it with vanilla whey protein. The almonds and spinach add a lot of protein on their own.

I hope you all enjoy this easy and delicious smoothie. Let me know what you think!

Love, Leigh

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My Favorite Cauliflower Crust Pizza Toppings

As promised in the Trader Joe’s Haul post, I am here to share with you a few of my favorite cauliflower pizza crust combinations.

I make a few of these a month and have found both a vegetarian and a meat lovers recipe that are simple, quick and delicious!

For those of you who have never made/bought a cauliflower pizza crust, the frozen one from Trader Joe’s is my favorite. It’s gluten free, crispy and half a pizza has less grams of carbs than a bagel!

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A standard bagel has about 50 grams of carbohydrates. This WHOLE pizza has 96. That’s pretty impressive. A medium Jet’s Pizza (my favorite) has 224 grams of carbs…Not to say that a Jet’s Pizza shouldn’t be enjoyed with a FULL bottle of ranch, but once a week? Maybe not.

The point is that this pizza crust is amazing and you can’t tell it’s made out of vegetables. Let’s get topping!

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Veggie Pizza

I cook the crust as instructed on the box and then top it with the Trader Joe’s Fat Free Pizza Sauce and lots (and lots) of shredded mozzarella.

Next I add about a cup of sliced mushrooms, some dollops of ricotta, a few fresh basil leaves and thinly sliced tomatoes. I also like to add some sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

I broil it for about about five minutes and serve!

Meatball Pizza

Like the veggie pizza, I bake the crust as instructed, spread the sauce and cover in mozzarella.

For this one I add sliced tomatoes and basil (and sometimes bacon bits! NOM).

After I’ve broiled those toppings, I add my microwaved Trader Joe’s meatballs. You can find them in the freezer section. I don’t like to broil them because it makes them extra crispy, but to each his own.

I have tried a lot of combinations of toppings on this crust, but these two recipes are my very favorite.

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What do you add to your cauliflower crust?

I love to hear from you guys and I hope you all enjoy these as much as I do.

Love, Leigh

Going Bananas for Smoothies

If you thought my No-Bake Power Bites were easy, get ready for another quick and simple recipe to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Behold the four ingredient smoothie I make at least once (sometimes twice) a day.

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Here are the ingredients you need:

  • 1 frozen banana (freeze peeled)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of peanut butter (or PB2)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon (2-3 dashes)
  • 1 tablespoon of your choice of milk (I use lactose free 2%)

Directions:

  • Put all the ingredients in a NutriBullet or blender and blend until smooth
  • Add milk or ice for preferred consistency
  • Enjoy

The first reason I love this smoothie is that it’s even better as nice cream. That’s right, if you freeze it for an hour it transforms into a creamy ice cream-like substance. It’s a great way to cut down on sugar and I swear it tastes like a frozen cinnamon roll. Amazing.

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I have never been one for protein supplements. I would rather get my protein from whole foods than processed powders. If you are looking for a post-workout snack, your search is over!

The peanut butter supplies healthy fats, protein and fiber, and the banana is rich in potassium and magnesium. Lots of health benefits without the kidney and liver damage that often results from protein powder consumption.

If you don’t like peanut butter, I highly suggest using chocolate flavored PB2 as a substitute. You mix the powder with water for a creamy chocolate flavored spread (with less fat calories than peanut butter). I use a little less cinnamon with the PB2 to highlight the chocolate flavor.

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Easy, filling and delicious: the three requirements for a LoveLeigh approved recipe.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Please let me know what other kinds of recipes you’d like to see on the blog!

Love, Leigh

Fudging My Way Through Baking With Pumpkin

October is for watching football and eating anything and everything pumpkin flavored. If you’re like me, you’ve been partaking in this seasonal delight since late August.

Since we’ve all seen a thousand Instagram posts of pumpkin this, that and the other thing, I decided I wanted to mix it up. So, I went to Target, bought as many cans of pumpkin puree as I could carry home, and baked away.

I tried out lots of traditional recipes, but ended up discovering one that uses pumpkin and tastes like chocolate.

I made this three ingredient fudge completely by mistake. Let me explain…I followed a Delish recipe I saw on Facebook to make brownies and got a little distracted.

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A mistake, but also a delightful surprise. I would not recommend simultaneous baking and football watching…

If anyone ever makes this recipe correctly, let me know. I’m sure the brownies are just as good.

Three Ingredient Mistake Fudge:

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 cups peanut butter
  • 2 cups cocoa powder
  • Optional 2 teaspoons- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • Optional chocolate frosting

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 and line an 8x6x2 baking pan with parchment paper
  • Mix pumpkin, cocoa and peanut butter together until smooth. Add optional sugar to taste
  • Transfer batter to pan and bake for 15-18 minutes
  • Let cool
  • Frost if you so please
  • Store in fridge

This rich chocolate peanut butter fudge is very low in sugar and high in vitamin A. My only note is that although it’s a pretty guilt-free recipe, it’s also quite bitter. I suggest frosting the cooled fudge for a touch of sweetness.

Now that we’ve had our taste of chocolate, let’s get to the good ol’ fashioned autumn classics.

Pumpkin Pie Bombs!

This is another recipe I found via the Delish Facebook page. It does taste like pumpkin and I did follow the recipe correctly.

 

I will link the recipe here for the sake of not writing the world’s longest blog post, but next time you’re at the store pick up a can of crescent rolls and get ready for bite-sized, icing smothered, pumpkin deliciousness.

The only thing I changed  was that I sprinkled pumpkin pie spice on top instead of rolling them in sugar. I also saved the icing for dipping instead of pouring it on top. They save better that way and the crust doesn’t get soggy.

Next up. Drum roll please…Store-bought cookie mix!

Pillsbury’s Perfectly Pumpkin Premium Cookie Mix and Creamy Supreme Cream Cheese Frosting for the win.

It doesn’t get any easier (or tastier) than this, folks. Follow the directions on the box and use a makeshift Ziploc icing piping bag to make them look fancier than they are.

Wallah! Minimum effort, great taste and an Instagram worthy presentation.

If you take anything away from this post, I hope it’s that you should buy anything and everything from the seasonal section of Target (like that mix) and that sometimes the best things in life happen by mistake. Penicillin, post-it notes and low-sugar fudge – the great mistakes of the human race.

Now grab a pumpkin spice latte and get baking, cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater!

Love, Leigh

The Trader Joe’s Finds You Need To Try

Since moving to Chicago, I have fallen back in love with Trader Joe’s.

My mom used to shop there when I was in high school, but I didn’t have one near me when I went off to college. Now that I am shopping at Trader Joe’s in the city, I have taken it upon myself to find the best treats and deals.

I present to you the ultimate Trader Joe’s grocery list!

Turkey Burgers

The Trader Joe’s brand Turkey Burgers are my favorite. I usually grill them, cut them up and eat them with tomato slices and the Trader Joe’s cilantro dressing.

Cilantro Dressing

This is one of the refrigerated salad dressings in the produce section. I’m not kidding when I say that I put this on everything.

It’s a great way to add some flavor to wraps and sandwiches. I like to spread it on a tortilla and add turkey, provolone and tomato slices. If you like cilantro you need this dressing in your life.

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Dark Chocolate Covered Powerberries

As we touched on in the No-Bake Power Bites post, if chocolate is involved, I’m all for it.

If you like pomegranate seeds or blueberries, this is like their delicious hybrid baby, smothered in chocolate.

Carrot Turmeric Juice

I have been looking for a turmeric juice that isn’t $8 a bottle for a while now. The Trader Joe’s one is $3.99 and tastes like carrots, so I finally found my winner.

I don’t think turmeric tastes great, but it has a lot of anti-inflammatories and antioxidant properties. I would describe the taste as a combination of ginger and pepper. Some people may disagree with that description, but some people are wrong.

The bottom line is that if you want to drink turmeric juice, but think it’s gross and expensive, this one is not gross or expensive. Thanks, Trader Joe’s.

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Lime Fruit Floes

I have always loved popsicles. I eat them all the time and these are my favorite lime flavored ones ever.

Occasionally, Trader Joe’s has Caribbean Fruit Floes, which tastes like pineapple and mango. Those are even better than the lime ones, but my store never has them.

Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend

This seasoning is exactly what it sounds like. Some genius over at Trader Joe’s was like “hey, we should scrape all the delicious seeds and salts off the top of an everything bagel and jar it.”

Now everything I eat tastes like an everything bagel and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

My favorite things to add it to are:

  1. Avocado toast
  2. scrambled eggs
  3. Tuna salad
  4. Veggies
  5. Steak

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Reduced Guilt Mac & Cheese

$1.99 for mac & cheese that tastes amazing and has half the carbs of normal mac & cheese. Enough said.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

I’m going to do a whole separate blog post on my favorite cauliflower pizzas, but until then just stock up on these whenever you see them. They sell out weekly and are seriously amazing.

I also use the Trader Joe’s fat free pizza sauce and mozzarella as the base for all my pizzas.

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Sparkling Spring Water

The island colada, pineapple and raspberry lime are my favorite flavors. 79 cents of bubbly delight.

Pretzel Bagels

Does anything about that combination sound bad?

Nope.

Frozen Zucchini Spirals

Shoutout to my pal Maddie for turning me onto these. When you don’t want to make your own zoodles, these are the best.

I like them with the Trader Joe’s turkey bolognese sauce.

Edamame 

I like to buy the frozen bag of lightly salted edamame.

Thaw them in the fridge and snack away. One of my favorite (healthier) salty snacks.

Dried Fruit

The coconut strips and banana chips are some of my favorite snacks to take to work. They offer organic, sweetened and unsweetened options and the prices are great compared to other stores. I also like the dried mango slices.

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Now, once you have all this stuff in your cart and are ready to pay, make sure you grab the sea salt brownies and cookie butter you told yourself you wouldn’t buy. Not because you want them, because you need them.

Love, Leigh

No-Bake Power Bites

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have agave and chia seeds stocked in my cupboard at any given time. However, I can guarantee that I always have chocolate chips on deck.

Using the most important ingredient in any recipe – chocolate – I have perfected the most simple and delicious snack around.

So, without further ado, I present to you the five ingredients (you already have in your pantry) required for these magical treats:

  • 1 cup instant oats
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips

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I have tried a million different combinations of this recipe that I’ve found online. I promise you that this one requires the least amount of ingredients, and tastes like a peanut butter cup. It’s a total win-win.

Honey is a natural energy source, cinnamon is loaded with antioxidants, oats are a good source of carbs and fiber, peanut butter fills you up, and chocolate, as mentioned, should be added to any and all recipes.

How to make them:

  1. Put all the ingredients in a bowl
  2. Stir
  3. Roll into 12 balls
  4. Freeze for at least an hour

I know this seems super complicated, but culinary excellence takes time, patience and refined craftsmanship… or in this case, just a spoon.

I like to store them in the freezer so they stay nice and chewy. They will keep in there for up to 10 days. I’m willing to bet that they will all be eaten before then, but I felt the need to throw that in for reference.

These are great for those of you who don’t like to eat a lot first thing in the morning. I am not familiar with this phenomenon, on account of the fact that I wake up ravenous, but apparently that’s a thing for some people.

I usually grab a couple to eat on the way to early morning workouts or if I’m in a rush before work. If you feel like reaching for a sweet treat in the afternoon, these will do the trick.

Please share your thoughts and pictures with me when you make them. I know you will love them as much as I do.

Happy snacking!

Love, Leigh