Whole Wheat Pumpkin Apple Muffins

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pumpkin apple muffins

I bake a lot of muffins. And I try to make them as healthy as possible, because they’re small and easy to pop into your mouth like candy. Especially when they have pumpkin in them.

Because pumpkin anything = amazing.

At least in the CW world.

I’ve been baking oatmeal bars and pumpkin muffins this past year to take to work for snacks instead of cardboard granola bars.

And I’ve been making these ones a lot. First of all, this recipe makes a lot. And the muffins freeze well. Second, they’re really delicious. And third, you can add anything to the batter. Really. Omit the apples — add some nuts — add chocolate chips — dried fruit.

Oh, and totally vegan.

You can’t go wrong!

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Apple Muffins

Makes 24
Adapted from Thrifty Veggie Mama
Printable Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 2/3 cup almond milk (or regular milk)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 2 cups apples, chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line muffin tins with liners.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
  4. Add the oil, maple syrup, milk, pumpkin, and vanilla to the dry ingredients.
  5. Fold in the hot water and the apples until evenly distributed
  6. Spoon batter evenly into muffin tins.
  7. Bake 20 – 25 minutes until toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean.

pumpkin apple muffins 2

My Two Cents

These are fun to bake alone with the country music cranked up late at night when your husband is at law school.

Also I think I mentioned before that they taste good.

Enjoy! :)

Crockpot Freezer Meal: BBQ Chicken with Veggies

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bbqchicken

Behold.

Another recipe!

This week I give you a lovely crockpot freezer meal — BBQ chicken. But not just your typical pulled BBQ chicken to stuff in a bun or tortillas — this one is loaded with veggies. I love that! A BBQ chicken that is more dynamic and complex, yet still incredibly simple.

This was part of my large crockpot freezer meal batch that I made a few weeks ago. I’ve gone over this before, but every few months I make a big batch of freezer meals to make my life a bit easier (this month I did it with my sister-in-law — we were making them for my other sister-in-law who is about to have a baby, aka I have another nephew on the way and I can’t wait to meet him!!!)

Anyway.

So I came home to this meal after a long day at work and when I walked into my building I could smell the barbeque sauce from down the hall. Simply irresistible! Chris and I were so happy with the meal — served over rice — a completely satisfying meal to enjoy :)

Crockpot Freezer Meal: BBQ Chicken with Veggies

Adapted from Mama and Baby Love
Serves 6-8
Printable Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato, chopped (peeled or unpeeled — either works)
  • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 cup carrots, sliced (or 1/2 bag of baby carrots)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts
  • 1 bottle of BBQ sauce

Directions

  1. Put all the ingredients into a gallon sized freezer bag. I suggest double bagging this one because there are a lot of ingredients. Lay flat to freeze.
  2. When ready to cook, take out of the freezer the night before and place in the fridge. If it’s still too frozen to get out of the bag in the morning, place in the microwave for 5 minutes on defrost. (You can also put it in the microwave on defrost for 7-10 minutes if you forget to defrost it in the fridge.)
  3. Place in crockpot and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours.
  4. Serve over rice.

My Two Cents

Make crockpot meals. That’s really the best feedback I can give you ;) You will be so grateful you put in 3-4 hours to make 5-6 meals!

Here are the other crockpot freezer meals I have on the blog:

 

Finding Happiness (Doodling on my food helps)

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I’m here!

I know it’s been a while, but I exist, and I still care about this wonderful little corner of the world known as CW-land in my head.

Since I’ve gotten a smartphone, I’ve noticed a rising trend in my blog posts….

….they stop existing.

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That’s not to say I don’t still cook a ton. I actually cook more than I did during the summer. Way more! But instead of taking out my big, bulky camera to take pictures, I instead take out my phone, pull up Instagram, take picture, apply filter, and post to the world what I’m eating. Often decked out with doodles.

The doodles! :) I tend to put Sriracha on everything I eat. It’s delicious and makes everything taste better for some scientific reason that’s hard to explain. So since I was already smothering my food in it, I decided a few weeks ago that I’d have a little fun with it. In the form of smileys. Hearts. Words. I’ve gotten a lot of “likes” on them, and some comments. Mostly in the form of “You’re crazy.”

But food is a form of therapy for me. Even if I don’t write up a post about the specific details of the recipes I make, simply being in the kitchen by myself with music on, chopping really healthy foods and participating in the act of creating something delicious is helping me tremendously during this time.

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And the doodles are the finishing touches. A way of my food saying, “Congrats, Megan! You’ve created something wonderful again. I’m happy. You’re happy. And now spread this joy to others so they might feel it, too!”

So that’s what I do!

Working with a body and mind that has rejected me for so long is frustrating (frustrating is sort of an understatement, but we’ll just leave it at that.) Anyway, it’s hard work trying to get it to cooperate with me. But eating the right foods is definitely a great helper for getting there. And like I said, is a great motivator for keeping my happy fuels running.

So what have I been eating since the last update? Actually, a lot of meals from my archives (which is another reason why I haven’t been posting too many new recipes lately!) ;) ;)

Pictured above: Wraps
These have been my go-to lunch lately. I usually get sick of eating the same thing over and over again, but I vary the wraps up, because you can literally put anything in it. I put veggies, lean meat, tuna, avocado. Mmmm Avocado…so good.

Pictured above: Cheesy pasta bake
I don’t usually eat pasta, and I only had it once since the last post. I was running low on food and had an abundant amount of frozen veggies and pasta. So what did I do? Cook them all up, throw them in a casserole dish, top with cheese, and bake it. Not really a recipe, but a great Friday night meal for binging on Netflix (couugghhhh…House of Cards)

hearts2

Mexican Chicken Skillet Dinner
Skillet dinners are very very very very helpful for the people who are short on time and/or fatigued by the end of the day. My Whip it up Wednesday meals are becoming incredibly handy like this chicken skillet dinner — protein and veggies all in one dish. Add grains and carbs if desired!

hearts1

Eggplant Parmesan
If you want Italian and are looking for a way to eliminate carbs, bake up this fool-proof incredibly simple eggplant parm. It’s one of my mom’s go-to’s. We used to have this usually as a side dish, because it’s all veggies. But you can make it the main meal easily by adding a big salad with it and/or (garlic) bread. So. Much. Yum.

crockpot freezer meals

Crockpot Freezer Meals!!!
My sister-in-law and my brother are expecting their first child any day now. So I got together with my other sister-in-law one afternoon and together we made 15 freezer meals in 3 1/2 hours — for $150 dollars!!!! I walked away with 5 of them, and already made one of them this week >> Sausage and Peppers (pictured below)

crockpot

Freezer meals are amazing. They save money. They are time savers. They taste great. They’re healthy. And they’re easy to put together. I honestly have no idea why I don’t put a bunch together every single month!!

So although I don’t have any groundbreaking new recipes to share with you, there is a lovely comfort in preparing the tried and true. Thank you, CW archives ;)

And thanks, readers, for sticking with me!

‘Til next time…

:)

What’s on my plate? Healthy eating and hypothyroidism

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Since my last update on my struggle with hypothyroidism, I have been following the same rules I originally set out. I’m avoiding raw greens like spinach and kale — as well as raw cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower. I’m also avoiding soy products and have stopped eating tofu and edamame in large quantities. On top of that, I’ve tried to reduce my simple carb intake significantly…. aka I haven’t had a bowl of pasta/spaghetti for a long time.

So? That with the combination of increasing my medicine means things should have leveled out now, right? Yes? And No? Honestly, I’m not sure where I stand with my levels and I won’t for a few more weeks — which is when my next appointment is. Overall, my energy level has increased. I’ve stopped losing so much hair. And I feel more like myself. Many of my friends have said to me, “You have your personality back!” Or “You just seem happier.” These are all good things — great, in fact. But I still have my days where I’m stricken with anxiety or where my emotions seem to get the better of me. On top of that, despite eating a boatload of fruits and vegetables and small serving sizes of almost everything…the number on the scale has remained the same. It’s good that I haven’t gained any weight, especially since I was gaining so quickly, but I’m not having any luck losing…not even an ounce.

Every single person though, persistently tells me that the weight I’m at right now is good. It’s great, even. That I was too skinny before. I agree, hesitantly, that they’re right. A number on a scale doesn’t matter. It should all depend on how I feel. I have more energy, wahoo! That’s great! I don’t feel flabby — my workouts have toned my muscles up, so that’s good, too! These are the things I should concentrate on, but sometimes in pictures of myself I just see the new chubbiness in my face and can’t stop focusing on it. Or the dreaded double chin. Or the larger thighs. And then I think about all the pants I bought — a size up — and how often I wear leggings now instead of jeans. And I always, always, always try to push it to the back of my mind. I work at a women-centered feminist organization, for goodness sake. These types of thoughts should be so far from my mind.

I guess, my conclusion, is that I’m a work in progress. As I get older, my natural metabolism, which is gone to the wind now anyway, would’ve slowed down. So modest weight gain was always on the horizon. But I always thought of it as distant, not an immediate punch in the face of — “SURPRISE! Here’s 10 pounds of insecurity to carry around.”

But as discouraging as chronic diseases can be sometimes, the only choice I have is to work through it. And just to continue what I’m doing. If this is the way the new me is shaped, I have to accept it and love it….even if it takes me a while to see the bright side of all this.

Because there’s always a bright side :)

So ANYWAY. Here’s what I’ve been eating lately!

Veggie wraps. These have become my favorite lunch lately. I load up low-carb, low-cal wraps with mounds of veggies like peppers, onions, avocado, arugula, mushrooms, tomatoes, snap peas, and any other delicious veggies I have lying around the fridge. Basically, when you open our fridge now, you only see veggies. It forces me to eat mostly fruits and veggies, but also forces me to sometimes hate the fridge … because sometimes all I want are mounds of Mac and Cheese with a side of ice cream instead…

chickenfingers

Low-carb dinners. Like these homemade chicken fingers with homemade honey mustard sauce with a side of veggies. This is just some breaded chicken breast strips baked until golden with a side of equal proportions of brown mustard and honey whisked together. So easy!!

redlentildal

Beans and legumes like this red lentil dal. I really love Indian dishes. They’re so incredibly simple to make, so affordable, so filling, and so healthy! This is simply a head of chopped cauliflower, 1 onion, 4 cloves garlic, 3 diced tomatoes, and 1 cup of lentils, with a few dashes of curry, cumin, tumeric, salt, and pepper. Combine in a pot with a bit of oil, stir for a few minutes, add 2 cups of water, boil, and simmer until everything delicious smelling and good and mushy. Sprinkle some lime juice over it and eat. Yum.

riceveggiebowl

Vegetarian stir fries like this grilled rice and veggie bowl. I’ve had a lot of rice and veggies in my diet lately. Even though this recipe has “grilled” in the title, all I did was basically toast the veggies — one kind at a time in a touch of oil my frying pan until soft and browned, while some rice was cooking on the side. Then I mixed them all together and added some cheese and herbs.

ratatouillecasserole

A very happy ratatouille casserole made with eggplant, zucchini, red pepper, onion, rice, and feta cheese. Oh, and a Sriracha smiley face. The veggies were cooked slightly in a large pot with some olive oil and spices before getting tossed into a casserole dish with uncooked rice, broth, and a can of diced tomatoes and got cooked for about 40 minutes with some feta sprinkled on top. So great.

grubhub bananacookies

And sometimes I indulge….just a little. One Friday night we ordered from GrubHub and I got an aamaaaazing veggie burger with a side of sweet potato fries (so even that’s not too bad!) And for the Superbowl, me and my friend whipped up some banana chocolate chip cookies. (Also not incredibly bad…but incredibly tasty)

So as you can see, what’s on my plate is good stuff. Great stuff. Healthy stuff. Delicious stuff.

Here’s to another healthy week! Let’s do this!

Valentine’s Day Treat: Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies

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redvelvetcookies3

Valentine’s Day is kind of a corny holiday. And a lot of people hate it, whether they are in love or not.

“Why do I need to spend money on you on this one specific day when I love you every day of the year??”
“I’m NOT buying into an overly advertised Hallmark holiday.”
“I am single and want nothing to do with anything related to Valentine’s Day. Ugh.”

I get that. And a lot of the time it’s marketed as the guy’s job to spend money and buy candy, teddy bears, flowers, and/or dinner for his gal. He can feel a lot of pressure. And if he doesn’t buy into the holiday, there can be a lot of complaining on the other side.

“I can’t believe he didn’t get me flowers. It’s an unwritten rule that you HAVE to do that on Valentine’s Day!”
“I got him a gift! How come he did not get me one, too??”
“LOOK AT EVERYONE ON FACEBOOK GETTING SOMETHING DELIVERED TO THEM. AND NOT ME. LOVE IS FUTILE. I HAVE NOTHING TO POST TODAY EXCEPT FOR SADNESS”

I’ve been in a relationship for a long time. I have done the corny things. He’s gotten me flowers and candy. I’ve given him cards and candy. I’ve planned a Valentine’s Day dinner at home. He’s taken me out on dates.

And yet! Some years we have done absolutely nothing. We’re secure enough in our love for each other that we don’t need to shower each other with candy and gifts to prove that our love still exists.

But ok.

Confession…

Some years when we don’t plan anything, I still like to bake something.

One year I made chocolate molten cakes. Because they’re cute and delicious. And they’re warm in the middle — so that signifies a warm heart, or something.

The first year we were dating, I baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies that spelled out “I Love You.”

So here. I’ll meet you all in the middle. Why don’t you put a bunch of your favorite movies onto “My List” on Netflix, buy a bottle of champagne, write each other adorable corny cards with crayons and markers expressing your love for each other, and bake a batch of these Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies to enjoy. That way, you both feel loved, you’re not spending too much money on the designated Hallmark Holiday, the color red makes its way in there, and um….

….cookies.

Happy Valentine’s Day!
redvelvetcookies2

Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies

From Duncan Hines
Makes 3 – 4 dozen cookies (depending on size)
Printable Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 box Duncan Hines Red Velvet Cake Mix (or any brand will do)
  • 6 tbsp butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Mix together the cake mix, butter, eggs, and vanilla with either an electric beater or wooden spoon.
  3. Place the powdered sugar in a shallow bowl or dish. Roll the dough into one inch balls, then drop gently into the sugar and roll around gently.
  4. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until set.
  5. Let cool on a wire rack. Then enjoy!

redvelvetcookies1

My Two Cents

These are pretty delicious. And really easy. I’m actually a really big fan of turning cake mixes into cookies. These turned out fluffy and chewy at the same time. And really adorable and fun.

Even if you don’t make them for Valentine’s Day, make them for the next party you go to!

Yum :)

<3

Secret Recipe Club: Simple Cassoulet

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After a hiatus from the Secret Recipe Club for the holidays, Group D is back in full swing, ready for another reveal day. And with this day comes some sad news for me — this will be my last time participating in the Secret Recipe Club.

I have been a part of the Secret Recipe Club for over two years. I’ve gotten assigned a different blog to make a recipe from every single month, and have made some delicious recipes — and have expanded my repertoire for it.

I have decided to pardon myself from the group, though, simply because there’s a lot of stuff happening right now — There’s my health I’m trying to concentrate on — as I’m sure you’ve kept up with the thyroid posts, there’s my photography, my day job, and everything else in between called “life.”

Thanks for having me in the group these past few years, SRC! I’ll miss you!

And to exit this wonderful monthly round of posts, here’s an amazingly simple and delicious cassoulet recipe from A Kitchen Hoor.

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Simple Cassoulet

Serves 6-8
Adapted from A Kitchen Hoor
Printable Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 cups carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups ow sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (28 oz) canned tomatoes
  • 2 (14 oz) canned cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 14 oz your favorite pre-cooked sausage, sliced

Directions

  1. Heat a large pot over medium-high eat. Add oil and swirl to coat. Add the carrots, onion, celery, and garlic to pan and saute 4 minutes. Add the chicken broth and simmer until vegetables are tender.
  2. Add the canned tomatoes, beans, herbs and sausage. Simmer an additional 15-20 minutes or until the sausage is heated through.
  3. Serve immediately.

My Two Cents

This dish was so easy and so simple and so filly and so healthy! Thank you, Christie, for a fabulous last SRC recipe! Keep in touch everyone! :)

To see all the recipes in this week’s SRC Reveal day, click the link below :)