recipe

Recipe for the New Year!

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It's Rosh Hashanah!

Are some of you confused already? It's the Jewish New Year!

Glad we are all on the same page now.

The symbolic foods for this holiday are apples dipped in honey to represent the start of a sweet new year.

Today we are making Charoset! Mmm mmm good...

Charoset is traditionally a Passover recipe but it's a favorite of mine and I couldn't help making it early.

I want you all to give it a try and enjoy!

It takes 20 minutes max!

3 large apples peeled, chopped, and cored into tiny pieces. I personally love organic Fuji apples or red delicious.

1/2 cup of finely chopped walnuts

1 & 3/4 teaspoons of honey or agave

1/2 teaspoon of white sugar

1/4 cup or less of a sweet red wine. I enjoy a nice Pinot Noir. If alcohol isn't your thing you can also use grape or apple juice.

Add a touch of cinnamon on top to give it a little flair.

You can plate some fresh spinach and add the Charoset on top for a sweet and scrumptious lunch.

Side note: I'm eating it as I'm typing this to all of you. :)

Vegan Cheese Recipe by April Norris

Vegan Cheese Recipe by April Norris

Looking to make the most delicious non-dairy cheese?! You've found it right here in BennerFit with guest blogger April Norris.

USANA 5day Cleanse Overview

I did it folks! 5 whole days of cleansing! I can't believe I actually made it through. I've got discipline but I didn't think I had 5 days of it!

I posted about my day one experience and I was pleasantly surprised. I usually go into new things with an open mind, but I must say the thought of cleansing for 5 whole days seemed slightly daunting.

Usana and April Norris (USANA Independent Associate) kept me in check through this entire journey. I would receive daily emails filled with inspiration which were very beneficial during this cleansing process. Lets face it there is food temptation everywhere! What I LOVED most about this cleanse is that you are literally eating or drinking every two hours. That is way more then I do currently. Eating this often speeds up your metabolism and gets that body back in check.

I can honestly say, I feel better! My personal goal was just to see if I could actually make it through five whole days of cleansing. April was very kind in letting me know that I could eat as many fruits and veggies as I needed. I am very active so I have to be aware of my caloric in take.

Moral of my cleanse story is that the USANA 5day RESET Cleanse is pretty darn wonderful! I really want to stress to all my Bennerfitters out there if you have wanted to cleanse, this is the one to do because it's totally doable! You don't feel hungry all the time since you are constantly eating or drinking. All of the smoothies taste delightful, the chocolate was my personal favorite! The Usana protein bars were both filling and delicious. And I love my fruits and veggies so the fact that I could eat them whole without putting them down a juicer was a big bonus!

If you are interested in this cleanse, the wonderful April Norris is your gal to contact, optimalvitality.usana@yahoo.com

Have a beautiful Tuesday! I'm feeling so energized I'm heading to the hills for a hike, thanks USANA and April! This cleanse rocks!

I'll leave you with Usana's motto...

Syd's Visit To Our Nation's Capital

"BEEP BEEP BEEP," went the alarm! Up and at em at 4:30 am in Los Angeles Sunday morning to take off to DC to visit my boyfriend and to sight-see around one of the most incredible places in our country. As our plane began to land in DC there was a heavy cloud cover and then all of a sudden the Washington Monument was breaking through the sky to my left. I felt a jolt of emotion, because here I am landing in a city where all of our presidents have stepped foot. It's overwhelming even as I write this... I'm going to switch gears for a second here. In California, there is an 8th grade trip to Washington, DC that all students are able to take over Spring Break. When I was in 8th grade, my daddy was very sick with cancer, so instead of taking the trip, I spent time with my family. To be here fourteen years later - for the first time - is deeply emotional for me and I feel like I can appreciate it all the more at this point in my life. As I walked up to the White House tears dropped down my face... I was just overcome with emotion. How amazing to be in front of a home where all of our presents have lived (except George Washington, but he had the place built!) To walk around the National Mall or to stand in front of the Washington Monument, I am walking in history. As my mama said, "you can see it, touch it, believe it...it is not a fable!" It is all real and I am honored to be here...

Yesterday I slept in and slowly woke up to start my day. I looked up various yoga studios around the downtown DC area and found a place called Sculpt DC which is a spin/yoga studio. I popped into a 12:15 pm yoga sculpt class. The studio was super chic and urban. You walk in upstairs and the studios are located downstairs. There are gorgeous bathrooms, showers, and even a lounge area for all the fitness goers to freshen up or relax. I like a booty kicking workout, this particular class was a bit more relaxing but certainly a nice way to start my day.

 

Following my yoga class I popped into Le Pain Quotidien for a fresh lentil salad with a cup of vegan black bean soup, yum!

 

I decided to head to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History which is on Pennsylvania Ave and part of the national mall. Most museums here are free, which is a big plus! I could have spent hours in here but having limited time to get all of my sight seeing in, I tried to get as much in as I could before I walked over to the Washington Monument. They had an award winning animal photography section and below were a couple of my favorites.

 

The Washington Monument shines high above all the downtown DC buildings. It's not a city that is built tall like New York or Chicago, but it's architecture doesn't need height to make it beautiful. Here I am in the FREEZING windy weather in front of the Monument.

 

What I love most about being here, is that this city is so easy to navigate. You walk everywhere because you can and in the midst of all the national landmarks you get a 3 to 5 mile walk in! Total health bonus! No wonder DC is one of the fittest cities in the US.

This is just day one here and I have a day and a half to go! I can't wait to see what I can fit in, in just a few short hours...

Love you America!

 

Stuffed Strawberry Banana Creams Make Me Beam!

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This past weekend I hosted two of my dear college friends for a girls weekend. We all had the best time hanging out on the couch, catching up, going to the movies, and eating delicious food. We indulged in one too many treats and loved every minute of it! I was looking forward to cooking up a belated birthday dinner one of my best friends, Megan on Saturday night. Since I was hosting the whole weekend I knew I would have limited time to cook up lots of food. So when searching for menu ideas I knew I had to keep it simple. One of my favorite appetizers I made was actually just about the easiest of them all. STUFFED STRAWBERRY BANANA CREAMS (thank you fitsugar.com for the inspiration)

Anything with the word strawberries always catches my attention. Strawberries can stand alone or bring a lot of flavor to a recipe. These stuffed strawberries only require a total of four ingredients and the fourth being the strawberries themselves.

 

All you need are:

1) Bananas (half of one)

2) Vanilla Greek Yogurt (2 oz)

3) Sliced Almonds (you choose how much you want to put it)

And..

4) STRAWBERRIES (8 of them)

Directions:

Wash the strawberries and dry them. Then use a melon scooper if you have one, or a knife if not, to cut out the middle of the strawberry.

 

Cut the banana in half and mash it up with a fork.

 

Add in the Greek yogurt with the mashed banana.

 

Add in the almonds to the banana and yogurt mix.

 

Time to scoop the banana, yogurt, and almond mix into the hollow strawberries.

 

And just like that you have decadent and healthy stuffed strawberry banana creams. They look fabulous on an appetizer or dessert table and I guarantee you your guests will eat them up in a jiffy! We certainly did last weekend!

 

Farro, Kale and Coconut Craziness! A New Year's party in your mouth.

 

My sister Kristin was and has always been the cook in the family. She's pro. Like doesn't recoil when there is more than five ingredients pro. She makes her own bread, people...this makes her legit. So really the fact that I do any blogging about food creation is, I'm pretty sure, super weird to my family. I was the eater not the creator. I burned the Pillsbury cinnamon rolls every time. Every. time. That is fact. I couldn't cook a premade presliced cookie dough without somehow, something going terribly wrong. It took me years to perfect not scorching the popcorn in the microwave. (I hate to brag but I never burn popcorn now. Ever. Not since they invented the popcorn button...)

If I did not live 3,000 miles away from my sister I would probably be blogging from her place weekly, just letting her cook the amazingness that she makes while I mindlessly snap photos. But instead, I carry on - only imagining the disgrace in her eye from food frenzy chaos I create.

Since Kristin is so hip to the know with the world of food - she turned me on to food blogs and such gems as the Joy the Baker podcast ... which brings me to my point.

This Christmas we were back together again in Florida and she thought of the brilliant idea to make a meal for the family. And I wanted in (likely to her chagrin). Since there are so many fabulous creations on the Joy the Baker/Shutterbean blogs we decided to have a mini feast with a few of their recipes. (We also threw in one part PF Changs by making lettuce wraps which might be featured on here soon as well.)

My favorite course was the recipe that follows. Since my folks had never experienced kale and I had never had the chance to try farro she was determined to make us the crunchy kale and coconut bowl on the Joy the Baker blog inspired by Shutterbean and Heidi Swanson's Supernatural Every Day cookbook (So needless to say this recipe has gotten around. And with reason!)

Holy. Moly. Three days later I was back in LA on a mad hunt for farro because this deliciousness blew my mind. We didn't stray from the recipe at all so mad props on this amazing blend of flavors and textures. So here she is...in all of her kale glory.

 

INGREDIENTS: 

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon sriracha

A little less than 1/3 cup olive oil

5 cups dino kale (ribless and torn into tiny bites) or a half a pound of bagged kale (making sure they are fairly stemless and pre-cut)

1 cup unsweetened large flake coconut

1 cup uncooked farro

DIRECTIONS:

Pre heat your oven to 350 degrees.

The Sauce:

In a small bowl mix the sesame oil, siracha and soy sauce together. As you whisk these up, slowly drizzle that olive oil on in and make sure everything is emulsified.

The Farro:

Grab a medium pot and begin to boil several cups of water. Add your farro once boiling. Lower the heat and let the grain simmer for 17-20 minutes. If you were like me and perhaps never have had farro it will soften like rice but have a much chewier texture. So once it is softened drain this with a colander.

But while the farro simmers begin...

The Almighty Kale:

On a baking sheet covered in parchment paper spread the kale and coconut evenly. (You are basically making kale chips so keep the layer of kale thin so it can crisp.) pour half of the sauce you created over the kale and coconut and toss it all up to coat. Bake 12-18 minutes or until your blend has become crispy and brown.

 

Once the kale combo and farro are done cooking, divide both into bowls and top it off with the remaining dressing. Then get to eating!

(Sidebar: Does anyone have a blog called Emulsified? Someone needs to get on that. Stat.)

Enjoy Benner Fitters. It's a great way to start off your new year right. Happy 2013!

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

 

To think there was a time in my life where I didn't like potatoes.

Well let me back up even further...

There was a time in my life where I didn't eat anything Thanksgiving related. This is not a time I am proud of.  I was a picky eater. And not in the refined palette kind of way. In a - I'm going to eat hotdogs for Thanksgiving and ridicule you on that other precious meal you spent hours creating, kind of way. "Stuffing?! Ewww gross! Yelch!! What is that?? Casserole with WHAAAT? Green beans?? It looks like vomitttt!"

My poor parents.

Now as an "adult" (I still give my adulthood air quotes), my tastes have expanded to eating nearly anything (sorry, seafood - maybe one day). If I had a list of my favorite foods - potatoes would likely rank as numero 1. If I were stranded on a desert island and had only potatoes to eat, I would die happy (so long as there was power to charge my iPad on said island).

My love for the tates (copyright, me -  2012) dates back to Friday lunches at McDonalds in pre school where I would shove my tiny face with as many French fries as possible. But I didn't expand beyond the French fry or potato chip until I was about 17 - when I was presented with a loaded baked potato. I was hesitant, sure. But the fact was that this potato was overflowing with everything I was passionate about - butter, cheese, bacon, chives, sour cream, chocolate, flakes of gold... I don't remember exactly what was in there... but the flavor explosion won me over. Big time. And there my love for the tates grew and expanded until I hit an even healthier variety.

Only since moving out to California 8 years ago did my love for the starchy spud stretch beyond your standard white potato. I'm not sure why the words "sweet" and "potato" didn't draw me in sooner. I just ignored people saying my two favorite things mashed into one statement. It's like me turning down a marriage proposal from  Ryan Reynolds-Jon Stewart for years. Idiot!

And just like my childhood, my sweet potato passion began with the fry and swelled into the delight for which we are here to talk about today.

Twice baked sweet potatoes!

Not once. Twice, friends. Let's do this:

TWICE BAKED SWEET POTATOES from Health Magazine

INGREDIENTS

4 - 6 small sweet potatoes (or yam it up) 1 tbsp. olive oil 1 large egg, lightly beaten 1 tsp. peeled and grated ginger 1/2 tsp. salt 1 tsp. sesame seeds Grated parmesan cheese

 

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place your sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and roast until they are tender. This took about 50 minutes. Set aside to cool.

2. Slice potato skins open. (Not all the way. We maybe cut ours open all the way. Oopsies! Still delicious regardless.)

3. Scoop out the insides leaving about 1/2 inch layer inside the skins to hold its shape. Add this to a large bowl.

4. Mash those tates in the bowl up. Stir in olive oil, egg, ginger and salt. Beat this all with a fork until it becomes smooth.

5. Stuff that filling back into your potatoes. Bake until the tops are puffed and golden brown - 25 minutes or so.

6. Sprinkle the potatoes with sesame seeds, some salt and pepper and a light layer of parmesan cheese - all to your liking.

And we definitely liked. We stuffed ourselves silly with these potatoes... and let me tell you, we were certainly thankful. Hope you all are having fun planning your Turkey Day!

Quiche, quiche, delicious quiche...

 

I was thinking about how the heck I would talk about quiche...to be honest every time I would see it on a menu or in lovely local cafe display window I would just stare at them and think those look pretty, complicated, unhealthy, and delicious.  I never thought about attempting it in my own kitchen for the complicated and unhealthy reasons.  Thank goodness for the beautiful pictures on Pinterest that reel me in!  Thank you to  "Gimme Some Oven" for this great, dairy free, vegetable quiche (with eggs) recipe that was not only healthy but absolutely delicious.  And most importantly simple!

How great to have a homemade ready to go breakfast, lunch, or dinner throughout the week.  Cooking every meal sounds daunting but to know that you've got more than a few meals taken care is fantastic.

 

Here's the recipe...

 

  • 1 recipe pie crust (*Optional)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 handfuls fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped if desired
  • 1 small white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 5-10 asparagus spears, ends trimmed then chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 eggs
  •  3/4 cup plain rice milk or almond milk
  • 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. chipotle powder (or chili powder)
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
*We've made this recipe twice and on round 2 we went crustless. Even healthier, and just as tasty.

 

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.


If you are getting crusty - lay out that pie crust in an ungreased pie plate, or crack open your pre-made pie crust.  If you are going sans crust, lightly grease a pie plate in whatever means you like so that the egg mix doesn't stick to the surface.


Grab a large bowl. In here, whisk up your eggs, flour, baking powder, rice or almond milk, salt, paprika, thyme, chipotle/chili powder, and black pepper.


Heat up that oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add your onions, chopped red peppers, and asparagus, and saute for about 5 minutes. Make sure your asparagus is nice and cooked.


Pour the sauteed vegetables into your large bowl with all of your other ingredients. Add the fresh spinach, and stir until well combined.


Pour the egg and vegetable mixture into the pan. Place in oven and cook for 45-50 minutes. Give it the toothpick test, and if it's coming out clean - you are good to go! The quiche will be nice and poofy upon it's removal from the oven - but let it settle for a few minutes before digging in. Throw some extra salt and pep on top for a boost of flavor.

 

Take a bite, let the flavors melt in your mouth and enjoy it already!  Upon having this for breakfast this morning (after dinner last night... yeah, maybe lunch happened too)  I added some spicy veggie sausage to the side. Holy. Moly.

Let's just say - I'm not afraid of quiche no mo'!