Chocolate Blackberry Smoothie

Following a hard run in hot weather, I rarely feel like turning on a stove but still want something high in protein and properly filling as a recovery meal. Since I nearly always have frozen produce at my disposal, smoothies have become a go-to for the summer months.

Blackberry Chocolate Smoothie {{Baking Bytes}}

After deciding to incorporate protein powder into some of my smoothies, I debated a good recipe for using the chocolate version. Blackberry seemed the obvious answer, especially since we’re often gifted Oregon-grown boysenberries from M’s parents (something I am never sad about.) Blackberry and chocolate is a delicious combination in any form and this smoothie definitely feels quite decadent despite its healthy ingredients.

Blackberry Chocolate Smoothie {{Baking Bytes}}

Frozen blackberries and, optionally, a small piece of banana for sweetness form the base of this smoothie. Chocolate protein powder is boosted by cacao powder to make the chocolate aspect more prominent. Cacao is a vaguely “healthier” option that cocoa powder, but you can definitely sub unsweetened cocoa if you’d like. Standard fiber and fat boost from chia and hemp seeds if that’s something you’re looking for, but for a lighter smoothie feel free to leave them out. A generous helping of spinach to get in those veggies rounds out the deliciousness without affecting the flavor. Blended up with almond milk (or your “milk” of choice) and a decadent but super healthy smoothie is ready to go.

Blackberry Chocolate Smoothie {{Baking Bytes}}

 

For the days when your mouth wants dessert and your body says “but maybe a vegetable”, keep your freezer stocked with blackberries and spinach and whip up this great snack or meal replacement. Tailor the mix-ins to your caloric needs and nutrient preferences and you’re good to go for all those hot summer days ahead.

Chocolate Blackberry Smoothie

Makes 16-20z

Ingredients1

3/4 cup frozen blackberries
2″ frozen banana (optional)
1/2 – 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
1-2 Tbsp (each) chia and hemp seeds
1-2 Tbsp cacao powder
3/4 cup almond milk
1 cup frozen, crushed spinach

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender (add the spinach last) and process until smooth.
  2. Taste and add extra cacao or mix-ins if desired.
  3. Thin with additional almond milk as necessary.
  4. Serve immediately.

Notes

I listed these in the order I personally add them because I find it easiest to just fill the remainder of my single-serving blender container.

I Adds a nice sweetness but doesn’t change the flavor; I’ve made it with and without the banana and it’s good both ways.

Spinach & Gruyere Crustless Quiche

During my lower carb adventure last month I came across a recipe for quiche that sounded delightful, but didn’t fit with that goal. Recalling that crustless quiche is definitely a thing you can do (bonus – it’s also easier) I decided to modify this recipe to better fit my macronutrient needs.

Spinach & Gruyere Crustless Quiche {{Baking Bytes}}

I often eat eggs for breakfast, and a scramble is one of my favorite things after a hard run. With my weekday runs increasing in length and intensity, and my go-to peanut butter & banana toast being too high in carbs, it became necessary to find something easy to eat at work on those days. Throughout the winter I regularly prepped a scramble the night before but not only is this a time-consuming process, it requires me to remember and have the energy to do this on a weekly basis. As someone who prefers to meal prep all at once, it didn’t fit well into my schedule once I consistently preferred a hearty post-run meal twice per week. Since this deep-dish quiche makes 8 servings, one quiche will last me nearly a month of weekday runs.

Spinach & Gruyere Crustless Quiche {{Baking Bytes}}

Sautéed garlic, onion, and spinach are given a protein boost with shredded chicken (I occasionally purchase the packaged rotisserie chicken meat from Costco which makes this super easy) and a generous amount of Gruyère cheese. With a base of eggs and half and half, this hearty and creamy quiche is perfect for any meal. Some paprika brings a fun flavor that blends nicely with a multitude of toppings and side dishes; I like to top mine with a sprinkle of goat cheese or feta and extra freshly ground pepper. Sriracha is a welcome addition if you’re looking for extra kick.

Spinach & Gruyere Crustless Quiche {{Baking Bytes}}

Serve with dressed greens (for the keto crowd), fresh fruit (for the starch conscious), and/or roasted potatoes (for the classic American pairing.) Toast or scones would round out a brunch nicely, especially if you offer some homemade jam to accompany them. If you’re vegetarian, stir in some black beans or your favorite meat-replacement in lieu of the chicken, or just add extra veggies instead.

Spinach & Gruyere Crustless Quiche {{Baking Bytes}}

This recipe is superbly easy and will definitely become a monthly endeavor for me. It’s easily customizable (Bacon and cheddar? Turkey and gouda? Yes please!), super simple, and a healthy way to start the day. Don’t be afraid of the half and half – fats keep you fuller longer, especially with a low-carb diet, and even with all that goodness each slice is still less than 250 calories. (However, if you’re super concerned you can probably substitute whole milk instead.)

Spinach & Gruyere Crustless Quiche {{Baking Bytes}}

Leftovers keep well in the fridge for a few days or the freezer for long-term storage. Wrap slices individually in aluminum foil and then heat in the microwave when you’re ready to enjoy. I’ve found that putting the frozen slice on a folded paper towel to soak up excess water, defrosting for 2-3 minutes, then cooking for 30-45 seconds results in the most evenly heated experience.

Whether you’re low-carb or not, this easy quiche is perfect for a weekend brunch or weekday prepping; let me know what you think!

PS – Are you ready for National Ice Cream Month? My annual ice cream series starts July 6!

Spinach & Gruyère Crustless Quiche

Inspired by Positive Health Wellness
Makes one deep-dish quiche (8 servings)1

Ingredients

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 clove elephant garlic, minced (or 3 cloves regular)
3 cups spinach, chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked, shredded chicken

4 oz Gruyère cheese, diced

8 eggs
1 cup half and half (or whole milk)
1/2 tsp paprika
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and coat a 9″ deep-dish1 pie plate with olive oil or cooking spray.
  2. In a large frying pan heat oil over medium until hot.
  3. Add onion and garlic and sauté until onions are beginning to look translucent.
  4. Stir in a handful at a time spinach and sauté until wilted.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in chicken until mixture is well combined.
  6. Spread mixture into prepared pie plate and top evenly with cheese.
  7. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half (or milk), and paprika until frothy. Whisk in salt and pepper to taste (I did 1/4 tsp salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper).
  8. Carefully pour into pie plate – it will be full! – and sprinkle generously with additional paprika.
  9. Bake for about one hour, or until top is browned and quiche is set. If it is browning too fast you can cover it with foil for the last 20 minutes or so.
  10. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before serving plain or with some extra goat cheese or feta sprinkled on top, plus freshly ground pepper. For some kick, Sriracha is a delicious complement. Fruit, dressed greens, toast/scones, or roasted potatoes are excellent choices for side dishes.
  11. Store leftovers in the fridge or wrap completely cooled slices individually for a pre-portioned and freezer-safe breakfast.2

Notes

If you do not have a deep-dish pie plate (mine holds over 32 oz and was plumb full), use a standard 8×8 glass baking dish instead. It should bake about the same but I will try this next time I make it and update with any necessary adjustments. As a bonus, rectangles would be easy to wrap for meal-prep purposes anyway.

To reheat: unwrap and place in the microwave on a folded paper towel (to absorb excess moisture.) Defrost for 2-3 minutes then heat normally for 30-45 seconds. Enjoy!

Blackberry Peach Smoothie

Although I mostly stick with my go-to peanut butter and banana smoothie, I occasionally am interested in a more summery flavor profile. Typically I concoct one from whatever happens to be my in freezer at the time, which is usually a mixture of bananas, berries, and melons, and maybe a cucumber or two. Blackberries are far and above my favorite berry but as they are quite strong in flavor I like to pair them with something a bit more mild. Bananas are excellent for this, of course, but in late summer peaches are easily my ideal complement.

This is another excellent smoothie for any time of day, an equally delicious way to start your day as it is to end it. With plenty of fresh fruit and a hidden veggie boost, its flavor is reminiscent of a cobbler but much lower in sugar. The spinach muddies the color a bit, but otherwise it’s not even noticeable. Ground oatmeal makes a nice thickener as well as keeping you fuller longer, and my trusty dash of cinnamon rounds it out nicely. If you prefer yours a bit sweeter, add a dollop of pure maple syrup.

It’s not necessary to peel your peaches before freezing them, but make sure they are in small enough chunks to fit in your blender. I typically cut mine into eighths since that’s the easiest way to pit them anyway. Slice and pit a whole tray at once and then arrange on a piece of parchment paper to freeze. Once frozen you can transfer them to a Ziploc or other storage without fear of them sticking into one giant clump of peach. I use this method to freeze all my fruits and veggies for smoothies (and oatmeal) – everything from sliced bananas and berries to cucumber and zucchini. It takes a little prep time, but it’s well worth the convenience later.

Sweet peaches and tart blackberries come together in combination perfect for those later days of summer when both are overly abundant. Whether you’re buying from Costco or local stand, or lucky enough to be picking them yourself, it’s a delicious way to use up excess fruits that are maybe a little beyond the raw-eating prime. With these last few weeks of toasty weather ahead, you should have ample time to give this a whirl.

Blackberry Peach Smoothie
Makes one 16-20 oz smoothie

Ingredients

1/3 cup oatmeal

1 ripe peach (pitted, sliced, and frozen)1
1/4 cup blackberries, frozen
1 – 1.5 cups coconut milk (or any unsweetened milk)

1 – 2 cups frozen and crushed baby spinach
1-2 tsp maple syrup (optional)
cinnamon, to taste

Directions

  1. Place oatmeal in blender (I like to use the single-serve size so I don’t accidentally make a gigantic smoothie) and blend until finely ground.
  2. Add remaining ingredients (optionally reserving a peach slice and two berries for garnish) and blend until completely mixed (this could take a minute or so). If it’s too thick, blend in additional milk one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.
  3. Enjoy immediately with a straw, a sunny day, and a good book.

Notes

1  I typically slice mine into roughly eighths as they fit into my single-serving blender cup better that way. You can slice yours more or less to suit your needs.

I like to put a bunch in the freezer and then crush it all once it’s frozen. Then it’s really easy to measure out a cup or two for each smoothie on the fly.

Race Day Smoothie

About five years ago I discovered my favorite green smoothie, which I basically lived on during an extremely hot and smokey summer in Helena. I was admittedly liberal with the peanut butter and a bit light on the spinach, but overall it was a decently healthy dinner option for those days I didn’t want to eat anything warmer than ice.

Over the years I’ve lightened up my original recipe, opting for coconut or almond milk instead of cow’s and substituting PBFit peanut butter powder instead of the real deal. Peanut butter powder may sound silly, but in baking or smoothies I actually prefer it over the original. The peanut flavor is a bit more concentrated and it really lowers the amount of calories and fat. I’m not a calorie counter by any means, but it makes it much easier to create a snack-sized version while keeping all that wonderful peanut flavor.  I’ve also probably doubled the amount of spinach I use, since I’m now inclined to add it to almost anything from smoothies to soup to scrambled eggs, and it’s definitely my preferred salad base. The spinach only vaguely modifies the flavor but gives a big nutrient boost – presuming you don’t mind the crazy green color. I admit it’s a bit off-putting to the uninitiated but I’m so used to it that this smoothie without spinach now looks and tastes strange to me.

During the summer and fall I participate in tons of running events, where you have to get up stupid early in the morning in order to make it to the start line or bus pickup on time. My usual race day breakfast (or really any day breakfast) is oatmeal with banana and PBFit, but on the days it’s too hot for that I opt for this smoothie instead. They contain basically the same ingredients, with the smoothie having that extra spinach boost. It goes down much easier when it’s already 75 degrees or more, and takes just as little time to prep in the morning.

I like to pre-grind the oatmeal so there aren’t large chunks clogging up my straws, but it’s not strictly necessary if you have a really quality blender. The oatmeal not only adds some calories and makes the smoothie more filling, but I really enjoy the hearty flavor it adds to the palate. It’s not overwhelming but reminiscent of an oatmeal cookie, and is still pleasant for people who necessarily enjoy oatmeal on its own.

This smoothie tastes like a peanut butter banana milkshake but is a much healthier way to start the day. With the addition of oatmeal it sticks with you for quite a while, making it perfect for both pre-race and post-race. It’s also a pretty legit dinner for those days you’re feeling lazy or in a hurry but still want something on the healthy end of the spectrum, and your boyfriend isn’t around to insist smoothies are not a real dinner.

Race Day Smoothie
Makes one 16-20 oz smoothie

Ingredients

1/3 cup oatmeal

1 ripe banana (peeled, sliced, and frozen)2
1 – 1.5 cups coconut milk (or any unsweetened milk)
2 Tbsp PBFit
1+ cups frozen and crushed baby spinach
cinnamon, to taste

Directions

  1. Place oatmeal in blender (I like to use the single-serve size so I don’t accidentally make a gigantic smoothie) and blend until finely ground.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and blend until completely mixed (this could take a minute or so). If it’s too thick, blend in additional milk 2 tablespoons at a time until desired consistency is reached.
  3. Enjoy immediately with a straw, a sunny day, and a good book.

Notes

1  For a lighter smoothie I just leave out the oatmeal; this is great for the days you want a lighter breakfast or a healthier snack/dessert later in the day. But for an entrée smoothie the oatmeal adds great flavor and makes it a lot more filling!

2  I typically slice mine into roughly eighths as they fit into my single-serving blender cup better that way. You can slice yours more or less to suit your needs.

I like to put a bunch in the freezer and then crush it all once it’s frozen. Then it’s really easy to measure out a cup or two for each smoothie on the fly.

Roasted Red Pepper and Bacon Salad

I’ve written about my favorite Italian restaurant in Bozeman, Fresco Cafe, as the inspiration for one of my grilled cheese concoctions from April. This is probably the place I go to with the most regularity, both for team lunches with work and with out-of-town visitors. It has delicious pastas and paninis, several delightful salads, and the specials are always on point. Although a semi-expensive place to dine, it is worth every single dollar to have amazing food and service every time. (As an aside, it’s also one of the few places that serves plain water rather than ice water, which is always worth a lot of points in my book.)

A couple of weeks ago during team lunch, the special salad was basically the combination of all my favorite things: bacon, bell peppers, goat cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette. Served atop a bed of mixed spinach and arugula, it was one of the best salads I’ve ever had, in addition to being the perfect size for lunch. I expressed my ecstatic review, as well as requested they put it on the regular menu, which is something I’ve never actually bothered to do at a restaurant before. Since they haven’t heeded my advice yet, I set out to recreate a similar experience in my own kitchen.

It might sound plain and possibly too light, but with a slice of bread and a latte (I always get a latte at Fresco) it was properly filling without leaving me feeling overstuffed and heavy for the rest of the afternoon. Roasted red peppers are something I could eat with every meal, and you’ve probably already noticed I have a slight obsession with goat cheese (blame Costco.) Bacon and walnuts bring a little salt and a lot of protein to the dish, and a bed of leafy greens rounds out the meal nicely.

The original uses their house-made balsamic vinaigrette, but I opted to dress mine with plain balsamic vinegar from my local oil and vinegar spot. This was mostly out of laziness but also because it’s one of my favorite ways to top any savory salad. In any case, you can substitute your favorite balsamic vinaigrette or reduction in its place for a more traditional pairing.

I served mine with the bacon and peppers still warm (which will be extra great in the winter), but you could absolutely let them cool to room temperature during these excessive heatwaves everyone is having. I made myself all four servings and then each day assembled the leftovers for lunches this week. If you do the same, you could either serve it all cold or briefly reheat the bacon and peppers in the microwave before stirring it all together, as I’ve done for the past three days. Goes perfectly with a side of focaccia fresh from the Co-op.

Roasted Red Pepper and Bacon Salad

Inspired by Fresco Cafe
Serves 4

Ingredients

8 slices bacon
2 large red bell peppers, thinly sliced

1 cup walnuts, halved

~8 cups fresh spinach & arugula (10-12 oz)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (or your favorite vinaigrette or reduction)

4 oz goat cheese, crumbled

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a rimmed cookie sheet (or two quarter sheets, if you have them) with foil. If you’re using one sheet, create an edge of foil in the middle of the pan.
  2. Arrange bacon in one half of the pan; lightly coat the other half with olive oil and arrange the peppers on top.
  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or to desired doneness. Remove bacon to paper towels to drain and set aside bell peppers.
  4. Spread walnuts on the bare pan and return to the oven to toast for 3-5 minutes.
  5. In a large bowl, gently toss greens and balsamic vinegar (or dressing.)
  6. Divide greens into four bowls or plates – don’t scrape the mixing bowl.
  7. Gently toss bell peppers in the large bowl with leftover vinegar/dressing, then arrange on top of the greens.
  8. Slice bacon on an angle into bite-size pieces and arrange in the bowls.
  9. Top each with walnuts, goat cheese, and freshly ground pepper.
  10. Enjoy immediately, optionally garnished with a slice of bread.