April 1, 2014

Homemade Greek Yogurt


For the past few months, I’ve been making my own Greek yogurt. I’m finding that homemade greek yogurt is a staple in my fridge.

Greek yogurt is like a “super” version of regular yogurt. It’s thicker, so each serving of Greek yogurt has much more protein than regular yogurt. Protein-packed foods keep you fuller for longer! Greek yogurt typically has a stronger tart flavor compared to traditional yogurt, but this homemade Greek yogurt is more mild.

I use it in place of sour cream or mayo, as an ingredient to make creamy sauces, and as a lifesaver for when I haven’t eaten enough protein for the day. You can also use it to make frozen yogurt or add it into smoothies. Use it to frost cupcakes or cake or even pancakes with a tiny bit of water, vanilla extract, and sweetener. Some cupcake recipes even call for greek yogurt as an ingredient in the cake. Add some herbs and a bit of water and use it as a marinade for meat. Add a dollop on top of oatmeal.


Making Greek yogurt at home is so easy. In a nutshell, you buy a gallon of milk and a 6 oz cup of Greek yogurt. Heat the milk, let it cool, add the yogurt, let the mixture sit. Strain the mixture. Tada! You have Greek yogurt!

Only two ingredients are needed: milk and Greek yogurt. The store-bought Greek yogurt is like your “starter,” similar to making sourdough bread. And when you make your next batch, you’ll only need to buy a gallon of milk — just save a cup of your first batch of yogurt ot use as your starter!

Warning: Not all store-bought Greek yogurts are made equal! If you’re particular about natural/artificial/organic/clean eating types of things, be sure to check out the ingredients of your Greek yogurt. I tend to buy Fage Total 0% because it comes in a 6oz container, which is exactly what I need for this, and because the only ingredients are skim milk and cultures. Chobani is also fine, but it only comes in a 5.3oz container. Watch out for strange added ingredients, like modified corn starch.

And the second best part, is that it lasts a long time! I’ve used it three weeks after making it and the yogurt still tasted great and I didn’t get sick. But don’t hold me to it!

If you’d like to make a fruity flavored Greek yogurt, add some jam, frozen fruit, or pureed fruit to your serving.

Now the one caveat: It takes some time to make. WAIT! Don’t click away yet — 90% of the time required is hands-off. I tend to make a new batch of yogurt on days when I’m working from home or on the weekends so I’m around to check on it here and there.

Try making your own yogurt!

Special Equipment Needed: Two large and tall pots, cheesecloth, strainer or colander.


Homemade Greek Yogurt

Homemade Greek Yogurt


  • 1 gallon non-fat/skim milk
  • 6 oz or 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt

Remove all the racks from the inside of your oven, and make sure your oven is off. Place a large beach towel inside.

Pour the entire gallon of milk into a very large pot.

Heat the milk over low until the temperature reaches 175 - 180 degrees. Stir occasionally so the milk doesn't begin to burn.

When it reaches the desired temperature, turn the burner off and allow the milk to cool to 115 degrees.

When the milk reaches 115 degrees, whisk in the entire container of store-bought Greek yogurt.

Cover the pot with its lid or a plate. Put the pot in the oven and wrap it with the towel.

Let the yogurt sit for about 6 hours. The whey (watery stuff) will begin to separate out.

After 6 hours, remove the pot from the oven. Place a strainer on top of another large pot. Line the strainer with cheesecloth.

Pour the yogurt into the strainer. Cover the yogurt with the cheesecloth or a clean towel and place in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight.

The mixture will become very thick. Scoop it out into airtight containers and keep refrigerated until ready to use!


February 19, 2014

Pumpkin Spice Latte Protein Pancakes

Pumpkin Spice Latte Protein Pancakes

February may not be Pumpkin Spice Latte season, but I hardly think Pumpkin Spice Latte lovers will protest a recipe for Pumpkin Spice Latte Protein Pancakes, right?

Protein pancakes have been my go-to morning meal since I began eating well over my body weight in protein grams daily. Without exaggeration, there have been maybe 5 weekdays over the past 7 weeks that I’ve had something other than protein pancakes.

If you look around, there are plenty of protein pancake recipes out there using oats and protein powder as well as coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda, bananas, etc. etc. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Pumpkin Spice Latte Protein Pancakes

The only way I’m able to fit in pancakes during the week is if they’re super quick. Do you have time to measure out 5+ ingredients, then mix them together, cook, flip, eat? I sure don’t.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Protein Pancakes

These pancakes are essentially three measured ingredients, and two add-ons that you can just sprinkle in. I’m providing measurements for the pumpkin spice and ground coffee here for perspective and because not everyone knows there’s a big difference between a teaspoon of spices and a tablespoon of spices. But once you’ve seen the proportions, you’ll be able to just eyeball it!

Tips: Watch carefully! Don’t let the pancakes cook too long or they’ll be too dry. You want the bottom edges to look slightly firm. The tops will begin to have a sheen and look slightly set, but still wet. Flip now! Do not wait for bubbles like traditional pancakes. You won’t see any.
If you want “syrup”: After measuring the scoop of protein, sprinkle maybe 1/8 of the scoop into a tiny dish. Add (literally) a few drops of water at a time and mix to form a syrup consistency. Pour this on top after the pancakes are done.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Protein Pancakes

Here I’ve topped mine with 1/2 tablespoon almond butter. More topping ideas: Maple syrup (duh), chocolate chips or syrup, additional pumpkin pie spice, yogurt (or yogurt jazzed up with stevia and cinnamon, thinned with water slightly to make a “frosting”), marshmallows, sprinkles, coconut flakes, etc.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Protein Pancakes

Pumpkin Spice Latte Protein Pancakes Nutrition Label

Pumpkin Spice Latte Protein Pancakes

Serves 1


  • 1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 scoop Cellucor Cor-Performance Whey Cinnamon Swirl or vanilla protein powder with about 130 calories and 25g protein per scoop
  • 1 packet or 1 dropper full no-calorie sweetener (I use liquid stevia)
  • 2 teaspoons ground coffee
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • Optional: splash of vanilla extract

Pour 1/4 cup almond milk into a liquid measuring cup. Add enough water so the liquid comes just between the 1/3 and 1/2 cup markers. Add this and the rest of the ingredients to a blender. Process until smooth.

Scrape the batter down using a spatula.

Heat a medium-sized pan over medium-low heat. Spray with nonstick spray or coconut oil spray.

Pour a small amount of batter into the pan. I usually start on the edges of the pan and am able to get 3 pancakes 3-3 1/2 inches wide. Place remaining batter aside.

Don't let the pancakes cook too long or they'll be too dry. You want the bottom edges to look slightly firm. The tops will begin to have a sheen and look slightly set, but still wet. Flip now! Do not wait for bubbles like traditional pancakes. You won't see any.

Cook for about 30 seconds on the second side, until the bottom sets and is able to be lifted with a spatula.

Continue with the remaining batter.

Top with desired toppings and enjoy!


February 4, 2014

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Protein Bread

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Protein Bread

I’m totally in love with this Cinnamon Swirl Banana Protein Bread.

One of the things I miss most since starting my clean eating meal plans is DESSERT! Prepping 5 meals a day for 5-7 day days at a time is really time consuming. I’m still trying to get everything down, so I’m hoping it will get quicker eventually, but right now I’ve been in the kitchen a lot after work and then jumping into bed so I’m well rested when my 5:30am alarm goes off.

This hasn’t allowed for a lot of time to explore clean baking, but through the magic of Instagram, I’ve found a few recipes I’ve been meaning to try out.

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Protein Bread

I found a recipe for protein banana bread and put a few twists on it to keep the fat and sugar counts low.

Do not ask me if I licked the bowl and/or spatula. I mean… Come on… Who does that :p

This protein bread recipe is out of this world. This is coming from the girl who looooves traditional baked goods made with all purpose flour, whole eggs, sugar, and real butter.


The unbelievable truth is that this banana bread is made with no refined flour, no added sugar, and no butter. It’s gluten-free, clean, has 16g protein, and is low fat, only 2g. And only 5 ingredients if you don’t count the vanilla extract and cinnamon (two of my favorite things — if you don’t have these in your pantry at all times, we can’t be friends!).



Cinnamon Swirl Banana Protein Bread

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Protein Bread Nutrition Label

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Protein Bread

Makes 1 loaf

Serves 6

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Protein Bread


  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats or oat flour
  • 2 scoops Cellucor Cor-Performance Whey Cinnamon Swirl or vanilla protein powder with about 130 calories and 25g protein per scoop
  • 4 ripe bananas (about 12 ounces without peel)
  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain greek yogurt with 120-140 calories per cup (Voskos, Trader Joe's)
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • coconut oil spray or coconut oil, for greasing pan

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Add all the ingredients except the 1 tablespoon cinnamon (only add 1 teaspoon cinnamon at this point) to a blender, NutriBullet, or food processor. (If you're using plain vanilla protein powder, add 1 teaspoon additional cinnamon.) Process until smooth.

Spray a loaf pan with coconut oil. If you don't have coconut oil spray, melt a teaspoon or so of coconut oil, dip a paper towel in it, and wipe on the bottom and sides of the loaf pan. You can also use regular nonstick spray.

Pour the batter into the pan. Scoop 1/4 cup of the batter back out of the pan and place it in a small bowl. Add the remaining tablespoon cinnamon and stir well.

Dollop the cinnamon batter mixture onto the top of the regular batter. Swirl using a spatula or spoon. Be careful not to over-swirl, as you'll lose the pretty effect.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until edges are brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean.

Allow to cool and then slice into 6 pieces.


January 24, 2014

My 2014 New Year’s Resolution: Strong is the New Skinny


If you follow me on Instagram, you already know my new year’s resolution.

I’ve started a journey to eat as clean as possible (90% clean, 10% traditional), build muscle, and lean out my body.

The past 15 years (maybe more) I’ve hovered at more or less 112-pounds when stepping on the scale. Certainly a weight many women might “dream” of being. The problem is, the majority of that 112-pound frame is fat. I have very little muscle, which is most likely because for the past 15 years I’ve sat at a computer doing web and graphic design. Sure, I’ve had brief moments of athleticism — field hockey in eighth grade, the rowing team in college, then personal trainer sessions my senior year of college to work off a month eating my way through Europe the previous summer, my recent interest in running. But those have all come in waves; there’s never been a steady flow where I’ve challenged my body.

So, after randomly stumbling across a bikini competitor on the popular page of Instagram last summer, discovering she was about my height and weight when she started, and how far she came in 4 months, I decided I wanted to do something about the pooch around my midsection.

How can I feel “fat” when my weight and height combination registers as “underweight” on a BMI chart? It’s pretty easy when there’s a thick padding of fat around my entire body.

I’ve definitely received some comments saying “WHY are you dieting?!?! You’re sooo skinny already!” Well, thank you? I guess? The problem is, it’s easy to look good in clothing, but I want to look good in a bikini. There’s a reason why there are 341 million search results for the phrase “look good naked.” I want to be STRONG, not skinny.

"Look Good Naked" Google Search Results

This is a prime example of what I’m talking about:

And about that neutral word which has a negative connotation – diet. The definition of the word “diet” is “the foods eaten, as by a particular person or group.” EVERYONE has a diet. Mine is one that I strive to be filled with whole foods and minimally processed foods.

In fact, that’s what the basis of this entire blog was born out of. When I bought this domain name and started building this site four years ago, I wanted to show people that cooking is easy. That you don’t need to buy fancy ingredients (whether processed or expensive or both) to make a healthful meal. I even started (but didn’t finish, ah, the life of an Aries) an article in 2010 titled “What are overprocessed foods?”

But I also love baked goods to death, so those recipes were bound to be posted here :)

And for the record, I’m eating way more than I normally did. 5-6 balanced meals a day, every 3 hours. My meals consist of 3-4 ounces of protein with complex carbs and veggies. I’m rarely hungry.

I’m excited to share with you the meals I’ve been coming up with! The best way to see what I’m up to more frequently (and to get quick recipes) is to follow me on Instagram.

And for my friends that are annoyed by all my health/fitness posts: unfollow me. I don’t want to bug you and won’t be offended.

In closing, I think this video is hilarious :)



Healthful cooking can happen
to anyone. You don't have to know a lot about cooking or be a foodie to prepare and enjoy nutritious homecooked meals! Read more...

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