Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chunk Cookies with Sea Salt {the best way to say thank you}

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Southern Hospitality is real.

I recently returned from a four day business trip to Dallas to visit my client and I had a blast!  This trip was just what I needed to remind myself that making friends isn’t this difficult everywhere and there really is more to life than just sitting in traffic on I-95 every day, going to whole foods solely out of boredom and spending hours at the gym because I have nothing else planned (and I want a killer beach bod, duhhh!)

I spent several days last week working hard and spending much needed face time with the awesome people I email back and forth with and talk to on the phone every day. I had some great meals, especially the last night when a group of us went out for happy hour and then to this awesome Tex-Mex restaurant called Blue Goose Cantina. I had steak fajitas which were delicious! I think the best part of the dinner, aside from eating everyone else’s food and tons and tons of laughter, was the free dessert we got (hey the waitress asked if it was someone’s Birthday and how could we say no to that?!) Mini-Sopapillas (similar to Churros) served with honey and topped with whipped Cream and cinnamon Sugar. Holy cow…you have no idea how good this was. I meant to take a picture of it by itself but only got as far as the group picture. And quite frankly after this group picture we devoured it. All of it.

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After a week of hard work and tons of laughs, I’m home and find myself missing the southern hospitality. Sometimes I forget how easy it really is, or  how little effort it should be to make friends. And how far a simple smile exchange or small talk with a stranger can take you.

So I decided to bake cookies to say thank you to my Dallas friends for making me feel so warm and welcome. And what a better way to say thank you than to send a batch of freshly baked cookies with chunks of gooey dark chocolate and peanut butter topped with sea salt for the perfect bite of sweet and salty and melty chocolate goodness. And the best part, this is actually a normal cookie recipe and I didn’t even attempt to substitute applesauce for butter! Woohooo!

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Roasted Strawberry and Kale Quinoa Burger topped with Arugula, Pickled Onions and Goat Cheese

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Sometimes I make things other than cookies. And muffins. And pancakes. And breads.

And sometimes I use ingredients other than bananas and chocolate.

And sometimes when I do make these other things they turn out to be pretty disastrous.

For example, I tried to re-create my favorite brussel sprout dish from one of my favorite restaurants in Philadelphia, Sampan, where they cook the brussel sprouts in a chili and fish sauce with puffed rice.

We’ll just say I was a little generous with the fish sauce.

So generous I couldn’t stop coughing for the remainder of the night.

And then my roommate started coughing.

And the apartment smelled like fish sauce for a good two days. Maybe three.

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But sometimes I get really creative and impress myself. And I did just that.

I made for you a roasted strawberry and kale quinoa burger, topped with arugula, balsamic vinegar, pickled red onions and goat cheese.

It’s like my goat cheese salad signed up for eHarmony, met and fell in love with Quinoa and decided to have a baby.

Yep, I just said that.

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Healthy Eggplant Parmesan over Quinoa {easy weeknight dinner that can easily be made vegan}

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Do you have a weeknight routine?

I sure do.

When I leave work I head straight to the gym. I’ll typically get there around 6:30 (after sitting in traffic for over an hour to go 12 miles) and by the time I get home it’s almost 9:00. By this time, the LAST thing I want to do is think about what to cook for dinner. Some nights I’ll eat a protein bar on the way home and make a smoothie after my shower and other times I’ll just have a smoothie from the smoothie bar at the gym (BTW if you live in Connecticut you need to check out the Edge Fitness Clubs- it’s like a playground for adults!) And other nights I’ll whip up a salad or something quick, easy and boring. But there are some nights I envision myself coming home to a cooked meal AKA wishing I had a butler or a Susie homemaker husband or boyfriend. But I don’t, so I decided to be my own butler and whip up something healthy, filling and that I could eat a few nights in a row.

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It’s guilt-free because I used this awesome vegan cheese from Whole Foods with barely any fat or carbs, I used organic and all natural tomato sauce, I made my own breadcrumbs using Ezekiel bread (if you haven’t had this bread yet you MUST check it out) and I served it over quinoa which is one of the most protein-rich foods and full of fiber. And the best part? All you have to do is pop it in the microwave when you get home for a minute and 30 seconds and dinner is served! This is a healthy yet filling dinner that’s delicious and won’t ruin your workout. This can easily be made vegan too by swapping out the eggs for flax eggs, or egg alternative of choice.

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Dark Chocolate Banana Bread Protein Muffins {healthy, guilt-free, gluten-free, and protein-packed}

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I’m back!

I know it has been a while since my last post but I’ve been having one of those quarter-life crisis moments. You know, the one where you have no clue where your life is going or what your purpose is but all you know is you’re craving an adventure and in need of some soul-searching and you’re having one of those Eat Pray Love or Into the Wild moments where you just want to leave everything  you know and travel the world and find yourself. Have you ever had one of those moments?

Well, needless to say, I definitely had one of those moments this week and I’m so glad I did. I feel like I can take on the World right now. I finally feel like there are so many great things coming my way and so much to look forward to and sometimes all you need is a little kick in the behind to help you get you there.

And while I was having one of those Into the Wild moments, I created a delicious mistake. Well, not really a mistake because it’s one of the best muffins I’ve ever had. But who would’ve thought that when you run out of coconut flour you can use protein powder and you get THE SAME end result, if not better?!

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These muffins are just like banana bread;  moist in the center, full of banana flavor and not to mention loaded with gooey dark chocolate. And because they’re made with all natural plant-based protein powder, these can be enjoyed before or after the gym for a guilt-free energy boost or just a snack throughout the day!  These also have to be some of the healthiest banana bread muffins you’ll ever have because there’s nothing bad in them! Unless you count the dark chocolate, but please, we all know a little chocolate full of antioxidants never hurt anyone! Please do yourself a favor and go makes these. NOW!

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