Chocolate Covered Strawberry Protein Muffins

I can’t believe I’m even saying this. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and I’m pretty excited. And I would say before last 2016, I always felt the complete opposite about Valentine’s Day.

Rewind that paragraph. Chris and I are high school sweethearts. We’ve been together a whopping 16 years this year. That’s officially more than half my life (holy crap!) But, while I love love, until last year I was never in love with Valentine’s Day. A day that’s supposed to be the best day of the year to celebrate love was a day that often felt fake. The giant balloons, overpriced cards, overcrowded restaurants, and overabundance of pink and red were not my favorites. But suddenly, I had a change of heart (har har).

So, what happened? Um, yeah–I had a baby. Like with many things, motherhood completely shifted my mindset and now I’m pretty  pumped for Valentine’s Day.

I know I’m not alone in saying Valentine’s Day always felt like a hallmark holiday. Maybe you still think it does. Along with the list above, it seemed trite to celebrate love on a day everyone else does. But then, last year, for Isla’s first Valentine’s Day my mindset shifted. I was suddenly so excited to have a day to shine a spotlight on the best emotion in the world: love!

I realized I needed to shift my attitude about Valentine’s Day and change how we celebrate the holiday. When I think about the traditions we’re starting in our family surrounding this holiday, it’s less cookie cutter and more about teaching our children what love means in our family.

Yes, our babies love balloons so I’m sure we’ll have some of those. And they will inevitably get excited about the silly tchotchkes for years to come too, but more than anything Valentine’s Day is a special day to highlight how we show each other how we love.

Isla’s personality has really bloomed as she’s grown in her short 19 months of life and I always tell her, “I love how much love is in your heart.” Love is a emotion she has been inherently gifted and she shares it so freely everywhere we go. She loves to blow kisses and give hugs. To help her put words to not only how she feels when she loves, but to many of the other feelings she’s experiencing (terrible 2’s are around the corner, right?) we have been reading this fun book about called In My Heart: A Book of Feelings by Jo Witek.

I’m excited to see how Josie’s personality grows and how she displays her love. This week we are of course doing lots of Valentine’s Day themed arts and crafts and cooking and baking special treats.

Like painting and tracing hearts. Coloring and pom pom crafts. Making chocolate covered strawberries. And making muffins!

Last week I gave you a heads up about a Valentine’s Day inspired muffin recipe I’ve been crafting and I’m happy to share it with you today! This is a recipe  inspired by a treat everyone in our house loves: chocolate covered strawberries. Oh em gee. Yum!

While we’ll be making actual chocolate covered strawberries tomorrow as a fun and festive activity (and dessert for after dinner), I wanted to make a muffin recipe using my favorite protein pancake mix too. Seriously, you would think Kodiak Cakes sponsors my blog, but no. I just love their product and am constantly coming up with new recipes. I have to keep sharing them with you. Sorry, not sorry.

Muffins are one of the easiest breakfasts. I can plop one on a plate for our toddler. Chris can toast one and pair it with a fried egg and fruit. And I can grab one on my way out the door or while sprinting around the house.

This recipe uses strawberries and chocolate chips and just a few other simple ingredients. And if anyone wants to attempt this recipe with some regular flour and baking powder, you should let me know how it goes. Tomorrow I think we might all sit down and take a few moments together to enjoy one of these topped in whipped cream and sprinkles.

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Chocolate Covered Strawberry Protein Muffins

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 cups Kodiak Cake Power Cakes pancake mix
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup plain whole milk yogurt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup slightly thawed and chopped frozen strawberries (or fresh)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Prepare your muffin tins like normal. Combine all ingredients except strawberries and chocolate chips in a large bowl. Stir to combine.
  2. Gently fold in strawberries and chocolate chips.
  3. Pour into muffin tins*.
  4. Bake at 350° for 18-22 minutes, or until the edges of the muffins are golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes and then remove from the pan. Let finish cooling and enoy!

*I love to use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to make the perfect sized muffins.

How do you feel about Valentine’s Day? What are your traditions? Share in the comments below. 

Easy & Healthy Protein Hot Chocolate

This winter has been all kinds of funky and cold this year. States who rarely see snow are seeing it, and lots of it! And temps have been bitterly cold all over. We’ve been enjoying a few snow days and when I think back to snow days as a child, one of my favorite traditions was homemade hot chocolate.

Who doesn’t love sipping on a cup of hot chocolate to warm up after frolicking outside in the snow? After spending hours outside sledding with my siblings as a kid, my mom used to make us a steaming pot of her own homemade hot chocolate. She served it a fun cat teapot, dressed festively in winter garb. It’s a tradition I treasure and still think back on whenever I have hot chocolate as an adult. Though I’ll admit, this summer loving girl can enjoy sipping her cocoa sans playing outside.

My protein packed hot chocolate recipe uses a few simple ingredients: milk, cocoa powder, vanilla, maple syrup, a pinch of sea salt, and Promix whey protein powder. This recipe takes hardly any time to make, has a whopping 20 grams of protein, and is super tasty! It’s the perfect snack or after meal treat. Yum!

Before you get started, I’ll share a warning. Use a kitchen thermometer to watch the temperature of your hot chocolate! You only want to heat the milk to steaming, or about 100 degrees Fahrenheit to keep the protein powder from curdling. I promise, this temperature is perfect for sipping your beverage!

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Protein Hot Chocolate

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup of milk (any will do, but cow’s milk will provide 8 g of protein)
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 scoop Promix chocolate whey protein powder (12.5 grams of protein)

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a pan and heat over medium high heat, whisking frequently.
  2. Heat only until steaming, or to 100 degrees Fahrenheit*.
  3. Add in your favorite extras (marshmallows and whipped cream?) and enjoy!

*Watch the heat, steaming the milk to just 100 degrees Fahrenheit! WARNING: If you heat the milk too much the protein powder will cause your drink to curdle.

**You can always swap all of the hot cocoa ingredients for your favorite store bought mix too and just add the protein powder.

What are your favorite snow day traditions? Share in the comments below! 

Zucchini Carrot Protein Pancakes

Happy Friday world! Today’s day is jam packed with cooking, cleaning, and errands galore. At the finish line is dinner with some friends and all of our babies. After a quick trip to Target–a store that even Isla loves already–and a quick lunch, it’s now naptime and I’m here logging in to share one of my favorite recipes just in time for your weekend: zucchini carrot protein pancakes.

Everyone in our house loves these pancakes, and any time that happens we have a serious reason to celebrate. I love that I can incorporate some veggies into these pancakes because most of us can use an extra serving or two of veggies. I also love that they have some extra protein since the base is Kodiak Cake protein pancake mix. Chris and Isla both just like how they taste.

This mix is a whey protein based mix. I buy it in bulk at Costco. And when I say I buy it in bulk, I really mean it. Each box comes with three bags and I normally buy four boxes at a time. Maybe I should be embarrassed, but I’m definitely not. It’s such a good deal and we use this mix as a base for not only pancakes, but muffins, breads, fritters, and more. It’s really versatile and tasty. Win and win.

I make a giant batch of these pancakes every time I whip them up. I then freeze then flat on a cookie sheet and stash them away in the freezer to heat them up individually. We heat them in the toaster, but you could always microwave, bake or fry them too.

First, you start with the wet ingredients. Eggs, banana, applesauce, and vanilla.

Then add the pancake mix, cinnamon, shredded zucchini, and shredded carrot.

Combine…

And fry them up!

This recipe below makes about 32 pancakes, measured out with a 1/4 measuring cup. This batch gets us through at least two weeks, depending on how many we all feel like eating. For me that means less dishes less often, and nutritious breakfast, dinner (who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner?), or a snack!

Zucchini Carrot Protein Pancakes

  • Servings: 16 (2 pancakes per serving)
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 mashed banana
  • 1/3 cup applesauce (1 prepackaged cup/pouch) – optional
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups Kodiak Cake Pancake Mix
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini (about 1 medium zucchini)
  • 1 large shredded carrot
  • 2 cups milk of choice (or less if you like a denser pancake)
  • 1/2 cup raisins – optional
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips – optional

Directions

    1. Combine wet ingredients together in a large bowl: eggs, mashed banana, applesauce, and vanilla.
    2. Add pancake mix, cinnamon, and shredded veggies.
    3. Add milk and stir gently to combine.
    4. Fry on medium low, flipping once bubbles begin to pop. The second side cooks for about 1-2 minutes depending on your stove.
    5. Keep warm in the oven*, serve, and freeze leftovers.

*Keeping the pancakes warm in the oven (200°F)  will also help keep the pancakes dry. Zucchini is a very wet veggie. We don’t mind the texture of these pancakes when finished, but if you want a pancake that is a little more dry, reduce the amount of milk OR squeeze some excess water from the zucchini after shredding.

 

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

No fitness blog is complete without a smoothie recipe. At least, I think that’s how it works.

I’ve always been a big fan of smoothies, though I’ll be honest; I fall in and out of the habit of making them. Currently, a teething toddler (seriously, this girl is working on her 14th tooth and she’s not even 13 months!) and some serious protein cravings for this 31-week pregnant mama has brought smoothies back into our kitchen. Today’s recipe is one of my favorites, and it has been for years. Peanut butter, banana, and a hint of chocolate from one of my favorite protein powders. YUM.

Smoothies do NOT always need to include protein powder, but lately mine have. While I don’t have an issue using protein supplements occasionally, I will say I’m perfectly picky about which ones I will and will not use. This recipe can stand on its own without the protein powder by replacing it with cocoa powder and it will still pack a nutritious punch. But for those times I’m using a whey protein powder, I’m a huge fan of Promix. Their grass-fed chocolate whey protein powder is my go-to.

Side note: Many ask if I feed this to Isla. The short answer is, yes. The long answer is, Promix literally contains four ingredients. One of those is whey protein and this is the only ingredient I really questioned giving Isla. However, after much research, there are toddler formulas on the market that include whey and we actually use a whey protein pancake mix to make her pancakes and muffins that she enjoys almost every day (watch for another post). So, I started small and since the addition of protein powder here and there does not upset her stomach, we use it. Anyone who feeds a toddler knows how tough it can be, especially on a day when eating is painful on her sore and raw gums. So, I think some extra protein in the form of whey powder is A-OK (of course I’m not a doctor, so feel free to consult your pediatrician before doing the same).

Now, onto the smoothie. A lot of my smoothies start with a banana base. Bananas are higher in carbohydrates with one large banana coming in at about 31 grams of carbs. They are also higher in sugar. One large = about 17 grams of sugar. I honestly don’t count these things normally, but I try to be aware. As a trainer and mom who does not sit still for long, I am really trying to get some extra calories and energy through my smoothies, so I don’t mind these stats a single bit. If you are trying to limit your carb or sugar intake, you might want to consider eliminating bananas from your smoothies. You can always try thickening a smoothie with something like cauliflower believe it or not. You can barely taste it! I’ll post more about that later too.

For now, sticking with something a little more mainstream, to make your own peanut butter banana smoothie follow the instructions below.

Blend together:

  • 1 large banana
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup liquid (almond milk, cow’s milk, water–your choice)
  •  2 heaping tablespoons of PB Fit or PB2
  • 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder AND/OR 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 2 kale leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon flax
  • 1 handful of ice cubes

You can easily mix or swap in other ingredients like spinach, nuts, or coconut. The options are endless. But this smoothie has been, and continues to be one of my favs, and clearly Isla’s too!

What’s in your favorite smoothie? Share in the comments below!