Saturday snack #1: Banana Bites and a running update

Hello there friends! Sorry for the hiatus…again. I promise I was not hibernating. Although, the weather here has made me want to lately. 🙁 I’ve just neglected blogging after a busy month of graduate school, work, observation hours (for my graduate program), working out, and occasionally socializing. 😛

Running update

Anyway, I was somehow convinced to run a 5k race this morning with my boyfriend outside, which is not my idea of hibernating! Luckily, today was the warmest day of the week at a whooping 20 degrees and I only needed two pairs of gloves to run outside. You would think after 8 years of high school and college cross country and track I’d be a pro at cold weather running, but that is not the case! I still dread it and sometimes don’t know how to properly dress for my runs…

Fortunately, I survived the race, had a bit of fun in the process, and only my face, hands, and feet lost feeling from the cold. 😛 I ran the race unofficially in 20 or 21 pain free minutes, which is great considering I haven’t run more than 10 miles per week or done any speed work since December because of my darn IT band…unfortunately my IT band hurts post race :(. On a happier note, my boyfriend who has been training more than me won! We thought he missed first place by a second or two because he was out kicked, but we were wrong. The race was chip timed and since he started further back he won. 🙂 This race has me excited for running again and yearning for my faster glory days in college. Maybe with some actual training I can prove to myself that my faster days are ahead of me, not behind me. Finger’s crossed that my IT band heals soon… I definitely need some time off and more strengthening and stretching because that race aggregated it. 🙁 Hopefully a week or two does the trick so I can increase my mileage and train for races again.

Banana Bites

Now, I have a short recipe to share with all of you.  Looking for a snack that is sweet, healthy, tasty, easy, and quick to make?! Look no further! Banana bites are your answer. You most likely have the ingredients on hand at your house. They are full of healthy fats, protein, and just the right amount of sweetness. They will keep for a few days in the freezer.

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Yield: variable depending on how many bananas used (I made 8 bites)

Ingredients

1-2 bananas

1 tablespoon natural peanut butter

1-2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt

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1.  Mix the peanut butter and Greek yogurt together on a plate

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2. Chop the banana(s) into slices

3. Spread the Greek yogurt/peanut butter mixture onto half of the banana slices

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4. Form sandwiches by using other half of the banana slices as the top slices

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5. Put the banana bites into the freezer in a covered container and let freeze for approximately 2 hours.

6. Enjoy! Keep any leftovers in the freezer. They should keep for a few days.

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Have a wonderful night friends and I hope you enjoy this simple, healthy snack! 🙂

Question of the day: Have you been running lately? If so inside or outside?  Any fun races?

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Tasty Tuesday #4: easy, peasy black bean salsa

Wow, it’s been way too long since I’ve posted a black bean recipe! Since black beans are one of my favorite foods and what inspired the name of this blog, I figured it was time for another black bean recipe. This black bean salsa is super easy to make, relatively healthy, and only takes about 5 minutes from start to finish. It would probably taste even better if you made your own salsa from scratch, but then it would take a little longer to make. This recipe is courtesy of my boyfriend and his sister. It will definitely be a part of our snack rotation here from now on. It tastes wonderful with tortilla or pita chips. 🙂

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easy, peasy black bean salsa

ingredients:

1 can of organic black beans

2/3 cup of salsa (we used On The Border Medium Salsa)

steps:

1. Drain and rinse a can of black beans.

2. Put the uncooked and rinsed black beans and 2/3 cup of salsa in a food processor.

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3.  Puree the black beans and salsa until relatively smooth.

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3. Store the salsa in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


While this salsa is delicious, I’d still have to say homemade black bean burgers are my favorite way to eat black beans. I posted a recipe for black bean burgers previously if any of you are curious . I’m thinking of making black bean brownies in the near future and featuring them on this blog, but we will see! I am always searching for new recipes using black beans so stay tuned. 😛 Have a great night everyone!

Have any of you ever had black bean salsa before? Also, do any of you have any recipes for homemade salsa you’d be willing to share with me? If so comment here or email me at blackbeanqueen@gmail.com.

Young, hungry, and on a budget (in Chicago)

The old saying goes “you live and you learn” and that’s exactly what this blog post is about. I have only been in the city for a week, but I have have already learned some things and know fully well that I will keep learning more. This post is a work in progress. Expect more posts and tips on city living, (mostly) healthy eating, and having fun without breaking the bank. Expect to learn as I learn! My boyfriend and I are both recent college grads with more schooling ahead for both us so we will definitely need to stick to a budget! 😛

My tips (so far) for having fun and (mostly) healthy living on a budget in the city:

1. Stock up on essentials, especially if there are sales. Case in point: you will always need toilet paper and baking ingredients such as flour. We stocked up on those things. Now the rest of our shopping trips for the next month or so will be solely food!

2. Don’t buy groceries at convenience stores such as Walgreens. Convenience stores often sell grocery items, such as peanut butter, for more than the local grocery store. It is worth the slightly longer walk or bus trip in the city to go to an actual grocery store.

3. Buy groceries on a weekly basis. Only buy what you plan on eating for the week with the exception of sales on any essential items such as baking ingredients.  This tip is also in part because when you walk most places or rely on public transit you can’t carry ten bags of groceries home. Before moving to Chicago I would only grocery shop a few times a month and really stock up on each trip. Unfortunately every once in a while I would buy more produce than I could eat before it went bad. Wasting food makes me sad in general and on a budget I really don’t want to waste so hence weekly grocery shopping. Make a detailed list before shopping and try to stick to it…

4. …BUT also shop the sales/ be flexible. What I mean by this is say you planned on buying whole wheat bagels in a particular grocery trip, but only whole wheat English muffins are on sale. Buy the English Muffins instead. Make a detailed grocery list, but also go to the store with an open mind and be willing to make substitutions in order to save a few bucks.

5. Check out the Farmer’s Market. One way to buy produce on a weekly basis is to checkout your local Farmer’s market. While they can be pricey for some items they also have some great deals. Also, for me personally, I am willing to shell out a few extra bucks on occasion to support local farmers and eat food that hasn’t been grown in a different country and shipped thousands of miles to our local supermarket.

I went to one yesterday and they had a lot of great deals on vegetables and then my boyfriend and I each picked one “splurge item”. For me it was homemade fruit jam and for him it was a homemade salsa. We got a delicious loaf of bread and all the produce we need for the next week minus a bag of carrots and perhaps some fresh fruit!

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6. Check out free or reduced price events in your area. In Chicago there are a lot of free concerts and outdoor movies throughout the summer! At Taste of Chicago Thursday we saw a free Janelle Monae concert which was cool. She was talented and is relatively popular- she was an act at Bonaroo a month ago.  There are also several relatively cheap events such as Wicker Park Fest in a few weeks that we plan to check out. I hear Millennium Park has free concerts each week too so that will be worth checking out!

7. Look for deals at your local restaurants and bars. As a person who recently moved to Chicago I am not yet sure which places have to best deals, but know I will be searching! I will be on the lookout, especially, for deals on beers and pizza, but I’ll keep my eye on healthier deals too. 😛 When you know the deals maybe limit yourself to going out to eat or to grab drinks on the nights/days with deals (if this is a reasonable compromise).

8. Make your own snacks. Snack items such a protein bars, chips, snack mixes, etc. are considered convenience items so they often charge a lot for them. In the long run you can save your wallet and your health by making your own. All making snacks cost is a little time if you use ingredients you always have on hand (for example most of my snacks use oatmeal and nuts/seeds since I always buy those things in bulk). I tend to chose snacks that are simple to make, made with ingredients already in my kitchen, and are not very time consuming.In the last week I’ve made banana oat protein bars, granola, and peanut butter energy bites as snacks for my boyfriend and I to eat in  addition to fresh produce, hummus, and popcorn.

For anyone interested here’s the recipe for peanut butter energy bites which I adapted from the Oatmeal Nut Butter Balls recipe on PB Fingers a blog that I highly recommend to others who want some healthy recipe ideas. 🙂 They are super easy and only take about ten minutes to make.

Peanut Butter Energy Bites

yield: approximately 10-12 bites

Ingredients:

1 cup uncooked oatmeal

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup milled flax seed

1/3 cup honey

dash of cinnamon

dark chocolate chips (if desired)

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1. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Once combined roll into balls.

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2. Stick the bites in the refrigerator and grab one whenever you want a quick snack!

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(9. One last money saving tip!) Instead of going out for pizza and beer on a Saturday night make a frozen Gino’s East pizza and buy your own beer. It’s PRACTICALLY the same thing, right?! 😛  I’m actually KIDDING, even on a budget you should go out sometimes, but that was definitely my boyfriend and I last night!

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We were too lazy to brave the pouring rain/crappy conditions and go to an actual bar last night. We plan on checking out some of the local watering holes later this week!

Well, I hope you all have a great rest of your Sunday. 🙂 It’s time for us to get a workout in, get the rest of our groceries for the week, and who knows what else. 😛

What are your favorite ways to have fun on a budget?

Tasty Tuesday #1- my favorite snacks

Good evening! I don’t know about you, but I just finished watching the USA vs. Belgium World Cup game. It was a slow moving game until it went into extra time where both teams were 0-0 initially.  Belgium scored twice during the extra time and USA scored once at minute 106. Belgium will advance to the quarter finals against Argentina. What a heartbreaker for the USA, but I am still proud of my country and they fought hard. I am happy I was able to watch the game live! I have a summer class once a week on Tuesdays and for the last few weeks I’ve had to commute from home to class for a total commute time of nearly 4 hours. I got out of class early today and my commute took less time than normal so I was able to catch the game! This is my last week of a long commute though, thankfully! I move to my apartment this weekend and I will be much closer to my class there.  🙂

My favorite snacks

I am a big fan of snacks. In fact, I LOVE to snack! I’m more of a grazer than a three meals a day kind of girl. I’d rather eat smaller meals/snacks more often during the day. The amount of meals/snacks I eat in a day really just depends on what workouts I am doing and how my body feels. For tasty Tuesday I thought it would be fitting to discuss something food related so, I thought I would share five of my favorite snacks right now.  I try to eat healthy most of the time and my snacks reflect this. I do think that moderation is key and a little dessert or processed food every once in a while shouldn’t hurt or jeopardize your health though. 😉

1. Smoothies. I absolutely love smoothies! I  typically make mine with fresh or frozen fruit, vanilla or plain Greek yogurt, and almond milk. I also like to freeze my smoothies and eat them with a spoon, kind of like ice cream. I’ve been eating frozen smoothies a lot lately. 🙂  I am going to eat this cherry smoothie later, once it is frozen:

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2. Hummus with pretzels and/or carrots. I also love hummus and I’ve been eating Sabra original and Tribe sweet red pepper or original lately. Both brands are delicious, but I really need to learn how to make my own hummus because it is probably a lot cheaper.

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3.Greek yogurt with a tablespoon of dark chocolate chips. When I’m craving something sweet this is my go to snack. It tastes especially good if you put the Greek yogurt and dark chocolate chips in the freezer for a bit. My favorites are Oikos vanilla or plain Greek yogurt and Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips.

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4. Homemade energy bars. My current favorite homemade energy bar is the banana oat energy bar from the Runner’s world cookbook.  I also really like homemade energy bars with peanut butter such as the ones I made and posted here on this blog last Saturday.

5. Popcorn. Most microwave and bagged popcorn are high in fat and full of unrecognizable ingredients which is unfortunate because popcorn is delicious and can be healthy. Thankfully, if you pop your own in an air popper you can turn it into a healthy snack. I typically eat air popped popcorn plain or with a little salt or cinnamon sugar. As far as microwave popcorn goes, Orville Redenbacher’s Simply Salted is the most “natural” I could find in terms of unrecognizable ingredients. I believe it just has popcorn, oil, and salt and I eat it sometimes instead of air popped. I also enjoy  an occasional bag of microwave kettle corn.

What are your favorite snacks right now? Also, any suggestions on toppings for air popped popcorn?