Citrus Apple Quinoa

  This refreshing and figure friendly little number is packed with skinny essentials like protein, vitamin C and fiber. Need I say more?

a citrus apple quinoa
Citrus Apple Quinoa
(6 – 8 servings)
1 orange, zested
1 cup orange juice (about 2 fresh-squeezed oranges)
1 cup veggie or chicken stock
1 cup quinoa
1 onion, fine diced
1 bell pepper, fine diced
1 – 2 apples, chopped
1 orange, chopped
1 cup shredded chicken (optional)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup orange or lemon juice (about 1/2 fresh squeezed orange or 1 lemon)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons grade A maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
citrus apple quinoa
1.) Boil zest, 1 cup orange juice, broth, quinoa and onion covered for 15 – 20 minutes.
citrus apple quinoa
2.) Combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
3.) Toss quinoa, pepper, chopped apple, oranges, chicken and dressing.
citrus apple quinoa
4.) Serve immediately or chill before serving if desired.
a citrus apple quinoa

Cold quinoa is easy to take on the go (to a picnic possibly!) and is an easy make ahead meal for breakfast, lunch or dinner. In fact I had it for both lunch and dinner yesterday!

citrus apple quinoa

Citrus Apple Quinoa perfectly accompanied bean burgers last night with hubby, proving it be a lovely leftover from lunch with our neighbor earlier in the day.

I love talking travel among other things with this worldly woman. This time we talked over Citrus Apple Quinoa, Sweet Potato Salad, Kale Quiche and Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies (from left to right below). I hope to share all of these great go-to recipes sometime soon.

citrus apple quinoa sweet potatoe salad kale quiche apple oatmeal cookies

I’ve been busy whipping out one delicious tree-fruit treat after another, whittling away at the gianormous crate of apples we picked a couple weeks ago.


The somewhat of a personal iron chef challenge has been fun and rewarding for our taste buds! The bounty has also created quite a collection of apple recipes that will be fabulous for fall. I’d love to share each and every one of them. All I need is more time! (Don’t we all?)

 apple cobbler apple stuffing n' gravey curry apple chili apple cinnamon pancakes

While I’ve already shared the skinny on my addicting  Apple Strudel Bread, a few of the other apple-licious dishes as of late include Apple Butter, Southerned Fried Apples, Skinny Mini Apple Cobbler, Apple Stuffing N’ Gravy Casserole, Curry Apple Chili, Baked Apple French Toast and the newest (as of this morning) concoction, Apple Cinnamon Pancakes.

What to share next??

Apple Strudel Bread

 Autumn is so close we can taste it! The leaves have already began to drop here in Northern Virginia and the fall harvest is literally upon us.

IMG_7271Check out the load of mountain goodness we brought home last weekend! The trees up at the cabin are ripe for the pickin’, thus I’ve been cranking out apple recipes like crazy. With no further adieu, please allow me to share the most addicting temptation we’ve tasted thus far that’s deceptively healthy -low fat, low sugar and whole grain!

A Apple Strudel Bread

Apple Strudel Bread
(makes about 12 muffins or 1 loaf)
1/2 cup dates, pitted & pureed (or brown sugar, minus water)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup grade A maple syrup
1/3 cup apple sauce (no sugar added)
3 tablespoons oil (olive, grape seed or avocado)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons ground flax or chia seed
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 apples or 2 – 3 cups, cored and fine diced
1/3 cup coconut or brown sugar
2 tablespoon whole wheat pastry flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1.) Heat dates and water in a microwave safe bowl for about 2 minutes. Allow date to plump about 5 minutes before pureeing.
dates dates
2.) Combine all ingredients in a large bowl with a mixer or whisk, folding in apples last.
3.) Fill prepared baking pan(s) with batter.
Ice Cream Scoopers - Muffins
4.) Mix strudel ingredients in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over top batter.
5.) Bake muffins 20 – 25 minutes or loaf 50 – 55 minutes at 350 degrees.
A Apple Strudel Bread
I could not stop eating these scrumptious little suckers the night they were baked, but I managed to save a few for a picnic the next day.
Great Falls Park, VA
My sis-in-law, niece, nephew and I met at Great Falls Park on a gorgeous sunny day last week.
Great Falls State Park, VA
The weather couldn’t have been more perfect for a picnic!

Great Falls Park, VA Great Falls State Park, VA Great Falls State Park, VA Great Falls Park, VA

I hope to soon share my recipe for the refreshing Citrus Apple Quinoa we enjoyed with the Apple Strudel Muffins, along with other apple concoctions that have been created lately.

IMG_7358Until then, savor what’s left of this sweet summer!


A Day in NYC + Travel Tip #1

A Day In NYC

Want to see an entire city in a single day?


Travel tip, we recommend being chauffeured by a hop-on hop-off double decker bus service.

A Travel Tip 1

I know, it sounds super cheesy and touristy, but it’s an affordable mode of transportation that stops at all the right places, gives great elevated views and offers a play by play of all the nitty gritty on the city in several different languages to boot.

Rome Bus Tour

Just yesterday my hygienist was raving about her double decker tour in LA and last month my cousins gave a great review of their bus tour in DC.


While we’ve yet to experience those particular excursions, our one-day city adventures through San Francisco, Rome and most recently New York City were pretty spectacular.


Our one day in The Empire kicked off with stops by the only two sights my grandmother was set on seeing, since we randomly woke up nearby in the business district.


 First was the beautifully moving 9/11 Memorial.

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Up next, le pièce de résistance, The Statue of Liberty!

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Suffering from chronic sea sickness and therefore unable to take the ferry, I forewarned Nana of a fabulous viewing spot I’d scoped out but kept the details minimal. Unbeknownst to her, we had a MUCH closer glimpse of Miss Liberty in store than Nana anticipated.

NYC DSC06031 DSC06030 DSC06029

Prior to leaving home my parents had asked me to arrange a helicopter tour for Nana that circled The Statue while we were in the city. Not a problem!IMG_4319

Since they knew we planned to take the bus and it was offered for a discount with the helicopter, Mom and Dad treated us to both tours! Both were exceptional experiences.

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After watching a safety video about five times (boring), we were quickly loaded into the copter, lifted into the air, whisked above Governor’s Island, around The Statue, up the Hudson River and over the George Washington Bridge.

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As we flew over the city, the pilot pointed out city highlights including The Empire State Building, Yankee Stadium, Central Park, the five boroughs, universities, cathedrals and more.

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It was an amazing 15 minute journey right down to the very last second!DSC06085Just over from the helicopter pier on Manhattan’s southern most tip, a more luscious sector of NYC boasts views of and ferry rides to Lady Liberty, the East Coast (Eagle) Memorial, a sprawling urban garden, a café complete with quaint patio and more.


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The park is also a stop on many bus tours through the city. We were aiming for minimal walking so this is where we hopped on the bus.


We road until the tour reached Time Square. The stretch there from Battery Park ranked least favorite among the three bus tours we experienced that day. It may have been due to our first tour guide’s heavy, hard to understand accent or it could have been the comparably gifted guides who followed. Regardless, the sun was up and the weather was perfect for an open air ride.

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There were still some great sights to be had including the United Nations Headquarters, Trump World Tower, Waldorf Astoria, gorgeous fountains, Robert Indiana‘s Love Sculpture, the Tourneau Store world clocks and the Empire State Building to name a few (from left to right above). IMG_4321

We hopped off the downtown bus in Time Square, grabbed a quick bite to eat (excellent eats list in the works!), then hopped on the next bus tour.


The uptown tour by an obviously native New Yorker was our second favorite tour. It took us around Central Park, winded through the Upper West and East Side, then on through Harlem.

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The bus arrived back in Time Square right on time to catch the twilight Brooklyn tour, our final and favorite of the day. It rolled right through the parts of downtown we’d missed earlier, over the Brooklyn Bridge and through the iconic borough.

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The tour turned back toward Time Square just as the sun was sinking behind the city.


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Dinner was at a local staple recommended by the Brooklyn tour guide.

DSC06361 Tucked away on a side street near Time Square, this quaint place that originated in Brooklyn offers indoor/outdoor dining, lots of city classics on the menu and a huge dessert selection. It was an awesome way to wrap a day of running around the city that never sleeps.

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We grabbed a cab back to the business district and on the way caught a glimpse of the beautiful Brooklyn Bridge lit up against the night sky. The view (below) was the cream that crowned our sunny day in the Big Apple!

DSC06377 Nana and I have already started planning our next exploration together. Cheers to adventuring at any age!


Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes

a blueberry buttermilk pancakes2
Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes
(makes about 8 pancakes)

1 1/4 cups milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice or white vinegar
1 tablespoon chia or flax (or 1 egg less 1/4 cup milk)
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup flax or flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon grade A maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup fresh, frozen or dried blueberries
blueberry buttermilk pancakes
1.) Combine milk, vinegar/juice and 1 tablespoon chia/flax in a small bowl and set aside for about 5 minutes, but continue to stir every couple of minutes.
blueberry buttermilk pancakes
2.) Whisk all ingredients but the blueberries until just combined.
blueberry buttermilk pancakes
3.) Fold in blueberries.
blueberry buttermilk pancakes
4.) Scoop 1/4 cup pancake mix onto a greased skillet that has preheated over medium low.
blueberry buttermilk pancakes
5.) Cook cakes until golden brown on each side (about 4 minutes), then serve warm.
blueberry buttermilk pancakes blueberry buttermilk pancakes blueberry buttermilk pancakes blueberry buttermilk pancakes
 A low heat oven can keep pancakes warm until ready to serve. I like to make a double batch, then freeze leftovers for quick fix breakfasts.a blueberry buttermilk beastcakes2
Packed with energy inducing ingredients, nutrients and antioxidants, these babies might as well be called Beastcakes! The whole grains alone lower cholesterol and reduce risk of heart disease, stroke, type II diabetes, digestive system cancers and hormone-related cancers.
blueberry buttermilk pancakes
Our 11 year old cousin recently helped whip up this recipe, it’s that easy! We were completely impressed with his kitchen skills, doing everything himself from mixing the batter to flipping the flapjacks. It was a most fabulous week with our cousins in the house!IMG_4757Everyday was a new adventure. We spent some time up at the cabin, rocked out together at a Zac Brown Concert, toured various attractions around town and enjoyed each others company.
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Blueberry Buttermilk Beastcakes powered us through a busy day of subway riding and museum hopping in The Nation’s Capital.
 Kick start any day the healthy way with one of our favorite go-to breakfast recipes, Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes!
a blueberry buttermilk pancakes2


Skinny Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cookies


skinny strawberry chocolate chip cookiesSkinny Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Makes about 5 dozen cookies)

1 cup strawberry puree
1 cup dates, pitted (skinny) or 3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground chia or flax or 1 egg
1 3/4 cups rolled oats
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup vegan butter (or your favorite), room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon red dye (optional)
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
1.) Puree strawberries in a blender or food processor.
skinny strawberry chocolate chip cookies
2.) Mix strawberry puree with dates in a microwave safe bowl, then microwave for 2 minutes. Set aside allowing dates to plump 5-10 minutes.
skinny strawberry chocolate chip cookies
3.) Blend dates, strawberries and chia or flax.
skinny strawberry chocolate chip cookies
4.) Combine flours, sugar, salt, cinnamon and baking soda in a mixing bowl. Add strawberry blend, butter, vanilla and coloring, combining thoroughly. Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts last. Drop 1 tablespoon dough balls on a baking sheet, separating each by a couple inches.
skinny strawberry chocolate chip cookies
5.) Bake cookies 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack or towl… or devour the warm ooey gooeyess immediately!

skinny strawberry chocolate chip cookies

These little red rubies where inspired by still-in-the-womb Zoey.

NNK heather's shower

I was going for a pink twist on a classic and luckily had just enough strawberries in the frig to make a chocolate covered strawberry-esque cookie happen. For good measure both Skinny Strawberry Chocolate Chip and classic Skinny Chocolate Chip Cookies were made.

skinny strawberry chocolate chip cookies

Fresh off of back to back travel (New Hampshire and Vegas details soon to come!), last week’s schedule was stacked so a double batch of cookies was made to have enough to share with everyone I’d see over the week.


 I couldn’t quite get it together in time to have the cookies ready for lunch with my gorgeous cousins on Monday (above), but the batters were prepared by Tuesday night and the first batch  was baked off Wednesday morning. Just in time for lunch with a lovely ex-coworker friend!

skinny mini chocolate cheesecake

That same day a package happened to be going out to my cousins in Ohio so they got a taste of the goods as well. Thursday was spent with Mom visiting family in the Charlottesville, VA area. Of course that meant more cookie sharing potential!

skinny strawberry chocolate chip cookies molly the doxie skinny strawberry chocolate chip cookies skinny strawberry chocolate chip cookies

Great Aunt Mary and Uncle  James warmly welcomed us in for lunch and showed off fabulous family-made heirlooms displayed around their beautiful home. We were amused to see Great Grandma Clark’s glasses and were especially taken with the mantle (above) which my beloved grandfather built then snuck in to surprise-install while Mary and James were out of the house. I love that random act of kindness inspired story!visiting great aunts

 Afterwards Great Aunt Nita welcomed us into her oasis with open arms. It was so nice to spend time with this rarely seen sector of our family. On Friday afternoon a second batch of cookies was baked off for baby Zoey’s shower hosted down in my hometown on Saturday.

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 Celebrating new life, reminiscing with old friends and driving around my old stomping grounds was nostalgically amazing. I stopped by our old house and all of my former places of employment around the area. A lot has changed, yet it almost feels as if time has stood still there. Next to the cabin, no other destination captures my breath quite like this one.

nnk hague library nnk old hague library nnk NNKnnk DSCN1790 nnk westmoreland state park

The Northern Neck definitely hits a sweet spot in my heart.

nnkThese cookies will hit a sweet spot in your belly!

skinny strawberry chocolate chip cookies