Tag Archives: pumpkin

Protein Bar

9 Nov

Protein Bar, a quick/casual restaurant that offers healthy, high-protein  meals passed the test for me earlier this week.  Currently, there are eight locations in Chicago and one in DC with another on the way in the District and another still in the Ballston neighborhood of Arlington, VA (very close to my home base.)  The ambiance was pretty slick and chic and the customer service was top-notch.  Our cashier offered suggestions and allowed us to tweak our items to exactly our liking.  For an area like DC full of active and busy people, Protein Bar is a perfect fit.

So the idea of this place, the interior, and customer service is great.  What about the food, Carrie?!  Here’s a look at their menu offerings which, yes, are quite tasty!  I was craving some keen-wah (properly spelled quinoa-Who just learned how to say that word?) and a smoothie.

I decided on the Spinach & Pesto bowl which includes all-natural chicken, organic quinoa, spinach, basil pesto, and shredded parmesan cheese.  The nutritionals?  Here they are: 371 calories, 21 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 805 mg sodium, 18 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 35 g protein.

In addition to the bowl, they had a special, seasonal smoothie that called to my inner pumpkin obsession.  While a 12 oz was fairly pricey (about $5),  I really enjoyed the combination of pumpkin puree, organic quinoa, almond milk, vanilla protein, pumpkin spice,  and pepitas.  For the 12 oz Pump-Quinoa treat, you are taking in 210 calories, 3.5 g fat,  .5 g saturated fat, 85 mg sodium, 28 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 20 g sugar, and 18 g protein.

I’ve never had quinoa in a smoothie before!  I really enjoyed it and all this quinoa in my meal makes me want to have it more often.  This whole meal yielded me 53 g protein.  I was satisfied for a number of hours after it and plan to try more Protein Bar items when the Ballston location opens up.  Go visit Protein Bar in Penn Quarter at corner of  7th & D soon!  Have a great weekend all.

Lite ‘n Easy Crustless Pumpkin Pie

7 Nov

Are you ever compelled to just cook or bake something at 9 pm on weekday night?  Sometimes that just happens to me.  Monday night was one of those nights.  I just wanted to whip up a pumpkin treat.  I didn’t need to eat it- making it was enough.  Of course, I did end up eating it, but that whole needing to set thing and an impending bedtime meant a delayed stuffing of face.  This stuffing of face does not result in stuffing of waist.  You take the crust away from a pie and with it goes around a 1/3 of the fat and carbs.  When you grab store-bought pies, they often contain preservatives and added sugar in the crust as well just a heads up.  Shocker of the century, but the PUMPKIN part is what I love most anyway when it comes to pumpkin pie so I wasn’t sad to exclude the crust.  Another reason to love this Libby’s Pumpkin recipe?  You don’t have to bake anything! It’s a simple mix and refrigerate recipe.  Throw some Cool Whip Lite on top and sprinkle some additional pumpkin pie spice or simply cinnamon and you’ve got yourself a less than 150 calorie/ 2 g fat treat (quoted for 1 serving. 8 servings in this pie).  Love it!


  • Nonstick spray
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 envelopes (7 grams each) unflavored gelatin
  • 2 1/4 cups NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Evaporated Lowfat 2% Milk, divided
  • 1 can (15 oz.) LIBBY’S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar or low calorie sweetener equivalent
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Light whipped topping (optional)
  • Fresh raspberries (optional)


  1. Coat a 9 inch pie plate with nonstick spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, sprinkle gelatin atop water.  Let stand for approximately 5-10 min or until softened.  Be sure it mixs well before you allow to sit.
  3. Bring 1 cup (of the total 2 1/4 cups) of  evaporated milk to just a boil.  Slowly stir hot evaporated milk into gelatin.
  4. Stir in remaining evaporated milk, pumpkin, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla extract.                                                   
  5. Pour the mixture into the pie plate and refrigerate 2 hours or until it is fully set.  Add whipped topping and raspberries if you’d like!                                                                                                                                                                                               

Low-fat Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip (Some Raisin) Muffins

31 Oct

The impact of Hurricane Sandy aka Frankenstorm on me so far?  Knowing I would be working from home for possibly a few days/ possibly losing power= it was a good time to make a pumpkin breakfast/snack item to have on hand.  Something with oatmeal also sounded appealing.  I came upon this recipe from Ambitious Kitchen.  Pumpkin and oatmeal- done.  Otherwise, Ms. Sandy has resulted in us losing power for a little and our internet/TV service being very spotty which is why post one on the week comes to you on a Wednesday instead of Monday.  We consider ourselves very lucky for incurring a short stint of power loss and have heeded the warnings to stay inside.  I’m thinking of those in the Northeast- NY, MD, and NJ who seem to have been hit the hardest.  Sending positive vibes your way.

I had to make a few adjustments based on what I had around including leaving out the ripe banana and applesauce.  Instead, I used more pumpkin to make up for the lack of banana* (the whole can instead of the 1 cup it called for) and greek yogurt instead of applesauce (the applesauce subs for oil and greek yogurt is another alternative to oil was my rationale).  Further, I added a little more brown sugar.  In retrospect, I added TOO much pumpkin.  I discovered that is actually possible.  Shocked me to no end.  I’m probably still recovering from it as you read this.  If you have  a ripe banana, I encourage you to use that instead of adding more pumpkin.  My muffins, while good, could have used the sweetness indicative of a ripe banana and 2 cups of pumpkin made the muffins a tad too moist.  Lastly, I tried folding in jumbo raisins from Trader Joe’s into a few muffins instead of chocolate chips.  I wasn’t a fan myself.  I recommend sticking with chocolate chips.  Sometimes too many “stray aways” from a recipe means you don’t end up with the best possible result- especially with baking.  You can do better than me on your first try though and I do think these will be great when done right!  Go forth and bake 🙂



  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat  flour
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 1/2 tspbaking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar + 2 TBSP
  • 2 egg whites, slightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 ripe banana*
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips, plus 2 tablespoons
  • Extra oatmeal, for sprinkling on muffins


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 12 muffin cups with paper cups or spray with nonstick spray (including inside of the cups).
  2. In a large bowl mix flour, oatmeal, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. In a separate bowl combine pumpkin, mashed banana, brown sugar, almond milk, egg whites and greek yogurt. Add the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture and stir to combine. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full so that each is even. Sprinkle a tiny bit of oatmeal over each top of the muffins.
  4. Place into the oven and bake for 23-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of muffins comes out clean. Muffins are best served warm. Reheat in the microwave for 20 seconds and spread with topping of your choice- I recommend Land O’ Lakes Light Butter with Canola Oil myself!

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes w/ Pumpkin Butter

24 Oct

Incorporating pumpkin more and more into the start of my day = success.  This recipe was adapted slightly from the Skinnytaste version.  I wanted a bit MORE pumpkin and I used pumpkin butter from a country store.  In the future, I’d sub the oil for greek yogurt to save more fat and add some additional protein.  These are so good and fluffy- you’ll have no regrets cooking these up.  A nice Halloween weekend breakfast perhaps?  I promise it won’t ruin how awesome you look in your costumes 🙂









  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  •  cooking spray
  • pumpkin butter or maple agave for topping


  1. Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. In medium bowl, combine milk, egg whites, canned pumpkin, and vanilla.  Mix until no dry spots remain, but be careful not to over do it on the mixing.
  3. Heat a large skillet on medium heat. Spray nonstick spray to lightly coat and pour 1/4 cup of pancake batter.
  4. When the pancake starts to bubble and the edges begin to set, flip the pancakes. Repeat with the remainder of the batter. Top each serving with an about 2 tbsp pumpkin butter or maple agave if you prefer.

ANOTHER Pumpkin Chili

19 Oct

You might be asking yourself, “Didn’t she already post a pumpkin chili recipe?”  Yes I did but that recipe had a chicken broth base and this one is tomato-based.  Worlds of difference.  Also, I’m going to do as much pumpkin cooking as possible.  You’re not surprised, are you?  This recipe screams comforting fall/winter meal.  This will also give you an abundance of leftovers.  As with the chicken broth-based chili, this one has enough of a hint of the pumpkin to taste it but you won’t feel like you’re eating pumpkin pie in a chili.  Enjoy!


  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans kidney beans, drained
  • 1 (46 fluid ounce) can tomato juice
  • 1 (28 ounce) can peeled and diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1/2-3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 cup white sugar


  1. In a large pot over medium heat, cook beef until brown; drain.
  2. Stir in onion and bell pepper and cook 5 minutes.                                   
  3. Stir in beans, tomato juice, diced tomatoes and pumpkin puree. Season with pumpkin pie spice, chili powder, and sugar. Simmer 1 hour.                                                                                                 
  4. Top with a dollop plain greek yogurt and some fresh herbs and eat up!

Pumpkin (Protein) Smoothie

10 Oct

LifeWork Strategies comes to a number of our health events at my company, SRA International.  Often, healthy recipe demos are a part of their participation.  A great find at Bryan’s site’s fall health fair  (he is an SRA employee as well) was this pumpkin smoothie recipe.  I personally modified to include a vanilla-flavored protein powder for women called Aria.  It features a combo of whey and soy protein appropriate for ladies.  It is very low in sugar and has no artificial sweeteners.  Couple scoops at 90 calories plus some skim milk makes a great snack.  There is also a chocolate flavor.  You can find this at your local Vitamin Shoppe for around $13 or save a few bucks and order packs of 2 for around $20 through Amazon.com.  It qualifies for the free super savings shipping so get something else you’ve been needing to get to the $25 and shipping will be gratis.   Back to the smoothie…this is yet another way to enjoy pumpkin and in a healthy way!  This recipe will make 2 servings so if you make for just you, I would half the recipe.


  • 1 can (15 oz.) pureed pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling, just plain ol canned pumpkin)
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or milk of your choice)
  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt or plain greek yogurt if you use vanilla protein
  • 1 banana, frozen and cut into slices
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 2 scoops Aria vanilla-flavored protein (optional)
  • crushed graham crackers (optional if you want more of a healthy treat than a snack)


  1. The night before, portion pumpkin into ice cube tray and freeze.
  2. Put the frozen pumpkin, milk, yogurt, frozen banana, and spice into a blender and puree until smooth
  3. Relish in the fall season before pumpkin goes away.  🙂

Crockpot Turkey White Bean Pumpkin Chili

12 Sep

DC weather is FINALLY starting to cool off and I’m loving it!  As promised, I am going to keep the pumpkin madness coming.  This recipe comes from Skinnytaste and it was just a little too skinny for me.  I’m not a fan of the 99% fat free lean ground turkey she calls for.  I need just a tad of fat in my lean ground turkey and I also feel that the 99% fat free kind is very dry for that level of fat free-ness.  Also, I use fat free plain greek yogurt in place of sour cream these days mainly because I always have it and waste sour cream when I buy that.  I made this recipe for a nice little dinner date with my girl Christine.  She used to always give me a hard time for posting “food porn” pictures on Facebook and request to come over for what I was making.  Thus when we were planning I get together, I suggested that I cook her something!  We paired it with a nice Pinot Grigio and I think she was a fan of the meal.  Success 🙂  Enjoy this easy and seasonal chili.  Stay tuned because the forecast for a tomato-based pumpkin chili sometime this fall is a 100% chance.


  • cooking spray
  • 2 lb 93% fat free/7% fat lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp chili powder, to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 (15 oz cans) of white northern or navy beans, rinsed and drained
  • 15 oz can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 4.5 oz canned chopped green chile
  • 2 cups low sodium, fat free chicken broth
  • fat free greek yogurt for topping (optional)
  • chopped cilantro and/or chives for topping (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large saute pan, spray nonstick spray and cook ground turkey for 5 minutes or until browned. 
  2. Transfer meat to crock pot.  Then, add oil and saute onions and garlic for 3-4 minutes.  Add cumin and saute for 1 minute. 
  3. Add onions, garlic, and cumin to crock pot.  Add white beans, pumpkin puree, green chilies, chicken broth, chili powder, oregano, and bay leaves.  Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.  Remove bay leaves and serve.