Hidden Veggie Acai Bowls

All hail the hidden veggies!!

A close-up look at a delicious Hidden Veggie Acai Bowl from CaliGirl Cooking. The perfect healthy breakfast even the pickiest of eaters will love!

Seriously, who doesn’t want a HUGE serving of vegetables hidden into one of the most delicious acai bowls of all time? If you’re a fruit/breakfast fanatic like me and like to start your day off on the right foot, these Hidden Veggie Acai Bowls are for you.


And, speaking of hidden veggies, if you have picky eaters in your household (ahem, kids) you’re going to LOVE the fact that there is tons of broccoli and spinach packed into each and every one of these bowls.

Back in the day, when I first moved to Santa Barbara, I was living with my brother and sister-in-law and their three young kids until I found a place I could settle into on my own. As part of my “rent,” I’d try to cook for them as much as possible. As most families with young kids do, my bro and SIL were always struggling to get their kids to eat anything besides carbs and fruit. So, I took it upon myself to help them sneak some goodness into their diets in any way we could.

Some of the biggest hits I created for the kids were Hidden Veggie Popsicles. I’d basically whip up a smoothie with kale, carrots and sometimes even avocado the night before, poured the smoothie into a popsicle mold, and first thing in the morning there would be delicious, healthy POPSICLES waiting for the kids for breakfast. I mean, who doesn’t want popsicles for breakfast? They were a huge hit.

A healthy serving of Hidden Veggie Acai Bowls. Your answer to a quick, easy and healthy breakfast!

Fast forward to almost four years later, now I’m trying to sneak as many vegetables into my diet as possible with my ever-changing preggo mama appetite. Throughout my first whole trimester, veggies were not my friend. I’m normally a huge salad eater, but a big bowl of raw greens was the LAST thing I even wanted to think about eating.

Luckily, my healthy appetite for fruit has maintained throughout the duration of my pregnancy (and will hopefully continue to!) I’ve been able to drink our Power Protein Smoothies we make almost every day, which do also have some kale mixed in, and if I’m looking for a healthy snack in the afternoon, a piece of fruit (most likely paired with cheese) is the first thing I’ll grab out of the refrigerator.

On the weekends, the hubs usually spoils me with eggs, bacon, the works, but occasionally we’ll have some place we need to be in the morning and thus need a quick, healthy breakfast to get our day started on the right foot. On these days, you can most likely find us at Backyard Bowls, Santa Barbara’s acai bowl/smoothie mecca that is basically amazing beyond words.

I’ll usually order either their PB&J Quinoa Bowl if I’m in the mood for a warm, belly-filling meal, or their Green Bowl if I’m looking for something more refreshing. The Hidden Veggie Acai Bowls I’m sharing today are my own personal take on the Green Bowl, and I’m pretty sure you’re going to enjoy them just as much as I did!

These Hidden Veggie Acai Bowls from CaliGirl Cooking are the perfect healthy breakfast for picky eaters.

Here’s what you’re going to need: some banana for creaminess, and one more for your toppings (because aren’t the toppings some of the best things about basically eating a smoothie in a bowl?), frozen acai (find it at your local Whole Foods or TJ’s), frozen broccoli and fresh spinach (there’s your veggies!), frozen cherries, pineapple juice, lime juice and some fresh ginger (if you’re feeling adventurous.) I love the ginger for the zinginess it brings to the bowl, but you can easily leave it out if you or your kids aren’t really into such a distinct flavor.

Throw everything into a blender, top with the banana, some sliced strawberries, granola, honey and, my favorite, PEANUT BUTTER, and you’ll have such a delicious, crowd-pleasing breakfast that Hidden Veggie Acai Bowls will soon become the most requested breakfast at your kitchen table. Promise!

An overhead shot of delicious Hidden Veggie Acai Bowls. They'll be a huge hit with kids!

A close-up look at a delicious Hidden Veggie Acai Bowl from CaliGirl Cooking. The perfect healthy breakfast even the pickiest of eaters will love!
Print
Hidden Veggie Acai Bowls
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins
 

This healthy breakfast is packed with filling fruits and vegetables that will keep even the pickiest of eaters happy and full until lunch. 

Course: Breakfast
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 frozen acai pack
  • 1 banana, plus 1 additional for topping
  • 1 cup frozen broccoli
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 cup frozen cherries
  • 3/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger (optional)
  • Sliced strawberries, your favorite granola, honey and peanut butter, for topping
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients except toppings in a blender and blend until smooth. 

  2. Pour blender contents into one larger cereal bowl (or two smaller ones) and garnish with desired toppings.

  3. Enjoy immediately!

Hidden Veggie Acai Bowls | CaliGirlCooking.com

Mediterranean Sea Bass over Summer Roasted Vegetables

It’s summer time and the cooking is easy!

A close-up view of Mediterranean Sea Bass over Summer Roasted Vegetables, featuring Frontier Co-Op's Oregano Leaf.
This post is sponsored by Frontier Co-Op.

At least that’s what we like to think, right? Memorial Day is behind us, which means we’re heading full-throttle into warm weather eats. And what better way to #SpiceUpSummer than with top-quality herbs and spices?

Today I’m partnering with Frontier Co-Op to bring you this incredibly fresh and delicious Mediterranean Sea Bass over Summer Roasted Vegetables, which I can guarantee is going to become one of your go-to meals over the next few months. It’s loaded with the best in-season flavor – Frontier’s own Oregano Leaf, tons of lemon juice and a touch of cayenne pepper – and since it uses just one dish, it’s incredibly easy to whip up on any night of the week with minimal cleanup. If you ask me, there’s no better way to #CookWithPurpose, one of Frontier’s main initiatives this summer.


I love working with Frontier Co-Op because of this very message. To them, it’s all about working together to create sustainable, high-quality products that bring people together through delicious food. And you know I’m all about that!

Beautiful Mediterranean Sea Bass over Summer Roasted Vegetables made with Frontier Co-Op's Oregano Leaf. The perfect one-dish meal for summer!

Herbs and spices are some of the best tools we can use to accomplish this. They add so much incredible flavor to a recipe for very few calories, which makes healthy, delicious cooking easier than ever. They’re also perfect for those hot summer days when you want to pull together a wholesome, nutritious meal with minimal time spent slaving away over the stove or in the kitchen.

This Mediterranean Sea Bass over Summer Roasted Vegetables most definitely falls into the quick-to-make/easy-to-cleanup/loads-of-flavor category. All it takes is a half-hour marinade for the fish, 20 minutes in the oven, and a tableful of hungry people.

An overhead shot of Mediterranean Sea Bass over Summer Roasted Vegetables featuring Frontier Co-Op's Oregano Leaf.

I opted for sea bass for this particular recipe because it looked the best at the store, but you can really use any firm white fish. Just make sure all of your filets are about the same thickness so they cook evenly in the oven.

The sea bass (or whichever fish you opt to use) gets marinated in a tasty blend of Frontier Co-Op Oregano Leaf, fresh garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. This imparts all of those delicious flavors throughout the filets, so you get all of the deliciousness in every single bite. Plus, since we’re working with fairly delicate fish, it only needs a half-hour marinade. Because when we’re trying to #CookWithPurpose, we don’t want to waste away an entire evening waiting for our dinner to be ready!

Once you have the sea bass part of your Mediterranean Sea Bass over Summer Roasted Vegetables ready to go, prepping the vegetables is easy. Feel free to use your creative license here, but I opted for zucchini, red baby potatoes and fresh corn. Oh, and shallots, because shallots make everything better. The “do” for these is even easier than the marinade for the fish. We’re bathing our veggies in a simple dressing of olive oil, more oregano, salt and pepper. It really doesn’t take much when we have all of those amazing flavors going on with our fish.

We give the vegetables a little head start in the oven to make sure they have time to cook all the way through, then we add the sea bass for the last 12-15 minutes. It won’t take long for all of the delicious smells from the Oregano Leaf and lemon juice to start wafting through the house, so it’s a good thing you won’t have to wait too long before enjoying!

Individually plated Mediterranean Sea Bass over Summer Roasted Vegetables featuring Frontier Co-Op's Oregano Leaf.

What are your favorite warm weather recipes featuring herbs and spices? How are you going to #SpiceUpSummer this year?

Beautiful Mediterranean Sea Bass over Summer Roasted Vegetables made with Frontier Co-Op's Oregano Leaf. The perfect one-dish meal for summer!
Print
Mediterranean Sea Bass over Summer Roasted Vegetables
Prep Time
40 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
1 hrs
 

The perfect, healthy, one-dish meal featuring fresh sea bass and summer's best produce, with tons of zesty Mediterranean flavor.

Course: Main Course
Servings: 4 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the fish:
  • 4 pieces of sea bass filet (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Frontier Co-Op Oregano Leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Frontier Co-Op Cayenne
For the vegetables:
  • 4 baby red potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 2 zucchini, cut into thin disks
  • 3 ears of corn, shucked and kernels cut off the cob
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Frontier Co-Op Oregano Leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Instructions
  1. Combine sea bass and all other marinade ingredients in a large, resealable plastic bag, making sure the marinade covers the fish fairly evenly. Place bag in refrigerator to marinate for about 30 minutes.

  2. Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

  3. Next, prep the vegetables. Toss all vegetable ingredients together in a large casserole dish. Once oven is preheated, place vegetables in for 5-10 minutes.

  4. Remove vegetables from oven (do not turn off oven) and place the marinated sea bass filets over top. Return casserole dish to the oven and bake for another 12-15 minutes, or until the sea bass is cooked through. Serve immediately.

Spicy Homemade Salsa

Hey, hey, hey friends!

Spicy Homemade Salsa | CaliGirlCooking.com

I am so excited for today’s post because I’ve partnered up with some of my favorite event and wedding planning babes, A Savvy Lifestyle, to bring you the most delicious Spicy Homemade Salsa you’ve ever tasted. I’m serious here. If you like spicy, you’re going to LOVE this. You probably won’t even be able to put down the chips. It’s a good thing the recipe makes a huge batch so you just might be willing to share some with your friends for your Cinco de Mayo get-together!


I have to tell you a little story about the Savvy group because they really are a special bunch. When my husband and I first got engaged, one of the first people I told was my good friend Brittany who also happens to be a wedding planner. Now, I used to be an event planner but I am definitely no expert in weddings, so I needed all of the help I could get! Brittany just so happens to work for A Savvy Lifestyle’s parent company, A Savvy Event, so I knew I would be in good hands with her.

Seeing as we wanted her to be able to actually ENJOY our wedding (and not have to work for once!) she quickly connected us with one of her amazing coworkers, Jamie, to be our actual planner leading up to and the day of the event. All spare you all of the lovey-dovey, romantic details of our wedding planning process, but let’s just say it was so special to work so closely with such an amazingly friendly group of talented ladies! So when they asked me to contribute a festive Cinco de Mayo recipe for their lifestyle brand, I jumped at the chance.

Spicy Homemade Salsa | CaliGirlCooking.com

Coincidentally, this recipe is one that my husband has had in his arsenal since his good ol’ Isla Vista college days, so we’re putting our marriage to work to bring you this Spicy Homemade Salsa! We whip up a batch whenever we’re having a barbecue, family get-together or pretty much any other large gathering of people, and it’s always a hit, especially with our spice-lovers!

Seriously though, the spice-level on this recipe (as written) is not for the faint of heart. But there is some great news that goes along with that so as not to totally scare you away:

  1. When I say the salsa is “spicy,” think of it as a slow, gradual buildup. It doesn’t hit you all at once, and it certainly doesn’t burn off all of your taste buds with the first bite. I’d say if you normally buy “medium” salsa at the store, you’ll easily be able to tolerate at least small doses of this recipe as is.
  2. If you’re REALLY averse/sensitive to heat, you can easily just cut down the amount of habaneros used, or even use seeded jalapenos instead. Once you take the seeds out, peppers really just add flavor and hardly any spice at all.

The most recent evolution of this recipe, which you can find here in the A Savvy Lifestyle post, is our addition of some chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Seriously, do not skip this step if you can at all help it. The smokiness of the peppers adds such a fantastic flavor to the salsa, it truly makes the dish three-dimensional and out of this world.

Spicy Homemade Salsa | CaliGirlCooking.com

CLICK HERE FOR THE SPICY HOMEMADE SALSA RECIPE!

So what are your plans for Cinco de Mayo? I for one am headed out to Salt Lake City tonight through Sunday for the Everything Food Conference, so no big Cinco celebration for me this year, but I am beyond excited. This will be the first full-on “food blogging” conference that I’ve attended and I’ve already got so many brands and people on my list to meet I just know it’s going to be a blast and go by way too fast. If for any reason you’re headed that way as well, be sure to drop me a line so we can connect!

So since I’ll be too busy mingling with my fellow bloggers and living it up in the SLC, do me a favor and enjoy some Spicy Homemade Salsa for me, will ya? And maybe a margarita or two?

Spicy Homemade Salsa | CaliGirlCooking.com

And be sure to check out A Savvy Lifestyle for the recipe and tons of other great posts about events, wine country and so much more!!

Banana Bran Muffins

Who’s ready for some wholesomeness in their life??

Banana Bran Muffins | CaliGirlCooking.com

I sure am! Well, in about two days when we’re back from our Italy vacation, that is. At which point I completely intend to fill our kitchen with healthy(-ish) dishes with good-for-you ingredients, like these Banana Bran Muffins!


Okay, to be fair, these muffins do have lots of wholesome ingredients, but I’d be lying if I said they were completely healthy. Sure, they still have sugar, white flour and eggs, but they also have not one but TWO types of bran cereal and bananas, so there’s our balance right there. And let me tell you, if you’re looking for a little more roughage (aka fiber) in your diet, Banana Bran Muffins are the answer!

Before I get to these muffins, though, let me fill you in a little bit on what we’ve been up to on our trip since my last post on Friday! On Saturday morning we caught the train to Venice, which was a pretty cool adventure all in itself. The train systems in Europe always amaze me because they are so sophisticated and make going from one city (or country!) to another sooooo easy. The US sure has a lot to learn from them.

Once we arrived in Venice, we caught a private water taxi to our charming AirBnB just south of the famous St. Mark’s Square. We’ve basically been eating our way through Venice ever since and I can’t wait to write all about it in a Travel Diaries post for you when we get back! We head home tomorrow and, although I’m sad to see such an amazing adventure with so many people I love come to an end, I am looking forward to getting back into a healthier eating routine after all of this indulgence! I’m thinking these Banana Bran Muffins will be the perfect segue to gently ease myself back into the groove.

Banana Bran Muffins | CaliGirlCooking.com

So, I told you a couple of weeks ago that I’ve been really enjoying resurrecting old family recipes and posting them here on the blog so that they exist forever and ever (I hope!) I made my Mom’s Peanut Butter Chicken a little while back, the perfect comfort food dish, and just the other week I shared my Dad’s tried and true recipe for Hot Cross Buns.

These Banana Bran Muffins are actually my take on a recipe from my husband’s side of the family. It’s one he’s brought up over and over again whenever we talk about family recipes we want to try and make for each other, and so the last time we were at his parents’ house this recipe card was one of the ones we snapped a photo of from his mom’s overflowing handwritten recipes box.

Banana Bran Muffins | CaliGirlCooking.com

The first thing I have to say about this recipe is: Don’t be scared by the very large amounts of ingredients (three cups of sugar??? Five cups of flour??) That’s because this recipe makes a HUGE yield…we’re talking three dozen muffins, so just be sure you have a couple of really large mixing bowls to make your batter!

Banana Bran Muffins | CaliGirlCooking.com

And the great news is, once you make the batter, you can either keep it in the refrigerator for up to six weeks (can you believe it?) OR you can bake off all of the muffins (as I did) and freeze them in batches for future consumption. Up to you!

The main (really only) change I made to my mother-in-law’s original Bran Muffin recipe was adding mashed banana in place of the ½ cup of shortening called for. I figured this would help make the muffins a leeeetle bit healthier and it certainly made them nice and moist! Of course, after I’d made them, my husband informed me that his mom would sometimes sub in applesauce for the shortening, so there’s another option as well!

Oh, and if you’re not sure where to find both types of bran cereal, just hit up your local Trader Joe’s! Here’s a picture of both types mixed together below ↓

Banana Bran Muffins | CaliGirlCooking.com

Basically, these Banana Bran Muffins don’t take any longer than regular muffins to make, and once you do make them you’ll have enough to last you at least a month or two. If that doesn’t sound like the perfect semi-healthy baked good to you, I don’t know what will.

Banana Bran Muffins | CaliGirlCooking.com

And with that, I’m signing off for the day and off to explore more of the magical city of Venice! Be sure to follow along on my Insta stories for all the fun! Xo

Banana Bran Muffins | CaliGirlCooking.com
Print
Banana Bran Muffins
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

These easy-to-make muffins are incredibly delicious and full of plenty of wholesome ingredients like bran cereal and ripe banana. 

Course: Breakfast
Servings: 3 dozen
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 cups whole bran cereal
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup mashed banana (about 1 banana)
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 5 cups flour, sifted
  • 4 cups bran flakes
  • 5 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare as many cupcake tins as you have (ultimately you will need three dozen, but you can always reuse the pans) by either spraying them with nonstick cooking spray or lining with cupcake liners.

  2. In a medium bowl, pour boiling water over whole bran cereal. Let stand while you prep the wet ingredients.

  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the sugar, banana, eggs and buttermilk. Add the whole bran that you’ve been soaking in the hot water. 

  4. In a separate large mixing bowl, combine the flour, bran flakes, baking soda and salt. Stir in the wet ingredients and continue to stir until no lumps of flour can be seen. The batter will be very thick and will thicken even more as it stands.

  5. Scoop batter into cupcake pans and bake in 350 degree oven for 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove and let cool in pan for 5-10 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.

Recipe Notes

You can bake off all of these muffins at once and freeze them in batches, or you can keep the batter covered in the refrigerator for up to six weeks to bake off when needed.

Banana Bran Muffins | CaliGirlCooking.com

Turmeric Coconut Ice Cream (Vegan and Dairy-Free!)

Boy oh boy am I going to need a lot of this when we get back from Italy.

Turmeric Coconut Ice Cream (Vegan and Dairy-Free!) | CaliGirlCooking.com

Yes, I’m talking about turning to ICE CREAM to reset my diet after a week and a half of indulgence in one of the most foodie-friendly countries of the world. You know why? Because this Turmeric Coconut Ice Cream is h-e-a-l-t-h-y! That’s right. We’re talking vegan/dairy-free, where the only cream we’re speaking of comes from our good ol’ friend the coconut. Did I mention it’s darn delicious too?


Now, you know I’m no stranger to ice cream, and I’m certainly no stranger to the full-octane kind. This Fresh Mint Dark Chocolate Chip Ice Cream is still one of my favorite recipes to date, and as soon as fig season rolls around you can bet I’ll be whipping up this Maple Bourbon Fig Ice Cream on the reg. But to me, this Turmeric Coconut Ice Cream just screams spring and warmer weather. Sure, we can still enjoy our Golden Milk Lattes in the cool, often foggy mornings (here in SB at least,) but once the sun breaks through and the temperatures start to climb into the high 70’s, you can bet a healthy frozen treat will sound a whole lot better.

Turmeric Coconut Ice Cream (Vegan and Dairy-Free!) | CaliGirlCooking.com

In case you’ve been living under a rock lately, here’s a quick recap of all of the great things turmeric can do for your body:

Help with heartburn and indigestion
Tame joint pain and inflammation
Support brain health
Fight cancer cells

So you can see why it’s been getting so much hype lately. Up until now, my go-to use of turmeric has been in our morning smoothies a few times a week, especially if the hubs and I are recovering from a tough workout or just not feeling up to snuff. But now I get to enjoy it for dessert too! Turmeric Coconut Ice Cream is definitely going to be a new staple in our household.

Turmeric Coconut Ice Cream (Vegan and Dairy-Free!) | CaliGirlCooking.com

I have to admit, making ice cream out of coconut milk was quite the learning process. I’m not sure if I just fail at shaking canned coconut milk vigorously enough, or if TJ’s full-fat coconut milk just tends to be chunkier, but man I struggled when I used their stuff for my first go-around.

I did a little research when I first decided to give this Turmeric Coconut Ice Cream a shot, and found two recipes online that seemed intriguing. The first method (when I used the Trader Joe’s brand of coconut milk) was from my friends at The Kitchn, which involved heating things up with cornstarch over the stove and then putting the pudding-like mixture in the refrigerator to thicken overnight. Unfortunately, when I pulled the mixture out the next morning, I was greeted with an incredibly thick film over the top and completely runny bottom. I tried salvaging it in the ice cream maker but with no luck. Now, I’m not sure if the problem was the brand of milk or the method, but I decided to try a different angle for my second time around.

The second recipe that had caught my eye was Minimalist Baker’s easy technique for basic coconut ice cream. This one involved whirring all of the ingredients together in the blender before pouring it all into the ice cream maker, no overnight chilling or vigorous shaking required. I’m happy to say this second attempt was a success and we had a batch of delicious Turmeric Coconut Ice Cream ready to consume after just a couple of hours of firming up in the freezer.

One thing I will mention is that this ice cream gets quite hard and icy after it is completely chilled. All this means is you’ll have to take it out of the freezer 10-20 minutes before you want to enjoy it so it can soften up a bit to the consistency of soft serve.

Turmeric Coconut Ice Cream (Vegan and Dairy-Free!) | CaliGirlCooking.com

Okay, folks, I’ve got to sign off because we have a very exciting day today. We’re taking a cooking class from the amazing owners at our villa and I cannot wait to eat allllll of the fresh pasta. I’ll try to post updates on my Instagram stories if our WiFi service is good enough! Xo

Turmeric Coconut Ice Cream (Vegan and Dairy-Free!) | CaliGirlCooking.com
Print
Turmeric Coconut Ice Cream (Vegan and Dairy-Free!)
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
4 hr
 

New "it" superfood turmeric is the star in this vegan, dairy-free ice cream made solely from coconut milk. The perfect healthy warm weather treat!

Course: Dessert
Servings: 8 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 14-ounce cans full-fat coconut milk Trader Joe's brand did not work for me!
  • 1/4 cup cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Be sure to freeze your ice cream machine canister the night before you want to make this!

  2. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend on medium-high until sugar dissolves and everything is well-combined.

  3. Pour mixture into ice cream maker and churn according to maker’s directions. 

  4. Transfer ice cream to an 8- or 9-inch loaf pan and cover with plastic wrap, being sure to press the wrap down on the surface of the ice cream. This will help it from preventing too much of a film as it freezes.

  5. Freeze for 4-6 hours. Remember to remove the ice cream from the freezer 10-20 minutes before you want to enjoy it so it can soften up a bit!

Turmeric Coconut Ice Cream (Vegan and Dairy-Free!) | CaliGirlCooking.com