Apple & Almond Butter Sandwich

3 ingredients, people!!  That’s all.

Apple:

sliced thinly.  I bet you didn’t know apples could go on a sandwich.  Well they can!  Pickles are weird….apples are waaaay better.  And in season!  Yum.  Go pick some.

Almond butter:

this jar is from the San Francisco Farmers’ Market at the Ferry Plaza and it may or may not have cost $5 for 8 ounces….my version of a souvenir, ok?

Get some good bread.  I like Iggy’s.  You pick.  Soft bread is always nice.

Spread almond butter on your bread.  Top with your apple wafers.  Eat it.  I’ll just say it now, I told you so.

 

Banana-Coconut Skillet Pillows

I’m thankful that people in this world, people such as Joy the Baker, exist in this world.  Because of Joy, things like vegan chocolate cakes are an everyday occurrence, kale marries coconut, and toasted oats become part of a milkshake (that is totally healthy, by the way).

I’m thankful for Joy always.  But especially lately.  Because she has brought breakfast dumplings into the world, using the ever-versatile banana.  Oh, and did I mention these dumplings were originally gluten-free?

Choosing between waffles and pancakes is tough.  I know it is; I’ve been there, I’ve felt your pain.  That’s why we have dumplings.  Or skillet pillows, if you will.  Thankfully, you don’t have to choose between the two classics.  They’re not a waffle and not quite a pancake, but whatever they are, they’re delicious.

Joy serves these beauties with vanilla bean maple butter.  That sounds glorious, and this may come as a shock to you, but I really don’t do butter straight up like that.  I’d rather have it whipped with some flour and sugar and then possibly fried in a skillet (like these dumplings, for instance).  It also could have something to do with the fact that I have yet to purchase a vanilla bean.

I figured since I’d already used some coconut milk, why not go all the way with this dairy-free kick?  I topped these with sliced banana, shredded coconut, and a just drizzle of plain maple syrup (these are quite sweet already).

Treat yourself to these clouds of comfort and Joy.

recipe for 16 dumplings

NOTE: This dumpling recipe is (nearly) identical to Joy’s.  Modifications include using all-purpose flour where she used gluten-free; abstaining from butter; etc.

1 1/2 cup flour

2 T granulated sugar

1/2 t baking soda

1/2 t baking powder

1/2 t salt

1/2 t cinnamon

1 egg

1 T canola oil

1 t vanilla extract

1 cup coconut milk

1 ripe banana, mashed

toppings:

maple syrup

shredded coconut

banana

cinnamon {to serve}

Whisk together dry ingredients in bowl.  Beat together wet ingredients in other bowl.  Pour wet into dry and stir until the mixture just comes together.  Add banana.

Heat a nonstick skillet; add your grease of choice (butter, canola oil, ghee, coconut oil, etc.).

Add 2 T batter into skillet and cook until “golden brown” on bottom.  Let pillows be fluffy–don’t smash them.  Flip and repeat.

Serve pillows immediately with desired amount of toppings and enjoy! 🙂

Homemade Granola Bars

Time for fall.

Time for school.

Time for cross-country.

Running makes me hungry.  Biking doesn’t….which is bad.  But running does.  I feel like I’ve been eating 7 meals a day.  And I still wake up with a growling stomach.

Here’s a formula I like: Number of miles=Number of meals.  Yeahhhh.

We’ve all heard how hard it is to eat healthfully on the road (and on the run).  Blah, blah, blah…the evolution of fast-food…the end.  Enter: homemade granola bars.  Wrap one up and stash it in your bag for later (or now).

You won’t find any soy protein isolate or xanthan gum in these.  You won’t need to pay $2.00 at a vending machine for these.  Here’s real, good food.  Made by you!

This recipe comes from a dear friend who loves food almost as much as I do.  Here’s a shout-out thanks to her for sharing her awesome lake with me.  And then feeding me sushi to revive me.

Here’s to the new season and whatever it may bring you.  Eat up!

recipe

[servings depend on how you slice it 😉 ]

1 cup peanut or almond butter

1 cup sweetener such as agave nectar, brown rice syrup, or honey

3/4 cup chopped almonds

1 1/2 cups puffed rice

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

3/4 cup sunflower seeds

1 heaping cup Nature’s Path Mesa Sunrise

1 cup dried cherries, cranberries, raisins (optional)

chocolate chips (optional)

Lightly coat a 9 x 13” baking pan with oil.

In a large saucepan, heat peanut butter with brown rice syrup over low heat until bubbles form.  Quickly stir in remaining ingredients (except chocolate) and mix well.

Allow mixture to cool slightly.  When cool enough to handle, press mixture into baking pan.  Press chocolate chips onto top of bars, if using.  Enjoy 🙂

TIP: These bars can be sliced and frozen.  Just take one out of the freezer and it will defrost in time for a snack!

The So-Many-Regrets Smoothie

This smoothie is here to cure your problems, erase your faults, and cleanse you of your sins.  Yes, this smoothie works miracles.  Just call me a genius.

Perhaps you had one to many doughnuts.  Drink this!  Perhaps you said something you shouldn’t have.  Drink this (and an apology wouldn’t hurt either)!  Perhaps you stayed up too late at a party…or in your bed watching Netflix.   Perhaps you didn’t.  This smoothie doesn’t judge, it heals. So you should drink this!

Kale is full of calcium to make you strong.  Wheatgrass is full of chlorophyll to make you…clean.  Yeah.  Add some banana…mmmmmm potassium.  No dehydration here.

We love what you do, kale, but sometimes you come on a little too strong.  That’s why we tone you down with peanut butter and almond milk.

If you’re nervous because you’ve already got the Sad-Sunday feeling on the first Sunday after summer, don’t be.  I’m right there with you.  So let’s get energized with this smoothie.

This smoothie makes us better.  Let’s feel better, be better, and do better.  I know we can.

recipe

[serves 1]

1 banana, broken into pieces and frozen

3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk, chilled

1 heaping cup chopped kale, no stems

a bit less than 1 T powdered wheat grass (depends on how much you can handle)

1 T peanut butter

1/2 t almond or vanilla extract

1 t honey or agave, if desired

Process frozen banana and almond milk in blender.  Add kale and blend until smooth.  Add peanut butter, almond extract, and wheatgrass powder.  Blend and serve immediately.  🙂

Summer…in a bowl!

Spoiler Alert: Summer is ending.

Yeah…it’s happening.  I can’t stop it.  You can’t stop it.  We’re helpless people!  It’s time to let go.

Let’s just make a salad.  Like this one.  I know you doubt me.  You say it’s just a salad.  You say a salad is not comfort food.  You don’t think salad will calm you down.  It’s ok, because I’m right (duh).

When you feel like you can’t follow directions, make a salad.  You can put whatever you want in your salad.  Should I start with lettuce, you ask?  Only if you feel like it.  You pick.  You’re in charge.

Tomatoes, naturally.

Corn…just because.  Because  we don’t even need to cook this corn.  That’s right.  We’re fast, easy, and fresh.

If you can, strip your corn right into the bowl you’ll use to serve.  That way you save all the juiciness.

Enter: fat.  Avocado.  Olive oil.  Parmesan cheese.  Feta cheese.  Any cheese.  A fried egg.  Get wild and go nuts…literally.

If you feel fancy, lobster or crab meat or shrimp would be a gorgeous addition.

Let’s drizzle some lemon juice.  And add some chives.  What’s that, you don’t have any chives?  And you don’t want to shell out the $2.69 needed to buy a pack from Whole Foods?  Skip it.  Who needs chives anyway when there’s basil, or cilantro, or arugula, or scallions, or shallots, or red onion…

I’ll show you my recipe, but it’s really just a list of what caught my eye and was cheap enough to make it into the grocery basket.  Or what was still safe to eat in my refrigerator.  That always helps.

I named mine “summer in a bowl.”  What are you going to name yours?

Whatever you do, remember that your salad is beautiful.  And special.  It’s your baby!  Or your work of art.  Slightly less weird.

recipe

[serves a few.]

3 ears of corn

2 [good] tomatoes

3 or so handfuls of arugula

parmesan cheese, grated

a bit less than a whole avocado

cooked crab meat

olive oil, lemon juice, and freshly ground black pepper to serve

Using a knife, strip corn kernels off cob into bowl or on large plate.  Dig deep!  Add chopped/diced/sliced tomatoes, arugula, diced avocado, grated parmesan cheese, crab meat, and toss.  Drizzle generously with lemon juice and olive oil.  Sprinkle with ground pepper, if desired.  Serve immediately and enjoy 🙂

Tangy Roasted Sweet Potatoes

I just watched Julie & Julia.  It made me remember the wonder of butter.

Oh butter.  No one else can caramelize onions quite like you do.  And chocolate chip cookies…we all know they’d be nothing without you, butter.

But we’ve broken up.  It was for good.  I’ve found a new love: the sweet potato.  Sweet potatoes aren’t pasty.  They’re tan (ok, orange, fine).  And though they’re creamy richness reminds me of you, butter, sweet potatoes are, well, sweet!

Sweet potatoes are strong; they don’t cave into a melt-down when it’s hot outside.

They can handle the heat.

Dressed with a sticky lime syrup, I pop these babies like they’re candy.

We get to undress a lime.  How scandalous!

Butter?  Butter who?

recipe

(adapted from Gourmet)

serves 4-6, depending on portions, and takes a bit longer than 30 minutes.

3 or 4 medium to large sweet potatoes

2 or 3 T extra virgin olive oil

salt & pepper, to taste…a sprinkling of cayenne pepper might also be nice…

1/8 cup water

1 T sugar

1 T lime juice

1/2 t lime zest

freshly chopped chives

Preheat oven to 375˚F.  Wash and lightly scrub sweet potatoes.  Dry with a towel.  Slice sweet potatoes into 1” disks, then cube each disk into roughly 9 pieces.

In a bowl, combine cubed sweet potatoes, evoo, and salt & pepper(s).  Toss and make sure all the cubes are coated (add more oil if necessary).  Spread out the sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet that is lightly oiled.

Roast sweet potatoes in the oven for about 30 minutes, stirring/flipping the cubes frequently to make sure they do not burn on one side.

While sweet potatoes are in the oven, combine water, sugar, and lime juice.  Here’s where I cheated: Gourmet says to bring this mixture to a boil and then simmer until it is reduced.  That’s too much work for me.  Instead, I microwaved the mixture for 1 minute on HIGH and then stirred until it cooled a little.  Take your pick.

When sweet potatoes are done cooking, toss them in a bowl with the 2-3 tablespoons of the syrup.  Sprinkle generously with lime zest and chives and serve.  Enjoy 🙂

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Truffles

I have a couple of reasons why you should make these.  Now.

Reason # 1:

Before an interview at the College of William & Mary, my dad was quizzing me with some practice questions that my interviewer might ask me.  One question was the typical, “Why do you want to come to this college?”  My dad suggested that I answer, “Because you have an ampersand in your name.”  Um….what?  Apparently the ‘&’ symbol is also known as an ampersand.  Ok Dad.

So, if you’re following my dad’s logic, you should make (and eat) these because I put an ampersand in the title.  There’s a reason for all you grammar nerds out there.

Reason #2:

Of all the people who eat my food (ok, so, basically just friends and family…), my sister is my most discerning critic.  Sometimes in my quest to create healthy desserts, I end up accidentally sacrificing flavor.  My sister is always the judge of that; she can spot my substitutions instantly as she suspiciously eyes the food I’ve put out in front of her.

The first person who tried these (besides me, of course) was my sister.  Instead of wrinkling her nose and asking, “Are these healthy?” she simply said, “These are good.”  Coming from my sister, that’s a rave.

Later when I was looking in the fridge for these truffles, I found that 2 were missing.  I asked my sister and she confessed to taking them.  Rather than get angry that she stole my food,  I took it as a good sign.

These truffles taste like a Reese’s peanut butter cup, they’re that delicious.  When chilled in the refrigerator (if you can resist eating them), they’re cool and melt in your mouth.

Sweet enough to be a dessert but healthy enough to be a snack, these truffles are a good source of protein that will satisfy any dessert craving.

Recipe

(taken from chockohlawtay )

makes 4-5 truffles, depending on size.  takes 10 minutes if you’re slow.

2 T peanut butter, smooth or chunky

1-2 T agave nectar or other sweetener

1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I use whey)

raw cacao nibs or other coating, if desired

In a small bowl, combine protein powder and agave nectar.  Mix until powder and sweetener stick together to make a sort of dough.  Add peanut butter and stir to combine.  Using your hands, shape 4-5 balls out of dough.  Roll in cacao or other decoration, if using.  Store in refrigerator and enjoy 🙂

Swiss Summer Oats

I have no idea what makes these oats Swiss; they probably aren’t.  But a friend passed on a recipe for Swiss oats and this is what I came up with.

During the winter I eat oatmeal almost every day.  Sometimes for lunch.  Sometimes for dinner.  Most of the time for breakfast.

When it’s hot outside, though, I take a hiatus from oatmeal.  Needless to say, I haven’t had oatmeal in quite some time.  In fact, I didn’t even have oatmeal in my house until I was inspired by this recipe.

These oats have become a quick favorite of mine.  They are cool and refreshing but still hearty and filling.  Often times when I enjoy a bowl of granola, I let the cereal sit for a while and absorb some of the milk.  These oats are similar to the soft and creamy texture that ensues.

Lots of oat-loving folk rave about overnight oatmeal.  This is kind of like that, but better.

Feel free to play around with combinations you like.  I used fruits that I had on hand, but use whatever combination you prefer/have.  I used agave and added some cinnamon, but brown sugar might be a more traditional sweetener.  And I could totally see some sort of nutbutter coming onto the scene here.  Next time 😉

Recipe

(serves 1)

1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats

milk (any kind)

1/2 banana, diced

small handful of fresh cherries, pitted and quartered

1/8 cup plain Greek yogurt

toasted slivered almonds

1 T agave nectar

cinnamon, if desired

Put oats in a bowl and pour in enough milk to just barely cover the oats.  Cover and refrigerate overnight, at least 8 hours.

In the morning (or whenever you happen to be eating these), drain out leftover liquid.  Top oats with remaining ingredients.  Enjoy 🙂

 

Simple Little Sandwich

Growing up, I didn’t really like eggs.  Scrambled eggs?  Eh, I could take ’em or leave ’em.

In the past few years though I have really embraced the egg.  What other food is so versatile?  I now eat eggs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (not all on the same day, though).  There are so many ways to transform the savory little food into a tasty meal.

Not only are eggs tasty, but they provide several important nutrients.  Eggs are loaded with protein, important (and often elusive) B vitamins, and if you buy the right kind, omega-3 fats.  Doctors and nutrition experts once believed it better to eat only egg whites to avoid the cholesterol and fat contained in egg yolks; however, they’ve since changed their tune, as these fats and cholesterol are actually good for you.

Plus, egg yolks contain lutein, a nutrient that is essential for brain development.  To maximize my lutein intake, I try to cook my eggs until the yolks are safe to eat but still runny.  Overcooking the yolks can denature the lutein.

This open faced sandwich starts with fried eggs, currently my favorite method way of serving eggs.

Since this is more of an idea than a recipe, play around with combinations and directions until you find the way you like best.

Recipe

(makes 1 sandwich)

2 large eggs

small bundle of chives

tomatoes (I used grape)

slice of good quality bread

salt & pepper, to taste

In an oiled frying pan, heat tomatoes for 1-2 minutes over medium heat.  Push to the side of the pan and add 1 egg at a time.  Reduce heat to medium low; fry for 3-4 minutes, or until yolks are set but not overcooked.  Using a spatula, try to push tomatoes down to soften them with the heat.  Meanwhile, chop chives into small disks.

When eggs are cooked to desired consistency, slide onto slice of bread and top with smashed or sliced tomatoes.  Sprinkle with chopped chives, salt, and ground pepper to taste.  Enjoy immediately, though be wary of hot tomatoes! 🙂

Fruitful Black Rice

Making this recipe was only the second time that I’ve consumed black rice, but I’ve been hooked.  If you’ve never had black rice before, the very act of cooking it will be an excitement to you–the rice turns its water a deep purple and magenta hue.

I created this recipe after leafing through Heidi Swanson’s Supernatural Everyday cookbook, which  has a similar recipe using sweet cherries.  Raspberries were all I had on hand, so that’s what I used instead.  The raspberries give the rice salad a bit more of a tart flavor which I balanced with a generous crumbling of goat cheese and walnuts.

The colors of this salad are so beautiful–the deep black rice, bright red berries, green basil, white cheese–that it looks like a delicacy.  However, it is surprisingly easy to make.

Enjoy this dish as a show-stealing side.

Recipe inspired by Supernatural Everyday

Serves 4

1 cup black rice (or other dark grain)

1 cup raspberries

1/4 cup olive oil

1/8 cup white wine vinegar

1/8 t salt

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

2 handfuls  baby spinach

goat cheese

Bring 1 cup rice and 1 3/4 cup water to a boil in a pot; cover and let simmer for 35-40 minutes.

While rice is cooking, whisk olive oil, white wine vinegar, and salt together.  Add 1/3 cup raspberries and whisk until berries have blended into dressing.  Using a fine mesh strainer, separate the liquid dressing from raspberry seeds.  Save the liquid for later.

Once rice is done cooking, stir in baby spinach in a large bowl.  Once spinach is slightly wilted, add nearly all of the dressing and toss to combine.  Add in a little over half of the walnuts and most of the remaining raspberries.  Crumble in as much goat cheese as desired.

Serve topped with extra walnuts, goat cheese, raspberries, and a generous portion of basil.