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Apple No-oatmeal

27 Oct

Just a quick recipe I had to share with you all during some rare free time. And by free time, I mean sitting in the passenger seat on the way to the pumpkin patch.
I threw this together with the help of little hands- little hands that eagerly grab the milk out of the fridge, the chia seeds out of the cupboard, and the proper measuring cups all while I stand in one place, chopping little apples from my grandmother’s tree and pouring ingredients into my Ninja.
After two bites, she thanked me for making such a delicious breakfast. My husband liked it so much he suggested I make a huge batch and try freezing it.

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Apple No-oatmeal
Inspired by wallflower girl

2 apples, or 4 small
1 cup coconut milk (or almond)
3 TB chia seeds
3 TB almond butter
6 dates, pitted
1 TB vanilla
1 ts cinnamon
1 ts coconut sugar (optional, I think it’s perfectly sweet without it)

Peel and core the apples.
Throw everything except for a half an apple (or one small) into a food processor.
Once combined, pour into a saucepan and heat slowly.
Process the remaining apple until it’s shredded, but not pureed. Add to pan. This gives the “oatmeal” more texture.
If it becomes too thick as it’s heating, add a few splashes of whichever milk you’re using.

Winging It

14 Oct

Whew. What a whirlwind October has been. Between adjusting to a heavier workload at school, keeping up with kindergarten toing and froing, achieving my Tough Mudder goal (and recovering,) and maintaining a functioning household, I feel like I’m just sitting down to really rest today. I have, of course, been cooking, baking, eating, and snapping photos of food this whole time; so don’t think I forgot about you folks.

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I love trying new foods. It’s like an adventure and a challenge. I also encourage my daughter to love good food as much as I do. Strolling through the produce section in the grocery store, I asked my daughter to pick any vegetable- any at all. She scans the stands, her sharp eyes gleaming with the opportunity to choose. For that moment, she was in charge; and she took full advantage of her independence by ensuring she chose the right vegetable from the entire selection. Sure, I could’ve inhibited her by asking her to hurry; but I didn’t. I knew that every minute in the store was a minute later that dinner would be ready. But, I suppressed my own urge to make haste and waited. I answered her questions about what certain things are called, “that’s parsley, and that’s cilantro.” I nodded and smiled as I confirmed each label she put to the many familiar vegetables.

Then we reached the squashes. “Yes, that’s right. Butternut, spaghetti, zucchini, and yellow squash. Very good.” Suddenly she drove her hands into the pile of squashes and attempted to pull one out as she excitedly asked, “What’s this one?” After helping uncover the mystery, she lifted up the unknown squash and announced that this was what she wanted. She was mesmerized.

The sticker said the squash was a gold nugget squash. Instead of hesitating and going for the “safe, known” squashes, I happily put it in the cart. I’d never heard of it, but I have my dear friend Mr. Google. A few days later, I found myself in between meal plans- a rare occurrence. I had this weird squash sitting on my counter and had forgotten to take any meat out of the freezer. Sadly, this is one of those times that Google failed me. And by fail, I mean the first six results for “gold nugget squash paleo” were not sufficient to my needs. I know, a shame. So I decided to just wing it. I know squash. I know how it works. Most of the denser ones roast the same. What could I do with roasted unknown-tasting squash and no meat thawed? Frittata. I always have eggs on hand- when we reach a dozen, that’s considered running low. Frittata is so versatile that anything savory thrown in is bound to be good.

Even though I felt a bit like this:
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I had a determination to captivate my daughter with her chosen vegetable. And so onward I foraged.
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After slicing it open, I felt more at ease. It’s just like a butternut, pumpkin, or acorn squash. I got this. I was a little pressed for time and thought that peeling and cubing this cute little squash would expedite dinner. Ha. Nope. The peel/skin was much thicker and tougher than it appeared to be. Coconut oil face down, so be it.

Just in case the squash ended up being not very flavorful (which I hoped not, because then the name would be so misleading. You’d think something called gold nugget would be awesome, right?) I fried up some bacon to add to the frittata.

I hurriedly scooped the soft flesh out and added brussels sprouts and tomatoes to some of my ramekins. I left one without tomatoes for my tomato hating husband.
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And you know what? They turned great.

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It’s ok to wing it sometimes. You may surprise yourself with your genius. Have you ever tried something new without researching about it first? Ever have it turn out terrible? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Waffles, Round Two

29 Sep

I’ll be doing the Tough Mudder in one week from today. I’m excited and only apprehensive of one of the obstacles- the Arctic Enema. For those that don’t know much about it, the obstacles of the Tough Mudder are meant to test your abilities to the maximum. I hate cold. I really hate it. When I had a bad ankle injury and was told to ice it all the time, I hated every minute of it. Ice is supposed to numb. Well, for me, it just hurts. So…I’m going to be jumping into a huge dumpster full of ice water and wading through to the middle where I will be forced to submerge my entire body to get through to the other side. Does that sound crazy stupid? Yes. Am I going to do it? You betcha.
Completing the Tough Mudder is more than bad ass bragging rights. I’ve come so far and changed so much about my lifestyle to better myself and live a fuller life. To me, finishing such a mentally and  physically trying challenge will signify “victory” over my fitness. Reaching new heights in my physical capabilities is the ultimate “high” for me. That feeling from getting seventeen double-unders in a row for the first time  or using a heavier weight correctly or squat jumping twice as many times before getting tired is exhilarating! The Tough Mudder will be chock-full of new, difficult challenges all in one eleven mile course. I’m ready for it.

I posted about waffles a few weeks ago, using Paleo Parent’s recipe. This morning I woke up nice and early on the only day of the week that I can sleep in (thank you circadian rhythm!) and I wasn’t quite ready to be super productive (like studying or housework) so I decided to make a big breakfast. I had purchased and set aside a banana and apple earlier in the week specifically to make waffles to freeze, but never got around to making them. Since the banana was nearing the end of its usefulness, I figured it was now or never. I grab all my tools needed and put the banana in my ninja to puree. Then I go to grab the apple to peel and core and it is nowhere to be found. Some unknown family member had already eaten it.
I had already peeled the banana. I was committed. Improvisation to the rescue! So I tweaked the recipe here and there, dumped it into my fancy Goodwill waffle iron, closed the lid and crossed my fingers. Thanks to my culinary genius (or sheer luck) the waffles turned out spectacular. I’ll be using this recipe from now on to save me the trouble of peeling and coring an apple.

The cool part is the waffles turned green this time. The last time I made them I used 50/50 sunbutter and almond butter and they were normal “waffle color.” This time it was all sunbutter and vividly my favorite color. Chlorophyll (in sunflower seeds)+ baking soda = green!

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Waffles
Grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free.

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  • 1 cup sunbutter
  • 2 bananas, pureed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 TB arrowroot powder
  • 1 TB real vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Melted coconut oil for waffle iron

Thoroughly mix your sunbutter to distribute oil evenly. I use a whisk on a hand mixer.
Added pureed bananas. Mix.
Add everything else. Mix.
Slather your waffle iron in coconut oil. I use a silicone basting brush.
Fill each waffle space 3/4 full and cook for 3-5 minutes depending on how hot your iron gets.
Watch for the steaming to decrease and check to see if they’re floppy. Of course, you may like floppy waffles. If not, wait for them to stiffen. This is best if you plan to freeze them and later throw them in a toaster.
If you’re not eating right away, cool on a wire rack to prevent sogginess.
Enjoy!

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Have you ever done a mud run or obstacle course? What was your experience like? Have you ever thrown something together and it turned out great?

Banana Cereal

25 Sep

I used to have a serious relationship with Honey Bunches of Oats. We were the best of friends. I was never disappointed in my HBOO. HBOO was always there for me, always crisp and crunchy and honeyed. But then I don’t think HBOO liked me as well. I started spending more time and using bigger bowls with HBOO, but all I got in return was the need for bigger pants. How dare you HBOO! I loved and appreciated your multi-textured, just-sweet-enough loveliness, and that’s how you treat me!? So I said goodbye to HBOO. It was a tearful day. But I don’t regret it, not one bit.

You could call this cereal or granola. We use it both ways. The recipe is rather versatile, as long as the ending quantity isn’t more because this will completely fill a regular cookie sheet. Omit the chocolate and just use more coconut; or use less of either of those and throw in some chopped nuts. Sunbutter could replace the almond butter. Heck, I might even try replacing the banana with pumpkin someday. The size of the chunks depends on how you intend to eat it. I leave mine in bigger chunks so my husband can munch on it at work; and if I want some in a little bowl with almond milk, I just use my spoon to break it up a bit.

About the bananas- dried bananas can be crunchy or soft. I personally can’t find crunchy dried bananas with nothing added to them. I buy my dried bananas in bulk at Marlene’s (big surprise, I know.) I was intrigued the first time I saw them because they’re dried whole. And let me tell show you, they don’t look the most appealing.
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They smell like banana bread and are mushy, chewy, and moist. I throw them into my little Ninja one at a time to chop them up. It does not make them look any more appetizing. In fact, once it’s chopped, it resembles wet dog food…
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But I can look passed this stage of the cereal, because I know in the end it’s delicious and better looking by the time it’s over with.

Hemp seeds (aka hemp hearts, shelled/hulled) were new to me when I first read this particular recipe. They’re a complete protein, which means they contain the proper proportion of amino acids for our bodies to absorb/digest. You can absorb it all on its own without the need to eat it with something else to get the maximum effect; which I think is fantastic. It’s also a great source of fiber and vitamins. Nutrient dense foods have a special place in my heart. I haven’t tried liver yet though… Anyways back to the seeds. Where’s the first place I look for them? In bulk. And they were there, right under my nose the whole time. I’d never given them any close scrutiny because the bin looked to contain some sort of foreign grain.
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I’m glad my family and I are always up for trying new things, because I’m so glad I discovered this recipe. I can dump some almond milk over it and eat it like cereal and not have to wonder what bad side effects I’ll be dealing with. So go try this, you won’t regret it.
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Banana Cereal
Recipe inspired by Our Paleo Life
Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond butter (or other nut/seed butter)
  • 1 Egg
  • ¼ cup raw honey
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup hemp seeds
  • 1 cup unsweetened dried banana (about five whole) chopped
  • 1/4 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Instructions
Preheat to 325F.
Line a large baking pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Anything else will stick!
Combine the almond butter, egg, and honey in a large bowl and stir until incorporated.
Add in the vanilla, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Stir again.
Add in the rest and stir again.
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It’ll be goopy like cookie dough.
Dump the mixture onto the parchment-lined sheet and break up with a spoon or spatula to the size you’d like.
Bake for 25 minutes, flipping twice to brown it evenly. I like to use my biggest metal spatula to get the job done quickly. Plus some of the melted chocolate sticks to it during the flipping- bonus taste!
Keep an eye on it to prevent burning.
Let it cool completely, it will harden as it cools-depending on the size of your chunks and crunchiness of your bananas.
Store an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks.
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Pumpkin Creamer

16 Sep

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Oh yes, I jumped on the bandwagon. It’s mid-September, so I must consume something flavored with this orange squash that is oh-so popular in the autumn months. But as I sit here with cold feet on this cloudy day, I can’t help but miss the sunshine. This is the first summer I’ve particularly enjoyed the sunshine. I wore shorts that were shorter than my knees (gasp!) and even sported a bikini top instead of a tankini. I wasn’t constantly thinking about how fat my arms looked when I wore a tank top. It was nice being so comfortable with my body without six layers on in the sweltering sun. The swimming, sun tanning, lazy summer days are now behind me and I’m reluctantly accepting the changing of the seasons. Autumn means back to a routine, each week hurtling towards the cold winter that will get here too fast and linger too long. Autumn- when I’ll have just a fraction of the family time I’ve enjoyed these past months. So onward I I trudge into September with nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and ginger for comfort.

A lot of pumpkin creamers out there (especially the store bought ones) are just pumpkin spice creamers. Which means just the traditional spices paired with pumpkin. I wanted actual pumpkin in my creamer- for both flavor and the goodness of the squash. Pumpkin is a great source of Vitamin A, C, and fiber (among others.)

I tried researching a creamer that looked yummy, but most of them didn’t use very much pumpkin and the dairy-free versions used almond milk. I enjoy the creamy-ness of coconut milk in my coffee, so I thought I’d just make up a recipe and taste as I go. Turns out I’m a pumpkin creamer genius, because after my first attempt and taste I couldn’t think of a single thing to add to it. I liked it so much I immediately proceeded to make a second batch.

Pumpkin Creamer

1 cup coconut milk

1/3 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup raw honey (can sub. maple syrup)

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/2 tsp cinnamon

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Throw everything into a food processor, blender, or bowl and mix until well incorporated. Refrigerate. You’re done. That was so fast, now you can go rake some leaves, make an apple pie, or whatever Autumnal festivities you prefer.
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You know you’re a foodie when…

14 Aug

… you hurriedly run for your camera or phone when you cut open/pull out of the oven/plate some sort of edible beauty in hopes of capturing the real essence of its perfection.
Something so simple…

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…like a perfectly ripe fig making your busy schedule grind to a halt just so you can enjoy it fully with all your attention.
Or maybe it’s a new dish you labor over and aren’t hopeful for a good outcome; but then some miracle happens and it all comes together despite your doubts.

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Fish tacos in cauliflower tortillas

Or maybe it’s a dish you threw together and haven’t given a second thought to until the timer starts beeping; and out of the oven comes something that does more than just feed you- it satisfies and humbles some inner part of you,  bringing tranquility.

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Frittata with bacon, asparagus, peppers, and tomatoes.

Are you a foodie? Which is your favorite edible that gives you that warm harmony in your life?

Banana Nut Porridge

8 Aug

Thanks to Danielle Walker from Against All Grain for this satisfying breakfast option.

Ever since ditching grains in December 2012, breakfast has mostly been about eggs, meat, and veggies. My regular, pre-workout meal is two eggs cooked in coconut oil and a cup of coffee.  l love my eggs! The beautiful brown speckled shells gives me a little contentment at 5 am. Thankfully I don’t get sick of eggs like many who used to depend on cereal, granola, muffins, pancakes, etc, for breakfasts. I like to switch it up every now and then; and when I saw Danielle pin this just before bed, I jumped at the new idea and quickly ensured I had all the ingredients before tossing the nuts in a bowl to soak.

While I have made a grain free muffin or two or twelve in my time, I don’t use them as a staple. Grain-free goodies (including this porridge) made with nut flours or mainly nuts are an occasional treat, not a staple. An overload of nuts or seeds will cause a major imbalance, and the side effects are not lovely. Trust me, I’ve learned the hard way.

As Danielle points out in her post, a small portion of this delicious banana nut porridge is very filling. I suggest filling your bowl with less than what you think you want at first.

The only changes I made to her recipe is that I used walnuts in place of pecans because it’s what I had on hand. The texture is surprisingly enjoyable (I’m big on food texture) and the flavor is mildly sweet. Perfect add-ins I’ve tried are figs (pictured below) or a teaspoon of fresh blackberry puree. If you prefer more sweetness you could add a date to the food processor or drizzle some raw, local honey on top.

Ingredients

1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup raw pecans (or walnuts)
1/2 cup raw almonds
2 cups coconut milk
1 ripe banana
2 tsp cinnamon
Sprinkle of salt for soaking

Head on over to Against All Grain for the recipe.

Note that the nuts need to be soaked overnight to obtain the correct texture.
Here’s my soaked, rinsed nuts.

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And after running everything through my not-so-sharp processor, I poured one serving into my little bitty Ninja and smoothed out the porridge even more.
Voilà!

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