2017: the tale of demanding, reincarnating bananas

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Happy New Year! Here’s hoping 2017 treats everyone a little better than last year – 2016 was a rough one for many. But as they say, onward and upward! Preferably with cake, which is where I come in.

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The dead bananas are calling! I had a plethora lurking around my kitchen this weekend and they put me on notice that they really wanted to reincarnate into something amazing… not banana bread again, if you please (my bananas can get a little demanding sometimes…). That being said, I had a hankering for banana cake (fundamentally different from banana bread, you see), so THIS happened!

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Happily so. Have you ever had sautéed dates? No? Get into the kitchen immediately and make them! I love dates anyway, but they are mindblowingly good when given a little bath in some olive oil and sea salt. I’ve always been a salt monster, so salty-sweet desserts are absolutely my jam, and these little powerhouses deliver. Besides that, they’re full of good nutrients (dates are high in vit A & K, plus potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium & zinc. woohoo!).

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This cake is actually full of good things – you have healthy fats from almond flour, hazelnuts, and coconut, and all the good stuff in dates. And besides that, most critically: it’s delicious, which is good for your soul.

Let’s see, what else? Jessie says hello (this is her way of chatting me up during breakfast, adorable cat)

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More drawings, of course! New year, same series! This is the Havens Mansion, built 1884 on S. Van Ness in SF.

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My first activity of 2017! Shocked? Nope.

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More beautiful sky!

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Show your new and improved 2017 self some love with some sautéed dates atop your cake, and revel in all the possibilities of a new year. Onward!

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Banana Date Skillet Cake with Coconut Frosting, Maple Hazelnuts, and Sautéed Dates

Pretty freaking amazing, if I do say so! Lightly sweet banana cake with jewel-like date pieces, coconut frosting and OMG sautéed dates, please make them immediately. Serve with a bit of ice cream or non-dairy biz if that’s your jam! Can’t miss either way. Refined sugar free, grain free, gluten free, dairy free, pretty much paleo. Yield: 1 8″ skillet cake, enough frosting to frost the top (cake is served straight out of the skillet); extra hazelnuts because you’ll definitely want extras… and the amount of dates is up to you (make extra!). Skillet cake adapted from Confessions of a Confectionista, here!

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For the cake:

  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3 eggs
  • heaping 1/8 c coconut oil, melted
  • 1.5 tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • heaping 1.25 c almond flour
  • 1.5 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 4 medjool dates, chopped

For the maple hazelnuts (make ahead, if desired):

  • 1 c roasted hazelnuts
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
  • pinch of sea salt
  • splash of vanilla

For the sautéed dates:

  • 1-2 tbsp good olive oil
  • 7-8 medjool dates, halved & pitted
  • pinch of sea salt

For the coconut frosting:

  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk, chilled upside-down overnight in the fridge
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

I usually make the hazelnuts ahead and store them in a jar until needed. Remove most of the skins from the hazelnuts by rubbing them together; it doesn’t matter if there are skins left, but I try to get rid of the majority. Heat an empty saute pan (not nonstick) over medium heat; once heated, add maple (it will bubble and fizz) and hazelnuts. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, stirring continuously until the maple has caramelized. The nuts will feel a little soft, which is fine. Spread parchment paper on a baking sheet, pour out the nuts and spread them out a bit. They will harden as they cool. Store in an airtight jar at room temp for as long as they last which is realistically about five minutes.

To make the cake: preheat the oven to 350, and grease an 8″ cast iron skillet with coconut oil. In a large bowl, mash the bananas, then add eggs, melted coconut oil, honey, and vanilla. In a smaller bowl, whisk together almond flour, flaxseed, cinnamon, baking powder and soda, and salt. Pour dry into wet, and use an electric mixer to beat until combined. Stir in the chopped dates, and pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a tester comes out clean and the top springs back when touched. The cake will brown because of the honey – if you feel it’s browning too fast, feel free to cover it with foil. Let cool completely before serving.

While the cake is cooling, make the sautéed dates! (good luck not eating them all straight out of the pan). In a small sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once the oil is warm, add the dates and sauté, stirring frequently, until they caramelize and are heated through, just about 2-3 minutes (the edges will start to get a little crispy). Watch them carefully, as they burn easily. When done, move them to a bowl to cool and sprinkle with sea salt (be sure to get all of the good oil out of the pan for drizzling!).

Also while the cake is cooling, make the coconut frosting. Open the can of coconut milk rightside up, and scrape out the cream that has solidified at the top, leaving the coconut water at the bottom (save it and use it later!). Scoop the cream out into a bowl, add vanilla and coconut sugar, and use an electric mixer to beat into the consistency of whipped cream. Use immediately, or chill for later use.

For serving: Frost the cake with the coconut whip (make sure to frost the cake once it’s completely cool! otherwise a melty mess will ensue); top with sautéed dates and maple hazelnuts. Indulge responsibly (i.e., have another piece)!

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Radishes and brownies and beans n’stuff (because those things totally go together…)

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Errrrybody do a happy dance, somehow I’ve actually blogged twice in two weeks! Shocker. But hey, I’ll take what I can get. And I have TWO things for you today! Two completely disparate things, but that’s sort of my jam anyway.

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Also, Buddha says hi!

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Today was a happy food prep day, where all I did was go to yoga, fetched some groceries, and cooked. ALL. DAY. Why can’t I have more days like this? They’re my favorite. Also, I got to play with my food and today it was super colorful, which just brings home the fact that I’m pretty much five years old and obsessed with all things glittery and colorful. Just indulge me, I’m just sure it’s one of things you love about me…

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ALL THE COLOR!!! I love food.

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Who says adults can’t play with their food?

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SO! Dessert and veggies. Two of my favorite things. AND both things are allergen-free, meaning no almonds, coconuts, any of that business (this is interesting, by the way…. not eating all the things I did before is encouraging my creativity). But I’m not feeling deprived (yet. Kinda want some bread up in here), especially because I have these SUPER BOMB brownies in my life. I mean, I’ve made plenty black bean brownies before… but these are my favorite! Completely made of whole foods, vegan, gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free… and they come together in about three seconds in the food processor. Which is basically a win-win in my book. Mmmm. Brownies. I will never ever ever stop loving them.

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And for the veg portion of things, we have crispy roasted radishes! I love radishes raw or cooked, but lately more on the cooked side of things. These get all creamy like a potato since they have a high water content… AND you can use the greens and roast those alongside the radishes, leaving you with some radish green-chips! Sort of like kale chips but way more sassy.

From this…

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To this! Must be magic…

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And with that, I leave you with some colorful food and deliciousness.

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Maple Black Bean Brownies

Gluten free, dairy free, grain free, refined sugar free, vegan! Also free of nuts, coconut, and soy. Make sure your chocolate chips are soy free if that’s an issue for you (I like Guittard extra dark, they are soy free and dairy free!). Super fudgy, chocolatey brownies. Don’t worry about the avocado, you won’t taste it! I prefer these cold, straight out of the fridge. Recipe gratefully adapted from Ambitious Kitchen, here!

  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax + 3 tbsp water; let sit for at least five minutes)
  • 1 15oz can of black beans (mine are very lightly salted), rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 ripe, medium avocado
  • 1/3 c pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp avocado oil
  • 2/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4 c extra dark chocolate chips (dairy free/soy free if needed)

Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease an 8 by 8 pan.

In the food processor, combine flax egg, black beans, avocado, maple, vanilla, and avocado oil. Let it run until combined — I don’t think you especially want whole beans in your brownies… Once everything is smooth, toss in cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and sea salt. Pulse to combine. The batter will be nice and thick. Stir in chocolate chips, and pour the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top out with a spatula prior to getting them into the oven. Bake for 27-29 minutes—mine were perfect at 28. The top should be slightly firm, but not hard. Let them cool completely in the pan, then store leftovers in the fridge for a few days (if they even last that long).

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Crispy Roasted Radishes

These are spectacularly creamy and satisfying. The pepperiness of radishes is muted a little, and the texture almost reminds me of potatoes. Gluten free, dairy free, vegan. This is really a recipe suggestion — I left mine simple with just salt and pepper, but go nuts! All kinds of different herbs would be delicious on these. I roast the greens with the radishes as well for a crispy, chip-like complement.

  • 3 bunches of radishes, tipped and separated from their greens; halved
  • radish greens, stems removed
  • 1-2 tsp olive oil
  • a few good grinds of pepper
  • sea salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 400, and procure a smallish sheet pan.

Place halved radishes on the baking sheet, and top with salt and pepper and any other desired spices / herbs. Drizzle olive oil over the top, then use your hands (or a spoon, I guess…. but trust me, it is way more fun with your hands) to toss the radishes around and distribute the oil evenly.

Roast for 10 minutes, then add radish greens. Continue roasting for 30 – 35 more minutes, until the radishes are browned and crispy. Serve hot, with salt and pepper to taste.

Happy Sunday!

Midsummer Pepita Pesto Shenanigans

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Ugh, here we go again with large hiatuses (hiati-i?!) in between posts. I miss you, invisible internet friends! I do hope things are going swimmingly and that your summer is fab. Defs no complaints on this end, other than a lack of time to blog. Obvs.

But let’s rectify that!

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Because I have this AMAZINGGGG summer dish to share today! Last night was date night so I made dinner {and chocolate covered strawberries mmmmm} and then E and I went to see How to Train Your Dragon: 2 [there are no words. I sat there with a silly smile on my face for the entire movie, except when I was frowning in consternation at the screen, willing bad things not to happen. SO. GOOD.] aaannnd then it was late and dinner was forever ago and guess what?! I wanted ice cream. Shocking, I know…

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So then because I’m really like five years old, this happened. Sprinkles make everything taste that much better.

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But anyway. Back to the real food shenanigans because I’m pretty sure that’s why y’all are here, not to listen to my probably semi-obnoxious rambles about inner fiver year olds. I mean… if you are, though, I could go on… ha. Let’s not.

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This is the beyond perfect dish for when it’s stupid hot out and you are really dying for pasta for some reason. I don’t know, it could happen! But this recipe involves only one stove burner for only about a minute, so it’s a [nearly] heat free solution. And it’s FULL of fruit and veg so obviously is my favorite thing ever. AND you can put cheese on it. So um… obvi. Clearly this is a perfect dish.

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Top it off with some chocolate covered strawberries [extra dark chocolate+coconut oil melted…having dipping fun…let sit in the fridge for a bit] and you can just consider yourself in gastro heaven. Extra points for the addition of ice cream and a boyfriend who really like ice cream too and will therefore indulge you when you NEED IT NOW.

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Pepita Pesto with Zucchini Noodles and Peaches

Vegan [w/o cheese garnish], gluten free. Serves 2 comfortably, with pesto leftover. Light, perfect for summer and peach season (this is obviously best with fresh ones). Recipe lightly adapted from the Vibrant Table cookbook via Food Loves Writing, here! This was such a near-perfect recipe I felt little urge to change it up. Delicious, fast, and summery.

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  • 1 c raw, unsalted pepitas
  • 1/2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 scant tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 c packed fresh basil leaves
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 clove of garlic
  • 3 large zucchini (I used 1 large, 2 small for E and I)
  • 1 large organic peach, diced
  • fresh basil for garnish
  • grated parmesan

In a saute pan, heat coconut oil over medium heat. Once the pan is heated, toss in pepitas and sea salt and sauté until they start to smell a little toasty, 3-4 minutes (I don’t time them, I just go by smell; if they start popping, take them off the heat!). Pour them onto a plate and let them cool slightly.

Blend the pepitas in a food processor until they reach a consistency like almond meal, or like very small breadcrumbs. Blend in olive oil, basil, water, lemon juice, and garlic until combined. I like mine thicker and on the chunky side, but if you’d like yours to be thinner, blend in more olive oil or water. This will make more pesto than you need for two people—refrigerate the leftovers in a lidded glass jar in the fridge.

Using a spiralizer, turn the zucchini into noodles! (My favorite part, we’ve already established that I’m pretty much a five year old). If you don’t own a spiralizer (which I recommend getting, I LOVE mine), you can use a veggie peeler to shave off zucchini noodles instead. I steam my zucchini noodles for a few minutes until softened but still with a bite to them.

Toss hot noodles with several healthy spoonfuls of pesto, and stir in the diced peaches. I added salt and pepper to taste at this point as well. Serve with grated parmesan and fresh basil for garnish!

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Polarizing little green nuggets

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BRUSSELS!

Yeah, I know. This is exactly what you want to see on a Sunday afternoon. But too bad.

These might be one of the most polarizing foods ever. Love them? Hate them? You probably fall into one of these camps—I doubt there are many who are ambivalent towards the little green nuggets…

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I love them. Obviously. It’s my blog… why would I post about something I hated? Weird. Anyway.. I digress. I *used* to hate brussel sprouts… probably because the first time I ate them I believe they were boiled, and I STILL think that’s a nasty way of preparing them. Ewww. Soggy brussels. Ain’t nobody go time for that.

So I don’t do that. I roast them! And then toss them in things that make them even more delicious. I’m not really sure when I discovered I liked them though, which is odd. I have a wildly specific food memory (like, maybe too specific. Surely that brain space could be used for something slightly more productive than remembering exactly what I ate at any given time/place/vacation/noteworthy event?! Whatever. At least the grey matter is occupied and amusing itself, right?). So anyway. My Saturday morning was spent roasting brussels and doing yoga (what a shocking combination if you know me, NOT), and then this morning after doing (you’ll never guess) MORE YOGA (!!) I ate more of them. And it’s raining!! Win, win, win.

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And also this morning I made some grain free banana bread, which is incidentally delicious but also half of it stuck to the pan so oops I had to eat a bunch of it because now it’s crumbs and hello, crumbs are designed to be eaten. Maybe I’ll make a habit of not fully greasing my pans from now on just to create crumbs, muahhaa. No not really. But kind of amusing to contemplate…

Anyway. Happy Sunday! Here are some brussels to distract you from whatever you need to be distracted from.

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Stoneground Maple Roasted Brussel Sprouts

This might seem like kind of a weird combo to start off with, but stick with me, I promise they’re delicious. I used two bags of Trader Joe’s organic brussels, each about 14 oz I think. Recipe serves 3, with a bit left over. Gluten free, vegan.

  • 2 bags of brussel sprouts, halved/quartered and with yuck ends trimmed
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp grade B organic maple syrup
  • 2 tsp stoneground mustard

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Preheat oven to 400.
Prep brussel sprouts by trimming off the yuck end, and halving or quartering them depending on how big they are. Some of the outer leaves can be a little tough and usually come off as you trim them, which is fine. Toss sprouts with avocado oil, salt, and pepper in a bowl until all are evenly coated. Distribute the sprouts onto a rimmed cookie sheet, flipping them so that they are cut-side down. Roast for 15 minutes, then take the tray out and flip them over to the other side. They should be nicely browned and starting to caramelize! Roast them for another 13-15 minutes, then take them out to cool slightly.

While the sprouts are roasting, whisk together olive oil, maple, and mustard in a smallish bowl. Transfer the sprouts to a larger bowl, and drizzle the dressing over all of them, tossing to combine and evenly coat them. Serve hot! Yum yum yum.

These are good. Promise. Even if you hate brussel sprouts, you should at least give them a try… they’re good for you! And delicious (I know I know, to each his or her own..)

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My cats are here to show me the way to inner bliss

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Let’s talk about cats.

Mark Twain once said, “Of all God’s creatures there is only one that cannot be made the slave of the lash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat” (Notebook, 1894)… and how true this is. Cats are such enlightened little furry beings—we discussed this in my last post because Nosh definitely stares at me with his third eye. Definitely. What cat likes banana bread, lentil-apple sandwiches, and butternut squash pancakes unless he’s a guru?! Right. See?

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My cats share tidbits of enlightened wisdom with me every day. For instance… Obviously, inner peace can be achieved easily by a five hour nap on the heater vent, followed by a massive stretch and a round of kibble hockey… and then the search for a warm human to nap on for the next hour. And… repeat. Ohmmm. Inner peace.

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They also are excellent reminders to live in the moment. Mine always do. Picture this: I am cooking. In the kitchen. There are two pairs of eyes staring at me incessantly. Those eyes are very clearly saying: “In this moment, I want snacks. My kibble is in the laundry room. Why aren’t you walking over there? Snacks are for this moment. And then for the moment a moment from now. And then you will let me outside, and I will eat some bugs in a very enlightened manner to illustrate the interconnectedness of the universe”. You see how wise they are? It’s mind boggling.

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In the next life I’m coming back as a cat. A real cat, not just as a really bendy human with cat friends. Because that way I can achieve inner peace by napping for the majority of the day, eating a few bugs, and then finding a human to sleep on. That sounds like a pretty fabulous proposition, doesn’t it?!

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My cats do yoga and have kitty chakras. It’s okay, you’re allowed to be jealous.

In the short term, feel free to make this pizza and achieve a small measure of enlightened gastronomical wisdom. In a pinch (and in your lack of wise cat friends), it’ll do.

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Vegan Pizza on a Pumpkin Crust

This pizza surprised me! It came together quite fast, with things I had lurking around in the pantry. It was perfect for lunch and leftovers. The crust is gluten free (and can be nut free), made with pumpkin puree. The sauce is veggietastic and delicious—and vibrantly green! Vegan, gluten free, refined sugar free, dairy free (could be nut free with all cornmeal and no almond flour). Both crust and sauce loosely adapted from Wholehearted Eats, here!

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For the crust:

  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed+4 tbsp water
  • 3 c pumpkin puree (2 cans worth)
  • 1/2 c almond flour
  • 1/2 c cornmeal
  • 3/4 c garbanzo bean flour
  • 1/8 c nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • scant 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • a few good grinds of black pepper
  • 1.25 tsp dried oregano

For the sauce:

  • 1/4 c raw cashews, soaked for at least 10 minutes and drained
  • 2 c raw spinach, packed
  • 1.5 c frozen peas, defrosted
  • 1/4 c nutritional yeast
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • scant 1/4 tsp salt

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Preheat oven to 425, and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In  a small bowl, combine 2 tbsp ground flaxseed and 4 tbsp water. Set aside for the time being. In a large bowl, stir together pumpkin puree, almond flour, cornmeal, garbanzo bean flour, nutritional yeast, 1 tbsp flaxseed, sea salt, pepper, and oregano. Stir in soaked flax. Spread the dough onto the prepared cookie sheet, making a roughly oblong-type shape (or not, whatever floats your boat) with edges a bit thicker than the middle. Bake for just about 30 minutes, until the center is set and the edges are just beginning to brown (you should be able to peel it off the parchment paper).

While the crust is baking, make the sauce! In a food processor, whirl together soaked cashews , spinach, peas, nutritional yeast, olive oil, basil, and salt. I highly suggest tasting and adjusting as you go, it’s much more fun that way. Puree until the sauce is chunk-free and smooth.

When the crust is done, spread sauce around evenly, and top with veggies of choice. I used sautéed arugula, bell peppers, and zucchini, but use whatever you have on hand. Bake for another 5 minutes, then let cool for a minute or two before slicing and serving. I found that a sprinkle of salted, roasted cashews added just the right crunch and made a nice garnish.

Leftovers store well and taste equally delicious the next day! I stored mine in a glass continuer in the fridge.

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The perks of being a bulk squirrel

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Hiya!

It’s Sunday. I just came from a fab yoga class and now my joints feel all nice and stretchy and I also feel like there is a hole in my stomach. Mid-morning yoga always makes me SO FREAKING HUNGRY! Oi. But I’m currently placating it with a large bowl of sweet potato-egg-kale-avocado-salsa-ketchup (don’t judge) goodness sooo… things are headed in the right direction.

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And last night I made this!

YAY! for amaranth and lentils.

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If I had an alter ego it would probably be a legume….

This is an easy one pot dish that is ready in under an hour, so it makes for delicious weeknight (or busy night) meals. Additionally, if you’re like me, it’s composed mostly of bulk staples so if you’re a bulk squirrel like me, you likely already have everything. It’s also really adaptable. Don’t have spinach? Use some other leafy green thing. Hate peas? No probs, leave them out or put something else in instead.

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Besides being fast and easy, legumes + amaranth are super protein! Sort of like Super Legume Girl, or whatever my alter ego would be. Pair some super-protein with some free-radical bashing antioxidants from the veggies and all kinds of good minerals and amino acids from the amaranth, and you’ve got one nutritional powerhouse disguised as a delicious dinner.

Serve it for your next weeknight dinner and… BOOM SHAKA LAKA! Tell those free radicals they are NOT invited to your parties!

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Lentil and Amaranth Stew

Recipe adapted from Food Recipes HQ, here! I got a yield of dinner for three, plus leftovers for two.

  • 1 c amaranth
  • 1/2 c green lentils
  • 3 massive carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 garlic clove (1 clove if you like more garlic)
  • 1 carton of veggie broth (1 quart, about 4 cups), divided
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 c raw spinach
  • 2 c green peas, defrosted if frozen
  • 1/4 c nutritional yeast
  • small splash of Bragg’s liquid aminos, coconut aminos, or soy sauce (low sodium)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • chopped cashews, pepitas, and sliced avocado for serving

Heat a large pot over medium high heat (I used a large soup pot for this so I had lots of room for the raw spinach to wilt down). Add amaranth and toast for about 4 minutes, or until you can smell it toasting (it will have a slightly nutty smell to it). Add in lentils, carrots, two cups of broth, garlic, and olive oil. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for about 30-40 minutes, adding more broth as needed (the amaranth will start to thicken and absorb the liquid as it cooks). Once you hit the 35-40 minute mark, stir in bell pepper, spinach, peas, nutritional yeast, bragg’s, salt and pepper. Continue to cook for about 10 minutes more, until the spinach is completely wilted and the stew is heated through. Adjust seasoning to taste, and serve hot! The amaranth will thicken considerably as it cools—I like it thick, but feel free to thin it out with more broth when reheating for leftovers. Top with cashews and avo!

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Cats like flatbread too…

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Happy Thursday-almost-Friday, wheee!

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Having now mostly filled the post-yoga void that was my stomach, I feel a bit more up to the task of writing this. Except that I either have yoga brain or am a little (a lot) brain dead, so maybe I should just let the pictures do the talking. Yup, that sounds like an excellent idea.

Flatbread!

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Mmmm. You should make it. Considering it takes all of not even five minutes to make, and contains, um, THREE ingredients? Sign me up. Besides, I know you, and therefore I know that you have random bits of things lurking in the fridge that would be ten thousand times better on top of some bread. Right? Right.

Get cat help when you can, it makes eating and photographing so much more entertaining…

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See?

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Whole Wheat Flatbread

Makes one 10″ flatbread (I used a cast iron skillet). Recipe slightly adapted from the awesome blog Eat Well. Party Hard, here!

Minimal ingredients, half hour ish in the oven, and boom. Ridiculously tasty flatbread. Winner, winner! Delicious with savory spreads like lentils, hummus, or whatever… and equally so with raw honey and cinnamon.

  • 1 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1.5 c water
  • 2.5 tbsp olive oil

Stupidly easy:

Whisk together flour and salt. Pour in water, whisk until lumps are gone. Cover the batter (should be thin) with a towel and let sit while the oven is preheating.

Heat oven to 450. Pour olive oil into the skillet, and when the oven is hot, pop the skillet into the oven for a few minutes, until you can just smell the oil (not smoke!). Take the skillet back out, pour in the batter, and bake for 35-40 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned and the top is firm. Let cool in the pan for a bit, then cut and serve.

Best right after baking, or at most a few hours after. I did save a few pieces for the next day and obviously they were still delicious, but nothing beats freshly baked. I found the edges stayed crispiest stored in plastic, as opposed to glass.

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One awkwardly dead banana and what to do with it

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Banana bread bites.

Somewhere between a cookie, banana bread, and… a scone? Muffin? A skookie? Or a brone? Or a mookie?

Clearly my brain has gone on holiday, can you tell?

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Either way, these are delicious! Vegan, refined sugar free (and low sugar), whole grain, high in fiber, and full of potassium and antioxidants. I can’t even really call it a cookie because it’s so healthy… but then you can have a cookie for a snack and feel good about it, so errrybody wins. And I win, because I’ve been buying an excess of bananas so that I can let some go all mushy and disgusting. This is all on account of Vacuum Vati, you see. I thought I ate a lot of bananas?! Apparently it’s genetic. Sheeeesh. If I didn’t buy extras and explicitly forbid him from eating them, there would never be any banana bread/bites/cake/cookies around here. And that would just be sad. So obviously I just circumvent this by buying an extra bunch and doodling on their skins to designate them off limits. MY DEAD BANANAS! MINE!

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I am, of course, very nice. How, you say? Welll… I share the PRODUCT of the hoarded bananas! I may be territorial regarding my dead bananas, but there are always several lucky recipients of the buuhhnahhhnuhhh creation. I think these went over well…. there are currently two left. *Pause for effect*… I made them yesterday. Obviously time to make something else, wouldn’t you think?

Except now I have one awkwardly dead banana and I’m not sure what to do with it. It needs friends. Does anyone care to donate their dead bananas? Anyone? Anyone? …Bueller?

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Vegan Banana Bread Cookie Pucks

Recipe adapted ever so slightly from Minimalist Baker (fabby blog!), here! The recipe makes about 18 little puck thingies… about 2-3″ across. Freaking delicious. Good for you. There is absolutely nooo reason why you shouldn’t trot off to your kitchen and make these… (unless, that is, you haven’t properly hoarded and defended your dead bananas).

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  • 2 ripe (read: dead) bananas
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp pure almond extract
  • 2 tbsp smooth almond butter (I used Maranatha unsalted)
  • 1.5 tbsp grade B organic maple syrup
  • 1.5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 c rolled oats
  • 1/4 c dark chocolate chips

In a bowl, mash the two dead bananas so they can become delicious. Toss in baking powder, soda, salt, flaxseed, extracts, almond butter, maple, and olive oil, and stir to combine. Add in flour, oats, and chocolate chips, and once more stir to combine everything. The dough should be thick and a bit sticky. Cover the bowl with whatever’s handy, and refrigerate while the oven is preheating.

Preheat the oven to 375, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Once the oven is done, grab your chilling dough, and drop heaping tablespoons onto the sheet, with a bit of room between (though I was able to get all 18 on one sheet). Slightly flatten the tops. Bake for 9-10 minutes, until the tops are set. Don’t let them brown, as you want them hydrated and soft! Let cool on a rack for a bit, then store in a tupperware for about five seconds before they all get eaten.

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Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart!

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Happy December! I love this month. It’s so… festive! And crowded. Sheeesh. Working retail has given me a lovely perspective on people’s shopping habits. Holiday shopping in this country is truly absurd. Where do all these people come from? And where do they hide during the off season??

Alrighty. So I mentioned in my last post that I’m off eggs, and gluten free (due to a variety of things, mostly circulation related. It’s a long story, you can ask me if you’re curious). This means that I’m basically vegan in addition to gluten free. Except I can have dairy and meat. Weird, I know, but just roll with it.

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Um. Yeahhhh. About that. I’m dealing, but it’s requiring a bit of concentration on my part, so that I don’t accidentally consume something I’m not supposed to. At least I was already used to vegan baking, so that switch isn’t too much effort. It’s the gluten free biz that’s killing me—I freaking LOVE BREAD. Arrggg. Ah well, for now it’s only two weeks (and hopefully NOT longer). We’ll see.

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Anyway, at least it’s pushing me to discover new alternatives and diversify my bloglet! I’m trying to keep my costs to a minimum, so that means finding affordable gluten-free flour substitutes. Some I’m familiar with, some not… I promise to only share the tasty ones on here. The flatbread I’m sharing today definitely qualifies as tasty (and cost effective, it only has 4 ingredients!), and ridiculously versatile. It’s made with chickpea flour, which I’ve never used before but is high in protein and fiber (obvi, as it’s made from beeeeeeans!). It’s actually one of the most nutrient-dense flours around: it’s high in folate, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, thiamin, iron, copper, and manganese. Whew! Besides all that, this flatbread has good fats from olive oil. Oh. AND it’s tasty. What more could you want? Yum yum yum. Called Torta di Ceci, this recipe is Italian in origin. I just love it, as you can eat it with pretty much anything (especially cheese, mmmm)—gluten free pizza crust? I think yes.

La la la…. beans, beans, they’re good for your heart, the more you eat the more you… Well. I’m sure you can fill in the rest of that cute little ditty.

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Torta di Ceci (Italian Chickpea Cake)

Recipe gratefully borrowed from this awesome blog: In Pursuit of More. Makes one sheet, or about 20 playing-card size servings. Plan for a little bit of time, as it needs to sit for 3 hours (at least) before baking. I made mine mid day, so that I could bake it in time for dinner.

  • 2.5 c chickpea flour (also called gram flour, or garbanzo flour)
  • 3.5 c water
  • scant tsp of salt
  • pepper to taste (I like a lot)
  • 1/4 c olive oil (extra virgin cold press, ideally the best quality you can)

Measure out the chickpea flour into a largeish bowl. Slowly pour in the water, whisking continuously to prevent lumps. Once you’ve poured all the water in, add salt and pepper, and give it a few minutes of whisking to make sure it’s smooth. Cover and let sit on the counter for at least three hours.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Skim off any foam from the surface of the batter, with a slotted spoon. Pour the olive oil into a large rimmed baking sheet (mine was about 18″ by 13″ ), tilting the pan so that the oil covers the bottom. When the oven is finished preheating, pour the batter into the prepared pan, in a layer about 1/4″ thick. Carefully transfer to the oven (amazingly I did this without causing a massive disaster), and bake for 30 minutes, until golden. When done, let cool in the pan for a few minutes before serving.

This bread is best hot or warm, and reheats fabulously. I’ve been storing mine in a glass tupperware in the fridge, which seems to work fine. I like mine reheated and sprinkled with cheese. Mmmm.

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Tarting up February!

mmmm, CRUST!

I like to think I know myself pretty well, in terms of food-type oddities and  proclivities. As such, I know that February irritates me. It’s such a bleh month in the middle of everything, and there is a distinct lack of interesting produce. I’ve already gone nuts over squash, waaaay back in the fall… I love sweet potatoes but I eat them all the time anyway…and there is a depressing amount of fruit available. As in, local and seasonal fruit, if you please (Besides, strawberries in winter just look sad. All pale and anemic. I would much rather eat them in the summer, thankyouverymuch).

BUT.

I discovered a solution to this problem.

Waaay back in September, over Labor Day weekend, I procured some fresh peaches (thanks, Dave Lakey!). I fought the urge to eat them immediately, and instead sliced them up and threw them into the freezer. All neat and nicely labeled, I was determined that they would remain in there, until the dead of winter (aka February), when nothing grows and I was itching for some summer fruit. Genius, clearly.

Over the weekend, when I spent a bit more time thinking about/researching/drooling over pie and tart recipes than actually thesising, I realized the time for peaches had arrived! And oooooh was that a good decision…

THIS. Is what happened.

peeeeachesss!

Fresh peaches in February! Can you ask for anything better? It’s like summer in a bite. And a healthy bite, no less! The crust has healthy fats from olive and canola oil, and the custard is made with yogurt instead of cream. And fruit is the most important part! It’s totally justifiable to have this for breakfast.

okay, so the pictures of this weren't super fantastic... but the crust was beautiful! clearly my favorite part.

Peach Custard Tart

Crust is slightly adapted from the Garden of Eden blog, and the custard is adapted from Eating Well, here. Makes one 11” tart.

For the crust (most low maintenance tart crust EVER):

  • 1.5 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1/4 c canola oil
  • 2 tbsp milk of some kind (I used plain soymilk)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a bowl, stir together flour, salt, and sugar (no need to sift). In another small bowl, whisk together olive and canola oil, milk, and vanilla extract until combined. Add liquid into dry, and gently stir until just combined (be careful not to overstir). Gather this up and plunk it down into your tart pan (in the absence of a tart pan, a pie dish is fine)… then flatten the dough on the bottom and up the sides by pressing gently with the flats of your fingers (this is the fun part!). Try to get it to an even thickness all around and up the sides, about 1/8″.

messy, but delicious.

For the filling!

  • 4-5 peaches, sliced (mine were frozen. I ran them under cool water until I could separate them into slices, but didn’t defrost the completely to prevent peach mush)
  • 3/4 c turbinado sugar
  • 3/4 c lowfat plain yogurt*
  • 3/4 c milky beverage (soymilk again for me)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp organic cornstarch
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

*The original recipe called for greek yogurt… but Kira and I, being the frugal/practical types that we are, decided to try it with regular yogurt, since that was what we had on hand. Excellent decision, as it turned out deeelicious. Either type is fine!

This is ridiculously easy: dump all the above ingredients in a bowl (except peaches), and whisk until smooth. See? Easy.

I told you the crust was pretty!

Preheat the oven to 400. Arrange the peaches around the bottom of the crust (they don’t have to look pretty). Pour the custard over the top, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cover the edges with foil to prevent excess browning (I did a rather ineffectual job, but I like the rather caramelized edges, so… not a big deal!). Reduce oven temperature to 350, and pop it back into the oven for another 40 minutes to an hour. Mine was done at about an hour and 10 minutes—I checked it at 40, and then put it back in for 15 minute intervals. You want a knife to come out clean when inserted into the center. Let cool before eating, about an hour and a half, to make sure the custard has time to set.

This is EXCELLENT cold. In fact, I think it might be better cold the next day, once the flavors have had a chance to get to know each other. It is also excellent with a blob of vanilla ice cream, of course.

uh oh... evidence!