Tag Archives: Vegetarian

Healthy Whole-Wheat Nectarine Bread

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Quick! Run to the grocery store and buy a nectarine!  You’ll need it to make this.I’d love to share a slice of this with you from the loaf I just made but I’m afraid that’s not possible. Why? Because this bread is going, going…Gone.

I hope you’ve stopped reading this post for a second to run to the store to buy a nectarine. Or a whole bushel so you can make a loaf of this stuff every day. Trust me, you’ll want to. And you won’t feel a single morsel of guilt eating the whole loaf while you’re home alone for the day a few slices because this bread is super healthy. Whole-wheat  flour and sweet morsels of nectarine are united in this bread to create a bread that packs the heartiness of honest-to-goodness whole-wheat, and the delicate notes of fresh fruit. It’s the best of both worlds; filling yet delicate in the same bite.

I usually wouldn’t urge anyone to make a bread recipe. I mean seriously, bread?? I’m usually not the biggest fan of bread (unless it’s my grandma’s loaded, homemade, fresh-from-the-garden zucchini bread, or my other grandma’s decadent walnut-date bread – either of those I could easily eat in one sitting). But this bread that I made today is really, really good. I dunked a few slices into some vanilla yogurt and slathered some peanut butter on top of another chunk. This bread would be perfect as a wholesome breakfast when paired with some yogurt, a post-workout snack when matched with some protein-packed peanut butter and maybe a drizzle of honey, by itself as a snack, or warmed up for dessert and served with a giant scoop of vanilla ice cream. I guess you guys all know what my diet’s going to look like the next few days: this bread for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. But before I proceed to eat this for the rest of the week, I’ll have to make another loaf. Here’s the recipe so you can make one too!

Healthy Whole-Wheat Nectarine Bread
Ingredients
1 cup whole-wheat flour (I used Hodgson Mill’s Whole-Wheat Flour because they grind their wheat in a way that preserves all the good stuff)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
2 tablespoons milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 nectarine, chopped into small chunks
How To
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients (from flour to sugar). Stir the ingredients so that they are mixed well.
3. Add the ‘wet ingredients’ (from apple sauce to vanilla extract). Mix batter well.
4. Last, add the chopped up nectarine and gently fold the pieces in.
5. Spray a bread pan with cooking spray and then pour the batter into the pan. Bake the bread in the 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Stick a thin knife or a toothpick into the center of the bread to check if it is done. Then, gather your friends and family around and serve up a slice of goodness.
If you’re not too busy whippin’ this bread up yet, I’d just like to say that I apologize for the lack of book-related material on here lately. I haven’t been in the mood to write about books on here for the past couple weeks because I’m in the middle of research for school. Research=writing tons and TONS about books. I’m currently reading A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway which is plenty of book-action for me write now. I hope you caught that last pun. While I am sorry for not providing any book-insight lately, I’m glad to present you with recipes like this one. Hope you love it!

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Strawberry Shortcake Smoothies

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Strawberries always remind me of Alaska. When we lived in Anchorage, we had a small garden where we grew strawberries, chives, rhubarb, and raspberries. The strawberries that we grew were always the cutest. Their yellow seeds weren’t any bigger than an aphid, green stems as small as newly sprouted leaves, and the actual berries were as tiny as thimbles. We’d water them and watch the plants slowly unfurl under the seemingly endless sunlight that only an Alaskan summer can bring.

While we waited for berries  to ripen we occupied ourselves by swimming in a kiddie pool in our front yard, collecting daddy long leg spiders, and playing in our top secret fort in the backyard. We hiked out as a family to the same lake each year to canoe, swim, and stay in a little cabin on an island where we’d roast hot dogs over the fire and complain about the smelly outhouse. We’d gather the cul-de-sac kids and play baseball on our pavement diamond, hitting plastic baseballs into anyone and everyone’s yard without care. We attempted to hatch a ladybug nest in our kitchen one year and a praying mantis the next, never succeeding. We learned to fish, about harvesting and giving back to the earth, and about the abundance of the Alaskan wilderness. We did a lot while the berries ripened.

Alaska will always hold a special place in my heart. It was there that I was born, learned to hike like a billy-goat, developed my tolerance for the cold, started a habit of swimming in any body of water available to me, craved fresh produce, started loving the mountains and lakes and the trees, and the patience to wait for something small and seemingly insubstantial to grow so sweet. There’s nothing sweeter than eating a button-sized strawberry you grew yourself.

Since we didn’t harvest too many strawberries (thanks to two little kids and a host of woodland creatures who loved to snack on them), we usually just ate our strawberries plain. A delicious summertime treat that gleans sweetness from these plump red berries is one I’m sure you all know and love: strawberry shortcake.

I thought I’d try to bring a little bit of strawberry shortcake action into the world of smoothies with this recipe that I came up with today. I love the flavor of the berries in this smoothie, along with the texture that the oats bring. Best of all, it’s bursting with the taste of strawberries that always brings me back to Alaska. My mom tried this smoothie with me and she commented that it tasted like a smoothie version of a strawberry crumble. This smoothie would be a perfect, well-rounded breakfast, or a refreshing dessert that is healthy and wholesome to boot. It’s fun to serve parfait style (as pictured) or to blend all the ingredients up for a great mixture of flavors and textures. It would be an easy party dessert or brunch addition to make beforehand and store in the freezer.

Strawberry Shortcake Smoothie
Serves 1-2 people
Ingredients
For the “strawberries”:
4 oz. non-fat vanilla yogurt (or use vanilla Wholesoy or a different brand if vegan)
1/4 cup vanilla almond milk
1 cup frozen, chopped strawberries
Optional: sugar, if desired. I made mine without and it was great!
For the “shortcake”:
1/4 cup oats
A little more than 1/4 cup vanilla almond milk
Optional: Pinch of Cream of Tartar (I used it to make it taste a little more like shortcake, but if you don’t have it, don’t sweat it)
Sugar (again, add sugar to this mixture if you’d like. I enjoyed mine sans sugar.)
How To
1. The night before you want to make this (or eight hours before), mix oats and milk in a small tupperware or bowl. Store it in the fridge. If you’ve made overnight oats before, this is essentially the same thing. You want this mixture to be pretty thick so adjust oat and milk ratio as necessary.
2. Eight hours or a night after you make the oat mixture, get ready to make a great smoothie! In a blender, combine all components of the strawberry mixture. Add extra milk to this mixture if you need to in order to help it blend smoother.
3. At this point, choose whether you’d like to make parfaits, or just one big glass of strawberry shortcake goodness. If you’re making parfaits: spoon some of the oat mixture into the bottom of small glasses. Top with smoothie mixture. If you’d like to add a little extra flavor and nice presentation, top with a small dollop of vanilla yogurt and a strawberry slice. Sprinkle a few uncooked oats on top as well to add a little extra crunch.  If you’re making a smoothie: dump oats into blender and blend mixture until all is mixed well. Pour smoothie into a glass or two and dive into sweet summertime strawberry-filled bliss. If you’re making the smoothie, feel free to top it off with a little yogurt, some oats, and strawberry slices as well. Hope enjoy it enough to scoop every last morsel out of the parfait glass like I did – this photoshoot was hard to get through without sampling!

Snacker Day Saturday: 5/26

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Alright, alright. You caught me.

I can’t get enough peanut-butter and chocolate in my life.

Every week I try to think of some new flavor combination for a snack that will really surprise your taste buds. But if we take a look back real quick, here are all of the snacks I’ve come up with: Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana Pretzel Bites (the title’s a mouthful, but the snack is easy to pop in your mouth), Frozen Orange Slices, Chocolate Peanut-Butter Bars, Oven-baked Squash Chips, Peanut Butter Bars, Sinless Cinnabon Rolls, and  Healthy Chocolate Cake . That’s 4/7 snacks that involve peanut butter and chocolate. And, I’ve done it again today.

There’s something irresistible about the semi-salty taste of creamy peanut butter mixed with the rich tones of chocolate. I know that eating Reese’s 24/7 isn’t exactly the healthiest though, so I usually try to get my fix of this addictive combination in more nutritionally sound ways (note, I said try). Today’s snack mixes fiber-filled, naturally sweet fruit with protein-packed Greek Yogurt (I know, surprise, surprise). I packed the Greek Yogurt with peanut butter, a smattering of good-for-you nuts, and a drizzle of chocolate that’ll make any of you pb&choco lovers out there swoon.

I’d recommend making this snack in large batches. Actually, make it in quadruple-billion extra-large batches. So what if ‘quadruple billion’ isn’t a feasible number…it’s how much you’ll want to eat of this stuff. And really, it takes 2 hours to make, so I highly recommend making a bunch while you’ve got the oven on for that long. This snack is just one more excuse to hang out with your family on a sunny afternoon or invite a bunch of friends over for a barbeque. Oh wait- you’re probably already doing that this memorial day weekend! So go right ahead and use this recipe as a fun snack or healthy dessert. Everyone will thank you for it with huge chocolate-covered smiles on their faces. The recipe below serves one – mayyyybeeeeee two people (if you’re not a hungry snacker like I am) so keep that in mind when you’re making portions.

Apple Chips
Ingredients
1 apple
How To
1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Slice the apple as thin as you can, getting rid of seeds and stem as you cut.
2. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and lay the apple slices out on it. Cook apple slices for 2-2.5 hours, flipping them about halfway through. Before eating, let the slices cool for like three minutes so they get crunchy.
Loaded Peanut Butter-Chocolate Dip
Ingredients
1 5oz. container plain greek yogurt
1 tablespoon peanut butter
4 or 5 nuts (I used a mix of almonds, macadamia, and cashews)
Chocolate sauce (such as Hershey’s syrup)
How To
1. In yogurt container, mix peanut butter in until the two substances are combined.
2. If plating the dip, go ahead and pour the yogurt into a small dipping cup or onto a plate at this point.
3. Crush up the nuts (or cut them up with a knife) and sprinkle all over the top of the dip. Then, swirl chocolate sauce on top.
4. Grab an apple chip (or a handful), and dunk them into pure bliss. Trust me, your taste buds will love you for it.

Need a little reading snack to keep you from shoveling these chips ‘n dip faster than chocolate melts on a hot summer day? Thought so. Today, I suggest reading “The Life You Save May Be Your Own” by Flannery O’Connor. I love reading O’Connor because her writing is unexpected and eerily beautiful. It resonates within every reader even though the subject matter sometimes seems too strange to be related to life as we know it. In this story set on a farm, a strange man comes to town and well, things happen. I highly suggest reading it, not only because you’ll be dumbfounded by the end, but because O’Connor writes about nature in a way that is almost unparalleled by anyone else. I love the way she uses nature in figurative imagery to project what she is trying to say.

With that said, enjoy your snacks of literature and food and have a wonderful weekend with family and friends! Try not to eat too much of this dip over the long weekend.

Oh, who am I kidding? Go ahead – stuff your face with this snack! It’s healthy!

Summer Spaghetti Supper

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To me, summer is as much about soaking up time with family as it is about soaking up sunshine. Now that my brother and I are in college (on different sides of the country), it’s a big deal for us to sit down as a family to supper. Summertime is special because it acts as a window into years past, where eating dinner as a family was simply routine for us. My parents always sought to make healthy meals to share with the family, so I quickly learned habits from them; incorporating vegetables into every meal, serving a huge bowl of fruit for the family to share, and accommodating meals for the entire family to enjoy.

Since I’ve been home from school (and unabashedly professed my love of cooking to the world), I’ve put myself in charge of cooking family dinners several times a week. Cooking is an outlet for me. Often more importantly than that, it’s a way to show people close to me how much I care for them. I love cooking meals that satisfy everyone’s taste buds, nutritional needs, and are loaded with fresh, seasonal veggies which is why I came up with this versatile dinner that everyone felt good eating.

(Spaghetti squash on the left, spaghetti on the right)

Since my brother can eat nearly a box of spaghetti by himself and I can pound nearly a whole spaghetti squash in one sitting, I decided to play up both of our strengths and offer options to the family. I made a simple, light, broth-based sauce to top either of the bases with, and roasted a slew of summer-fresh vegetables to pile on top. Sadly, we weren’t able to dine as a family because of hectic schedules, but everyone was well-fed with a home cooked meal.

This meal is perfect for making on those days where you feel like you’re running all day and getting nowhere. It’s quick, versatile, easily microwaveable, and easy to adjust for anyone’s diet. Plus, it takes advantage of some delicious summer flavors that you won’t want to miss. Not to mention, it looks pretty too!!

Summery Spaghetti Supper
Ingredients
A base: 1 spaghetti squash, 1 box spaghetti, 1 box penne noodles
1.5 cups broth (vegetable or chicken broth)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons ground Italian seasoning
Cooking spray
15 cherry tomatoes
8 stalks asparagus
1/2 yellow onion
10 cloves garlic, whole and peeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
Optional toppings: parmesan cheese, extra Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper, fresh parsley
How To
1. The roasted vegetables will take the longest, so start with those. In a lightly sprayed large casserole pan (or a cookie sheet), place whole cherry tomatoes and garlic cloves. Next, break asparagus at natural breaking point and then chop them into bite-sized pieces. Add to pan. Chop the onion up and add to pan as well. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over all of the vegetables.
2. Put the vegetables into the oven and cook them at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Be sure to stir a couple times while they are cooking.
3. While the veggies are roasting, prepare the base of your meal. Cook spaghetti squash in the microwave by puncturing it lightly with a fork or knife several times and then cooking for 10-15 minutes, checking it to ensure it doesn’t explode. Cook pasta according to package directions.
4. Prepare the ‘sauce’ by mixing broth with vinegar and seasoning in a large bowl. Mix well and let them sit so the flavors meld together as the dinner is cooking.
5. To assemble, simply pour strained pasta into the bowl with the sauce mixture and stir well. Then, use a slotted spoon to serve pasta on plates. Top with roasted vegetables. If eating spaghetti squash version, simply put spaghetti squash on a plate or in a bowl, then pour a small amount of sauce on top. Top with roasted vegetables. *Note: you will need FAR LESS sauce if you make only spaghetti squash, as the vegetable is liquidy and therefore does not soak the sauce up as well. However, pasta will soak up some of the flavor and sauce so use the directed amount.
6. Sit down with your family and a huge bowl of fresh strawberries and blueberries, and dig into a great summertime meal!