Monthly Archives:

January 2014

Chocolate Chip Date Banana Bread Muffin Tops

Chocolate Chip Date Banana Bread Muffin Tops

I’m generally not much a fan of muffins. In fact, one of the spots I work has free muffins of all different varieties. And they sit, and they sparkle, amidst open-air with glistening tops that scream, “Choose me, choose me!”

I have to admit, I’m often tempted.

Chocolate Chip Date Banana Bread Muffin Tops

Occasionally, as the workday nears its end, and I still see a plethora left, I’ll grab one. My impulse always ends after one bite. The muffin gets tossed, free throw style, into the trashcan without looking back. (That is, unless I miss the can.)

Wasteful, I know. But those muffins are just too friggin’ sweet. They look so good but feel so…eek.

I like dessert, I do, I do. But not pasty pastries that taste of straight-up sugar. And to me, that encompasses the majority of most store-bought/store-sold muffins.

Chocolate Chip Date Banana Bread Muffin Tops

So I was thrilled when I came across this recipe from Oh She Glows. There’s not one ounce of extra sugar in here that doesn’t come from the natural fruit that builds these tops. No honey. No maple. No brown suga’ suga’.

After tasting a small spoonful of batter, and then going in for a second, I knew there needn’t be, either.

I guess you could (and probably should) exclude the chocolate chips when you say no added sugar. But in my book, there’s generally always room to break the rules in the name of dark chocolate.

Chocolate Chip Date Banana Bread Muffin Tops

Aside from that, these are an excellent choice when craving something sweet. And  by far beat the poor, sorry sights of most of the muffin/muffin tops on the market these days.

Although, forgive me as I talk these babies up as muffins. Likely, you could swap that muffin top label out for “cake-like cookie”, but there’s always room for less sugary versions of those too, right? Plus, when I can have a “cookie” for breakfast, and feel alright about it too, that recipe’s certainly going to make the repeat list.

Chewy, perfectly sweetened and filled with heart healthy oats, this my friends, is a muffin/cookie/whatever-you-want-to-call-it recipe I stand behind. Throw in a few walnuts and some extra chocolate chips, and it’s golden.

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Carrot Soup with Tahini and Roasted Chickpeas

Carrot Soup with Tahini and Roasted Chickpeas

After dodging glaciers all week and layering up till I could’ve been mistaken for the Pillsbury doughboy, today I’m hitting you with another soup recipe. There were one too many icy bike rides taken to work this past week. All called for soup immediately upon return home. Here it is.

Carrot Soup with Tahini and Roasted Chickpeas

‘Tis the season for complaints about the weather, long movies, hibernation and honey. Maybe you should call me Pooh Bear rather than the Pillsbury Doughboy. I hear he likes raw honey in his Earl Grey tea, too.

‘Tis also, of course, the season for soup, and always the season for tahini. Naturally, the two form a partnership in this warming bowl, inspired by a glimpse at Smitten Kitchen. Cue the wedding bells and tears of joy, please.

Carrot Soup with Tahini and Roasted Chickpeas

This is hands-down one of my favorite soups I’ve had yet this season. It’s creamy and sweet from the carrots, and hit with a contrasting tang from a little Greek yogurt and squeeze of lemon. Then it’s topped with a satisfying drizzle of tahini and roasted chickpeas to add in some texture. Seriously ? it has everything going for it.

By the end of his bowl, I caught my friend clanging around his soup spoon as if it were a percussion instrument. Picture a more obnoxious version of a triangle. This soup is that good. It brings music to the ears – good or bad. And is worth every last minute of poorly played instrumentation you might have to endure.

Enjoy!

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Sesame Persimmon Parfait

Sesame Persimmon Parfait

If you’re going to talk about it, do it. If you’re going to do it, do it right.

That’s my resolution for the year. No half-assing things. Less talk, more do.

Within this, one of my missions is to start taking advantage of more things I enjoy. That means making post-work yoga class a bi-weekly routine, not a bi-monthly rarity. (Trust me, a yoga class full of warm people after a wintery, long workday – it feels like a godsend. It’s worth every cent and evening minute.)

This time of year, that also means persimmons. Persimmons, persimmons, persimmons.

Persimmons are worth splurging on at the grocery store, if only to make this recipe alone.

Sesame Persimmon Parfait

Steeped among all the winter citrus, these gems are one of the sweetest fruits of the season, and I mean that in both a literal and non-literal sense. Their  apricot-meets-mango taste is intense, and their short-lived, once-a-year novelty feels even sweeter. Again, they’re a worthy addition to your grocery cart. Especially when they’re foreseeable future includes tahini and maple.

There are two types of persimmons – Fuyu and Hachiya. Both are best when super ripe, but the Hachiya’s in particular need to be matured to the point of softness where they’re shriveled and almost mushy. Otherwise, you’ll be left with this weird, puckery sensation in your mouth. Fuyu’s can be eaten when still slightly firm, but don’t let your impatience get the best of you. These slightly stouter, disk-like versions are best after their color turns from citrusy orange to an almost tomato-like appearance. The body should have a slight give to it, too.

Let’s not just talk about them, let’s do them. And let’s do persimmons right. Pick a few up, let them ripen, and then whip up this divine breakfast. Throw in a few cashews or nuts for some crunch if you’re feeling extra heavenly. Enjoy.

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Butternut Squash Soup with Miso and Coconut

Butternut Squash Soup with Miso and Coconut

When I saw miso + creamy butternut, I thought to myself, “interesting combination”. Then, when I saw coconut in this recipe too, it instantly got bookmarked out of intrigue. Coconut and miso together is entirely new to me, and I have to say it works quite well in this soup. (The extra coconut milk left in your can works well in oatmeal the next morning too – banana/maple/coconut/oat heaven, hint hint.)

There are definitely layers of flavor going on here that you wouldn’t necessarily expect. In a good way.

One of my friends with whom I was sharing this brought over olive bread to add to the dinner table. That was like a hipster dressed in early fall – they pull out all their favorite items to layer a cardigan over a flannel over a collared denim over a too tight t-shirt. Too many layers, in a bad way.

Butternut Squash Soup with Miso and Coconut

Adding anything with olives to this soup meal, I wouldn’t suggest, unless you’re a fan of conflict and intense food dichotomy. A crusty baguette, on the other hand, would compliment this perfectly.

This miso in here adds a subtle saltiness, and a hint of earthiness that’s surprisingly detectable. I like a little crunch in my soup, which is why I added the cashews – they won’t overpower the miso, but rather add to the coconut’s sweetness. I also tried throwing in a handful of raw kale the next day while reheating. This too complimented the soup, and added a healthy (literally) dose of satisfying crunch.

Surprisingly simple, this recipe will undoubtedly be going on the repeat list. Not sure about where you live, but it’s snowing here today. For sure the best excuse to spend the evening inside and layer up on butternut gold.

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Collard Wraps with Tempeh Sweet Potato Hash

Collard Wraps with Tempeh Sweet Potato Hash

A few days ago, I ran across a Whole Foods tweet touting collards are the new kale. Intrigued, I of course clicked the link directing me to a blog post in which its author wrote “growing up in Louisiana, collards greens were standard fare”. Spending my childhood in Pennsylvania with two green-obsessed parents, collards have always been a regular part of my diet too.

Collard Wraps with Tempeh Sweet Potato Hash

Of course, rotating on the dinner table was also Lacinato, Red Russian and other leafy varietals long before the whole kale craze ever  took off. And at the time, my little kid self didn’t care much for them. Apparently neither did anyone else.

Today, however, things have changed. I adore kale, and it’s become so apparently obvious, I am not alone.

Toasted cashews

What initially struck me as surprising was not that kale finally soared into stardom, but rather that collards were left behind. My parents had always grew equal amounts in the garden, and had served up equal amounts onto our plates. To me, the two went hand in hand. To an extent, they were almost interchangeable.

Collard Wraps with Tempeh Sweet Potato Hash

I find it no surprise, then, that Whole Foods thinks collard are to become the next kale. Though, I’m still amazed it took so long.

Like kale and the explosion of raw salads, I think collards will really begin to shine in their uncooked element. In the south, collards have always been common, and are traditionally known to be cooked to death with salted pork/fatback, and served as a side. Maybe this is why they didn’t take off right away. The result of that is not a pretty green sight.

Use them in their raw form as a substitute for tortillas, however, and they become one stunning way to bundle up a bunch of goodness. I did not grow up with collard wraps, but can fully say I’m excited to add more of them to my diet. Sturdy yet light, they feel like such a nourishing way to wrap up a lunch. Pack them in aluminum foil, and they also become an easy on-the-go snack.

These are stuffed with a flavorful curried tempeh, slightly sweetened with everyone’s favorite orange potatoes. I like to mash the sweet potatoes slightly into the tempeh to really blend all the flavors. Note: If whipping this up for dinner, make extra. These are great for a make-ahead lunch, served either warm or cold.

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