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Peanut butter

Peanut Butter Date Fudge

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Evenings are slowly getting chillier and quickly growing dark prior to the dinner hour. Already, I want to spend more of them curled up in my kitchen.

While summer is filled with some of my favorite produce, it’s autumn and winter when I move into my real cooking groove.
Toasted sesame seeds

It’s also prime wedding season, and my photo ventures call for portable, energy-packed snacks like these. My tastebuds call for them all the time, so really it’s a win-win. Ya feel me?

Inspired by a recipe I saw over on Food & Wine, I knew I had to try this “fudge”. No sugar – just dates – this is the kind of fudge that’ll spike your energy, not bring it down. Yet, it has all that dense, sweet goodness you’d expect from a fudge. Again…win.

Peanut Butter Date Fudge

Throw some toasted sesame seeds on top for an extra punch of flavor, and toss a few coconut flakes on there too for some crunch. Both help brighten its appearance and make it an easy sell to guests. Although, one taste would do the trick as well.

Peanut Butter Date Fudge

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Tofu Banh Mi Collard Wraps with Wasabi Peanut Sauce

Tofu Bahn Mi Collard Wraps

Certain neighborhoods of Philly are infiltrated with Banh mi. The classic Vietnamese sandwich essentially acts as the Chipotle of the Asian food world, but even cheaper. You walk in, select your “meat”, and leave within 5-10 minutes with an aluminum wrapped, $5 foot-long sandwich, ready to be eaten. It’s a great feeling.

Scallions

Since it’s so easy to pick up a Banh mi around Philly, I rarely take the time to make it. Yet, it’s hands-down one of my favorites of the sandwich world, and so on the occasion that I’m getting a simultaneous desire for both Banh mi and a chef’s knife in my hand, I put on my cooking hat and grab my own tofu to be canvassed.

Tofu Bahn Mi Collard Wraps

When Banh mi making is going down in my kitchen, you can nearly guarantee it’s going to have a little flair to it. What’s the point of making the original version when I can grab that anytime, with little detriment to my bank account?  Besides, if I’m recreating a dish, I’m always about finding further ways to maximize its flavor since the ingredient make-up lays entirely in my hands. No doubt, that’s going on with this recipe. Wassuppppp wasabi?

Tofu Bahn Mi Collard Wraps

I don’t eat a ton of white bread, but when it comes to Banh Mi, a chewy white roll will always oust a whole wheat counterpart. This is one instance where whole wheat just won’t work. The flavor is unfortunately just too overpowering.

Collard wraps, on the other hand, those can create some Banh Mi magic.

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Here, collard wraps are able to balance the delicate freshness of the traditional Banh mi composition, while adding an even extra layer of freshness on top of it all. It lightens up the whole meal, while enabling more flavor to shine through. Peel back that one-inch layer of bread, and the notes of deliciousness from the slaw, cilantro and other jamboree of ingredients are able to reach their fullest potential.

Shredded carrots

Be patient with the tofu, and make sure it gets a nice crisp so it can add that contrast to the creamy peanut sauce you’ll place beneath it.

For a fun, spicy twist, this peanut sauce receives a generous punch of wasabi that’ll make it stand out among other sauces. I love the flavor it brings to the subtle sweetness of the peanuts and the carrots.

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True to the grab-and-go nature of banh mi — but more so with the intention to make your wrap-eating a little less messy! — envelope your collard packages in aluminum foil. This will seal in all the flavors so they don’t end up on your shirt. Although, if you’re like me, that’ll probably happen anyway.

I brought that big pile up above into work last week, and served it with a slide of Asian slaw for my coworkers. Two thumbs up, all around.

Since these are destined for pre-packaging, this will makes a great recipe for your own workweek lunch. While best the first day, the wraps can certainly withstand being rolled up the night before and kept in the fridge till you head out.

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Breakfast Millet with Peanut, Ginger & Turmeric Apple Compote

Breakfast Millet with Peanut, Ginger, & Turmeric Apple Compote

I’ve been on a turmeric kick lately, which is great because there are 101 health benefits associated with it. It’s a huge antioxidant-powered anti-inflammatory, meaning it can aid in everything from reducing arthritis pain to heart disease prevention.

It’s also frequently used in Chinese Medicine to treat depression, and it’s been shown to delay liver damage. With how brutal this winter’s been, it’s no wonder I’ve been consuming so much of the stuff. How else am I going to counteract all that alcohol I’ve been consuming as a result of my snow-induced depression? Kidding of course.

I will admit, however, a ginger-lemon-honey-turmeric tonic makes a great morning choice after a night out on the town. As does this breakfast.

Breakfast Millet with Peanut, Ginger, & Turmeric Apple Compote

In drink form or not, my turmeric intake often goes hand in hand with my ginger intake. The two make great partners in the kitchen, both in terms of health and flavor rationale. (Ginger’s another one of those anti-inflammatory, detoxifying godsends.)

Thus, it seemed only natural to take them to my apples for a Saturday morning breakfast. Sweetened with a little raw honey, which gets counter-balanced with a little lime, this brings a wonderful way to wake up. Plus, did I mention there’s peanut butter in this? Is there any better way to wake up than with that? For this PB-junkie, the answer is no.

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Mostly Raw Curry Sunflower Oat Energy Bars

Most Raw Curry Sunflower Oat Energy Bars

Snow in the city is dirty. It will soil your shoes, your gloves, your stoop, your snowballs.

Suit up and put your game face on, or that black — and sometimes salty blue — stuff they call snow might stain a piece of your soul, too. It feels little like the soft, white flakes that flow quietly to country lands. Lands where cars stay stationary, kids go sledding and firesides roar.

Most Raw Curry Sunflower Oat Energy Bars

Yet snowfall in the city can also be a magical experience. I see this in ways far different than where I grew up. It comes in ways that remind me why I’m carrying out my youthful years in an urban setting.

Most Raw Curry Sunflower Oat Energy Bars

For one, while schools might shut down, often the community does not. Where I currently live, on snow days restaurants often remain open. They fill up with afternoon conversation. At the corner of my block, a place lights its fireplace and spreads out its board games. Beer is poured. Coffee is served. Warmth, both literally and socially, can be found in abundance.

My neighborhood’s yoga studio powers through with an evening session taught by a local teacher. I go, as do others, to fill the class, and practice while gazing out the window at the falling white flakes. They remain clean as they hang in the air, and it’s in this moment that I feel like I am “home” again. Back in the country enjoying a piece of serenity.

Following class, I rejoin the bustle. I meet a friend up the street at the fireplace for a beer and a game and good company. And again I remember, this is why I love the city.

Most Raw Curry Sunflower Oat Energy Bars

The start of this year has been a rough one in terms of the weather. I loathe winter. I could do without snow, and even seasons too if I really had to.

Yet, I am constantly reminded of why I still remain on the East Coast, in a state that won’t let me scoot by without being cold, in a city that I’ve grown to love. Surrounded by friends, and not far from family, I’ve learned to survive the cold seasons and even admire some of its parts I hate the most. Snow too has its place, and for now, it seems to be a significant part of my life…like it or not.

So until I get the guts to move far, far away to a new city in warmer lands, you can find me coping in my current city with my baking gear and measuring cups. When snow falls, cooking and tea and adventuring all call — usually in that order, too.

These were whipped up during our last winter storm here in Philly. They make for a healthy snack or breakfast, and are definitely going on my repeat recipe list. Made with antioxidant-rich curry powder and mostly raw ingredients (excluding the peanut butter), their packed with energy. The good kind. The kind you might need to get you through a long winter. Only 31 official days left. Not that I’m counting down or anything.

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Flourless Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pumpkin dessert on Thanksgiving is a must. Generally, I’d say there has to be pie, however, no one said you shouldn’t have options – or two desserts on your plate. These pumpkin cookies make a rather fine second choice for the table, especially for vegans and gluten-free’s.

I came upon this recipe and the chickpeas immediately caught my eye. A cookie made of beans and pumpkin? That sounds almost too healthy to be true – and tasty – an inclination I generally get when reading dessert recipes (though not entrees). Luckily, curiosity got the best of me and I went for it…chickpeas, chocolate, pumpkin and peanut butter all piled into my food processor.

Following a previous recipe for disaster that called for black beans in brownies, I had my doubts. After those results, I vowed to stick to sinfully indulgent brownie recipes from there on out. However, it’s possible the success of this one may’ve changed my opinion on health-altered desserts.

Unlike black beans, chickpeas are fairly bland, and you’d certainly never pick up on them in this pumpkin recipe. They give these cookies their oomph while keeping them moist, but it’s the maple, spices and chocolate that lend these their flavor. The results – a nutritious, protein-packed cookie, that while addicting, I wouldn’t feel guilty eating for breakfast.

For a holiday packed with more than enough indulgences, these make a great option that likely no one would ever guess is actually even healthy. On the whole, I’m all about making sacrifices in terms of nutrition when it comes to desserts, because if I’m going to indulge, I want it to be amazing. But sometimes you get lucky and find a recipe like this, where those kind of sacrifices truly aren’t needed for pumpkin perfection.

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