Cherry Chia Muesli Bread

We’ve been out of bread for like, 52 hours in this house. Which is, in my humble opinion, an emergency. I’ve been picking up whole grain bagels from Panera on the daily to get through these rough times. But last night, when I found myself unable to bear the thought of waking up to a bread less morning, I decided the store was too big a hassle (read: did not want to put pants on) so I dug deep into my dwindling pantry and decided to whip some up to bake in the morning.

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IMG_9441  IMG_9514  sorry for the excessive bread porn..

I was inspired by these weird Muesli rolls I grew quite found of when I studied abroad in Paris. This Monoprix grocery store right by school sold them $0.60 and when paired with some fresh fruit it made for the perfect little breakfast to eat before class (b/c eating IN class was a no-no in Franceland).

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Another no-no in France was iced coffee. It was like finding a nice, straight, actually decent non-pig boy at NYU. Basically impossible. I spent a gross amount of money and endured a lot of snickers from Starbucks cashiers who served me my iced Americanos, as they seemingly always enjoyed pointing out their appropriate names.

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So in Paris, not as much iced coffee. But great muesli rolls I’ll remember forever. Win some, loose some. Overall one of best experiences of lyfe.

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Back to bread: it’s the BEST. Especially when it’s homemade. Like this stuff. I didn’t have raisins like the muesli rolls I ate in France so I used dried cherries which I diced up. I also didn’t have millet seeds (which are GREAT in breads like this) so I used some chia seeds.

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The result was frickin’ delicious and a true treat to wake up to baking this morning and eat as a second breakfast because let’s be honest I need to eat within 10 minutes of getting out of bed or I punch people. So it baked as I downed my berries and oatmeal and served as a delicious mid-morning snack-attack buster.

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It’s really great warm. Or toasted. Or with almond butter. Would also pair nicely with goat cheese. Or cheddar. Or as part of a sandwich. Sweet or savory. Or just plain. Okay I really like this bread. Go bread. BREAD!! #carbs5ever

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Prep Time: 4 hours (including rising – if left overnight will be longer)

Cook Time: 22-35 minutes

Level: Easy

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups warm water
  • 1 packet yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (to feed the yeast! nomnom #betterrising)
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats, divided half
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup mixed nuts, chopped (I used almonds, pistachios and cashews. and tbh this was because I bought an individual bag of these nuts at Walgreens earlier in the day and they were what was around. walnuts would work great. use what you have, always!)
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons chia seeds

Directions:

1. Heat water to 110-115 degrees and sprinkle yeast and sugar into the bowl. The sugar is for the yeast to eat. This will help it activate and your dough to rise. <–this is your mini food science lesson of the day.

2. Let the water/yeast sit for 5-10 minutes until it smells yeasty and looks foamy. Yum. Add flours, salt, and 1/4 cup rolled oats and mix.

3. If using a stand mixer, attach the dough hook and let it work its magic for about 5 minutes. If doing it by yourself (bless your soul) kneed on a floured service for about 10-14 minutes.

4. Place dough in an oiled bowl and allow to rise/double in size. Two or three hours is minimum. I did overnight.

5. Punch down dough. This redistributes the yeast (#foodscienceminilesson2) and transfer dough ball to a lightly floured surface. Knead a few times and use a rolling pin or hands to flatten.

6. Chop nuts and dice dried cherries. Add sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and remaining 1/4 cup rolled oats together. Mix nuts, seeds, and chia together to make muesli.

7. Sprinkle about half of muesli onto flattened dough and then fold dough in half so the muesli is on the inside. Give it one knead then roll out then flatten the dough once more, sprinkling 1/4 of the muesli mix (half of what’s remaining) here and there. Next fold and knead the dough into  a round ball orby thing. Honestly I think when it looks a little imperfect it looks more beautiful.

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8. Sprinkle what’s remaining of the muesli on top of the dough and allow to sit (shaped) on a gently oiled baking sheet for an hour. This is the second rising aka the “proof”. It’s actually more important than the first. (#foodscienceminilesson3) Don’t skip this step. The proof is in the puddin’ LOL. sorry.

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9. While the dough is proofing, relax for a while. Walk your dog. When there are about 20 minutes left in your proofing time, preheat the oven to 450 degrees and place an empty baking sheet on the lowest rack. This has a purpose I promise. Give the dough ball a slash or two (or three) with a knife.

10. When the oven is preheated and dough is proofed, place bread in the oven on its baking sheet. Pour a large cup of water onto the lower empty baking sheet to create steam which will help your bread brown and develop a beautiful crust. You can also spritz it a few times with a spritz bottle full of water, but this seemed more complicated at the time.

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11. Allow bread to bake 22-30 minutes until fragrant and golden and delicious. When it is done, should should hollow when you tap it on the top.

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12. Allow it to cool (if you can wait) and slice with a serrated knife. Enjoy plain or with literally any topping because it is so good you can do no wrong. Like, it’d even taste good with ice cream and pickles on top. Probably. Maybe. Anyways, eat up.

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Vegan Animal Crackers with Coconut & Strawberry Icing

So a few weeks ago I had a wicked craving for these, so I bought some at Target.

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Except then I ate them and I wanted to cry because I was so disappointed in how gross they were…I don’t know why I remember them being tasty. They tasted like total junk – WAY too artificial and too sweet, I was surprised by how much flavor they lacked for how bright they were and the list of ingredients that was longer than most novels I’ve read.

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So I was deeply saddened grieving the loss of the enjoyment of a childhood treat; however, through my tears a glimmer of hope and inspiration struck me. I was determined to redo them. But make them delicious and flavorful and junk free.

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And today, I succeeded. These have a wonderful nutty, oaty flavor and are just pleasantly sweet, but light enough to eat as a snack or breakfast. I was actually surprised at how frickin’ delicious they are. My mom also enjoyed them quite a bit, as did Millie when I dropped one (lucky girl).

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I made these with half oat flour and half whole wheat flour because it’s what I had around, but for Celiac’s sufferers, it is very possible to use all oat flour or another gluten free flour as a substitute. These are also vegan, so they are friendly for those with dairy sensitivities.

“let’s makeout”

The icing is phenomenal, my friends. I basically used canned coconut milk and add powdered sugar. For the pink cookies, I pureed some freeze dried strawberries (available at Target and/or Trader Joe’s) which added color and flavor without ruining the consistency of the icing. A sprinkle of nutmeg and cinnamon adds a beautiful warmth to the cookie, as well.

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Overall, these are wonderful little nuggets of joy that taste and feel good for the body. A little more work than buying the junky ones, sure, but well worth the effort.

Prep Time: 60 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Level: Easy (but putsy)

Ingredients:

Cookies:

  • 1 chia egg (1 tablespoon chia seeds + 3 tablespoons almond milk)
  • 3/4 cup oat flour (I made my own in a food processor with rolled oats)
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour (can also sub a gluten free flour, such as rice flour, or just use all oat-flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil (can also use vegan butter or vegetable oil; I used Spectrum Coconut Oil)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • dash of sea salt
  • dash of nutmeg
  • dash of cinnamon
  • sprinkles (optional)

Frosting – Coconut:

  • 1/8 cup light coconut milk (canned)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Frosting – Strawberry:

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine chia seeds and almond milk. Mix and set aside for at least 10 minutes.

3. Melt coconut oil and mix in sugar and vanilla.

4. In a separate bowl, combine flours, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon.

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5. Slowly add coconut oil mixture and chia egg to flour mixture. Mix until combined. Roll into a ball and refrigerate for about 20-30 minutes or pop in the freezer if impatient (you just want the dough to be chilled so it’s easier to work with!)

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6. Place dough ball between two pieces of parchment so it’s easier to roll and doesn’t stick. Roll until about 1/8 inch thick. Use animal (or whatever) cookie cutters to make shapes and place on baking sheet.

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7. Bake for about 10 minutes until slightly golden and fragrant.

8. Allow to cool. Meanwhile, combine coconut milk and powdered sugar in bowls. Puree freeze-dried strawberries in a food processor or blender and add to one batch of frosting.

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9. Ice cookies using an angled spatula or knife and place on parchment paper to dry. Sprinkle with sprinkles for an extra fun pop.

10. Enjoy!

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Funfetti Cookies with Birthday Cake M&Ms

*~*cue katy perry song*~*

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I love healthy food. But sometimes I like really love to bake and eat things that are simply for fun and make me feel like a 5 year old because mental health is as important to physical health sometimes and feeling like I’m 5 makes me oh-so-happys! :) So yesterday I wanted a mood boost so I made some very silly but delicious Funfetti Cookies with Birthday Cake M&Ms. To be honest, I am a sucker for all things “cake batter” flavored. My absolute FAVORITE cake batter flavored thing is the vegan soft serve from Lula’s Sweet Apothecary on East 6th street in NYC. It’s mindblowing and unlike anything else on the planet. You should try it. But I’m always down to try cake-battered flavored things – froyo, M&Ms, that cream cheese from Thompkin’s Square Bagels that’s all over Instagram right now, etc etc).


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And cake flavored things are super trendy right now – I feel like every time I turn around there’s another random cake battered or birthday cake flavored thing. No complaints from me.

dough.

dough.

All of this cake batter-y sprinkly trending fits appropriately to the release of the new “Birthday” song by Katy Perry. I actually just love Katy Perry in general as a person and you cannot deny her music is catchy. You should listen to that song while you make these cookies. It will put you in a bubbly mood.


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Anyways, back to the land of sugar, these are simple, classic, homemade funfetti cookies (with vegan options listed) full of artificial colors. #yum #health I’m sure there are non junky sprinkles out there, but I used Wilton because they were around. And they worked for aesthetics and to make a softer cookie by cutting the gluten strands as they were mixed in (as all mix-ins do! #foodscienceminilesson).

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Birthday Cake M&Ms are relitively new, but available at Target and CVS and probably lots of other places. While you’re there you should pick out some big balloons (song reference) and party hats.

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Prep Time: 12 minutes
Bake Time: 12-15 minutes
Level: Easier than pie so I’ll say easy as Birthday Cake ;-)

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or non-dairy butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 eggs or one mashed banana
  • 1.5 teaspoons real vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (optional, but I dig)
  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 teaspoon baking powder
  • dash sea salt
  • 5 tablespoons sprinkles
  • 1 8oz bag Birthday Cake M&Ms

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Allow butter and eggs to come to room temperature. Zap butter for 10-30 seconds in the microwave until soft if you’re impatient like I am.

2. In a large bowl with an electric mixer or wicked arm, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula regularly. This will take 2-3 minutes.

3. Add mashed banana or eggs and vanilla and almond extracts to butter mixture, scrapping the sides of the bowl as necessary.

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4. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt. Mix until well combined. A cup at a time, gently fold into butter mixture until just combined. Add sprinkles and mix again.

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5. Roll dough into small balls (lol) and place on a baking sheet. This baking sheet from Crate’n’Barrel is my favorite ever! My sister gave it to me for Christmas. Love it! Nothing ever sticks to it and cookies always turn out BEAUTIFULLY. Thanks Jenn!

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6. Press 3 Birthday Cake M&Ms into each cookie. If you want a different look you can just mix them into the dough before rolling into balls. This will totally work, but just make note that Birthday Cake M&Ms are quite large. And in charge ;-).

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7. Bake 12-15 minutes until fragrant and slightly browned. Eat and dance and party and feel 5 years old. Share if you’re feeling nice. Or if you have your cranky pants on eat them all yourself, however this may result in a slight tummy ache (you have been warned).

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Spicy Sunflower-Infused Waffle’d Falafel Balls [Vegan]

Reason #1 you should make these: The name. Waffle’d Falafel Balls. Or Wafalafel. Whatever you call it, it’s great.

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Go ahead, say it out loud: “I made falafel waffle balls!” *instantly* you feel awesome. And a bit silly. Two great things to improve your mood and the mood of anyone lucky enough to share these with you.

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Which brings me to reason #2 you should make these: they are honestly ridiculously amazing. I [nearly] had to slap my mom’s fingers off them when I was taking photos. Although baking them in a waffle maker is totally unnecessary, it does wonderful things for the texture by providing more surface area for browning/crispiness and creating more dense and more airy pockets and gets a nice Maillard reaction going (which I explained better when I used the waffle iron to make Chocolate Chip Waffle Cookies here). You have my permission to make this recipe and simply bake them in the oven. They will still taste magnificent even though they would be as fun to say or quite as interesting to eat, but I think you’ll still enjoy them, and so will your body.

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Leading to reason #3 you should make these: they are quite nutritious! Chickpeas are powerhouses of protein, fiber, and quality carbohydrates which will give you oodles of energy to power through your day without leaving you feeling weighed down. If you aren’t already friendly with beans and legumes, I suggest you start eating more. They provide protein and satiety while also delivering the goodness of plants via an array of vitamins, and minerals. Aka, they win. Eat up friends, and don’t be afraid to toot. #worthit

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I made these vegan by replacing the egg typically seen in falafel recipes with one tablespoon chia seeds and 2 tablespoons water, which provided some viscosity and emulsification to the mix. I also ground up sunflower seeds for a boost of palatable fat, a more interesting texture, and a complimentary earthiness to dance with the chickpeas.

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These would be great on a salad, as part of a snack plate, or tucked into a pita or to bulk up a sandwich. Or, you can do what my mom did and just eat them plain. That works too. However you eat them, baked or waffle’d, enjoy these tiny nutritious nuggets of pure joy.

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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Level: Easy
makes about 8 small waffle patties – serves 2-3

Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas (15oz), drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds (can also use tahini instead)
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds + 2 tablespoons water (or 1 egg, if not vegan)
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1/3 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder or cumin
  • a hearty squeeze of Sriracha or other hot sauce (if you like it hot, which I do ;-))
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. Plug in your waffle iron and preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Place chia seeds and water in a small bowl to congeal and set aside.

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3. Drain and rinse can of chickpeas.

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4. Chop green onions and cilantro.

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5. Place sunflower seeds in a food processor and grind until fine. Slowly add teaspoon of oil until the sunflower seeds become a peanut-butter-like paste.

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6. Add chickpeas, onions, cilantro, spices, chia/water mix, juice of half a lemon, and Sriracha to food processor. Whirl until you get a nice mushy paste that is slightly wet and sticks together.

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7. Roll into donut-hole sized balls and place each in a quarter of the waffle iron. Close and allow to cook until golden brown and firm, about 2-4 minutes.

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8. Transfer to baking sheet and place in oven for about 10 minutes to crisp them up a bit. This is optional, but I like things crispy, so I did it, yo.

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9. Allow to cool and eat on a sandwich, pita, or salad. Or straight to the face!

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Shortcut Mini Vegan Banana Cake Donuts with Almond-Coconut-Vanilla Glaze

It was a very humid day today here in Milwaukee. One of those days where when I left the mall after a fail-boat shopping trip to look for a dress for my friend’s wedding, I literally felt like I had to swim through a wall of heavy wet air to reach my car. MmmMmm, sweaty.

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As I write this post, I hear thunder rumbling in the near distance. Today’s inevitable storm is on it’s way! Get excited folks, according to this morning’s news it might get dramatic. And who doesn’t love a dramatic storm (unless of course, you’re Millie, in which case, you may refuse to even step on damp concrete).

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I was bored and restless so naturally, I found myself looming in my baking pantry. As I rummaged through my goodies, I noticed a dusty old box of fancy cake mix in the back corner of the pantry. Cake mix (or any baking mix) in my household was considered worse than dropping a four-letter word. My mother and grandmother could have cared less if I screamed the F bomb as a kindergardener, but would thrash out irrationally if I dared bake anything not from scratch.

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To be honest, I couldn’t recall why the box was even there. I mean, it was a nice fancy Cherrybrook Vanilla Cake Mix from Target, probably purchased as a back-up at some point, left here by another human, or for some purpose that currently evades me. Anyways, the mystery cake box stared me down, daunting me, saying, “figure out how to use me, you beyotch. let’s get creative.”

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Game on. I decided I’d do something different than use it for cake. Honestly, when it’s a nice, preservative/junk-free cake mix like the ones Cherrybrook makes, I don’t really even think it tastes bad, as long as you don’t think of it in the same category as homemade cakes that ooze with butter and love. These mixes create pastries that more airy/fluffy orbes of sugary chewy goodness. If you take them for that, they are good. This is also how I advise meat-eaters to think about veggie burgers. Don’t think it’s going to be the same as meat. Take it for what it is and appreciate it’s different deliciousness. So I must agree with my heritage, no box mix will even come close to a from scratch cake. I wasn’t even going to blog these because they seemed like such a cheat, but I had a few inquires after I Instagramed them, so I figured I’d share my recipe. Apparently people want their vegan banana mini cake donuts, and who am I to deny them?

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As I continued to voyage through my mountains of baking supplies, I noticed my good old Wilton Mini Donut pan for baking mini donuts in the oven. The stars were aligning. Cake mix. Cake donut pan. I decided to use it to make cake donuts because mini things are instantly adorable and more fun.

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I nixed the additions on the cake mix box and replaced them with some vegan tricks. I used bananas to replace eggs because it works well and tastes great. The sweetness and flavor from the banana also complimented the vanilla flavors of the mix quite well. I also used carbonated water because from lots of experimental vegan baking I’ve learned it gives a nice, springy texture to things, which is what I was looking for in these cake donuts. I used other things I had around for glaze because who wants to go to the storm in a rain storm, am I righttt?

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Anyways, these turned out adorable and yummy and vegan and I added sprinkles because sprinkles make everything more fun and fix all the ugliness on your baked goods and in your life (important life lesson I learned at work). Enjoy these tiny Millie-sized treats. They are almost too cute to eat but nothing actually is because let’s be honest food is yummy.

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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Decoration Time: 10 minutes
Level: Easy Peasy

Ingredients:

  • one box Cherrybrook Vanilla Cake Mix (or other cake mix, apparently Dunken Hienz is also dairy-free) ——> TELL NO ONE A BOX OF MIX EVEN EXISTED IN MY HOUSE PLEASE!
  • one ripe banana, mashed
  • one 12-ounce can of sparkling water [I used plain from my soda streamer, but any flavor LaCroix or a white soda would also work!]
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil

Glaze Ingredients:

  • 2 cups powder sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk (I used canned for richness/flavor, you can omit these fancy milks and use any plain non-dairy milk if that’s what you have on hand)
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Peel banana and mash in a small bowl.

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3. Pour cake mix and sparking water in a bowl and add mashed banana and coconut oil. Mix.

4. Place a small amount into mini donut pan, so donut hole is only about 1/2 full. Less is more otherwise these turn out really awkward shaped.

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5. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until golden brown on the bottoms.

6. Pop out of pan and cool on a cooling wrack.

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7. Assemble glaze: sift powdered sugar (yes it is essential here) and add a drop of vanilla extract. Slowly add coconut milk and almond milk one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.

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8.Dip the top each donut into glaze and then into sprinkles or coconut shreds.

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9. EAT!

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10. Also avoid holding too close to puppies with extreme jumping skills, because they might do what Millie did and snatch it out of your hand (seriously…she got lucky this morning).

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“But mommy, it’s just my size !!”

 

 

10 Things I Love Right Now [Good Eats + Good Life]

Hello! So I’ve never done one of these list-y posts before, but I follow several bloggers who often share tidbits of their personal life and I always truly enjoy reading their posts because eventually you kind of get to feel like you know the blogger and that if you ran into them you’d totally be friends but then you realize if you ever did see them they’d have no idea who you are and it’d be so creepy. Anyways, I want to share some things I really love right now in hopes of inspiring other people to such joyous wonders so they can enjoy them too! Perhaps one person will find something I have to say of interest? Probably not b/c I’m boring but I’m going to give it a go anyways on this gloomy Sunday night cause I have little else on my agenda besides reality TV.

I’m going to list 10 things I’m currently really into. Some of them are delicious things. Others are places, beings, and whathave you. This post does not have any fancy photos, but it does have a few iPhone pics from my life and some words as a form of me avoiding the current clusterfuck that is my life :). Enjoy!

1. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Bar – Caramel with Black Sea Salt.

Think the Salty Pimp from BIGC, but in a really fine quality chocolate bar. I’ve been telling people about these since my first bite a few years ago. I have been literally hooked every since. Skip your Godiva and Lindt bars and please do yourself a favor and buy this. It’s $1.99. And has deeply rich chocolate, with a buttery smooth-but-not-sticky caramel filling and sea salt for a nice balance/kick. Warning: very easy to eat whole bar in one sitting. So buy 6.

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2. Milwaukee

I know I say this a million times a week, but this is the most underrated city in the country. It’s cute and cozy and quirky and does not try to be anything except its quintessential little self. We have lots of culture and beer and cheese and Lake Michigan and Midwest flair and beautiful parks and museums and great restaurants and neat hipster stuff. Not to mention a million festivals and activities going on in summer, including Summerfest, which IS confirmed by Wikipedia as the World’s Largest Music Festival. I could go on forever but I’ll let a few crappy iPhone pics speak for themselves. Also, you should probably visit.

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3. Sweet gherkins pickles.

My sister got me hooked on these. I can’t stop. Just buy them. They’re like bread’n’butter but not as sweet, and mildly spicy. Perfect balance of hot’n’sweet. Like an exotic Korean dish but in a pickle jar.

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4. 49 cent cones.

A major perk of Milwaukee in the summer. Cheap. Delicious. Soft. Serve. A much needed anytime treat and major break for my wallet compared to what I shell out for stuff sometimes in NYC. These are so perfectly sweet and creamy and with a great vanilla flavor. It’s very simple and probably fake but also very delicious. And how can you pass up ice cream that costs less than a pack of gum??

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5. My dogs.

Seriously make me happier and fill me with joy and giggles more times a day than any material object or human. Millie has been with me exactly 5 months today, but I love her so much I feel like I’ve had her forever. Sasha is nearly 14 years old and still sweet as ever, bless her soul. Love my babies and always will! #rescue !!

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6. The Decision Maker App for the iPhone.

Holy shit I needed this. Helps with really overwhelming daily decisions, like if I want an iced soy latte or an iced coffee with soy milk or what flavor cupcake to get. This app legitimately helps you realize your true wants and desires because you’ll either feel satisfied with what it tells you, and/or feel disappointment at its answer and realize your true desires. It was made for me.

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Also makes important decisions about my future…#blessit

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7. Angelic Bakery products.

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This bakery makes some majorly delicious junk-free breads. The breads and rolls are sprouted, contain minimal ingredients, and are reminiscent of Ezikel products, but are a bit softer while still being hearty and filling. I’ve really really grown to love them all. This is actually a local brand nearby me, but I’ve seen it recently at Whole Foods Union Square. It’s makin it big! If you see it, give it a try. Not only does it taste good, you’ll will be supporting a local WI bakery. And I love when people support small stuff from WI. Like how Big Gay uses Sprecher products. That just makes me sing. Anyways, yay bread. #carbs5ever

8. Chia seed pudding.

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Oh my gosh I just finally tried this foodie trend recently and am hooked. My go-to is 2 tablespoons chia seeds + drop of vanilla extract + 3/4 cup almond milk overnight. Topped with fruit. Oh. goodness. Obsessed. So simple, delicious, texturally appealing, and fascinating to see those little babies expand! They’re also packed with protein, omega-3s and buckets of fiber (6g/tablespoon ~!!) An overall winner and a new breakfast favorite for me.

9. Summer.

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I keep hearing complaining that it’s been such a “rainy” summer – but honestly who cares if it storms a few hours here and there? I sure don’t. Maybe I’m used to rainy NYC, but seriously people, do you remember January in Wisconsin??? It was LITERALLY -40 degrees and no ones cars would start and everything closed and we all had to stay cooped up in our houses to avoid frost bite. So let’s enjoy this warmer weather while we’ve got it!

10. Botched on E!

I was going to share a bunch of puppy videos, but when I was unable to upload the videos, I thought I’d comment on how entertaining this new reality show is on E! It’s about fixing plastic surgery disasters. Obviously I love it. Also love that Rich Kids of Beverly Hills has been confirmed for a second season premiering in less than a month, and that the promo song is Fancy. Have a fancy week fellow friends and foodies !

Impromptu Summer Kale Salad with Cherries, Walnuts, Sweet Potatoes, & White Nectarines

Call me a basic bitch, but I really enjoy kale salads.

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I know, I know. So cliché. Just eatin’ ma raw superfoods! *insert hand flipping emoji girl here* But truth be told, there is something I really like about kale salads. And it’s honestly the only way I’ll eat kale. For some reason, when it’s cooked it makes me really uncomfortable. I feel like it’s tougher and gets slimy. This is just my opinion and if you disagree, I can respect your affection for cooked kale. But for me, it’s about the #raw the kale salad, which is not only trendy, but also tasty. [So trendy, in fact, while I was writing this post and eating my salad, it popped up on my mini-feed that my friend Caty blogged a kale salad simultaneously over on the east coast. you go Caty. You eat that kale].

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My favorite kale salad has kale, sunflower seeds, diced apples, sweet potato cubes, and goat cheese with a lemon vinaigrette. Today I didn’t have apples or goat cheese or lemons and am very low on sunflower seeds. So I did some improve with some seasonal goodies. And it turned out delicious! I’ll post my other kale salad recipe another time. But this one screams summer and I’m a huge fan of using seasonal produce so for now it’s goin up first.

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A lot of people like dried fruit in salads. Personally I’m all about the fresh fruit in salads. To me, it just feels more appropriate to have fresh fruit with my fresh vegetables and I think the fresh fruit adds juiceness and crunch that dried does not. That said, this recipe would also be great with dried cherries, especially in the winter. But as cherries are in season and happen to be among my top 3 favourite fruits, today they will go in my salad. Especially when it’s kale. The sweet/tart juicy cherries and nectarines just contrast nicely with the slightly bitter and tough kale. Speaking of fruit, I did a slightly sweeter play on my traditional lemon vinaigrette with orange juice. I dug it. I thought it worked nicely with the fresh fruit. Go fruit. Go vegetables. All hail kale. etc.

Ingredients: [serves one, can easily be doubled/tripled]

  • 2 cups raw kale
  • 1 white (or regular) nectarine
  • 1/3 cup cherries, pitted and diced
  • 1 small sweet potato
  • 3 tablespoons walnuts

For vinaigrette:

  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 tablespoon oil
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon poppyseeds
  • salt to taste

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cube sweet potato and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until cubes are tender. If you’re feeling lazy or impatient or hungry (which usually all occur simultaneously in my case), cube the sweet potato and microwave for about 4 minutes, until the cubes are tender.

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2. Dice nectarines, and de-pit and dice cherries.

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3. Wash and chop kale and place in a bowl. Add fruit and sweet potato cubes. Top with nuts.

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4. In a small dish, combine all ingredients for dressing and whisk with fork. Drizzle over your salad and enjoy a zillion delicious nutrients.

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Homemade (healthified) Reese’s Puffs-ish Cereal

The other day I had a ratchet craving for Reese’s Puffs cereal. Maybe it’s because I spent all day hosting kiddie’s birthday parties at a froyo shop, where I watch wee little ones pile on every fluorescent color and artificially flavored goodie onto their mountains of frozen yogurt, but lately I’ve been craving some #tbt nostogolia noms.

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You know what I mean. Things you don’t really eat anymore but still want once in a while. Like Fun-Dips. Frosted animal crackers. Lunchables and fruit snacks and Capri Suns. And dessert-y cereal like Capt’n Crunch and Kix and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Or in my most recent case, Reese’s Puffs. I don’t generally a lot of eat sugary cereal, though (more of a plain grain girl in the morning), so I didn’t have any Reese’s Puffs chillin in pantry. So instead of going to the store <5 minutes from my house to buy some like a normal human being, I was like “I’ll make my own!”

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…because that’s way less of a hassle. NOT. Whatever. Sometimes I don’t really bake crazy, weird, complicated, or bizarre stuff for any reason other than I enjoy the challenge. Baking has always been my hobby since I could hold a spoon, so I pretty much live to create unnecessary mini-projects for myself, like make homemade marshmallows and graham crackers, and apparently Reese’s Puffs.

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Lately I’ve been intrigued by homemade cereal anyways, so I figured this craving was a convenient excuse to give it a whirl. These babies are yes, tasty, and yes, far more work than purchasing a box of cereal at the store. But they’re healthier. And you can actually eat more than a bowl without feeling a sugar-glaze on your entire mouth/throat. Also, if you make these, you can say you fucking made Reese’s Puffs. Which sounds totally cool and/or like you REALLY need a life depending on who you speak to. I’d also like to publicly acknowledge that these kind of look like turds or weird rabbit food. I’m okay with that. Now let’s move on.

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In summary, these are a bit putsy, but yummy. I really just like them as a dry snack. Zipped in a baggie they’d go great in your backpack for a study boost, and/or in your apron as you work 3 back-to-back birthday parties at your local froyo shop. Not that I speak from experience. They make a great addition to yogurt, too. Puff puff. Crunch crunch. Nom nom.


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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10-20 minutes
Level: Easy (but putsy)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flours of your choice (I used a mix of whole-wheat and oat flour)
  • 1/2 cup almond flour (If you don’t have this, substitute with a higher-protein flour, like oat or bread. If you have none of these, all-purpose will suffice!)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • dash of salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup honey and/or maple syrup

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Place flours, cocoa powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda into a bowl and mix.

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3. Place peanut butter into a small bowl and microwave for 30-60 seconds until warm and melty and yummy. Pour honey and/or maple syrup into the microwave and give it a nice stir until you have a gooey, sticky peanut butter mixture.

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4. Place flour mixture into a food processor and pulse ingredients together. Meanwhile, slowly pour the peanut butter mixture throw the funnel-thing and a sticky dough should eventually form. You may need to add more honey and/or maple syrup. And/or melted peanut butter if that’s what you’re more into. You just need to make sure the dough is sticky-ish. The dough should be a little dry, but moist enough to shape and hold together.

5. Transfer to a bowl and mix if necessary. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll dough into tiny Reese’s-Puff sized balls.

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6. Place onto parchment paper. Pop into the oven for 10-14 minutes, until hard and crunchy and slightly lighter in color.

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7. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Pop into your mouth directly, or enjoy with milk of choice in a bowl. Goes well with bananas. And/or mixed into your regular breakfast cereal to #shakeitup. And yes, they do make your milk taste extra gooooood at the end ;-).

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Chochaffelie (Chocolate Chip Waffle Cookie)

I have an [extreme] obsession with waffles. There is something about those airy rectangles that create such a pleasurable experience for my mouth. To me, texture is a huge part of the enjoyment of food, and there is something truly magical about those airy, repetitive rectangles that never fail to please my mouth. Maybe it’s the maximum surface area for browning. I love browning. Food that’s a lil burnt is totally up my ally…especially when it’s something sweet’n’carby.

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If you want to get all food science-y, (too bad if you don’t, because I’m finna) this is called the Maillard Reaction, which is the reaction between amino acids and their reducing sugars that gives foods that distinct brown color and flavor. This is what happens to your toast, cake, the cripsy parts of your potatoes, your roasted veggies (yes, vegetables are carbohydrates!), caramel making, and that gorgeous golden crust on all your breads.

Long story short, the Maillard Reaction = protein + carbohydrate + heat = brown.

Bottom line of story: Maillard = delicious. 

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Now back to waffles. With all that surface area for Maillard to go down, there’s lots of crispy browning. And then there’s the glorious crunchy edges that contrast oh so beautifully with the fluffy inside.

I really, truly, love waffles. Toaster waffles are a staple in my life. Any place I’d put bread, I will other times put toaster waffles. Yes, your pb+j just got better. As did your sandwich. Just buy the whole wheat kind and they aren’t too sweet for even your saltiest creation. Trust me on this one. You will thank me later.

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Beyond the freezer, there are homemade waffles. If you got a few extra minutes they are always worth making, even just for the fragrance that will waft through your house all day long after. I recently got a new waffle iron because my old one went MIA when my mom moved, and I have been spending some quality time making waffles for myself in batches, freezing some, and eating them all week long.

But why just make waffles in a waffle iron? I thought to myself. Why not cookies? And thus, the chocaffelie was born. Just rolls off the tounge, doesn’t it? No. No it does not. It does taste good though.

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I had to try this recipe a few times before I got it right. The first time I just tried to bake regular cookie dough in the waffle iron. It didn’t work so great. It tasted nice, but was all sticky and crumbly. So I hybrid some various aspects of the cookie and the waffle and ended up with this. I also realized that for best results, smaller chocolate pieces are needed to prevent them from sticking to/burning on the waffle iron. Thus, I recommend you chop your chocolate chips. This would also be a wildly appropriate place for mini chips. But you know. Work with whatcha got.

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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Level: Easy

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ cup rolled oats
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 egg, separated
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar, divided in half
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup milk of choice
  • 1 cup chocolate chips, chopped (or 1 cup mini chips)

Directions:

1. Plug in your waffle iron and set it to a medium-high heat.

2. In a bowl, combine flour, oats, baking soda and salt. Mix.

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3. Separate egg into yolk and whites. Whip the whites up with an electric mixer. Add half of the granulated sugar (so about ⅛ cup or a few tablespoons) to encourage the stiff peaks to set. Set both aside.

if you look closely, i'm flipping a peace sign in that egg yolk reflection. i think i'm hilarious fyi.

if you look closely, i’m flipping a peace sign in that egg yolk reflection. i think i’m hilarious fyi.

4. In a large bowl, beat the butter, remaining white sugar, and all of the brown sugar together until nice and fluffy. This will take a minute or two. Next add the egg yolk  and vanilla and whip a little more until combine. Lick the whisk. Or at the very least, appreciate its beauty or try to prevent your dog from hopping up and stealing it from you.

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5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix gently until combined.

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6. Fold in the chocolate chip pieces or mini chips. Finally, very gently fold in the egg whites.

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7. You can place a spoonful of batter in each of the four corners of the waffle iron, or place a big glob right in the center, depending on what kind of end product you want.

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8.  Close the iron and allow the cookie to bake for about 2 minutes, or until brown and crispy and beautiful.

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9. Using a fork or knife, gently remove from iron and set on cooling rack to cool.

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10. Eat. And/or post to instagram and prepare to be bombarded with texts demanding you share. It’s up to you.

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An Honest Recap of my 5 Day “Primarily Plant-Based” Lifestyle Experiment

It’s not a secret that I have been a vegetarian for over 13 years now. Or maybe it is. I don’t know how well you know me.

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more to “plant based” than #justplants doe

As my choice to not eat meat is judged as hashly by some as my love for the Kardashians and Teen Mom, let me delight you with the story of my vegetarianism:

It went like this: I stopped eating meat around age 10 because I straight up didn’t like it. That was pretty much it. I got tired of explaining to friends’ parents why I didn’t want to eat the cheeseburgers they served for dinner or to the paraprofessionals why I had zero desire to touch those “chicken” nuggets on my tray.

hashtag what vegans eat

hashtag what vegans eat

So one day, I just started saying “Can I have something else please? I’m a vegetarian.” And then before I knew it, I actually kind of was a vegetarian. We didn’t eat too much meat in my household anyways (mostly poultry and fish, and in smaller amounts than most) and my parents didn’t see it as a problem, so vegetarianism has since turned into a pretty regular part of my lifestyle for so long that I can honestly never realistically see myself eating meat again. I genuinely just don’t even think about it.

oatmeal #5ever, dont forget the #cannedpumpkin #srslydoe

oatmeal #5ever, dont forget the #cannedpumpkin #srslydoe

Sure, I’ve cooked chicken and seared lamb chops and gutted shrimp in my food science class, but I didn’t want it. If I ever did crave a piece of chicken or a beef burger, I’d eat it. But in the past 13 years, it hasn’t happened. And through diet analysis projects I’ve done for nutrition classes, I have learned that I do eat a varied, balanced diet, and am not missing out on any vital nutrients whatsoever (yes, I eat plenty of protein, through the diet analysis I learned I almost eat double what I actually need and actually started cutting back my overly-consciencious efforts to “get enough”). So do I have any desire to eat meat? Nah. But if you do, that’s your thing. Go for it. I’m not going to stop you.

i bet you thought this looked good and didn't even realize it was #vegan #meeither

i bet you thought this looked good and didn’t even realize it was #vegan #meeither

I’ve always wanted to try out the vegan thing, even if just for a little while. A lot of people may ask themselves (or directly to me, some quiet rudely and judgmentally I might add), why I would try this.

Well, shit. I don’t know..a lot of reasons. For one just to see if I could do it. Secondly, to see if I felt any different. Third, it’s not a secret that  this country tends to consume quite a large amount of animal protein compared to others, and that trying other things might not be the worst idea. Lastly, as a way to be forced expand my culinary creativity and as an excuse to try new recipes. I tend to be a creature of habit and get into eating a lot of the same.

is bread a carb? #yes is it #vegan? #yes also, #delicious

is bread a carb? #yes is it #vegan? #yes also, #delicious

So for the first time since the birth of the Greek Yogurt mega-fad, I broke my 2-Fage-a-day habit and ate a primarily plant based diet for 5 days.

Notice how I didn’t straight up say “vegan,” because my intent wasn’t to be 100% pure vegan. Primarily Plant Based means the following (at least to me):

  • I did not purposely consume any diary or meat products (obviously meat, but also no direct cheese, eggs, milk, ice cream, etc, etc)
  • I did not freak out at small traces of things in products, ie, if there were “traces of egg whites” in my toaster waffles. You better believe that those babies still entered my body. This made it much more realistic to stick to, and far less restrictive.
not a relevant photo. but a cute one. #sleepynugget

not a relevant photo. but a cute one. #sleepynugget

So, last Monday through Friday, I gave this a whirl. And here’s what I experienced:

The Good:

  • I tried lots of new yummy things, including this lovely Black Rice Pudding stuff. I’m hooked and happy about it :)
  • I ate a boat load of creative oatmeal bowls. The key, I tell you is canned pumpkin. #sogood
  • I made lots of vegan tacos, with black beans, squash, avocado, black rice, salsa, and all sorts of other goodies.
  • I enjoyed a delicious vegan meal at Beans & Barley with some friends. [PSA..their marinated tofu is on another f**king level and everyone on earth needs to try it]. I also need to recreate it. ASAP.
  • I tried some other new things, like making my own cheese from cashews, and creating other nut butter sauces for pastas. Lots of new recipes from this experiment will be popping up on the blog in the coming weeks. hashtag creativity
this was rly good.

this was rly good.

How I Felt:

  • I didn’t feel deprived or hungry at all. I ate a lot, and a wide variety of foods. I even purchased some really delicious vegan cake slices from whole foods and found some diary-free cookies at Target and snacked on these chocolate muffins I made. Instead of my usual basically-ice-cream-flavored froyo, I forced myself to try some of the non-dairy berry sorbets and found out they were delicious. I also got some really good sorbet gelato one evening. I realized I have been neglecting fruity frozen things because I like classic ice cream so much. No longer. I will now be mixing it up more. I thought the whole desserts thing would be a huge road block, but it wasn’t that hard at all. I honestly thought the whole thing would be a lot harder.
  • I craved greek yogurt on the second day, and was going to quit my experiment and eat it because I don’t believe in denying your body it’s cravings, but because a crazy rain/hail storm prevented me from getting to the store I couldn’t get my paws on any, so I ate something else, and the craving passed, and I didn’t crave greek yogurt (or any dairy, actually) for the rest of the experiment.
  • I felt quite energized throughout the whole thing. Actually, moreso than usual, but I’m not going to make any miracle claims because this could have been placebo or a combination of many factors.
  • I genuinely, truly, did not miss dairy or eggs as much as I thought I would. And I’m a Wisconsin gal.
  • I realized that a lot of things I like are already vegan without trying to be. Like a lot of dark chocolates. Oreos are also vegan (which goes to show just how real that cream filling is….).Also Trader Joe’s soy cheese is actually delicious, but contains casein, and is therefore not vegan. #awkward
  • I felt like my dogs still looked just as cute this entire week as they usually do. Okay yes that was necessary to include.

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What Was Not So Great:

  • I feel like a completely vegan may get tricky hard to follow in a lot social situations. When cake is served, you better believe I’m finna want to eat it. I also felt that for me personally, it could also be tricky when to be a guest at parties or family functions. Which is why I don’t plan to stick to this long term (like I said, it was an experiment).
  • I was a bit less regular than normal (#tmi). Perhaps it’s all the time I’ve spent around pre-med people and/or working in hospitals, but I’m not shy about the fact that I have a long history of chronic IBS. And strangely, even though I was eating probably even more fiber than usual, I wasn’t quiet as good at my business as usual. I think my body is used to all the probiotics from all the yogurt I usually eat. Yes, I know probiotic pills exist. I also know that your body better processes all things directly from foods in place of from vitamins or supplements.
these are vegan. and phenomenal.

these are vegan. and phenomenal.

Final Thoughts:

Nope, I’m not vegan-ish this week. I stopped on Saturday because I was at a bachelorette party and wasn’t about to pass on cookie cake or mac’n’cheese being served. I’m not about that #denial life. I am eating less Greek Yogurt [as in, not a giant tub per day as pre-experiment] and am really into some of the new things I whipped up last week. Recipes soon, I tell ya, recipes soon. I also haven’t craved eggs at all since, but next time I do I will eat them. I’m also now also on a vegetarian taco kick, as well as a pasta and undying black rice kick. These are not bad things.

Overall, it was an interesting experiment. I know my choice to do this experiment was greeted by delight by some and some pretty rude comments by others, but I my reasons for the experiment were purely for personal growth and curiosity and I have zero regrets doing it.

At the end of the day, what people choose to put or not put in their mouths is actually a really strange topic, but it’s everyone’s personal choice, for better or for worse (I personally hope you make good choices and please #dontdoatkins if ily). It’s also important to point out that vegan is not synonymous with healthy. Like I mentioned above, Oreo’s are vegan. lol enough said.

So I end this far-too-long post with a glass of almond milk hot-chocolate and a puppy snuggled into my side, and ask you to be mindful of the following things: what you eat, what you read, what you believe, and to remember that you must moderate all things, including moderation. Cheers to all people who stopped reading 6 paragraphs or earlier ago; have a great week!