Ok, this one may be a little cliche. We’ve long since passed the point where people figured out how to make their own Larabars…got it.
But (according to my husband, at least) these are the best he’s had, homemade or no. As a guy who, working construction, subsists on a diet of trail mix, larabars, and Justin’s nut butter packs…I think I’ll take that as a compliment.
Soooo if you could just stop whatever it is you’re doing right this minute and get your oven ready for a little Valentine’s love, that’d be great.
I had a snow day yesterday (and another one today, in fact) thanks to Snowmageddon. Seriously, I grew up just an hour west of here and we have *never* had a winter like this. I mean, sure, every couple of years we’d get a big snowstorm…but it was A snowstorm…not A BAZILLION snow storms. We’d get single digit temperatures…but not single digit temperatures for days on end. Whatever. Anyway. Snow day.
I had a few comments on my avocado brownies expressing some…concern…that they didn’t come out as good as they should have. I’ve been blogging long enough to realize that this is just going to happen from time to time, and I do take a genuine interest in failed attempts at my recipes, or just things people don’t like about them that I can address with stuff I make down the road. As far as the brownies are concerned, some folks didn’t like the texture (which many others claim to love, so not sure what to do there), thought they weren’t sweet enough (to which I say just add more honey or use pre-sweetened baking chocolate), or…and I guess this was just one but it stuck with me…that the taste of eggs came through a little too much. So, that was a noodle scratcher. Thankfully I had a whole day to waste…and it only took a couple of tries to get a brownie that is not only egg-free, but that is probably the most dense, fudgey, rich chocolaty thing I’ve ever made. Score.
As far as substitutions go, I use sunflower seed butter when I want that “peanutty” flavor, but any kind of nut butter will do. For a more neutral flavor, I love cashew butter…it’s great for a smooth, almost yellow cake-like taste. For a nut and seed free option, coconut manna is great–I’ve used it in past brownie recipes and it provides a subtle coconut flavor that gives a little extra sweetness without any more sugar. Also, if you don’t have/don’t want to use avocados, one ripe banana will do the job.
For those of you who may be skeptical, I admit collards don’t have the best reputation. I mean, generally they come out straight up *boiled*…goopy, bland, and just plain nasty. These are not like that. Sauteeing them with all this simple goodness not only lets the flavor permeate and keep the texture right where it should be, but actually keeps too many of the oh-so-lovely nutrients in these deep green leaves from leaching out and getting thrown away. Whoever thought it was ok to boil leafy greens…ew. Just ew.
My winter break was almost seven weeks long. Seriously. I have never…in my LIFE…had this much time off to do absolutely nothing. Maybe it would be OK if I was like all of my classmates and took a trip somewhere? Or if I was capable of sleeping 14 hours a day? Except no.
The house is cleaner than it’s been or will be for decades. I’ve put in a bazillion hours of MCAT prep. I volunteered at the hospital. The pups have gotten more walking in the last 6 weeks than they had all last year. Ate a few too many of those chocolate covered acai berries (the ones from Costco…dangerous). Too much…*way* too much…has been spent at Target. I don’t know what else to do, you guys.
Class starts next week and it’s the home stretch…4 more months of pre-med and then…well, I’ll let you know. Maybe. Lots of *life plans* in the works and I’m honestly not necessarily sure how it’s going to pan out. Not gonna jinx it. Nope nope. I can tell you, though, that we will be…moving…again. Since I left college I have moved through 3 different states, 1 year-long deployment to Iraq, 5 different homes. Six if you count my CHU in Iraq but I really don’t think that counts. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone unless you have some weird desire to live in a big tin box and sleep on a plastic mattress that smells like mothballs. Blech.
Enough of that…how about I make you dinner? Following my weird BBQ fetish, I’ve been doing a lot of Asian cooking lately. And by that I mean I’ve been putting fish sauce and coconut aminos in *everything.* I recommend it.
This dish can be made meatless or with chicken, shrimp, beef, pork…or all of the above. We like options, don’t we?
I don’t know what it is but I’ve had this wicked craving for barbecue for the last few weeks. Which is totally weird because…at least I’m pretty sure…that’s summer food and we just got snowed on for the zillionth time the other day. I had a 7am shift at the hospital, too…meaning I got to drive down St. Paul while it was still dark, negative degrees out, and before anything had been plowed or salted. And, sorry Maryland drivers…but you’re not very good at driving even when it’s sunny and 75. Not cool.
So anyway, the thing about the sauce. It’s totally a cop-out to waste a whole post on a sauce. I’m fully aware. But for realsies I love this sauce. It also happens to be sugar-free, which is always a good thing, but is kinda important since we’re on the 21DSD at the moment. Notice I didn’t add an optional tablespoon of honey or molasses though…and that’s because this stuff is crazy good without it. On anything…and I mean anything, like steaks, eggs or even on veggies or as a dipping sauce for (Paleo) chicken nuggets. Spoiler alert…I made a little something with this stuff I’m going to share tomorrow that Ross and I have been inhaling all day. Lovely mental image, I’m sure, but I think you’ll be OK with it
I made some health-related New Years Resolutions this year. Hey, even on a Paleo diet it’s easy to fall into a rut when you get a little too cozy with all the junk food that seems like a good idea just because it’s “Paleo.” Live and learn.
The theme of the dietary stuff is to get more veggies. It’s pretty simple, and if ANY diet can agree on anything it’s that we could always get more veggies. So my biggest resolution is to include something green at every meal…I’m also committing to at least one meatless meal a week. Too easy.
Ross and I are also doing a 21DSD this month. Which means I’m going to be really cranky for the next week, then totally high on life. I love Diane’s program…more than anything it’s a great wakeup call. Unlike a generic Paleo challenge or even a Whole30, it hits you hard by cutting out anything that contains sugar…to include fruit sugar…and get your system back on track. I feel like other challenges–while great and highly effective for folks new and/or skeptical of the whole Paleo thing–offer a little too much room for error since you’re allowed fruit and starch. And I also like that the sugar detox is only 21 days…that extra week makes a difference
So here’s a quick side I threw together. I made an ass-ton, since I’ve had this weird craving for summery food even though it’s 7 degrees outside. It’s great for any meal of the day, too…try it with eggs in the morning, on a salad for lunch, and just as-is for dinner and I’ve met my green veggie goal for the day. Another bonus? I didn’t have to make home-made mayo. I love it SO much but it’s more work than I have energy for at the moment. And that’s probably because I’m balls deep in my sugar detox hangover. Yeesh.
Yeah, I know. I didn’t realize you could roast fruit, either. Well, not until the foodie blogosphere started blowing up with roasted strawberries on, in, and around all kinds of stuff. Crazy, but I like it.
I love making my own jam since it’s really the only way to get any kind of jam or jelly without all the additives. Kinda sad, since all it is is mashed up fruit and you’d think it would be easier than having to find the ONE health food store in the state that carries something like that. Don’t worry. This is way easier. The roasting of the strawberries gives it a lovely, almost smokey flavor, too. So devilish.
If you want to sweeten it up a bit, feel free to add a tablespoon or two of honey. This stores really well in the fridge–I don’t “formally” can mine so it only lasts two weeks or so. You can absolutely can it, or do what I do and just keep it in an airtight container.
As soon as I saw this recipe pop up in my Facebook feed, I hopped on the bandwagon. I mean, who DOESN’T need something wholesome to eat in between Halloween candy binges? (Oh, Reese’s Pumpkins…you are my nemises…) Buuuuuut when I went shopping my TJ’s didn’t have any beets or sunflower seeds (seriously, WTF?), so I kinda just grabbed anything and everything I thought would taste good together.
Here’s my own riff on this salad, and it’s pretty damn good. Filling, so healthy it hurts, and a great way to change up my daily Big Ass Salad. I’ve had this every single day for lunch this week with some chicken and it’s so much more fun than spinach and tomato. Plus, you know, it’s got superfoods in it. Kale and cabbage and apple cider vinegar, OH MY!
Oh yeah, you read right. Ross and I had a VEGAN dinner last night. It was also Paleo…which I tend to get excited about since there is so little that happens to be Vegan AND Paleo AND is substantial enough to make a meal. Seriously, you can’t give me a salad with no meat and call it a meal. You just can’t. So, no, this isn’t a salad.
I do have an strange interest in Vegan cooking despite my taste for flesh. I honestly have a lot of respect for the Vegan movement–like Paleo, Veganism ultimately seeks to better the health of our population with good, clean food and do away with nasty ass farming practices and pumping our food sources full of hormones and antibiotics and stuff. The more militant members of the movement get a little weird, sure, but so do the militant members of the Paleosphere. A healthy diet shouldn’t be intimidating or make us feel like they’re bad people for not buying in. I can be an asshole sometimes, I know, but I hate it when bloggers and spokespeople get condescending–like I’m not truly Paleo if I make Paleo desserts…or include dairy sometimes…or because I don’t follow so-and-so’s definition of Paleo to a tee. Um, yeah. Bite me.
What I do like about Veganism is the focus on the benefits of a plant-based diet. Not all that soy-based crapola, but the emphasis on quality produce and sources of naturally occurring nutrients. Lately, I’ve been working on making my own diet more plant-based…I think one thing we can all do to improve our health is to get more veggies. Animal protein is an essential part of our diet, but a lot of folks, even those who have been Paleo for a long time, believe Paleo is all about eating massive quantities of meat and fat and very little of anything else. I like my steak and bacon and all that as much as the next gal, but seriously. Filling my plate with produce and supplementing with animal protein is much more effective. And colorful. You need veggies and other plant matter to get a number of vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants and high-quality carbs that your body can access for quick fuel. For me, thinking less 50/50 animals to plants and more 35/65, perhaps.
So this cheezey spaghetti. I was blown away at how good it was–the sauce tastes like Velveeta. It’ll undoubtedly make an appearance again soon. Like, on a cheeseburger. Or with bacon. Oh, geez, this would make a hell of an eggs Benedict. My quality of life just got soooo much better.
Who said salad had to be boring? Well…me. Trust me, it took a LONG time to get used to eating so much salad after I went Paleo–a lot of the time it’s just the easiest option whether you’re packing your lunch or just trying to order something at a restaurant. But its not the salad part that gives people fits, it’s the lack of good dressing. Oil and vinegar gets real old, real quick.
This dressing is good for more than salads, though. I use it on sweet potato fries, on top of chicken and fish, and I made a killer casserole with it that I’ll be sharing soon. There’s a reason we all love the original Ranch dressing, just not all the nasty chemicals, additives, seed oils, and dairy. Clearly I’ll be keeping this stuff around!