Bananas, Nut Butters and Cinnamon.

Nut Butters and bananas have a bad rap among some, but they actually have great health benefits. They also make a perfect combination of yummy-ness that is amplified by cinnamon.

  1. Bananas are believed by some to be high in carbs, sugar and calories; however they really don’t have more of these things than other fruits. Bananas are actually low on the glycemic-index, which means they are great for diabetics because they don’t cause a spike in blood sugar levels. Plus, they are an excellent source of potassium.
  2. Nut butters are not only high in protein and low in carbohydrates, but they also provide heart healthy fats. I know that choosy moms choose Jif, but their regular peanut butter has quite a bit of sugar and other unnecessary ingredients. There are a lot of different brands of peanut butter out there, so just be label conscious and find something that is best for you. Peanut butter isn’t the end-all be-all of nut butter though; almond butter is a great alternative. I also like Sunbutter, which isn’t technically a nut butter since it is made from sunflower seeds, but it still offers great benefits and it tastes wonderful.
  3. Cinnamon just makes everything taste better, well not everything, but a lot of things. It isn’t just a spice to use on cinnamon rolls, I sneak it into other dishes…I hate to give up my secret ingredient… but it adds a great flavor and depth to tomato based dishes. There are a surprising amount of benefits from using cinnamon. To name a few: regulates blood sugar, lowers LDL cholesterol, and it is anti-microbial/viral.

I’m going to share five easy-peasy recipes with you that are good for breakfasts, lunches and snacks…or dinner if you choose!

  • Quesadilla: Take tortillas and spread with peanut butter, sliced banana and sprinkle on some cinnamon. Then cook on a skillet with a dairy-free butter, coconut oil, or nothing.
  • Sandwich, cold or grilled: Take some bread and smear on some peanut butter, add sliced bananas and cinnamon and you are good to go. You could also grill it up like you would a grilled cheese.
  • Oatmeal: Cook oats, add in a tablespoon of nut butter (you can do more or less depending on your taste), slice up some bananas to put on top and sprinkle with cinnamon.
  • Smoothie: Blend together a frozen banana, a tablespoon of nut butter (or whatever amount you want), add in a cup (and again you can play with the amount of milk to get your desired consistency) of dairy free milk (almond, coconut, hemp, rice), and a teaspoon or so of cinnamon and blend together.
  • Banana bites: mix together a nut butter and cinnamon mixture and cut up a banana into half-inch slices. Spread the mixture onto one side of a banana slice and top that with another banana slice. You can eat them as is or stick them in the freezer for a nice cold treat that are easy to grab on the go.

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Do you have any ideas and/or recipes that have banana, nut butters and cinnamon? If so, please share πŸ™‚

What’s for Lunch? Turkey and Hummus Sandwich with Sweet Potato Fries

Over the weekend, my cousin made a dish of sweet potato fries that were so good! I had to ask her for the recipe so I could make them at home, and of course to share with all of you πŸ™‚ We made them with our lunch today, here is the recipe:

My Sweet Cousin’s Sweet Potato Fries:

  • Sweet Potatoes, we just used one for lunch.
  • Coconut Oil
  • Sea Salt

Slice the sweet potato(es) into uniform strips, toss them in melted coconut oil and sea salt. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes (more if the fries are larger). Flip the potatoes half-way through.

She also made this dipping sauce that was amazing too. It was just ketchup and spicy buffalo wing sauce mixed together. Since I love all things spicy, I can’t believe I’ve never thought of spicy ketchup! This dish was sweet, salty and spicy…perfect!

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Today has been a little drab and dreary, so it felt like a grilled sandwich kind of day. I got out some slices of Dave’s Killer Bread and coated one side of each slice with coconut oil (I used CO because I had it out for the fries, but you could use a dairy-free butter substitute, olive oil, or whatever you have on hand). On the opposites sides of the bread, I spread a layer of hummus, my personal favorite is roasted red pepper, I stuck a couple of slices of turkey on the hummus and made myself a sandwich, I tossed it on the warm skillet and cooked it up like a grilled cheese sandwich. It was warm, creamy, and delicious.

A little side note about turkey, if you are using lunch meat style turkey, try and look for a brand that DOES NOT have artificial preservatives, nitrites or nitrates. Applegate Farms makes a lunch meat style turkey, but it is more expensive, I’ve seen it cost anywhere from $5.99-$8.99 for 8-ounces, Trader Joe’s has a turkey that doesn’t have nitrites or nitrates and it runs about $2.99 for a 7-ounce package. A majority of my local grocery stores have deli sliced turkey that they cut for you but I have not found, or asked what their turkey contains besides turkey. I’ve heard a lot of great things about Boar’s Head, but alas, we don’t have that around here. I’m sure other parts of the world have more brand options. Just keep a watchful eye on your foods ingredient list πŸ™‚ Okay, I will now step off of my pedestal now.

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Vegan Chocolate Cake

I promised you a vegan chocolate cake, and that is what you’re gonna get! If you read my pasta salad post, then you know today was the first time I had cooked dairy free for other people, luckily it was just my close family…because it was a DISASTER!

I came across this site called Not Quite Nigella and saw this beautiful vegan chocolate cake. I just had to make this for all the chocolate lovers in my family. Did you know that I don’t like chocolate that much? Crazy huh! I’m a vanilla girl. Anyways, here is her vegan chocolate cake:

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Gorgeous right?

I threw my back out on Friday, and I am still pretty sore, so I was going to make my life easier and just take this recipe and make cupcakes rather than cake. When I started cooking though, I was determined to make a cake that was as stunning as the one on Not Quite Nigella’s site. Well something happened and my cake was too soft, I followed the recipe so I am not sure where I went wrong. The cake just collapsed. Also, the icing that I made never hardened, it stayed liquidy (is that a word?). I brought it to the party anyways, and you know what? Everyone ate it, and LIKED it! It was really rich, moist, and ultra chocolaty and if I hadn’t told everyone it was vegan, they would have never known… I will be trying this recipe again! Are you ready to see MY cake?……..

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By the end of the party, there was only a little left!

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Here is some happy customers.

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An Original Recipe by Not Quite Nigella

  • 1.5 cups plain or all purpose flour
  • 1.5 cups brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa, sifted
  • 1.5 teaspoons bi carbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1/2 cup mild flavoured vegetable oil (eg. canola oil)
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 75g/2.5oz dark chocolate (dairy free) finely chopped

Chocolate syrup or icing

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup icing or confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa
  • 100g/3.5ozs dark chocolate, roughly chopped

1. Line a 20cm round baking tin with parchment and preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix together. In a jug mix the water, oil, vinegar and vanilla and then add to dry ingredients. Stir in chocolate and and then pour into the prepared tin. Bake for 25-30 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

2. While it is baking, prepare the syrup. Heat the water, icing or confectioners sugar and cocoa until boiling and syrup – this may take a few minutes but you do want this syrupy. When thick add the chocolate and then whisk to remove any lumps and melt the chocolate.

3. When the cake is ready, take out of the oven and leaving it in the tin, poke tiny holes with a skewer. While it is still warm, gently pour the syrup over the cake and allow to cool completely before taking it out of the tin. Alternatively, if you allow this to cool and partially set, it takes on the consistency of icing and you can spread it out over the top which is what I did (who knew that inattentiveness would pay off? ;) ).

Visit her site at:
http://www.notquitenigella.com/2012/03/13/vegan-chocolate-cake-egg-dairy-free/

Happy Baking!

Pasta Salad

Today I made a pasta salad to bring along to a family birthday party. It was the second time in my life making it; I love pasta salad, so I am not quite sure why I’ve only made it TWICE.

Not only am I an amateur at pasta salad making, but today was the first time I have ever made dairy free food for other people! I was eyeballing everyone’s plates to make sure they were trying it, and most importantly eating it…and they were! Are you ready for the recipe?

Fresh Veggie Pasta Salad

  • Whole wheat rotini (or your noodle of choice). I used a whole 13.5oz box.
  • One large zucchini, sliced.
  • One yellow pepper, sliced.
  • One red pepper, sliced.
  • One box (carton) of grape tomatoes, halved.
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette. I used 6 oz. of Open Nature’s Balsamic Vinaigrette. and 4 oz. of Annie’s Balsamic Vinaigrette.

I cooked the noodles until they were al dente, drained the hot water and cooled the noodles down with cold water and drained again. Then I poured in the 4 ounces of Annie’s dressing and 4 ounces of the Open Nature dressing and stuck the noodles in the fridge. I then washed my and cut my veggies, when I was done chopping each veggie I tossed them into a bowl of about 2 ounces of the Open Nature dressing so that they could marinate a little. When I was done I dumped the contents of the bowl into the bowl of pasta, and tossed it all together. Bellissimo!

 

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Happy Cooking!

Oh, and I did make the vegan chocolate cake too. You’re in for a surprise πŸ˜‰

What’s for Dinner? Cheese-less Nachos

When your on a budget it can be difficult to buy all the special ingredients needed to make dairy-free versions of dishes. So, sometimes its just easier to take a meal that you all love and omit the cheese or whatever the offending ingredient may be. Growing up we often had a Friday pizza night that we all looked forward to, in fact my parents still do it πŸ™‚ But when I flew the coop instead of Friday pizza we somehow started a Thursday nacho and movie night, so every (well, almost) Thursday we would make a big plate of Nachos and veg-out on the couch while watching funny movies.

I’m sad to say that it had been almost two years since we partook in the tradition, but tonight the dry-spell came to an end! I made a simple nacho with: corn chips, refried beans, seasoned chopped chicken breast, diced avocado and a lot of fire roasted salsa. The ingredients were so flavorful that I didn’t miss the globs of gooey cheese at all. For those of you that want a dish that is lower in carbs, it would be really yummy to use lettuce leaves to scoop up your toppings instead of chips.

Remember, simple is sometime better πŸ™‚

Oh, and make sure to come back Sunday, I will be posting a recipe for a vegan chocolate cake, yum-o!

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What’s for Dinner? Spaghetti with Garbanzo and Avocado Sauce.

Who doesn’t love a bowl of pasta? I know I sure do! Growing up, I think I might have been a carb addict; who can blame me though, right? I LOVED eating Fettuccine Alfredo or Macaroni and Cheese with peas, GASP! I have yet to make a dairy-free version of these foods…but I will soon.

Tonight’s dinner was a bit of an experiment. There’s nothing more exhilarating than throwing together a healthy meal, well maybe winning the lottery is…but that’s besides the point πŸ˜‰ I heated up a can of garbanzo beans until they were tender, I then drained the liquid and put the beans in my blender (I had to add water, so you could save the liquid from the beans for this purpose). Then I started boiling 3 servings of whole wheat spaghetti noodles (the type of noodle used is neither here nor there).

I put the rest of the ingredients into the blender and pulsed the mixture until it was a creamy consistency. When it was done I tossed the sauce with the noodles and gave my toddler a taste. He gobbled it up and said, “Mommy, more please!” The sauce doesn’t have an overly defined flavor, so I encourage you to experiment! I played around with my portion of sauce and added extra garlic and some Tapatio for a kick.

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Spaghetti with Garbanzo and Avocado Sauce:

  • Noodle of your choice
  • One can of Garbanzo beans
  • One Avocado
  • Half of a Lime (Squeezed)
  • Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 Tbsp garlic (cloves, minced, powdered- whatever you have on hand)
  • 1/4 cup of water or liquid from beans

Ideas for Extras:

  • More GARLIC!
  • Hot Sauce
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Cilantro

 

Don’t Forget Desert! I whipped up one of our go-to smoothies that satisfies our after dinner craving for sweets.

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie:

  • Two frozen bananas
  • Tbsp of Natural PB
  • 1/2 cup of Almond Milk (I would start out with 1/4 cup and add more in until you get your desired consistency)

Blend together and enjoy your sweet treat πŸ™‚

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Theme Bath Thursday: Superhero Edition!

My fellow mommy friend and blogger over at Our Little Funhouse comes up with some of the most creative ideas that I’ve ever seen! She started doing “Theme Bath Thursday” for her two little toddlers and I finally got around to doing our own version today πŸ™‚ My toddler was so ecstatic! He loves superheros, and this just made bath time so much more enjoyable for the both of us.

To create this Superhero theme, I took some construction paper that we had lying around and cut it into the shapes of buildings and used a white colored pencil to draw in the detail. I also cut out shapes to assemble our little superhero that is defending bath tub city. I found the superhero toys in my little guys toy box, and I wrote on the bath tub wall with Crayola Bathtub Crayons that we had on-hand as well.

Over at Our Little Funhouse they use a couple of products to make bath time more fun that I didn’t have, so off to the store we went. I purchased Crayola Color Bath Dropz and Mr. Bubble Foam Soap to make the theme complete.

Here is our Superhero bath:

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He’s having a blast!

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And clean up was so easy.

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I had so much fun doing this, and the possibility of themes is endless!

Until next time πŸ™‚