PB&F

Move over peanut butter and jelly, cause I know a peanut butter pairing that’s better…fruit!

6 good reasons why whole fruit is better than jelly: 

  1. Taste.  Fresh fruit has WAY more flavor than any jelly or jam. Period.  ESPECIALLY right now in the summer when fresh berries, peaches, cherries, plums, etc are all in season.  But don’t think that PB&F is only a summer dish–it’s great with apples and bananas too!FullSizeRender-2
  2. Fiber.  Essentially all of a fruit’s fiber is lost during the process of making fruit jellies and jams.  Fiber is important in slowing digestion and preventing blood sugar spikes. Even the “just fruit” varieties contain little fiber.  FYI, “just fruit” jams are your best bet nutritionally in the jelly aisle because they usually contain less added sugar, which brings me to my third point:
  3. Added sugar. Fruit naturally has a lot of sugar, which is fine because it also naturally has a lot of fiber to help slow down the digestion of that sugar to prevent blood sugar spikes (see above). Jelly and jams, however, have sugar added to them as a way to not only enhance fruits’ sweetness but also as a preservative.  Jelly can last in the fridge a long time because of its added sugar.
  4. Texture.  Adding cut up fruit to your sandwich adds multiple different textures that help mix up that tired PB&J to make it a new and exciting meal.  Switching the type of fruit you use will not only change the flavor but the texture of the sandwich as well.  Swapping out jelly flavors doesn’t do that.
  5. Appearance. PB&F looks cooler than PB&J…on Instagram and in real life.  We eat with our eyes first, so looks do matter. I like to have my PB&F as an open-faced sandwich aka PB&F toast.
  6. Accounting.  Jelly doesn’t count toward your daily fruit recommendation.  Fruit (obviously) does, making PB&Fs an easy way to add more fruit to your diet.  You can get about 1/2 cup of fruit on your PB&F.  Adults aged 19-30 should aim for about 2 cups of fruit a day.   After 30, females need less, about 1.5 cups/day. Head to MyPlate for more information on what 2 cups of fruit looks like and the recommendations for other age groups.

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There’s no recipe for this post, just a method (and it’s one you already know): Take a piece of WHOLE GRAIN bread/bagel/tortilla/etc, toast it if you’d like, and spread on some nut butter** (about a tablespoon per slice of bread).  Next cut up your choice of fruit, or a combination of fruits, and place on top.  For an extra little something sprinkle on cinnamon. Add another piece of bread with nut butter on top to make a sandwich or, my favorite way, keep it as an open-faced sandwich. Enjoy 🙂

**Quick note about the nut butter: Chose whatever kind you like: peanut butter, almond, sunflower, pistachio, cashew….just make sure its ingredient list does not contain anything besides the nut and salt. Anything else and you don’t want it. The NY Times just had an article comparing which foods nutrition professionals believe are healthy and which foods Americans think are healthy…spoiler alert: Everyone disagrees!  Part of the reason for this disagreement is relevant to our discussion today.  On the list, nutrition professionals and the general public both labeled peanut butter as a healthy food.  It is.  But, peanut butter with added sugar and partially hydrogenated oil is not.  In the article, however, this distinction is not made. The same is true with many other foods on the list.  How a food is prepared matters.  All peanut butters are not equal in taste, nutrition, or appearance.  Choice is great, but can be confusing when following a blanket statement like “peanut butter is healthy.”  So, to clarify, I would consider peanut butter that contains ONLY peanuts, and maybe some salt, a “healthy” food to eat frequently.

Ugh. Leftovers

Leftovers are the WORST–at least that’s what I used to think!  Leftovers and I became friends when I had to start buying my own food and cooking for myself.  What caused this 180° turn around?  Realizing that leftovers offer pre-cooked quick ingredient add ins to create entirely new, DELICIOUS dishes changed my mind!

For example, leftover peanut butter frosting and chocolate ganache from a birthday cake I made just became peanut butter and chocolate ganache sandwich cookies in less than a half an hour!

Head over my leftovers recipe index for ideas on how to use up your leftovers!  But first, some leftover transformation tips:

TIPS TO TRANSFORM LEFTOVERS

1. Plan ahead
I find that a number of dishes like soups, stews, quinoa salads, lasagna, rice dishes, etc actually taste better the second day.  Plan to make extra of these and store in single serving containers for a quick lunch.  Alternatively, freeze leftovers for a later meal.

2. It doesn’t have to be a perfect match
Substitute ingredients for things you already have that are really similar. You have leftover cream cheese frosting and the recipe calls for cream cheese?  Omit the sugar in your recipe and you’re probably all set.

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Meat & Potatoes: leftover MVPs

3. Take advantage of being a “meat and potatoes” kinda person
Meat and potatoes offer a gazillion options for reuse in new recipes the next day. Mashed potatoes make a perfect topping for Shepard’s pie or simply pan fry them to make potato pancakes.  Leftover roasted, baked, or even lightly fried potatoes can be used in a hash the next day.  Leftover meat can be used in fried rice, stir fry, sandwiches, enchiladas, salads, omelets, casseroles…the list goes on and on.  You can find specific recipe ideas here.

4. “Everything but the kitchen sink recipes”= Whatever you have in your fridge
When a recipe calls for a variety of different vegetables or meats it is almost always okay to omit things you don’t like or have and/or substitute for things you do have.

Southwest Quinoa Salad
Kitchen sink recipes = just put in whatever you’ve got

5. Use the oven or stovetop instead of the microwave
Half the battle with leftovers is texture.  Reheating leftovers with the microwave is quick and easy but sometimes the final product has a mushy, gross texture.  An oven or stovetop will allow the food to heat, but not get mushy.  Other times, reheating causes food to dry out.  If this is the case, try adding extra stock or fat (don’t go crazy with the oil por favor!) while reheating.  If you are using the microwave, try not to over-reheat by opting for a shorter cook period and by frequently checking to see if the dish is properly reheated.  This is easier when reheating individual portions.  The other half of the battle is taste, which brings us to my final tip:

6. When something is bland the second time around, add some flavor!
If the dish tends to become bland when it is reheated, add some more of the seasoning that you originally used when making the dish.  Just salt and pepper can go a long way.

 

 

Morning Muffins

{skip the foreplay and head straight to the recipe}

My roommate is crazy.  Now, when I say crazy, I really just mean completely different from myself.  My approach to morning time is to sleep to the absolute last possible minute and not talk until a sufficient amount of time has passed and coffee has been drunk.  My roommate, however, is the definition of a morning person.  She is out of the door by 5am to go workout before work.  She doesn’t get up at 5, she leaves at 5.  Her alarm is set in the 4’s of the morning.  THE 4’S! On the reg.  THE 4’S! The sun isn’t up yet, but she is.  And she LOVES it.  I believe her to be insane and think she should probably talk to someone.
Banana Morning Muffins Now, understandably, my roommate likes to eat on the go or have a breakfast packed so she doesn’t have to come back home in between the gym and going to work.  Her go-to for a packed breakfast was overnight oats.  Lately, though, she has been complaining of being tired of oatmeal.  Here is something I understand and for which I have a solution.  I am the queen of quick and on-the-go breakfasts.  Why take the time to make and eat breakfast at the kitchen table every morning when that time could be spent still sleeping??  So this one is for you, my crazy, morning-loving roommate.  Added bonus?  These muffins are vegan, gluten free, ridiculously healthy, and, of course, DELICIOUS!

Banana Morning Muffins Recipe

  • Servings: 12 muffins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:
1 tablespoon chia seeds
3 tablespoons water
3 super ripe bananas (I’m talking brown bananas with yellow spots kind of ripe!)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauceIMG_2274
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups oat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4+ 2 tablespoons cup chopped toasted nuts of your choice (divided)
3 tablespoons oats (make sure they are gluten free oats if that is of concern)
1 tsp honey

Directions:
1. In a small bowl whisk together the chia seed and water to create a binding gel (this will serve to replace eggs in this recipe).  Whisk vigorously for a minute before putting the bowl in the fridge.
2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin tins with liners, parchment paper, or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
3. Sift together oat flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and 1/4 cup of toasted nuts.
4. In a separate bowl, peel and mash the banana.  Then beat using an electric mixer or your strong arm and a fork until the banana releases its sugars and is a liquid-ish mush.  Mix in applesauce and vanilla extract.
5. Take the chia and water gel mixture out of the refrigerator and whisk for another minute before adding to the banana mixture.
6.  Gradually add the flour mixture to the banana mixture, mixing in between additions.
7. Scoop batter into prepared muffin tins with a 1/4 cup measure.
8.  In a new bowl mix together the rest of the toasted nuts, oats, and honey to make a crumble.  Top each muffin with the crumble mixture.
9. Bake for 25-30 minutes until they become golden brown and pull away from the edge of the muffin tin.  A knife/toothpick will come out almost clean when inserted. To avoid mushy-bottomed muffin remove from the muffin tins to cool.  Enjoy!  They’re particularly tasty with some nut butter!

Inspired by Auntie Fee: LPT Salad

{skip the foreplay and head straight to the recipe}

My friend and I spent this afternoon watching Auntie Fee’s cooking videos on YouTube.  If you haven’t seen Auntie Fee in action, take a look:

She was recently featured in a segment on Jimmy Kimmel as well.   Auntie Fee swears (repeatedly) that parsley will make anything taste good, which got me thinking that maybe I should make something with parsley for dinner. The result is this Lentil Parsley Tomato Salad.

Now, forget Auntie Fee’s parsley and let’s just chat about how great lentils are for a second:  Considered a legume (think peas, beans, some nuts), lentils give you a lot of bang for your buck.  Just a 1/4 cup (uncooked) of lentils packs 8 grams of protein, 0 grams of fat, and 9 grams of fiber into less than 100 kcals AND will cost only about $0.10!  Tender and with a slightly nutty flavor, lentils will absorb most any flavor you want to pair them with making them perfect for salads, soups, mashed into dips, or used as an alternative to rice or potatoes.  Alone, lentils can be kind of bland, but cook in chicken stock–or I like to add some wine–season with salt and pepper, and you’ve got yourself a great sidekick to any meal!

I used green lentils but you could use brown.  I wouldn’t use red lentils, though, because they tend to get mushy when they’re cooked.  Make sure you sift through the lentils to ensure that there aren’t any small pebbles and you want to wash the lentils to remove excess grit.  Like with rice, you use a 1:2 lentil to liquid ratio to boil the lentils.  Which type of liquid you use to cook the lentils is really flexible, but using a chicken or vegetable stock in addition to water really helps to add some flavor.  I used a combination of chicken stock, red wine, and water to cook my lentils tonight.

The process of cooking lentils is the same as rice: bring to boil and then reduce to medium heat and let cook for 35-40 minutes.  While the lentils are cooking, chop parsley (use fresh, the cost will balance out because the lentils are cheap and it’ll taste so much better), a red onion, a couple of cloves of garlic, and tomatoes (I just sliced cherry tomatoes in half).  Quickly rinse the black eyed peas and white northern beans to remove all of the gross can juice (also cheap items btw).  Add everything to a large bowl (to save some dishes, go ahead and mix everything in the serving bowl).  Then just add in the apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, and the lentils when they are done cooking.  When they’re done, the lentils will be soft but will still hold their shape, and almost all of the liquid will be gone.  Just drain and discard any excess liquid.

This made a lot of salad because I just used a full can or bag of everything, but it will last for a while in the fridge and I bet it will only get tastier as it sits with the dressing.  It can be served hot or cold.  Maybe Auntie Fee has a future in the food show business after all if she’s inspiring dishes like this!

LPT Salad

  • Servings: 16
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:
1 lb bag of green or brown lentils, sorted and washed
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup red wine
4 1/2 cups water
1 can great northern beans, drained and rinsed throughly
1 can black eyed peas, drained and rinsed throughly
1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 small-medium red onion, diced
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, minced (or more)
1/2 tsp salt (more or less to taste)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper (again, more or less to taste)
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
3 Tbs olive oil

Directions:
1. Add lentils, water, chicken/vegetable stock, and wine to a large pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook until the lentils are soft but still hold their shape and almost all of the liquid has been absorbed.  This will take about 35-40 minutes.
2. While the lentils cook, combine the rest of the ingredients into a large bowl.
3. Add the cooked lentils (draining and discarding any remaining liquid), and mix.  Adjust salt and pepper to taste.  The salad can be served hot or cold.  Enjoy!