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Category Archives: Appeteasers

Homemade Banana Bread Larabars

YES. You read correct. THIS HAPPENED.

Larabars are one of my favorite things in the world. It’s snack food that’s healthy (no added sugar, salt, or anything that you can’t pronounce) and DELICIOUS. For a while I went through a serious Larabar phase – picking one up every evening after work, eating half of one, and then saving the other half for post yoga/run/wherever I was going. The only (tiny) problem with this obsession is that it’s expensive! While $2 a bar doesn’t sound like much, it definitely adds up, especially when you consider that they’re only made from a handful of ingredients. Enter “Do It Yourself” Stephanie.

My favorite bar is the Banana Bread flavor. This one consists of only three things: almonds, bananas, dates. Lucky for me, I had all of these on hand, so I gave it a whirl. The results were AWESOME. They tasted as good if not better than the original.  I plan on making way more of these, AND in  other flavors too (blueberry muffin? coconut? peanut butter and jelly?!)

What You Need – Makes Two Bars:

1/4 cup dried banana

1/3 cup raw almonds

1/4 cup chopped dates

Food processor

What You Do:

First, you have to dry out your bananas. Pick a small banana that’s over ripe (the more brown spots the better), slice it, lay the slices on a baking sheet with parchment paper, and place in the oven at 175 degrees for about 2.5 hours.

In the  meantime get your almonds ready. Process them in a food processor until well blended, but NOT a powder. You definitely want pieces! Remove from the food processor. When the ‘naners are done (see pic below), add them into the FP with the dates and process. This will take a while, but keep at it. Everything will come together into a thick paste.

Remove this mixture from the FP, and mix by hand with the almond crumbs in a small bowl. Mix everything really well, until it’s all sticking together easily.

This is when it gets (sort of, but not really), tricky. Lay a piece of saran wrap out on the counter and place the blob that you finished mixing, in the center. Fold over the saran wrap. You can use a rolling-pin, but I used my hands to flatten the date/almond/banana mush and eventually formed it into one long Larabar. It took a bit of prodding and sculpting, but I did it! I sliced it into two pieces and voila! Store these in saran wrap and enjoy them as snacks, pre work out, dessert, WHATEVER.

Enjoy!

A Word on Smoothies

I’ll keep this short and sweet because really, smoothies aren’t TOO hard to mess up. Liquid + frozen fruit + blend, done. But I did want to share some tips and things I’ve found yield the tastiest of frozen concoctions.

My secret ingredient? Raw spinach. Best part about it? You can’t even taste it! I swear. Blends completely into the smoothie and you get all the awesome health benefits (Fiber, protein, vitamin C, etc) without having to really eat it. Win win.

When making my smoothies here are the basic steps I follow:

  • Start with non dairy base – I always go for almond milk (Almond Breeze – Original flavor)
  • Next, handful of washed baby spinach  – see above
  • I always add a banana (frozen preferred, but room temp works too) into my smoothie. Makes it thick and creamy
  • I also usually add in flax seed — around a tablespoon or so. Again, you can’t taste it!
  • Next – FROZEN FRUIT. Frozen is key! It eliminates the need for ice cubes (which honestly just melt and make your smoothie taste watery) but still adds the frozen bits and thickness that makes smoothies, well….smoothies! Strawberries, blueberries, mango, raspberries – any combination will work.
  • Finally, the sweetener – sometimes I skip the sweetener completely if I’m using sweet fruit, but if my blend needs it, I’ll add in Stevia, agave or lately, honey.

The smoothie pictured here was made with 1/2 cup blueberries, 1 banana, 1 cup raw washed spinach, 1 tbsp flax, 2 cups almond milk and honey to taste.


Avocado Fries

I’m not big into fried foods. I don’t eat meat, so there goes the fried chicken and everything else I’d just rather have….unfried? But these. THESE. I think the fact that they’re made from avocado – one of the major loves of my life –  makes up for the fact that they have been deep-fried in a vat of oil. It cancels out, or something.

Anyway.

I can’t take the credit for these — my friend Aviva found the recipe online, and when she and Emma came over for dinner last night, we gave them a shot along with a totally delicious sweet potato + fig lasagna. (Jealous?)

Warning: DO NOT fry these in a wok! It gets WAY too hot! We learned the hard way, and by “hard way” I mean “started a mini fire in my kitchen when the boiling oil splashed all over the kitchen wall, floor, computer, body, iPhone and everything else within a five foot radius causing the three us to run from the kitchen shrieking “. Definitely use a dish a little more shallow. Trust me on this one.

We paired these with our favorite hot sauce, and, oil burns aside**, they came out great!

Quick Note: the batter for these contains egg. You could definitely make these vegan by frying them in something like this.

** See exhibit C.

Young Coconuts

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Young thai coconuts, how do I love thee? I could write a novel. Instead, I’ll keep it to a short blog post, cool? Cool.

I first got hooked on fresh coconut water at Bonobos, the raw, vegetarian food joint in New York. I had never tasted anything so completely delicious in my entire LIFE. Now, coconut water is everywhere — Zico, VitaCoco….but, honestly? I’m not a fan. It tastes like salty cardboard (not that I’ve ever tasted cardboard butttt….) and nothing at all like real coconut water!

Anyway. Nothing does it for me like the real water, poured straight from a young coconut. I can usually depend on Organic Avenue, Liquiteria, Pure Food and Wine, Juice Generation or Bonobos for fresh, (albeit really, really expensive) coconut water and again, it tastes nothing like the stuff from the shelf. Promise.

Because I don’t love spending $9 on a 16oz bottle of the stuff, I’ve been getting my fix recently by buying the coconuts (you can find them at Whole Foods and some health food stores), slicing them at home, and enjoying a tall glass all for about 4 bucks (tip: keep the coconut in the fridge before slicing….that way it’ll be nice and cold when you’re ready to drink.)

Here we are cutting one open this morning. Note, you’ll definitely need a huge chef’s knife and someone strong to give it a few good whacks. I definitely would have sliced my hand off had I done this on my own (thanks, Bri!) After we drank the water from it, we scooped out the meat with a spoon and snacked on that. The BEST start to a Sunday morning.


Delicata Squash with Fresh Herbs

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I love squash. One of my favorite (see: only) things about Winter is the abundance of different kinds of squash — acorn, butternut, spaghetti and….delicata?! I got two of these in my CSA share from last week and had NO idea what to do with them. I had never even SEEN them before. They looked like something you would decorate a Thanksgiving table with. Eat? I wasn’t too sure.

I decided to slice it, (skin on), coat in olive oil, salt and pepper and add on chopped sage and rosemary (picked fresh from my window garden!) I roasted it for about 45 minutes and the results were amazing. Buttery, sweet, filled with flavor, this is absolutely going to be my new squash of choice. If you haven’t already tried it, I encourage you go to get some and roast it up immediately.

What You Need

Two small delicata squash

two tablespoons chopped fresh herbs – I used rosemary and sage

1 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

What You Do:

Pre-heat oven to 375. Slice the squash in half lengthwise and using a spoon, scoop out the seeds from the center of each half. Once everything is scooped out, slice each half width-wise into 1 inch pieces. Drizzle olive oil on the squash, making sure each piece is covered and spread the pieces out on a baking sheet (first spray with cooking spray to prevent sticking!) Sprinkle chopped herbs, salt, and pepper on the squash, pop in the oven, and let roast for about 45 minutes. You’ll know the squash is done when you can easily poke with a knife. I would also recommend removing the baking sheet halfway through the baking time, giving it a good shake to loosen up any pieces that might have gotten stuck to the baking sheet, and then placing it back in the oven to finish roasting.

That’s all there is too it! Delicata squash. Do it. Now.

Cashew Oat Milk

I am so excited about this post. CASHEW MILK! Now, hold your horses. I can feel you getting grossed out and you haven’t even gotten past the first paragraph.  I know it’s hard to imagine making milk out of anything other than, well, cows, but this stuff is GOOD and easy. Trust.

I first got hooked on cashew milk thanks to BPC. Their 6th juice was my FAVORITE — it was a creamy, cinnammon-y, delicious party in my mouth. The ingredients were also pretty simple: cashews, water, cinnammon, agave, vanilla. That’s it! Not willing to wait for a cleanse to get my cashew milk fix, I took a stab at making my own and now I’m hooked. It took me a while to get the recipe exactly right — the first few times I made this sans oats and the result was a little too watery. The oats give it a creaminess that’s PERFECT.

What You Need:

  • 1 1/12cup raw cashews
  • 3 cups filtered water
  • 1 tbsp agave
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1  tsp cinnamon
  • nut milk bag (or fine mesh strainer)

What You Do:

  • Fill a jar up with cashews, cover with water, and seal. Let sit for at least 8 hours, overnight is preferred.
  • Drain the cashews and rinse well.
  • Place the oats into a food processor and pulse to a fine powder. Set aside.
  • Put the cashews in a food processor or blender, add 3 cups of water, add the oats and blend, blend, blend away (you want to pulverize the cashews as much as humanly possible.)
  • Next, place a nut milk bag (or fine mesh strainer/cheesecloth) over a jar and pour your cashew mixture in. Be sure to squeeze the bag when you’re done to get all the last liquid bits out of the leftover cashew mush.
  • Finally, add in the cinnamon and agave. Seal the bottle and give it a good shake. All done! Use it in cereal, to bake, or to dip cookies in!

Next up – almond milk!

 

Homemade Naan

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One of my favorite things about going out for Indian food is the Naan bread.  Granted, I usually eat so much of it that by the time the food comes around I want to die, but, come on! The stuff is slathered in garlic, how can you not want to eat it all?

I decided to take a stab at making my own, and lo and behold it was really easy! It requires minimal ingredients, and cooks super quickly. Most Naan recipes require time to let the dough rise, but this is a speedier version. Read on!

What You Need:

  • 1 cup bread flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2/3 cup water
  • extra flour for rolling

What You Do:

  • Mix the bread flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Add the water, stir and knead the bread for a few minutes.
  • Once the dough is smooth, divide into four balls.
  • Roll the balls out into 5-6 inch in diameter discs.
  • Spray your frying pan with olive oil, and place over low heat. Place one of the discs onto the pan, cook until golden.
  • Flip, cook until golden again.
  • Remove, devour.

The end.  If you’re in the mood for garlic naan, you can mince 2 cloves of garlic and add it to the frying pan with your cooking spray (maybe even add a tbsp of actual olive olive to the pan, in addition to the cooking spray.) Once the naan is golden on both sides, pour the remaining garlic from the pan straight onto the naan. You can NEVER get enough garlic. No such thing.