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Category Archives: On The Side

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.



Macro Plate + Miso/Tahini Dressing

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I have had, roughly estimating, around 150 million variations of tahini dressings. Whenever I go out to eat at a Veg restaurant, my standard order is some version of a macro plate (steamed veggies, brown rice, beans) and some version of a tahini dressing to smother it in. I think the reason I keep on ordering it when I’m out, is that I haven’t been able to master the tahini dressing on my own at home. The steamed veggies? Easy. Putting together the plate isn’t hard, I just never knew how to make the dressing. WELL. That is in the past, friends, because today I did it. I created my very own, original and totally authentic, tahini dressing.

First I put together my veggies, beans and grain: 1/4 of a steamed acorn squash,  3/4 cup of chickpeas, two huge handfuls of steamed kale and about a cup of cooked brown rice. I then drizzled the dressing (recipe below) all over it, and voila — a home made macro plate!

What You Need:

  • 3/4 cup of tahini
  • 1 tbsp white miso*
  • 1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp dill
  • 1/2 cup water

What You Do:

Place everything into a food processor and blend until well combined (about 10 seconds.)  The above made about 3-4 servings, so I stored it in an old small glass jar and popped it in the fridge for later (see: tomorrow) use.

*This was my first time ever cooking with miso paste. It took me a while to find it — I kept looking in the Asian aisles at my local grocery stores. WRONG! It’s kept in the refrigerated section, and this time, I found it at Whole Foods. I’m sure you could find it at any asian grocery store too.

Pumpkin Butter

Is pumpkin still “in”? Yes? No? Anyone?

According to Trader Joe’s it’s looooong gone baby and won’t be back until next year. Lucky for me, I have a Gristedes across the street and was able to snag a huge can. Phew. Yes, pumpkin might be more of a fall flavor than a winter one (HOW IS IT DECEMBER ALREADY?!) but I still love it, and will use any excuse (it’s cold out?) to make pumpkin treats.

I don’t know what inspired my sudden need to make pumpkin butter, but I’ve been seeing a lot of bloggers posting about different variations – apple and pumpkin namely – so I decided to take a stab. The good news is, it’s really easy. The better new is that it’s DELICIOUS. It’s a pumpkin dessert in a jar. I plan slathering this stuff on muffins, bread, pancakes and (most importantly) adding it into my oatmeal. This morning I added a tablespoon into my bowl of steel-cut oats and it was a hit. What’s not to love about pumpkin anything?!

What You Need (adapted from Smitten Kitchen):

  • 1 can pumpkin puree (29 oz — large can!)
  • 3/4 cup apple juice
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 C sugar (I cut back on the sugar from her original recipe as I didn’t want it super sweet.)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Juice of half a lemon

What To Do:

  • Combine everything but the lemon in a large saucepan and stir well.
  • Bring everything to a boil, cover (leave lid ajar), lower heat, and let simmer for 45 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • After 45 minutes, taste, and adjust spices to taste.
  • Remove from heat, add lemon, stir and let cool.
  • Pour into mason jar/old jam jar and keep refrigerated between uses.

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.


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.

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 Blueberry Jam

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I’ve been on a blueberry kick the past few weeks. Blame it on the farmer’s markets, but I suddenly want to take advantage of the fact that everywhere you turn there are fresh, sweet, blueberries waiting to be baked/cooked/jammed. Last Sunday, I made the blueberry pie that beats all other blueberry pies, and then, inspired by my friend Sarah’s most recent post, tried my hand at making jam. It was really, really easy, yielded a TON of jam (see: for the rest of ever), and is delicious! Brian helped himself to five (yes, five) slices of toast this morning topped with the jam and Earth Balance.

Before settling on one recipe, I Googled around and found that most recipes are all fairly similar: crushed fruits + lemon juice + some quantity of sugar + pectin. The sugar content of most of them was high (2 cups!), so I cut it down by half as the blueberries I had on hand were already pretty sweet. Here’s what I did.

What You Need:

4 cups, rinsed blueberries

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 teaspoons pectin

2 teaspoons calcium water (this comes in the box with the pectin, along with instructions on how to make the calcium water.)

What You Do:

Add the blueberries to a large pot. Crush them with a fork, or, if you want to be fancy, use a drinking class to crush everything up (which is what I did).  Add the lemon juice, calcium water, stir, and bring to a boil.

In a small separate bowl, add the sugar and pectin. Mix well.

Once the berry mixture is boiling, add in the sugar/pectin mix, and mix well for 1-2 minutes making sure all the pectin gets dissolved. Let stand for another minute, then remove from heat. Pour into clean jars, leave a little room at the top, and then seal tightly. Let sit on the counter for 12 hours (don’t open it!) then refrigerate. Sit back, relax, and revel in the fact that you are now a jam maker, you.