Banana Oat Chia Muffins

Long weekend means a road trip up the California coast to spend time with friends on the cliffs of Cambria. We’re taking off early so I wanted a breakfast snacky I could bring on the road and share around. Since I had some forgotten bananas looking lonely on the counter and I didn’t want to leave them to rot over the weekend, I decided a tasty and hearty banana muffin was the way to go!

Whether you’re heading out of town or staying in to enjoy the long weekend at home, these muffins are a perfect breakfast or midday treat. 🙂

Banana Oat Chia Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Mix the coconut oil, brown sugar, and maple syrup in a large bowl. Add the mashed bananas and mix. Whisk in the eggs and almond milk – it is best if they’re not super cold because the coconut oil will clump up and harden. Add vanilla, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir in the whole wheat flour, rolled oats, greek yogurt and chia seeds until just combined.
  3. Grease a muffin tin with coconut oil or cooking spray – they can get stuck so make sure you oil it well OR you could use the little muffin tin liners.
  4. Evenly distribute the batter into 12 cups. Mine were filled almost to the top. I sprinkled with some extra oats so they didn’t look naked! 😉
  5. Pop into the oven for 25 minutes. Set the tin to cool on a wire rack or in a cooler area of the kitchen. After 30 minutes or so, use a knife to gently pop out the muffins, scraping around the edges if necessary!
  6. Let cool completely and then store in an airtight container for maximum freshness and deliciousness!

Enjoy your long weekend!

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Starting a sourdough experiment

As a kid, our annual trips West to see grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins were a special time of year. To me, California was an incredible place.

Bakersfield was a wonderland (ha!) where my Grandpa Gordon took me on rides in golf carts and I would spend all day playing in the pool with my cousins.Los Angeles was home to my Grandma Betty and her fantastical paradise of a garden where I learned about the natural world. From the squash she grew herself to the box turtle who lived in a corner of her backyard farm to the baby bird we saved (temporarily) and fed with an eye dropper…it was a miraculous place filled with discovery where anything and everything was a science experiment. And Cambria, where my Grandma Barbara had (still has) a magical beach house on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific was the world of….sourdough bread.

When I wasn’t busy creating pulley systems out of strawberry baskets and string with my brother to transport our stuffed animals from the entry way to the loft two floors up, I was begging my grandma to let me eat a piece of sourdough toast even though it was in between meals. I loved the tang, I loved the airy bubbles that soaked up the butter, and I loved that it was special because I only ate San Luis Sourdough when I was in Cambria (40 miles North of its origin).

To be clear, I’m not sure why we didn’t eat sourdough when we were at home in Arlington, Virginia. I am sure they had it. Hell, maybe my dad even had it in the house and I didn’t even know. But whenever we were on the Central California Coast, it was all I wanted.

Fast forward 15 years and I now am lucky to call California my home. While my sourdough consumption is no longer limited to one time a year, it still has a special place in my heart and every time I bite into a perfectly buttered piece of toast, I think of those summertime visits.

When I began baking bread last year, I knew that sourdough was something we were going to have to try! Especially once we started experimenting with kombucha and reading about fermentation and yeast – I knew it was the next project.

Starting a sourdough experiment

So now we’ve done it! We have made sourdough bread with a homemade sourdough starter. There’s a lot to read about sourdough – it is quite overwhelming actually. It was pretty intimidating reading all of the articles using lingo I didn’t understand and and the recipes that only make sense if you have a kitchen scale to weigh ingredients. But I struggled through it and gathered information and in the end realized that while it takes precision to make really good bread consistently, sourdough is also quite resilient and we have yet to completely mess it up…

Instead of writing my own complete beginner’s guide to sourdough – I’m attaching some links I found helpful. Once I perfect a recipe, I’ll post it, but for now I’m still experimenting and every loaf turns out a little different!

 

Recommended Literature

Sourdough Starter from King Arthur Flour – clear and easy to follow (not intimidating) directions on how to make a sourdough starter. King Arthur Flour also has a lot of recipes that are not as intimidating as the sourdough aficcionado bloggers, but I found that other recipes were more interesting and yielded better tasting bread.

How to Make Sourdough Bread from Kitchn– complete with definitions of terms (starter, leaven, autolypse, bulk fermentation, proofing, etc.), suggestions for kitchen materials you should get, a recipe including weight but also cups/tsp if you don’t have a kitchen scale, pictures of all the steps, and gentle encouragement not to get intimidated!

Tips

Sourdough Starter

  • Don’t freak out It’s hard to mess up your Sourdough Starter. We found it difficult to keep a perfectly timed schedule of feeding it, and it hasn’t died yet…It’s quite resilient!
  • We use mostly all purpose unbleached flour, but sometimes mix in half whole wheat.
  • Feeding it can be a hassle but you get used to it – our routine is to measure out about 1/2 cup to keep into a measuring cup. We throw the rest away (wasteful but necessary so you don’t drown in starter that grows exponentially) and scrape out the container. Then pour the 1/2 cup back into the container, add the fresh flour (scant 1 cup) and water (scant 1/2 cup) to feed it with and mix it up with a silicone spatula!
  • If you keep your starter in a mason jar, it’s fun to put a rubber band to mark the top of the freshly fed starter because then you can see how much it rises!

Recipes & Tracking

  • Try different recipes and keep a detailed written log of exactly what you do so you can track what works and what doesn’t. At first I was just kind of trying my best to stick to recipes (not my strong suit) and crossing my fingers that it worked but now I try to write down exactly what I did so that I can replicate if it turns out amazing!IMG_9367
  • Recipes that have a high proportion of water to flour yield a wetter dough (like the Kitchn recipe above). I find that it is harder to work with and way more frustrating because it gets stuck to your hands and is harder to shape…BUT it yields delicious bread with yummy crust. I’ve had great results with it when I put it in a loaf pan but have had trouble with high hydration dough when trying to bake a boule in the dutch oven.
  • Every kitchen environment and oven is different so your bread might need more time to rise or less time to bake than someone else’s. Be patient – it is so fun to watch your bread rise. I always get so proud when I watch it growing over time! AH amazing! 🙂

 

Baking Tools

  • Buy a cast iron dutch oven! It is so amazing to bake in! Mine is from Lodge and is 6qt. I dust the bottom with corn meal before tipping my bread into it and popping it into the oven. IMG_9754
  • I have yet to buy a proofing  basket – I use a mixing bowl lined with a kitchen towel and dusted with flour. I want to buy a proofing basket soon, I’ve just been lazy.
  • I bought a scale now ($25 at target) but I had fine results just measuring my flour in cups, so don’t be deterred by that. You can easily find conversion measurements online!

As we continue finding recipes and tips that we like, I’ll post more about our sourdough journey. 🙂 As always, my hope is simply to inspire you to experiment and have fun with your food. Cheers!

PB Flax & Oat Breakfast Cookies

As a self proclaimed chocoholic at the age of 3 (“Grampa? I’m a chocoholic” is a family favorite quote from my childhood), a boyfriend-identified peanut butter addict last week (guess I should cut back a little?), and a lover of healthy and delicious treats…These cookies are the besssssstttt!

Easy to whip up, delicious to chow down, and nutritious to boot – these little drops of protein & salty sweet heaven will be sure to please! Eat them in the morning, afternoon, or evening – no guilt necessary because you deserve this treat and your body will thank you!

PB Flax & Oat Breakfast Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar packed
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg (vegan? try 1 mashed banana or 1tbsp ground flax with 3 tbsp water)
  • 1 cup rolled oats (I supplemented half Coach’s oats that are cut different)
  • 1/4 cup flour (spelt, whole wheat, white, or GF will work. I used white this time!)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix the peanut butter, brown sugar, vanilla extract & coconut oil together with a fork (or standing mixer if you have one). Soften coconut oil in microwave if necessary.
  3. Stir in egg (or egg replacement).
  4. Add oats, flour,  and baking soda. Mix well!
  5. Sprinkle in flax and chia seeds. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  6. Take a golf ball sized amount of dough into your hand, squeezing it together so they are dense and round – place on greased or parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes, keeping an eye they don’t get too brown. They should be soft when you take them out – they harden up as they cool. Optional: While still warm, push down softly with a fork to spread them out a bit, being careful not to smoosh them so much they fall apart!
  8. Enjoy!!!! 🙂

Overnight Oat Bowls

Lately, I’ve been really into breakfast bowls with overnight oats and different combos of toppings. I realized that I’ve been posting them on my Instagram (see below) all the time but haven’t put anything on the blog!

As someone who has cooked my oats for the last 25 years…it was strange to try soaking my oats to soften them instead. But it is so easy! I have leisurely mornings since I work 11am – 8pm, but for those of us who need to eat breakfast on the go, this is perfect! You prep your breaky the night before and it’s all ready to take to work or eat in the car.

Overnight Oat Bowl

Basic Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 cup milk of choice (almond or coconut is my fave!)
  • 1 tsp of maple syrup or honey to sweeten
  • Optional: 1-2 tbsp of yogurt!
  • Mix-ins of your choice (nuts, seeds, nut butters, dried fruit, etc.)
  • 1 jar or small tupperware to store overnight
  • Toppings of your choice (fresh fruit & berries, additional nuts, etc.)

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients (except fresh toppings) in your jar
  2. Shake to mix thoroughly
  3. Put in fridge and go to sleep. (ZZZZzzzzzz)
  4. Wake up, add additional fresh toppings, and eat!

Easiest thing ever!!!!

Some of my favorite combos so far? Click the pics for descriptions. And follow my Instagram to never miss a breakfast bowl post!!!

Shakshuka!

I had never heard of Shakshuka until I started following a bunch of instagram foodies. Then, all of a sudden, it was in my Insta feed…seemingly every day, all of the time, everywhere I looked. At first I was curious what it was, then I was intrigued about making it, then the other day I was like I HAVE TO MAKE THIS NOW!

So…that’s what I did.

However, I was so impatient about trying it that I didn’t want to wait and go to the store to buy all the ingredients. I had a full fridge, so it seemed silly to go buy some additional ingredients to make this one specific dish.

In true Emie fashion, I decided to make some substitutions and just go with the flow. I used a recipe for guidance but then used whatever I had and threw in some ingredients I wanted to use up or thought would be a tasty additional!

If you’re trying to make an authentic Shakshuka? Not the way to go. BUT if you’re trying to make something delicious and convenient – adding and substituting things that you have on hand is perfectly acceptable!

Shakshuka

I used this NYT Recipe for inspiration. It is also a somewhat untraditional rendition of the dish, because it calls for feta crumbles on top. I love feta and had some on hand, so it was a perfect addition!

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 zucchini, chopped (wanted to use it up, so I threw it in)
  • 1 tiny clove of garlic (I have a garlic sensitivity and get stomach aches if I eat too much – feel free to add the 3 cloves the recipe calls for)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika (didn’t have sweet paprika)
  • Cayenne pepper to taste (we like spicy!)
  • 1 fresh tomato, diced + 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 large leaves of chard, chopped finely (wanted to add greens and use them up)
  • salt + pep
  • healthy sprinkling of feta cheese (vegan? ditch the feta, it would still be tasty!)
  • 4 eggs
  • Homegrown chives & oregano for garnish (they use cilantro)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Heat oil in cast iron pan. We didn’t have an onion so we skipped that step and jumped right in to the bell pepper. We cooked it for 10-15 minutes until soft. Then added zucchini and garlic, sautéing for 2 min and then added the cumin, paprika and cayenne. After a minute or two, add the tomatoes and season with salt & pepper.
  3. Simmer until tomatoes have thickened. NYT says 10 minutes but it took mine a little longer. I add the chard in right near the end to let the leaves soften. Then stir in the feta – we just eyeballed it, stirring in less than the recipe called for but still a healthy amount!
  4. Crack eggs in over the tomatoes, careful to note break the yolks, and season with more salt & pepper.
  5. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the eggs are just set. Recipe says 7-10 minutes but our egg whites were still jiggly when we moved the pan. We left it in another 5 minutes, checking periodically. When we removed ours, the yolks were a little harder than we would have liked, so next time we will remove ours a minute or two before we think they are done!
  6. Season with herbs and serve with hot sauce. We served ours with buttered sourdough toast – though pita or challah bread is more traditional!

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Enjoy! We were ooohing and ahhing over every bite. It’s such a fun experiment to try a new recipe and realize you LOVE it. We will probably end up making this on a regular basis now! I encourage you to experiment and throw in what you have in the fridge – who knows, maybe you’ll like it even more than the traditional version of the dish!

Follow me so you never miss a post! Also check out my Instagram @emiesfoodforthought below!

The Açaí Bowl

I’m not going to lie, when I was studying abroad in Brazil, I did not care for Açaí…Which is a bummer really, considering Brazil is the Land of Açaí. Men (in tiny bathing suits) run down the beach carrying coolers on their backs shouting “Açaí, Açaí, Açaí!” and if you call them over, they pull out a small bowl of the purple superfood and a pack of granola, selling you the nutritious and hearty treat to enjoy while you laze and tan (read: burn) in the hot, Brazilian sun.

I didn’t like the stuff. Something about the taste put me off, not sure exactly what it was. I wanted to like it so I kept trying it, but it wasn’t my thing so I focused on other Brazilian treats (sooooo many pão de queijo) and didn’t think much of it.

Fast forward a few years and Berry Bowl opened up in Highland Park on York Boulevard. After a few months of avoiding it because the smoothies seemed insanely over priced, I walked in with a friend, enjoying a leisurely morning and was tempted by their Açaí Bowls. They mixed in other fruits and tastes to switch it up, offering a lot of different renditions of the original açaí na tigela from Brazil. As a sucker for Peanut Butter, I obviously went for their PB Açaí Bowl.

I am now an açaí convert and will never turn back. Mixing these power packed berries with other fruits and flavors was a game changer. I quickly became addicted and needed to be able to make them at home. I wanted to save the money, the plastic cup, and some calories, since I can control what I put in and how big I make my bowls!

Unlike other berries, açaí is fairly high in calories and higher in fats than other fruits so I do not recommend eating this on the regular, or on days when you are just sitting around the house, catching up on (read: binge watching) your netflix shows. But when paired with an active lifestyle, this can be a wonderful breakfast to refuel and I love it after a workout for a boost!

You can buy Açaí puree in certain grocery stores. I buy mine at Vons. Make sure you get the UNSWEETENED variety – otherwise it is packed with unnecessary sugar.

The Açaí Bowl

Ingredients

  • 1 pack Sambazon Pure Unsweetened Açaí
  • 1/2 banana (I like it frozen, but it takes longer to blend up!)
  • 1/4 cup frozen blueberries
  • Approx. 1/4 cup almond milk (incorporated slowly)
  • Optional: 1 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • Toppings: 1/2 banana, berries of your choice, granola, coconut, nuts, anything!

Directions

  1. Remove your pack of açaí from the freezer and run it under hot water for 10 seconds so it softens slightly. Break it into pieces and put in your blender. Add your other frozen fruit and pour a LITTLE bit of the almond milk.
  2. Blend until it stops and is too thick to continue. Stir a bit, scrape down the sides, add a little more almond milk. Continue blending.
  3. Continue adding more milk and scraping down the sides if necessary to get it blending. Try not to add too much milk at once because then you’ll have a smoothie and not a bowl (not the end of the world).
  4. Once blending successfully, add the Peanut Butter if you want. Blend to mix and then stop.
  5. Pour into a bowl. Top with your favorites and serve. Alternative? Put it in a jar and take it on the go! Just keep cold until you eat it!

Other potential add-ins? Flax powder, chocolate hazelnut spread , almond butter, frozen strawberries, frozen mango…the possibilities are endless! I’m excited to try a bunch of other combinations too.

What are your favorite açaí toppings???? 🙂

Vegan Hazelnut Chocolate Spread

Working with youth has a lot of perks (and a lot of challenges). One of these perks is my schedule. As the program manager of an after school music education program, I generally work from 11am – 8pm. This may seem like the WORST for some people, but for me it has been great. Fresh out of college I had a 9-5:30 job and it just didn’t fly with me. I hated waking up and going to work knowing that by the time I was out of the office I would be too tired to do anything. As a morning person, it is awesome to have a few hours before work to whip up something fun in the kitchen, go on a walk, do yoga, or just relax and putz around the house.

Another perk? Holiday gifts! I’m not a teacher, but I work directly with the kids and their parents every single day. So when the holidays rolled around, I was so touched to be given gifts from the students and families. I received lots of Starbucks cards, a free pass to a nearby Korean spa (the besssttt), and LOTS of Ferrero Rocher chocolates…you know the ones I’m talking about – hazelnut in the center, surrounded by chocolate hazelnut cream, covered in a thin wafer thing and then another layer of milk chocolate and hazelnut pieces…AKA a little drop of heaven and an ode to my favorite combination ever – hazelnut and chocolate.

When I was growing up, Nutella was not a thing we had in the house. It may not even have been popular in the US at that time. But when I was 6, we moved to Germany and I was introduced to this delightful spread. It has never overtaken Peanut Butter – my #1 forever – but this delicious hazelnut chocolate spread is a definite favorite. In recent years I haven’t bought it because 1) I go through it too fast that it’s dangerous and 2) The amount of sugar/processed ingredients isn’t great.

So upon being reminded of my intense love of hazelnut + chocolate around the holiday times (note: all the boxes of chocolate I received are now long gone), I was motivated to make my own Chocolate Hazelnut Spread with more wholesome ingredients.

I was further inspired by this blog post about Toasted Hazelnut Butter and Hazelnut Praline Chocolate Spread. Since I don’t use metric system measurements, my recipe turned out different because I was just going by taste but check out these recipes too because they look wonderful! 🙂

Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw hazelnuts
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp raw unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp coconut oil (optional)
  • almond milk – until desired consistency

Directions

  1. Toast your hazelnuts in the oven. I preheated mine to 350 degrees and toasted them for 8 minutes. The outer casings got golden brown and crisped up a little!
  2. Blend your hazelnuts in a food processor or blender for a few minutes – it will get crumbly first but then will start to release the natural hazelnut oil. I opted to use my food processor because the other day my blender exploded on me during a particularly aggressive smoothie concoction.
  3. Optional: After a few minutes mine was still pretty crumbly so I added a tsp of coconut oil to help it along – it also gave it a delicious hint of coconut flavor. It probably wasn’t necessary because once you add maple syrup and almond milk, it will get liquid enough so feel free to leave it out!
  4. Add 3 tablespoons of maple syrup, 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and continue blending. Scrape down the sides if the cocoa powder gets stuck!
  5. Add a splash of almond milk at a time, continuing blending, until it reaches the desired consistency. Keep tasting and add more cocoa or maple depending on how sweet and chocolatey you want it!
  6. Store it in a jar in the refrigerator and put it on everything 😉

 

Recommended Meal

I ate my Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Spread and a sliced banana on top of my oats this morning. Delicious!

Another idea? Spread it on your spelt bread toast 🙂

 

 

Cinnamon Pecan Swirl Spelt Loaf

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a very musical family. At age 5, I began playing the cello and I took private lessons and participated in youth orchestras until I graduated from high school. I now work at a music education program for youth, so clearly it had a huge impact on me and what I value in life. But that isn’t what this post is about…

For awhile, I had private lessons each week about 45 minutes from my house. My mom would pick me up from elementary school on early release Wednesdays and drive me to my lesson (thanks mom).  Lucky for us, Great Harvest Bread Co. was on our way home so we would sometimes treat ourselves and stop after my lesson. It blew my mind that they gave each customer a slice of bread to enjoy while deciding what loaves to buy and take home. It was the best! I’m not even sure if Great Harvest still exists, and I certainly haven’t frequented one in years. I think we stopped going when mom was diagnosed with Celiac Disease – sad days. But clearly it made a lasting impression on me because 15-20 years later, I still remember it so fondly – good marketing technique Great Harvest!

The loaves always switched so I didn’t get the same every time but my all time favorite was definitely this delicious loaf that was essentially a giant cinnamon bun with buttery, spicy swirls and chunks of nuts (either walnuts or pecans). It was insane and I loved it.

All this is to say, I finally felt like I had mastered the spelt bread loaves I’ve been making for a few months so this week I decided to switch it up. Inspired by my childhood memory of drooling over this delicious nutty spiced swirl bread…I decided to make a Cinnamon Pecan Swirl Spelt Loaf.

Cinnamon Pecan Swirl Spelt Loaf

For the most part, the method is the same as in my Basic Spelt Loaf recipe. I’ll summarize the method but will mostly emphasize the steps that are different – so please refer to that recipe if you need a refresher on the basic steps of bread making!

Ingredients

Bread

  • 4.5 cups whole spelt flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp honey (or raw sugar)
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water + 3/4 cup warm almond milk

Cinnamon Pecan Swirl*

  • 1/3 cup butter – softened to room temperature (not melted)
  • 2 tbsp raw sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup raw pecans chopped

*I think next time I’m going to add more of every type of filling to make it even more decadent, so just experiment with the amount of sweetness and nutty bites you like!

Directions

  1. Combine the water and almond milk in a microwavable bowl and warm it up (not too hot). I decided to do half almond milk because some of the recipes I glanced at for sweet breads used dairy instead of water. I’m not sure if it made a difference but the loaf turned out great so it’s what I’m putting in this recipe – feel free to experiment with all water though!
  2. Stir the honey or sugar into the warm water mixture and add the active dry yeast. Let it sit until foamy – about 10 minutes.
  3. Combine salt and spelt flour in a large bowl. (Less salt than my regular loaf)
  4. Add yeast liquid to the flour and combine using hands or spatula (or standing mixer if you have one). Once combined, flour the sides of the bowl and leave the dough for 1 hour to rise. Cover with a dish towel and leave in a warm place.
  5. While dough is rising, mix softened butter together with 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and a dash of salt.
  6. Once dough has risen, empty it out onto a well floured work surface. Knead it a little bit and then use a rolling pin to roll it into a rectangle (short end should be about the length of your loaf pan!). Do this carefully, mine stuck a lot and I had to use spelt flour on top of the dough to make sure it didn’t get too stuck to the pin – don’t get frustrated, just be gentle!
  7. Spread the butter mixture evenly onto the dough rectangle. Then add the pecans and sprinkle the rest of the sugar and cinnamon on top!
  8. Carefully roll the dough into a loaf – start at one side, using pressure to keep the roll nice and snug but not so tight you squeeze it into a weird shape…be nice to it! Keeping it snug will ensure it rises evenly and there’s no big gab between the layers!
  9. Place the loaf into a greased loaf pan being careful to put the side with lines or folds on the bottom!
  10. Leave your loaf to proof for 30 minutes, covered with a dish towel in a warm place.
  11. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
  12. Optional: Combine 1 egg and a tiny bit of milk and brush it over the top of your bread before baking! I did this but don’t know if it made a big difference. You could also spray your bread with a little water as soon as you put it into the oven – the steam helps create a crust.
  13. Bake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees (keep an eye so the top does not get too brown!). Then turn down the oven to 350 and bake for 20 more minutes. If the top is getting too dark, cover it with aluminum foil. The goal is to make sure the inside is fully cooked, without burning the top! You want to make sure those delicious swirls get baked through and are not soggy, so I recommend baking the full 35 minutes!
  14. Most important step – ENJOY THE HEAVENLY AROMA IN YOUR HOUSE WHILE IT BAKES! 🙂
  15. Remove from oven – unlike my regular spelt bread, it did not feel quite as hard and didn’t sound hollow when I removed it. This made me worried but once it cooled and I cut into it…it was absolutely perfect! So if it is browned and feels relatively solid, don’t be too worried if it doesn’t sound perfectly hollow!
  16. Remove from loaf pan and allow to cool on a rack of some sort OR be sure to rotate the side it is cooling on so it is cooled on all sides!

Eat warm or toasted, slathered with butter or margarine and enjoy! 

 

Vanilla Maple Chia Pudding

Need a quick morning meal or something easy to take to the office for a mid-morning snack? Chia pudding is easy to prep, delicious to eat, and good for you!

When I first started seeing Chia beverages in stores I was really freaked out. Have you seen those juices that have little tiny blobs suspended evenly throughout the drink? It is kind of eery how they are perfectly suspended in the juice, like each seed has a little force field around it or something. Also, when I finally got up the courage to buy one the consistency was confusing – kind of thick with little chia blobs and the occasional crunch of a seed. Maybe you love them, maybe you don’t. Whichever you are, I recommend you try chia pudding!

With a higher ratio of chia to liquid, the pudding becomes thick enough to eat with a spoon and the consistency no longer throws me for a loop. It becomes a pleasant, creamy and thick pudding snack that is packed with nutrients, fiber, protein and healthy fats.

Not sure where to buy chia? It is now available in most grocery stores since it has become so popular. But you know where I buy it? Homegoods! Homegoods is a store, related to TJ Maxx, that sells home furnishings and decor at a discount rate. They have a whole health food section and most of it is very cheap for top of the line organic and natural products. Anyways, I get chia seeds there – a bag for $5.00 – but you can buy it nearly anywhere. If it seems expensive, think about how tiny the seeds are and how many chia puddings you can make with one bag…it’ll last awhile and be worth it!

Vanilla Maple Chia Pudding

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or your preferred)
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp maple syrup (grade A or B)
  • dash of salt
  • pinch of cinnamon (optional)
  • your favorite toppings!

Directions

  1. Measure out your milk into a tupperware or mason jar
  2. Add chia
  3. Add vanilla, maple, salt and cinnamon.
  4. Give it a quick stir to break up the chia clusters. Then secure the lid and shake!
  5. Put it in the refrigerator to chill and thicken. Shake again after 5-10 minutes. Then leave it for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Add your toppings – my favorite is strawberries, blueberries and coconut flakes!
  7. Enjoy immediately or put the lid on and take it with you to work – keep it in the fridge until you are ready to eat it.

Monster Kale Smoothie

Just me, myself and my ginormous green smoothie…

I went to the gym for the first time since being sick today. My legs have been itching for a workout, but my lungs needed some more time to heal so I just biked for 20 minutes and then did stretches on the mat. It felt SO good to be kind to my body and make it sweat a little.

Anyways, after getting home from the gym I decided to make a green smoothie because we have a LOT of kale right now. I’m not always a super fan of kale (GASP! A health-conscious, foodie person NOT in love with kale?!?!?!). That’s right. It gives me stomach aches and doesn’t always taste great – you can quote me on that if you want. Anyways, I’m particular about how I like to use kale.

BUT, I do love it in smoothies… IF you get the right mixture!

Monster Kale Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 4-6 BIG kale leaves (mine was flat but you can use curly too, either way cut out the stiff ribbing so its mostly leaf, not stalk!)
  • 2 handfuls frozen strawberries
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt (vegan? leave this out – add less liquid!)
  • 1/2 cup coconut water
  • Optional: 2 tbsp coconut milk (I had leftovers from making coconut rice this week!)
  • Water as needed to blend!

Directions

  1. Throw all your good stuff into the blender.
  2. Blend it up REAL good.
  3. Enjoy!

I didn’t actually intend for this smoothie to be the size of my head, but it yielded a lot and I was hungry so I took it all and sipped on it at work all morning. I might not even need lunch! Hence the name…MONSTER kale smoothie.

What I love about this smoothie is that the greek yogurt, avocado and kale really balance out the fruity sweetness so it doesn’t taste like dessert – it’s a little sweet and a lot of goodness!