Banana Oat Bread

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I had originally intended on posting a recipe that uses the Jalapeno Hatch Pepper Jam from HEB that I’ve been obsessed with, but then I realized that I had three bananas that were quickly getting on the ugly side of ripe, and I decided to make this recipe instead. Because, banana bread. Duh.

I don’t really have a fun story to tell today, so I’ll just tell you about this bread and save the stories for when I have more energy to tell them (something I think that this weekend’s beach time will go a long way towards restoring!). The original recipe came from pinterest, where one of my coworkers had pinned this recipe from the Healthy Apple. I’ve loved the idea of using oats as a flour since I first made my strawberry rhubarb breakfast bars a while back. I love using oats as flour mostly because I’m too cheap to buy fancy gluten-free flour mixes (or really, any specialty flour, coconut and almond included). I really try to stay away from the treats more generally (and making treats with coconut or other gluten-free flour are still treats!), so I also don’t really buy those things on principal–I know that buying them will make me feel like I need to use them and BAKE ALL TH E THINGS, which sort of defeats the purpose of clean eating.

So oats–>flour. What I especially like about using oats is that, even if you indulge more than you should in said baked good, all you’re really doing is eating oatmeal. And oatmeal is healthy sooooo the baked good is healthy too (right??! Right.)! It’s a little mindhack I use when I want to feel a little decadent but don’t really wanna ruin a good streak I’m on. As it stands, this recipe is gluten-free, vegan, refined-sugar free, and dairy-free. BUT the decadence can definitely be fine-tuned: want to err on the side of dessert? Add more chocolate chips and maybe a tablespoon more of maple syrup. Want to make this super healthy and nut free? Omit the chocolate chips entirely and substitute the walnuts for sunflower seeds and/or pepitas. Don’t care about being vegan? Use butter in the place of the coconut oil. You can make this recipe totally yours! And really, all it is is oatmeal. ;)

Banana Oat Bread
Serves 6

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Ingredients:  

2.5 cups gluten-free traditional rolled oats
3 tbsp real maple syrup
4 tbsp melted coconut oil+more for greasing
3 medium bananas, very ripe
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2/3 cup walnut pieces
1/3 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips or regular chocolate chips if you don’t mind a bit of dairy
2 tsp ground flax-seed

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a tiny bit of melted coconut oil to grease your loaf pan well. Set the pan aside.
2. In a blender or food processor, add your rolled oats, and blend until you have a fine flour.

3. In the same blender/processor, add the baking soda, baking powder, and ground cinnamon and mix everything together. I used a fork, but you could easily just give the blender/processor another couple of pulses to blend.
IMG_77904. In a large bowl, use a potato masher (or a fork) to mash your bananas together until almost smooth.

5. Add your maple syrup, coconut oil, salt, and vanilla extract to the bananas and mix well.
IMG_77886. Then add the dry oat mixture, the chocolate chips, and the walnuts to the mixture, and mix until you can’t see any dry oats anymore.

7. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and use a spoon to smooth it out so it’s evenly distributed.  Sprinkle the flaxseed over the top.

8. Bake in the oven, uncovered, for 40-50 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

9. Remove from oven, and let cool for about 10 minutes. Serve warm by itself, with a pat of butter, or with your favorite jam!
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Banana Oat Bread
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: Bread
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2.5 cups gluten-free traditional rolled oats
  • 3 tbsp real maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp melted coconut oil+more for greasing
  • 3 medium bananas, very ripe
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ⅔ cup walnut pieces
  • ⅓ cup
  • Enjoy Life chocolate chips
  • or regular chocolate chips if you don't mind a bit of dairy
  • 2 tsp ground flax-seed
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a tiny bit of melted coconut oil to grease your loaf pan well. Set the pan aside.
  2. In a blender or food processor, add your rolled oats, and blend until you have a fine flour.
  3. In the same blender/processor, add the baking soda, baking powder, and ground cinnamon and mix everything together. I used a fork, but you could easily just give the blender/processor another couple of pulses to blend.
  4. In a large bowl, use a potato masher (or a fork) to mash your bananas together until almost smooth.
  5. Add your maple syrup, coconut oil, salt, and vanilla extract to the bananas and mix well.
  6. Then add the dry oat mixture, the chocolate chips, and the walnuts to the mixture, and mix until you can't see any dry oats anymore.
  7. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and use a spoon to smooth it out so it's evenly distributed. Sprinkle the flaxseed over the top.
  8. Bake in the oven, uncovered, for 40-50 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
  9. Remove from oven, and let cool for about 10 minutes. Serve warm by itself, with a pat of butter, or with your favorite jam!

Cucumber Caprese Salad

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It turns out that Mr. Little Fish has quite the green thumb. I don’t remember exactly what prompted us to decide to start our own garden, but one day, Mr. LF just commandeered some of the planters on the property, got rid of all the dead plants that the HOA wasn’t taking care of, sifted through all the dirt using a sifter he built, and planted some seeds. 6 weeks later, the garden looked like this:

Processed with VSCOcam

From front to back, that’s red onion, carrot, a huge bunch of beets, some dill and cilantro that you can’t see and are taking their sweet time, an even huger bunch of basil, tomatoes, and sweet peppers way in the back. We’ve actually been able to harvest the beets already! We’ve also commandeered a second planter, which is now home to more tomatoes, zucchini, and some more peppers. It’s so amazing to watch these things grow from these tiny little nothings into edible and delicious and nutritious vegetables.

As you can see from the picture, though, the basil plant is the most bountiful. Seriously, I try to use it as much as I can (see: this tomato basil soup we make once every couple weeks or this spaghetti sauce that I subbed in fresh basil for), but the plant just grows so darn fast that I can’t keep up. That doesn’t mean I’m not trying my hardest though!

Enter: this cucumber caprese salad. I originally got the idea to add cucumber to a traditional caprese salad from the Comfort of Cooking‘s site. I love caprese salads, and I love cucumber, so when I saw her chopped salad, I knew I had to try it.  But, thinking that I wanted to use even more basil, I decided instead to make a pesto sauce to toss the salad with! And instead of all chopped, I used my spiralizer to make easy-to-eat cucumber “fettuchini” noodles. While the addition of mozzarella makes this not paleo, the pesto itself is, so you could easily omit the mozzarella if you want to do paleo or just generally want to do dairy-free. If you don’t have a spiralizer, feel free to use either a Julienne peeler or just chop the cucumber into small pieces.  You’ll only end up using about half the pesto sauce in the recipe below, but you can easily double the salad ingredients if you are serving more than 2 people, or you can do as I do, and toss the rest on pretty much anything! I used the leftover pesto in an italian chicken and peach pesto salad that was really delicious!

Cucumber Caprese Salad
Serves 2

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Ingredients: 

For the pesto:
1 cup basil, medium tightly packed
3 tbsp pine nuts
2 garlic cloves
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Juice of half a lemon

For the salad:
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
1 medium cucumber
1/2 cup small fresh mozzarella balls or torn mozzarella pieces

Directions:

1. In a small chopper or a food processor, combine all of the pesto ingredients. I have this convenient little chopper Mr. Little Fish bought from amazon that also doubles as a storage container! Definitely requires that you put a little muscle into it though! Whatever method you use, blend until you have a chunky pesto sauce. Cover the sauce, and set it in the fridge.

2. Use the flat blade on your spiralizer to spiralize the cucumber into a bowl with a lid. The flat blade will give you flat, fettuchini-like noodles (Again, if you don’t have a spiralizer, feel free to use either a Julienne peeler or just chop the cumber into bite sized pieces!). Don’t forget to use your hands or a kitchen shears to cut the noodles into manageable pieces!

3. Lay 2 layers of paper towels onto your cutting board, and pour the spiralized cucumber onto the paper towels, spreading the noodles out. Take another 2-3 layers of paper towels, put them on top of the noodles, and then put your back into pressing the water out of the noodles. This step is important for keeping the pesto from getting too watery once it’s added to the salad. You want your pesto to stick to the noodles!

4. Add the cucumber back to the bowl. Add the cherry tomatoes, mozzarella pieces…..
IMG_7734and about half of the pesto mixture.
IMG_77395. Put the lid on the bowl, and then shake until the pasta is well-coated!
IMG_77416. Enjoy!
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Cucumber Caprese Salad
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • For the pesto:
  • 1 cup basil, medium tightly packed
  • 3 tbsp pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • For the salad
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 medium cucumber
  • ½ cup small fresh mozzarella balls or torn mozzarella pieces
Directions
  1. In a small chopper or a food processor, combine all of the pesto ingredients. I have this convenient little chopper Mr. Little Fish bought from amazon that also doubles as a storage container! Definitely requires that you put a little muscle into it though! Whatever method you use, blend until you have a chunky pesto sauce. Cover the sauce, and set it in the fridge.
  2. Use the flat blade on your spiralizer to spiralize the cucumber into a bowl with a lid. The flat blade will give you flat, fettuchini-like noodles. Don't forget to use your hands or a kitchen shears to cut the noodles into manageable pieces!
  3. Lay 2 layers of paper towels onto your cutting board, and pour the spiralized cucumber onto the paper towels, spreading the noodles out. Take another 2-3 layers of paper towels, put them on top of the noodles, and then put your back into pressing the water out of the noodles. This step is important for keeping the pesto from getting too watery once it's added to the salad. You want your pesto to stick to the noodles!
  4. Add the cucumber back to the bowl. Add the cherry tomatoes, mozzarella pieces, and about half of the pesto mixture.
  5. Put the lid on the bowl, and then shake until the pasta is well-coated!
  6. Enjoy!

Tuscan Kale Salad

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I had originally planned on posting a delicious and summery cucumber caprese salad, which you may have seen if you follow me on instagram. But, then, I realized that I’d been eating the same side all week, and I decided that I should post this kale salad instead. It’s very rare that I eat the same thing every single day, but this salad is just so darn easy and so flavorful that I’ve had with my pulled pork, with my tuna cakes, and with whatever cold cuts I could find in the fridge.

Now, I have to admit something: I’ve only had kale once before. Yes, it’s this hugely popular superfood in the health world in general and in the paleo world in particular. Yes, it’s loaded with a ton of great nutrients for very little calories. And, yes, it seems like really no one can get enough of it. But, sometimes, when something is all over the place at all times, I get a little hipster. I don’t participate on principle. And when/if I do, I don’t tell anybody about it. Weird, I know.

And what do you know, the one time I tried kale (and nobody knew) was Snap Kitchen‘s version of this salad. They ‘re where I got the idea to make this at home when I saw organic chopped kale at HEB earlier this week. While I initially just picked up the salad as a perfect, low-risk way to try this supposedly amazing green, it really blew me away: it was beautiful in its simplicity. So, when I brought my very own bag of kale home with me, I knew I would try to mimic the flavors. With only six ingredients, I figured it couldn’t be that hard to get it right.

And I nailed it! Spicy, citrusy, and salty. The best part is that this takes all of 5 minutes to make. Then, because kale is such a sturdy green, it can stay good for 2-3 days without wilting and getting gross (in fact, I thought the salad was even better the next day!). So, with summer around and everyone trying to spend more time outdoors rather than in, I decided I couldn’t keep this from you!

Tuscan Kale Salad
Serves 1

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Ingredients:

3 cups chopped kale, thick stems removed
2 tbsps olive oil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of one lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
Directions:

1. In a small bowl with a lid, add the kale and squeeze the lemon:
sthe garlic:
IMG_7695The red pepper flakes:
IMG_7698And the olive oil, salt, and few grinds of pepper:
IMG_77012. Cover the bowl with the lid, and shake vigorously for 1-2 minutes, until the kale leaves are well-coated.
3. Stick the bowl in the fridge, and let the salad rest for at least 10 minutes, and up to 2 days.
4. Serve, and enjoy!
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Tuscan Kale Salad
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 3 cups chopped kale, thick stems removed
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Directions
  1. In a small bowl with a lid, add all the ingredients.
  2. Cover the bowl with the lid, and shake vigorously for 1-2 minutes, until the kale leaves are well-coated.
  3. Stick the bowl in the fridge, and let the salad rest for at least 10 minutes, and up to 2 days.
  4. Serve, and enjoy!

Sometimes the internet has fun things (whaaaaat?). This new site is one of those things. If you suffer from the highly toxic medical malady of restaurant indecision, this website might be the cure you’ve been looking for! The site is in the beta stages, and I think it would be great if you could filter through for diet concerns (i.e. Paleo, gluten-free, etc), but it’s still a great concept!

Zoodles with Meat Sauce

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Fun fact: I haven’t cooked pasta at home for myself in over a year. And, I’ve eaten it at a friend’s or out maybe once or twice in that same time. Which means that, basically, I don’t really eat pasta anymore.

It seems crazy when I think about that, because I remember just how hard it was in the beginning to transition from. Aside from really just loving all carbs at all times, it was also one of the first things that I “cooked” myself at home. Pasta dishes are easy and versatile and don’t really require a lot of thought. I ate it so frequently that I would do things like be snobby about spaghetti noodles (angel hair all the way!) and experiment with which noodles made for the best pasta salads (I personally liked farfalle). And oh man could I put away some mac and cheese like it was my job.

But then, I did the diet that was essentially paleo but even more restrictive and pasta was a definite no-no. And aside from the initial carb withdrawals, I didn’t really notice that it was gone. So, although it was never really a conscious decision to take pasta, specifically, out of my diet, it just happened, and in the end, I’m glad it did because it’s led me to learn how to make and eat more well-rounded meals where everything on my plate contributes something to my health. Plus, you’d be surprised at how much whole food you can eat for the same caloric content of pasta (or breads or grains).

But sometimes I remember with nostalgia the ease of making pasta-based dishes, and I kind of miss having it around (although when I do have it, I’m always underwhelmed these days). So, two weeks ago I got a spiralizer, and the easy world of pasta has opened up to me again. I’ve made a creamy, lemony zucchini pasta dish, a pesto cucumber caprese salad, and, getting back to the basics, these noodles for a classic spaghetti and meat sauce recipe, which is a favorite of Mr. Little Fish’s. We used to eat it, with noodles, regularly, but since I’ve taken over the cooking, it hasn’t been in the rotation as much. I’ve lightened and freshened up the original recipe from Allrecipes to take advantage of the abundance of fresh basil during the summer. And for an even lighter sauce, we’ve used ground turkey with equally delicious results. It’s great to have Italian food back on the table!

Zoodles with Meat Sauce
Adapted from Allrecipes
Serves 6

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Ingredients
:

Showerthoughts: Maybe Italian food is full of tomato, onion, and basil because it looks like the Italian flag.

Showerthoughts: Maybe Italian food is full of tomato, onion, and basil because it looks like the Italian flag.

1 pound ground beef or other meat
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 14-oz can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes (I like the Muir Glen brand)
2 8-oz cans of tomato sauce
1 6-oz can of tomato paste
1 tomato, diced
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
2 tsps dried oregano
1/2 cup tightly packed fresh basil, roughly chopped
1 tsp salt+1/2 tsp, divided
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 medium zucchinis (NOTE: if you do not have a spiralizer, a julienne peeler will work just fine. And of course, if you aren’t worried about carbs, then normal pasta will do too!)
1/2 tbsp olive oil

Directions:

1. In a large pot over medium high heat, combine the ground beef, onion, garlic, and green pepper. Cook until the meat is brown and the vegetables are tender, about 7-10 minutes.

2. Add in the diced tomatoes (both canned and fresh), tomato sauce, tomato paste, and mushrooms. Stir to combine.
IMG_76583. Stir in the oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Then, lower the heat to medium low and simmer for 40-50 minutes, stirring frequently so nothing gets stuck on the bottom.
IMG_76594. Meanwhile, prepare your zucchinis for the spiralizer by cutting off the ends and then cutting each zucchini into thirds. Place a third into the spiralizer and, using the smallest blade, spiralize the chunk until only the bottom remains. Do this for all the rest of the zucchini. Then, use kitchen shears to cut the zucchini strands into manageable strands.

5. Put your spiralized zucchini into a colander over a bowl, and sprinkle liberally with salt (about 1/2 tsp). Use your hands to massage the salt into the noodles. Then leave the zucchini alone for about 20-30 minutes so that some of the water from the zucchini drips out.
IMG_76726. About 10 minutes before the meat sauce is done, put a large skillet over medium heat and add about 1/2 tbsp of olive oil. Add your zucchini noodles to the pan when its hot, and saute quickly for 3-4 minutes. You want the noodles to be just a little wilted/pliable, but not over cooked. The heat from the sauce will do more to wilt them!
IMG_76767. Once the sauce is ready, add the noodles a plate and top with sauce! |
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Zoodles with Meat Sauce
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground beef or other meat
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 14-oz can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes (I like the Muir Glen brand)
  • 2 8-oz cans of tomato sauce
  • 1 6-oz can of tomato paste
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • ½ cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tsps dried oregano
  • ½ cup tightly packed fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp salt+1/2 tsp, divided
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 4 medium zucchinis (NOTE: if you do not have a spiralizer, a julienne peeler will work just fine. And of course, if you aren't worried about carbs, then normal pasta will do too!)
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
Directions
  1. In a large pot over medium high heat, combine the ground beef, onion, garlic, and green pepper. Cook until the meat is brown and the vegetables are tender, about 7-10 minutes.
  2. Add in the diced tomatoes (both canned and fresh), tomato sauce, tomato paste, and mushrooms. Stir to combine.
  3. Stir in the oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Then, lower the heat to medium low and simmer for 40-50 minutes, stirring frequently so nothing gets stuck on the bottom.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare your zucchinis for the spiralizer by cutting off the ends and then cutting each zucchini into thirds. Place a third into the spiralizer and, using the smallest blade, spiralize the chunk until only the bottom remains. Do this for all the rest of the zucchini.
  5. Put your spiralized zucchini into a colander over a bowl, and sprinkle liberally with salt (about ½ tsp). Use your hands to massage the salt into the noodles. Then leave the zucchini alone for about 20-30 minutes so that some of the water from the zucchini drips out.
  6. About 10 minutes before the meat sauce is done, put a large skillet over medium heat and add about ½ tbsp of olive oil. Add your zucchini noodles to the pan when its hot, and saute quickly for 3-4 minutes. You want the noodles to be just a little wilted/pliable, but not over cooked. The heat from the sauce will do more to wilt them!
  7. Once the sauce is ready, add the noodles a plate and top with sauce!