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. ūüėČ

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!

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I am pretty darn proud of myself for actually following this Cooking Cure thing! ¬†It is now Day 10, whose assignment is to shop for and cook your chosen¬†recipe from your list, and I have officially completed every challenge of this Cure so far! ¬†I’m gonna go ahead and unofficially add this to the list of things to celebrate at my super duper fancy birthday dinner tonight¬†(P.S. doesn’t that place look amazing?? ¬†I’m probably gonna be That Girl and take pictures of all of my meals tonight, you know, for posterity. And for you guys!)!

Anywho, it’s very convenient for me that the cooking assignments are always on Fridays because I’m always off on Fridays, so that means that I get to choose something from my list that I can leisurely enjoy making. ¬†For the lunch challenge, I choose to make the Carrot Coconut Soup.

And, you guys, this soup has to be one of the best smells that has ever graced my kitchen. And I’ve cooked¬†a lot of delicious smelling things (this, for example). ¬†I’ve never been to Thailand, but I imagine this is what it must smell like everywhere, which totally makes sense.

All you need for this recipe is butter, carrots, coconut milk, chicken broth (or vegetable if you want to make this vegan, in which case you should sub the butter for coconut oil), an onion, and Sriracha sauce (the original recipe called for sambal oelek, which I discovered is made by the same rooster company as Sriracha and supposed to be more simplified, buuuut I’m cheap so I used what I had). ¬†That’s it! ¬†In fact, I didn’t even bother peeling my carrots, since I’ve read a few times that most of the nutrition is in the peel, and I figured it was all gonna be blended anyway. ¬†I did, however, scrub the hell out of them with my vegetable scrubber.

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The steps are even easier! ¬†First, you chop up your carrots and dice your onion. ¬†They don’t have to look pretty because they’re all gonna get blended, but you’ll want to chop everything fairly small so it cooks quickly. ¬†Melt your butter in a medium saucepan over medium high heat, and throw the veggies in there with some salt and pepper.

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Then, once the carrots are soft enough to be pierced fairly easily with a fork, add in the coconut milk, the chicken broth, and 1 tbsp of Sriracha sauce.  Yummy. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat a little bit, and let it simmer for about 30-40 minutes, or until the veggies are reeeeally soft.

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Remove the soup from the heat (and don’t forget to turn it off!). ¬†If you are using a regular blender, then you’ll want to let the soup cool for a good bit before pouring it in to blend it. ¬†I’m terrible at pouring things, so I used my fancy schmancy immersion blender¬†to blend it right in the pan until there were no more chunks!

Then I topped it with MOAR Sriracha, and I ate it with a leftover cabbage roll.  It was all so delicious and I will definitely be making this soup again!

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Roasted Veggies

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“What’s for dinner?” seems like an innocuous-enough question. In reality, though, the conversation is rarely so simple.

Mr. Little Fish: “What’s for dinner?”
Me: “I don’t know. What do you feel like eating?”
Mr. LF: “How about that __?”
Me: “Or what about __?”
*Debate about the pros and cons of each protein, usually ending with my choice because I care more about variety*
Me: “Ok, so ……but what do we eat *with* that?”

And so begins the somehow-harder conversation about sides. I’m a huge fan of one-pot meals and soups and stews because it means that you don’t have to think about sides. It all goes in one thing. But sometimes you get all souped out and you want a pretty standard protein+veggie+fat plate.

Roasted sweet potatoes--always good to have on hand!

Roasted sweet potatoes–always good to have on hand!

That is where roasted veggies save the day. Trust me, you throw any veggie in some olive oil, sprinkle some salt, and stick it in a hot oven for a little while, and the resulting caramelized goodness that comes out will make a veggie-lover out of anyone. I’ve roasted everything from broccoli to cauliflower to green beans to asparagus to tomatoes, and each and every time I proclaim that I need to roast more veggies. Hell, I could even eat roasted garlic just like that (but I won’t).

The key to good roasted veggies is making sure they are as dry as possible. ¬†That’s because any water on the veggies will steam in the high heat, which, in turn, steams the veggies rather than roasting. ¬†As with roasting a chicken, you’re looking for dry heat here, so make sure to pat down your veggies as much as possible before putting them in.

The recipe below is for roasted broccoli, but you could easily adapt whatever you have on hand (like those green beans at the top or the sweet potatoes). ¬†I like to put a few sweet potatoes, which take about 45 minutes to an hour to cook through, in while I’m roasting another veggie so that I have them for future meals, or just to eat by themselves (sweet potato+coconut butter almost feels like dessert!). ¬†This particular batch of broccoli was meant to go on the side of an Asian-flavored dish, so I drizzled a tiny bit toasted sesame oil on it after I took it out of the oven, giving it a, well, toasted sesame flavor. ¬†However, other flavor variants include squeezing some lemon juice over the top or sprinkling it with grated parmesan cheese! ¬†You can do so many things with this!

Roasted Broccoli
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 head broccoli, washed and then dried as much as possible
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

Directions:

1. ¬†Preheat your oven to 400 degree Fahrenheit. ¬†Cut the broccoli into smaller florets, all about the same size. ¬†I actually really enjoy the stem when it’s roasted, so I trim some of the ugly parts, but cut the rest of it into similar sized chunks.
2.  Put the cut florets into a bowl, add the garlic, and the olive oil and mix well so that the broccoli is evenly coated.
3. ¬†Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and spread the broccoli evenly across the pan, making sure that it isn’t too crowded (or this again encourages steaming!). ¬†I try to make sure each little piece has its little space. ¬†If the pan looks crowded, get another one and evenly distribute the broccoli between the two. ¬†Sprinkle some kosher salt and ground pepper to taste.
4.  Put the broccoli in the oven for 10 minutes.  At the 10 minute mark, take the broccoli out and stir it around a bit.  You should see some browning on the undersides of the broccoli that were touching the pan.  Put the broccoli back in for about 10 minutes.
5.  Take broccoli out of the oven, and drizzle the sesame oil over it.  Serve immediately!

What’s your favorite roasted veggie?

 

Roasted Broccoli
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 head broccoli, washed and then dried as much as possible
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • kosher salt
  • fresh ground pepper
Directions
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degree Fahrenheit.  Cut the broccoli into smaller florets, all about the same size.  I actually really enjoy the stem when it's roasted, so I trim some of the ugly parts, but cut the rest of it into similar sized chunks.
  2. Put the cut florets into a bowl, add the garlic, and the olive oil and mix well so that the broccoli is evenly coated.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and spread the broccoli evenly across the pan, making sure that it isn't too crowded (or this again encourages steaming!).  I try to make sure each little piece has its little space.  If the pan looks crowded, get another one and evenly distribute the broccoli between the two.  Sprinkle some kosher salt and ground pepper to taste.
  4. Put the broccoli in the oven for 10 minutes.  At the 10 minute mark, take the broccoli out and stir it around a bit.  You should see some browning on the undersides of the broccoli that were touching the pan.  Put the broccoli back in for about 10 minutes.
  5. Take broccoli out of the oven, and drizzle the sesame oil over it.  Serve immediately!
Notes
Remember to pat your veggies as dry as possible before you put them in the oven. Also, this recipe works for most other veggies!