I know, I know. It’s been an absurdly long time since I last posted. But, life, you know: guests, birthdays, travel, more birthdays, more travel, emotional and physical exhaustion from all of the above. It’s a good one, but it’s life, nonetheless. And while I’m planning on posting either a real recipe or a recap of my travels sometime soon, in the meantime, I came across this super helpful discussion of what exactly all those descriptors on the chicken you buy means. I’ve often thought that sometimes the more you learn about eating healthy, mindfully, and conscientiously, the more you find out how much you don’t know. There’s a lot of obfuscation going around in the marketing world, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed and confused. So, I hope this article helps clear up some questions you might have!

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!

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!

Why Calorie Counting is Probably not Worth Your Time

This interesting video explains the imperfect science behind calories, showing us why obsessing over them is more than likely a waste of time.  Instead, focus more on eating whole, unprocessed foods and eating mindfully.

Cooking Cure Day I-don’t-know-anymore

Well, guys, as it happens, sometimes our best-laid plans go awry. ¬†After successfully completing two weeks of the Cooking Cure, I fell off the wagon during dinner week. ¬†Happy hours, rehearsal dinners, and weddings all conspired to make me uninspired to keep up with the Cooking Cure (and eat all the delicious things at these events instead….worth it!). And you know what? It’s OK.

When it comes to dieting, you can’t let guilt consume you. ¬†Dieting/losing weight/maintaining weight loss is a long haul. ¬†You will have ups and downs, and you will have setbacks. It is a very easy thing to think that one mistake ruins the whole process, but it doesn’t. ¬†You are human. ¬†Humans make mistakes. ¬†But, best of all, we also learn from them. ¬†I know this was true for me when I was losing weight, and I know it will continue to be true throughout this whole healthy eating thing. ¬†I¬†will¬†have weekends or vacations or, hell, weeknights, where the last thing I want is to eat healthy, where all I crave is greasy pizza and sweets. And, lucky for me, I’ve never felt terribly guilty about this, because I know I can, and will, pick up again.

Just as I don’t feel particularly guilty about not getting through dinner week on the Cooking Cure. Instead, when this week started again, I just jumped right back into planning my meals for the week. ¬†Thing is, the Cooking Cure for me was never about learning to meal plan or to cook at home all the time–I had already been doing those things for months and months. ¬†It was about reinspiring and motivating me to continue learning and being creative in my meals. ¬†And I think the first two weeks of the Cure were sufficient for me.

In fact, after having such success with the Coconut Carrot Soup¬†during lunch week, I decided to revisit my lunch plan¬†this week and choose another recipe to make: Sriracha Steak Lettuce Wraps. If I’m being honest, the decadence of the weekend actually made me¬†crave some of the lighter, healthier, salad-based recipes I had found during lunch week, so I decided to ride that wave.¬†And boy am I glad I did.

I was very intrigued by the cube steak, which I had never cooked with before. ¬†It’s basically a steak that has been tenderized with a meat mallet so that it looks like ground beef but is actually one piece of meat. ¬†This means that you dice it, and you get bigger chunks of meat than just the little morsels of ground beef, which I actually liked as it felt both more substantial and more manageable. The only things I changed from the original recipe was the amount of honey used, and that I added some sesame oil to the relish to give it that toasted flavor!

The best part of this meal was how easy it is to make! In fact, while the steak was marinating in the delicious Sriracha sauce, I checked the mail, fed my cats, chopped up the cucumber relish, and minced all my aromatics (not bad for weeknight cooking!).  By the time I was done with all that, the steaks were ready to throw in the wok, and once they got in there, they only took about 7 minutes!

Spicy Steak Lettuce Wraps
Adapted from Simply Scratch
Serves 4

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Ingredients:

For the steak:
1 lb cube steak, diced
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp Sriracha
1.5 tbsp soy sauce
Juice of one lime
2 tbsp (for the marinade) coconut oil, melted+1 tsp coconut oil (for sauteing)
5 green onions, sliced
1 tbsp minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt
1 tbsp cornstarch
Lettuce leaves

For the cucumber relish:
1/2 cucumber, finely diced
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 small red onion, finely diced
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
Kosher salt

Directions:

1.  In a large bowl, whisk together the honey, melted coconut oil, Sriracha, lime juice, and soy sauce.

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2. Add the diced cube steak the bowl, and mix together to coat.  Let marinate, uncovered and on the counter, for at least 30 minutes.

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3. Meanwhile, do any small errands you need to, and then get to making the cucumber relish!  Combine the finely chopped cucumber, red bell pepper, and red onion in a bowl (with a lid so that you can store this later!) with the toasted sesame oil and a dash of salt.

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4. ¬†Slice and mince the green onion, ginger, and garlic, if you haven’t already. ¬†Once the 30 minutes are up, heat the remaining tsp of coconut oil in a large pan or wok over medium high heat and add your aromatics to the pan. ¬†Saute for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.

5. Add in the chopped steak, with all the marinated juices and stir fry for 4-5 minutes until there is no more pink visible. ¬†Then, mix in the tbsp of cornstarch and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. ¬†You will notice that the sauce will begin to thicken and darken and will really coat the meat. ¬†That’s what you’re looking for! ¬†Season with some kosher salt!

6. ¬†Put a lettuce leaf or two on a plate, and fill with the steak mixture, making sure not to overfill so that you can pick it up with your hands! ¬†Top with as much or as little of the cucumber relish as you’d like!

Steak wraps and carrot soup!

Steak wraps and carrot soup!

Sriracha Steak Lettuce Wraps
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Lunch
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • For the steak:
  • 1 lb cube steak, diced
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp Sriracha
  • 1.5 tbsp soy sauce
  • Juice of one lime
  • 2 tbsp (for the marinade) coconut oil, melted+1 tsp coconut oil (for sauteing)
  • 5 green onions, sliced
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • Lettuce leaves
  • For the cucumber relish:
  • ½ cucumber, finely diced
  • ½ red bell pepper, finely diced
  • ½ small red onion, finely diced
  • ½ tsp toasted sesame oil
  • Kosher salt
Directions
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the honey, melted coconut oil, Sriracha, lime juice, and soy sauce.
  2. Add the diced cube steak the bowl, and mix together to coat. Let marinate, uncovered and on the counter, for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, do any small errands you need to, and then get to making the cucumber relish! Combine the finely chopped cucumber, red bell pepper, and red onion in a bowl (with a lid so that you can store this later!) with the toasted sesame oil and a dash of salt.
  4. Slice and mince the green onion, ginger, and garlic, if you haven't already. Once the 30 minutes are up, heat the remaining tsp of coconut oil in a large pan or wok over medium high heat and add your aromatics to the pan. Saute for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  5. Add in the chopped steak, with all the marinated juices and stir fry for 4-5 minutes until there is no more pink visible. Then, mix in the tbsp of cornstarch and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. You will notice that the sauce will begin to thicken and darken and will really coat the meat. That's what you're looking for! Season with some kosher salt!
  6. Put a lettuce leaf or two on a plate, and fill with the steak mixture, making sure not to overfill so that you can pick it up with your hands! Top with as much or as little of the cucumber relish as you'd like!