Impossibly Creamy Hummus

So I have attempted to make hummus several times. It seems so easy. Canned chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon, whiz everything in a food processor. And every time its been disappointing. Sometime ago I finally pinpointed the crux of my too lumpy hummus, chickpea skins. I didn’t even realize chickpeas had skins until as instructed I pinched those little buggers and a little thin film peeled away. And most vexing of all is that I could find no shortcut for pulling those stupid little skins off, there was no trick or shortcut, you just had to peel the skins off the chickpeas…one by one. So needless to say I didn’t try to make hummus again for a long time. Until I found myself with too much time on my hands, a can of chickpeas, lemons I had to use and a tahini jar I forgot I had.

Hummus

Super Creamy Hummus

After seeing Joy the Baker’s recipe for Creamy Avocado Hummus and her honest account of it taking 20 minutes to peel 2 cups of chickpeas I decided that maybe just making a smaller portion of hummus was the answer. Ultimately ended up making the whole can of chickpeas because didn’t really have any plans for the rest of the chickpeas anyways…and I’d say it took a solid 15 minutes.


Anyways I don’t mean to sound discouraging. It’s not something I would do after a long day of work but if I was having people over for dinner / bringing it to someone else’s house I wanted to impress / going all out and making an intense Mediterranean dinner I would set aside the 15 minutes to peel the chickpeas and do it right. After all we were quite pleased with the results. The end product is velvety smooth and tastes so creamy that you’ll feel like you’re eating something super buttery and rich instead of fairly healthy chickpea puree (with protein and fiber!…well some of the fiber was probably in the chickpea skins but still).


RECIPE:

IMPOSSIBLY CREAMY HUMMUS:

1 can of chickpeas
1/4 cup tahini
2 lemons, juiced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 cup ice cold water
1/4 cup plain fat free greek yogurt
salt to taste
good quality olive oil
Optional: cayenne pepper, paprika and parsley to top with

1. Peel the chickpeas by lightly pinching each one until the filmy layer comes off. Have a bowl filled with water nearby where you can dip your fingers in after peeling the chickpea so that the skin will easily float off in the water as they can start sticking to your fingers.
2. Once all peeled put the chickpeas in a food processor until smooth.
3. With the processor still on add in the tahini, greek yogurt, lemon juice, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
4. Lastly drizzle in the ice water. Process until very smooth.
5. Taste and if necessary add more salt (1/4 teaspoon at a time) and lemon juice.
6. Transfer to the container you want to serve out of, top with cayenne/paprika/parsley if desired and then generously drizzle with olive oil to finish.

Pita Chip with Hummus

Pita Chip with Hummus

This was loosely based on this lovely Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi’s Basic Hummus. In this recipe they actually don’t peel the chickpeas but instead cook them from dry with baking soda. Which although is less labor intensive than the peeling takes a lot longer with soaking the chickpeas overnight and then cooking them for 20 – 40 minutes. Another big difference is that in this recipe, as in most traditional hummus recipes, there is no greek yogurt. I added in the greek yogurt to sub in for some of tahini as tahini is very caloric. One cup of tahini has 1,424 calories! So by decreasing the amount from 1/2 cup to 1/4 and subbing the rest of the volume with plain fat free greek yogurt we save 326 calories from the final product.

Tahini is ground sesame seed paste if you are not familiar with it, and despite its intense fattiness you definitely need some tahini for richness and for the flavor in the hummus. If you are going for full flavor and not particularly caring for calories go for the full tahini volume. I will say that I did not really miss it in the lightened version and the greek yogurt definitely imparts its own creaminess.

All you need are some pita chips, maybe a tabbouleh salad and definitely some pan-fried halloumi cheese and you have a fantastic Mediterranean appetizer spread…

And yes I ate the hummus before taking any of the pictures.

And yes I ate the hummus before taking any of the pictures.

FYI the final product has around 1,050 calories for the entire bowl (provided you didn’t go too crazy with the olive oil) which adds up to about 28 calories per tablespoon! It easily serves 4-6 people as an appetizer.

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Amazing Banana Cashew Coconut Smoothie

I love smoothies as both delicious + filling snacks as well as convoys for healthy food that you might not want to eat by itself like spirulina, maca powder or flax seeds. This recipe handily combines both those aspects with a thick and creamy banana cashew coconut smoothie that has tons of flax seeds for healthy omega-3 oils and drinks like a milkshake.

Banana Coconut Cashew Smoothie

Banana Coconut Cashew Smoothie

This is a perfect afternoon snack; I am always starving after I get back from work and craving something sweet but at the same time don’t want to overeat and then ruin my appetite for actual dinner. This smoothie has become my go to post-work pre-dinner snack and the best part is that its only 210 calories.

Banana Coconut Cashew Smoothie

This recipe is completely vegan, gluten free, paleo and I imagine if you use raw coconut flakes and raw flax seeds it can easily be made raw too…(almond milk is raw right?)

Banana Coconut Cashew Smoothie

Banana Coconut Cashew Smoothie

Banana Coconut Cashew Smoothie

As always I like to make my smoothies with unsweetened vanilla almond milk because its super creamy, tastes amazing and is only 30 calories per cup.

Almond Milk

Almond Milk

Almond Milk

For the bananas you only need half a banana, you can use more if you want it thicker but I just save the other half for the next day’s smoothie (or to top granola with).

Bananas

Bananas

Bananas

I used raw cashews because that’s what I happened to have on hand but feel free to use toasted ones. Although for snacking I prefer toasted cashews the raw ones have a lighter, creamier taste to them thats perfect in this smoothie.

Raw Cashews

Raw Cashews

Raw Cashews

I used sweetened coconut shreds from Trader Joe’s but you can use coconut flakes as well, doesn’t matter as they are going to be blended.

Shredded Coconut

Shredded Coconut

Shredded Coconut

Lastly the flax seeds were added mostly for their omega-3 content but turns out they actually added a nice nutty, toasted flavor to the smoothie.

Flax Seeds

Flax Seeds

RECIPE:

Makes one smoothie.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup of almond milk
1/2 banana, sliced
1 tablespoon shredded coconut
1 tablespoon raw cashews
1 tablespoon flax seeds
Sweetener to taste (I added Splenda but stevia, agave or honey would work as well)

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Add everything to a blender.
2. Blend until smooth.
3. Taste and blend more if the texture of the flax seeds is too gritty.
4. Drink up.

Banana Cashew Coconut Smoothie

Banana Cashew Coconut Smoothie

Banana Cashew Coconut Smoothie

Banana Cashew Coconut Smoothie

Although I found it unnecessary cinnamon could be a yummy addition to this smoothie or some cocoa powder too. One thing to note is that I think the vanilla flavor in the almond milk makes it so much better so if you are using plain almond milk definitely add a dash of vanilla extract in.

Banana Cashew Coconut Smoothie
Banana Cashew Coconut Smoothie

Nutella Swirl Cocoa Brownies

For a long time whenever I made brownies I would always use a boxed mix. Even though I rarely used cake mixes and love making cakes, cookies, and all kinds of other pastries from scratch with brownies it was always Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker. This wasn’t because I was particularly lazy about brownies but because in my opinion the box always tasted BETTER. Whenever I tried different brownie recipes some turned out too cakey, others too liquid-y, others didn’t have the crackly surface on top and so on. That is until I found Alice Medrich’s Cocoa Brownies Recipe.

Nutella Swirl Brownies

Nutella Swirl Brownies

Basically Alice Medrich found out that the way to create a perfect brownie in terms of texture and a crackly top is to control the amount of fat which determines the texture and the amount of sugar which creates the candy-like crackly top. So by omitting chocolate which has cocoa fat, emulsifiers and additional sugars and having only fat from butter and sugar from granulated sugar you can create a perfect brownie. The end results are super chocolatey, very fudgy and perfectly crackly every time. Whenever I make these they are a hit and the recipe adapts wonderfully to any kind of nuts/marshmallows/thingsyoumixintobrownies you want to throw in when you are in the mood for something more flamboyant than plain chocolate brownies. It’s grown up dark chocolate brownies but sweet enough that anyone will enjoy it. I have made these plain, with coconut, swirled with crunchy peanut butter, topped with white chocolate + crushed peppermint candies, and with chocolate ganache. However this iteration with fat swirls of Nutella might just be one of my favorites in terms of how easy it is to make vs. how delicious it is to eat.

Nutella

Nectar of the Gods

The best part of this recipe is that you can do it all in one pan with no need for whisks or multiple bowls. This is particularly lovely if like me you have no dishwasher. Also known as one of the downsides of living in an authentic albeit renovated 1930s style apartment…on the plus side with ceilings like this I can probably have a 13 foot Christmas tree if I do please. Note that in the original recipe you combine all the ingredients in a bowl set over a double boiler. This seemed extraneous and unnecessary and I’ve always done it in a pan over the stove and it turns out wonderful so….yeah. INGREDIENTS: ALICE MEDRICH COCOA BROWNIES WITH NUTELLA SWIRLS Makes 16 large or 25 smaller brownies 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter 1 1/4 cup sugar 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process) 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 2 cold large eggs 1/2 cup or 2.5 ounces all-purpose flour 2/3 cup of Nutella (or more if you are wild at heart) 1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides. 2. Combine butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a pan over low heat. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. 3. Turn off the heat and wait until the mixture is only warm, not hot. 4. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. 5. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring after each one. 6. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. 7. Spread evenly in the lined pan. 8. Plop somewhat evenly spaced spoonfuls of Nutella over the batter in the pan. 9. Take a knife and then swirl these into the batter. Swirl enough there is Nutella over the entire cake but make sure the little rivulets of Nutella are thick enough that you will be able to taste them. When in doubt, add more Nutella. 10. Bake until a toothpick in the center emerges only slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. 11. Let cool completely on a rack. Cut into 16 or 25 squares. Keep in an airtight container and keep them out of the fridge, these are better served room temperature or slightly warm.

SO MANY PICTURES OF BROWNIES.

Healthy & Delicious Chocolate Pudding Multi-Grain Oatmeal

Whenever I think of porridge I think of something bland and beige, the sort of thing that only people in prison and old time-y kids in Charles Dickens novels eat. This all changed after seeing this amazing post “To Talk Porridge” from Megan Gordon at A Sweet Spoonful. This porridge was not bland; it was topped with cranberries, coconut, and almonds; and it was not beige (well not entirely anyways), it was swirled with deep red and tinged with pink. And multi-grain oatmeal guys, is really just code for porridge. It just sounds nicer than the word ‘porridge’.

DSC_0243

Taking inspiration from that post I came up with a yummy and very chocolate-y multi-grain porridge that is essentially like eating chocolate pudding for breakfast…chocolate pudding that is dairy free, refined sugar free, egg free and has 358 calories, 4.5 grams of fiber, 5.7 grams of protein and is full of healthy coconut fats and omega-3. If you switch the grains too you could definitely make this gluten-free.

Chocolate Pudding Oatmeal

Chocolate Pudding Oatmeal

Although I’ve always liked the idea of oatmeal I never really liked hot oatmeal itself. It was sort of gluey and too one note. I think porridge, or maybe this porridge, solves that issue by using more than one grain for texture, so its more “toothsome” (stealing this word from A Sweet Spoonful’s post as I thought it was very evocative of what I was going for…). Naturally I started with rolled oats but for texture variation I added farro and spelt. Using a variety of grains also makes it healthier, adding in different nutrients, fiber and protein (depending on the grains you go for). I also added some chia seeds at the end which not only possess the uncanny power of transforming anything into “pudding” (look it up) but are also rich in omega-3. In order to reduce cooking time I used Trader Joe’s 10-Minute Farro and for the spelt I’m pretty sure I just used regular spelt even though the cooking time for spelt is supposed to be quite long…but it was still fine with 10 minutes.

Chocolate Pudding Oatmeal

For the liquid in the porridge I went with unsweetened vanilla almond milk, which is very low in calories but still adds creaminess. And after ensuring this was healthy to make it delicious I added cocoa powder, dark chocolate, coconut flakes and pistachios. To make it sweet you have a lot of options; brown sugar, honey or agave would be nice but in trying to stay healthy I used coconut sugar sweetened with stevia. My mom gave me this stuff because she abhors my Splenda habit (sorry Mum) and on its own or in a drink I think the Stevia taste is too pronounced but in something like this it blends in very well with no detectable aftertaste….must be all that chocolate 🙂

Chocolate Pudding Oatmeal

Chocolate Pudding Oatmeal

In order to avoid gluey oatmeal I followed the tips that Megan gave out on her post including to toast the oats first, only add the oats when the liquid is boiling and to avoid stirring the mixture while it cooks.

Oatmeal, Farro & Spelt

Oatmeal, Farro & Spelt

BASIC MULTI-GRAIN OATMEAL

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS:
– 1/4 cup rolled oats (76 calories, 2 grams fiber, 2.75 grams protein)
– 1/8 cup Trader Joe’s 10-Minute Farro (80 calories, 1.5 grams fiber, 3.5 grams protein)
– 1/8 cup spelt (73.5 calories, 2.4 grams fiber, 3.1 grams protein)
– 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil (58.5 calories)
– 2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk (60 calories, 2 grams fiber, 2 grams protein)

1. Heat a pan on medium heat and add the coconut oil when hot. Toss the oatmeal, farro and spelt in and toast in the coconut oil until they start to smell toasty. This also helps reduce cooking time.
2. Meanwhile, heat a pan with 1.5 cups of almond milk and bring that to a boil.
3. Add the toasted grains to the boiling almond milk, lower heat to simmer, cover and cook for 8 minutes.

CHOCOLATE PUDDING MULTI-GRAIN OATMEAL

– 3 tablespoons cocoa powder (36 calories)
– 2 tablespoons coconut sugar with stevia (96 calories)
– 2 squares dark chocolate (100 calories)
– 2 tablespoons chia seeds (136 calories, 1.4 grams protein)
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Once you have your basic multi-grain oatmeal cooked for 8 minutes, uncover the mixture.
4. Add in the the cocoa powder, coconut sugar, dark chocolate, chia seeds and remaining 1/2 cup of almond milk. You can add more or less almond milk depending on how thick you want your porridge. Stir minimally to combine, taste for doneness/add more sweetener if necessary then let cook for another 1-2 minutes.
5. Remove from heat, add in the vanilla extract, stir, add toppings and serve.

Grains

Grains

Coconut Oil and Coconut Sugar with Stevia

Coconut Oil and Coconut Sugar with Stevia

Cocoa and Dark Chocolate

Cocoa and Dark Chocolate

Chocolate Pudding Multi-Grain Oatmeal Pre-Toppings

Chocolate Pudding Multi-Grain Oatmeal Pre-Toppings

Now for the toppings. This is honestly perfectly fine by itself but some toppings really go that extra mile with making it feel like a dessert. I went with coconut flakes and pistachios.

Chocolate Pudding Oatmeal Post-Toppings

Chocolate Pudding Oatmeal Post-Toppings

Toppings

Toppings

But you could also go with fresh berries, dried apricots and almonds, fresh bananas with a peanut butter swirl (or PB2 if you’re conserving calories, see this post.), or anything you think pairs well with chocolate. Perhaps more chocolate.

DSC_0245

Another route you can go if you are not craving a simpler or fresher final product is to omit the chocolate and then add cinnamon and fresh fruit. This option also saves you 58 calories per serving so that your final product will be closer to 300 calories per serving.

Vanilla, Cinnamon & Berry Multi-Grain Oatmeal

Vanilla, Cinnamon & Berry Multi-Grain Oatmeal

VANILLA, CINNAMON & BERRY MULTI-GRAIN OATMEAL

– 2 tablespoons coconut sugar with stevia (96 calories)
– 2 tablespoons chia seeds (136 calories, 1.4 grams protein)
– 1 teaspoon cinnamon
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– fresh or frozen berries

1. Once you have your basic multi-grain oatmeal cooked for 8 minutes, uncover.
4. Add in the coconut sugar, chia seeds, cinnamon and remaining 1/2 cup of almond milk. You can add more or less almond milk depending on how thick you want your porridge. Stir minimally to combine, taste for doneness/add more sweetener if necessary then let cook for another 1-2 minutes.
5. Remove from heat, add in the vanilla extract, stir, add toppings and serve.
6. If you are using fresh berries, slice over top and if you are using frozen microwave/heat until defrosted and juicy then pour it over the top of your oatmeal. Normally I will always choose fresh berries but in this case the ones that were frozen will be soft and bleeding berry juice that mixes into the oatmeal. “Bleeding” is a poor word choice here but you know what I mean. I’m all for it.

Vanilla Cinnamon Multi-Grain Oatmeal Pre-Topping

Vanilla Cinnamon Multi-Grain Oatmeal Pre-Topping

Post-Topping

Post-Topping

Added almonds and pumpkin seeds too btw.

Added almonds and pumpkin seeds too btw.

This version is also completely vegan. The chocolate pudding version is most likely vegan as well but I think that depends on the veganness of your dark chocolate. Mine was just regular Trader Joe’s dark chocolate so I believe it probably did have milk solids albeit a very small amount of them.

DSC

DSC
DSC

TIPS:
– Substitute other grains, I think wheat berries would be soooo good in this because of their chewy texture.
– Depending on how soft or how textured you want this vary the ratio of grains (more oatmeal will make it softer) or cook it for more or less time.
– You could even use different grains to make this gluten-free; amaranth, quinoa, millet, sorghum, rice and some kinds of oats are gluten-free. Just make sure you adjust the cooking times accordingly for the grains you use.
– So many toppings would be good with these. I really want to make the chocolate one again and add PB2 to it for peanut butter flavor then top with sliced bananas and a little swirl of real peanut butter. For the chocolate-free one I think some cinnamon baked almonds and pears with pecans would make it amazing. Or lots of coconut and a few chocolate chips if you only want a hint of chocolate.
– As I mentioned before the chocolate-free one is vegan and the chocolate pudding version is most likely 99.9% vegan depending on how vegan the dark chocolate you use is.

Pickled Red Onions

I have always strongly disliked raw red onions. Even though in small amounts they can be tasty and cooked they are delicious, nothing can ruin a salad or a burger like huge chunks of raw red onion. Maybe its just me, but that sharp taste will stay in my mouth all day no matter what I eat or how many times I brush my teeth. Ick.

But pickled red onions. Those are a whole other story.

Pickled Red Onions

Pickled Red Onions

Pickled Red Onions

Pickled Red Onions

Two essential things to make raw red onions more palatable are slicing them thinly and adding an acid. For this picked red onion recipe you do both. How handy.

Pickled Red Onions

Don’t judge my handwriting.

For some reason when I think of pickling I think of boiling jars and pickling salts and all kinds of other things that I don’t really want to pursue. But luckily you really only have to do those things if you want your pickled whatevers to last more than an year. With this simpler pickling method they should be good for 3 weeks, which is fine by me.

RECIPE:

INGREDIENTS:
1 large red onion
1 1/2 cup of white vinegar
1 cup of sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt
3 teaspoons of whole black peppercorns
2 teaspoons of dried oregano
1 cinnamon stick

1. Thinly slice the onion and set apart. If you have a mandolin this would be a great time to bring it out.
2. Set aside the onions in a small bowl.
3. Bring all the other ingredients to a boil.
4. Pour the boiling mixture over the onions in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit overnight (or until completely cool).
5. Once its cool, transfer it to a jar and keep in the fridge. It will keep for three weeks.

Pickled Red Onions

Pickled red onions have even more tang and sweetness, they retain their crunch yet that sharp lingering taste is gone. Plus they turn a lovely pink color and look quite nice on everything.

Pickled Red Onions

It’s such an easy recipe and I’ve been adding them to everything. Made a stir fry with broccoli + cauliflower + kale with ginger and garlic then added the pickled onions on top. Also made a salad with arugula, roasted squash, goat cheese, pumpkin seeds, and added the pickled onions to that too. Lastly, have not made this yet (am currently waiting on the good will of the avocado ripening on my counter)but plan to make carnitas tacos with guacamole and pickled red onions. That jar will be gone in no time 🙂

TIPS:
1. Feel free to customize the spices. Thyme, rosemary, jalapenos and lime would be great additions as well depending what you’re going for.
2. And the amount of sugar.
3. If you want your onions a bit softer you can throw them into the boiling vinegar mixture for 20 seconds before draining and letting it sit until cool.
4. If you don’t have white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, or another more neutral tasting vinegar would work nicely.

Bouchon Chocolate Covered Eclairs with Dulce de Leche Coconut Filling

Filled Eclair

Filled Eclair

So the Bouchon cookbook is amazing. The writing is extremely detailed and if you follow it step by step you will most likely obtain perfect results. Minus a little calibrating for finicky ovens.

Eclair

Whereas I stuck to the Bouchon recipe for the eclair dough and ganache topping I wanted to make my own filling. Having some leftover dulce de leche and coconut pudding I thought that would make a great filling. This recipe is based on Manjar de Coco, a Brazilian coconut pudding that is normally topped with prunes and prune syrup. Which sounds quite dismal but is actually pretty tasty. Here’s a traditional recipe for Manjar de Coco from Chronic Cravings.

In the traditional Manjar de Coco recipe you use a can of sweetened condensed milk but I substituted a can of dulce de leche for the condensed milk.

Manjar de Coco with Dulce de Leche

INGREDIENTS:
1 can of dulce de leche
whole milk
3/4 cup of coconut milk
4 tablespoons of corn starch
1/2 cup of coconut flakes

1. Add dulce de leche, coconut milk, coconut flakes, and corn starch into a pan.
2. Take the empty can of dulce de leche and pour two cans worth of whole milk into the pan with all the other ingredients.
3. Turn on stove and cook it on medium heat continuously stirring until its thickened.
4. Chill in fridge.

Remember that the mixture will thicken as it chills so cook until its a little runnier than you want it to be.

Now the Bouchon recipe is quite long and detailed, here is a link to it:

Bouchon Eclairs

Eclairs Cooling

Eclairs Cooling

Obviously did not use a pastry piping bag as was instructed but besides that the only other modification I had to make was that my eclairs were still not airy enough after the baking process was done so I had to leave them in for 8 minutes longer. I blame this on my oven as it tends to undercook things to a certain extent…

Slicing Eclairs

Slicing Eclairs

Filling Eclairs

Filling Eclairs

Ganache

Ganache

Finishing up Eclairs

Finishing up Eclairs

Last step:

Eclair Innards

Eclair Innards

The last step is perhaps quite important because eclairs do not stand the test of time. Every moment they are sitting they are getting soggier so please make sure to assemble them right before you plan to eat them all!

TIPS:
– If you can’t find dulce de leche you can just make it yourself either by cooking it over a saucepan or by boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk, see this link here.

Healthy Berry & Peanut Butter Parfait with Granola

Now these were kind of inspired by acai bowls but mostly inspired by Jamba Juice’s Chunky Strawberry Topper fruit & yogurt parfait. Have you ever had one of those things? They are soo good. They blend strawberries, bananas, yogurt and peanut butter and then top it with fresh banana slices and granola. We had a Jamba Juice on campus and I used to have those things all the time until I realized they were 520 calories for the small ones which is more calories than a bagel with cream cheese! Therefore not really super appropriate for an in between classes snack and more meal replacement I suppose.

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

So I wanted to copy this delicious little parfait with about 200 less calories.

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

The key to making this healthier is replacing sugar-y yogurt with unsweetened vanilla almond milk and plain fat free greek yogurt. And substituting peanut butter with PB2, a powdered almost fat free peanut butter that is a great way to add peanut butter flavor with so much less fat. I elaborate more on PB2 in this post.

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

INGREDIENTS:

3/4 cup frozen mixed berries or strawberries
1/4 cup greek yogurt
1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 tablespoons of PB2
3 tablespoons of sweetener (I used Splenda but feel free to use whatever you like)
1 banana
1/4 cup of granola
Drizzle of honey (optional)

1. Blend berries, greek yogurt, almond milk, sweetener, PB2 and 1/2 the banana together until smooth-ish.
2. Pour into bowl.
3. Top with thinly sliced other half of the banana + granola.
4. Drizzle with honey if you’d like.

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

The base of this parfait basically has 180 calories so if you add in the banana on top and granola on top you have a total of 310 calories (depending on the granola you use of course). A little more if you use real sugar as opposed to a calorie-free sweetener. Still its not bad right? This would make a fantastic breakfast. And you can add in a little less almond milk if you want it thicker and more PB2 if you want more peanut butterness.

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

The one pictured above was made with strawberries only which makes it really taste similar to the Jamba Juice version. I also made it with mixed berries (see below). I think the reason because its so purple in the pictures below is all the blueberries as well as taking a picture at night. And a lot of my granola sank into the parfait hence the few little lonely granola islands. Its a yummy and filling snack high in protein and antioxidants but still delicious with the peanut butter and crunchy granola.

Berry & Peanut Butter Parfait with Granola

Berry & Peanut Butter Parfait with Granola

Healthy Berry & Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry & Peanut Butter Parfait

TIPS:
– This is is a great way to get all your healthy foods in a.k.a. throw in a tablespoon or two of coconut oil or flaxseed oil in the yogurt parfait mix or add in maca powder for energy! As far as topping it add in chia seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, coconut flakes and/or berries. If you added in all those things you would have the ultimate omega-3, healthy fats, vitamin E, protein, antioxidants, you name it power punch.
– Add fresh sliced strawberries on top. I wish I did!

Bouchon Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

So naturally after a healthy post I follow up with something on the other end of the scale. My mom got me Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery cookbook and having heard really great things about it I was excited to try something. I started off with the TKO cookies and the Nutter Butter’s but thought a more unique thing to share would be the Flan Tart! I slightly adapted it by omitting the apricots and adding a chocolate ganache to the top of it.

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Look at that thing. I personally love flan, crème brûlée and all sorts of custard based desserts. This filling isn’t exactly flan per se as it does not include condensed milk which is typical of flan but more of a simple custard based simply on whole milk, eggs, vanilla and sugar. It has a pâte brisée crust and you can use Bouchon Bakery’s recipe or one that you are more familiar with, as long as it fits a 9 inch round pan.

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

The recipe’s in Bouchon Bakery are very exact and contain a lot of useful information. If you follow directions closely you will end up with a great product. One of the tips I really liked is to let muffin batter sit for a day as this soaks the flour and produces a more moist final product. Having made countless batches of dry-ish muffins despite vast amounts of oil or buttermilk this might be the clue I’ve been missing all these years! I plan on trying one of the muffin recipes and reporting back here to see how that goes 🙂

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

One important thing to note is that they call for Bird’s Custard Powder for the recipe. Coincidentally had this as I had been to Cost Plus World Market and they had this in their section of international foods a while ago (custard powder is quite popular in the UK). If you don’t have it I looked at the ingredients and it is entirely cornstarch with flavoring and food coloring. So you can most likely sub cornstarch for it and maybe add some extra vanilla. Your final custard might be less yellow but taste should not be too highly affected.

INSTRUCTIONS:

FOR THE PATE BRISEE RECIPE SEE INSIDE THE BOOK HERE

FOR THE FLAN TART RECIPE SEE INSIDE THE BOOK HERE

FOR THE CHOCOLATE GANACHE:

INGREDIENTS:

– 8 oz dark chocolate, chopped
– 1/2 cup whole milk or cream

1. Melt the chocolate and milk together over a double boiler or by microwaving for 30 second increments with whisking in between.
2. Spread over the cooled flan tart.

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

TIPS:
– As before, if you do not have Bird’s Custard Powder you can order it online, find it at Cost Plus World Market or substitute for cornstarch and extra vanilla flavoring.
– Incorporating coconut in this, whether by subbing in coconut milk or topping with toasted coconut would be quite good.
– Another option is omitting the chocolate ganache and topping with fresh berries.

Slice

Slice

Greek Fattoush Salad & The Best Healthy Tzatziki Sauce

Salads get a bad rep as a main course because oftentimes what we picture as a stereotypical salad are just the saddest little leaves of iceberg lettuce with some grainy tomatoes, limp cucumber and dry shreds of carrots strewn over top. When people say they don’t like salads though I believe they just haven’t found the salad for them yet. There’s a salad out there you’ll like.

Greek Fattoush Salad

Greek Fattoush Salad

From Thai som tam papaya salad with peanuts and shrimp to warm spinach salads with bacon, mushrooms and a poached egg. Jean George’s carrot and avocado salad is a must order at his restaurant ((or must make at home) and the pomegranate seeds on Joy the Baker’s apple and brussel sprouts salad really make the whole dish.

Anyways. Lately my favorite salads have been more Mediterranean leaning. I love fattoush salad which is a Lebanese salad that normally has lettuce (or purslane), cucumber, tomatoes, mint, radish, pita chips and a tangy dressing made of lime, garlic, olive oil and sumac. It sounds terribly simple but its quite addicting, plus a perfect complement to fatty, charred gyros. Another classic I think most people are familiar with is greek salad which has tomatoes, cucumbers, black olives, feta, red onions and a dressing of red wine vinegar, oregano and olive oil.

Greek Fattoush Salad

Greek Fattoush Salad

Greek Fattoush Salad

Greek Fattoush Salad

So my clever idea that mostly arose out of coincidentally having most of these ingredients at home was to combine both these salads. Unfortunately I did not have sumac lying around so I omitted it but I highly recommend it if you can find it. It’s a reddish tangy spice that really adds a lot to the dressing and almost vaguely tastes like cranberries.

Lastly I added some simply cooked shrimp to the salad and made some amazing tzatziki sauce to go with this salad (and so that I could I dip extra pita chips in). This is an amazing tzatziki sauce recipe that’s pretty healthy to boot.

Chopping Away

Chopping Away

Chopped

Chopped

Chopped x2

Chopped x2

INGREDIENTS:

Serves 2 as a meal and 4 as a side.

1 pound of Persian cucumbers or 1 English cucumber
2 tomatoes
1 cup chopped romaine
1 cup of fresh mint leaves
1 cup of plain salted pita chips (add more if you like)
1/3 cup of kalamata olives
2-3 ounces of good feta (the one packed in olive oil is my favorite)
Juice of 2 limes (or lemons)
4 teaspoons of ground sumac
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup of olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Mix the lime juice, sumac, oregano, red wine vinegar, minced garlic cloves and olive oil into a small bowl. Whisk vigorously until incorporated and set aside.
2. Chop the tomatoes and cucumbers into 1/2 inch pieces. Add to a bowl.
3. Add in romaine, mint leaves, pita chips, and kalamata olives.
4. Add dressing and toss everything together.
5. Crumble the feta over top.
6. It’s ready! I would add a protein to make this a meal or serve as a side.

Greek Fattoush Salad

Greek Fattoush Salad

Now for the tzatziki. I love having a creamy side to have with the tangy salad but this tzatziki is great for serving alongside kebabs, pita chips, lemon shrimp skewers, you name it. It is especially good as part of a meal when you dollop it over rice.

Tzaziki

Tzaziki

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup fat free greek yogurt (strained if you want it thicker, I used Trader Joe’s brand but I like Oikos too)
1 cup fat free sour cream
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tbsp vinegar
1 lemon
2 cloves of garlic finely minced
3 tbsp chopped fresh dill
3 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 cucumber (any kind) peeled, seeded and diced into cubes
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Combine the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk together.
2. Add in all the ingredients except for the lemon and whisk together.
3. Add the juice of the lemon, adjusting for how tart you want it. Combine.
4. Drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil over top before serving.

Tzaziki

Tzaziki

So yes. This is how I ate my huge salad. The good thing about this salad is that its quite substantial but because the dressing is fairly healthy you can eat a lot of until you’re quite full. When trying to be healthy its generally good to always control portion size but when you’re eating a big bowl of what mainly consists of cucumbers and tomatoes you can pretty much dismiss portion control and eat until you are pre-tty full. Provided you didn’t go too crazy with the pita chips.

Final Product: Greek Fattoush Salad with Shrimp and Tzaziki

Final Product: Greek Fattoush Salad with Shrimp and Tzaziki

This is the final product. I pretty much made this in a large salad serving bowl and then just kind of ate out of the bowl. Even after eating until my post-gym induced ravenous heart’s content I still have a good amount of salad left for the next day. The pita chips do get a tad soggy so if you have extra this is either an excuse for eating all the pita chips and adding more next time or for picking them out when you eat the salad later.

Close Up

Close Up

Easy Apricot & Honey Cobbler

So even though we had an apricot tree in our yard growing up I believe this is the first time I’ve had fresh apricots. As far as that tree goes the birds always got to the apricots first. So it was about time I secured some of these guys to do as I please with them.

Apricot & Honey Cobbler

Apricot & Honey Cobbler

Apricot & Honey Cobbler

Apricot & Honey Cobbler

Apricot & Honey Cobbler

Apricot & Honey Cobbler

Apricots are really good fresh, if you mind the skin like I do it is a bit of a hassle to peel them and sizing up this recipe might be a bit cumbersome. But fear not, there are ways to do it faster by dropping them into boiling water and then ice water so the peels just rub off (see here).

Apricots

Apricots

Apricot is a wonderful little fruit that goes very well with spices (cinnamon, cloves, you name it) and chillier weather food. But since its been so sunny and hot out I decided to forgo any wintry ingredients and go with something that would bring out more fresh and summer-y flavors. Quite simply I thought it was best to thus let the apricots stand out on their own and the only other major flavoring I added was buckwheat honey. Apricot is tart and sweet and this darker honey has deep caramel but at the same time floral notes that play well with the apricot.

Apricot & Honey Cobbler

Apricot & Honey Cobbler

Spoonful of Apricot & Honey Cobbler

Spoonful of Apricot & Honey Cobbler

This recipe is designed to be a) super easy and b) for one person. I imagine you would be hard pressed to prepare a cobbler for one if it wasn’t dreadfully easy and peeling those little guys was really a rate limiting step that discouraged me from attempting to size this up. But perhaps you are a more generous person than I am 🙂

Apricot & Honey Cobbler with Greek Yogurt

Apricot & Honey Cobbler with Greek Yogurt

INGREDIENTS:

6 apricots, peeled and halved
3 tablespoons of buckwheat honey
4 tablespoons of flour
2 tablespoons of cold butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon oats

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 375.
1. Toss the apricot halves with the honey and 1 tablespoon of flour until coated well with no obvious lumps of flour. Add this to a small ramekin that can go in the oven.
2. In a separate bowl combine the remaining, flour, butter, brown sugar and oats.
3. Rub the mixture with your fingertips until it’s in big crumbles.
4. Add this to the top of your fruit mixture
5. Bake for 15 minutes in a 375 F degree oven.
6. Serve with ice cream, creme anglaise or greek yogurt.

Apricot & Honey Cobbler

Apricot & Honey Cobbler

Apricot & Honey Cobbler with a Dollop of Greek Yogurt

Apricot & Honey Cobbler with a Dollop of Greek Yogurt

Apricot & Honey Cobbler with a Dollop of Greek Yogurt

Apricot & Honey Cobbler with a Dollop of Greek Yogurt

Perhaps the most important thing I could tell you is that this needs to be eaten hot out of the oven. Give it a couple minutes until its not bubbling lava but as soon as its reasonably still hot you must put a scoop of ice cream over it or dig a little hole in the middle of it and pour some creme anglaise or greek yogurt right in the center of it and watch it as it seeps into all the little nooks and crannies. I chose greek yogurt as I was sort of being healthy but mostly and very sadly did not have ice cream in the house. Worry not though, it was still amazing.

Apricot & Honey Cobbler with Greek Yogurt

Apricot & Honey Cobbler with Greek Yogurt

Apricot & Honey Cobbler with Greek Yogurt

Apricot & Honey Cobbler with Greek Yogurt

TIPS:
– Other dark honeys like avocado honey can be used. Really any honey would be great and they would all change the final flavor a little. I think orange blossom honey and sage honey would be lovely lighter honey alternatives to buckwheat.
– Other fruit could be used; namely peaches, nectarines, any berry or whatever your heart desires. Maybe not bananas though I don’t know how a banana cobbler would fare.
– Do not “over rub” the crumble as you can warm the butter too much, you need cold bits of butter in your dough so its flaky and crumbly.