Asian Peanut Butter Paste (for chicken)

I am always looking for new ways to get my daily dose of peanut butter. If I could bathe in a pool of peanut butter, I would. Does that make me obsessed?

know I am not the only one that feels this affectionately toward peanut butter. There is even a whole month dedicated to the love of peanut butter, and it just so happens to be November! In light of this, I thought it was only suiting for me to finally post this recipe after months of putting it off. (sorry everyone!)

My best friend first introduced me to this sauce when he would make “peanut butter chicken wings,” and from then on it held a special, peanut buttery place in my heart.

It was always a cause for celebration when it was peanut butter wing night at his apartment! And the nostalgia is now setting in…okay, moving on.

I like to use this sauce to coat cubed or shredded chicken that I can then use for various salads, wraps, and sandwiches. I especially love it for my take on the traditional Vietnamese “Banh Mi” sandwich, which I appropriately call “Peanut Butter Banh Mi”

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This recipe is for the purpose of mixing it with chicken. Now that I think about it, it is kind of like you are making Asian Peanut Butter Chicken Salad. YUM!

Asian Peanut Butter Paste

Ingredients:

  • ¼ Cup All Natural Peanut Butter
  • 1 tsp Soy Sauce
  • ½ tsp Fish Sauce* (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp Milk of choice (I use unsweetened original almond milk)
  • 1 Tbsp Lime Juice (I half-squeezed half of a lime)
  • 1-2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes (personal preference–some like it hot! ;))
  • ¼ tsp Ground Coriander
  • ¼ tsp Salt (add ¼ tsp more if you omitted the fish sauce)

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl mix with a spatula, making sure it is smooth.

It should create a paste. When you mix it with shredded or cubed chicken, it tastes super creamy!

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This stuff never lasts long in our house!

Baked Cinnamon Apple Stuffed with “Pumpkin Pie” Oatmeal

I recently opened up a can of organic pumpkin, and I swear it makes that “Fall feeling” all that more real! With the first pop of the can opener, the wind wisps colorful leaves around the kitchen and the smell of cloves fills the air. But seriously, I haven’t been able to keep my spatulas and measuring cups out of that can! I am talkin’ PUMPKIN EVERYTHING. Yeah, it could be worse. 😉

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What is better than some Fall flavors and a big ole cup o’ joe on a crisp morning? Nothing. Except for maybe two big ole cups of coffee. But my addiction to the black elixir is neither here nor there. We’re talking pumpkin here!

There are no two things that I love more in this world than a mug of black coffee and pumpkin season.

Except for maybe oatmeal. And my grandmother’s baked cinnamon apples. The good stuff.

Alas, given all the facts, it got real “Fall” all up in my kitchen this morning with a baked cinnamon apple stuffed with “pumpkin pie” oatmeal. More commonly known as heaven.

This recipe is for a single serving, but the measurements are such that it is super simple to double, triple, or quadruple if necessary.

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Baked Cinnamon Apple Stuffed with “Pumpkin Pie” Oatmeal

Serving Size: 1 Apple

Serves: 1

Calories per Serving: 210

Macros: Carbs: 38g

Fat: 8g

Protein: 3g

**Serving Size, calories, and macros are approximate, not exact!

Ingredients:

  • 1 crisp, sweet Apple
  • ¼ Cup Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
  • 4 Tbsp Unsweetened Almond Milk (*you can use regular milk, but I find that almond milk tastes better in these kinds of recipes.)
  • 2 Tbsp Pumpkin Purée
  • 1 tsp melted Coconut Oil
  • ½ tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • ½ tsp Cinnamon, divided.
  • Stevia, to taste.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425.

Core the apple, preferably with a melon baller, but a sharp knife will work too.

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Coat the inside of the apple with the coconut oil and sprinkle with ¼ tsp cinnamon.

Mix the oats, almond milk, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spices, and stevia in a separate bowl. Spoon into the cored apple, compacting a little. It is okay if a little oatmeal spills over the top. In fact, it is encouraged.

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Place the stuffed apple in a small baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining ¼ tsp cinnamon. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the apple is softened to your liking.

My mornings have officially been transformed. My only regret was not making some homemade almond butter to spoon on top! 😉
My Tips:

  • This would be especially good topped with some vanilla greek yogurt (greek yogurt mixed with vanilla extract and stevia). Or, for the more indulgent soul, a good ole scoop of old-fashioned vanilla ice-cream! You deserve it.
  • Cooking times may vary for a variety of factors. After 20 minutes or so, I would check on it every 5-10 minutes until it reaches your desired softness.
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Homemade Roasted Almond Butter

Peanut butter, hazelnut butter, almond butter, you name it. I’m an extreme fan of them all, and I will lick the jar of every last one of them. But, oh, the woe that lies in the bottom of the jar.

Deep in the depths of  the nut butter jar, there lies an emptiness that we all anticipate with dread: that moment when you can’t possibly scrape anymore.

Nut butter addicts, rejoice! You can replenish your jars with almost no effort at all. All you need is a bag of nuts, a food processor, and a smidgeon of patience. Okay, maybe sometimes you need a lot of patience, but I promise that it is so worth it. 

Making your own nut butters is an easy way to cut down on the preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, and extra sugars that are lurking in your food. Not to mention it just tastes so incredibly fresh! Double win.

The following is a recipe for roasted almond butter, but this process can be replicated with almost any kind of nut.

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Roasted Almond Butter

Serving Size: 1 Tbsp

Servings: approximately 32

Calories per Serving: 40

Macros: Carbs: 2g

Fat: 4g

Protein: 2g

**Serving size, calories, and macros are approximate, not exact!

Ingredients:

  • 1 16 oz. bag of Raw Unsalted Almonds
  • that’s it!

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350. Spread the almonds in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes

Transfer the freshly roasted almonds to your food processor equipped with the “S” blade and set on the “LOW” grind setting.

First, they will grind down into a fine almond powder. This is the almond meal that you pay an arm and a leg for at the grocery store! Keep going to get butter.

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Keep grinding, making sure to scrape down the sides every few minutes to remove the build-up on the walls. It will get clumpier…

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As the almonds begin to gradually release their oils, it will clump even more…

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Then, you will get to a point where you think to yourself, “Is that it? Did I make almond butter?”…

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KEEP GOING! You are almost there! Wait for it, that moment when *POOF!* it turns into almond butter!

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As if by magic, you will have a smooth, creamy almond butter! If you would like, you can add a tsp of sea salt and blend it in. You can also add flavors like pure vanilla extract, cinnamon, pure maple syrup, or honey! Whatever your heart desires. Store in an airtight container, like a mason jar, and it will keep for up to 2 weeks. As if it will last that long…especially if you use it to make my Chocolate Almond Butter Banana Bites!

 

My Tips:

  • The time it takes for it to turn into almond butter can vary drasticallyIn other words, patience is a virtue in this process! 
  • I found that roasting the almonds beforehand decreased this time significantly. I once made a Raw Almond Butter, and it took me over an hour! One time it just never turned into butter no matter how long I processed it. When I finally tried roasting the almonds, it took me roughly half an hour. Keep in mind that I have terrible luck with nut butters, so take that with a  grain of salt. Most everyone makes them in 15 to 20 minutes, but alas! I am cursed.
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Chocolate Almond Butter Banana Bites

I used to hate bananas. The texture, the taste, the way “banana” rolled off my tongue. “Ba-na-na.” Hmph. I just simply pretended bananas didn’t exist. I left them alone, they left me alone, and all was well in the world. There was only one problem with this relationship between bananas and I: bananas are incredibly good for you and so versatile in the kitchen. Well, I have been cramping a bit during my workouts lately, and I could use a little extra energy pre-workout anyway…UGH, fine. I’ll learn to like them. But how?

Well, I love chocolate. MMM…chocolate. Yes, chocolate is nice, especially with peanut butter. Especially with anything, really. But how does this relate to learning to love bananas? WELL, let me explain it to you by using this simple equation: Chocolate+nut butter+banana=NOM. It’s simple really. Eventually you may even be able to subtract the chocolate, divide by the nut butter, and…just get a banana. It’s a novel idea.

That is how I did it. I utilized this cutting-edge, break-through approach of just eating a lot of bananas until I liked them. And it worked. Bananas and I are now close friends, and I suggest you include more of them into your diet. Except I will never recommend eating a banana whilst taking a hot bath. I tested that one out for you all, and trust me, it just isn’t a good idea.

Chocolate, nut butter, and banana all together in delicious harmony, however, is always a good idea. And with that, I present to you: Chocolate Almond Butter Banana Bites.

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Yeah, that just happened. And they were every bit as good as they sound. Did I mention that they are totally healthy? Yes, they are also that. So, what aren’t these little guys? Existent, because I ate them ALL.

Chocolate Almond Butter Banana Bites

Serving Size: 1 Banana Bite

Serves: as many people as you are willing (or not willing) to share with.

Calories per Serving: 105

Macros: Carbs: 4g

Fat: 10g

Protein: 2g

**Serving size, calories, and macros are approximate, not exact!

Ingredients:

  • 1 Banana
  • All Natural Nut Butter (I used homemade roasted almond butter)
  • ¼ cup Coconut Oil
  • 2 Tbsp Cacao Powder
  • Stevia, to taste.* (see note under “My Tips.”)
  • 1.5 Tbsp Unsweetened Coconut Shavings

Directions:

Peel the banana and slice it into ½ inch thick segments. Top each segment with approximately 1 tsp nut butter. Place banana pieces on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the chocolate coating. In a bowl, combine the coconut oil, cacao powder, and stevia (to taste). Mix thoroughly, making sure to break up any chunks of cacao powder. Set aside.

Remove banana slices from the freezer and carefully coat each one in the chocolate mixture. Place banana bite back on the cookie sheet to allow it to harden while you coat the others. Repeat this step, coating each banana bite twice. After the second coating, dip the top in unsweetened coconut shavings. Place cookie sheet with chocolate covered banana bites back into the freezer and freeze for another 30 minutes.

Enjoy these delectable little bites frozen, or let them thaw out in the fridge for a few minutes! The banana gets nice and oozy-gooey, and it is just too good to pass up.

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My Tips:

  • *There are many different kinds of stevia products out there on the market like liquid extract, powdered extracts, and stevia in the raw. Each varies in strength. Because of this, there is no exact measurement for the amount of stevia that you should use. Just sweeten the chocolate to your preferred level of sweetness using whichever product you have!
  • If you do not like stevia, or you do not have any, use a natural sweetener like honey or 100% pure maple syrup.
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Chilled Cucumber Melon Summer Soup

In the heat of a hot summer day, I think we can all agree that we would give just about anything for a chilled refreshment. Ice water, iced tea, lemonade, you name it. All these things can be considered summer essentials. I like to try new things, so this summer I finally tried something new that used to throw me for a loop: chilled soup. Every hip and trendy restaurant in town was serving it, and I thought, “Hey, I’m cool too!.” So, in an effort to prove how hip and trendy I was, I gave it a little taste. Just a small bite at first to see what I was getting myself into. Then I face planted into my bowl.

It was so refreshing and crisp, simple and satisfying. Now I can’t imagine summertime without it. A summer without chilled soup is no summer at all!

Next thing I knew, I was dreaming up ideas and combining flavors in my head that made my mouth water with anticipation.

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First up in the batting order we have a simple Chilled Cucumber Melon Summer Soup, a sweet combination of cucumber, watermelon, and tangy lemon that is crisp and delightful during the afternoon heat! This one quickly found itself a permanent home on my summer essentials list.

Chilled Cucumber Melon Summer Soup

Serving Size: 1 ½ Cups

Serves: 4

Calories per Serving: 35

Macros: 2g Carbs

0g Fat

2g Protein

**Serving sizes, calories, and macros are approximate!

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cucumber, peeled, deseeded, and sliced.
  • ½ a small Watermelon, cubed.
  • Juice of half of a Lemon
  • ¼ tsp Sea Salt

Garnishes:

  • Greek Yogurt
  • Fresh Mint
  • Fresh Cilantro

Directions:

Combine the cucumber slices, watermelon cubes, lemon juice, and salt in your food processor and blend until smooth. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving. Garnish with a tablespoon of greek yogurt and chopped mint and cilantro.

Enjoy!

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