Peanut Butter Banh Mi

If you haven’t tried a Bánh Mì sandwich yet, you are seriously missing out. Alas, worry not, for I am about to remedy that tragedy. If you haven’t even heard of Bánh Mì, well, I can fix that too. Let’s get our culture on for a split second.

The sandwich originated in Vietnam during French colonial rule and is characterized by it’s French-Vietnamese fusion ingredients, which include some source of protein (pork, chicken, tofu, etc. ), a mayonnaise spread, pickled daikon and carrots, cucumber slices, and fresh cilantro (coriander). Traditionally, the term “bánh mì” actually refers to the bread that is used for the sandwich, which happens to be a thin French baguette. However, as it gained popularity, the sandwich as a whole became generally recognized as “bánh mì.”

My first Bánh Mì experience was mind-blowing. I was enjoying live music at the local Saturday Market in the town square with my wonderful boyfriend. So I guess you can say that all the positive factors for the perfect first experience were all there. The sandwich really made an impression on us, and before we knew it we were experimenting with the ingredients and making versions of our own! My Peanut Butter Banh Mi was a result of this on-going love-affair, and my love for it only grows stronger with every bite!

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Peanut Butter Banh Mi

Ingredients:

  • Whole Grain Tortilla or a Whole Grain Baguette
  • Shredded or Cubed Chicken mixed with Asian Peanut Butter Paste
  • Fresh Spinach
  • ½ of a Small Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Carrot
  • 1/2 of a Cucumber
  • 2 Tbsp Fresh Cilantro (Coriander)
  • 1 clove Garlic, chopped or minced
  • Juice of Half of a Lemon
  • ¼ tsp Salt
  • ⅛  tsp Cracked Black Pepper
  • Greek Yogurt (I use Fage 0%)

Directions:

Chop the cilantro and cut the carrot, cucumber, and red bell pepper into matchsticks and place in a bowl. Add the garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and mix.

Spread each tortilla or slice of baguette with a little greek yogurt (about 1 Tbsp). Layer with fresh spinach, peanut butter chicken, and mixed vegetables. Dig in!

I love using peanut butter chicken in this recipe, but it also tastes amazing with seasoned pork or shrimp. It is so versatile! Get inspired and let me know in how you like your Bánh Mì in the comments below!

 

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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!

gazpacho

 

 

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