April 2014 archive

Frozen Chocolate Covered Banana Sandwiches

banana pops framed

banana pops

Here in Florida, while the rest of the country is celebrating the ice melting, we are preparing for summer. With temperatures in the 90’s for the past two weeks, it is apparent that the heat index is going nowhere but up.  Growing up in Florida, this warm breeze meant school was coming to an end and the fun was about to begin! Summers were full of sunshine and sun showers, pool parties and long days at the beach. It brings a certain smell to the air. A familiar smell, that reminds me of firecrackers and barbecues and chlorine drenched hands picking up sandwiches and snacks before taking another jump in the pool. There is no better smell in the world.
As we rejoice in the heat, why not find solace with a cool frozen treat –  but rather than downing a frozen sugary juice, let’s  indulge in a cold snack that has protein, fiber, sweetness, and is filling enough to satisfy in one or two bites. Behold, Frozen Chocolate Covered Banana Sandwiches! These little babies are great to make for kids and adults alike. A healthy helping of almond butter sandwiched between two slices of bananas then covered in chocolate… How can you go wrong!? They are simple, fun, and the perfect sweet snack to cool off under the sun.
20140427-132447.jpg Make your banana sandwiches by placing roughly a teaspoon of almond butter in between two slices of banana. To skewer or not to skewer….I prefer to add a skewer to the sandwiches before freezing them. A Popsicle stick would work just fine, but it may be a bit on the large side. I purchased mini wood skewers and cut them down with a pair of craft scissors to about 4 inches. You can choose not to skewer and I promise they will be just as delicious! 20140427-132438.jpg
After assembling the sandwiches, place in the freezer for at least 2 hours (but no more than 12 hours to avoid freezer taste). Before taking them out of the freezer, prepare the chocolate. I like to use dark chocolate baking chips to up the antioxidant potential and decrease the cloying sweetness that semi-sweet chips can bring. Melting chocolate can be tricky because heating just a few seconds too long,  will leave you with a burnt mess. This is one of the few occasions that I prefer the microwave. I have burned chocolate one too many times in a double boiler and have never had a problem in the microwave. Add chocolate chips to a microwave safe bowl and place in the microwave for 30 seconds. You will notice they have become slightly shiny as the melting has just begun. Give them a stir and place back in the microwave for 20 seconds. Again, remove and stir. Repeat this process usually about one or two more times until the chocolate is almost all melted. The heat from the bowl will melt the remaining chocolate as you stir. This will keep the chocolate from seizing. When the chocolate is smooth and creamy, dip each banana sandwich one by one. Use the back of a spoon or a small spatula to ensure that the chocolate completely coats the bananas. Place back in the freezer for an hour, and they are ready to serve! After the bananas are completely frozen, store them in a freezer bag to guarantee freshness for up to one month. Enjoy!
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Sweet Corn Bread

corn bread without writing

corn bread

After multiple posts on collard greens, I was craving something sweet to drown out the veggie coma I had slipped into. With collards on my mind, I could not think of a more perfect accompaniment to good ole southern collards than some warm and crumbly corn bread. Corn bread traditionally has loads of butter and is very often cooked in a cast iron skillet lined with bacon fat. Although I am not against the skillet, I do avoid excess bacon fat! The corn meal is often mixed with flour to create a more appealing texture. However, I have found that it is simpler and quite delicious to use 100% cornmeal (non-GMO of course!-I’ll get to this later). Using cornmeal alone allows for a gluten-free recipe as well. All of the fat in this recipe comes from natural sources-not processed oils or even butter.

Why zucchini, you ask…why take a perfectly good sweet recipe and ruin it with a vegetable!? Well…Why not! First of all, gives this bread a moist and
delicious texture. Using zucchini adds high quality fiber, Vitamin A and C, magnesium, folic acid and minerals. You will never even know it’s there! I got this one by my husband without an ounce of suspicion!

The most important point I will stress with this recipe is to use good ingredients. It is important to purchase high-quality corn meal to avoid without GMO’s. Genetically modified organisms, or GMO’s, are animals or plants whose genes have been manipulated through human engineering. Whether it be to create more fruit production in shorter period of time using plants that utilize less space per cubic inch, or creating a kernel that repels pest naturally, the goal of genetic modification is usually the same- to increase profits. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The problem is, the process of genetic modification is fairly new, and became popular only in the mid-1990’s. Therefore, researchers still don’t know the effects this will have on our bodies in the long run.  For this reason, myself and many others believe that they should be avoided. Foods commonly known to have GMO’s are: Corn, soy, papaya, rice, potatoes, rBGH found in milk, and canola oil. Bob’s Red Mill is an outstanding company that dedicated itself to providing grain products that are GMO free. I used their fine grind cornmeal for this recipe. 20140413-144152.jpg

If you are familiar with cornmeal, you know that it is very hard and does not easily absorb liquids. For this reason, corn bread needs a good amount of moisture and fat to make up for its dryness. I use full-fat canned coconut milk, eggs, and maple syrup to give the finished product a moist texture. The zucchini helps a lot as well. Coconut milk offers many great benefits and is naturally high in fat. It has such a beautiful fragrence but is truly undectable in the finished cornbread. This will substitute dairy and oil in our recipe. I love using real maple syrup in recipes as it is minimally processed and adds such a deeply rich flavor. The great thing about using a natural sweetener like maple syrup is the added benefit of minerals such as zinc, iron, calcium, potassium and manganese, as well as polyphenols (antioxidants). Try finding that in white sugar!

This recipe is super easy! Just toss everything into the food processor, give it a whir and bake! It can be divided into 12 or 16 squares. Of course, I like bigger pieces so 12 is my choice, and with only 189 calories per square- the bigger the better!

Sweet Corn Bread

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 12 Squares

Ingredients

  • 1 Large Zucchini, Peeled
  • ½ Cup Full-Fat Coconut Milk
  • 1 Egg
  • ¾ Cup Pure Maple Syrup
  • 2 1/4 Cup Organic Cornmeal
  • ¼ Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Coconut oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Grease an 8 x 8 inch square pan with coconut oil
  3. Add zucchini to food processor, and puree.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth
  5. Pour batter into greased pan, and bake for 25 minutes
  6. Allow to cool before serving. Enjoy!
http://tastefulwisdom.com/sweet-corn-bread/

 

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Sweet and Spicy Greens

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A new spin on greens…super flavorful, tangy, spicy greens that will tantalize your taste buds. This dish will make you forget you’re eating healthy, let alone collard greens. These greens are so tasty, even my husband will eat them! The secret is adding layers of flavor by way of garlic, ginger, soy sauce and vinegar. They get a serious kick from chili flakes (if you aren’t a fan of spice, then simply back off a little on the red pepper flakes), and a mild sweetness from luscious honey. 20140402-230010.jpg

This dish is pretty simple, even for a weeknight. Much of the bold flavoring comes from a generous amount of immune-boosting garlic and ginger. First, sauté garlic, ginger, and chili flakes until tender. Add the greens and allow to cook until thoroughly wilted. Then add the additional flavoring ingredients: soy, apple cider vinegar, sesame oil, and honey. Cook on medium-high heat allowing liquid to evaporate, while stirring occasionally.

Add a sweet kick to your meal, while getting the goodness of these cruciferous greens. I had mine on a bed of brown rice with a perfectly cooked poached egg. It was absolutely fabulous! Poached egg on top

SIDEBAR: I have to admit that I very recently learned how to make a perfectly poached egg from the Chew’s Clinton Kelly. The Chew is one of my absolute favorite shows. I hoard them on my DVR and usually watch while I’m cooking away in the kitchen. Btw I would totally recommend it to anyone interested in daytime cooking hilarity. Anywho, Clinton revealed the most ridiculously simple method to poaching eggs: Bring a pot of water to boil. Once it boils remove from heat, add egg, and set timer for 6 minutes. Remove the egg after 6 minutes, and voila! You have yourself a perfect little egg. You’re welcome.

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Feel free to adjust the heat level of these greens to your liking. The amount of chili flakes in the recipe is for very spicy greens. You may want to halve or quarter the pepper if you are not as fond of the heat. You can remove the chili altogether to create sweet and sour collards. They too will be a smash hit!

Sweet and Spicy Greens

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Collard Greens, Washed and Roughly Chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 6-8 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1- Two Inch Section Ginger, Minced
  • 1 Heaping Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/4 cup Cilantro, Torn
  • 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce or Tamari (Gluten-Free)
  • 2 Tablespoons Apple Cider or Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Honey
  • 1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil

Instructions

  1. Sauté garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes in olive oil on medium heat until cooked through.
  2. Add collards and allow to wilt until tender, about 5 minutes, while stirring regularly.
  3. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the remaining ingredients. Stir as to not to burn the greens but allow to caramelize.
  4. When most of the liquid has evaporated from the pan, the greens are done. Enjoy!
http://tastefulwisdom.com/sweet-and-spicy-greens-part-two-collards-three-ways/

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