New Ingredient: Young Garbanzo Beans (Young Chickpeas)

We’re well on our way to summer!

 

Temperatures are reaching nearly a hundred degrees this week. Seriously? What IS nice is that the mornings are now like, 70 degrees (instead of a chilly 50 earlier this year, ugh), so I can comfortably wear the same outfit all day. No shedding sweaters for me anymore! That being said, I’m only a student, so that prime time between when the sun rises and hits the very top of the sky, at the perfect temperature: I’m stuck in class. 

 

Yes, boo hoo for me. At least there’s only a month left until we’re out of those cold, air-conditioned classrooms. Temperatures aside, let’s enjoy the season while we have it! There are so many new vegetables coming in; spring is prime for young ones, too, and I stumbled upon some of these beauties when I was at Whole Foods. 

What are they? Young garbanzo beans! (Or chickpeas as you may know them). They were sold in their shells, and inside each shell is a little green bean. How cute! I bought a small handful, knowing how time consuming it would be to peel them. That being said – I have no experience with these little guys. The only time I’d ever seen them was on the tv show Chopped; I vaguely remembered they were sautéed, but this wasn’t enough to quell my curiosity. So my research began! 

 

Turns out you should never boil them, but they’re good prepared steamed, roasted, sautéed, or even raw! When they’re boiled, they’re akin to nasty over-cooked lima beans, ew. Dorothy over at shockinglydelicious gave a ton of suggestions at her site, too, one that I found particularly interesting being to roast them in a pan with a bit of oil and blend of salt, cumin, chili powder, and other spices for 5 minutes. That’s a pretty amazing sounding recipe over there!

What I did was simply steam them for about 6 minutes, and snack on them plain. They’re something like fresh peas or edamame, I can’t put my finger on what, but mighty tasty to just mindlessly munch on if you find yourself sitting by the pool sometime. 

So if you run into these, buy them! They’re fun, healthy snacks that are just so adorable. 

New Ingredient: Quark cheese

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On the weekends, I always like to have a bit of something special with breakfast.

Hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows, an omelette strewn with seasonal vegetables, freshly baked granola, or even a taste of cheese make weekend breakfasts special and allow me to really appreciate the extra time I have.

Wandering through the dairy aisle at whole foods, I spotted this little gem amongst the chèvre and ricotta. It’s similar in texture to full-fat greek yogurt, but less tangy and more akin in flavor to a mild chèvre.

 

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According to the packaging, it’s made in Vermont from cow’s milk (which accounts for its mild flavor) and can be an ingredient in cheesecakes.

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I was immediately drawn to the idea of having it with fresh fruit. With spring having just begun, we now have (better) strawberries & blueberries to enjoy here in sunny California. My favorite way to enjoy the berries with quark is to cut them up and spoon a dollop of cheese on top. The cheese is light, fluffy, and cloudlike, and its tanginess highlights the sweetness of the berry. It’s almost tastes like a cheesecake in a bite! All that’s missing is a bit of butter crust, but that’s a bit indulgent for breakfast, isn’t it?

Fruit & quark cheese could also make a great light sweet treat or dessert. 20140323-175429.jpgSo if you see quark cheese at your grocery store & you’re a fan of greek yogurt, chèvre, ricotta, or dairy in general, don’t hesitate to try it out! It could really brighten your breakfasts, or lighten your desserts. And if you’re already familiar with quark, what is your favorite way to use it? Happy eating!

*This post was not sponsored by any third parties.

Power Mocha Smoothie

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I used to be a banana hater.

I distinctly remember trips to Jamba Juice gone wrong because there was a banana in my smoothie. Even the slightest detection of the fruit would set me off; it was so stringy and sticky, and smelly, ick.

However, my banana aversion gradually withered away with time, thanks to quite a few loaves of banana bread and my introduction to banana chips. To this day, I’m pretty tolerable. It’s a great fruit, after all, loaded with potassium, super portable, good for muscle cramps, and versatile, too!

Speaking of how useful it is, it’s a truly amazing component in smoothies. It really binds the whole thing together, acts as a natural sweetener and thickener. It pairs well with a myriad of fruits and flavors, and I’ve learned one of my favorite combos with bananas is chocolate!

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So why not put them together in a smoothie? Bananas are great quick sources of energy because they are easily digestible, and paired with a few spoonfuls of cocoa powder, and maybe some coffee beans to really accent that dark, rich flavor, they are truly stars. Smooth and creamy, streaked with little flecks of beautiful coffee beans, this makes a great afternoon snack or morning pick-me-up. And hey, this smoothie is easily vegan, gluten, and refined sugar free! Yay bananas!

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Power Mocha Smoothie

  • 1 medium banana, peeled
  • 1/2 cup soymilk, almond milk, flax milk, or regular milk
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes
  • 1/4 cup whole coffee beans (if blender is not powerful, use ground coffee or sub 1 tsp instant coffee)
  • 1 tsp dutch cocoa powder (regular is ok, too)

Put all the ingredients in a blender and mix, gradually increasing speed, until coffee beans are ground into small specks. Pour into a tall glass and serve. You might need a spoon because of how creamy this is!

Revamp the Classics: Peanut Butter & Jelly with an Asian Twist

As part of theKitchn‘s cooking cure, I’ve been trying a load of new recipes for lunch. One idea that I will definitely be adding to my regular lunch rotations is an amazing spin on an old childhood classic: Peanut butter and Jelly! 

Instead of the sweet route, this sandwich goes savory & southeast asian, with crunchy peanut butter, chili jelly, a drizzle of sriracha, and some fresh herbs on top. To lighten it up, I’ve decided to go open faced. Plus, the sandwich is SO much prettier that way!

Feel free to use any peanut butter/bread/jam you have on hand. I’ll go ahead and give you the recipe for what I used, though. Image

Open-Faced Peanut Butter + Chilli Jelly

  • 1 slice of seeded whole wheat bread (any will work, preferably not a very sweet loaf)
  • 1 tablespoon crunchy peanut butter (I used Jif)
  • 1 teaspoon sweet chilli jelly or orange marmalade (I have used both and they are equally delicious)
  • 1 drizzle of sriracha
  • A handful of cilantro, mint, torn into small pieces

Layer peanut butter, then jelly/marmalade, then sriracha, then cilantro/mint. Enjoy! 

Quick-but-healthy popcorn

Hey guys! I’ve been busy lately so I haven’t been able to keep track of all the recipes I’ve been using this week, so I apologize for that! I promise I’ll get my butt back on here ASAP. By the way, check me out on instagram! (Thumbnail on the right-hand sidebar, or @G1_N4)

In the meantime, I wanted to share the perfect quick snack (that’s healthy) that is one of my fallbacks when I don’t have much time. It’s microwave popcorn! I know, some people still think that microwave popcorn is unhealthy, but that’s only if you’re still buying it in the bag. Recent food trends have uncovered a way to make your own preservative-free popcorn – no air popper necessary.
Popcorn is loaded with fiber (it’s the only grain that we eat entirely; no removing husks or anything) and is a great unrefined carb. 1 cup popped = 30 calories. This recipe makes about 3 cups.

IMG_0101Microwave Popcorn

 

  • 2 tablespoons popcorn
  • pinch salt
  • oil, coconut oil, butter of choice

Just put the kernels in a brown paper lunch bag, drizzle some olive oil, coconut oil, or butter, sprinkle on some salt and seasoning, fold the bag over, and microwave for 2-3 minutes, depending on your microwave’s strength. Stop when the popcorn pops greater than every 2 seconds.

Some of my favorite variations:

  • shake on some Furikake (Japanese rice flakes after popping)

  • sweet cinnamon sugar (1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tablespoon white sugar before popping)
  • kettle corn style, salty & sweet (1-2 tablespoons white sugar before popping)
  • chocolatey goodness (add 1 teaspoon cocoa powder before popping)
  • spicy snacking (pinch cayenne or replace salt with chili powder before popping)

Get creative, enjoy!

Pumpkin Bars

ImageThese bars are definitely not a dessert (unless you cover them in ice cream, maybe), but they have a subtle sweetness that can satisfy a mid-afternoon or mid-morning sweet tooth.

The addition of spices and fresh cubed pumpkin also help to moisten the baked good, and the whole wheat flour gives them a hearty texture.

Pumpkin Bars 

Inspired by Chocolate Covered Katie

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (can sub white flour)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp each: nutmeg, cloves, allspice (can sub pumpkin pie spice)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup pumpkin, canned
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk (can use soymilk, 1%, almond, etc.)
  • 1 cup cooked, cubed pumpkin (optional, can also use cranberries or sliced apples)

Preheat the oven 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients with a fork. Add the pumpkin, egg, brown sugar, vanilla, and milk to the dry ingredients. Whisk to combine, until into a smooth, thick batter (think waffle-batter consistency).

Spray a 8×10 glass baking dish with nonstick spray, or rub with butter. Pour the batter into the dish, and smooth until even with the back of a spoon or spatula. Top with cubed pumpkin or cranberries, press down gently with the spatula.

Bake for 30 minutes, depending on the size of the dish.

Wait about 15 minutes before slicing. Enjoy! Image

Traditional Cranberry Biscotti

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Hi all! Today I have for you a quick recipe for traditional Italian BiscottiBiscotti, if you’re not familiar with them, are twice-baked cookies originating in the Italian city of Prato (it’s near Florence). The cookies are often oblong shaped, and contain almonds, dried fruit, and some sort of citrus zest. They are made dry and crunchy by cutting the log of baked dough into slices and baking it again at a lower temperature. Traditionally, biscotti is served alongside coffee or tea, and by nature is not supposed to be too sweet, as to avoid offsetting its accompanying beverage. Today, however, bakeries are tending to shift towards a more buttery, rich, and sweet biscotti (often covered in chocolate) that is more dessert-like.

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The recipe I have for you today is a more traditional biscotti – only relying on the sweetness from dried fruit, and the perfect level of crunchy-crumbliness from the richness of whole eggs. There is no butter or oil in the recipe, making the cookie perfect to satisfy your sweet-tooth in the morning, midday, or even after dinner when preparing for the richness that comes with the holidays. Also, this recipe is easily adaptable! If you would like the cookie to be richer, add in up to 1 cup of sugar, or even dip them in chocolate when they’re done. You can also add nuts, and chocolate chips, or experiment with different extracts. I’ve made this recipe 3 times, and each time I differ the filling. Have fun with it!

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Traditional Cranberry Biscotti

This biscotti is lighter and simpler than its bakery-counterparts, relying on a traditional Italian method. Serve it as a light sweet snack alongside a warm beverage.

Ingredients

3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or almond, coffee, raspberry, etc.)
zest of 1 whole orange (OPTIONAL)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried cranberries (or any mixture, such as raisins, apricots, almonds, chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a small bowl, mix the eggs, and extract. In a larger bowl, mix the remaining ingredients except the nuts. Stir the wet mixture into the dry, using a spoon first and then using your hands. The dough will be VERY sticky and tacky. Stir in the dried fruit.

Flouring your hands and working surface, roll half of the dough into a 12-inch flat log. Place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment, sprayed foil, or a silicone mat. Repeat with the remaining dough. You can put both logs on the same sheet.

Bake in the center position of the oven for about 50 minutes, until golden brown. Take the logs off the sheet and onto a cooling rack, let cool for about 5 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 275 degrees.

Use a serrated knife to slice the logs into 1/2-inch thick slices. Return the slices to the baking sheet and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown and almost crisp. Transfer to cooling racks and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 4 dozen biscotti

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