Monthly Archives: August, 2014

Donuts with an Identity Crisis?

Poor little Donut was always being made fun of. People called him fat. People poked fun at his gastronomic hole. They stuck their pencils through it and when he told them, “that’s not nice!” They replied, “your argument is full of holes! Get it? Holes?!?!”

lonely donut

So Donut numbed the pain of social rejection by eating strawberry jam until he was full to the bursting. Then he became a filled donut – literally.

strawberry jam filled donut

But still the health-conscious crowd scorned at his oily ways. And though he was as sweet as could be, no one but Homer Simpson seemed to want him around. Most people called him a “cholesterol bomb” and said he was “unhealthy.” Donut didn’t know what cholesterol was, but he certainly knew he didn’t want to explode. He began to wonder if maybe he really was unhealthy.

He checked out his stats, and it turned out he contained an average of innumerable calories and you-don’t-want-to-know-how-many grams of saturated fat. If he continued on this path, it appeared he would soon become the cause of many faint-hearted souls to suffer obesity, heart disease, and overall guilt. He knew he had to change his course before he caused anyone harm.

But how does one become healthy? Donut wondered. He decided the first step would probably be to get into shape. So he headed to the gym and began watching his macronutrients. After some time, Donut had taken on the fetching form of a muffin! And not just any muffin… a healthy Strawberry Crunch Donut Muffin!

strawberry jelly donut muffin coconut life cereal

He still loved to eat strawberry jam. But now that he was educated and mindful, Donut/Muffin worked reasonable servings of jam into his balanced diet, rather than bingeing on it when he was upset. So his heart was still full of gooey, sweet strawberry goodness, but it was complemented by plenty of whole grains and a lower fat content.

rainbow food

Now the health enthusiasts were impressed with Donut/Muffin’s transformation. They followed him everywhere, desperate to learn his fitness secret. (And savor his delicious body! 🙂 ) He told them his secret was simple – just live a balanced lifestyle with everything in moderation, and be mindful of your habits – it’s the first step towards changing the ones that need work. He tried to educate them about the food pyramid, but at that point the crunchy coating and strawberry center grew to be too much for the hungry zealots and they ate him.

donut muffin strawberry jam filling coconut life cereal topping

And you can eat him too. You needn’t feel bad about it – he’s made with whole wheat pastry flour, the crunchy coating is balanced Life Cereal, and while the strawberry jam in the center may serve no nutritional function, it does contribute to the deliciousness, and that’s important for a lifestyle of moderation.

Donut’s struggle to find himself resulted in a recipe for delicious treats you can make for the whole family! The taste is reminiscent of a strawberry filled donut, but the texture is similar to that of a hearty muffin. This has to be the tastiest identity crisis in history.

Here’s the recipe – now go out and find yourself today!

Strawberry Crunch Donut Muffins

based on recipe from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen

makes 12 regular-sized muffins

donut muffins strawberry jam filled life cereal coconut crunch topping

Ingredients:

muffin batter

  • 1-3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • small dash cinnamon
  • small dash nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup Truvia Baking Blend
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup plain almond milk (or whatever kind of milk you like)
  • 1/3 cup lemon curd
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

filling

  • 1/4 cup strawberry jam

topping

  • 1/4 cup Earth Balance Whipped or Original Buttery Spread
  • 1/4 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup Quaker Life Original Multigrain Cereal
  • 2 tbs sweetened coconut flakes
  • small dash cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Line a regular sized muffin tin with 12 muffin liners, or spray with nonstick spray. (Note: my muffins wanted to stick to the liners a little, so maybe just spraying the pan is better?)

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, spices, and Truvia. Mix.

Beat in egg. Add almond milk, lemon curd, and vanilla. Mix well. Batter will be thick.

Distribute about half the muffin batter evenly across all 12 muffins. Then place a small spoonful of strawberry jam in the center of each. Cover with remaining muffin batter.

Bake at 350 Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes.

While muffins are baking, prepare topping: in a small, microwave-safe bowl, melt Earth Balance in microwave. 

In another small bowl, crush the Life Cereal to crumbs. Add coconut flakes and cinnamon and toss.

When muffins are done baking, immediately spoon melted Earth Balance over the tops of each one. Then sprinkle on the cereal/coconut mixture.

Enjoy warm.

strawberry coconut crunch donut muffinImage credits: (In order from top of post to bottom) ( All pictures of donut muffins are my own!) : http://blogs.ocweekly.com/stickaforkinit/2011/03/the_mystery_of_the_pink-sprink.phphttp://gnostical-turpitude.blogspot.com/2012_08_01_archive.htmlhttp://www.fitnesstri.com/eat-a-rainbow-wellness/

Tropical Tea Party Cakes!

red velvet vanilla pineapple coconut layer cake

I’ve made individual layer cakes several times now, inspired by a recipe I found on The Pancake Princess. One cake fantasy I’ve been mulling over in my head for a while now is a sort of reverse red velvet cake: red velvet flavored frosting and a cake flavor that compliments red velvet, such as vanilla, that would typically be found as the frosting on a red velvet cake.

Elli Quark Red Velvet yogurt cheese makes a perfect, delicious and low-calorie shortcut to obtaining a red velvet icing. To make things more interesting, I incorporated pineapple into the cake, and topped each dainty darling with fresh pineapple and a kiss of coconut flakes! The delicate flavors of this cake really come out when it is served cold. I imagine it would compliment a tropical tea party very well, as it is pink to match the tablecloths and lacy doilies, and the fun tropical flavors would jive well with the native flora on a tropical island!

Pineapple Coconut Red Velvet Layer Cakes

makes 3 individual layer cakes

individual layer cake pineapple coconut vanilla red velvet quark elli

Ingredients:

cake

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup Truvia Baking Blend
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • pinch cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup plain almond milk
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 tbs pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks (reserve some for topping)

frosting/topping

  • one container Elli Quark brand Red Velvet cheese (found in the yogurt section of stores such as Whole Foods Market)
  • 1 tbs sweetened flaked coconut
  • reserved pineapple chunks (see above)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit.

Spray a Wilton Coil Cakes Mini Cakes pan or other jelly roll pan generously with non stick spray.

In a medium bowl, combine dry cake ingredients. Mix. Add wet ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined. Add in pineapple chunks (but reserve a small amount for topping!) and stir.

Pour cake batter into prepared pan.

Bake at 350 Fahrenheit for about 8 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes.

After cake has cooled, carefully remove from pan and place on desired serving plate. Cut each individual cake into thirds.

Spread Elli Quark on one third of each cake. Then top with another third, spread Elli Quark on top of this, and top with the remaining piece of cake and some more Elli Quark. Place pineapple chunks on top, and sprinkle with coconut flakes.

Repeat this process for the remaining two cake rectangles.

Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve chilled.

Pinkies up!

Take it to a New Level with Frozen Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups!

This past week, my family and I wrapped up our summer vacation with a trip to Las Vegas. While I have been once before, the place is always revamping and ramping up the level of ruthless commercialism and loud music venues, etcetera, so there were plenty of new things to do. Also some old attractions that we didn’t visit the first time we went, such as the Dolphin Habitat and Secret Garden at the Mirage:

dolphins at las vegas mirage dolphin habitat

These had to be the happiest captive dolphins I have ever seen. A lot of cetaceans at shows look kind of sad and aimless, but these were eagerly performing their training exercises and bonding with trainers, as well as playing together on their free time. Look at this smile:

dolphins at Mirage Las Vegas dolphin habitat

 Yes, I know it’s biological, but still. Cute.

The big cats, on the other hand, were really suffering from the heat. The little big cats (there are three white lion cubs in the Secret Garden!) seemed to suffer less than the great white lions and tigers, which just moped in the shade.

Here’s one cub getting his nails trimmed:

Mirage secret garden las vegas white lion cubThat’s gotta be the funnest – and one of the scariest – jobs in the world!

Another thing we did this time that really stood out to me was riding the High Roller, the world’s largest ferris wheel at 550 feet tall. In fact, it’s so tall they don’t even call it a “ferris wheel” anymore – it’s an observation wheel.

I’ve been itching to ride this thing since I first heard about it last year, when it was just a twinkle in some businessman’s eye. Now that it’s a reality I’ve been bugging my parents to take me, and finally my dad got four tickets for us all to ride.

high roller observation wheel las vegas

 

However, we lost a couple members of our party on the ominous walk across the strip to get there, so it was just my dad and me by the time of our ride, a little after five PM.

entrance high roller las vegas

 

Once we passed the entrance, the obligatory bar, and the dark staircase, my dad looked at me with a little whimper. I told him, “there’s no turning back now.” We came out onto the landing deck and waited to board a cabin. That was the really scary part – the cars never stop moving, and we had to get on as it was moving sideways and preparing to ascend to 550 feet above the ground! This was the moment when I really wondered if I could get on this ride. And if I did make it on, would I survive to tell the tale?

boarding the high roller las vegasBut I just remembered my own advice, that I’d told my mom and brother earlier: sometimes you have to choose to keep moving forward, even when you want to turn back. When things get a tiny bit uncomfortable, that doesn’t always mean you have to run away from it. It can be a good thing, like a deep stretch that pushes the boundaries of your body’s flexibility. Trying new and scary things can take you to a level you’ve never experienced before – a level you never knew you could achieve. 

I’d be, among other things, a total hypocrite (not to mention a coward) if I backed out now. I’d been waiting for ages for this experience, and I knew if the beginning was bitter, that would only intensify the sweetness at the end. So I summoned my courage and entered the cabin.

As it turned out, boarding the cabin was the scariest part of the whole 30-minute ride. It’s a slow rotation around the wheel, so slow you can barely detect any movement at all in the enclosed, stable cabins.

I had been afraid of being stuck in close quarters with a bunch of smelly or otherwise annoying people, but luckily all the other riders were hygienic individuals and furthermore, the cabin fits 40 people, so there is plenty of space.

The only annoying person was the automated guide on the TV screen inside the cabin, who provided an unnecessary chattering narration that mostly just advertised various items on the strip, as well as poking fun at anonymous riders.

Aside from that, it was a wonderful ride. I took lots of pictures, and got a great view of Vegas: not just the strip, but also the houses and regular goings-on surrounding it, and the desert and mountains beyond. It’s amazing how people (and dolphins) have found a way to thrive in this seemingly inhospitable environment.

las vegas high roller

Las Vegas High Roller observation wheel

The High Roller Las Vegas

view from the high roller observation wheel las vegas

I got off that observation wheel ready to go around again! (Sadly there was no time for that.) But I really encourage anyone out there planning to go to Vegas to take a spin on the High Roller (and no, they did not pay me to say this!) Even for someone who isn’t sure about heights or rides, consider stepping out of your comfort zone a little. I was sure glad I did!

Upon returning to our hotel that evening, I wanted to step outside my comfort zone even more and try some new things, including the Minus5 Ice Bar inside the Monte Carlo, where we were staying.Even though I hate the cold, I just wanted to step in, see what it was like, and then get back out into the refreshing desert evening.

My dad went, but sadly I was not permitted to enter with him because it is a bar and I am 17 and who knows? Maybe this alcohol-hating, health-conscious teenager will start throwing them down right in front of her dad and a ton of other adults. But I understand that a law is a law, and come to think of it I would have felt pretty awkward among a bunch of drunk people anyway. But I was interested to see all the pictures my dad brought back from this chilly room made of ice:

minus 5 ice bar at Monte Carlo Las VegasVegas in summer is HOT! When I got home, I had a whole list running in my head of all the frozen treats I wanted to make. Most of my ideas were indulgent, reflecting the atmosphere of Las Vegas, but also sinless (or at least “reduced-sin”) to make them healthy enough for me and any other health-conscious sweet tooth to enjoy, guilt-free.

One idea I’d been mulling over in my head for a while now (almost as long as the notion of riding the High Roller) was the idea of frozen peanut butter cups. You know, like the candy? Except with ice cream instead of peanut buttery junk in chocolate coating.

peanut butter ice cream cups chocolate sauce peanut butter chips

These would have been great to have in the 100 degree weather in Vegas last week! But I guess it’s hot everywhere, and they’re a great icy cold refreshment no matter where you are this August.

chocolate peanut butter ice cream cups

I elaborated on the original peanut butter cup idea with a peanut butter-graham cracker crust, a mixture of frozen Vanilla Dreyer’s Yogurt Blends, chocolate pudding, and peanut butter, and to top it all off some dark chocolate sauce and a sprinkling of Reese’s Peanut Butter Chips. The result is a delicious and unusual combination of classic flavors that simply screams summer! My mom told me it made her think of frozen s’mores.

chocolate peanut butter yogurt blends cups

Whether you think of it as a s’more with smooth chocolate and peanut butter or a peanut butter treat with graham cracker crunch, it’s a yummy frozen treat that I’m sure you’ll enjoy. Go ahead and try this recipe now!

Click here for full recipe: Frozen Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

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My Trip To Las Vegas

my brother with monitor lizard in Las Vegas

 

Gluten Free PB & J Ice Cream Sandwiches

Looking for a tasty summertime treat that fits into your healthy diet? Need to find a gluten-free sweet snack for kids, guests (or yourself) after a sizzling barbecue? How about something easy and simple, with only six ingredients? What if I told you I have unlocked the secret to fulfilling all of those qualifications – and more?

pbj frozen yogurt ice cream sandwich gluten free

These cute little cubes of frozen deliciousness are easy to make and gluten-free (though to be completely certain you might want to sub out the Dreyer’s ice cream and Snack Pack puddingI used with certified gluten free brands, if you are allergic.) The no-bake dough (the “bread” of the sandwich) is made with just three ingredients: almond flour, Truvia baking blend, and best of all, smooth, creamy peanut butter that packs in the irresistible salty flavor as well as protein. Then, the three-ingredient filling is made in an ice cube tray to make it super simple to just mix the ingredients, freeze, then pop the orderly rectangular prisms of ice cream out of the tray and onto the dough. Freeze again and enjoy!

gluten free peanut butter and jelly frozen yogurt ice cream sandwich

Biting into one of these sandwiches is like a throwback to those nostalgic childhood days when lunch was all about pb&j. At the same time, it feels delightfully new, since the essence of pb&j has been retrofitted into a fun and unique frozen method of consumption: two squares of salty, nutty dough separated by a rich and refreshing blend of Dreyer’s vanilla Yogurt Blend, decadent butterscotch pudding, and a swirl of strawberry jam. Please note: they may be small, but there’s a lot of filling protein packed into that little package, and I found them quite satisfying – it was hard to believe I felt so full after such a petite treat!

***Note: I found my recipe made more ice cream filling than the amount of dough I’d made to go along with it. So I suggest doubling the dough recipe. (Amounts given here are for my original recipe.)***

Gluten Free PB&J Ice Cream Sandwiches

makes 6 small sandwiches

pb and j ice cream fro-yo sandwich gluten free almond flour

Ingredients:

dough

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/4 cup Truvia baking blend

1/4 cup almond meal/flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill brand)

 filling

1 cup Dreyer’s brand Vanilla Yogurt Blend (or other vanilla frozen yogurt or ice cream)

1 Snack Pack brand individual butterscotch pudding cup

2 tbs strawberry jelly

Directions:

Leave ice cream/frozen yogurt out for several minutes to soften it.

In a small bowl, combine the dough ingredients. Mix well.

Spread this mixture out onto a pan or flat surface of some kind (I used a Wilton Coil Cakes pan; you could use a jelly roll pan or square casserole dish, etc.) Place in freezer for several hours.

Meanwhile, combine ice cream/frozen yogurt, pudding and jelly in a small bowl. Gently blend with a spoon. Do not blend completely – let there still be swirls of the different flavors.

Pour/spoon the ice cream mixture into ice cube tray, filling each cube as far as it will go. Freeze for about six hours.

To assemble the sandwiches, remove dough from freezer and cut into 12 equal squarish shapes. Then lift 6 squares off the cutting surface, trying to keep the general shape (it will not be completely firm) and place in desired frozen storage container. (I put little squares of foil on the storage container for each sandwich to make them easier to remove.) Place one ice cream cube on top of each square. Top with another square of dough.

Freeze for another three hours or until firm. Enjoy!

Vanilla PB Chip Protein Frappe

vanilla peanut butter chocolate chip coconut great grains ice blended frappe

When I was a kid, I always used to love getting an ice blended drink at cafés like Starbucks, Coffee Bean, etc. Whenever my parents made a pit stop there for coffee, my little brother and I would request ice blended drinks. While my brother’s inevitable flavor choice was chocolate, I alternated between different flavors, never able to decide if my favorite was the indulgent chocolate, or creamy, rich vanilla, or even the fruity flavors I sometimes enjoyed. But I could only have one a day, and it was always an important decision to make: what flavor would I have today?

Years have passed since the golden age of ice blended drinks in our family. A lot has changed: I’m too health-oriented these days to think of drinking a plastic cup full of empty calories, plus they took my brother’s favorite chocolate drink off the menu and he has never fully recovered from the blow enough to give any of their other offerings a chance. I haven’t gotten an ice blended from a café in ages. But every once in a while, I remember how I used to love slurping and gulping down those icy drinks, especially in the summer. So today, I decided to give homemade frappes a whirl.

vanilla ice blended pre-toppings

With my own personalized, homemade ice blended drink, I can control all the ingredients that go into it and make it healthy. This way, I won’t have to worry so much about choosing just one flavor – with an ice blended drink this high in protein and calcium, it’s perfectly acceptable to have one in each flavor in the universe! But I wouldn’t do them all one after another… unlike its commercial inspiration, this frappe is very filling. It will also give you brain freeze if you drink it too fast, so sip slow and savor!

Vanilla PB Chip Protein Frappe

inspired by recipe on Overtime Cook

makes one generous serving

homemade vanilla protein frappe

Ingredients:

  • 1 container (12 fl oz) Lucerne Protein Light Vanilla Protein Fortified Dairy Beverage
  • 1/3 + 1/4 cup plain almond milk
  • 1 tbs creamy peanut butter
  • handful of semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup Post brand Great Grains Crunchy Pecans cereal
  • 1 tbs sweetened flaked coconut

Directions:

The night before you want to make this, pour Lucerne Protein beverage into an ice cube tray and freeze overnight.

The next day: Remove frozen cubes, a few at a time, and cut into smaller pieces with a knife. Place pieces in blender with some almond milk, and blend until roughly blended to the consistency of a frappe. Repeat this process with the rest of the cubes, adding several at a time, until all are crushed. (I found that in some cases stirring the mixture with a knife was more effective than the blender! Just do whatever works.)

Add in some chocolate chips and most of the peanut butter. Blend for a few more seconds.

Pour frappe into tall glass. Pop in your straw and top it all off with remaining peanut butter, the cereal and coconut.

Now slurp away!

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Dessert for Breakfast! Day One: Baked Apples ‘n’ Cream Smoothie

dessert for breakfast day one apple caramel vanilla smoothie parfait

 

Inspiration from an Unlikely Source

cinnamon roll cheesecake with cranberries and Great grains crunchy pecan cereal

As a health food blogger, I try to make healthy recipes. Recipes that nourish the body, mind, heart and soul while also occasionally buying into the latest health food trends. Typically my philosophy is to incorporate as many whole grains and fresh produce as possible into my recipes, with vegetarian protein, and keep it as light as I can on the fat and sugar while still maintaining a good flavor. Any recipe I share on this blog is one I would recommend to the health-conscious. One I feel proud of sharing.

That’s why it’s kind of strange that I came upon the inspiration for my latest baked goodie while inside a Cinnabon.

Our Israel trip was coming to a close, and on one of our last sultry, sweaty days in Tel Aviv, the group leaders gave in to certain people’s whining and led us out of the white sunshine into a nearby Cinnabon (yes, they have that in Israel.) I had never been in one before, but was shocked to see that a wide array of otherwise sensible people all share a strange affinity for stuffing their faces with freakishly large balls of sugary pastry smothered in way too much chemical-ridden icing. Some even get an extra little container of icing to go with their huge boxes of cinnamon rolls, as if the inch of frosting smeared on top of each roll is not enough.

To ease my anxiety as I watched these horrifying proceedings, I distracted myself by thinking of cinnamon-y things I could make when I got home. I knew I wanted to show the world there was another option, besides splurging on a calorie-bomb cinnamon roll with little nutritional value. There is a way to enjoy the sweeter things in life in a more wholesome, homemade way. I knew I wanted to make something that would show up Cinnabon, show them I could be more creative with the elements of pastry dough, cinnamon, sugar and cream cheese, rather than merely rolling it into a circle and feeding it to the masses. I really wanted the cheese aspect to be a big part of this endeavor, since who doesn’t love cream cheese icing on a cinnamon roll?

cheesecake cinnamon roll

That’s why the idea of a cinnamon roll cheesecake popped into my head. Instantly I could see myself pulling a perfect, delicious concoction out of the oven, sharing it with like-minded family and friends who’d love it, getting a billion likes on my blog, eventually opening up a store of my own to sell these creations to the world. This was going to be big. This was going to transform the world as we know it.

When I got home, not a day went by that I didn’t have some thought of my grand scheme to put my own spin on Cinnabon’s goods. And this week I finally pulled it all together and put my plan into action.

cinnamon roll yogurt cheesecake

 

While I don’t know if it will exactly change the world, this cinnamon roll cheesecake will certainly change your day for the better. Enjoy it as a rich, yet sinless breakfast treat, or cut yourself a cold, creamy slice for a unique dessert. Serve it at brunch or as an evening snack to guests, health-conscious ones or otherwise, they’re all sure to find something to love in this pastry-like cake that’s heavy on the good and light on the guilt!

cinnamon cheesecake cinnamon roll

Sweetened with honey and Truvia baking blend, the cinnamon roll dough wraps around a generous portion of decadent yogurt-based cheesecake that’s higher in protein and lower in calories and fat than typical cheesecake. A cinnamon-honey swirl sweeps through the whole thing, and a sprinkling of Post brand Great Grains Crunchy Pecan cereal and succulent dried cranberries makes for a wonderfully textured topping to round out this roll.

If you are looking for a healthy alternative to highly processed pastries, or a fun and different dessert, or just want to bake a delicious cake for you and family and friends, give this recipe a try. Find the complete recipe here: Cinnamon Roll Cheesecake

cinnamon roll cheesecake

Mexi-Terranean Tacos: My Daily Contribution to Globalization

Globalization, as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is the “Process by which the experience of everyday life, marked by the diffusion of commodities and ideas, is becoming standardized around the world.” I certainly saw evidence of this in Israel: you walk into a mall and there are snazzy British clothing stores, American fast food, outlets with cutting-edge Israeli technology, and a stationary store selling Hebrew translations of Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

mall in Israel

 

At this mall there were touristy shops right next to authentic Israeli ones.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid books translated into Hebrew

Diary of a Wimpy Kid in Hebrew!

In a way, it’s kind of sad to find McDonald’s and Cinnabon halfway across the world: I wanted a different experience, reassurance that there is still something interesting in the world for me to discover, that we still have something to learn from each other. At the same time, it was at times convenient and comforting to have access to some of the same brands I already know and trust from home.

There were some more traditional and apparently authentic shopping options, such as the shuk and flea markets. But even these were often subtly affected by international influence.

Israel Jerusalem shuk market

Above: a Jerusalem shuk, or market, just before Shabbat evening, is a busy place. Here appears to be an authentic scene of a merchant selling his produce to a tourist (but I wouldn’t be surprised if some of that fruit was either imported or non-native to the land. Israel is known for its fresh produce, however at the markets I did see apples imported from all over the world.)

shuk market Jerusalem, Israel

Jerusalem shuk

Whether we like it or not, globalization is happening. And one of the major causes is the internet: this omnipresent, constant, universal source of information that allows billions of people from all over the world to vent about their problems as if everyone else cares, see what problems someone a thousand miles away might be having, etc… in short, an infinite encyclopedia of shared information is at our fingertips instantly.

How is it that we can even know what Mediterranean food is made of, what dishes are popular in Mexico, without leaving our desk in the USA? The internet. Recipes and cuisine tastes did travel long before the internet existed, but today it connects us much more closely and as a result an exponentially more massive quantity of information travels more instantly around the globe. Fusion food is rising in popularity as the big jumble of delicious Pins and mouthwatering Insta pics become a mishmosh of creative juices swirling and scrambling in the mind of any innovative foodie. And with free, instant venues to publish their new creations, one need not be a royal chef or a worldly spice trader on the silk road to influence the global perspective on taste.

spinach feta tacos black bean hummus

Today I’m making my humble contribution to the great globalization movement with yet another blog post on fusion food. These tacos are a Mexican-style favorite, infused with both the flavors of (So-Cal’s idea of) Mexico and some of the taste of the Mediterranean that I observed on my recent trip to Israel. Really, above all this is American food, because only in the states can you find something as confused (and creative!) as black bean and chipotle hummus.

black bean hummus taco feta spinach tomato

Wherever you are in the world, I encourage you to try these tacos. Mixed up and proud of it, they are a healthy and flavorful combination of some of the best the world has to offer in terms of fun and delicious food. If you like, add some more of your own unique flavor elements, and post your creation on the internet for the world to see!

Here’s my recipe:

Mexi-Terranean Tacos

makes two tacos

tacos feta spinach tomato bean dip corn tortilla

Ingredients:

  • 2 small corn tortillas
  • 2-3 cups of fresh washed baby spinach
  • a handful of Cherubs grape tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (I used Lucerne brand Reduced Fat Feta Cheese)
  • 2-4 tbs Open Nature brand Chipotle Black Bean Dip (I found this with the hummus at my grocery store)

Directions: Warm tortillas to your liking (I did this using the microwave.) Then place a handful of spinach in the center of each tortilla. Top with grape tomatoes and sprinkle with feta cheese. Spoon hummus evenly over the other fillings.

Enjoy!

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Amateur Taco Salad

no beans taco salad

Breakfast with Tarzan

images

Sometimes I think of what foods I would make for my favorite childhood characters. It may seem like a mundane thing to fantasize about, but when you’re a chef and a food blogger (not to mention a shameless teenage Disney addict!) it makes sense that this is the direction your mind should wander.

For instance: I would give Winnie the Pooh a honey cake, but maybe one with less sugar to assist him in watching his waistline! For Snow White I would bake a peach or cherry pie (anything with apple in it would probably give her post-traumatic stress, poor child.) I would be a little intimidated by the prospect of cooking anything for Remy (the rat from Disney’s “Ratatouille”) since he’s a much fancier chef than I could ever hope to be…maybe I’d just let him cook me something. Above all, I think my cat would eat well the day I introduced a little rodent chef into our home!

But what does one make for Tarzan the ape-man? It must include bananas (obviously) but what else? It should be complicated enough to spark the higher gastronomical intellect that resides in the brain of any human, even one who has grown up with gorillas who must be content with unadulterated bananas. It should be healthy enough to fuel him for plenty of swinging through the trees, but also sweet and delicious enough to get that serotonin kicking in (because you never know when a gorilla-guy is going to decide to bite your head off!)

The solution:

Caramelpecanbananablissparfait

 

I think I’ve nailed the magic formula with this sinfully sweet yogurt parfait. Less processed cereal and non-GMO yogurt with fresh banana makes it closer to nature, whilst salted caramel flavor provides that lovely flavor of the high living all humans crave. A good balance of nutrients complete with fiber, protein, calcium, and potassium, this luscious cup of layers would be a perfect breakfast to serve Tarzan in the treetops before a day of riding the vines or fighting off evil wild predators. But I suggest doubling the recipe – he’s a big guy, and you know he’ll scarf down the whole thing before you get to taste a bite!

Caramel Pecan Banana Bliss Parfait

serves one

Great Grains pecan caramel banana yogurt parfait

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup Post brand Great Grains Crunchy Pecans cereal
  • one container Brown Cow brand Greek Salted Caramel on the Bottom yogurt
  • 1/2 banana, sliced

Directions:

In a tall glass, layer cereal, yogurt, and banana slices until all ingredients are used up.

You can do this however you like – my strategy, if you’re curious, was this: I layered first cereal, then yogurt, then a few banana slices, then more cereal, yogurt, banana, and repeated the process until I had a gorgeous glass full of yum!

caramel greek yogurt parfait banana pecan

Aromatic Oatmeal

Most foods give off a smell, especially when they’re warm. Sometimes the smell is a bit repugnant (case in point: sophisticated cheese.) Oftentimes it is beckoning, tempting. And occasionally, it is absolutely irresistible!

That last was the case for the delicious, quick blueberry hazelnut chocolate chip oatmeal I made this morning. As I boiled the water with the oats, cinnamon, and guilt-free Truvia natural sweetener (I used their baking blend variety which contains some sugar but is lower in sugars and calories than refined sugar), a lovely smell began wafting towards my nose. And when I mixed in luscious fresh blueberries, crunchy hazelnuts, and a swirl of melted chocolate chips, I knew I was on to something. This oatmeal smelled so delicious it was almost a shame to eat it all up!

blueberry hazelnut chocolate chip oatmeal

But eat it I did, knowing that this was not only a tasty breakfast but also a healthy one. With a good portion of fiber and some vital nutrients from the blueberries, as well as a lower sugar content than instant oatmeal due to the Truvia, this makes a great carb portion of a balanced breakfast, possibly to be combined with some eggs, nut butter on fruit, or yogurt for protein. I might also suggest adding some more spices, like nutmeg or ginger, so it is even more aromatic.

Blueberry Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Oatmeal

serves one

oatmeal blueberry chocolate hazelnut with truvia

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup quick cooking rolled oats
  • 1 tbs Truvia baking blend
  • small dash cinnamon
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup fresh, washed blueberries
  • 1 tbs chopped hazelnuts
  • 10-15 semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Pour oats, Truvia, and cinnamon into a pot on stove. Mix. Add water. Heat to medium and cook for about a minute or until oats are bubbling and water is absorbed.

Pour oatmeal into serving bowl. Mix in blueberries, hazelnuts, and chocolate chips.

Let cool a minute and enjoy warm. But first, just take in that magical smell… mmmm!

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