Hi. I’ll spare you the long apology for why I haven’t blogged since (I’m afraid to check how long it’s been.) In brief, I’ve been stranded in a desolate place called college, where there is little to no opportunity for ventures into the unexplored world of baked, cooked, or blended nutriment. If you regret not seeing any fun recipes on this site for the past millennium or so, imagine how I must have felt having to eat the distinctively uncreative food available in my isolated confinement.
Overall, I actually had a pretty good first year of college, aside from estrangement from my blender. But that’s boring and I won’t get into it right now. Are you ready for an ice cold summer refreshment smooth as the most decadent of ice creams yet packed with hearty grains and splashed with the splendid kiss of tart berries? Here is your (5-ingredients only!) recipe.
Simple Chocolate Berry Oat Shake
- 8 fresh strawberries
- 1 Weight Watchers brand (or similar) chocolate fudge ice cream bar
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 1 tbs fruit preserves (I used Whole Foods 365 brand Fruits of the Forest flavor spread)
- 1 individual packet dry instant oatmeal (I used Quaker lower sugar maple and brown sugar)
Wash strawberries, remove stems and leaves, and chop each into three or four large pieces (to ease blending.) If desired, reserve one strawberry for decoration.
Combine strawberries, ice cream bar, water and fruit preserves in blender. Blend until smooth.
Open oatmeal packet and pour dry oatmeal into blender. Blend for 8-16 seconds (longer blending leads to smoother texture, but I like some grainy chunks in my shakes.)
Pour smoothie into glass and serve cold.
If you live in the US and ever shop at such supermarkets as Safeway or Albertson’s, you’ve probably been inundated recently with flimsy paper game boards and tiny tear-off tickets. The goal of the Monopoly grocery game, as you may or may not have cared to read in the instructions, is to keep shopping, wear your eyes to charcoal nubs and hunch your back into a hilltop while you pore over the game board, struggling to match a set of alphanumerical tickets to the prize that a certain combination allows you to win, “potentially.”
Meanwhile, the grocery store issues the same tickets over and over so you’d have to travel the US to find all the unique codes to win a prize. If this seems like too much work, there is also an online sweepstakes wherein you can enter codes on specially-marked tickets and get a message that your code is not a winner. In exchange, the site will collect your contact info for who knows what subliminal purpose, as if the great wide Internet didn’t already provide this information for anyone curious as long as the inquirer swore their conniving intentions.
If you by some cosmic accident earn all the tickets required for a certain prize, you can take your fragile ticket-game-board to a store and, providing no desperate rival tears it out of your grasp on the journey, show your “potential winning game board” to an employee, who will surely call over several others of increasingly intimidating stature within the company hierarchy, until one finally has the authority to convince you that you are not eligible to receive your prize after all.
Or, alternately, the employees may surrender and give you that $35,000 vehicle or $200 family picnic. Thinking you have triumphed, you will march through all the red tape to actually obtain your prize, no doubt to find that your Cinderella story is fleeting: the fairy godmother may give you a free car, but she’ll certainly not help you pay for gas or maintenance after that fender-bender resulting from your boundless road excitement upon having won against all odds. You may well receive a free jar of pickles for a family picnic, but there’s no guarantee your family will be willing to budge from the Superbowl commercials or eat their sandwiches without fighting over the Frisbee and making all the potato salad spill on your nice new checkered blanket. Is that heartwarming family experience really worth $200? Or your newly incurred blindness and hunchback?
For most of us, who will not “win” anything at all, the contest simply results in lifelong trauma from seeing this old geezer threatening us with the heavy hand of capitalism around every corner of the supermarket:
Regardless of the threat posed by this skulking symbol of human subjugation and dehumanization as hopeful middle-class citizens are reduced to statistics in an odds ratio, I have bravely continued to shop at my local grocery stores. After all, I had to buy ingredients for this fudgey, chocolatey breakfast cake for one with a touch of tropical tang that made my morning marvelous. Besides, I might as well collect the tickets while they’re available: I might win a prize!
You don’t have to win the lottery to taste this hearty, intriguing, and indulgent microwave cake. All you need is five minutes, a microwave, and a few commonplace ingredients you probably already have lying around (feel free to replace the brands/flavors I used with ones that suit you). Fuel up for the race to the top – but don’t get so strong and nourished you beat me to that $200 family picnic, or I’ll be so mad I just might have to sue you!
Chocolate Fudge Breakfast Cake with Peachy Mango Tang
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s)
- one single-serving packet bananas ‘n’ cream instant oatmeal
- dash ginger
- 1 egg
- one single-serve Jell-O brand sugar free crème brûlée rice pudding cup (103 grams)
- 1 tbs chocolate peanut butter blend (I used Reese’s Spreads)
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tbs semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Nestle)
- one container nonfat peach Greek yogurt
- 1 tbs sweetened flaked coconut
- handful of dried mango (I used a 10 g pouch of Crispy Green brand dried mango)
- 1 tsp honey
In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine cocoa, oatmeal, and ginger. Mix.
Beat in egg. Add pudding, peanut butter, and honey. Mix to combine. Batter will be thick.
Stir in chocolate chips.
Microwave batter in microwave-safe bowl for about 2 minutes or until cooked through (I did 1-1/2 minutes but found my cake was just a little on the fudgey side).
Top with yogurt, coconut flakes, dried mango, and a drizzle of honey. Enjoy warm.
Today is New Year’s Eve, a sleepless night of lavish parties, overconsumption of hors-dœuvres, and potential substance abuse, for many celebrants.
Tomorrow is New Year’s Day, the first day of many people’s new health regimes for 2016. Far too many of us are unsatisfied with our physical bodies and resolve to alter them, often using drastic measures that compromise our personal qualities such as compassion and patience. (Anyone who has ever had a family member or friend go a week on only spinach and grapefruit can attest that they aren’t very fun to converse with at the breakfast table during that time.)
Far too many of these so-called health resolutions will fall by the wayside within a few months, as people slip back into old routines that may not provide optimal nourishment for their bodies. Rather than making a resolution I can’t keep, this year I hope to explore more ways to nourish all levels of my being while also treating myself to something that’s going to put me in a good mood for conversation! (Especially as one of my other hopes for the year is to make some new friends). With recipes such as this fueling, decadent smoothie, I can get the best balance of physical, emotional, mental, and gustatory health.
This satisfying smoothie is perfect for breakfast, an afternoon pick-me-up, or a secretly healthy dessert. A sophisticated blend of subtle mocha, rich chocolate, salty nut butter, juicy pear, and sweet banana, serve cold and savor (that is, if you happen to live in a place that’s warm enough for cold drinks in January!)
Nutty Mocha Almond Fudge Pear Smoothie
- 1/2 cup plain almond milk
- 1 single-serving container of dark chocolate pudding (I used Jell-O sugar free)
- 1 whole fresh pear, washed and cut into large chunks
- 1 frozen banana (or use a fresh banana and add more ice)
- 1 small ice cube
- 1 So Delicious brand Mocha Almond Fudge frozen almond milk bar
- 1 tbs nut butter (I only had crunchy peanut butter, but almond butter would match the theme of the smoothie better if you prefer.)
Place almond milk, pudding, pear, banana, and ice cubes in blender.
Carefully break off some of the chocolate coating on the frozen almond milk bar using a spoon. Reserve in a cool place for topping.
Spoon the rest of the frozen almond milk bar into the blender with the other ingredients.
Blend until completely smooth.
Pour into a tall glass. Top with a dollop of nut butter and a gaggle of chocolate-almond pieces. Go nuts over this addictive treat any time of day!
Note: this smoothie can easily be made vegan by using vegan pudding and making sure all other ingredients are certified vegan.
I come from a cereal breakfast family. Every morning when I was in elementary school, I took for granted that cereal with milk would be breakfast. It wasn’t until high school that I began to branch out with toast, eggs, and other more interesting creations. But I can’t say I’ve never looked back.
Over the years, various brands and flavors of cereal have taken on certain characters for me based on the memories I associate with them.
For instance, one of the Spiderman movies came out when my brother and I were both in a Froot-Loops phase. The cereal began advertising Spiderman trinket bobbleheads inside each box, so every time we opened a new box we’d discover a new plastic treasure to end up forgotten on the floor a few minutes later. Now every time I see a picture of Spiderman I smell the sugar and food coloring of Froot-Loops.
Image copyright Marvel Comics, found on https://craytoncomicblog.wordpress.com/2010/11/07/review-157-carnage-1-oktober-2010-marvel-comics/
When I was around twelve, in that awkward stage between unhealthy child muncher and unhealthy dieting tween, my family was on vacation in some So-Cal town. Because everyone was picky about breakfast, Dad took us kids to the local grocery store to get whatever we were willing to eat. I actually wanted to try something different, so I picked out Cinnabon cereal: basically tiny stale cinnamon buns in milk.
I was disappointed that the cereal wasn’t as amazing as a real cinnamon bun. My mom also noted that it was lower in nutritional value than the cereals I would usually eat at home (Special K, Honey Bunches of Oats, Post Selects, etc.) I renounced the cereal, teary-eyed and embarrassed.
The lowest calorie cereal I could find in the grocery store back home was Fiber One 80 calorie cardboard squares. My first year of high school, I would pour a few squares into a bowl that had once overflowed with Froot-Loops, add a few drops of skim milk, and slice up two strawberries to match the picture on the box.
Image found on http://www.mrbreakfast.com/cereal_detail.asp?id=1462
One time my mom was trying to convince me I wasn’t eating enough and insisted upon measuring my cereal. I was terrified I would discover I had poured more than a serving size into the bowl, but actually it was less than the stated 3/4 cup. My mom and I looked each other in the eye, both knowing I had a problem, both unsure whether to laugh or cry. I’ll always remember that moment as one of the painful sunbeams that has illuminated my long and ongoing path to healing.
This past summer, my mother, 14-year-old brother and I were on snack break at the Natural History Museum. I chose to grab a single-serving convenience cup of Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds, an old favorite, and some Greek yogurt to mix into it.
Image credit: “NaturalHistoryMuseumOfLosAngelesCounty” by David Leigh Ellis – Self-photographed. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:NaturalHistoryMuseumOfLosAngelesCounty.jpg#/media/File:NaturalHistoryMuseumOfLosAngelesCounty.jpg
My brother eyed my purchase suspiciously and remarked, “You know those cereal cups are for college students, right?” Since I was shipping off to my first year of college at the end of the month, I felt entitled to eat college convenience food. My brother just shook his head as I mixed the yogurt into the sweet granola clusters and flakes. Clearly I was a precocious one.
I haven’t seen any convenience cups of Honey Bunches of Oats at the 7-11 near my college. I’ve missed them, and I feel like I’m not getting the real college experience my brother promised. So now while home for winter break, I decided recently to pick up a full box at the grocery store, a better value than those individual cups anyway. As soon as I brought it home, my mind was whirring with ideas of recipes to use it in.
This one is pretty simple: a fueling, invigorating blueberry orange smoothie with a full serving of Post Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds for added crunch and a spoonful of crunchy peanut butter for added energy. Feel free to use almond butter or any other nut butter of your choosing.
Blueberry Orange Peanut Butter Crunch Smoothie
- one single-serving container Greek blueberry yogurt (I used Yoplait Greek 100)
- 1/2 cup plain almond milk
- 1 whole large navel orange
- 1 frozen banana (or use a fresh banana and add more ice)
- a couple ice cubes
- 3/4 cup Post Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds cereal
- 1 tbs crunchy peanut butter
Peel orange and separate segments for easier blending. Place most of the orange segments in the blender, but reserve one or two for garnish.
Pour almond milk into blender. Add yogurt, frozen banana, and ice cubes.
Blend until smooth
Add cereal and blend for about five seconds, just to mix it in.
Pour smoothie into serving glass. Garnish with reserved orange slice(s) and a scoop of your favorite nut butter. Enjoy cold.
Up and at ’em!
Recently, my family went on an excursion to the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro. For a building that looks small on the outside, that place sure packs a lot of information into all its exhibits and I recommend it to all ocean enthusiasts!
The most exciting part of the trip, however, were the nearby tide pools which we explored after the aquarium. Perched on a rock, gazing down at little hermit crabs rushing about and watching the tide roll in and out, I felt very connected to nature.
Sunburns are red, the ocean is blue, and these blueberry pancakes have blue color too!
Sorry for that terrible rhyme. I just couldn’t resist.
And you won’t be able to resist these fluffy, buttery pancakes (which contain no butter and are packed with protein.) Use your favorite flavor of Greek yogurt – I used lemon, but the flavor didn’t really come out. Maybe adding some lemon zest would help?
Overall, these pancakes make a great way to start your day. Enjoy!
Blueberry Yogurt Pancakes
based on recipe from everydaybelle.com
- 5.3 oz Greek yogurt – I used lemon flavor; you couldn’t really taste it
- 1 egg
- scant 1/2 cup all purpose flour (or experiment with your favorite flour)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 1 tbs peanut butter
Pour yogurt into a medium bowl. Beat in egg. Add flour and baking soda. Mix well. Batter will be lumpy. Stir in blueberries.
Spray a nonstick pan with cooking spray.
Pour batter into pan and cook over medium heat. When batter is very bubbly, flip the pancakes. When they are brown on both sides, remove from heat and place on serving plate.
To celebrate mother’s day and my birthday which coincided with it, my mom and I took a girls’ day the eve of May 10th to visit the Natural History Museum. (You can get some insight into both our personalities here by our idea of a girls’ day out!)
There was a special exhibit called Grandes Maestros: Great Masters of Iberoamerican Folk Art, displaying sculpture, ceramics, textiles, wood carvings, and more from traditional, contemporary artists throughout Central and South America, Mexico, and the Iberian Peninsula. We were encouraged to take photos so hopefully it’s all right for me to post some here…
A room overflowing with artwork.
We both really liked this mask.
I was surprised to see musical instruments on display, and wondered if anyone would ever play them?
All the descriptions of items were in both English and Spanish, and as a linguistic enthusiast who knows little Spanish I was getting really excited by the few words I was able to match up and understand phrases in Spanish. But nothing made me more proud than the billboard I was able to translate on my own on the train ride over to the museum: “Aqui viven las bebidas de un dolar” (or something like that) means “Here live the $1 drinks!” I guess it was a McDonald’s ad. It helped prepare me for the language I was about to be semi-immersed in at the museum.
Unlike a $1 drink, grabbed on the go at a fast food restaurant, the recipe I’m about to share with you takes some care and time to prepare. In fact, you might even say it is a work of art – created by yours truly, the grand master of kitchen exploration.
Well, it’s not really all that hard… I bet there are some talented individuals reading this who could replicate my success with this recipe nearly as deliciously as I was able to craft it.
Who am I kidding? I’m no master of cooking, and have about as much fluency with making baked fruit as I do with Spanish (little to none.) But, following this makeshift recipe based on a culinary dream that struck me several weeks ago, I was able to toss together an innovative new breakfast dish that tasted great! I encourage all mediocre cooks to get their artist’s palette on and try variations on this recipe for basic baked apple baked oatmeal. Translation: A soft, warm green apple boat filled with soft-baked, sweetly spiced oats emblazoned with chewy raisins and swirled with a chocolate hazelnut butter kiss.
Try baking longer than I did for crunchier/firmer oats and softer apples, or bake the amount listed below for softer oats. Furthermore, go ahead and get creative with adding different mix-ins or even using a different fruit puree to flavor the oats. Your masterpiece will be a splendid, balanced breakfast when topped with some delightfully cold frozen yogurt of your favorite flavor. Whether you follow my recipe exactly or go all Picasso on it, I wish you a good morning and a lovely, hearty breakfast. Provecho! (That’s bon appetit in Mexican Spanish according to here.)
Baked Apple Baked Oatmeal: Apple Cinnamon Raisin Chocolate Hazelnut
- 1 large Granny Smith apple
- splash of nutmeg
- dash of ginger
- 1 packet of Safeway brand Regular Flavor instant oatmeal
- 1 Tree Top brand single serving container of Cinnamon flavor applesauce
- 1 single serving box of Sunmaid brand raisins
- 2 tbs chocolate hazelnut spread
- one container Greek vanilla yogurt (I used Dannon brand Light & Fit Toasted Coconut Vanilla flavor)
Freeze yogurt for at least an hour, or until it has the texture of soft frozen yogurt.
Preheat oven to 385 Fahrenheit. Line an oven-safe dish with aluminum foil, and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
In a small bowl, combine oats, applesauce, and raisins. Mix thoroughly.
Cut apple in half around core. Use sharp knife and spoon to lift a half-sphere of apple out of each half.
Place apple halves in baking dish, cut-side up. As for the remaining apple surrounding the core, cut it into slices, and halve the slices. Arrange them in baking dish around apple halves.
Sprinkle spices on apple pieces, and spread any leftover applesauce on them to help sweeten them in baking. Then, spoon oatmeal mixture into and around the holes in apple halves. Spoon leftovers over apple slices.
Swirl chocolate hazelnut butter into oatmeal.
Bake at 385 Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes or until oatmeal is as firm as you desire and apples are soft.
Remove from oven and place apples into serving dish(es.) Scoop frozen yogurt on top, if desired.
My English class had to take an AP test last week. I had to rise at the eerie hour of five in the morning to dress my aching body before the birds were even awake to proclaim the glorious Wednesday. Upon arriving at school, all the AP students were congregated around the locked door to our test room, groggily soaking in the dawn light and discussing their terrible mornings (in between last-minute studying, of course.) Many had not eaten breakfast, which to me would be getting the first question wrong on the test. (I’m sure they still did okay. However, a healthy breakfast is important every morning – even the accursed morning set aside for you to rise before the sun and tramp down cold hallways to a locked gymnasium to take a test. 🙂 )
Mornings can be tough. Make yours better by having breakfast and fueling your day with macronutrients and great savory taste! I made this pita pizza as a quick breakfast with whole grains, protein, veggies, and less sugar than the sweet breakfasts I typically have, to increase the length of time I’d stay energized. I microwaved frozen veggies, but feel free to use any already-cooked leftovers you may have lying around, or if you have the time get fancy and cook them from scratch.
Quick Breakfast Pita Pizza
- one personal-sized whole wheat pita round
- 1/2 cup marinara sauce
- 1 Laughing Cow cheese wedge, any flavor – I might suggest Creamy Swiss or Mozzarella, Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil
- 1-2 cups cooked vegetables (Use your favorite types and cooking method; lots of colors!)
Cook vegetables if they aren’t already cooked.
Place sauce in a small, microwave safe bowl. Cover with a paper towel and warm up for about 30 seconds. Heat up pita.
Spread cheese on pita. Pour on sauce, and top with warm veggies.
Matzo farfel is basically like French toast, but with the bread replaced by matzo (the “bread of poverty and persecution,” eaten by observant Jews for eight days during Passover.) It seems like the kind of dish you’d only eat for lack of the opportunity to eat anything better, like those fake Cheerio-type cereals made with who-knows-what that are kosher for Passover but deserve the title of “the cereal of styrofoam and indigestion.” However, in its bland quirkiness, matzo farfel has garnered a certain corner of my heart. I used to love it so much as a kid my mom would make it for me throughout the year, and eating it evokes for me the memory of childhood.
Out of pure lack of inspiration, I made plain matzo farfel for my breakfast the other day, expecting its childhood appeal to have worn off, leaving it tasteless and unappealing. However, taking that first bite transported me back to a simpler time. Instantly, my food-blogger’s brain began buzzing with ideas in response to the vital question: how can I make this dish blog-worthy? I knew I wanted to make it again, but this time with more to recommend it nutritionally, and with some more interesting flavors.
A few days later, I threw together the ingredients currently in our Passover-ified pantry to make this more interesting matzo farfel. Cooked veggies add flavor, antioxidants, and fiber, while crumbled goat cheese melts magnificently into the matzo mass for a smooth richness complemented by the Mediterranean feel of the pimiento stuffed olives. I added some sage to spice things up – it would have been even better with some more interesting spices, so feel free to elaborate on that front.
Mediterranean Style Matzo Farfel
- 2 sheets matzo (I used egg; try whole wheat or gluten free if you’re feeling adventurous)
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup milk of choice (I used plain almond milk)
- pinch salt
- pinch sage
- 1 cup fresh, cooked or frozen vegetable mix (I used frozen Green Giant brand Steamers Antioxidant Blend, which is a mixture of broccoli, carrots, red and yellow bell peppers cooked in an olive oil seasoning; found in the frozen aisle)
- 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
- 4 pimiento stuffed manzanilla olives
Spray a medium to large pan with nonstick spray.
Prepare vegetables if frozen. (I microwaved them while cooking matzo farfel for convenience.)
In a medium to small bowl, beat egg, milk, and salt. Break matzo into pieces and add, coating each piece with egg mixture.
Pour matzo-egg mixture onto prepared pan. Heat to medium. Cook until one side of matzo pieces is browned, then flip. (You might get some omelette-y bits if you pour all the egg in there – that’s all right, it adds taste and protein and can help indicate when you’re ready to flip!) When both sides of matzo pieces are cooked and there is no more runny egg, remove from heat.
Place on serving plate. Mix in veggies, cheese and olives. Enjoy!
In 1926, Los Angelesian Julius Freed opened an orange juice stand. Three years later, Freed’s real estate broker Bill Hamlin improved upon his recipe to create a version of the orange drink that was less acidic. It became so popular that by 1964, the “Orange Julius” was named the official drink of the World’s Fair in New York. Dairy Queen saw the beverage gaining a following in the libation kingdom, and purchased it in 1987. Now this icy concoction of orange juice, milk, powdered egg whites, and vanilla flavoring is sold in Dairy Queen outlets from coast to coast.
(Image above from Wikipedia)
Looking at that ingredient list, it’s easy to see why the Orange Julius is so widely liked: it’s boring. I mean, I’m sure it has some taste to it, since there were probably oranges involved in that juice at some point, but most of the other ingredients are designed to soften the edge of that citrus flavor and create a sweetly simple drink even tastebuds accustomed to the most boring of American fast food could handle. And that’s all right for some. Others like to be a bit more adventurous…
I wasn’t thinking about an Orange Julius when I made this smoothie. In fact, I’ve never even tasted one, so I’m not sure I can fairly compare it with what I came up with. All I know is, I took one sip of this ice-cold blend and the iconic drink came to mind. I wondered if I had accidentally created some variation on their recipe… a variation for those who crave a little more excitement, who relish a rich, novel taste and perhaps don’t relish powdered egg whites in their flavorful libations. Is it an improvement on the classic? Dare to taste and decide.
Click here for the full recipe: Orange Julius Plus Smoothie
Orange Julius Information Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orange_Julius