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Mango-Banana Gelato

08/09/2011 2 comments

First and foremost, let me confess…

The sinfully rich looking creaminess you see above is not really gelato, and it’s not ice cream either.

Guys and Dolls…This is BETTER!

This is a virtually sugar-free, dairy free, healthy dessert that can be made within five minutes and will have your taste buds (and the little voice inside your head…or is that…just me? ;-)) convinced that you are sinning BIG TIME.

As you know from my juicing adventure, Sam and I have committed to eating healthier, which means getting creative and producing alternatives to typical desserts.  After dinner we either skip dessert entirely or have some fresh fruit plain, or with some vanilla yogurt.  Nevertheless, that doesn’t always satiate the craving for a sweet, creamy gelato/ice cream.

I guarantee that if you love gelato and ice cream the way I do, you will L-O-V-E this Mango-Banana (pseudo) Gelato.

It’s basically a mango and banana (already pre-cut and frozen) with just a little vanilla yogurt (I used soy yogurt) and a handful of walnuts pureed in a food processor.

I tell you, the mango and banana combination totally works! As Sam and I indulged last night, we kept commenting on how delicious our “gelato” was and how it easily competes with the real thing (like the one we had not too long ago), without all the extra fat and sugar.  I don’t know about you, but for us, it doesn’t get any better than that.

In the past I’ve pureed frozen bananas (I got the idea from here), which is really good on its own.  But of course, I had to take it to another level and added either mangos or (fresh, not frozen) strawberries to the frozen bananas with a little agave nectar, a few semi-sweet chocolate chips or sprinkled with cocoa powder.  However, this one is by far the best.  I can’t wait to continue experimenting with other fruits and nuts, nut butters, etc. (using the frozen bananas as a base for the “cream” factor).

You owe it to yourself, regardless if you’re trying to eat healthy or not (you can even have it for breakfast), to give this a try, and if you do, please feel free to share your thoughts.

My only concern now is, will my ice-cream maker feel lonely??

Thanks and have a great day!

“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.”  – La Rochefoucauld

Mango-Banana Gelato

Yields two servings

1 pre-cut frozen mango (skin removed)

1 pre-cut frozen large ripe banana (skin removed)

1/4 cup vanilla soy or greek yogurt

small handful of walnuts (or any nut)

To prepare:

Place first three ingredients into your food processor (or blender) and pulse continuously (scraping down sides as needed) until you start to get a lovely creamy texture, then add nuts and pulse for about 20 seconds.  By the way, the frozen pieces of fruit may clump up, and it’ll feel like it’s not going anywhere, but don’t lose faith.  Just continue to pulse.  I sometimes pulse in 10-20 second increments a few times and then as if by magic, it all comes together beautifully.

Enjoy!

SamCyn’s Blueberry-Coriander Muffin Experiment…

05/12/2011 2 comments

When using blueberries in lieu of pumpkin to make muffins from the delicious Honey Walnut Pumpkin muffin recipe I made a while back, I was not sure which spice to use in place of the pumpkin spice.

I know I could have used cinnamon, but I wanted something different.  So, I asked my buddy Google to tell me “what spices work with blueberries“.  I got the idea to use coriander from this site and decided to go into unchartered territory and experiment.

I had purchased ground coriander to use for an Indian recipe (that I never got around to making), so it’s not a spice I’m very familiar with. 

After some research, I learned that the use of coriander is native to the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions and has been known in Asian countries for thousands of years.  It was used as a spice in both Greek and Roman cultures, the latter using it to preserve meats and flavor breads. 

The coriander seeds have a fragrant flavor that is reminiscent of both citrus peel and sage.  The early physicians, including Hippocrates, used coriander for its medicinal properties, including as an aromatic stimulant.  Coriander leaves (cilantro) (which I love) are featured in the culinary traditions of Latin American, Indian and Chinese cuisine.

Duh! I’m sure I’ve had this in sooo many dishes and didn’t even know it.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I just made a new friend…the experiment was a winner! My husband, sister and mother all agreed they were really moist and DA-LISH. 

The coriander offered a nice, mellow citrusy note (smelled really good too!) that paired really well with the blueberries and caramelized walnuts.  And the best part is, because they are low-fat (no butter or oil), you can freely smother them with butter (like I did), take a bite and go to tastebud heaven.

One of these hot, buttered muffins with a good cup of coffee (or tea) makes for a good breakfast or afternoon snack :-).

“And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.” Exodus 16:31

Blueberry-Coriander Muffin

(yields about 12 muffins)

Ingredients 

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup oat bran
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons cane sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup light vanilla soymilk
  • 6 oz. package of fresh blueberries (mashed)
  • 1 medium ripe banana (mashed)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • 1/3 cup dark agave nectar

To Prepare 

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a 12-muffin pan (or muffin cups) with cooking spray and set aside.

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Toast walnuts in saucepan on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, then add 1/3 cup of agave nectar.  When mixture starts to bubble, stir to prevent burning, cook for about another 1-2 minutes.  Spread covered walnuts onto the waxed paper, allow to cool and break up clusters.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, oat bran, coriander, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  In a second large bowl, combine sugar, applesauce, honey, soy milk, mashed blueberries and banana, egg and vanilla.

Add this mixture to flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in walnuts.

Pour batter into prepared muffin pan and bake for about 20-25 minutes or when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack then remove from pan and set aside to let cool completely.  Or you can pop one out of the pan, slather on the butter and enjoy!

Waldorf Salad – GCC: Menu 30

04/25/2011 6 comments

It’s been so long since I’ve made a dish from the Gutsy Cooks Club, I feel like I’ve just joined for the first time.  Thankfully, Monica (our club founder) has been patient and kind enough not to boot me out :-).

The Waldorf Salad was first created between 1893 and 1896 at the Waldorf Hotel in New York City by Oscar Tschirky, who was the Waldorf’s maître d’hôtel.  This salad is traditionally made of fresh apples, celery and toasted walnuts, dressed in mayonnaise, and usually served on a bed of lettuce as an appetizer or a light meal. 

Hmm, I thought what a perfect (and super easy!) Spring dish and accompaniment to Easter dinner at the In-laws.

The recipe from The Illustrated Kitchen Bible consisted of apples, celery, mayonnaise, lemon juice and walnuts, along with some salt and pepper which I thought was a bit bland. 

Therefore, I searched around and found this Waldorf Salad recipe and added romaine lettuce, seedless green grapes, dried cherries and jazzed up the mayonnaise with some non-fat, plain greek yogurt, lemon juice and in lieu of sugar, I added my newfound friend agave nectar, a sweetener made from the Blue Agave plant (which tequila is made from).

Much to my delight, the sweet, tart and nutty flavors combined with the crispy, crunchy and juicy textures of all the ingredients made this salad a total hit with everyone.

Needless to say, I will make this again and I think next time I’ll add some goat cheese.

Ladies and Gentlemen…this concludes this week’s Edible Adventure.

“To remember a successful salad is generally to remember a successful dinner; at all events, the perfect dinner necessarily includes the perfect salad.” George Ellwanger (1848-1906) ‘Pleasures of the Table’ (1902)

Banana-Nut Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

01/28/2011 3 comments

The last couple of days, I have been craving homemade chocolate chip cookies in a BIG way! So much so, that I could literally taste it. 

When I mentioned this to my husband, he perked up, looked at me with those sexy brown eyes, smiled at me and said, “Yeah babe, that would be nice!”. 

I’m a total sucker for this man and that’s ALL I needed to hear, to give me the extra push. 

Okay…STOP!

The truth is….I wanted cookies, and I am using Sam as a scapegoat.  Yes, It’s a form of denial…but SO what!?!  

I had recently read an article about resistant starch foods and how they can help you lose weight and control your blood sugar.  Included in the list were bananas and oatmeal. 

Hmmm, It just so happens I had a few bananas that were ripe for consumption, that I felt needed to be utilized differently than the typical: smoothie, banana bread, cereal topping, etc.

So I figured, why not add bananas and oatmeal to the chocolate chip cookies??  After all, we’re all about being healthy around here, right? (again, the denial).  Additionally, Let’s not forget the fact that, Sam eats cookies for breakfast :-). 

I searched the internet and chose two different recipes that I combined and tweaked to my own liking.  One was for Banana-Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies and the other for  Banana-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.

MMMMMM!

When you taste these you will think you died and went to banana-nut bread/chocolate chip cookie heaven! 

These babies are moist like banana bread, with a hearty texture from the walnuts and oats, and an undeniably rich (satisfy your craving for) chocolate chip cookie goodness.  I made these before going to work today and ended up having a few (too many) for breakfast…I think Sam would be proud ;-).  

Banana-Nut Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 mashed ripe bananas
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 12 oz. (1 bag) of semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

 

To prepare

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together, set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on medium speed, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until smoothly blended, about 1 minute.
  4. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until blended, about 1 minute. Mix in the bananas.  On low speed, add the flour mixture, mixing just until it is incorporated. Mix in the oats.
  5. Stop the mixer and with a large spoon stir in the chocolate chips, and walnuts.
  6. Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto lined baking sheets, spacing about 2-3 inches apart.  Bake the cookies one sheet at a time (rotating baking sheet halfway during baking) until the edges are lightly browned and the tops look dry, about 14-16 minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, than use a spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

The cookies can be stored in a tightly covered container, layered between sheets of wax paper, at room temperature for up to 3 days, but don’t expect them to last that long.

“I am still convinced that a good, simple, homemade cookie is preferable to all the store-bought cookies one can find.”  – James Beard