Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Green-ish monster

The basis for this smoothie/shake comes from Squeaky Gourmet, my go-to resource of late. Some of the recipes in the book are SO SIMPLE and yet, I'd never thought to make them. Clean eating doesn't have to mean complicated, and even I forget that sometimes.

Anyway, this shake is supposed to be made with milk, protein powder, coffee (a packet of Starbucks Via works great--just dissolve it in a bit of warm water first so it's not gritty), vanilla, and ice. After making that a few times--The H likes it, too--I decided to mix it up a bit today and greenify it.
The one I made today contains almond milk (plain, unsweetened), chocolate protein powder, instant coffee, spinach, a dash of vanilla, ice and about a tablespoon of coconut butter.

Cool and refreshing, with the tasteless benefits of spinach. Not a bad way to start a day that I'm feeling under the weather!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Banana bread bliss

Remember how I said this was the best banana bread recipe, gluten-free or otherwise?


It has been relegated to second place, after this guy (not the one in blue):
Behold, the new best-ever vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free (except for the chocolate chips) banana bread! This beauty hails from Erin McKenna's cookbook BabyCakes.

Seriously, this loaf has changed my perception of GF baked goods, homemade or otherwise--and believe me, I've had plenty--from this day forward, henceforth and forevermore. (That sure looks good. Think she'll ever let me have a taste??)
Pretty tall order, right? You haven't tasted it, or you'd be nodding in agreement.

It's light, fluffy. Springy to the touch. Sweet but not overpowering. Completely devoid of that funky mouth-roof tingle or telltale GF aftertaste. Unbelievably soft. Not gritty. Very cake-like. Purely blissful. (It's about time, Mom!)

Equally blissful are the giant muffins I made out of the leftover batter, studded with walnut pieces.
These beauties, as big as my palm, nearly got Hoovered up by yours truly before I could even take a picture. Then self restraint won out, and I set [most of] them aside to cool before bagging them individually for a treat or quick breakfast later this week.

It's hard being so virtuous.

I don't know why this recipe turned out darker than any banana bread I've ever made; it's certainly not burnt. Maybe the coconut oil does that? The recipe, interestingly enough, is slightly different from the version Ms. McKenna posted herself in December 2010. Guess the only thing to do is try them both and hold a taste test!

Invite me over for that, ok?

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread
from BabyCakes by Erin McKenna

2 cups Bob's Red Mill gluten-free all-purpose flour blend
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup coconut oil, plus more for greasing the pan
2/3 cup agave nectar
2/3 cup rice milk (I used plain unsweetened almond milk)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 4 medium-large fruits)
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 325* and lightly grease a loaf pan with oil.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, salt, and cinnamon. Add 1/2 cup oil, agave, milk, and vanilla. Stir until smooth.

3. Fold in bananas and chocolate chips using a rubber spatula.

4. Fill loaf pan halfway with batter (make the best muffins ever with the leftover!) and bake in center of oven 35 minutes, rotating pan after 20 minutes. The finished loaf should bounce back slightly when pressed, and a toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean.

5. Cool in pan for 20 minutes, then invert onto a cutting board or cooling rack. Slice and serve immediately, or cool completely before serving. Wrap in plastic wrap and store at room temperature.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Meal plan!

So, I did it. I made a real live meal plan. Kinda had to, since The H isn't around and I refuse to feed the little guy fast food or convenience food at every meal... though surely it would be *easy* to, I would be a very large and lumpy woman if I didn't make an effort to plan ahead. I do love food. Even the junky stuff.

Here is what we're having this week, in no particular order:

Trader Joe's black bean and cheese taquitos (I said not *every* meal) with pineapple salsa, Greek yogurt with fresh berries, and leftover mac 'n' cheese from lunch for the little guy

Grilled chicken with caramelized onion quinoa--this grain dish is from Squeaky Gourmet, and man is it a good one! Surprising how some of the tastiest things are made from the simplest ingredients.

Buffalo chicken wraps using the meat from a whole bird I'm cooking in the CrockPot early in the week

Cuban black beans with brown rice and poblano peppers (another Squeaky Gourmet inspiration)

Balsamic lime salmon with the world's greatest tomato soup

Gluten free mini pizzas with black olives and co-op pepperoni, plus whatever veggie odds and ends I have left at the end of the week--this will make a great Friday dinner so The H can enjoy our inevitable leftovers when he gets home

That covers my bases for dinners this week. I may switch it up and make one or two for lunch on a daycare day (more time to putter) and have leftovers for dinner. There is half a package of shrimp in the freezer with this recipe written all over it. My mouth is watering just thinking about that one.

Anything fantastic on your menu this week?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Summer dress

This is semi-related to clean eating...

I don't own any shorts that fit.* My smallest pair, which was tight a few years ago (and *just* fit in this photo)
are now saggy and baggy. They get me by for one wearing, fresh from the dryer.

So I've been leaning heavily on my skirts--brown cotton, black cotton, and denim. That denim one was a reach for me, since it's quite a bit shorter than the other two, but I'm happy with my legs and don't mind showing them off (yay running!).

For awhile now, I've been scoping out clearance racks at various stores, trying to add to my summer (and heck, year-round) wardrobe in my new smaller size without breaking the bank. I was thrilled to find two dresses that are not only cute on the hanger, but feel like they were made for me! I have a wedding shower to attend soon, and was dreading the thought of opening my closet to stare once again at the empty hangers and shapeless (on me!) garments that I can no longer fill out, top or bottom. When I tried this dress on, I knew I'd found my shower outfit.

And when the little guy looked up from the bench where he was reading a book and said, "Mommy looks fancy," I knew we had a winner.

Two years ago, I would never had chosen such a dress-it's so low cut! It's shorter than my shins!--but for whatever reason now, I was drawn to it, and was beyond pleased with the results.

There are so many great colors in the pattern; my next challenge will be finding jewelry to complement it. Thank goodness I didn't out(under?)grow my earring collection!

*Since drafting this post, I've been blessed with a pair of perfect denim shorts and a pair of linen-blend "walking" shorts, both for ridiculously good prices. But I still adore this dress. :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011


That is what I am. Especially when it comes to food. Maybe some of it has to do with the heat, and more than a little The H's crazy work travel schedule this month. Blah. It's depressing to plan meals for me and the little guy, knowing he won't likely appreciate them like I want him to. :) The perils of being 3, I guess. Th H is living it up Marriott style again next week, then shortly after that, we're all tagging along on a jaunt to Connecticut. Know anything about it? Anything we must do?

Since I last had a decent post, here's what I've been up to...

June 27th - Ran a 5K with my superfast friend, set a PR with 22:56. Enjoyed a most delicious root beer float afterwards. 4th in my age group.

July 4th - Dusted off my old (free!) bike and went for a 10-mile ride. Owie.

July 6th - Braved the sore butt and went for another ride, only 5 miles this time. Meh.

July 9th - Ran a half marathon with a group of running friends, set a new PR of 1:53. We had to get up before 3am to make it to the race that started at 6am. 2nd in my age group. (I'm the nerd in purple.)
July 16th - Ran a 4-mile race near my parents' house, set another PR of 31:26. Up until the last minute before awards were given out, I was 1st in my age group, but suddenly that changed to 2nd.

July 21st - Rode 7 miles in the morning, and tried a run in the evening. Not my finest moment. Or run.

I guess I've been busy. But not in the kitchen, bummer. I'm still loving the Squeaky Gourmet book and plan to tuck it in my purse when I grocery shop tomorrow for the week The H is gone. I *need* to get back on track. My pants (ok, shorts... I'm no fool) still fit just fine, but my energy and willpower are starting to suffer a little. I'm off to blog-browse for a touch of inspiration.

What have you been up to? Any fantastic recipes you've made?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Summer staples

This afternoon, after a trip to the library and local coffee shop, the little guy and I stopped into our beloved Ken's Fruit Market for a few tomatoes. My mom came for a quick visit earlier this week and helped me plant some *beautiful* basil plants from the farmers' market, and it was about time to pick a few leaves for a caprese salad.

My lunch, or at least the first half (I'm sure I'll need more protein in a bit), was a delicious rainbow of summery colors: red tomatoes and green basil with some cubes of fresh white mozzarella, next to half of a juicy golden orange peach and emeralds of kiwi. Everything was SO fresh and SO succulent that I quite simply forgot to take a picture. Not everything was locally sourced (peaches and tomatoes aren't ripe here in the mitten until later, and I've yet to see a kiwi plant here) but I'm pleased I was able to support local business with my purchases anyway. These gorgeous shocks of color are sure to be major players in our meals for the next few months.

What is your favorite summer produce?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Oh where, oh where has The H gone today?

Oh where, oh where can he be?
That's right. Vegas, baby. Which means I can eat shrimp this week!

The little guy and I are actually on week two of four "Mommy and Caleb" weeks in a row. Forgive my inevitable lack of creativity toward the end of this month. Super-humid weather and cooking-for-one (more or less) weariness is bound to catch up with me.

We did all right today; I was pretty proud of myself for remembering to marinate some chicken breast in Garlic Expressions dressing last night. It was easy to throw those on the grill after church, reheat some quinoa, and toss a few ears of corn onto the grill. With the addition of some sweet local cherries, our lunch was complete.

For dinner, we packed a picnic and headed to a local beach/splash pad with my in-laws. Playing in the water always gives him a big appetite! He mowed through a whole sandwich (blackberry no-sugar jam + almond butter on local whole-wheat bread), grapes, apple slices, two gluten-free blueberry muffins, and some Special K cracker chips.

My lunches this week will be leftovers (shrimp + quinoa with veggies, chicken breast + spinach salad, gluten-free spaghetti with meat sauce...) but as for dinners, I'm kind of flying blind right now. That is a pretty terrible place to be, for someone who is trying to eat clean anyway, so I will try to get my act together and form a decent meal plan. If only it weren't so *hot* I could probably come up with a great list in no time!