Banana Oat “Monster” Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3 very ripe bananas (the browner, the better)
  • 1/3 cup (90 g) applesauce
  • 2 cups (160 g) oats, uncooked
  • 1/4 cup almond milk*
  • 1/4 cup (40 g) raisins
  • 2 Tblsp (28 g) dark chocolate mini chips
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F).
  • In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas with a fork until gooey (the mashed bananas should resemble baby food).
  • Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl.
  • Use a spoonula to mix all the ingredients until well combined.
  • Line a baking sheet (or two) with parchment paper.
  • Drop tablespoon-size mounds of dough onto the parchment-lined baking sheet(s).  [Note that these cookies don’t spread during baking, so you can place them relatively close to one another on the sheet if you want.]
  • Bake the cookies for 15-20 minutes.
  • Cool on a rack, then eat!  [Don’t worry, these cookies cool in a matter of minutes.]  :)

Makes 24 cookies.

Nutritional information per cookie: 51 calories, 1 g fat, 10 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 1 g protein.

My army of cookies.

My army of cookies.

The first serving.

The first serving.

Cookies posing for their close-up.

Cookies posing for their close-up.

My Notes:

  • I used Silk unsweetened vanilla almond milk.
  • If you want to make these cookies vegan, you can either use non-dairy chocolate chips, or omit the chocolate all together.

The ratings:
Mental Cost (ingredient availability): Completely aggravation-free. (Read: super low.)
Financial Cost (ingredient cost): Recession-friendly low.
Emotional Cost (cooking skill level): A five-year-old-can-make-this low.  (Or even a mature 4-year-old…)
Time Cost (recipe preparation):  Oh-crap-I-need-to-make-something-for-tomorrow’s-potluck low. (Read: wicked low.)
Life Cost (clean up time/effort): The-same-five-year-old-can-do-clean-up-on-his/her-own low.  (The kid will have fun crumpling and throwing away the parchment – bonus.)
Worth It? (rate from 1-5): 4.9019

Miscellaneous suggestions, insights, and/or thoughts:

  • It can be difficult to tell when the cookies are actually “done” baking – so just do your best.  If the cookies are still a little undercooked in the middle, it’s no big deal.
  • These cookies are likely to spoil in a day or two – so if you, your friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, etc. don’t eat them all within 24 hours of baking them, I’d recommend storing the leftovers in the fridge or freezer.  (I stored my leftovers in the freezer.  When I wanted to eat one, I microwaved it at 40% power for 15 seconds.  Worked perfectly.)
  • The cookies taste a lot like a chocolate-chip banana bread.  Yum.
  • Future variations of this recipe could involve cocoa powder instead of chocolate chips, going chocolate-free, adding nuts, using dried apple pieces instead of raisins…
  • I adore that these cookies have zero refined sugar in them – and yet still satisfy my desire for a sweet dessert at the end of a meal.  Awesome.

Stef

Posted in apple, banana, chocolate, cookie, dessert, food, fruit, oatmeal, picture step-by-step, postaweek, raisins, recipe, soymilk, vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Crunchy Chickpeas

Ingredients:

  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried paprika

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (F).
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, the set aside.
  • Pour the canned chickpeas into a large colander, then rinse with cold water.
  • Place the rinsed chickpeas into a clean kitchen towel, and pat the beans dry.
  • Transfer the towel-dried chickpeas to a large mixing bowl.
  • Use a spoonula to coat the chickpeas with the olive oil.
  • Add the spices, and use the spoonula once again to mix well.
  • Place the spice chickpeas on the parchment-lined baking sheet, then spread the beans out.  (The more space between the chickpeas, the faster they will cook.)
  • Bake the chickpeas for 35-45 minutes, or until they are completely dried and crunchy.
  • Let the chickpeas cool on the baking sheet.  Once completely cool, transfer to a storage container.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Nutritional information per serving for 6 servings: 81 calories, 3.5 g fat, 12 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 3.5 g protein.

Nutritional information per serving for 8 servings: 61 calories, 2.5 g fat, 9 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 2.5 g protein.

The pan of chickpeas, before going into the oven.

The pan of chickpeas, before going into the oven.

The chickpeas, after baking.

The chickpeas, after baking.

Close-up of the cooked chickpeas.  Yum.

Close-up of the cooked chickpeas. Yum.

The ratings:
Mental Cost (ingredient availability): Insanely low.
Financial Cost (ingredient cost): Cheapskate low.
Emotional Cost (cooking skill level): Idiot-proof low.
Time Cost (recipe preparation):  Make-on-a-moment’s-notice low.
Life Cost (clean up time/effort): Tremendously low.  (Parchment makes clean-up.)
Worth It? (rate from 1-5): 4.77

Miscellaneous suggestions, insights, and/or thoughts:

  • These chickpeas totally fit the bill when I want a crunchy, savory treat – yet they’re super-low in sodium, moderate on the calories, and carb-friendly.  Nice.
  • A variety of other spices could be used in place of the ones included in this recipe; I think lemon-pepper, rosemary, curry, or any Penzey’s spice blend would be a winner.

Stef

Posted in chickpeas, picture step-by-step, postaweek, recipe, snack, vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Chocolate Chia Pudding

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup vanilla unsweetened almond milk, chilled*
  • 3 Tablespoons (45 g/1.5 oz) chia seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons (10 g) cocoa powder
  • 1 Tablespoon agave nectar
  • 2 packets Splenda (or other no-calorie sweetener of your choice)*

Instructions:

  • Add all of the ingredients to a medium-sized bowl.
  • Whisk everything together until thoroughly combined (2-3 minutes).
  • Refrigerate the bowl for at least 3 hours, preferably 4 or more.
  • Once the pudding is solidified, scoop and serve.  Eat immediately.

Makes 2-3 servings.

Nutritional information per serving for 2 servings: 160 calories, 9.25 g fat, 13 g carbohydrate, 11.5 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 6 g protein.

Nutritional information per serving for 3 servings: 107 calories, 6 g fat, 8.75 g carbohydrate, 7.5 g fiber, 5.5 g sugar, 4 g protein.

choco chia pudding

My Notes:

  • You can replace the almond milk with any other non-dairy (or dairy) “milk” of your choice (i.e., soy, coconut, hemp, cow…).  Just note that any changes will impact the nutritional information provided above.
  • You can replace the 2 packets of artificial sweetener with another Tablespoon of agave if you’d like; once again, just note that the nutritional information will change a bit.

The ratings:
Mental Cost (ingredient availability): Pretty low.  (I got the chia seeds at Trader Joe’s, of all places.)
Financial Cost (ingredient cost): Rather low.  (Chia seeds are cheap.)
Emotional Cost (cooking skill level): Can-make-this-with-the-kids low.  (And you should.)  :)
Time Cost (recipe preparation):  Apart from refrigeration time, super low.  (So go play with those kids while you wait for the pudding to set.)
Life Cost (clean up time/effort): Awesomely low.  (You can eat your pudding with those kids, rinse a few bowls, and bam – done.)
Worth It? (rate from 1-5): 4.77

Miscellaneous suggestions, insights, and/or thoughts:

  • I got the inspiration for this pudding from the back of the chia seed package.  The directions provided were pretty vague (“Combine 1/4 cup chia seeds with 1 cup coconut milk, 1/4 cup [or less] of honey or agave syrup, and flavors of your choice”), so I took a leap of faith and tossed things together that I thought might taste good and work from a kitchen chemistry perspective.
  • Initially, the mixture is very runny.  I wasn’t sure how well it was going to set.
  • Happily, after a few hours in the fridge, the mixture became semi-firm.  The texture reminded me of a tapioca-type pudding.
  • Each individual portion is pretty substantial size-wise, yet is overall quite healthy (for a tasty dessert, anyway). A win-win!

Stef

Posted in chocolate, dessert, food, postaweek, recipe, soymilk, vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sushi-Inspired Seitan Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup (1.5 ounces) frozen shelled edamame
  • 1/3 cup (3 ounces) seitan, diced
  • One quarter (1 ounce) of a very ripe avocado, diced
  • 1 teaspoon sweet chili sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce (low-sodium variety if you are watching your salt intake)
  • 2 drops pure sesame seed oil (yes, just a mere 2 drops)

Instructions:

  • Put the edamame in a microwave-save bowl.  Cover with water, and nuke for 20-40 seconds (or until the edamame are heated all the way through).  Once warm, drain the water and place the cooked edamame in a bowl.
  • Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl.
  • Stir the ingredients with a spoonula to coat everything evenly.
  • Smile.  You just made a meal in literally 2 minutes.  Boom.  Eat, and enjoy.

Makes 1 serving.

Nutritional information per serving (approximates): 235 calories, 8.5 g fat, 12.5 g carbohydrate, 6 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 28 g protein.

edamame seitan salad

The ratings:
Mental Cost (ingredient availability): For most people, pretty low
Financial Cost (ingredient cost): Rather low
Emotional Cost (cooking skill level): Super low
Time Cost (recipe preparation):  Super DUPER low
Life Cost (clean up time/effort): Delightfully low
Worth It? (rate from 1-5): 4.919

Miscellaneous suggestions, insights, and/or thoughts:

I did not intend to make a recipe today.  I came home from yoga class, looked in my fridge, saw that I had avocado and seitan that I needed to use up in the next day or two, and racked my brain for what I could make that was a little different (as I was once again getting kind of bored with my food).  Thinking back to a fun sushi meal I had a few weeks ago, I decided to throw these six ingredients together and see how a dish might turn out – and I was genuinely surprised to learn that things turned out super-well!  This salad is crunchy (from the edamame) yet also creamy (from the avocado); sweet (from the chili sauce) but also earthy (from the seitan); filling but not heavy; and overall quite delicious and satisfying.  I had intended to make this dish just once – but I have a feeling this one might become a new standard in my meal planning repertoire.  Yay for successful experiments!

Stef

Posted in asian, avocado, beans, edamame, food, postaweek, recipe, seitan, soy, vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Baklava

Ingredients:

  • 1 half-pound package of phyllo dough (or half of a pound package)
  • 3.5 cups chopped walnuts, pecans, and/or almonds
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1-and-1/2 sticks melted margarine, divided
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions:

  • Remove the phyllo dough package from the freezer and place it in the refrigerator for 24 hours to thaw.
  • Once thawed, remove the phyllo dough from the fridge 1 hour before using.
  • When you are ready to begin actually making the baklava, preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F).
  • Toss together the chopped nuts and cinnamon. Set aside.
  • Thoroughly spray a 9″x13″ baking pan with nonstick spray.
  • Then, make sure the sheets of phyllo will generally fit the pan (if they’re a little bigger, that’s okay.) If they’re much bigger, just trim them with a sharp knife.
  • When working with the phyllo dough, only remove the sheets you immediately need, keeping the other sheets covered in plastic wrap, then a damp cloth.
  • In a microwave-safe bowl, melt 1 stick of the margarine.  (Heat the stick for 20-30 seconds, then stir with a fork.  Continue heating in 20-30 second increments [stirring afterwards each time] until all of the margarine is melted.)
  • Using a pastry brush (or a BBQ brush if you don’t have a pastry brush on hand), butter the top sheet of phyllo with melted margarine, then grab the just-buttered sheet of phyllo dough and the unbuttered sheet below it. Set the two sheets in the pan, buttered sheet face down. Press lightly into the pan. Repeat this twice more, so that you have six sheets of phyllo in the pan, three of which are buttered.
  • Sprinkle on enough nuts to make a single layer. (I ended up using a scant 3/4 cup of nuts in each layer.)
  • Return to the stack of phyllo dough.  Butter one sheet of phyllo, grab that sheet and the sheet beneath it, and place them on top of the nuts.
  • Add another layer of nuts, then two more phyllo sheets (one buttered, one not).
  • Repeat this a couple more times, until you’re out of nuts. (My baklava had a total of 5 nut layers.)
  • Top the dish with 4 more individually-buttered phyllo sheets, ending with a buttered top.
  • Cut the baklava into squares using a very sharp knife.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the baklava is very golden brown.
  • While the baklava is baking, combine one-half stick of the margarine, honey, water, sugar, and vanilla in a saucepan.
  • Bring the honey mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer until the baklava is finished baking (~20-30 minutes).
  • When you remove the baklava from the oven, drizzle half of the sauce evenly all over the top.  (I used a half-cup measuring spoon to spread the liquid sugar over the baked baklava, allow for better control of the sauce flow and placement.)
  • Allow the baklava pieces to sit and absorb for a minute, then drizzle on the remaining sauce.  Make sure to pour the sauce both over the top of each piece, as well as to saturate the area in between each of the slices.
  • Allow the baklava to cool, uncovered, for several hours. Once completely cool, you can carefully remove the pieces from the pan and serve/eat.

Makes 32 pieces.

Nutritional information per piece (approximates): 185 calories, 13 g fat, 18 g carbohydrate, 1.5 g fiber, 11.5 g sugar, 2 g protein.

Here’s the baklava before I put it in the oven…

Here’s the baklava before I put it in the oven…

…and here it is after 30 minutes of heat, all nice and golden brown.

…and here it is after 30 minutes of heat, all nice and golden brown.

The first piece.

The first piece.

The ratings:
Mental Cost (ingredient availability): Very low
Financial Cost (ingredient cost): Pretty low
Emotional Cost (cooking skill level): Medium
Time Cost (recipe preparation):  Also medium
Life Cost (clean up time/effort): Surprisingly low
Worth It? (rate from 1-5): 4.973

Miscellaneous suggestions, insights, and/or thoughts:

Baklava is not all that difficult to make – I was very surprised!  If you want to read the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of how this recipe came to be, check out this blog post.

Stef

Posted in dessert, food, greek, honey, mediterranean, nuts, phyllo dough, picture step-by-step, postaweek, recipe, vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mushroom Bean Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1/8 cup (1.5 ounces) diced mushrooms [I used baby portabellas]
  • 1/4 cup low-sugar marinara sauce
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) seitan
  • 1/4 cup chili beans
  • 1 Tablespoon low fat sour cream

Instructions:

  • Put the mushrooms in a microwave-safe bowl, and add 1/4 cup of water.  Cook the mushrooms for 60-90 seconds, or until fork-tender.
  • Drain the water from the mushrooms.  Then add the marinara sauce, seitan, and chili beans to the bowl.  Cook for another 60-90 seconds, or until hot.
  • Add the sour cream to the bowl, and mix well.  You can microwave for an additional 30-60 seconds (if you want the sour cream to get hot as well), or you can eat as-is (if you like the contrast of cool sour cream against hot chili).

Makes 1 serving.

Nutritional information per serving (approximates): 205 calories, 4 g fat, 23.5 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 20 g protein.

01_chili 02_chili close up

The ratings:
Mental Cost (ingredient availability): Very low
Financial Cost (ingredient cost): Pinch-your-pennies low
Emotional Cost (cooking skill level): No-need-for-therapy low
Time Cost (recipe preparation):  Week-night-appropriate low
Life Cost (clean up time/effort): Do-the-dishes-tomorrow low
Worth It? (rate from 1-5): 4.4567

Miscellaneous suggestions, insights, and/or thoughts:

  • If you like additional add-ins to your chili (think cheese, diced onions, etc.) you can certainly add them to this dish.  [Just note that any added ingredients will change the nutritional information provided.]
  • This dish may not look like much from the photos, but boy howdy was it ever tasty!  It was creamy, chewy, filling, and satisfying.
  • This chili is a lovely soothing meal for a cold winter night; and given how fast and easy it is to assemble and cook, it’s particularly nice after a harried or stressful day.

Stef

Posted in "beef", "chicken", "sausage", beans, mushrooms, picture step-by-step, postaweek, seitan, tomato sauce, vegetables, vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Pizza Eggs

Ingredients:

  • 1 baby potato
  • 1/2 cup egg beaters
  • 1/4 cup low-sugar pizza sauce
  • 1 stick low-fat string cheese, cut into thin rounds
  • 2 Tablespoons shredded or grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions:

  • Bake the baby potato.  (I do this quickly by wrapping the potato in a paper towel, then wrapping around the paper towel with a cloth kitchen towel, then putting the cloth towel bundle in the microwave and cooking on high heat for 2-3 minutes.)  Once the potato is baked, carefully cut it into a small/medium-sized dice.
  • Lightly spray a microwave-safe bowl with oil.  Pour the egg beaters into the bowl, then add the diced potato.
  • Microwave the egg/potato combo for 45 seconds, then stir, and cook for another 45 seconds.
  • Top the now-mostly-cooked egg/potato combo with the pizza sauce.  Then place the string cheese rounds on top of the pizza sauce.
  • Cook the bowl of egg/potato/sauce/cheese for 30-45 seconds, or until the sauce is hot and the cheese melts.
  • Carefully remove the bowl from the microwave, and top the food in the bowl with the Parmesan cheese.  Eat immediately. (Or, wait a few minutes and allow the food to cool slightly if it’s too hot to bite into right from the microwave).

Makes 1 serving.

Nutritional information per serving (approximates): 235 calories, 6.5 g fat, 19 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 6.5 g sugar, 25.5 g protein.

pizza eggs

The ratings:
Mental Cost (ingredient availability): Very low
Financial Cost (ingredient cost): Very, very low
Emotional Cost (cooking skill level): Still very low
Time Cost (recipe preparation):  Super-low
Life Cost (clean up time/effort): Relaxingly low
Worth It? (rate from 1-5): 4.314159

Miscellaneous suggestions, insights, and/or thoughts:

  • This dish tasted like a brunch item that might be served at a pizzeria.  It certainly isn’t a replacement for a proper slice of pizza, but it is good in its own right.
  • A side salad (or a serving of some other green vegetable) and a piece of fruit can be added to this main dish to create a fast, well-rounded meal.
  • I suspect kids might like this food; could be an easy way to feed the family on a harried week night.
  • (Admittedly, this dish is a close cousin of the previously documented Easy Italian Eggs; but I still think it’s good.)  :)

Stef

Posted in cheese, egg beaters, postaweek, potato, tomato sauce, vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment