PB Honey Toast, My Way

IMG_4541.JPGLately, I find myself so over “date night”.  Don’t get me wrong, I love an evening out with my husband and friends, but “date night” has so many connotations attached to it, both positive and negative. There’s the pressure to make reservations, get dressed, have dinner planned for the kids and the sitter, arrange a date and time that works for friends (if it’s a group)… And then, you risk the fact that your kids might still be awake when you get home later that evening!! At least, if your kids are anything like mine.  On the other hand, it feels so good to get dressed up, put on some heels, try a new restaurant, and catch up with your husband and friends over a bottle of wine and good food.

A couple of weeks ago, Chris and I were debating whether we should go out one night.  We wanted some kid-free time together, but we were also exhausted after a long week.  Has anyone else been there? Please tell me we’re not the only ones…

Jack happened to be with his grandparents watching his cousins’ soccer games, and Isabelle was home with us.  In an inspired moment, Chris had the brilliant beyond brilliant idea to ask our sweet H.S neighbor girl to come watch Isabelle so we could go out! During the day! Brilliant, no?! We’ve often gone out during the day, but always with an agenda or a list of errands to accomplish in X amount of time.  This time, we had NO agenda – just me and my hubs, and the best “day date”.  We even made it home in time to make dinner for the kids, and enjoy movie night with them! It was truly, an almost perfect day.

We ended up at Coffee Shop in Walnut Creek where Chris got the most phenomenal Peanut Butter + Honey Toast.  I haven’t quite been able to stop thinking about it, so this week I made my own homemade version, topped with a dusting of cinnamon. Simple, easy, filling, and nutritious! Thanks for the inspiration Coffee Shop!

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INGREDIENTS:

  • Toast, of choice.  I used Udi’s Whole Wheat Gluten Free Bread.
  • 1-2 tablespoons of peanut butter, I always prefer smooth PB, and think it works best with this snack.
  • 2-3 teaspoons of Honey
  • Banana, sliced.
  • Cinnamon for dusting.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Toast bread.
  2. Spread a light amount of PB, about a tablespoon.
  3. Drizzle honey over the peanut butter, 2-3 teaspoons.
  4. Slice banana to cover the toast.
  5. Dust cinnamon on top!

Note: I especially love cinnamon for it’s ability to regulate blood sugar, lower cholesterol, any many other benefits.  Raw, local honey is amazing for its ability to relieve some allergies, and anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.  In high school I would make myself a tea of hot water, honey, and cinnamon.  It was so good! Perhaps I’ll share the recipe one day…

I have had this for a light lunch numerous times this week, it’s that good and filling!

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cheers!

 

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Breakfast Power Protein Bars

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Last winter around this time I was nursing an infant, and therefore, sleeping sporadically through the night.  Isabelle was waking up multiple times throughout the night, Jack was up once or twice a night to use the potty… and when they had both started sleeping a little more soundly – my husband got pneumonia (and tore his Achilles), the kids were both on antibiotics for their own never-ending colds, and I was plain old exhausted.  Exhausted.  The sleep deprivation combined with a bit of stress made we want to snack at all hours of the day and night. Can someone say, “comfort food”?!

I reached a breaking point where I just couldn’t keep eating chocolate at all hours.  Don’t get me wrong, I could eat chocolate at every meal – but it was getting too much.   And while I love snacking on nuts, it just wasn’t satisfying enough during this time in my life.  I needed something that was both satisfying and filling.  Therefore, when I saw this recipe in Gwyneth Paltrow’s book It’s All Good, I knew I had to try them.  They turned out to be amazing during those months!  Even now, I’ve been making these pretty regularly.  We keep them in the fridge for up to 10 days, although they typically get eaten long before 10 days have passed!  They’re perfect for a mid morning snack, an on-the-go lunch, or something to nibble at until dinner is ready.  Plus, my husband and kids love them too!!  Okay, maybe Jack doesn’t like them that much (my sweet little picky eater) – but Isabelle rips them out of my hands!

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INGREDIENTS:

Not going to lie, I had to go to the store and especially buy some of this stuff. But it was SO. WORTH. IT! Seriously, coconut flour?? Shredded coconuts?? Almond extract (which I now loooove)

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews
  • 1 1/2 cups dates (take out the pit and give them a rough chop)
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (the recipe actually calls for almond butter, but I’ve never made them with almond butter. PB all the way!)
  • 1/2 cup high quality maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate (66%)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a food processor, grind the cashews until they look like sand.  Add the dates, peanut butter, maple syrup, coconut flour, shredded coconut, and almond extract.  Pulse it until you have a sticky ball of dough.  Similar to the picture below.
  2. Line an 8×8 inch baking dish with parchment paper.  Press the “dough mixture”into the dish.  Once all spread out, it should be about an inch thick.  The dough mixture will be very sticky, so it often helps to put a little water on your hands to help spread it out into the pan.  Refrigerate for at least 6 hours, until firm.
  3. Once 6 hours have passed, and you’re about ready to make the chocolate mixture take out your double boiler.  If you don’t have a double boiler, put a little water in a pot and place a heat proof bowl on top of it.  Bring the water to a simmer, and add the chocolate and coconut oil.  Stir until the chocolate has almost entirely melted and remove from heat.  Take the dish out of the refrigerator and pour the melted chocolate mixture all over the cold dough.  Place the dish back into the refrigerator 1-2 hours until it’s set.
  4. Use the parchment paper to lift the entire bar out of the dish.  Cut the bar into rectangles.  Sometimes, if I have enough time (ahem, nap times), I tie the bars up individually in parchment paper.  Lastly, put them in a ziplock or airtight container and store in the fridge.

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I took this picture after letting it sit in the fridge for about 2 hours.

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Cheers!

(Almost) Guilt Free Oatmeal Pancakes

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We love pancakes over here.  Sometimes for breakfast, often for dinner, and maybe lunch too.  Made from scratch or out of a box or bag – they’re practically foolproof.  Especially with a thick(ish) slab of butter and a drizzle of warm maple syrup, who can resist? I definitely can’t, yet I always have a tinge of regret because pancakes have SUGAR, which isn’t something I always want to have at breakfast or dinner.  These pancakes are amazing because they only have 1 tablespoon of sugar and oatmeal! I don’t feel guilty eating them or serving them to my family – everybody wins!  Make them this weekend, and you won’t regret it either 🙂

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Recipe adapted from pancakes, crepes, waffles & french toast by Hannah Miles

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup oats + a small sprinkle of sugar if desired
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (almond or 2% are what I’ve used and work fine)
  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. First, you must make the oat mixture.  Put the oats (with a super light dusting of sugar – about a quarter tablespoon, if desired) on a pan over medium heat to toast the oats.  About 3 minutes, and remove from heat.  Allow to cool and put the oats in one cup of milk.  Allow the oats to soak 20 minutes.
  2. To make the batter, put the flour, baking powder, egg, salt, sugar, and milk-soaked oats mixture in a large mixing bowl and whisk until combined.
  3. Add the melted butter, and whisk until fully mixed.
  4. Slowly whisk the remaining half cup of milk, making sure the batter does not become too thin.  If the batter does get too thin, simply stop adding milk.
  5. To cook the pancakes, put a little butter on a large pan over medium heat so that it lightly coats the pan.  Then pour about a quarter to a third cup of batter for each pancake.  Cook until the underside of the pancake is golden brown and some bubbles start to form on the top – about 3 minutes.  Flip with a spatula until the other side cooks – another 3 minutes.   Keep an eye on them!

We don’t have a warmer drawer, so I put the oven at 200 degrees and stack the pancakes in there to keep warm until they’re all done and ready to serve!

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I love adding fresh berries – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries to my pancakes. Its a fresh and delicious way to add extra fiber and a little sweetness 😉

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cheers!