Honey Cinnamon Hazelnut Butter

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You. Guys. Why on earth does everyone eat peanut butter?  Sure, it’s salty and crunchy and delicious.  But have you ever had HAZELNUT butter?  No? Well me either, until today when I made some.  And I won’t be going back to peanut butter for a long time.  Maybe ever!

You see, it all started when, once upon a time in a land far far away, my sister told me about this sweet hipster joint that “has really good toast”.  This is a thing people.  They literally serve toast.  And coffee.  And you can get some stuff on your toast and I’m sure it’s pretty good, but I couldn’t think of anything MORE L.A. and Portlandia Brunch Special all at once.  I vetoed the idea because, well I was disgustingly hungover and I wanted potatoes and grease, not toast!

But still, something she said intrigued me.  She said they made their own hazelnut butter and it was amazing with the toast!  I couldn’t get the idea of hazelnut butter out of my head.  This was literally weeks ago and I’ve been obsessing ever since.  I went to whole foods and all they had was chocolate hazelnut butter! I don’t want nutella, I want the pure stuff! I went to the farmer’s market and all they had was stupid almond butter for like 30$ a jar!  That’s not what I want!  So, I decided, since I just got a sweet food processor, that I should just make my own.  And it was so easy, I don’t know why I didn’t do it weeks ago!  I don’t know why anyone ever buys nut butters at all!  Ok, it might be cheaper to buy it in a jar than to buy your own fancy nuts and grind them up.  But so worth it!

I used about 3/4 lb. of raw hazelnuts, or 2 cups.  This cost about $7.50 at Whole Foods, and made about 1 cup of hazelnut butter.  Don’t laugh until you try it! Plus I bet that’s the price of 1 toast with a tiny schmear of the stuff at hipster brunch!!

Seriously this is so easy it barely needs a recipe.  But here goes!

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Honey Cinnamon Hazelnut Butter 

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 lb. raw hazelnuts
  • pinch of salt
  • dash of cinnamon
  • drizzle of honey

Preheat the oven to 350.  Place the nuts on a baking sheet and toast for around 8-10 minutes, shaking half way through.  When you can smell their fragrant hazelnuttyness and their skins begin to crack, take them out! Place in food processor and turn it on.  You have to keep scraping down the sides at first, and it turns into a coarse meal like texture.

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Keep processing and scraping until it starts to stick together and look a little more like nut butter.  Add salt, honey and cinnamon if you want (or any other flavorings!) and keep processing until it is a gooey, creamy delight.

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Store in an airtight jar or container.  Enjoy on toast!

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Things I’m gaining while I’m losing!

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This isn’t me but this is what I did!!  Shirshasana (Photo credit: kellinahandbasket) 

Ok, no time for a long, well thought out post!

Since starting WW, I’ve lost 5 lbs!  Which could be mostly water weight, but feels good nonetheless.  I have been consistently going over my points per day, and using up almost all my “extra” points they give you a week.  I haven’t been starving, but I also haven’t been making the healthiest choices I could.  Sometimes I think the “points” thing makes it a little too easy to cheat.  Like, last night I shouldn’t have eaten half a frozen pizza from Trader Joe’s, but it fit within my points so that’s what I did!  This last week I didn’t really lose anything, which I’m ok with since I went to a Top Chef dinner (what?  I can’t tell you anything else about it!), ate out Indian  on Friday night and didn’t work out as much as I could.

But, this week I feel like I’ve gained something really important. I’ve gained back my hope, my motivation, and my pride. I’ve realized just how far I’ve come since starting my wellness journey 6 years ago!  I might weigh more now, but I’m so much freakin stronger than I was!  Case in point: I did 22 REAL push ups today.  I also have been ROCKING the Insanity workouts which are the hardest workouts I’ve ever done.  This has really strengthened my arms, core, shoulders and legs! I noticed when I did a yoga podcast yesterday and I did the whole plank/downdog/plank thing repeatedly with no problem.  Also, I did my first LEGIT yoga headstand! And held it for like, 20 seconds!  It was amazing.  I did another one yesterday and today just to prove I could, and because it’s a killer core builder.

I was so tired this morning I wanted to take the day off. But today’s my weigh in day for WW and I wanted to have a loss, so I decided to do the Jillian Michaels Banish Fat video.  I remember the first time I did this video, I almost died.  I was huffing and puffing and “phoning it in” for the whole second half.  Today, I picked it because it was an “easy” work out for me!  And, I added in some harder moves because I wanted to kill it.  And kill it I did.

I am super excited to be feeling strong and proud of my body again.  I think that’s the most important thing you gain during the weight loss process–your confidence and self respect.

I have 3 days to lose 1.6 lbs to win my Diet Bet! Can I do it?  I’ll let you know! Either way, I think I’ll do another one because it’s super motivational and keeps me on a schedule.

Gotta Go, Keep it moving!

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Carrot Ginger Miso Soup with Tahini Swirl

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For some reason, when I’m working, by the time I get home I’m STARVING.  Like, light headed, hunger frenzy where I eat everything in sight before and while I cook dinner.  Even if I eat a snack in my car on the way home! And I eat a decent lunch and breakfast, so I’m not sure why, by the time I get home, I’m pretty much in a blind hunger rage.

So one of my New Year’s projects is to curb the hunger rage.  I decided to make a big batch of veggie soup every weekend (that I don’t have school) so I can eat a bowl while I cook dinner.  Soup is souper low in calories (and points!) and fills you up because it’s a large volume of liquid going into your belly. Plus, they are easy to make and very flavorful!

Friday I made a kale and cauliflower soup that would have been amahzing, but I over salted it!!  Ruined.  Sad.  I ate a bowl and it still tasted good ( I have a high salt tolerance) but I was thirsty for days so I threw the rest out.  One day I will remake it with a vengeance, and it will be uh-sogood.

Deb from Smitten Kitchen opened the year with a carrot soup recipe that sounded intriguing.  I decided to make a giant batch for the week and see if eating a bowl before dinner helped curb my cravings and over eating.  Smitten had two great carrot soup recipes, so I adapted my own combination of both! I think it’s best (for me) this way.  I don’t think I would want a week’s worth of soup that has curry (cumin) undertones so I used the Ginger-Miso soup recipe.  But I couldn’t pass up the tahini-lemon dollop because it just sounded so good!  I went with a little more ginger and a little less miso, but the recipe is pretty much the same.

The soup is sweet, spicy from the ginger, and the tahini-lemon swirl adds a nutty, umami note that makes this soup a must!

Carrot Ginger Miso Soup with Tahini Swirl

Adapted from these SmittenKitchen Recipes: Carrot Soup with tahini and crisped chick peas  and Carrot Soup with Miso and sesame

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Nutritional Information Per 1 cup serving with drizzle of tahini:

Calories: 95  Fat: 5g   Carbohydrate: 11g  Protein:  2  Points+: 2

Ingredients for the soup:

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger root, diced
  • 1 lb. carrots, diced
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp yellow miso, or to taste
  • 3 cloves garlic

Ingredients for the tahini drizzle:

  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • juice of 1 1/2 lemons, or to taste
  • water to thin

 

  1. Heat a large stock pot over medium heat and add sesame and olive oil.  Stir in onions and ginger, and let them cook over medium-low heat while you peel and dice the carrots.  Let them caramelize real nice!
  2. Add garlic and continue to cook for another few minutes, until the mix starts sticking and browning.
  3. Add carrots and raise heat to medium high.  Let them soften for a few minutes before adding the broth.  Bring to a boil and let simmer for another 15 minutes, or until carrots are nice and soft and fall apart when stabbed with a fork. DO NOT SALT anything until you have blended it all up and added the miso!
  4. Use food processor or immersion blender to puree soup until smooth.  Thin with water to desired consistency.  Add miso to taste and use blender to stir it in.
  5. Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together tahini and lemon juice, and add water until it’s a thin, creamy consistency.
  6. Serve soup in a bowl with a dollop or drizzle of the tahini!  Enjoy!

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New Year, New Favorites, and least favorites!

Hello, everybody!

Well I suppose it’s time for the obligatory new year’s post where I go into how this year is going to be different, I’m going to be different, and so are you! Well, I’m with Roni here on the “stateless diet”, so I am just moving forward on my path to better health and cleaner living.  Which really means, of course, that I haven’t lost weight!  Another reason I haven’t posted on my healthy living/weight loss/cooking blog.

Well, cynical self, I hate to break it to you, but things ARE going to be different year.  Why?  Well, because I’m going to be quitting my job, moving back to Santa Cruz for a month (or two!), and finishing grad school!  By this time next year I’ll have a masters and be on my way to a BCBA!  So yeah, I actually feel confident that this year is bringing some big changes for me and my boys.

Ok, and I confess, I jumped on the New Year’s band wagon and joined Weight Watchers. I’ve had success on their plan before (a long time ago) so I thought I would try it again.  So far so good, but we’ll see! I’ll keep you posted.  I like that fruits and veggies are “free”, which encourages me to eat them!  But, I don’t really like that traditional processed “diet” foods are low points while wholesome things like grains are pretty high.  I’m definitely trying to stick to the Skinny Rules but it gets tricky!

Another first? I joined a Diet Bet! 

I’m not really a betting gal, but I am all about rewards.  And response cost!  I bet 20$ that I will lose 7 lbs. by the end of the month! If I do it, I get to split the pot with everyone else who succeeds.  So far the pot for my bet is over $12,000!  I definitely don’t want to lose 20 bucks, and I definitely want to win some cashola!  It may sound silly  but 20$ is a small price to pay for motivation!

I guess instead of New Year’s Resolutions, this years I have New Years projects!  I also am on a mission to DIY make-over my bedroom into a fabulous chic boudoir!  Here is my first step:

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New vintage side table, lamp and table hippo!

What are your New Year’s projects? Anything big on your horizon? I”d love to hear!

And now, a few favorites to start this year off right!

Gerber Daisies!

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Anything mint or pistachio colored!

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This creepy abandoned zoo in Griffith Park.  Haunted? Probably.  Reminiscent of the Lost bear cages? Yes.  Instagrammers heaven? Totes.

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And, I can’t really afford to eat this on my WW plan, but this soda bread and these empanadas sound SOOO GOOD!

Finally, a truly terrible invention that is another first for me: a LEAST FAVORITE!  Don’t you sometimes wish Facebook had a thumbs down button? Well now you can hate all you want with a least favorites list!

This machine lets you eat all you want and then sucks it out of your stomach so you don’t get fat.  Everyone’s dream come true! Honestly, it just makes me so mad that the capitalist market encourages schemes like this instead of treating the problem.  Instead of coming up with creative ideas to encourage healthy living, let’s make tons of money off letting people consume as much as they want and not change their lifestyle at all! Ugh.  Anyways.  Signing off, for a better and brighter 2013!

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Miso-Tahini Soba

Well, a few thanksgiving pounds later and today I just really needed something wholesome.  And healthy.  And warm.  And creamy.  And savory!  This soba is kind of like my scrumptious soba salad, but heartier and for colder weather.  The buckwheat noodles are perfect for a post-thanksgiving meal, but the miso-tahini dressing and avocado give this dish the creamy umame that you still crave after 3 days of gluttony.  This warm bowl of earthy heartiness makes me feel like I might be doing something good for my life, after all.  It’s perfect on a crisp cold day when you just need a little something to warm (and fill!) you up. I used left over brussel sprouts and some cauliflower, but you could use any veggies you have.  Broccoli and carrots would be great too!

I was starving and didn’t take any pictures of the process, so this is a streamlined post.  Let’s get to it!

Miso-Tahini Soba

Serves 4

For the dressing: (All amounts are guesstimates, sorry.  Trust your palate!)

  • 3 tbsp Far East Sesame dressing (If you don’t have this, mix some sesame oil, sugar and rice vinegar and you’ll be good to go)
  • 2tbsp Tahini (ground sesame seed butter)
  • 2 tsp miso paste (I used yellow)
  • 1 tsp ground ginger (or use fresh grated ginger for more of a kick!)

For the noodles:

  • 4 oz. dry Buckwheat Soba noodles
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 10 oz. sprouted tofu, extra firm (if you have regular tofu, make sure to drain it first!)
  • 1 cup cooked brussels sprouts, quartered
  • 4 green onions, green and white parts sliced
  • 1 tbsp black sesame seeds
  • dried seaweed sheets to taste
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  1. Put a large pot of water on to boil. Cook Soba noodles according to directions, then drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. Meanwhile, chop veggies and tofu.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in non-stick pan until hot.  Toss in garlic and let cook for 1 minute.  Add mushrooms, cauliflower, tofu and cook on high heat, stirring occasionally.  Let the tofu and cauliflower get all brown and toasty!
  4. Add brussel sprouts and continue cooking for a few minutes.
  5. Add cooked soba noodles and sesame seeds and remove from heat.  Stir to combine with veggies.
  6. Whisk miso, tahini and dressing in a bowl until smooth.  Mix into noodles until everything is covered.
  7. Serve in a bowl, topped with green onions, avocado and shredded seaweed!  I also used some Japanese chili powder.  If you don’t have any, you can use red pepper flakes or Sriracha.

Happy Munching!

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Filed under Healthy Living, Main Courses, pasta, Recipes, Vegetables

Braised Winter Vegetable Pasta

Yes, it has butternut!  But this vegetable dish (with a little pasta!) is hearty and filling, not to mention healthy! It would be perfect to eat by the fireplace while it rains or even better, snows outside.  Except I live in SoCal, so I’ll just pretend.   I adapted the recipe from an Eating Well Meatless Meals cookbook I got last year. The original version is vegan, but I used chicken broth the first time I made it and beef broth this time.  I think the beef broth brings out a nice, rich flavor that compliments the vegetables perfectly. Does it look like a hot brown mushy mess? Like most delicious comfort foods, a thousand times YES! (Think curry, stew, chili!) This recipe makes a HUGE portion so there will be plenty of leftovers!  When I made it this time, the pasta got a little over cooked so if you like it more al dente I would let the veggies boil for a little while and then add the pasta after about 10 minutes.

Braised Winter Vegetable Pasta

  

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 sweet yellow onion, cut into thin rings
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine
  • 8 ounces pasta shells, orrechiete or other small noodles
  • 2 cups butternut squash, cubed
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 2 large parsnips, peeled and cubed
  • 4 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 oz. frozen edamame, peeled and shelled
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste

  

  1. Heat oil over medium heat in large stock pan or large dutch oven.
  2. Add onions and cook until deep brown, softened and caramelized.
  3. Add beef broth and wine and bring to a boil.
  4. Add all veggies and return to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Cook for about 10 minutes, then add pasta.
  5. Continue cooking over medium-high heat until all the liquid is absorbed and squash and pasta are tender.

Serve with grated parmesan and a crusty piece of french bread!

 

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Filed under butternut madness, Healthy Living, Main Courses, pasta, Vegetables

Butternut Spinach and Kale Gratin

Ok guys, time for more butternut!

Thanks again to Trader Joes for inspiring me to make something far more delicious and nutritious than the microwave version I saw in the store! I couldn’t get the idea of a butternut and spinach gratin out of my head as soon as I saw it at TJs.  I had to make it.  And I’m SOOO glad I did! It’s warm, sweet, savory and cheesy. So basically it hits all the main taste groups except spicy!  It’s even good for you.  This would make a great new thanksgiving side dish, or a vegetarian main course.  I was happy with it tonight served with a left over turkey burger!

Butternut, Spinach and Kale Gratin

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb. Butternut Squash, Peeled and sliced into 1/2″ thick pieces (the longer the piece the better)
  • 1 1/2 16 oz package of frozen spinach or kale (or combination of both)
  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 cups Chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • Salt, Pepper and Garlic Powder to taste

  1. Peel and slice the squash into thick long pieces as best you can.  It’s hard but just try to make sure they are all about the same thickness.
  2. Defrost Spinach or Kale and squeeze out all the water.  Squeeze out as much as you can!
  3. Sautee greens in olive oil until the water cooks out and it starts to stick.  I used my dutch oven to minimize dish washing!  Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste.
  4. Mix in 1/2 of the parmesan cheese and stir
  5. Set aside 1/2 of the greens.  Smush the remaining half down in the bottom of the dutch oven so it is flat (or oven proof casserole dish if you don’t have a stove/oven safe pan).
  6. Layer 1/2 of the squash on top, arranging so there is an even layer on top of the spinach. It’s like a puzzle!
  7. Cover squash with remaining spinach and flatten.
  8. Make a top layer of the rest of the squash, as flat as you can.  Pour chicken broth evenly all over the top.
  9. Cover with remaining parmesan and breadcrumbs.  Spray with olive oil or cooking spray.
  10. Bake at 425, covered for 40 minutes or until squash is easily pierced with a knife.  Uncover and bake for another 15-20 minutes until top is browned, bubbly and golden!

ENJOY!

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