My sandwich is exploding kale

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Drool drool drool.

I had no idea these bars were going to be so spectacular!!! But they were. And thankfully for me and my sweets consumption they went on the plane to Oregon with m&v, those lucky ducks. I have serious problems when I go to Portland… I just want ALL THE FOOD. And I run into that reoccurring problem of most mortals in that only so much goodness will fit in my stomach. With whom do I register a complaint for this ridiculous design flaw?!

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But anyway. They needed plane snacks and any excuse to bake is fine by me so these happened.

And I am soooo glad they did.

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Sorry in advance for the next bajillion posts being sweets, don’t say I didn’t warn you… Jill (of the blog Halfway There and the tamales and flan madness) and I are having our bimonthlyish baking extravaganza later today sooooo there will be cake and ice cream and cookies. And quinoa pizza…just to, you know, round things out. Because why make just one thing?! How boring. But more on that later.

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Also tacos. And feet. And there was a pool behind me and what more could you want on a weekend? Sadly that was last weekend (of the light side/dark side bars) and there is currently no pool in sight for me. Harumph.

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Also KALE!!! Could there be any more kale in this sandwich?! I think not. KALE EXPLOSION! Love love love. I know it’s random but KALE!!! is AMAZING!! And it’s my blog. So I’m sharing.

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But for now. BARZ. M&V needed something that traveled well and wouldn’t be too crumbly so obviously dates. And nuts for sustenance whilst traveling (much better than that garbage you typically find in airports). And only five ingredients, all whole foods, all things that come from nature and are eaten while still resembling their natural state. Wheeee!

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Pecan Date Bars

Beyond simple to put together! Chewy, naturally sweet and delicious. Gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free, dairy free!  Might be paleo? Easily veganized. Healthy fats [pecans], a good source of vits/mins [dates], antioxidants [extra dk chocolate] + protein. Perfect travel (or anytime) snacks. Recipe adapted from Ellaphant Eats, here! Makes 9 giantish bars, or more if you cut them smaller… but… why?!

  • 1 c pitted medjool dates [soaked in hot water for about 10 minutes if they’re like rocks]
  • 2 c raw pecans
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 eggs*
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate, chopped or chips (mine was chips for hurried baking)

*or two flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flaxseed+6tbsp water) veganizes this nicely 

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Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease an 8 by 8 pan with your thing of choice (I like coconut oil).

In a food processor (what on earth would I do without these?!), process softened dates and pecans until a sticky, clumpy dough forms. The pecan pieces should be relatively small (just don’t over do it and end up with nut butter…). Pulse in vanilla and sea salt, followed by the eggs. Remove the blade and stir in 1/4 c chocolate chips. Scoop the batter out into the prepared pan, and flatten it out with a spatula or your fingers or whatever. Press the remaining chocolate chips into the top of the bars. Bake for just about 19-20 minutes, until the edges are browned. The center will still feel slightly soft, but a tester should come out clean. Let cool in the pan, then cut and store in a sealed container in the fridge.

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Extraordinarily long and delicious sandwich names

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Okay Peeps. Here are some interesting tidbits I’ve mentally noted over the last several weeks at work. They’re like… retail pet peeves and rules. Anyone who has ever worked in retail: you get this. Anyone who hasn’t… take mental notes!! Ha. I’m sure you’re a totally fab, contentious shopper though, right?? Right. As I thought (Otherwise we wouldn’t be cool internet friends, because I’m only friends with cool peeps).

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1. If I greet you all cheerfully three feet from the door, chirping, “HELLO! How are you doing today?”, the normal response is “Oh fine thanks, how are you?”. A normal response is NOT: a) staring blankly at me like I’m an alien; b) rudely ignoring me and walking the other way [look. I promise I won’t stalk you while you shop. I’m simply SAYING HELLO]; c) staring at me like I’m an alien for 5 seconds, and then tentatively asking, “Um.. do you work here?” … No. of course not. I just stand inside the doors of random retail establishments greeting people with a silly grin on my face. All day. For fun.

OF COURSE I work here. I also don’t fold massive stacks of pants or ring people up on the tills for funzies, so if I’m doing either of those things, pleeeeeease don’t ask me if I work here. Really. I do. I promise.

2. What is it about a freshly folded stack of whatever that just screams “I’M FRESHLY FOLDED! UNFOLD ME AND DUMP ME EVERYWHERE, INCLUDING THE FLOOR!”. WHY do people decide to rifle through the piles of freshly folded things when I am right there refolding?! You know, asking is awesome. I would be SO HAPPY to pull out that shirt for you, maintaining the crispness of my previous folding work, rather watch and seethe as the invasive hands come in and extricate the shirt third from the bottom, leaving the rest in questionable assorted piles.

3. Just because someone opens the door on their way out of the store after we’re closed, does SO not mean sneaking in to shop post-close is acceptable. It’s not. We’re CLOSED!! Closed does not equal private shop time. I have shit to fold, people! Remember all those nice looking piles?? Yep. Remembering is key since they soooo don’t look like that anymore.

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I do kind of laugh at all this, though… some of the weirdest stuff makes for the best stories anyway, so sometimes weird is good. But really. Retail. Oi. It is a beast unto itself.

Which is why I invented this:

To eat after a day of being stared at like an alien and asked if you work there elevendy billion times. Oh. And for those days when you dream of folding pants in your sleep…

So here is this epically fantastic sandwich that I made last night. For dinner. Because only really, really cool people eat this kind of thing for dinner. Aren’t you SO glad you’re friends with one?! Or at least we’re invisible internet friends. That’s a relief… otherwise, this might not exist in your life and then you’d be sad.

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Grilled Banana, Dark Chocolate and Pecan Butter Sandwiches

Clearly this needs a shorter name, but hoooomg I don’t care because it tastes so fantastic I needed to spell everything out for you. OH. And there’s coconut in there too, which obviously just makes everything amazing. This is in no way gluten free, vegan (hellloooo, butter) or savory, but hey. Life is all about moderation (and obvi subs can be made: olive oil or vegan butter, gf bread, etc).
I LOVE grilling sammies. They are SO much better that way. This recipe serves makes 2 messy, delicious sammies… I suggest eating them with someone who loves food, just like you!

  • 4 slices of sturdy whole grain bread
  • 4 tsp  good-quality salted butter
  • 8 tbsp chocolate pecan butter (recipe below)
  • 2-4 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut (Depending on how much you love coconut)
  • 4 tbsp dark chocolate (mine was 70%)
  • 1 banana

I’m going to assume you could figure this out, but just in case… Butter the outsides of two slices of bread, then flip one over and liberally spread 2 tbsp of pecan butter thoroughly over the side. Sprinkle coconut over it, then top with 1/2 a banana, thinly sliced, and 2 tbsp dark chocolate. Spread another 2 tbsp of pecan butter over the other unbuttered side of bread, then smoosh it all (carefully) together, butter sides out. Grill in a pan over medium-low heat until the outsides are perfectly browned (and a little burnt, if you’re me) and the insides are just perfectly melty. Repeat for a second sammie… then cut into triangles and indulge shamelessly.

Eat immediately. There will not be leftovers, obviously…

Chocolate Pecan Butter

Not too sweet, with the emphasis on pecans—think along the lines of almond butter. Gluten free, dairy free, paleo, vegan. Yaddayaddayada… let’s just say it’s delicious, mmk?! Yield: about 1 cup.

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  • 1.5 c raw pecans
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • a good hefty pinch of sea salt

Process pecans in a food processor until a butter starts forming—-you’ll probably need to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, to integrate the really blended and not-so-blended stuff. Keep processing until the butter is smoother, about 2-4 minutes, depending on the strength of your food processor. Add in cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt, and pulse to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning to your personal preference! Maple would be good here, if you wanted it sweeter.

Store in a sealed jar in the fridge for a week or two (assuming it lasts that long. Mine lasted 2 days, ha).

“Adult” decisions and more cookies.

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You know what’s fun about being an “adult” [I use this term loosely..] and spending all day at the beach and it being summer+hot?

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Ice cream becomes a perfectly acceptable dinner.

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Trust me. Try it. Go to the beach first though, that makes all the difference.

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Barring that, once your kitchen isn’t a thousand degrees, make cookies! I mean really though… why on earth would I ever want to turn my oven on when it’s already stupid hot at 9 am. Good thing I put on dirtyish clothes to go to Jazzercise this morning because um HELLO SWEATING. So baking is clearly not an option today because I did enough sweating this morning and I really don’t feel the need to subject myself to inferno blasts from the open oven. No thanks. I mean, I suppose I could make some dashboard cookies but I don’t really relish the idea of walking outside and dealing with my oven hot car.

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Also ps. Being an adult is totally relative. I might look like one on the outside… but ha. Don’t be fooled. Sprinkles are the bomb. I will never ever in eleventh billion lifetimes grow out of rainbow sprinks. Or jumping for silly photos. I like to have competitions with myself to see how airborne I can get.

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I also apparently eat everything out of jars.

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But anyway. Enough whining about how hot it is and how I’m really a five year old inside my adultish skin suit. Let’s talk cookies, mmk?

These little guys come together ridiculously fast, which is how cookies should be in my book. They’re super fudgy and chocolatey, with just a little hint of banana flavor. I actually made them awhile ago, but I want them again. NOW. It is really unfortunate that there are no bananas to be had around here… how did THAT happen??

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Grain Free Chocolate Banana Cookies

These are straight up delicious. Fudgy and only a little banana-y, and lightish on account of the coconut flour. Don’t skimp on good dark chocolate for the chippies, that makes all the difference. Paleo, gluten free, grain free, and refined sugar free! Recipe only slightly adapted from Home to Heather, here! Yield: 10 good sized cookies.

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  • 1/3 c coconut flour (sifted if it’s super lumpy)
  • 1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/8 c raw honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 c dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together coconut flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and sea salt. In a smaller bowl, mash banana, then toss in eggs, honey, and vanilla. Whisk vigorously to combine. Pour wet into dry, add in chocolate chips, and stir until just combined. Drop batter by roundish balls onto the prepared cookie sheet, flattening them slightly. Bake for 12-14 minutes (mine were perfect at 13). Let  cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before moving them to a cooling rack. Store any leftovers (ha) in the fridge.

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A case of RUDE tonsils

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So guess what.

This is what happens when your tonsils rebel and you end up with…

TONSILLITIS.

So. RUDE.

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Look what it made me do? I was feeling sorry for myself and this happened.

And I kind of thought it was pretty so I took lots of iPhone photos while I was becoming one with the couch. Which is so not my mo, I’m getting twitchy and this is only my first full day of antibiotics (which I hate but in some cases are obviously necessary).

Ughghghhghghg.

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Thankfully things look a little better with a bowl of trashed up banana bread in front of you. I took a perfectly good-for-me loaf of grain free, refined sugar free banana bread and dumped a load of homemade chocolate hazelnut butter and vanilla ice cream on it. Because, obviously. I do not ever need to justify my ice cream but in this case I have tonsillitis and clearly everyone knows that tonsillitis=ice cream. There’s got to be an official rule written down somewhere that says that… right? Whatever. Just humor me, I’m sickly and cranky. And my banana bread is gone now so I can’t trash up any more of it.

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Good thing I still have ice cream. I’ll have to just make do with that…

IMG_0372 Simple Grain Free Banana Bread

This is one of my favorites—it comes out with a great crumb, it’s moist but not soggy (ew, no one wants that), and it bakes up cleanly in less than an hour. Grain free+gluten free, refined sugar free (in fact, it doesn’t have any sweetener added at all, except banana), and paleo. Yay! I adapted the recipe from Peanut Butter Runner, here! Makes one loaf.

  • 3/4 c almond flour
  • 1/4 c coconut flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp unrefined coconut oil (measured when completely liquid)
  • 3 medium-large, extremely ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • shredded unsweetened coconut for topping, optional

Line a loaf pan with parchment paper, and preheat the oven to 350.

Whisk together almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder and soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg, trying to get all the lumps (sift coconut flour if it’s super lump-tastic). In a smaller bowl, whisk together melted coconut oil, mashed bananas, eggs, and vanilla. Pour wet into dry and stir until just combined—the batter is thick, and almost a little ‘dry’, but it spreads out easily into a loaf pan. Top with shredded coconut, if using, and bake for 45 minutes until a tester comes out clean.

Use the parchment to lift it out onto a cooling rack, and let cool completely before wrapping in foil. It does best stored in the fridge!

Trash it up with anything you feel like. Chocolate? Peanut Butter? Ice cream? (I mean, obvi)… This banana bread is your oyster.

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Nutty shenanigans part deux

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I’ve come to be known by two names.

Apparently wherever I go I’m either “Hayley-from-Yoga” or “the food girl”.

Not even surprised.

In.the.slightest.

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But whateverrrrr, both are obnoxiously appropriate and I love both epithets. Because really. Yoga and food. OBVI. If you hang out with me on the regular, you’re laughing right about now. Right?! My life = yogafoodfoodyogayogafoodyogafood…

I am SO fine with that.

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When I got back from my break yesterday, two of my coworkers go—“Oh hey, a woman came in for you today, asking if the food girl was working today!” Ahahaha. Genie pants and short hair and constant food discourse are obviously dead giveaways.

And also.

COOKIES!

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Happy Friday, here are cookies in your inbox! Dark chocolate lovers and hazelnut nutters rejoice, these are so up your alley. I told you I was going to do something fab with that hazelnut butter I made the other day. And these are delicious little nuggets of slightly-salty-not-too-sweet-dark-chocolate-goodness. Mmm. Love, The Food Girl.

Okay bye. Time for…

Wait for it.

YOGA! You’re shocked, I know…

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Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

I thought of these as kind of fudgy-crumbly. I liked the texture, though I generally prefer chewy cookies. I thought these would flatten out, but I chilled my dough in the freezer for 30 minutes, and they ended up as cute little puffy nuggets. Which is obviously fine, it’s a cookie now… let’s not get too picky. These are gluten free, paleo (probably), refined sugar free, and high in healthy fats and antioxidants! Not too sweet, since the focus is on really dark chocolate, but if that’s your jam, these are for you. Recipe lightly adapted from A Calculated Whisk, here! I made my own hazelnut-chocolate spread, so these don’t use anything processed. Yield: 12.

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  • 1 c homemade dark chocolate-hazelnut spread (recipe here)
  • 3 tbsp tapioca flour/starch
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • a pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • generous 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate chips

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

This really doesn’t get any easier. Stay with me now, if you blink you might miss something… In a large bowl, whisk together tapioca flour, cocoa powder, sea salt, and baking soda. Add in dark choc-hazelnut spread, egg and vanilla, and stir to combine. Toss in chocolate chips and make sure they’re evenlyish distributed.

Roll the dough into tablespoon size balls, and chill for 30 minutes in the freezer. Preheat the oven to 350.

Once dough is done chilling, transfer the dough balls to the prepared cookie sheet, and bake for 11-12 minutes, until the top is just set. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with a little extra sea salt. Let them cool on a rack, and store any leftovers in an airtight container.

See? I told you not to blink…

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Nutty shenanigans involving chocolate

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Hello!!

Happy Rainy Wednesday, wheee!!! I LOVE rain. So does my cat, apparently, since he spent the majority of the morning outside in it, little furry twit. And now he’s sitting on me and purring, all pleased with himself. And damp. I am apparently a fab kitty towel… (not that I mind. He’s adorable).

But anyway.

This morning I skinned hazelnuts and listened to really loud opera and the rain. The opera was L’elisir d’amore by Donizetti, one of my favorites. What did you do, invisible internet friends??

Why did I skin hazelnuts, you ask? Funny you should ask…

Because, THIS.

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And then THIS.

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And then all of this will become COOKIES as of tomorrow and well… it just obviously doesn’t get much better than that (Don’t fret. I will also share the cookies).

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And also. Can I just say refined sugar free?! Yep. This is nutella. Except it isn’t, because it’s unprocessed and refined sugar free! Boomshakalaka. I just blew your mind, right? It’s okay, five minutes ago I blew mine too by tasting this. Just sit down for a minute, you’ll be fine. Deep breaths… Right. See? Now you feel recovered enough to trot into the kitchen and whip this up for yourself. Just be sure to hang onto at least a cup so you can have your mind blown all over again when I share the cookies for tomorrow.

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You know what’s funny about hazelnuts? I absolutely love them, but the taste takes me back immediately to my trip to Europe when I was 10. At some point in Austria, I was given a couple of Mozart Balls (I kid you not, that’s what they’re called), which are these chocolate-hazelnut truffle thingies. And guess what. I disliked them with great intensity. Apparently, something about the nuts in chocolate combo really turned off my 10 year old self. But oddly enough, that prejudice didn’t stick around (thank goodness), and now I love hazelnuts with reckless abandon. ESPECIALLY when paired with chocolate. But that smell and taste totally takes me back to Europe. Not saying that’s a bad thing in the slightest..

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But anyway. Hazelnuts!!! In CHOCOLATE!! Doesn’t get much better.

Also ps. The weather is doing that crazy spring thing where it’s SUNNY!!! and then it’s RAINING!!! and then it’s SUNNYYYY!! RAININGGGG!!! SUN! RAIN!SUNRAINSUNRAINSUNRAIN! You know exactly what I’m talking about… it really reminds me of the weather in Salem. I remember one particular day where it rained, was sunny, hailed, and I think probably snowed. All in one day. Don’t even ask. An umbrella becomes exceedingly useless at a certain point…

So anyway. Enjoy the nutty springtime weather and some homemade, garbage-free chocolatey hazelnutty goodness.

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Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

Recipe loosely adapted from Living Healthy with Chocolate, here! My batch yielded about a cup and half. Vegan (sub maple for honey), gluten free, refined sugar free, and paleo! Winner, winner. Also, if you’re allergic to/can’t have chocolate, this could be done with carob powder/carob chips.

  • 2 c hazelnuts, dry roasted
  • 3.5 tbsp dark chocolate, chopped (choose something above 70%–mine was 73%)
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp raw honey
  • 1.5 tsp unrefined coconut oil*
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • a pinch of fine sea salt
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened almond milk

*hate coconut? (though I’m not sure we can be friends if that’s the case…)(just kidding!) Use olive, avocado, hazelnut–whatever oil floats your boat.

Rub the skin off the hazelnuts using your palms. You can buy pre roasted ones, and most of the time the skin is already off 3/4ths of them, or you can roast your own for about 10 minutes at 350, then rub the skins off while they’re still warm. Either way, make sure almost all of the skin is removed. Toss the two cups of skinned hazelnuts into a food processor (or a vitamix, if you’re lucky), and process until they start to form a buttery consistency. You’ll probably have to scrape down the sides of the food processor a few times. This should yield a cup of nut butter—do try not to eat it all in advance since you need it later…

Using a double boiler, melt the dark chocolate until it’s completely melty. Take the double boiler off the heat, and stir in the hazelnut butter, cocoa powder, honey, coconut oil, vanilla, sea salt, and almond milk until smooth. Adjusting to your personal taste preferences is obviously totally acceptable.

Store in an airtight jar in the fridge. Mine will be going into cookies tomorrow (get ready for epicness in the next post), but I would assume it would stay good in the fridge for a week or two.

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Wednesdays are BANANAS

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It’s Wednesday… time to go BUHHNAHHNUHHSS!!

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Or something like that.

But first: a little throwback Wednesday to get things started off right. These were my shoes as a baby:

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And we wonder why I turned out like I did?! Ha. Evidence. I’m sure my current state of affairs also has quite a bit to do with the fact that as a baby, I looooved tofu and bananas mashed up together. Yeah. I’m not too sure about that combination these days either…

And then there’s this, which is a throwback to like.. yesterday. Or maybe breakfast. Because apparently quite a few of my meals start off looking like this:

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Huge pile o’greens. Are we surprised? No, not really. ANYway…

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Banana bread!! Only this time its grain free, for peeps who either don’t wanna or can’t have gluten or grains. I like grains and gluten (bread. obvi) but I also really like new things, so this happened. And I am sooo glad it did because it is also delicious, and as I’ve said many times I really don’t have time for things that aren’t delicious. It also happens to be refined sugar free, which I love. Actually… there aren’t ANY added sweeteners in this, period—all the sweetness comes from buhhnahhnuhss! Awesome. Just make sure you use some really dead bananas—mine were pretty nasty looking but they found bliss in their next incarnation as bread, so everybody wins.

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Grain Free Banana Bread

Makes one loaf. Grain free, gluten free, refined sugar free, dairy free, paleo. It’s high in healthy fats and fiber (yay!), and very satisfying. I think that covers just about everything! Recipe only slightly tweaked from Heather’s French Press, here!

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  • 1/2 c almond flour
  • 1/2 c coconut flour
  • 1/4 c ground flaxseed
  • heaping 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed (mine were smallish)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350, and thoroughly grease a loaf pan (Or use parchment— my bread stuck like WHAT so obviously I was lazy with greasing and should have used parchment. Whoops. Whatever, it created “crumbs” and then I got to eat them all).

In a bowl, whisk together almond flour, coconut flour (sifted if chunky), flaxseed, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. In a larger bowl, mash bananas, then vigorously whisk them together with the eggs and vanilla. Pour wet into dry and stir until just combined. This batter (because of the coconut flour) is very thick—it won’t pour like typical banana bread. I smooth mine out with a spatula and then give it fork marks on top for fun. Smooth the batter out in the prepared pan, then pop it into the oven and bake for 45 minutes. A tester should come out clean when it’s done. Let it cool for a few in the pan, then turn it out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Store in the fridge! I found that it got better and better the longer it lasted (which sadly wasn’t that long…)

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Family traditions and some bacon (because why wouldn’t you add bacon?!)

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Happy slightly belated New Year!

2014 already?! Hard to believe. But I am fully determined to manifest the best.year.ever. Sparkly, bright, and new. And HAPPY! As Voltaire once wisely said, “I have chosen to be happy because it is good for my health”. Mantra for 2014? Check.

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Welcome to my family: with a grandmother hailing from Columbia, South Carolina, there was no escaping the obligatory good-luck meal for New Year’s day (not that I would want to escape it, it’s DELICIOUS). Black eyed peas+rice, cabbage with bacon [uncured and nitrate free, obviouslyyyy], and cornbread. All for good luck, though with different connotations: greens are for money, and cornbread for gold… and then I’m not entirely sure of the story behind the black eyed peas, but they’re lucky. Just accept it and move on.

It’s not New Years without some black eyed peas.

Why are they called peas? They’re obviously beans…

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Anyway…

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Despite the fact that I don’t drink, apparently I make good drinks: this one was even named after me!! Meet the HayBay! Kind of like a mimosa except not. A bit of bubbly, ginger liqueur, and ruby red grapefruit juice. Rather like me, I suppose… bubbly? Sassy? And maybe a little tart, ha.

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Happy TwentyFourteen! Much joy, laughter, and happiness to you and yours in the new year. Go hug someone :)

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New Year’s Cabbage with Bacon

I’m not even going to do this recipe-style… as far as I know I’ve never seen this recipe written down—all I know is that it comes from the southern side of the fambam. Technically I suppose this recipe is gluten free and paleo!

Cut up a big head of cabbage. Don’t worry about shredding it, just hack it into fork-sized, manageable chunks. After that’s done, slice up 5-6 stalks of celery.

Assuming you previously cooked up a good-sized skillet of [uncured, nitrate-free] baconony goodness (sorry, this is in no way, shape or form a vegetarian recipe. Sorry I’m not sorry, sometimes a girl’s gotta have bacon!), dump some of the leftover bacon grease into the largish soup pot you’re using for the cabbage. Sauté the cabbage and celery in the bacon fat unit it gets soft, but still has a crunch to it. Toss in diced bacon bits and salt, pepper, and hot sauce it up to suit your taste. We use Crystal hot sauce for this, since it’s a family tradition.

Serve hot, with black eyed peas cooked with more bacon (duh) and some cornbread (mine happened to be vegan… can’t get too far away from those contradictions, can we?!).

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Happy New Year!

Full-tilt jungle madness [ie holiday whilst working retail]

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Happy Solstice! I was definitely wishing I was at Stonehenge tonight [not Sconehenge. We already know I’ve been there…].

Four days till Christmas?

Yep.

Holiday retail madness is in full tilt jungle mode. Oi. We had a line to the back of the store for the majority of my shift today, and I literally felt like a ping pong ball trying to get from the back of the store to the front. “Excuse me, excuse me, oops sorry, ‘scuse me” don’t mind me, I’m just carrying two FULLY LOADED hanger caddies which are awkward and heavy and no, it’s fine if you just sort of stand there, no big deal, it’s just a really good thing that I’m nimble and quite agile…

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Path of least resistance becomes a game of finding the smallest spaces between people and convincing yourself that you really do in fact fit through them. Oh. And yes, I most definitely DO work here, thanks for asking… I mean, as much as I find folding pants therapeutic, I don’t usually fold them for fun, you know?! Especially when they’re exploding out of the pant wall due to extreme being-shopped-ness. Literally exploding. Seeing is believing, people.

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Good thing too that this bit of deliciousness awaited me on my break. Thankfully, or I might have passed out due to a potent combination of hunger, cash/wrap repetitiveness, and energetic dancing (obviously— you have to move around a lot when you’re ringing at the register to get the blood flowing).

Can I unscrew my smile now? I think my jaw is permanently stuck.

Mmm. For times when you need a hefty dose of iron and some delicious flavors, this recipe should be in your back pocket.

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Afghani Beef with Acorn Squash

Recipe adapted from Afghan Online, here. Mom discovered this one a while ago, and we’ve been fans ever since. It comes together fairly easily, and serves 3 with plentiful leftovers. Gluten free and paleo! Also delicious sans acorn squash if you don’t happen to have any, you could totally serve this over couscous or quinoa, spaghetti squash, or zucchini noodles from your spiralizer… you name it, it’s probably delicious.

Rustle up the following:

  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 lb ground beef (grass fed organic)
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 16 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 c water, divided
  • 1 mediumish zucchini
  • 2-3 c raw spinach
  • 2 acorn squash, halved
  • avocado oil

Preheat oven to 425. To roast acorn squash, brush them with avocado oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Flip them cut side down on a jelly roll pan or rimmed cookie sheet, and roast until fork tender, about 20-25 minutes.

Using a food processor or a powerful blender (I don’t possess this, so food processor it is), process onion and 1/2 c water. Pour this into a saucepan over medium heat, and add beef. Cook until the beef is browned, then add the other 1/2 c water, garlic, coriander, pepper, and tomato sauce. Grate zucchini into the pan, and toss in rinsed spinach. Let the whole thing simmer for about 20-25 minutes more, until ready to serve.

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