What I’ve BEAN up to

Greetings readers!  I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving and got to spend some quality time relaxing.  I was lucky to have Thanksgiving off from my rotations and spent time with my family and friends.  Having a few days off from the dietetic internship allowed me to relax and reflect on the completion of my long term care rotation.  In my last blog post, I wrote about how the LTC rotation was a little challenging.  I found that particular rotation to be challenging because I didn’t have much clinical experience prior to starting, and I really didn’t know what to expect.  Although the rotation wasn’t the easiest for me, I learned so much about the needs of the geriatric population and how a medical team (involving registered dietitians, doctors, nurses/nursing staff, physical/occupational therapists, psychologists, social workers, and speech-language pathologists) must work together to assess the health of each resident at the long term care facility.  Malnutrition is a major health/nutrition-related concern for aged individuals and the most important component of geriatric nutrition is preventing weight loss.  Making sure that elderly individuals eat enough calories and protein was a huge part of what I learned as an intern during my last rotation.

In my current rotation, which is community-based, I’m working with the same population (seniors), but this rotation is less clinically-focused.  I’ve been learning about and getting involved in programs that prepare and deliver meals to homebound senior citizens.  I’ve also been learning more about geriatric nutrition and food quality of meals that are served at community senior centers.  I’ve really been enjoying this experience so far and I love that I can apply knowledge I gained from interning at the long term care facility in this rotation.  I also love cooking and preparing food, and part of this rotation involves observing food prep and being in the kitchens where the food is prepared.

Next week, I’m going to be doing a presentation at a few senior centers on the topic of beans and how to incorporate more beans into ones’ diet.  I’m particularly excited about this topic because if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know I love beans and I love coming up with creative ways to eat them.  For this presentation, I’m going to make some delicious black bean brownies to show the seniors that beans can be prepared and added to foods in an unexpected way.   While I can’t take credit for the idea of this recipe, I tried to add my own personal touch from this black bean brownie recipe that I adapted from chocolate covered katie.  I plan on sharing these delectable chocolate treats at the presentation.  Hopefully the seniors get excited about eating beans in the form of a dessert!

If you’re not a fan of dark chocolate, feel free to use a sweeter, lighter chocolate.

Black Bean Brownies

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Ingredients

  • 1 (15.5 oz) can of black beans. (I used the low-sodium version and rinsed 2x to get rid of extra salt)
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp. melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2.5 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (I used the vegan, semi-sweet variety)
  • (optional- add peanut butter or your favorite nut butter)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  In a food processor, mix all of the ingredients except the chocolate chips.  After everything is well mixed, add 3/4 of the chocolate chips, scoop out the mixture and place on a lightly greased 9×9 baking pan.  Top the brownies with the remaining chocolate chips and bake for 18-20 minutes.  Allow to cool before cutting.  Enjoy with a cold glass of almond milk (or your favorite cold bevy!) and share with friends, or a senior citizen who needs some company 🙂

-Jess

 

 

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Pumpkin Spice Almond Treats

October is here and I am happy!  October is my favorite month because I love fall, halloween, and everything pumpkin spice flavored/scented. To celebrate the start of fall, yesterday I made raw vegan pumpkin spice almond treats. These almond treats have all the sweet flavors of fall and are full of healthy fats, fiber, and vitamin E.  I made this and ate 2 for breakfast along with pumpkin spice banana nicecream (frozen bananas, pumpkin puree, and pumpkin spice flavors) but you can eat them as is for a snack or dessert.

Pumpkin Spice Almond Treatsimg_0907

Ingredients:

  • 10 pitted, medjool dates
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 tsp. ground vanilla bean or vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. cloves
  • 1/8 tsp. ginger
  • optional- you can also add 1 tbsp. pumpkin spice “butter” spread from Trader Joe’s (its vegan!) and adds a bit more sweetness

Directions:

  • Add all ingredients to a food processor, and process until the mixture is sticky and moldable
  • Mold into balls, bars, or squares and enjoy or refrigerate. These treats taste best at room temperature, so when you’re ready to enjoy them, take them out of the fridge 30 minutes-1 hour before.

P.S.- to make the pumpkin spice nicecream, see my earlier post on “the best vegan breakfast” and combine frozen bananas and canned pumpkin puree in a food processsor. Add the spice mixture above (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger) and enjoy.

-Jess

 

Last Minute Banana Chocolate Chip Brownies

Happy 4th of July! I wasn’t planning on writing a blog post today but I whipped up these amazing brownies to bring to a barbecue and I had to share. If you’re looking for an easy, quick dessert to bring to a gathering, try these delectable bites of bliss. This recipe requires having a few very ripe bananas (like the stage before they turn brown) on hand. If you don’t have bananas, try an equal amount of apple sauce or dairy-free yogurt.

Last Minute Banana Chocolate Chip BrowniesFullSizeRender-19

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (I always use whole grain flour for extra fiber in my baked goods, but if you don’t have it, all-purpose flour will also work)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup or agave nectar
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use trader joe’s brand)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk or soy milk
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup sunflower oil or almond oil (or you can use vegetable or canola oil if you have those instead)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1.5 cups vegan chocolate chips (I use trader joe’s dark chocolate chips which happen to be vegan)

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  • In a large bowl, measure and mix all dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder)
  • In another bowl, measure and mix wet ingredients (maple syrup/agave, mashed bananas, almond/soy milk, vanilla extract, oil).
  • Mix the wet ingredients into bowl of dry ingredients. Add the chocolate chips and stir.
  • Spray a 9×12 baking pan with non-stick spray, pour batter into the pan, and bake for 30 minutes
  • Allow to cool and then cut and share with family and friends!

 

Enjoy these chocolatey treats and have a great 4th of July!

-Jess

Healthy-ish Oat Pear Pie

Greetings! I haven’t written any recipes in over a month but if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may have noticed that I tend to write less when I’m busy with school. In addition to being a full-time grad student, I also started a new job in september as a nutritionist! All of my work seems to be paying off and it’s a great feeling. I’m a big believer in occasionally celebrating achievements with healthy baked goods. I’m also a big fan of local produce. Combine these two you get my latest recipe: Healthy-ish Oat Pear Pie. I’m calling this recipe “healthy-ish” because pie isn’t the healthiest food in general, but I did make a healthier version of pie by using whole wheat flour and less (vegan) butter than found in some recipes.

Healthy-ish Oat Pear PieIMG_7578

Ingredients

Pie shell:

  • 2.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1.5 sticks of  3/4 cup Earth Balance spread (melted)
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 tbsp. nondairy milk

Filling:

  • 4-5 medium sized, locally grown (if available) bosc pears, peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. agave
  • 1 tbsp. lemon
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon

Topping:

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

Directions

For the pie shell:

  • Measure and mix dry ingredients. Melt the butter and add into the dry ingredients, mix well. Add the nondairy or regular milk along with the cold water into the mixture, slowly. If the mixture becomes too moist, add a little more flour by the tablespoon. Set aside and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour. After time has elapsed, spray a round pie pan/tin with nonstick spray. You can either roll out the dough using a rolling pin coated in flour so that the dough can easily be placed and spread into the pie pan OR you can use your hands to transfer the dough to the pan and mush it into the pan so that it is completely covered on all sides (I used the second method). Add any extra dough to the upper sides of the pan to create a thicker crust.

For the filling:

  • Peel, core, and cut the pears. Pears should be cut into small pieces, but not diced. Place the pears in a large bowl, and add the maple syrup, honey, sugar, lemon juice, and stir in the cornstarch so that it dissolves into the liquid. Mix well. Add the cinnamon and mix. Transfer the filling into the pie crust that lines the pie pan.

For the topping:

  • Sprinkle oats and brown sugar on top of the filling.

Preheat the oven at 375°F. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the edges of the crust are browned and a knife can be inserted cleanly into the center of the crust. Remove from the oven after baking and allow to cool before cutting. Serve with ice cream, soy ice cream, sorbet, or hot cider. As always, enjoy!

-Jess

Chocolate Chip-Granola Compassion Cookies

Cookies in the morning sunlight

Cookies in the morning sunlight

Greetings and happy (almost) summer solstice! The recipe I’m sharing today has nothing to do with summer. After all, chocolate chip cookies can be eaten year-round and aren’t necessarily something I think of as a summer treat. Regardless, I’m sharing this recipe because of the reasons why I decided to wake up early this morning and create these cookies in the first place. Lately my schedule has been jam-packed due to taking an intensive summer class (microbiology and a microbiology lab) and the start of a new job. These two factors have led me to indulge in some not-so-healthy eating, in the form of coming home late at night and indulging in some of my favorite healthy, yet, junky foods. I realized this past week, that I keep buying foods that I tend to overeat (cereal, granola, chocolate chips, and trail mix, although healthy, are my weaknesses and I never eat just one serving). As I’ve written in previous posts, using food during stress is common, but it shouldn’t be your go-to way to relax. With this in mind (and after eating one too many bowls of granola in bed this past week), I decided to make it easier for myself to not over-do my granola + chocolate chip habit by baking cookies that I can share and give to others. If you find yourself eating the same foods during times of stress, or simply when you’re not actually physically hungry, one easy step to alleviate this problem is by getting rid of the “trigger food”. Instead of being wasteful, either make a dish for someone else or donate the food item to a food bank. If the food is already opened, see if you can contact any organizations that accept fresh yet opened food (many do) or if you live in an area with a visible homeless population, consider showing some kindness and giving your food to a homeless person directly. Kindness towards yourself (by not using food to cope with stress) and kindness towards others (by donating said food items) is a win-win. Here’s my recipe for chocolate-chip granola cookies, or as I’m calling them “Compassion Cookies”. Enjoy and share your food!

Compassion Cookies 

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Makes 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of flour (it can be whole wheat, spelt flour, almond meal, gluten-free, whatever floats your boat)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil (softened, I microwaved it in a bowl for 45 seconds)
  • 1/4 cup soy milk (or almond milk)
  • 1.5 cups granola (I used Nature’s Path Cinnamon Raisin Granola)
  • approx. 8 oz. vegan chocolate chips (I used sunspire organic 65% cacao chocolate chips, but I know trader joe’s also makes vegan chocolate chips)

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  • Create a well in the dry ingredients and add applesauce, vanilla extract, and melted coconut oil.
  • Add the soy milk
  • Add the granola and chocolate chips.
  • Mix well.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with non-stick spray
  • Using a spoon, spoon cookie batter onto the sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes
  • Remove from the pan, allow to cool.
  • Share and enjoy!

 

-Jess

 

Working With What You Have: Cookie Edition

Is there such a thing as a "bad" cookie? No, only imperfect ones!

Is there such a thing as a “bad” cookie? No, only imperfect ones!

I want to start this post by wishing all the Moms who are reading a very happy Mother’s Day! Watching my Mom and Grandma in the kitchen gave me an appreciation for cooking and baking and I carry that with me every day. Today I woke up and realized I completely forgot to buy my mom a Mother’s Day present, and by forgot, I mean, I’m a student and my funds are limited. With that in mind, I had to be resourceful so I headed to the cabinet to see what I could create. No chocolate chips or oatmeal were to be found, so there went my idea for chocolate chip oatmeal-cookies. I did however have all-purpose gluten-free flour, trader joe’s hemp protein powder, almonds, almond butter, and raisins.

photo 1-7

Sounds like a weird combination, but I was willing to try it.

photo 2-6

 

I created the recipe below as I went along (which is something I frequently do) and I realized that my improvisational cooking method is somewhat symbolic for some things that I’ve realized since starting this blog. When I decided to go back to school to study nutrition and start this blog, I feared writing about myself at all because I think we constantly judge ourselves and fear judgement from others. Allowing myself to write about things I’ve dealt with personally (like calorie obsession) and things I’m learning has taught me that despite being imperfect, what I’ve learned can help others. All the best teachers and wisest individuals I’ve come across aren’t the ones who appear to be perfect, they’re the one’s who embrace what they have, appreciate the lessons they’ve learned and are willing to share it with others. So, what does this have to do with cookies? The following recipe may not be your cup of tea, but it serves as a reminder that you can work with what you have to bring joy into the world (in this case, joy was a smile on my Mom’s face because if there’s one thing my Mom can appreciate, it’s a baked good). Don’t worry if you don’t have the items I’ve used, as I’ve come up with a few alternatives listed next to each ingredient.

Almond Raisin Protein Cookies (makes 3 dozen)photo 3-5

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour (you can use whole wheat flour, spelt flour, or any other kind of flour)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 cup Trader Joe’s Hemp Protein Powder (you can use any kind of protein powder in a flavor you enjoy. The one I used was vanilla flavored)
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup almond butter (instead of using oil, I used almond butter because it’s tasty, nutritious, and is a good fat source in place of oil or butter).
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (I used unsweetened original variety, but a vanilla flavor might also work well)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of raisins (or another dried fruit that you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup almonds (whole, raw)- you can use any other kind of nut that tickles your fancy
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and in a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and protein powder.
  • In separate bowl, combine applesauce, almond butter, almond milk, and vanilla extract.
  • Create a well in the dry ingredients with your fingers or a spoon, and add in the wet ingredients. Mix.
  • Add in the raisins and almonds
  • Grease a cookie sheet, and drop cookie dough on the sheet using a spoon.
  • Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes (keep on eye on it, because all ovens differ in temperatures and each batch I made took a different amount of time).
  • Enjoy!

Experiment with this recipe with the ingredients you have and embrace imperfect, improvisational baking!

-Jess

 

 

In Summer: Frozen-Inspired Treats

one of my frozen-inspired treats (recipe below)

one of my frozen-inspired treats (recipe below)

 

Here in New York, the weather is getting warmer, which means it’s time to think of healthy frozen treats to cool down with! In addition to summer approaching, I was inspired to create some frozen recipes because I recently saw the movie “Frozen” and I am totally obsessed! I love everything about the movie and I can personally relate to Princess Anna’s character, so this movie particularly resonated with me. If you haven’t seen “Frozen”, you should, as it differs from most Disney movies and doesn’t really stick to the princess + prince charming = true love forever equation that’s typical of fairytales but I won’t give too much away in case you haven’t seen it.

 

Getting back to my frozen treats, there’s nothing greater than indulging in a cold dessert on a hot summer day, but ice cream, frozen yogurt, and gelato can be high in calories and make you feel tired if you’ve had too much. Instead, today I made 2 different “ice creams” using a few very simple ingredients. The base for both of these recipes is just a few frozen bananas and almond or coconut milk. Both recipes are vegan, gluten-free, and won’t make you feel guilty or weighed down afterwards.

 

Peanut butter-Banana-Chip Dream Cream (serves 2)

photo 3-2

 

Ingredients

  • 1.5 frozen bananas (freeze for at least 5 hours). Peel before freezing, and you may also want to cut into smaller pieces and place into a zip lock bag.
  • ¼ cup almond milk (I used an unsweetened vanilla variety)
  • 1 tbsp. natural peanut butter (I used a creamy, salted variety)
  • 1-2 tbsp. dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Place cut frozen bananas in a blender, add ¼ cup almond milk, 1 tbsp. natural peanut butter, and chocolate chips, and blend on high. If the mixture becomes too liquid-y, simply place in the freezer for a few minutes, or you can freeze the entire mixture for about an hour in a non-stick container and then re-blend to create an ice cream texture.
  • Serve in a glass or bowl and top with a few chocolate chips. Enjoy!

 

 

Cashew Coconut Banana Cream (serves 2)

photo 2-4

 

Ingredients

  • 1.5 frozen bananas (frozen for at least 5 hours). Peel before freezing, and you may want to cut into smaller pieces (like in the previous recipe
  • ¼ cup almond milk (I used an unsweetened vanilla variety)
  • a handful of raw, unsalted cashews
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ cup coconut flakes

Directions

  • Place cut frozen bananas in a blender, add ¼ cup almond milk, a handful of raw cashews, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, and coconut flakes. Blend on high. If mixture is too liquid-y, use the same method as in the previous recipe, and either freeze for a few minutes, or freeze for an extended period of time in a nonstick bowl and re-blend to get an ice cream consistency.
  • Serve in a glass or bowl and top with additional coconut flakes. Enjoy!

 

Stay cool!

 

-Jess