Peanut Butter Balls

I’ve been eating gluten free (by choice) for a little over a month now. I’ve found myself in Flying Apron Bakery quite a few times- as they have an all gluten-free, vegan and organic bakery and the goods are pretty tasty. One of my favorite things there is the Morning Peanut Butter Bar. But at $3.50 each, it was developing into an expensive habit. So I set out to make them myself. A quick google brought me to another blog where the author was attempting the same thing and had already found a pretty good approximation. I made them, and proceeded to eat almost the entire batch by myself (over a period of several days). They’re really tasty and are open to endless variations. They make a great post-workout snack. They also remind me of a similar treat my mom and I used to make when I was younger. I may try that version again too, although it’s not vegan. In any case, here it is. You can also see the original version here.

Peanut Butter [Sticky] Balls
Source: Conviviality [blog]
Makes: 18 balls

1 cup crunchy salted peanut butter (I used creamy)
1 cup gluten free rolled oats
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
3/4 cup raisins or golden raisins
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 Tbsp brown rice syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Put oatmeal and coconut in the blender to chop up a bit finer. You might want to chop the sunflower seeds a tad as well. Dump and scoop everything into a medium bowl, stir and mix, and then roll into little balls. Place in the fridge and let sit for half a day so the oatmeal absorbs some of the moisture of the peanut butter. (I skipped this step). Also, you might prefer to store them in the fridge depending on the season and how warm it is where you are.

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili

What’s this? A blog post??? Something other than photos? Yes, friends. I am here. Don’t expect a huge revival here, but I have a few new recipes to share and frankly, this is an easy way of keeping them bookmarked for myself. The first, this sweet potato & black bean chili is easy, filling and healthy. Plus it’s perfect food for the cold, February weather we’ve been having. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili
Source: Eating Well, Jan/Feb 2011
Makes 4 servings, about 2 cups each

Ingredients
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium-large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups water
2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
4 teaspoons lime juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Preparation
1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sweet potato and onion and cook, stirring often, until the onion is beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, chipotle and salt and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Add water and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the sweet potato is tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
2. Add beans, tomatoes and lime juice; increase heat to high and return to a simmer, stirring often. Reduce heat and simmer until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.

Nutrition, Per serving: 307 calories; 8 g fat (1 g sat, 5 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 51 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 12 g protein; 14 g fiber; 494 mg sodium; 947 mg potassium.

Avocado, Orange, Jicama

Avocado, Orange, Jicama. It’s one of those holy trinities, right? Maybe you don’t agree, but I happen to love the combination. This weekend I wanted to make a salad combining those ingredients, but didn’t see exactly what I wanted. I ended up throwing one together and using a recipe for dressing from epicurious. It was perfect. Just what I was looking for. I don’t have a recipe for the salad itself, but it was a big pile of lettuce topped with 1/2 a sliced jicama, 1/2 a sliced avocado and 1 sliced navel orange. The whole thing was tossed in this dressing spiked with cumin and curry and sprinkled with some pepitas. I plan to eat it a few more times this week.

Here’s the dressing:
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil

In a bowl whisk together orange juice, curry powder, salt, cumin, sugar, and vinegar. Add oil in a stream, whisking until emulsified. Pour over salad and dig in!

Banana Bread with Chocolate and Crystallized Ginger

I’ve been fairly remiss in blogging once more. It’s been a lazy couple of weeks around here and I am more than OK with that. Surprisingly enough, I’ve actually found myself in the kitchen a fair bit. This summer’s crazy heat has resulted in an abundance of cheap, delicious berries and I have been doing my best to put all that fruit to good use! I’ve made pies and crisps and bars and cookies. I’ve also worked my way through a few of the recipes in Molly Wizenberg’s “A Homemade Life”. Excellent book, by the way and there are a number of good recipes. So far, my favorites are the banana bread and the bread salad with cherries, arugula and goat cheese. I’ve made the banana bread 2 or 3 times now and it’s been quite a hit in our house. One time I was out of yogurt and used plain (full fat) sour cream instead. But it’s a great variation on the classic. And as Molly recommends, it is actually quite good to eat a slice straight from the freezer. Yum.

Banana Bread with Chocolate and Crystallized Ginger
Adapted from “A Homemade Life”
Makes 1 loaf or 1 8-inch round cake

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
2 large eggs
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup well-stirred whole-milk plain yogurt (not low or nonfat)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Set a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 350F. Grease a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan or an 8-inch round cake pan with cooking spray or butter.

2. Melt the butter on the stove or in a microwave and set aside to cool slightly.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the chocolate chips and crystallized ginger and whisk well to combine. Set aside.

4. In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a fork. Add the mashed banana, yogurt, melted butter, and vanilla and stir to mix well. Pour the banana mixture into the dry ingredients, and stir gently with a rubber spatula, scraping down the sides as needed, until just combined. Do not overmix. The batter with be thick and somewhat lumpy, just make sure all the flour has been incorporated. Scrape the batter into the loaf pan and smooth the top.

5. Bake into the loaf is a deep shade of golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 mins to an hour. If the loaf seems to be browning too quickly, tent with foil.

6. Cool the loaf in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Then tip out onto the rack, and let it cool completely before slicing. The loaf freezes well wrapped in plastic wrap and again in foil to protect from freezer burn.