That's A "Keeper 4"!

It’s my Saturday morning ritual.  Long run, breakfast with my running buddy, and then planning my groceries for the week.  Yesterday I came home and began to sort through ALL the recipes I have.  I have a stack and I mean a stack of recipes just waiting to try.  I scroll through Instagram, Facebook, and now Twitter.  Yes, Twitter.  There are SO many resources to find recipes.  I’m starting to get a little overwhelmed with all of the recipes I want to try.  I try to be selective and think ahead as to what really will be a “keeper” and weed out ones that won’t make the cut.  Maybe they just sounded good the first time around but at the second look I know I must’ve been hungry at the time that recipe made the cut. J  I also got the America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook – The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook – a couple of months ago.  Talk about overwhelming.  I know ALL their recipes will turn out!   They tested them for pete’s sake!  The only problem again with their book is there are TOO many to try!   The other premise for picking out some recipes is whether or not I’ll be able to make it.  I am not a cook by any means.  And if any of you all know me, accidents find me.  Yesterday when I was making homemade waffles I was opening the seltzer water and sure enough it exploded.  I don’t buy carbonated beverages and definitely wasn’t prepared for that!!  Who does that happen to?  Moi.  I need a hidden camera in my kitchen so that people would believe the chaos in the kitchen.

“Keeper” – a recipe that I’ve tried that’s a definite success and makes it into my “keeper” recipe book, ultimately a possible repeat recipe.  The key word being repeat – I haven’t repeated any in quite a few months, but I know I have my tried and true recipes when and if they’re needed.  Here are a few of the latest rounds of keeper recipes. 

BreakfastCinnamon Oatmeal Pancakes

I was in the grocery store the other day and noticed all of the frozen breakfast products.  Frozen waffles, pancakes, breakfast sandwiches, and even frozen oatmeal for you.  Packaged and convenient, all you need to do is warm it up.   It actually grossed me out.  I know I’ve had this conversation before and convenience is a really big issue, but cooking healthy will require a little bit of planning and time spent toward the cooking.  Sorry not sorry.  These pancakes are a prime example where you can make a lot ahead of time and freeze them.  They freeze amazingly!!  I am not the best at flipping pancakes so instead of crowding the griddle I do less at a time and use two spatulas for the flipping.   Mine may have not turned out as pretty but they sure did taste delish.  I always add protein in for the breakfast with nut butter on top of the pancakes.  Breakfast is typically high carbohydrate and not enough protein and then you’re hungry right away.  Always add the protein – it will keep you satiated for longer.  I rotate through the nut butters:  peanut, almond, and cashew – to help provide some variety and flavor.  I also add some hemp seed on top as well.  More about hemp seed later.  Make these pancakes, you won’t regret it.

Breakfast: Overnight Oats

I can’t tell you how many recipes for overnight oats I have tried.  I have felt bad in throwing the oats out (but couldn’t stomach eating them so I had to waste them).   I almost gave up in trying the overnight oats trend.  Until this recipe came along.   I’m not sure if it has to do with the quantity being individual sizes or what but this recipe comes out delish!  I was a little bit doubtful when she said it could be eaten cold.  The first morning I made it and forgot I had made it the night before.  The 2nd day I was determined to remember to eat them and was in a rush.  I had to grab the oatmeal on the run (so there was no time to heat it up).  Cold it was.  Surprisingly it was good even cold!  Now don’t get me wrong, heating it up just a bit allows the nut butter to melt and I do prefer it warmed just a tad.  But in a pinch, cold will work!  I am such a believer in this recipe that I made these overnight oats for a program of 12 people at work.  There I was the night before prepping each individual Mason jar (with love).  I did alter the recipe and used regular cow’s milk, just ½ tablespoon of maple syrup, and did a mix of peanut butter or almond butter.  I knew the exact carbohydrate count for the participants (Type 1 DM where they inject insulin based on the carbohydrate count) and I wanted to show them how eating on the run/go could be easy.  10 of the 12 participants liked the recipe.  The two that didn’t said, “It was too healthy tasting”.  Okay maybe they need the full tablespoon of maple syrup.  I think the odds are good for liking these overnight oats.  Make them, just don’t forget to eat them the next day – the chia seeds do swell and it will get too thick to eat if left too long.  (this picture is the minimalist baker's - it's a double portion of the recipe!)

Main Dish:  Tacos

Can every night be Taco Tuesday night? And why isn’t there a taco emoji yet?  I’m always telling patients to plan their monthly meals ahead of time (at least weekly).  Tacos can be part of the weekly meal rotation.  They’re easy to throw together and can taste completely different from the taco from the week before, so it won’t feel like it’s a repeat.  Which is important when it comes to making dinner for the family (in the hopes that all will like what’s being prepared).  Here are two, both vegetarian (you can always add some grilled chicken or steak), one that takes a little more preparation time and one that takes virtually no time at all.

Brussels Sprout Tacos with Caramelized Shallot Salsa   – If you think you don’t like onions (shallots) think again.  These tacos will take some time due to roasting the tomatoes and Brussel sprouts and caramelizing the shallots, but it is SO worth it.  This lady, Jessica Merchant, has a talent for pairing together the right flavors.   Sometimes I’ll read her blog and think, no that can’t be.   I have learned never to doubt her.   Her flavor combinations are on point all the time.   My only gripe?  She needs more vegetarian recipes. These tacos are quite delicious and they do warm up well (if you’re only making for one, like me!)

Quinoa Black Bean Tacos   – Super easy and quite delicious!  Two thumbs up also because ALL her recipes are vegetarian!  This is another blog, Cookie and Kate (her dog) that I have been using a lot of lately.  Her recipes are vegetarian and are simple to make.  For being so simple and having so much flavor is a plus for me.  I love using quinoa as part of the combination here.  Quinoa is a grain that is a complete protein – having all the amino acids, essential and nonessential.  Not to mention quinoa has more protein than other grains.  For me as a vegetarian the key is making sure to balance my protein with my carbohydrates.  It’s very easy as a vegetarian to eat high carbohydrate meals (as the protein might be lacking from an animal source).  While it is harder to get a sufficient amount of plant protein it is possible.  As a dietitian I am always constantly aware of this and am striving to make sure that I get the sufficient amount of protein that I need.  This helps stave off cravings that may occur because I didn’t give my body what it adequately needs.

Vegan Jalapeño Sauce – I found this gem of a sauce on another taco night.  This vegan sauce has the base of cashews.  Think of a cool ranch kind of flavor.  That’s THIS sauce.  The best part (besides it helping to give me more protein at every meal?) it’s versatile!  Yes it was great as a sauce for my tacos, but it worked well the next day as a salad dressing – a sauce that can “blend once” and eat more times kind of sauce – as the author/maker of this sauce states, and it’s the truth!   I love a variety of nuts to help obtain my protein, but cashews hands down are the most versatile.  You can make them into a savory type sauce or into something sweet, it’s kind of hard to believe they can do that!  I’ve made them before in a vegan cheesecake.  They really can be both savory and sweet.  

Snack – Nutty Jumbles

These are absolutely SO easy to make.  I buy the Planter’s Mixed Nuts (50% fewer peanuts unsalted) mix so I have a variety of nuts and don’t have to worry about measuring each nut out individually.  Yes, there is some sugar added in along with the egg white, but after you bake them this is what helps them bind together.   The percentage of carbohydrate to protein is a perfect balance and isn’t skewed to have too much of one or the other – perfect snack in my book.  I eat nuts every day to help obtain my protein for the day.  Every now and then I need to spruce them up and make them taste a little different than just your average nut.  I’ve used nuts to make “taco meat”, the cashew sauce as above, and even blended them up to make a fake parmesan cheese.  These nutty jumbles bring the natural flavor of the nuts out when they roast in the oven.  Simple and delicious, what’s not to love?

Snack – Almond Butter Cookies

I’m all for experimenting.  This recipe did just that for me.  A cookie without an egg you say?  Let’s go.  You mix flaxseed meal along with some water and let it sit for a few minutes.  This acts as the binder in the recipe (similar to what an egg does) and is used quite often in vegetarian/vegan baking recipes.  These cookies are so delicious and proved me to be a believer when using the “flax-egg”.  Many have bombed and none stood the test of time.  These do.  I haven’t made them with another nut butter, but I can tell you now, they didn’t last long at all and need to be made again. Picture by the Simple Veganista.

My new go to add it to everything item:  Hemp seeds.   I’ve been doing this for a while now and I’m not sure why I haven’t shared this idea before.   I throw hemp seeds in my salad dressing (so they don’t sink to the bottom of my salad), I throw hemp seeds in those overnight oats, I throw it on top of my nut butter toasts – anywhere and everywhere I can add it I do.   These little seeds give you the nutritional power of hemp with a blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fats and high fiber content.  There are 10 grams of protein per 3 tablespoons.  They are also a good source of magnesium, a mineral that helps with relaxation, blood sugar control, blood pressure, and potentially osteoporosis.    Yes they are calorically dense, but they are NUTRIENT dense as well.  So easy to add in the day to my meals and help me obtain a sufficient amount of protein to help balance my carbohydrate intake.  Hemp seeds have a rich nutty flavor that makes everything just taste better.  Try it.

That's A Keeper 4 - Hemp seed.jpg

So there you have it – a few more recipes that have recently made it into my “keepers”.  I hope you see a recipe or two that you might like to try.  Why struggle to find a new recipe if you’re not sure that’ll turn out?  Start your own “keeper” cookbook.  You’ll be glad you did.