Tag Archives: vanilla

inspiration: HEALTHY BANANA CREAM PARFAIT

banana cream parfaitLeftovers, I love you so.

I guess this is bizarre that I consider cookies still left uneaten in a package of store-bought pastry “leftovers”.  You see, I have been working hard lately, and brought a package of gluten-free vanilla shortbreads (amazing ones, by the way… check them here) to give me and my comrade some energy.  Somehow, somehow, we did not eat all of them.  They are, thus, leftovers.

sables vanille victor vanille

As it will be, with the working hard comes the hunger, the hard hunger, the hunger that wants to devour things like leftovers the day after the hard work has a taken a brief pause.  With a banana, some vanilla, and a probiotic yogurt I found in my fridge, I found a cure to that hunger.  And an inspiration for a healthy and digestible version of the classic banana cream pie.

banana cream parfaitingredients: 1 serving plain yogurt of choice (dairy or non-dairy); 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla; 1/2 tsp. honey or agave nectar (or more for sweet tooths); 4 small gluten-free cookies (vanilla flavor recommended, chocolate works, too); 1/2 banana cut into thin slices

method: Mix together the yogurt, vanilla, and honey or agave nectar in a bowl.  Set aside.  Crumble 3 of the cookies into crumbs, break the last into 1 cm cubed pieces.  Set aside.  In a glass verrine or narrow glass, add 1/3 of the yogurt, 1/2 of the bananas, and 1/2 of the cookie crumbs.  Repeat with another layer of yogurt and add the larger chunks of cookies atop this layer.  Cover with the final layer of yogurt and top with crumbs in the center.

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Avocado Banana Bread

avocado banana breadthe $5 plating

fancy plating avocado banana breadthe $12 plating (No, I have not left my apartment for 2 days.  Gremlin flu.)

I still remember the day after homecoming.  Senior year, me working in a scrapbook shop, me being sent home.  Nay, not a sending home because of frivolous amounts of partying the night before (the angel I was didn’t really drink in high school), but because I almost fainted from being sick.  I thought it was strep throat. Which I guess can easily be construed for mono.

Homecoming 2005Me and pops von Trapp, homecoming ceremony 2005 ‘merica!

I can’t compare what I have right now to mono, aside from the throat that won’t sit still, the ample plugging and then releasing of the nasal region, and the impressive head pressure.  Also the fact that I am horrible at being sick.  I really am:

The week of homecoming my extracurricular jargon kept me at an average of 5 hours of sleep a night (I was notably sick then, too).  Once discovering it was mono and being quarantined to protect my peers,  I gained weight instead of lose it because if I’m stuck at home, what better way to pass the time than the prepare food?  Nothing has changed.  This octopus flu has me cooped up like an unwilling chicken and I am unexpectedly active in the hen house.

Guess the not being able to sit still thing is good for the career of Chef. And here’s an experiment gone right in my days of sunny cabin fever.

blender

Avocado Banana Bread

Gluten, nut, dairy, soy, and corn-free.  Vegan option.

1 avocado

2 bananas

1/4 cup honey (or agave nectar for vegan)

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. sea salt

3/4 cup buckwheat flour

1/4 cup + 2 tbs. potato starch

1/2 tsp. baking powder

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: about 15-20 minutes

Serves 4-6

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (160 degrees Celcius).  Slice avocado and banana into small pieces.  Purée these pieces in blender with honey (or agave), vanilla, and sea salt.

2. Combine dry ingredients in separate bowl.  Combine with wet ingredients until batter is formed.  Bake for 15-20 minutes in standard ovens (or until inserted toothpick comes out clean).

It’s a healthy cake.  Still tasty, but gotta say it.  To make it slightly less healthy, cover it with frosting.  (I whipped some kefir with powdered sugar for an icing.)

avocado and banana

 

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Homemade Caramelized Honey Oat Bran Bars

oat bar with creamy seed butterIt’s almost like I just want to slide down the middle of this bar.  You know… imagine it.

Food can inspire strange behavior.  No food inspires even stranger, so let’s carry on now.

I find caramel made from honey to be a delightful little composition.  Especially if there is some form of sea salt added to it.  Perhaps a little oil.  Oh, lookey here, there’s both!  This recipe for a healthy and gluten-free granola bar has no refined sugar at all and is high in fiber (good for your arteries, yeah!).  A really nice natural energy boost by itself if you’re pragmatic, a healthy way to get that sweet fix after a meal if you’re a touch more hedonistic.  Like, a touch.

wrapped oat bars

Caramelized Honey Oat Bran Bar

-gluten, nut, soy, corn, egg-free.  Vegan with substitutions-

1/4 cup neutral oil

1/2 cup honey (or 1/3 cup agave nectar for vegan)

1/8 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. pure vanilla (optional but good)

1 1/8 cup gluten-free oat bran (available at health food stores or online here, also known as “son d’avoine”)

Preparation time: 2 minutes

Cook time: about 4-5 minutes

Serves about 10-12 easily (makes a plaque of bars)

honey caramel1. Heat oil, honey, salt and optional vanilla in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  If you have a thermometer, insert it and bring mixture to 135 degrees F (270 degrees C) or until it bubbles like shown at left and starts to turn a little darker in color.  Immediately remove from heat.

oat bars2. Add oats to pot and stir with spatula until coated.  Let sit, stirring every 2 minutes, for 10 minutes to cook the oats to make them more digestible.

silpat granola3. Spread on a silicon baking sheet (or an oiled baking sheet or parchment paper) to desired thickness.  With spatula, or a dull knife, outline the shape you want to cut.  Let cool then cut and wrap individually to be all precious.

Since you cooked your sugar to a “soft-crack” phase, meaning it will be a harder caramel, let it cool to solidify a bit so it’s not just a gooey mess.  I’ve been storing my bars in the fridge, as it’s warmer out now, but you can store them room temperature if you want to keep them more taffy-like with the heat.  Ah, that sounds nice, too.

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Vanilla Avocado Frosting

avocado gems<–I’m gonna make frosting out of you

There’s guacamole and then there’s things you put on cakes.  Let’s not have one be confused with the other.

avocado frosting cookiesIn working on recipes, and having a strong want for cream cheese frosting, I tried my luck hunting down mascarpone on a Sunday afternoon in Paris.  The sun might be unusually open for this gray city (sunshine today, sunshine today!!), but the grocery stores are very usually closed.  There is an open-air market near me that I got to right before closing, where I thought I could at the very least locate some mascarpone from the Italian trader.  All they had left was a very impressive terrine of mascarpone and gorgonzola left.  I might like odd flavors, but gorgonzola in my frosting was not what I am in the mood for today.

I bought an avocado instead.  Those are always good.

In making avocado tahini cookies, an idea crossed my mind to blend half of the avocado with water, whisk in in a bain mairie with starch to thicken it, and then play with it for perhaps another cookie recipe.  As I was whisking the guacamole-esque mixture, I noticed it thickening incredibly, and then a lightbulb went off: it looked like green butter.  I immediately emulsified in some oil to give it some volume and then started adding powdered sugar like you would a traditional frosting.

Looks like I got my cream frosting, after all.  This one is a really happy accident, as it is also dairy-free.  Thanks, gorgonzola.

avocado frostingVanilla Avocado Frosting

-Dairy-free, nut-free, vegan, gluten-free-

Ingredients: 1/4 cup water, 1/2 avocado, 2 tbs. potato starch, 3 tbs. neutral oil, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, a large pinch sea salt, 1/2 cup (+ any extra to taste) powdered sugar

Method: Blend water and avocado in blender until very smooth.  Pour into metal bowl, whisk in potato starch, and keep whisking over a pot of simmering water (bain mairie) until it starts thickens.  Whisk in oil one tbs. at a time to emulsify.  Remove from heat.  Whisk in vanilla and salt.  Bit by bit, whisk in powdered sugar to desired sweetness and consistency (the more sugar, the sweeter and the thicker).

 

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Somewhere Between Congee and Dreaming

millet with honey cinnamon milkCongee is a Chinese specialty that is basically rice in water.  Oatmeal is a heart-warming invention that comes from wheat.  Both are wonderful for cold days.  While one may be Bubble Child friendly, for some reason I think we can do better than rice in water.  Oatmeal should technically be gluten-free, as the oats themselves do not contain gluten, but through cross-contamination and over-processing, they’re not safe for those with Celiac or strong gluten intolerances.

congee<–meeehhhhh

Which is why millet is so great.  My morning inspiration was to use leftover millet I had from lunch yesterday (naturally gluten-free with a sweet taste much like corn), and heat up some lactose-free milk with honey, vanilla, and cinnamon.  It was a warm morning.

millet breakfastINSPIRATION: Millet with Honey Cinnamon Milk

Ingredients: 1. Millet: 2 cups water, 1 cup uncooked millet, a hearty pinch sea salt.  2. Honey Cinnamon Milk: 3 cups lactose-free milk of choice, 1 tsp. ground cinnamon (or whole, remove after heating), 1 tsp. pure vanilla, 1 heaping tablespoon vanilla, pinch sea salt

Method: Much like rice, bring 2 cups water and salt to a boil, add millet, stir, cover, and reduce heat to low.  Simmer (covered) for about 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed.  Set aside to cool and hold a bit.  Heat milk over medium heat with seasonings.  Once just boiled, add millet, stir once, reduce heat to low, let simmer 1-2 minutes to infuse flavors.  Divide into bowls, and receive your morning.

(serves 3-4)

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