Hummus

Like I mentioned before, hummus has long been one of my favorite foods. Growing up, when my extended family met up at the Outer Banks every summer, we always had hummus and pita bread to snack on.

I’ve started making my own sometimes, since it’s easy and inexpensive. This recipe is essentially a double batch which I’ve since frozen for later. Feel free to halve it.

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2 cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained

3 cloves of garlic

10T olive oil

6T tahini

juice of 1 lemon (or lime)

1t salt

1t dried cilantro (use fresh if you have it!)

pepper to taste (I added a dash of cayenne pepper, too)

Puree chickpeas in food processor, add olive oil and tahini and blend. Add spices to taste. If you like it thinner, add more oil. You can also use less tahini if you don’t like the flavor as much. Play around with it til you get the perfect mix for you! I love garlic and thought maybe 3 cloves wasn’t enough, but my brother thought it was plenty. So you do you. I won’t judge. You know that episode of Friends (start at 1:32) where Phoebe accuses Monica of overusing garlic in her restaurant? Yea, I’m definitely a Monica.

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Spinach-Crust Pizza

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My brother and I gave blood today. Despite it being a 2.5hr ordeal and me almost fainting toward the end, we escaped mostly unscathed. Like a good patient, I tried to get my iron levels back up with a spinach-crust pizza. I  used this recipe as a guide, but adjusted it this time. I was curious to see how kale would change the texture.

3 big handfuls of fresh spinach

2 big handfuls of fresh kale

2 eggs

1c shredded mozzarella cheese

salt and pepper

Blend greens in food processor, add eggs, add cheese and spices. (As mine looked a little wet, I blended 1/4c cashews with the mixture. You could add more cheese.)

 

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Spread on baking sheet and bake at 425 for about 15 min, or until it looks dry and starts to brown a bit on the edges.

 

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Add your preferred toppings and broil or bake at 350 til the cheese is done. I used a thin spreading of pesto, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and a mild goat’s cheese.

 

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Side note: blood-giving makes one weak, especially when one is already pretty scrawny. I had to take my unopened jar of artichoke hearts to the poor neighbor boy who was clearly napping…

Wait, is that terrible song ‘Jar of Hearts’ just about a girl who likes artichokes??

Anyway, this go-round was definitely a success. The crust wasn’t soggy like last time and had a nice crunch, which I completely attribute to the kale. The great thing about pizza is that you can always change up the toppings so it’s like a brand new recipe every time!

 

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Apple Spice Granola

Now that we’re all caught up to present-day, here is a recipe with steps!

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Breakfast these days consists of eggs, a protein shake, or a smoothie. If I’m eating yogurt I always need something with texture to offset its creamy feeling. Enter, granola! I stumbled across a paleo recipe that uses nuts and seeds instead of oats, which I thought sounded great.

I left out pecans since I did not have them.

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Mix all the dry ingredients in the food processor til combined and in small pieces.

I realized mid-way through that I didn’t have the applesauce it called for. Thankfully we did have a few Gala apples in the fridge. I chopped one up roughly and put in a saucepan with a little water, lemon juice, and cinnamon, and let it cook til soft.

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I tried turning the apple in to sauce with my hand mixer but it didn’t do anything. It worked beautifully in the food processor, though. (Yes, there was some transferring back and forth of ingredients in this step).

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After combining the wet ingredients in a separate bowl, I added them to the nuts in the food processor. At this point, you blend them til they’re combined, but not til they turn into a puree.

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I ate a few spoonfuls plain at this point. It was still warm from the fresh applesauce and I was imagining it scooped directly on top of some vanilla bean ice cream for dessert. Since I didn’t have any ice cream, I continued making it into granola. I followed the baking directions on the recipe, but if I did it again I would have lowered the heat and left it in for longer. My granola was starting to burn on the bottom and never became really crunchy, even after cooling overnight. Nonetheless, it has a great spicy, sweet flavor and was just what I wanted on my breakfast.

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Bell Pepper ‘Tacos’

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Ready for an original recipe?

Taco salads are fine and all, but its nice to have a little container for food sometimes.

Make some rice to serve alongside. (Another milestone I’ve achieved: I’ve made rice TWICE lately and it turned out perfectly!)

I used ground turkey, but ground beef or shredded pork or steak strips would work just as well. Season with taco seasoning.

Slice and remove seeds from a green bell pepper and place on a baking sheet.

Fill pepper with meat, or meat and rice, top with diced onions, and cover with pepperjack cheese.

Bake at 350 until the pepper looks cooked to your liking. Softer is better than undercooked, in my experience.

Top with more onions, a squirt of lime, some Greek yogurt, salsa, Sriracha, whathaveyou, and serve with more rice.

PS I’m a big fan of food that is just a mess on a plate. A ton of stuff in small pieces all mixed together isn’t really pretty to look at, but it tastes great to me!

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Cauliflower-Crust Pizza

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You know the smell of baking bread? You know how warm and wonderful it is? Some of us who have abandoned bread don’t get to smell that very much anymore. Believe it or not, a baking cauliflower-crust smells just about the same.

I followed the recipe here for the most part, but sort of made up my own measurements. I pretty much doubled her recipe for the crust, but used the entire head of cauliflower in the mixture. Since I don’t have a microwave, I just riced it in my food processor and left it on the stove over low heat, stirring occasionally, til it looked soft. I made a rectangular crust the size of a baking sheet and let it cook til it was pretty solid to the touch.

I did not use the broiler for the toppings. (I don’t have a good history with broilers). I just stuck it back in at the same temp.

It was very tasty and I’ll definitely make it again. The crust has a slightly quiche-y flavor, since it contains egg and cheese, but pizza toppings help distract from that. It reheats well in a cast-iron skillet for breakfast.

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A Simple Dinner

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After beginning my diet, I craved something full of flavor, protein, and fat. A sweet onion Bubba burger (those things are so easy!) with avocado was quick to throw on a plate. Since I can’t have most condiments now, I dropped some Fage Greek yogurt on top. It makes a great sour cream substitute. Add some salt and pepper and a bit of paprika and you’re set!

I usually crave sweet foods, rather than salty, so I never think to salt my food when I eat, but ohmygosh it makes everything so much flavorful.

I’m probably the last person on earth to realize that.

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Dietary Changes

So it was about a month ago, nearing the time of my move, that I realized I had a Candida (yeast) problem, and needed to make some dietary adjustments. I’ve had a terrible sweet tooth my entire life, and the fact that I have great genes and a fast metabolism has made me believe that as long as I’m not getting fat, I can continue to eat whatever I want. I’ve learned that this isn’t true. Although I do eat well, I still consume a lot more sugar and dairy than my body needs, and this feeds the yeast. So I decided to adjust my diet to stop the symptoms I have and avoid them getting worse.

You can Google ‘candida diet’ if you’re interested in what it entails, but I’m not going to explain it all here.

For me now, the diet involves eliminating sugar, wheat, dairy, mushrooms, alcohol, peanuts, etc. It’s extremely restrictive at first, and combined with my near-vacant pantry, I was starving. Like, tummy fat gone, energy gone too, laying-in-bed-and-literally-picturing-delicious-food starving. It was pretty awful at first, but I committed to it and knew I would have to find ways not to be hungry all the time.

With lots of summer hours spent alone that last week or 2, it was easy to stick to the diet since there were no temptations. Being social and going out is another story. It’s especially tiresome to explain the diet to my friends, and convince them I’m not going to waste away. I think I understand how vegans feel now.

I’m continuing the diet but cheating a bit because it allows me more variety (and joy). I’m eating much better than before, so I believe it should still make a difference in my overall health. This diet isn’t for the rest of my life (I hope) so I should be able to enjoy my chocolate cheesecake again. The recipes you will find on this blog in the future will mostly be ones that adhere to my dietary restrictions. (Unless any of my friends need me to bake a dessert for them. Anyone?)

 
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Pineapple Mint Granita

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It’s probably a good thing I don’t own an ice cream maker. I would experiment all the time. I tried to make a simple sorbet in my Cuisinart food processor, but it ended up being more like a granita. Satisfying nonetheless.

After shredding 1/2c of fresh mint leaves, I added frozen pineapple and pineapple juice until it looked like the right consistency. I froze it and took it out every few hours to stir so it wouldn’t become a solid block. But it still sort of did, anyway. After it was frozen it went back into the food processor and then back into the freezer for good. (An old Talenti gelato container was the perfect size for storage).

It was probably for the best that it had a granita, not sorbet, consistency, as it slowed down my consumption speed. I look forward to playing around with other fruits and herbs to see what works.

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