Banana Nut Muffins

I don’t even need to write a story or intro for this one. Banana nut muffins fit for all of the monkeys in your life, created by a goddess (my roommate’s words, not mine, as he grabbed another running out the door). You will not be disappointed. 

WINNER WINNER CHOCOLATE CAKE FOR DINNER

I come from a family where dessert is sacred and highly encouraged. My dad is known to regularly order dessert first and then again at the end of the meal if he still has room. I’ve been known to order two desserts when I can’t make a decision. There is however, one thing you must know about desserts for us. There is no sharing. Don’t bother taking one of those multiple spoons the unsuspecting waiter just dropped on the table with my plate. If you try to grab a taste of my decadent display of sugar and calories you very well might pull back a nub; a bloody puncture wound at the least. Basically, we’re savages who enjoy our food and have zero qualms about stabbing you with a fork. You’ve been warned.

Albeit an epic fail of dry tasteless cake, this was too pretty not to share and an example of the trying sacrifices I had to make in order to deliver the above cake. It was rough. Chocolaty trial after chocolaty trial. 

Needless to say, dessert is and always has been a rather important part of my foodie life and loves. The staples are crème brulee, chocolate mousse, tiramisu, anything with peanut butter and chocolate and of course chocolate cake (preference to titles that include the words death and/or a number 3+). So I have spent weeks testing chocolate cake recipes of every variety to fill my growing dessert void but it turns out that it is incredibly challenging to find a recipe is ‘great’ vs. ‘great for being grain/dairy free’ which is a distinction I find very important. I don’t think that we should have to settle for something that is mediocre but acceptable. If I don’t love what I’m eating, I’m not going to make it again; those are wasted calories that could be used for something far better that I enjoy eating.

After testing, tweaking and playing with upwards of 50 different recipes, I have hit the chocolaty sweet spot in an ooey gooey single serve microwave mug cake. It makes portion control much easier and you can go from nada to piping hot cake in less than five minutes assuming your competitive measuring skills are on point. So grab your own mug because I don't want to have to stab anyone today!

Breakfast of Champions

Over the last year, I’ve tried to navigate and embrace this whole alternative diet lifestyle, sometimes not so successfully, but I have learned two main and intertwined lessons:

1.     Depriving myself of certain foods, especially those that I’ve loved and enjoyed most of my life is a recipe for disaster and will only lead to failure. As will denying cravings.

2.     Sometimes cravings are less for a specific food as much as for the learned experience and/or social experience of consuming that food.

For the purpose of this post and recommendation/recipe that follows we'll use cereal as an example. I’ve eaten cereal most of my life for breakfast. I think many can relate unless you had one of those parents that cooked breakfast any time but special occasions. As a child, I preferred the sweet, terrible for you varieties: Captain Crunch, Sugar Smacks, Sugar Pops, Frosted Mini Wheats…you get the idea. Occasionally, my mom would let us have sliced bananas in milk with a sprinkle of sugar. As I got older and more health conscious, this turned into granola and fruit and yogurt and a lot of eggs (on occasion I would treat myself to sliced bananas and peanut butter in milk).

Fast forward to the present and I find myself craving cereal in the morning. The thing is, I was never really a huge fan of cereal or granola to begin with. It was more of a quick and easy meal in the morning that I’ve always had. It was a learned experience that my mind and body attribute to morning and morning meals. I was craving that quick, easy meal. I was craving the crunchy, salty, sweet in cold milk. I was craving a daily habit that had more recently been lost.

So, rather than deny myself the foods (or experiences) that I crave, I modify to reflect my new lifestyle similar to when I phased out the sweeter morning rituals with healthier granola so many years ago. Basically what it comes down to is nuts and seeds and even some fresh fruit. If you need the sweeter, feel free to add a drizzle of maple syrup or raw honey. It’s even easy to mix up a bigger batch so that you can just pour a bowl each morning and not have to worry about each bag of nuts and seeds. One of the biggest bonuses for me though is that when I’m eating too slowly or distracted by the news or emails or shiny objects, my breakfast doesn’t get soggy! Below are a few of my favorite combinations but feel free to experiment with your favorite mixes. Enjoy!

ALL DAY EVERYDAY PANCAKES

The first time I made these pancakes it was with great trepidation. I've never been a huge pancake fan. I'm much more of a french toast gal if that is some sort of glaring insight into my personality and soul. I had tried to make those three ingredient banana pancakes a few days prior that ended in tears and burnt pancakes. Tears because the smoke was burning my eyes. Cue epiphany. I found a grain free pancake recipe on WellnessMama and thus began a brilliant and delicious series of food experiments, this being by far the best so far. So good that my southern, grain and dairy eating roommate couldn't get enough of them let alone sit down to eat them, or even leave the kitchen for that matter, lest the dog get any scraps or overdone morsels of goodness over him. Breakfast pancakes were a hands down success.

A few weeks, and many batches of pancakes for multiple taste testers later, I found myself with a craving. A friend had been talking about chicken and waffles and waffles and chicken and my stomach took my brain and ran off to the land of all foods I love but can no longer eat.

As a random side note, you'll learn this more and more about me if you follow my food adventures, I have intense cravings like a pregnant woman. I've had them all my life and the only way to make them go away is to feed the beast. Sometimes they're weird. Sometimes they're delicious. Sometimes it's just something my body needed. But when the beast beckons, I typically find a way to oblige. 

Anyway, back to chicken and waffles. I was racking my brain to come up with something equally as delicious but within the realm of my dietary restraints. Enter crispy skinned, curried chicken thighs with pumpkin pancakes. It was like a delicious ethnic tour on one plate ending in a deluge of maple syrup. The "all day everyday" pancakes were effectively named as the anytime go to. I'll give you my curry chicken recipe in a future post. Until then, enjoy and please share and let me know what you think!