Tag Archives: cashews

Weekly Eating – 9/24/18

 

Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

The weekend was a good mix of relaxing and productivity and fun. I spent some time on Saturday whipping up a batch of hot sauce in green and red, along with some pumpkin cookies for this month’s food swap. I ended up with enough hot sauce that I kept plenty for us and also a bottle of each to swap.

so many peppers

I also finally got around to pulling up all the dead and dying summer plants from the garden. The tomatoes had been sadly neglected, as evidenced by several (at least 4) enormous hornworms I found. Like, these suckers were the size of my ring finger for sure. It was fascinating and terrifying and gross.

amazing photo of a giant hornworm on a tomato plant

And did you know they are a favorite host for parasitic wasps? Yeah… Nature, you creepy.

hornworn covered in wasp cocoons

In better news, we also attended the Eleventh Annual Pepper Fest! Held in Briar Chapel, between Chapel Hill and Pittsboro, it is a wonderful day filled with music, dancing, acrobatics, and all the pepper flavored culinary delights.

NC Pepper Fest 2018

Hosting everything from cayenne popcorn to ghost chili honey to pepper steeped beers and sodas, this festival will light up your taste bud and set your face on fire. If you want it to. The extra-hot stuff is clearly marked!

NC Pepper Fest 2018

From their website:

We are still tallying up things, but here’s where things stand so far:
* Approximately 3000 folks were in attendance
* More vendors than ever…89 booths!
* Local farmers were paid $3400 for 570 lbs of peppers of 45 different varieties!
*125 Volunteers helped put on the event.
*Kids Village was over the top! 250+ happy children
*Compost sorted by Kassandra & hauled off by Brooks Composting
Culinary Winners:
The Savory Stunner (Best Savory Dish): Little River Eco Farm
My Sweet Heat (Best Sweet Dish): Big Spoon Roasters
The Double Take (Most Creative Dish): Fusion Fish
The Platinum Pepper (Best in Show):  The Food Fairy
The Staff Sweetheart (Most Local):  Angelina’s Kitchen

NC Pepper Fest 2018

Monday:

Breakfast – Peach oatmeal. I need ALL the peaches before the season is over. way too soon, as always.

Lunch – I made a triple batch again of this cauliflower barley bowl, it is so dang good.

cauliflower barley cashew bowl

Dinner – Tonight’s dinner got muy fan-say. I had king oysters and enoki left over from a stop at my favorite asian grocery, so I made King Oyster scallops with rice noodles & enoki base, and a vegan cashew cream sauce. Too legit to quit, the boy even said it was awesome. I could charge $60 a plate for this ish.

king oyster mushroom scallops

I also had several passion fruits from a vine I found, and tried my hand at a coulis, which turned out divine when mixed with soda water. Homemade soda this week homies!

passion fruit passion fruit syrup

Tuesday:

Breakfast – more oatmeal!

Lunch – more Cauliflower Barley Bowls!

cauliflower barley cashew bowl

Dinner – This was the Food Swap, so I mostly nibbled on samples.

bull city food swap

But when I got home the boy let me have a half a burrito he hadn’t eaten with his dinner 🙂

Wednesday:

Breakfast – Cocoa puffs lol at least I used homemade cashew milk

Lunch – red lentil dal with rice, hot sauce, crème fraîche, and a garlic curry sauce from the swap. YUM.

red lentil dal with garlic curry

And passionfruit soda!

passionfruit soda

Dinner –Baked cod with red potatoes and asparagus. Super simple, healthy, and tasty a.f. Also the writer of the recipe is freaking hilarious and I’m now a confirmed follower of her blog.

baked cod, potatoes, and asparagus

Thursday:

Breakfast – Smoothie. I got a cherry berry mix from the store, and it has cocoa nibs… I hate that. They are chalky and crunchy and I don’t want to chew my drink thank you very much. Now I know.

cherry cocoa smoothie

Lunch – Cauli Cashew bowl! Last one.

cauliflower barley cashew bowl

Dinner – Thursday Night Co-op! Today was BBQ pulled pork with slaw and chips, and dang was it good!

bbq pulled pork co-op dinner

Friday:

Breakfast – breakfast burrito w peppers, onions, mushrooms, and tomato + hot sauce. nom. nom.

breakfast burrito

Lunch – Leftover mushroom scallops & last of the seaweed salad

mushroom pasta and seaweed salad

Dinner – well, this turned into one of the most frustrating days of all time when my car smelled like smoke and just stopped running… and after the third tow didn’t show up I said forget it I’m just dealing with this later, and the hubs was sweet enough to take me to dinner, where I could drown my sorrows in a fishbowl margarita! The day got much better after that…

fishbowl margarita

Also the tacos al pastor were DELISH. I was in pain for hours afterwards because I was so full, but, #worth.

tacos al pastor

The Weekend

I’ll spend a big part of the weekend trying hard to stay off Twitter due to all the things I’m missing by not being at FinCon!

But there is plenty to keep me busy. Like planting all my remaining cold weather goodies like broccoli, cabbage, kale, beets, and radish.

fall garden vegetable planting

And pulling weeds. And planting oodles of bulbs now so our yard is a riot of color in the spring. And some garlic. And cleaning, which never ends. And turning this bumper crop of Carolina Reapers into delicious, face-melting salsa.

carolina reaper peppers

 

Food Total: $28.61 + 10.81 + 31.57 = $70.99

Not bad overall. One trip to the co-op for bulk barley and more canned pumpkin, one trip to Harris Teeter for cheese and other stuff, and a Produce Box delivery.

Lessons Learned

I enjoy eating the same meals over and over (see, 3 days of cauliflower and barley!) but I also really enjoy trying new recipes (mushrooms as pasta and scallops in the same dish? why not). Both of these things help me save money in the long run, as it keeps cooking at home interesting.

But, going out sometimes is ok too. The experience, not having to do dishes, and eating foods you probably wouldn’t take the time to make yourself all make it worth it. As an occasional treat though, not a daily ritual.

Also gardening is an immensely  satisfying hobby. Even when nothing grows. Even when the only thing you’re feeding is the bugs this year. Even when it rains too much, or not at all. The feeling of kneeling in soft dirt, smelling like compost and rain and Earth, digging holes and tenderly laying baby plantlings in there with the hopes and dreams of their leafy future… there is nothing else like it.

 

How about you guys? Did you have a learning week or an awesome week of wins?

 

 

Nuts and Dark Chocolate Sea Salt “KIND” Bar Recipe

 

Sometimes, you don’t have time for breakfast or lunch and need something quick and portable. Maybe you need a before- or after-workout snack with protein. Or the kids are hungry and want a snack, but you don’t want them eating sugary fatty junk or ruining their appetite for dinner.

You’re at work, at 11am or 2pm, and hunger hits, but you can’t leave to get something and your next meal feels like hours away. Or you or your partner is hungry and staring into the refrigerator like a roast chicken may magically appear, but you can’t or don’t want to cook something right now.

This sounds like a job for the granola bar.

Granola has long been a popular breakfast food, differentiated from the similar muesli because it was sweetened and usually baked. To make granola, rolled oats, nuts, spices, honey or other sweeteners, and sometimes puffed rice are mixed together and baked into clusters of wholesome cereal.

The names Granula and Granola were trademarked in the 19th century in America by the Jackson Sanitarium, a prominent health spa near Danville, and John Harvey Kellogg (yes, that Kellogg). And then someone had the bright idea to take this loose granola, which is kind of messy, and press it into a bar shape. These can then be individually wrapped, and stuck in a purse, pocket, or backpack for later consumption.

Granola bar popularity took off, and continues to rise. According to theglobeandmail.com, “Granola bars, breakfast bars and cereal bars, which are referred to collectively as “snack bars,” are part of a food category that’s grown 5 per cent a year since 2005 and is worth an estimated $720-million in Canada, according to figures provided by PepsiCo Foods Canada, which owns the Quaker brand.” All across the Americas, New Zealand and Australia, Europe and China, people love the portability and growing options snack bars offer.

One of the many reasons people love snack bars so much is their perceived healthfulness. After all, they have oats in them, which are full of fiber, beneficial to heart and digestive health. Unfortunately, today’s granola bars’ nutrition facts don’t often match their health claims.

For example, Special K chocolaty crunch bars claim that each bar only contains 90 calories and that they can help reach and maintain a healthy weight. But the bars, which themselves weigh only 22 grams, contain eight grams (nearly two teaspoons) of sugar. Sugar is also listed as the first ingredient. Another popular All-Bran bar claims to be high in fiber, yet each bar contains only 4 grams of the daily recommended 25g (for women) or 38g (for men).

So what’s a health conscious adult looking for a perfect portable food to do? Make your own of course!

It is much easier than you may think. You could get very serious about it, purchase a candy thermometer, meticulously source and weigh ingredients in the pursuit of the perfect bar. But that’s not how we roll here. Soon you will see how simple making your own healthy homemade snack bars can be!

KIND bars have become a favorite of mine lately, because they have ingredients you can see and pronounce, with no preservatives, fillers, artificial flavorings, and each bar is held to high standards for a low calorie count and sugar content. I had no idea there were so many options now though! There are KIND fruit & nut bars, KIND Plus, KIND nuts & spices, KIND & STRONG… you get the idea.

And the best part is, this is a WAY healthier bar than a typical granola bar. There are no oats, just puffed rice, whole raw or roasted nuts, and some sweeteners that also keep everything sticking together. These are inherently gluten free. Obviously, if you or someone you know is allergic to nuts, please don’t make these. But if not, then dive on in!

I based my recipe loosely off of Kelly’s recipe from Eat Yourself Skinny. I personally most love the dark chocolate sea salt bar, so that’s what this recipe mimics. But you are free to add whatever you enjoy to create your own copycat, or a brand new kind of bar!

The general rule I follow is 1 cup nuts/dry fruit : 1 cup cereal : 1/4 cup sweetener. I would use organic plain puffed rice if I had it, but when I wanted to make these and went to the store, Kashi Go Lean puffed cereal was the closest thing I could find. It works.

I’ve tried peanuts, walnuts, almonds, and cashews so far. I’m sure you could use just about any type of nuts in these, but I would recommend always including almonds. And I have not tried any with dried fruits yet, but that is the next experiment in line.

This recipe makes enough for a 9×13 pan, for approximately 30 of the delicious 1 inch x 3 inch bars.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups puffed rice cereal
  • 3 cups whole nuts (almonds + peanuts/cashews + walnuts)
  • 1/2 cup brown rice syrup
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 4 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 1 tbsp vanilla flavoring

The dark chocolate drizzle is of course optional, but highly recommended. For that you will need:

  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate pieces
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • Sea Salt

mixed nuts in a bowl

Step 1: In a large bowl, mix all your nuts, cereal, and ground flax.

Step 2: In a sauce pot, mix the brown rice syrup, honey, and vanilla. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 2 minutes. It is a balancing act, too short and you will get a syrupy bar, but the longer you boil, the more likely you will create a crunchy bark rather than pliant bars. But regardless, it will taste great in the end, I promise.

Step 3: Pour your syrup over the nuts and cereal, and mix well to combine.

Step 4: Line a pan with foil, and press the mixture into the pan. You can use a spatula, your hand, or a cup sprayed with cooking oil if you want to make it extra flat and compact. Put it in the refrigerator for about an hour to chill and harden.

If you don’t want to add the chocolate drizzle, you can stop here and cut the bars to the desired size. I cut it into 10 strips, then cut each strip into 3 bars so they are about 1x2ish inches. I then wrapped each bar individually in wax paper.

But if you’re a chocolate lover like me, I definitely recommend continuing on to steps 5 & 6 below…

Dark chocolate drizzle for KIND bars

Step 5: In a microwave safe bowl, combine the dark chocolate chips, coconut oil, and a sprinkle of sea salt. Microwave 30 seconds at a time, stirring each time, until melted.

Step 6: Drizzle the melted chocolate all over the granola. You could dip the bottoms in chocolate too, but I found the drizzle on top was the perfect amount. Chill in the refrigerator again for about an hour to harden. Cut into desired bar size.

These will keep well in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks, or you can freeze for handy snacks for months. I doubt they will last that long though…

According to MyFitnessPal.com, these bars only have about 100 calories each, and 8 grams of sugar*. Not too shabby!

Recipe Nutrition Calculator

: 30

Total: 3,119 334 176 107 580 227
Per Serving: 104 11 6 4 19 8

*This calculation is for the bar without adding the chocolate.

Nuts and Dark Chocolate Sea Salt “KIND” Bars

Nuts and Dark Chocolate Sea Salt “KIND” Bars

Ingredients

  • 3 cups puffed rice cereal
  • 3 cups whole nuts (almonds + peanuts/cashews + walnuts)
  • 1/2 cup brown rice syrup
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 4 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 1 tbsp vanilla flavoring
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • Sea salt to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, mix all your nuts, cereal, and ground flax.
  2. In a sauce pot, mix the brown rice syrup, honey, and vanilla. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 2 minutes.
  3. Pour your syrup over the nuts and cereal, and mix well to combine.
  4. Line a pan with foil, and press the mixture into the pan. Put it in the refrigerator for about an hour to chill and harden.
  5. In a microwave safe bowl, combine the dark chocolate chips, coconut oil, and a sprinkle of sea salt. Microwave 30 seconds at a time, stirring each time, until melted.
  6. Drizzle the melted chocolate all over the granola. Chill in the refrigerator again for about an hour to harden. Cut into desired bar size.
  7. These will keep well in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks, or you can freeze for handy snacks for months.
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Cashew Ginger Chicken Stir Fry

 

You know my biggest topics I love to talk about are: 1) Healthy food, 2) Delicious & New foods, and 3) Affordable food, right?  Well, if you didn’t you do now.

Not much lights me up more than finding or creating a recipe that is good for you, quick and easy to make, and also draws rave reviews from a somewhat finicky eater.  Stir fry is almost always one of those meals.  Stir fry is always in my top ten for one simple reason: you can put just about anything in it.

Seriously.  Chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, scrambled eggs, fish, tofu, tempeh.  Broccoli, cabbage, mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, water chestnuts.  Ginger, soy sauce, fish sauce, vinegar, onions, garlic, nuts.

All of the above.

Sure, there are sometimes occasional fails (for the love of god, do not put oregano into your stir fry, just trust me. Also this is proof I’ve loved stir fry at least since 2011, and how far both my cooking and writing have come since then!).  But the majority of the time, the recipe of Protein + Veggie + Rice + Sauce = Magic.

IMG_3649

For this particular recipe, I had just made a batch of My Homemade Pickled Ginger and it had aged in the refrigerator a week or two, so I was eager to try it out.  I also had some black sesame seeds which had been a Christmas gift and I still hadn’t yet used.  Combine that with a cheap $1 store bagged mix of broccoli slaw, free green onions that grow wild in my yard, a cup of brown rice, and some other ingredients I always have on hand, and I had a super quick, super cheap, and super satisfying dinner.

A few notes on substitutions:  If you do not like cashews or don’t buy them because of cost, you can easily substitute peanuts or almonds.  Or if you’re allergic, definitely omit them!  (You could add a sprinkle of nutritional yeast for a boost of vitamins if you like).  If you don’t like onions, use chives, or parsley, or just don’t add it in.  I used brown rice because I like the texture and I like the nutrition as compared to white, but you can totally use white rice, or a 1/2 and 1/2 mixture!  You can use shredded or powdered ginger instead of fresh.  And if you don’t like bagged store mixes, feel free to shred your own broccoli, cabbage, and/or carrots.

Cashew Ginger Chicken Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup cooked diced or shredded chicken
  • 1 bag broccoli slaw mix
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock (or veggie stock or water)
  • Optional: 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp sliced pickled ginger
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp crushed cashew pieces
  • 2 tbsp chopped green onion/chives
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds

IMG_3643

Step 1: Put the bagged slaw mix and mushrooms in a large pan with the olive oil and stock or water and cover.  Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 5-7 minutes.  Once the veggies are softened, remove the lid and add the soy sauce and ginger.  Add in the chicken, mix well to coat, and let the liquid evaporate until most is gone.

IMG_3647

Step 2: Put about 1/2 cup cooked rice and 1/2 the cooked mixture on a place in whatever way visually pleases you.

IMG_3651

Step 3: Sprinkle the crushed cashews and green onions on top.  Add a sprinkle of sesame seeds, and enjoy!

Cranberry Cashew Chicken Salad

 

Ever get really tired of a certain kind of lunch?  Like say you always take a roast beef sandwich with cheddar and mustard.  Or a tuna salad pita pocket.  Or a certain type or brand of soup.  When you eat the same thing several days in a row, you can get bored easily.  But then you also want more ‘grown-up’ options sometimes than just peanut butter and jelly, or maybe you don’t have any leftovers to choose from at the moment.

This is a super simple recipe for a great tasting and healthy chicken salad sandwich mix.  It is designed to make just enough for one large sandwich or wrap, but you can easily increase the quantities to feed a family of four or a luncheon buffet for fifty.  It has a tiny bit of sweetness, which helps kids love it too, and a nice bit of crunch to make it interesting.  No one needs to know that you snuck in an extra serving of fruits & veggies.

For maximum healthy, use plain Greek yogurt to bind it, and serve as a lettuce wrap or on whole grain bread or tortilla with extra veggie toppings.  This is a great way to use up extra chicken meat from a whole bird, and is very frugal and versatile.  Try this the next time you need lunchtime inspiration, a quick after-school snack, or a buzz-worthy picnic dish.

Ingredients for Cranberry Cashew chicken salad

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1/2 tbsp dried cranberry
  • 1/2 tbsp cashews or peanuts
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise or Miracle Whip or plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp mustard

IMG_3212

Step 1: Use meat from a cooked chicken (such as rotisserie) to save time, or poach 1 boneless skinless chicken breast in water or broth until no longer pink.  Shred with two forks, and use about 1/2 cup per serving you intend to make.

IMG_3211

Step 2: In a bowl, mix all ingredients together well.  This tastes even better if you let it sit overnight in the refrigerator, and will keep up to a week.  Feel free to add in your own flavorings like lemon or lime juice, use raisins instead of cranberries, or add spinach rather than celery.  If you have nut allergies, omit the cashews/peanuts, and if you still want crunch add a tbsp large breadcrumbs, fried onions, or Chinese noodles.

 

 

Cranberry Cashew Chicken Salad

Cranberry Cashew Chicken Salad

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1/2 tbsp dried cranberry
  • 1/2 tbsp cashews or peanuts
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise or Miracle Whip or plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp mustard

Instructions

  1. Use meat from a cooked chicken (such as rotisserie) to save time, or poach 1 boneless skinless chicken breast in water or broth until no longer pink. Shred with two forks, and use about 1/2 cup per serving you intend to make.
  2. In a bowl, mix all ingredients together well. This tastes even better if you let it sit overnight in the refrigerator, and will keep up to a week.
  3. Feel free to add in your own flavorings like lemon or lime juice, use raisins instead of cranberries, or add spinach rather than celery. If you have nut allergies, omit the cashews/peanuts, and if you still want crunch add a tbsp large breadcrumbs, fried onions, or Chinese noodles.
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