It’s been two weeks since I’ve been home in the US and I already miss making treats. Cookies, bars, cakes, granola, cobblers… there was always something to be concocted and it was a breeze, or should I say piece of cake ;) in our—thanks to my lovely mother—well-stocked pantry and well-equipped kitchen. How I took that all for granted! Whipping up a batch of after dinner peanut butter cookies isn’t quite as simple when my current pantry has zero ingredients, and my kitchen not a spatula, mixing bowl nor cookie sheet. I know, poor poor me… :)
It’s always something I look forward to after travelling: returning to my kitchen and to my comfort food. Comfort food – often synonymous with indulgence food – for me is actually the healthy, nutritious, veggie-full meals we eat in our house*. It’s comforting because it satisfies both mind and body, and I crave it when I’m away from it for too long. Traveling in a country like Colombia, where green vegetables are not (at all) the forefront of the cuisine and I’ve eaten one-too-many deep fried empanadas ….makes me long for the salads, stews, curries, fritattas, stir frys, and all other veggie-centered dishes that are a regular at home.
*don’t get me wrong, ‘comfort food’ to me also means all things chocolate ;)
I also return home inspired by the many foods I’ve sampled, techniques I’ve observed, new spices and textures and flavors I’ve discovered. So I’m off the plane and anxious to cook, whether it’s Colombian arepas or a comforting veggie-ful lentil curry.
Here’s a little bite of the food in my life since I came home… just a little detox from empanadas, fried plantains, queso, queso, and more queso.
Quinoa falafels with tahini sauce via Sprouted Kitchen, & fresh carrot-mango-orange-ginger juice
I-could-eat-this-every-day Kabocha Squash Lentil Curry via Pinch of Yum, over kale with toasted naan
My sister’s sourdough boules… maybe ate a little too much of this, but who can resist warm, crusty, chewy, fresh baked bread?!
And in lieu of store-bought Easter candy, we made homemade vegan butterfingers, which blew us all away with their spot on texture and peanut buttery goodness.
Granola. The word itself makes many people think health food. But store-bought and even homemade granola recipes are almost always loaded with butter, oil, sugar, even chunks of chocolate or m&m’s. Still sound healthy? It’s unfortunate that typical granola is so fattening and calorie dense, but what is fortunate is how easy it is to make your own, guilt-free granola without sacrificing any of that sweet n’ salty crunchiness!
The secret is using a fruit or vegetable puree instead of butter, and using a lesser amount of an unrefined sweetener like honey or maple syrup. In this case, pureed bananas add their own sweetness, so all that’s needed is a touch of honey. This stuff is so great in milk or yogurt, and my favorite is to dump in some raisins and dark chocolate chips and munch away as fast as I can!
Peanut Butter Banana [guilt-free] Granola, adapted from here
2 ½ cups rolled oats
2 cups puffed cereal [rice, wheat, etc… I used Kashi 7 Whole Grain Puffs]
¼ cup flax meal or whole flax seed
¾ cup chopped pecans
1 ½ large ripe bananas, cut into slices
1/3 cup peanut butter, melted slightly [I used a mixture of regular pb and Better’n Peanut Butter]
2 t honey
1 ½ t vanilla
½ t cinnamon
¼ t salt
Preheat oven to 300F. Combine all of the dry ingredients [oats, cereal, flax, nuts] in a bowl. Set aside. In a food processor/blender add the banana, honey, peanut butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Process until completely smooth [or mix and mash it by hand]. Pour over the dry ingredients and mix until it’s all combined. Pour onto a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray or lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20 minutes, stir, and bake 15-20 minutes longer until the granola is golden brown and crunchy. Let cool completely before storing. I put it into several mason jars so I don’t mindlessly eat it all at once! Makes about 6 cups. Enjoy!
Optional: for a healthy and addictive snack mix, dump in a few raisins, nuts, dark chocolate chips, and I haven’t tried this but I bet banana chips would be awesome!
And p.s—stay tuned for my apple-cinnamon and pumpkin-spice variations when the season arrives!
This post is linked to Love Your Heart Month