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Thursday
Jan032013

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal

A new year has arrived, bringing hopeful expectations and cheerful intentions. I feel pressed to make a list of resolutions, as so many friends have done and shared. Two years ago I made a list and shockingly accomplished everything I wanted. Last year I hastily found myself joining the bandwagon late, divining a list of January 5th resolutions that were immediately tossed to the wayside—the single resolution that was accomplished was by shear accident and without intention.

Resolutions have always felt so pressure-filled to me. While others may find them encouraging, my list of resolutions tends to stare at me from my desk, a stark reminder that I am nowhere near crossing them off.

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal

This year I've decided not to make a list of resolutions. Truthfully, I don't really have anything new to add to it. I already try to exercise regularly. Eating healthy has become a lifestyle choice for me, one I have been trying to follow for years. It is a decision I face three times a day. Like anyone, I have good days and bad days, but I do not disgrace myself based on the outcome. I fear that if I put Eat Healthy on my list, I'd only end up in a negative pattern of self judgement. There is no beginning, end, or easy system for measuring healthy eating without dieting—it is just a factor of life.

Despite a lack of resolutions, I do have many goals for myself, both shared and unspoken. Most of them are purposely vague, such as become a stronger writer or become a compelling photographer; they are not easily measurable, a work in progress for a lifetime instead of just twelve short months. For these and many more reasons, it is liberating not to have a handwritten list judging me this time around.

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal

Even so, I have many friends that begin new diets in the New Year. Undoubtedly, I hear stories of one or two who have started skipping (or continue to skip) breakfast to save on calories. These decisions are often followed with excuses (I am never hungry in the morning or I don't have time). After a few years as a breakfast skipper myself, I am now a strong believer in a hearty breakfast. A proper, stick-to-your-bones meal can hold me over until the middle of the afternoon and I really do find I eat less during the rest of the day.

In a way, this oatmeal is for my breakfast-skipping friends—a reminder not to skip the most important meal of the day. It may even be a subtle nudge for you. I know for certain, however, that this oatmeal is for me, too. Healthy and gloriously delicious, I could eat this every single day.

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal is hearty and satisfying. Mashed banana gets cooked along with the oats, pervading the oatmeal in a wonderful manner. Peanut butter complements the flavor while a pinch of salt brings out the sweetness of the banana. Topped with a pinch of brown sugar and sliced banana, this is a filling breakfast that will certainly hold you until lunch.

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Sunday
Dec302012

A Look Back: 2012 In Recipes

S'mores Cupcake
| S'mores Cupcakes |

The last year has rushed by me; the hands of the clock seeming to spin faster than years past. I can scarcely believe the new year is just around the corner. Ready or not, the time has come.

As in years past, I like to spend a little time looking back at the recipes I've created or baked over the last year, remembering the best (and the worst) foods to come out of my oven with a certain level fondness. I've decided to compile my favorite recipes and share them with you once again. These are the recipes I've made more than once, by special request, or were devoured so quickly that I still wish for more. They are, in essence, the best recipes of 2012.

Wishing you and yours the best in the New Year!

Rosemary Focaccia
Blueberry Breakfast Quinoa Irene's Orange Rolls Blackberry Goat Cheese Tart Blueberry Cream Cheese Cupcakes Pumpkin Rolls
| Rosemary Focaccia | Blueberry Breakfast Quinoa | Irene's Orange Rolls | Blackberry Goat Cheese Tart |
| Blueberry Cream Cheese Cupcakes | Pumpkin Rolls |

Triple Coconut Cookies Butternut Squash Cake with Cream Cheese Icing Pumpkin Espresso Bread Red Wine Chocolate Truffles
| Triple Coconut Cookies | Butternut Squash Cake with Cream Cheese Icing | Pumpkin Espresso Bread |
| Red Wine Chocolate Truffles |

Sunday
Dec232012

Chocolate (Dairy-Free) Ice Cream

Chocolate (Dairy-Free) Ice Cream

I've missed ice cream. It seems like a silly thing to say, but it's true. Growing up, rarely a week passed by where I didn't have a bowl of vanilla ice cream covered with chocolate sauce or a banana split for dessert. I come from an ice cream-loving family, where chocolate syrup is an anchor in the kitchen cupboard. As I grew older, I'd often mix my own blended ice cream coffee shop drinks, enjoying my own twist on a mocha. However, after I discovered I'm lactose intolerant this summer after taking on a month long vegan challenge, I haven't had more than a few spoonfuls of ice cream since.

While the absence of ice cream was easy to handle at first, the cravings have slowly crept up on me until it finally became time to do something about it. I actually put dairy-free chocolate ice cream on my holiday list this year.

Chocolate (Dairy-Free) Ice Cream Chocolate (Dairy-Free) Ice Cream

A few months ago, I was really struggling with my newly required dairy-free eating habits. I shared my difficulties with you, a mixture of confusion in how to approach eating and lamentations at the loss of my old lifestyle. Looking back, I realize now that I was grieving. Grieving for the loss of milk and cream, for butter and for cheese. I had moments of denial, when I'd order a cheeseburger instead of a hamburger at a restaurant. I was angry and upset at my body, telling anyone who talked about my favorite dairy-filled foods to wash their mouths out with heavy cream. I tried to justify my actions, telling myself the pain I would feel later was absolutely worth that piece of caramelized bread pudding (and, of course, it never was).

While some people can embrace new eating habits with ease, I needed time to sort my feelings out, to let go of the foods I had eaten and loved my entire life. Over the last few months I have been in the process of acceptance, but I finally, finally, feel like I've reached it.

I never knew such feelings could arise out of food.

Chocolate (Dairy-Free) Ice Cream

While some baked goods are effortless to convert to dairy-free, ice cream is one of those sneaky desserts that is difficult to make without its namesake—cream. I've tried several of the dairy-free brands in the stores with disappointing results. With an unpronounceable ingredient list and a texture that resembles marshmallow cream or shaved ice, they leave much to be desired. As is the case when the supermarket fails me, I look to the kitchen and my own ingenuity to make something better than I can find.

Oh, let me tell you, this is exactly what I've been craving.

Chocolate (Dairy-Free) Ice Cream

Chocolate (Dairy-Free) Ice Cream is bright, satisfying, and perfect for those in your life with a milk allergy or intolerance. The richness of the ice cream comes from full-fat coconut milk. Do note, however, that the final product will have a subtle coconut aftertaste which cannot be avoided (but for me, a coconut lover, it was an added bonus). The ice cream isn't too sweet, with a deep chocolate flavor coming from cocoa powder. This ice cream is the real deal—smooth, creamy, and an excellent dairy-free ice cream alternative.

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