Food Links This Week: 5/17

Here are some things I’ve enjoyed reading/watching/listening to this week:

  • Spilled Milk is a hilarious and short podcast featuring two friends (Molly of Orangette and Matthew of Roots and Grubs) discussing all kinds of food topics, usually with a dose of nostalgia. My favorite episodes include: marshmallows and wacky japanese snacks.
  • Lauren is doing an amazing job of updating on her honeymoon (seriously woman, you should go relax for a bit!) and we are getting some pretty awesome peeks into the food of Vietnam as a result. She ate crickets! And made these lettuce wraps in a cooking class, which reminded me of our collard green wraps video. Check out her blog and YouTube channel for all the latest.
Mustard Green wraps

photo from laurenhefez.com

  • If you’re in the Boston area, have you tried Dan’s Brick Oven Bread? It’s like no other whole grain bread I’ve had. First of all, it’s 100% whole grain, yet is very soft and stays that way for longer than most preservative-free breads I’ve tried. Plus, the whole operation seems really cool: check out this bakery tour of Dan’s in-home commercial operation. Dan’s Bread has been adding to a whole video series about the bread making process:

  • Finally, the response to the catering announcement has been so wonderful! If you’re interested in working on the perfect menu for your bridal party or other small event, contact me for more details. 

Chocolate Chip Cookies, Part 23948123

Oh hey heyyyy. Today is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day! Not that we need an excuse, but I bought these chocolate chips that were quite boastful:

fancy chocolate chipsOddly enough, when I tried them out of the bag (WHAT? For snacking testing purposes!), they didn’t have much flavor. I think I’m used to dark chocolate chips with an intense cocoa flavor, and these prioritized meltiness and sweetness above all.

What I’m trying to say is, I had no choice but to make cookies, since I had all these chocolate chips that were no good by the handful. You might recall that the last recipe post was also about chocolate chip cookies. I wish you wouldn’t recall that. Let’s pretend it was about salad, no? Do you want a cookie recipe, or not?

olive oil chocolate chip cookiesAs with most cookie emergencies, this recipe was dictated by what I had on hand. More specifically, what I didn’t have: butter (vegan or otherwise) or eggs. Could I make a vegan cookie with olive oil? COULD I?!!!

Yes! Not only did it work, but I finally got those flat, real bakery-style cookies that I have failed to achieve with all other recipes. Oil: there’s something to it, folks. Everyone seems to hop aboard the chewy train, but I actually prefer a crispier, (even browned!) flat cookie. To the recipe!

 

Vegan Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies with Olive Oil

adapted from Cucina Nicolina

Makes approximately 6 cookies because, you know. Safety.

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt, plus more for finished cookies

1/3 cup olive oil

1/2 cup turbinado sugar

1/8 cup almond milk (or any milk)

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Combine dry ingredients in one bowl, and wet ingredients in another.

3. Mix dry and wet ingredients together, using as few stirs as possible. Add chocolate chips.

4. Form into golf ball sized rounds and flatten slightly on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, or more if you like crispier cookies. Top with large flake sea salt.

Enjoy!

 

 

Congratulations, Lauren!

Lauren hairThat big smile could only belong to one person: Lauren Hefez! You know Lauren from her kick-ass fitness channel, blog, and the recipe videos we’ve done together. This past weekend, I had the huge honor of making healthy snacks for Lauren and her bridal party while they got ready on her wedding day! Here’s what I made:

 Whole wheat wraps with balsamic portobello mushrooms, beets, feta & arugula

Fresh vegetables (carrots, persian cucumbers, snap peas, baby zucchini, baby peppers) with

Muhammara (roasted red peppers, walnuts, pomegranate, aleppo) and

White bean, almond & rosemary spread

Raw brownie bites (walnuts, dates, raw cacao, almonds, sea salt)

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Veggies

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I love cooking for Lauren because I know I can make things as “crunchy” and health-nutty as can be. Knowing Lauren, I was sure there was going to be a LOT of dancing later that evening, so I wanted to give her and her bridal party light, clean food that packed a huge energy punch. I think it worked!

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How gorgeous does she look?! Congratulations, Lauren! Thanks again for trusting me with such a fun part of your day.

Do you have a small event coming up that could use some healthy food? I’d love to work with you and create a menu! Check out the updated about page for more info, and shoot me an email.

Chocolate Chip Cookies, Two Ways

IMG_2479Isn’t it funny how we never want to follow a recipe? Or is it just me? I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have made a dish exactly as instructed.

It always feels funny to post recipes on here when I rarely follow ones that I see on other blogs. Hopefully they remain good suggestions, no matter what you do with them!

But let’s get down to what you all came here for: COOKIES. My cookie emergencies fall into two separate camps: “healthy” or “bad day/I don’t give a f*ck.” (Even the latter are a bit healthified, because I’m a hippie.)

The healthy cookies claim to be so due to honey, almond meal, and extra dark chocolate. You can find that recipe in the following video I made with Lauren Hefez (also available on her blog).

Those are great, and not too sweet, but sometimes (like on Sundays) you need more of an indulgence. These are the cookies I made today, adapted from this killer recipe by Oh She Glows:

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 7 tbsp Earth Balance + 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 flax egg: (1 tbsp ground flaxed mixed with 3 tbsp water)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • Shake of cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350. In a small bowl, mix together the flax egg and set aside.

2. With an electric mixer, beat the Earth Balance for about 30 seconds. Add the brown sugar and beat until a little fluffy, then beat in the flax egg and vanilla.

3. In a separate bowl, mix all dry ingredients together. Gradually beat into the large bowl with the wet ingredients.

4. Scoop balls of dough and place on the baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 mins. on the baking sheet and if you can stand it, transfer to a cooling rack for another 10 minutes.

The only changes I made were to use all whole wheat flour and less sugar, so all credit goes to Angela on this one. These are some killer cookies, and just what I needed today. Whether you make them as written or make adjustments, just make yourself some cookies, okay? You deserve it.

Do you follow recipes? Seriously, would love to hear your thoughts.

 

 

 

Happy First Day of Spring!

WE MADE IT!! Here’s a quick check-in video to wish you all a wonderful spring:

Can’t wait to start eating lighter, fresher meals with all of you! See you soon.

Spring Reset Challenge: Final Week!

Spring green flower 1Spring is almost upon us!  I can’t wait for spring, even though we’re supposed to get MORE snow here in Somerville on Tuesday. No matter what the weather has in store, this Wednesday is the first day of spring. As such, we are entering our final week of the Spring Reset Challenge! For more information or to get up to speed, check out these three postspower breakfast

We’ve added greens twice a day, started drinking water before every meal, and now I’d like you to:

Week 3: Fill half your dinner plate with non-starchy vegetables.

I have found that front-loading my starches and grains early in the day helps everything from my energy level to my weight. These fitness and nutrition experts certainly agree. Do I want a hearty pasta dinner many nights of the week? Um, YEA. Can I have it several nights each week and feel the way I want to (inside and out)? I personally cannot. If you can, then more power to you. If I miss pasta, I try to have it for lunch instead of dinner or keep it to one night a week.

Giving half your dinner plate’s real estate over to non-starchy vegetables is all about easing up on the starches in the evening. This is not a low-carb manifesto, it’s just a sneaky way to make vegetables the main event and to make dinner one of your lightest meals instead of the heaviest.

Some of my favorite non-starchy vegetables are:

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Greens: Kale, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Arugula, Escarole, Broccoli Rabe
  • Asparagus
  • Broccolini
  • Romesco 
  • Mushrooms
  • Bell Peppers
  • Zucchini
  • Summer Squash

Take any of those, cut them into equal-sized pieces (maybe 1 inch cubes), toss with a little oil and salt & pepper, some dried herbs (like rosemary, thyme, oregano) and bake at 375 for about 20-30 minutes or so, and you’re good. Add a little balsamic vinegar before roasting for another great variation.

Vegetables that are starchy include: any type of potato, corn, winter squash (butternut, acorn, etc), among others. These are not “bad” vegetables, just not the ones I’m thinking of for half your plate at dinner.

So this week, we will welcome spring by:

1. Including greens in 2 of our meals each day.

2. Drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning and before every meal.

3. Filling half our dinner plate with non-starchy vegetables.spring green flower 2

Let’s finish strong! As usual, I’ll be posting my meals on Instagram, where people have been checking in by tagging me @lillybellefoods or using the #springreset hashtag. I did want to give everyone a heads up that someone else is using #springreset to share a weight loss challenge with “fitspo” images of fitness models–this is NOT part of our challenge! Just a warning in case you see some non-food photos that are not really our style.

Stay tuned for some new recipe videos coming up! I’ve got lots of good things in store. Let me know what your favorite non-starchy vegetables are, and keep those photos coming! See you on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and of course, the YouTube channel.

 

What Is Lillybelle Foods About?

Flowers closing

I recently read this post from one of my favorite food-and-more blogs, Happyolks, and it really got me thinking about how I want to characterize this little place.

The short version: I am inspired by Tone it Up and An Everlasting Meal, and I want to prove you can use tools from both simultaneously.

The long versionI am a human woman. I’d prefer to feel healthy and in shape. I also love to cook and experiment with food. The problem is, I get bored with “fitness food.” You know: greek yogurt, protein pancakes, etc.

Pancakes

Pancakes without protein powder.

I can do it for a while, but then I start craving new flavors and wondering where romesco sauce or tandoori cauliflower fit into the meal plan.

I want to build an alternative: I want to bridge “fitness food” with “fun food.” I want to make creative–occasionally exotic!–healthy meals at home that are suitable for my daily routine.

I don’t mean to suggest things will always be fancy! In fact, that’s why the Happyolks post resonated with me so much: I’m just not as girly or Pinterest-perfect as some of the blogs I follow. As much as I really admire those sites (and frankly, wonder how they do it), I don’t want Lillybelle Foods to be like that. It’s just not authentically me.

Broken cork

This is me. A lot.

I’m not going to pretend that I’m hosting dinner parties with letterpress place cards or packing picnics in a field on a regular basis. OF COURSE I wish I lived in an Anthropologie catalog, but that’s not exactly realistic, is it?

I will always try to take pretty pictures of food and Instagram the crap out of everything, but I will never hide the fact that I eat some really ugly and boring clean-out-the-fridge meals on a regular basis.

Enchiladas

Sometimes things that taste delicious look like this. It’s just the way it is.

I’ve realized that a lot of the blogs or communities I admire don’t have that middle ground that I need: some are really girly; others aren’t so bedazzled but are “too cool” to like anything the girly sites do; some are WAY into mantras and yoga-spirituality; others are a little cynical and allow for none of that whatsoever.

I want to have ALL THE CAKES and eat them too!
Choice

I’m tired of feeling like my interests can’t coexist, like fitness and fancy cheese, or gratitude and gossip. So I’m declaring this our common ground. And I promise I’ll get back to food photos tomorrow (OMG I just typed “foot photos” and NO I will not be featuring those).

For more on my whole food, real ingredients perspective, see my welcome video below and subscribe to the YouTube channel!

Let me know if you can relate! I’d love to hear from you. 

How To Make a Basic Vinaigrette

Here’s my latest recipe video: this time, we’re making an easy salad dressing. I think this basic formula can be altered for several great dressing variations, so give it a shot!

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Recipe: Spiced Almond Oat Bran Muffins

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I’m on a quest to make a healthy bran muffin. I want to bring the bran muffin full circle: they’re one of those classic things (like granola) that is mistaken for “health food” but loaded with sugar; I want to make a bran muffin that you can feel good about having for breakfast!

I’m not there yet–but along the way, I made these muffins that are pretty delicious in their own right. You’ll be the first to know when I perfect my bran muffins, but I suggest you enjoy these in the meantime! I used almond meal from Trader Joe’s–I do not think that almond flour would work the same, but you can make your own almond meal by pulsing almonds in your food processor or blender.

Spiced Almond Oat Bran Muffins

makes 8 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup oat bran
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup almond meal
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • juice of ½ lemon, a little over 1 Tbsp
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup ground flax
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Mix lemon juice with almond milk and set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine almond meal, flour, oat bran, ground flax, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Stir vanilla and maple syrup into the almond milk mixture, then beat in one egg.
  5. Combine wet and dry ingredients by folding–try not to overmix. Pour melted coconut oil into this mixture and fold to combine.
  6. Fold in raisins, if desired.
  7. Spoon batter into a muffin tin (this made about 8 muffins for me) and bake for about 18 minutes. Baking time will vary a bit, so keep an eye on them and look for lightly browned tops. Test with a toothpick or knife (should come out clean) if there’s any doubt.

 

Spring Reset Challenge: Week 2

We are one week closer to spring! Now that we have an extra hour of daylight, it’s starting to feel more like winter is finally ending (I say this with about a foot of snow on the ground, but still).

Last week, we kicked things off by adding greens to two meals every day–how are you all feeling? I think we did really well. Take a look at all these colorful meals:

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Two things, quickly:

1. It’s not too late to join in! If you missed the first week, just pick up whenever you’re able.

2. If you weren’t able to make the goals one day, just start again the next day! Who cares? That’s the beauty of…days. And also the beauty of this being a completely made up, informal challenge. You’re not “doing it wrong” if you put cheese on something. And you’re not failing if you have a cookie. In fact, PLEASE DO THESE THINGS.

Now, for week 2′s challenge, to be added while we keep up with the 2-a-day greens:

Week 2: Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning and before every meal. 

Ughhhhhhhh I know. This will be really hard for me. But whenever I have made a point to do this, it has had an amazing effect on my overall energy throughout the day. Plus, that whole thing about sometimes being thirsty when you feel hungry? I HATE that it’s true, but it is. A few notes/disclaimers:

  • I want to be clear that I’m only saying “before every meal” because that has worked better for me than trying to hit a certain number of ounces every day. I don’t really buy into the idea that you eat less (or should) if you drink water before a meal.
  • If you are already a pro at drinking water throughout the day, then congratulations. But: are you sure? Because I carry around a water bottle and sometimes forget that just the act of having it near me doesn’t mean I am hydrating. Hey, sometimes we lie to ourselves.
  • The most difficult part for me is always the morning. When I roll out of bed, my first thought is COFFEECOFFEEWHEREISITIWANTSIT. Sometimes drinking a full glass of water actually makes me nauseous. Mostly because it is not coffee, and my body seems to reject it immediately. I know, I’m not doing a great job of selling this.

The point is: there seems to be an overwhelming consensus that drinking water first thing in the morning has great health benefits that outweigh whatever inconvenience it might present at first. The importance of hydration seems to be one of the only things the vegan, paleo, and raw food communities can agree on, so there must be something to it. My goal is to eventually make this so routine that I barely have to think about it.

Feel free to make your water more exciting with lemon, cucumber, fruit, etc. I’ll send some water flavoring ideas out on twitter throughout the week.

The water goal is in addition to our greens routine, so keep sending me those green meal photos!

Have a great Sunday, and I will see you bright and early for our first morning water chug.