Cashew Chicken with ALL the Vegetables cashew chicken

Confession: I like grocery shopping. It’s weird, I know, because it falls so far down the list of things that people like to do that I guess I’m just one of those strange ones. But for me, hitting the market is akin to going to the craft store, there’s always something new, something fresh, something awesome that I haven’t seen before and just have to try!

So it’s a shame, that after a massive grocery haul I have a hankering for the one thing you can’t get there — takeout. Ok, ok, asian markets not withstanding — I mean helloo delicious pho booth, I love you! — but at the normal grocery mart it’s like Deli Counter or BUST, and potato salad this ain’t.

So with my guilt in tow, I took a crack at it myself and after this, I’m not sure we’ll be going back to the takeout menu for a while.

For the Chicken:

2 large chicken breasts – cubed

4 Tb cornstarch

2 Tb soy sauce

Salt and Pepper

For the Sauce:

2 Tb cornstarch

1/4 cup black bean paste (or sub hoisin)

1/4 palm of turbinado sugar (adjust surgar to taste if using hoisin)

4 Tb soy sauce

Few shakes of sesame oil

1 tsp sesame seeds

1 Tb Sriracha

2 cloves minced garglic

1 inch minced ginger

1/4 water

For the Veggies:

2 zucchinis cut into 1 – 1/2 inch dice

1 red bell pepper cut into 1 – 1/2 inch dice

1 small carton white mushrooms cut into 1 – 1/2 inch dice

2 ribs celery cut into 1 – 1/2 inch dice

1/2 cup toasted cashews

Vegetable/coconut/oil of your choice

To start:

Mix cubed chicken with cornstarch, soy and salt and pepper. Allow to marinate in fridge for 30 min – 1 hour or while chopping veggies.

Heat 1 Tb of oil in saute pan until shimmering and add mushrooms. Season with a pinch of salt and cook until browned and water has evaporated. Remove from pan and set aside.

Heat 1 Tb of oil in saute pan until shimmering and add chopped celery, pepper and zucchini. Season with a pinch of salt and cook until al dente, or lightly browned. Remove from pan and set aside..

Add 1 Tb of oil in saute pan until shimmering and cook chicken in batches until evenly browned, I found that adding a splash of water once the cubes were aaaalmost done and then covering to steam worked perfectly. Once all chicken is cooked, add all chicken and accumulated juices back to pan and add your sauce ingredients. Bring up to bubbling and simmer until sauce is thickened and glossy.

Add cooked vegetables, mushrooms, and cashews to chicken and sauce mixture. Toss to coat and top with sliced green onions and additional sesame seeds. Serve with rice. Be impressed with your non-takeout cooking abilities.




Simple Whole Wheat Date, Zucchini and Banana Nut Bread

date zucchini banana nut bread

There comes a time in every girls life when she’s faced with the difficult decision, of whether to freeze the over-ripe bunch of bananas she got on sale at Costco for literally $1 or toss them into a bread.

On one hand: endless healthy smoothie possibilities. But winter. Cold. Ugh. Who wants smoothies in winter?!

On the other: so much hot carb love you just CAN’T EVEN.

And since the Man is in the camp of meh-i’ll-take-an-onion-ring-over-anything-sweet-bready-and-delicious, said girl knows that she will end up either a) eating the entire loaf herself or b) deciding to ‘be good’, freeze half and then rediscover the loaf 6 months later as a hard, inedible brick, when searching for something to go with salmon for dinner.

So what does one do? One finds a compromise. A compromise that will not only save her the guilt of eating a whole bunch of banana bread, but one that won’t leave her in a sugar coma, carb overload and too delightfully plump to fit into to ever evolving wedding dress size.

Oh yea, btw I’m getting married. So lots more DIY’s to come soon.

So back to the bread. It is decided. We have too many frozen ‘nanas anyway. And since my previous post was about moderation, and I’m not one to go back and completely undo what I just did, we’re making it healthy-ish too, with no refined sugar. What, you say, no sugar? Well, not exactly, sugar is there, but it’s naturally occuring, from dates. Lovely little medjools, pitted and dried and happily squishy. And zucchini, because there was one of those in the back of the fridge too, and I love me some good zucchini bread.

date zucchini banana nut bread

Without further ado:

1 cup pitted dried dates

1/2 cup hot water

3 large, very ripe smushed bananas

1 zucchini – grated on the large holes of a box grater and then squeezed to remove excess water/moisture

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) room temp unsalted butter

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup walnuts, pecans, or almonds (optional)

1/4 cup of rolled oats

To Start:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour your cake pan, I used a 12 inch round.

Place dates in a bowl and cover with hot water, allow them to soften. Remove from water and add to mixing bowl. Chop, smoosh, blend or paddle (with a stand mixer) until the dates form a paste. You can add some of the hot water back in if things get too stiff.

Add butter to date mixture and blend. Add eggs, one at a time, blending after each, until incorporated. Add vanilla, and spices.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Add to the butter-date mixture and mix until just combined. Add nuts if using.
Fold ingredients together and pour into prepped pan. Sprinkle rolled oats on top and gently press into batter. Bake for 50-75 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean OR until temp of bread reads 190 degrees. Cool in pan and then remove to cool on rack.
Be proud of yourself for making something you can be proud of eating.


Eats, Mindful Monday

Mindful Monday: Moderation Not Deprivation

Sprinkles, glaze, old-fashioned and frittered, I love them all the same.

Sprinkles, glazed, old-fashioned and frittered, I love them all the same.

For someone who likes cookies as much as they like breathing, and has put themselves on a self-declared quality control mission for all the nearby bakeries, eating healthy is an every day challenge. Yet eating well, doesn’t mean you have to give up the foods you love. In our technological age, where the internet villianizes everything from gluten to sugar, to heaven forbid healthy fats, it’s hard to determine what foods are actually good for you. And good for you, falls into a few categories.

1. Nothing processed – ie anything from 7-11 that isn’t a banana. Dorito colored anything. Sodium bomb frozen foods and weird preserved loaf meats.

2. Nothing refined — just because you are, my find fancy friends, doesn’t mean your food should be. High tea is great, but lay off the refined flour, sugars (high-fructose, white, brown, etc) and those nasty trans fats. Think natural, like honey, dates or sugar in the raw if you must.

3. Nothing artificial — you didn’t think Mountain Dew was naturally that color, did ya? And no fake sugar.

4. No alcohol — boo. Ok, no more than the usual heart healthy glass of red wine, although now they’re saying wine isn’t that heart healthy at all, so take that with a grain of salt. Or don’t because sodium.

5. No soda or fruit juice — I know, fruit juice is a gift from the gods. But it’s also a sugar bomb. Drink veggie based juices, or press your own. If you are drinking juice, check the label and make sure its actual juice, not yellow #5 plus ‘natural flavors’

So that covers it for your everyday.

Personally, I find a deprivation diet, filled with calorie counting, fat tracking and weigh-in’s is just the — you can’t tell ME what to do — trigger, that will make me stress-eat an entire bag of chips…or a whole loaf of bread.

And about that whole I don’t eat ___blank___ philosophy: Psh. I mean have you seen the Jimmy Kimmel on the street where he asks people if they can define what exactly gluten does/is and why they are ‘allergic’ to it. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of folks out there that legitimately suffer from gluten intolerance/Celiac disease, but for those bandwagoners that just want to jump on the train to sandy, dry not-delicious bread town, move the eff over. You’re ruining it for the people who actually are.

That’s why I preach tolerance, moderation and mindfulness. Sure there are some die-hard kids out there of the SUGAR FAST or bust tribe, that that’s just not me. And since I’ve been living off a diet of Oreos and broccoli, because life has thwarted my attempts to go to the grocery store for the past week, I’m pretty tolerant as well.

80/20 is the way to go. 80% of the time, I try to eat well. Greens, unprocessed foods, no refined sugars, carbs or excess fats — 20% of the time, I eat like ‘crap’. We go out, I get a beer, or two, nosh on something deep-fried, or find myself with a frozen burrito in hand. But I try not to beat myself up over it too badly. If your cheat food is a big piece of cake, preceded by a steamed veggie bowl of lentils and quinoa, I think you’ve got the idea.

Don’t beat yourself up over everything. Live. And take life as it comes at you, one plate at a time.