Month: December 2014

Keep it simple: Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate

This time of year it can be challenging to live by the saying “stop and smell the roses”. Between the parties, end of year work assignments, children’s performances and holiday shopping there is little time left to really stop for anything.

Funny thing is that it is also the best time to appreciate all that is around you. Here is an idea, take a look at your schedule and pencil in times to just sit by the fire, gaze at all the lights, play board games in the early evening, and keep it simple.

Keeping it simple can be the solution to having all that you want without all the stress. What do I mean by that? Well, a nice family night listening to music by the fireplace can bring you the joy of family fun without the stress that preparations for a big family party brings.  As your days fill up with commitments, do one thing at a time. Even though you are a pro at multitasking, allow yourself to focus on one task at a time and recharge your mind. Make lists but don’t worry if you don’t check each item off, be nice to yourself and allow for the less important tasks to go undone. If time doesn’t allow for all your holiday traditions this year, no worries! Make some new ones, adapt and renew. Instead of planning a fancy party, try a holiday pajama gathering and invite your guest to bring a dish; there is no need for one person to do all the cooking. It will be the most comfortable party and the main idea is to spend time together!

20141215_002246000_iOSDust off one your family’s favorite movie, get the fire going and gather your snacks! Or how about playing cards while sipping on some Hot Chocolate? Keeping it simple means you don’t have to prepare your hot chocolate from scratch!

1 cup chocolate milk

1/2 Tbsp. cacao powder

1 Tbsp. Once Again Creamy Peanut Butter

Start with chocolate milk and place one cup per person on a sauce pan on medium heat, add half a tablespoon of cocoa powder (optional) and a tablespoon of Once Again Creamy Peanut Butter per cup of milk. Whisk until smooth and enjoy! It’s simple and delicious! And you’ll have left over time to make some popcorn and drizzle it with chocolate and almond butter too.

The New Year is just a couple of weeks away, to this is the perfect time to wish all of you a wonderful holiday season, and that 2015 brings you peace, joy and success. It has been a pleasure to share my thoughts and recipes with you, looking forward to so much more. Thank you!

Keep it simple,

Carolina

Gluten Free Ginger Peanut Butter Cookies

Sometime between cleaning up your kitchen from the Thanksgiving Feast, and getting in the car to go purchase your holiday tree all the baking ingredients come out of your pantry and the recipe books are opened! It is indeed the “most wonderful time of the year” when cookies become the topic of conversation and the centerpiece of every gathering.

But when did it become so? Like most holiday traditions, baking cookies started a long time ago, more specifically in the times of the solstice rituals conducted way before the end of the year festivities became the holiday it is today. To find out all the details I asked a few family members (the baking experts in my family) and after only puzzled looks I went to our trusted internet search engines. I found most of these interesting facts on history.com. Ends up that all across the world people gathered to celebrate the changing of the seasons. And since the winter solstice also brought snow, cold and little farming the celebration had to include a feast before the famine of the winter. Animals were killed and kept safety to eat during the winter, the fermented beverages like beer and wine are finally ready to drink after brewing since spring, and their fruits were turned into jams to keep through the long months ahead.

The end of the year celebrations started to take over the solstice rituals during the middle ages, but they kept most of the feast traditions. And every good party has deserts! Ingredients like sugar, lard and butter, spices were all expensive delicacies at that time, so only during celebrations they would be used. And cookies are just the perfect sized treat that can be shared with friends at a party and they happen to combine those special ingredients! Our modern day cookies still rely on those same traditions! Nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger are the same spices we use when baking traditional holiday cookies. The gingerbread for example uses molasses and ginger, something already in use by medieval cooks!

Enough about history, now that we’ve justified our need to bake and enjoy cookies this time of year let’s talk recipes! Here are 2 version of the traditional Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie. One is gluten free using only oats, and the other uses wheat flour. Go ahead and make both versions! They are similar in ingredients but they bake quite differently and are both equally delicious. The gluten free is more of a “flaky” crisp cookie while the wheat flour version is chewier and bakes a little faster. And yes! I incorporated some of our holiday spices in them, but that is optional. The secret to the perfect cookie you ask? My trusted sources say: best quality ingredients and a good oven.

Gluten Free Ginger Peanut Butter Cookies20141208_151405000_iOS

¾ cups of (gluten free) rolled oats
1 cup Once Again Crunchy Peanut Butter
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp Ginger spice (optional)
1 whole egg
6-8 Tbsp light brown sugar
½ cup chocolate chips (optional)

Mix up Once Again Crunchy Peanut Butter with egg and sugar. Once well mixed add the baking soda, ginger spice and mix in the oats. Lastly add the chocolate chips. Make small rounds using your hands, place in baking sheet and flatten them. Bake in 350F oven for about 15-20 minutes until you notice a light golden edge.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies20141208_151950000_iOS

1 cup flour (may use ½ whole wheat)
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt 1 stick of unsalted butter (may use salted, then omit the ¼ tsp salt) ½ cup Once Again Creamy Peanut Butter
½ cup light brown sugar
½ tsp vanilla
1 egg
½ cup rolled oats
1 cup chocolate chips

Mix flour, baking soda, salt and rolled oats and set aside. Mix Once Again Creamy Peanut Butter with sugar, vanilla and egg. Once well mixed add the dry ingredients. Lastly add the chocolate chips. Using a cookie scoop place them in baking sheet and flatten with your hands so they bake more evenly. Take it to the oven at 350F for about 8-10 minutes or until lightly golden edges.

… happy baking season,

 Carolina

10 ways to enjoy Almond butter prepared under 5 minutes!

There are so many ways I devour my Once Again Almond Butter that it was a challenge to keep this list at just 10! What makes these recipes special is how easy, fast and simply delicious they are. And if you need some healthy reasons to enjoy Almond Butter every single day, here are a few facts: among nuts, almonds are the most nutritionally dense, so for each calorie of almonds you get more vitamins and minerals than any other nut! They are also an excellent source of fiber and one teaspoon contains more than 25% of your daily requirement of Vitamin E. They are rich in omega 3 fatty acids and almonds are known to reduce bad cholesterol while helping control blood pressure!

You can surely enjoy them right out of the jar with a spoon, but here are my top 10 healthy ways to enjoy my Once Again Almond Butter daily without going over my daily caloric goals.

  1. Chocolate Almond Popcorn: Popcorn (air popped preferred) drizzled with almond butter, chocolate and sprinkle unsweetened coconut. For about 8 cups of popcorn: 2 tablespoons of Almond Butter plus ½ cup dark chocolate chips and place in microwave for 7 seconds at a time, stirring until completely melted. Drizzle over popcorn and try not to eat the whole bowl at once! Good luck.20141203_140904000_iOS
  2. Almond Banana Smoothie: 1 cup of your preferred milk (suggested: almond milk), 1 banana, 2 tablespoons of Once Again Lightly toasted Almond Butter and blend until smooth.
  3. Breakfast of champs: 1 cup Greek yogurt mixed with 1 tablespoon of Almond Butter, top it off with your favorite granola.
  4. Move over PB&J, make room for Almond Butter and sliced strawberries. Whole grain bread, spread Once Again Almond Butter on both sides, slice strawberries thin and add to the middle. Close sandwich and grill it. The secret is using whole fruit instead of jelly, it really does take this to another level.
  5. 20141202_175642000_iOSOnly have one minute? No problem. Whole grain bread, spread Once Again Almond Butter and sprinkle unsweetened coconut flakes on top. Gourmet in under a minute!
  6. Warm Almond Banana Desert: slice a banana lengthwise into two. Spread about 2 tablespoons of almond butter, top it with 2 tablespoons of oats and crushed almonds. Microwave for about 45 seconds. Enjoy it while it’s hot!
  7. Almond Dip: ½ cup of Once Again Almond Butter mixed with ½ cup Greek style yogurt. Serve with sliced fruit, perfect for holiday appetizer or a play date with lots of kids!
  8. Almond Oatmeal: ½ cup rolled oats, 1/3 cup preferred milk and 2 tablespoons of Once Again Almond butter, mix well and microwave for 45 seconds.20141202_180210000_iOS
  9. Chocolate Almond Shake: 2 scoops of chocolate frozen yogurt, ½ cup preferred milk, 2 tablespoons of almond Butter. Once you try this a plain chocolate milkshake will never be the same gain.
  10. Almond Bread Pudding: if you have 2-day old bread even better, cut it up into small cubes, place in microwave safe bowl, cover it with your preferred milk, drizzle about 2 tablespoons of Once Again Almond Butter and 1 tablespoon of honey. Take it to the microwave for 60 seconds. Enjoy it warm!

… enjoy life with almond butter,

Carolina