Month: January 2015

Powerful Greens Soup with Tahini

Powerful Greens Soup with Tahini

One of the top food trends in 2014 was kale: kale chips, kale smoothies, kale soups, kale everything started to show up on blogs, restaurants and grocery stores. This year kale is still going strong, and other greens are getting some attention as well such as spinach, arugula, mustard, collards and beet greens. They are powerful leafy vegetables rich in fiber, antioxidants, vitamin C and other vitamins and minerals making them an integral part of your diet to combat disease and aid in immune system health.

The tricky part is how to eat them. They can be added to salads, but some can be quite bitter when raw. Another way is to steam and enjoy it with a little drizzle of olive oil and salt. The most popular way to consume them has become either in juices or smoothies. They are easy to add to the blender and with the right mix of fruits and sweeteners (honey, sugar, fruit juices and even Once Again Nut Butters) they can be quite delicious!20150119_154430962_iOS

But it is winter, and a frosty green smoothie is just not what most people are looking forward to on a chilly day! Soup in the other hand is comforting and perfect to warm you up from the inside out. What better way to get your greens than in a warm bowl of soup? This Powerful Green Soup combines 3 different greens in just one bowl, and to thicken and add the perfect texture I used Once Again Nut Butter Tahini. This soup is gluten free, vegetarian, dairy-free and loaded with nutrients. The Tahini serves three purposes in this soup: to thicken, add flavor, and add protein! It makes the soup creamy without adding milk or dairy cream.20150119_160306390_iOS

A few years ago I received an Immersion Hand Blender as a gift which completely changed the way I prepared soups! After boiling and cooking the soup, the next step is to wait for it to cool to transfer to a blender for a creamy soup. That extra hurdle did not fit “my style” of cooking (aka – simple, easy, not enough time to wait around “style”). With the hand blender, I was able to cream the soup right on the pot, and there is no waiting for it to cool. If you don’t have one, add it to your “wish list”. I hear they are great for other things too, but believe it or not this is the only way I’ve used mine so far.

Back to the Powerful Green Soup: it is a must try for your family. My 5 year old loved it, but my 7 year old wasn’t a big fan, so I suggested a dollop of sour cream and some cheese on top and she was asking for seconds! It’s our way to boost our immune system and hopefully prevent the cold and flu from getting into our house.

Tahini Greens SoupPowerful Green Soup

  • 1 cup chopped broccoli
  • 3 cups chopped Kale
  • 1 cups chopped spinach
  • 1/8 cup chopped onions
  • 4 cups Vegetable Broth
  • 3 Tbsp Once Again Nut Butter Tahini
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Add olive oil and broth to pot and bring to a boil, then add the onions and broccoli to cook for about 10 minutes. Add the kale and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add spinach, Once Again Tahini and salt. Mix well. Use Immersion Hand blender to cream or wait for it to cool a bit, add to blender and blend until desired consistency.

… enjoy your greens,

Carolina

Peanut Butter Cheesecake: simply delicious!

Peanut Butter Cheesecake: simply delicious!

Trying to make new recipes can be an intimidating process. If you are anything like me, usually the picture and description is what “sells” me on the idea of making it. Then I scan the ingredients checking to see if they are common items that either I already have, or that I would easily pick up at my next grocery trip. The directions must also be somewhat easy to follow and have to make sense to me. When it comes to making cheesecake, some people shy away from the challenge because of the last point. The directions include baking it, and placing it in the refrigerator overnight before tasting your creation. It is confusing to know when a cheesecake is done and ready to come out of the oven.

If that sounds like you, well, I am excited to encourage you to check off that “do something I have never done before” item on your New Year’s Resolution list and make this amazing Peanut Butter Cheesecake with a Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust recipe. Sure it can be a little stressful waiting until the next day to see if you got the recipe correct, but this one is so worth the wait! It is just the perfect amount of peanut butter goodness with the smooth and fluffy texture of cheesecake. The crumbly chocolate crust is a match made in heaven. If you have mastered cheesecake recipes this one will top your list as one of the easier ones with a healthy twist recipe.

It is a bit different from most cheesecake recipes because it incorporates ingredients like Greek Yogurt and uses 2% cream cheese. The surprising fact that it only has ½ cup of sugar (yay! Less calories) is not reflected on taste. The Once Again Creamy Peanut Butter is naturally sweet which makes this Cheesecake so smooth and rich. You can reduce the “animal” fat by using 2% Greek Yogurt and 2% cream cheese and that leaves room to indulge on the better for you “plant” based fat from peanuts.
This recipe is a combination of various cheesecake recipes I have made before. I selected some of my favorite ingredients and tweaked a little here and there for this one, the crust is really up to you! I’ve seen some pictures of individual cheesecakes like this one that used a round cookie as the crust and made the recipe one step shorter and even easier. The idea of making these in a muffin pan is great for portion control, after all indulging a little is perfectly okay, and these smaller sized cheesecakes make it much easier to keep it at just one serving per person. And they really are just the perfect size!

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For the crust, I used chocolate graham crackers and broke them up using a potato “masher”; to make them stick together I added a little butter. Add about a tablespoon of the mixture to each paper lined muffin and use another muffin liner to press them at the bottom of each muffin cup.

The cheesecake portion starts with 2 8oz 2% cream cheese packs and using a mixer on medium setting cream together ½ cup of Once Again Creamy Peanut Butter. Add ½ cup of sugar, 1 tsp of vanilla extract and add 2 eggs, one at a time scrapping the sides of the bowl. Using a spoon, mix in ½ cup of unflavored 2% Greek Yogurt. Fill up each muffin cup (about 14-18 depending on size and how much you fill each one) and use the back of a spoon to smooth the top.

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Take it to a 275F oven for about 20-23 minutes. This is the tricky part, to know when it is done just slight cracks on the top, it won’t change colors and you can really test it with a fork. It just sets and then it is ready. Let it cool completely then place it in the fridge for at least 4 hours, but overnight is even better.20150111_213725000_iOS

That’s it! Be ready to impress your audience with these Peanut Butter Cheesecake with a Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust.

Carolina

Peanut Butter Cheesecake with a Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust

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Crust:

3-4 Graham Crackers – chocolate flavored
2 Tbsp butter

Cheesecake:
16 oz 2% Cream Cheese
½ cup Once Again Creamy Peanut Butter
½ cup sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 eggs
½ cup 2% Greek Yogurt, unflavored
Crust – Crush the crackers up using a potato “masher” then add the melted butter. Add about a tablespoon of the mixture to each paper lined muffin and use another muffin liner to press them at the bottom of each muffin cup.
Cheesecake – Cream the cream cheese using a mixer on medium setting with the Once Again Creamy Peanut Butter. Add ½ cup of sugar, 1 tsp of vanilla extract and add 2 eggs, one at a time scrapping the sides of the bowl. Using a spoon, mix in ½ cup of unflavored 2% Greek Yogurt. Fill up each muffin cup (about 14-18 depending on size and how much you fill each one) and use the back of a spoon to smooth the top.

Bake at 275F oven for 20-23 minutes until set. Then let it cool and take it to the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight. Store in air tight container, you may freeze these as well.

Grab and Go: Oatmeal Cups

Grab and Go: Oatmeal Cups

A few months ago I shared a recipe for “Oatmeal in a Jar” which is still a family favorite! It is easy to make and each family member can personalize it to their taste preferences. Even better it’s the fact that you prepare it ahead of time so in the morning it is a “grab and go” type to breakfast.

These “Oatmeal Cups” follow those same concepts with a new twist. There are a few versions of baked oatmeal cups and most recipes have ingredients that I don’t usually keep in my pantry. Also they seem to be larger recipes making 24-30 cups at a time, which is a bit much for my family of 4! Even though you can freeze these, I still think they taste best when fresh and consumed within 2-3 days.

The recipes I’ve seen before also didn’t include my favorite ingredient to mix with oats: Once Again Nut Butters! Once Again Nut Butter adds the protein boost that oats lack. Also, by adding Once Again Nut Butter you can eliminate the sugar in most recipes since they are naturally sweet.

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You can use any Once Again Nut Butter you prefer, even crunchy! The applesauce adds and holds moisture; you can use pumpkin puree instead as well. Whisk them together with a wire whisk. In a separate bowl add about 2 cups of rolled oats (for gluten free recipe make sure your oats are gluten free certified) and the trick to turn these into baking cups instead of stovetop oatmeal is to add 1 tsp of baking powder and ½ tsp salt.Inspired and determined I went to the kitchen and started to mix up a batch of regular oatmeal for cooking in the stovetop. First ingredient is a 1 cup of milk, which you can use any milk your family prefers. (I made up a batch with almond milk, and one with regular whole milk as well). I added ½ cup of Once Again Almond butter and ½ cup of unsweetened applesauce.

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When I picked up the baking powder from the pantry I realized the “good by” date was November 2014. Ops! I had all the ingredients ready to go and wasn’t sure if I should use the expired baking powder.

My husband is more of a sweet tooth so he drizzled his with some honey and enjoyed it with a hot cup of coffee the next morning.  These Oatmeal cups also made it to the kids’ lunch boxes!Quick call to my mom solved the problem! In case you didn’t know: you can boil ¼ cup of water then add ½ tsp baking powder, if it foams right away then the baking powder is still good! If you don’t get a quick foam but only a small sizzle, then your baking powder is no longer good for baking. Better test than have a whole batch of gooey oatmeal cups!

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Next, add the milk mixture with the oats and mix well. You can use baking cups, silicone cups or just lightly spray your muffin pan before pouring the mixture until about ¾ full. The toppings is where you can each personalize it with your favorite ingredients. The first batch I added cinnamon and chopped apples to all of them. The second batch had vanilla and then the kids helped with the toppings: strawberries, raspberries, chopped nuts and dark chocolate chips.

Did I mention they are nutritiously powerful little bites since they pack fiber, protein and brain boosting fats all in one delicious cup? Top it with some berries and add some chia seeds for extra antioxidants, protein and omega-3s.

20150104_201740000_iOSAlmond Butter Oatmeal Cups

1 cup milk
½ cup Once Again Nut Butter: Almond Butter
½ cup applesauce unsweetened
2 cups rolled oats
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
Toppings: chocolate chips, chopped strawberries, raspberries, chopped nuts.
Optional: 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp vanilla

Mix oats with baking powder and salt and set aside, in separate bowl whisk together well the milk, Once Again Nut Butter and applesauce. Add in the oats mixture and mix well. Fill up ¾ full each muffin, will make about 9. Add toppings and use a spoon to push them into the mixture. Bake at 375F for about 20 minutes. Eat them warm or store in airtight container for 2-3 days.