Dees Nuts

G’day eaters!

Four posts in a week! Looks like I was serious when I said I was coming back to blogging.

I only half-heartedly believed myself when I said that I was back to blogging on the regular. And I still might flake out from time to time. Only time will tell.

But I’m not here to talk about my flakiness. Instead, I want to talk about nuts.


Dees nuts!

(I’m pretty sure that’s from a rap song, but I don’t really know.)

I LOVE mixed nuts. Love.Them.

My dad has always munched on nuts and I’m sure he’s rarely more than a few feet away from some. And frankly, I’m okay with that being an inherited trait.

His bad knees, flat feet, and complete lack of singing voice (sorry, Papa)? Eh, I’d like to return those.

But munching on mixed nuts, trail mixes, and the peanuts from Cracker Jacks? Sure, we can call that a father-daughter thing.


And while I strayed away from my nut-loving ways for a while — “Too much fat! Too many calories! Peanuts aren’t paleo! Raw almonds are gross!” — I have returned with a vengeance. That is mainly because nuts are the perfect work snack for me.

Ever since I started working my retail job back in July I’ve been trying to find the perfect snack that would fuel me through several hours of standing, walking, bending, lifting, climbing, and small talking. I tried Balance bars (so many bars!), hard boiled eggs and carrots, apples and pb, cheese sandwiches, hunks of chicken, and frozen yogurt.

Absolutely none of those things worked. And more importantly, I couldn’t shove any of those things in my mouth, wash them down with a swig of water, and be back on the floor in under a minute flat.

But then I found nuts.

They’re perfect! I can grab a couple small handfuls throughout my shift and be sailing right along, greeting customers and folding jeans like a champ without thinking even once about how I would like to eat my arm. And really, doesn’t not eating your arm make for a great work day?

I sure think so.

The point of this post is simply to say that I think nuts are the perfect snack and you should give them a try.

I could have just tweeted that and been done with it (it was only 67 characters), but then I wouldn’t have gotten to be so sassy and make a rap reference (I think, someone really should check that for me). And really, we all need more sass (and nuts!) in our lives.

The end.

Your turn, eaters:

What do you snack on at work?

What’s your favorite (or least favorite) nut?

Later eaters!

Almost Dairy-Free Manicotti

G’day eaters!

I hope you enjoyed my snapshots from the beach yesterday.

And while it was a much-needed vacation for both Leon and I, it’s definitely good to be back home. And…back to regular blog posting.

So who wants some pasta?

(Talk about a segue, huh?)

Pasta with marinara sauce is a go-to meal for so many people.

Add a side of steamed broccoli and you have a staple of my childhood. If the marinara isn’t too chunky you have a common restaurant kiddie meal. And as long as the sauce is meat (and dairy) free you have a simple vegetarian (or vegan) meal. The options go on.

And as I struggle to find ways to reduce the meat intake at dinner, I might be tempted to just boil some noodles and open a jar.

But really, what kind of a food blogger would I be if I did that?

No, I decided to pull out “the big guns,” and in this house “the big guns” means hidden tofu.

Not what you were expecting, huh?

But since Leon isn’t a huge fan of tofu and since I’m not a huge fan of solely tofu parading as something else, I relied on a little nutritional yeast and a few spoonfuls of cheese to hide the heavy artillery this pasta dish is packing.

And believe it or not, it worked!

But don’t just take my word for it…

Almost Dairy-Free Manicotti

Adapted from this recipe, which is adapted from these two.

1 block extra firm tofu, pressed

~1/4 c soft cheese*

3 T nutritional yeast

~2 T fresh rosemary

~1/4 c fresh parsley

2 T olive oil

1 handful fresh spinach/~1/2 c frozen spinach, chopped**

1 clove garlic

1 package manicotti shells***

1 jar marinara sauce

Salt and pepper, to taste

Parmigianino cheese for garnish, optional

*I used 3 Laughing Cow cheese wedges, but goat cheese, ricotta, or something of the sort would work well, too.

**I REALLY recommend using fresh spinach.

***I didn’t end up using the whole package because I ran out of filling and space in my pan. Depending on how big your shells are (there isn’t a standard size) and how much you fill them, you may or may not use them all. Boil them all to be safe, because you can always use the leftovers for something else.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the shells. Give them a stir and then loosely cover for the package-designated cooking time. Drain the water and place the shells in a single layer on a (paper) towel to dry and cool.

Add to a food processor everything else except marinara sauce. Blend until everything is evenly distributed and there are no noticeable chunks of whole tofu. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag or a quart-sized plastic bag.

Pour enough marinara sauce in the pan to just cover the bottom. If you’re using a plastic bag for the filling, snip off a corner. Grab a shell, insert the tip of the filling bag, and squeeze as you slowly pull the bag out. Turn the shell around and squeeze some filling into the other side. Place the shell in the pan and repeat with each shell, until you run out of filling.

Pour the rest of the marinara sauce evenly over the shells and bake at 350F for roughly 25 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the shells have been heated all the way through.

Garnish with some Parmigianino and dig in.

I like this recipe so much more than the original. That could be entirely because I hand mixed the tofu in the original instead of using a food processor.

Or it could be because the little bit of cheese gives this a much more authentic flavor, and makes it feel just that much more indulgent and comforting.

Or it could be because I had so much more fun stuffing shells than layering lasagna.

Whatever the reason, this recipe was a winner. (The original is a winner, too, if you really don’t want dairy.)

What do you think, eaters:

What are your culinary “big guns”?

Do you prefer manicotti, shells, or lasagna?

G’night eaters!

Sensible Carrot Pulp Pudding

‘Ello eaters!

We’re almost to the weekend and I couldn’t be happier. Mother is coming up with a carload of furniture and other things I forgot, so we’re having a belated Mother’s Day celebration.

That means brunch out on Sunday and pizza on Saturday.

But before I get caught up in weekend festivities, let’s talk about sensibility.

More important: British sensibility.

Sensibility seems to be so under-appreciated these days. Sure, whimsy and frivolity are all fun and games, but sometimes you have to wonder where sensibility, practicality, and utility went.

Well, in England, sensibility was alive and well. And I loved it.

Example: pasties! Sheppard’s pie! Crumbles!

A beef and vegetable pasty from Borough market.

All of these things are brilliant examples of how the British took leftovers and with very little money or effort, turned them into completely different and equally delicious dishes.

Waste not, want not, increase your grocery bill not.

I love it!

So this past week, when I found myself with a juicer full of carrot-pear pulp and a longing for London, I decided to be sensible.

Please note — When I say “pudding” I don’t mean the kind you find in a Snack Pack. Think of the texture of a really gooey, warm brownie. And then think of that in flavours other than chocolate. That’s about what a proper pudding should be like.

Carrot Pulp Pudding

1 c (whole wheat pastry) flour

¼ c sugar

2 t cinnamon

3 dashes nutmeg

1 ¾ c (soy) milk

1 ½ T chia seeds

½ carrot juicer pulp*

3 T plain (dairy-free) yoghurt

1 T vanilla extract

*The pulp I used had a bit of pear in it, which may have affected the sweetness. If you’re just using carrot pulp you may want to add 1 T sugar extra (making the total amount of sugar 1/3 c). That depends entirely on your taste.

In a mixing bowl, mix the flour, sugar, and spices.

In another bowl (or a mixing cup) mix the milk, chia seeds, pulp, vanilla, and yoghurt. Leave this to sit for about 5 minutes to give the chia seeds a chance to gel up.

Mix the wet with the dry and then spoon the mixture into 4 jars/ramekins*. Place the containers on a high-sided baking dish (like a loaf pan) and fill the dish with water about as high up as the batter.

Bake at 350F for about an hour, until the top feels firm and a toothpick comes out almost clean.

Fresh from the oven.

*This depends entirely on what you have on hand. I filled 4 12-ounce jars up a little less than halfway. I do suggest using something big enough so you have some space at the top to keep water from splashing in.

Serve hot or cold. Serve with ice cream, yoghurt, whipped cream, or plain. Serve for dessert, breakfast, lunch, or a snack.

The only requirement is that you serve this with a long spoon.

This doesn’t taste exactly like carrot cake. It doesn’t feel like a muffin or a cupcake. It’s…pudding, in every sense of the word.

And it’s sensible in every sense of the word — cheap, easy, HEALTHY, and suitable for almost every dietary need (sorry GF people!).


Who ever said sensibility was out of fashion?

Your turn, eaters:

Do you favour sensibility or whimsy? Or something in the middle?

Have you ever had this kind of pudding? How would you describe the texture?

Later eaters!

Gentle Nutrition: Salads

Hiya eaters!

You’ll be happy to know (will you actually be happy to know this? I shouldn’t assume you care.) that manly friend arrived safe and sound on Saturday. After a quick kiss, we ran across the airport to make our flight to Belfast.

Yup, we’re in Belfast right now. I’ll talk more about that tomorrow. Right now I’m here to talk about salads.

But not just any salads. Gentle nutrition-type salads.

Salads are (usually) really healthy. And healthy people like to eat salads, right?


I’ve never been a salad person. Sometimes I try to convince myself that I like salads, but that’s usually short lived. When I do try to convince myself that I like salads it’s because they’re full of kale and spinach and raw vegetables and healthy fats and vegetable protein and all the other things that I know I should eat more of because they’re healthy.

And then I get really sick of gnawing on grass and end up eating too much of the bread and schmear that I usually eat with a salad.

So for the past handful of months I’ve given up trying to get myself to eat salads. And that means that for a few months I haven’t really eaten any salads. Maybe the occasional side salad or mixed green garnish, but nothing note worthy. And also, nothing that I actually liked.

Until Valentine’s Day when I ordered a salad purely to fill me up so I didn’t gorge on pasta.

And ya know what, eaters?

I liked it. Like, I really liked it. It was the most amazing thing.

A couple of days later I got another craving for a salad. Originally, I planned on just hitting up the Whole Foods salad bar. But the thought of my usual spinach base made me gag. But not wanting to let me once-in-a-blue moon salad craving go to waste, I did what any slightly lazy and not too terribly frugal ‘Baby would do:

Box o'toppings.

I filled up a box of salad toppings.

And then I bought the one type of green that I was really craving — red oak lettuce.

A beautiful vegetable vortex.

Something about the slightly curly, tender leaves sounded so appealing.

I topped it all with a squirt of Bragg’s amino acids, a drizzle of olive oil, and plenty of pepper. And then I, once again, actually really enjoyed a salad.

All shook up.

It’s like suddenly salads are reborn for me. I’ve had this ridiculous d’oh realization that every salad doesn’t have to be the healthiest salad in the world. Every salad doesn’t have to only have the darkest greens and the most colorful vegetables and the leanest form of plant protein.

As long as a salad has vegetables and not too many crumbled potato chips (or whatever else weird thing people are putting in salads now), it’s healthier than not eating a salad.

So when I was grocery shopping last week I actually put lettuce (not just kale to eat with my eggs) and salad veg (not just vegetables to cook into recipes) on my list.

Aren't vegetables pretty?

And when I got home from the grocery store, rather than lament how late it was and how I didn’t have the energy to cook so I should just go out to dinner, I made a salad.

A beautiful salad with red oak lettuce — even though it’s not the healthiest — and red peppers and steamed broccoli — because I’m done trying to force myself to like raw broccoli — and a handful of pre-fab cole slaw mix — because I really didn’t need a whole cabbage — and a fried egg — because it was easier than tofu.

And I topped it with a squirt of Bragg’s amino acids and a drizzle of olive oil and plenty of pepper— because I’m too cheap to buy real salad dressing.

It may not have been the healthiest salad in the world, but it was way healthier than not eating a salad. And for once, I actually enjoyed a salad.

What about you, eaters:

Do you ever eat things you don’t really like because they’re healthy?

Do you eat salads regularly?

Later eaters!

Super Bowl Snacks

Hiya eaters!

So who watched the Super Bowl last night?

I really wasn’t planning on it because of the time difference and I didn’t think we would get it on the TV in our flat, and thus I didn’t feel like hanging out at a cheesy sports bar all night.

But then one thing led to another and suddenly we were having a little Super Bowl party. And by one thing led to another, I really mean that my British friend Sam was talking about how we all need to go to the college union down the street to watch the game.

Of course, m’mates and I couldn’t have this poor British bloke thinking that whatever was happening at the BRITISH college union was anything like how the Super Bowl is supposed to be watched.

So we took it upon ourselves to host him. By which I mean, I cooked a lot of junk food and we taught him American drinking games.

Now I know all the other prepared bloggers have already posted about their favorite Super Bowl recipes or how to health-ify the typical junk food or adorable DIY decorations, but I’m not that prepared. So you’re getting these recipes today.

Some may say this is a day late and a dollar short, but I say everyday is a good day for snacks.

First up…

Chicken Wings

Thanks to years of constantly watching Food Network and a year and a half working in a fast food chicken restaurant, I was able to completely wing this recipe. (Oh puns.)

~2 ¼ lbs chicken wings

½ lemon, juiced*

~2 c (soy) milk*

~1 c (whole wheat) flour

1 T paprika

½ T chili powder

1 t salt

1 t pepper


~1 ½ c desired sauce

*You can use buttermilk instead of these two, but this was all I had on hand so I made my own buttermilk-type substance.

In a bowl or large Ziplock bag, mix the lemon and milk, then add the chicken. Give everything a thorough dunk. Let this sit in your fridge for a few hours, making sure to massage or move everything around occasionally to insure even marinating.

When it comes time to cook them (which will be about a half hour before it’s time to eat), preheat the oven to 400F.pre-baked chicken wings

In another bowl mix the dry ingredients. Then dredge each wing in the flour mixture before placing it on a greased baking sheet. Once all the wings are floured, bake for 25-30 minutes, until the wings are cooked through and the skin is crispy.

Once the wings come out of the oven pour your sauce (which for me was a tangy BBQ sauce to which I added lots of hot sauce) into a bowl, dunk each wing, and serve.

BBQ baked chicken wings

So saucy.

While these wings were not as crispy as the wings we always served at Zaxby’s (yes, that is were I worked in high school), they were much healthier and equally delicious.

BBQ baked chicken wings

So delicious.

Next comes…

Gentle Nutrition Guacamole

Yeah, remember my Gentle Nutrition series where I talk about painless ways to increase the nutrition of your food. Think of this as another installment.

Aren’t avocados sexy?

2 avocados, scooped

1 can chickpeas, drained

1 – ½ lemon, juiced

salt, pepper, hot sauce, and cumin, to taste

Add everything to a food processor or high powered blender and whirl away until it’s creamy.

If you, like me, enjoy a little texture in your guacamole, reserve half an avocado and pulse it in after everything else is already combined.

chickpea avocado guacamole

Sorry for the bad picture, but can guacamole ever really look unappealing?

Just so we’re clear about this recipe, I didn’t come up with it. Just like the wings, it’s something I’ve seen a handful of times around the blogosphere, but I can’t remember where all I’ve seen it so I can’t properly attribute it.

If you have this recipe on your blog (by which I mean, if you have a real, not by-the-seat-of-your-trousers version), please do feel free to leave me a comment with a link and I’ll pass it along.

In addition to these two delicacies, we also gorged ourselves on dips, chips, and (English) muffin pizzas.

Except in England, they’re just called muffins.

I know eaters, it blew my mind, too.

What about you:

What did you snack on for the Super Bowl?

Who were you rooting for?

G’night eaters!

Gentle Nutrition: Beet Crisp

G’evening eaters!

I don’t have much to report today. It’s been an uneventful day and I’m a little tired.

But I’m currently pumping myself full of the holiday spirit in the form of watching “The Santa Clause 2” (Netflix doesn’t have the first movie on Instant Watch), so all is good in my world.

And all will be even better in my world when it comes time for dessert tonight.

What’s on the menu, you ask?

Beet crisp!

What the hell is a “beet crisp”?

Well eaters, it’s just like an apple crisp, except made with beets.

Ya see eaters, I mentioned the other day that I’m taking a pretty relaxed approach to holiday weight gain this year. I have really grown in my relationship with food this year and trust myself not to stuff my face with cookies like a pre-hibernation bear.

But a relaxed approach doesn’t mean that I’m throwing all caution to the wind.

Oh no, eaters!

I’ve still got health and nutrition on my mind. But it’s not militant nutrition. It’s gentle.

Enter: beets, a vegetable that not enough eaters eat.

Note — The pictures below are from the first recipe I made on Sunday. I have since tweaked things a bit, but didn’t retake the pictures. So the final product will look a little different then what you see below.

Beet Crisp

3 medium beets, ~4.5 c when cut

~1 c milk

3 T brown sugar, divided

3 T butter, divided

¼ c honey

~1 t cinnamon, divided

1 c rolled oats

¼ c coconut oil, melted

2 T (whole wheat pastry) flour

~1/3 c pomegranate arils, optional

Clean and peel the beets and then cut into thin slices, about 1/4 “ thick.

Add the beets and milk to a medium pot over low-medium heat.

Note — I say roughly 1 c milk because it depends on how big your pot is. You want the beets to be at least mostly covered.

Stir in 2 T butter, 1 T brown sugar, and ½ t cinnamon. Bring the milk to a simmer while occasionally stirring everything around. After about 5 or so minutes, when the beets begin to get soft, remove the pot from the heat and drain the liquid.

Mix the beets with a couple of dashes of cinnamon and honey and pour into the bottom of a glass baking dish.

Now make the topping by combining the oats, coconut oil, flour, 2 T brown sugar, and another dash or so of cinnamon in a bowl.

Tip — Coconut oil solidifies below 76 degrees. Most kitchens aren’t that warm this time of year. So whenever I use coconut oil I also use a glass bowl so I can turn a stove burner on super low and put the bowl on it. It keeps everything just warm enough to keep the oil liquefied.

When everything is mixed up, it’s time to get a little fancy.

First, sprinkle a handful or two of pomegranate arils (another powerful plant people don’t eat nearly enough) over the beets.

Then, evenly distribute the oat topping over the beets.

And if you want to get fancier still (and really, who doesn’t?), cut up about a tablespoon of butter and spread the chunks over the oats.

Bake the dish in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, until the topping is golden and a knife slides into the beets smoothly.

This is no apple crisp.

No eaters, this is something far better. This is something far more festive.

The absolutely gorgeous crimson from the beets simply glow with holiday spirit.

And don’t try to tell me that your family and friends could refuse a big, warm helping of this golden-topped dessert.

Speaking of that golden topping — it’s pretty crumbly. But that doesn’t do a damn thing to take away from this sweet, toasty, top. It just means that you can have a bit in every bite.

Like I said, it’s better then apple crisp (though I wouldn’t refuse some of that either).

What do you think:

Would you ever try sweet beets?

What are you doing to bring some gentle nutrition to your holidays?

G’night eaters!

Gentle Nutrition: Apple n’ Cheese

‘Ello eaters!

It’s been another long day. Another very long day. My brain is fried. But I’m happy. Oh so happy.

That reminds me eaters, have I told you why I’ve been so blissful this week?

A couple of reasons: 1) My PT is progressing really well. There haven’t been stellar improvements or anything, but it feels good to be doing something about it. I’ll be doing another post about it soon once we have decided if the new thing we’re trying works. 2) Manly friend is coming back on Saturday. I’ll get to spend some quality time with m’dude before helping him move in with Will on Monday.

Yeah, both of those things make me smile.

Oh, and the second apple-tastic recipe makes me smile. A lot.

Strange bedfellows.

Apple Mac n’ Cheese

3 c pasta and cooking water

2 T butter/Earth Balance

¼ c nutritional yeast

1 c milk-substance

1/3 lbs cheddar cheese, made into small pieces

2 apples

1 red bell pepper

cayenne, to taste

Set the pasta water on to boil.

Shells catch the most sauce.

Once it’s boiling add the shells. Cook them to al dente and then drain. The cooked shells can sit around as long as you need them to while you prepare everything else.

While that is all happening dice both the apples and pepper. There’s no need to peel the apples, the skin will give this dish extra texture and nutrients. Both are important.

Itty bitty pieces of produce.

Now heat a sauce pan on medium-low heat and add the butter-substance. Once that’s melted add in the nutritional yeast. You want to slowly cook these two together until it gets a little brown.


This is kind of like a bastardized roux.

No, French/New Orleans eaters, I’m not actually calling this a roux. I wouldn’t do that to your cuisine.

Once the faux-roux is made, add the milk-substance and turn the heat up to medium. Toss in the cheese.

This is what happens when you use a dull knife.

Stir continuously until the cheese is melted. Then taste to figure out how much more nutritional yeast and cayenne you should add.

Note — dairy is a natural heat neutralizer, so because of the dairy here you can really ratchet up the cayenne so you can reap the benefits without setting your mouth on fire.

Stir regularly until the sauce thickens up just slightly.

At this point, mix the apples, peppers and shells in a large casserole dish. Make sure everything is somewhat evenly distributed. And now…pour on the cheese.

Oh yes!

The beautiful, golden cheese.

Right there!

It may not seem like a lot of cheese sauce. Because really, it’s not a lot. But go ahead and bake it in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes anyway.

This is just to warm everything through and thicken up the cheese a bit more.

A generous scoop will reveal that despite your doubts everything is evenly kissed by the oh so delicious cheese.

This is nothing like the mac n’ cheese you get from a box. This is nothing like the Southern mac n’ cheese Stepmother’s family makes.

This is a little bit lighter mac n’ cheese with a little bit of a new flare.

The apples and peppers don’t add much flavor, but they do add a very welcome bite of freshness with just the slightest little hint of sweetness when you least except it.

And that, eaters, should be music to the ears of everyone who’s looking to up their nutrition value in a gentle way.

Oh and by the way, eaters, the ample amount of nutritional yeast ups the nutritional value, too.

Yeah, I am looking out for you. I do it because I care. And because I like to eat healthy, too.

G’night eaters!

Gentle Nutrition

Hi eaters!

Did ya miss me?

Well, I had an absolutely amazing evening with Papa. We went to Natty Greene’s and talked a lot. Gosh, I always forget just how much I miss my family until I get to see them.

Luckily, I already have plans to visit Papa and co with manly friend over my fall break. So at least this time I know when I’ll be seeing him again. That makes g’byes a little easier.

(M’gosh, my high school self would be so freaking shocked that I’m saying all this.)

Anyway, it’s high time I talked about something that’s been on my mind for a hot minute:

Gentle nutrition.

If you’ve read Intuitive Eating you know what I’m talking about. If not, let me give you the rundown: it’s the idea that you should make the healthiest choices possible that will still leave you satisfied.

Example: if wheat bread is available and you like wheat bread than choose that. If both cookies and baked apples are available, but you don’t like baked apples and would rather have a cookie, than choose the cookies knowing that you’ll probably end up eating them later because you felt deprived and because you know you’ll have plenty of other chances to make healthy decisions later on.

Frankly, this idea totally rocked my world.

You mean if I make a conscious decision to not make the healthiest choice it’s not the end of the world? You mean I should think of each choice as a new chance to be healthy, rather than as a chain reaction?

Yeah, this is life-changing stuff.

So armed with this new approach to eating choices, I decided to try and change, or at least impact, my ‘mates lives.

Ya see eaters, my ‘mates aren’t exactly healthy eaters. They love cheese. And white flour pasta. And snack bars. And ice cream. And they hate vegetables. And beans.

But they’re so very wonderful and open-minded, so they agreed to be part of my little project let me feed them weird things.

First up, black bean brownies. (I followed Made in Sonomas’s recipe.)

I’m way tardy to the party on this recipe. Frankly, I was beyond skeptical about this one. And so were my bean hating ‘mates. (They made it very clear that they hate beans.)

Two cups of fresh cooked black beans.

But despite my skepticism, I went ahead with the brownies. And added plenty of chocolate chips.

Bulk bins means buying chocolate chips in bulk.

As soon as I took the brownies out of the oven, my ‘mates walked into the kitchen and marveled at the fact that they actually smelled like brownies.

A big bean-y slice.

But that amazement ended short of taking the first bite. That was all me.

So I cut a small slice, took a deep breath, and sunk my teeth into…something that tasted like a brownie.

I was shocked. They trusted me enough to take a bite themselves, and they were even more shocked.

Between the three of us, the whole batch was gone in a few days.

No, these didn’t taste exactly like the brownies you get from a box. But we all ate them (even though there is a box of brownie mix in our kitchen), because we wanted to eat them and they were the healthiest choice.

And that, eaters, is how gentle nutrition works. Pretty awesome, right?

I sure think so. In fact, I think it’s awesome enough to warrant making this into a little series. From time to time I’ll post gentle nutrition recipes — ones that wouldn’t be as healthy as foregoing the food, but that are certainly healthier than some alternatives.

What do you think? Would you be interested in that?

Please let me know either way.

Thanks and…g’night eaters!