Guilt Free Desserts??? Do tell…

SO this past week I have been trying to stay away from sugar and dairy products. That means as a result that many of my most beloved desserts are out of the question. I have been getting reaaaaally creative trying to find substitutes for things I would normally make, and many of them have turned out surprisingly well! I thought I would share a few desserts that really fixed my cravings in a flash. 

All of these desserts are clean eating, daniel fast friendly, and gluten free*.

*Use gluten free oats

1. Banana and Oatmeal Cookies 

Clean Eating, Daniel Fast Friendly, Gluten Free

Makes about 10-12 cookies, depending on how big you make them. 

These babies are made of exactly what they say – banana and oatmeal. That is all you really need, but adding a few extra things makes them pop. Here is what I used in mine:

2 ripe bananas, mashed

1 cup of oats (use gluten free if you need a gluten free recipe)

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Handful (so accurate, I know…) of dried cranberries

Mix all of your ingredients together and then scoop them out in cookie sized lumps onto a baking sheet. 

Bake for about 15 minutes at 350 and these guys are done-zo! 

2. Two Ingredient “Ice Cream”

Clean Eating, Daniel Fast Friendly, Gluten Free, Paleo Friendly

Makes 2 servings (or sometimes only one…)

Many of you have probably heard of banana ice cream, it is a big fad on pinterest right now. I tried it a year or so ago and it turned out terribly. Well, I did some more research this time and figured out that the key to making it turn out well is frozen bananas. Duh. I know, I should have realized. I tried to use room temperature bananas and then freeze it afterwards and it was pretty gross. 

You need:

2 ripe bananas cut into about 1/4 inch slices. 

1/2-3/4 cup of frozen fruit (I like peaches, strawberries, blueberries… whatever works!) 

A note about the frozen fruit – I am always tempted to add more fruit after the half cup. You can add a tiny bit more, but too much more and the texture of your ice cream changes, and surprisingly it doesn’t taste as sweet. So try and stick to 1/2 – 3/4 cup if you still want the creamy texture. 

The first step is to freeze the bananas until they are totally frozen. I put wax paper on a plate so they would be easier to get off later. 

When the bananas are totally frozen, put them in a food processor with your frozen fruit and blend, blend, blend!! At first it looks like it is not going to work, but keep going! Patience gets you deliciousness. Also, I have tried this with a blender and a food processor. Both work, but a blender takes much longer. With both ways it is a good idea to stop and scrape the sides every so often. 

Nom Nom!!! This looks and tastes extremely similar to real ice cream. 

3. Apple Crisp

Clean Eating, Daniel Fast Friendly, Gluten Free

Makes 2 servings

Apple crisp is at the top of my list of favorite desserts!!! But most apple crisp recipes have tons of butter and brown sugar… what to do!

2 apples cut into cubes (I used one granny smith and one pink lady)

1/2 cup of dried cranberries

1/2-3/4 cup of oats (I just eye balled it to make sure that the apples weren’t suffocating in oats.)

1-2 teaspoons cinnamon (just make sure the apples are coated nicely)

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ginger

dash of allspice

First mix apples in a bowl with lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and all spice. Then add in oats and dried cranberries. Then throw everything into a baking dish and toss these babies in the ole’ oven.

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. 

Devour unashamedly. I may or may not have eaten this for breakfast… 

apple crisp

Okay! I will try to get some more pictures up later of these delicious and healthy treats! For now, you’ll just have to use your super active imaginations and take my word that you definitely need to try them. 

Menu’s, Meals, and Monies for Newbies

One of my main responsibilities in the Hart household is planning our meals and grocery shopping. I thought I’d share with you my methods and maybe they will be something that you can use in your own kitchen!

1. Give yourself a budget

I shop every two weeks and I usually spend about 125-150$ for 2 people. It is on the higher end if it’s a week where I am replenishing our toilet paper and paper towel supply. Once you figure out what works for you, stick to it.

2. Figure out what meals you will make from now until you go grocery shopping again. 

This part has been kind of trial and error for me as a fairly new wife. Sometimes the meals I make are a total bust, and sometimes they are amazing! If you want some husband approved recipes, here is a list of several that Jason has loved!

Beef Stroganoff (ground beef, 1 sm. container sour cream, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, mushrooms and onions if desired. Serve over shell noodles)

Chicken Stroganoff 

Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti

Creamy Pesto Shrimp

Chicken Quesadillas

Beef Stew (meat, potatoes, onions, peas, carrots, tomatos, mushrooms in a crockpot for 4 -6 hours). 

Tilapia Fish Tacos (I usually only follow the recipe for the tilapia. For the toppings I use mango, tomato, & sour cream)

Meatless Chili (1 can of: kidneys, black, pinto, & great northern beans. 1 can of corn, 1 can of diced tomatoes, sprinkle of chili powder, basil, and cumin – crockpot or stove)

Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu 

Foil Crockpot Tilapia 

Crockpot Black Bean Enchiladas

Shrimp Scampi

Kung Pao Chicken (This is a basic recipe. We like cashews instead of peanuts, and I add baby corn & bamboo shoots.)

Homemade Pizza

Cheese Ravioli with Mushroom Cream Sauce

Tip 1: Don’t plan meals for a specific day because your plans may change. You’ll be disappointed if you’ve planned to make a certain meal and suddenly your other half wants to eat out. Instead, just make a list of all the meals you have planned out and cross them off each time you make one. This way you can make whatever you feel like having and you know you’ll have the ingredients for that meal in the kitchen.

Tip 2: Rollover any meals you didn’t eat on your last trip to this week and eat them first.

Tip 3: Always think about what you already have on hand when planning a meal, and also what you don’t have. If a meal calls for four or five different spices that you don’t have, you’ll end up spending a lot of money on spices if you want to make that specific meal. 

3. Make up a grocery list based on your meals

When I first started out, I used this printable grocery list to help me out with my shopping in the store. If you’d rather write out your grocery list, the same principles apply. Try to separate your groceries based on where they are in the store. This way you can go from one section of the store to another without having to backtrack. 

Go through your menu for the week one meal at a time and write down or highlight on your printable grocery list the things that you need for that meal. For instance, if I’m making shrimp scampi I need 1/2 pound of shrimp, white wine, parsley, garlic, and butter.

Tip 1: Think about the items you already have in stock. In this case I have garlic, butter, parsley, and cooking wine on hand so all I need is the shrimp! 

Tip 2: Remember to add the amount of items you need if you have more than one meal that calls for it. 

4. Finally, add the essentials to your list.
Milk, eggs, and bread don’t really need to be planned for but we use them all the time. Don’t go to all the trouble meal-planning and forget the simple things!  

5. When Shopping…

  • Limit yourself on impulse buys! I try to give myself one “fun” buy like a dessert for the week. 
  • Compare prices between brands! Don’t just buy the first one you see.
  • On the other hand, don’t always buy the cheapest priced item. If dairy products, bread, or meats are marked down it’s usually because they are about to expire. Unless you plan to use them right away, it will save you money in the long run to buy the regularly priced item.

Hopefully this is helpful to anyone who is new at cooking/shopping! 

Chopsticks and Other Such Things

I am so terrible with chopsticks. I am slowly getting better though for one simple reason – most restaurants only provide you with chopsticks and a spoon. Have you tried eating noodles with a spoon? Good luck. 

Despite the fact that I will never win in any kind of Chopstick Olympics, I am pleasantly surprised that many Koreans don’t use their chopsticks. WHAAAAAAT you say? Nope. Here we are in a restaurant, little Americans trying to blend in and be all, “Look at me I can use chopsticks to eat my sticky rice,” and we look over and half of the Koreans in the restaurant are using their spoon. Granted they do use them for for a lot of things. But if forks are available, you’d be surprised how people many ditch the sticks.

So here’s my take on chopsticks: I use them for grabbing big things that won’t make me look silly. If it’s tiny, I use my spoon. 

On to another wonderful topic, my new favorite Korean dish! Pot Bulgogi! Here is a picture of what it looks like, more or less. 

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Basically, it is made up of marinated beef, glass noodles, mushrooms, onions, and well a bunch of other things. As you can see at this table, this dish and many other asian dishes come with a plethora of other sides which you can eat strait or pile in your bulgogi. It might comes with kimchee, bean sprouts, rice, spicy cucumbers, sometimes little dried fish, egg noodle thingies, or other things. We have eaten a meal before where our entire table was filled with little tiny bowls of side dishes. 

Another question you might ask is,”Why are there scissors on the table?” To cut up your meat! Many Korean dishes involve raw meat which you literally cook at your table. There will be a sort of grill at each table like this: 

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Your waiter or waitress will usually place the strips of meat on the grill for you and then you are provided with scissors and tongs. You then cook the meat and cut it into strips! This doesn’t actually come with pot bulgogi unless you get it raw, which I’ve never done. Usually, once you cut the meat you place it inside of a pice of lettuce along with rice and whatever else you want. Then according to the Koreans you are supposed to shove the whole thing into your mouth. Yeeeeeah I don’t do that… but basically it’s a lettuce wrap. Super tasty.

Okay so that’s my food blog for now! Hope you are all ready for some Korean cooking when I get back! Minus kimchee… no thanks. 

 

DIY Date Night In KC Town!

Alright, I’m behind on my posting for you guys back home! This isn’t really a traveling post or anything, but I thought I would share with you a fun little date that I planned for Jace and I in our apartment in KC Town!
So I started off my morning by getting to the store at 7am and discovering that it didn’t open until 9am. BAH! That was a fun 2 hours playing on my phone and drinking Starbucks (UM yes I said Starbucks…). But once it actually opened, I purchased tea lights, 2 inexpensive taller candles, and 2 round mirrors. Then I bought 2 cloth napkins at 1$ each, and splurged on a 10$ bouquet of flowers (really getting out there!).
And then the fun part began! I got home and made us 2 Strawberry Lime Sangrias and stuck them in the fridge to cool. This is the recipe I used. Well sort of… I have a confession. I totally bombed the whole cook the strawberries on the stove thing. So I just cut up some strawberries, a lime, and poured white wine into the glass. Then (close your ears wine snobs!) I added a squirt of MiO fruit punch! Yup. I did it. I probably broke about 10 cardinal cooking rules, but these babies tasted soooooo good… Oh and I also added Sprite. Haha!
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Okay, so next I worked on chocolate covered strawberries. Those are pretty self-explanatory so I won’t add a picture. Then I worked on a Apple Pecan Chicken Salad. I couldn’t find a recipe that had everything I wanted, so I just made up one.

Apple Pecan Chicken Salad
Makes 2 Dinner Servings
Romaine Lettuce cut up (I just eyeballed it.. I could not tell you how much I used)
Pink Lady Apple (3/4-1)
1/2 cup pecans
1 cooked chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 cup cranberries
1/4 cup blue cheese or gorgonzolla cheese crumbles

And after that I made a delicious strawberry dressing to go on top!

Strawberry Dressing
(2 servings)
3-4 strawberries mashed up with fork or blended
1-2 T olive oil
1/2 T lemon juice
dash of pepper
dash of salt

Let me be a little honest about my cooking methods. Half the time I don’t measure. I just eyeball everything. Seriously. It works out 99% of the time. If it doesn’t work out, I just add a little more of something else and even it out. Measuring cups are overrated. So it is hard for me to give you measurements for some of these things, but I am trying to give you somewhat of a mental idea of what might make a good combination. But hey, if you guys really like blue cheese, add more! These recipe is not etched in stone anywhere and the recipe police will not come knocking on your door if you get something wrong or try something different. If something doesn’t turn out how you like it, you’ll know for next time! No big deal. So here’s the salad before the dressing:
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I totally wanted to stuff my face in it right then and there.

AND VOILA! Here is the final spread with candles and all:
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No, I did not also make delicious and totally unhealthy bacon and cream cheese stuffed mushrooms… No, the recipe cannot be found here… *cough, cough*

So you too can make this yourself! If all the DIY is too intimidating, just get take-out and serve it on pretty plates! Play a board game afterwards, go for a walk, watch a movie, do a fun photo shoot, there are endless possibilities.