Copa Mundial y comida deliciosa

World Cup!! I love the World Cup. I love soccer. It’s a beautiful game. And there are beautiful men who play soccer. Lots of them. Like Graham Zusi, for example. He had a beautiful assist in the US vs. Ghana game. There is so much emotion and passion – it’s inspiring to watch. Especially guys like Clint Dempsey who get kicked in the face and continue to be awesome. What a beast. And all the soccer fans come out to cheer – I have been watching the games at local bars because it is so much more fun to cheer with 50 of your new closest friends. The soccer community is an eclectic and enthusiastic group and I love it.

To challenge my cooking skills, I have been trying out a variety of ethnic foods – Father’s Day was Asian-inspired. I made a beef, broccoli, and pepper stirfry that turned out well, an eggplant dish that turned out well, and egg drop soup that did not turn out so great. It tasted good… but eggs are not supposed to be clumpy. They are supposed to be more noodle-y. Whatever. Two out of three ain’t bad. Plus I learned something about egg drop soup.

Both of those things considered, I am making foods from the countries represented in the World Cup! I wanted to try to make food from a country on the day of their match, but my cooking experiment days don’t always line up nicely.

This week’s theme: Espana! On the menu: gazpacho, paella, and flan.

Seafood is also quite popular in Spain, as is chorizo… hence, chorizo and seafood paella. Mmmmmm. I would have loved to throw in things like mussels, clams, squid, etc. but my family is not quite that adventurous yet and I am not super comfortable cooking meat in a shell. So shrimp, chicken, and chorizo it is.

I found a super easy recipe for paella and it turned out delicious! I didn’t use saffron because it is so stinking expensive and I don’t care that much. I also cooked the meat early and let it simmer in the pan with the rice to incorporate some flavor. Delish. I usually gauge my success by how many lunches my dad makes with the leftovers. This was a 3 lunch meal. Outstanding! I was planning on making a more elaborate dinner, but I ran 16 miles and it hurt and I was tired so I decided to keep it simple. So maybe I will try gazpacho and flan another time.

I did quite a bit of cooking this weekend and it all turned out quite well – pico de gallo (recipe in progress), sweet potato brownies from Paleomg.com (these got rave reviews!!), and paleo chicken marbella from Elana’s Pantry, which also turned out gloriously!

Mmmmmm. Paella on the left, chicken marbella on the right. The brownies disappeared too fast for pictures!

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Mini Chocolate Mousse Pies

I love summer. I love being outside. My class asked if we could have class outside this week and I said yes. How could I say no?! So we looked ridiculous practicing our first aid skills in the grass in front of the building with a bunch of traffic flying by. But it was glorious.

I love fall marathons… the weather is usually perfect. But the only thing I don’t love about summer is how hot it can get so early; what I don’t love about fall marathons is the fact that you have to either run in the zillion degree heat or get up super early to run when its cool. I am almost always in the “get up early” camp. I hate being hot. And when you are running (if you are me, anyway), 70 degrees feels like 90. The hard part about being in the “get up early camp” is actually getting up early. (It helps if you go to bed early, just FYI) But I love the peacefulness and the stillness of first thing in the morning. The sun is out but it’s not blazing hot, the streets are usually quiet, and you see other people out running… the people who are happy to be running usually wave.

I am less than 1 week into marathon training and I am tired. How does this happen? Sunday’s long run was the official onset of training. And I am beat. Tired tired tired. So my morning run has gotten pushed back a little bit because bed sounds so much better. Upon review of my training logs, I realized that I have only had one 30+ mile week this whole year and I will hit 35 miles this week after 2 weeks of almost no running. So my heaviest mileage week this year to date combined with 3 days of Crossfit – I think I know why I’m tired.

So what’s a girl with no energy to do? Sleep is a good option, obviously. Make coffee! Make things with coffee. I am like a caffeinated Julia Child (“I like cooking with coffee, sometimes I even put it in the food” – less funny than her version). I made some cold brew concentrate last week and am pretty pleased with how it turned out! Check it out – tasty cold brew.

And with a good solid nap and some delicious coffee, I have the energy to create culinary goodness yet again. Like mini chocolate mousse pies.

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There’s a small chance this is the most delicious fluffy vegan chocolate mousse I have ever created. This might actually just be the most delicious thing I have ever created. And for reasons unbeknownst to me, I felt compelled to measure things. With actual measuring cups and then write down what I did. So I actually have a recipe for this deliciousness!! That almost never happens. I usually just throw things together and hope they work out well… some things turn out awesome and I don’t remember how I made them! Anyway…. this recipe is super delicious, super quick and super easy – if you can press buttons, you can make mousse. And you can’t even taste the avocados, I promise. Just pure chocolaty goodness.

 

Mini Chocolate Mousse Pies

Yield: 20-24 mini pies

Ingredients

Pie Crust

Whatever pie crust you want – I use THIS ONE from Kelly at The Spunky Coconut.

Mousse

2 large ripe avocados
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup maple syrup, or to taste
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
cream from 1 can of full-fat coconut milk

Garnishes (optional)

sliced strawberries
coconut flakes
chocolate shavings
slivered almonds

 

Make your pie crust. Press it into the bottom of greased muffin tins (I always just use cupcake liners) and bake according to directions. You can make them into little mini cup shapes if you like – they hold the mousse better. Keep an eye on them – they probably will not need to bake as long as indicated in the recipe. If you use the recipe above, I bake them at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

Put everything but the coconut milk in a food processor and puree until silky smooth. No one likes chunky mousse. (Or chunky moose).

Add in your coconut cream and puree again. If you want it super super fluffy, whip your coconut cream first and then gently fold it into your avocado puree. (check out this link for help with coconut cream)

When your little pie crusts have cooled, spoon your mousse on top. Place in the refrigerator to set – an hour or two. Garnish with whatever you like.

Enjoy!! You could also make this as one big pie – I imagine it would be delicious!

 

 

This post was featured on Allergy Free Wednesdays.

 

Bacon Jam! And Happy Birthday to Me!!

10298218_10101593985462343_1822682048321031689_o Happy birthday to me!!

I celebrated my birthday last week – and what better way to celebrate than with bacon?! So I made bacon jam. I’m pretty sure if you start your year off with bacon jam and coffee, you are setting yourself up for nothing but glory and success. There will also be chocolate and shenanigans, so my week of birthday celebration will be well-rounded.

I ate some delicious brunch at Snooze with my momma, went to my favorite cooking store and stared at pretty pots, pans, and kitchen appliances, taught class, went to the gym (burpees and running – what better birthday gift?), practiced making crepes, and drank too much beer at the Mayor. All in all, one of my favorite birthdays! Never mind the ridiculous leg soreness. Burpees really are the gift that keeps on giving. But it feels good to get back into exercising… I’ve been quite deterred by injuries over the last 6 weeks and I like that I can be active again. It makes me happy!

I went to Whole Foods and bought some high quality bacon. Cause it’s my birthday!! Also because pork is probably the most poorly handled meat out there and it is worth it to me to buy food that is treating ethically and not fed a whole bunch of crap. Part of the reason I went vegan was because I couldn’t afford good quality meat. I didn’t want to eat a whole bunch of crap… but I don’t think I did myself any favors. It’s not about perfection… sometimes it really is just about “good enough”.

Anyway, bacon jam. Delicious bacon-y, maple syrupy goodness. I did not even know bacon jam was a thing until a few weeks ago and I think it’s safe to say that my life has been changed for the better. My inspiration came from this recipe, this recipe, and this recipe.

Bacon jam in progress.

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Bacon Jam

16-18 ounces of delicious bacon. Use high quality here – it’s so worth it.
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup water
2 dried chipotle chiles, soaked and somewhat de-seeded (depending on your spice preference – I love spicy food!)
1 Starbucks Via packet
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Cut your bacon up into chunks and fry it ’til it’s close to crispy. Place on paper towel to drain and save that bacon fat for later cooking.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan, whisk it all together and let simmer for a minute or two. Add your bacon and cook on low for 1-2 hours, until it is thick and syrupy, stirring occasionally.

When it cools just a bit, add to your food processor and pulse a couple times. You want bacon jam, not puree, so take care not to overdo it.

Put that sh*t on everything. Or store in the fridge for up to 4 weeks. Share with your friends. Or don’t. I put it on eggs, egg muffins, crepes, pancakes, roasted butternut squash, burgers, roasted peppers…. essentially everything that I ate at home this week. Don’t judge me.

 

How to Survive a Barbecue on a Special Diet

It’s summer time and that means parties, barbecues, cook-outs, etc. I love them and they are awesome, but they can be tricky to navigate if you have restrictions, allergies, intolerances, and so on. Especially if you don’t know the host(s) or don’t know them very well.

Rule 1. Never assume there will be things that you can eat. This is the quickest way to guarantee that there will be nothing you can eat. I went to a wedding and thought “I’m sure there will be something I can eat”. Nope. Pizza, tomatoes topped with mozzarella, and a salad covered in croutons and a milk-based dressing. So I learned an important lesson and now I attend formal functions with beef jerky in my purse. Yep. Classy.

Rule 2. Always offer to bring something. This makes you look like a nice person and it ensures that you will not starve. I like to bring sides that can stand alone as a meal if there are no other good options. A few of my go-to recipes:

Rainbow Kale Slaw from Go Dairy Free

Southwestern Quinoa Salad from Kalyn’s Kitchen (any variety of quinoa salad is usually a good choice. Try adding mango – delicious!)

Baked Sweet Potato Falafels from 101 Cookbooks

Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini Bites from The Balanced Platter

Rule 3. If you know the host, communicate with them! People don’t like to kill other people with food. While it can be an awkward conversation, it beats being sick for 3 days. A simple “hey, I am allergic to this food – will there be safe options for me?” is good. Sometimes it’s nice to present options – “hey I am allergic to xyz, could you make me a burger without the bun? or without cheese?” etc. especially since lots of people don’t know that EVERYTHING has gluten in it. People worry about feeding me all the time, but as long as there is meat and vegetables, I do just fine.

Rule 4. Don’t assume things aren’t covered in cheese. Or a wheat-based sauce. Or eggs. ASK. Don’t be unpleasantly surprised.

Rule 5. Eat before you go. It’s often best not to arrive hungry and be tempted by who-knows-what. Chocolate cake. Feta cheese. Beer.

Rule 6. Have a drink in your hand. Water is great. I find that I am less tempted to “just try” that delicious looking cake if I have something else to do. Please exercise caution and always bring a sleeping bag. People usually don’t mind if you camp in their lawn instead of driving home. Maybe those are just my friends.

Rule 7. If you do get exposed to something unintentionally (or if you decide that cake/pie/beer really is your best option and eat it on purpose), be gentle to yourself. Drink more water, get more rest, go back to eating what you know your body tolerates well.

What are your tips for surviving barbecues? Do you have any go-to recipes?