Raspberry Almond Truffles

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and everybody loves chocolates. If you don’t love chocolates, I don’t know why and I don’t want to know you*. If you’d like to add a special homemade touch instead of getting the same gold Godiva box or heart shaped Whitman’s Sampler this year, try out these raspberry almond truffles.

They’re delicious with or without the chocolate, but I would refer you back to the first paragraph, wherein we established how everybody feels about chocolate. These are a nice sweet treat that are easy to make and show your special someone that you care enough to do a bit more than just dropping some cash.

*Actually, I would love to know you, you seem lovely, please come over to our house sometime for dinner.

Raspberry Almond Truffles

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups pitted dates
2/3 cup almonds
2/3 cup freeze dried raspberries
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/3 cup chocolate chips
2-4 Tbsp water
Optional: 1/2 cup chocolate chips, melted

Directions:

Blend all ingredients except water and chocolate chips until finely chopped. Add water 1 Tbsp at a time until mixture is a good consistency for rolling. Roll into balls and dip in chocolate if you would like. They’re delicious either way!

Tropical Baked Oatmeal

Tropical Baked Oatmeal: A Taste of Summer in the Bleak Midwinter

We love this tropical baked oatmeal when we’re in the mood for something sweet. It makes 6 portions at a time, so it gives us breakfast for a few days. It’s delicious, but also pretty healthy since most of the sweetness comes from fruit.

Planning Breakfasts: The Most Important Meal Plan of the Day

When meal planning, we usually run into the most trouble with breakfasts. Unfortunately it’s one of the easiest meals to cheat on. It’s so easy to run out for a donut on the way to work, pretend you don’t know how horrible it is for you, and then get three donuts, a bagel with cream cheese, and a hash brown. Planning helps make sure the easiest choice and the healthiest choice are one and the same.

Tropical Baked Oatmeal

Ingredients:

3 bananas
2 cup rolled oats
1 Tsp baking powder
1 Tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1 1/2 cup chopped pineapple
1 medium mango, cubed
1 can coconut milk (I used full-fat, but you could certainly try light)
3 Tbsp maple syrup
3/4 cup shredded coconut

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F. Slice bananas and place in an even layer on the bottom of a baking dish (I used an 8×8, but I’ve also done 9×13 before and it works just fine). Mix together oats, baking powder, cinnamon and chia seeds and spread over the bananas. Sprinkle fruit on top. In the same bowl you mixed the dry ingredients (you can use another bowl, but why do the extra dishes?) mix the coconut milk and maple syrup. Pour over the oats and fruit. Sprinkle the coconut on top and bake for 45 minutes. Enjoy!

Creamy Roasted Mushroom and Eggplant Risotto

If given the choice, I would probably never voluntarily opt to eat mushrooms or eggplant. Neither has ever been a favorite of mine. Jocelyn, however, is a big fan of both, so we’ve had to learn to compromise. In practice, that compromise looks a lot like me eating a bunch of mushrooms and eggplant. When I heard that she was planning to make an eggplant risotto topped with roasted mushrooms, I adopted my bravest fake smile and nodded in what I fear was not a very convincing manner.

But guys, get this: eggplant risotto with roasted mushrooms is good. Like, super good. The mushrooms are crispy and the eggplant puree is mixed in with the risotto and it’s creamy and delicious. Some nutritional yeast gives the whole dish an umami kick. I suppose I should really rethink that aversion to mushrooms and eggplant, because this dish is one of my favorites now.

Creamy Mushroom Eggplant Risotto

Ingredients:

1 medium eggplant
1 head of garlic
6 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
1 cup Arborio rice
5-6 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup white wine
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

Preparation Directions:

Preheat the oven to 450° F. Lightly score the eggplant and pop in the oven along with the garlic. Roast for about 30 minutes, or until everything is nice and soft. Set aside to cool. Meanwhile, toss the mushroom slices in 1 Tbsp of the olive oil and a little salt and roast while you make the risotto.

Heat the stock in a small saucepan on medium high heat. Once the eggplant and garlic are cooled, peel and puree with a couple ladlefuls of stock. Heat the other Tbsp of olive oil in a heavy pan and sauté the shallots until golden. Add the rice and toast for about a minute. Pour in the wine and cook until absorbed. Add the stock a little at a time and stir as the rice absorbs it. Stir in the veggie puree and once the rice is cooked through and creamy, toss in the nutritional yeast. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Packaging Directions:

This one’s pretty easy. The only trick is to pack the mushrooms separately to preserve maximum crispiness. Pack the leftover risotto into 1 cup containers and split the remaining mushrooms into the same number of containers. Take and enjoy!

Tips for a Waste-Free Thanksgiving

1. Downsize the Turkey

We’re not turkey eaters anymore, but obviously a lot of people are. When we did eat turkey, we always got one that was too big and ended up throwing away at least half of it. Either we couldn’t eat it all and it ended up going bad in the back of the fridge, or we’d freeze it and forget about it until it was covered in freezer burn. Whichever way our leftovers went bad, it was just a super sad situation. If you don’t have too many people, there’s no requirement to roast a whole turkey. You can roast a chicken, or if you really want turkey, you can just pan roast a breast.

2. Amp up the Veggies

If you’re not wedded to turkey, you can also just make a million sides. Let’s be real: the sides are the best part of Thanksgiving! We get our vegetables from Hungry Harvest, so we avoid waste by rescuing produce that’s too ‘ugly’ for stores (but honestly, most of the produce is perfect). We find out what we’re getting a few days in advance, and then we plan how to make the most of our box. Last year we made mashed potatoes, corn pudding, green beans, sweet potato gratin, fried brussels sprouts, and the obligatory cranberry sauce. Since we were using the produce we would have gotten anyway, we also didn’t spend any extra money for our Thanksgiving feast.

3. Save your scraps

We keep a bag tucked in the freezer door to save veggie scraps. Once it’s full, we put the scraps in a big pot, cover them with water, add herbs and garlic to taste, and simmer on super low for a few hours until we have a perfect veggie stock. You can use the stock right away or freeze it to use later. Thanksgiving is a perfect time to do this, and you can even throw scraps in the slow cooker and have stock ready in time to make gravy. If you have a turkey, do this the next day with turkey bones instead of veggie scraps.

4. Leftovers Can be for Anytime

I know some people don’t love leftovers. It definitely gets old eating the same meal over and over again for a week. That can drive anyone to give up and order a regrettable amount of Chinese food that just makes the leftover problem worse (not that we’re speaking from experience, we just heard this from a friend). One way to repurpose Thanksgiving leftovers so they still feel fresh and fun is to have them for breakfast. Toss some turkey in an omelet, make mashed potatoes into cakes and top them with a poached egg, or make one of our favorites: sweet potato pancakes topped with cranberry sauce. Just pop ¾ c mashed sweet potatoes with 1 ½ c pancake mix, 2 T oil, and 1 c. water.

We hope these tips help you and your family and friends have a beautiful zero-waste Thanksgiving! Keep the tips coming and let us know how you’ll fight food waste this holiday!

Friday Links – 9/15/2017

Just a small sampling of what we’re reading over the weekend.

Are you a vegetarian or vegan, but miss bacon? Give this eggplant bacon from The First Mess a shot. It’s not exactly the same, but it’s a lot better than I ever would have expected.

These Mexi Cauliflower Stuffed Peppers from Sprouted Kitchen look so delicious that I’m actually angry that I’m not eating them right now.

Finally, a couple of recipes that are all about countering food waste. One of our own anti-food waste recipes is our no-waste curry, which is super tasty. But for real, food waste costs real people real money, and puts extra strain on our food system. Where you can, try to cut food waste out of your life.

The Karate Kids

We like to try to introduce the kids to new, fun activities when we can. Over the summer they did soccer and had a great time with it. We also did swimming lessons at the Y. They enjoy doing yoga with mommy. This time we wanted to mix it up, so we asked them if they wanted to do karate.

It was only after a few days of them going absolutely nuts at the prospect that we realized they had no idea what karate actually was. Parenting includes some unforeseen pitfalls, like presuming your kids know what they’re talking about.

This week they had their second class together, and Google is also telling me it’s actually Tae Kwon Do. I mean, I guess at their age it’s not technically anything other than barely controlled chaos, but they have a lot of fun doing it.

Watson takes a little while to warm up, and then once he does, he gets really into everything and doesn’t want to leave. Vivian wants to hold my hand through everything, even exercises where she’s supposed to use the hand I’m holding to punch something. And poor Freddy’s just along for the ride, grumbling as I lug him around while helping the older two with their class.

It’s a challenge to wrangle three young kids at a martial arts class by myself, but the instructors are really helpful, and Watson’s friend’s parents help out too, and the kids make it really a joy even when it’s frustrating and hard.

This Week’s Hungry Harvest

We like to take a nice picture of our Hungry Harvest vegetable spread each week, and this week’s was beautiful. Cherry tomatoes, cauliflower, iceberg lettuce, Anaheim peppers, endives, cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, spring greens, green beans, broccolini, and eggplant (including the biggest eggplant we’ve ever seen!

If you’re interested in Hungry Harvest, click our referral link and you and we both will get a little discount!

Sometimes You’ve Just Gotta Improvise

Sometimes you have grand plans to feed your kids some nice healthy vegan shepherds’ pie when you get home. You’ll let the kids play together and then put them down for a peaceful bedtime, and relax for a few minutes, proud of the parenting you’ve done.

But then sometimes your car breaks down before you get home and you just have to thank your lucky stars that you’re right next to a pizza place.

Eating Local – Baltimore Breakfast

We’re not natives to Baltimore (actually, our kids are, which is sort of weird to think about), but we’ve fallen in love with a lot about it. It’s a scrappy city with a lot of character and a lot of great food. We like to eat local when we can, and Baltimore gives us a lot of great healthy options.

First up is Zeke’s Coffee, a small batch Baltimore coffee roaster. Zeke’s is everywhere here, and it’s not just because they’re local. They roast a mean bean, they source sustainably, and they make a whole bunch of different varieties to cater to individual tastes. This week we were feeling like the world needed some peace, love, and understanding, so we went with the Hippie Blend. Neither of us knows enough to speak super knowledgeably about taste, but we can say with confidence that Twin Peaks‘s Agent Dale Cooper would think it was a damn fine cup of coffee.

Next up, Michele’s Granola. In keeping with the hippie theme, we went with Ginger Hemp flavor. Michele’s is a local granola maker based in Timonium, just north of Baltimore. Their products are eco-friendly and healthy delicious, and come in a pretty wide variety of flavors. Every one we’ve had has been a crunchy bit of delight to add to some yogurt in the morning, or even just on its own as a snack.

Any local food that you enjoy, either local to Baltimore or wherever you are? Let us know!