So I have recently tried a few new food items, all of which I loved, and have incorporated into my regular eats. The first is almond butter. This delicious and natural peanut butter alternative has become a regular feature for breakfast and lunch, replacing the peanut butter in my favorite sweet sandwich (peanut butter and sliced strawberries on an English muffin). It tastes so much fresher and nuttier than your typical jar of Skippy, and I love that you can actually taste that it was made from almonds. I will warn those of you who have not tried it that processed peanut butter is sweet, you may not think of it as an especially sweet food, but after tasting a natural nut butter, with no added sweeteners, I would most definitely count it as sweet.
The second item on my list is another almond product. It is unsweetened almond milk. I used to be an avid soy milk drinker, but always felt it was too watery and too sweet to compete with plain old-fashioned milk. But almond milk is surprisingly creamy. It also has a distinct nutty flavor. I really liked it, I don't know how much of the plain variety I could drink straight, but I loved it in my morning cereal and in the very simple smoothie recipe below. I am looking forward to trying the chocolate variety (45 calories for a glass of chocolate milk, you just can't beat that!).
Strawberry Banana Crunch smoothie:
1 cup of Almond Breeze (plain, unsweetened)
1/2 to 1 cup of strawberries (depending on flavor preference, start with less you can always add more)
1/2-1 large banana (again, the choice is yours)
1 short squeeze of honey
1 small handful of your favorite granola
Blend everything except the granola and ice. Taste and make any fruit quantity adjustments. Blend in ice, about 1 glassful should do, less if you like it creamier. When the smoothie is the flavor and consistency you like add in granola and give it another blend. Pour into a glass and enjoy! The granola blended up in the smoothie gives it such a satisfying crunch.
The final new thing I tried, isn't really new, I had just never cooked it before. It was quinoa, which is a hearty grain. In taste and texture I find that it is most similar to kasha (as in kasha and bow-ties, not the cereal). I love the consistency, fluffy but with a slight crunch. It tastes delicious savory or sweet. I bought a red, pre-rinsed variety. And I made a tasty little side dish from it.
1 cup of dry Quinoa
2 cup of chicken stock or broth
1 tbsp of olive oil
2 small shallots
3 cloves of garlic
salt and pepper
1/4 cup of raisins, chopped figs, and/or chopped dates
In a small pot heat the olive oil and lightly brown the shallots and garlic, and cook down, about 5 minutes. Then add the stock and bring to a boil. Add the quinoa and reduce heat to simmer and cover pot. Allow to cook until quinoa is done 15-20 minutes (an exact time should be on the bag or box). Stir in dried fruit and fluff an serve.
Well that was my exciting week of new discoveries...