Pb&J Muffins

My Pepere and I tend to think a lot alike, especially when it comes to the topic of food.

For example…

1. We don’t like pasta (unless it involves sauce and meatballs, and then it’s okay)

2. We need to walk or run every single morning in order to “clear our brain.”

3. “Bread should be crispy.” (I’m pretty sure we got this from Memere)

4. We eat with gusto and with sheer enthusiasm (and as a result, we have many post-meal crumbs to show for it.)

5. Americanized Chinese food is gross.  Lobster rolls are amazing.

6. Summer isn’t complete until you’ve gone blueberry picking.

And.

7. Peanut butter goes good on everything.  Everything!!

So.

Why not put peanut butter inside everything?

Like muffins.

I may as well just have called my blog the “simple muffin.”

Because you’ll be seeing a lot of these (I hope you don’t mind!)

Muffins are easy to make, easy to pack and even easier to eat.  And when you get the ingredients just right, you’ll be greeted with a deliciously nutritious muffin that respects both your tastebuds and your healthy eating goals.  Muffins can be a wonderful way to sneak more whole grains and fiber into your day as well (one more perk: adding one of these to your lunch bags is a nice way to convince yourself that you don’t really need that supersized muffin at Monday morning’s coffee meeting.)

These peanut butter infused muffins are everything you love about a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, packaged neatly into the shape of a muffin.

I think they’re amazing.

I think Pepere would agree.

(I bet you will too!)

Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins – (Optionally Gluten Free, low FODMAP, Optionally Vegan)

I sometimes have to use more almond flour than other times, depending on how much it weighs down.  If your batter mixture looks too thin/runny, add in some extra almond flour until it meets the expected consistency.  Don’t worry, since there is no gluten in this recipe, you will find that the extra mixing won’t ruin your finished product.

  • 1 cup oat flour (use gluten free oats for Gluten Free version) *see note on making your own oat flour
  • 3/4-1 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/4 cups almond milk (or other milk)
  • 1/3 cup chunky, all natural peanut butter
  • 2 eggs (use egg replacement if vegan)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup raspberry jam
  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, sugar, and baking powder in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine milk and next 4 ingredients (through vanilla); add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.  Add more almond flour as needed if mixture seems too thin.
  3. Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Fill each cup half full with batter. Spoon 1 teaspoon jam into each cup. Spoon remaining batter on top to cover jam. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Let cool in pan 5 minutes. Remove from pan, and cool on a wire rack.

Roasted Red Potatoes w/ Pesto.

We’ve been having some crazy rain showers here in New England.  They’ve been completely random too; this morning it was pouring at the same time that the sun was shining.

I literally had a rainbow jumping over my house.

The rain finally broke, just long enough for me to dash outside and grab some herbs from the herb garden, before the rain started plummeting to the earth once again.  We have mint, oregano, rosemary, etc. growing out there, but I truly (sadly!) only use two of the herbs in any full capacity: chives and basil.

I find basil to be the most intoxicating of all the herbs.  During the warm summer months, I like to hang bunches of it in the kitchen, taking in the fragrant aromas that easily make their way throughout the house.  Basil is so fragrant and yet so gentle all at the same time.  I absolutely adore it.

Basil is full of nutrients too (it is, after all, a dark green, leafy vegetable!)  And it can be used in a myriad of different ways.  Basil hummus.  Basil, tomato, mozzarella sandwiches.  Pesto eggs.  Etc. and so on and so forth.

This recipe is, quite simply, diced red potatoes smothered in pesto and then roasted.  I’ve been known to eat this as my main meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  But most often, I enjoy it with a side of scrambled eggs or tofu or fish and some sauteed veggies.  To be completely balanced, you know. 😉

Simply delicious.

Roasted Red Potatoes w/ Pesto
(Gluten Free, Optionally Vegan, Low FODMAP)

There are a million and one different recipes for pesto out there, but I’ve used this version for as long as I can remember.  If you have another favorite pesto recipe, go with that one.  If not, give this one a try!

If you have a nut allergy, nix the nuts.  They’re not necessary.  To make this recipe vegan, get rid of the cheese.  You might even consider adding some black olives to give the recipe a briny flavor.  Feel free to make it your own.

  • 2 large handfuls of basil
  • drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (about 2 Tbsp.)
  • handful of walnuts (or pine nuts, if I have ’em)
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • squirt of lemon juice
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 pounds red potatoes, diced
  1. Heat oven to 400.
  2. In a food processor or blender, blend basil through the salt and pepper.  Add more oil if mixture seems too dry.  Place in large bowl.
  3. Add diced potatoes to bowl and stir well to combine.  Place on cookie sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray and bake for 20-30 minutes, stirring once or twice throughout the cooking time.  Let them get crispy and golden and delicious and enjoy!

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

I tried to convince myself that you’d probably rather talk about something else other than muffins (yet again!!)  But.  Well.  This particular recipe was practically begging for your attention, so muffins it is!

(For the record, I make at least two batches of muffins per week…they’re the poster child for a perfectly portable snack!)

This particular muffin starts with oatmeal flour.

Which is easy enough to make on your own, if your kitchen just so happens to be blessed with the presence of a food processor.  It doesn’t have to be fancy and you certainly don’t need a Vitamix (sigh)  Simply throw some rolled oats in any ol’ processor, whiz it up for about 20 seconds or less and voila!  Oatmeal flour.

Next up?

Bananas.

I like to keep big bags of frozen (and very RIPE) bananas in the freezer for moments like this.  Then I pull them out, nuke them for about 30 seconds and use them as I would a fresh banana.

Put those speckled bananas to good use!

These muffins are vegan.

And gluten free.

And incredibly nutritious, with oats and fruit and healthy fats.

Oh and delicious.  Which is all that you really need to know.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins – makes 12 muffins
(Gluten Free, Low FODMAP, Vegan)

I tweaked the original recipe as seen at the blog Real Food, Allergy Free.  If you have Celiac Disease, use gluten free oats.  If you want a vegan recipe, make sure that the chocolate chips are milk-free and certified vegan.

If you’re simply looking for a nutritious, delicious recipe, follow this recipe as is!

  • 4 very ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 3/4 cup oat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt (optional; eliminate if you are trying to reduce the sodium in your diet)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Grease or line a 12 muffin pan.
  2. Blend bananas, oil and maple syrup in a large bowl.  Leave the bananas chunky if you want little pieces in your muffin.
  3. Whisk dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
  4. Add dry mixture to wet mixture and mix just until blended.  Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Fill muffin tins about 2/3 full.
  6. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown and firm to touch.

QUESTION: What are you favorite muffin mix-ins?

The FODMAP Approach

You may have noticed that some of the recipes I’ve been posting lately are noted to be “FODMAP Friendly.”  I figured that it might be a good time to talk a little bit more about what this means and why it’s worth mentioning.

FODMAP is an acronym that stands for a collection of carbohydrates in the foods that you eat (it actually stands for Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols, but you don’t really need to know that!!).  There is an ever growing list of foods that have these FODMAPS (and those that don’t,) but here are just a few examples of foods that do: wheat, onions, beans, cabbage, etc.

For people with IBS symptoms, FODMAPS can increase distention of the stomach and contribute to some of the other not-so-lovely symptoms.  Why?  These carbohydrate offenders are oftentimes poorly absorbed and are then used as “food” for the bacteria that naturally live in your gut (which also creates gas.)

So.

What’s the big deal?

Nothing.  Nothing for people who don’t have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, that is.  But if you have been diagnosed with this oftentimes debilitating disease, then this diet may be your solution.  There are several books (and dietitians!) to help you personalize the diet, with the basic principle of finding out (a) if lowering foods high in FODMAPS will help your symptoms, (b) how much of the foods with FODMAPS you can tolerate and (c) how to make your IBS as manageable as possible while keeping you sane.

My own personal story with IBS started when I was really little.  I remember having bad “tummy aches” and having to lie down after dinner (especially during the holidays.)  I remember thinking that I looked like I had a watermelon in my stomach by the end of the day.  My stomach would often feel as if it was at war with itself, gurgling and cramping and aching.  I even went through a period of dramatic weight loss in my teens, all because I felt better when I was hungry vs. when I had a belly full of food!

Fast forward to this past year, when I finally decided to give the FODMAP Diet a try.  I eliminated all of the high-FODMAP foods for two weeks and the end result was more than I could have hoped for.  Stomach distention?  Cramps?  Almost completely gone.  I had to give up a lot of my favorite foods (kale, brussels sprouts, baked beans, soy milk etc.) and reduce the amount I ate of some others (bananas, blueberries, nuts, etc.)  But it was worth it.

Because for once in my life, my stomach felt…

normal.

After an elimination diet, I’m still working on figuring out exactly the right amount of FODMAPS my body will tolerate and what kinds.  

And.  I’ll be honest.  This diet is a process.  But after the elimination phase (which is when you should feel the difference,) you will slowly reintroduce the foods one at a time so that you can make your diet as variable as possible for optimum health (and sanity!)  I don’t recommend doing this diet on your own; definitely get a dietitian and a gastroenterologist familiar with FODMAPS involved.

If you’re interested in learning more, I highly recommend:

This website: Kate Scarlata 

This book: IBS-Free At Last

And this list of FODMAP foods to get you started: Shopping List

And, of course, always talk with your doctor before attempting anything new.  You shouldn’t do this diet unless you’ve been tested for other diseases such as Celiac, Ulcerative Colitis, etc.  Get your doctor/gastroenterologist involved so that you know you’re on the right track towards better health!

(p.s. There are a LOT of websites for FODMAPS out there.  Be sure you know the source of the person authoring the articles of information, as the FODMAP Approach is an evolving science and it is ALWAYS a wise choice to stick with science-based research!)

Cheese Quesadillas

In my purse, you will always find (a) wallet, (b) cell phone (c) a few pens (d) a notebook for keeping track of my budget (e) gum or mints and (f) a snack.

That (f) snack is usually a simple baggie of almonds.  Maybe a trail mix of sorts.  Or some Mary’s Gone Crackers for when the munchies hit.  My body feels at its best when I can eat every 3-4 hours, and I like to stay prepared for those times when lunch comes late or when I’m at work longer than anticipated.

So, yes.  You could say that my snacks stay pretty consistent.

Except fort when I’m home.  That’s when I like to mix things up a little…

I found these brown rice tortillas at Trader Joe’s a couple months ago and have fallen in love with them.

Why?

They make for an awesome cheese quesadilla. 😉

These wraps are decently low in sodium (160mg per wrap) and have 2g protein and 2g fiber per wrap as well.  I like to amp up that protein/fiber level by adding cheese and tomatoes.

Now that all those fresh veggies are popping up at farmer’s markets (and perhaps your own backyard!), feel free to go all crazy with the amount of vegetables you add.  Sauteed kale or spinach would also be a nice addition.

In addition to falling in love with these brown rice tortillas, I’ve also fallen in love with chives.

Chives are ridiculously easy to grow and spread like wild fire (i.e., find some people who will take a few plants off your hands in the next couple of years after planting them!)  Chopped up into a million and one little pieces, chives add such pizzazz to any savory dish or snack.

Cheese Quesadilla (Gluten Free, Low FODMAP)

(Serves 1)

Serve with a dab of plain greek yogurt, salsa and/or guacamole if desired.  Although I enjoy this for a snack, it also makes a nice side for a bowl of soup or a freshly tossed salad.  Enjoy!

  • 1 Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Tortilla (or whole wheat alternative)
  • 1 Slice of Swiss Cheese
  • 4-6 thin slices of tomato, dabbed with a paper towel to remove extra liquid
  • chives
  • cooking spray
  1. Coat a nonstick frying pan with cooking spray.  Heat to medium.
  2. Slice the cheese in half and place each half on one side of the tortilla.  Top with tomato slices so that tomatoes cover the entire half of a tortilla.  Fold tortilla in half and place on pre-heated frying pan.
  3. Cook for 3-5 minutes.  Flip.  Continue to cook for another 3-5 minutes or until golden browned and cheese has melted.  Top with chives and enjoy!

QUESTION: What are your favorite snacks “to-go”?  How about when you’re home?