Category Archives: snacks

CORE Warrior Meals Review

Nothing like winter sailing on the bay!

 

My life has been creeping up into the realm of exorbitantly busy of the last few months. I went from working 2-3 days a week to full-time – 5 days a week – for the first time in my life! I know, I know, I’m a wimp.

When you’re trying to live an active, healthy lifestyle, work can sometimes get in the way. No more writing papers and reading stacks of books at home (my graduate school pattern) – no more painfully boring but totally unstructured unemployment! My typical days now looks something like this:

5 – 5:30 am – wake up, bike to the gym for either swim practice or weights with my husband. I’ve left the house for good at this point.

7:30 – bike from the gym to the BART station and take the train to work.

8:15-8:30 – stop at a cafe by the museum for coffee before heading to my desk. This is when I eat breakfast: at my desk once I get to work. I get there a tad early so I can relax for a few minutes with my coffee and overnight oats.

8:30 am – 5 pm: work! I always go outside for lunch, which I pack every day.

5 – 5:45 pm – BART and bike home

…till 9:30 or 10 pm – make and eat dinner; make my lunch and Lee’s lunch for the next day (usually interspersed with making dinner); gather my gym gear and work clothes for the next day; sit down on the couch for 5 seconds while I eat dessert; go to bed.

That’s my action-packed day (hah!). As you can see, 2 out of 3 meals and many snacks are eaten on the go. That means I’m really packing breakfast, lunch, and snacks every evening. I’ve become pretty efficient at this but there is always room for improvement. My breakfast, for example, is almost always overnight oats (made with greek yogurt and chia seeds + pumpkin this time of year and eaten with a banana). I get my leisurely bowls of hot oatmeal on the weekends. When pressed for time, however, it’s really nice to have a grab-and-go alternative for breakfast.

That’s where CORE Foods comes in! I met CORE at the DailyBuzz Food blogger fest in the fall. Their tiny little samples of wonderfully simple meal bars won me over right away. According to the CORE website, Each pack is one full bowl of raw oatmeal-to go. Oatmeal I don’t have to assemble or cook?! Sign me up! These aren’t you’re average sugar laden granola bars or protein bars packed with artificial ingredients either. CORE bars are made of what I’d actually put in my bowl every morning: oats, nuts, fruit…5-7 locally grown ingredients.

Image Source: CORE Foods

The company, which is a nonprofit, recommends drinking two glasses of water along with your CORE meal. That makes for a fully-fueled, satisfied belly for a good long while.

I sat down to my desk with my Warrior Meal, a banana, coffee, and water. I tried to eat the bar slowly and mindfully, as I tend to wolf-down things like this. The bar was good! I loved the chewy consistency and natural level of sweetness. I had a fantastic breakfast without the preparation and bulky container to transport. All three flavors were great and contained just the right amount of breakfast calories for me when paired with some fruit. They bars also held up well in my bag: no squished, melted stuff here.

An even better use for a Warrior Meal: breakfast on the ski bus on the way to Tahoe last weekend! I woke up starving after sleeping for the first half of the drive (4:30-6:30 am) and was so, so glad I’d brought my own, real-food breakfast. The Warrior Meal gave me much better lasting energy for snowboarding that the crappy bus-provided breakfast would have.

Since CORE bars aren’t loaded with preservatives, they store best at cold temperatures – at least in the fridge but the freezer is best. I’d like to add a box of these bars to my freezer for easy meals but I might have to get a bigger freezer first (mine is painfully tiny)!

 

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Sticky Sentimentality

I wrote this last week before leaving on a limited-internet-access vacation. By the time this post is published, our trip will be almost over and we might be cursing the snow but I bet we’ll be fantasizing about moving back to the mountains.

A taste of what’s to come.

Tomorrow Lee and I are boarding a plane for Denver, the city where we met. I anticipate heavy sentimentality saturating this vacation. We’ll be spending time in the mountains where so many of our early dates (and by dates I mean expeditions) took place. Maybe we’ll drive past places we used to live, restaurants where we ate together, sights we knew.

Unfortunately, this kind of thing makes me very sad. I inherited this morose nostalgia from my father. Even looking back to see happy memories makes me sad that those experiences are over. I suppose this has something to do with my inability to live in and enjoy the present…gonna have to work on that.

In an effort to rescue myself and this vacation from despondency, I thought I’d share a little bit of my happy memories from the Colorado era of my life. I moved to Denver for graduate school in 2007, landed a career-changing internship with the National Park Service in the summer of 2008, and met my future husband in the same month.

I look back on that time as the happiest of my life. Lee and I went on adventures in the mountains together. We had season ski passes and spent almost every weekend doing something active outdoors. We spent time at my family’s cabin and dragged my dog up a few 14ers. I had good friends in my graduate program and landed a series of jobs in my field.

I wouldn’t say that I’ve been unhappy since I left Colorado, life has just been more complicated. I left the hardest part of graduate school (writing my thesis) for after we moved back east. Once that was behind me, the years Lee and I spent travelling on our boat were simultaneously wonderful and excruciatingly difficult. We got married (yay!) but we also put our relationship and our individual strengths to the test.

Fruit cake, this month’s recipe swap dish, is sticky sentimentality manifested in food. I think of it as being saturated with buttery, sweet, dense, richness – everything that a holiday treat should be. I also associate fruit cake with vintage cookbooks, something I’ve been up to my ears in lately. We found two more boxes of my grandmother’s cookbooks and I’ve been drooling over the little time capsules of culinary history.

A James Beard cookbook that my great aunt gave my grandmother on her 39th birthday caught my eye first but it was The Southern Hospitality Cookbook that ended up on my lap one evening. I paged through recipes for Southern classics and wondered which of them Helen had made. Moussaka, of all things, was bookmarked but I found my way to a simple recipe for cranberry bread. I had fresh cranberries (from the CSA, of course) in my fridge. I had almost all the ingredients. As Lee would say, done and done.

This is not a fruit cake. It bears no resemblance to the classic fruit cake recipe Christianna sent us for this month’s recipe swap. True, it is festive, but it lacks the sticky-sweet sentimentality of fruit cake. Maybe that’s for the best. Clearly I don’t need any more nostalgia in my life.

I know my fellow recipe swappers will give you a dose of the traditional and untraditional fruit cake you crave!



Cranberry Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil or softened butter
  • 3/4 cup pineapple or orange juice
  • 1 large egg
  • Seeds scraped from one vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon grated orange rind are nice additions.
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 cups chopped fresh cranberries (a food processor is great for this!)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. If melting coconut oil, place in oven in an oven safe dish.
  3. Oil one 9X5 loaf pan or several smaller pans.
  4. In a large bowl, stir dry ingredients (first 6) together with a whisk or fork.
  5. Cut in coconut oil or butter with a whisk, two knives, or a pastry blender.
  6. Beat egg, juice, and vanilla bean, if using, together in a separate bowl.
  7. Add liquid ingredients to dry, stirring until just moistened.
  8. Fold in pecans and cranberries
  9. Pour mixture into prepared loaf pan(s). The batter is rather thick so you might need to spread it around a little bit.
  10. Bake for 30-35 minutes for mini loaves and 45 minutes to 1 hour for a large loaf, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean and the top is slightly brown.
  11. Cool on a rack before slicing.

Notes

Adapted from The Southern Hospitality Cookbook

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Carrot…pie? A Recipe Swap and a giveaway!

Perhaps I reacted to this month’s Burwell General Store Recipe Swap recipe a little differently than most people. I was ready to cook up some carrots and bake a pie! Carrot pie sounded like another delicious variation of some of my favorite pies: pumpkin and sweet potato. Could carrot pie be even better because of what it has in common with carrot cake (my absolute favorite)?

I wanted to find out whether another orange vegetable would make a lovely, fall-flavored pie so I decided to stick closely to the original recipe. That turned out to be pretty easy, since the recipe was so vague that I didn’t have a rigid ingredient list to follow. It reads something like an oral history gathered by some culinary folklorist. Can I have that job, please?

I steamed “the carrots”, added them to milk and eggs, sweetened them with sugar, and added cinnamon for spice. That wasn’t all, of course. The full recipe is at the bottom of this post. My take on carrot pie includes ricotta cheese and allspice but no crust. I gave up baking custard pies in crust long ago. All I want is the filling so baking that in little ramekins or muffin cups makes dessert much more enjoyable to me.

Individual custard cups may not be quite as pretty as a whole pie and sometimes it’s nice to have some crunch with your silky-smooth filling. That’s where this bag of granola comes in!

I happened to have a bag of Cherry Berry Granola in my pantry from the NatureBox each blogger received as part of the Foodbuzz Festival gift bag. NatureBox delivers a monthly package of healthy snacks anywhere you need them (in the U.S.). They come in neat little resealable pouches and have already saved me from a snack black hole at least once. I love the dried fruit, nut mix, and Blueberry Almond Bites but I’m especially excited about the granola, since it’s on the light side – just how I like granola – with a good ratio of oats to whole almonds and dried berries.

The crunchy granola was a perfect topping for my carrot custard, which was still warm and gooey when I snacked on it yesterday afternoon. It was reminiscent of pumpkin or sweet potato pie but with more substance, thanks to the ricotta cheese, and plenty of flavor from the vanilla bean and spices. Lee and I did a bike/run brick workout that morning so I snacked for the rest of the day. The rest of my little carrot pies went in the fridge for weeknight desserts.

 

If you’d like to try some healthy, convenient snacks for yourself, NatureBox has generously offered one of their future month’s boxes to one of my lucky readers! All you have to do is comment on this post telling my where and when you most need a snack during the day. The winner will be chosen at random from those comments. One entry per person, please. I will announce the winner in 1 week. At this time, NatureBox can only deliver to U.S. addresses and cannot customize box contents. Be sure to check out the NatureBox Blog for delicious recipes and snack ideas!

You’ll also find inventive recipes inspired by carrot pie from my fellow recipe swappers below.



Little Crustless Carrot Pies

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 6 half-cup ramekins

Ingredients

  • 3 medium-sized carrots
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese*
  • 1/4 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar, brown sugar, or other sweetener of choice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cut carrots into 1 inch chunks and steam until tender.
  3. Puree carrots in a food processor or using a hand blender.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the eggs.
  5. Add ricotta cheese, milk, sugar, spices, salt, and vanilla, stirring with a whisk until well blended.
  6. Add carrots and stir until combined.
  7. Pour batter into ramekins coated with a little oil or silicone muffin liners. Place these on a baking sheet.
  8. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until the center of each pie is solid and the edges begin to pull away from the dish.
  9. Cool on a wire rack until ready to eat.
  10. Pies may be served warm or chilled, topped with granola, cookie crumbs, or even whipped cream. If using muffin cups, you may remove pies form the cups before serving as long as they are significantly cooled.

Notes

* Yogurt or pureed tofu may be substituted for ricotta.

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