Hazelnut Chocolate Banana Smoothies

Hazelnut Chocolate Banana Smoothies

Smoothies and summertime go together like...chocolate and bananas :) Today's crazy easy recipe is for a refreshing smoothie that will satisfy your sweet tooth while remaining on the healthier side. 

Nutiva is one of my favorite organic plant-food companies. Their products are well-priced, delicious, and their brand is transparent. Recently, Nutiva sent me some samples of their new Organic Hazelnut Spread, which comes in Classic and Dark flavors. Despite the rich, decadent flavor, it contains 40% less sugar than the leading brand, and comes in jars or packets for on-the-go snacking! I love the individual packaging because they're so easy to use and help with portion control. On top of all that, they're gluten free and vegan :) 

Today I decided to whip up some smoothies - all you need to do is blend your favorite milk, some ice, a banana, and some Nutiva Organic Hazelnut Spread together and you're in smoothie heaven. Add in some chia, honey, other fresh fruit, or chopped chocolate to make it extra decadent. Let's get blending :) 

Steam / Sautéed Vegetables - The Easiest Way to Prepare Flavorful, Al Dente Veggies

Steam / Sautéed Vegetables - The Easiest Way to Prepare Flavorful, Al Dente Veggies

The best things often happen out of sheer necessity, or like I've said before, laziness :) I grew up being told that boiling vegetables took all of the nutrition out of them, and so as I got older and started to cook for myself, I started cooking vegetables this way. I would heat a large skillet with a bit of extra virgin olive oil, add my vegetables, and a few splashes of chicken broth (always keep a few cartons stocked!) and seasoning. I would cover the vegetables so that the broth would steam the veggies and give them a bit of a "head start". This worked - steaming them for a few minutes would cook them just through, and then I would remove the lid and sauté the veg to get some color on them. 

To step it up, you could use this basic method and switch up the seasoning or sauces you use. My favorite combo is to skip the salt and add oyster sauce while the vegetables are steaming. Once the broth evaporates, the oyster sauce cooks down and helps to add nice toasty, flavorful bits to the ends of your greens. I've also used this method to cook Maple Glazed Carrots in minutes on the stove for the holidays. In that recipe, you steam the carrots in broth and salt, and then sauté with some maple syrup, black pepper, flaky sea salt, a bit of butter, and finish with parsley. You get the idea - this is a simple master recipe that you can use and adapt to your liking. 

Little did I know that this seemingly made-up method of cooking vegetables is known as steam/sautéing. I am glad that it's actually a thing! I hope you give it a try - here's a quick video recipe and guide! Let's get cookin

Broiled Honey Soy Salmon

Broiled Honey Soy Salmon

My absolute favorite way of preparing salmon is broiling. I only recently discovered this method over this past year or so. As my kitchen in my Hong Kong apartment is simply equipped with a hot plate, microwave, and toaster oven, I have really learned some new cooking techniques. For the first 4-6 months I had been living here, I didn't touch the toaster oven. I grew up with a toaster oven but we only really used it for well, toasting things. English Muffins, melting cheese, etc. I don't know why it took me so long to realize that a toaster oven can do everything a real oven can. Bake, roast, broil. It's incredible and the reason why there have been so many toaster oven recipes on the blog this year, lol! 

Broiling salmon sounds so...aggressive. However, once you've got the timing down pat, you are in for the flakiest, butteriest (is that a word?), moist, and tender salmon ever. The amount of time needed to broil a piece of salmon simply depends on its size (and thickness). I find that a normal fillet takes between 5-8 minutes. The finished fish will be firm but still bounce back to the touch. Any time I have broiled it beyond 8 minutes, the flesh will lean towards rubbery and over-cooked. Again, play with timing for yourself.

My favorite preparation for salmon is simply salt and pepper, and then served with tons of lemon juice after it's cooked. I feel like simple seasoning allows the real flavor of the fish to come out, especially when it's perfectly cooked. And of course, you need a ton of acid with fish. Today I'm sharing a simple classic marinade for salmon that you can enjoy with brown rice and veggies. Simply whisk it together and marinade the fish for at least half an hour. Of course, the longer the better. When it comes time to cook, prepare everything else in the meal first, since the fish will only take 5-8 minutes. You can prepare more marinade on the side, to warm and thicken for serving if you'd like. 

Microwave Sweet Potato Mash

Microwave Sweet Potato Mash

I've been making Sweet Potato Mash this way since high school. Some of my favorite recipes come about from a bit of laziness. :) This method really celebrates the sweet potato for all of its natural beauty and can be made while you're making the rest of your meal. Here in my apartment in Hong Kong, I have one induction plate, vs 6 burners at home in the States. This has really changed the way I cook, especially when it comes to timing and the order in which I cook things. It's nice to have the option to prepare a satisfying side dish like this one, in the microwave while I cook something else on the induction plate.

The incredible sweetness of the flesh on its own blows my mind every time. Normally, I just prepare the mashed sweet potato with flaky sea salt and cracked black pepper, but today I'll show you how adding a bit of freshly grated ginger and a dash of cinnamon can elevate this simple side dish to something really special. There's no need to add tons of cream or fancy ingredients when the flavor of the sweet potato is so vibrant on its own.

Matcha Chia Pudding

Matcha Chia Pudding

I live for simple recipes. Being able to throw a few ingredients together to create something special and tasty is my type of cooking, haha. Chia pudding is so incredibly easy to make, and its versatility makes it even more appealing. Check out my Raspberry, and Mint Chocolate Chia Pudding recipes! My favorite version of this pudding is plain chocolate (so awesome with bananas), but you can add virtually any flavor to plain chia pudding to use seasonal fruit, or satisfy your cravings. Mangoes are coming into season, and can't wait to enjoy some juicy, sweet mango pudding. 

Matcha powder is a fine, velvety powder made from high grade green tea leaves. Matcha contains 137 times more antioxidants than green tea, and the flavor shifts from grassy to sweet. Matcha pairs beautifully with dark chocolate, almond, white chocolate, and raspberry. Adding matcha powder to your traditional chia pudding livens it up, bringing a wonderful earthiness to this breakfast/dessert. Watch the video below and let's get cookin! 

Broiled Grapefruit with Honeyed Yogurt and Granola

Broiled Grapefruit with Honeyed Yogurt and Granola

Grapefruit is available year-round, but reaches peak season starting around Christmas, thru April. This zesty citrus has really climbed to the top of my list of favorite fruits. I love them in Palomas, summer salads, or as a simple breakfast or snack. This week's recipe is a really delicious way to enjoy this beautiful citrus - sprinkling a mixture of brown sugar, ground ginger, cinnamon, and salt over top halved grapefruits, and putting them under the broiler for 3-5 minutes to achieve golden, caramelized perfection. The sugary topping adds some warmth and spice to this tart fruit. Snack on the broiled grapefruit alone, or with greek yogurt swirled with a drizzle of honey. I love adding Nature's Path Flax Plus Pumpkin Flax Granola on top for some texture :) Watch the video below to find out how! 

Crack Broccoli - The Best Broccoli You'll Ever Eat

Crack Broccoli - The Best Broccoli You'll Ever Eat

This is the best broccoli you'll ever eat. Roasting is such a delicious way to prepare veggies, and broccoli absolutely transforms when cooked in a hot oven. They turn golden brown, the stalks turn tender, and their flavor is enhanced. When roasting any vegetables, it's super simple: don't be afraid of oil & salt! Don't skimp, and toss the vegetables so that they're properly coated in oil and seasoning. 

This roasted broccoli really wakes up the taste buds. Flaky sea salt, cracked black pepper, and thinly sliced garlic are the base for great seasoning, but what really brings this broccoli up a notch is the addition of shichimi. Shichimi Togarashi is a Japanese blend of seven spices that varies depending on the region or cook. The typical ingredients include sansho (Sichuan pepper), dried citrus peel, sesame seeds, ginger, garlic, shiso, nori, hemp seeds, and chiles. This mixture is wonderful on meat, noodles, rice, and fried foods. I love adding shichimi to my eggs or on top of my avocado toast!

After the broccoli is roasted, finish it off with a good squeeze of lemon juice and fresh lemon zest for some good brightness and acid. The cake topper is tossing in shaved Parmesan cheese for some nuttiness. This recipe works well for regular weeknight dinners, or as a side for entertaining. There's no need to measure a ton of ingredients - just toss it all together and roast it off in the oven for 15 minutes :)

Raspberry Chia Pudding

Raspberry Chia Pudding

Chia pudding is one of the easiest ways to work superfoods into your diet - not to mention how incredibly tasty and versatile it is to make! It takes virtually 5 minutes to whip together, and then all you've got to do is have enough patience to let it chill in the fridge for a few hours. I like to make my pudding at night so that there's no waiting ;) Chia pudding works beautifully as an alternative to overnight oats, cereal, or your morning yogurt for breakfast; or really wonderful as dessert. 

The only thing you need to remember when making chia pudding is a simple ratio of 1 cup milk to 4 tbsp chia seeds. You can use any type of milk, such as coconut, almond, rice, soy, or cow :) You can stir in greek yogurt for some more texture and fluff. When it comes to flavoring your pudding, anything goes! Blend up some fresh fruit, use chocolate, mint, peanut butter, nutella... the list goes on and on. 

An easy treat for Valentine's Day is to toss some raspberries into the blender and add them to your pudding. Serve it with fresh mint, or shaved chocolate for a sweet, healthy treat. Watch the video below to find out how :)

Homemade Hummus

Homemade Hummus

Ok, so I'm never buying store-bought hummus again! I've always heard about how easy it is to make your own hummus at home, but haven't ever given it a try. I recently got a blender during a pretty epic White Elephant, and have been so excited to blend everything. This recipe for hummus is super simple - bright and lemony, and ready to enjoy with carrots, pita, whatever you like. Watch the recipe video below and get blending :) 

Hemp Crusted Chicken Tenders

Hemp Crusted Chicken Tenders

Today I'm sharing a really fun way to get hemp seeds into your families' diet. I am never one to turn down a chicken tender. Seasoned almond flour and hemp seeds are the perfect crust for baked chicken tenders - they turn out deliciously crisp on the outside and are great for dipping. Watch the video recipe below and let's get cookin :)