Posts tagged ‘banana’
It has been humid this past week in Boston, and so I have been craving cold salads and anything frozen. Last summer, I made a heavenly frozen treat that I nick named “Monkey Bites.” When I got around to making them again this summer, I found a way to simplify and clean up the process.
Smart, you say, right? I’d like to say that I am always that on top of my game, but we all know that is not true. More often than not, I am prone to some pretty hilarious blonde moments. Take the time I walked into my grandparent’s glass door in Florida trying to look at the alligator in their lake. They were nice enough to tape a napkin to the door for the rest of the week so I knew my boundaries. In my defense, my grandma is a very clean lady…
When I am not walking into doors or saying silly things, I am at least coming up with creative kitchen ideas! The recipe is about the same: bananas, chocolate, and peanut butter. But the method is simplified and cleaned up with some handy grill skewers. First, cut the bananas into bite sized chunks. Then, thread a few onto a skewer and pop them into the freezer for an hour or two. When they are almost frozen, melt down some chocolate and peanut butter. This is much easier than creating a peanut butter layer on each individual banana piece but still gets you some chocolate and peanut butter-y goodness in every bite!
Then, take the skewers, and rotate the banana pieces in the chocolate, using a spoon to make sure they get fully covered.
Pop ‘em back in the freezer for 20 minutes, then slide ‘em off the sticks and keep in a Tupperware in the freezer! They make a good snack or small dessert bite, perfect for steamy summer days. Enjoy!
Question: Are you prone to blonde moments? Leave a comment telling your funniest silly story!
Smarter than a Monkey Bite
3 medium bananas, very ripe, cut into chunks
3 standard chocolate bars of your choice
2 tbsp peanut butter
6 wooden skewers
Cut the banana into pieces. Slide, with space, onto skewers and freeze. Meanwhile, melt chocolate and peanut butter over a double boiler. Cover each banana piece with chocolate mixture. Freeze for 20 minutes on the skewers, and then remove to a storage container. See text of post for more detailed instructions.
My family has an odd tradition. Okay, so maybe we have a lot of odd traditions… but what family doesn’t? To share one: in my family, the best way to recover from surgery is a chocolate milkshake. Any will do, but the tradition is rooted in the McDonald’s classic. Let’s rewind a bit to see where this came from…
I mentioned in a recent post that I was born with a cleft palate and several craniofacial clefts. I am very open about sharing what I have been through, and in fact have even enjoyed researching and learning more about embryological development in med school. While a cleft palate is common, the other facial clefts are not, and so I was immediately transferred to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. I was blessed to meet some of the most talented plastic surgeons, opthamologists, orthodontists, and other specialists, who were brave enough to push the envelope with new techniques and procedures, allowing me a very normal life. I have had seventeen reconstructive surgeries so far, beginning at the age of three months and spanning through March of this past year, and seem to be done for at least the near future!
At CHOP, the only food option besides the hospital cafeteria is McDonald’s, and so the chocolate milkshake tradition began. I would always request a chocolate milkshake as a reward for being good on a doctor’s visit or for making it through another surgery (and post-surgery hospital Jell-o… yuck!), and my parents would usually oblige! This treat carried me through all of my procedures, and stuck with my mom and sister as they have recently faced the OR as well.
My friend recently went under the knife for the first time, and the least I could do to aid in her recovery was share the chocolate milkshake tradition. Now that I am older, wiser, and a lot less fond of McDonald’s, I decided to experiment with my own version of CCK’s chocolate shake for a healthier recovery milkshake! Whether you are in recovery or just want an excuse for a healthier shake, give this a try!
Question: What is a strange tradition in your family?
Healthier Chocolate Milkshake
1 frozen banana
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp Nutella
6 milk ice cubes
3/4-1 cup milk
2 tbsp cocoa powder
The night or a few hours before, pour milk into an ice cube tray to form frozen milk ice cubes. When ready, combine all ingredients in a blender. Start with 3/4 cup of milk, and then use the last 1/4 cup to adjust consistency. Stir and enjoy!
So happy that it’s Wednesday! The last of our lectures for the cardiovascular section is today, leaving me with just 1 1/2 more days of intense studying and then 3 whole days off… As exciting as a distant long weekend may be, Wednesday is even more exciting because of Jenn’s What I Ate Wednesday Party! Hope you have had some great meals so far this week!
I woke up early and didn’t want to wake my roommate up while banging around the kitchen, so I snacked on a clementine until a more decent hour. When the sun was finally up (even though my roommate still wasn’t!), I decided to try a new oatmeal bake: peanut butter and banana. I mixed 1/2 cup oats with 1/4 cup milk, 1 tsp ground flax, 1 tbsp peanut butter, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1/4 mashed banana. I baked it at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, broiled it for another 2 minutes, and then coated it with another swipe of peanut butter and sliced banana. Paired with a huge cup of coffee, it made for the perfect morning!
I am not usually a salad for lunch kind of girl because I get hungry too quickly after. But my Boston Organics box this week was packed with veggies begging for salad use! I packed myself a big salad with red leaf lettuce, baby spinach, sprouts, carrots, dried cranberries, and balsamic hummus dressing. I always keep the dressing separate when I bring a salad to go so I don’t have leak problems in my backpack en route, and so the lettuce isn’t soggy by the time I get there! No lunch is complete without fruit – a plum and another clementine!
Mid-afternoon snack: 4pm
As predicted, I was hungrier than normal mid-afternoon, after walking to and from school (my bike lock broke, so I am foot mobile until my new one comes!) and spending a lot of brain energy in an exam review. I inhaled this bowl of grapes while settling back down into study-mode.
I am so thankful roommate dinners are back! It is great to cook and share conversation together, and have an excuse to slow down for an hour or two. Plus, we usually make some pretty fantastic food! As we enjoyed a bowl of butternut squash soup with some toast, we decided that fall flavors were our favorite. Pumpkin, squash, apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger – so much warmth in fall food!
If we weren’t convinced of our love for fall enough, this bowl of sugar-free apple crisp sure set us over the edge!
Be sure to come back tomorrow for the Butternut Squash and Apple Soup and the Sugar-Free Apple Crisp recipes!
Question: Are you a seasonal food lover? What is your favorite fall flavor?
A little rain won’t stop me! Azra started her first year of medical school after returning from Bosnia, and although I am sad she is no longer in Boston, I am so excited for her! We had planned weeks ago a time that I could come see her new house and have her cook for me, and the hurricane almost threw a wrench in our plans. While there was definitely some heavy rain at certain points in my drive, the hurricane was still in the Southern East Cost on Saturday night and was not going to get in the way of my Saturday night plans! (We also were both, thankfully, spared from too much storm damage on Sunday, though many people in MA and where I am from in NJ were hit much harder.) I am so glad I got to visit Azra’s new home! Her apartment is gorgeous, especially with our fun housewarming gifts! Melissa, my college roommate and I, got her some houseplants to decorate her room with, similar to ones she had in college. A cactus, and bamboo to balance the feng shui!
Azra made a fantastic Bosnian dinner, breaking out the big guns with a spinach and cheese pie. Her mom had very little faith and even offered to make it for Azra and have me pick it up to bring out, but Azra persisted. She did an excellent job! As good as her mom’s, which is a huge complement!
Even after such a filling dinner, there is always room for dessert! Especially Chocolate Mocha cupcakes, my dessert contribution! I chose these specifically for Azra, knowing her shared love of good coffee. These cupcakes were so good that Azra and I split a second. Good thing they are pretty low in fat and sugar! I searched for a good chocolate cupcake that didn’t need egg since I had none on hand, and could be substituted to use an overripe banana. The good thing about using bananas in place of some of the oil is that it takes out some of the fat and allows you to cut down on added sugar without losing moisture or flavor. This recipe from Erica’s Sweet Tooth was perfect! The cupcake is a little denser, but rich and moist and flavorful. The espresso powder in the cupcake really helps to enhance the cocoa powder, giving it a dark chocolate flavor. And the icing makes the cupcake! Just the perfect amount of sweetness and coffee flavor. I hope you get a chance to make these and enjoy them as much as we did!
Question: What is your favorite flavor combination with chocolate?
Vegan Mocha Chocolate Cupcakes
adapted from Erica’s Sweet Tooth, makes 10 cupcakes
1 cup almond milk
1 tbsp canola oil
1 mashed banana
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsp ground flax seed
1/3 cup cocoa powder
¾ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp instant espresso
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix together almond milk, canola oil, mashed banana, vanilla and sugar. In a separate bowl, mix together the rest of the dry ingredients. Slowly stir the wet into the dry ingredients. Line a cupcake tin with paper cup liners, and fill 2/3 of the way with cupcake batter. Bake for 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
1/4 cup Earth balance buttery stick
1/8 cup coffee
1/2 tsp espresso powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
Brew a cup of coffee. Dissolve espresso powder into 1/8 cup it while still hot (and enjoy the rest!). Place coffee/espresso mix in the fridge to cool. Once cooled, in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the margarine, vanilla and coffee until light and fluffy. With the mixer on medium-low, add the sugar in 3 additions, beating well after each. Spoon icing onto cupcakes smooth with a knife.
If I had it my way, I would make an all out breakfast everyday. I love pancakes, waffles, french toast, frittatas – I am a serious breakfast fiend. Unfortunately, early weekday classes leave no time for elaborate morning preparations. I wish there was a solution to my desire for a healthy, exciting breakfast every morning… oh wait, there is! I have been a huge fan of Kath’s overnight oats all summer, loving the endless variation of toppings and preparations you can include to keep things interesting. They take only a minute or two to put together the night before, take absolutely no time in the morning (especially if you eat it straight out of the jar!) and are a lot lower in sugar and higher in fiber (not to mention cheaper) than most prepared cereals. Cold oatmeal sound weird to you? It freaked me out at first too, but give it a try. It is really a refreshing change from hot oats on a summer morning.
Check out Kath Eats Real Food to see her endless variety of oatmeal toppings and her basic outline for overnight oats. My recent creations have been pretty tasty too, and help keep me full through long mornings of class and studying. I love peanut butter and banana together, and the peach was great with the creamy, cold oats. Chia seeds, which keep appearing in my in overnight oats, take on the texture of mini tapioca balls (like you would find in bubble tea) when they are soaked, which I totally love! They are definitely optional, or could be substituted with ground flax seed for the same omega-3/fiber benefits. My ultimate goal is to make mocha overnight oats, but can’t seem to get the chocolate and coffee ratios right… the experiment will continue. Leave it to a medical student to try to infuse their breakfast with coffee! For any of my fellow stressed out med students, check out this NY Times article that a friend sent my way. He and I both found it inspiration to keep studying for another day :)
Question: What are your favorite oatmeal toppings?
Peanut Butter Banana Overnight Oats
1 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/3 cup oats
1 cup water (or 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup milk)
Combine all ingredients, except banana, in a jar. Let soak in the fridge overnight. In the morning, add half a slice banana.
Perfect Peach Overnight Oats
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/3 cup oats
2/3 cup water (or 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup milk)
3 tbsp vanilla yogurt
sprinkle of cinnamon
2 tbsp granola
Combine the vanilla, chia seeds, oats, and water in a jar overnight. In the morning, mix in the yogurt. Top with the sliced peach, cinnamon and granola clusters.
You already know how much I love breakfast… nothing is better than a steaming bowl of oatmeal and cup of hot coffee, maybe except for pancakes! Pancakes are definitely my favorite weekend treat, and were especially great to carbo-load the Saturday before my big race! The recipe is adapted a little from my homemade pancake mix, with the addition of a little more flour and baking powder to make them a little fluffier. You can leave the banana out if you want an alternative to the silver dollar pancakes I last posted!
The weekend before starting school, I competed in the NYC Triathlon. Crazy, I know. That’s what my mom said when I told her I was signing up more than 6 months ago. “But you’re not an athlete!” was her first reaction. Thanks for the support, Mom! It is true – I was not always so into health and fitness. I grew up taking dance classes my whole life and was generally interested in health and nutrition, but my passion for exercise and healthy eating didn’t really take off until junior or senior year of college. Since then, I have run a 10k and a half marathon, and have been continually looking for ways to push myself just a little further.
Well, this really pushed me! An Olympic distance triathlon is a 1.5-k swim, a 40-k bike, and a 10-k run. In miles, that sums to be 31 in all. Since I already bike around Boston for transportation and run pretty regularly, I figured the only really hard part would be the swim. I trained a lot while I had regular access to a pool, and made a few feeble attempts at swimming during my time at home and abroad. I kept up pretty well with biking and running, and felt mostly prepared going into the race.
Conditions on the Sunday morning of the triathlon were not the greatest – rainy, with chances of thunderstorms that threatened to cancel the swim. We had to wait an hour for weather clearance (and for a car accident to be cleared from our bike route) before starting the swim, and my nerves definitely began to build. To top it all off, I was walking blindly, since my glasses were safely with my bike at the transition zone! Luckily, my roommate and fellow tri-racer was there to guide me, and we spotted my parents and sister cheering us on from the sidelines right before walking down the
gangplank to the start dock.
Seconds later, the whistle blew and I was off, swimming down the Hudson River. I took a few strokes and was immediately panicked by how dirty the water was. I was terrified of getting it in my goggles, and soon had to flip over to my back to calm down. Luckily, I had practiced my back stroke, knowing this would be a good option if I became anxious during the swim. Every time I would return to freestyle, my panic would return, so I ended up making it down the whole way on my back. Not the fastest, but at least I could stay calm that way, I reasoned.
After a 700m barefoot run to the transition zone and a quick change under a towel, I was off on my bike. The climb onto the course was really steep as we were warned, and I immediately ran into problems. I couldn’t muster enough strength to get up the hill, and my foot knocked the chain off as I struggled to unclip from my pedals. Luckily, the chain was an easy fix and I was soon on my way for the 40K ride along the West Side Highway. The bike ride was pretty smooth. I played “chase the rabbit,” constantly trying to catch up to and pass the cyclist in front of me. It downpoured twice, but otherwise stayed relatively cool for most of the ride. The rain made me a little more cautious, since I was afraid of brake failure and hydroplaning, but it overall felt really great! It really helped to spot my fan section twice!
The final leg was a 10-k run, the part I was least worried about. I have run road races before and figured that this would be an enjoyable way to end the race. It turned out to be really hard, both mentally and physically! My legs took about 2 miles to fully transition from the bike ride, and I had to talk to myself for the entire first half of the run to keep myself going. After getting some water and hitting a stride, the next 3 miles were a lot smoother. I was beat by mile 5, though, especially exhausted since the sun decided to shine in full glory, making it now both humid and hot. The final mile was hilly and curvy and the finish line seemed nowhere in sight. I finally spotted the flags in the distance and began to sprint, only to find out that it was the beginning of the finish zone and not the end! I finally passed through, clocking in for a total time of 3 hours and 33 minutes. The swim took me 28 minutes, shorter than it felt, and the bike ride was 1:48, longer than it felt. The run was 58 minutes, and the rest of the time was spent transitioning.
I am really proud of finishing my first triathlon. It proves to me that I am an athlete, even if I am new to it. I am also sad to know that two people didn’t finish. Although deaths in triathlons are rare, there were two casualties during my race, both in the swim portion. Researchers claim that pre-existing heart defects are often the cause of sudden athlete death, but it does not make the news any less sobering.
If I can swim down the Hudson, bike the West Side Highway, and run through Central Park, covering 31 miles of Manhattan, the next year of med school, even with the dreaded board exams looming in the distance, should be a
pancake walk, right?!
adapted from my pancake mix
1 1/2 cup flour (all-purpose or mix of all-purpose and whole wheat)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup milk
1 tbsp butter
2 bananas, sliced
Mix together all of the dry ingredients. Whisk in wet ingredients until well incorporated. Spray a hot griddle or pan with cooking spray, and pour desired amount of batter for pancakes. Immediately add banana slices. When bubbles appear, flip to brown the other side. Serve with pancake syrup or jam.
Hopefully I am in Bosnia by now! I am so excited to be reunited with great college friends, and am really looking forward to trying exciting new foods. This post is about smoothies… not exciting or new for most people, but they are for me! Enjoy :)
Another smoothie post! This is a huge step for me. I have been smoothie and milkshake adverse for years, mostly because of the liquid diets I had to adhere to after numerous surgeries in high school. My wonderful family always treated me to McDonald’s chocolate or homemade milkshakes after surgery, but soon I began to associate these frozen treats with pain and recovery. In an effort to let the past be the past, I have been trying out smoothies again! And I am loving them! Babysteppin’ to the elevator (What About Bob, anyone?) The other problem I have had with smoothies is when to eat them. I need to chew at breakfast, and so smoothies often leave me feeling unsatisfied, and yet they tend to be a little too much for a snack. Lately, I have found them as a great post-run treat! I usually have a piece of banana or a handful of raisins before heading out for a run, and am not as hungry as I should be after exercising. Smoothies hit the spot on these days! Below is one recipe made two ways – the same flavor, but one with a green kick. I have seen the concept of a green smoothie floating around some other blogs and was really curious to try it out. The sweetness of the fruit and honey hides the fact that you are getting a whole lotta green goodness from the 2 cups of spinach! Plus, the vitamin C in the strawberries and kiwi help you absorb the iron from the spinach – a one, two nutrition punch.
My sister is still not sold, so if you are in her camp, just leave the spinach out. The smoothie is still delicious and nutrient-packed. Even if you are suspicious, though, try out the greener smoothie. I promise you that it still tastes like an all-fruit smoothie!
Question: Are you a smoothie fan? What is your favorite flavor combo?
Strawberry Kiwi Smoothie
Adapted from GreenLiteBites
2 cups spinach (optional)
2/3 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 banana, frozen and broken into pieces
1/2 tbsp honey
3/4 cup water
Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until well combined and no chunks remain.
I feel like an elementary school kid on the first day of summer! Even though I have been home and out of class for a month already, today is the first day that truly feels like summer vacation. I finished my externship yesterday – I learned more than I even expected and am sad to leave the office, but am really looking forward to having the next six weeks off. I didn’t set an alarm this morning and slept until 8:40am! (For anyone who doesn’t know me well, that is really late for me!) I then lounged around for 20 minutes and hit the road for my run. I meant to go further, but took a new route and got a bit lost. As I was slowing down to figure out where to turn next, my feet got a little lazy and the concrete jumped out and got the best of me…
Ouch. Luckily I was only about 2 miles away from home, but I got some crazy looks as I had blood dripping from my elbow on the way. With a little more preparation, I could have saved my elbow this bloody fate… I have learned a lot so far about running in the heat and humidity, but I am the worst at following my own advice. Here are some things I have learned so far about running in the summer heat and humidity.
- Drink a lot of water the night before you run. Also drink a big glass of water before you leave. Dehydration is the worst – its responsible for those evil side cramps and can make your mile times really sluggish.
- If you are running for more than a half hour on a really hot day or 45 minutes on a normal day, bring along a sports drink or something with sugar in it for a pick-me-up along the way. A lot of my friends put a handful of Gummy Bears in their pocket for a sugar boost along the way on really long runs.
- If possible, don’t wear cotton T-shirts on days when it is really hot and humid. You will sweat, and then it will just weigh down your shirt and trap more heat around your core. A wicking material will help pull the moisture off of you for more efficient cooling.
- Don’t run when the sun is at its peak! I made this mistake a few weeks ago and was lucky to make it through my planned 4 miles. Instead, go a little earlier in the morning or around dusk to avoid the peak heat of the day.
- Make sure to stretch well after you run! Read a little more here for some important stretches for runners.
And don’t forget to fuel those muscles! It sounds counterintuitive, but often times I am just not hungry when I get back from a long run. I probably fill my stomach up with a ton of water, but I know that my body needs some calories for fuel. I have recently discovered smoothies as the perfect cure for this post-run dilemma. I know that a lot of runners turn to protein powder, but I can’t get over the flavor. I choose, instead, to get protein from other places – Greek yogurt and peanut butter! I love peanut butter and banana in any form, and this smoothie really hits the spot after a long workout. Try this shake out next time you need a workout recovery!
Peanut Butter Banana Shake
makes 1 smothie
1/2 cup ice
1/2 frozen banana, chopped
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp peanut butter
Combine the ice and chopped frozen banana in a blender to crush. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend to desired smoothie consistency. Can adjust with more or less milk if you like it thicker or creamier.
I have had some insane peanut butter banana cravings lately. It started when I made a quick sandwich out of necessity for lunch on Sunday (my fridge is pretty empty since I am leaving Boston for 2 months and don’t want to grocery shop), which triggered my taste buds’ memory of how much I love this combo. PB and banana sandwiches sustained me through a work trip in New Orleans (Katrina Relief Urban Plunge with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship) during Spring Break of my senior year. See the picture of our group (I’m in the way bottom row on the left)… we sheeted that whole house, and even started the wrapping! The sandwich is super filling and definitely keeps you ready to do some manual labor for the rest of the afternoon!
I blame this wave of cravings on a different type of labor… Exams. Brain labor. Mental exhaustion. Well, these help make studying for the rest of the afternoon and evening seem a little more manageable. A little peanut butter protein to keep you full and chocolate for a mood booster! Plus, these will stay well in the freezer whenever you need an on-call pick me up. Look to the bottom of the post for the simple recipe, and enjoy this next time you need a study snack or a treat at the end of a stressful day!
The only thing harder than my recently completed histology exam or upcoming endocrinology exam is covering things in chocolate… Kind of not kidding here. Call me crazy, but I always struggle to get the chocolate to melt just right whenever I am making chocolate covered strawberries, pretzels or monkey bites! My sister can attest to my super delicious but not so attractive peppermint bark cookies I attempted this past Christmas… I think I have finally learned though! Here is a little how-to if you, also, struggle with chocolate.
makes about 8 bites
1 banana, sliced in 1 inch pieces
2 tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp soy milk
1/4 cup chopped peanuts (optional)
3 oz dark chocolate
Slice banana into 1 inch pieces and put in freezer for about 1/2 hour. Melt peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl for 30-40 seconds. Mix in soy milk. Top each frozen banana slice with peanut butter mixture and return to freezer for about 1 hour. Melt chocolate over a hot water bath. Cover each peanut butter banana slice with chocolate. If you would like, roll in chopped peanuts. Return to freezer until chocolate is set. You can store monkey bites in a sealed container in the freezer for whenever that study or stress craving hits!