Creamy Banana Smoothie

Creamy Banana Smoothie

This smoothie, invented by my brilliant friend Jake, is so creamy and rich it borders on milkshake. My partner actually said that he prefers it to a DQ cookie dough blizzard (after eating both back to back in the same day). What?! How?! I’ll tell you: frozen bananas and whole milk. Blended together they make an ice-cream-like base to which you can add any number of healthy treats. And Jake, in all of his wisdom, adds peanuts for crunch, kale for kicks, and oatmeal to fill his belly after one of his crazy 100-mile bike rides. The resulting creamy banana smoothie makes the perfect breakfast or post-workout treat. So go ahead, treat yourself to a breakfast milkshake. I mean smoothie.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 banana sliced into chunks and frozen
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp. salted peanuts
  • 1 large kale leaf (stem removed)
  • ½ tsp. of honey (or less if banana is quite ripe)
  • Pinch of salt

INSTRUCTIONS
Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

SERVES
1 person

Rhubarb Cake

Rhubarb Cake

In Minnesota we make great use of the abundance of summer rhubarb. The tart stalks are particularly tasty chopped fine and added to desserts such as cakes, pies, and sweet jams. My mom’s rhubarb cake is a great example for how to highlight rhubarb and it is an all-around family favorite. Since I no longer crave super sweet desserts, in this version I tone down the sugar and substitute with honey. I also use whole-wheat flour for a more filling, wholesome treat. The leftover cake is great for breakfast, especially when accompanied by a cup of coffee or hot tea.

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup butter (softened)
  • 1 and ½ scant cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. allspice
  • ¼ tsp. cloves
  • 1 and ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups finely chopped rhubarb
  • ½ cup chopped nuts
  • ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • About 3 tbsp. honey

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, blend the butter and brown sugar until smooth. Incorporate the egg, vanilla, and buttermilk. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, allspice, cloves, and 1 tsp. of the cinnamon. Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and combine. Stir in the chopped rhubarb. Pour the cake batter into a buttered baking dish.

Pour the nuts, coconut, and remaining 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon into a mixing bowl, drizzle with honey, and stir. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the top of the cake. Bake for about 40 minutes.

SERVES
16 to 24 people

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

SAMSUNG CSC

Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are my number one favorite. After many trials and errors, I have finally come up with the perfect whole grain version. Its chewy, chocolatey, and hits the spot even though the sugar is reduced. Warning: although you will be tempted to gobble down the batter (because it is so delicious), do not over-indulge! Eating too many uncooked oats is not fun later.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup plus 6 tbsp. softened butter*
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar (entirely unrefined, if possible)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or semolina flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter two baking sheets. Place the softened butter in a large mixing bowl. If possible, use butter that has been softened from sitting out, rather than microwaving. Add the honey and sugar and blend. Add the eggs and vanilla and blend once more just until combined. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and mix on low or with a wooden spoon briefly to combine. Incorporate the oats and the chocolate chips.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto the cookie sheets. Bake 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown around the edges. Cool for one minute on cookie sheets, then move to a wire rack to cool completely before storing in a sealed container.

SERVES
About 16 people or 32 cookies

*I actually use salted butter in this recipe because I like the sweet and salty balance of flavors. But if you like the sweetness to stand out more use unsalted butter.

Platanos Maduros

DSC_0163

Fried sweet plantains, made with platanos maduros, are delicious. They are traditional in many Latin cultures, and are so versatile they can be eaten with almost any meal. Do yourself a solid and learn how to make them at home. It’s super easy, cheap, and requires just a few simple ingredients.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 very ripe plantains (platanos maduros)
  • About one cup canola oil or peanut oil (or a blend of the two) for frying
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • Salt

INSTRUCTIONS
Peel and slice the plantains into ½ inch slices and put them in a large bowl. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan or medium frying pan. Ideally you will have about a half-inch of oil in the pan. While the oil is heating, drizzle the plantains with your choice of sweetener and sprinkle with salt. Gently roll the plantains around in the bowl to coat with the syrup mixture.

Test the heat of the oil with a small plantain slice. The plantain should sizzle when you add it to the pan. Once you are satisfied with the heat of the oil, add more plantains to the pan until full without crowding. Depending on the size of your pan you may have to cook in two batches. Fry the plantains for six minutes on each side. When you are satisfied with the caramelization on each side, remove from pan and dry on a paper bag (free of dyes) or paper towl.

SERVES
6 people as a side or dessert, 8 people as an appetizer with toothpicks