Pantry Raid

I’ve been on a kick since around the new year to de-clutter the house. We are considering putting our house on the market within the year….or next few months. Not sure yet. In any case, just the thought of it has pushed me into this torrential cleaning-organizing-decluttering-nagging task whirlwind. Incidentally, about a month after I put together the list of things we needed to do, I started reading The Happiness Project, the author of which is just WAY too much like myself, and so reading about all the stuff she did and took on and organized and tackled is just sending me over the edge. Anyways, how that is related to a blog about food is that I realized my pantry and cabinets had become stuffed with items that were not being used, were half-gone, bought for one crazy recipe then never looked at again, etc etc. OR, there were duplicates of stupid things that I always assume I never have, so I always buy at the grocery store, just to come home, open up the spice cabinet to see that I already have two unopened containers of coriander. Great.

We have also recently had two good friends move out of state, and in doing so, they have done meat/liquor/canned food drafts with their friends to get rid of most of their food in their cabinets, because nobody wants to spend time trying to move some jars of peanut butter and a half empty box of crackers. No offense to my friends, but when I move I don’t want to have to get rid of all my food. I just want to eat it.

So I have started a pantry raid project to try and use up all the items in my cabinets. Of which there are many:

pantry raid cabinet 2

SO MUCH DRIED FRUIT

 

First, I created an inventory of all the food I had in my cabinets, refrigerator, freezer, pantry, etc etc. I did this on paper and also digitally through an app on my iPad. Second, I started researching recipes that used random things or things I had too much of like how I had three containers of oatmeal. Really? Or poppy seeds. Why do I have poppy seeds? Or bags of dried Arbol chilis. It’s all a mystery. Finally, I started implementing the recipes into our weekly meals or other items. My first foray into this was using up some of the oatmeal by making oatmeal breakfast cookies. These are an awesome way to use up odds and ends in your cabinets. They are also super healthy, are dairy, flour and sugar free.

breakfast oatmeal cookies

breakfast oatmeal cookies

Breakfast Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 whole Ripe Bananas, Mashed Until Creamy
  • ⅓ cups Peanut Butter, Creamy Or Chunky
  • 1/4 cup honey or Agave
  • ⅔ cups Unsweetened Applesauce
  • ¼ cups Vanilla Whey Protein Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 teaspoon Butter Extract, Optional
  • 1-½ cup Quick Oatmeal, Uncooked
  • ¼ cups Chopped nuts or seed, Peanuts, cashews, almonds, etc.
  • ¼ cups Chocolate Chips, white chocolate morsels, chopped dried fruit, etc

Method

  1. Preheat heat oven to 350ºF.
  2. In a large bowl, mix mashed banana, peanut butter and honey until completely combined. Then add in the applesauce, vanilla protein powder and vanilla and butter extracts. Mix again until completely combined.
  3. Add in the oatmeal and nuts, morsels or dried fruit to the banana mixture and combine.
  4. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Drop cookie dough, by spoonfuls, onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and flatten cookies into circles, about a 1/3″ thick.
  6. Bake cookies approximately 30 minutes, or until golden brown and done. Remove from oven and let rest on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then move to cooling rack.
  7. When cookies are completely cool, store in a covered container.

I split the batter in half and in half I put diced dried plums, white chocolate morsels and walnuts. In the other half I put chocolate chip and peanut butter morsels, cashews and sunflower seeds. Almost everything in the recipe I had on hand except apple sauce, because I don’t have a four year old in the house . . .

It was a great way for me to use up some half-empty packages of nuts and dried fruit – two things that just seem to multiply in our cabinets. These cookies were great – Jeremy and I had them for breakfast everyday for over a week – the batter makes a pretty good amount. In fact, I think I’ll keep making them every few weeks just to have on hand, especially since it’s really hard to find granola bars at the grocery store that aren’t as bad for you as anything else on the aisle.

Next up: tackling dried chilis, frozen unidentified sausage and wild rice. Stay tuned!

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BERKFERST NOT MAH FAVRIT MERLS

If you need context for that title, check this out.

Breakfast is hard. Mostly because I don’t get hungry until about 11, but they tell you you’re supposed to eat within 30 minutes of waking up to boost your metabolism. I’ll be perfectly honest here and say that sometimes 11 and “within 30 minutes of waking up” are not always that far apart….but that aside, sometimes I just want a cup of coffee and for everything else to somehow make itself. Also, since I don’t really care for breakfast (on the weekdays – weekends are another story full of bacon and cheesy scrambled eggs and toast with strawberry jam), I try to make it as healthy as possible since my taste buds haven’t always totally woken up.

Last week I had gotten a few local peaches from my co-op and when I got up that morning, somehow all the cereal, bread, jam, and milk had magically disappeared. So I opted for oatmeal with peaches. I told you when I started this blog, there would be some major fails. This one wasn’t major, but it was a misstep – the directions on the oatmeal said to add a 1/4 tsp of salt to the oats while they were cooking. I cut the recipe in half, since it was just me and just threw in a “dash” of salt. Well, either these instructions are bobo to begin with, or my brain is so dysfunctional in the morning that my “dash” was actually a giant pour and this was the saltiest oatmeal I’ve ever had in my life. I tried to add some cream and honey to it to tone it down, but to no real avail. I ended up just mostly eating the peaches with a little bit of the oats. My advice: just don’t put salt in oatmeal. Seriously, whose idea was that anyways?

In any case, I think it turned out “pretty” which is sometimes all I can ask of my food:

BERKFERST

Local honey and peaches with rolled oats

So despite the salt-lick fiasco, let’s talk about the benefits of this meal while pretending it didn’t taste gross. First off, oats are a whole grain, and rolled oats are a less processed version of a whole grain. I’d like to say I can stomach steel cut, as-little-processing-as-possible oats, but I can’t. They’re just gross and should be reserved for horses. Thick rolled oats are my in-between healthy option. I get this brand from the organic/natural aisle of the grocery store. They take 10-20 minutes to cook. Word to the wise – if your “whole grains” take less than 5 minutes to cook, they aren’t really doing you any good. Whole grains are good for your heart, cholesterol, blood pressure (reducing the likelihood of having blood clots, stroke and heart attack), and provide you with folic acid, fiber, b vitamins, iron and more. You can find out more about the benefits of whole grains on the whole grain council website.

Honey is full of antioxidants, is a great way of sweetening food without giving you a sugar rush because of its quick glucose and slow fructose release and if you suffer from seasonal outdoor allergies, locally produced honey can help curb some of those issues because it gives you a healthy, low-dose of the pollen you are allergic to, sort of like a vaccine or an allergy shot would. Find more fun honey info here.
Locally produced honey is the best kind to get (of course) because it will provide your system with the local allergens and pollen, because it helps keep your local honey bee population thriving (which is incredibly important for agriculture overall) and because it taste better because it has to go through less processing. I buy mine from Bee’s Knee’s apiary here in Chesapeake, VA.

Finally, peaches. Ah, peaches. The epitome of July. The highlight of summer. Who would even care if they had health benefits or not, they are so good? But, luckily, they are full of potassium (low potassium is the source of MANY health issues including hypertension, fatigue, muscle weakness and more), beta-carotene (which your body turns in to Vitamin A), lycopene and lutein. They are also high in fiber and vitamin C. It’s important to note that while almost all vegetables and many fruits are “high in fiber” – the fiber usually resides in the skin of the product. Some fiber is contained in the flesh, but when it comes to things like peaches, cucumbers, apples, etc – if you are peeling them before eating them, you are losing out on a lot of fiber and nutrients. Whole food is the best food.

Alright, that’s enough for today’s nutrition lesson. Just remember – skip the salt, use a minimally processed whole grain, leave your fruit’s skin on and skip the sugar and replace it with locally produced honey. And coffee….don’t forget the coffee…..