Welcome to my food blog!

Featuring delicious recipes made healthier and reviews to give you some new ideas.

365 Organic Animal Cookies

Posted by Ann | Posted in Reviews | Posted on 28-04-2009

365 Organic Animal Cookies


Please forgive my cheesy picture above…  I couldn’t find one online of the package so I figured I’d let you see it.  I’ve been under the weather recently, and usually that means my stomach feels gross and the usual foods just don’t sound that great.  I haven’t felt like cooking and these are one of the only foods that sounds good right now. 

These animal cookies melt in your mouth tasting somewhat like a better, crisper version of a shortbread cookie.   They’re pretty addicting though so maybe it’s a good idea to portion some out for yourself.  However, I usually just go for it if I’m going to eat them.  My son gets these as an occasional treat and loves them.  Usually, it is one of the only things he feels like when he’s sick.  Something about them seem to calm down your tummy when nothing else sounds good.  When we go out and people give him the usual animal cookies/crackers as a  snack, he thinks he’s getting these and excitedly takes a bite.  Then he realizes it’s a bland version of what he thought it was going to be and literally just sticks his tongue out and lets it fall to the ground until every last bit is out of his mouth.  It’s actually pretty embarrassing.  It just happened at the local library after toddler storytime.  At some point, I hope he understands that he needs to spit food into a napkin if he doesn’t like it!  I’ve also turned quite a few of my friends onto this brand.  I will say, the Costco Disney organic ones aren’t as bad as the rest, but they don’t taste quite as good as these either.  However, they are MUCH cheaper!

I never liked the usual animal cookies/crackers as a kid.  I never developed the taste for them as an adult.  And then, looking at the ingredients on most animal cookies made for children, it usually goes something like this: enriched flour, sugar, partially hydrogenated oil, high fructose corn syrup…  There are quite a few brands that we all know and basically, those are the main ingredients. 

ingredients:  organic enriched unbleached flour (wheat flour, niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), organic dehydrated cane juice, organic expeller pressed canola and/or sunflower and/or soybean oil, organic invert sugar, sea salt, baking soda, organic vanilla extract.

Not too bad!  If you’re going to indulge in some animal cookies, you may as well get these instead.  They taste so much more satisfying and the ingredients are definitely less-bad for you than the popular brands.

Easy Egg White Southwestern Scramble

Posted by Ann | Posted in All Recipes, Breakfast Recipes | Posted on 23-04-2009

Easy Egg White Southwestern Scramble


This is so easy, why do I need a recipe?  It’s more of a tip than a recipe!   For years I’ve pre-chopped ingredients to put in salads or eggs in the morning (or whatever really) - and it takes up so much time and then it can go bad if you don’t use it within a few days.  My heart sinks when I throw out unused pre-chopped vegetables.  There’s money and time down the drain.  Also, my toddler wakes up easily to me cooking or chopping things during his naps, and he wants my attention almost full-time when he’s awake.  So, it’s hard to figure out sometimes how to make anything good…fast!  He is a great stirrer, and so baking is easy, but cooking with eggs and chopping up vegetables is more of a challenge. 

Here’s the most simple way to add some good-for-you southwestern veggies to your eggs in a jiffy.  Buy a bag of frozen southwest vegetables!  Maybe you didn’t know they existed!  I didn’t until after I had my son.  I would’ve made this for myself much more often had I just looked in the frozen vegetable aisle at the grocery store!  I’ve made this same exact blend of ingredients numerous times but this is so much easier and I wish I would’ve noticed or someone would’ve told me before.  In this case, the veggies are Birds Eye C&W Southwestern Blend pictured below.

Bird's Eye Southwestern Blend

 Directions for one person scramble:

  • Pre-heat pan to medium-high heat, spray no-stick spray or add some butter, depending on how light you feel like going that day
  • Add about 1/4 cup of frozen southwest vegetables to the pan, fry until onions start browning
  • add 3 or 4 egg whites (I use organic), turn off heat and scramble until cooked-through.   Use 2 whole eggs if you feel like adding the extra nutrition the egg yolks provide and don’t mind the extra calories that day.  It’s still pretty light.  I make it both ways.  Lately my pants are a little tight so I made it with egg whites this time.
  • Add a few dashes of salt and pepper
  • Throw on a little shredded cheese - in this case above, I used some natural mild cheddar.
  • Plate and add salsa if desired.

It’s really so easy and fast that you don’t really have an excuse not to make it.  It’s also verrry delicious!  One of my husband’s favorites when I healthy-up his breakfasts.

Synergy Kombucha Review

Posted by Ann | Posted in Reviews | Posted on 22-04-2009


I’m always on the lookout for healthy additions to my kitchen.  I decided to try Kombucha after hearing and reading so much about it.  Kombucha is fermented tea, therefore, there is a slight amount of alcohol in it.  There are two main types - you can buy the kind with green tea, which is supposed to have some added green tea benefits, or black tea, which is the traditional kind. Like usual, the CDC and the Mayo Clinic advise against it until studies are done proving the potential benefits.  Kombucha makers and drinkers say that kombucha  helps the body with digestion with probiotics, its natural detoxification process and helps stabilize PH levels.  Also, there are die hard Kombucha fans out there that claim a myriad of benefits.  You get the idea, many of the natural health community think it’s fantastic.  You can make Kombucha at home but you first need a starter culture to make it and then be very careful so you don’t contaminate it and make yourself sick.  The best choice for me was to try what our Local Whole Foods carries -  GT’s Kombucha.  Their website shows the potential benefits.  I chose Syngergy because it has fruit juice added and since I read about it before I bought it- I was expecting a vinegar taste…definitely want to decrease the vinegar flavor with juice!   I was also aware that it has a natural carbonation - so don’t shake it up!  The bottle warns you but if you’re not expecting it and don’t read the fine print on your bottles, you’ll notice the bits floating around on the bottom of the glass and be tempted to shake it.  Don’t!  Mine shook slightly in the process of buying and and walking to my car and it sprayed a tad bit.  I can imagine if you give it a good shake!

Whole Foods had many different flavors and of those I purchased three: Divine Grape, Raspberry Rush, and Trilogy (raspberry, lemon and ginger).  I first tried Divine Grape because the guy at Whole Foods said that was the most well-liked flavor.  He also had a little wild look in his eye and wanted to know if I had ever tried it before.  “No.”  He smiled and said, “It’s really an acquired taste and it’s okay if you want to return them.  I like them and think they’re great.  Kombucha is really good for you.  But, it’s okay if you want to return them.”  Of course, this made me very excited to try it as soon as possible so I opened up the grape flavor right away - with a little spray like I said before since I’m not too graceful.  I took a BIG whiff- whoah!  Vinegar!  The first sip actually wasn’t as bad as I was expecting.  It almost felt like I was drinking a grape vinaigrette.  Weird, but not bad.  I could only drink half of the 16oz bottle.  I put the rest in the fridge when I got home because they’re pretty expensive!  I can’t say that my stomach felt any better afterwards, but I did feel a slight burst of energy with a little better focus than usual… I tend to get easily distracted usually.  My next try was the Trilogy flavor - this was the day after too much wine the night before.  I’m thinking it’ll help with digestion and energy so what a good thing to drink.  I picked the wrong flavor for my tastebuds!  Honestly, it was pretty bitter and although it’s not pretty to picture it, it made me belch.  Burping up the lemon ginger (I didn’t taste raspberry in it) bitterness is not good when your stomach isn’t right in the first place.  I drank a quarter of the bottle and gave it to my dad, who gave it to his trainer after a few sips.  Now I’m drinking the raspberry - which doesn’t remind me as much of a viniagrette so much as the grape, and had the most subtle of the vinegar flavors.  I want to make clear that the vinegar flavor really isn’t as bad as it sounds!  But you need to know that before you try it because the smell and flavor are pretty obvious.  I semi-enjoyed raspberry one, despite the vinegar flavor.  With all three, I never drank the whole bottle all at once, it probably depends on the person, but 2-3 times per bottle worked for me.  Make sure you refrigerate the bottle between drinking.  

I thought it would be fun to do a completely non-scientific test on my pH level.  I have some strips that you place under your tongue to test your pH level - so I had just eaten some hazlenut wafers and tested slightly acidic at 6.2… I usually am much higher than that.  A general balanced acidity level is between 6.4 to 6.8 and generally the higher the better, which is more alkaline.   After drinking almost half a bottle of the Raspberry Rush and almost an hour later, I tested at 6.4 which is a slight improvement.  Did I give myself enough time for the Kombucha to take effect?  I don’t know.

a note…  after performing a spellcheck on this post, the beginning half had lots of spelling errors and the lower half had none.  Conclusion: Kombucha made me spell/type better.

Update: I have purchased it again because I really liked the energy boost, but I’d probably have to be committed for awhile to determine if the other said benefits hold true for me.  After each try, I did feel an energy rush.  Not the jittery rush like you get with too much caffeine, but just a nice flow of energy.  However, with the high price and the crappy economy, I do feel guilty buying such an expensive drink!  And the fourth bottle (well…third since I didn’t really drink Trilogy) is the charm!  I guess I got used to the vinegar flavor and it wasn’t near as surprising of a punch as before.

Super what? Supertaster!

Posted by Ann | Posted in Food Chatter | Posted on 21-04-2009

I just thought of the ”Supertaster” again after having experimented with stevia in some made-up cookie recipes.  So far, the people that have tried the cookies liked them but I think it leaves a bitter aftertaste.  Stevia is such a wonderful, healthy option to replace sugar in your baking recipes and so I really want to like it!

In college, I attended a lecture about supertasters.  First thing, the presenter handed these tiny strips to everyone attending the lecture.  We were all told to put these strips on our tongue.  I will tell you, this strip was extremely bitter and nasty and I about gagged!  The strange thing was, as I looked around most people had a very mild reaction or no reaction whatsoever!  There were a few bewildered students like me making grotesque faces and wondering what in the world was going on and why weren’t the rest of the attendees begging for water?  I think this was a huge source of amusement for the presenter, who went on to say that if this strip tastes unbearably bitter and nasty, you are a supertaster, if the strip tastes slightly bitter, you are normal, and if the strip doesn’t evoke a reaction, then you are a nontaster.  A supertaster has an unusually high number of taste-buds.  About 25% of the population are supertasters, 50% are medium-tasters, and 25 are nontasters.  Apparently, supertasters are more sensitive to bitter compounds in foods as well as fatty food textures.  The theory goes that this is an evolutionary bonus and negative as well.  Back in the day, sensitivity to bitter flavors helped distinguish poisonous plants thus allowing for better chances of survival.  Also, supertasters (not all) tend to be thinner due to the sensitivities of experiencing more intense reaction to bitter, fatty, and even super-sweet foods.  However, supertasters (again, not all) tend to avoid some bitter perceived foods such as broccoli and grapefruit and then miss out on the health benefits and are more susceptible to illness for that reason.

If you’d like to learn more about the chemical component used originally and now to test for supertasters, here is a great article from the New York Times in 1997:    An excerpt from the article, “While all humans are born with an innate liking for sweets,  supertasters find many sugary foods to be sickeningly sweet. Frosting is yucky. Saccharine has a strong aftertaste. Coffee is too bitter, and alcohol too sharp. Hot peppers and ginger produce an unpleasant burn. Food should be tepid.”  For me, the majority of these statements are true.  However, everyone is different and not all supertasters are the same.  I have a sweet-tooth.  For the most part, the sweets I eat are healthier versions and not overly sweet; I prefer cream cheese frosting and often scrape off the regular stuff.  I cannot stand the fat in meat and so if a meat is fatty, I usually can’t get through more than a bite or two of it.  I add milk to my coffee and for the most part think hard alcohol is nasty unless disguised by something (mmmm, rum cake!).  I do like spicy foods though, so there’s my little quirk I guess.  I can taste the heat, but I think it’s fun!

Supertasters do not have superior taste-buds, just more sensitivities due to more papillae (taste-buds).  If you’re a woman and have ever gotten pregnant, you may have noticed your sensitivities increase.  That is your body trying to protect itself from illness from you and your child.  You probably experienced a supertaster year!  I swear that ever since I got pregnant two years ago, my tastebuds got even more sensitive than before, and it never truly went away.  I preferred being less sensitive personally.  It’s easier!  However perhaps I should be thankful for this because maybe I’m a food nut due to all those extra tastebuds?  Either way, the supertaster phenomenon is pretty interesting to me, and if you’re curious, you can always purchase a test strip on the internet or dye your mouth blue:  http://www.slashfood.com/2006/01/22/are-you-a-supertaster/

Maybe I’ll like stevia when I’m older.

Mediterranean Grain Salad

Posted by Ann | Posted in All Recipes, Meal Recipes, Side Dishes | Posted on 18-04-2009

Mediterranean Grain Salad


My friend Nicole recommended that I try this Mediterranean Grain Salad recipe that she found from Everyday Food- a Martha Stewart magazine.  The recipe contains bulgur, something I love to eat when I go places that serve it (in Omaha, that’s pretty rare).  I have never cooked with bulgur and found it to be so simple and wonderful!  I think it’s definitely a new favorite grain to cook with!  My problem with grains is cooking them correctly with the right amount of liquid/grain ratio and timing on the stove.  It’s not that I mess it up usually; I guess I don’t have a lot of patience for this and usually end up not cooking with grains, but I love eating them.  I need to get myself out of this mindset and try new grains!  Bulgur is pre-cooked, dried and cracked wheat so all you have to do is boil some water and throw it over the bulgur (remove from heat) and cover it for a half hour.  Then, strain it through a wire mesh strainer and you’re done.  Ridiculously simple, why was I intimidated?  The recipe calls for medium-grind bulgur but all I found in the bins was course-grind and it wasn’t a problem.  Bob’s Red Mill also sells a medium-grind bulgur.


  • 1/3 cup medium-grind bulgur
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 to 1 ounce fresh goat cheese, crumbled
  1. In a heatproof bowl, mix bulgur with  1 cup boiling water.  Cover, and let stand until tender but slightly chewy, about 30 minutes.
  2. Drain bulgur in a fine-mesh sieve, pressing to remove liquid; return to bowl.  Add tomatoes, parsley,vinegar and oil.  Season with salt and pepper and toss, top with cheese.  Take a a picture because it’s so pretty!

I found the original recipe (which included shallots) pretty good, however, for me the shallots were too intense.  After making this, I got all kinds of ideas in my head about more healthy varieties of this Mediterranean salad.  One more version I tried:  no need to measure in this version!  Chop up some fresh mozzarella cheese, grape tomatoes, parsley (basil would be better but our grocery store ran out today so I used the parsley from when I made the above recipe), 2 spears asparagus - cut into 1/2 inch pieces, a few heads of broccolini, cut into chunks.  Mix with the bulgur, add salt and pepper and either red-wine vinegar or balsamic, and extra virgin olive oil, mix.  Eat.  Yum!  Next time I’ll add some cut up grapes and pine nuts or roasted chicken or even the some leftover fillet.  It all would add a nutrient packed delicious flavor to the mix.  Warning!  If you decide to sautee some veggies such as spinach, do your best to drain the liquids before adding because it could get pretty watery.  Thanks Nicole!  You’ve created a monster.

Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Coffee

Posted by Ann | Posted in Food Chatter, Reviews | Posted on 16-04-2009

Did you know that coffee is reviewed like wine with points?  Yes, it’s true!  In 1997, these two guys, Kenneth Davids and Ron Walters, got together and decided that coffee should be reviewed much like wine on the 50 to 100 point scale.  Genius!   These guys recognized us coffee conniseurs and with distinguished coffee taste buds, they rated all kinds of coffee for us to try!   They call it, Coffee Review.

As much as I love wine, and can pick out a quality sip from a crappy sip most anytime, I have no idea what these people are talking about when they taste tobacco, prunes, pineapples, cherries, tar, whatever it is that hits their tastebuds when they try it.  I just get the overall effect of the wine with the first sip to the way the finish hits my tastebuds.  Whether or not it’s bitter, smooth, spicy, what have you.  It’s very similar with coffee.  Maybe it’s in sommelier school where they make you eat and smell tar, tobacco, wood and cherries and then taste it in the wine so you get it right?  Maybe I’ll play around with that in the future.  To be continued… 

I want to share with you one of my favorite coffees out there: Green Mountain Roaster’s Ethiopian Yirgacheffe.  It is Fair Trade Certified, which basically means that the farmers involved in making the coffee are guaranteed to be treated fairly regarding pricing, labor conditions, allowing these farmers potential financial  freedom and business independence.  Also, being Fair Trade Certified means they must use sustainable, healthy methods of farming, rather than using harsh chemicals.  There’s plenty more to it if you’d like to read about it here.  This coffee is also organic!  Again, you’re missing out on the possible harsh chemicals and pesticides in your daily cup.  Even if you’re not on the organic bandwagon, it’s okay to buy it sometimes.  It’s better for you body and you don’t have to tell your friends.  I’ll keep your secret.  (I just don’t know why some people are too cool for organics still?  Other than price…I get that!) 

Anyway, I will share with you the Coffee Review on the Green Mountain Roaster’s Organic Fair Trade Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Coffee: 

Overall Rating: 93 points

Aroma: 8
Acidity: 8
Body: 7
Flavor: 8
Aftertaste: 8
Roast (Agtron): Medium (52/65)

Origin: Yirgacheffe growing region, Sidamo Province, southern Ethiopia.Notes: Certified organically grown and Fair Trade, meaning it was purchased from small-holding farmers at a “fair” or economically sustainable price. Green Mountain is one of the country’s leading specialty roasters, offering a particularly wide-ranging variety of origins and roast styles. Visit www.greenmountaincoffee.com or call 800-223-6768 for more information.Blind Assessment: This coffee declares its essential Yirgacheffe character immediately: perfumy and pungently menthol-toned in the aroma, shimmering with floral and lemon notes. The aromatic drama carries without loss or simplification into a gently bright cup, light-bodied but silky in mouthfeel. The finish is thinnish but long, sweet, and flower-saturated.Who should drink it: For those who know coffee, an archetypally floral-toned Yirgacheffe. For those who don’t, buy it if you enjoy Rieslings and intense but delicate floral-toned whites. Impeccable social and environmental credentials.

source: coffeereview.com

I do not get the menthol flavor or scent thankfully, because that may ruin it for me.    It’s interesting that the reviewer suggests if you like Rieslings you will like this coffee, because I much prefer Pinot Grigio to Riesling. Simply, I just think it’s a wonderfully smooth cup of coffee, roasted nicely, not bitter, and it really does have a slightly floral, lemony scent before sipping.  Slight.  Hey, 93 points out of 100 is pretty darn good!

Flourless Hazelnut Fudge Brownies

Posted by Ann | Posted in All Recipes, Ann's Favorites, Cookie and Bar Recipes | Posted on 14-04-2009

Flourless Hazelnut Brownies


I got my inspiration to make these from ElanasPantry blog.  If you have have an aversion to gluten or just want some more healthy recipe ideas, I think her blog is amazing.  She makes some wonderful, dark chocolate flourless brownies.  At first I made her version, which I found delicious but a little too dark-chocolatey for me.  I love dark chocolate (I do prefer 60 some percent to higher), but not everyone likes dark chocolate and so I wanted to make something that everyone would walk by and have a bite, rather than just myself walking by and taking a bite and then finishing the whole pan.  Oops!  Sound familiar? 


  • 16oz salted almond butter, smooth roasted.  (the cheapest almond butter I found was MaraNatha at Costco, it’s also a good brand regardless for spreading on sandwiches, etc…)
  • 2 eggs or 3 egg whites or 1 egg/2whites - they all work out, depends on what you want for nutrition vs. calories that day
  • 1 1/4 cups agave nectar light or amber (the cheapest I found this was the larger Madhava brand at Whole Foods…not at our local Costco yet!)
  • 1 Tb vanilla extract
  • 1/3 heaping cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda (not heaping, can go a little under a teaspoon as well here for a little more fudginess)
  • 1 cup 62% semi-sweet chocolate chips.  I used a whole package of Scharffen Berger chocolate chunks cut into smaller pieces
  • 1/2 heaping cup hazelnuts, roasted, then chopped
  1. Pre-heat oven to 325 and grease 9×13 glass baking dish.
  2. Roast hazelnuts 10-15 minutes - my oven seems to cook everything fast so check at about 7 minutes - if you can smell it, the huskss are coming off, and they look golden brown, they’re done.  Remove from sheet and set on towel to cool.  Either use the towel to remove husks or go with it, chop up the hazelnuts and remove random husks as you see fit. 
  3. In a large bowl, blend almond butter until smooth with a hand blender.
  4. Add eggs then blend, add agave and vanilla, then blend, add cocoa, salt and baking soda, then blend.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips and hazelnuts.
  6. Pour batter into 9×13 baking dish.
  7. Bake for 30-40 minutes.  My oven is exactly 28 minutes. 

The baking time on this recipe is pretty crucial for fudgy brownies, so watch carefully as it nears 30 minutes.  The first time I made Elana’s version, I checked it at 26 minutes, not close to done, so I let it go for five more minutes and then it was slightly over-done.  Not really fudgy and slightly more dry and cake-ish.  If you think it’s not close to done but the edges are looking pretty done, check in another 2 minutes and it may surprise you and be cooked perfectly!

I think these brownies are amazing - and with agave nectar rather than sugar, and almond butter rather than flour- you have a much lower glycemic index brownie that tastes even better than your original fudge brownie.  My favorite part about them is that usually after eating brownies, I crave more and more and never seem to get full.  With these, you eat a little bit and then actually feel satisfied rather than craving more.  But, go ahead and eat more because they’re pretty good for you!  Obviously they’re not mixed vegetables, but you get the picture I hope.

Jimmy Johns, lightened up!

Posted by Ann | Posted in Reviews | Posted on 10-04-2009

Totally Tuna (left) and Beach Club


I don’t know about you, but I LOVE Jimmy Johns!!!  My favorites are: Beach Club on wheat, Italian Night Club, Club Tuna, Vito AND even the JJ Gargantuan.  On a side note… one of my brother’s names is Vito so it’s just fun for me to order that in addition to it being yummy.  I get a nice little chuckle every time.  Yeah, I know, dork.  Anyway, many times, I have Jimmy Johnsed myself out.  Can’t help it, you crave it for weeks and eat them all the time and then you need a few months off.  The sandwiches are so big, that typically I eat only half and then I snack on whatever else or have a small dessert- their oatmeal raisin cookies are pretty good:)  Now, I knew that I shouldn’t have done it, but I looked online at their nutritional information and my worst fears were confirmed.  The Italian Night has 974 calories!  Now, by only eating half, that isn’t so bad, but still…  you can eat a lot more food for way less calories and be more nutritious.  

So, my most favorite sandwich there, the Beach Club on Wheat, has 839 calories.  Whoah.  So, I knew they had a lettuce version, Unwich, without the bread, but I’m just used to the fake wrap versions at other places that aren’t good, so I was nervous to try it.  Checking it out online, if you get rid of the bread and the mayo and make it into a lettuce wrap, it is now 233 calories.  Oh my goodness!  What a change and now I won’t feel so bad for snacking all day long and eating my multiple desserts during the day…  yes, I’m guilty of that.  This sandwich is made up of lettuce, turkey, avocado spread, sprouts, tomato, cucumber, and provolone - it’s basically a salad wrap and so the ingredients go together really well and it’s delicious!  One time, my freakishly fast sandwich maker messed up and added mayo when I said “no mayo,” and it wasn’t very good.  With no bread to soak up all that mayo, it was like a mayo lettuce wrap.  Ech. 

I then tried the Totally Tuna (the non-club version -without the bread, you don’t need so much of the tuna filling to taste it because this amount of tuna is not overwhelmed by bread, it’s also cheaper), with the lettuce wrap and it was also delicious!  The way I figure it, the Club Tuna is 719 calories (because you need the extra filling to taste it over the bread) - but when you get the Totally Tuna, which is the same thing but less inside stuff - which starts out at 503 calories - and make that into a lettuce wrap, it’s 252 calories!  It’s delicious, just like a tuna salad salad.  You can eat the whole sandwich without getting full mid-way and you’re eating healthier as well!

I still order my other favorites as well with the bread but only eat half.  I can’t imagine what some of those other sandwiches would taste like as a lettuce wrap- more like a major chef salad hold most of the lettuce.  Not quite the same translation to the Unwich as the tuna and turkey, but I could be wrong.  So, if you’re trying to lighten up your menu for any reason, or just save room in your belly for the big dinner you have planned for later in the day, why don’t you try one of these Unwich sandwiches and see how you like it?  I definitely recommend them!  Warning:  do not attempt to eat these Unwich lettuce wraps in your car.  It’ll get all over you and the car seat and then you’ll have to clean it up and it just takes less effort to eat it at a table.

ps…  On my dad’s side of the family, we are half-Italian/ half-German.  Our family has a house in Italy where my Dad grew up and so I’ve been fortunate enough to visit many times and have developed a love affair with true Italian food.  I can tell you that I’ve never had anything with pepperoni in it in Italy.  I’m sure it’s there somewhere, but it isn’t popular.  Jimmy John’s does not have pepperoni in their Italian sandwiches and I’d like to say,  finally!!!  I think pepperonis are pretty nasty and why would you want to eat them if you’ve ever tasted real salami?  Thanks JJ for keeping those nasty things off your sandwiches.  Respect.

Banana Nut Muffins

Posted by Ann | Posted in All Recipes, Breakfast Recipes | Posted on 09-04-2009


I found this delicious recipe on Gwyneth Paltrow’s blog: goop.com.  I enjoy reading the food section of her blog because she always has one healthy meal and a dessert/sweet option.  (I know, I tend to stick to the sweets but they’re more fun to talk about)  She has access to anything and since she cares about her health she seems to find those health-conscious talented foodies and I’m so happy that she shares her findings!  I tweaked it a little since I’m a much lazier cook… I hate sifting (however, if you’re not sifting, you may be using too much flour…or basically, a different recipe alltogether) and making wells and using multiple bowls and stuff so here’s my version:


  • 2 large ripe bananas
  • 1/2 c maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup brown rice syrup (just use honey or agave nectar if you don’t have it)
  • 5 Tablespoons grapeseed oil (or canola or sunflower)
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup whole spelt flour  (you can also use just plain wheat flour)
  • 1/2 cup barley flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, roasted then chopped (tip: roast more in case you burn a few it seems to always happen in my hot oven and then if none burn, you have extras to put in the muffins or a tasty treat to snack on while baking)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and roast the walnuts for around 7 minutes, then chop
  2. Mash bananas and then mix in the other liquid ingredients.
  3. Mix flours, baking soda and salt and add to liquid ingredients (I usually put the liquid ingredients in a big bowl, and mix the dry on top of the liquid in the same bowl, I hate doing dishes, it works every time though!!!) 
  4. Fold in walnuts and raisins.  Don’t over-mix or it’ll be tough.  I used a spatula for mixing everything.
  5. Spray the muffin tin with oil or line with cups.  Use an ice cream scoop to distribute evenly - I do this with every muffin/cupcake that I make.  It’s so much easier!
  6. Bake about 25 minutes, cool for a few minutes, and then transfer to a cooking rack.

These made a dense yet fluffy moist batch of muffins with a rich banana flavor.  Enjoy!

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