Archive | May, 2013

Red river gorge

Hi everyone! I just wanted to drop in for a quick life update.

It’s been a bit over a week since I’ve left the comforts of home for Kentucky, where we’ve had beautiful weather, amazing climbing, and wonderful food. Though I wasn’t able to pack my kitchen into the car, I’ve still been eating very well. We brought plenty of snacks to power us through long climbing days, which aren’t much different from what we eat at home. A huge bag of granola, oatmeal bars, dried fruit, nuts, and a surprise favorite, cumin carrot crackers, have been all we need to keep us going.

Dinner is always a much deserved treat. There have been many huge veggie and bean bowls topped with the requisite avocado, gomasio, and of course plenty of hot sauce. No hummus though which has been a bit of an adjustment. In spite of this, I am happily surviving. Actually, I take that back. We went to a charming, homey little restaurant last night called the red river rock house, where I was delighted to find freshly made hummus wraps packed full of homemade hummus and veggies, a black bean an mushroom burger ( so good!) and a bit of guacamole for good measure.

I’ll check back in before the trip is over with another update, and some pictures, too, if the Internet will cooperate for long enough to upload them.

Do you enjoy the outdoors? What are your favorite meals to cook when your out in the elements, or just away from your own kitchen?

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Carob Swirl Banana Bread with Sweet and Salty Pretzel Streusel


Sometimes, simple is best. Other times, though, quite the opposite is true.

While it is a fact that a slice of freshly baked banana bread warm from the oven certainly hits the spot, sometimes, I want something different. Just to keep things interesting. It’s not that my love for banana bread could ever fade, but it could, perhaps, get a big stale. (Did you catch that one? I’m patting myself on the back).


With two lonely bananas sitting on the counter, just on the brim of being unusable, I was inspired. There are two main options when it comes to brown bananas: freeze them for super sweet smoothies, or make banana bread. I chose the latter. At first, I thought, a classic banana bread would suffice. After I had made the batter, though, an idea struck me. Well actually, two ideas. The first included a swirl. A carob swirl, made with sweet, creamy sunflower seed butter. A swirl always makes a baked good better. So does a streusel. And not just your regular oat and nut streusel. No, I wanted to make a pretzel streusel. That whole sweet and salty thing was calling my name. So I did it. I mad Carob Swirl Banana Bread with Sweet and Salty Pretzel Streusel. That’s a lot of words, but I need them all to encompass just how wonderful this banana bread is.

This was one of those instances when my kitchen intuition proved itself quite useful. Everyone who tried this banana bread came back for seconds. I couldn’t stop eating the streusel. I made it twice in three days (the second time with a cocoa swirl, which is also wonderful).

If you’re looking for a recipe for Mother’s Day brunch, here it is. Look no further, because I assure you, Mom will be happy. You don’t need the bagels or the oatmeal. Forget the fancy pastries.This banana bread will satisfy every craving. This is, by the way, the recipe for those mystery muffins I showed you in the last post.


Carob Swirl Banana Bread with Sweet and Salty Pretzel Streusel


  • Banana bread
  • 2 medium bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup neutral oil (I used sunflower oil)
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar*
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • Carob swirl
  • 1/3 cup creamy nut butter (I used sunflower seed butter)
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened carob powder*
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar*
  • 1/4 -1/2 cup warm water, as needed
  • Pretzel streusel
  • 1 cup crushed salted pretzels
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil*
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar*
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour


  1. Preheat oven to 357°F. Lightly grease an 8-inch deep dish pie pan, or 8-inch square baking dish.
  2. For the banana bread: In a large bowl, mash the banana until it is the consistency of applesauce. Pour in the almond milk, oil, coconut sugar, flaxseed, and vanilla extract, and mix until homogenous.
  3. Add the whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. Do not overmix the batter.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and set aside.
  5. For the cocoa swirl: In a small bowl, mix the the nut butter, cocoa or carob powder, and sugar with a fork. Slowly add warm water until the mixture is the consistency pancake batter.
  6. Spoon heaping tablespoonfuls of the mixture into the prepared banana bread batter, and swirl around with a knife to distribute. Set aside.
  7. For the pretzel streusel: In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix together with fingers until you have a crumbly mixture. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the prepared batter, and lightly press in.
  8. Bake at 375°F for about 40 minutes, until the edges are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of the dish comes out clean.
  9. Let cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before serving.


*Brown sugar may be substituted for the coconut sugar in an equal amount. If you do not want to use carob powder, cocoa powder will work as well. ANy neutral oil will work in place of the coconut oil.

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What are your feelings on banana bread, or simplicity in general? Do you stick to the classics, or do you prefer to add a twist to old recipes?


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Blueberry Chocolate Chip Cornmeal Bars and a Look at What We’ve Been Eating Lately

For the past couple of weeks, life has been happening, with a lot of food in between, and not a lot of time staging photoshoots. Why do I feel like I wrote the same thing in my last post? That’s right - it’s because I did. Again, though, I’ve been spending a good chunk of time in the kitchen. I even had time to make an extra treat to bring into work yesterday. Needless to say, it didn’t last long.

Days have been full of work, schoolwork, and climbing whenever I can. Justin and I just got back from a long weekend of climbing outdoors in the most beautiful weather I’ve experienced in a while, but what we’re really excited for is our upcoming trip to the Red River Gorge in Kentucky. We’ll be gone for most of May, climbing at what has become our favorite outdoor destination. I’ll be sure to take a lot of photos and share whenever I can - the internet connection is quite spotty down there.

Meanwhile, here’s a small bite of what we’ve been eating lately.

Blueberry cornmeal bars

It’s probably quite evident by now, but in case you’ve yet to notice, bars are a must-have around these parts. Fresh blueberries and chocolate chips in a cornmeal-based dough provided us with a little change from the normal granola bar. They didn’t last the week.

Quinoa granola

Granola is always a staple, whether eaten on top of a warm bowl of oatmeal, or by itself with a splash of almond milk. This time I added some quinoa to my regular mix for a bit of extra crunch!

Roasted root vegetables

I can never get enough root vegetables, especially when they’re roasted, and especially when they’re sweet potatoes. Now that spring has shown it’s face for more than a day, I’ve been in the mood for more fresh herbs to brighten up my plates. I’m a cilantro lover, but Justin is in the “it tastes like soap” boat. Any other cilantro lovers out there?

Banana bread muffins 2

Banana bread muffins

This is the treat I took into work yesterday. Well actually, it’s the portion I reserved for Justin and I, and didn’t bring to work. That is gone. It didn’t last until the end of the night. I’ve got a few tweaks to make to the recipe, but I will definitely be sharing. It involves chocolate and pretzels, and more chocolate. And maybe some fruit. Any guesses?

Vegetable plate

Most of the time, dinners have looked like this. Big plates of vegetables prepared with a variety of seasonings. And I always have avocado and hummus on my condiment plate. Usually maple mustard too. On this particular night I had curried cauliflower, spicy green beans and mushrooms, and lemony fava beans. With a side of carrots and yellow squash for good measure.


You didn’t think I’d leave with you without any recipe in this post, did you? Didn’t think so. Without further ado, here is the recipe for the Blueberry Chocolate Chip Cornmeal Bars.

Blueberry Chocolate Chip Cornmeal Bars


  • 1 medium banana, mashed (about 1/4 cup mashed)
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil or other neutral oil
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar (plus more for dusting, optional)
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup finely ground cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds (optional)
  • A pinch of salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine mashed banana, sunflower oil. coconut sugar, flaxseed, and vanilla extract. Mix until homogenous.
  3. Pour in whole wheat pastry flour, cornmeal, rolled oats, and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon until just combined.
  4. Fold in blueberries, chocolate chips, and sunflower seeds if using until evenly dispersed through the dough.
  5. Spread the dough into a 1/2 inch thick 6-inch by 8-inch rectangle on the prepared baking sheet.
  6. Sprinkle additional coconut sugar over the dough, if desired.
  7. Bake for 23-25 minutes. Let cool on pan for 10 minutes before slicing.
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