Dear Nutterly Frozen Protein Bars,

Boy, do we have some good news for you smart cookies out there sticking to your food-related New Year’s resolutions!

We know that feeling: midday has just rolled around, somehow both too long and too short from dinnertime. Do you snack, and worry about the added calories, or wait and risk eating too much at dinner? Well, the right answer is to snack- straight up, nothing wrong with it. Snacking smart? That can be a challenge.

Today, I present to you a protein bar with some really simple ingredients that will fill you up with the right amount (and types) of carbohydrates and sustain you with plenty of protein. I give you…my NUTTERLY FROZEN PROTEIN BARS!

Before I go on, I just want to take a special moment and recognize SORTEDfood for their contribution. As mentioned, this is, after all, an adaptation of the recipe, one I’ve been over-the-moon with since the new year began. Some personal tweaks of my own changed this bar of beauty into a straight-laced peanut butter version, but I encourage any and all to find the original recipe at their website!

https://sortedfood.com/recipe=2412

The other major difference is that, since I left out the belly portion of melted dark chocolate to bind these snacks into one, the bars are kept in my freezer to stay intact. I will be the first to admit: I was a little  disappointed, at first, that I chose not to include chocolate. They seemed still mushy and sticky after hours in the fridge. So, I froze them up, and got another sweet treat of its own after it! It’s not the same, with the expectations of that chewy texture we’re used to, but the hardness reminded me of eating a frozen candy bar, taking me back to summers when I needed to recharge from the heat.

Happy accidents, am I right?

What I think will (hopefully) draw people to this little bar is that there is no added sugar. In fact, the only sugar really comes from the milk, which is crucial in binding the dry ingredients together. The taste buds then rely on peanut butter (a childhood classic)), the nuttiness and aroma of oats and almonds, and just a hint of sweetness from the protein powder to achieve a taste that’s not dull or overpoweringly rich for this recipe.

I know what you’re thinking: for goodness sake, Rory, we’re already sold…NOW GIVE US THE RECIPE!!!

Will do, dear readers:

Nutterly Frozen Protein Bars
2 cups grams oats (old-fashioned or quick…up to you!)
3/4 cup almond meal
3 Scoops / 90 grams of vanilla protein powder
          – (I used Bodylogix All-Natural Vanilla Bean, but there are several other good ones on the market.)
          – I do wonder, if you haven’t already, reader, if using a chocolate protein powder might lift spirits for those who crave the chocolate/PB combo. If it works or not, comment below to let us know!)
1/3 cup natural peanut butter
1 cup / Milk
1 tsp. coconut oil

1. In a large bowl with a spoon, mix together the first three ingredients.
2. Add peanut butter; mold with hands until the ‘dough’ is quite cake-y and sticky.
3. Add the milk and oil and combine with hands into the final product dough.
4. Place the dough into an 8×8 baking square and let chill in the fridge for two hours.
5. Cut the soft bars into 8 equal pieces, and freeze for the evening. Enjoy the next day!

Minus all of that chill time, pretty speedy to accomplish, huh? Ready-to-go snacks like these make all the difference during the school or work day. Best of all, summertime is just around the corner, so what better way than to begin celebrating with this fun, filling bars?

Try ’em out readers, and let us know what you think!

(Also…any have any ideas for more clever names? Share below!)

– Rory

Dear Food Getaway: Iran

I wouldn’t call my visit to Iran a ‘getaway,’ but it was certainly a profound culinary experience that brought me a little closer to my culture and my upbringing. 

Growing up, food belonged in two categories: Home food and everything else. Home food was stuff we ate at home during breakfasts, dinners and family gatherings; the stuff that differentiated me from others; the stuff that I loved but didn’t know how to appreciate. The breakfasts were decadent breads like sangak with savory spreads like French goat cheese and walnuts, butter and honey, and tea. The gatherings were full feasts of saffron rice, rich and meaty stews and kabobs. Instead of taking coffee breaks, we took tea breaks. Often, mom would indulge us by making our favorites for dinner too, like ghormeh sabzi. I say ‘indulge’ because cooking Persian food is incredibly time-consuming, so it’s been years since I’ve had a home-cooked meal like that (of course, mom still indulges me when I visit).

Imagine my excitement to visit a country where I could have home food for every meal! Not only that, everyone else knew about it, restaurants served it and it wasn’t a specialty. This—usually unique—piece of me is the norm in this place. It was like I’d gone into my food past and relived it. So here’s a glimpse into a few of the favorite, food-fueled moments from my trip. Pardon the low quality of some of the photos, it’s hard to stand still when you’re about to eat this stuff!

My love for ghormeh sabzi spans oceans. My grandmother knew that’s what I needed for dinner my first night in Iran, complete with rice and tadig, and koo-koo (an herby quiche without cheese).

My first full dinner in Iran, courtesy of grandma. Photo/Alma Bahman

My first full dinner in Iran, courtesy of grandma. Photo/Alma Bahman

Dear Sherbet Cake

– NO CAKE ALLOWED!!! –

When there’s a sherbet cake around, meticulously personalized at our local Baskin Robbins, there’s a time and a place to include layers of colorful (Pink? Purple? Orange? Too many options…) sponge between frozen, fruity gobs of sweetness in between. But it is not this time. This time, when we order a sherbet cake, we mean a SHERBET cake.

That means, for us, no cake – straight to the good stuff! That sherbet mountain must have hiked over 15o millimeters, with clouds of rich, dark frosting to ice the peak of the sweet gem. Albeit, the black may have ruined the color scheme for the aggressively OCD, but not one would have probably been tempted away from a mouthful of this. A happy birthday was had, one way or another, by all!

With my fork as my sherpa on this sugar-land quest, bites one-through-twenty delivered me first into a daze, then into a dream. Perhaps I digress into hyperbole, but I remember my world shaded with pinks and sugar plums, almost like a Christmas dream. Without the cake, the density was all but lost, and the smooth creaminess of the sherbet guided be through a truly scrumptious dining experience.

But what do I remember more than the bright flavors? The sugar crash. And this is no critique of Baskin Robbins or sherbet-based confections. Fifteen minutes after inviting this in my belly, an hour nap was executed and achieved. I wasn’t kidding about the dream.

Happy Thursday, readers! What are some of your favorite cakes from the past? Comment below, and share your photos!

– Rory

Concerning Homemade Almond Milk and the Byproducts Thereof: Almond Pulp Cookies!

Pictured: four out of eight cookies (I ate the rest...)

Pictured: four out of eight cookies (I ate the rest…)

When I need milk I make my own almond milk because, as I’m sure that most people know by now, adult humans really shouldn’t be drinking milk. Store bought dairy-free milks aren’t really an option either because they normally have an emulsifier and thickener called carrageenan, which likely causes such wonderful effects as “inflammation, gut irritation, and even cancer.” 

The problem with almond milk is once you go through the process of grinding up the almonds in a blender and filtering out the liquid (here is a recipe if you’d like to know more), you wind up with a ton of leftover almond pulp that you have to either toss or dry out and store somehow and hope it doesn’t get moldy.

Or you could use it as an excuse to make cookies!

Mushroom Log: Ode to Turkey Tails

Turkey Tails. On my deck.

Turkey Tails. On my deck.

Mushrooms occupy a strange place in our palates. Neither part of the plant or the animal kingdom, they are an oft-feared addition to any meal. Yet the little decomposers beneath our feet have tremendous health benefits for our bodies and for our planet. In the spirit of reviving the good name of mushrooms everywhere, Dear Food presents an in-depth look at the good, the bad, and the just plain weird of the mushroom world.

Latin name: Travetes versicolor

Other names: Many-Colored Polypore

Spring is upon us, which means that mushroom pickings are scarce in my area. All the little mushrooms are sleeping in the ground until next fall when the temperature cools down and the rain picks up. 

That is, all but the good ol’ Turkey Tails. 

Dear Perfect Omelet-Flip

Whether you’re a French cooking enthusiast, egg-lover, or a cocktail of the two, I encourage you to join in my praises when one creates the perfect omelet, day or night!

Truly, could you NOT write a sonnet when that perfect oiled or buttered pan produces a flip so tactful, so graceful? That crescent shape, like a twinkle of the eye, and symmetry may pair with a curvy sweet potato or, better yet, a tasteful croissant? It’s the ideal, protein-packed meal that’s warm, satisfying, and totally customizable!

There’s also something to humbling about omelets too, no? The act of taking one or two simple ingredients and transforming them into our own little works of artistry take me back to being a smaller kid. It would be dad’s night to cook, and his omelets absolutely oozed with cheese (and class, for my younger tastes) with nimble crunchiness from the bacon. Omelets, for me, are one of those perfect homey foods, don’t you agree?

With a lack of ingredients this week, I kept things simple with just a few pads of goat cheese in the center. Even still, how I felt like royalty! And with so many options out there, the possibilities are endless!

The question remains: what kind of fillings/toppings are ideal for YOU, loyal readers? Share you ideas and upload your photos; we’d love to hear from all!

Rory

Make Your Own Kombucha For Cheap

Image via Omar de Armas

Kombucha fermenting. Image via Omar de Armas

This is a golden age of kombucha. It seems that every time I go to the supermarket, a new brand of kombucha has cropped up. It’s a wonder people can keep coming up with clever names for their brands!

Unfortunately, at around $3 a pop, kombucha can be expensive if you drink it regularly. But don’t let that stop you from enjoying kombucha–it’s easy (and cheap!) to make yourself. 

Mushroom Log: Oyster Mushrooms

Oysters courtesy of a.bower

Land… oysters.. ? Courtesy of a.bower

Mushrooms occupy a strange place in our palates. Neither part of the plant or the animal kingdom, they are an oft-feared addition to any meal. Yet the little decomposers beneath our feet have tremendous health benefits for our bodies and for our planet. In the spirit of reviving the good name of mushrooms everywhere, Dear Food presents an in-depth look at the good, the bad, and the just plain weird of the mushroom world.

Latin name: the genus Pleurotus

Other names: tree oyster, tree mushroom

Just the other day, I was walking to the supermarket and came across a recently-felled log in somebody’s front yard that had a big ol’ growth of oyster mushrooms on the side of it. As one of the perks of eating mushrooms is most people don’t know what they have right in their front lawn, I didn’t think the owners of the log would mind if I got rid of the unsightly blemishes for them. 

Er… if I want to keep that up, maybe I should stop writing a column about mushrooms…