Month: May 2014

Peach oatmeal

peach oatmeal | happyfoodbites

I mentioned the other day that my bullet blender which I use to make breakfast smoothies had died. I had a couple of peaches that normally I would have thrown into a smoothie but since that option is temporarily unavailable, I thought I’d give this peach oatmeal a try. As I was perusing recipes, I came across theoatmealartist. Not someone who makes pictures out of oatmeal, but rather a girl who turns oatmeal into her flavor canvas and I was inspired.

cutting peach | happyfoodbitesPeaches are pitted fruits so you can’t just slice through the middle of them. As you slide your knife into the peach, about a third of the way down you’ll meet the hard seed. Drag your knife all the way around the pit. Then just like how we cut the zucchini yesterday, turn the fruit 90 degrees and make the same type of cut.

quartered peaches | happyfoodbites

You now have 4 pieces that will easily pull away from the pit and then chop each slice into small bite-sized pieces.

oats and peaches | happyfoodbites

Bring water (or milk) to a boil and add chopped peaches and 1/2 cup of steel cut oats. Cook over medium heat for fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally.

While you are leisurely stirring, I wanted to tell you about an article in the New Yorker from last week about a new study by Peter Gibson. Who is Peter Gibson you may ask (as did I), well it turns out he is the author of a study done in 2011 that was upheld by those cheer-leading the gluten-free craze. Gibson tested his hypothesis again and found people blindly given a completely gluten-free diet still presented with the same “gluten intolerance” symptoms.1 One of the great things about science is that it invites scrutiny and requires repetition. This new study does not mean you have to go back to gluten, nor should it give anyone a reason to chastise people who eat gluten-free by choice or necessity. Celiac disease is a real, although rare, genetic condition that causes the body’s immune system to attack itself when gluten is ingested. Only about 1 percent of the U.S. population has celiac disease2 and I am grateful I don’t have it but it does run in my immediate family. If you feel better not eating gluten, by all means skip the dinner rolls and don’t feel the least bit guilty about it! I feel better when I cut back on my sugar intake and more days than not choose to go without it. But this study should also remind us that like all science, nutrition science is ever-changing and being mindful of how your body feels should play a bigger part in what you eat than the latest fad. A lot of people don’t feel good eating the “Standard American Diet” of food wrapped in plastic and from a box, even if they don’t have an immune response to it. Pizza piled high with six kinds of cheese and four greasy meats isn’t healthy just because it’s on a gluten-free crust. Ok off my soapbox now and back to this yummy (and gluten-free) breakfast!

crystallized ginger | happyfoodbites

Right here is the secret ingredient in this oatmeal: crystallized ginger. It’s one of those splurge spices but adds such a great flavor! If you don’t have any, that’s ok, the oatmeal will still taste great with the vanilla, allspice, and cloves.

cooking oatmeal | happyfoodbites

After the oatmeal and peaches have cooked for fifteen minutes, stir in vanilla, minced crystallized ginger, allspice, cloves and a pinch of salt. Stir and continue cooking until oatmeal reaches desired consistency, about 5 to 10 minutes more. Serve immediately and store leftovers for easy reheating in the microwave or oven tomorrow.

peach oatmeal | happyfoodbites

Below is your printable version of the recipe with nutrition information included.

Peach oatmeal
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 2
  • 2 cups water (or milk)
  • ½ cup steel cut oats
  • 2 peaches
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • 1 tablespoon minced crystallized ginger
  • pinch of salt
  1. Add water (or milk) to a large pot and place over medium heat.
  2. While liquid comes to a boil, dice peaches as small as possible.
  3. Add oats and diced peaches to pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring every few minutes.
  4. After 15 minutes, add vanilla, allspice, cloves, crystallized ginger and salt. Stir and continue cooking until oatmeal reaches desired consistency, about 5-10 minutes more.
  5. Serve immediately.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 cup Calories: 156 Fat: 2 Saturated fat: 0 Unsaturated fat: 2 Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 33 Sugar: 16 Sodium: 80 Fiber: 6 Protein: 5 Cholesterol: 0

inspired by Apple Pie Steel Cut Oatmeal at theoatmealartist.

Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.

-Karl Barth, Swiss theologian

  1. Read the full text study for free at the Gastroenterology Journal 

  2. For an in-depth look at celiac disease, check out the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness 

Zucchini, black bean, & chicken stir fry

zucchini black bean and chicken stir fry | happyfoodbites

I have one more dish to share with you that came from the last of the simple roast chicken: I present to you zucchini, black bean, and chicken stir fry. The only kind of beans I ever saw as a kid were baked beans from a copper can. I used to love the tangy sweetness of the brown sugar liquid they were cloaked in; the bean was a mere afterthought, simply the vehicle for the sauce. These days I don’t know if I’ve ever put any kind of sauce on my beans. I’m more of a spice girl now!

all ze spices | happyfoodbites

(See I told you!) I knew none of the main ingredients were going to pop on their own so I started looking for a blend of spices that would really shine. I put together the list: basil, crushed rosemary, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, thyme, and turmeric (plus the ever faithful salt and pepper). Don’t be intimidated by how many there are, just use as many as you have available or mix and match your favorites. Spices can be a little pricey sometimes, but dried spices can last six months to one year when stored properly which means keeping them away from light, heat, air, and humidity.1 And because I eat less now than I used to, I spend a lot less money on food overall so spices are a splurge I allow for in my budget.

mix all spices together | happyfoodbites

Start by mixing all the spices together in a small bowl. We’ll want to sprinkle a bit into each layer of the stir fry and then mix the rest in at the end.

diced onion and garlic | happyfoodbites

The two recurring supportive characters in most of my dinner dishes: onion and garlic. Dice half an onion and 4 cloves of garlic.

cooking onion | happyfoodbites

Heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in skillet and cook onion over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes until soft, don’t forget to put a dash of seasoning in each layer! Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes more.

zuchinni rounds | happyfoodbites

While the onions and garlic cook, chop the zucchini into bite sized pieces by chopping into half-inch rounds and stack them together in groups of three or four.

2 cuts on each stack of zuchinni | happyfoodbites

Make a vertical cut halfway through the stack, rotate ninety degrees and make another vertical cut. Voila, similar sized pieces.

spiced zuchinni | happyfoodbites

Toss with olive oil, sprinkle with spices, then toss again.

cooking zuchinni | happyfoodbites

Add the zucchini to the skillet and cook over medium-high heat for 6-8 minutes, stirring once or twice, until beginning to brown.

add chicken | happyfoodbites

Meanwhile, toss the chicken with the spices and add to skillet.

adding beans | happyfoodbites

Followed by the beans and the rest of the remaining spice mixture. Stir to combine. (Canned beans are totally fine to use but if you cook your own dried beans you can store them in the fridge for up to four days2). Reduce heat to medium-low and cook uncovered 6-8 minutes until chicken and beans are heated through. Finish with a squeeze of lemon and serve immediately.

Below is your printable version of this recipe with nutritional information included.

Zucchini, black bean, & chicken stir fry
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 3
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 small zucchinis
  • ½ cup dried black beans, cooked and drained (or 1 can of bean rinsed and drained)
  • 6 oz cooked chicken, cubed
  • Lemon wedges for serving.
  1. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add diced onion, sprinkle with a dash of spice mixture and cook 2-3 minutes until soft. Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes more without burning garlic.
  3. Add zucchini and cook 6-8 minutes until starting to brown. Add chicken, beans and remaining spice mixture. Stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium and cook 6-8 minutes, stirring every few minutes until chicken and beans are warmed through. Finish with a squeeze of lemon.
  4. Serve immediately.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 cup Calories: 222 Fat: 5 Saturated fat: 1 Unsaturated fat: 4 Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 21 Sugar: 3 Sodium: 249 Fiber: 7 Protein: 24 Cholesterol: 48

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.

– Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

  1. Check out this great Serious Eats article for more about spices. 

  2. What’s Cooking America 

Cold cucumber soup

cold cucumber soup

Last summer I was lucky enough to be part of a trip to Ecuador where I helped build a playground for children. It was an amazing experience, one that I’m sure will pop up time and again on this blog as it continues to impact my life nearly a year later. My roommate during that trip was one of the coolest chicks I have ever met. Every evening she and I sat in our room and scrawled out our thoughts and impressions of the day. And while there are many many things that affected me on that trip, perhaps what I am most grateful for is the reminder of the joy writing gives to me. I journalled the old-fashioned way with ink to paper but Jess was kind enough to keep a blog during that time. My old roomie was on my mind recently because I was craving some humus and I remembered her secret ingredient was half a cucumber blended in, mmm so yummy. I didn’t have any chickpeas or tahini on hand but I did have a cucumber and lo and behold I came across this Cold Cucumber Soup at thehealthyfoodie.

chopped green onion | happyfoodbites

Super easy. Super delicious. However, like most of the soups I make, It does require some sort of blending tool (food processor, immersion blender, regular blender). But before you chop everything up and blend it all together, can I just say how freaking happy it makes me that the kickstarter to grow Reading Rainbow started yesterday and reached it’s one million dollar goal in eleven hours! Reading Rainbow made such a huge impact in my life and I’m so excited that LeVar Burton is still such a big advocate for literacy. Hurray! And now for the soup: start by chopping two green onions.

chopped seedless cucumber | happyfoodbites

Add one cup of chopped seedless cucumber. Seedless cucumbers come in several varieties, the most common being English and Persian and you should be able to find one of these at most major groceries stores but if you have a local market you can go to those are the best! The English cucumbers are longer and skinnier than traditional American ones and typically they’re wrapped in plastic. The skin on seedless cucumbers is also thinner and sweeter than its American counterpart so they are usually not peeled.1 One English cuke will easily yield you more than one cup of chopped pieces but don’t worry about measuring exactly, with a soup like this you can just eyeball the amount of yogurt to mix in.

everything into the blender

Combine chopped vegetables, one cup Greek yogurt, one teaspoon mustard, and one tablespoon each of dried dill and dried parsley in food processor and blend until creamy. Add water, if desired, to achieve preferred consistency. Note it will thicken slightly as it chills. (The original recipe called for 1/2 cup of water but the nonfat Greek yogurt is slightly less creamy compared to the regular version so I didn’t add any water to mine). This is a soup that definitely needs to sit a few hours in the fridge, and preferably overnight, for it’s best flavor. If you have mason jars, they’re perfect for this. Fill them about halfway, give them a shake right before you serve and eat right out of the jar.

Below you’ll find a printable version of the recipe with nutritional information included.

Cold cucumber soup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 2
  • 1 cup seedless cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 2 green onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoons dill
  • 1 tablespoons dried parsley
  • ½ cup water (optional)
  1. Combine cucumber, greek yogurt, green onion, mustard, dill and parsley in food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Add up to ½ cup of water to desired consistency.
  2. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.
  3. Serve chilled.
Soup will thicken slightly as it chills.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 cup Calories: 91 Fat: 0 Saturated fat: 0 Unsaturated fat: 0 Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 10 Sugar: 7 Sodium: 120 Fiber: 1 Protein: 13 Cholesterol: 0

adapted from thehealthyfoodie

I’ve learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life.

-Maya Angelou

  1. Chowhound