"The people who give you their food give you their heart" - Cesar Chavez

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Banana Date Muffins

I love dates - especially Medjool dates. Like all fruits that naturally have a pit, dates taste much better if you purchase them with the pit still intact. Can you imagine buying a pitted avocado or a pitted peach? It wouldn't taste very good. Buy your dates with the pit and always sample before purchasing. Dates can look sweet and juicy on the outside and be raw and dry and on the inside. At the Sunday Farmer's Market in front of the civic center on Market and 7th, there is a woman who sells a variety of dates. I usually sample one of each variety and I always buy the Medjool ones. I guess I just feel I have to sample the others in case I am surprised to discover that they suddenly taste superior. Keep your dates refrigerated for up to two weeks. Otherwise freeze them. Dates are nature's energy snack. Add them to bananas and yogurt in a smoothie. Add them to bitter green salads with goat cheese. Add them to a bowl of oatmeal, a banana and peanut butter sandwich. Dates - the food and the activity - are versatile, so have fun with them. I bought a huge bag recently and when we had some super ripe bananas, I decided it was time to bake dates in the muffins. Because dates have so much natural sweetness, you can omit all other sugar.

Banana Date Muffins :)

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup flax meal
3/4 cup oat bran

1 cup chopped walnuts
3 heaping tablespoons peanut butter
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsps cinnamon
3 ripe bananas
2 cups Medjool dates, chopped
1  cup dried cranberries
1 cup soy milk
2 eggs
1 tsp almond extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, butter two loaf pans.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, flax meal, oat bran, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
3. In a separate bowl mash the bananas, add in the mango chunks, dried cranberries, soy milk, eggs and almond extract. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until incorporated.
4. Spread the batter evenly into the loaf pans.
5. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cottage Cheese Blueberry Pancakes

This is one of my mom's favorite breakfasts. So I took her usual recipe and healthified it - not only are these healthy, but they are fluffy and delicious! Add any seasonal fruit. Get a glass of OJ and turn on some Keb'Mo' and fall in love with pancakes and his beautiful Blues music. The key to fluffy pancakes is all in the prep. Get the batter fluffy like D.J. McFlufster when it's in the bowl and your pancakes will be light and wonderful when they are on the plate.

3 eggs separated
1/2 pinch cream of tartar
8 ounces low fat cottage cheese
Pinch salt
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
Lemon zest
Blueberries (As many as you want!)

1.  Crack dem eggs putting the egg whites in a mixing bowl and the yolks in a side bowl. Using an electric mixer or a really strong arm, beat the egg whites until they are stiff. Show those eggs whites what your made of!
2. Combine the cream of tartar, cottage cheese, salt and flour in bowl.
3. Add the egg yolks to the cottage cheese - flour mixture and combine.
4. Fold in the egg whites, lemon zest and blueberries.
5. Grease a pan with a little bit of canola oil and fry the pancakes like regular pancakes. When you start to see those little holes on top and the bottom edges turning golden, flip the pancake. I recommend turning on the oven to the lowest heat so you can keep the pancakes warm while you make the entire batter. Serve with syrup and fresh fruit.
So fluffy!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Portland's Food Truck Noshery

Entering the 'D- Street Noshery'
The food truck movement in Portland, has become the focal communal dining experience. Like a new age version of Singapore's crowded hawker centers - this 'D- Street Noshery' is a buzzing place with hippies, hipsters and spirit charmers enjoying warm meals on communal wooden tables. I know food trucks are all the rave right now - but I hope this is one fad that is here to stay. The startup cost is minimal, compared to a restaurant, so more folks who are good cooks can share their food with us. In addition, it encourages communal eating and experimentation. I mean, we are more likely to try a new dish from a truck than a fancy restaurant. Each pint size truck at the Noshery was creatively decorated to match the theme of the food being served. 
Billie sitting in front of  the adorable 'Pie Spot' Winnabego.

'Pie Spot' was serving pie holes! If a donut hole married a cobbler, they would have baby pie holes....and sell them for $3.50 a pop. Flavors included lemon, apple, s'more, and pecan pie holes! The lovely lady behind the counter told us that her menu changes seasonally. I LOVE the sea foam green color of her darling pie mart. Thinking strategically, my mom, sister and I split up to each grab some grub from a different truck. We'd share our findings under the white tent and enjoy our last warm evening in Portland. I chose to get my meal from the Samba Shack. The brightly colored truck, pictured below, was serving up hot plates of Brazilian goodness. 

The motifs painted on all sides of the truck took me to a tropical place with reggae in the background. My meal was delicious. Pictured below on a bed of aromatic Jasmin rice, it was fragrant slices of chard, sautéed with white onion, beans, and a sort of sweet fried yuca flour. Warm, vegan, perfect.
To swallow it all down I also got a delicious Acai smoothie, which could have been a meal all by itself. Thick and chunky and naturally packed with super antioxidants - the perfect sweet energy drink.
My sister got delicious Korean tacos from the truck KOI Fusion. Spicy, fresh, crunchy, fabulous. The beef and spicy tofu tacos are pictured below:
My mom got macaroni and cheese from Herb's Mac & Cheese that was disappointingly mediocre. Perhaps it was just an 'off' day for Herb.
There were other trucks that we didn't try - but should I find myself in Portland again, I will certainly go back and while I enjoy trying new things, I'd probably opt for the Samba Shack's Brazilian mash up once more.

D-Street Noshery
3221 South East Division Street
Portland, Oregon