Homemade Protein Bars

My schedule is pretty hectic (that’s the way I like it!) and that requires me to be on top of things when it comes to fitting meals into my day. One of my tricks for doing so is to always have one of these bad boys on hand.

The original recipe is good on its own but I like to use natural peanut butter which means that mine come out drier. To compensate, I like to add about a teaspoon of non-hydrogenated coconut oil, milk, and honey (if you use sweetened milks like vanilla soy or rice milk then I would omit the honey) to make the bars a little softer.

Once they’ve cooled for a few hours and have formed a solid bar I like to cut them into 1″x 4″ pieces. Then I wrap each bar diagonally in a 5″x5″ square of wax paper. You can store the whole batch in the fridge for up to 2 weeks although they start to dry out again after about 5 days.

You can also add more things to them if you want to mix it up a bit: raisins, dried fruit, different chocolate chips, flavored extracts, or chopped up nuts.

 

Eating on the go

I started a new job this week that requires me to be out of the door by 7:45am and gone until 8 or 9pm. That’s all the impetus needed to get me kicked into chef mode. Last Sunday I spent 2 hours meal planning, grocery shopping, and prepping meals for the week and it’s paying off well.

There are a few pros to this:

– eating healthier- I tend to eat well when I’m the one preparing the food

– wasting less- I plan the meals to use off all of the leftovers from the other meals, which also means…

– saving money- since I’m using ingredients more efficiently and not having to buy snacks or meals while I’m out.

All in all using a menu planner works out well for me, and the money I save on not eating out more than makes up for the time it takes for me to prep everything on Sunday.

I seem to be the only one in my office who brings multi-component lunches daily. Is that the case in your office? Do you already bring your lunch? Hopefully this can serve as a dialogue for sharing recipes and tips for not getting bogged down in the mechanics of having to add an extra task to your schedule each week.

Each week I’ll be posting a recipe, snack idea, or meal planning/prep tip that I use to make some pretty fabulous lunches. Starting as soon as I take some pictures that aren’t in a break room!

Recipe: Inspired Gin and Tonic

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My boyfriend and I were at a party a few years ago and met a girl who was really interested in our relationship. At one point in the interrogation conversation she asked us what we felt we had gotten out of the relationship and the other person. I gave a long winded and alcohol fuel answered about the beauty of music and how grateful I was to have had such a well rounded introduction to both music listening and music making. Satisfied with my answer I turned to Nick and he said “Well…I won’t drink cheap alcohol anymore.”

I wasn’t offended and I’m still not. I don’t indulge in many vices and when I do I make a point of trying to experience the best that I can. I’m proud of that.

While I was in Las Vegas a few weeks ago we ate at China Poblano, a restaurant in The Cosmopolitan. I had a Mexican styled Gin and Tonic and my mom had a Chinese styled one. They. are. incredible. I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to recreate the recipe and this is what I’ve got so far.

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Poblano Gin and Tonic

Needed:

Hendrick’s Gin

St. Germain liqueur

Orange or Lemon Simple Syrup (recipe below)

Cilantro, orange peel, and marigold (marigold optional)

Ice

Tonic Water

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To make:

Measure and pour one shot of Hendrick’s into your tumbler. Add a quarter to a half of a shot of St. Germain depending on how sweet you like your drinks. Add no more than half a shot of simple syrup to the drink to sweeten. Garnish with cilantro and orange peel (I like to add cuts to the inside of the orange slice to release more flavor). Add ice, top with tonic water, and serve.

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China Gin and Tonic:

Needed:

Saphire gin

Lemon simple syrup

Ginger, cucumber peel, lemon peel

Ice

Tonic Water

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To make:

Pour out one shot of Saphire into your tumbler. Add half a shot of lemon simple syrup. Place a slice of ginger, cucumber peel, and lemon peel in the glass. Top with ice and fill with tonic. Serve.

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Pumpkin Gingersnap Cookies

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Over the weekend my dad and I spent an hour wandering around Bed, Bath, and Beyond trying out everything that we could find. That place is Pandora’s box. It’s a music box according to my dad and the CD testing station’s sing-along adventure. We found a cutting board in the shape of Brazil, Hanukkah puppy lights (?), and my personal favorite, a Gator cooler with a well-placed strap which conveniently allowed it to convert between cooler and fanny-pack (even cooler).

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Needless to say, our exploration was curbed by my appetite so we packed it on up with our goodies in tow and made our way to Se7en Bites Bakery.

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Just wow! Se7en Bites had so much more than I expected. Their baked goods (Sweet and savory) were just as diverse as their a la carte options and they have an entire vegetarian menu. Swoon! I opted for an iced coffee and a pumpkin gingersnap cookie and my dad went for a coffee and an individual chocolate-peanut butter-bacon pie (for my mom, of course). The food was great (the only thing better was the staff). So great in fact that I haven’t been able to get those cookies off my mind. Here’s my attempt at them (recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod) although these have nothing on the soft molasses goodness of Se7en Bites’s.

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Franco’s Sugo

While Nick and I were in Italy we stayed in an apartment in Rome outside of the city. Originally, we thought we had the place to ourselves. Once we got there we learned that we had a roommate; a 40-something year old Roman named Franco.

Franco spoke 4 words of English. We spoke 4 words of Italian. They were the same 4 words…which meant that when Franco decided he and Nick were going to be best friends, Google translate joined their merry little parade.

Despite our clear language barrier we ended up spending almost every night sharing a bottle of wine, a freshly cooked meal, and stories from home with Franco. In the process, he taught us a lot about Italian culture and even went so far as to teach us his Summer Sauce recipe known as Sugo in Italian.

Here is the recipe, true to Franco’s dictation.

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1 carrot (carota) chopped

1 celery (sedano) chopped

1 onion (cipolla) chopped (small)

+ Beef (carne) optional

White wine (vino blanco)

Crushed tomato (pomodora) fresh if possible

Basil

Salt (sale) just a pinch

Basil+Pecorino cheese (Cacio)+Pepper (Pepe)+Pasta water

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Heat veggies in oil on high heat until fragrant

add white wine/water

add tomatoes and salt

lower heat

add basil

cover and let simmer

add pasta water


ONLY eat with BIG pasta

NO garlic


Make sauce, when pasta starts, turn sauce off, take pasta off 2 minutes before ready and turn sauce back on. Add pasta to sauce, stir, and serve.

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Drink with white wine and enjoy with some buttered toast, Louis Prima, and good company.

Side notes from Franco: this is a summer sauce, winter sauces use bigger tomatoes, a little cream, some sugar, meat, red wine, and lots of garlic. Drink with red wine and follow with espresso.

Side notes from Megan: when Franco first made this for us, he used a small can of crushed tomatoes and supplemented with some fresh grape tomatoes. Since then I’ve made this with only canned crushed tomatoes, with canned plum tomatoes I crushed myself in a food processor, and with fresh tomatoes stewed and crushed in a food processor (as seen here). There’s no one way to do it. Every sauce is unique to the day and to the chef. It’s the Italian way.