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Going Bananas!

These are no ordinary cookies...

These are no ordinary cookies…

My recent culinary obsession has been fixated on healthier alternative ingredients such as applesauce for sugar and garbanzo beans for…well, pretty much anything.

I confess: Pintrest has been the pinnacle of my online searches, as of late and I seem to find the most interesting recipes, tips and photos…sorry, Google. :)

It’s that time of the year where sugar laden cookie classics appear from the long traditional woodwork and pump legalized crack dosages in the form of sugar through blood streams across the nation. Somehow I justify my guilty consumption by the lack of sleep from dawn patrol sessions, holiday parties, the 80/20 rule and the time-swallowing gift “hunting and gathering” process. I’ve discovered battling cracked out lineups, trekking from parking spots located on Planet X and then doing the shoulder bump through aisles at the malls and stores are quite the calorie burners!!

In the midst of a sugar cacophony, I find these banana chocolate chip cookies are a simple cookie alternative that will ‘wow’ your pals, keep your stomach from boiling over and quell those guilty feelings as you squeeze into that wetsuit…if you feel that sort of thing during the holidays:

Ingredients:

Banana cookie swag: some consumption may be required.

Banana cookie swag: some consumption may be required.

  • 3 ripe Bananas-peeled (these serve as the substitute for butter)
  • 1 Tablespoon of a nut butter of your choice (I like almond or sunflower seed because the taste isn’t as distinct  as peanut butter)
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (yes these have a bit of sugar, however, add your favorite cacao alternative!)
  • Dashes of cinnamon (cinnamon junkie over here!)*
  • 2 teaspoon flax seed
  • 1/4 cup walnuts*

*This recipe is completely customize-able, so I add the walnuts and cinnamon because I think these ingredients go so well together.*

Directions:

The inside scoop on banana cookie goodness.

The inside scoop on banana cookie goodness.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put all ingredients in a mixing bowl and smash together with a fork. Make sure to break up those clumps of the bananas…unless your going for the chunky monkey effect. Spoon mixture onto greased up tray and bake for 8-10 minutes. Once the tops of the cookies are about a golden brown, remove from oven and let them cool for 5 minutes…if you can stand the wait. These cookies are pretty delicate, so letting them cool is essential. Once the cookies are cooled and your house smells amazing, consume at will.

WARNING: These cookies have been known to disappear if left out. No exact cause has been determined, however, it is believed family members, friends, co-workers and roommates are to blame.

Five things you NEED in Humboldt:

Humboldt Redwood forests galore! Try to find the hobbit in this picture.

Humboldt Redwood forests galore! Try to find the hobbit in this picture.

Ah, the land of beards, flannel and weed connoisseurs! Humboldt, Calif. is an area of the golden state that is anything but dry and brown.  Noted for it’s beautiful temperate rainforest, rocky coastline and, well, all different types of greenery, Humboldt is not a place to pass up …or puff-puff-pass the day away. Go outside.

All rain and stoners aside, I drove the 950 mile stretch solo to visit a good friend, score some waves and hug some trees. It didn’t take any THC-induced revelation to figure out the five essentials you can’t go without. Ladies and gents, other than your paraphernalia, don’t forget to pack these:

Waterproof Patagonia Jackets rock!

Waterproof Patagonia Jackets rock!

1.)    Waterproof Jacket:

Despite the fact that the ocean is chilly and chances of a swim/surf or (whatever your fancy) are less than that of Hawaii, you will get wet. Loosely considered the Pacific Northwest, Humboldt is rainy place. The coast varies only 10 degrees summer-to-winter and has an average rainfall of 40-100 inches per year. Coupled with humidity, this can create some wet (and not too cold) conditions. I was recently converted to Patagonia’s down jackets. To an extent, most of them are waterproof, but can be costly–trust me! I was hunting for months for one to go on sale! If you find one on sale, go for it. It’s well worth the bucks. If $$ is not an issue, put your chump change to the test and buy one–Patagonia is a solid company and does great things for this planet. If $$ is an issue, there are several comparable brands that are decimal points less than the pricey “Patagucchi.”

Laughing about a lack of skivvies.

Laughing about a lack of skivvies.

2.)    Hiking Boots:

To state the obvious: there are beautiful trails you NEED to explore in Humboldt. However, rocks, mud and rivers are aplenty, so hiking boots are nice to have to climb over trees, boulders and gravel. If you’re like me (semi-hippy-ish) and you like playing in the mud, try trekking a muddy trail barefoot! A lot of people walk about Humboldt without their shoes…and, apparently, skivvies! I met a fellow hiking in a kilt, traditional style….meaning: no undies. How I found out? When he squatted down to take a picture of me and my friend, all of his glory flashed before my eyes. It’s safe to say this shot was a candid one.

But— If you do nothing else, go for a walk in the woods. You’ll thank me later.

He thought I was going to steal his dinner.

He thought I was going to steal his dinner.

3.)  Camera:

You will see trees wider than your walls and beautiful scenic forested areas that are thousands of years old…coastlines engulfed in fog, huge waves, majestic Elk…and banana slugs. Tell me you don’t want to recall the time you ventured into the Humboldt “shire” and have beautiful emerald green images! Again, rain was a factor for me and my camera lens, so it would be wise to bring a lens-friendly wipe.

 

Some hiking spots might look familiar, too…Jurassic Park/Star Wars ring a bell? Ewoks/Hobbits/Aliens/Dinosaurs…a director’s wet dream for fantasy land should be on your photo priority list.

4.) Gun

I’m not part of any NRA…In my world, a gun is: a big board for riding big waves…Small by Humboldt standards is six feet. The day I got there, it was maybe two-to-three occasional six feet…winds and high tide made conditions a little wonky, but the next day, the surf climbed to staggering double-to-triple overhead heights. This translates to: 10-to-18 feet. If you plan to surf: bring a gun.

5.) Five millimeter wetsuit/Hood/Booties

My friend Sean told me: “If you don’t have a hood, you might as well not come up here.” The water temperature can range between 48 and 52 degrees, on average. It may not be Alaska, but it is pretty cold. Obviously, when you are in cold temperatures, it behooves you to have something to contain the heat that will escape through your dome. This worked like a charm, although I will add: the 5 mil wetsuit was also a great help! And as much as I dislike booties, I wore them…with much gusto.

Sean can't believe I'm sitting across the room, with camera in one hand and beer in another.

Sean can’t believe I’m sitting across the room, with camera in one hand and beer in another.

All things in this picture are necessary in Humboldt, Calif.

All things in this picture are necessary in Humboldt, Calif.

OH AND… 

Don’t hesitate to buckle up, suit up and strap in for fun times up there. Be wary of road ADD once you hit the forested areas and don’t touch the banana slugs. Apparently their slime is very hard to wash off.  One thing you absolutely MUST try is their local lager, Eel River IPA. It’s freakin’ amazing!

Raw (and yummy) Chocolate Avocado Pie

Avocado--The beginning of a very chocolaty relationship.

Avocado–The beginning of a very chocolaty relationship.

Ok, I know what most of you are probably thinking…

“Umm chocolate-avocado-what?”

And that’s okay because I thought the same thing when I discovered this tasty treat while casually browsing the menu at the Pura Vida health food store in Todos Santos, Baja.

Chocolate and avocados…What a concept, I thought.

Almost a pie...

Almost a pie…

After I got home, the pie haunted my curiosity and eventually, I found the time to give it a go just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Disclaimer: Don’t ask about the calories. Between the nuts and avos, this might not be the best thing to include in any sort of weight loss plan.

Going ‘raw’ was never a big deal to me, I just wanted to try this recipe because it looked easy and sounded delicious. Just be sure you have a food processor or similar culinary equipment and stagger the amount you process so as not to overwhelm your equipment…unless you’re a fancy pants and have a Magic Bullet.

So I confess…this is not my original recipe..I found the recipe here. Thank you, Food Network!! A few adjustments were made for my own preferences, but it is essentially not O.G. status. Happy “baking”/”rawing” …no?

>Crust<

  • 2 cups almonds (soaked overnight, drained and rinsed),
  • 2 cups unsulphured dates (soaked overnight, drained and rinsed),
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes *I added for texture preference*

>Mousse Filling<

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 4 tablespoons raw cacao powder
  • 3 tablespoons raw agave nectar (or substitute with honey—I am a honey junkie!!)
  • 2 tablespoons organic coconut oil (blend it as it is in solid form)
  • A splash of almond milk (or your preference)

For the crust: Blend ingredients  in a food processor until they are sticky. Use a wet hand to press the mixture into the base of a 9 or 10 ” pie pan…however, this recipe made more than enough pie crust…in fact, I made two pies out of the deal! So double the mousse if you want to make two pies! (sharing is caring, right?)

For the mousse filling: Seed and scoop out avocado into the food processor. Add cacao powder, agave nectar, coconut oil and almond milk. Spoon avocado mixture onto the crust and spread it evenly. Top with fresh berries and whatnot. Put in the freezer for 30 minutes before serving (I find it needs a smidge longer because the sticky crust needs more time to solidify). Store in fridge to maintain a decent consistency. Enjoy!!

Finito! The finished product!

Finito! The finished product!