Nut & Seed Banana Oat Snack Bars

Nut & Seed Banana Oat Snack Bars - Eat Your Greens

A year ago I was starting grad school and it felt like I was 18 and a freshman again, wandering around campus and wondering if I’d ever make any friends. The second year of anything is always different — I’m more confident, but also less excited. I’m quick to identify the things I will come to hate before the end of the semester. I know whom I hope to see in my classes and whom I never want to work with on a group project. (There are a lot of group projects.)

I feel good about the year ahead, though. For one thing, I am done with organic chemistry forever. (THANK YOU, JEEBUS.) And it finally feels like all the science I’ve been stuffing in my brain for the last three years is coming together into something that makes sense, something that is related to nutrition. It’s pretty exhilarating.

Being in the second year also means it’s easier to figure out what I’m going to eat all day; I have my school food routine set. A snack in the morning, a lunch with lots of veggies and a piece of fruit, a baggie of trail mix and another piece of fruit on the drive home, and lots of water throughout the day. Rinse. Repeat.

Nut & Seed Banana Oat Snack Bars - Eat Your Greens

Last year I experimented with making weird homemade snack bars that more often than not were filling, but kind of gross. You know those recipes? The ones that aren’t bad enough to throw away, but that you’d only feed to someone else with plenty of excuses and caveats.

A couple days before school started, I rediscovered Faith’s recipe for 4-Ingredient Banana Oat Bars on The Kitchn and realized they could be the base for my dream granola bar — chewy, a little crisp at the edges and not very sweet.

A couple batches later and I am hooked. My version substitutes sunflower seeds and pepitas for half of the oats and also includes some chopped walnuts. They are filling but not dense like a sad hippie cookie. They are chewy with crisp edges. They are not too sweet. I’ve been making them and freezing them individually wrapped, so I just grab one in the morning and tuck it into my lunch bag. It’s thawed enough to eat just before my morning class and filling enough to see me through until lunch several hours later.

Let’s hope my second year in school turns out as well as my second go at homemade snack bars.
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Friday Links: September 6, 2013

2013_09_06-KerkotongWedding

 Tuesday marked two years of being married to my best friend. (Follow me on Instagram: anjaliruth)

 

What I’ve been reading:

Why Calorie Counts Are Wrong (Video) – Scientific American

Gut feelings: the future of psychiatry may be inside your stomach – The Verge

Pumpkin Spice Latte, the Drink That Almost Wasn’t – Wall Street Journal

Fad Diets Will Seem Even Crazier After You See This – NPR

And check out this profile of me at One Part Plant. Fun!

 

What I’ve been cooking (at The Kitchn):

Frozen Single-Serve Oatmeal with Almonds & Dried Cherries

Dark Chocolate & Nutella Puppy Chow

Grilled Chicken Thighs with Apricot-Miso Glaze

…and thinking about cooking:

Polenta Tart with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes – The Kitchn

Lasagna-Stuffed Zucchini – A Couple Cooks

The Best Way to Cook Eggplant Is in the Broiler

How to Cook Eggplant in the Broiler / Eat Your Greens

As far as I’m concerned, there is only one way to cook eggplants and it is in the broiler. (And okay, fine — I also like them grilled.) No pre-salting, no slicing, you just chuck them whole into the broiler, turn them occasionally, and they emerge papery-skinned, soft and caramelized, ready to be peeled and eaten warm or cold.

I learned the technique from a recipe in Elizabeth Andoh’s Washoku, which tosses the broiled eggplant strips with a salty soy sauce dressing, grated ginger and lots of chopped green herbs. It’s fantastic, but it isn’t the only way to eat broiled eggplant. Any vinaigrette or dressing will soak into the eggplant chunks, sneaky sponges that they are, and transform them into something irresistible. (Even for eggplant haters like my mother, who loves the broiled eggplant with ginger and herbs.)

How to Cook Eggplant in the Broiler / Eat Your Greens

I prefer using skinny eggplants like Japanese or Indian varieties, which are less seedy and bitter than the round globe eggplants. They also broil up faster, usually in ten minutes or less. Globe eggplants can still be cooked in this way; they will just take longer to cook through and you are limited by the height of your broiler, particularly if you have an under-stove broiler drawer like me.

I turned this batch of broiled eggplant into a cool, creamy salad by tossing it with yogurt-dill dressing and chilling it in the fridge. (I used the dressing from this salad mixed with about 1 tablespoon of minced fresh dill.) It’s not terribly pretty to look at, but broiled eggplant is never going to win beauty contests. I love it anyway.

How to Cook Eggplant in the Broiler / Eat Your Greens

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Spinach, Feta & Tomato Whole Wheat Pizza

Spinach, Feta and Tomato Whole Wheat Pizza at Eat Your Greens
It’s a weird time of year to be talking about pizza, I’ll admit. If it’s hot and humid where you are and you can’t even look at the oven without breaking into a sweat, you can either bake your pizza outdoors on the grill or tuck this one away for autumn — it will still be delicious. But here in LA, the June gloom has hung on through July, so cranking up the heat on my oven doesn’t feel like such a big deal.

(I won’t be saying this in September or October. That’s when I get real sweaty and cranky.)

Spinach, Feta & Tomato Whole Wheat Pizza at Eat Your Greens

Before it becomes a habit, making homemade pizza feels like a big deal — the yeast, the kneading, the special stone — but once you get the hang of it, mixing up a batch of dough a couple hours (or a day) before dinner time is not terribly difficult. Yet pulling a blistered, browned pizza made with your very own hands out of the oven never fails to thrill.

Pizzas don’t have to be dripping with cheese or covered with salty meats; they happen to be an excellent vehicle for all kinds of vegetables and don’t need a ton of cheese to be tasty. This particular pie was born on a weeknight when I needed to use up some fading baby spinach and had just stumbled onto a container of forgotten feta in brine at the back of my fridge. I didn’t have any tomato sauce, so I just used a swipe of olive oil over the dough to moisten it and arranged some halved cherry tomatoes on top of the spinach, which I wilted with a little garlic.

Spinach, Feta & Tomato Whole Wheat Pizza at Eat Your Greens

It’s simple, very green and was totally worth warming up my kitchen on a not-too-hot day. And since my Whole Wheat Pizza Dough recipe makes two balls, you’ll have a second one left over for dinner the next day. Should you be in the mood for something a little more cheesy and salty, I’m a fan of crispy prosciutto and arugula.

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Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough at Eat Your Greens
This is my favorite quick pizza dough recipe. (When I’m looking for maximum flavor, I make Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Pizza dough, substituting with half whole wheat flour — or not.) Beyond pizza, I also use the dough to make calzones, like these stellar Spiced Lentil, Sweet Potato & Kale Whole Wheat Pockets. It’s fast and forgiving and pretty much foolproof.
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