Monday, July 5, 2010

Divine Coconut Fig Balls

Good morning!

I wouldn't normally be posting on a Monday morning because I would be rushing to get to work (I work part time for an investor in New York City). But since the stock market is closed today, I get the day off. Extended holiday weekend? Yes please! ^.^ Today won't be too exciting, but I foresee a lot of relaxing!

I begrudgingly got out of bed today and went out for a run. I had overslept by an hour, so by the time I stepped outside, the sun was already out. Not fun. And you know what else happened? I had barely ran a few hundred feet when my eye started to feel funny. I thought it was an eyelash, so I paused to try to get it out. I got it out alright, but it wasn't an eyelash or eyebrow hair. It was a BUG! Oh goodness, fun stuff. It was probably dead by then. I shook it off my finger and resumed my workout, thinking nothing of it. But gosh, I must have the worst luck ever. On night runs in the summer, fireflies always attack my legs. Fine, I can deal with that. But I have found bugs flying into my nostrils, mouth, and ears before... and now the eye! Do I need to put on a ski mask when I run from now on? LOL.

It's going to get super super hot today, but right now the weather is pristine. I can feel the breeze coming from my bedroom window as I'm typing. Here's the view:

For breakfast I enjoyed a rejuvenating bowl of overnight oats. I had run out of fresh fruit to top it with, since I was not able to go shopping yesterday, so I decided to try my luck with frozen. I took out four strawberries from the freezer and set them out on a plate to thaw.

Verdict? Not bad at all! The thawed strawberries still had an icy touch, but I enjoyed that. I forgot how much I loved the taste of strawberries and banana together. I would definitely use frozen fruit again.

* * *

My 4th of July was great! We met up with family friends for a little get-together at their house. I got to make homemade guacamole, lounge around their pool, play LIFE, and watch some fireworks. I have not played the game of LIFE for way too long! We all could not stop giggling and laughing as we were making up scenarios along the way. Seriously the best board game ever made!

I was experimenting in the kitchen to make a little dessert to bring to their house. In my mind, I had already knew what the star ingredient was going to be...



These are dried figs that I had bought a while ago and got tired of eating by itself. I knew that figs were super sweet and malleable, so I decided to make little dessert balls out of them!

Coconut Fig Balls

* 1.5 cups of dried figs
* 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed meal
* 2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut (goes inside the mix)
* 1 teaspoon ground coffee
* A few shakes of ground cinnamon
* A pinch of salt (Sadly I forgot to add this! It would've definitely enhanced the flavor.)
* 1/4-1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
* l/4 cup mixed nuts (almonds and walnuts)
* 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (outside covering)

Directions: I first sought to de-stem the dried figs and mash them up. I don't own a food processor, so I just placed the figs in a plastic ziplock bag and mashed it up that way. Lots of manual labor resulted in something looking like this:

I cut open the bag and transferred the mashed figs into a mixing bowl. Fold in the flaxseed meal, coconut, coffee, cinnamon, and salt (let's pretend I used this). At this point, I found it hard to mix, so I added the almond milk. I eyeballed the amount, but I estimate that it was somewhere around 1/4 cup. Just add enough to get everything well incorporated, keeping it at a cookie dough consistency.

Then in goes the nut mixture that I had ground up pretty finely. Most were small pieces, and the rest was a flour-like texture.

I stirred everything together, making sure the nuts were well mixed into the batter.

At this point, I placed the bowl into the fridge to chill. I was pretty impatient so I took it out in 15 minutes (It would work better if left to chill for an hour or so). I proceeded to roll them up into little balls. A trick I learned is to put a little water on your hands so the mixture doesn't stick too much as you roll.

(Thanks to my dad who helped take these pictures! LOL my hands were so sticky.)

The size doesn't have to be exact or uniform, but I tried to keep each one around 1-inch in diameter. After every few balls were made, I placed them onto a bowl with unsweetened shredded coconut and roll them around for coating. I used a small spoon to help my fingers with the prodding.

Here's my first finished plateful...

I used up every last bit, but the mixture still only yielded around 15 balls! I wish I had more figs. =P 

I made two plates total and stored them in the refrigerator for a few hours. At one point, I decided to try a tiny one (I almost didn't, because I had only made such a small number of these!). I decided that it wasn't firm enough, so I moved both plates up to the freezer. I took them out when we were ready to leave.

Up close and personal...

I think the coconut coating definitely make these balls look upscale. It reminds me of powdered sugar!

They turned out tasting great! And I was proud to tell everyone that they were raw, gluten-free, and with no added sugar. I also loved that they reminded me of mochi balls, which are made with glutinous rice flour. My only regrets would be that I omitted the salt and that they weren't as firm as I wanted them to be. I would recommend using as little of the almond milk as possible, and to keep the batter at a malleable but still firm cookie dough consistency.

Looks like I'll be experimenting some more in the kitchen in the near future!

Have a great Monday,

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Half-Naked Sandwich

Gooood morning! ^__^

It's been a warm Independence Day morning, and the day has barely even started! According to it's due to be in the mid-90's by noon. Yikes! I'm proud of myself for planning ahead and waking up at 7, an hour earlier than usual, to squeeze in a 2 miler. I must admit that it was a tiring run, and on the route back home I was on the verge of a physical breakdown every step of the way. I wonder if it's because I don't stretch before running. I should make it a habit to stretch before, not just after. I don't want to get injured! Or perhaps I was dehydrated? I never usually eat before I run because I hate moving around on a loaded stomach, but I always drink water. It may be that I don't drink enough water. Insufficient hydration topped off with the morning heat would probably make me feel less than excellent! Stupid, stupid me. I'm gonna need to remember to keep my water bottle with me at all times.

I had a refreshing bowl of overnight oats today, again with papaya. Sadly I think we're all out of papaya now, too! Must go grab some more soon. I refuse to let my oats go fruit-less! :D

Now onto the main story. 

It all started a few nights ago when I saw that only a single slice of my fitness bread left. What the heck is a girl to do with one slice? Why, create none other than an...

Open-faced Veggie Burger Sandwich

This one has pretty much the same ingredients as the wrap: hummus, baby spinach, red onion, tomato, avocado. First I toasted the bread and spread on the hummus.

Meanwhile as I was prepping the bread foundation and chopping up the other ingredients, my veggie burger was cooking away on the stove top. The kitchen smelled so good!

Then all that was left to do was layer everything, one on top of the other. 

I put black pepper on everything. Can't get enough!

It was so easy to make! And pretty fun to eat. It's funny because I started off with a fork and knife, but ended up just using my hands. Caveman style :) Utter simplicity and stuff-your-mouth tastiness!

And by the way, I just finished making these adorable dessert balls. I'll start off by saying that they are 100% raw and gluten-free, with no added sugar. Curiously tempted yet? Hehe. If it's a hit, I'll share it in the next few days! 

Enjoy the holiday!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Ready-to-Burst Veggie Burger Wrap

Good evening! 

After dinner I decided to squeeze in another work out. As usual, I just ran around the neighborhood. I'd estimate that my trail was around 1.7 miles. Lots of uphill, downhill, and making U-turns at the end of dead-end streets. 

Haha can you imagine how creepy it'd be if I saw those?

I recently read that when you run you should always look ahead, not at the ground. That's because when your head is tilted downward, your throat is constricted and it becomes more difficult to breathe. I kept that in mind at the onset of my evening run, and I have to say that it helped a lot! I found myself breathing less heavily and I had more energy to keep moving. At one point I passed my street and thought how easy it would be to end right there and go home. But I didn't! I think I must've been on an energy high! And my body was telling me to keep going a little bit further before finally turning back. All in all, I found this run very energizing and refreshing, especially with the cool breezes. I think that may have been one of the most comfortable runs I've had in a while.

I just heard fireworks! :D Happy almost 4th of July! (Wait, did I just hear police sirens too...)

Now onto the food...

Wrapped up veggie burger with steamed broccoli! 
It's super easy to make and oh so flavorful.

I started off cutting up some fresh tomato, red onion, avocado, and used a vegetable peeler to peel some carrot "ribbons." I think that any veggies you have on hand would work. I just happen to always have these in my fridge (and the avocado was begging to be used!).

Then onto the veggie burger. I'm using a vegan variety by Don Lee Farms. Let me make my point by saying that these are DE-LICIOUS, hundredfolds better than bland Boca burgers or off-tasting Gardenburgers. I've been eating this same burger for the past 1-2 years. It has never failed on me! 

The ingredient list is short and simple. (I just wonder why they list "spice" and "natural flavor" as ingredients. Why not spell out the spices? And why bother mentioning natural flavor? Doesn't everything "natural" have a natural flavor of its own? Oh well.)

Anyway, the nutrition facts are pretty good. It's high in fiber and protein, which is a plus for us herbivores ;)

I just heat it up on the stove top, flipping it so that each side is nicely browned.

Don't you love it when you can actually SEE the veggies in your veggie burger?! ^_^

And here's the wrap I used.

It's almost the size of a sheet of paper towel!

Now spread on some hummus and sprinkle on your choice of seasoning.


Up close it kinda looks like garlic bread haha! It tastes way better though ;)

And then you just assemble everything together! I like to layer mine with baby spinach, then the chopped veggies and avocado (I'm trying my best to remember excluding it from the veggie category), and finally the burger on top, semi-mashed up. 

You don't think I overloaded too much, do you? I have the tendency to overestimate how much delicious filling these wraps can hold :D

I get excited because I always want to include everything!

On the side I decided to steam some broccoli using the good ol' microwave.
I knew my wrap was very savory, so I decided not to salt my broccoli. After washing the florets, I chopped them up, placed them in a bowl, sprinkled on some ground black pepper, and covered them with a clean wet (fairly saturated, not just damp) paper towel. I find the paper towel trick to be great for a quick and easy steam!

I managed to wrap everything up!

There is literally zero space left in that wrap. It's so plump!

My broccoli added a needed crunch to my meal...

Are you hungry yet? ^.^

As you can tell, it was so stuffed that as I was snapping quick shots of it, it started ripping! LOL

How cute is this little tush... :D

And I forgot to mention that I squeezed a tiny bit of lime juice over the contents of my wrap for some missing zing! factor.

I make variations of this wrap all the time. I always find new things to squeeze into there, making no one wrap the same. It tastes soo good, each and every time! 

Next time you eat a burger, try stuffing it into a wrap instead of between two boring slices of bread! And if the wrap breaks, who cares--whatever falls out is now an instant salad!

Time to sleep soon. Check back tomorrow for another twist on this veggie burger!