Banana Jam

You’re looking at a luxurious breakfast, fragrant with flavors of the tropics. If you want to close your eyes and feel transported to a sunny veranda, I recommend this recipe as a starting point. You can almost feel the ocean breeze, and while it’s distinctly tropical, I can’t tell you if you’re in the Caribbean, southeast Asia, or on a Pacific island… that’s up to your imagination, and the flavors you choose to pair with it.

In addition to offering a vacation in a jar, this is also a recipe for those times when your bananas are browning faster than you can handle. I didn’t know that banana jam was even a thing until a friend from my RD program enlightened me, and I am so glad she did. If I end up with overripe bananas, I don’t often muster up the enthusiasm to bake banana bread. I usually just toss the neglected fruits in a freezer bag for smoothies, but I love having this easy option for a little something special.

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Bittersweet Chocolate Almond Pudding

I can understand the argument that Valentine’s Day is arbitrary and consumerized… but seriously, if anything is worthy of celebration, it’s love. We tend to take a pretty low-maintenance approach around here; he plants me flowers, I make him an extra-nice dinner, and then we eat chocolate pudding. It’s silly, but it’s our go-to Valentine’s dessert. It’s super simple, but still feels special enough for a celebration. It’s rich, but not overly heavy after the preceding indulgent meal. And as a bonus, its prepared ahead of time and chilled until you’re ready for it, so it’s accommodating to whatever spontaneity your night offers.

This year, I felt compelled to try something new, maybe add a little sophistication to my old standby recipe. I experimented with an addition of almond flavor and espresso, and I have to say, it felt pretty fancy. It morphed chocolate pudding’s childhood charm into a deeper, more complex, grown-up indulgence. Of course I couldn’t just stop there, and had to further gild the lily by topping the bowl with lightly sweetened whipped cream, dark chocolate and crunchy almonds… I regret nothing.

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Fresh Vietnamese Noodle Bowls

Last summer was my first time eating bún – a refreshing Vietnamese salad of cold noodles, charred meat and crunchy veggies. It was during a week-long trip to San Diego that I took with Grant to make preparations for our cross-country move. This kind of trip, I learned, is exhausting. We spent hour upon hour driving around the city, touring apartments, submitting applications, finding out that the last unit was snatched up by the nice young couple ahead of us, and starting all over again. Day in, day out. I don’t mean to complain – I’m grateful we had the opportunity to move, and all hurdles are just the expected challenges of real life. But in the thick of it, we were in serious need to escape and recharge – physically and mentally.

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Favorite Kale Slaw

Salad ruts can be a real problem. Maybe you’re a better planner than I am, but too often I find myself scrambling, raiding the usual suspects in my veggie crisper to throw together the same old boring salad to green-ify our dinner. It typically goes something like this: spinach or romaine, slivers of onion, slices of bell pepper, maybe an avocado if I’m lucky, and basic vinaigrette. It gets the job done, sure. I dutifully eat my greens, but time after time, it becomes a real snooze-fest.

And it’s a shame, because a good salad can be such a pleasure. Beautiful produce in its natural state, a contrast of textures, a tangle of harmonious yet unexpected components… Really, I’ve slacked long enough. I want to be eating good salads. Great salads. Mind-blowing salads! I want to gasp, not yawn!

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Masala Eggs with Spicy Kale

I know a lot of health foodies who hard-boil eggs in bulk… Even the manliest of athletes can embrace this cooking habit. Is this a part of your Weekly Food Prep? It was never a routine of mine, but after trying a few small batches, I’m finding them really handy. I rely heavily on eggs for at-home lunches, and my new hard-boiled stash has allowed so much more variety beyond my usual scramble.

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