Turmeric Chickpeas

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Some weeknights I like to try out a complicated recipe. Others I just want something quick, filling, and warming. Cue: these turmeric chickpeas.

I saw the recipe earlier this week when I was thinking about what to make for dinner. They sounded easy and delicious. All you do is simmer some chickpeas in coconut milk with turmeric and sauteed shallot, ginger, and garlic. That’s it.

The most labor intensive part of this recipe is mincing the shallot, ginger, and garlic. I HATE mincing things because it takes forever, but maybe you like it more than I do. Sometimes I play music while I’m doing it because it makes me forget how much I dislike it.

ANYWAY. Make these chickpeas as soon as possible. They’re delicious on their own but they’re extra good served over brown basmati rice and with a sprig of cilantro on top. I’d also recommend adding some lime juice at the end for zest.

Here’s a song that I’ve been jamming out to lately. It’s good for mornings when you have to take the train to work because your car’s engine light comes on and you’re worried that it’s going to explode on the highway.

Turmeric Chickpeas

Ingredients

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium shallot, minced
1 cloves garlic minced
2 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup light coconut milk
1/2 tsp sugar
1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
lime, cilantro, and cooked brown rice for serving

Directions

Start by cooking the brown rice according to package directions. I usually make 1/2 cup rice at a time, which yields enough for dinner and lunch the next day.

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan on medium high heat. Add the shallot and sauté for a few minutes until it’s soft and translucent. Add the garlic and the minced ginger and sauté another couple minutes. Then, add the turmeric and salt. Pour in the coconut milk and turn up the heat to high.

Bring the mixture to a boil and then stir in the chickpeas. Bring the mixture down to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, covered, until the chickpeas become softer and the mixture gets thicker.

Serve the chickpeas over brown rice with a squeeze of lime and cilantro. Enjoy!

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Banana Date Orange Blossom Smoothie Bowl

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It’s been a while since I made a smoothie bowl for breakfast. This morning, I decided to see if I was on my game. The good news is, I’ve still got it.

I had the idea for this smoothie bowl a few weeks ago. It’s inspired by a shake I had in L.A. at The Punchbowl (yes, I’m obsessed. no, I’m not sorry). It combines a bunch of my favorite things: banana, dates, and orange blossom water.

It also includes a packet of maca powder. I’ve always wanted to add maca to a smoothie and yesterday at the grocery store, I saw a pack in the checkout aisle. I impulsively bought it and it paid off. The packet I bought had cinnamon and cardamom mixed in, so it paired well with the other flavors in the smoothie bowl.

Feel free to get creative on toppings. I used more banana, chia seeds, vanilla granola, shredded coconut, and berries, but other toppings would work well, too. Hemp seeds and figs would also be a delicious addition.

In other news, it’s still not completely fall yet in St. Louis but the leaves are starting to change colors. I snapped this picture when I was running in the park yesterday.

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Here’s a song to get you started on your smoothie bowl making journey. It’s also good for long walks in the park, singing at the top of your lungs during a morning commute, or pretty much whenever.

Banana Date Orange Blossom Smoothie Bowl

Ingredients

1 banana, halved
1/2 frozen banana
1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
3 pitted dates
1 tsp honey
1 packet maca powder
1/2 tsp orange blossom water
banana slices, shredded coconut, chia seeds, vanilla granola, and berries for topping

Directions

Blend half a fresh banana, half a frozen banana, Greek yogurt, almond milk, honey, maca pwoder, dates, and orange blossom water in a blender on high until smooth. Top with banana slices, shredded coconut, chia seeds, vanilla granola, and berries. Enjoy!

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Washington, DC

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When I showed up in Washington, D.C., last weekend, I didn’t know what to expect. I came to visit my best friend from home who lives in the city, and also to revisit some of my favorite haunts. It’s been almost a year since I moved away from D.C. I left the day after the election.

Needless to say, that was a very dark day in my life and in U.S. history. I was walking around sobbing and I wasn’t the only one. People looked shell shocked and afraid. How could Trump get elected? What would we do now?

When I got to town on Friday, I was very vigilant of the mood. I pictured it being dark and gloomy like the day I left. I even thought it might even be worse, considering the current political climate.

But I found that not much has changed. D.C. is still D.C. Sure, there are F*** Trump signs everywhere, but the city seems more or less the same. It’s energetic or rushed, depending on your mood, diverse, historic, and intellectual.

Also, the food was still amazing, if not better. There were so many new restaurants and my friend and I tried to hit up a lot of them.

I read an article in the Washington Post a couple weeks ago where a guy made an argument that D.C. is the most hopeful place in the country. BS, I thought. How can D.C. be the most hopeful place when there are so many politicians who are bringing down the country?

It’s easy to get swept up in the negative, but, if you take a closer look, you’ll see some truth to the writer’s argument. There’s a lot of young energy in D.C. People always seem to be planning, whether it’s a startup, a new restaurant, or a nonprofit. The city is full of ideas, and ideas fuel hope.

I’m starting to sound like a politician so I’ll stop there. But I will say that D.C. surprised me this weekend. It showed me that I actually like Cantonese food (I used to think I didn’t like Chinese food, believe it or not), that you can go back to a place you fled and remember all the reasons you loved it, and that the city seems to be surviving despite the political madness. D.C. has more grit than people give it credit for.

Here are some of the highlights of my food journey through D.C. It’s not an exhaustive list so for more tips or recommendations, check out my Instagram.

Bread Furst

My friend Rachel and I started our food tour de force of D.C. at Bread Furst, a bakery in Van Ness. I first heard about Bread Furst from Rachel because she lives down the street in Cleveland Park. Bread Furst is known for their artisan loaves and also, their delicious lunch fare. I got a pulled brisket sandwich with horseradish mayo on the house rye bread, and a slice of apple spice cake. Needless to say, I almost blacked out.

Colada Shop

I read about Colada Shop a few months ago and I texted Rachel immediately. “We need to go here,” I said. Colada Shop is tucked away off the bustling 14th Street corridor. It has a big, colorful patio and a laid back vibe. I ordered a cubano and a pastelito with guava and cheese. I could have eaten 30 more. They were delicious.

Columbia Room

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I’d never heard of Columbia Room but Rachel recommended it as a place to grab drinks before dinner. It’s in Blagden Alley, a literal maze of restaurants and bars in the middle of Shaw. We snagged seats on the rooftop, which had a nice view of the neighborhood. The cocktails are strong, as they should be, and delicious. I had a tropical punch with green tea and bourbon. I drank it very slowly to savor every drop.

The Red Hen

The Red Hen is one of my all-time favorite restaurants in D.C. I went there for the first time a few years ago at 10 p.m. because I couldn’t get a reservation earlier than that. I’ve been back a few times since and it never disappoints. It’s fresh Italian food made with local ingredients. Rachel and I split fried Brussels sprouts that were so good, I started weeping. I got a homemade pasta with duck sugo and it was the perfect dish for a crisp fall night: heavy, warming, and flavorful. It’s the food equivalent of being wrapped in a blanket.

Chaia

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I discovered Chaia my first summer in D.C. They had a stand at the Dupont Circle Farmers’ Market and I’d always wait in a long line for tacos after I was done shopping. They’ve since expanded to a storefront in Georgetown, and business is booming. When I stopped by on Saturday,  I got the taco trio with mushrooms, eggplant, and cauliflower. The mushroom is my favorite: It comes with a red salsa and the shrooms are always tender and perfectly cooked.

Pie Sisters

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I tried to go to Pie Sisters a couple years ago on Pi Day. I walked all the way there from my apartment in Dupont and they were OUT OF PIE. It was one of the saddest moments of my semi-adult life. Thankfully they were open and fully stocked when Rachel and I stopped by on Saturday. I got a pumpkin pie that brought me to tears, and Rachel got bourbon pecan.

Dolcezza

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I could never come to D.C. and skip Dolcezza. It’s one of my favorite gelato shops in the city, maybe even the world. There are a bunch of different flavors but this last time, I settled on Indonesian vanilla bean and Meyer lemon crème fraîche. If you’re a coffee drinker, Dolcezza also has great espresso drinks. Next time I want to get an affogato, or a scoop of gelato with a shot of espresso on top.

Purple Patch

“I have to take you to Purple Patch,” Rachel said a few months ago when I told her I was coming to D.C. The restaurant is in Mount Pleasant, a mostly residential neighborhood in Northwest D.C. Their speciality is Filipino food and it is delicious. Everything is spicy and flavorful. I didn’t get pictures of everything we ate but I did manage to get one of the Bicol Express, or pork with peppers and coconut milk, and the ube ice cream that I ate for dessert. The ice cream was so pretty, I almost didn’t want to eat it. But then I did.

Union Market

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I could live in Union Market. Maybe they’d let me set up a cot there. Probably not. HOWEVER, I made sure to block out a big chunk of time to spend their last weekend. Union Market has a bunch of food stalls, purveyors, and pop ups. I decided to try a new vendor this time, an Ethiopian food cart called Gorsha. I got a bowl with turmeric rice, vegetables, lentils, split peas, honey yogurt sauce, and Injera. It made me remember how much I’d missed Ethiopian food. I never wanted to leave.

Buttercream Bakeshop

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I used to go to Buttercream Bakeshop when I felt like cheating on the bakery I worked in for a while in D.C. They have so many types of cookies, cakes, and pastries, but one of the best things in the shop is the chocolate chip cookies. They’re soft and they melt in your mouth. I only got one and I berated myself for it later.

Tiger Fork

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I wasn’t sure that I would like Tiger Fork. I love most Asian food but I’ve never been a fan of Chinese/Cantonese cooking. Maybe because my palette was limited to americanized Chinese food for so long. But Tiger Fork completely changed my mind. It was amazing from start to finish. I had a pickled cucumber salad, cheung fun with shrimp and flowering chives, and what I would call “deconstructed crab rangoon.” It was creamy tofu with roe on top (I love roe), and fried dipping sticks to eat it with that kind of resembled churros. For dessert, Rachel and I split the bubble waffle. We got to watch the cook make it because we were sitting at the chef’s table. It had lychee, two scoops of ice cream, candied banana, and miso caramel. I took one bite and almost blacked out.

Big Bear Cafe

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Big Bear is one of my favorite places in D.C. It has delicious coffee and a big, ivy-wrapped outdoor patio with plenty of light and plants. They’re always playing Motown inside, which I love. I got a cappuccino and apple muffin yesterday for breakfast and it was as good as I remembered, if not better. Not having it for a while made me appreciate it more.

SUNdeVICH

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I can’t go to Shaw and not go to SUNdeVICH. It’s a tiny sandwich shop located in an alley, which sounds sketch but it’s actually amazing. You order at the counter and seating is limited, but if it’s a nice day, you can take a walk to Logan Circle and eat it there. I managed to get a seat yesterday. I ordered my old favorite, the “Isfahan” with spinach soufflé and tzatziki. The bread was soft and warm, the spinach was tender and flavorful, and the tzatziki was fresh and slightly sweet.

Chaplin’s

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I ended my weekend of food debauchery with veggie ramen at Chaplin’s. Chaplin’s is right up the street from SUNdeVICH in Shaw, one of my favorite neighborhoods in D.C. It’s a funky, dimly lit ramen joint that also serves popcorn and cocktails. I showed up in time for happy hour so I got some wine with my ramen. It was a good pre-plane dinner.

Conclusion

So ends my weekend of hedonism in D.C. I had a great time exploring, trying new places, visiting old restaurants and coffee shops, and spending time with Rachel. I’m glad that I went back after being traumatized last year post-election. There’s still a lot to love about the city and I’m happy I remembered that.

Here’s a song that reminds me of my trip. I heard it when I was having breakfast at Big Bear yesterday.

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Banana Cacao Oatmeal with PB Swirl and Raspberries

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One of my favorite things to do in the morning is pull up Instagram and see what people are making for breakfast.

It inspires me and gives me ideas of what I could make. I usually take a dish that I see and I riff off it, leaving out ingredients that I don’t have or subbing ones in that I’m craving. Case and point: This banana cacao oatmeal.

I hit snooze on my alarm three times this morning and, between the second and third snooze, I got on Instagram. I was going to make a smoothie bowl for breakfast but then I saw a picture of banana chocolate PB oatmeal. Yep, I thought. This is happening.

The beautiful thing about this oatmeal is how quickly it comes together. It sounds like it would be a lot of work but it isn’t at all. Yes, you have to mash up a banana, but that’s the most labor intensive part.

You mix together the mashed banana, almond milk, oats, cacao powder, a little maple syrup, and salt in a saucepan, bring it to a boil, and then turn it down to a simmer. Once the oats are cooked to your preferred consistency, you swirl in some creamy peanut butter and top them with berries and seeds. I used raspberries and hemp hearts but feel free to get creative. I’m sure strawberries or blueberries would also be delicious.

This is one of the best breakfasts I’ve made for myself in a while. I’m not exaggerating. It combines a bunch of things I love (peanut butter, chocolate, and banana) but still manages to taste and feel relatively healthy. I’m not sure how it does this but I’m not asking any questions.

ALSO. I’ve been making my own almond milk a lot lately. This week, I put a pinch of cinnamon in as an experiment. It turns out that it’s delicious. It also worked well in this oatmeal because the hint of cinnamon paired well with the other flavors.

Here’s a song to get you started on your oatmeal making journey. I heard it a few weeks ago in a coffee shop in Kansas City and I’ve been jamming out to it ever since.

Banana Cacao Oatmeal with PB Swirl and Raspberries

Ingredients

1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup almond milk
1 banana, mashed
1 Tbsp unsweetened cacao powder
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1/2 tsp maple syrup
pinch of flaky sea salt
1 tsp creamy peanut butter
raspberries and hemp hearts for topping

Directions

Bring the rolled oats, almond milk, banana, cacao powder, chia seeds, maple syrup, and sea salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Bring the heat down to low and simmer the mixture, stirring often, until it reaches your desired consistency. I like mine pretty thick so it took about 5-10 minutes.

Once the oats are done cooking, spoon into a bowl and swirl in the peanut butter. Top with raspberries and hemp hearts. Enjoy!

 

 

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Shaw, St. Louis

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Shaw is one of my favorite neighborhoods in St. Louis. I like it for a bunch of reasons, but one of them is that it’s still relatively secluded.

When you go to Shaw, you’re walking into a community. Everyone is proud to live there and loyal to local businesses. It’s the kind of place where you see kids riding down the sidewalk on their scooters with their parents chasing after them, and young people laughing and talking as they walk toward nearby Tower Grove Park or a local restaurant. It’s laid back and welcoming, AND it has amazing food.

I was wandering around Shaw last weekend and texting my best friend from home, who now lives in D.C. “I’d like to move here,” I told her. “I could totally see you living there,” she said. Whether or not I actually do, I still like to come on lunch breaks and on the weekend. The architecture is gorgeous, the food is delicious, and the coffee scene is slowly but surely expanding.

Below are a few of my recommendations for Shaw. They lean pretty heavily toward bakeries and ice cream shops (surprise), but I think you’d enjoy them.

SweetArt

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 8.31.23 AMI discovered SweetArt a while ago when I was living in St. Louis before grad school. I actually interviewed the owner, Reine Bayoc, for an article I wrote for a local magazine.

I keep coming back to SweetArt because the food is delicious and the service is warm and welcoming. The bakery specializes in vegan dessert, so you can find lots of vegan cupcakes and cookies. It also offers non-vegan options though if that’s not your thing.

Still, you might want to make it your thing for at least a few hours because their vegan salted chocolate chip cookie, the “Maine Event,” is better than the regular. I don’t say these things lightly. I could eat three in a row but I usually limit myself to one.

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 8.31.11 AMSweetArt is also known for its healthier takes on soul food. I’ve tried almost everything on the menu but one of my favorite things is the “Make It Funky” burger. It’s a vegan burger that has vegan cheese, vegan bacon strips, fresh tomato, lettuce, and a housemade vegan BBQ sauce. It’s so good that I always eat it very, very slowly. I don’t want the experience to end.

Ices Plain & Fancy

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 8.30.33 AMTucked away on the corner of Shenandoah and 39th St. is Ices Plain & Fancy, one of St. Louis’ best ice cream shops. I discovered it after I moved back to St. Louis last year and decided to grab lunch at SweetArt. Ices is right down the street.

Ices specializes in nitrogen ice cream. It’s made in big blenders behind a see-through plastic panel, so you can watch the process.

I’m a big fan of the mint chocolate chip but last time I got a seasonal flavor, blueberry Nutella. I almost blacked out. What is this? I asked myself. How can anything be this good?

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Fiddlehead Fern Café

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 8.35.56 AMFiddlehead Fern Café is a new addition to the Shaw neighborhood. The coffee shop opened last week.

I’d read about the opening a few months ago and forgot about it. Then I saw someone posted a picture on Instagram last weekend and it reminded me. I stopped by for coffee on Sunday.

Fiddlehead Fern Café epitomizes everything good about Shaw, and, I think, points to the direction it’s moving in. The café is located on the corner of a residential street and is surrounded by old brick houses. The atmosphere outside is very quiet and peaceful, as Shaw usually is.

But the inside of the café is modern, sleek, and upscale, with white walls and an exposed ceiling. There are vintage pieces decorating the walls and pretty wooden tables topped with glass vases full of flowers. It feels like the kind of place you might find in a bigger city, like, say, L.A. or Chicago. But the best part is, it’s in St. Louis.

I got a lavender rose cappuccino and it was delicious. The baristas know what they’re doing. Next time I want to try a latte with another one of their flavored syrups, and I want to check out the food menu.

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Conclusion

ANYWAY. Those are my recommendations for Shaw. There are lots of other places to check out in and around the neighborhood, but these places are all within walking distance, so you could hit them up in one day.

Here’s a song I listened to as I walked around Shaw last weekend. Joni Mitchell is a genius.

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Honey Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

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It doesn’t really feel like fall in St. Louis yet. The trees are changing colors and the sidewalks are full of leaves, but temperatures hover around 85 degrees F every day.

Still, farmers’ markets are full of fall produce so last weekend, I decided to buy some. The Brussels sprouts looked especially on point so I got about a pound. I didn’t need to deliberate much before deciding what to do with them.

My favorite way to eat Brussels sprouts is roasted. I like to turn the heat on the oven way up and I roast the Brussels within an inch of their life. Think charcoal-y, slightly caramelized outsides, with some blackened, withering leaves around the edges of the baking sheet. I know it kind of sounds disgusting but trust me, it’s SO. GOOD.

The charcoal adds a rich flavor and gives the sprouts a crispy texture. I coated these sprouts in honey and balsamic before I baked them in the oven, which added some sweetness.

Screen Shot 2017-10-09 at 8.02.39 AMThe other important aspect of this dish is salt. I was reading an article the other day where Grant Achatz, the star chef of Alinea in Chicago, agreed to help a reporter from Chicago magazine cook dinner. He told her to salt a dish and she pinched a little between her fingers and threw it in. He smiled at her and threw in three large handfuls of salt. Home cooks never use enough salt, he said.

It’s so true. I think home cooks shy away from salt because we’re told by people (parents? society? Idk) that too much salt will make the food taste gross and that it will eventually kill us. Neither is true.

Salt brings out other flavors in the dish. In this case, it paired with the caramelized outsides of the sprouts and the sweetness of the balsamic and honey. This dish wouldn’t have been the same without salt.

I topped the sprouts with toasted pine nuts and Parmesan but feel free to get creative. I’m sure that dried cranberries or another kind of cheese such as Gorgonzola would also be delicious.

I also served the sprouts over a quinoa/millet blend but you could also use rice or farro as a base. The sprouts may even taste good over salad leaves, but I haven’t tested that theory yet.

Here’s a song to get you started on your Brussels sprouts making journey. It’s also good for moments when you have to hold yourself back from opening the oven and eating all the blackened Brussels sprouts skins off the baking sheet.

Honey Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients

1 lb Brussels sprouts, rinsed, tops cut off (1/4 inch) and sliced in half vertically
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the Brussels on the baking sheet and toss with olive oil, balsamic, honey, salt, and black pepper until the pieces are evenly coated. It’s okay if some leaves come loose and hang out around the edges (like I mentioned, these are a delicious snack).

Roast the Brussels in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until they are caramelized and charcoal-y on the outside. Remove from the oven and cool slightly.

Toss with pine nuts and shredded Parmesan. Serve on top of quinoa, rice, or another grain. Enjoy!

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Banana Chocolate Chip Waffles

Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 8.25.55 AMSometimes my cravings will come out of nowhere and they’re oddly specific. See: these waffles. Last night I was thinking that I wanted waffles for breakfast, but not just any waffles. They had to be banana with chocolate chips. Nothing else would do.

I found a vegan recipe and I un-veganified it (is that a word?…oh well). I would have gone with the vegan version because I’m sure it’s equally delicious, but I didn’t have flax meal so I couldn’t make a flax egg.

It’s all good, though, because the waffles that I made ended up tasting amazing. I used whole wheat flour, which added some complexity to the batter, and the bananas and dark chocolate chips added sweetness. The waffles were light and fluffy but also slightly chewy, probably because I used whole wheat flour. Still, you can eat two without feeling like you’re going to explode.

You could top the waffles with extra chocolate chips, maple syrup, or butter, but I think they’re delicious on their own. The flavors speak for themselves.

In other news, I’m starting a new music project called “No Matter What.” I had the idea as I was driving to work this morning because “Make Me Proud” by Drake came on shuffle and, even though I was bleary-eyed and not wanting to go to work, it made me feel better. Then I realized that “Make Me Proud” always has that effect on me.

So I’m compiling a playlist of my friends’ and acquaintances’ favorite songs, or the ones that they enjoy listening to no matter what. I’m interested to see what people contribute. If you want to participate, feel free to comment on this post or shoot me a direct message. I’ll also be taking submissions through the Allez Le Food Facebook page.

In the meantime, enjoy this tune! I’ve been listening to it the past few days. I really like the bridge.

Banana Chocolate Chip Waffles

Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup oats
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup almond milk
1 egg
2 large ripe bananas
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat your waffle iron.

In the meantime, make the batter. Start by mashing the bananas and baking powder together with a fork or potato masher. Then, stir in the almond milk.

Stir in the oats. Then, stir in the flour and salt. Mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Spray your waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray and make the waffles according to waffle iron directions (mine required about 1/3 cup batter for each waffle). Remove waffles from the iron and allow them to cool slightly before serving.

Enjoy!

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