Homemade Banana Pudding

Homemade Banana Pudding | Life Healthfully LivedOk, so I learned some new things while making this recipe.  First, I have to tell you about my inspiration for this one because it’s weird and who doesn’t like weird stuff? No one.  That’s who.

I was making a loaf of my gluten-free banana bread (which you should make immediately because it’s the bomb.  Side note: I’m bringing back “the bomb”) and as I was blending the banana and avocado together I thought to myself, “Antoinette, (I call myself Antoinette NBD) that kind of looks like pudding.  I wonder if it would be any good as pudding?  I wonder if there is banana pudding?” So I set about to research banana pudding.

This is my life people.Homemade Banana Pudding | Life Healthfully Lived

I remember pudding snack packs used to have a banana flavor but I doubt that there was any actual banana in that pudding.  My google searches told me that banana pudding was indeed a thing.  A southern thing.  Which means it’s delicious because it has all the fat and sugar.  All delicious things have fat and sugar.  Most recipes called for making a vanilla custard type deal and adding sliced bananas, vanilla wafers, and in one case merengue.  While it wasn’t a difficult process, it was more steps than I wanted for my pudding. And by more, I mean this is pretty much just one step.

There are no eggs in this so you don’t have to cook anything but because of the addition of avocado, stick with me, it is creamy and delicious without the eggs.  And depending on how ripe your bananas are, it’s pretty sweet too.  You can add maple syrup if it isn’t sweet enough but mine was totally delicious without it.  See?  Fat and sugar.  Just a better version of fat and sugar.

I know you’re probably getting tired of me putting avocado in things but I’m not, so get over it 🙂  It’s delicious and I can’t stop, won’t stop.  You can get creative with toppings like coconut whip cream, pecans or walnuts, crumbled up graham crackers, or in my case cacao nibs because, chocolate.

Banana PuddingHomemade Banana Pudding | Life Healthfully Lived

As I was making this I started singing the part about figgy pudding from We Wish You A Merry Christmas.  Adam asked me if I was singing a Christmas song and I said no, I was singing a pudding song because how do you make pudding without singing about it?  So feel free to sing about pudding while making this because I think it enhances the flavor.  

  • 2 very ripe bananas, sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 avocado, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream (you can buy coconut cream from Trader Joes or just put a can of full-fat coconut milk in the fridge overnight and scoop off the solid cream)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup, optional if your bananas aren’t super ripe.  I didn’t need any extra sweetener for mine
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp maca powder, optional but adds a nice caramel-y flavor

Toppings (optional)

  • chocolate chips or cacao nibs
  • pecans or walnuts or almonds
  • sliced banana
  • coconut whip cream
  • graham crackers
  • nilla wafers if you’re rebellious or Southern 😉
  1. Ready for this?  Put all the pudding ingredients into a blender and blend until super smooth.  Dish it out and put on all the toppings.

Told you it was one step 😀 Happy Friday friends! Have a great weekend!Homemade Banana Pudding | Life Healthfully Lived

Zucchini and Pea Cauliflower Risotto

Zucchini and Pea Cauliflower Risotto | Life Healthfully LivedYup. Cauliflower is back.  I know you’re probably getting a little tired of seeing it featured in my dishes but you know what?  You’re wrong.  Cauliflower is the magical unicorn of the vegetable world and I love turning it into all sorts of things from taquitos to sauce to sweet and sour bites to mac n’ cheese.  It’s awesome and you’re going to have to deal with it.

Which should be easy if you’re stuffing your face with this tasty meal.  Most people tend to shy away from risotto because it takes a really long time to cook and even if you follow all the steps it somehow still tastes like you didn’t do something right.  Or is it just me chomping away and still uncooked rice?  Just me? Ok.  Zucchini and Pea Cauliflower Risotto | Life Healthfully Lived

Moving on.  If you think risotto is too fussy or you’ve never made it before then you need to try this cauliflower risotto because it is the exact opposite of fussy.  It doesn’t take long to make and you don’t have to stand over the stove stirring until your arm falls off like with regular risotto.  Again, just me?  This risotto is still creamy and rich like regular risotto but it’s also nice and light with all the fresh spring-y vegetables.

One other note about this meal, I really think that what gave this dish the depth of flavor I was going for was the Sherry I used to deglaze the pan.  I know some people don’t like to use alcohol in their cooking (to each their own) and you can use water or broth instead but I don’t think it will have the same taste.  Other than that, this risotto is straight forward and will have you licking your plate clean.  Still just me?

Zucchini and Pea Cauliflower RisottoZucchini and Pea Cauliflower Risotto | Life Healthfully Lived

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, riced (you can grate it for bigger pieces which I did or run it through your food processor for smaller pieces)
  • 2 medium zucchini’s, sliced into half moons
  • 1 cup peas, if frozen make sure they’re thawed
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup onions, diced
  • 2-3 tbsp nutritional yeast or parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup sherry (I used this one) or other dry white wine or water/broth
  • 1/2 cup water/broth
  • 1/2-2/3 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds (or pine nuts if you can shell out the small fortune a 1 oz bag costs)
  • zest from one lemon
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  1. Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat.  Saute the onions until they’re soft then add in the garlic.  Season this with a little salt and pepper and cook for about 2 minutes.
  2. Add in the riced cauliflower, adding a little more oil if needed, and season again with salt and pepper.  Cook for another five minutes until cauliflower is soft and just starting to get a little brown. Sprinkle the nutritional yeast or parmesan cheese over top.
  3. Pour in the 1/4 cup sherry and deglaze the pan.  Cook and stir everything until most of the liquid as evaporated.  Add the zucchini and peas and pour in the water/broth and coconut milk.  Stir everything together and cook until the liquid has reduced by about half.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest and parsley.  Top with the toasted almonds and taste to adjust the salt and pepper.  Zucchini and Pea Cauliflower Risotto | Life Healthfully Lived

Oil-Free Cilantro Lime Pesto

One of the things I hope this blog proves is just because you have a certain dietary restriction/need/preference doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor or some of your favorite things.  There is usually always a way to meet your cravings based on your food needs.  Now, that being said, that doesn’t mean I’m magic and can fix all your dietary woes with a healthy substitution.  Some things just cannot be recreated and more often than not it’s better that we can’t turn all junk food into healthy food.  Who wants to eat a healthy Twinkie anyway?  Or a real one for that matter….

I digress.  Today’s recipe was created because of two things.  1.  While I love fat, it’s super easy to go overboard with it especially when it comes to liquid oil like olive oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil.  Unless you’re measuring everything out, oil can add up pretty quick.  I started to realize I was buying big jugs of olive oil more and more frequently and running out of them fast.  Which leads me to my second reason… 2. I was out of olive oil and I wanted pesto.Oil-Free Cilantro Lime Pesto | Life Healthfully Lived

I want to stress I don’t think good fats are bad.  In fact, they’re awesome and I try to get them in at every meal.  But too much of a good thing can be bad and when you use an entire 1.5-liter bottle of olive oil in less than a week and a half, you might need to evaluate your food situation.  I’ll still use olive oil to make my spinach pesto, broccoli rabe pesto, and all other delicious things that require olive oil but it’s nice to have an option that is oil-free and just as delicious.

I used this last night on Adam’s fish and he deemed it “pretty tasty”, which is husband speak for good.  It has a nice light flavor from the cilantro and even though there is no oil, it’s still creamy.  You can use any green herb or vegetable you would like, I just happened to have a bunch of cilantro I needed to use so that’s what I went with.  This would also be great on pasta or zoodles or panini’s or chicken/pork or crackers or your finger….

Oil-Free Cilantro Lime PestoOil-Free Cilantro Lime Pesto | Life Healthfully Lived

  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro, rinsed and dried and ends trimmed
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • juice of 1 to 2 limes, depending on how lime-y you want it
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp roasted garlic
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2-3 tbsp nutritional yeast (or freshly grated parmesan if you do cheese)
  1. To toast almonds: Add almonds to a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Shake the pan back and forth every so often and dry toast the almonds until golden brown.  Let them cool while you get everything else together.
  2. Place the rest of the ingredients into a blender or food processor, starting with the garlic, then cilantro, then seasonings, and finally lime juice.  Pulse a few times then add the cooled slivered almonds.
  3. Blend until you have a relatively smooth and creamy sauce.  If it’s a little too thick you can add more lime juice or water 1 tablespoon at a time to thin it out.  Taste and adjust the salt then store in your fridge in an airtight container for about a week. Oil-Free Cilantro Lime Pesto | Life Healthfully Lived

 

Creamy Broccoli Spinach Soup

Creamy Broccoli Spinach Soup | Life Healthfully LivedI have been living off of this soup for the past few weeks, it’s that good.  It’s hearty enough to make a good meal but not so heavy that you feel like taking a nap after you’re done.  I feel like that’s a good judge of a meal.  Do you feel like laying in bed for six hours when you’re done?  Nope?  Then you should eat this meal again or try harder next time.

This winter we haven’t had many days where you just want to wrap your body around a bowl of soup and swim in a giant mug of hot chocolate.  I’m not complaining, but I do enjoy those super cold nights where a warm meal is the only way to feel comfortable.  I’m probably the only weirdo like that.

On the nights that it is frigid out, try this super simple soup.  It’s stuffed full of vegetables and then blended to make it creamy and delicious.  No dairy, no cheese, and yet it’s still smooth and wonderful.  That’s my kind of soup.Creamy Broccoli Spinach Soup | Life Healthfully Lived

What do you guys have planned for your weekend?  I’m on my own this Saturday and I’ll probably end up running a few errands and catching up on some work.  I know, wild and crazy over here.  But that also means that I’ll spend a good portion of my day in the kitchen coming up with yummy things for you.  Any suggestions?

My suggestion to you?  Make a big batch of this soup on Sunday night and have lunches or dinners set for the rest of the week.  Your future self will thank me!

Creamy Broccoli Spinach SoupCreamy Broccoli Spinach Soup | Life Healthfully Lived

  • 1 cup carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup celery, sliced
  • 2/3 cup onion, diced
  • 3 cups broccoli, cut into florets (you can also use frozen, just make sure it’s completely thawed)
  • 1 cup roasted red or orange bell peppers
  •  4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 to 4 cups spinach, tightly packed (I used a whole 8 oz bag for reference)
  • 4 to 5 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. To roast your bell peppers: Preheat the oven to 400 and cut the tops off of the peppers.  Remove all seeds and place the whole peppers on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Roast for about 30 minutes, turning the peppers over half-way through.  Take the peppers out of the oven and place them on a cutting board and place a large glass bowl over them so the steam will loosen the skins.  After 15 minutes, remove the bowl, slip off the skins, and dice the peppers. FYI: you can do this a few days ahead of time so you don’t have to do it right before you make your soup.
  2. For the soup: Heat a large dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat.  Add a little olive oil and add in the carrots, celery, and onion.  Saute them for about 8 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent.
  3. Add the minced garlic, roasted bell peppers, and broccoli florets.  Stir everything together and sprinkle with a little salt.  Saute for a few minutes.
  4. Pour in the vegetable broth or water.  You want the broth to cover all the vegetables and about 1/2 inch above.  Turn your heat to high and bring the soup to a boil.  Add all of the seasonings and stir to combine.
  5. Once the soup is boiling, add the spinach and cover the pot.  Turn the heat to low and simmer the soup for 15 minutes, stirring once.
  6. After 15 minutes, remove the lid and using an immersion blender, blend everything until it is smooth and creamy.  If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can work  in batches with your regular blender.  Just return everything to the pot when you’re done.Creamy Broccoli Spinach Soup | Life Healthfully Lived

The best thing about this soup?  It tastes AMAZING with a healthy dollop (read: massive spoonful) of my cheesy garlic spread. Yum!