Plant-Based Sriracha Cheese Sauce

This morning, I woke up and I really wanted a Quick Trip breakfast burrito. If you don’t live near a QT it might sound weird to be craving a breakfast burrito from a convenience store, but Quick Trip is no mere gas station. I grew up in an area with only local Mom and Pop gas stations, so I did not have strong opinions about gas stations until I realized I had very strong opinions about this gas station. Quick Trip is always my go-to for a to-go breakfast.

The problem is that my husband and I, as a part of our new year’s resolutions, are trying to both be healthier with our bodies and with our finances. A $4.00, 600-calorie breakfast burrito doesn’t really fit those goals.

Being an adult means having the”We have food at home” conversation with yourself a lot.

I think what makes the QT breakfast burritos so delicious to me is the spiciness of the fried jalapenos perfectly blends with the creaminess of the gooey cheese. I asked myself, “how can I add spicey cheesiness to my burrito with fewer calories?” Answer: nutritional yeast and sriracha.

I feel like a couple of things involved in this recipe can be intimidating to some people. Plant-Basec Sriracha Cheese Sauce 2The first step is to make a bechamel sauce base. This sounds way more complicated than it is. It’s actually very similar to making white gravy. Melt butter, add flour, whisk, add milk, whisk, milk, whisk, milk, whisk, and done. Just because the name sounds fancy doesn’t make it difficult.

Another thing that scares people is nutritional yeast. It’s a yellow powder with a cheesy flavor. I didn’t find out about it until a few years ago (Thank you, Thug Kitchen cookbooks!) and I don’t understand why it’s not in every kitchen. You can sprinkle it on popcorn for an easy, healthy cheese flavor. You can put it into soups and sauces to give a delicious cheesiness without any dairy. It’s how I like to make my broccoli cheese soup. My Wal-mart carries it now. It’s easy to find, easy to use, and adds protein and vitamins to your food.

All that being said, this sauce is super easy. You make your bechamel base and then mix in the remaining ingredients. It makes four 1/4 cup servings. Perfect for topping eggs,  burgers, and tex-mex dishes or dipping chips, pretzels, nuggies, veggies, or anything else your heart desires. This is a versatile sauce.

I am a vegetarian and poured a helping of this delicious sauce over scrambled eggs.  However, this cheese sauce is vegan-friendly. I am trying to cut out as much dairy as possible for both health and ethical reasons, but if you use regular butter and/or milk at home, those will work just as well too.

Plant-Based Sriracha Cheece Sauce 1

 


Plant-Based Sriracha Cheese Sauce

Cook time: 5 minutes

Serves: 4 (1/4 cup servings)

Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon Plant-based Butter (I like Country Crock with almond oil)
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened, original almond milk
  • dash of paprika
  • 2 teaspoons sriracha
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Melt your butter in a small saucepan over low heat.
  2. When the butter is fully melted add your flour and whisk until fully incorporated. Allow to cook for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add the almond milk a little at a time. You want to add a small amount of the milk and whisk until it thickens then add a small amount more, continuing this process until all the milk has been incorporated and the sauce is your desired thickness. It’s tedious but makes for a cream sauce Cook for a little longer if your sauce is runnier than you would like.
  4. Add paprika, sriracha, and nutritional yeast and stir. Serve warm as a sauce or dip.

 

Your New Go-To: Quick and Easy Chinese Noodles

Y’all. I’ve been doing so well. I have been counting my calories and going to bed on time. I’ve been taking my vitamins and brushing my teeth. I’ve been reading my daily devotional and keeping the house clean and packing my lunch every night.

None of that could stop the awful weather in Northeast Oklahoma this past week. It was cold and rainy and it made me want to just nap all day. Wednesday and Thursday just saw me in a funk. I could not keep my head in the game. Troy Bolton would have been so disappointed.

On Thursday I came home in my cold weather funk and sat down on the couch next to my husband. I was tired, cranky, and, worst of all, I was hungry. This was not a job for a vegetable and rice bowl. This was a job for delicious noodles dripping with a sweet and zesty sauce.  Enter: Quick and Easy Chinese Noodles.

Quick & Easy Chinese Noodles

I cannot say enough about these noodles. They come together in 5 minutes and they don’t dirty up a bunch of dishes. They are sooooooo good. Like I said before the noodles are warm, carby, and comforting. The sauce has a zesty sweet and sourness to it with a depth of flavor brought by the sesame seed oil.

They are super easy to make. Bring your water to a boil and toss in your ramen block and while your noodles are cooking mix together the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, and sweetener.

This recipe is super customizable. To be honest, I usually buy the 20 cent packs of ramen and just throw away the sauce packet, but if you want to use a fancier block of noodles you can do that too. I’m trying to cut calories right now so I use stevia powder for my sweetener, but sugar or even maple syrup would work too. I like to top mine with some garlic and sambal oelek, but the options are endless. Throw on some scallions, sliced jalapenos, toasted sesame seeds, sriracha, ginger, etc. etc. etc. It will be good no matter what.

You can even half the recipe if you’re cooking for just one or double the recipe if you need to serve a bigger group or want to put some into the refrigerator for later. They also taste amazing cold, which can be your excuse if you can’t wait to heat them up. #beenthere

I know that this dish isn’t necessarily the healthiest in the world, but when you’re craving some Chinese takeout or in the middle of a slump that only junk food will cure, these will hit the spot for under 450 calories!

Let me know if you make these noodles and if so what toppings did you pick? Let me know in the comments.

Quick and Easy Chinese Noodles Recipe Card

 

Wrangling Resolutions

2020? Already? It feels like just yesterday it was 2012 and I was mildly uncomfortable that people on the internet were saying the world was going to end. Now it’s already 2020 and the start of a new decade. (Which is not the roaring 20s. Unless you start listening to jazz, bobbing your hair, and wearing your stockings rolled down with rouge on your knees, please don’t let me hear you calling the 2020s that. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk)

I wanted to talk to you today about resolutions because I’m a sucker for a good resolution. I love a new start to anything: a new planner, a new piece of wall art, a new hairstyle, a new outfit.  It’s like, “Hey, this small change could bring out a better me. I wear red lipstick now because I’m a confident boss lady,” I believe in the “new year, new me” mentality. Yes, I know you’re still technically the same person and I don’t believe in changing to make anyone else happy, but if you want to be a better version of yourself where you learn healthier habits that serve you and make you a healthier, happier person then GO FOR IT! You are the boss of you and if you wake up and decide that in 2020 you are going to be the kind of person who cooks more or does yoga or uses a planner and that makes you happy then ignore the nay-sayers.

The problem with resolutions is that often we are really motivated at the beginning and then go strong for a few weeks, but by mid-January, we’re losing steam, by mid-February were unmotivated, and by the beginning of March we don’t even remember what the resolution was to begin with. When you remember you said you wanted to learn how to use your camera and start doing photography you feel like it’s too late to try and you’ll start over next year.

Dude, I totally get it. That’s why it’s time to start doing this resolution thing differently.

Recently I listened to an episode of the Bossed Up podcast where Emilie talked about the psychology of New Year’s resolutions. (Listen to the episode here.) Basically, though you should still definitely go listen to the podcast, there is something called the fresh start effect which is why we like resolutions. We love a fresh start and are motivated by them. That’s why the gym is full on January 2nd and empty by Valentine’s day. So the idea is if a fresh start is motivating to us, why is there only one day a year to have a fresh start?

We need to redefine what a fresh start is. A fresh start can be January 1st, but can it not also be February 1st? Can’t Monday morning be a fresh start?

I recently read an article on CNN about micro-resolutions. (Read it here.) The idea of micro-resolutions is that 365 days is a long time to commit to something, but 30 days is very manageable. To say, “I’m not going to eat sweets anymore” is setting yourself up for failure, but you can say no to dessert for 30 days. 30 days is doable. Then you’ve set a precedent for yourself. “I was able to go all January without dessert and I feel better. I have more energy and I’ve lost 4 pounds. I can totally do this for another month!”

Looping back around to fresh start effect: how do you keep pushing yourself to keep going on your micro-goal after the first 5 or 6 days when it starts to get hard? I’ve figured out that habit trackers are a Godsend for me.

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Habit trackers can come in many forms, but this is the one I’ve started making. I get a piece of grid paper (this one fits into my planner perfectly because it comes from the same brand, but any piece of grid paper will do) and on the last day of the month I write out what goals I want to focus on for the month. (Right now I’m focusing a lot on my physical and mental health in my goals.) You might notice that 8 days in I decided to start tracking another goal. It’s okay to make a random Wednesday a fresh start too.

They are not huge goals, but one thing builds on another. One of the most important things to remember when you make your goals is that they need to be something that you can actually accomplish. If you’re a completely sedentary person, it might not be the best goal to set to say that you’re going to run a half-marathon this year. Nobody likes to fail. It sets a bad precedent for your future goal making. If you do accomplish this goal then next time you can set a bigger one and tell yourself, “I was able to accomplish that goal. I can do this one too!” Setting realistic goals, like “I’m going to go to the gym and walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes a day, three times a week,” sets you up to win and set bigger goals down the road. You can totally run that marathon, but it’s better in the long run to chunk that into smaller goals that get bigger and bigger. 

I don’t know what this says about me personally, but seeing my habits lined out in a bar graph is really motivating. Maybe deep down I’m still the kid who had to make all A’s in elementary school. I take 5 minutes each evening to think about my day and fill out my habit tracker. You can see that I am rocking some habits (my teeth have never been cleaner) and some habits I need to figure out how to work into my day more. The beautiful thing about it is that I might not be able to color a box in one day, but I know that the next day is still possible and I can take a minute to think about how I can achieve that goal for the next day. As the month goes on it’s like looking at a rainbow made up of all the times I was successful.

So I’m going to wrap this up because I’ve been terribly long-winded, but I hope that you’re willing to try out the micro-resolutions or the habit tracker or maybe even both this year. Let me know in the comments if you’re a resolutions type of person and why? What are your goals for this year or even just this month? How do you motivate yourself to meet them?

No matter what your goals are and how you make or track them, I hope you rock all of them in 2020!

Reasons Why Macarons Are Actually the Worst (Updated)

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Look at those little things. They are so dang pretty. Seriously, that is a pretty cookie.

But they actually kind of suck.

Yeah, you heard me right.

Macarons, not to be confused with macaroons, which are different, (I had to look this up because I am uncultured swine), are French cookies that consist of whipped egg whites, almond flour, and snobbery. I’d bet the Kardashians serve these at all their parties and special occasions. I don’t keep up with the Kardashians, so I can only assume. They are very instagrammable. No offense to the Kardashians, I can appreciate a good lady boss when I see one. The point I’m trying to make here is that macarons are not the every man’s cookie.

I now present to you, 5 reasons why macarons are actually the worst.

  1. Macarons are usually hella expensive
    There might be a place to get reasonably priced macarons. I don’t know where that would be; I’m only going off personal experience here. In my own personal experience, macarons are not cheap. The last time I saw them was in a candy store and they were charging $4.00 a piece. That is $4.00. For. Each. Cookie. That is more than 30 minutes of work if you are at minimum wage for one stinking cookie. I can get 40 Oreos for that at any grocery store. After all, isn’t that what macarons are? Glorified sandwich cookies?
  2. Macarons are extremely difficult to make.
    You, an intellectual, might think you will just cheat the system and still get that trendy, bougie look of having macarons without having to trade your first born over to get them. Put down the spatula and step away from the almond flour; it will only end in disaster. Macarons are notoriously difficult to make. You have to make a meringue, ever so gently fold in the almond flour (I’ll get to that in a minute), let them sit until they develop a nasty little skin on top, gross, and then hope, pray, and perform a sacrifice while they are actually in the oven. You have to either make a buttercream or use jelly (more on that later) for a filling. This is not a quick recipe. This is not a recipe for a novice. I feel like I am a semi-decent cook and I could not make them. That one really talented kid on Food Network’s Kids’ Baking Championship could not make them right the first time. Macarons are kitchen disasters waiting to happen.
  3. Almond “Flour”
    In these modern times where it is fashionable to be gluten free or refuse to eat carbs, you can find almond flour in most grocery stores. Not too long ago when people didn’t know what a gluten allergy was unless they actually had one it was not so easy to find. Also, almond flour is weird. Almonds are delicious. Someone took some perfectly good almonds and ground them up. And they don’t really resemble flour. Ground almonds aren’t flour. Let’s call it what it really is: almond meal. Almond meal is very expensive. There is a reason that your almond butter is more expensive than your peanut butter. Almonds are not a cheap nut.
  4. You filled that cookie with what?
    I appreciate a good sandwich cookie. I love Oreos and ice cream sandwiches made with chocolate chip cookies. Macarons are basically sandwich cookies. When you make a macaron, it has to have a filling. One option is buttercream. Another, apparently, acceptable option is jelly. There are some pretty good cookies that are filled with jelly. But these are little cookie sandwiches. Have you ever ate a hamburger that all the fillings perfectly stayed in when you bit into it? Is jelly sticky? Do you see where I am going with this? You are almost completely guaranteed to have jelly, that does not set like buttercream, getting on your hands and maybe even your clothes. Also, remember that you are likely to be eating these refined cookies in a refined setting. Enjoy sticky fingers at that high class party.
  5. Weird flavors galore.
    Chocolate and strawberry are flavors. Vanilla and pistachio are flavors. Coffee and peanut butter are flavors. Rose and lavender are scents. Some forward thinking chef down the line got confused and tried the latter as flavors. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a rose or lavender flavored anything. I tried a lavender flavored iced latte one time out of curiosity. I don’t really know how to explain it. It is sort of like trying to describe a color or the taste of water. Drinking that lavender latte was like drinking coffee while sticking my nose into a bunch of lavender. It was like smelling lavender while tasting coffee. I know the two senses are intertwined, but it was weird. Basically, do not confuse colors and scents. Also, do not get me started on savory flavors like basil and rosemary in desserts. Take that crap somewhere else. I don’t care what refined pallet-ed judges on Food Network say. When I bite into a dessert, it is supposed to be sweet.

 

What do you think? Do you agree that macarons are really overrated? Did I miss something important on the list? Am I being too judgmental of a simple cookie? They can’t help it because they’re from French cooking which is notoriously difficult anyway? What should I rant about or listicle next? Let me know in the comments.

xo,

Delaney

 

Overnight Oats: Breakfast for People Who Aren’t Morning People

This morning when my alarm went off I made an inhuman sound something along the lines of aaaaiiiiiyyyyyeeeee! It’s safe to say that I am not a morning person. Yeah. It’s probably worse because it was the first Monday of 2018 after the two-week break, but, alas, this was not the first morning that I had a difficult time separating myself from my bed in the morning.

Guess what the first thing myself, and probably a lot of us, decide to cut out of our morning routine when we are rushing around because of a late start. Let’s just admit it and feel better: Sometimes I skip breakfast!

Did you know that eating breakfast in the morning jump starts your metabolism for the day which helps you make healthier food choices throughout the day as well as improving your energy and concentration. I know skipping breakfast is bad for me and I know that pouring a bowl of cereal is literally one of the easiest things to do in the morning, but when I’m in the middle of contouring cheekbones so sharp they could cut a man I don’t wanna stop to make breakfast.

Ideally, science recommends that we consume protein and carbohydrates first thing in the morning. So the best sort of breakfast might contain grains, nuts, maybe some milk, and ooohh maybe even fruit.

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Enter: overnight oats. These are great because you can customize them to whatever you like and/or have on hand. The basic have-to-have ingredients are oats and liquid. Seriously, any variation of those will work. I mean, there are better liquids than others to use (cola and oats, anyone?) and the add-ins definitely make it better, but I’d wager that you have the basic ingredients in your kitchen right now, don’t you?

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Everything is yummier in a pretty, little floral bowl.

This recipe is a game changer. It takes less than 5 minutes to mix up after dinner and by the time you wake up in the morning you will have a cool, creamy oatmeal that is personalized to be just how you like. If you’re vegan or lactose intolerant you can use nut milk. If you’re trying to work more fruit into your diet you can double up on the fruit. If you want to include hemp seeds, protein powder, or even candy go for it!  Bonus points if you use cute little re-purposed glass jars. Your tummy will thank you for the oatmeal and the Earth will thank you for the recycling.
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Overnight Oats Recipe

 

Resolutions, Goal Planning, and To Do Lists for the Messy

Today was my first day back to school for the spring semester and aiiiieeeee I was unprepared. I made the mistake good decision choice to begin A Game of Thrones yesterday. The conflict here is that I do not want to stop reading and I unfortunately had to get up this morning. Here’s a quick summary of things that happened since my alarm went off this morning:

  • I snoozed the alarm for a solid 30 minutes.
  • I opened the door to my classroom to let kids in literally as the tardy bell rang.
  • I forgot to eat my lunch until the kids starting coming back from their lunch.
  • I drank a large coffee, a large diet coke, and a whole bunch of ice cold water and I still never woke up.

Alas, not all hope is lost because I made a bunch of resolutions this year and I’m going to stick to them. Don’t laugh. I have a plan.

I’ve been watching tons of bullet journal videos and pinning bullet journal pictures on the inter webs and I have been inspired by how pretty and creative things are, but to be frank bullet journaling suck.

I’ve tried bullet journaling before and it just felt too permanent to me. It was hard to just write something down on a page and say to myself, “This is permanent. I cannot move this.”

Enter the arc planner system. You can buy the premade planner section, but you can also add a bunch of lined or grid paper to make your own pages just like bullet journals. Let me repeat that jUsT lIkE tHe BuLlET jOuRnAlS!

Yes. This is bullet journaling for the commitment phobic. I love the way that I can just move a page or easily take it out and toss it in the recycling bin when I inevitably mess up.

I personally like the Create365 My Happy Planner Brand. Here’s the basic layout:

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As you can see, this is the weekly spread. There is space for weekly top three goals, notes, and 3 squares for each day. I like to use the top square for AM, the middle square for PM, and then I like to use a stamper to make a to do list for the day.

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I really try to prioritize my tasks and not go over the six spaces provided so I don’t get overwhelmed and decide to take a nap instead.

The biggest trouble with the resolutions most folks make is that they are vague. Exercise more. Read more. Lose weight. How much is more? If I exercise sporadically a time or two a month that is technically more than the none I did over the last six months, but that’s not going to get me closer to the goal of being healthy or fit. Also, the idiom “Out of sight, out of mind” is extremely accurate. If you aren’t reminded while still forming new habits you’re going to forget them faster than your college boyfriend.

Resolutions 1

This year instead of just writing my resolutions down in my planner where I can see them I am tracking them! It makes it into a fun little game. There is space on here to track my savings, my grades, weight loss, and my most favorite of all…

30 Books

My bookshelf tracker! I already wrote in the two books I am working on right now, but how cute is this? It’s going to be so fun filling in names and coloring in books as the year progresses.

I have separate trackers for my “healthy habits”: enough servings of fruit, veggies, grains, legumes, etc. a.k.a. the vegetarian food groups. I am also tracking when I wash my face, brush my teeth, take my medicine, exercise, and so on. I’ve had a tendency in the past to get lazy and miss things that I need to do. There’s also the yoga tracker.

Healthy Habits TrackerYoga Tracker

Pair these movable pages with an erasable pen and boom! I can make changes all the time as needed.

So that’s it. That’s how I’m keeping track of goals this year. Did I miss anything? How do you keep your resolutions and stay organized? What tricks do you use to help you achieve your goals? Is there an ultimate planner system that I’ve just got to try when this one runs out? Let me know in the comments.

XO. The Crunchy Hippie.