Thursday, July 2, 2009

When I'm stressed, I cook

It's true. I think I learned it from my mother. There's definitely an underlying "food will fix it" mentality in my family. Also "booze will fix it," but that's another post.

Because I am such an avid cook I've now taken it upon myself to cook everything I would normally buy pre-made. I really have come to hate prepackaged food and somewhere along the line I've picked up the mantra that "there's nothing you can buy that's better than what you can make at home." Whether its true or not, (and it isn't...have you had the brownies at Pret?) I've developed my own recipe for protein bars--and they're delicious. If you need a quick fix snack for after the gym or working in the yard, try them out.

You will need:
2 cups Oatmeal (rolled oats, the normal Quaker kind)
A pot of coffee (make at least 4 cups, you might get sleepy)
1-2 ripe bananas
Whey Protein Powder
1 whole egg (beaten)
4 egg whites
½ tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
Dash of vanilla extract

Chocolate chips
Peanut butter

I start with 2 cups of regular oatmeal and soften it in a bowl by adding about 1/5 cup of coffee. Once the oatmeal has absorbed the coffee I mash it with a fork until there are no more big oat pieces (not good eats). After that round of mashing I add 1-2 ripe bananas (however many you have lying around—this is integral to keeping them moist) and resume mashing, until the whole thing is more or less homogenized. Then I add 6-8 scoops of chocolate whey protein (any protein powder will do). Mix this all together and thin with a little more coffee to keep everything lubricated (your aiming for something close to brownie batter in consistency, if it’s too thin add more oatmeal or protein powder). Add 1 beaten egg, a dash of vanilla extract, ½ tsp of baking powder (or soda…I don’t really know the difference but they’re both for leavening) and a pinch of salt. Mix well. At this point, feel free to add chocolate chips, nuts, peanut butter, raisins or whatever else you have lying around. I prefer half a bag of mini chocolate chips (for better chocolate flavor dispersion) and some crushed walnuts (for that omega 3 stuff). Mix it all up. Good stuff.

In a separate bowl beat 4 egg whites until they are fluffy and you’ve got soft peaks forming. Gently fold this together with your batter (this step can be omitted if you don’t have an electric mixer, or if your too busy, or if you just don’t care enough to, but I think it helps make them lighter and fluffier, which makes it more like a delicious baked-good. Do not, however, omit the egg whites entirely. Just add them and stir, ok?)

Pour the batter into a greased 13x9 pan (after I grease it, I throw some more oatmeal onto it, and shake it around to evenly cover the bottom and sides , which may or may not prevent sticking. Either way, it looks nice) and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool before cutting and coaxing out of the pan (usually involves a little flexible metal spatula). Enjoy.

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