And it is August! This summer has absolutely flown by. The past two weeks have been exceptionally busy moving to a new city and into a new apartment, as well as taking a breather weekend in Maine and the wedding of two dear friends near Hanover. This week is shaping up to be a normal week…normal being the operative term as law school begins in three weeks! I’m fully anticipating a new normal when I hit the books, so I’m doing my best to get all my ducks in a row.
This includes not only making sure I have a desk, know how my T-route to school works and finding good running loops, but also figuring out my food. With marathon training and school starting up, I’m not anticipating an excess of time to recipe prep and cook elaborate meals. That said, I refuse to give up nutrition and taste. So, as nerdy as this sounds, I’ve been practicing my meal prep. And for a person living alone, this means figuring out foods that freeze and reheat spectacularly. Bonus points for versatility. Also bonus points for on-the-go-ability.
These are two very different freezer items, but both have proven to be delicious and will be in heavy rotation come September. The first is a homemade granola bar slightly modified from Smitten Kitchen (who else). These are the first granola bars I’ve made at home that don’t just crumble into a pile of (still delicious) pieces. Using honey for sweetness and oats, millet, and sunflower butter for heft, these are perfect on the go bites. I’ve gobbled one down after a long run and taken one out of the freezer as I rush out the door. They remind me of the chewy bars I’d have in my backpack as an afternoon snack, just adultified in all the best ways.
The second is pesto. I had the amazing good fortune to stumble upon a Back Bay Farmer’s market the other day, and amongst the gazillions of freshly picked vegetables my eyes settled on the most gorgeous basil. Big bunches of basil for 1.50 a bunch came only second in best finds to the 24 slice loaf of locally made whole wheat sourdough that is actually sitting nicely sliced in my freezer (pro tip–make sure the bread is all the way sliced through, and slip a small square of parchment paper between slices for easy individual removal!). Due to my inability to have nuts and nightshades, store bought pesto is often something I have to begrudgingly pass by. But I love pesto, and it’s versatility–pizza! pasta! eggs! sandwiches! dipping sauces!–make it a meal prep staple. So two bunches of basil later I now have 18 individual tablespoons of pesto freezing in two ice cube trays. When the need for pesto strikes, I just pop one or two out of the tray, thaw, and BAM a weeknight dinner winner.
No matter your phase in life, it is always a good idea to have healthy and delicious things just a defrost away. You’ll feel better, you won’t get sick of bagels and peanut butter (hi mom!), and you’ll also save boat loads of money. That way I can feel better about heading over to Tatte for their ricotta and seasonal jam tartine. I just can’t get enough. (and I did just come up with my next freezer item–jam! Stay tuned)
Adult Chocolate Chip Chewy Bars
makes 12, adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1 1/4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup oat flour
3/4 cup dried unsweetened coconut flakes
1/3 cup uncooked millet
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup raisins
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup sunflower butter
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup neutral tasting coconut oil (liquified in the microwave if necessary!)
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8×8 inch pan with a big piece of parchment paper. You want some hanging off the sides for easy removal of bars from the pan!
- Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl whisk together the sunflower butter, honey, and coconut oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until thoroughly combined.
- Transfer to the parchment lined pan. First using a rubber spatula spread out the mixture. Then, using a small square of parchment paper, use your hand to REALLY press the bars flat. You want to do this with a lot of gusto–you want a completely flat top, all the corners filled, and everything to be nice and tight.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool for 30 minutes at room temperature, then transfer to the fridge to cool for another hour or so. At this point I removed mine from the pan, and sliced into squares, BUT before separating the squares into individual pieces I moved the whole thing to the freezer for another 30-60 minutes. At this point you can fully separate them, and place in a ziplock bag and put back into the freezer until you’re ready to eat them.
- Smitten Kitchen suggests letting them thaw at room temperature for an hour, but I honestly like them best just five minutes out of the freezer.
post run snackin
Makes 1 1/4 cups, or 20 tablespoons
7 cups of loosely packed basil, washed and dried to the best of your ability
1 cup shredded pecorino romano (parmesan would also work!)
4 garlic cloves, peeled
3 medjool dates, pitted
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste (I added no salt, but did add 20 grinds of black pepper)
**It helps to have a good blender or food processor for this. You can use a weaker blender, but you may have to add more oil and you might not get as smooth a texture. It will still taste delicious!**
- Put the basil, garlic, and pecorino into your blender. Blend until finely chopped and just beginning to form a paste. Add in dates and lemon juice, blend until the paste is definitely forming.
- With the blender/food processor running (this is when a Vitamix is THE BEST) slowly pour in 1/2 cup of olive oil. Blend for 30-60 seconds until everything is smooth and combined. I did this at the 6-speed on my Vitamix blender.
- You have two options at this point: Either place the pesto into a jar and eat within the week, or transfer tablespoon sized dollops of pesto into an ice cube tray and freeze (up to 6 months!). When ready to use either put in the microwave or let come to room temperature “naturally.”