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This is one of those dishes which I can easily scrambled together at the last minute. Ground beef is relatively inexpensive and easily available. I usually have some in the freezer. It’s a good alternative when we need a break from spaghetti (another easy dish with ground beef).

When E was younger and started eating table foods, I would make a batch of these and freeze. I made them small enough so that they’re toddler-friendly. It’s a good source of protein, and more importantly, she liked it. When I needed a last-minute protein, all I had to do was to reheat one in the microwave. I’d serve this with a side of rice or pasta and veggies. It’s a nice substitute from those frozen, processed chicken nuggets. I still keep some in my freezer for my kids as a lunchtime back-up meat in case I don’t have anything else in the fridge for them.

A word on ground beef. I try to buy grass-fed when possible. Yes, it’s more expensive, but grass-fed ground beef is still cheaper than buying grass-fed steaks. In my experience, it’s leaner and tastier than grain-fed ground beef. I am not sure about the claims, but it does make me feel better about feeding my family beef that’s been raised more mindful ecologically and health-wise. Generally, I try to buy them locally. I’ve found the prices to be less than big box supermarkets including that big “green one” that takes up a “whole paycheck.” For those who live in the ATL area, the Farm Mobile is a good place to buy grass-fed beef.

 

Easy Mini-Hamburgers

Makes approximately 15 mini-hamburgers

 

Ingredients:

1 pound lean ground beef or grass-fed ground beef

1/2 onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

pepper

 

Directions:

1. Gather the ground beef, chopped onions, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Gently mix together with a spatula until everything is well-incorporated while making sure not to over-mix.

2. With clean hands, form 2 inch patties. Dent the center of the patties approximately 1/4 inch with finger. Place on a clean plate.

3. Heat pan with medium high heat. Oil pan if necessary. Gently place the individual patties down onto hot pan. Turn heat down to medium or medium low. Brown both sides approximately two minutes per side or until cooked through. (Note: Because I use a seasoned carbon steel pan and the beef releases some fat, I find that I don’t have to use extra oil for the pan.)

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Did I say that I have a sweet tooth? If it was up to me, I’d be eating desserts all day long.

H and I are truly opposites in this regard, along with a list of many other things. He finds most desserts unappetizing, including chocolates. His idea of dessert is fruit. I know, it’s so healthy. Maybe that’s why he never really struggled with being overweight. It truly was a change to marry him. My mom used to keep our house stocked with sweets, especially since both my dad and my brother enjoy them as much as I did. Even now when I visit my parents, they would go out of their way to stock their house with my favorite desserts. All of my friends know how to woo me with chocolates. I am constantly pinning desserts that are like eye-candies on Pinterest that I know I can never keep around my house because I will just eat it all.

Unfortunately, the body can no longer handle it the way it used to work. I really think pregnancies really change your body. I can no longer eat the way I used to. The body really hangs onto those extra calories. It can be quite frustrating, especially when you feel like you’re trying your best to try to rid those extra pounds. I have since started looking for alternatives to satisfy those sweet cravings.

These cookies are irresistible and healthy, too. There are no added sugar, oil, or butter! They contain lots of good-for-you ingredients like carrots, almonds, and oats. It’s one of those sweets that I don’t feel so bad eating, or give them to my kids for breakfast. The plus side is this contains no eggs, so S can eat them! As for H, he will just continue to indulge in his stash of fruits.

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Healthy Carrot Almond Cookies

(adapted from Whole Foods Market)

Makes approximately 24 cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup almond meal or ground almonds

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 and 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup grated carrots

1 ripe banana, mashed

3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 cup raisins

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper.

2. In a bowl, combine almond meal or ground almonds, rolled oats, whole wheat flour, baking powder, and ground cinnamon.

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3. In another large bowl, combine grated carrots, mashed banana, and applesauce. Slow add the dry ingredients from the other bowl into the wet ingredients. Mix well. Stir in raisins.

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4. Drop rounded tablespoonfuls onto lined cookie sheets, at least one inch apart. Gently flattened top with spoon.

5. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 20 minutes or when cookies are slightly brown. Remove and cool on wire rack.

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H and I don’t really like to dine out on Valentine’s Day. In our past experiences, dining out on that evening have always felt rushed as they try to move diners through in order to accommodate all of the reservations for that evening. Food in a typically awesome restaurant can be mediocre. So we started to just dine in a few years back.

For this past Valentine’s Day, H surprised me with a little treat from Urban Pl8. You see, it was special because we had just dined there a few nights prior with our children. Because dinner was a little rushed as S got more and more restless after he quickly devoured his grilled cheese on pita bread (which was really awesome), we didn’t have much time for dessert. I eyed their dessert menu and marveled at the idea of a paleo chocolate pudding. We then rushed home without ordering any desserts.

So on Valentine’s Day this past year, I was touched that H took time during his lunch hour in traffic to pick the dessert up all the way on the other side of town so that he can surprise me later. I was nearly in tears. Sounds dramatic, but I really was. At that point, I had been really good about trying to curb my sweet tooth. So this was truly a treat!

I have been thinking about making a similar pudding at home since. Since S has his egg allergy, a pudding like this will be great for him to enjoy as a treat, too. Since I love the combination of coffee and chocolate, I decided to make my own version of this pudding. Don’t be turned off by the idea of avocado in a dessert. It has a nice texture and you really can’t taste its flavor after you mix it with honey, cocoa powder, and coffee.

By the way, be careful with the caffeine and children. S was up until 1am after he had just a few spoonfuls (4 to be exact) of this pudding. I didn’t think he would be that affected by just a few spoonfuls. After that incident, I always omit the coffee in his chocolate pudding. Lesson learned.

Chocolate Coffee Avocado Pudding

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 avocados

4 tablespoons cocoa powder

2 teaspoons instant coffee granules

2 tablespoons coconut milk (or milk of your choice)

4 tablespoons honey

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

blueberries for garnish (optional)

Directions:

1. Measure all ingredients into a large bowl. Carefully mix with a hand blender or hand mixer until smooth in consistency (You can also use a blender or food processor).

2. Chill for at least one hour.

3. Garnish with a few blueberries before serving.

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