Sunday, September 27, 2015

Gluten-Free Granola Bars and Big Magic

I've always been a little obsessed with magic.

I distinctly remember being in elementary school and checking out books on ESP from our local library. I just knew I could move shit with my mind if I really tried hard enough and was taught all the tricks. I still devour any and all books that pertain to the magical realm - Harry Potter, The Discovery of Witches Trilogy, and anything by Cassandra Clare, just to name a few. I'll shamelessly read Young Adult Fiction all day long if there are witches and vampires involved. Being taken to another world is my favorite form of escape.

Speaking of magic, a few weeks ago, I started listening to Elizabeth Gilbert's Podcast, "Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear," and her voice hit my soul, hard. In her podcast, she talks to women about issues they have in their creative lives, and her words are so empathetic, without judgment, and so full of life and vitality and goodness. I let myself be absorbed by them - on the train, on a run, on the way to work - to remind myself that I am, innately, a creative being, and that so is everyone else that I encounter in my day. We all are, but we sometimes we let ourselves stop being makers. I did. I do. But I don't have to anymore.

Serendipitously, Elizabeth Gilbert came to Brooklyn this past Thursday for an event for her new book (also named "Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear), and duh, I attended! The voice that had been in my headphones for the last three weeks was now in the same room as me, reading a passage of her book that, of course, was exactly what I needed to hear -

"Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?...The hunt to uncover those jewels - that's creative living. The courage to go on that hunt in the first place - that's what separates a mundane existence from a more enchanted one."
Y'all, these words are magical. Don't you feel it?

For me, hearing one of my favorite authors speak - that's magic. Finding her podcast, then her event, and now reading her new book, at a time in my life when I'm desperately searching for my creativity again - that's magic, too. Cooking again? Magic. Writing, even if it feels slow-going and awkward? Magic. Having a nice night at home with my husband, as I write and he paints? Magic. Going to bed with peace of mind? Really fucking magical.

I might not be able to move objects with my mind, or fly on a witch's broom, but I feel like I am beginning to recognize that every moment of contentedness and bliss in my life is, in itself, an enchanted moment. And that each of these moments comes from the magic within me. For that, I am really, ridiculously, grateful.

Gluten Free Granola Bars

Fall takes me straight to memories that are based around leaves falling, bonfires, pumpkin spice lattes, and of course, Halloween (Like everyone else! My fall memories are so not original, but they do make me really happy.) As these granola bars baked, the scent of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger took over my apartment - so I knew they'd be a perfect post for the first week of fall. Enjoy!

2 cups gluten-free rolled oats (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1 cup mixed nuts and seeds
1/4 cup chia seeds
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt (only if the nuts are unsalted)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 egg whites
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted (or light olive oil)
1/2 cup pitted dates or dried prunes, chopped

First, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Spread out the rolled oats and nuts on a baking sheet, and toast them in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the rolled oats have a bit of a golden hue. After you remove them from the oven, let them cool to room temperature. While you're waiting for the rolled oats and nuts to toast, whip together the egg whites, honey, and coconut oil in a small bowl.

Then, mix together the chia seeds, cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, salt, and brown sugar. Add it all to your rolled oats and nuts so that it is mixed in evenly.

Add the fall-spice coated oats and nuts to the eggs, honey, and coconut oil. Now, toss in the pitted dates or the dried prunes. Mix well, and then transfer to a parchment-covered baking sheet. You may need to flatten the granola with the back of a spoon for it to be evenly distributed.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Finally, let the granola cool for 10-15 minutes, and then slice it into bars!

Makes 8-10 bars.

A buen tiempo!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Wait, how long has it been?

It's been 2 full years. And I'm back. But this time, I'm doing it from Brooklyn, NY.

In the last 2 years I quit my job in Santo Domingo, moved 1500 miles, started a new job, and started a Master's program in TESOL. The fiancé became the husband, and for a year and a half, we journeyed the nightmarish process of immigration together until he finally came to NY to stay in August (Yes, just a few weeks ago.).

So much change (and work) in the last year overwhelmed me. I missed the ocean and my life in the DR. I missed our apartment, with the sea breeze and our view of the crystal blue water. I let fear and exhaustion snuff out my creativity, passion, curiosity for life. I felt like I lost my sparkle. Sometimes it fades into the background, and we are only reminded of it in our deepest moments of self-searching - that it is still there, waiting for us to pick it up again.  I am grateful to have picked it back up again. Thank you for waiting for me, little light.

Today's recipe is going to be a recipe from my Mom. My parents were instrumental in listening to me this year, giving me advice, telling me to keep going, and never giving up on me, even when I felt like giving up on myself. So, thank you, padres. I couldn't have done it without you.

Oven-baked (GF) Breaded Chicken
(Adapted from Betty Crocker)

Oven Baked GF Breaded Chicken with Black Beans and Rice, Salad, and Avocado

1 tablespoon vegan butter (I'm using Smart Balance!)

1 cup of gluten-free flour (It can be Gluten Free Bisquick, like in Betty's recipe, or it can be a mix. I used what I had in the fridge, which was half garbanzo bean flour and half pancake mix flour. It sounds strange, but the pancake mix gave it a sweetness that I loved!) 

1 teaspoon salt 

1 teaspoon chili powder 

1/4 teaspoon pepper 

2 eggs, beaten 

3 lb chicken drumsticks and thighs

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Melt the butter in a 9x13 baking dish in the oven.
In a medium bowl, mix the gluten-free flour, salt, chili powder, and pepper. Place the eggs in a separate, wide container. Dip the chicken into the eggs, and then coat it with the gluten-free flour mixture. Keep going until all of your chicken is coated! 

Place the chicken skin-side down in your baking dish. Bake for 35 minutes, and then turn the chicken. Bake for another 15 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked! 

Serves: 6-8

a buen tiempo!