Making the Perfect BLT Sandwich — February 28, 2021

Making the Perfect BLT Sandwich

 

The BLT is a “classic” sandwich that we all already know exactly what is…

But have you been settling for imperfect BLT’s…sandwiches made with thin, brittle bacon that crumbles when you just look at it…limp and wilted lettuce…and mealy tomatoes that don’t belong in jarred marinara sauce…

When instead you could be enjoying perfect BLT’s…sandwiches with perfectly salty and crispy bacon…perfectly crispy refreshing, crunchy lettuce…and perfectly juicy and flavorful tomatoes.

Let’s talk about the specifics that make up the perfect BLT’s that you’ll want to enjoy all summer long…

 

 

 

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THE BACON

As with anything else you’re baking or prepping in the kitchen, you cannot attain the perfect results if you don’t start out with the perfect ingredients.

Of course you could simply walk into any grocery store or shop off your normal food delivery website…and find plenty of bacon options….low-quality.

Curing bacon takes time and money to the manufacturer…so most bacon is highly processed in order to speed up this process and to make the bacon cheaper…both in quality and in price.

You want to make sure that your bacon has actually been created using only high quality pork…how are you supposed to get the perfect bacon if you start out with imperfect pork?!

Finding perfectly good bacon…I mean great bacon…can actually be a real challenge.

Be willing to splurge on the bacon you choose because honestly you shouldn’t be eating bacon that often—if at all. Buy the highest quality you can find…thick cut, such as this bacon from Wild Pastures.

As with most things in life, you get what you pay for.

 

 

 

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THE LETTUCE

Making the perfect BLT requires buying not only the highest quality, thick cut bacon you can find, but also the perfect tomatoes and lettuce. Iceberg lettuce is the classic choice because it has that perfect crunch and  texture…but crisp, fresh romaine hearts would probably be a better choice. Stay away from lettuces that provide little crunch—such as spinach, spring mix, and arugula.

 

 

 

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THE TOMATO

Obviously in order to have the perfect BLT, you must also have the perfect tomatoes…nice juicy ripe ones…that are firm and full of flavor.

So which tomato should you choose?!

Look for plump, heavy tomatoes that are about 3 inches in width…preferably an heirloom beefsteak.

Better yet, only make a BLT when tomatoes are “in peak season”—June through September.

 

 

 

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THE BREAD

Honestly you could use whatever bread you like, as long as the bread is not so flimsy that your whole sandwich falls apart after the first bite. Perhaps your bets would be sourdough and rye because these two breads will add extra flavor.

 

 

 

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THE MAYO

Without mayo, your sandwich would totally fall apart…right?! 

Sure you could go all out and make your own homemade mayo…but honestly how many of us are actually gonna do that? Flavored mayo actually takes away from the flavor of the tomatoes.

Instead grab the largest jar of Hellmann’s that you can find…you’re gonna want enough to slather mayo on both the top and the bottom slices of bread.

 

 

 

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MAKIN’ BACON

Cook the bacon….The perfect bacon for BLT’s us evenly crispy with no flabby parts…bacon that doesn’t end up in a crumbly mess when you take your first bite of your BLT…yet cooked enough that it’s not chewy.

You can cook the bacon however you’d like—stove, oven, or microwave. I personally like to bake mine.

To cook bacon in the oven, first preheat oven to 400°F.  Place a rack layered with the bacon on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake about twenty minutes or until crisp. Transfer to a paper towel to drain.

Bacon can be cooked up to one week ahead and refrigerated. Let sit out at room temperature while you prepare the rest of the BLT ingredients.

 

 

 

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PREP

Lettuce…Wash, dry and cut into thin shreds.

Tomatoes…Slice tomatoes into 1/3″ thick slices. Place the slices on a layer of paper towels in order to absorb some of the moisture and prevent a soggy sandwich. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

 

 

 

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TOAST

 

Toast: Toast bread until light golden brown.

 

 

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  1. ASSEMBLE

Spread 1tbsp mayo on each slice of bread. Place one romaine lettuce leaf on one slice of bread, folding it as needed to fit neatly on the bread. Top with the seasoned tomato slices in a single layer, cutting them in half as needed to fit in a single layer. Tear three bacon slices. Place on top of the tomatoes in two layers. Close the sandwich with the second slice of bread mayonnaise-side down. Layering the tomatoes in-between the bacon and lettuce will keep the tomato juices from making the bread all juicy.

Gently press down on the top of the sandwich to compact slightly. Cut diagonally in half with the serrated knife. The teeth on a serrated knife will keep your tomato slices without smashing or mangling them.

 

Making the Perfect Plant-Based Bacon — February 23, 2021

Making the Perfect Plant-Based Bacon

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Baking sheet filled with a freshly baked batch of homemade Coconut Bacon

Coconut bacon is the answer to everyone pursuing a plant-based, vegan, grain-free, oil-free, or gluten free lifestyle…yet craving bacon.

The perfect coconut bacon is simple—requiring just eight ingredients, one pan, and fifteen minutes to prepare.

The perfect coconut bacon is crispy, smoky, savory and amazing…tastes like the real deal…well maybe that’s somewhat of a stretch…but it does make a pretty darn healthy bacon replacement.

The perfect coconut bacon is coconut perfectly tossed with smoky flavors and naturally sweetened with pure maple syrup…and then baked until golden brown and crispy.

Great for adding to salads, wraps, tacos, tofu scrambles, home fries, BLTs, sandwichesdips, and more.

 

 

 

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The Coconut

Coconut…3C large flaked coconut…wide, oversized flakes from the bulk section at health stores such as Sprout’s are perfect for making coconut bacon…yoyu can also purchase it online

When purchasing your coconut flakes, make sure all of the flakes are completely white, with no yellowing…yellowing is a sign that it’s old or has not been properly stored.

Be sure to use coconut flakes, not shredded coconut. Coconut flakes are large and flat, while shredded coconut is essentially grated coconut.

 

 

 

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The Other Ingredients

  • 1Tbsp neutral high-heat oil—such as avocado, sunflower or grapeseed
  • 1Tbsp soy sauce…this adds saltiness and flavor…for gluten-free bacon, use gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos
  • 1Tbsp maple syrup…use more or less depending on your taste preferencesd…you could also completely leave it out if you’re like me, and don’t actually like the taste of maple syrup.
  • 2-½Tbsp liquid smoke…there are different flavors of liquid smoke—such as hickory and mesquite—use your favorite. You could also add ½tsp more smoked paprika and a dash or two more of tamari instead.
  • Spices…1/4tsp pepper…1/4tsp garlic powder…1 tsp smoked paprika…pinch sea salt… 1/2 tsp black pepper…mineral salt for sprinkling, optional

 

 

 

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Instructions

Prep…Preheat oven to 325. Line large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Make the “Stuff”…Stir everything but the coconut together.

Add coconut…Toss for about 45 seconds or so…making sure to coat each flake well. The “stuff” will likely pool at the bottom, so be sure to mix well.

Layer…Spread the coconut flakes to the baking sheet in a single, even layer. If there is any leftover marinade in the bowl, drizzle it on top. Sprinkle lightly with a bit of mineral salt if desired. Don’t worry if the coconut flakes aren’t spread out perfectly even because you will be stirring it every now and then while it is baking.

Bake…Place cookie sheet on the center rack of your oven. Bake 15min, checking and stirring every five minutes until the “bacon” has a nice browned and caramelized color. Watch carefully in the last minutes of cooking and be careful not to burn as it can go from brown to burnt very quickly. Your final baking time might be shorter or longer, depending on the size of your coconut flakes and your oven.

Cool…Let the coconut flakes cool for about fifteen minutes. The flakes will become crispier as they cool.

Store…Any leftover bacon can be stored  in a freezer-safe bag or an airtight container at room temp for about a month. If it softens a bit, re-crisp in the toaster oven on medium for a few minutes or under the broiler for a few seconds, keeping an eye that it doesn’t burn.

 

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Making the Perfect Coconut Chia Pudding — February 21, 2021

Making the Perfect Coconut Chia Pudding

The perfect coconut chia pudding is a perfectly simple, healthy breakfast or snack that you’ll want to make over and over again…

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  1. Place the coconut cream, coconut milk, chia seeds, shredded coconut, vanilla extract, and maple syrup in a bowl, blender, or shaker.
  2. Stir the ingredients together so that everything is mixed thoroughly.
  3. Wait about fifteen minutes and then stir or whisk again to break up any clumps of chia seeds.
  4. At this point you can either wrap the bowl with plastic wrap or spoon the mixture into mini jars, filling each jar almost to the top.
  5. Regardless which container you choose, place the pudding in the fridge…for at least two hours or overnight…The longer you refrigerate it, the thicker it’ll be.
  6. Now top with whatever toppings you have chosen—fresh berries, shredded coconut
  7. Chia pudding will keep fresh in your fridge for up to a week. 
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Making the Perfect Coconut Cake — February 16, 2021

Making the Perfect Coconut Cake

Growing up in the Deep South, my mom and both grandmothers and almost every other female at that time took great pride in their cooking—especially their cakes and candies.

My Dad’s absolute favorite of these cakes was the coconut cake—as you all probably know already—a cake with frosted with 7-minute frosting or cream cheese icing or buttercreams, covered in shredded toasted and/or sweetened coconut flakes.

But honestly I don’t have the time or level of commitment that my mom and grandmothers had in order to spend hours and hours in the kitchen. That’s why God invented microwaves and freezer meals and drive-through windows, right?!

But on those rare occasions when I do feel like putting forth the time and effort, one of my favorite desserts is coconut poke cake.

Coconut poke cake so very easy to make—a rectangular one-layer white or yellow cake with holes made into the cake to absorb cream of coconut frosted with whipped topping.

So let’s get cookin’…shall we?!

 

 

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The Cake

For the cake, just grab you a box of white or yellow cake mix the next time you go to the store…(or have greoceries delivered)…and make cake according to instructions on the box for a 9×13 pan.

 

 

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The Filling

  • 1 (14 ounce) can cream of coconut
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

Mix cream of coconut and sweetened condensed milk together. Pour over the top of the still hot cake.

 

 

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The Frosting

  • 16oz Cool Whip, thawed
  • 8oz flaked coconut

Spread cake with Cool Whip. Top with coconut.

Making the Perfect coconut Porridge — February 15, 2021

Making the Perfect coconut Porridge

It’s snowed several inches this weekend…a rare thing here in the DFW metroplex (Texas)…and so we’ve switched many of our typical diet staples—such as iced tea, cold cereal, and yogurt—to warmer and more “wholesome” foods such as this hot cereal, or porridge, which is healthy, filling, and stocked with healthy ingredients—such as quinoa, oats, and coconut milk.

So let’s talk about how to make a bowl of this satisfying coconut comfort food that is not only true breakfast bliss, but also a keto delight

 

 

 

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Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 2Tbsp coconut flour
  • 2tsp butter 
  • 1/2C coconut milk
  • 1/2C quinoa
  • 1 -1/2C rolled oats
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • 3/4C water
  • Sweetener—coconut sugar, agave, maple syrup, brown sugar,…
  • cinnamon to taste
  • 1/2C unsweetened coconut flakes
  • Optional Toppings—apple slices, peanut butter, honey, fresh chopped fruit, berries, nuts, seeds,…

 

 

 

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Instructions

Combine egg, coconut flour, and salt in a small bowl. Melt the butter and coconut cream over low heat. Slowly whisk in the egg mixture, combining until you achieve a creamy, thick texture. When it begins to simmer, turn it down to medium-low and whisk until it begins to thicken. Add water, quinoa, oats, and salt. Cook for 15 minutes…until the grains are soft to the bite and no longer gritty or hard. Add more water if needed to reach your desired state of thickness/soupiness. Garnish with your favorite toppings. Serve hot with coconut milk or cream.

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    Baking with Coconut Flour — February 13, 2021

    Baking with Coconut Flour

    coconut bread recipe

    The perfect coconut flour bread is the perfect answer to those starting a keto diet or those who are allergic to wheat, dairy, most grains, starches, and nuts. And switching to coconut flour means that you yourself don’t have to give up your favorite foods because of the other person. But baking with coconut flour is a whole different ballgame than baking with any other flour. One of the easiest recipes to learn how to bake with coconut flour is coconut flour bread. The perfect coconut flour bread is quick and easy to prepare, contains healthy all-natural ingredients, and has unbelievable taste. So let’s stop talking and start baking instead.

    Making the Perfect Avocado Pudding — February 11, 2021

    Making the Perfect Avocado Pudding

     Chocolate Avocado Pudding with Coconut Milk

     

    The perfect avocado pudding is not some sort of sweet guacamole…but a sweet, rich and decadent creamy pudding.

    The perfect avocado pudding is a great, delicious and good-looking dessert that you will be proud of serving because it is actually chock-full of healthy ingredients—banana for sweetening…lots of cocoa for a rich chocolaty taste…whipped coconut milk for airy texture and more sweetness…and finally avocado simply serves to bind all of the other ingredients together and provide creaminess.

     

    • 2 ripe medium avocados
    • 1/3C cocoa or carob powder
    • 1/4C coconut milk
    • 2tsp vanilla
    • 1 pinch of salt
    • Toppings of choice…such as strawberries, coconut flakes, cherries, raspberries

    Add the peeled avocados, banana, cocoa powder, maple syrup, vanilla and salt. Blend until a creamy paste forms. Set aside. Whip the coconut milk with a hand mixer until it obtains a mousse-like texture. Refrigerate at least one hour before serving.

     

    Making the Perfect Coconut Granola —

    Making the Perfect Coconut Granola

     

    The perfect coconut granola is the perfect combination of oats, nuts, seeds, add-ins, fruit, sweetener—such as honey or maple syrup.

    The perfect coconut granola is not only the perfect simple and fast breakfast…but also the perfect after school snack…the perfect topping for yogurt, ice cream, milk or fresh fruit…the perfect food for camping trips and road trips.

    The perfect coconut granola can be made ahead of time and stored for weeks.

     

     

     

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    Ingredients

    The Oats…4C…Old-fashioned oats will keep their shape during baking, but use certified gluten-free oats if you need gluten-free granola. Do not use instant or quick oats.

     

    The Fruit…1C…Whether or not you actually use fruit is totally up to you, but fruit adds extra sweetness, chewy texture, and more flavor to your finished granola. Any dried fruit will work—dried cherries, dried cranberries, dried apricots, raisins, mixed dried berries

     

    The Coconut…2/3C unsweetened flaked coconut

     

     

    The Sweetener…1/3 cup maple syrup or honey or agave nectar…Use whichever one you like the best or what you have on hand. Another option would be 1/4C brown sugar. Such  sweeteners stick to the oats and give you plenty of sweet chunks in the mix. You can use whatever kind of sweetener and oil that you’d like, but the coating for your granola should be about half sweetener and half oil.

     

     

     

    The Nuts and Seeds…1C…Good option would be any one or a combination of the following…almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, pepitas, sunflower seeds, cashews, peanuts, and macadamia nuts.

     

     

    The Oil…2/3C melted coconut oil…The oil is what makes the granola crispy. Substitutes for coconut oil include extra virgin olive oil or butter.

     

    The Salt…1/2tsp…Salt adds flavor to your granola. Try using fine-grain sea salt instead of regular table salt. 

     

     

    The Spices…1tsp…Spices can give your granola a subtle warming flavor. Good options include ginger, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon.

     

    The Vanilla…2tsp vanilla…simply because you’re baking something…have you ever noticed that whenever you’re baking anything at all, one of the ingredients is always vanilla…and you start by preheating your oven to 350…

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    Optional Mix-Ins…Feel free to experiment by adding whatever else you want,,,such as 2tsp lemon or orange zest, mini chocolate chips, small candies like M&M’s, chia seeds…you name it…or find it…

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    Instructions
     

    Preheat oven to 300°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together oil, sweetener, salt, and spices. Add oats and almonds. Stir to coat well. Press the granola into an even layer onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring only once halfway through cooking. Remove from the oven. Add the fruit. Press and tamp down the granola before it cools to help the granola stick together. Cool completely before storing. Avoid jostling the granola on the pan any more than you gave to until it cools completely. Once completely cooled, transfer to an airtight container, where it will keep for up to a month.



    Making the Perfect Coconut Tea — February 7, 2021

    Making the Perfect Coconut Tea

    Coconut tea is a caffeinated beverage that is relatively new to America and parts of Europe, but has actually been enjoyed for generations in tropical regions where coconuts commonly grow.

    Coconut tea combines coconut flakes and milk into green or black tea to create both a wonderful flavor and a wealth of health benefits.

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    The Why

    Coconut milk contans a high level of healthy fats, antioxidants, vitamin C, fiber, and many important minerals—such as magnesiumiron, and potassium.

    Coconut has been proven to have many health benefits. Coconut and coconut-related groceries such as coconut oil and shredded coconut can help prevent cancer, improve heart health, boosting the immune system, and protect the skin.

    Green and black tea can give the immune system a major boost.

    Both of these two main ingredients can h ve an effect on the metabolism, boost passive fat-burning. aid weight loss efforts, help protect you from high blood pressure and coronary heart disease…

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    Coconut Tea

    • 2Tbsp heavy milk
    • 1C coconut milk
    • 4 green or black tea bags
    • 4C water
    • 8 cardamom pods
    • cloves
    • 2Tbsp brown sugar
    • 1Tbsp peppercorn

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    Instructions 

    Bring 4 cups of water to boil, At this point you can choose between making chai coconut tea or green tea coconut tea.

    To make chai coconut tea, add 8 cardamom pods, 8 cloves, and 1Tbsp to saucepan. Then add four black tea bags. Remove from heat. Steep for 5min. In a second saucepan, bring 1C coconut milk and 2Tbsp brown sugar to a simmer. Mix the milk into the tea. Heat for 2min. Whisk the entire mixture.

    To make coconut green tea, add three green tea bags. Remove from heat. Let the tea steep 5min. Pour in 1/4 cup of coconut milk and 2 tablespoons of heavy cream. Stir thoroughly. Remove the tea bag. Regardless which tea you are making, you can either serve the tea warm or refrigerate and serve cold.  

    Making the Perfect Coconut Water Smoothie — February 5, 2021

    Making the Perfect Coconut Water Smoothie

    Coconut water is a refreshing and hydrating option to the milk or plain water that we all typically think of as the liquid base for smoothies. Not only that, coconut water offers so much more as far as nutrition and health benefits.

    Coconut water smoothies are especially great after you work out because it quickly rehydrates you and is a great, natural source of antioxidants and key electrolytes—such as potassium and sodium—that your body needs in order to bounce back after working up a sweat.

    Coconut water is also a natural and healthy alternative to the not-so-healthy Gatorade-style energy drinks we usually grab after working out because coconut water contains low amounts of salt and sugar…as well as no artificial additives or colors.

    So here are only a few quick and easy ideas for using coconut water in smoothies that are low in calories and a weight loss friendly…

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    The Base…1C coconut water

    The Greens…1C kale

    The Fruit…(pick and choose your favorites…note that both fresh and frozen will work)…

    • Banana…1 peeled and chopped
    • Blueberries…½ cup
    • Cranberries…½ cup
    • Mango…½ cup chopped
    • Orange…1⁄2
    • Pineapple…1⁄2 cup chopped
    • Raspberry…1 cup
    • Strawberries…⅓ cup

    The Sweetener…(Optional)…½tsp honey or agave nectar

    Add-Ins…(optional)

    • Chia seeds…1Tbsp
    • Cinnamon or ginger…1/4tsp
    • Squeeze of lime
    • Ice cubes…4 to 5

    Pour coconut into lender. Add kale. Blend for 1min. Add fruit and add-ins. Blend again. Add ice if using. Blend again. Enjoy!