The Best Way to Eat Vegetables–Muffins!

20 Oct

A few posts ago, I wrote about how much I loved the cookbook Run Fast Eat Slow. Today, I’m sharing my favorite recipe from the book–Elyse and Shalane, the authors, are kind enough to share it on their web site, so you should surely return their karmic favor and buy the book!

These muffins are PERFECT. Perfect texture, perfect sweetness, perfect moisture, and perfectly filling. PLUS, they are chock full of carrots and zucchini. If I had kids who were picky eaters, I would feed them these and call it two of their 5 servings of fruits/veggies. But, I don’t… so instead I’m gonna bring a batch over to my #1 Cookie Monster over in Arlington this weekend, TheSunshineofMyWholeDamnLifeKef , who will not mind at all that there are vegetables mixed in with her “cake” (PILFKef, DO–if you are reading this, and have a less-healthy request, call me.).

Plus, they look beautiful EVERY time. These are so good. Elite marathoner and recipe co-author Shalane Flanagan suggests eating them before a long run… sometimes blogger and currently-injured-runner Chef Kefi, RN suggests eating them before anything.


Superhero Muffins


  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (use gluten-free if sensitive)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I have been using slivered almonds- you do you)
  • 1/2 cup currants or raisins, optional
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup grated zucchini (about 1 zucchini)
  • 1 cup grated carrot (about 2 carrots–or buy the bag of pre-shredded ones)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup Grade B maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • paper muffin cups


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper muffin cups. Put the grated zucchini in a strainer and push out excess water (ed note: the original recipe doesn’t call for this, but I have always done it. No need to make yourself crazy, but get out what moisture you can).
  2. In a large bowl, combine the almond meal, oats, walnuts, currants or raisins, if using, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, zucchini, carrot, butter, maple syrup, and vanilla.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.
  5. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups filling each to the brim. Bake until the muffins are nicely browned on top and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 25 to 35 minutes.  


Probably the Best Thing Ever Written About Running

19 Oct

Brought you to by Lauren Fleshman, via Oiselle:


Real Running

To run

with a body

that strains

and screams

with limbs bones and ligaments

stretched at the seams

miles away

from seeking the gaze

of anyone anywhere

only the haze

of the finish line calling

the most primal parts

of an effort explosion

spray-painted like art

on the tunnels

that pass below

all that’s expected

of women in a culture

that worships

the effortless.



is magnitude

felt in our bones

as we push back the earth

and bugs splat on the chrome

and gradually “maybe I can”

becomes must

and we haul toward the finish

our pulchritude dust

and all of the photos

show legs made of mush

with a jiggle and smash

of the violent downbeat

what if we saw them

and didn’t delete

but used them as tools

to evolve aspiration

to stand up and say

i’ll take strained ventilation

and skin patchworked

from vasodilation

from the blood that pumps

from my soul to my heels

because this

is what effort

is made of.

Roasted Root Vegetables in Fall Curry

5 Oct

Usually I try to hold out one week more before calling it quits on summer, but even I have to face facts when it’s already dark out by 7:15pm. Today’s recipe is a perfect entrance into autumn, and you won’t waste any of summer’s last precious light making it– it’s as easy as chop, roast, sauce. Oh, and it comes to us from the good folks behind the Whole 30, so it’s vegan, gluten free, sugar free, full of healthy fat, and just all around awesome.

That’s all I have to say about that– one of these days I’ll miss summer enough to recap our trips to Athens, Prague, New Orleans, Charleston, and WVa.  For today, just enjoy the curried veggies!


Roasted Root Vegetables in Fall Curry


  • 4 TBS olive oil
  • 1 cup potatoes (sweet or regular), peeled and chopped
  • 1 c rutabagas, peeled and chopped
  • 3/4 c turnips, peeled and chopped
  • 3/4 c parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • 3/4 c carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1.5 tsp ginger, grated or diced
  • 1 clove garlic, grated or diced
  • 2-3 tsp curry powder, to taste
  • 500 mL full fat coconut milk
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Toss vegetables in 4 TBS olive oil. Spread oil-covered veggies in a single layer, using one or two cookie sheets as needed. Roast for 30-40 minutes, or until veggies are tender and lightly browned.
  2. While they roast, put remaining 1 TBS olive oil in saute pan over med-high heat on stove. Add onion and garlic and cook until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Add the ginger and cook for another minute. Add curry powder, stir well, then add coconut milk. Reduce the mixture to simmer for 8-10 minutes (do not boil). Once nice and thick, remove from heat and season with lime zest and juice.
  3. Top the veggies with the curry sauce and enjoy!

Chocolate Fig Ricotta Pie

28 Sep

It will be FIG season for exactly 2 more minutes– hurry up and make this super-easy pie that got good reviews from many normal eaters. Alternatively, try this Raspberry FIG Challahcrowd-pleasing FIG appetizerFIG tartFIG scones, or FIG jam. I love ’em all.


Chocolate Fig Ricotta Pie


  • pie crust of your choice (I used GF)
  • 2 c Ricotta cheese
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out (or substitute 2 tsp vanilla extract… but bean is really best here).
  • 2 TBS sugar (I used coconut sugar) + more for sprinkling on top
  • 4-8 TBS grated dark chocolate (this is somewhere between a 1/2- 3/4 bar)- I used this sugar free kind and no one could tell the difference
  • 15 dried figs, sliced in half lengthwise.
  • 2/3 c liqueur of your choice (I used Godiva chocolate)
  • about 9 fresh, ripe figs, sliced


  1. Preheat oven to 400F. If using premade pie crust, use a fork to poke holes throughout the bottom of crust. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until just golden brown. When done, set aside.
  2. Throw the dried figs in a small pot and cover with liqueur. If they aren’t almost all the way covered, add water until they are. Bring to a simmer and let cook for about 10 minutes, or until soft and fragrant. Do not burn! Once soft, remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  3. Combine the ricotta, vanilla, and sugar until just combined. Do not go nuts mixing this.
  4. Sprinkle about half the grated chocolate throughout the cooled crust. Spoon half of the ricotta mixture over the chocolate and spread evenly. Push the dried figs into the ricotta layer, cut side up, distributing them evenly. Cover the figs with second half of the ricotta and spread evenly. Arrange the fresh figs as you’d like, sprinkle with sugar.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until crust is golden, figs are a bit caramelized, and center is set. Take out of oven, sprinkle with remaining grated chocolate, and place back in over for 2-3 more minutes, until chocolate is a little melted.
  6. Allow to cool, then serve.

Two Timely Books

26 Sep

Presented with minimal comment: two absolutely phenomenal novels that, although set nearly 200 years ago, contribute immensely to the conversation of residual racism and racial violence in America.

The Underground Railroad- Colson Whitehead

Image result for colson whitehead underground railroad book

I have loved Whitehead since The Intuitionist, and was thrilled to find he had a new novel coming out. The Underground Railroad is a book that commands your attention from sentence one: “The first time Caesar approached Cora about running North, she said no.” What follows is a freedom struggle that’s as bold as it is devastating. Whitehead loves to veer his readers right to the border of fantasy and reality, and uses his penchant for the bizarre to blur the lines between the shocking realities of life as a slave and events so strange you can’t help but wonder if they’re true. Jumping through time and characters, Whitehead delivers a cat-and-mouse chase so fraught with generational guilt and ancestral entitlement even Javert might have opted out. The ending feels just a little too made-for-the-big-screen, but still delivers the visceral punch of a tremendous story told by a tremendous writer–Ana Duvernay, if you’re reading, PLEASE consider adapting this for your next movie! I would absolutely call this a must-read in 2016.

Homegoing: A Novel– Yaa Gyasi

Whew lordy, where to start? Gyasi is a Ghanian-born writer who moved to Alabama in her teens and, after graduating with her MFA from Yale, chose to take on the nearly impossible: tracing a direct line from the slave trade to modern systemic oppression using the stories of only two families. Not impressed yet? She does it by devoting just a single chapter to each generation’s character. And, for her final trick, she makes you care deeply about almost each of those one-offs as if their story had spanned the entire novel, not just a short chapter.

There is a lot to love about this book–it’s character driven, beautifully written, and never looks away from the cruelty of the slave trade and its lasting implications. One story branch follows an Asante family as alliances shift and colonial capitalism takes root in West Africa; the second branch follows the descendants of a kidnapped, enslaved, and tortured Fante woman through several decades in America. I couldn’t get enough of the West African  stories–Gyasi does such justice to the customs, character, and culture of a people usually mis-represented as primitive, hapless, and uncalculating. The chapters that take place in America, while just as interesting, lack the self-possesion Gyasi allows their counterparts in modern-day Ghana. There’s a bit of symbolism attached to the American chapters– we are meant to understand that each of the characters is representing something, drawing a line from past to present. A powerful point, to be sure, but there are a few chapters that feel just a bit contrived as a result.

This book is a wonderful insight into the struggle to be free, the systems that hinder progress, and the generational melancholy of people who are black in America. Gyasi’s command of history is tremendous, and her carefully-crafted characters become beloved tour guides to America’s dark side. Please let me know when you’ve read it!

Friday 5: Cookbooks I Love

23 Sep

It’s Friday, school’s back in session, and I’m looking forward to the weekend–so today, we’re talking cookbooks. For a more substantial read, check out this not-new-but-really great essay from Brit Bennett.

Plenty- Yotam Ottolenghi

This book is worth it just for that cover recipe- but, seriously, here’s a man who knows how to treat a veggie. For more of his genius, search “Ottolenghi” on this blog and see the million ways he’s changed my life.

Run Fast, Eat Slow- Shalane Flanagan & Elyse Kopecky

Everyone and their brother is eating the Superhero muffins from this book– what could be better than zucchini, carrots, nuts, and cinnamon all wrapped up in the perfect pre-run muffin? The amazing American marathoner Shalane Flanagan teamed up with a college teammate to create a book dedicated to athletes and the fuel that nourishes them. Lots of the book is gluten free, most of the book is sugar-free, and all of the recipes are DELICIOUS. In just this week I’ve made the aforementioned delicious muffins, zucchini-quinoa risotto, cherry tomato and shrimp pasta, and a sweet potato salad that might have changed my core character– I’m obsessed.  The best part about this book is that they’ve given a purpose to each recipe– sweet potato fries are “whole foods carb0-loading,” giddy up energy bites are “for preworkout energy,” and the Greek bison burgers are just perfect “for pumping iron.” Makes meal planning painless.

The Complete Book of Greek Cooking- Rena Salaman & Jan Cutler

NePaKef found this for me in the bargain bin at Books a Million (tells you how long I’ve had this book, DC people!), and I was highly skeptical of a book about Greek food written by two people with very unGreek last names. HOWEVER. Some of my favorite Greek recipes come from this book- this twist on the old spinach pie classic, a surprisingly good pine nut tart, and this sausage-meatball hybrid that’s quickly become MrKef’s favorite that I really need to share on this blog. Unlike many Greek cookbooks, there’s no discussion of tea cups for measurement– the recipes are easy to follow and their success is easy to replicate. My copy is well-loved, and I bet yours would be, too.

The Whole 30- Melissa & Dallas Hartwig

I missed the Whole 30 train –but I love this dang book. It’s filled cover to cover with grainfree, glutenfree, dairy free, sugar free recipes that are quick, easy, and delicious. The sweet potato salmon cakes are a staple in my lunchbag these days, and MrKef is loving the grilled curry-coconut chicken. I love not having to dream up substitutes for sugary sauces. All the flavor, none of the crap–totally my bag.

Cake Love: How To Bake Cakes from Scratch- Warren Brown

This was my first “grown up’ cookbook wayyyyy back in my Bryant Street days, when GrewUponASoybeanFarmKef and I would try to make the Swiss Meringue buttercream ten times in a weekend before we finally got it to set up correctly. Brown’s recipes aren’t simple– these are day-long, sometimes full-weekend baking projects–but the payoff is huge: a mojito cake with fresh mint and a rum buttercream icing? Yes please. If you want to learn about the art of cake making, I love this approachable, clearly-written, gonna-be-delicious-even-if-you-eff-it-up cookbook as a starting point.

Thanks to Courtney, Cynthia, and Mar for coordinating the Friday 5 Link Up!




The Best Ice Cream I’ve Ever Made (Or: Why Your College Roommate is the Best Person To Keep in Your Life Forever)

25 Aug

Sometimes you gotta let the world know: something INSANE just came out of your kitchen. So, here I am telling you- this ice cream is gonna change the whole game. And I’m not talking about a pickup soccer match cut short for rain– this ice cream is a game-changer on the level of an epic Cricket battle that has gone into days-long overtime. That’s how good it is. OH- and it’s vegan, refined-sugar-free, and off-the-charts easy to make.

You already know- SO not my picture. Thanks to the Tasting Table for this recipe and picture!

But before we get to that, a word from our sponsors. As I’ve written about before, QueijoKef and I spend a lot of time texting/emailing/’graming each other delicious things we’d like to cook or eat. It’s just one of the reasons she is so great (see also: our quick trip to Miamithe epic bike ride inspired by our friendship’s soundtrack, the gnocchi we both die for, and her signature non-dairy creamy sauce). She has an excellent track record of picking awesome recipes (this matcha gingerbread cookie is a fan favorite), so when she sent me this turmeric-cardamom-coconut milk ice cream, I knew she was on a mission to keep her streak alive.

This ice cream has a seriously complex flavor profile (how’s that for food blogger lingo?) that is somewhere between sweet and savory. In another life when I never have to go to school again, I would make grainless graham crackers, slather this ice cream between ’em for an ice cream sandwich, and make my millions selling them on Georgia Ave. A girl can dream.

I followed this recipe exactly, and you should all go over there to give credit where it’s due and support The Tasting Table with all the clicks you can muster. Because I love this recipe so much and would be devastated if it ever went away, I am reproducing it here for posterity (because if Cooking Up Kefi can outlast Gawker, clearly I’ll be here long after The Tasting Table is gone).

Golden Milk Vegan Ice Cream from The Tasting Table


  • 3 c coconut milk
  • ½ c cream of coconut (here on amazon)
  • One 1-inch piece ginger, grated
  • ¼ c honey
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped (I used 1-1.5 tsp vanilla extract)
  • Chopped candied ginger, for garnish (optional)


1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together all the ingredients, minus the candied ginger, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Let cool completely, then refrigerate overnight. Make sure you freeze the bowl of an ice cream maker during this time.

2. The next day, strain the base into the bowl of the ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s directions. Scrape into a shallow dish and freeze for at least 4 hours. Scoop the ice cream into bowls and drizzle with honey. Garnish with chopped candied ginger, then serve.

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