Posted in Meals/Sides, Sweet Treats

Spread a Little Love…and Eat Some Tilapia :-)

As you’ve probably figured out by now, my true allergy-free passion is baking, not so much in cooking; hence, usually my recipes are more of the bakery/coffee variety…since that’s what I plan to open one day. However, as you can imagine I have to experiment with cooking quite a bit as well these days, and every so often I come across a dish that I just have to share. Today is one of those days. And don’t worry, there’s also a cookie recipe at the end just to balance things out 🙂

As I imagine most of you know (and have experienced yourself), the last week has been a snow-filled one to say the least. In anticipation of what the news insisted yet again would be “the biggest storm of the season”, I went to my freezer to pull out a variety of foods that I could cook in preparation for a possible power outage. If you’ve ever experienced trying to eat for days in the midst of a power outage, imagine the added challenge of so many food restrictions. Not only do most of our foods require heating or cooking of some kind, but there are limited eat-out options. Last week I trekked over to Einstein Bros. for a cup of hot coffee when I was without power…let me tell you, I’ve never in my life been so jealous of people eating warm bagels. And I hope I never will be again.

Anyway, this week I was more prepared. I had a variety of delicious food items either cooked or thawing in my refrigerator and plans to light the burner manually to cook them if need be. Fortunately, the power stayed on this time. (Kudos to you, BGE :-). I used to have this bad habit of taking meat out of the freezer to thaw in the refrigerator…and then leaving it there too long and having to throw it out. My frugal self and my Excel spreadsheet just do not approve and thus I’ve been making an effort to be extra vigilant in regards to my meat and fish timelines. So last night I bypassed the couch and went right for the fridge to figure out what to do with my tilapia.

Now, I know where this is going. Yes, I’ve heard all the horrible things about tilapia. I know it’s the bottom of the food chain, it’s farmed in horrible cages that make Tyson chicken coops look healthy, it’s the worst possible fish I could think about putting into my body. Trust me, I’ve heard it all. And while I’m not saying I don’t care or appreciate the concern of those around me who offer such advice, I would also like to point out that when a person’s food selection is already so limited, fish is essential. And when that same person is on quite a tight budget, tilapia is the most cost-effective variety. Hence, yes, I choose to eat tilapia. Not all that often, mind you, but I do. You can pass judgment all you want…but I figure with the amount of unhealthy things I literally can’t introduce to my digestive tract (Krispy Kreme donuts, Frappuccinos, fast food of any variety, etc.), that a little tilapia from time to time can’t do all that much damage.

Now here’s where it get’s tricky. As someone with an autoimmune condition, I really do mean I eat tilapia IN MODERATION. As luck would have it, tilapia contains omega-6 fatty acids…which you guessed it, are known to cause inflammation. Now for several months whenever I had tilapia, I always made the same thing: tilapia tacos. Delicious. Wrapped in lettuce with rice and black beans. Always a meal I looked forward to. And then I started to realize that after I ate it, I always felt less than stellar. The reason? Well, as my nutritionist pointed out, black beans and rice are also on the “foods to consume in moderation because they induce inflammation” list. So, you put all of those foods together in one meal? It may be Katie-safe but it’s also a recipe for autoimmune disaster.

Hence, last night I had to get creative. I opened my fridge and saw the two things I had to make sure to cook by night’s end: tilapia and bacon. So I thought to myself: “There’s nothing I love more than scallops wrapped in bacon…so why not tilapia wrapped in bacon?”. (I know my cardiologist will be less than thrilled if he stumbles across this…) So that is what I did. SO EASY. SO SIMPLE. And SO DELICIOUS.

Just wrap the tilapia filets in a piece of bacon and place in a frying pan over medium heat…and voila! In about 15 minutes, you have a surprisingly delicious and flavorful entree. I threw in some asparagus on the side to balance out my plate and make it seem healthier. Also, notice the small portion size of tilapia: the rest is sealed away in the fridge and freezer for future meals 🙂
A delicious and satisfying meal.
And of course, once I fire up the oven, I get motivated to keep going. I spent some time yesterday spreading some Valentine cheer and even had my own special Valentine this year: an 82-year-old man. He went all out:
Last year my “Valentines” were 11…this year he’s 82.
(You can’t see it but I’m just shaking my head)
The white bag was filled with things he knew I could enjoy: a fruit cup, 2 bags of Utz potato chips, stickers, and a word search book. The purple one contained things he said he knew I couldn’t have but he just couldn’t pass up: a hollow chocolate apple that says #1 teacher, pink Tootsie pops, Hershey’s Kisses, Lindt truffles…a bag of pure deliciousness for most. Pure sickness for me 🙂  Hence, I spent the day giving away treats from this bag: to my neighbors who were graciously assisting others in the quest to dig out their cars, to the baristas who were serving FREE coffee all day at my favorite Baltimore coffee shop, the check-out clerks at the grocery store, and I still have more!
However, after gifting so many sweets, I found myself craving a little sweet treat of my own. So I went to work in my kitchen and this is what resulted:
I had no berries so I couldn’t make the frosting pink…
…they may not look appealing but they taste amazing!
Katie-Safe Sugar Cookies (with frosting!!)
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/4 cup Earth Balance Soy-Free Spread (melted)
1 tsp. vanilla extract 
3-4 Tbsp. raw honey (softened)

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

1/4 cup Earth Balance Coconut Spread (melted)
2 Tbsp. coconut flour
2 Tbsp. arrowroot starch (or tapioca if that’s all you have!)
2 Tbsp. coconut oil (melted)
raw honey (melted)- depends on how sweet you want! I did about 1/8 cup
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix all together and frost cookies when cool.

So all in all, it was a successful day of delicious food, sweet treats, and sharing love with the world. I know Valentine’s Day has taken on quite a “couples” focus, and I’m not saying it shouldn’t, but I do think too often we forget that it’s a day to celebrate love in all forms and a day which offers a 24-hour moratorium on feeling odd about doing something above and beyond for another person, whether friend, relative, colleague, or stranger. And this year we have the added bonus of Valentine’s Day extending through the weekend since the weather put a bit of a damper on the actual day. So take some time this weekend to recognize love, to celebrate it, and most importantly to share it. It can be as simple as a smile, as complicated as shoveling out a car from under 10+ inches of snow, or as delicious as a sweet treat.

And those of you who may be feeling a little less than love-filled this holiday, know that I love you simply for reading this. And I have a sneaking suspicion that there are a few other people out there who love you too…even if they didn’t buy you chocolate 🙂

From my front door to yours…

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