Toasty Summer

Ah, summer… when this Scottish gal turns a bit less pasty, nothing feels better than reading in the pool, and the beach hair makes its comeback…

But this summer has turned toasty in more ways than one! As a runner, I’ve been waking up early to beat the relentless Arizona heat. I love my morning runs, but am miserable if I don’t remember to refuel properly. Without a healthy balance of rich carbohydrates, my head feels all swimmy (and not a good kind of swimming!) and without protein and healthy fats I cannot power through a run or recover afterwards. And trust me, running during the Arizona summer- even in the wee hours- takes a lot out of you!

Honestly, even just existing in the Arizona summer can be draining. But a simple solution to the fatigue of toasty weather is to- well- make more toast!

Avocado toast is a huge hit nowadays, but unlike La Croix (which to me just tastes like the fizzling memory of lemonade), this is a fad I can get behind! Today, I got creative with this simple and versatile snack/meal, creating what might be the ideal avocado toast to power through whatever your summer might bring:

Ingredients: 

  • One avocado
  • Goat cheese
  • One tomato
  • Vinegar (I used a lime-flavored one)
  • Olive Oil (I opted for bacon-flavored, courtesy of the Olive Mill in Queen Creek, AZ)
  • Hearty bread (Dave’s Killer Bread is excellent)

Directions: 

  1. Toast bread (Who’d have ever thought?!)
  2. Peel and pit avocado,
  3. Mash avocado in a small bowl with a drizzle of oil and vinegar (to taste- I probably used half a tablespoon of each), mash until mostly smooth with smaller chunks
  4. Spread avocado mash on toast (should have enough for four small slices of bread)
  5. Sprinkle toast with goat cheese
  6. Top each piece with a slice of tomato
  7. Sprinkle black seed on top (or salt/pepper) to add a little zing of flavor
  8. Enjoy and feel like a health-conscious millennial, ready to take on whatever the day may bring you (which might just be another helping of toast)

 

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Mashed Bananas and Middlemarch

Fun fact: Middlemarch was originally published as eight serial volumes, not a single novel.

Fun fact: Middlemarch was originally published as eight serial volumes, not a single novel.

I first picked up Middlemarch in a bookstore because the author’s name was unfamiliar and therefore intriguing. “George Eliot?” I wondered aloud.  “I’ve never read anything by him before.”

“Her,” my mom corrected, listening into my thoughts. “George Eliot was a woman.”

Of course then I had to read it. Being a girl with a boy’s name (“Ryanne” is pronounced “Ryan”, which may shock some acquaintances who still cannot seem to remember that), I was excited to find an author who shared my unusual name situation. Turns out, upon checking out Middlemarch and reading the introduction, Miss George’s name was actually MaryAnne, but she used a masculine name in order to escape discrimination as a female author with strong convictions and, in my opinion, wonderfully biting sarcasm.

Anyway, despite the rolling eyes of my friends and the puzzled expression on my teacher’s face, (apparently not many students choose 19th century British literature for light reading…weird) I dove undaunted into the provincial town of Middlemarch, where I met a character who I relate to so strongly that I confused my life with hers at times and was given an eye-opening look into the complexity of relationships, especially within marriages. I anticipate analyzing this topic and the themes associated with it later, but for now I just want to savor the story and the resonance of its beautifully-flawed characters.

So how do mashed bananas fit in with this?  They don’t, but I’m going to exercise my rhetorical skills and tie them in anyway.

Whenever I find myself in the midst of a large project- for instance, finishing a 794-page novel that may or may not start with an “M” and be written by a woman with a man’s name – I tend to despair of ever finishing said task and feel the need to complete some smaller project as encouragement. I also feel the need to eat chocolate. As I was pondering how to satisfy both of these needs, I remembered the squishy bananas in the kitchen and figured that 9:00 at night was as good a time as any to make some banana bread, infused with chocolate of course, to fuel me through the final chapters of Middlemarch. It turned out delicious, although I mostly ate the batter.

So, here you are! Ryanne’s Unofficial-Middlemarch-Mashed-Banana-Coconut-Chocolate-Ooey-Gooey Banana Bread recipe, or, another yummy banana bread recipe with some extra yum. (Titles are not my strong suit.)

This isn't actually my bread...we ate it all before I remembered to take a selfie with it. (Did I just say "selfie"? NO!!!) Anyway, this looks close enough.

This isn’t actually my bread…we ate it all before I remembered to take a selfie with it. (Did I just say “selfie”? NO!!!) Anyway, this looks close enough.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup coconut oil
4 large, very ripe bananas
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 granulated sugar
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
Optional: 1 cup combined shredded coconut and chocolate chips/chunks (I used dark chocolate, but all chocolate is good)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 and grease two loaf pans

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugars, vanilla, eggs, bananas and coconut oil and beat until creamy and smooth.

Add flour and baking powder and beat at low speed for about a minute, until you have a creamy batter. Stir in your coconut.

Pour into greased loaf pan. Do not fill all the way to the top because the bread will raise slightly. (plus, then you have an excuse to save batter to eat raw)

Bake at 375 for 45 minutes to one hour. Insert a tooth pick into the center of the bread and if it comes out clean, your bread is done.

 

Enjoy with a good book! After all, C.S. Lewis said, ‘Eating and reading are two pleasures that combine admirably.’