skillet chocolate chip pumpkin bread

I won’t make any more promises about pumpkin recipes.

I feel as if cast iron skillets are quintessential for Fall baking. They remind me of the warmth of fireplaces and the heartiness of stews and soups cooked during this time of year.

I still wonder what America would look like if Starbucks made debuted a sweet potato latte instead of a pumpkin one. Anybody else? Maybe not. Is it only weird to me that we drink pumpkins?

Well, pumpkin is no stranger to my family’s Thanksgiving smorgasbord. From pies to custards, whether baked, boiled, or roasted, it makes an appearance in some form or fashion between October and December.

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I recently shared a picture on IG but didn’t share the recipe. Rookie mistake, sorry fam. Without further delay,

Skillet Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

What you need:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons pumpkin spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup dairy-free butter, room temperature (not melted)
3/4 cup raw brown sugar
1 chia “egg” (1 tablespoon chia seeds and 1 ½ tablespoon water, let sit for 5 minutes)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 ½ cups of dark chocolate chips, chunks, or chopped

What to do:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, gently whisk the flour, pumpkin spice, baking soda, and salt.
Using an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Mix on medium-high until ingredients creamed together.
Add chia egg, vanilla and pumpkin to wet mixture until combined.
Add dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined. Do not over mix.
Stir in 1 cup of chocolate chips.
Pour mixture into cast iron skillet leaving at least 1/4” inch at the top of the pan for rising. (If the skillet is well-seasoned, you will not need to grease it).
Smooth out mixture and sprinkle on the remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips.
Bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave in skillet to cool.

Enjoy!

❤ Krystal

ramblings on food recreation and thanksgiving.

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Entering this season of Thanksgiving, I realize how thankful I am for much in my life.  This year has taken me to so many new places and has exposed me to so many new experiences; I will forever be grateful.

I was reading an article today (read: not my revolution) which made me realize how thankful I am for food.

Now, hear me out.

In my world, I am able to go to the store and buy food I need to make it day-to-day. Sometimes, I even buy food I want and food I don’t need. I buy food to try, just for the sake of trying it. On most days, I have extra food in my shelves. Even on my most intentional days, I still waste more food than I should.

I can easily take hundreds of pictures of my food before I consume it, share it with friends, or freeze it for later.

In my world, food is first: a source of recreation, and second: a source of sustenance.

I think it’s easy to incorrectly filter my reality for everyone’s reality. I hope that these lessons will continue to push me to be thankful and giving in everything I do.

If you are going into the field of nutrition, I implore you to stay woke (I’ve been gone since 2016, hope I used that right) on nutrition topics, movements, and the know. I think it’s important to read about many nutrition topics, (even when you don’t agree with them). I try to stay abreast on new diets, MLM brands, supplements, cleanses, etc., in order to find evidence-based approaches to support or deny methods. Quickly, one can observe the demographics of these product consumers and easily see the divide between food as recreation and food as sustenance, which I mention above.

To be fair, having margin to buy food for food photography puts me in the same boat.  This article convicted me on so many levels. I could seriously go on and on.

While this time of year makes many of us more cognizant to give back and be thankful, I challenge each of you to make it a daily habit.

❤ Krystal

super cao nguyen.

Some of us may never have the opportunity to travel abroad to enjoy international cuisines. Fortunately, in a world of increasing globalization, food is no longer isolated to its place of origin and can spread across all borders.

Super Cao Nguyen is located in the heart of the Asian District of Oklahoma City. It is the largest international grocer in Oklahoma City and was opened by Vietnamese refugees, Tri and Kim Luong. While the shelves here are filled with many Vietnamese kitchen staples, foods from all over the world can be found here.

After living and traveling overseas, I am not a stranger to the sights and sounds of international markets. While I currently don’t have a car, I enjoyed venturing away from my typical grocery store routine to check out more varied and seemingly fresher food options.

Super Cao Nguyen opens at 9am on weekdays. At opening time, employees are seen going through their normal routines of spray washing, stocking shelves, and prepping ready-to-go meals for the day. As you walk through the doors, you are greeted with the aromatic scents of incenses and a bright display of floral arrangments and traditional festive decor.

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I love signs like this that straight up, tell it like it is. The meat department cuts fresh fish and meat daily. Fresh salmon steaks on this particular day were $6.99 per pound.

In Mandarin, this dish is called zongzi. Zongzi is a traditional Chinese rice dish made of glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo leaves. They are cooked by steaming or boiling. Throughout Asia, there are different variations of this dish.

I am pretty adventurous when it comes to trying different foods, although I like to try international foods with someone with ties to a particular region (so I know if the food is actually good).

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I was on the hunt for two items, but only I found one. The first was purple sweet potatoes, which I could not find this time. The second was the matcha green tea Kit-Kat bars. Which I gladly purchased a bag of, because no shopping trip is complete without sweets.

❤ Krystal

pumpkin spice nice cream

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It’s PSL season, y’all.

While I am thankful to be back in the US where I can witness each season change, I am not quite ready to give up my summer favorites such as fresh berries and the most quintessential treat of the summer…ice cream.

I’m finally catching on to this new wave of nice cream. (I think I will be saying this for awhile to all the trends I missed out on from 2016 until now). By the way, I am not bringing bell-bottoms back. Props to those of you who are. I can’t. I just can’t.

Anyhow, nice cream is a great rendition on ice cream, if you couldn’t guess that much. While, I have nothing against ice cream, I don’t have a car, and ice cream doesn’t travel well from my local store to my house by foot.

Nice cream is simple and you will be amazed by 1) how easy it is to make,  2) the taste 3) and  the texture.

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Want to make your own pumpkin spice nice cream?

2 bananas*, peeled, chopped and frozen
1/2 – 3/4 c of canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 teaspoons of pumpkin spice (I made my own)
1/2 c of milk (you can use plant-based or dairy)
1 oz of cold brew coffee (because cold brew is the most millennial thing to do)

Add all ingredients to your blender or food processor, and scrape down the sides when needed. You should end up with a beautiful, soft serve consistency.

*You want ripe bananas, but not “banana bread” ripe. Use bananas that have some brown spots, but are still firm.

Note: Peel your bananas before freezing.

I think next time I will add my cold brew affogato-style.

Enjoy.

❤ Krystal

i’m home.

I hope you haven’t taken my absence from Moving Wright Along too personal.

On May 24, 2018, I said my “see you laters,” to friends, family, and colleagues in my village in Namibia. It’s crazy to believe that two years of my life came and went just like that. I can vividly remember my first night in my community. I sat down on my bed in my new home and had an “oh sh*t” moment. What had I done? To say I am so happy to have completed my Peace Corps service is an understatement because there were many times and many reasons I wanted to book the next flight home.

After a “treat yo self” mini vacay in Johannesburg, South Africa (I hope to post about that soon), on May 29, I hauled 80 pounds of my most valuable Namibian possessions and traveled 8,000 miles over the Atlantic Ocean, back to Philly. Ironically, where my entire Peace Corps journey began.

I surprised my family by arriving a week earlier than they expected. That was FUN!

As you can imagine, Moving Wright Along will no longer be a place where I talk about my Peace Corps service. I will, however, archive my Peace Corps service posts for y’all (once I figure out how to do that and not clutter this space).

As many of you know, I have been accepted into the Nutrition and Food Science Graduate Program at UCO. In a few short weeks, I will begin the final leg of my journey to becoming a Registered Dietitian. While I have taken a longer route than most it was the (w)right one. (You see what I did!)

I can’t wait to share my graduate school life with you on Moving Wright Along, as well as all my Trader Joe’s and Aldi hauls on IG. I considered starting a new blog and site for my nutrition journey, but I have branded myself with my blog, and letsbehonest… it’s a pretty good name.

So, if you are interested in hearing me talk about food, food, and more food, please stick around and share my blog with friends and family.

❤ Krystal

close of service conference.

The Close of Service (COS) Conference was held March 12 – 16, 2018 in Windhoek. COS Conference gives volunteers an opportunity to review their Peace Corps experience, figure out how to document skills and experience gained during service, prepare for re-integration to the States (or wherever they may go), and of course, celebrate the accomplishment of completing 2 years of service.

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The week began with medical and language testing. Each volunteer has an annual dental exam and cleaning as well as a physical exam. This time around, our medical exam included a collection of stool samples to check for parasites. Peace Corps Volunteers get very comfortable about discussion bowel movements or the lack thereof. For some, this was quite a feat to accomplish in a mere 4 days. Luckily, I passed.

Besides a stubborn ringworm and the leftover Holi powder in my ears from our Holi celebration in early-March, I will be leaving Namibia in good health, a few pounds lighter and with a nice Namibian glow, which I jokingly said, “it’s the light at the end of the tunnel radiating off of me.”

I mostly try to avoid taking my Language Proficiency Interview (LPI). Learning Oshikwanyama has not been my favorite part of service. My friend, Ndamona, tutored me for a few months preceding my LPI, in the end, I’m leaving Namibia at an intermediate proficiency level and I am fine with that.

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It is customary for the COSing group to present a gift or token of our appreciation to the Peace Corps staff. In the past, groups have presented items such as memory books, custom-made rugs, and other hand-crafted items.

Our group decided to build a cornhole set complete with handmade beanbags made with traditional materials. Our idea was to present a gift which staff and volunteers could both enjoy while helping to create a stronger partnership and culture at Peace Corps Namibia.

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As my time in Namibia nears the end, I continue to reflect on the last two years: accomplishments, challenges, and growth.

I am positive about the future, and can’t wait to share what’s in store for Moving Wright Along.

❤ Krystal

styled by namibia.

I have enjoyed being immersed in the beautiful, bold, bright world of shitenges.

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Shitenges or kitenges are fabrics similar to sarongs worn mostly by women. Shitenges are commonly designed into garments such as dresses and tops, or even worn alone as head wraps. Shitenges are sold by the meter and can cost as little as N$10 (a little less than a US dollar) per meter, although more popular or “waxy” prints can cost N$70+ (~$5.40 US) per meter. Most of these prints are made in other African countries, so prices can be a tad higher to account for importing.

Many local tailors can put a needle to work without the use of patterns. All of the outfits below were made from a simple WhatsApp picture I sent to the tailor (excluding the dashiki print top.)

Tailors have styled me for weddings, everyday wear and Peace Corps events. The most expensive custom-made outfit cost me about N$450 (~$35 USD) and the least expensive was about N$80 (~$6 USD). Also, check out my Wambo earrings made by the ladies at Work of Our Hands, a non-profit based in Okahandja which focuses on empowering women through employment opportunities. Check out their IG page and better yet, support them.

I loved falling in love with Namibia and the styles of this country which I will miss when I move back to the States.

The pink striped print is called “odelela”. It’s traditional Wambo print and is worn mostly at celebrations…everything else is just me embracing the beauty of this country.

❤ Krystal