simply saturday granola (vegan, no added sugar, gluten free option)

Ironically, this granola was much easier to test and make than trying to share it with you in this post. Because, technology. It’s a long story, which I’ll spare you, but I’m storing up these tidbits for blog-related tips to help you avoid the same pitfalls.

For now, granola.

When I changed my diet to one extremely low in added sugar, I thought granola was a thing of the past. Typically, granola has a high added sugar content; even vegan versions tend to use more than I’m comfortable with.

Coming up with a raw granola recipe I was pleased with was simple. However, I wasn’t sure if a cooked version using dates as the sweetener would yield that same crunchy texture of traditional granola. But, oh yes… it does!

As the title suggests, this granola is simple and straightforward to fix. While I often make mine on a Saturday, you certainly can prepare this any day of the week. The key to a good crunch is stirring during the baking time, breaking up the clusters, and completely cooling it before storing it in air-tight jars.

 

SHOP THE RECIPE*:

Date paste: I usually buy mine at a local Mediterranean/middle eastern store. If you don’t have one near by, you can make your own using Medjool dates (see Recipe Notes). Or, you can buy it here.

Pure stevia: It’s critical to use 100% pure stevia with no additives or fillers. I get mine at Trader Joe’s, but try the NOW BetterStevia™ Organic Zero Calorie Powdered Sweetener — 1 oz brand here. Even though it appears pricey, a little goes a looong way, and my container lasted me for several years! This link will save you $5 on your order…comment or message me if you want to know which products I stock up on to get the free shipping.

Unsweetened shredded coconut: I get mine in bulk at Whole Foods, but if you’re in a food desert, try this one.

 

Print
Simply Saturday Granola
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 
Course: Breakfast, Snack
Ingredients
  • 3 cups whole rolled oats (gluten free, if needed)
  • 1/2 cup date paste
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 3 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 scoops 100% pure stevia
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup nuts of choice, chopped
Instructions
  1. Turn on oven to 350 F.  Grease a large jelly roll pan (recommend using coconut or avocado oil). Chop and measure out nuts. Measure out oats and coconut in separate bowls.

  2. Add almond milk, coconut oil, cinnamon, stevia and salt to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add date paste* and stir until the date paste breaks down and the mixture is very smooth. Next, stir in oats and coat thoroughly, then immediately stir in the coconut. Spread out on the prepared jelly roll pan, breaking up any clumps in the mixture and sprinkle on the nuts.

  3. Pop in the oven and set the timer for 12 minutes. When the time is up, remove from oven, stir to break up any clumps and prevent the granola on the out edges of the pan from burning. Return to oven for another 12 minutes, removed and stir again. If needed, return the granola to the oven for 3-5 minutes or until the granola is a light golden brown color. Turn off head and leave granola to finish drying out.

  4. When the granola is completely cooled, pour into airtight glass jars for storage.

Recipe Notes
  • If you don't have pre-made date paste on hand, you can easily make your own. For this recipe, take about 3/4 cups of Medjool dates (buy the ones with the pits, but remove the pits just before using), soak them in warm water for at least 1-2 hours. Drain, reserving the soak water and place in a blender or food processor. Blend until very smooth, adding a little soak water if needed.
  • Having the pan prepared, nuts chopped and oats and coconut measured and ready to go helps keep the baking time to a minimum as it prevents the date mixture from soaking into the oats.
  • Pecans are my favorite nuts of choice for this recipe!

 

 

(*May contain affiliate links)

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5-ingredient walnut pesto over zucchini noodles (vegan, gluten free, paleo)

pesto

I am newer to the whole veggie noodle trend, mostly because I didn’t want to invest in a spiralizer unless I knew I would get frequent use out of it. For awhile, I made due by putting my dusty cheese grater to use to make zucchini noodle strips. And then I found this:

Only $5 at Whole Foods and I was sold. I was a little skeptical at first if it would really work, but it does! And not only does it turn out lovely long zucchini noodles, I get a few bonus rotini shapes too. The only downside is it’s hard to spiralize the entire veggie because you run the risk of nicking your fingers in to the bargain. A brief search on Amazon, however, located this one* that solves that problem and is still small enough to be tucked into a drawer.

While my traditional pasta sauce works well with these noodles, I think they were meant for this pesto recipe. You can serve it over slightly warmed noodles, or since the weather is heating up, eat it cold. This pesto is a snap to put together and it can even be frozen.

Five-ingredient walnut pestoIMG_4176
1.5 cups of basil
1/2 cups of walnuts
2 garlic cloves
1/8 tsp salt
dashes of freshly ground pepper
3/4 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and mix on high until everything is thoroughly combined. Spoon onto noodles of choice (I recommend zucchini!) and stir until noodles are coated. Personally, for my own bowl, I like to mix in the pasta by hand. Store any extras in an air-tight jar in the freezer.

*makes enough for two adult servings

*contains an affiliate link

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5-ingredient key lime pie bites (vegan, sugar free)

One of the most frutrating things about changing your diet is relearning how to cook. The substitutes for the ingredients you used to rely on (sugar, white flour, eggs, dairy, meat etc.), don’t behave in the same way. In the first three months that I spent eating a plant-based diet, I was brought almost to tears several times because the kitchen suddenly felt like a foreign place.

Which makes the victory all the (sugar-free) sweeter when I hit on the right mix of ingredients the first time I make up a recipe. And judging by how quickly these little bites disappeared with our small group from church, I’d say these were a BIG hit.

If you have Lime Vitality Essential oil, I’d use that to give them a limey kick, but freshly squeezed lime juice will work too. They can be served naked or with a coconut coating. 

Last thing before I share the recipe…on Monday, I’m doing a clean eating challenge with a “Big Game” theme. It features a six day meal plan (including this recipe) of foods you might find at a “Big Game” party, but with a healthier twist. Comment if you’d like in on the challenge which I run through a private Facebook group (or you can request to join here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1359914420746043/)


Key Lime Pie Bites 
1⁄2 cup cashews
1 c date paste
3 drops of lime vitality essential oil or 1-2 tsp of lime juice
3⁄4 c large flake, unsweetened coconut
Shredded coconut (optional)

Put all ingredients except the shredded coconut in a blender or food processor and blend until the mixture is very smooth. Roll into bite-sized balls. If desired, roll in shredded coconut. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to one week.

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crockpot carrot cake oatmeal (vegan, sugar free)

This week I’m running a 6-day clean eating crockpot challenge through a private Facebook group.

The recipes for apple cinnamon and banana bread oatmeal in the meal plan got me thinking about what other kinds of desserts could be transformed into a healthy breakfast.

Carrot cake immediately came to mind.

Naturally sweetened only with fruit and containing hints of cinnamon and ginger make this oatmeal a tasty way to start the morning. And because it’s made in a crockpot, it’s already warm when you wake up.

If you are interested in learning about upcoming clean eating challenges, please leave a comment and I will contact you. 

Crockpot Carrot Cake Oatmeal
3 cups oat berries/groats
3.5 cups water
2.5 cups nondairy milk
2 large carrots, finely grated
3 large Medjool dates, roughly chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened dried coconut
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
raisins

1. Put all ingredients (except for the raisins if you prefer to add them upon serving) into the crockpot and stir.
2. Turn crockpot on low and allowed to cook for 6 to 8 hours.
3. Spoon into bowls and garnish with raisins and pour on additional non-dairy milk if desired.
4. Makes about six servings and stores well in the refrigerator for several days.

Recipe Notes
I prefer using whole oat berries (or groats) as they take a longer time for your body to break down. Which means they’re not easily been converted into simple carbohydrates. 

Although you could add the raisins directly into the crockpot, I prefer to add them upon serving. 

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oatmeal raisin cookie dough bites, vegan + sugar free


First up: The winner of the Oh She Glows Everyday cookbook by Angela Liddon was Quinn. Aaaand, I just got word that she received it today!

Now something for everyone…this recipe for oatmeal raisin cookie dough bites. I think it was actually one of Angela’s cookie recipes that I was trying a few years ago, when I discovered how toasted pecans have the same buttery butterscotch flavor as oatmeal raisin cookies (ORC). In a traditional ORC, it’s the brown sugar and butter that give it that homey flavor.
I love finding simple, easy and no-sugar ways to make tasty desserts and snacks and this one checks off each of those boxes. Plus it has been kid- and crowd-approved.

So without further ado, here you go:

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough Bites

2 c. pecans, toasted*
1 c. date paste
1 1/4 c. rolled oats, organic if possible
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 c. shredded, unsweetened coconut
1 c. raisins

Place pecans in a food processor  and blend until nuts are crumbly. Add remaining ingredients, except the raisins, and blend until well combined and the “dough” holds together when pressed between your fingers. Pour into a mixing bowl, add raisins and “knead” in with your hands (it’s easier than a spoon ;)). Form dough into balls that are about 1″ in diameter. Can be stored in an airtight container for several days.

Recipe Notes

This recipe can be cut in half for a smaller amount or for only 1-2 people. If you have a larger family or a crowd, I suggest keeping the ingredient amounts as is.

*See this post for a quick and easy way to toast nuts.

 

 

 

 

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quinoa tabouli (vegan, gluten free, low carb, sugar free)

quinoa tabouliI love trying foods from other cultures which have a solid amount of veggies in their diets.

Ever since I tried tabouli, a middle eastern salad that usually features bulgar, I was a fan. However, my enthusiasm for it waivered ever since I began cutting back on wheat products several years go. I also swapped out the oil for hummus for an interesting twist on the dressing.

Thankfully, I discovered that quinoa is a perfect substitute and packs a superfood, plant protein punch into this refreshing salad. The key to great quinoa is thoroughly rinsing off the bitter saponin and using a ratio of water to quinoa that is just shy of 2:1.

If you give this a try, I would love your feedback.

CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the quinoa tabouli recipe

quinoa tabouli

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

    For the Ingredients

    • 4 T hummus
    • 2 T lemon juice
    • ½ tsp salt
    • dashes freshly ground pepper

    For the Salad

    • ¾ c. uncooked white quinoa
    • 1 cucumber, diced
    • 1 pack cherry tomatoes, sliced
    • ½ onion, finely diced
    • 1/4 -1.2 cup fresh parsley, minced
    • optional: pine nuts

    Instructions

    For the Dressing:

    Combine all ingredients in a glass measuring cup, jar or bowl and stir until thoroughly combined. Add water if necessary to thin. Pour over tabouli and gently stir until thoroughly mixed.

    For the Salad:

    Thoroughly rinse quinoa. Best way is to cover with water in a bowl or pot, agitate with you hands, pour into a sieve and repeat 2-3 times with fresh water.

    Add quinoa to a pot with 1.5 cups of water, bring to a boil and then simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the water is absorbed.

    Cool and fluff with a fork. When cool add cucumber, tomatoes, onion, parsley, and pine nuts, if using.

    Pour dressing over tabouli and gently stir until thoroughly mixed.

    This salad is best eaten fresh, but will keep in the fridge for one day if properly stored.

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    6-ingredient chocolate earth truffles (vegan, gluten free, sugar free, raw option)

    chocolate earth trufflesAs promised yesterday, here is an Earth Day-inspired recipe that is simple to make and a way to satisfy the sweet tooth without any added sugar (unless you want to add a little).

    I came across this recipe at the Whole Foods Market recipe site, but made it over so that it didn’t contain sugar. I always love when I find recipes that are easily sweetened by fruit…recipes that leave you feeling good about what you ate instead of weighed down and sluggish.

    You might want to double this recipe if you have children or are bringing this to share because they don’t stay on the plate for very long.

    If you’re curious why I recommend buying fair-trade cocoa powder, read this post.

    CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the Chocolate Earth Truffles recipe

    6-ingredient chocolate earth truffles

    Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

    Chill Time:  1 hour

    Makes: 12-15

     

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup peanut butter
    • ½ cup date paste
    • 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably fair trade
    • ½ cup raisins
    • ½ cup cacao nibs (or dairy free chocolate chips)
    • 1/3-1/2 cups unsweetened shredded or flaked coconut

    Instructions

    In a food processor, add peanut butter, date paste and cocoa powder and blend until all the ingredients are well combined.

    Spoon mixture into a large bowl and add raisins and cacao nibs or chocolate chips. Stir until thoroughly combined.

    Place mix in the fridge for about one hour to firm up.

    Scoop out spoonfuls of truffle mix and form 1” balls.

    Roll balls in shredded/flaked coconut.

    Recipe Notes

    Store in an air tight container in the fridge. Will keep for about 2-3 days if properly stored.

    You also could roll the truffles in finely ground walnuts, pecans or almonds.

    To make these raw, use raw peanut butter

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    game day any day 7-layer dip (vegan, gluten free)

    dip2

    So here’s what the dip looks like all assembled and ready to be devoured:

    100_4021We didn’t quite polish it off last night, leaving some for lunch today. Leftovers sometimes get a bum rap, but I think they are shining stars when it comes to saving time and money, unless, of course you didn’t like the premiere of the dish to begin with.

    A quick note on the salsa. Homemade would be the top choice, but rarely do I want to take the time to make my own. Instead, I turn to Pace since it’s sugar free and contains relatively straightforward and familiar ingredients. You might be surprised to see how many shelf-stable salsas contain sugar and other questionable ingredients, so read the labels people. The shorter the list and the closer to being reproducible at home, the better.

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    game day any day 7-layer dip

    7layerdiptitleYou know you’re a mom of boys when…your middle son chooses the colors of his favorite football teams as his inspiration for his “Mastermind” pattern. And when they have holes in their knees from playing tackle football, tackle anything, inside and outside. And when you, a fair-weather football begin to consider Super Bowl Sunday almost on par with Valentine’s Day or the Fourth of July.

    100_3937But onto the dip…

    I’m breaking a perhaps unwritten food blogging rule and posting a recipe without showing the finished product. Three reasons. One: I keep forgetting to take purty pictures of the dip all assembled. Two: I’m making it tomorrow but am giving you time to grab these ingredients in case you want to assemble it before the big game on Sunday because it’s just that good. Three: Truthfully, the assembled dip isn’t all that photogenic.

    Instead, for today, let’s let the ingredients do the talking…

    7layerdipnumbered

    1. fat free refried beans
    2. red pepper hummus
    3. avocado
    4. salsa
    5. lettuce
    6. cilantro
    7. cucumber

    Oh, and don’t forget the chips. 🙂 To amp up the nutrition, make some baked sweet potato rounds.

    100_4013Feel free to make more for a large crowd as this will store well, covered, in the fridge for a few days. Score!

    CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the Game Day Any Day 7-layer Dip recipe

    game day any day 7-layer dip

    Prep Time: 20 minutes

    Ingredients

    • 1-14.5 oz can fat free refried beans
    • 1-2 cups red pepper or plain hummus
    • 1-2 avocados, diced
    • 2-3 cups salsa
    • 3-4 cups diced romaine lettuce
    • ½ – 1 cup minced cilantro
    • 1 cucumber, diced
    • optional: green onions, diced jalapeños, olives

    Instructions

    1. Spread refried beans evenly on bottom of baking dish.
    2. Next spread the hummus evenly and evenly distributed the diced avocados over that.
    3. Pour on the salsa.
    4. If using jalapeños or olives add those next, then cover evenly with the lettuce.
    5. Finish by evenly distributing the cilantro and the cucumber.
    6. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

    Recipe Notes

    This dip will store well in the fridge for a couple of days. Make sure to cover!

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    national day of peanut butter // january 24

    I’m not sure why we need a national day dedicated to, well, anything, or why January 24 was selected as the day in which to celebrate peanut butter, but it’s fun so we’ll go with it.

    While many countries don’t get the North American affinity for this spread and it’s potential to cause highly allergenic reactions, you have to admit this is one versatile condiment! I’m hard pressed to think of another that can comfortably pull up a seat at the breakfast, lunch and dinner table and stick around for dessert and snack time.

    In college a friend and I had a theory that peanut butter went with pretty much anything. So we put the theory to the test.

    We were not disappointed.

    The most surprising discovery? Peanut butter + green pepper. Weird, but it works.

    So in honor of National Peanut Butter Day, here’s a mini round-up of four recipes with peanut butter as the star:

    ants on a log
    snack time: ants on a log
    100_2516
    beverage: peanut butter milkshakes

     

    calico brownies
    dessert: calico brownies
    peanut butter banana jumblelaya
    snack time: peanut butter banana jumblelaya

     

    Next week, I’ll post one of my favorite recipes with a peanut butter-based sauce that pairs well with Asian cuisine and that I use most often on a crunchy raw salad.

    What are your favorite peanut butter based recipes? Favorite peanut butter memories from childhood? And…crunchy or creamy?

     

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