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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Fig + Pear Salad with Cherry Balsamic Dressing


Oh my salad greens goodness! Each time I see this picture, I get hungry all over again.

Normally, I rotate between 3-4 salad recipes each month…ones with ingredients that are easier on the budget than pistachios and cherries. However, there are times and occasions where something special is called for…like Mother’s Day perhaps? Or maybe a lunch with a friend who is like a mother or a sister to you.

Perhaps it’s the pistachios that made me think of Mother’s Day. Because unless you buy shelled pistachios, you know it’s a labor of love to crack open enough for a meal. And word of advice? If you have lots of little (or big) hands around the house that would love to eat pistachios like candy, you might want to hide your shelled stash until the salad is ready to serve. Just sayin’. From experience.

Reducing the balsamic vinegar is key to making this salad without adding sugar. I love how it pairs with the buttery pistachios, sweet figs and lightly sweetened pears. The mix of greens is up to you, but I advise staying away from watercress. Unless you love watercress, of course. I thought I might after reading Trumpet of the Swan back in grade school. But after trying it, I’ve decided it’s not a good idea to make food choices based on the preferences of fictional swans.

You can receive the recipe for the full salad and cherry balsamic dressing (which has a secret ingredient), along with other exclusive recipes and updates, by signing up for my newsletter here:

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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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plant-powered pizza crust (vegan, gluten free)

IMG_4313

Finally! I feel like I can enjoy pizza again.

Since changing my diet to a plant-based one, I also found myself losing my desire to eat wheat-based foods. I experimented with a few pizza crust recipes, including a cauliflower one, but hadn’t found one that I really loved until now.

This pizza crust is mostly potato, a little bit of cauliflower and can be made with a gluten-free flour of your choice…I prefer brown rice flour. It’s chewy and crusty and holds up well under all the toppings. I could seriously eat them as is.

I prefer to make these as indiviual mini-pizza servings…perfect for customizing them to suit any palette. My favorite no-fuss toppings included regular hummus, pizza sauce, onion, jalepeno peppers and basil. They also freeze well, so make a stack and save some for when you need a quick lunch or are on the go.

Plant-powered Pizza Crust

1 1/2 cups finely diced potatoes
1/2 cup finely diced cauliflower
1/2-3/4 cups gluten-free flour of choice
3 T ground flax seed
1/4-1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt

Bring 1-2″ of water to boil in a medium saucepan, then add potatoes and cauliflower. Boil until veggies are very tender and the water has evaporated (this way, you don’t loose the nutrients in the water!). Mash well or blend in a food processor until smooth and cool. Add remaining ingredients, starting with a 1/2 cup of flour and adding more as needed. Knead in the flour with your hands until it becomes a firm, but sticky dough. For into a 5-7 balls, place on a cookie sheet lightly greased with avocado oil and flatten into round pizza crust shapes. Place in a 375o oven and pre-bake for 12-15 minutes. Add toppings and bake for another 10-12 minutes. Freeze any leftovers by placing on cookie sheets and popping in the freezer. Once frozen, store in airtight freezer containers or bags.

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Dinnertime fail to lunchtime win

If you follow me on Facebook, you might have seen last night’s post where I shared about a total dinner fail (vegan moussaka).

My kids definitely were not thrilled with the results and I was ho-hum about it myself. My husband came home just in time for us to leave for our small group with friends so he didn’t have the pleasure of tasting it. LOL

I was not looking forward to eating the leftovers today for lunch, either, until I discovered that I had some chana masala left over from Sunday’s dinner. BINGO!

Before switching to a plant-based diet, I never would have considered combining these two dishes. I’m much more adventurous in what I eat and try now that all the animal fats aren’t clogging up my taste buds!

The flavors of the moussaka and masala work really well together in the chickpeas give it a good boost of plant-based protein. Calling it: Chana moussaka. 

What leftovers have you mixed together for a meal-time win?

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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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roasted butternut squash and sweet potato soup (vegan, sugar free)

When the temperatures are in the single digits, you need this in your bowl!

I love soups…Simple to make, easy on the budget and generous in quantity. I dreamed this one up late last year when I was thinking about Thanksgiving, seasonal vegetables and something festive.

Normally, I like soups where I can just throw everything in the pot, but roasting the ingredients for this soup was a must. Although it’s an extra step, it’s worth it…Roasting caramelizes the sugars in the veggies and fruit and adds a richness to the flavor.

And when you top it off with a swirl of full fat coconut cream and toasted cinnamon pecan sprinkles…

Second helpings, please!

Roasted Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup 

1 butternut squash, cubed
3 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
3 garlic cloves
1 onion, sliced roughly
1 apple, cored and sliced roughly
1 cup unsalted vegetable stock
4-5 cups water
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp thyme
dashes ground pepper

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Place all the veggies and the apple slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper

2. Roast at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes-1 hour or until edges begin to brown and the squash and potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork. Remove from oven.

3. Place the roasted veggies and apple slices in a large stock pot along with the vegetable stock and 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Use a full immersion blender, food processor or standard blender to blend the soup mixture until smooth. If using a standard blender or food processor, you may need to do this in several batches.

5. Return to stock pot and add seasonings. Simmer on low heat for another 15 to 20 minutes.

6. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls, and if desired, top with a swirl of full fat coconut cream and toasted cinnamon pecan sprinkles (recipe below)

Cinnamon Pecan Sprinkles
1/2 c pecans, toasted
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/16 tsp salt
1/2 tsp olive oil

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. be careful not to over blend or the pecans will release their oils. leftovers can be stored in an airtight jar in the cupboard or fridge.

For a simple way of toasting pecans or other nuts, see this tip.

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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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curried quinoa salad + cookbook giveaway

First up…tomorrow will be the last day you can enter the giveaway for the Oh She Glows Everyday cookbook. Click this link to see the original post. Please share it with other plant-based eaters too…or maybe people you’re hoping to win over.

And as promised, another recipe for you.

This one is inspired by a recipe I found at Whole Foods Market. I substituted in quinoa for the couscous the recipe originally called for plus made a few little tweaks. Quinoa in a complete plant protein so this substitution bumps up the nutrition profile of this salad.

It’s extremely easy to put together (except for maybe shredding the carrots if you do so by hand) and can be eaten as a side, main meal and brought to share at a pot luck. I find that quinoa doesn’t do too well after several days in the fridge, so be sure to eat this within one to two days of making it.

Remember too, that I post several times a day over on my FB like page…nutrition and fitness tips, motivation and more! I would love to see you over there too…be sure to leave a comment and say hello.

Curried Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

1 T curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 c. raisins
1 c. uncooked quinoa, thoroughly rinsed
2 carrots, shredded
½ onion, minced
1 c. frozen peas, thawed
1/2 c. minced fresh cilantro
1/2 c. shredded unsweetened coconut, toasted

Instructions

Add curry powder and salt to water and cook quinoa according to package directions. Cool and fluff with a fork. Add remaining ingredients and toss to combine.

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