Sunday, July 21, 2013

Fan-FREAKING-tastic Bars

Oh yes they are!
It was declared on more than one occasion... by more than one person...
I'll try to convey the greatness of these bars with pictures and as many adjectives as possible; but just so you know, pictures and words can only say so much and you should just make them and let them speak for themselves.

They are chewy and crunchy, yet soft because they are no bake; they are fruity, nutty, sweet, a tad salty, and a little chocolaty. 
They are healthy. They have healthy fats, provide plenty of fiber, and only use wholesome ingredients. 
You can customize them to your heart's delight, they are Gluten Free (of course), Vegan, and incredibly easy to put together.
Did I mention they have chocolate? 
And they are FILLING! So worth it.

I had saved the original recipe quite a while ago, but it took a close friend of mine to make them first and get met to dig the recipe out and make them myself! Oh, what I've been missing out on!

The recipe is from 86 Lemons and I haven't changed it too much because quite honestly, they are perfect.
Someone was being sneaky and taking one from my background

Peanut Butter Chocolate Breakfast Bars
1 1/2 cups rolled oats (use gluten-free if desired)
1/2 cup flax seed meal1/4 cup chia seeds1/4 cup sunflower seeds1/3 cup pumpkin seeds1 cup cashews, almonds, walnuts1/2 cup honey/pure maple syrup/agave1 cup natural nut butter
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips or coco nibs

1/2 cup dried cherries/blueberries/cranberries

Line and 8x8 inch dish with parchment paper. Combine oats, seeds, and nuts in a large bowl. Add in agave, etc. and nut butter of choice, and gently fold until all ingredients are incorporated (you may need a bit more honey/maple/agave depending on humidity and other ingredients used). Finally, fold in chocolaty and fruity add-ins until thoroughly mixed in. Dump the dough into the lined baking dish and spread evenly using a spatula. 
Let the bars chill out and firm up in the fridge for a couple hours or overnight (or in the freezer, for like, an hour; As 86 Lemons suggests, for those of us who just cannot wait until tomorrow). 
Cut into (12/16) squares.
Make more!!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

'Tis the Season for Strawberries!

I have had a blast this summer cruising local farmer's markets! Everyone is so friendly and enthusiastic about the bountiful produce and other specialty goods like honey and soaps! I have really enjoyed learning about new ingredients that are grown locally and how to incorporate them in recipes. The strawberries have been lovely these past couple of weeks, and naturally I have used them in everything from simple oatmeal to a pie that I have a feeling will be made again very soon!
This time I pureed the strawberries with rhubarb and baked up some oatmeal breakfast bars (or rather slices because I used a pie plate), but I'm looking forward to blending different combinations of seasonal fruit, like peaches and blueberries! 
Look at the brilliant pink color!

Strawberry Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars
Yields 1 8x8-inch pan (or 1 pie plate...just in case you run out of 8x8" dishes, like me)
1/3 cup applesauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 T flax meal + 3 T warm water
1/4 cup honey/ maple syrup 

1 t Vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup oat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt 

1 cup strawberry rhubarb puree*

*3/4 cup strawberries + 1/2 cup chopped rhubarb + 1 T honey/maple syrup, pureed in food processor
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Lightly grease an 8x8-inch pan.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together applesauce and sugar. Add the flax and water, honey, and vanilla extract. Stir in the oats, flours, baking soda, and salt. Spread 3/4 of the batter into the bottom of the prepared pan. Pour the strawberry rhubarb puree evenly over the top. Crumble the remaining 1/4 of the batter on top.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool slightly in pan before serving.

Adapted from here.

What do you like to find at the farmer's market?


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Flours and Flowers

As you may know, all the recipes found on this blog are Gluten Free! Gluten Free baking can be intimidating. The four ratios can be finicky, though once you play around with it for a while, you can start to get a feel for how the consistency of dough and batters should look like, and understand what flours you should use for which recipes.
I feel like any gluten-free baker has their favorite blend of flours that they know they can rely on and expect to work in most recipes. Here is my favorite mix, I have been using it in place of regular flour for most baked goods lately, and it hasn't given me any problems yet. I like it because there aren't any strange 'specialty' ingredients in it like arrowroot, or quinoa flour...though they would both work well too.

1 C Sorghum flour
1 C Oat flour
1 C Potato/Corn starch
1 C Brown Rice flour/Sweet white rice flour*
2 T Gluten free baking powder

*sweet white rice flour will yield a flour that resembles a white, 'all purpose' flour.
If you want a 'whole wheat' flour feel, you can substitute the rice flour for teff flour.

I do agree with the many assertions that gluten free baking works better when the ingredients are weighed out using a food scale. Maybe someday I'll do a post on measured out flours using a scale, but I like this for most recipes. The benefit to weighing flours out is it ensures that the proportions are exactly equal, when you measure flours out using a measuring cup the amounts can vary depending on the weight of the flour and how much it is packed into the measuring cup. If it is weighed out, then the amounts are consistent. BUT, the majority of the time, I'm too impatient to measure out flour and would much rather scoop a cup of flour from a large bin like the majority of people, and that's where this blend comes in. It's quite flexible, and I will add different flours depending on what I have on hand. I will add more oat flour (my favorite part of the blend) if I make a bit too much, for example.

Now Spring is almost upon us, so enough of the white flours, here's some colorful flowers to look at, though I don't suggest you eat them :)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Sandwich 'Sushi' Roll

I saw an interesting idea in a magazine several years ago for parents who make their kids lunches, and it has stuck with me since. It was a way to mix up the usual sandwich, you know, and keep things interesting. Instead of giving the kids a roll up, you roll the tortilla and the fillings like you would sushi, and slice and serve them like the traditional Japanese fare. Brilliant!

I found some really good gluten free spinach tortillas that I have been enjoying, they are bendy and flexible, which I was quite impressed with. I used one as the seaweed paper, then filled it with cauliflower mash (instead of rice), a sprinkle of cheese, some squash that I had steamed and cut into strips, and a few spinach and basil leaves. You could really fill these with whatever you wanted, I just used what was in the fridge at the time. The squash really worked well though. I didn't use cauliflower "rice" because I thought that it would fall out when I tried cutting it, but I would still be interested in trying this method out.

1 tortilla
1/4 c cauliflower mash
sprinkle of cheese (I like Veggie cheese, mozzarella style)
vegetables of choice, thinly sliced lengthwise (and preferably steamed)
     such as squash, carrots, onion, bell peppers
Few spinach and/or basil leaves, torn
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the cauliflower into bite size florets  and seam by method of choice. I use the microwave and cover the dish of cauliflower with a second dish, but you could boil it in a saucepan until tender or even roast it in the oven at 400 degrees until golden. Then once the florets are cooled, you can throw them in a food processor and process until smooth, only adding a little bit of water if necessary. I like to add in some dried herbs while it is in the food processor, such as parsley or garlic. Then once it is out of the food processor, I top with salt and pepper, and maybe some paprika.

Place one tortilla on a microwavable plate and spread the cauliflower mash onto it evenly, leaving about a 1/2 inch space on the edges. Thinly sprinkle the cheese over the mash and place the vegetables in a strip closer to one of the ends of the tortilla, being sure to not over-stuff!
Place in the microwave and warm for about 30 seconds, this helps when rolling the sandwich. Top the open-face tortilla with a line of 5-6 spinach and/or basil leaves. and begin rolling like you would sushi, beginning at the end closest to the line of vegetables. The wrap should still be a bit warm while rolling, but it is best to wait a minute and let it cool a bit before you slice into little "sushi" rolls, so it has time to cool down a bit. Slice into 3/4'' pieces, and flip onto their sides to resemble sushi!


This was an all veggie version, but it would be really fun to make a turkey-Swiss version, or even a peanut butter-banana roll. Oh, I think that one will have to be next!

Sometimes my mom would put notes in my lunchbox for school. I loved finding them in there among my juice box and "sandwich", which really wasn't a sandwich at all. I was very picky. I liked bread, lettuce, and cheese, but they had to be separate. So my lunches would consist of bread (with the crusts  cut off), washed lettuce, and string cheese. Clearly, I've become more adventurous ;)

What would/do you find in your lunch box?



Monday, May 20, 2013

Sunshine Squash

I love leisurely mornings when you have time to contemplate what you really want to eat. Waltzing around the kitchen with a mug of your favorite tea, rummaging through the fridge and cabinets, looking for whatever your heart desires.

Healthy breakfasts are a great opportunity to use up any leftovers you may have, and that is how this gem of a breakfast came about.

I used to make sunshine toast at sleepovers when I was younger, and this recipe follows the same idea. Instead of using toast as a vessel for the egg like I used to, some leftover butternut squash is utilized.
I've always admired those in blog-sphere that share a rustic breakfast of veggies and egg. It always look like such a marvelous way to start your day. How much healthier can you get? Butternut squash is a great source of vitamins A and B, and fiber, while the egg cooked in the middle is an excellent form of lean protein. This breakfast is a great start to the day. Not to mention a single portion is low in calories, and full of flavor!

Sunshine Squash

Steamed butternut squash, cut the raw squash into rounds by slicing the squash to form 'coins', then hollow out the seeded part once you reach it before proceeding to cut the rings. Steam the squash rounds.
1 egg
salt and pepper
Pam spray, oil, or butter to grease the pan

Place a steamed squash ring into a pan that has been lightly greased. Crack one egg into the middle of the ring. Allow the egg to cook until done. You may need to cover the pan so the top of the egg cooks evenly with the bottom.
Serve with some fruit and season with a little salt and pepper.

Instead of bread and squash, I have also seen this being done with pepper rings. That would be delicious!

What breakfasts have you constructed out of dinner leftovers?


Friday, May 17, 2013

Cashew 'Cream Cheese'

I would have never thought of soaking and blending cashews to make a vegan cream cheese, but I'm glad someone did, because it is a satisfying replacement. And it is a very handy recipe to have in your back pocket if you don't have cream cheese, because who doesn't have cashews lying around for emergencies? Okay, so I went to the store and got cashews specifically for this recipe, but who could pass up an occasion to make vegan cream cheese? Not me!
Could I have just as easily bought cream cheese? Yes, but we don't need to make things any easier than they are...this is the 21st century, and we have and app for that.
Homemade things are more fun, and it is nice to be able to appreciate something so simple...slowly. One step at a time.
And appreciate this Cashew Cream Cheese I have, after patiently waiting for the cashews to soak and after thoroughly blending them in a blender until silky smooth, it has been a delightful accompaniment to toast and veggies! Ahh, the simple things.
Not to mention the added health benefits of cashew cream cheese, healthy fats and antioxidants. Makes for happy snacking!

Healthy fats: Cashews, among other nuts are filled with healthy unsaturated fatty acids. These are the fats that actually help your cholesterol levels rather than harm them like the saturated and trans fats. The unsaturated fats are what help your hair shine and your skin glow. We need them like any other macro- and micro-nutrients!
Antioxidants: These little nuts are high in antioxidants  a free-radical fighting molecule that inhibits the oxidation and damage to other cells and molecules.
Copper: Plays an important aspect of enzymes that helps them to carry out the roles they were meant to do.
Magnesium: Cashews are known for containing magnesium. Magnesium helps to keep our bones strong and our muscles and nerves relaxed. Two important, very different functions. A little nutty isn't it?

So, lets get to it!

Adapted from: Oh. Ladycakes's Raw Cashew Cream

Cashew Cream Cheese spread on some simple GF toast

Cashew Cream Cheese

1 1/2 C raw cashews
3 medjool dates, pitted
1/2 C almond milk
1/4 C water
1/2 t lemon juice*
1 T agave*
splash of vanilla extract, depending on desired taste*

Cover raw cashews with water and allow to soak for at least 4 hours, or overnight. I will rinse the water once or twice while they are soaking. Before the cashews are done soaking, allow the dates to soften for at least 30 minutes, adding them to the cashews.
Drain the water the cashews and dates are in, and add them to a powerful blender or food processor. Add the almond milk, water, lemon juice, and vanilla extract.

*All added flavors depend on desired taste, sometimes I would like it more sweet and will add more dates or more agave or even honey.

NOTE: I recently just made this and added a pinch of xanthan gum so that it would keep its form and hold up in a recipe better. It worked very well.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Green Smoothie

Everyone has one.
They are stark in color, undoubtedly healthy, and deceptively tasty.
And unlike the green rugs of the 70's this shade will always be in style. Some may consider them the Holy Grail of Health, but many call them breakfast.
And they all have one thing in common, greens!

This is my go-to Green Smoothie.

Green Smoothies have become all the rage, and when you have a good one, you understand why. I like to use spinach in my smoothies, I think it blends up really well and even adds a creaminess. Two other necessary ingredients are green grapes and almond milk. Just add ice, blend, and you have yourself a darn good smoothie! But, I can never leave things well enough alone, and I generally have a grocery list of other add ins. That is the beauty of these dazzling drinks is that you can customize them to what you are in the mood for that day, or what is available.
The almond milk tones down the greens a bit, so it gives you a good excuse to add more spinach! The grapes add a nice touch of sweetness and an added boost of fiber, if you use green grapes it keeps with the green theme. I also REALLY like adding green figs when they are in season, they're just so tasty.

This isn't really a recipe, its more of a guideline that I tend to follow
Yield: 1 smoothie

Handful or two of spinach, or however much you are comfortable using
1 cup vanilla almond milk, sweetened or unsweetened
1 cup green grapes, with skin on
1/2 banana, frozen*
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt (optional)
2-3 green figs (optional)
1 cup of ice cubs

Add all ingredients into a blender and blend on high until smooth.

*It's helpful to peel and cut a few banana's in half before storing them in the freezer for easy smoothie making. If you don't have frozen bananas readily available, just add more ice.

Note: I have yet to do this, but I if you were to freeze the grapes it would help to thicken the smoothie. And if you're like me, I like my smoothies to be the consistency of to the point were I need a spoon to eat it.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Simply Good Brownies

These are those brownies everyone needs a recipe for. They are quick to get a batch in the oven and practically scream for a tall glass of milk.

I'm no brownie connoisseur, but I'd say these are more on the cakey-fudgy side. They remind me of the brownies my grandma used to make for dumping vanilla bean ice cream on and drizzle with Sander's hot fudge. Except, these are made with almond meal. They are perfectly chocolaty, and not too sweet.
I really like the texture of these almond meal brownies. They have a slight crust that forms on top and lends that nice shine that tops classic brownies. It's surprising that the almond meal elicits such an airy crumb, it makes them an excellent vehicle for milk! Because the almond meal contributes extra moisture to the batter compared to the run of the mill flour, they have a little bit of a fudge consistency...but they are not fudge-y where you have to eat them with a fork otherwise you'll end up with melted chocolate all over your fingers. I do have a recipe for that sort of brownie, and those are a great treat for a bit more formal of a gathering, in my opinion. Instead, I literally made these after a lunch out with my grandparents on a whim. And I love them for their simplicity. They were delicious gripping a cold glass of milk in one hand and digging them out of the pan with the other free plates or forks necessary.

The added fiber and protein from the almond meal make these a healthier alternative to the usual brownie, and even the cocoa powder isn't bad; with it's own contribution of antioxidants and fiber. These are practically health food...practically. ; )

Though I have only made them once and cannot (yet) attest to this, this recipe seems as though it would be fairly easy to play around with and tweak to suit whatever kind of brownie-mood you are in. I would think they could be further health-i-fied with a more natural sugar substitute, or if you feel creative, you could try mashed banana or date paste. I'm sure these variations will end up on this blog eventually, because I will most definitely be making these again!

I found this excellent recipe for Almond Flour Brownies from The Wannabe Chef quite awhile ago. It's too bad it has taken me so long to getting around to trying it, this recipe would have been a staple by now.

I did tweak the recipe a bit to suit my liking, and I would make them just the same next time.

Recipe: Almond Meal Brownies

yield: 9 brownies
3/4 cup almond meal
3 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 t (GF) baking powder
3/4 C sugar of choice
3 eggs or 3/4 cup egg whites
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
1 t instant espresso
1/2 cup butter (I use a yogurt butter from a tub)
1 Cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare an 8 x 8 inch glass dish with cooking spray.
Combine the almond meal, salt, cocoa powder, and baking powder.
Seperatly, carefully melt the butter and 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips. I use the microwave by heating on high for thirty seconds, stirring, and heating for 5-10 more seconds before stopping to stir. Continuing in 5-10 second intervals until almost melted. Remove the mixture from the microwave before completely melted and stir, the chocolate will continue to melt into the butter without being heated further.
In another bowl, mix together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and espresso powder.
Take a spoonful of the butter/chocolate mix and gently stir this into the egg and sugar mix before adding all of the butter/chocolate mixture. This is so the eggs don't begin to cook from the heat shock the butter and chocolate might provide.
Combine both chocolate mixture and the dry ingredients and stir well before pouring into the prepared baking dish.
Now for those remaining chocolate chips...distribute those over the top of the batter.
Bake for 30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Oh, except I would add more almond nut butter on top. This is a must, in my opinion. Almond flour brownies...almond nut was meant to be!

It's the simple things.

Do you have a go-to recipe for casual company?


Monday, April 1, 2013

Banoffee Pie

I had the pleasure of making this pie and being able to share it with my grandparents. Following a lovely lunch, this was a really great way to end the meal. Sometimes you just need to make a tried-and-true, old-fashioned pie.
Well, it wasn't my tried-and-true per say, I had never made a Banoffee pie before. BUT, I went crazy researching recipes and comments for making Banoffee pie, until I was confident I had a no-fail recipe.

I had taken an interest in making one after reading another blogger's post about it's origins. 
I had always thought Banoffe pie had to do with coffee and bananas...but I was mistaken, it's toffee and banana! This is a brilliant combination and is a really nice change from chocolate-overload desserts that I am usually drawn to. Of course, chocolate is still made it's appearance on the pie, but only a little... as decoration. The bit of bitterness the dark chocolate lent the pie, did complement the super sweet bananas and toffee wonderfully.

This is a classic English dessert that I look forward to making again! It was a breeze to put together and the result is a grand presentation. 
What really won me over was the texture. The soft bananas and toffee pair really well with the chewy graham cracker crust and fluffy whipped topping.

Now, I will admit...while I was making the pie I was a little concerned about how it would turn out. To me, a layer of toffee just didn't do I want to put this...appetizing? I thought the banana and toffee were mixed together as a filling before being put in the pie crust, instead of being layered separately like how the recipe called for. To make myself feel better, I did add a single layer of banana before pouring the toffee into the crust. There...that's better! Whew. I realize this isn't normal, but I liked it, and I don't think anyone would really notice...or care for that matter.

Banoffee Pie

adapted from maameemoomoo
yield: 1 10 inch pie

2 1/2 cup gluten free graham cracker, crushed
1/4 cup almond meal as needed
1 cup butter, melted
1 can condensed milk
5 bananas, divided
200 ml whipping cream
1/4 cup dark chocolate, melted

Fill a large pot with water and submerge the can of condensed milk in the water. Place the pot on the stove and bring to a boil. Continue to boil the water for 2 hours, adding more water as needed.
Remove the can and let cool completely.
I use the plastic baggie and rolling pin method for crushing graham crackers, I always end up with crumbs everywhere, If you prefer another method go for it.
Melt the butter, add the cracker crumbs and thoroughly mix. I thought my mixture was too wet still, so I added almost 1/4 cup of almond meal. Press mixture into the base and onto the sides of a 10 inch pie dish (I used a springform pan).
Chill for 1 hour.
Here is where I added one banana slice layer.
Open the can of condensed milk. Spread onto the base of your crust. Chill for 1 hour.
Peel and thinly slice the rest of the bananas, layer on top of the toffee layer.
Whip the cream for a few minutes on high (I used a hand-held blender), and spread this over the bananas.
Decorate with the melted dark chocolate.

This pie was also super easy to make gluten free. All you really need to do is buy gluten free graham crackers, which are now quite common to find in grocery stores. Of course if you are feeling really ambitious you could try to make your own graham crackers, but in this recipe I settled for store-bought.

Now, since making this recipe, I can say it is my tried-and-true, I look forward to making this again for another gathering.

What are some of your favorite flavor combinations?

I'm pretty sure banana and toffee will be making it's appearance in the kitchen much more frequently, and the chocolate...that will always be close at hand ;)



Tuesday, March 26, 2013

How do you do, Salad?

Sometimes a salad is all you need. A bowl brimming with snappy spinach leaves and adorned with an array of wholesome goodies.
You can dress it to suit your mood; making it on the lighter, crisp side with shredded carrot and chopped celery; or more nutrient-dense and comforting; sporting dried cherries and a crumbled cheese. Either way, broken walnut halves almost always find a place on my salad, I like the earthy crunch they have to offer.
This is one of my favorite salad variations, which includes dried cherries, walnut pieces, crumbled cheese, and blueberries!
My Favorite Salad:
Bowl full of spring mix lettuce and spinach
Heaping handful of fresh blueberries
handful of broken walnut halves
~2 T blue cheese crumbles
3 T dried cranberries
Pile everything into a bowl and grab a fork!
I personally, don't like using dressings all that often. When I do use a dressing, my favorite is fat free raspberry vinaigrette  It pairs very nicely with the fresh blueberries, the tartness of the cranberries, and the very rich blue cheese.
I always eat my salads the same weird way. I chop my salads up to the point where everything is nearly mashed together; then I eat all the lettuce first, leaving all the added ingredients as a "dessert" salad to enjoy.
Like I said...weird.

How do You do Salad?


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spinach, Feta, and Mushroom Omelet with Pesto

This omelet reminds me of that famed children's book...

...Something to do with Sam and Ham
How spring-y is all that green?

This is a great way to use up all those extra leafy-greens that you bought at the market because they looked so abundant and bountiful stacked on display at the supermarket! 
Truly, this was a really good omelet, probably the best I have ever made.
Unlike Sam, I didn't put ham in my omelet, but this is not to say you couldn't.
This delicious breakfast comes together really quickly, but the result is a good-for-you gourmet meal. the extra effort of mixing the pesto in with the egg whites isn't necessary, but I would be sure to put some in the omelet, if not drizzled over top when it is done cooking.

There is no such thing as too many greens!

What I liked most was the amount of leafy-greens that are packed into it. Everyone knows how good spinach is for you, and you can really fit a lot into this omelet because they are wilted down beforehand. This dish was not a problem being eaten for breakfast. ;)
How much healthier can you get? Not much.
This healthy breakfast is full of lean protein from the egg whites and the spinach provides vital nutritents such as Vitamin A, Beta-Carotein, Vitamin K, Iron, and even Calcium!

It may be a light and nutrient-dense breakfast option, but it's not lacking on flavor!

Spinach, Feta, and Mushroom Omelet with Pesto

yield: 1 FANTASTIC omelet

1/2 cup of egg whites
1 C spinach, torn
1/4 C mushrooms, chopped
1/4 diced sweet white onion
1 T feta cheese
1 T pesto of choice
salt and pepper to taste
cooking spray for the pan

Heat a pan on high and spray it with cooking spray.
Add the mushrooms and onion to the pan. Let these cook for a few minutes until the onions begin to brown. When they are browned, add the spinach and stir the mixture. The spinach should begin to wilt and release some water. Turn the heat down to low and let some of the water burn off. Transfer to a dish while the egg gets cooked.
Mix the egg whites with the pesto.
Spray your pan with more cooking spray before pouring the egg mix into your hot pan. Swirl the liquid egg around the pan a few times to thin it out. When it pulls itself away from the pan, flip it. Put the filling mixture on one half of the omelet, sprinkle with the feta cheese, and fold the other half over. Let this cook for a minute so the cheese can melt, before transferring to a plate to devour! 

As a kid I always wondered what made the eggs and ham green. I recently looked it up and after looking for recipes I have decided it was pesto.

Do leafy-greens ever make it onto your breakfast plate?


Monday, March 4, 2013

Skillet Veggie {GF} Pasta

The first time I cooked gluten free noodles they disintegrated.
One of my first lessons in Gluten free cooking was that the noodles tend to cook quicker than their wheat-filled counterparts.
This particular kind only needed to be boiled for 4 minutes!
The shorter cooking time is great though because they can be an afterthought when you are preparing a  dish. It makes for a very quick and tasty lunch.
Here I prepared all the veggies and the 'cream sauce' before beginning to boil the noodles!

I wanted this pasta to be light and healthy, and that is exactly what it turned out to be! It is full of colorful vegetables! Leeks and onions always pair so well together, and the sweet potato lends such a great flavor.
Even the 'cream sauce' is light and healthy, made from cashews and oatmeal. Yes, oatmeal!

1 sweet potato, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
2 leeks, thinly sliced, washed, and separated.
1/3 Sweet white onion, diced into small pieces
2 handfuls of greens, roughly chopped. (I used a spring mix, but kale, spinach, or arugula would be lovely)
1 box uncooked {GF} pasta (I used a rice brand, but I really like noodles made with quinoa)
water to cook the noodles

1/2 cup cashews
1/4 cup dry oatmeal

salt and pepper
oregano, Italian seasoning, thyme

Prepare all veggies and set them aside.
Spray a large skillet with non-stick cooking spray and heat on high heat.
Toss the sweet potato in the warmed skillet and turn the heat down to medium, cover and let cook until browned on the outside and tender, ~ 10 min.
Start to boil a pot of water for the noodles. I like to season the water with a pinch of salt and sometimes even a bit of the other seasonings that I'm using, like the oregano.
Meanwhile, put the oats, and cashews in a food processor and process on high until the mixture starts to stick together in the bottom of the food processor. Before I took it out, I added about 2 T of the (mostly) cooked sweet potato pieces and a pinch of salt, pepper, and oregano. The mix should be very thick, like chunky peanut butter. 
Add the leeks and onions to the skillet with sweet potato, season to taste.
Add the noodles to the boiling water. Now, watch them closely! You want them to be al dente, so read the box for cooking directions.
Continue to watch and stir the veggies while the noodles are cooking.
When the noodles are done, scoop them out of the water and into the skillet, you will want to (be like Rachel Ray and) reserve the pasta water, this is for the 'cream sauce' that we will attend to in a minute.
Stir the veggie and noodle mix.
Add pasta water into the 'cream' mixture until it takes on the consistency of...well, cream. You can always add more water, so start with just a bit and add more. Pour this mixture over the noodles and vegetables and toss together. 
At the last minute add in the spinach and stir, allowing it to wilt.
Serve warm!


I ate mine atop a bed of more greens, and it was satisfying.
There is nothing that needs to be kept cold, making this a really great lunch-box meal!

This did make a lot, and I was glad because I knew there would be left overs. I get excited when I make something and there are left overs. Mostly because I tend to have a problem with putting something away if there are only a few bites left. I'll just eat it :)
'Cream Sauce' adapted from Aromatic Cooking
Oh, one more suggestion: We discovered this was complimented really well with freshly grated Parmesan on top. Of course, if you are vegan, you could substitute nutritional yeast, or I also really like the 'veggie cheese' that is available at most supermarkets.
Yummy leftovers!

What leftovers do you look forward to finding in your fridge?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Basic No-Bake Protein Bar

I've been making and slowly modifying this bar for years. The original recipe is by Stella Juarez and it has served me very well! 
This recipe is a no-bake, which makes it wonderful for making at night to have in the morning as a quick breakfast or makes for a fantastic snack post-workout. They are also really easy to travel with, making them a smart choice for packed lunches or snacks.

I love eating these with a smudge of almond butter next to a tall glass of water.
I suggest really taking your time to find a good protein powder for these. The flavor of the protein powder really does come through, so you have to be okay with it's taste.

Yield: 9 square bars

1/3 C nut butter of your choosing
1 C Oatmeal, uncooked (GF)
132 g chocolate protein powder (this is a bit less than 1 1/2 Cups worth, or 6 scoops, depending on the size of your scoop)
1 t vanilla extract
2 T flax meal
1 C non-fat dry milk
1/2 C water, extra if necessary

Add the oatmeal, protein powder, flax meal, and dry milk powder to a bowl. Stir to combine. Add in the nut butter and mix lightly. Now, add in the water. The water will dissolve the dry milk powder, making the mixing process much easier. You will definitely have to work a little to incorporate all of the dry ingredients, only adding extra water if necessary.
Spray, or prepare and 8 x 8 inch baking dish with non-stick spray or with parchment. 
Press the 'dough' mixture into the baking dish, and smooth it out evenly.
Refrigerate the mixture for a few hours or overnight.
Cut into 9 squares.
I like to keep these in a Ziploc bag the fridge, stacked with parchment in between each layer. They store well for up to a week. 
Mmmm, oat-y, chocolaty goodness.

What is a recipe that you have been making for years?

  • If you do not like the chewy texture of the oats, the whole cup of oatmeal can be ground to a flour using a blender, for a softer consistency. 
  • Sella's original recipe calls for half of the oatmeal ground into a flour. Play with the recipe and tailor to how your liking!
  • These are a fantastic source of protein. Depending on the protein powder, they can contain around 20 grams of protein! 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Oats And Berries

Not much beats a good ol' fashion bowl of oats, steaming, and topped with ripe berries that burst in your mouth. I love when you mix them together and get swirls of colors through the oats. A great filling breakfast full of fiber and antioxidants. It is after all, the inspiration of this blog...Well, that and the fact that if you were to flip through my recipe card book the majority include oats and berries, in one form or another.
Keeping it simple.
1/2 C Rolled Oats (GF)
3/4 C water
1/4 C (almond) milk
1 C freshly washed and cut berries (strawberries and blueberries)
*Sprinkle of cinnamon sugar (optional)

Prepare berries.
Put 1/4 cup berries in the bottom of your bowl.
Combine oats, water, and almond milk in a medium saucepan. Heat on high heat until begins to boil, and reduce to medium heat, cooking another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat. I like to let it sit and thicken for a few minutes, before scooping on top of the berries.
Top the oatmeal off with the remaining berries and *a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar.

Microwave Version:
Combine oats, water, and almond milk in a large microwave-safe dish. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, making sure the oats don't spill over the edges of the bowl. Let sit in microwave 2 more minutes, letting any extra liquid to be soaked up. 
Remove from microwave. Stir oats, adding extra water or milk if needed.
Top the oatmeal off with berries and *a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar if desired.

This is my recipe book, my holy grail of favorite recipes and ideas that I have collected while at school, so that I can make them when I come home.
It reminds me of "The Book" from The Devil Wears Prada, the one that Miranda Priestly insists having delivered to her house by one of her "Emilies", placed on the table with the flowers. It holds everything in it for the next issue of "Runway Magazine", much like my book that holds the inspiration for the creation of many of my recipes.

Where do you get inspiration for recipes?

A little added sweetness never hurt, I like to finish my bowl of oats and berries off with a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Dazzling Raspberry Cream Scones

Happy Valentines Day!

I've always liked Valentines Day. I look forward to the heart decorations and the nice gestures that people do for each other. It gives a good excuse to pull out the construction paper and glitter, which is always time well spent. And in the culinary world, Valentines day is a great excuse to bake something for someone, like these scones.
These scones are bursting with flavor and delicately sweet. The raspberries and lemon zest combine to lend a touch of tartness, but is mellowed by the cream that really pulls this recipe together. I thought all the flavors complimented each other really well and would be an excellent treat to share with anyone, especially over tea and coffee.
I adapted this recipe from The Family Kitchen at Babble

Raspberry Cream Scones

Yield: 6 large scones
(you could easily make 12 baby scones, just divide dough into two mounds before baking.)

2 C gluten free flour blend
1/3 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling on top.
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
zest from 2 lemons
2 cups fresh raspberries
1 1/4 cup heavy cream, plus extra for brushing on top

Grease a cookie sheet and set it aside.
Preheat your oven to 350.
In a bowl, combine all dry ingredients and lemon zest. Toss the raspberries in to coat with dry ingredients. Pour in the cream and carefully fold mixture, making sure to not over mix.
Put down some parchment paper and lightly dust the surface.
When the dough starts clumping together, turn it out onto the floured parchment and form into a mound and flatten into a disc about 2 inches thick.
Pick up the disk and place it onto your cookie sheet. At this point I cut my disk evenly into 6 triangles, but I left them in the disk formation to bake.
Brush the dough with extra cream and sprinkle with sugar.
Your baking time will be longer if you keep them together versus if you were to pull them apart to bake as individual scones. My scones baked for about 40 minutes until the tops were lightly golden. If you separated them, they should only need about 15 minutes in the oven.
When they are still warm from the oven, I will admit, I sprinkled them with a little extra extra sugar, because I wanted them to sparkle :)
If you left them in the disk formation you will need to re-cut them because they will mostly bake back together. I found this was easiest when they were still warm.

Like these scones, people think of Valentines day as either being a sweet holiday worth cherishing or a tart day they would rather get over with. 

Do you fancy Valentines Day?

Like I said, I'm a bit biased because I like the hearts everywhere.

Doesn't that picture just say, "go ahead, take a bite!"
Serve with some freshly whipped cream!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013



Wow, first post! This is very exciting!

I wanted to use this first post to quickly introduce myself to this extraordinary community.

I am a college student, who may not know exactly what I'm doing, but am looking forward to the journey. Cliche? Maybe, but I'm a big time planner who always wants to know exactly what is going on, so being okay with the unknown is kind of surprising to me. Do your best, try new things, and be open to change of plans. Oh, and enjoy one's self. You must stop and smile along the way!

Nourishment is also quite important, and that is where this blog comes in. I love trying new recipes and  creating ways to make something healthier. Making recipes gluten free is an added challenge that I have enjoyed over the years, and take pride when a reconstructed recipe goes over very well and is enjoyed by everyone!

Here, I can share snacks and smiles while wandering through life and enjoying every minute of it!