Happy, HAPPY New Year to you all! I hope the holidays were lovely and that 2015 is off to a super scrumptious start for each and every one of you. I’ve been pretty incognito during the “go-go-go” of the holidays this year, so I am now playing catch-up :) Serious catch-up.
I’ve cooked more new meals and dishes in the last two months than I have in the past year…I must have caught a bit of a cooking bug in the kitchen, and I’ll ride that as long as I can. Trying new ingredients, taste-testing and experimentation have all been so fun…and sharing food with people who you care about just makes it that much better!
While I’ve actually been doing cooking than baking lately, I can’t deny my cravings for homemade goodies and sweets….add that to the fact I had half a bag of cranberries waiting to be used up and these muffins were born…or baked.
Sweet yet tart, light yet filling, these cranberry chia muffins are not only grain-free and refined-sugar free, but they are high in fiber, nut-free and dairy-free. I ate them for breakfast, a snack slathered with melted coconut oil and for a light dessert (when I wasn’t craving chocolate) after dinner. You can make a batch and freeze some if you’d like. Mmmmm muffins….
Cranberry Cha-Cha-Chia Muffins
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Refined Sugar-free, Dairy-free, Nut-free
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp Himalayan pink sea salt
2 eggs, whisked (room temperature)
1 egg white, whisked (room temperature)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup honey (or you could probably substitute coconut nectar, maple syrup or other liquid sweetener for a different taste)
1/2 cup non-dairy milk, at room temperature (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
2 Tbsp coconut oil (melted butter or other neutral oil could be substituted if you prefer)
2 Tbsp chia seeds
2/3 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, rough chopped
Optional: feel free to add shredded coconut and/or your favorite chopped nuts for a different texture and a flavor variety.
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin pan with liners or grease well and set aside OR use silicone muffin cups and lightly grease.
2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together coconut flour, baking soda and sea salt.
3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs through coconut oil and whisk until well combined.
4. Add wet ingredients to the dry mixture and stir well until batter is smooth and thickens slightly (coconut flour is really absorbent, causing the batter to thicken as it sits). Stir in cranberries and chia seeds and
5. Spoon batter into prepared muffin liners or muffin cups (mine made 10 muffins, depending on the size of your pan or liners). Bake for 22-25 minutes or until lightly browned and cooked through. Remove from oven and let cool, then enjoy!
I stored the muffins in the refrigerator, but these also freeze well.
Makes about 9-11 muffins, depending on your pan or cups; my silicone cups
It’s no secret that I have a devotion to all things pumpkin and winter squash. My posts for Kabocha Squash Lovin‘, Butternut and Apple Crumble and Sausage Pumpkin Pizza are just scratching the surface of my affinity….while you’re at it, just add sweet potato to the list…I am shocked I’m not bright orange by now!
I’ve been craving (and making) all kinds of soup this Fall…I seriously need to start taking some photos and sharing some of these one-pot creations. I thought I’d kick off my Fall soup repertoire with this Thai Pumpkin Soup that I lightly adapted from Lynsey Lou’s beautiful blog! I was assigned Lynsey’s blog for this month’s Secret Recipe Club and I had a crazy-fun yet difficult time deciding what to make. Her Toasted Coconut Cake with Walnuts and Cranberries made me want to lick my computer screen, and I loved the flavor combination in her Wild Mushroom and Goat Cheese Quesadillas with Cranberry-Pecan Salsa. Hmmm…besides pumpkin, apparently the nut and cranberry combo is also on the brain?!
I made a few minimal changes to Lynsey’s recipe based on what I had on hand — I substituted leek for the onion and included two extra carrots (woohoo for a small veggie boost). I used coconut oil in lieu of olive oil and sprinkled a bit of black lava salt on top for a Halloween-ish look. The cilantro garnish is completely optional, it’s more for the contrast of colors :) I did add in the coconut milk from a can, but for photo purposes, I left those out…the soup was thick and the lite coconut milk I had looked watery and funky but it tasted delish! This soup was SO tasty – hot or cold! I even ate it chilled one day for lunch sprinkled with roasted spicy pepitas. When Lynsey mentioned this was a “must-make this Fall”, she was absolutely correct!
Thai Pumpkin Soup (lightly adapted from Lynsey Lou’s recipe)
Gluten-free, Grain-free, Vegan, Dairy-free, Vegetarian, Soy-free, Nut-free
2 Celery stalks, chopped
1-3 Carrots, sliced
1 Onion or 1 leek, roughly chopped
3 Tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
1 1/2 Pounds fresh pumpkin, skin removed and cubed (about 6 cups…I had about 7 cups total)
2 Tbsp Thai red curry paste
1 Tbsp ground curry
1/2 Tsp Garam Masala
1/2-1 Tsp ground cayenne pepper (optional)
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 Liter (about 4 1/4 cups) vegetable stock (or chicken stock if you prefer, but this isn’t vegetarian)
Cream or coconut cream, optional
Black lava salt (or other salt to taste)
a few cilantro leaves for garnish, optional
1. In a large stock pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add celery, onion/leek, and carrot and let sit for 7 mintues, or until just starting to get soft, stir as needed.
2. Stir in curry paste, ground curry, garam masala, and cayenne making a paste and cook for 1 minute. Then add cubed pumpkin and fresh ginger. Cover vegetables with stock and allow to simmer for about 45 minutes or until soft.
3. Process with a food processor or an immersion blender, being very careful not to burn yourself. This process may also be done using a regular blender, but be very careful and do small batches.
4. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle cream or coconut cream on top if using, garnish with salt and cilantro (optional) and serve immediately. Enjoy :)
Fall is hands-down my favorite time of year — the smells, the flavors, the colors, the cooler weather…all of it makes me a happy camper! I want to snuggle up in a big sweater (or sweatpants) and spend time in the kitchen creating comfort food. Let’s kick off Fall with a holiday-geared post for Halloween that’s not only quick, easy, health(ier) and fun. Oh yeah, and it has chocolate :)
I’m sold! These no-bake chocolate oatmeal cookies are the perfect addition to a holiday party, a potluck, a kid’s school event, a bake-sale, or even a tailgate. Not only are they portable but they are allergen-friendly and a healthier version of no-bake cookies. I’d say that’s a win in my book…you CAN have your cookie and eat it too :)
I was thrilled to be assigned Wendy’s blog A Day in the Life on the Farm for September’s Secret Recipe Club reveal. I had my sight set on her Morel Mushroom and Wild Rice Bisque (doesn’t that sound heavenly?!) but had a small hiccup. True story – I went to the natural foods grocery store and found dried morels, yet I opted out when 1.2 ounces rang up for $56. Yikes. Wendy wasn’t kidding when she said morels are like gold, I tabled that recipe for a night when I really want to “treat” myself or for a special occasion!
I happily chose her No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies for this month’s reveal. Not only did I have a hankering for something sweet, but wanted something easy without much hassle (or maybe I didn’t want to wait on dessert). Once I was mid-recipe, ambition and creativity hit so I couldn’t help but whip out my cookie cutters for a little Halloween fun!
I made a few swaps to make these cookies allergy-friendly: I substituted coconut oil for the butter, sunflower butter for the peanut butter, and coconut palm sugar for the granulated white sugar. I amped up the fiber with a few tablespoons of flaxseed meal and I used non-dairy almond milk in lieu of regular cow’s milk. I made sure to use gluten-free oats and added a pinch of sea salt to the mixture. Voila…Now that’s comfort in a cookie WITHOUT sacrificing the taste :)
Spooky No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies (adapted from Wendy’s recipe)
Gluten-free, Refined Sugar-free, Dairy-free Vegetarian, Vegan, No-Bake, Egg-free, Nut-free Option
1/2 cup coconut oil or Earth Balance Vegan Spread (could use butter but it won’t be dairy free or vegan)
1 1/2 – 2 cup granulated coconut palm sugar (or other granulated sweetener)*
1/2 cup dairy free milk (I used unsweetened vanilla Almond milk)
4 Tbsp cocoa powder or raw cacao powder
1/2 cup sunflower seed butter (or peanut butter or other nut butter)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
generous pinch of sea salt, optional
3-3 1/2 cup gluten free oats** (I used about 3 1/4 cups)
2 Tbsp flaxseed meal, optional for added nutrition
For decorating and shaping (optional)
cookie cutters of your choice lightly greased with coconut oil
coconut butter (or your favorite recipe for a glaze) – I used about 3 Tbsp
black sesame seeds (for the eyes)
- Add first 4 ingredients into a 4 qt. saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high and hold one minute stirring often.
- Remove from heat. Add sunflower seed butter (or other nut or peanut butter) to hot mixture and stir until melted.
- Add vanilla and sea salt and stir well.
- Mix in the oats and flaxseed meal, then stir well.
- Place cookie cutters on parchment paper and press mixture evenly into cookie cutters (make sure to press down to get into small creases) OR drop by tablespoons onto parchment paper. Let cool until set.
- Carefully remove cookies from cookie cutters after completely cool. If decorating, melt coconut butter until it reaches a liquid state. I put the whole jar in simmering water for a while and stirred occasionally and then scooped about 3 Tbsp out. Spoon liquid coconut butter into a small plastic sandwich bag and cut a small corner off to create a tip. Pipe over cookies to decorate and use tweezers (or tiny fingers) to place sesame seed “eyes” or sprinkle over the cut-outs.
*I used less because I didn’t want these cookies as sweet, it’s up to you! You could probably use agave, maple syrup or honey but I haven’t tried it with this recipe.
**If you want a less chewy consistency for the oats, feel free to pulse the oats in a food processor several times since they aren’t quick cooking oats
For other recipes from this month’s reveal, please click the link below!
It’s nearing the end of summer…the change of seasons is something I always look forward to (especially when Fall is my favorite time of year), yet I still want to hold onto summer for the next few weeks. This recipe accomplishes just that!
Let’s celebrate fresh fruit, bright herbs and zingy balsamic vinegar in this lovely marriage of flavors – Strawberry Bruschetta…and what a bonus for versatility, this recipe is used in FOUR different ways!
1. Strawberry Bruschetta (basic recipe) – serve over lightly toasted (gluten-free) french bread or gluten-free crackers
2. Strawberry Bruschetta Avocado Boats (snack or appetizer)
3. Strawberry Bruschetta and Hemp Green Salad (side salad, light dinner or lunch)
4. Strawberry Brushetta Inspired Quinoa and Beet Salad (serve as a side or a main dish)
I was assigned Julie’s adorable blog, Confessions of a Cooking Diva this month for the Secret Recipe Club and I thoroughly enjoyed reading her spunky posts and searching through her creations from the kitchen! I bookmarked her scrumptious looking Black Bean Burgers, Spicy Chocolate Popcorn and Caribbean Jerk Salmon Tacos for later experimentation…yet I ultimately settled on a Strawberry Bruschetta recipe for several reasons — I purchased a organic strawberries at the local farmers market, I had fresh basil on hand and I had some aged balsamic vinegar from a local oil & vinegar store that I couldn’t wait to use in multiple ways. Bam…what a perfect coincidence.
The simplicity of this recipe really allows the flavors to shine and come through in each bite, and there’s nothing like fresh, quality ingredients to let the food really do the talking for you! I opted to increase the balsamic a bit because I really love acidity and I served this over these raw sourdough sunflower seed crackers for the “bruschetta” portion of this recipe (since I rarely eat bread). After making this recipe, I was inspired to use the dish in multiple ways…talk about fun! Thanks Julie :)
Grain-free option, Gluten-free, Sugar-free, Vegan, Soy-free, Nut-free Option, Vegetarian, Dairy-free
1 pint of strawberries, rinsed and chopped
1 – 2 Tbsp aged balsamic vinegar (I used 2 Tbsp because I like the acidity)
¼ cup fresh basil, julienned or chopped
1 small loaf gluten free french bread, sliced into thin slices, lightly toasted OR raw grain-free, gluten-free crackers (I used these)
1. Combine the strawberries, basil and balsamic vinegar in a bowl and mix well.
2. Top each slice of bread or cracker with the strawberry-basil mix.
Makes 2 cups of strawberry-basil mixture.
Strawberry Bruschetta Avocado Boats
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Quick & Easy, Vegan, Vegetarian, Nut-free, Soy-free, Dairy-free
1 recipe of Strawberry Bruschetta (listed above)
2 ripe medium size avocados
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Extra drizzle of balsamic vinegar
Fresh squeeze of lemon or lime, optional (if you really like acidity like me and helps to prevent the avocado from browning if making ahead)
1. Slice each avocado in half and remove the pit/seed.
2. Sprinkle the avocado halves with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
3. Squeeze fresh lime or lemon juice over each avocado half (if desired)
4. Top each avocado half with about 1/2 cup of the strawberry bruschetta mixture and drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar and serve!
Makes 4 snacks or appetizers
Strawberry Brushetta and Hemp Green Salad
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Sugar-free, Dairy-free, Vegetarian, Vegan, Soy-free, Nut-free
8 cups of mixed greens, baby kale or baby spinach (I use Organic Power Green blend from Costco)
1 recipe of Strawberry Bruschetta (recipe above)
1 ripe avocado, pit removed and diced into small pieces
4 Tbsp raw hemp seeds/hemp hearts (you can sub another nut or seed if desired)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Drizzle of apple cider vinegar or more balsamic vinegar and/or lemon juice
1-2 Tbsp Bragg’s liquid aminos (or coconut aminos, tamari or gluten free soy sauce)
1. Toss all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper. If you like more acidity in your dressing, feel free to add more vinegar and/or lemon juice.
*If you eat meat, this salad could be served with grilled chicken or if you eat dairy, feel free to toss in some goat cheese or fresh mozzarella to bulk it up even more. To bulk it up and keep it vegan, feel free to add cooked quinoa, millet or brown rice for a green and grain salad.
Makes 2 large salads or 4 small
Strawberry Bruschetta Inspired Quinoa and Beet Salad
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Vegetarian, Vegan, Dairy-free, Soy-free, Nut-free Option
1/2 recipe Strawberry Bruschetta (above)
1/2 cup cooked beets, diced (I used Love Beets)
3- 4 Tbsp chopped walnuts, pinenuts and/or pecans (or for nut-free, sunflower seeds or hemp seeds)
Aged balsamic vinegar to taste (I used 1 Tbsp)
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (I used about 1 1/2 Tbsp)
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice (I used 1/2 lemon)
Sea salt and pepper to taste