Coconut Lime Roasted Chickpeas

It’s been one of those weeks that seems to crawl by at the speed of light – the days go quickly but I wake up expecting it to be Friday when the calendar says Tuesday.  I’ve been spending a lot of time at a desk due to my full-time job and the void that is photo editing so suffice it to say, my diet hasn’t been as stellar as I would like.

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My workday meals are  great since I pack all of my food in advance and dinner is also good.  My downfall is the time between when I come home from work and when I eat dinner. I get stuck in a snack rut of an apple + peanut butter or edamame since I like snacks that are protein rich, quick, and require little prep. On top of that, I usually can’t decide if I want something sweet, something salty, or something savory.  Yesterday I finally found something, other than salted chocolate, that solves that problem and fits my snack requirements.

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Enter roasted chickpeas. They’re not new, the blog world has been buzzing with them for awhile now.  They’re not fancy, after all, it’s just a humble legume.  But they are most definitely are amazing.  During a particular fit of indecisiveness (who am I kidding – I’m just incredibly indecisive all the time), I decided to change up my usual roasted chickpeas and give them a flavor boost.  Healthy coconut oil gives them a faint sweetness while lime juice and zest give them a bright, energizing flavor.  Give them a sprinkle of good sea salt and it’s salty, sweet, sour, crunchy bliss.

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Coconut Lime Roasted Chickpeas
Yield: depends on serving size

1 cup chickpeas, patted dry
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
zest of one lime
sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 375Fand line a baking sheet with foil.
2. Using a paper towel, pat your chickpeas dry. In a medium bowl, toss chickpeas together with melted coconut oil, lime juice and lime zest. Spread evenly on your baking sheet.
3. Roast for 15-25 minutes – it’s a bit of range but I find that it really depends on your oven. Turn your baking sheet half way through and giving them a quick shake to move them around. Shake a few more times if you oven has hot spots.
4. Let cool and store in an airtight container.

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Gluten-free Paprika Thyme Crackers

Did everyone have a nice three-day weekend? Luckily, I was off from work (kind of – I did have to work from home a bit) and the husband finally had a full day off, after working 9-days in a row. We spent the day relaxing around the house and went out for a delicious dinner at The Blue Goat. It was so nice to have a day to just relax, I wish every weekend was a three day weekend! It was even better to hang out with my husband and this girl, who loves the camera.

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Even though the majority of the day involved getting cozy with Netflix, I did manage to squeeze in a workout and prep my food for the week.  I froze leftovers of this soup to have later this week and made another batch of these for breakfasts/snacks. While I am definitely a creature of habit, I always make an effort to try doing something new in the kitchen at least once a week.  This weeks experiment was making my own gluten-free crackers!

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I don’t know where I’ve been, but I always assumed that making crackers, especially gluten-free crackers, was tedious, hard work. All of that hard work is why they cost $5 a box, right? Right?! Nope, wrong. It turns out that the $5 price tag is highway robbery because making your own crackers is as simple as mix, roll, cut.  This is good news for our house since we love nice salty crackers and one of our usual Friday night meals is a giant platter of cheese, meats, olives, and crackers.  Next time, I’m skipping the store-bought stuff and making a batch of these crackers instead so I can spend the $5 on more important things, like wine.

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Gluten-free Paprika Thyme Crackers
Yield: depends on size you cut them but expect at least 36-42 crackers
Inspired by too much time researching cracker recipes online!

*A quick note: You will see that I actually used cup measurements instead of grams here – something that is a definite rarity for me! The reason? My scale has been getting a serious workout due to a freelance project and thus, my batteries are dead. I will be back to grams soon enough!

1 cup almond flour
3/4 cup brown rice flour, finely milled
1//4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed meal (grind your own! it’s always better)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. dry mustard powder
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
4 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into pieces
5-6 Tbsp. cold water

1. Preheat your oven to 400F. Combine all ingredients expect butter and water in a food processor. Give it a quick whirl to mix everything together.
2. Add butter pieces to dry mix and pulse until it there are small lumps. Not quite as large as you would leave it for pie dough, but still not fully incorporated.
3. Add water, a tablespoon at a time to running mixture until it comes together in a ball.
4. Lightly flour a Silpat or piece of parchment paper and place dough onto the paper. (NOTE: if you have a very large baking sheet, you can roll out the entire dough in one batch. If you’re like me and only have a small 9×13 baking sheet, separate dough in half and work with one half at a time).
5. Roll out dough in a thin rectangle, probably about 1/16 inch thick. Don’t get too obsessed with it but try to make it as thin as possible. Thin crackers = crispy crackers. (You can roll out using an additional sheet of parchment on top of the dough or simply flour your rolling pin very well.)
6. Trim the sides of the dough with a pizza cutter or sharp knife so that you have a fairly even rectangle.  Then, slice dough into small squares to make your crackers. You don’t need to separate the squares, just make sure they are cut through.
7. Prick each cracker with a fork and then sprinkle with additional salt. Place Silpat or paper on baking sheet
8. Bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown, rotating the baking sheet half way through.  A quick note here – if your oven has a hot spot (mine definitely does) try your best to avoid it because it will cause the crackers to burn.
9. Let cool completely on a rack, the crackers will crisp up as they cool. Store in an airtight bag or container.

Green Egg Muffins

First, some exciting news – I can’t discuss details yet but you will be seeing some gluten-free recipes and photography by yours truly coming to a magazine stand near you in the not-so distant future. I can’t begin to express how utterly excited I am about this – to say that 2012 is off to great start would be an understatement. Thank you to everyone who reads or simply glances at this blog; putting my recipes and photography out there has helped me grow in unexpected ways and I always appreciate everyone’s comments, tweets, and encouragement! (P.S. did you catch the photo feature on bonappetit.com?! I discovered that completely by accident but was so excited).

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I hope everyone enjoyed the tips posted earlier this week! I am going to try and post some additional health and fitness related things in the future but don’t worry, the main focus of this blog will still be recipes, both healthy and indulgent. Just don’t expect me to turn into a blogger that tries to make everything over-the-top healthy – I love chocolate, red wine, butter, and cream far too much. I would say that I eat very healthy and clean about 85% of the time but I’m not a girl who turns down a gin martini (extra dirty, extra dry please) just to save some calories. I am a big believer in moderation and quite frankly, there’s more to life than love handles. With that in mind, I thought I would share a healthy recipe that can help balance out those gin martinis.

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Behold, egg muffins. Not quite frittatas, not quite quiches – just veggies and eggs together in portable muffin form. I make a variation on these guys every week to have as a quick breakfast or afternoon snack since I’m all about prepping and planning ahead. The husband doesn’t eat them since he really isn’t fond of the texture of baked scrambled eggs, which means more for me! If you’re a frittata lover like me, then you will love these little egg muffins packed with good green stuff like kale, cilantro, and jalapenos. They’re great to grab and go during the week or on those weekends where you have a to-do list a few miles long. Speaking of which, I need to get going on my to-do list that includes pie making, errand running, wine drinking, workouts, and house cleaning. Happy Friday!

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Green Egg Muffins
Adapted from: Oxygen Magazine
Yields: 12 muffins

3 cup kale, de-stemmed and chopped into thin ribbons
1/4 onion, small diced or 4 green onions, finely sliced
2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, minced
1 jalapeno, very finely diced (de-seed and remove the white parts to decrease spice)
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
11 egg whites (I use a small carton of organic, free-range liquid egg whites. You can also just use 12 whole eggs if you don’t like egg whites)
7 whole eggs
salt + pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375F and spray a muffin tin with cooking spray and line with muffin liners (optional, I usually don’t).
2. In a medium, microwave-safe bowl steam prepped kale in the microwave for 2-3 minutes until soft and wilted. Place in a large bowl and set aside.
3. In that same microwave-safe bowl, add diced onions and microwave for about 1 minute. This helps take away some of the strong, raw onion-y taste. Add onions to the bowl with the kale.
4. Add cilantro, oregano, jalapeno, salt, and pepper to the same onion/kale mix and stir to combine. Set aside for now.
5. In a separate large bowl, whisk together whole eggs, egg whites, salt, and pepper. You want the mixture to ribbon off the whisk and be fully scrambled. Whisk hard and use those biceps!
6. Distribute the veggie mixture evenly between your 12 muffin cups.
7. Distribute egg mixture evenly between cups, pouring over veggie mix. I usually use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to do the job.
8. Bake for about 30 minutes until the muffins are golden brown and puffed up.
9. Let cool in pan for a few minutes and then remove to a cooling rack. Try to remove them to a rack as soon as you can safely do so, while keeping the muffins intact. If they sit in the pan too long, they continue to stem and the texture can get rubbery.
10. Store in your fridge and reheat in a counter-top oven or microwave.

Vegan Chocolate Cranberry Date Bars

I’m a planner by nature (in case you couldn’t tell) so it’s no surprise that one of my favorite ways to set myself up for a healthy week is to prep healthy snacks and meals for the week ahead. We will get into this more tomorrow, but I think that planning and preparation are some of the key things that can help you stick to weight loss and healthy eating goals.  It’s difficult to make food for your entire day between work, workouts, and Netflix episodes marathons (let’s be honest) so having something healthy that you can quickly grab is incredibly helpful.

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I like to try something new every once awhile so this week, I decided to make some energy bars.  The husband and I both love Larabars so I set out to make a DIY version of our favorite snack bar. These chocolate cranberry date bars, which are similar to these energy truffles, are a great under 200 calorie snack to have pre or post-workout or when you need a quick snack. They are packed with good stuff like dates and walnuts and definitely taste like a treat.  They have a texture and taste similar to a Larabar, only they don’t cost $2-$3 a bar. Healthy, quick, and cheap? That’s my kind of snack.

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Chocolate Cranberry Date Bars
Inspired by: Elana’s Pantry and my energy truffles
Yields: 15-16 bars

15 medjool dates, pitted
2 cups walnuts
1/2 cup dried unsweetened cranberries
4 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. almond extract (optional but it is really tasty)
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
pinch of fine sea salt

1.  Add walnuts to food processor and process until you have medium sized crumbs.  Don’t process too long!
2. Remove walnuts from food processor and set aside.
3. Add dates to processor and process until you have small, sticky chunks.
4. Add cranberries and pulse a few times to combine with the dates.
5. Add walnuts to date mixture and pulse to incorporate.
6. Add cocoa powder, almond extract, cinnamon, and salt and process until the mixture forms a ball.
7. Press mixture into an 8 x 8 pan lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper.  If you don’t have a 8×8 pan, use a large casserole dish and simply form the mixture into an approximate 8×8 square with your hands.
8. Freeze for an hour, or until firm.  Then simply cut into bars and store either in the fridge or freezer. If you’re taking them to go, simply put in a bag or wrap in parchment paper to keep them from getting too sticky!

Gingerbread Granola

It is Christmas crunch time over here! I’m up to my elbows in wrapping paper, ribbons, bows, and scotch tape.  I’m (not so) secretly loving every minute of it.  While I really do wish I had started doing the Christmas thing a bit earlier, I don’t mind the last minute rush since I really thrive under pressure.  Speaking of pressure, last night the husband and I hit the mall and got all of our gift shopping done in ONE hour! We were pretty proud of ourselves and thankful that we made it out alive. It is seriously crazy out there.

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Despite the holiday craziness, I’m so excited to spend Christmas with my family and to have a week off of work. It will be a nice little break that will give me some time to finish up/start some important things like wedding thank you cards, organization, and other fun stuff. I also bought a candy thermometer to experiment with some candy-making over the break, so don’t be surprised if you see some caramel recipes soon!

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If you’re like me and had your heart set on some delicious DIY gifts but don’t have time to break out the candy thermometer or craft some intricate cookies, I’ve got a great recipe for you.  Two words: gingerbread granola.  I feel like granola often gets overlooked during the holidays.  It’s not as flashy as fleur de sel caramels or as a decadent as dark chocolate fudge, but it is definitely just as gift-worthy.  Granola is a breeze to make at home and once you have a basic recipe, the flavors and add-in combination are endless.  For this gift worthy granola, I took my basic granola template and changed a few things (mainly the oil level) and threw in the flavors of my favorite Christmas cookie, gingerbread.  You know I love molasses and spice – add crunchy oats and toasty walnuts into the mix, and this humble little granola really shines.  Whip up a batch to give to friends and family or just to keep around while you’re buried under a mountain of wrapping paper and sticky bows.

I hope everyone has a wonderful, relaxing, and safe holiday – I will be back next week, hopefully with some new candy recipes!

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Gingerbread Granola
Yields: 3 cups of granola

3 cups certified gluten-free oats

¼ cup canola oil

¼ cup honey (or liquid sweetener of your choice)

2 Tbsp molasses

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

2 Tbsp. cinnamon

1 Tbsp. ginger

1 Tbsp. allspice

¾ cup walnuts

¼ tsp. fine sea salt
1.  Preheat oven to 325F and line a large baking sheet with some parchment paper.
2. In a medium sized bowl combine oil, honey, vanilla extract, and molasses.  Whisk together until incorporated.
3. In a separate, large bowl combine oats, spices, salt and chopped walnuts.  Stir until everything is mixed together.
4.  Add liquid mixture to oats and gently stir to coat.
5.  Gently turn granola out onto your baking sheet and spread into an even layer.
6.  Bake for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, give it a stir to and pop it back in the oven.
7. Bake for another 10-12 minutes.  Keep an eye on it and notice it is starts to smell burnt.   You want to be smell the spices and the toasty oats, but you don’t want to smell burnt oats.  Molasses has a tendency to burn quickly so just be watchful.
8.  Let cool on baking sheet then store in airtight jars.

Vegan Cranberry Coconut Energy Truffles

I can’t believe that Christmas is only five days away! It seems like every year the holiday season flies exponentially faster than the previous year. This means that each year, my Christmas shopping gets pushed further back and my to-do list grows longer. In fact, I just started Christmas shopping yesterday – oops! While this December time-warp has had it’s disadvantages (um, that baking list? Yeah, totally didn’t get through it), there has been one advantage – the six weeks of boot wearing flew by and now, I am boot free! I am the proud owner a new pair of both left AND right shoes and I can finally start to resume some semi-normal activities. I’m still on a lengthy list of restrictions (no walking, running, jumping, or high-impact cardio) and I have to wear some sort of supportive and confining clog/shoe, but it’s definitely better than the boot. There is a still a long road ahead before I can start running again, but for the moment, I’m focusing on what I can do and trying to make progress in other areas. Being boot-less is definitely a nice little Christmas gift – thanks doc.

Who knew wearing two shoes would be so exciting?!

Speaking of gifts, I had grand plans to make all of these adorable and tasty DIY gifts for everyone this year. What happened? Between the after-wedding insanity, work, and my foot injury, time got away from me and my plan to make tons of DIY gifts didn’t happen. I will probably whip up a few DIY treats for some family members but other than that, I don’t foresee too much gift-making happening. This may be a good thing because I’m really starting to feel baked and sugared-out. Based on some recent posts in the blog world, I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of others share the feeling.

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While I love sweet things, I’m not too crazy about refined sugar. For me, I find that consuming too much refined sugar makes me feel bloated, my skin breaks out, and I’m left in a perpetual cycle of heart-beating-out-of-chest racy and face-plant-on-nearest-semisoft-object exhausted. Instead of sugar, I prefer to use natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup. Also, I recently discovered that I love Medjool dates. They may sound strange, but give them a try before you write them off. Dates are naturally sweet, really good for you, and make the perfect base for energy-revving truffles (no, not boozy chocolate ones). I whipped up these cranberry coconut energy truffles during a fit of weekend productivity and I’m so glad I did! They’re packed full of good for you things like dates, walnuts, and coconut, which make them a perfect 100-calorie pre-workout or mid-day energizing snack (you can calculate the calorie count based on your ingredients using this website). Now, I’m going to grab one of these truffles and start ticking off my Christmas shopping list, wish me luck!

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Vegan Cranberry Coconut Energy Truffles

Inspired by the Edible Perspective

Yield: about 20 truffles

These energy truffles will help you power through a tough workout, an equally tough marathon of last-minute Christmas shopping, and make a nice gift for a health and fitness focused friend (just make sure you tell them to refrigerate or freeze!).

10-12 medjool dates, pitted

½ cup naturally sweetened, dried cranberries

1 cup raw walnuts

¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 Tbsp. creamy vegan peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ tsp. fine sea salt

1. Remove pits from dates by carefully slicing down the center with a small knife and nudging out the pit. Set pitted dates aside.

2. Put walnuts in food processor and pulse a few times until you have small walnut crumbs. Don’t let it run too long or you will have walnut butter, which is tasty, but not what we’re after.

3. Remove walnuts to a small bowl.

4. Put dates in food processor and process until they are in very small, sticky pieces.

5. Add the walnuts back to the food processor. Process walnut-date mixture until incorporated.

6. Add in remaining ingredients and process until completely blended and firm enough to form a ball. I started with 10 dates and ended up adding 2 more (just remove mix, process dates, and add back to mixture) to firm them up a bit.

7. Make small, ping pong sized balls by rolling the mixture between your hands.

8. You can roll the finished truffles in shredded coconut if you would like. Store energy truffles in the fridge or the freezer in an airtight container for a grab-and-go snack.

Vegan Apple Cinnamon Muffins

I made these muffins the day after the hurricane to bring my family a quick pick-up to help them power through tons of clean up.  I wanted to make them something healthy and comforting. To be honest these muffins were as much for me as they were for my family. When life gets a little intense, I feel the need to do something familiar and methodical.  Cooking often meets that need in a big way: it’s methodical, comfortable, and brings focus.  In a city where everything is buzzing and frazzled, where far too many people are just trying to live without power, focus is something that is hard to come by.

The weather in Virginia has raged and rumbled, but it finally seems to have settled down and begin to focus. The air has a distinctive feel to it.  It’s slightly chilled and has a crisp edge that makes you feel a little bit different when you step outside in the morning.  I can’t wait until the leaves begin to change to deep rust, bright red, and that distinctive orange-yellow color. I’m glad the season is finally here since my wedding is only 2 (!!!) short, short months away and the idea of marrying my best friend in a landscape that is exploding with color is one of the reasons we decided on the date and location of our wedding.

Fall is so close, I can taste it.  And it tastes like these muffins – bursting with apples, spiked with cinnamon, and full of energy-revving ingredients like flax seed and buckwheat. They are topped with a delicious vegan peanut butter “frosting” that really takes them over the top. They’re also vegan since my go-to muffin recipe just so happens to be vegan. These muffins also provide a grab-and-go breakfast for busy weekdays, quick workout refueling, and as a pick me up with some coffee or tea.

Finding focus in autumn flavored muffin form? I’ll take it.

Vegan Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Yields: 12 muffins

Based on this recipe

 

80g almond meal/flour

50g raw buckwheat flour (I grind raw buckwheat gorasts)

140g sorghum flour

50g tapioca starch (or potato starch)

½ tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

¾ sugar

2 Tbsp. light olive oil (or other light oil)

4 Tbsp. flax meal + 6 Tbsp. warm water (flax eggs)

1 cup almond milk or other non-dairy milk

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

¼ tsp. almond extract

1 medium apple, finely diced

1 Tbsp. cinnamon (add more or less to your preference)

  1. 1.    Preheat oven to 375 and line muffin tin with muffin cups.
  2. 2.    In a medium bowl, mix all dry ingredients (flours, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon) until they look like one flour and are nicely aerated.
  3. 3.    Mix wet ingredients (flax eggs, oil, sugar, milk, extracts) together in a mixer until well combined.
  4. 4.    Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in three stages, ensuring that each addition is fully incorporated before adding the next.
  5. 5.    Stir in and evenly distribute apples.
  6. 6.    Pop them in the oven for 22-25 minutes or a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. 7.    Once they are done, place on cooling rack to cool. Once cool, frost with peanut butter frosting.

 

Peanut Butter Frosting:

¼ cup all natural, creamy vegan peanut butter

1-2 Tbsp. maple syrup*

2-4 Tbsp. almond milk (use more or less depending on the consistency you want and your peanut butter)

  1. 1.    Mix peanut butter and syrup together in a small bowl until combined.
  2. 2.    Slowly add milk, one spoonful at a time. Be sure to fully mix the milk into the peanut butter before adding more milk.  You want the consistency to be thin enough to drizzle over the muffins. Use your judgment here.
  3. 3.    Drizzle some frosting over each muffin and then promptly eat the rest from the bowl.