Recipe: Roasted Maple Cranberry Sauce

One week until the BIG day (Thanksgiving) and I have yet to actually sit down and plan a menu. I like to wait until the last minute, and I have no idea why I put that kind of stress on myself. But such is!

Honestly, I think I’m still in denial of the calendar and just how early Thanksgiving is this year. Usually my husbands birthday is thrown into the mix of things, but this year even that is a week later in the season than usual.

I thought I would recipe share today: Roasted Maple Cranberry Sauce. This is the sauce I made last year, and it turned out pretty good. It also does not include the typical ‘2 cups of sugar’ normal cranberry sauce calls for….YIKES!

This recipe comes from the book “The Best of Clean Eating” from the editors of Clean Eating Magazine. This will be on my Thanksgiving table this year. Well, I guess I have on thing planned!

Roasted Maple Cranberry Sauce

  • 3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/4 cup and 2 tbsp real maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 lime
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried tarragon
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Place cranberries on a pie plate and drizzle with quarter cup maple syrup and water. Using a zester, peel strips of lime; stir into mixture.

Bake, uncovered, in a preheated 350 degree F oven, stirring occasionally, until cranberries break and sauce is bubbly, about one hour. Remove from oven. Squeeze in juice from lime and stir in remaining two tablespoons syrup, along with shallot, tarragon, and salt.

Time-Saving Tip: The sauce will keep well, covered and refrigerated, for up to two weeks–the flavor will blend and improve the longer it sits. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Enjoy!
Kelly

Recipe: Granola Bars

Today, I decided to catch up on some baking. The kids were happily eating lunch, so it was my quick 5 minute “window of opportunity.” (If your a mom of young kids, you know exactly what I’m talking about!)

I had checked out from the library “Happy Herbivore” by Lindsay Nixon. I found several recipes in the book that were easy to whip up and were quite tasty. However, sadly, the book had to be returned after 3 weeks.

A few months later, Amazon came up with a suggestion for me to buy (isn’t that convenient for them?) “Everyday Happy Herbivore: On the table in 30 minutes or less!” by Lindsay Nixon. Well, Amazon won that day, and I purchased the book.

I’ve tried several things from her book so far. Tonight I’m making the Veggie Lo Mein. But by far, my most favorite thing from her book has been the granola bars. I cannot say enough of how EASY these were to put together, stay together, healthy, tasty, yummy, fast…..should I go on? I would really have to challenge these bars against Chewy brand on taste. (They are similar in texture and taste to the brand.)

Today, I made three different flavors in about 15 minutes (plus, baking time). I’m not about spending all day on recipes unless it’s in a crock pot. 😉

The recipe calls for “instant oats.” If you don’t have instant oats or want to use rolled-oats, the chefs notes on the page say “you can send rolled oats through your food processor [or blender] to grind them down into instant-oat consistency.”

Another item I used in my granola bars was the Enjoy Life chocolate chips. They are soy, nut and dairy free. (If you go to their website you can download a coupon for $0.55 off one of their products.) I like using the chocolate chips for a number of reasons, but one is that they don’t melt as much when baking as regular chocolate chips. The taste pretty much the same, but I think because they are lacking dairy, they don’t melt like regular ones. Anyways, they hold up really well in the granola bars so they don’t make a gooey mess.

Anyways, long intro, but here is the recipe! Enjoy. 🙂

Granola Bars (taken from “Everyday Happy Herbivore” by Lindsay Nixon p. 23)

  • 1 c. instant oats
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 Tbsp agave nectar
  • 2 Tbsp chocolate chips
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp raw sugar (optional: I didn’t use it…it was plenty sweet enough)

1. Stir all ingredients together in a mixing bowl. They will appear too dry at first, by they’re not—keep stroking

2. Once combined, let the batter rest while the oven preheats to 325F

3. Grease a bread pan [or use parchment paper] and pack mixture down firmly and tightly

4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden, firm, and light brown around the edges

5. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before cutting

Variations:

1. Peanut Butter Granola Bars: substitute 1 tablespoon of peanut butter for 1 tablespoon of applesauce. Combine peanut butter with applesauce and heat in microwave for 10 seconds so peanut butter softens. Whisk together and use as directed.

2. Use dried fruit instead of chocolate chips. Today I used dried cranberries.

Makes 5

Recipe: Vegan Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins (or Bread!)

Last week, a good friend of mine challenged me to find or come up with a recipe using cranberries. I have to admit, in the past, cranberries have never been my favorite. I have always passed over the cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving feast. Even laced with huge amounts of sugar, they still tasted too tart for me.

Well, all that has changed, and I have actually learned to love cranberries! Last Thanksgiving, I did without the sugary cranberry sauce and made a pretty awesome Roasted Maple Syrup Cranberry sauce. Anyway, that’s for another time…. 😉

So, my challenge: recipe using cranberries!

A friend of my friend (follow me here….) sent a recipe to me for Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins. It really looked great and very tasty. But alas, it called for “2 cups of sugar, white flour, oil, and eggs.” The title of the recipe really drew me in….cranberries and pumpkin….ahh! it just sums up this whole fall season! I knew I had to make it so my family could eat it.

I decided to use spelt flour. Spelt is an ancient wheat and is closely related to wheat. It also is equally measured in recipes to wheat. Our family has mostly avoided spelt because of it’s close ties to wheat and it does contain gluten. But, I decided to use this recipe as an experiment of tolerance. (I plan on remaking this recipe, in the future, using a true gluten-free wheat-free flour alternative.)

Vegan Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins (or Bread!)

  • 3 cups spelt flour
  • 1 T. cinnamon
  • 1 t. nutmeg
  • 1/2 t. cloves
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 cup stevia/cane sugar mix
  • 15 oz. canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • 1/3 cup oil (I used coconut oil)
  • 4 T. chia seed gel
  • 1/2 c. orange juice
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries, chopped

1. Chop up the fresh cranberries and soak them in the 1/2 cup orange juice for 20-30 minutes. This will help lessen that tartness of the cranberries.

2. Mix together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together canned pumpkin, applesauce, oil, and chia seed gel.

4. Blend together wet ingredients and dry ingredients. Using a hand mixer or mixer, blend for 2 minutes on medium.

5. Gently stir into muffin batter, cranberries and orange juice mixture. Stir until blended.

6. Pour mixture into muffin cups, makes about 30 muffins

OR

Pour mixture into 2- 8×4 inch loaf pans to make bread.

7. Bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes for muffins, or 45-50 minutes for bread. Insert a toothpick to check to see if it’s done.

This recipe does make a lot. With a family of six, left overs is never a problem! But, if you do have left overs and can’t eat this much, freeze them! 🙂 Bake and then store them in a freezer ziplock bags. Defrost them when your ready to eat them.

 

soaking the cranberries in orange juice

 

Waiting for the muffins to be finished

Enjoy,
Kelly

 

 

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Smoothie

I love smoothies….my kids love smoothies…..Shawn loves smoothies. All I have to say is: “It’s smoothie time!” And all four kids come running.

I’ve posted another recipe using blueberries and almond milk. Then hiding some spinach in the mixture. Sounds gross (it’s not!), but I feel better, because my kids get some greens, and it’s completely undetectable in flavor. (SCORE!)

Here is another smoothie recipe that is “super good.” (quote from Hannah Grace, 8) She gave the smoothie it’s name after trying it. This is a very hardy smoothie that is really perfect anytime of the day. I could see eating this for breakfast or a mid afternoon snack.

 

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Smoothie

You will need:

  • 2 cups frozen banana (about 2 whole bananas)
  • 1/4 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 2 T. mini chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup almond milk

Put all the ingredients in the mixer (I have an$80 Ninja that has a broken lid….so I don’t want to hear any complaints!). Blend well, and then pour into a cup. Enjoy!
Kelly

 

Crockpot Applesauce!

I have quite a good collection of cookbooks and cooking magazines. I look through old ones, often, to find new inspiration or to try something I may have missed before. Recently, I discovered Pinterest and now my recipe collection is growing exponentially via the virtual world. What can I say, I really love food!

One of my newest cookbooks is “The Vegan Slowcooker.” I got this as a gift, for my birthday, from my parents. (Thanks Dad and Mom!) I cannot say enough great things about this book! The author, Kathy, takes seemingly complex recipes, and makes it so simple by throwing all the items in the crockpot! This past weekend I tried her pumpkin puree, which was as easy as [pumpkin] pie. I have also made a split pea and lentil soup, from the book, that my kids couldn’t get enough of. She also runs a website, Healthy Slow Cooking.

After trying the pumpkin puree, and realizing the absolute power my slow cooker has, I looked around my kitchen for something else I could slow cook…..applesauce! This was so easy, I have no idea why I hadn’t done it before.

Homemade Applesauce

Ingredients:

  • 5-8 large apples (I used honey crisp)
  • Cinnamon or 2 cinnamon sticks (optional)
  • 1/2 cup water or juice

Directions:

Wash and peel the apples. Cut the apples into large chunks and place them in a crockpot. Add 1/2 cup water or juice (I used white grape) and pour it over the apples. Add cinnamon and season to taste (about 1-2 tsp), or add 2 cinnamon sticks. Turn crockpot on high for 2 hours or low for 4 hours. When the apples are done, use a potato masher to mash up the apples. I prefer chunkier applesauce, but you can mash until it’s to your liking. 🙂 Enjoy warm or let it cool and keep it refrigerated. If you have leftovers, freeze it.

Yup, it’s that simple! I have a second batch cooking right now…..because the first batch seems to have disappeared. Huh, funny how that happens!

Enjoy!

Kelly

Pie pumpkin in a pot…yum, yum, yum!

My family loves pumpkin. Anything pumpkin…pumpkin cookies, pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pancakes….you get it?
I had heard that making your own pumpkin puree was difficult. I really don’t know much more of why it was or what the deal was. Also, every recipe I looked at, said to use the dreaded kitchen tool I don’t have, the food processor.

While glancing through one of my new recipe books: “The Vegan Slowcooker,” I noticed a recipe for “pumpkin puree.” It really looked so simple so I decided to give it a try.

Basic recipe for Puree Pumpkin

(Taken from “The Vegan Slowcooker”)

“Wash the pumpkin, and poke holes in it for the steam to escape. Place it in the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours. When it’s ready, a fork should easily slide through the skin and the flesh.

Let the pumpkin cool until you can touch it without burning yourself. Move it to a cutting board, and slice it in half. Remove the seeds and pumpkin guts. Scrape the flesh into a food processor (or use a hand mixer, potato masher, or blender) and puree until smooth.”

I found a cute little pie pumpkin at the grocery store and fell in love. They are small and very festive looking for the fall. I decided to adopt him and bring him home with me to cook. 🙂 Pie pumpkins are much smaller than the regular jack-o’-lanterns. If you see one at the store, you’ll realize why I called it “cute.”

After the pumpkin was cooked and cool to touch, I broke it open and scraped out the seeds and “good stuff.” At this point, the pumpkin was cooked so perfectly, I didn’t even have to run it through a hand mixer or dirty up any more kitchen utensils. (YAY!) A fork made a good “masher” and broke up a chunks of pumpkin that were left.

At this point, I could’ve put it in a ziplock or container for future use (a.k.a. “pumpkin puree”). I decided to go ahead with making some pumpkin butter.

There was several recipes I found online that called for 1-2 cups of white sugar. Some called for brown sugar. But either way, I was trying to find a less sugar option for my pumpkin butter.

I found this recipe and modified it slightly because I was working with a whole pie pumpkin and not just a can of pumpkin puree. I added in 1/4 cup of honey as well as the agave nectar the recipe calls for.

Verdict: It turned out super yummy! Not too sweet either, which will be a great topping to some pancakes or gluten-free bread! Shawn said it tasted just like pumpkin pie. I’d say that’s a win! 😉

Kelly

Salty and Sweet Roasted Nuts

I picked up a new magazine a few days ago called “Natural Home and Garden.” Most of the magazine was pretty good, and I did find a recipe I wanted to try in it for honey-roasted peanuts.

Hannah LOVES peanuts, peanut butter, honey-roasted peanuts, Reeses, peanut butter straight for the jar….you get the picture. The girl loves peanuts. Before our big diet change a year or so ago, she lived on a daily diet of peanut butter (yup, the regular old Jif kind too!) and Smuckers Jelly sandwiches.

We were at Sprouts this past weekend and they were having a bulk sale. I usually only make it to Sprouts about once a month or so for bulk items. Hannah usually begs for honey-roasted peanuts, (nicely!) to which I usually give in. But for some reason, on this particular trip, I decided to take a look at the ingredient list posted above the bulk bin. To my surprise, I was shocked on how much sugar was on the peanuts….no wonder she loved them so much!….and they were coated in “vegetable oil.” I really wish she loved eating raw almonds as much as sugar-coated peanuts, but she’s just not there yet.

Thankfully, the recipe from my magazine popped into my mind and I told Hannah I was going to make her “homemade honey-roasted peanuts.” She was excited and jumped up with a “goody!” I went over to the raw peanut bin and started scooping.

Today I decided to try the honey-roasted peanuts. The recipe called for things like butter and sugar, so I modified the recipe, and here’s what I came up with:

Honey-Roasted Peanuts

(adapted from Natural Home and Garden recipe)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt (I use Real Salt)
  • 1 pound shelled raw peanuts (which is appx. 2 cups)
  • 1-2 tablespoons coconut/palm sugar

1. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and then grease. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (note: do not forget the parchment paper! I am still soaking my pans from the mess it left me because I didn’t use the paper!)

2. In a medium saucepan, heat honey, coconut oil, vanilla, and 1 teaspoon salt over medium-low heat.

3. Stir in peanuts, then pour them out into a single layer in the baking dish.

4. Roast peanuts for 15-20 minutes, or until golden, shaking the pan a few times to stir nuts. Remove from oven, stir to break up clumps, and let cool slightly.

5. Sprinkle on remaining salt and coconut sugar and toss to coat, then serve warm.

 

The peanuts turned out so great and yummy, I decided to try raw cashews. I think the cashews are my favorite! But Hannah still likes the peanuts the best. 😉

Enjoy,

Kelly

Meet Mr. Acorn Squash and a Recipe!

(graphic from: http://www.graphicshunt.com)

Someone PLEASE tell me that I am not the only one confused by the millions of kinds of squash that line the grocery store wall!! Especially in the fall, when it’s squash time!

Maybe I would care more if squash was “my thing,” but sadly it’s not. I love 99% of all fruits and vegetables. I am a natural plant lover. But squash, not so much my thing. Particularly the ones that are orange. Eww, total baby food.

I really want to like squash. Actually, I really want to love squash!!

There are so many kinds spread out in the produce section during this time of year, I just want to take them home and bake them all. But then it comes down to the actual act of putting it in my mouth and swallowing it. *sigh* I’m trying here, people.

Last week, I met a new squash friend. His name was Mr. Acorn Squash. “Hello…”

(graphic from: nutritionmythbusters.com)

He’s cute and festive looking for fall, right?

My four kids AND my husband had no idea who this Mr. Acorn Squash was, and what I going to do with him. But all their mouths drool over any kind of squash, so they watched me with eager eyes.

Simple Acorn Squash

  • 1 Acorn Squash
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Cut squash in half and scrap out seed cavity. Place cut side down on a baking dish and fill dish with 1/4-inch of water. Bake for 35 minutes. Turn squash over. Mix maple syrup, applesauce, and cinnamon in a bowl and fill the squash halves. Bake another 15 minutes.

The conclusion by the five other people that live in my house: a loud, resounding “YUM!”

My family loved it so much they made a whole meal of it.

I watched my family scarf down Mr. Acorn Squash, with a warm little heart that I made something they all enjoyed so much. Over in my corner of the table, though, I was quietly eating my apples and peanut butter.

…of course that was after my “no, thank you” bite. 😉

Kelly

 

Double Chocolate Nut Butter Oaties

If this title isn’t enough to draw you in, I am lost at marketing.

Anytime I hear the words “chocolate” and “nut butter” in the same title, my mouth starts drooling. I love chocolate and peanut butter. This heavenly combination is one of the many reasons why, a mere 18 months ago, I was at my heaviest of almost 200 pounds. (AH!)

I have a sweet tooth….really bad. I think that’s why I’ve been drawn to alternative baking. My sweet tooth has changed over the past year and a half. I now crave the sweetness of fresh fruit and enjoy lightly sweetened treats. Refined sugar is now too sweet for my taste buds. But, I think, that is the way nature intended it to be.

Yesterday, Shirley (from glutenfreeeasily.com) posted an excellent recipe that I had to print off right away and try. Super simple, quick cookies that got 5 stars from everyone in my family.

The recipe calls for “nut butter,” (which can mean your favorite butter) and I would probably put in peanut butter as my first choice, if Julia didn’t have an allergy. I substituted “nut butter” for Sunbutter, which is sunflower seed ground up to make a butter. To me, it tastes very similar to peanut butter, but without oil and obviously, peanuts.

I also substituted Stevia/Cane sugar for the sugar in the recipe. The recipe calls for 3/4 to 1 cup of sugar, but trying to be as sugar-free as possible, I opted for 1/4 cup of Stevia/Cane sugar. I found this to be the perfect amount of sweetness. It took the bitterness of the cocoa powder away, and added a touch of sweet. Perfect!

Another item on the recipe list was “oat flour.” I didn’t have any pre-made oat flour. You can purchase some at the grocery store for some crazy price. I chose to not purchase it and just make my own.

Making your own flours is very cost effective. Unfortunately, I do not have a food processor, so making almond flour, for example, is out of the question for me…..until I get a food processor, *wink*! Today was my first attempt at making my own oat flour. I have a so-so quality blender. It’s nothing fancy but today it did a great job on making some homemade oat flour. (yay!)

To make oat flour: pour old fashioned oats in the blender, put the lid on, and press the “on” button. Blend for a few minutes, and then *TA-DA*: oat flour.

Popped the cookies in the oven, and the finished product was: TOTALLY AWESOME! 🙂

You can get the recipe here at Gluten Free Easily: Double Chocolate Nut Butter Oaties.

Enjoy!!

Kelly

 

Recipe: Homemade Granola

So after many trials and errors, I realized where I was going wrong with my granola. My error: letting my 3-year-old twins check the oven “to see if it was done” and one of them bumping the temperature-thingy…..Ooops, burnt granola!

Oh well, such is!

Anyways, it was nice to know I wasn’t a nut-case in the kitchen and screwing it up or something.

I am on at least my 50th batch of homemade granola. My family LOVES this stuff. I can’t remember why I ever went down the cereal isle after eating homemade granola. The boxed stuff (and yes, I’m including the Kind bag brand in this….I’ve tried them all!) tastes like dry cardboard! *BLEH* I’ve  taken this granola to several Wellness Fairs that I’ve been a part of, and have always gotten rave reviews on my it. So, now you can try it for yourself!

Jacob helping me make granola

I serve this for a quick breakfast with vanilla almond milk over the top. In my opinion, vanilla almond milk TOTALLY makes this recipe complete! Each batch makes a ton of granola. I can fit it into 2 gallon sized zip-lock bags. Then I store one in the freezer (later) and one in the fridge (now).

Also, I call this my “Lazy Granola” because, gosh, I’m really lazy in the kitchen. I honestly throw whatever I have around (with in reason!) into my granola. Sometimes I have pumpkin seeds and not sunflower seeds. So instead of running to store, I just put in the pumpkin seeds. Same with the dried fruit. Today, I used cranberries instead of raisins because one of my children (er, um, Hannah…) ate all my raisins. So we improvise and use whatever we have around. Always though, my “sauce” is the same. I do not alter that.

Homemade Granola

Preheat over to 325 degree F. (If your oven bakes hot, be sure to lower the temperature! It burns easily!) Put 8 cups Rolled Oats (I use Gluten-free) into a large bowl.

Add in (Suggestions! Use what you have.):

  • 1 cup sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup flaxseeds or chia seeds
  • 1 cup sliced almonds or other nut of your choice
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup cranberries, or other favorite dried fruit
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

In a small sauce pan mix together:

  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

Heat sauce over medium-high heat until mixture is blended and bubbly. When sauce is ready pour sauce over the top of oatmeal mixture. Mix together thoroughly.

Next, line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. (Granola will stick if you don’t use parchment paper.) Pour granola onto the prepared baking sheets and spread evenly. Bake granola for 10 minutes. Pull out of the oven and stir well. Replace granola back into the oven and bake for another 10-12 minutes. WATCH IT CAREFULLY as it can burn easily!

Let granola cool. Store it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Store in the freezer if it will take you longer to eat it.

Enjoy!

Kelly