Healthy Gal Granola

Many a cooking recipe is born via experimentation gone wrong…I mean right. In science, we call these “happy accidents.”  Did you know Sir Alexander Fleming left a petri dish out too long in 1928 and thus penicillin was born?  And sorry Romy and Michele, but post-it notes were accidentally invented by Spencer Silver in 1968 who actually set out to make something stronger.

And so, it was late…I wanted needed cookies.  We’ve all been there…

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I set out to make scrumptious trail-mix oatmeal raisin cookies…but was feeling crafty enough to experiment.

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  I guess I ended up adding too much coconut oil and the “dough” just fell apart in my hands.

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Damn.

But dude, it’s chill. I spread it out on a cookie sheet and baked away for like 20 minutes.  And guess what?

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Grrrrranola was born.  So it’s like that?  Yep.  It’s like that.  Gluten free and vegan, it’s chock-full of energy boosting ingredients like oats, chia seeds, almonds, and dried fruit.  Sweetened with sugar and coconut with a sprinkle of sea salt and cinnamon…you will most likely be spooning it straight from the pan.  I had it for breakfast one morning with some coconut milk and ate it like cereal.  And then…my roommate and I put it on top of our fro yo and….oh my…..wowz.  Just wowz.

Healthy Gal Granola

makes about 4-5 cups of granola

  • 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 brown sugar (or white)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 T chia seeds + 6 T water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, you get the gist)
  1. When measuring my oats, I decided to throw one cup out of the three into the food processor and grind until I got a fine powder.  This is an optional step, but it might bind together better.  Then place all the oats on a cookie sheet, spreading them out as evenly as you can, and bake at 375 for about 15 minutes.  Keep checking, they’re done when they start to turn a toasty light brown color and give off a nice aroma.  Set aside.
  2. Chop up the almonds and toast in the same oven at the same temperature for 4-7 minutes.  Keep checking so they don’t burn!  Watch them carefully, eye ’em like a granola-lovin’ hawk.  Almonds are done when they give off a roasted aroma and turn a caramel brown color.  Set aside.
  3. Then in a small bowl, combine the chia seeds with the water.  Let it sit for about 5 minutes until the seeds coagulate and start to for a gel.  These are serving as your ‘eggs…’ sans feathers and beaks.  I prefer it this way.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together the sugar and coconut oil (which should me completely melted.  If solid, stick in the microwave for a few seconds).  Then beat in the chia and water mixture along with the vanilla until fully incorporated.
  5. In a separate bowl, fully combine the oats, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder.
  6. Mix the flour mixture into the sugar/coconut oil/chia/vanilla bowl and mix.  Then add in the roasted almonds and dried fruit.  When you taste the granola “batter”, don’t be scared that it’s really sweet and also pretty salty.  When you cook it, the flavor changes!
  7. Spread out the mixture on an ungreased cookie sheet, spreading it out as evenly and thin as possible.  Press down to try and get it super leveled out.
  8. Bake granola at 375 for about 22-25 minutes.  Check it after 20 minutes and see how it looks, as every oven varies.  It’s done when it is just starting to brown and crisp up.  Let it cool and then demolish via spoon.

Coconut Date Energy Bites

The marriage of coconuts and dates is one party I would not throw away the invite for.

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There is just destined to be a good time had by all.

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Creamy coconut and sweet plump dates are whipped into tiny energy and nutrient rich snacks.  They are the perfect fuel for a long weekend hike…and in addition, if you need something for that sweet tooth, these are your boys, blue.

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If I were to make these sweet succulent babies again, I would use flaked instead of shredded coconut.  It will mix in easier.  You can sub in chocolate chips for cacao nibs and if you want to get all chocolate-wasted, add in a tablespoon of cocoa powder.

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You can also roll these bites in cocoa powder for a fancy dusting.  I love how these little balls of energy are easy enough to make in 10 minutes but look polished enough to bring to a part-ay.  Pinkies up.

Coconut Date Energy Bites

makes about 10 energy bites, about 110 Calories per bite

  • 1 cup dates, sliced and pitted
  • 1 cup shredded or flaked coconut
  • 2 T cocao nibs or chocolate chips
  • shake of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • almonds (optional)
  1. Put all ingredients into a food processor and grind that junk up.
  2. Add more salt or vanilla if you deem it necessary.
  3. Shape into tiny balls, place an almond on top if you want it to look extra deluxe and put on a plate.  Refrigerate or freeze for an hour and then enjoy.  These babies keep nicely in the freezer for at least a week.  I’m not sure how much longer after that though, seeing as how they didn’t last too long ’round these parts 😉

Quick & Easy Blender Salsa

Forget your Michael Kors handbag. Or your new Tory Burch flats.

Salsa….

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The most perfect accessory to a party.  Ever.

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This recipe is so simple, you throw everything into a blender and you’re done.  It’s perfect when you’re throwing a dinner party (or attending one) and the last thing on your mind is chopping and dicing and splicing and shredding and…you get the idea.  You want to make something homemade, fresh, and delicious.  But all you want to do is crack open that wine and mingle.

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The struggle is so real.

I get it.

This salsa is all of the above without any of the arm work.  Overall, it’s a chip’s best friend.

Quick and Easy Blender Salsa

  • 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 10oz can tomatoes with green chiles (I used Rotel)
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 avocado
  • tortilla chips (duh).
  1. Peel and smash the garlic with a large knife.  Chop the onion into a few pieces.
  2. Peel and then slice open the jalapeno, I only put in half the seeds but add more or less depending on how much spice you can handle! (Ps the seeds are where the spice comes from, so be careful with those little suckers….)
  3. Remove all stems from the cilantro, then add all of the ingredients to a food processor or a good blender.  Blend! The pour into a bowl and add some corn tortilla chips.
  4. Chop up the avocado and add it right before you serve the salsa 🙂

Flamin’ Sweet Potato Hummus

It has been a crazy several weeks, to say the least.  But crazy in the absolute best sense of the word.  Which is the reason my posts have been slackin’.  Sowey.  I have moved and am officially a Los Angeleno, I started my graduate school program, and found the perfect cute little apartment in the city to live with one of my dearest friends from college. Life is pretty sweet right about meow.

But enough about me.  Let’s talk about this hummus.  Hubba, hubba, right?

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I used to make multiple batches of hummus, every single day for a straight year, when I worked as a chef for a wine bar.  Although I really enjoyed it, I definitely grew weary of the repetitive process.  Thus, despite the relative simplicity of the recipe, I have shied away from making it out of sheer boredom.  BUT, it has been over a year since my days of churning out chickpea paste like a robot and I have must admit, I have missed it.  This recipe is a fresh take on that good ole classic hummus recipe that I hold so near and dear to my heart. Or stomach. Probably both.

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It’s got a little sweetness from the, you guessed it, sweet potatoes.  And it’s got a really zesty kick thanks to the cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes.  Don’t like spicy?  Tone it down by adding less pepper.  Simple as that! You don’t have to put on any fancy pants to get down on some hummus.  The hippies have killed any hope for that. Just kidding, hippies, you know I love you and am actually one of you.

You start by roasting up those sweet potaters’ nice and toasty…

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And once I realized how amazing roasted sweet potatoes are just on their own, I could not stop eating said sweet potatoes.  I foresee a sweet potato fries recipe on the horizon….

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This is the type of tahini I use, which is a standard in most hummus recipes. Not quite sure what’s up with the weird moustached sultan logo, but uh…whatever.  It’s basically just sesame seeds ground into a paste, and the consistency is similar to nut butters. It’s a delicious world we live in, kids.  Enjoy this hummus with some whole wheat pita bread, broccoli, carrots, or sliced up bell peppers.  Feel free to share, but only if you have to 😉

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Flamin’ Sweet Potato Hummus

  • 2 medium sized sweet potatoes
  • 1 can chickpeas/garbanzo beans
  • juice from 1 lemon, zest from 1/2 of the same lemon
  • 3 1/2 T tahini
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • a few shakes of crushed red pepper flakes
  • sesame seeds (optional, sprinkled on top of hummus)
  • For serving: pita bread/veggies for dippin’ and dunkin’
  1. Begin by roasting the sweet potatoes.  There are many ways to cook these guys up, actually.  The method I used was to wrap each one in tin foil and bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour, until they’re squeezable in texture.  I just put mine on a cookie sheet but feel free to use any small baking dish, too.  I always poke some holes in the foiled potatoes before I stick them in the oven!  Maybe this is one of those kitchen myths, but I am not down for explosions of any kind so I just abide…When done, unwrap and easily peel the skins off.  Then dice. Another method is to peel the raw sweet potatoes first, then dice and steam for about 20-25 minutes. Whatever butters your biscuit.
  2. When ‘taters are cooked, place them in the food processor with all other ingredients and give them a whirl.  Make sure to blend until mixture is no longer chunky and becomes a smooth paste.
  3. Check the seasoning level, if it tastes a little bland, add in more salt.  If it needs more spice, add in a few shakes of red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper.
  4. When suitable, shake some sesame seeds or red pepper flakes on top and serve with warm pita or crudite veggies.