Paleo Granola

Recently I’ve started eating paleo again. I researched and tested it out about a year ago and loved how it made me feel, but paleo’s hard when you’re single and don’t have anyone else to share the costs and labor with.  It’s also difficult when dating, as you don’t want to seem ridiculously high maintenance when it comes to grabbing dinner or a  drink.

Nonetheless, a worrying down-tick in health recently inspired me to try it again. And, one week into it I realized that paleo is actually quite good when you’re single! For starters, it makes you feel totally awesome: you wake up flat-stomached, your skin clears up, and you no longer feel congested and fatigued. In fact, you actually start to feel a little bit foxy in your yoga pants, as opposed to just “ugh I do not even care.” This in turn boosts your shaken confidence and gives you a noticeable glow, which is good for attracting a mate who is worthy of you. 😉

Of course, the less glamorous reason is that you do have time to cook, because honestly you aren’t going on a ton of dates or spending your weekends snuggled up on the couch.

Whatever. It’s hard to feel bad about your life when you’re chomping on THIS:

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Scrumptious Crumbly Paleo Granola  😀

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups raw nuts and seeds (I used almonds, walnuts, and pecans here but love pumpkin seeds in this too!)
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/4 cup coconut or almond flour
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (try doing less, then adding in to taste; honey can be subbed instead)
  • 3 tablespoons raw almond butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon allspice (this and ginger are strong spices — if you’re not used to them start with less and add to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • Generous sprinkling sea salt
  • Handful of dried cranberries (you can add whatever you like before or after cooking, just reduce syrup or honey if you’re using particularly sweet fruit)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Be fancy and mix dry ingredients in one bowl and wet ingredients in the other before combining, or be a savage and just dump it all in a giant bowl and attack it with forks to mix it like I did. Spread granola batter onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or foil (I used foil), then pop in the oven for about 15 minutes. 10 minutes in stir it around, then keep a suspicious eye on it because it’s easy to overcook.

Eat in a bowl of warmed coconut or almond milk, or atop Greek yogurt or kefir if you’re a dairy fan.  This also tastes really good plain. 🙂

You like? Then check this awesomeness out:

1) PaleoOMG’s Pumpkin Granola, which I made last week as my first foray into paleo cereal. It is sooooo freaking good and her blog rocks! 🙂 My only caveat is that if I made this again I would halve the amount of dates, as I had to add another cup of nuts and seeds and increase the spices to tone down the sweetness of the batter the first time around.

2) Just Eat Real Food’s “Sweet and Simple Guide to Paleo Granola”, which inspired me to make the recipe above! This site actually has a number of granola recipes that look great.

 

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green smoothies

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Wow, I just had the best weekend of my life.  H’s henna party and wedding were amazing and I absolutely loved spending days and nights in the company of my best friends.  We danced, we ran, we feasted, we dressed up, we did our hair, and occasionally we slept… it was perfect.  I can’t believe fate brought us all together.

Soon I will post some pictures of our exotic outfits and the big crazy grins that everyone had, but first, here’s an overdue mini-post about green smoothies.

Green smoothies are undeniably delicious and nutritious. Just look at that brilliant color!  🙂  The problem is that many people dislike the herbaceous taste of veggies and want to conceal it, but aren’t sure how to do so without adding a ton of calories and sugar.

Enter this indispensable website:

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Simple Green Smoothies is the prettiest and most user-friendly recipe guide I’ve ever seen. Simply click the artful photo of ingredients to discover a simple yet tantalizing recipe.  You won’t find needless gluten or dairy here, stevia, or other unnecessary sweeteners; you’ll find the kinds of smoothies you could make right now with a few basic items from your pantry and fridge. All of them are nourishing, and most are paleo.

I am obsessed with the PB&J one and frequently make it as a well-balanced breakfast.  One of my friends highly recommends the coconut pina colada-style smoothie.  However, because I am one of those odd folks who actually likes a green veggie flavor, I’ve also been making some ultra-green concoctions inspired by Simple Green Smoothies. Prior to finding this site I had never tried cilantro, parsley, or cucumber in a smoothie, and now I regularly play with them all with great success.

I don’t have any set recipes to share yet, as the whole point has been to toss handfuls of whatever fruits and greens I have lying around in my blender without really planning.  However, I have learned a few things:

  • A dollop of coconut oil will give your smoothie a silky texture and fuel you further.  Don’t overdo this dose of fat, but don’t fear it either.  You need fats and proteins to fuel you!
  • Half a frozen banana = instant creaminess. Don’t use a full one unless you want it very sweet.
  • Green smoothies with raw kale in them can develop a slightly chunky texture. Try using frozen kale or spinach and adding it first so that it has a bit of time to steep in whatever liquid you’ve added, or if you use raw kale, add coconut oil/more liquid than usual and blend for a longer time.
  • An inch of fresh ginger and/or a generous squeezing of lime juice really bring a green smoothie alive. I use both almost every time. 🙂
  • As a rule of thumb, green fruits (kiwi, green grapes, green apples) harmonize beautifully with green veggies and produce a vibrant color (see above.)  However, it’s worth experimenting with other kinds of fruits as well, even though the resulting smoothie is likely to turn out a dubious shade of brown.
  • Finally, don’t forget to get creative with your liquid. In addition to water and almond milk I like to play around with coconut water (fantastic for rehydration), coconut milk (canned or Silk style), aloe juice, and fruit juice.  Kefir is also a great tart dairy addition for those folks who like it. Just be careful if you use fruit juice, as you can inadvertently hijack the flavor and add a ton of sugar to your drink. Try water with a dash of orange juice first and get crazy from there.

Hope this inspired you! Please let me know if you try any more of the SGS recipes or come up with an awesome combination of your own.

Zucchini Buckwheat Spice Muffins

Earlier this week I decided to try my hand at gluten-free baking again. I specifically wanted to use the buckwheat and almond flour I had on hand, and to incorporate the glorious farmer’s market zucchini my father had bequeathed on me. Lots of people gave me zucchini this week, actually… apparently giving people zucchini is a Thing.

I like this Thing.  Please continue giving me food. 😉

Anyway, I also used another gift: this classic and scandalously unhealthy zucchini bread recipe given to me by a friend of a friend.

Before thoroughly reviewing it I intended to just swap out the flours, recklessly hoping that my medley of “dense” flours would not result in semi-edible hockey pucks. Then I noticed the recipe called for more than two cups of sugar, a whole cup of oil, chocolate chips, and sour cream… umm yeah. Many more substitutions had to be made.

I now present you with the first humble recipe I have ever made — gluten-free and dairy-free, but definitely not sugar-free. 😉

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Zucchini Buckwheat Spice Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups buckwheat flour
  • 1.5 cups almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil (vegetable, grapeseed, or coconut)
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon applesauce
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • Allspice to taste (this is strong spice, so start with 1/4 teaspoon or less and taste until it’s how you like it)
  • Nutmeg to taste (approximately 1/4 teaspoon)

Directions:

  1. Grease a muffin pan (I sprayed mine with coconut oil.) Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.
  3. Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, applesauce, and sugar together in a large bowl (a fork and enthusiasm will suffice). Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture and continue to beat. Stir in zucchini and nuts until well combined.
  4. To ensure optimal deliciousness, taste your batter as you add in the allspice and nutmeg until you have the flavor balance you most prefer. You may want to omit the allspice and nutmeg and simply add more cinnamon, or you may want to get intense with these and also add ginger for a gingerbread-like taste.
  5. Pour batter into pans (they won’t rise much, so you can fill 3/4 full) and bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes or more before gently prying muffins free with a fork. They’re pretty awesome with cream cheese or buttercream frosting, but you didn’t hear that from me.

Go forth! Play around! These are good and much more nutritious than traditional zucchini bread, but still just sweet and fatty enough to feel decadent.

I am thinking another good variation would be to add lemon and almonds or poppy seeds instead of the pecans and spices, or if you do dairy to forgot the nuts and spices for chocolate chips and Greek yogurt in place of sour cream. These are also easily veganized, and could likely withstand the addition of flavored protein powder.

I hope you like them!  You know they turned out right if they’re dense and moist with a rich spiced fragrance and tasty little bits of zucchini inside.

PS: Yesterday was National Zucchini Day, but of course you knew that already. I’m going to generously assume  that the NZD gifts and cards you sent me were simply stalled in the mail and will arrive any day now. 😉

Gluten-Free Strawberry Basil Muffins

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Strawberry basil.  As soon as I read the words I had to know how that intriguing flavor combination would taste. I already had sweet organic berries (look how small and pretty they are!) and loads of basil growing in my ‘garden’, so I picked up a bag of almond flour and happily got to work.

The verdict?

Overwhelmingly scrumptious.

Beth of Tasty Yummies deserves an award for dreaming these up. They’re moist, fragrant, and incredibly tasty, all while being gluten-free, dairy-free, and refined-sugar-free. There is magic in maple syrup, my friends. Also, coconut oil.  I will not pretend that these are ‘healthy’ in that they have plenty of fat and sugar, but at least there are good fats going on here, and they are far more nourishing and filling than your average grocery store muffin.

The only thing I’d change next time would be to slightly reduce the salt, and to experiment with adding peaches. Doesn’t that sound good?! I actually bought peaches to play with, but they didn’t ripen in time.

PS: I am just beginning to learn to use my camera! Forgive the embarrassing food styling, as I don’t have the white plates and rustic wooden tables of fancier bloggers yet. 😉

PS PS: Looking back, I just realized these are technically paleo. Yay!