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Almond Butter + Cranberry Granola (gluten-free + vegan)

November 28, 2014 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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Hi everyone! My apologies for again being on hiatus for the past few weeks…I’m trying to think of what I was busy with, but I don’t have a good excuse, so I’ll just say I was preoccupied with back bends and making Proust questionnaires (which I renamed “Dates and Figs”) for my friends.

In any case, I hope you all had a wonderful, (somewhat) relaxing Thanksgiving filled with food, family, and friends. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to go to Paris like I did last year (next year, though, is a different story), but I had an absolutely lovely meal at home with my parents. I cooked everything myself, and thankfully, everything turned out deliciously.

For the turkey, we got a heritage breed bird from our friends at Saugatuck Craft Butchery, which I spatchcocked (or butterflied) by hand and dry-brined with salt, pepper, fresh sage, thyme, and allspice for 24 hours, then roasted with onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and white wine in a super hot oven for an hour and fifteen minutes. It was beautiful–crispy, golden-brown skin all over–and both the white meat and dark meat were moist and flavorful. I’m thinking it’s the best turkey we’ve ever had, if I do say so myself.

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For side dishes, I made a cornbread stuffing with chestnuts, onions, apples, and celery (of course I made the cornbread myself), an orange cherry-cranberry sauce with shallots, roasted brussel sprouts and purple potatoes, and a tasty gravy with homemade turkey stock and the pan drippings.

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And what would Thanksgiving be without a pumpkin-flavored dessert? I made a pumpkin cheesecake with a graham cracker crust…and yes, I made those graham crackers from scratch. Worth it? YES YES YES. Yum.

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I am so thankful for all of the incredible food we shared. I would have preferred to have spent Thanksgiving with no one other than my mom and dad.

You might think I’m completely sick of cooking at this point (I’ve probably spent upwards of 12 hours in the kitchen over the course of the past two days), but no. I’ll be back in there today whipping up another batch of this almond butter and cranberry granola, which we can never seem to keep for very long around my house.

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Sweet, crunchy, and nutty, this granola is perfect for throwing in yogurt or topping a smoothie bowl. I love when it forms clusters and you just bite down into a mouthful of cinnamon and almond.

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Me personally, I love oats. There’s something about their flavor and texture that is just so appealing…I don’t know what it is. They seem to go so well with everything, especially with the tartness of the dried cranberries and slight hint of vanilla I put in this recipe.

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If you’ve been buying granola from the store, STOP. NOW. Making granola at home is a breeze, and besides, you can control everything that goes in it, greatly reducing the sugar content and removing all of the crappy additives you often find (glycerin, anyone?). Simply preheat the oven to 350 degrees, mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl…

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…heat the wet ingredients together to melt them…

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…pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients, mix to combine, and spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet…

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…and bake until golden-brown and crispy! Just top with cranberries when it comes out of the oven and dig in.

This recipe is also very easy to adapt, too. If you can’t do oats, substitute them with raw buckwheat groats and/or more almond slivers or other nuts. If you can’t do almonds (or nuts), substitute them with sunflower seed butter and either pepitas or sunflower seeds. If you want to reduce the sugar content even more, feel free to scale back a little on the coconut sugar and maple syrup–just don’t eliminate them altogether, because that would be absolutely disgusting.

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Almond Butter + Cranberry Granola

Ingredients

Prep Time 10 min
Cooking Time 35 min
Total Time 45 min
Yield A lot of granola

5 cups of gluten-free rolled oats

1-2 cups of blanched almond slivers (optional)

1/4 cup of coconut sugar (or unrefined cane sugar)

1 tablespoon of cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/4 cup of coconut oil

1/3 cup of maple syrup

1/2 cup of smooth, unsalted almond butter

1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of almond extract

1/2-3/4 cup of unsweetened dried cranberries

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a large rimmed baking sheet with coconut oil.

In a large bowl, mix together the rolled oats, almond slivers (if you’re using them), coconut sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside while you mix together the wet ingredients.

In a small saucepan, combine the coconut oil, maple syrup, and smooth almond butter. Turn the heat to medium-low and whisk together until the coconut oil has completely melted.

Remove from the heat and add the vanilla and almond extracts.

Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir everything together with a spatula. Make sure you don’t break up too many clumps–granola clusters are the best part.

Spread the granola onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Stir, then bake for another 10-15 minutes, stirring every few minutes to ensure even browning.The granola is done when it is golden brown and firm to the touch.

Immediately upon removing the granola from the oven, sprinkle it with the dried cranberries and let it cool completely before serving. Yes, that means don’t eat it all as soon as it comes out of the oven. Because I may or may not have done that.


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Pictured above: one of my favorite smoothie bowls, an acai-banana-cacao bowl with the granola, goji berries, hemp seeds, and cacao nibs. 😀

What is your favorite flavor of granola? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!


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Almond Butter + Cranberry Granola

November 16, 2014 Print this page

Crunchy, sweet, and just a bit chewy, this granola will add a pop of “YUM” to anything you put it in, be it yogurt or a smoothie. Heck, this is tasty all by itself! For a paleo version, substitute a variety of chopped nuts (I recommend almonds and/or walnuts) for the oats; for an oat-free version, substitute raw buckwheat groats for the oats; and for a nut-free version, substitute more oats or buckwheat for the slivered almonds and add some sunflower seeds, if you’d like, and use sunflower seed butter instead of the almond butter.

Ingredients

Prep Time 10 min
Cooking Time 35 min
Total Time 45 min
Yield A lot of granola

5 cups of gluten-free rolled oats

1-2 cups of blanched almond slivers (optional)

1/4 cup of coconut sugar (or unrefined cane sugar)

1 tablespoon of cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/4 cup of coconut oil

1/3 cup of maple syrup

1/2 cup of smooth, unsalted almond butter

1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of almond extract

1/2-3/4 cup of unsweetened dried cranberries

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a large rimmed baking sheet with coconut oil.

In a large bowl, mix together the rolled oats, almond slivers (if you’re using them), coconut sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside while you mix together the wet ingredients.

In a small saucepan, combine the coconut oil, maple syrup, and smooth almond butter. Turn the heat to medium-low and whisk together until the coconut oil has completely melted.

Remove from the heat and add the vanilla and almond extracts.

Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir everything together with a spatula. Make sure you don’t break up too many clumps–granola clusters are the best part.

Spread the granola onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Stir, then bake for another 10-15 minutes, stirring every few minutes to ensure even browning.The granola is done when it is golden brown and firm to the touch.

Immediately upon removing the granola from the oven, sprinkle it with the dried cranberries and let it cool completely before serving. Yes, that means don’t eat it all as soon as it comes out of the oven. Because I may or may not have done that.


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Easy. Peasy. Paleo! (Featuring two new recipes!)

May 14, 2013 Leave your thoughts Print this page

When removing all grains and almost all dairy from your diet, there’s sometimes that initial shock of, “Oh my gosh, what do I do now?!” After living your whole life eating cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, pretzels for snack, and pasta for dinner, there can often seem like there’s nothing to eat.

Happily, there’s actually a boatload of tasty, healthy foods that are perfectly Paleo! Here are 4 tips that will help you stay on track whether you’re new to or familiar with this eating style.

#1: Get the right ingredients.

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A lot of “Paleo” foods are things that you already eat. Vegetables. Fruits. Meat. Poultry. Nuts. The only big changes in any of these areas are buying organic produce and pasture-raised/grass-fed protein.  

Snacks and treats are where it gets tricky. Without wheat, man-made oils, and a lot of excess sugar, most, if not all processed fare is out. And at home, how are you supposed to make a cake without flour?

To create a seemingly “normal” product, you’re going to need to visit Whole Foods and/or Trader Joe’s and seek out some unusual ingredients. Here are three of my baking staples:

  • Refined Coconut Oil: When I first started making Paleo desserts, my parents and I noticed that everything had a coconut-y taste. This was because we were using extra-virgin coconut oil, which is bottled with pieces of the coconut meat in tact. Refined coconut oil, however, has no coconut-y taste and holds up well to high temperatures. Make sure you’re buying an organic, non-hydrogenated product! My favorites are Spectrum and Whole Foods’ 365 house brand. 
  • Raw Honey: If you’ve ever perused the internet in search of Paleo recipes, you’ll notice that the majority use maple syrup. Mine, however, usually do not. I have nothing against maple syrup—really, sugar is sugar once it’s in the body—but my family prefers the lighter, less-noticeable taste of honey. Try to find a local seller in your area for the best quality product.
  • Blanched Almond Flour: Yes, Honeywell Almond Flour is really expensive and the bag is huge, but I promise you, it’s worth it. Why the high price? Unlike wheat flour, which is made in massive quantities from a cheap product, almond flour is manufactured on a smaller scale…and because almonds are pricier than wheat, the flour is naturally more expensive. You’ll be amazed at how well your gluten-free desserts turn out.

Be sure to visit Living Healthy with Chocolate, Elana’s Pantry, and The Spunky Coconut for some great dessert ideas!

If you’re a newbie to Paleo desserts, I’d suggest trying my Chocolate Chip Banana Cake or Chocolate Mousse.

#2: Prepare meals ahead.

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There is nothing more frustrating than being hungry and not having anything to eat. We’ve all been there…and what’s most likely to happen? You’re going to pig out on something you probably shouldn’t.

To prevent this problem, it really helps to prepare meals in advance. These Juicy Pork Wraps, for example, take 10 minutes to put together and will yield at least 5 or 6 servings for lunch, dinner, or even breakfast.

The night before you want to eat your “in-advance” dinner, combine a little over 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, 1 teaspoon of chipotle chili pepper, 1 teaspoon of paprika, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, a little less than 1 tablespoon of raw honey, 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke, and 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in a small bowl. It seems like a lot of ingredients, but if you already have everything in your pantry, it’s not a big burden.

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Rub everything all over a 4 1/2 to 5 pound piece of pork shoulder and stick skin-side up in the slow cooker for 16 hours. Yes, 16 hours, folks.

No slow cooker? Grease a large Dutch oven with about 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, put in the pork, cover tightly, and let braise at 300 degrees for 4 to 6 hours. (However, I recommend the former preparation.)

When you’re ready to eat, simply remove the pork from the slow cooker and shred it with two large forks. Serve with cut up jicama, guacamole (I just mixed together 1 1/2 avocados with about 1/4 cup of my favorite salsa), and Boston lettuce leaves for wrappers.

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That wasn’t too hard now, was it?

For more great ideas, I highly recommend reading The Paleo Slow Cooker by Arsy Vartanian and visiting her website, Rubies and Radishes.

#3: Buy good meat.

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You are looking at probably one of my favorite places on Earth: The Saugatuck Craft Butchery.

Every week, my dad and I venture to this magical land of meat to pick out our meals for the coming days. They’ve got EVERYTHING…and the best part? All the meat is sourced within 150 miles, so you know its fresh.

Sure, you can buy good quality meat at Whole Foods or Trader Joes, but it’s nothing like at the butcher. I’ve been able to experiment with so many different cuts of meat: tri-tips, spare ribs, whole ducks, quails, ground goat, oxtails, lamb sirloins…things you just can’t get at the supermarket. And I promise, it just tastes so much better.

If you’re looking to satisfy the carnivore in your family, try my Crisp Roasted Duck with Cherry Sauce or Sweet Braised Pork Hocks.

#4: Eat a well-rounded breakfast.

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Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Think about it this way: if you eat dinner at 6:30 P.M. and wake up at 7:00 A.M., you haven’t eaten in over twelve hours! Even if you aren’t hungry when you wake up, it’s critical to at least eat something.

Your morning meal should include a good amount of protein and fat, plus some carbohydrates. You don’t necessarily have to eat “breakfast food” for breakfast! Take today, for example: I had salmon and cauliflower rice instead of my usual eggs.

Here’s my recipe for the tastiest granola EVER. Make sure you limit yourself, though: it’s so delicious, you could easily go overboard!

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In the bowl of a food processor, chop up 1 cup of raw almonds and 1 cup of raw cashews until small, but not powdery, about 30 seconds to 1 minute total. Then, pour into a bowl and mix with 1/2 cup of shredded coconut, 1/3 cup of melted coconut oil, 1/4 cup of maple syrup or raw honey, 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract. 

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Spread the mixture out onto a greased baking sheet, and place in a 350 degree oven until brown and crispy, about 20 to 30 minutes. Give a good stir every 5 minutes or so to prevent burning.

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Stir in 1/3 cup of dried raisins or cranberries, if desired, and let cool for 15 to 20 minutes before storing in a large ziploc bag at room temperature or in the fridge.

The great thing about this recipe is that it’s easily customizable. Feel free to use macadamia nuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cacao nibs, cacao powder, or other dried fruit in the place of or in addition to some of the ingredients!

For some other tasty breakfast recipes, try my Carrot Muffins or Pumpkin Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce.  

And there you have it! What are your best Paleo tips? Leave me a comment on Facebook and let me know!


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