Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Cranberry Nut Granola

Who's ready to settle in with more snow (on the east coast, at least)?! When it's freezing cold and snowing all day, there's little more I want to do than cozy up on the couch, watch the Olympics, drink coffee, and eat some darn good granola (that's not loaded with five different kinds of sugar like Special K's granola)


Please allow me to rant for a minute...
Special K cereal is in no way a healthy start to your day! Yes, it is low in calories. But no, that does not make it healthy. In every flavor of Special K cereal listed on their website, sugar is either the second or third ingredient. This means that there are only one or two ingredients in the box that outweigh the amount of sugar added, and in most of the flavors, that's bleached and refined white rice. There's occasionally some whole grain wheat - so that Special K can advertise that the cereal is made with whole grains - but white rice is the very first ingredient listed in 8 of the 12 flavors.

So what are you really eating when you sit down to a bowl of Special K for breakfast? Well...white rice, refined sugar, occasionally a few oats or whole grain wheat, sometimes two, three, four, or five more kinds of refined sugars, and up to 31 other ingredients like calcium caseinate, polydextrose, or L-lysine monohydrochloride (any idea what those look like?). You won't find essential Omega-3 fatty acids (everything that might have a trace of those has been chemically de-fatted for your "health"), but you will find those pesky trans fats in the form of partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil in a few of the chocolate varieties. And in case you "may not find the time every morning to cut up fruit and mix it with yogurt and sprinkle crunchy flakes of oats on top," they have you covered with the Fruit & Yogurt flavor - complete with nonfat yogurt powder as the 22nd ingredient (following 5 different kinds of sugar) and dried apples as the only distinguishable fruit ingredient (the "berry" specks are actually just red #40 and blue #1).


Sound good?

If not, then you're in for a treat. You can make your own cereal using nowhere near 30 ingredients - in fact, I be you have most of them around already and wouldn't even have to do a Google search just to figure out what the heck they are.


And it doesn't taste half bad, either!

This granola is not only delicious and addictive, but it's also packed with Omega-3's, essential fatty acids of which Americans simply aren't getting enough. Keep an eye out for dried cranberries dried with cranberry seed oil (a great source of Omega-3's), I found mine at Trader Joe's!

Cranberry Nut Granola


Ingredients:

  • 3 cups rolled oats (use certified gluten free if needed)
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (I used roasted almonds and walnuts)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (or water or dairy milk)
  • 1/4 cup all-natural peanut butter or almond butter
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup (or honey for non-vegan)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
Directions:
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, nuts, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together the flaxseed, almond milk, nut butter, and maple syrup or honey. Let sit for at least 5 minutes to thicken slightly.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine.
  5. Sprinkle the mixture in an even layer onto the baking sheet; bake for 25 minutes.
  6. Toss the granola and bake for another 15 minutes, until browned and almost dry.
  7. Turn the oven off and allow the oven to cool with the granola in it for about 20 minutes, until the granola is crunchy.
  8. Stir in the dried cranberries.



Enjoy - and consider rethinking your breakfast a little! :)




Friday, February 7, 2014

Gorgeous Grapefruit Salad

With all of the Valentine's Day recipes popping up on blogs, in magazines, and on my favorite foodie site, FoodGawker, I felt obligated to come up with something as well. But another chocolate dessert recipe smothered in red and pink sprinkles sitting on a heart-shaped plate is probably not what you need a recipe for. How about the main event?! Or better yet, the salad.


Every winter, I fall into a salad rut. You know, salads are just one of those things that taste so much better when someone else (like a chef in a restaurant) makes them for you - probably because they actually think about what to put into the salad, rather than just throwing together back-of-the-fridge veggies with high expectations. So in an attempt to pull myself out of this rut (and help you create a gorgeous Valentine's Day dinner), I did something novel. I thought about salad as if it was the main course. What do I want in a salad? Sweet. Sour. Salty. Spicy. Bitter. Crunchy. Creamy. Fresh. GORGEOUS.

And the result...

Yeah, I'd say this covers everything I want in a salad. :)

Gorgeous Grapefruit Salad

Serves 2

Ingredients:
  • 1 large grapefruit
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 cups arugula and/or mixed greens
  • 1 ounce goat cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons chopped toasted almonds
  • 1/2 medium avocado, sliced
Directions:
  1. Zest part of the grapefruit so that you end up with 1/2 teaspoon finely grated zest. Set aside in a small bowl or cup.
  2. Using a small knife, remove the peel from the grapefruit and cut it into segments. Do this over a large bowl so you can catch any juice. 
  3. Add 2 teaspoons of grapefruit juice from the bottom of the bowl to the grapefruit zest; add the rice vinegar, olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk to combine.
  4. To prepare the salad, toss the greens with the dressing and separate onto two plates. Top evenly with the goat cheese, almonds, avocado, and grapefruit segments.

Tips: You can segment the grapefruit and make the dressing in advance, then assemble the salads just before serving. Just don't toss the greens in dressing in advance - the acid wilts them over time! Here's a quick video on how to segment an orange (it works just the same for grapefruit).







Saturday, February 1, 2014

Quick Mole Veggie Chili

Who's ready for the Superbowl?!



I'm never much of a football fan, but I usually sit through the Superbowl (you know, for the commercials and the puppy bowl.) And I always enjoy the snacks.

This year I came up with this awesome veggie chili to snack on. My family is a big fan of simple veggie chili recipes, but this one has a special twist - mole flavor! The addition of cocoa powder, cinnamon, and molasses makes it super rich and complex without having to cook it for hours. Yum!

Quick Mole Veggie Chili

Makes 6-8 entree servings


Ingredients:
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoons smoke paprika
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 3 15 oz cans of beans (I used 2 cans of black beans and 1 can of kidney beans), drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • salt and cayenne pepper to taste

Directions:
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. 
  2. Add the onion and red pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, until the onion is browned and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.
  3. Add all the spices (chili powder through cinnamon) and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the diced tomatoes, beans, molasses, and vegetable broth.
  5. Turn the heat to high, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, until slightly thickened.
  6. Season with salt and cayenne pepper to taste.




It's equally delicious as a dip for tortilla chips - that's what I'll be putting out on our coffee table tomorrow!