Easy No-Knead Focaccia with Roasted Garlic and Dried Tomatoes

Easy No-Knead Focaccia with Roasted Garlic and Dried Tomatoes

Don’t be intimidated to make homemade focaccia! This recipe for easy no-knead focaccia with roasted garlic and tomatoes doesn’t take any special skills, just plenty of hands off time with the dough fermenting! I love it topped with homemade roasted garlic and store bought sun dried tomatoes. It gets a super crispy crust and chewy texture!

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Browned Butter Pear and Dark Chocolate Baked Oatmeal

Browned Butter Pear and Dark Chocolate Baked Oatmeal

My favorite cake was the inspiration behind this recipe for browned butter pear and dark chocolate baked oatmeal. My banana and berry baked oatmeal is a regular in our house, so I decided to switch it up with this more fall-appropriate version. I love to make this dish to use up pears that are a little past their prime. Perfect for a make ahead breakfast!

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Honey Pear Pistachio Muffins with Quinoa Flour

Honey Pear Pistachio Muffins with Quinoa Flour

These honey pear pistachio muffins with quinoa flour are packed with fiber and protein and healthy fats so they'll actually satisfy and keep you full! The quinoa flour adds great texture along with the protein boost. Easily adaptable to gluten free by swapping all purpose gluten free flour. Perfect for breakfast or as a yummy sweet snack! 

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Multigrain Buttermilk Pancake Muffins

Multigrain Buttermilk Pancake Muffins

Enjoy pancakes as a weekday breakfast with these multigrain buttermilk pancake muffins, lightly sweetened with pure maple syrup! Made with a blend of buckwheat flour and whole wheat flour, they're high in fiber. Pair with peanut butter and fruit for a satisfying breakfast! It's a delicious make ahead breakfast! 

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Savory Tomato Cobbler with Whole Grain Yogurt Biscuits

Bake easy whole grain yogurt biscuits over sweet, caramelized heirloom tomatoes infused with garlic and basil to make this savory tomato cobbler. 

Ever since I saw a recipe for tomato cobbler on Joy the Baker, I've been a wee bit obsessed with the idea. Now that I've finally made one, I can't believe it took me so long. Roasting the tomatoes brings out their natural sweetness and truly, this cobbler could almost pass for dessert. Almost.

Right off the vine, summer cherry tomatoes are one of the tastiest, sweetest things...about as close to perfection as you get! As much as I was daydreaming about my tomato cobbler, I wondered if it was a sin to cook my perfect summer tomatoes. It hurt a bit as I watched my tomatoes blister and pop in the cast iron skillet, but it smelled so good coming out of the oven that I knew I made the right choice!

A savory tomato cobbler with sweet, caramelized onions and tomatoes, topped with flaky whole wheat yogurt biscuits

Speaking of cooked versus raw, that brings up a great topic I'm frequently asked about. Although the raw food craze has mostly passed, many people wonder if they're "killing" the nutrients in their vegetables by cooking them. Raw food dieters claim cooking food above 120 degrees destroys the health supporting enzymes and nutrients it contains. This is partially true. Enzymes in food are mostly deactivated by heat, but they would be destroyed anyway by the acidic environment in your stomach. And while some nutrients are lost in cooking, others are made more digestible and absorbable. The phytonutrient lycopene in tomatoes is a perfect example - tomatoes cooked in fat contain thousands of times more lycopene than raw! So really, as long as you're eating plenty of produce and preparing it in ways you enjoy, you're set!

Savory Tomato Cobbler with Whole Grain Yogurt Biscuits

Serves 4ish

Ingredients

Filling: 

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 lbs cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Biscuits: 

  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons very cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup full fat yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons honey

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet on medium-high heat. Add red onion and garlic and saute until tender, about 7-8 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil and thyme and saute until tomatoes are tender and starting to burst. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  3. While tomatoes are cooking, make the biscuits. Place the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and whisk together. Using fingers, mix in butter until it forms a sandy consistency. Stir in yogurt and honey until combined. Make four biscuits and dollop over the tomatoes. Place in the oven and bake 20-25 minutes until golden and tomatoes are bubbling. Let cool slightly and serve.

More recipes for summer tomatoes: 

Tomatoes Stuffed with Pesto Brown Rice
Tomatoes Stuffed with Pesto Brown Rice
Grilled Pork Tacos with Charred Tomatoes and Eggplant
Grilled Pork Tacos with Charred Tomatoes and Eggplant
Zoodles with Creamy Vegan Pesto and Roasted Tomatoes
Zoodles with Creamy Vegan Pesto and Roasted Tomatoes

Peanut Butter and Strawberry Jam Bars

Packed with fiber and lightly sweetened, these vegan peanut butter and strawberry jam bars are perfect for snacking or dessert! 

Vegan Peanut Butter and Strawberry Jam Bars

Hey guys! It's Recipe Redux time so you get a bonus recipe this week! Lucky you ;) And me because it gave me an excuse to try these peanut butter and strawberry jam bars I saw on my friend Alex's blog.

For this month's theme we're choosing a fellow recipe reduxer to celebrate by making a recipe from their blog.

One of the happiest surprises about starting a blog was just how many real friendships I've made through it. And Alex is one of those people! We "met" after following each others blogs for awhile, I emailed her for advice when I first started my private practice. Actually, I had also emailed Anne too, which makes me laugh because now because the two dietitians I looked up to professionally are my coworkers! Then I feel like a jerk cause I never seem to have enough time to write back all the young RDs and students who send me emails.

PB and J Bars

After emailing on occasion for about a year, we finally got to meet in real life on the California Almonds trip to Lodi, California. We actually came up with the idea for Joyful Eating on our first night over dinner and wine! Crazy to think that it's come to fruition!

I hope you check out Alex's blog, Delish Knowledge. She features the most beautifully photographed simple vegetarian recipes. This peanut butter and strawberry jam bar was a recent addition I just had to try. It's part breakfast bar, part cookie, which means you could enjoy it for breakfast or dessert!

Peanut Butter and Strawberry Jam Bars

Makes 12

Adapted from Delish Knowledge

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar or coconut sugar

  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

  • 1 cup oats

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 cup almond milk

  • 2/3 cup all-fruit strawberry jam

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8x8 baking dish with olive oil.

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together peanut butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Mix in vanilla extract, then flour, oats, salt and baking soda. Stream in almond milk and blend until combined.

  3. Place jam in a microwave safe bowl and heat 30 seconds until warm.

  4. Spread 3/4 of the peanut butter oat mixture over the bottom of the prepared baking sheet and press down with the back of a spatula. Pour the jam over the top and spread evenly with the jam.

  5. Dollop scoops of the peanut butter dough over the jam to make a "crumble" topping. Place in the over and bake 18-20 minutes until set. Remove from heat, let cool, then slice into bars.

Strawberry Rhubarb Breakfast Crisp

Try this breakfast friendly take on the dessert crisp! This strawberry and rhubarb breakfast crisp is made with whole grains, frozen fruit and lightly sweetened! 

Y'all know how I feel about all the 'New Year, New You' craziness. If not, let me sum it up. There's no need for a new you because current you is pretty cool. Let's resolve to treat current you to an amazing year.

'Nuff said.

Now, here is one new thing for the new year that I can get down with and that's this month's Recipe Redux theme: A New Ingredient for the New Year. 

This one was actually surprisingly hard. Weird ingredients are kind of my thing. Short of picking up something for shock value (offal anyone? I bet a tripe recipe would bring in tons of blog traffic!), I was really having a hard time thinking of anything that was new to me.

So, I gave up and started thinking of breakfast. Per usual.

Last month I mentioned my goal of sharing more 'formula' meals versus set recipes. Breakfast crisp is one formula meal that's been getting a lot of airplay in our house. It's basically the same thing as a dessert crisp, but made with whole grains, less sugar and is served with plain yogurt instead of ice cream. I mean, muffins are basically socially acceptable breakfast cake, so why not breakfast crisp??

I know people say baking is a science. Usually that's true, but with crisp, I never measure ingredients. Well, except for this post. But please know this is a pretty intuitive 'recipe'. All I do is toss frozen fruit, a little lemon juice and/or zest, a sprinkle of sugar and a tablespoon of any kind of flour in a baking dish. Then I top it with a mixture of flour, oats, a tiny bit more sugar and enough coconut oil to form crumbles. Sprinkle it over the top and bake at 375 for 40ish minutes. Easy peasy, right?

You can use any fruit you like. About 4ish cups works great. I use frozen for convenience sake, but fresh obviously fresh works too. For flour, I used gluten free buckwheat flour because I've got two big bags on hand, and I love it's earthy flavor. Normally I use whole wheat or spelt flour, but you could also do almond meal or oat flour. No rules here! I usually mix a half cup or so of chopped nuts into the crumble and would have thrown some almonds in there if I had remembered.

So yeah, back to that new ingredient. When I was shopping for my crisp, I ran across frozen rhubarb, a fruit (or is it a vegetable) I've never cooked with or even tried before. I'd heard it has a sweet-tart flavor and I just love tart, so there we go. My new food conundrum was solved!

Hope this breakfast crisp becomes a regular in your house too!

Strawberry and Rhubarb Breakfast Crisp

Serves about 6

Ingredients

Filling: 

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb, fresh or frozen
  • 3 cups strawberries, fresh or frozen
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon buckwheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Filling:

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup almonds, copped and toasted
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • Large pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • Yogurt, for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large baking dish, combine fruit with lemon juice, buckwheat flour and sugar. In a medium bowl, mix oats, flour, sugar, and salt. Mix in coconut oil with fingers or a fork until it sticks together. Crumble over the top of the fruit and place in the oven. Bake 40-45 minutes until bubbly and golden. Serve warm, room temperature (or cold right out of the fridge!) with yogurt.

Strawberry Rhubarb Breakfast Crisp

Gluten Free Carrot-Pecan Muffins

Alternate title: Life Changing Muffins.

This is no exaggeration friends. These bad boys are made with a combination of whole grains and almond meal and naturally sweetened with only dates, banana and shredded carrots. Although they're not cakey like store bought muffins, they're hearty and dense - a stick to your rib type of muffin.

I adapted this recipe from Green Kitchen Stories, and since then, I've adapted it many more times. Just keep the basic dry and wet mixtures the same, then swap in different shredded fruit, vegetables and nuts. You could also swap apple sauce for mashed banana if you like, but add a few extra dates to compensate for the sweetness. Although these muffins are gluten free, you could also make them gluten full by swapping whole wheat flour or spelt flour.


Gluten Free Carrot-Pecan Muffins

Makes 12

To make these vegan, use plant yogurt and swap 3 tablespoons ground chia seed mixed with 9 tablespoons water.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 2/3 cup buckwheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca starch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 roughly chopped carrots, about 1 cup
  • 6 dates, pitted
  • 2 medium bananas
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup pecans, toasted

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place oats in a food processor and blend until they form a flour. Pour out into a large bowl. Add almond meal, buckwheat flour, tapicoa starch, baking powder, baking soda, turmeric, cinnamon, salt and whisk to combine.
  3. Place carrots in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add to dry mixture and stir to combine.
  4. Add dates to the flood processor and blend until roughly chopped. Add bananas, eggs, yogurt, coconut oil, and ginger and blend until pureed. Stir wet ingredients into dry until fully combined. Stir in pecans.
  5. Divide batter evenly between the wells of a lined 12 cup muffin tin. Place in the oven and bake 30 minutes until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Store covered at room temperature and transfer to the refrigerator after a couple days.

Dark Chocolate Dipped Chai Almond Cookies

Lightly sweetened and made with whole grains, these dark chocolate dipped chai almond cookies are the perfect addition to your holiday baking! 

It's the most wonderful time of the year - Christmas cookie time!

Ever since I was a kid and would count down the days until snow covered oreos were available, Christmas cookies have made me crazy happy. Although who are we kidding, cookies make me crazy happy year round! Candy and cakes do nothing for me, but cookies are everything.

When it comes to holiday baking, I tend to get delusions of grandeur. I think I've read too many issues of Southern Living, because I dream of making all my friends pretty little boxes filled with homemade and healthy holiday cookies. I pulled it off one year for my coworkers and it quickly turned into an all night affair! Maybe I'll attempt again when I retire :)

This year I wanted to whip up a batch of cookies to bring to a holiday lunch with my officemates. These were very loosely inspired by my memories of an Italian bakery we used to go to growing up in New York. I would stare into the glass case filled with dozens of kinds of cookies and basically turn into Veruca Salt, begging my parents 'I want them ALL!'

(Timeout. Just as I was writing this, Scott walked in the door with a box of Christmas cookies from a coworker. Universe, sometimes you are awesome).

Anyway, I remember this one buttery, crumbly, barely sweet almond cookie that was dusted with powdered sugar. Another one I loved was this sweet butter cookie dunked in chocolate. This is kind of a hybrid of the two. I don't remember anything with chai tea, but I like chai tea, so lets just throw it in there for giggles. 

What are your favorite Christmas cookies? Leave a comment or a link below! 

Dark Chocolate Dipped Chai Almond Cookies

makes about 30

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup turbinado or brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk (or dairy of choice)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • The contents of 2 chai tea bags, finely ground (you could use a coffee grinder)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup toasted almonds, finely chopped
  • 1 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In the bowl of a large standing mixer, mix coconut oil and sugar on high speed until fluffy and fully combined, about 1-2 minutes. Add egg, almond milk, vanilla extract and blend until combined, scraping down sides if needed. Slowly mix in whole wheat flour, almond meal, chai tea powder and salt while mixer is running on medium-high speed, stopping to scrape down sides as needed. Add chopped almonds, mix on medium-high speed until combined, then set aside.
  3. Using a tablespoon measure, form balls of dough. Place evenly on a large, greased cookie sheet (they won't spread much) and press down lightly to flatten. Bake 20 minutes until lightly browned.
  4. Remove cookies from oven and let cool. Once cool, heat chocolate chips and oil in the microwave in 15 second intervals, stopping to stir between each interval, until smooth. Dip cookies in chocolate, then place on a sheet of parchment paper over. Carefully place cookies and parchment paper in the refrigerator to harden. When chocolate is firm, store cookies in a container with a lid in the refrigerator or at room temperature.

More holiday baking inspiration: 

Gluten Free Everything But The Kitchen Sink Cookies
Gluten Free Everything But The Kitchen Sink Cookies
Gluten Free Nutella Blondies
Gluten Free Nutella Blondies
No Added Sugar Cinnamon Raisin Spice Cookies
No Added Sugar Cinnamon Raisin Spice Cookies

Pumpkin Cornbread Muffins with Coconut Date Butter

Pumpkin cornbread muffins with coconut date butter make a delicious breakfast, snack or hostess gift for the holiday season!

Hey guys! It's another bonus recipe this week, since this month's Recipe Redux falls on a Sunday. Good thing, cause these pumpkin cornbread muffins and coconut date butter are exactly what I want to wake up to Sunday morning. If I can hold off and not eat the last two today, maybe I will!

This month's theme is quick bread, perfect timing for holiday baking season. These pumpkin cornbread muffins would be a lovely little gift. Simply wrap them up in a dish towel or napkin in a pretty basket along with a mason jar filled with date butter.

Coming from someone whose favorite cornbread used to be Jiffy, I've become quite the cornbread snob. All cornmeal. No flour. A teaspoon of honey or sugar is nice, but any more and it's cake.

These pumpkin cornbread muffins break those rules, but technically they're muffins so it's allowed. You like how with a simple change of shape I'm like, "Go ahead cornbread. Do what you want." What can I say, I'm fickle.

These cornbread muffins very lightly sweetened, so they can go sweet, with date butter or jam, or savory, paired with chili. Vegan pumpkin chipotle chili maybe?? Another fun idea - use these muffins as a base for a breakfast sandwich. You could try crisp bacon (or tempeh bacon!), a fried egg, tomato and arugula or nut butter and banana slices.

Now, can we talk about this date butter? Only two ingredients and no added sugar AND it tastes like yummy caramel! Holy smokes y'all, if you do nothing, make this date butter. I store it in the fridge, but because it's make with coconut oil, it hardens up quite a bit. Just let it sit at room temp for a bit or microwave it for 15 seconds and it'll be all creamy and delicious again.

These muffins are easily freezable. Just pop one in the microwave 30 seconds or so before eating.


Pumpkin Cornbread Muffins

Makes: 9

Adapted from Top with Cinnamon. 

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons cashew butter
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a muffin tin with olive oil.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together egg, pumpkin, yogurt, honey, cashew butter, and almond milk, In a medium bowl, whisk together cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Whisk dry ingredients into wet. Divide batter evenly between 9 muffin tins. Place in the oven and bake 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Two Ingredient Coconut-Date Butter

Makes: 2/3 cup

Ingredients

  • 12 medjool dates, pitted
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil

Instructions

  1. Place dates and coconut oil in a food processor. Blend until pureed, scraping down sides as needed. Store in the fridge. Microwave 15 seconds before serving to soften.


Gluten Free Chocolate Pumpkin Seed Cupcakes

Made with pumpkin seed meal, these gluten free chocolate pumpkin seed cupcakes with ganache are worth creating something to celebrate. 

Happy National Cupcake Day!

Kidding! I just wanted an excuse to share these rich, chocolatey, gluten free cupcakes with you all. But then I realized you never need an excuse to do that!

Plus, National Cupcake Day is December 15th. Mark your calendars now :)

I had a little happy moment while making these. I woke up, had a great run followed by (well, a shower first) an initial client meeting which went incredibly well. After our meeting, I checked my inbox to find a super sweet email from an old client sharing his progress and another email booking a corporate event. After responding, I went to the kitchen, turned on Parts Unknown, and pulled out the ingredients to spend the rest of my morning making these cupcakes.

Like a ton of bricks (or a pound of dark chocolate), it hit me. Life is pretty good :)

Last week, I had a conversation with this guy (not a client) who was, well, frankly a little cray cray. He made a lot of comments that were more than a little off the wall, but he did say something that when I thought about it later, was actually quite profound. He said "I believe if you can envision it, you can manifest it."

For years, I was stuck in a job that I liked, but it was difficult to help people reach their true potential (or reach my professional potential) because of the bureaucracy of the system. I dreamt of starting a private practice, but I didn't identify as someone with the skills to run a business. Because that was my identity, I stayed stuck.

Even after making the crazy leap into starting my private practice, I still held on to that identity. When I struggled, it was proof of my identity (a failure, supposedly), not the normal trials and tribulations that come with doing something new for the first time.

Then a funny thing happened. I started to change my perspective and view myself as success. The more I viewed myself as a success, the more success came my way. I envisioned it, therefore I manifested it.

I see the same thing with many of my clients. Those who struggle the most to change their identity also struggle the most to change their behaviors. If you think of yourself as someone who doesn’t have any control around food, why wouldn't you give in to an emotional craving or order pizza instead of cooking dinner? On the other hand, those who are able to imagine themselves as the person they want to be, or even identify as a work in progress, are those ones who constantly surprise themselves by achieving new goals.

Wow, so that was a major tangent from pretend cupcake day! Let's take this full circle. Since now you will start viewing yourself as a healthy and successful person, you should probably go ahead and make these cupcakes to celebrate!

Gluten Free Pumpkin Seed Cupcakes With Chocolate Ganache

Makes 12

Adapted from The Homemade Flour Cookbook.

Ingredients

Cupcake:

  • 2 cups pumpkin seeds

  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey

  • 1/4 cup walnut oil, melted coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil

Ganache: 

  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk or coconut cream

  • 1/2 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.

  2. Place pumpkin seeds in a food processor. Blend into a meal/flour, about 4-6 minutes. Be careful not to overblend or it will form a butter.

  3. Scrape pumpkin seed meal into a large bowl. Whisk in cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In another large bowl, whisk together eggs, honey, and oil. Mix wet ingredients into dry.

  4. Divide batter evenly between the wells, filling about 2/3s of the way full. Place in the oven and bake 16-18 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aisde to a wire rack to cool.

  5. While cupcakes are cooling, mix chocolate and coconut milk/cream in a microwave safe bowl. Heat 30 seconds, stir, then in 10 second intervals until chocolate is melted and smooth.

  6. When cupcakes are cool, spoon ganache over the top. Serve warm or refrigerate until ready to eat.

Try these other gluten free baked goods: 

Almond Trail Mix Cookies

Almond Trail Mix Cookies

Mini Chocolate Quinoa Cupcakes

Mini Chocolate Quinoa Cupcakes

No Added Sugar Cinnamon Raisin Spice Cookies

No Added Sugar Cinnamon Raisin Spice Cookies

Whole Grain Peanut Butter Jelly Muffins

Make it peanut butter jelly time, ALL the time! These whole grain peanut butter jelly muffins filled with chia seed jam are perfect for breakfast, snacking or a sweet treat. 

This post is sponsored by Crazy Richards peanut butter. I was provided with samples and compensated for this post. As always, thoughts and opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that align my Avocado A Day Nutrition values and make this blog possible! 

Like all couples, Scott and I have silly things that we argue about. Whose turn it is to do the dishes (Scotts). How many zucchinis plants is a reasonable number to plant in the garden (less than the 14 we currently have growing). Should we spend more money on the man cave (no).

Our most frequent petty argument? Peanut butter. Scott eats it all before I get a chance. I drive him nuts with my inability to put lid on correctly. Clearly, in our house, emotions run high when it comes to peanut butter.

So when Crazy Richards, makers of a peanut butter ranked best in taste by The New York Times, Cooking Light and Prevention, reached out to see if I’d like to try a sample, you can guess what my answer was.

I've always bought peanut butter made with one ingredient: peanuts. It’s the only ingredient in Crazy Richards as well. For something made with the same ingredients, I really didn’t think there could be that big of a taste difference. Let me just say, I don’t know what other peanut butters were in competition, but I can assure you Crazy Richards deserved to win. Holy smokes it’s delicious! It’s got a deep, rich, toasted peanutty flavor with just a hint of natural sweetness. Defintely something you’ll want to eat by the spoonful!

You might not think of peanut butter as a health food, probably because of it’s association with kids food (usually a safe assumption). But peanut butter is actually packed with nutrition. Here’s a look at some of the benefits:

HEART HEALTH // Peanuts are rich in nutrients that promote heart health. We all know of monounsaturated fats, the same type of cholesterol lowering fat found in avocados and extra virgin olive oil. It's also the predominant fat in peanuts and peanut butter. Peanut butter also contains vitamin E, folate and even small amounts of resveratrol, the phytonutrient found in the skin of grapes and red wine.

BIOTIN // Peanuts are the best food source of biotin, a B vitamin that plays and important role in metabolism of fat and carbohydrates. A deficiency in biotin can also affect skin. That's why biotin is often contained in many hair and skin supplements. There’s no research showing a benefit to supplements, but there’s no harm including biotin rich foods in your diet.

COPPER // Peanuts are a good source of copper with almost 50% your daily needs in one serving. Copper plays many important roles in the body, in bone and tissue health, cholesterol regulation (it targets the same enzyme as most cholesterol medications), and in the formation of an antioxidant enzyme called superoxide dismutase.

So what makes Crazy Richards better than the rest? You know, besides the fact that it tastes pretty darn close to heaven (OMG on a spoon with dark chocolate chips!). Crazy Richards uses no added sugar, salt and only the natural oil from the peanuts. Many other natural brands use palm oil to prevent the oil and nuts from separating. It's fine for health, but the production of palm oil has a devastating effect on the environment. 

Now, on to these muffins. WhenI first learned to cook healthfully, I started making these peanut butter and jelly muffins for breakfast. I was pretty excited about them, but inhindsight, they were pretty horrid and dry. What's the use of making something healthy if it doesn't taste great? Still, I kind of love the idea and I've been meaning to revamp my recipe so it doesn't taste like peanut butter smothered cardboard. This new version, lightly sweetened with coconut sugar and stuffed with a tart raspberry chia jam is pretty fantastic if I do say so myself. Perfect for breakfast or for snacking! Pro tip: double up the batch and freeze for later!

One lucky winner will receive a gift pack filled with Crazy Richard's products, including their obsessively delicious peanut butter! To win, simply leave a comment on this blog post with your favorite way to enjoy peanut butter. Deadline to win is 12 pm EST on 5/20/15 when I'll randomly pick a winner! 


Whole Grain Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins

Makes: 12 muffins

Ingredients

Chia Jam: 

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds

Muffins:

  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup Crazy Richard's peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a food processor, blend raspberries, water and chia seeds. Let sit 10-15 minutes to thicken while you prepare the other ingredients.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking powder, salt and coconut sugar. In another bowl, whisk together almond milk, coconut oil, peanut butter, vanilla, and egg. Whisk wet ingredients into dry.
  4. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with cupcake liners or spray with oil. Divide half the batter between the tins. Place a small 2 teaspoon scoop of jam in the middle of the batter, pressing down lightly. Top with the remaining batter.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes until golden.

More peanut butter recipes: 

Vegetable and Soba Noodle Stir Fry with Peanut Sauce
Vegetable and Soba Noodle Stir Fry with Peanut Sauce
Peanut Butter, Banana and Chocolate Bites
Peanut Butter, Banana and Chocolate Bites
Peanut Butter and Jelly Cups
Peanut Butter and Jelly Cups

Flourless Sticky Chocolate Plum Cake

This gluten free and vegan flourless sticky chocolate plum cake is naturally sweetened with California dried plums. Perfect for dessert or snacking alongside a cup of coffee.

“By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by California Dried Plum Board and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.”

Before this recipe contest, I hadn't had a dried plum since I was, oh, 5 years old maybe. In my mind, I remembered them tasting...well, not that great. But, we all know taste buds change so I when a pack of dried plums arrived on my doorstep, I was curious to see what they actually tasted like. Seriously, I can't believe I was missing out for so long. Hands down, favorite dried fruit and maybe even snack food in general. Since creating this recipe, we've already gone through two bags. I think I may need an intervention....

I'd heard dried plums could be used in place of butter and sugar in baked goods, but it always seemed a bit retro to me. Like something you'd see in a 1970s issue of Good Housekeeping alongside jello salad. No thanks.

But after trying my first dried plum in 25 odd years, I got it. The fruity and slightly tart flavor would pair perfectly with chocolate. The sticky texture seemed just right for a dense, flourless cake. Plus, I've been baking with other dried fruit pastes for awhile now, so it didn't seem that weird anymore.

When it comes to cake, I'm kind of a snob. I pass on anything described as light and fluffy. I much prefer cakes that are rich, dense and could be accurately described with that 'm-word' we all hate so much. That's exactly what this cake is. Especially the m-word.

Before we get to the recipe, lets talk dried plums, or as I like to call them, the artist formerly known as prunes.

May is National Osteoporosis Month, so it seems a good time to highlight dried plums role in supporting bone health. Osteoporosis is a disease in which the bones become weak and porous, causing them to break more easily. Although it mainly affects elderly women, especially those on the thinner side, men (even larger men) are susceptible, especially with our modern American diet that's low in bone building nutrients. It's also very serious. You might not think of a broken bone as being that big of a deal, but as you get older, it can seriously impact your quality of life and ability to do the things you love.

When you think bone health, you probably think calcium, vitamin D and of course, dairy. However, there are many other bone building nutrients, and research is even beginning to show dairy may not play as big of a role in bone health as we once thought. Other nutrients, like vitamin K, phosphorus, boron, copper, magnesium, and potassium, are just as important as calcium and vitamin D. And guess what? Dried plums are a great source of these nutrients! Dried plums are actually the best fruit source of vitamin K, a vitamin which increases bone mineral density. In fact, studies have found that 1-2 servings of dried plums a day increases bone mineral density and markers of bone formation, even in people who already have osteoporosis.

Other health benefits:

DIGESTIVE HEALTH // Dried plums are not only high in fiber, but also in naturally occurring sorbitol. This sugar alcohol isn't fully digested, so it pulls fluids into the gut, helping to promote regularity.

HEART HEALTH // Animal studies on prunes have found they may be effective in both lowering cholesterol and reducing atherosclerotic plaques in blood vessels.

ANTIOXIDANTS // Dried plums are a rich source of antioxidants, mainly phenols, which seem to be especially beneficial for heart health. Dried plums are also a good source of vitamin C, another antioxidant vitamin.

Now, back to the recipe. I've never been into the whole cup of coffee and a baked good thing, but if I were, I imagine this would be exactly what I'd want next to my cup o' Joe. It's not too sweet, so if you prefer it more dessert-like, feel free to increase the honey to 3 or 4 tablespoons. The rich cake would also be delicious served with whipped coconut cream. Because it's so dense and sticky, the old stick a knife in the center of the cake thing doesn't work here. Just eyeball it, you'll begin to see when it's beginning to puff around the edges. It's pretty forgiving, so no worries if you over or undercook it a bit.

Sticky Chocolate Plum Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon chia seds
  • 6 tablespoons almond milk
  • 3/4 cup California dried plums
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons shredded coconut

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together chia seeds and almond milk. Let sit to gel for 10 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. In a food processor, blend dried plums into a puree. Add chia gel, honey, almond butter, and vanilla and blend again until combined. Add almond meal and cocoa powder to the food processor and blend again until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Line a loaf pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper with some hanging over the sides then cover generously with oil. This makes it easier to remove. Scrape in batter and spread even with a spatula. Bake for 35 minutes, sprinkling with coconut halfway through cooking.
  5. Remove from oven, let cool in the pan. When ready to serve, lift out by pulling on the foil or parchement paper and cut into thin slices before serving. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.

Asparagus Eggs Benedict with Grain Free Biscuits & Avocado Hollandaise

I recently read an article in Food & Wine Magazine all about how brunch is officially back. Seriously? When as brunch ever out cause I totally missed that memo? I mean, who doesn't love an excuse to drink Bloody Mary's before noon and eat food smothered in hollandaise?

My one beef? Going out for brunch requires me to take a shower and make myself presentable on a weekend morning, which I loathe. Weekends are for lounging around the house in fuzzy socks and your ugliest, oldest, most broken in pair of yoga pants, I say. Uh oh. Did I just reveal myself to be in my thirties?

Solution? Make brunch at home and pour a couple light on the orange juice mimosas while you're at it! Not only is it a fun, stay-at-home date (or a way to pamper yourself!), but you get to enjoy the fancy breakfast food you don't have time to make during the week.

I used to think poaching eggs was impossible, only for chefs at fancy restaurants, but then I read directions on how to do it. Apparently dropping eggs into boiling water makes a hot mess of broken up boiled egg and not perfectly poached spheres of runny yolked goodness. I think this is my problem with most things in life. I act first, read directions later. Don't make the same mistake. This post on how to poach an egg by Smitten Kitchen breaks it down into simple to follow directions.

Also of note, the biscuits in these pictures are not the same ones included in the recipe. I've been damned and determined to find a perfect grain free biscuit recipe, not because I have anything against whole wheat flour, but because I'm stubborn, especially when it comes to things I'm not very good at (i.e. biscuit making). The biscuits pictured tasted great, but were a bit hockey puck-like in appearance (not in taste, thankfully). This weekend, I finally nailed it!

Asparagus Eggs Benedict with Grain Free Biscuits & Avocado Hollandaise

This recipe makes extra hollandaise, perfect for dipping spears of steamed asparagus.

Ingredients

Grain Free Biscuit:

  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons honey

Avocado Hollandaise:

  • 1 avocado
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/3 cup water

Other Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch asparagus, woody ends snapped off
  • 6 eggs

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. First, make the biscuits. In a large bowl, whisk together almond meal, coconut flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Drizzle in melted coconut oil and using your fingers or a fork, stir together until evenly dispersed in the flour. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and honey. Pour into flour and whisk until combined.
  3. Oil a baking sheet. Using a large spoon, drop 6 biscuits evenly on the sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes until golden.
  4. While biscuits are baking, steam asparagus in a steamer pot for 5 minutes until bright green and tender. Remove and set aside to cool. Once cool enough to handle, cut in half.
  5. Poach the egg using this method
  6. While you're poaching the eggs, make the hollandaise. Add the avocado, lemon juice and water to a blender. Season with salt. Blend until pureed.
  7. When ready to serve, top each biscuit with asparagus and a poached egg, then spoon on some avocado hollandaise.

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Avocado and Ricotta Tartines with Preserved Lemon

Avocado and Ricotta Tartines with Preserved Lemon

Roasted Asparagus and Radishes with Mint Pea Pesto

Roasted Asparagus and Radishes with Mint Pea Pesto

Chickpea Pancake with Fried Eggs, Avocado and Chili Oil 

Chickpea Pancake with Fried Eggs, Avocado and Chili Oil 

Collard Green Salad with Cornbread Croutons, Beets & Buttermilk Dressing

This collard green salad with cornbread croutons, beets, black-eyed peas, and probiotic rich buttermilk dressing is proof Southern food is more than fried chicken and biscuits! 

I've got a special treat in store for you today - a guest post from my lovely dietetic intern, Sallie Vaughn. We spent a few days together where she got a glimpse into the crazy life of a private practice dietitian/food blogger and a look at all the different career options for dietitians.

When we first met (after my 130 lb Saint Bernard was done pretending to be a lap dog), we chatted about her career goals. She told me as someone who grew up in a small town, she was passionate about people in rural areas live healthier lives. She then told me all about her grandma, or Grom as she calls her, and even shared an article she once wrote all about the healthy lessons she learned from her. Grom sounds like the epitome of a Southern grandma! At ninety years old (I think I got that right - apologies to Grom if I aged you!), she credits her health to savoring food with the family she loves. That's certainly something I can get behind! The dishes she cooked are a great example of how real traditional Southern food can promote health, a fact I love to share with my South Carolina clientele!

Alas, I'll turn it over to Sallie!

Hi! I am Sallie Vaughan, a dietetic intern through South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control. I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to write a guest blog post for Rachael. I am soooo excited to share my story with everyone! My blog posts talks about growing up as a child surrounded by southern food and how easy it can be to incorporate traditional southern food into everyday, healthy dishes!

Some of the best memories I can remember as a child were spent sitting around my grandmother’s kitchen table. No matter if it were after church or on a holiday, my grandmother would have a home-cooked meal ready for anyone eager to come to her house. Her kitchen often smelled of warm cornbread right out the oven. On a snowy day, you could find snow ice cream in her freezer and vegetable soup on her stovetop. Homemade chex mix and chocolate covered peanuts would sit in the living room for folks to nibble at before dinner was ready. When it was time to eat, an entire spread of food covered her kitchen table. Nobody was allowed to dig in until she blessed the food!

Gron, as we call her, has a passion for cooking and entertaining family and friends. Her house is where family gathers for all holidays and celebrations. It is rare to find cousins, uncles, and aunts all together without the presence of her good, southern cooking. If you ask anybody in the town, they could tell you how much her chocolate meringue pie is to die for. And I bet they have been invited over to her house for a meal, too! Nobody is a stranger to Gron.

I was the lucky granddaughter, though, because I lived right next door to her for 18 years! When it was just Daddy and I at home while Mama was out of town, we didn’t have to think twice about who was cooking us dinner. We just waited by the house phone until Gron called to invite us over. “Y’all hungry?” she would ask, “well come on over”.

Her kitchen table is where many stories were shared and laughs were heard. It is where we sat for hours upon hours stuffing our face until we couldn’t take another bite. It is where we gathered as one big family. And lastly, it is where my love for food and family originated. It’s no surprise to me that I am pursing a career that revolves around food. Perhaps I could blame Gron for that or thank her. I’ll go with the latter.

Since I grew up on southern food, I know how much of a bad reputation it can get. But, believe it or not, a traditional southern cuisine has great amount of benefits. Unfortunately, you can’t expect to get these benefits from cooking with loads of bacon grease and butter. You can, however, use simple substitutions to make southern food healthy.

Southern Collard Green Salad
Southern Collard Green Salad

Rachael and I spent a day together and created a healthy, southern dish that incorporated many of my grandmother’s favorite ingredients. We created a salad that included collard greens as the base and topped it with beets and black -eyed peas. We used cornbread for croutons and drizzled the salad with buttermilk dressing. Everything was made from scratch - Yum Yum! I told you southern food could be healthy!

Beets were my favorite in this salad because of all the memories I can attach it to. Gron always served beets and I was never a fan as a child. My daddy would lean over and say “you know beets make your eyes pretty, that’s why I’m so pretty”. As a nutrition student, I now know that he mixed up the health benefits of beets and carrots, but beets do have amazing benefits. They contain immune-boosting vitamin C, fiber to keep you full, and potassium/magnesium for nerves, muscles, and organ function.

The other ingredients in our salad offered many rewards, too!

COLLARDS // Provide huge antioxidant benefits. Excellent source of Vitamin K for anti-inflammatory and omega-3 fatty acids.

BLACK EYED PEAS // Our protein source of the salad. High levels of fiber and iron.

CORNBREAD // Corn meal is actually a whole grain! Whole grain=fiber! Calcium, iron, magnesium, B-vitamins, and the list goes on. Rachael and I replaced sugar for honey in the recipe!

BUTTERMILK // Doesn’t contain all the extra fat in store-bought dressings. Buttermilk provides probiotics, healthy bacteria for your gut. Provides calcium, phosphorus, and even protein.

I enjoyed spending the day with Rachael and reminiscing on my childhood. Who knew southern food could be so healthy. The key is cooking from scratch and knowing exactly what is in your food. In today’s world, everyone is so busy and often grab fast food or warm up a frozen meal in the microwave. Instead of eating together at the dinner table, many families sit in front of the television. Food has a huge impact on fueling our body, but it also brings people together for happiness. Just think of all the stories I would have missed out on without Gron’s kitchen table.

Sallie, best wishes to you in all that you do! You are smart and passionate, a surefire recipe for success! Wherever life takes you, I know you'll be inspiring others!

Crispy Cornbread Croutons

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1½ cups stone-ground cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1½ cups organic buttermilk
  • Olive oil spray

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together honey, egg, buttermilk and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Whisk wet ingredients into dry until combined.
  3. When oven is hot, place 1 tablespoon olive oil in an 8-inch cast iron skillet and place skillet in the oven for a minute to warm. Pour batter into hot skillet and place it in the oven. Bake 15 minutes until cornbread is golden and edges have pulled away from the skillet. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
  4. Reduce heat to 350 degrees. When cool enough to handle, remove cornbread from the oven and cut into cubes. Spray with olive oil and bake 10 minutes until toasted.

Collard Green Salad with Cornbread, Beets & Buttermilk Dressing

Serves 4

Here are directions for how to roast beets. You could also purchase precooked beets or even pickled beets would be great here.

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch of collards, thick stems removed and cut into thin ribbons
  • 4 medium beets, roasted or purchased precooked
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black-eyed peas, from dry or canned
  • Cornbread croutons

Buttermilk Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together collards, beets, and black-eyed peas. Top with cornbread croutons and drizzle with buttermilk dressing.