Coconut Ginger Date Oatmeal

Coconut Ginger Date Oatmeal

This creamy coconut ginger date oatmeal is made extra delish with coconut milk, making a dairy free and vegan breakfast that's packed with whole grains! Sweetened with an easy date syrup so it's no added sugar! With all the whole grains and healthy fats, it makes a satisfying breakfast that's perfect for cold weather months! 

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Savory Curry Coconut Granola with Chile Spiced Mango

Switch up your granola game with this savory curry coconut granola with chile spiced dried mango!

Happy Friday! As you're reading this, Scott and I are either in Atlanta or in transit for the wedding of two of our dearest friends. The bride is one of my best friends from college and the groom is one of Scott's best friends from middle school. They actually first met at our housewarming party and then more officially at our wedding. I'd share the full story, but it's much too embarrassing (for my brother, of all people, not them). Also I've told it about 3,347 times in real life because I've realized I'm one of those people who tells the same story over and over again, the result of an autosomal dominant gene on my paternal side.

Being on a road trip, you know we'll have plenty of travel snacks. I'm probably driving with fellow dietitian and one of my other best friends from college, Barb (of homemade yogurt fame). We've had many a road trip in our almost 15 years of friendship, but gone are the days of stopping at McDonalds. Now we do things like pack baggies of sprouted lentils, go to the drive thru for hot tea and lattes, and drive 30 minutes out of the way for artisan chocolate drinks. 

We are so old.

Granola is another one of my favorite travel snacks. It's filling, portable and tasty! But for snacks, I tend to prefer savory over sweet. I've had this idea for savory granola ever since last years trip with California Almonds. One of our activities was a snack contest featuring almonds and my group came up with a savory curry and chili spiced granola bar. While I think our bar tasted the best (purely speculative as I did not taste any of the other entries), it lost on based on the fact that we couldn't get it to stick together in bar form. Sigh...unrecognized genius.

Feel free to use any mix of nuts and grains you like. I really like using uncooked quinoa in granola for extra crunch. I had half a bag of puffed millet on hand leftover from making these marshmallow free crispy treats, but you could also use puffed brown rice or quinoa flakes. Or just keep it simple with all oats.

Don't make the same mistake I always make and add the dried fruit before baking. It makes it chewy and gives it a little bit of a burnt flavor. Stir it in after baking and cooling. You can find chili spiced mango, which is an addictive blend of sweet and spicy, at Trader Joes, or order it online. If you can find it, swap plain dried mango, dried pineapple or apricots and maybe add a teaspoon of chili powder with the curry.

Savory Curry Coconut Granola with Chile Mango

Makes about 6 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 cup puffed millet
  • 1/2 cup cashews, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chili spiced dried mango, chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together oats, puffed millet, nuts and seeds, and coconut. In another bowl, whisk together honey, coconut oil, curry powder and salt. Pour wet mixture over granola and stir to combine.
  3. Pour granola mixture onto baking sheet and spread evenly with a spatula. Bake 40 minutes, stirring lightly halfway. Remove from oven, set aside to cool then store covered at room temperature.

More snack mixes for road trips:

Easy Asian Snack Mix
Easy Asian Snack Mix
Low Sugar Dark Chocolate Almond Granola
Low Sugar Dark Chocolate Almond Granola
PB&J Granola
PB&J Granola

Marshmallow Free Crispy Treats

Marshmallow free crispy treats are a fun snack or dessert reminiscent of rice crispy treats but made healthier with puffed millet and a mixture of almond butter and honey instead of marshmallows! 

Happy Tuesday everyone! Apologies for the lack of a new recipe post yesterday. I always want to start Monday out with my favorite recipe of the week, but I was traveling this weekend and woke up with bad cold Sunday morning. When I got back home, the last thing I wanted to do was anything that didn't involve laying in bed with a box of tissues and watching the debate.

Hopefully these marshmallow free crispy treats will make up for it!

Did you love rice crispy treats as a kid? I actually did not. There are very few foods in this world that I just do not like, but alright right at the top of the list are marshmallows. So weird. So gross. The only food that makes less sense to me is jello. Apparently I have a thing about jiggly foods.

So I won't say these taste exactly like rice crispy treats, but in my book, that's a good thing! Taking a cue from my friend Min, I used a mix of almond butter and honey. This helps the crispies stick together, sweetens and adds satiating fats. So the result is a bar that can double as dessert or a snack bar.

Also, these bars aren't actually made with puffed rice because for some reason, my grocery store was out of puffed rice cereal. Hrumpf. So I decided to experiment with puffed millet, which I loved, and it's fun to switch things up. Feel free to use puffed brown rice too if that's easier to find. And you probably can skip the toasting step if the brown rice is crispy enough.

To make these bars, I used a jar of acacia honey sent to me as a sample from Heavenly Organics. I was really excited to learn about their sustainability initiatives and work providing ethical job opportunities in India. Plus, when you're making something where honey is one of the main flavor profiles, it's nice to use something a few steps up in flavor from the honey bear :)

I also added a couple fun extras, because I can't help but bling out my recipes a bit. First, chopped almonds for extra crunch and satiating fat. Then I threw in a bag of Crunchies freeze-dried strawberries, another sample I was sent. It added a pretty color and hint of fruity flavor.

One thing not to forget - use parchment paper or aluminum foil to line the pan. I forgot this step when I made my second batch of these and it was pretty much schllacked on there!

Marshmallow Free Crispy Treats

Makes 12 squares

I used puffed millet from Arrowhead Mills.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups puffed millet

  • 1/3 cup honey

  • 1/3 cup almond butter

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/2 cup almonds, chopped and toasted

  • 1 ounce bag freeze dried berries

  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spread millet evenly on a large baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 3-4 minutes, being careful not to burn or brown. Taste and make sure they're nice and crispy. Remove and set aside until ready to use.

  2. Mix honey, almond butter, coconut oil and cinnamon in a large pot on medium heat. Whisk until fully combined. Stir in puffed millet, almonds, freeze dried fruit and chia seeds.

  3. Line a large casserole dish with aluminum foil, wax paper or parchment paper. Spread millet mixture evenly in the dish and flatten with a spatula. Place in the refrigerator and chill for 1 hour before cutting into 12 squares.

More snackable sweet squares: 

Endlessly Adaptable Energy Bars

Endlessly Adaptable Energy Bars

Homemade Fig Newtons

Homemade Fig Newtons

Chocolate Hazelnut Chia Bars

Chocolate Hazelnut Chia Bars

The Creamiest Vanilla Chia Smoothie Bowl + A Giveaway!

Learn my trick for making the creamiest vanilla chia smoothie bowl with a protein boost from Kura smoothie powder! Don't forget to enter the giveaway for 3 bags of Kura AND a new blender! 

This post was sponsored by Kura Nutrition. I was provided with products and compensated for my time. Thanks for supporting the quality brands I love that make this blog possible! 

Eat less. Move more.

If you've ever dieted, it's a phrase you're familiar with. Heck, if you've ever opened a magazine, been to a doctors office, accidentally clicked on one of those spammy dieting articles, or stumbled across literally any government sponsored health promotion material, you've heard the saying.

And if we're being honest, it's a mantra I definitely spouted. It makes me cringe to think about it, but yes, there was a time I thought weight loss was as simple as eat less and move more.

Since then, I've been enlightened. Enlightened with both experience, and with plenty of new research showing weight is much more complex than a mathematical equation.

Eat less, move more is what I would consider a half truth. Calories are a measure of the energy in food. That goes for any food, not just chips, pizza, and double chocolate chunk ice cream. Extra calories we eat that aren't used for energy are stored as fat. One way to utilize more calories is to exercise more.

Knowing that, one might deduce that to lose weight, they must eat less and move more. And if one wants to loose a lot a of weight or lose weight quickly, they might eat a lot less and move a lot more.

This is why so many people turn to deprivation to lose weight. It's why you see 1200 calorie diets advertised on the cover of magazines. It's why people spend hours of their week pounding away on an elliptical. It's why I just saw an acquaintance post on facebook how disappointed she was in 'only' losing half a pound after practically starving herself doing one of those 3 day fix things. It's why hunger is considered a sign that you're 'doing things right.

That's the problem with simplifying weight control as eat less, move more - deprivation is the obvious conclusion. But it doesn't work. If we were machines rather than complex living creatures, sure, we could plug in the weight we want to be, when we want to be there and arrive at our destination. However we are humans, and it's a bit more complicated.

We know deprivation works for rapid, short term weight loss, but it backfires in the long run. Here's why. When you lose weight, your body responds by lowering its metabolic rate to fit your smaller size. When weight loss is rapid, metabolism drops at a faster rate than expected. To continue losing weight, you would have to eat less and less. To maintain, you could never go "off" your diet, even for short periods. With a lowered metabolic rate, it would  trigger weight regain, much more so than if you had lost the weight using slower, more sustainable changes.

There are so many other factors that impact weight besides the usual diet and exercise. Stress doesn't only trigger weight gain by causing you to run into the arms of Ben & Jerry - increases in stress hormones like cortisol trigger fat storage. Recent research is showing the role gut bacteria plays in weight. Then there's sleep. Did you know just 30 minutes less sleep than what you need can affect weight?

I can't tell you how many men and women I've worked with through the years who have whittled down what they eat to practically nothing, pound away at the gym, and still not lose weight.

As a final nail in the deprivation coffin, know that approximately 95% of people who lose weight through drastic measures will regain the weight they lost. And then some.

So we can all agree now - deprivation is the literal worst. And there's know way to know what your healthy weight is, which is opposite of what we're told. We don't have control over our weight, despite what diet culture tells us, but we do have control over behaviors. So let's start engaging in health promoting ones and let our body settle where it's supposed to. 

  1. Nourish your body - Focus on nourishment, not deprivation. When you focus on filling up on nutrient-dense whole foods, you automatically crowd out rich, sugary or processed foods. Plus, whole foods are naturally more filling, so you'll feel satisfied too.
  2. Feed your gut - Give your gut it's favorite food - fiber! That means lots of fruit, vegetables, and beans. Replenish your gut bacteria with fermented food and/or probiotics.
  3. Eat less added sugar - Enjoy sugar in things that are really delicious, like an extra gooey and chocolatey brownie. Avoid added sugar coming from foods hidden sources, like snack foods, dressings and protein shakes.
  4. Build muscle - Cardio burns calories, but it also makes you pretty hungry. That right, you're not the only one craving an entire pizza after a long run. Muscle tissue is more metabolically active, meaning it burns more calories at rest.

Kura Nutrition, the makers of the tastiest smoothie protein powder I've ever tried, covers all four of those bases. It's made with 14 grams of grassfed dairy protein from happy cows, which is packed with the amino acid leucine, the rock star of muscle growth. One serving contains 4 billion CFU (colony forming units) of probiotics as well as prebiotics to feed their growth. Kura contains 26 vitamins and minerals and provides a nice little dose of omega 3 fats on top of what naturally occurs in grassfed dairy. Best of all, it's made with no added sugar, just the hint of sweetness from the naturally occurring sugars in dairy!

What I appreciate most about Kura is that the company is committed to the same principles of nourishment over deprivation that I talk about all the time over here on Avocado. So why not start your day by nourishing your body with this extra creamy smoothie bowl, made with Kura's vanilla protein smoothie powder. Guys, I'm not kidding when I tell you it's the best smoothie bowl I've ever made! The trick is using an easy, overnight chia pudding instead of milk, which gives it a thick, pudding-like consistency. It's basically socially acceptable breakfast ice cream!

Don't miss your chance to try Kura at home! Enter the giveaway below for a chance to win 3 bags of Kura plus a new blender!

*CLOSED*

Vanilla Chia Smoothie Bowl

Serves 1

The trick to making the worlds creamiest smoothie bowl is blending in chia seeds soaked in plant milk. I made a big batch and scooped out 1/2 cup of chia pudding as needed. Also delish with chocolate and berry Kura protein smoothie powder too!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened plant milk
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 frozen banana, in chunks
  • 1 packet or scoop Kura vanilla protein smoothie powder
  • Toppings: freeze dried fruit, cocoa powder, shredded coconut, nut butter

Instructions

  1. The night before, mix chia seeds and plant milk in a small bowl. Let sit, covered, in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. The next morning, when ready to eat, blend chia mixture, banana and Kura protein powder in a food processor until creamy. Serve with optional toppings, or as I like to call them, sprinkles!

Baked French Toast with Mango Coconut Sauce and Almonds

Enjoy French toast every day of the week with this easy baked french toast, served with a no added sugar mango coconut chia sauce!

Happy National Breakfast Week!

Kidding! I made that up. Although sources (i.e. google) tells me National School Breakfast Week is next month. This week may not be an official holiday, but rather accidentally, I have three easy, whole food breakfast recipes scheduled for the blog. So national holiday or not, that's what I'll be celebrating this week on AADN!

Luckily, with Recipe Redux falling on today, they were totally on board with my self-declared holiday. This months' theme is Break out of Breakfast Boredom - show us the healthy way to wake up your breakfast...or wake up just for breakfast!

As I confessed to my lovely friend Alexis over at Hummusapien last week for her blogger's breakfast roundup, I am absolutely NOT a morning person. Sometimes I set my snooze alarm for another two minutes because I really need to get up and go to work, but I really don't want to get out of bed. In those drowsy, still half asleep moments, two minutes really is life or death. I feel like I'm probably not alone in this boat.

Almost everything I eat for breakfast is something I can reheat and eat or make in less than 2 minutes. With that, it's easy to fall into a routine. Smoothie. Overnight oats. Something eggy. Repeat.

French toast is something I would never make on a weekday, because let's face it, it takes much longer than 2 minutes. If only there was a way I could make it in advance...

Oh hey, there is! This baked french toast essentially makes a french toast casserole, which you can slice up and eat during the week. And actually, the prep work for the casserole itself takes only 15-20 minutes, so this is definitely a batch cooking friendly recipe. I used sprouted grain bread, which is my personal favorite for both taste and nutrition. But feel free to use any type you enjoy or have on hand. For a treat, this would be incredible with challah or brioche.

The mango coconut sauce was one that I came up with on a whim from some ingredients I already had on hand - the rest of a can of coconut milk after making a curry, frozen fruit (always a staple) and chia seeds. If you haven't already noticed, fruit sauces made from frozen fruit and chia seeds are one of my breakfast go tos (see here and here and check back on Friday for more evidence)

For more inspiration to break out of the breakfast boredom, check out the other creations from my fellow Recipe Reduxers below. Eating a nourishing breakfast is such an important way to start your day on the right foot. It gives you the energy you need to make the most of your day, boosts your metabolism, nourishes your brain and sets the tone for making more nutritious choices the rest of the day. If you're stuck in a breakfast rut, it's really easy to turn to fast food or sugary (and not at all filling) cereal, or just skip the meal entirely!

Do you ever find yourself stuck in a breakfast rut? What are your favorite ways to switch up breakfast? 

Baked French Toast with Mango Coconut Sauce and Almonds

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups milk or unsweetened plant milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 12 slices sprouted grain bread
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar, optional for topping

Mango Coconut Chia Sauce: 

  • 2 cups frozen mango
  • 1 1/2 cups canned coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
  • 1 tablespoons chia seeds

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, vanilla and honey.
  2. Spray a large casserole dish with oil or rub with coconut oil/butter. Spread bread evenly in layers in the baking dish. I cut the bread in half to prevent too much overlapping. As you're layering the bread, sprinkle about 1/3 cup of the almonds between bread layers. Pour the egg mixture over the bread and let sit at room temperature 30 minutes.
  3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Sprinkle the top of the french toast with turbinado sugar, if using. Place casserole in the oven and bake 30-35 minutes until golden brown.
  4. While casserole is baking, heat mango, coconut milk and lime/lemon juice in a medium pot on medium heat. When mango is no longer frozen and mixture is simmering, turn off heat and blend until pureed with an immersion blender. Stir in chia seeds and let sit 5 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle casserole with remaining almonds and serve with mango-coconut sauce.

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

Chocolate Hazelnut Chia Bars

These vegan, gluten free and naturally sweetened chocolate-hazelnut chia bars with sea salt are perfect for fueling a workout, or to enjoy as a sweet treat! 

Do me a favor. Next time you're at the grocery store, check out the ingredients list on your favorite energy bar. Soy protein isolate...sucralose...inulin (aka fart fuel)...is that really how you want to fuel your workout?

Although I do love a good Lara bar, for years, I've been making my own. Cheap, easy, and a whole lot tastier than anything you can find at the store! With this chocolate-hazelnut version, I think I outdid myself. Besides the whole nutella thing, these bars are packed with foods to make the most of your workout.

First, there's chocolate, which improves blood flow to muscles, which boosts endurance. Then there's omega 3 rich chia seeds, which may improve post-workout recovery with their anti-inflammatory effects. The sea salt helps replace minerals lost in sweat. And to round it all out, it's naturally sweetened with dates, one of my favorite ways to fuel a workout as it's a concentrated source of natural sugars.

Chocolate Hazelnut Chia Bars

Makes 12 bars

Ingredients

  • 1 cup packed, pitted dates

  • 1.5 cups toasted hazelnuts

  • 1/4 cup chia seeds

  • 6 Tablespoons cocoa powder

  • 1 Tablespoon water, optional (if needed to help it stick)

  • pinch of flaky or crunchy sea salt

Directions

  1. Place dates, hazelnuts, chia and cocoa in the food processor and blend until chopped finely and well combined.

  2. Add a tablespoon water if needed to help it blend.

  3. Scoop mixture into an oiled rectangle baking dish. Using a spatula, flatten the top and press down. It should be about 1/2-inch thick.

  4. Sprinkle sea salt lightly over the top and press down so it sticks.

  5. Cut into 12 bars and carefully remove with a spatula.

  6. Store in the refrigerator in a covered container where iit should be fine for a few weeks (as if they'll last that long!).  


Multigrain Vegan Blueberry Breakfast Bake

This multigrain vegan blueberry breakfast bake has no refined sugar and takes only 10 minutes hands on time to make. It's a great way to use up the random whole grains you have on hand!

Mornings just ain't my thing. Breakfast however, is absolutely my thing, and one of my favorite things at that. I'm always on the lookout for great recipes for make in advance breakfasts that I can simply heat and eat in the morning. When I stumbled upon this recipe from fANNEtastic Food for a vegan quinoa bake that involves simply dumping ingredients in a casserole dish and baking, I knew I hit gold.

The original recipe calls for only quinoa, but I decided to make mine multigrain by using a few different types of whole grains. It adds a interesting texture and helps use up the random bits of leftover grains you might have from buying in bulk. I think you could use basically any intact whole grain that normally cooks in about 15-20 minutes in varying proportions. I used a mixture of quinoa, barley flakes (which are like oats) and kasha because that's what I had, but you could also swap in amaranth, buckwheat groats, freekeh, kaniwa, millet, oats or teff. There's a whole world of whole grains out there and this is the perfect recipe to experiment with them in!

Instead of using apples, I decided to use wild blueberries, one of my favorite brain boosting foods. Last week, I taught a class of elementary age kids at a local private school about how to "eat the rainbow." We talked about the health benefits of the different colors of produce and how blue/purple foods boost brain health and memory. One of the teachers emailed me this week and said a student stopped them in the hallway and said "I ate blue today. I bet my brain is smarter!" Y'all, that cracked me up and seriously made my day!

And you know what, his brain probably is smarter! Blue/purple foods, like blueberries, are a rich source of anthocyanins, a purple pigmented phytochemical in the flavonoid family. Anthocyanins improve memory and prevent age related decline in cognitive function by decreasing inflammation and improving blood flow in the brain. Deep purple wild blueberries, which are available frozen in most grocery stores, are even richer in anthocyanins than conventionally grown, which already pack a hefty dose.

I served this with leftover cashew cream from my paleo pumpkin pancakes, but feel free to use a scoop of plain Greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey. This is also great topped with a sprinkle of toasted nuts or served cold with almond or coconut milk.

Vegan Multigrain Blueberry Breakfast Bake

8 servings

This recipe is a great way to use up leftover whole grains. Feel free to use any type that cooks in about 15-20 minutes - teff, amaranth, buckwheat groats, and millet would all work well. Serve warm with Greek yogurt, cashew creme and a drizzle of honey or cold with unsweetened almond or coconut milk. Adapted from fANNEtastic Food

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 cup barley flakes or rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup kasha or bulgur
  • 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup chia
  • 1/3 cup hemp hearts
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, preferably wild
  • 3 1/2 cups unsweetened almond or coconut milk or organic milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together quinoa, barley flakes, kasha, coconut oil, chia, hemp, vanilla extract, cinnamon and salt. Add in blueberries and toss to combine. Stir in milk.
  3. Pour into an oiled baking dish. I used a large cast iron skillet but you could use a rectangular baking dish. Dust the top with more cinnamon. Place in the oven and bake 45 minutes until liquid is absorbed and top is golden.

You might also like:

Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes with Maple Cashew Creme
Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes with Maple Cashew Creme
Toasted Coconut Oatmeal with Wild Blueberry Chia Jam
Toasted Coconut Oatmeal with Wild Blueberry Chia Jam
Baked Oatmeal with Raspberries and Bananas
Baked Oatmeal with Raspberries and Bananas

Healthy Fruit and Cream Oatmeal

I do love my overnight oats, but come winter, I want something warm and cozy. I love the idea of oatmeal, but most recipes I've tried never live up to my expectations.

So, I set out on a mission to perfect oatmeal. I set 3 goals:

1. Tastes great, even without tons of added sugar 2. Refrigerates well, because goodness knows I love the snooze button more than a warm bowl of oats. This recipe would have to be batch cooking friendly. 3. Filling enough to last till my mid-morning snack, and even until lunch for those hectic days I miss snacktime.

And what would you know, I found the perfect recipe on my first try! Toot toot (<---that's me tooting my own horn).

The trick for perfect oatmeal is quite simple - toast the oats before cooking. It adds a wonderful nutty flavor. The oats get a chewy texture that holds up to refrigeration overnight and prevents it from becoming a solid mass of bleh. Plus, toasting oats makes your kitchen smell just short of Heaven.

Another crucial upgrade - I cooked the oats in coconut milk instead of my usual unsweetened almond milk. It adds a lovely flavor and the higher fat content coats the oats and helps keep creamy, even after refrigeration.

To sweeten my oats without added sugar, I used the natural sugars in fruit. I've used a mashed banana in my oats before, which tasted great, but it doesn't refrigerate well. I often use all-fruit jam to sweeten my oats, so I decided to play on that and create my own chia seed jam. Last year, I fell in love with the concentrated flavor and super-dense nutrition of wild blueberries during our Recipe Redux contest, so I figured that would be a natural choice.

Four days in, I'm still gobbling this up and loving every bite! Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Do you have any tricks for making oatmeal taste great? Leave your favorite oatmeal hacks in the comments below!

Healthy Fruit and Cream Oatmeal

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cans of coconut milk (low fat or full fat)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • Large pinch of salt
  • 1 cup almonds, roughly chopped

Chia jam:

  • 3 cups frozen wild blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons chia seeds
  • Unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk for drizzling
  • Honey or pure maple syrup (optional)

Instructions

  1. First, make the jam. Place blueberries, lemon and water in a small pot on medium heat. After a few minutes, the liquids will release. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, mashing the berries with a potato masher as they cook. Turn off heat, stir in chia seeds and let sit 10 minutes until thickened.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pot on medium heat. Add oats. Cook 5-7 minutes, stirring every so often, until they smell toasty. Add coconut milk and enough water to make a total of 6 cups of liquid along with the vanilla extract and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes. Stop cooking while the oats still have a bit of liquid, since it will soak in a bit in the fridge.
  3. While the oats are cooking, toast the almonds. I usually place them on a small baking sheet in the toaster oven.
  4. To serve, drizzle the oatmeal with a little almond milk or coconut milk and a teaspoon of honey or pure maple syrup if using. Swirl in chia jam and top with almonds.

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