Although sometimes it's hard to get my life together enough on a Sunday to whip up a big bowl of grain salad for lunch, I'm always so glad when I do.Read More
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
- 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
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- 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.
- 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:
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.
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
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.
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.
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:
This sweet & spicy tofu millet bowl with garlicky kale and citrus tahini dressing makes a perfect lunch!
You know what I realized I don't have enough of on this blog? Asian inspired grain bowls.
KIDDING! I've posted 11. Just counted.
Buuuut, I still think this one deserves it's own special place on the blog. First, there's the sweet and spicy baked tofu. Make sure you leave plenty of time for it to marinate, so it soaks up all the delicious flavors. If you think you don't like tofu, trust me, this recipe will change you.
Then there's the garlicky kale. Kale and garlic are like peanut butter and bananas. I love how the sweet bite of sauteed garlic permeates the bitter greens.
Of course, avocado is mandatory. Except when you're about to take photographs and slice one open and it's brown inside. Then said avocado becomes optional.
We can't do a grain bowl without crunch. For this bad boy, we've got toasted pumpkin seeds. If you're ever looking for something to fulfill a salty, crunchy craving, try salted toasted pumpkin seeds. The little pocket of air in the middle expands, giving them some major crunch.
Because all grain bowls need some fermented goodness, I added a scoop of fermented sauerkraut. I used an Asian arame and ginger kraut by Wild Brine but any ol' kraut will do.
Last but not least, there's tahini dressing, the king of all dressings. This one is spiked with miso (more probiotics!), citrus and sriracha.
Sweet & Spicy Tofu Millet Bowl with Garlicky Kale
- 1 block extra-firm tofu
- 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar, coconut sugar or brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons sriracha
- 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 cup millet
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 10 ounce bag of chopped kale, or 1 bunch kale, chopped
- 2 large carrots, shaved into ribbons
- 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
- 1/2 cup fermented sauerkraut (optional)
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 1/2 cup tahini
- 2 tablespoons miso paste
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon sriracha
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- Juice of 1 large naval orange
- Wrap tofu in a clean dish towel. Place on a plate and weigh with something heavy, like a cast iron skillet. Let sit to drain water about 30 minutes or longer. The longer it sits, the more water it will drain and the more room to soak up marinade. You can leave it in the fridge to drain if desired. Or, you can drain it quickly using a tofu press. Chop into 1 inch cubes.
- In a large plastic container, whisk together sugar, soy sauce, sriracha, vinegar and sesame oil. Place tofu inside, cover and shake to combine and coat. Place in the refrigerator and let marinate at least 30 minutes or all day/overnight.
- When ready to make bowl, first whisk together all the dressing ingredients. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Set aside until ready to use.
- Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Drain tofu and spread evenly on a large baking sheet sprayed with olive oil. Place in oven and bake 20 minutes total, flipping halfway, until browned. Set aside until ready to use.
- While tofu is cooking, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a small pot. Add millet and toast for a couple minutes. Add 2 cups water, bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer 15-18 minutes until water is absorbed. Let sit covered a few minutes, then remove lid and fluff millet with a fork.
- While millet is cooking, heat olive oil in a large sided pan. Add garlic cloves and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add kale and 1/2 cup of water. Cook until wilted and tender, about 10-12 minutes total, adding more water as needed. Season with salt and pepper.
- Divide millet evenly among four bowls. Top with sauteed kale, tofu, carrots, pumpkin seeds, kraut, avocado and drizzle with dressing.
More Asian-inspired grain bowls:
Packed with healthy fats and whole grains, these endlessly adaptable energy bars make a filling grab and go snack or light breakfast! Sweetened with just a hint of maple syrup.
When have you ever felt truly satiated or nourished from an energy bar? Back when I was in college, I lived off cookie dough flavored Slim Fast bars for breakfast. At the time, I thought of it as a 'healthy' way to have cookie dough for breakfast. My diet food-philic taste buds actually believed they tasted like real cookie dough. They do not. If only I paid attention to how they made my body feel...and how hungry I was before my second class!
I get the convenience of energy bars, I really do. There are even a few brands that taste good and are pretty satisfying - because I know you'll ask, I like Lara Bars, KIND bars and Health Warrior Chia Bars.
Mostly, I make my own. It's cheaper, you have control over the ingredients, and it tastes a whole lot better. And you know what? Homemade bars are actually filling! Like, I could eat one of these for breakfast and okay, I would be hungry for a snack by 10 am, but I'm always hungry for a snack then.
As with most of my cooking, I take a 'throw in a bunch of crap I have laying around and hope it comes out' approach. This recipe is endlessly adaptable based on whatever staples you have on hand. It's a great way to use up extra grains, dried fruit and nuts you have on hand.
Endlessly Adaptable Energy Bars
For the pictured recipe, I used quinoa, a mixture of sunflower seeds, walnuts and pecans, honey, and dried plums.
- 2 cups rolled oats, old fashioned oats or quick cook steel cut oats (the latter will yield a crunchier, but slightly harder to cut bar)
- 1 cup quinoa, millet, oats, teff or amaranth
- 1 cup chopped nuts of choice, or a mixture
- 1/2 cup chopped unsweetened dried fruit
- 1/3 cup honey or pure maple syrup
- 1/2 cup nut butter of choice
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, olive oil, peanut oil or avocado oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place oats, grains, and nuts in a large skillet on medium heat. Cook, stirring every so often, until they smell toasty. Remove from heat and carefully pour into a large bowl.
- Meanwhile, combine honey/syrup, nut butter, oil, vanilla extract and salt in a small pot on medium heat. Cook, stirring to whisk, until melted and well combined. Pour over the oat mixture and stir to combine.
- Line a rectangle baking dish with aluminum foil or parchment paper so that some is coming out from the edges. This makes it easier to remove the bars after cooking. Pour the oat mixture in to the baking dish and press down to even out the top. Place in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until browned around the edges. Remove and set aside to cool.
- Once at room temperature, place it in the fridge to chill, which makes it easier to cut. Once cold, cut into bars and store in the fridge until ready to eat.
More energy bars:
A gluten free and vegan millet fajita bowl, drizzled with creamy avocado lime sauce and a spicy mango macadamia dressing.
Craving Mexican? With Cinco de Mayo coming up, I imagine that's a strong possibility!
Before fancy tacos became popular, fajita anything was my go to Mexican food order. Fajita burritos, fajita quesadillas, fajita salad…actual fajitas. I always loved that extra dose of veggies in the form of sweet caramelized peppers and onions.
Buritto bowls are a thing, so a fajita bowl seems like a natural progression. You could use quinoa or brown rice instead of millet, but I love how millet’s corn-like flavor is reminiscent of corn tortillas. This vegan dish gets it’s protein from black beans, but you could also add chicken, steak, shrimp to the mix. Although it obviously wouldn’t vegan. Ditto for cheese. Cheddar is the standard fajita choice, but I prefer cotija or feta.
To save time, use precooked brown rice and quinoa and premade guacamole. You can also leave off the spicy mango dressing or add a few cubes of mango to the side. I just had leftovers from my tropical salad and thought "Hey, why not?!" The sweet and spicy goes so well together, especially with the creamy citrusy avocado dressing.
On a more serious note, I can't seem to turn my eyes away from the media coverage of the earthquake in Nepal. Last year, Scott and I were planning to take a trip to Kathmandu then hike to Mount Everest's base camp. In the end, we decided to put the trip off for a year or two, but had we booked the trip we were looking at, we would have returned home just a few days before. Can't help but think of the people who were injured and killed that could have been our new friends. My heart is breaking for their families and everyone in Kathmandu. If you'd like to donate to the victims, CNN has put together a list of reputable charities working in Nepal.
Millet Fajita Bowl with Avocado Cream Sauce
To save time, use precooked brown rice or quinoa and store bought guacamole.
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup millet
- 2 cups water
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 large red bell peppers, cored and sliced thin
- 1 large red onion, peeled, halved and sliced into 1/2 inch slices
Avocado Cream Sauce:
- 1 avocado
- 1/3 cup cilantro
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1/4 cup water
- Spicy Mango-Macadamia Dressing (optional)
- In a medium pot, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil on medium heat. Add onion and half the garlic. Saute until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add millet, stir to combine. Add water and salt, bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook 15 minutes until water is absorbed. Turn off heat and let sit 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork. Stir in black beans and set aside.
- Heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add peppers, onions and garlic and saute, stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly caramelized, about 10 minutes.
- While the vegetables are cooking, make the avocado cream sauce. Blend avocado, cilantro, lime, and water with salt to season in the food processor. Add more water if needed to reach desired consistency.
- If making the mango dressing, rinse out the food processor and make the mango-macadamia dressing.
- Divide millet between four bowls. Top with sauteed vegetables and drizzle with avocado cream sauce and mango dressing.
This gluten free millet and quinoa crust pizza is made with soaked whole grains and topped with pesto, spinach, grilled squash and scallions.
For me, cooking is more than a chore or the means to produce something yummy to eat - it's a creative expression. Food is art, and not just for experienced restaurant chefs. Combining and layering different flavors, creating new dishes, and reinventing old are all expressions of creativity for the home cook as well. And for me, as someone who has pretty much zero artistic skill, it's my main creative outlet.
It's well established that art affects the brain in positive ways. It improves memory, resilience and mood. Children who engage in arts have been shown to do better in school and have better social skills.
Although the research has been done for more typical forms of art, like music, art and dance, I think cooking would demonstrate similar results. Really, it's such a similar mental process. And it's much more approachable than picking up a paintbrush or signing up for a glassblowing class :)
I once read the average family has only seven recipes they recycle each week. This makes me sad. I know many people don't get the same kick out of trying new things as I do, but I won't accept eating the same seven dishes over and over again. .
When I try to get clients to step out of the box, we usually start by remaking a favorite dish. They're excited to create something they love in a healthier, but equally satisfying way.
This pizza is a perfect example. With a crust made from soaked quinoa and millet blended with water, it couldn't be further from a traditional yeast and wheat dough. The crust is thin and crispy around the edges with a tender middle. The grains start to ferment an even sprout a bit, which adds a complex, fermented taste to the dough - kinda like traditional wheat dough!
Millet and Quinoa Crust Pizza with Pesto, Spinach and Grilled Squash
Makes 2 small-medium pizzas, serves 2-4
Adapted from The First Mess
- 3/4 cup quinoa, soaked 24 hours in water
- 3/4 cup millet, soaked 24 hours in water
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup lightly packed basil
- Heaping 1/4 cup pesto , homemade or store bought
- 1 summer squash or zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/2-in slices
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 bunch small leeks or green onions
- 1 bunch spinach, chopped
- Pinch crushed red pepper
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta
- Fresh basil to garnish
- First, prepare the toppings. Heat a grill to medium-high. Spray the squash and leeks/green onions with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill about 3-5 minutes per side until lightly charred and tender.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add spinach and red pepper flakes and cook until wilted. Season lightly with salt and set aside in a bowl.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Rinse grains in a fine-mesh sieve then scrape into food processor. Add water, 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt. Blend until you get a thick, pancake batter-like consistency. Add basil and another 2-4 tablespoons water if needed to thin (I added another 3 tablespoons water).
- Put two (oiled if not nonstick) cake pans in the oven for 4 minutes to heat. Remove from oven and divide remaining tablespoon of olive oil between the two pans. Place back in the oven to heat the oil 1 minute, without letting it hit it's smoke point. Remove from oven and divide the batter between the two pans, quickly spreading it even with a spatula. Return to the oven and bake 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, carefully flip the crust, and return to oven to bake another 6-8 minutes. Remove crusts from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.
- When cool enough to handle, spread pesto evenly on the crust. Top with spinach, squash, feta cheese. Place back in the oven to reheat the ingredients if needed, just for a minute or two.