Cranberry Apple High Protein Oatmeal

Cranberry Apple High Protein Oatmeal

Start your Thanksgiving holiday with a bowl of this cranberry apple high protein oatmeal! It's got some staying power, with extra protein from eggs, but won't weigh you down, so you'll have plenty of appetite for turkey! Plus, the toppings are all ingredients you'll have on hand on Thanksgiving! 

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Freekeh Salad with Roasted Grapes and Brussels Sprouts

This easy freekeh salad with roasted grapes and Brussels sprouts is your new favorite make ahead lunch for winter!

Freekeh Salad with Roasted Grapes and Brussels Sprouts

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup freekeh

  • 12 ounces Brussels sprouts, quartered

  • 1 1/2 cups grapes

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil

  • 1 cup edamame

  • 4 cups baby kale

  • 1/2 cup pecans, toasted

  • 1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled

  • Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic

  • 1 teaspoon honey

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

  2. Bring freekeh and 2 1/2 cups water to a boil in a small pot. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25-30 minutes until water is absorbed. Let sit covered 5 minutes to steam, then remove cover and fluff with a fork. Let cool to room temperature.

  3. Toss Brussels sprouts with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Spread evenly on a large baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Toss grapes with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and spread evenly alongside Brussels sprouts or on a seperate small baking sheet. Place in the oven and roast the Brussels sprouts 25 minutes until golden and tender and grapes 20 minutes until just starting to burst, flipping halfway.

  4. Mix dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

  5. Toss freekeh, roasted grapes and Brussels sprouts, pecans, edamame, and kale in a large bowl. Toss with dressing. Top with crumbled goat cheese and serve.

Endlessly Adaptable Energy Bars

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 BarsKIND 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

Makes 12

For the pictured recipe, I used quinoa, a mixture of sunflower seeds, walnuts and pecans, honey, and dried plums.

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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: 

Almond Trail Mix Cookies
Almond Trail Mix Cookies
Chocolate Hazelnut Chia Bars
Chocolate Hazelnut Chia Bars
Quinoa Tahini Bar
Quinoa Tahini Bar

Brussels Sprouts Salad with Ambrosia Apples and Tempeh Bacon

Disclosure: I was asked to participate in the #iloveambrosia campaign as a member of Healthy Aperture Blogger Network. I was compensated for my time and gifted a dozen Ambrosia apples. Thanks for supporting Avocado A Day! 

If there was anyone more excited than me when I was asked to participate in the #iloveambrosia apple campaign, it was my pup, Savannah. Adorbs, isn't she?

Being the good dietitian's dog that she is, her favorite treat isn't rubbery pupperoni or even her all natural, smoked salmon treats. It's apples. Y'all, that dog will do anything for apples. She'll pull out tricks we've never even taught her just to get the core leftover from our snack. She can even hear the sound of us biting into an apple from the other side of the house! Because we're suckers for that precious little face, she generally gets a decent portion of every apple we eat, plus the ones that get mealy or brown.

When a package of twelve GORGEOUS Ambrosia apples arrived at our doorstep, I thought her eyes would pop out of her head with excitement. I actually tried to get her picture with the apples, but it basically turned into that scene from There's Something About Mary when Matt Dillon's character gives Fluffy the dog speed. True story.

I totally get her excitement. These were some pretty darn gorgeous apples. No hint of blemish, even after a week in the heavily trafficked fruit crisper. A deep pink blush over a creamy yellow background. Shiny skin. Huge.

I was even more excited when I took a bite.

I know I overuse superlatives, but this was the best apple I've ever tasted.

Aptly named after the food of the gods, Ambrosia apples mysteriously appeared as a seedling in a orchard full of Jonagolds. After the pickers stripped the tree clean of it's perfect fruit, the farmer decided to produce more. Ambrosias are one of the sweetest apple varieties with a flavor reminiscent of honey. I generally prefer tart apples, but the complex flavor, crisp flavor and juiciness won me over!

After tasting the apple, I knew I wanted to keep it in it's raw form and preserve it's perfection. I also wanted to do a savory recipe rather than sweet. Dare to be different, I say.

The sweet Ambrosia apple perfectly pairs with bitter Brussels sprouts leaves. The smoky tempeh bacon, nutty pecans and acidic lemon dressing balance out the flavors. I should note, this salad was made for batch cooking. The apples, which oxidize slower than other varieties, didn't brown and the sprouts stayed crisp for the three days I kept it in the fridge. All it needs is a dash more lemon before serving and you're good to go!

Like all apples, Ambrosia's are a good source of fiber with 4 grams in each medium apple. It's especially rich in soluble fiber, known for it's cholesterol lowering benefits. It's also a good source of the antioxidant vitamin C. Much of the research on apples has focused on their polyphenol content, a type of phytonutrient which makes apples especially good for blood sugar regulation. The polyphenols found in apples slow down carbohydrate digestion, stimulate the pancreas to release more insulin, and reduce glucose absorption. Make sure to eat the skin where many of the nutrients concentrate!

Now, I know you all are on the edge of your seat waiting to find out what Savannah thought of these apples. I'm sorry to report that she's just not a fan. Not because they aren't delicious, but because her mommy and daddy ate all of them, leaving her with just a few, almost completely stripped down cores. Her puppy dog eyes are cute, but no match for the allure of these apples.

Brussels Sprouts Salad with Ambrosia Apples and Tempeh Bacon

Serves 4

Although this salad, full of healthy carbs, fat and protein, is perfectly satisfying, if you want to bulk it up a bit more, add chickpeas. And although it would not longer be vegan, blue cheese would be a welcome addition as well.

Ingredients

Bacon:

  • 8 ounce organic tempeh
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1-2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

Salad:

  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts
  • 2 large Ambrosia apples
  • 1/3 cup pecans, chopped and toasted
  • Dressing:
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard

Instructions

  1. First, make the tempeh bacon. Cut the tempeh in half lengthwise, then cut each half into 12 thin slices, for a total of 24. Place in a zip top bag or plastic container with lid. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, molasses, and spices. Pour over tempeh and let marinade at least 2 hours or overnight.
  2. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 300 degrees and brush a baking sheet with olive oil. Line the tempeh up on the baking sheet and brush the tops with more olive oil. Bake for 12-14 minutes, flip, then bake an additional 8 minutes until browned and slightly crisp.
  3. Cut the Brussels sprouts in half lengthwise through the core. Using a paring knife, cut away the core so the leaves fall apart and separate. Add to a large salad bowl. Dice the apple and add to the sprouts along with the pecans. Toss in the pecans.
  4. Whisk together the salad dressing ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Toss with the salad and serve.

Kale, Caramelized Onion and Apple Stuffing

Kale, Caramelized Onion and Apple Stuffing

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

  • 1 lb 100% whole grain, bakery bread (I used the whole wheat Tuscan pane at Trader Joe's)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 2 medium apples
  • 10 ounces chopped kale (or 1 bunch, stemmed and chopped)
  • 2 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 egg

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut the bread into large cubes. Toss with 1/4 cup olive oil. Season with salt and pepper then spread evenly on a large baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes until golden and toasted.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add onion, garlic, fennel, red pepper and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring every so often, until very tender and lightly caramelized, about 10-15 minutes. Add kale, a couple tablespoons of water, and cover. Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir every so often and add a few tablespoons of water if it starts to look dry. Cook until very tender, about 30 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, combine kale and bread cubes. Chop apples and add to the mixture along with the pecans. Season with salt and pepper. Spread evenly in a large baking dish. Whisk egg and vegetable broth together. Pour evenly over dressing. Cover with foil or a cover and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake an additional 25-30 minutes until bread is golden and crisped on top.

Multigrain Blueberry Cottage Cheese Pancakes

Fluffy multigrain blueberry pancakes packed with protein from cottage cheese! 

If I make a dish and the result is unsatisfactory, I rarely try again. I guess I’m a quitter, or at least in the kitchen. I’m rather surprised that pancakes were the dish that got me back in the kitchen, since I’ve never been a big fan of sweet foods for breakfast. But I was determined to create a healthy version of this recipe, which promised pancakes that were barely sweetened, light and fluffy yet filling from the cottage cheese and nuts. In fact, these pancakes motivated me to get back in the kitchen three whole times, tweaking the recipe until I got it just right.

With my first batch I attempted a gluten free version with buckwheat and oat flour. While fully edible, they were a little overly browned and didn’t have the light texture I was looking for, so I gave up on the whole gluten free thing. Leave it to the experts. For the second batch, I added spelt flour, but in an attempt to prevent my coconut oil from solidifying as I whisked it into cold eggs and milk, I used room temperature ingredients. The result was weird puddly looking pancakes. As history has shown, I'm not afraid to post ugly food if it tastes good, these were just too much. Finally, in my last attempt, I figured out the perfect technique for emulsifying the coconut oil into the batter without clumps or weird looking pancakes. They still won't win any beauty pageants, but thats not what cooking is about - only food blogging!

Lets take a deeper look at spelt flour, as it’s an ingredient I frequently use on this blog and get quite a few questions about. In fact, I use spelt flour almost exclusively over whole wheat flour. From a culinary standpoint, I love it’s light flavor, which tastes less wheaty than whole wheat flour. It also produces baked goods with a lighter texture, rather than whole wheat which can get a bit heavy for things like pancakes. Plus, it’s 100% whole whole grain so it’s still got all the good stuff! Also interesting about spelt, it contains less gluten and a more soluble form of gluten, so people with gluten intolerance or those using a low FODMAPS diet for IBS often tolerate it in small amounts. It still contains some gluten though, so avoid if you have celiac disease. You can purchase it online and in most health food stores where it can be found both packaged and in bulk.

The other two flours I used in these pancakes are oat flour and buckwheat flour. Both are whole grain, gluten free flours. Oat flour is made from finely ground oats and is one of the most common gluten free flours I use. I find it works especially well in cookies and other sweets where it adds a light sweetness and oaty flavor. Buckwheat flour has a earthy flavor and pretty purple color that I love. It was a natural addition, since buckwheat pancakes used to be a common breakfast.

Multigrain Blueberry Cottage Cheese Pancakes

Makes 12

These pancakes have the tendency to stick, so I would use a nonstick skillet or make sure you butter the griddle generously. They deflate a bit the longer they sit, so for maximum fluff, serve these straight off the stove. Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup spelt flour
  • 1/3 cup oat flour
  • 1/3 cup buckwheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons natural sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup full fat, organic cottage cheese
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans

Instructions

  1. Pure maple syrup and plain yogurt for serving
  2. Whisk flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. In a seperate bowl, whisk together almond milk, cottage cheese, egg yolks and vanilla.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk together until combined. Quickly whisk in the coconut oil so it is well combined into the batter without clumps. Stir in the blueberries and pecans.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat the two egg whites until stiff then fold them into the batter.
  5. Heat a nonstick pan lightly greased with coconut oil on medium heat. When hot, add 1/4 cup spoonfuls of batter to the skillet. When the edges start to look try, after about 5 minutes, flip them. This batter is thicker, so you won't see as many bubbles in the middle as a sign it's ready to flip. Cook 2 minutes on the other side, then remove to a plate and serve or keep warm in a 200 degree oven.
  6. Serve topped with plain yogurt and a drizzle of maple syrup.