I know weather talk is really boring most of the time but this has been a wild weather week for us so, forgive me. It was 55 degrees on Wednesday. We stayed late after school playing soccer, football, and sliding down the slide 1,000 times. Nobody had a jacket on. Then came Thursday. A storm blew in and dumped wet, heavy snow all across the island. Most houses lost power, the ferries stopped running, and school was canceled. Today, the island looks pretty and sparkly with its fresh coat of white but it hasn’t gotten warmer than 25 degrees and I do prefer those jacket-less winter days, however abnormal they are.
If you’re looking for an easy cooking project this weekend or simply want a new snack to toss into lunch boxes next week give these Popcorn “Granola” Bars a try. The list of ingredients is completely adaptable to your tastes and your pantry.
Popcorn “Granola” Bars slightly adapted from Food52
Makes 1 9-inch by 13-inch pan of bars
1 cup almond or peanut butter
1/3 cup honey, agave, or maple syrup
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce or fruit compote
Olive oil, as needed
4 to 6 cups popcorn
1 1/2 cups whole walnuts or almonds or a combination
1/3 cup raw hulled pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/3 cup raw hulled sunflower seeds (I used raw sesame seeds)
1/3 cup ground flax seed
1. Line a 9- by 13-inch baking pan with parchment or wax paper so that you have overhang.
2. In a small pot over low heat, warm the nut butter, honey, and applesauce until melted. You want a sauce that is loose enough to cover the popcorn kernels and become evenly distributed amongst them. You may need to whisk in some olive oil (a couple of tablespoons) to achieve this consistency.
3. In a large bowl, mix together popcorn, nuts, pumpkin seeds, coconut, sunflower seeds, and flax seed. Pour over the nut butter mixture and mix until thoroughly combined.
4. Dump into the prepared pan, then use plastic wrap to mush the mixture down evenly. Freeze overnight, then slice into bars! Store in the freezer.
In the November issue of Bon Appetite, Anna Jones shares a few “healthy-ish holiday survival” recipes. If you’re not familiar with Anna Jones this is what the magazine has to say about her: “The former food stylist to Jamie Oliver, Jones has a refreshing food sensibility that we can’t get enough of. Her recipes are practical yet creative, and they’re packed with feel-good ingredients that make the finished dishes more-not less-delicious. And guess what? They’re all vegetarian.”
Anna suggests making this Skillet Phyllo Pie with Butternut Squash, Kale & Goat Cheese for dinner on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. That’s some good advice although we enjoyed it very much as a Sunday dinner last weekend. The recipe is highly adaptable. Try it with Swiss chard or spinach in place of kale. Any squash or root vegetable will work in place of the butternut.
We also made a tray of her Seedy Oat Crackers or “the guiltless cracker” which can be made ahead of the holiday craziness (they’ll keep for up to ten days). Seedy Oat Crackers are gluten-free, and have very little fat. Packed with nutrient-dense seeds and oats, these special crackers leave you feeling satisfied.
Skillet Phyllo Pie with Butternut Squash, Kale & Goat Cheese from Bon Appetite November 2016
Serves 4 to 6
3 tablespoons olive oil plus more for brushing
2 medium red onions, finely chopped
1/2 small butternut squash (about 1 lb.) peeled, cut into 3/4″ pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped thyme
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 bunch Tuscan kale, ribs and stems removed, thinly sliced crosswise
2 large eggs, beaten to blend
3 ounces Parmesan, grated
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
8 ounces frozen phyllo pastry, thawed
4 ounces fresh goat cheese or feta, crumbled
Place a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 400 F. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, 6-8 minutes. Add squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost tender, 8-10 minutes. Mix in thyme and red pepper flakes and transfer to a medium bowl; let cool. Wipe out and reserve skillet.
Add kale, eggs, Parmesan, and lemon zest to squash mixture and gently mix to combine; season with salt and pepper. Layer phyllo sheets inside reserved skillet. Spoon kale-and-squash mixture into phyllo and dot top with goat cheese. Brush edges of phyllo lightly with oil and fold over filling, overlapping slightly, leaving center exposed.
Cook pie over medium heat until bottom of pastry is just golden (carefully lift up on side with a heatproof rubber spatula so that you can take a peek), about 3 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and bake pie until kale is wilted and tender and phyllo is golden brown and crispy, 20-25 minutes. Let pie cool in skillet at least 15 minutes before slicing into wedges.
Do Ahead: Pie can be baked 6 hours ahead. Let cool; store uncovered at room temperature.
Seedy Oat Crackers “the guiltless cracker” from Bon Appetite November 2016
Makes 8 servings
1 cup old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/3 cup sesame seeds
3 tablespoons chia seeds
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
Preheat oven to 375 F. Mix oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, poppy seeds, and salt in a large bowl to combine. In a separate bowl, stir oil, maple syrup, and 3/4 cup room-temperature water together. Pour over oat mixture; toss until soaked. Let sit 10 minutes to allow mixture to thicken. From into a ball. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, press another sheet of parchment on top, and roll out to 1/8″ thick (the shape doesn’t matter). Remove top layer of parchment. Bake cracker until golden brown around the edges, 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully turn over cracker; remove parchment. Bake cracker on same sheet until firm and the other side is golden brown around the edges, 15-20 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet, then break into pieces.
Sometimes vegan desserts or those trying to be something they’re not (hello pie made from tofu) are just so depressing it hurts. But then…there are some sweet treats made simply of fruits, nuts, healthy fats, and natural sweeteners that are just so good it hurts. Happily, this (Almost) Raw Strawberry & Ginger ‘Cheesecake’ falls in the second category.
I made these ‘cheesecake’ bars to bridge the end of our elimination diet and the start of eating in the real world again (yes, a world that involves whole grains and beans!). Sweeteners were not allowed last month (including maple syrup and honey) so the pop of sweetness from the dates, strawberries, and maple syrup in this dessert feels really special.
(Almost) Raw Strawberry & Ginger ‘Cheesecake’ adapted from My Darling Lemon Thyme
makes 12 – 14 bars
1 1/2 cups pitted dried dates, roughly chopped
2/3 cup whole raw almonds
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil, melted if solid
3 cups raw cashew nuts, soaked overnight in cold water + drained
3/4 cup virgin coconut oil + 1 tablespoon extra, melted if solid
1/2 cup lemon or lime juice
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (can omit if you are steering away from sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 tablespoons finely grated ginger
1 pint strawberries
To make the base, line a 11 x 7 -ish tin with parchment paper, extending up and over the sides by a couple of inches. Place dates, almonds and coconut oil in a food processor and blend on high until relatively finely ground. Press mixture into the base of the tin, using the back of a spoon to pack down firmly.
To make the filling, place drained cashews, coconut oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, vanilla and salt into a food processor and blend of high until smooth. Transfer a little under half of the mixture to a bowl, then add grated ginger to the mixture remaining in the food processor and blend on high until smooth. Pour this ginger mixture over the base and place into the freezer while you continue.
Place 3 roughly chopped strawberries, the reserved filling, and extra 1 tablespoon coconut oil into the (unwashed) food processor and blend until smooth. Remove tin from freezer and pour strawberry filling over the top layer. Smooth off with a spoon or palette knife and place into the fridge 4-5 hours (or freezer 2-3 hours if in a hurry) or overnight, until set firm.
Slice remaining strawberries into thin slices and arrange over the top of the cheesecake. Slice and serve. Store in the fridge in a covered container for 5-7 days or freeze for up to 1 month. Defrost on the bench 20-30 minutes before eating.
You didn’t think I’d let Gray’s half birthday slip by without some edible celebration did you? I mean, I don’t really need an excuse to eat a cookie (fine, a few) but I do like having an excuse to, especially one that involves one of my favorite people on the planet. I was hesitant to offer such a unique cookie to our crew and try to pass it off as the half-birthday celebration desert (I mean, this is a vegan, gluten-free cookie and looks nothing like a birthday cake) but happily everyone adored these treats and didn’t question the copious amount of seeds and goodness bursting out of them.
So, if you need a solid healthy cookie recipe this is one to try. The fact that it happens to be vegan and gluten-free is an added bonus for those of you who have diet restrictions or party with those who do.
Oat & Flax Cookies (with chocolate)
makes 12 to 15 cookies
2/3 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup flax seeds
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
2 tablespoons almond meal
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chunks
1. First, preheat the oven to 350ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, mix all the oats, flax seeds, coconut, almond meal, coconut sugar, chia seeds, ground ginger, cinnamon, and salt together.
3. In separate bowl, whisk the melted coconut oil, almond milk, maple syrup, and vanilla together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix to combine. Fold in the chocolate chunks.
4. Scoop tablespoons of the dough onto the baking sheet (flattening each with the back of your spoon). Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden with crisp edges. Let cool slightly and dig in.
You guys sure know how to make a gal feel special. Thank you for your kinds words about the launch of Little Bites. Truly, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Things have been happening on this little island. It is abuzz with the dramatic and rumor fueling news of measles. Before this scary revelation, the headlines were all celebrating the 40th anniversary of Jaws – I hope our news goes back to happy and light sooner then later. In the meantime…let’s bake some gluten free berry muffins.
This recipes comes from Amy Chaplin’s book At Home in the Whole Foods Kitchen: Celebrating the Art of Eating Well. Not only is this book full of inspired recipes but it is perfectly designed and photographed – a real beauty. I am a total beginner in the world of gluten free baking (the array of flours intimidate me) but these muffins are simple to mix together and bake up with a good mix of sweet berries and savory corn grits.
Berry Cornmeal Muffins
makes 10 muffins
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1/2 cup almond milk or soy milk
1/3 cup yellow corn grits
1 1/2 cups sprouted spelt flour or whole spelt flour
1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 cup almond meal
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup fresh orange juice (from 1 juicy orange)
1/3 cup melted extra virgin coconut oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups berries
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a standard muffin pan with 10 cupcake liners and set aside.
Whisk chia seeds and almond milk together in a medium bowl; set aside for at least 10 minutes to thicken. Grind corn grits in a spice grinder for 30 seconds or until they’re the consistency of a coarse flour, and place in a medium bowl. Sift spelt flour and baking powder into bowl with grits. Add almond meal and whisk to combine, breaking up any small lumps.
Add orange zest, orange juice, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt to chia seed mixture; whisk to combine. Add dry ingredients and use a rubber spatula to stir until almost combined; add berries and stir briefly.
Spoon batter into lined muffin cups, filling all the way to the top, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven, and allow the muffins to sit for 5 minutes before serving or transferring to a wire rack to cool. These are best the day they’re made, but any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for a day or two.