Warm Quinoa & Apple Crowdie w/ Almond Milk

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“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food”
– Hippocrates

A new year is here! Turning the calendar is always exciting, a fresh start and a clean slate are so exhilarating. I sometimes confuse those feelings with angst and anxiousness on what is to come. It is astonishing when you think about all the things that can happen in a single year. It can be so overwhelming! But, I have turned these nervous thoughts into something other than fear, and have welcomed 2013 with open arms to see what it has in store for me. Health, exercise and self-betterment are standard New Year’s resolutions, and I am no exception to these. This year, I am determined to make the health of my husband and myself a priority. I will keep our bellies warm with wholesome and nutritious meals to ensure we take on the year with a vigorous enthusiasm. After all, why do we eat if not to heal, enrich, nourish and sustain us?? Why not sustain your body with the best possible ingredients? Frankly, there isn’t any reason not to. Food IS the best medicine; so let it rejuvenate you too, just in time for the New Year!

I grew up on Quaker oatmeal. You know, the kind in the little brown packets? My favorite was the Maple and Brown Sugar flavor, to be exact. It was fast, easy, and filled my tummy for what felt like the longest school day ahead. Now, as an adult, I still love a toasty-warm bowl of breakfast cereal but have learned to steer clear of the packaged the stuff, although those Quaker packets aren’t really all that bad. I now enjoy spending a couple more minutes in the kitchen preparing something that I know is jam-packed with nutritious and beneficial components. That is why I love this recipe. It is made with quinoa (pronounced keen-wah); a little seed packed with all 9 essential amino acids for high protein, high fiber, very little fat, and is gluten free! This recipe is also great for those trying to steer clear of dairy, as the quinoa is cooked in almond milk. I usually buy the organic unsweetened almond milk, but vanilla flavored almond milk would be delicious here too. The warm almond-infused quinoa crowded into a bowl with a hint of sweetness from the maple syrup, a little crunch from the toasted slivered almonds, and flaked coconut make for an incredible start to your day! Happy breakfast making!

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Warm Quinoa & Apple Crowdie w/ Almond Milk {Vegan, Gluten Free}

(Adapted from the 2013 Whole Living Action Plan, Week 2 from Sprouted Kitchen)
Makes about 4 small bowls
Prep time: 5 min, Cook time: 20 min

 

1 cup rinsed Quinoa (any color you like, I used a tri-color here)

2 cups Organic Almond Milk, plus more for topping

¼ cup water

1 and ¼ tsp Cinnamon, divided

1 teaspoon Cardamom, divided

1 Vanilla Bean, scraped (or 1 tsp Vanilla Extract)

2 small Fuji Apples, chopped in large chunks, skin on

1 TBSP Coconut oil, melted

2 TBSP Maple Syrup

¼ cup Almonds, slivered

¼ cup Unsweetened Flaked Coconut

Honey (or Agave if vegan) for drizzling

A couple of pinches of Sea Salt

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1. In a dry sauté pan, heated to medium heat, add slivered almonds and flaked coconut and toast for about 2 minutes, or until coconut turns slightly brown and almonds are fragrant.

2. Add one cup of rinsed quinoa to a medium saucepan. It is important to rinse the quinoa or else it will be a bit bitter tasting. Add the almond milk, water, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon of cardamom, vanilla bean seeds (or extract), pinch of salt and stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then turn heat to low and simmer with lid on for about 15-17 minutes. Once the liquid has reduced and absorbed into the quinoa (there will still be liquid in the pan) turn off heat and fluff up with a fork.

3. While the quinoa is cooling slightly, heat a sauté pan to medium heat and add coconut oil into the pan. Add the apple, ¼ teaspoon of the ground cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon of cardamom, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and a pinch of sea salt. Sauté for a few minutes until the apple is tender. Place on top of the warm quinoa and serve with a drizzle of honey or Agave, a bit of almond milk, and the toasted almond and coconut mixture.

4. If there are leftovers, store in an air-tight container for 2-3 days in the fridge. Either re-heat on stovetop adding more almond milk, or if you are like me, enjoy cold right out of the fridge.

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Sesame Brussels Sprout Crostini w/ Shaved Pecorino Romano

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On our days off, Kris and I love to make lunch together. We frequently decide on some form of an open-faced sandwich. It wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that we both have a slight obsession with all things on toast. During the summer, we ate fresh heirloom tomatoes with chopped arugula and herbed goat cheese on a multigrain baguette almost daily. During the fall, we switched it up a bit and made toast with proscuitto, fresh figs, fig jam and honey. Most of our meals are centered on whichever fruits or vegetables are season, mainly because of the bi-weekly delivery of our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box. If you have not yet signed up for something like this in your own community you should. It is an incredible way for you to buy local, organic, fresh, seasonal food directly from your farmer. In our latest farm box we received quite a few Brussels sprouts, which spawned this easy and super delicious idea. These are our newest obsession…

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Sesame Brussels Sprout Crostini w/ Pecorino Romano {Vegetarian}

Makes 6 Crostinis  (Prep time: 10 min; Cook time: 5 min; Assembly time: 5min)
*These would be excellent for entertaining, just double the recipe!
 

½ pound of shaved Brussels sprouts

½ cup of shaved Pecorino Romano

6 slices of a multigrain loaf

1 garlic clove cut lengthwise

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1-2 TBSP sesame oil

2-3 dashes soy sauce

2 pinches of red pepper flakes

½ tsp pepper

garnish w/ a few sprinkles of sesame seeds

  1. Using a mandolin or sharp knife shave Brussels sprouts into thin slices.
  2. Slice the multigrain loaf into 6 slices. Toast for about 2 minutes in toaster oven, until just warmed through. Cut garlic clove in half, lengthwise, and rub garlic on each slice of the warmed multigrain bread. Drizzle a little olive oil on each toast. Place 2-3 shards of the Pecorino Romano on top of each bread slice. Toast the bread and Pecorino in the toaster oven or conventional oven (at 350°) until cheese is just melted and the toasts are golden brown, about 3 minutes.
  3. Heat the teaspoon of olive oil in a medium sized sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shaved Brussels sprouts to the pan and toss to coat. Add in the sesame oil, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, and pepper and continue to stir sprouts for about 3-5min.
  4. To assemble, add the Brussels sprouts to each melty cheesy toast and top with more shards of Pecorino Romano and a sprinkle of Sesame Seeds. Serve immediately and enjoy!

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Oat & Seed Breakfast Cookies

DSC_0226One of my favorite meals of the entire day is breakfast, yet sadly, I rarely get to sit down and enjoy it. Since working at the café requires me to wake up before 7am on most days, I seldom have any time to prepare a decent breakfast for myself. These early-to-rise days are the times when I crave something delicious and healthy, and something that will keep up my stamina. Over the past couple of years, I have become better at planning ahead and have really honed in on my time management skills. I created these breakfast cookies (which are hardly cookies they are more like “energy mounds”) as a meal that I can prepare ahead of time for my entire workweek. These amazing, perfectly sweet, little breakfast wonders take almost no time to make and are packed with protein, natural fruit sugars, and wholesome fiber to keep you going throughout the day. Here is a little background on why I chose some of the ingredients:

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Hulled Hemp Seeds: Hemp seeds are said to be very high in Omega-3’s and Omega-6’s and very high in protein containing all nine of the essential amino acids. Also, they are an excellent source of fiber and fatty acids.

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Chia Seeds: High in antioxidants, Omega-3’s, fiber and protein. These little seeds can absorb more than ten times their weight in water, helping you feel fuller faster.

Gluten Free Rolled Oats: A great wholesome grain alternative for people with celiac disease. Oats are high in fiber and low in calories.

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Brown Rice Crisp Cereal: Brown rice is said to be rich in manganese and high in the phytonutrient Lignan, which can help protect against heart disease. Also, brown rice is said to significantly lower bad cholesterol in the bloodstream.

Brown Rice Syrup: Produced from fermented brown rice, it is naturally low on the Glycemic Index. It is a good choice for those moments when you crave something sweet but what to control your blood sugar levels. It is easily absorbed in the body, which can help prevent fat accumulation.

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Bananas: High in potassium and iron. They have a natural antacid effect in the body and if you suffer from frequent heartburn. They are high in B vitamins, which can help improve nerve function. (*See note below)

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*I often have bananas stocked in the freezer for those times when I want to make banana bread, a green smoothie, or these cookies! Take out the bananas from the freezer and place on a baking sheet and roast with the peels on at 400° for 20 minutes; the peels will be dark brown. Let cool before peeling them.

I hope that this recipe will keep you little energizing bunnies going! …..and going, and going, and going…..

 

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Oat & Seed Breakfast Cookies {Vegan & Gluten Free}

Makes 24 Cookies (Prep time: 15 min. Bake time: 25 mins)

Dry Ingredients:

2 Cups Gluten Free Rolled Oats

1 Cup Brown Rice Crisp Cereal

¼ Cup Chopped Walnuts

½ Cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut

1 tsp Cinnamon

½ tsp Sea Salt

¼ Cup Hulled Hemp Seeds

Wet Ingredients:

3 Ripe Mashed Bananas (*See note above)

½ Cup Chopped Pitted Dates

3 TBSP Coconut Oil, melted

½ Cup Organic Brown Rice Syrup

¼ Cup Maple Syrup

1 TBSP Chia Seeds (with 2 TBSP of your favorite tea; Rooibos, Vanilla, Cinnamon…)

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350° and line a large baking sheet with parchment or Silpat.
  2. Steep one strongly brewed cup of your favorite tea; Rooibos tea or a Vanilla Bean work great here. In a small bowl combine 1 TBSP of Chia seeds with 2 TBSP of the strongly steeped tea of your choice. Let the Chia seeds form a gel and absorb all the tea (approx. 5 min). Drink and enjoy the leftover tea in the cup. J
  3. Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  4. Mash 3 ripe bananas in a medium bowl. Add chopped pitted dates, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, coconut oil, vanilla, and Chia seed/tea mixture. Mix to combine.
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix together with a spatula. Use an ice cream scooper to scoop out the batter onto lined baking sheet (12 at a time). Bake for 25 min or until tops are golden brown.  Makes 24 cookies.

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Warm Spiced Granola w/ Flax & Coconut

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There is a little more about myself to share, which you may not know about me. I am co-manager and a server of the Ramos House Cafe in San Juan Capistrano. If you have never heard of this place before, you need to immediately visit ramoshouse.com and indulge yourself because if you are anything like me, you will fall in love the first time you feast your eyes. This place will transport you into a magical food haven. A place where you will dance with pickled bean and crab clawed Bloody Mary’s and immerse yourself into an ooey-gooey pile of cheesy bacon scrambled eggs atop Dungeness crab cakes all the while sitting at a burlap clad table watching the 1:50pm Amtrak train depart. Sounds pretty amazing right? Well it is. So, this is where I spend most of my days, hustling a bustling through plates of eggs, mugs of hot coffee, and spritzing pomegranate mimosas. I love this job, despite the insane chaos that often ensues. I work closely with 6 girls, all of whom I would have to say are the most kind and beautiful hard-working women I have ever met. Now, I am not just saying this because I know each and every one of them will be reading this, but because that is the simple truth and they all know it. Working with people that truly love and care for you are hard to come by, I know, and for this I feel honestly blessed. So, because the holidays have just recently passed and I love these babies so much, I am sharing the Christmas gift I made for them; for some of the best women in my life that I care so deeply about.

One of the most endearing characteristics of the holidays is the giving. To me, there is nothing greater than watching someone you love open a gift that you so thoughtfully prepared for them or the look on a strangers face when you extend a polite gesture. This past year for Christmas, I wanted to make my friends and family something that was delicious and not extremely time consuming, because let’s face it, we all have a lot going on during the holidays. One of my most favorite things to have for breakfast is plain goat’s milk yogurt with homemade granola, a healthy and quick start to my day.  I change my granola recipe all throughout the year depending on what I am in the mood for; sometimes it’s made with honey and golden raisins, or dried pineapple with large coconut shavings and sometimes, for those chocolate cravings, I add in mini semi-sweet chocolate chips. For this recipe, which is delicious all throughout the year (not just during Christmas), I added a bit of warmth with spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. It is vegan, gluten free, and sweetened with maple syrup (a natural and more nutritious sweetener compared to refined table sugar). Being the “granola head” that I am, I have learned that it is best cooked low and slow and flipped halfway through the bake time to ensure even cooking.

All giving is beautiful, and I wish it happened more throughout the year….

 

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“Christmas” Granola {vegan & gluten free}

(Makes about 8 cups, prep time: 5 min, Bake time: 50 min)

3 Cups Whole Rolled Oats (Gluten Free)

1 Cup Chopped Nuts (Walnuts, Almonds, or a mix of both works great here!)

1 Cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut

¼ Cup Flax Seeds

2 tsp Cinnamon

1 tsp Ground Nutmeg

½ tsp Ground Ginger

½ tsp Ground Cloves

½ tsp Sea Salt

3 TBSP Coconut Oil, melted

¾ Cup Organic Maple Syrup

1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract

½  Cup dried fruit (I like a mixture of chopped dried Cherries and dried Wild Blueberries)

Preheat oven to 300° and line a large baking sheet with parchment or Silpat.

Mix all dry ingredients in large bowl, excluding the dried fruit. Add the coconut oil, vanilla, maple syrup and toss to coat. Spread the granola on the entire baking sheet into an even layer.

Bake for 50 minutes, until golden brown, pulling out the granola and tossing halfway through the bake time.

Once the granola is cooled, add in the chopped dried fruit, mix together and enjoy!!

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