Noodle Bowl with Swiss Chard and Poached Egg

Noodle bowl with broken poached eggNoodle bowls are my latest obsession. I’m not sure why I jumped on this bandwagon after wintertime (i.e. soup weather) ended, but it might be because these soothing, one-bowl meals are never too heavy or filling, and therefore are perfect for all seasons. A steamy bowl of whole wheat noodles, sautéed mushrooms, and barely cooked greens floating in rich homemade chicken stock loudly screams “comfort food!” to me. But not too loud, because that’s disruptive and not at all comfortable… Instead of screaming I think it wraps its warm soup hands around my belly and just murmurs “comfort food.” Yeahhh… Continue reading

Super Mason Jar “Salads”

Super mason jar salads 1I’m always looking for creative, healthy lunches for the work week. I can’t quite get with the traditional sandwiches and wraps, and I could never find a way to make salads that lasted throughout the week, were easy to pack in the mornings, and that I looked forward to enjoying at lunch time!

However, all of this changed when I stumbled across this post on Pinterest. Inspired by the Vintage Mixer, I decided to emulate the popular to-go lunch trend of mason jar salads, but instead of cucumbers, chicken, and lettuce, use cooked, nutritional powerhouse veggies and quinoa! Then I’d have vegetarian lunches with high vitamin content that contained some of my favorite sides combined into a salad. I was so excited to begin. A half day of prep and cooking later (and quite a bit of nibbling along the way), I had six “salads” for a nourishing week of ready-to-go lunches! Continue reading

Healthy Single Serve, Deep Dish, Salted, Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie

ck6That’s quite a long title, but doesn’t it sound like a dream? A (mostly) healthy, deep dish, glorious chocolate chip cookie. Well, thanks to amazing 18 year old! Izy over at Top With Cinnamon, this glorious dream is actually a reality!

After my decadent duck dinner last Friday, I knew I wanted something equally delicious and equally as easy to make for dessert. This deep dish cookie hit the spot. It’s sooo good, so easy, and (dare I say) guilt-free! There’s coconut oil in place of butter, coconut sugar and honey in place of white sugar, whole wheat flour, and dark chocolate chunks full of antioxidants. That’s the kind of dessert you always want in your arsenal! Plus, the combination of sea salt and dark chocolate is one made in dessert heaven. Continue reading

Poached Eggs over Winter Vegetable Hash

20140127-111847.jpgSince learning I was allergic to corn, I have opted to purchase pasture raised eggs. The first time I tried them I was astonished at the dramatic difference in color, flavor, and health benefits. I still never get over it! Such a creamy white, and such a brightly colored, orange yolk! I will never, ever go back. 

I once read on a website where someone said that man cannot make a better sauce than the oozing yolk of a good soft-cooked egg. I could not agree more! Although I used to think making poached eggs at home was never worth the trouble, finding such excellent eggs changed my mind real quick. It also helps that I found what I think is the perfect way to poach eggs! No more straggly egg white frothing in the water. Here is a neat poached egg with a perfectly glorious soft yolk! Continue reading

Oat-Free, Nut-Free Granola

20140121-162409.jpgFinding out that I was allergic to oats was not nearly as earth-shaking as finding I was allergic to corn or soy or potatoes. But it has proved very difficult to find grab-and-go, healthy, fueling breakfast options that are oat (and nut) free!

So this month when planning my grocery list, I resolved that I was going to make a delicious, allergy-legal granola for cereal and yogurt parfaits. I did not know what I was getting myself into, but I am ECSTATIC about what came out of my little experiment! It’s the perfect blend of crunchy, sweet, and salty, with all kinds of wonderful textures. (Beware if you make this, your house will smell fantastic for days!)

Not only is this granola delicious and healthy, but portioning and storing it in mason jars makes it so easy to grab in the morning. I just add half a cup of milk, yogurt, or applesauce and run out the door. The protein and fiber in the granola are more than enough to hold me over until lunch.

Behold, nut-free, oat-free granola!

Oat-Free, Nut-Free Granola

  • Servings: 6 1/2 c. servings
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1/4 c. shredded unsweetened coconut
3/4 c. coarse wheat bran
2/3 c. unsalted, unroasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds without the shell)
1/4 c. unsalted, unroasted sunflower seeds
1 c. Arrowhead Mills puffed rice or barley cereal
1/2 c. dried unsweetened cranberries
1/6 c. sunflower seed butter
2 tbl. raw honey
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. ground sea salt (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix the coconut with the wheat bran and spread in a thin layer on a baking sheet. When the oven is hot, place the baking sheet in the oven and cook until the bran and coconut has browned. Be sure not to walk away, because it can burn quickly!

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Pour the toasted wheat bran and coconut into a large bowl. Making sure that the baking sheet is clean of all bran pieces, spread the pepitas and sunflower seeds on the baking sheet in a thin layer and toast in the oven until browned as well. When the seeds are toasted, add them to the bowl with the puffed rice cereal and cranberries. Stir until thoroughly mixed.

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Turn the oven down to 300 degrees. In a microwave safe bowl, add the sunflower seed butter, honey, sea salt, and vanilla. Microwave for 30 seconds and stir until the mixture is smooth and blended well. Add this to the granola and stir gently until everything is covered.

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Spread this mixture in a thin layer on your baking sheet. Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Bake until the granola has browned and the smells drive you crazy. Be certain to watch carefully during this step too, as burning happens quickly! Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

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For easy storage and for grab-and-go mornings, portion out one half cup servings and store in pint sized mason jars.

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Whenever you need breakfast or a healthy mid-day snack, grab a jar, add milk/yogurt/applesauce/a spoon, and enjoy!

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What are your favorite healthy breakfasts?

Sunbutter Chocolate Bites | A legal sweet treat

20140120-143406.jpgLately, I have been on the quest for healthy alternatives to snacks, especially dessert. But it’s extremely hard to find desserts that taste good and are safe for my allergies! Fortunately, finding safe chocolate opened up the door for a lot of desserts, but making healthy options has eluded me for quite some time. Finally, I stumbled upon an awesome healthy food blog called Kellie’s Food to Glow! Among other healthy, delicious recipes, I found one for Chocolate Almond Butter Bites.

This little goodie is definitely a sweet treat, but uses healthy ingredients. The only sweetener is chopped dates, the dark chocolate provides antioxidants, and the protein-rich nut butter helps you feel satisfied with just one! And although I cannot have nut butter, sunflower seed butter worked perfectly in this recipe.

I just love taking the little mini muffin papers out of the refrigerator and unwrapping these delights. They’re the perfect size to satiate my sweet tooth, but not feel as though I’m overindulging! They do require a little work to get the chocolate right, but it is well worth the effort. I’ve also included quite a few pictures below to guide you through!

I hope you enjoy!

Sunbutter Chocolate Bites

  • Servings: 25
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

1 c. SoyFree Sales semi-sweet chocolate chips
8 chopped dates
1/4 c. SunButter (or other nut or seed butter)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. sea salt

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips, stirring consistently. While the chocolate is melting, separate and arrange your mini muffins papers on a baking sheet. When the chocolate is melted and stirred smooth, drop about 1/2 teaspoon of melted chocolate into each cup.

20140120-143256.jpgUsing your spoon, spread the chocolate around the bottom of the paper and gently push it up the sides. Place in the refrigerator or freezer to harden, about 15 minutes.

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While your chocolate is cooling, add dates, sunflower seed butter, vanilla, and salt to a food processor. Process until all ingredients are blended and have formed a “dough.” When your chocolate is cool, remove the baking sheet from the fridge. Roll little balls of about 1 tsp. of dough and gently press into each chocolate cup.

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Reheat remaining chocolate over double boiler if necessary, and spoon a small amount over the sunflower seed butter filling. Use your spoon to push the chocolate to the edges of the paper.

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Set in the refrigerator or freezer again to harden for about 15 minutes. When they’re all done, they should look like this!

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Store in the fridge, and when you’re ready to eat, unwrap a candy and enjoy!

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What kinds of healthy treats do you like to indulge in?

How to Cook Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is an inexpensive, delicious, vitamin-filled winter vegetable, best enjoyed roasted (as many other winter veggies). However, this vegetable may seem a bit intimidating to tackle if it is bought whole. But this should never keep you from enjoying its goodness!

Below are step-by-step instructions with pictures to peel, cut, and roast butternut squash. Soon to come, a recipe featuring roasted butternut squash!

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Peel your butternut squash with a peeler or paring knife. Cut off the top and bottom and cut the whole squash in half.

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      2. With a metal spoon, scrape out the stringy insides and seeds in the bulb part of the squash.

butternut coll      3. Place the flat side of the squash down on your cutting board and cut slices or “rings” about 3/4″ across. Then cut your slices into square chunks.

Note: I only used half the squash to make about 5 servings. If you are making it for a large group, use the whole squash. Otherwise, lightly spray a baking sheet, lay the squash cubes in a single layer on it, and freeze. Once the cubes are frozen, store them in a Ziplock bag in the freezer.

20140107-221024.jpg     4. In a large bowl, add the butternut squash cubes, 1 1/2 tbl. olive oil, 1 tsp. sea salt, 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper, and 1-2 tbl. brown sugar. Add any additional seasonings you like (fresh thyme, paprika, cinnamon, and sage are all great to try with butternut squash. Not necessarily all at once though!) and stir to coat. Spread in an even layer on a foil covered baking sheet.

20140107-221032.jpg     5. Roast at 425 degrees for approximately 25-35 minutes.

Enjoy as a delicious side, and stay tuned for butternut squash featured in curry!butternut r

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Gorgonzola & a Balsamic Reduction

20140107-183652.jpgLike almost every kid, I detested Brussels sprouts growing up. They were like baby heads of steamed cabbage that seemed to turn to mush as soon as I put them in my mouth. Gross! But working for a restaurant in college I discovered that Brussels sprouts actually can be delicious!

The key is to cut them up into smaller pieces and roast them. Cutting them up exposes the layers of leaves inside so they can get brown and crunchy and absolutely delicious. Even if you’ve never liked Brussels sprouts before, I urge you to give these a try! The marriage of balsamic vinegar and creamy Gorgonzola with these is surprisingly perfect.

How do you like to make Brussels sprouts?

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Gorgonzola & a Balsamic Reduction

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 lb. of Brussels sprouts
2 tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt
Ground black pepper to taste
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1 tbl. Gorgonzola cheese crumbles

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cut the bottoms off of your Brussels sprouts and peel off the outer 2-3 leaves. Chop each one into quarters. (Smaller ones can be cut just in half.) Rinse them gently and dry thoroughly.

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In a bowl, mix the chopped Brussels sprouts, olive oil, sea salt, and ground pepper until evenly coated. Spread evenly over a foil covered baking sheet.

20140107-183618.jpgPlace in the oven and roast for 20 minutes or until as deliciously browned as you want them. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool slightly. To serve, place in a bowl, drizzle with balsamic reduction (directions below), and sprinkle on the Gorgonzola cheese.

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Balsamic Reduction

On medium heat, boil 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar until it is reduced to 1/4 of the original amount, about 1 tablespoon.

Enjoy!

Homemade Apple Butter

apple butter w.spoon(rd) Merry Christmas to all of you!!! Thank you so much for joining me on this StrictlyDelicious journey! I hope you are having a wonderful holiday with your loved ones and that you enjoy today’s recipe: Homemade Apple Butter. It is perfect for this holiday season. 🙂

Although I’ve only tasted apple butter once before, I just knew making it homemade would be the perfect final element to my Christmas homemade goodie baskets. Along with homemade vanilla, citrus salt, and rosemary salt, this smooth apple butter made oh-so-sweet gifts. This was my first canning experience, but it really is as simple and addicting as they say.

Once I made this apple butter, I couldn’t stop eating it! It’s so creamy and flavorful and delicious. I paired it with everything I could, including a spoon. I hope you and your family enjoy it as much as mine!

Homemade Apple Butter

  • Servings: 8 1/2 pints
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

6 1/2 lbs. apples (I used a combination of unwaxed Fiji and local Gala apples)
1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. dark brown sugar
1 tbl. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. salt

After washing, peel, core, and slice all of the apples. I cut mine into thin slices, but I’m sure you could cut them any way. Put the slices into your crockpot dish.

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Combine the sugar, spices, and salt in a bowl, and pour over the apples. Stir the apple mixture with a spoon to coat all slices until evenly covered.

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Put the lid loosely on the top of your crockpot dish. By this I mean do not latch it closed as you usually would. I put my lid on a little crooked, leaving space on each side between the lid and the dish. This will allow the apples to cook down. Set the crockpot on low and cook the apples for twelve hours. Whenever you walk past the pot, stir the apples to recoat in the spices and liquid.

After twelve hours, add the apples to a blender and blend until smooth. You will need to do this in batches about 1-2 cups of apples at a time. Add a tiny amount of water if needed to help your blender. (You could also execute this step with an immersion blender.)

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If desired, pour the apple butter into a pot and cook on low heat on the stove to thicken it. Stir consistently. This will not take much time at all, and it is easy to burn the apple butter, so do not walk away!

Once it has reached the desired thickness, it is ready to store. You can store it in a lidded container in the fridge for up to three weeks, or can it for gifts and to store for up to two years. (For canning pints and half pints: fill to 1/2 in. below the rim, seal, and process for 15 minutes.)

Enjoy, and have a blessed holiday!

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Citrus Salt

20131220-123333.jpgThis year, my dad asked for “homemade goodies” for Christmas, and I decided to make extras of everything to give as work and neighbor gifts! In addition to bottles of homemade vanilla, I gave little jars of this elegant pink citrus salt, fragrant rosemary salt, and homemade apple butter (recipes to come)! I will claim those projects as the reason I haven’t blogged in so long…

This salt, to be used primarily as a finishing salt, smells so good, looks so unique, and tastes excellent on veggies, poultry, and fish. To make it you can use any combination of citrus fruits and any kind of sea salt. For my recipe I used lemons, limes, oranges, and this course pink Himalayan sea salt that is so pretty and good for you! (Read about the benefits of Himalayan sea salt here.) You can make any amount of this salt, just use 2 tbs. zest per cup of salt. My recipe filled about 8 adorable half pints jars.

Citrus Salt

  • Servings: 8 1/2 pints
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

4 cups pink Himalayan sea salt
1/2 cup citrus fruit zest

Let your fruit sit in a vinegar water bath (1 part white vinegar to 10 parts water) for 20 minutes to wash off all the toxins, pesticides, and who knows what that are on the skin of the fruit. Since you are using the peel in this recipe, this step is highly recommended.

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Zest the fruit until you have the equivalent of 2 tablespoons of zest per cup of salt. (I didn’t have a grater so I used a peeler and a paring knife…. Obviously, it’s much better to use a grater.) Pour the salt and citrus zest into a baking pan and spread it out until it covers the bottom. Bake at 225 degrees F for 1-2 hours, or until a piece of zest crumbles between your fingers.

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Let the salt cool, and process in a food processor until the zest and salt have reached the consistency that you desire. Store in whatever airtight containers are most adorable and best for your use! I loved these quilted half-pint jars for Christmas presents.

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