Oil-Free Granola

Oil-Free Granola - yummy healthy

Oh hello, blog that I haven’t written in for a long time, how are you? No great excuses for my neglectfulness; I just wasn’t feeling it, I guess.

Okay, enough chitchat. Several days ago we received notification that the power company would be working on our power grid and would be shutting off power during the work. We were told to prepare to lose power starting as early as 8 in the morning, and not get it back until as late as 5 in the evening. That was a potential nine hours without heater, stove, oven, computer, anything!

Oil-Free Granola - yummy healthy

I immediately went into emergency prep mode. I made bread so we could have sandwiches for lunch. I made seitan that we could grill outside for dinner. And I made granola so we could have a yummy breakfast. We could have done simple fruit and oat breakfast bowls, those are a favorite around here, but I wanted something special because why not.

I found this recipe for oil-free granola that I wanted to try. I doubled it and played around with the ingredients. We really liked how it turned out. Without the oil, it didn’t get quite as crispy as granola usually is, but it was delicious nonetheless.

The power went out at 9 and came back on about 2. The day was sunny and not too cold, so our five harrowing hours without electricity weren’t actually too bad. We had a fire in the fireplace for warmth, sunlight streaming through the windows, plenty of food that didn’t require the stove or oven, and our schoolwork kept us busy pretty much the whole time.

Oil-Free Granola - yummy healthy

Oil-Free Granola
Makes about 10 cups
4 cups rolled oats
1 cup chopped almonds
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup chopped dried pineapple
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup sunflower seeds
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 cup water
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 1/3 cup honey, agave, or maple syrup

Preheat oven to 325.

Combine dry ingredients (oats, nuts, fruits, seeds, cinnamon) in a large bowl. Set aside.

Heat water, vanilla, salt, and honey in saucepan for 2 minutes. Pour over dry ingredients and mix well.

Spread in thin layers onto baking sheets (I used two 10×15 sheets and one larger, I don’t know the dimensions of the larger pan).

Bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely. Store in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 weeks.

Oil-Free Granola - yummy healthy


Kale and Roasted Vegetable Salad

Kale and Roasted Vegetable Salad - yummy healthy

Kale hasn’t really been a big part of our diet so far, mostly because I just wasn’t sure how to incorporate it. We’ve tried it in smoothies, but that’s not really my favorite. The flavor of the raw kale is too strong and distinct, and I just don’t care for it in combination with fruit.

Kale and Roasted Vegetable Salad - yummy healthy

More recently I tried sauteed kale and really enjoyed it. But I like trying new things, so I wanted to find more ways to serve and enjoy this super healthy vegetable.

Enter massaged kale salad. Massaging the kale makes it more palatable by making it less tough and less bitter. We made this softer, milder kale into a salad with lettuce and roasted vegetables, and it was quite good.

Kale and Roasted Vegetable Salad - yummy healthy

So yay, I now know two delicious ways to eat kale.

Kale and Roasted Vegetable Salad
Serves 6
1 bunch kale, massaged with lemon juice and olive oil
1 large parsnip
2 green bell peppers
1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes
1 large onion
Salt and pepper
Salad greens (lettuce, spinach, etc)
Sunflower seeds
Olive oil
Fancy vinegar (balsamic, red wine, etc)

Preheat oven to 400. Spray a couple baking sheets with cooking spray. Chop parsnip, bell peppers, and sweet potatoes into large, bite-size pieces. Cut onion into wedges. Spread in single layer on baking sheets. Coat vegetables with cooking spray (or toss with small amount of olive oil), then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast for about 30 minutes. You can turn them halfway through, I didn’t and they all turnout deliciously caramelized – on only one side. All good though.

Massage kale while vegetables are roasting. I followed the instructions from In Sonnet’s Kitchen. Basically, remove stems and tear into pieces, add a small amount of lemon juice, massage for a couple minutes, then add a little bit of olive oil and massage a little more. The kale reduces in size, and gets tender, as well as becoming a more vibrant green.

To make the salad, layer salad greens, massaged kale, roasted vegetables, and sunflower seeds on individual plates. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil and a splash of your favorite vinegar. Top with salt and pepper to taste.

Dairy-Free Brown Rice Pudding

New Year’s Eve at our house was a party and a half, let me tell you. We had a healthy dinner of Hoppin’ John (Southern tradition) and 7-layer taco dip (family tradition), then the kids watched a movie. They were in bed by 8:00.

My husband, who works an early morning shift, was asleep by 8:30.

Dairy-Free Brown Rice Pudding - yummy healthy

Being the crazy party animal that I am, I stayed up way late and didn’t get to bed until 10:30. Living’ wild, that’s my style.

My husband and I were awakened a little before midnight because of all the fireworks. I put in my ear plugs and went back to sleep.

Yup, we sure know how to do New Year’s at our house.

Dairy-Free Brown Rice Pudding - yummy healthy

Dairy-Free Brown Rice Pudding
Serves 4-6
4 cups cooked brown rice
4 cups almond milk
1/3-1/2 cup sweetener (granulated or liquid both work, use less with sweetened milk, more with unsweetened milk)
1 tsp vanilla

Combine rice, almond milk, and sweetener in large saucepan. Cook over medium heat thickened. This will take a while, about half an hour, give or take. Less time if the rice is freshly cooked and still warm, more time if you’re using leftover rice that’s been chilled.

Once pudding is thickened and creamy, remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Top individual servings with a sprinkle of nutmeg. Serve warm or chill to serve cold.

Dairy-Free Brown Rice Pudding - yummy healthy

This is sweet enough for a dessert, but healthy enough for a breakfast. We ate it as a hot porridge for breakfast this morning. Warm, comforting, perfect for a winter morning.

Healthier Spiced Molasses Cookies

Healthier Spiced Molasses Cookies - yummy healthy

One of our Christmas traditions, one that we share with many, many other families, is leaving cookies out for Santa. We also leave eggnog, and a few carrots for the reindeer. This year, the kids agreed that since we’re eating healthier, Santa should try it too, so we made him some healthier cookies.

Healthier Spiced Molasses Cookies - yummy healthy

They’re not the healthiest treat ever, they do still have refined sugar. However, adapted from this recipe from Natural Girl Modern World, they are much healthier than our offerings of previous years, replacing margarine with coconut oil, and eggs with “flax eggs,” and using whole wheat flour in place of some of the white.

Healthier Spiced Molasses Cookies - yummy healthy

I hope Santa appreciates these deliciously soft, chewy, healthier cookies.

I also hope he likes cashew eggnog. Because that’s what he’s getting.

Healthier Spiced Molasses Cookies - yummy healthy

Healthier Spiced Molasses Cookies
Makes 2 to 2 1/2 dozen
2 tbsp ground flax
6 tbsp water
2 cup white flour
2 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp allspice
2 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
2/3 cup molasses (unsulfured)
1 1/3 cup sugar

Combine flax and water. Set aside while working on other steps.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine flours, baking soda, salt, and slices in large bowl. Whisk to mix thoroughly.

In a separate large bowl, place melted coconut oil and molasses. Bat with electric mixer 2-3 minutes until mixed thoroughly. Add sugar and beat for 1 minute. Add flax mixture and beat another minute.

Add flour mixture slowly in three batches, mixing thoroughly between each addition. There should be no visible flour left.

Scoop dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets. I flattened my dough balls (3-4 tbsp each) into large disks before placing on the sheets. Or you could flatten them after you place them on the sheets.

Bake for 10-13 minutes, remove to racks to cool.

Healthier Spiced Molasses Cookies - yummy healthy

Festive Vegan Lasagna with Homemade Spinach Kale Noodles, Almond Ricotta, and Cashew Mozzarella

Festive Vegan Lasagna with Homemade Spinach Kale Noodles, Almond Ricotta, and Cashew Mozzarella - yummy healthy

I haven’t been posting many main dishes lately, because by the time dinner is ready, the daylight is gone and I have no source of decent lighting in my house. We’re still eating plenty of delicious, healthy dinners, I’m just not taking pictures of them.

But every once in a while we make enough dinner to have leftovers for lunch the next day, and it looks decent enough to get a picture, and I can post it!

Festive Vegan Lasagna with Homemade Spinach Kale Noodles, Almond Ricotta, and Cashew Mozzarella - yummy healthy

Last night’s vegan lasagna was a masterpiece that I spent most of the day working on. This was my first foray into a variety of plant-based cooking options, like making cheese out of nuts, and using aquafaba in place of eggs for noodles. This was far more work than I typically put into one meal, but it was a lot of fun.

My favorite component of this dish was the almond ricotta. Everything was delicious, but the ricotta tasted and felt amazingly accurate. It was like eating real ricotta. My carnivorous husband agrees – it was fantastic.

By the way, I can’t really call him my “carnivorous husband” anymore. The other day he told me that he’s ready to bite the bullet and become vegetarian. I was pretty surprised, but I guess that my lovingly patient example and all the delicious foods we have been eating were able to convince him that not eating meat isn’t the end of the world, and is something that we can totally handle. Super awesome!

He says he still wants eggs and dairy, and if someone serves meat at an event or party, he probably won’t turn it down. Baby steps.

On a different note, I was excited to discover, as I was putting the layers together for the lasagna, that with the green noodles, red sauce, and white cheeses, this made a delightfully festive-looking dish!

Festive Vegan Lasagna with Homemade Spinach Kale Noodles, Almond Ricotta, and Cashew Mozzarella - yummy healthy

Festive Vegan Lasagna with Homemade Spinach Kale Noodles, Almond Ricotta, and Cashew Mozzarella
Makes 1 large pan of lasagna, about 18-24 servings
Spinach Kale Noodles
Simple Red Sauce
Mixed Vegetables
Almond Ricotta
Cashew Mozzarella

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking dish (10×15-inch) with foil and spray with cooking spray.

Spread a large spoonful of sauce over bottom of pan. Layer ingredients: 1/3 of the noodles, 1/3 of the sauce, 1/2 of the vegetables, 1/2 of the ricotta, and 1/3 of the mozzarella. Repeat layers one time. Finish with remaining noodles, sauce, and mozzarella.

Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Let set at room temperature for about 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Spinach Kale Noodles
Adapted from Our Best Bites
1/2 cup aquafaba (liquid drained from canned beans, usually chickpeas)
2 tbsp water
2 cups loosely packed spinach
2 cups loosely packed kale, torn in pieces, spine removed
1 1/2 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt

Place aquafaba, water, spinach, and kale in a food processor. Pulse until smooth, scraping down sides if necessary. Add flour and salt, and pulse until dough comes together into a ball.

Turn dough out onto either a very lightly floured cutting board, or a silicone baking mat that has been sprayed lightly with nonstick spray. Form dough into a ball and spray rolling pin with nonstick spray. Roll dough out into a very thin layer. It may be helpful to roll out only half of dough at a time. Alternately, if you have a pasta machine, or attachment for a kitchenaid, you can use that. Roll as thin as possible and then cut into thick, lasagna noodle-sized strips. Let strips sit for about 20 minutes.

In the mean time, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta, cooking in small batches to avoid crowding. Cook each batch for about 3-4 minutes. Drain and lay out on cooling racks until time to make lasagna.

Festive Vegan Lasagna with Homemade Spinach Kale Noodles, Almond Ricotta, and Cashew Mozzarella - yummy healthy

Simple Red Sauce
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1/2 cup water
2 tsp Italian seasoning
Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients and set aside until ready to use.

Mixed Vegetables
8 oz button mushrooms
1 can olives
1 can artichoke hearts
Salt, garlic powder, and onion powder to taste

Chop mushrooms. Saute in skillet sprayed with cooking spray until mushrooms release their juices. Remove from heat.

Slice olives and chop artichoke hearts. Add to mushrooms, along with seasonings to taste. Set aside.

Festive Vegan Lasagna with Homemade Spinach Kale Noodles, Almond Ricotta, and Cashew Mozzarella - yummy healthy

Almond Ricotta
Adapted From Beard & Bonnet
2 cups raw blanched almonds, soaked in water to cover overnight then rinsed and drained
1 cup water
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt

Combine almonds and water in a good processor. Puree until the mixture is smooth with some texture left to it, but there are no large chunks of almonds remaining.

Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and line with cheesecloth. Then add the almond mixture to the strainer and allow it to drain for 8 hours at room temperature.

Add lemon juice and salt. Set aside until ready to build lasagna.

Cashew Mozzarella
From It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken
3/4 cup raw cashews, soaked in water to cover overnight then rinsed and drained
3 cup hot water
8 tbsp tapioca starch (also known as tapioca flour)
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp garlic powder

Add all ingredients to a blender, and blend until smooth. It will be very watery.

Pour into a small sauce pan and heat over medium high heat, while stirring.

As you stir it will start forming clumps, and then quickly become thick and gooey and stretchy. This takes about 5 minutes. Continue to cook and stir for an additional 2 minutes to make sure it has firmed up completely.

Set aside until ready to build lasagna. When layering this cheese onto the lasagna, the gooey, stretchy texture makes it difficult to spread. Just do your best, it doesn’t have to look perfect.

Festive Vegan Lasagna with Homemade Spinach Kale Noodles, Almond Ricotta, and Cashew Mozzarella - yummy healthy

All of these components come together to make a delicious, cheesy lasagna, that also happens to be completely plant-based and healthy!

Gingerbread Oatmeal

Gingerbread Oatmeal - yummy healthy

My carnivorous husband think that since I’m not eating very much dairy anymore, I’m not getting enough calcium.

I set out today to prove him wrong. I ate all the plant-based sources of calcium I could find in the house. I spent all day recording the amount of calcium in every food I put in my mouth.

Gingerbread Oatmeal - yummy healthy

Working really hard at it, I made it to somewhere between 60-70% of the daily recommended value of calcium. Hmm.

So I’ll probably start taking a calcium supplement. And eating lots more kale and broccoli and almonds.

I made this oatmeal specifically to provide a pretty decent amount of calcium – one serving provides about 12% of the daily recommended value. I could probably have made it even higher, but tomorrow is our shopping day which means today we’re running a little low on ingredients. To increase the calcium even more, top with calcium-fortified plant milk, some chopped dates and figs, and almonds.

Maybe throw in a few handfuls of kale too. For good measure.

Gingerbread Oatmeal - yummy healthy

Gingerbread Oatmeal
Serves 6
5 cups water
Dash salt
3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup molasses
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger

Bring water and salt to a boil. Stir in remaining ingredients. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and oats have reached desired texture.

Serve with milk of choice, sweeten if desired.

Spinach Avocado Hummus

I mentioned this hummus in my last post. I love the vibrant color, and the way this tastes like a perfect blend of hummus and guacamole.

Spinach Avocado Hummus - yummy healthy

My first experience with hummus was many years ago, when my husband and I were in the early years of our marriage. We attended an activity with several other young couples that was focused around a variety of breads and spreads. Some of my favorites were the bagels with fancy cream cheese spreads, and the pita bread with hummus.

Hummus has become one of my favorite foods to eat on this mostly plant-based, whole food diet we’re on. It’s full of protein and fiber, plus all the vitamins and minerals found in beans. Plus the flavor is amazing.

I used a recipe for avocado hummus, but added the spinach to increase the nutritional punch and the green color.

Spinach Avocado Hummus - yummy healthy

Spinach Avocado Hummus
Makes about 2 cups
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 ripe avocados
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
2 large handfuls fresh spinach

Place all ingredients in food processor and puree until smooth. Place in a serving bowl. Serve with fresh vegetables, or any chips or crackers that meet your personal dietary preferences.

I served this with carrot sticks, thickly sliced cucumber, and corn chips that contained only corn, oil, and salt. Delicious!


Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Bites

Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Bites - yummy healthy

I’m feeling a bit down right now, going through some mourning over the loss of what used to be.

It’s kind of shallow, but I miss the reputation I used to have. Before switching to a healthier diet, I was known as someone who always made and brought super delicious, super indulgent foods to potlucks and other functions. When people found out what I had made, they would make it a point to get some before it was gone, because it was sure to be amazing. I would get compliments, sometimes for days afterward, about how delicious the food was. This was just something I was known for, and I reveled in it.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Bites - yummy healthy

And now it’s gone. People don’t react to my foods the same way anymore. Last night I attended a small Christmas party for the teenage girls in our church. I brought an incredible spinach avocado hummus with fresh vegetables, and chocolate peanut butter energy bites. I loved them. They turned out wonderful, and tasted great.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Bites - yummy healthy

But hummus and energy bites just can’t compare with pizza, cheesy sausage dip with chips, and cookies and brownies. Some girls took the avocado hummus thinking it was guacamole, then mentioned to each other that it tasted weird. Most of them didn’t even try the energy bites.

It hurt.

There was no raving over my dishes. No recipe requests. No “You have to try Stephanie’s food, it’s so good!” None of the stuff I’m used to hearing about my food.

I really am glad that I brought those things. Because it ensured that I would have something healthy there that I could eat and enjoy. Like I said, they tasted great, and it felt physically wonderful, while if I had eaten the pizza and cookies my body and I would have regretted it all night.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Bites - yummy healthy

But it made me sad to realize that I’m no longer considered to be the great cook that I was before.

Anyway, here’s the recipe for the energy bites. I loved them. When I brought home most of the pan uneaten, my kids loved them. They’re really good. No matter what a group of teenage girls think.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Bites
Makes 12-15 bites
1 cup pitted dates
3 tbsp peanut butter
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1 tbsp ground flax seeds
2/3 cup rolled oats

Pulse dates in food processor until they are in small pieces or form a ball. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until combined. If needed, drizzle in a little water to help the mixture hold together.

Press mixture into small, plastic wrap-lined pan. I doubled the recipe and used a 7×11 pan. Chill, then use plastic wrap to remove from pan so you can easily cut into bars. Alternately, you can roll the mixture into balls. Store covered in refrigerator.

Dill Roasted Potatoes, Carrots, and Chickpeas

Dill Roasted Potatoes, Carrots, and Chickpeas - yummy healthy

I just had my first experience of bringing my own healthy food to a party. It was our church Christmas party. I wasn’t sure what the menu was, but I did know that there would be lots of Christmas cookies.

Dill Roasted Potatoes, Carrots, and Chickpeas - yummy healthy

I wanted to eat and enjoy myself, but I didn’t want to stuff myself with foods that I don’t feel comfortable eating anymore. So I chopped some vegetables (carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes), threw in some grapes and almonds, and added a small container of homemade healthy salad dressing. Whatever was being served, I would be certain of fresh, healthily-dressed produce.

Turns out that baked potatoes were on the menu, plus toppings and bagged salad. I love baked potatoes! I skipped the beefy chili and questionable cheese sauce, loaded my potato with lettuce and broccoli, then put my fresh vegetables and dressing on top. It was delicious, and no one gave me weird looks for eating something different.

Dill Roasted Potatoes, Carrots, and Chickpeas - yummy healthy

I had been a bit nervous that people might think I was being a bit of a food snob. But everyone else was so focused on their own plates (as well as socializing and having a good time), I don’t think anyone even paid attention to what was on mine.

I also didn’t eat any cookies there. I was really proud of myself for that.

The whole experience was empowering for me. I don’t have to be apprehensive about special occasions, feeling at the mercy of whatever other people are eating. A small, inconspicuous container of healthy, plant-based food to supplement whatever is being served, and I can have an enjoyable meal with people I love, and feel great about it.

Dill Roasted Potatoes, Carrots, and Chickpeas - yummy healthy

Dill Roasted Potatoes, Carrots, and Chickpeas
Serves 4
3 medium baking potatoes
2 large carrots
1 can chickpeas, well drained
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried dill weed
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 425. Lightly grease a large baking sheet.

Chop potatoes and carrots into large bite-sized pieces. Combine potatoes, carrots, and drained chickpeas in large bowl. Toss with oil and seasonings until evenly coated.

Spread in single layer on greased baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Cranberry Sauce Oatmeal

Cranberry Sauce Oatmeal - yummy healthy

Family has come and gone. Our home is regaining some sense of order. I’m getting used to the beautiful new paint color on the walls of the kitchen and living room (my sister and I, along with our husbands, ended their visit with an impromptu major painting session). It was a great weekend, full of food, chatting, excited kids, and laughter – and so much painting!

Cranberry Sauce Oatmeal - yummy healthy

Like many people, we ended up with a fridge full of leftovers. Over the past several days these have been picked at until they’re pretty much gone. I love Thanksgiving food so much, it wasn’t much of a hardship to keep eating them for several days!

This oatmeal uses leftover cranberry sauce. The recipe I followed made a huge batch of delightfully tangy, citrusy cranberry sauce. It tastes great when cooked into a batch of oatmeal and drizzled with honey.

Cranberry Sauce Oatmeal - yummy healthy

Cranberry Sauce Oatmeal
Serves 6
2 cups milk of choice
3 cups water
1/2 cup cranberry sauce
3 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Milk of choice
Honey or maple syrup

Heat milk and water to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and add cranberry sauce and oats. Cook, stirring frequently, for several minutes, until oats are fully cooked and have reached desired consistency. Remove from heat and stir in nuts.

Serve topped with milk and sweetener of choice.

Cranberry Sauce Oatmeal - yummy healthy