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Spicy Rosemary + Maple Crunch

I often hear that baking granola is easy. But I disagree. Things that require eye-balling and provide a somewhat generous temperature range are a lot easier to me than baking…which is why baking is my favorite. It’s much more scientific and precise, and therefore, it’s a challenge. Who doesn’t love a good challenge? I know I’m not the only nerd out there. And if you’re reading this…clearly you are a nerd, too. So fold your cards, please.

I have burned so many batches of granola that I would be embarrassed if there was an actual running tally. Let’s just keep it at this…CPI has called a handful of times asking if they needed to dispatch fire trucks to my place.  I had to explain that I burned granola but everything was under control.

My point here is, granola isn’t easy because you can’t just throw it in the oven and walk away from it. You must pay attention. So…pay attention!

Here’s one of the dandiest granola recipes I’ve ever tried and it all came together while I was experimenting with what I thought would turn out to be a huge fail. And I was oh so wrong.

Spicy Rosemary + Maple Crunch

Yields approximately 4 cups; Servings approximately 16
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 ½ cups steel cut oats
  • 1 ½ cups mixed nuts, coarsely chopped (½ cup almonds, ½ cup walnuts, ½ cup pecans)
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup organic extra virgin coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons Pour Olive’s Rosemary Olive Oil
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Directions
  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 300 degrees F. line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the steel cut oats, walnuts, pecans, almonds, fresh rosemary, cayenne pepper and sea salt; set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt coconut oil over low heat; stir in the olive oil and maple syrup until reaches a syrup consistency.
  4. Add liquid to the dry ingredients and stir well until everything is well coated.
  5. Spread evenly on the baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes, rotating the pan every 15 minutes, or until the granola is lightly golden.
  6. Remove from the oven and transfer parchment paper off of the baking sheet to allow cooling completely.

*Store in an airtight container. Keeps for up to one week…maybe more! 🙂

 

Baby Kale & Quinoa Bowl

Salads don’t have to suck. For a long time (well before my nutrition career), I believed that salads were a form of self-punishment. I tried to like them. I couldn’t do it.

Later I learned they aren’t so bad, thanks to salad geniuses like my friends at Chop’t Salad Creative Co.  But you don’t have to order takeout just to get a good salad. If you think you’re incapable of making an edible salad at home, try this recipe and change your perception. It’s a guaranteed winner-winner salad dinner!

Baby Kale & Quinoa Salad + Honey-Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette

Yields 1-2 servings *If you’re really hungry, I wouldn’t share it 🙂
Ingredients
  • 4 cups baby kale
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Pink Himalayan Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice, fresh
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon organic raw honey
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/4 medium avocado, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
Instructions
For the Kale Chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

  2. Rinse and dry kale well. Toss 1 1/2 cups of the kale in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and cayenne pepper. Massage the oil and seasoning into the kale leaves.

  3. Divide and spread leaves into two even layers on baking sheets.

    *Note: the more space between leaves, the crispier your kale chips will be. Therefore, try to keep overlapping pieces to a minimum.

  4. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate and bake for another 5-10 minutes.

  5. Gently transfer kale chips with parchment paper onto a cool surface.  Allow the kale chips to cool completely.

For the Orange-Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

Whisk together orange juice, remaining olive oil (3 tablespoons), honey, and balsamic vinegar. Season to taste with remaining salt.

For the Salad
  1. Massage the remaining kale with 1 teaspoon of Honey-Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette. This will serve as your base of the salad. Layer this on the bottom of a salad bowl or large plate.

  2. Toss cooked quinoa with White Balsamic Vinegar. Add the cooked quinoa on top of the kale. Sprinkle chickpeas, cranberries, pine nuts, and avocado.

  3. Top with kale chips, and pour remaining dressing over the salad, or leave on the side.

Easy Egg Salad

One of the biggest nutrition obstacles for most people is figuring out what to eat for lunch. When I worked at a desk full-time, I can recall several times where I just couldn’t bring myself to pack a lunch or plan meals ahead. When I didn’t have a plan, I was much more likely to be impulsive with my food choices and eat something I didn’t necessarily want all that much just to bring a little excitement to my day. Can anyone relate?

This thought process and reluctance to change behavior, aka packing a lunch when you would rather just wing it, is normal. We are creatures of habit, so it sometimes takes doing something with reluctance and witnessing the benefits in order to reinforce a new habit. We have the tendency to turn the idea of change into a much larger, more difficult dilemma than it really is.

Eggs are small but mighty nutrition powerhouses. This egg salad recipe not only satisfies the body, mind and tastebuds, but it is a great (easy!) option to throw into your weekly rotation of meals, especially if you are struggling with finding good options that do not require a lot of time or energy.

I am offering you this simple recipe in hopes that you will try it, like it, and start to make more meals at home instead of feeling conflicted about what to eat out in a world of endless food choices. It’s all about balance, so let this recipe be a part of that equation!

Easy Egg Salad

Yields approximately 2-3 servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Ingredients
  • 4 large hard-boiled eggs
  • 2 tablespoon light mayo
  • 1 tablespoon light sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon juice from sweet gherkins (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp paprika (optional)
Instructions
  1. Peel hard boiled eggs and dispose of shells. Separate the yolks from the egg whites by slicing each egg into halves, and place egg yolks in a bowl.
  2. Mash the yolks with a fork, and add mayo, sour cream, mustard, salt, pepper, and pickle juice. Mix ingredients until you reach a smooth consistency.
  3. Gently fold in the egg whites.
  4. Divide the egg salad evenly between two containers and store covered in the refrigerator until you’re ready to consume.

Recipe Notes

For an added touch of fancy, sprinkle paprika on top of the final product just before serving and/or consuming.

Serving Recommendation: serve egg salad with Mary’s Gone Crackers gluten-free original crackers.

Meal Planning: Just The Tips

It’s no secret. When we plan ahead, we feel better.  

Our days run smoother, we breathe easier, our lists seem manageable (or at least not so overwhelming). But when we don’t have a plan, it’s tempting to make a few impulsive decisions to leave us feeling disorganized and perhaps a little out of control.

If we apply this thinking to how we eat, we can finally cut ourselves some slack and acknowledge that healthy eating isn’t all about will power or mind over matter. Improving our diet and eating healthier, balanced meals requires a game plan.

Planning out meals can seem daunting and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be so difficult. If we break down our plan into smaller steps, we will find success and maintain these healthier lifestyle changes for the long haul.

To help you jump start (or restart) the process, I have come up with five tips to guide you through successful meal planning.

1. Don’t overload yourself.

Start by pulling a few recipes that you think you will enjoy and aren’t overly complicated. If this is something you have never tried before, remember that meal planning does not mean you need to plan or prepare every single meal in advance.  The less overwhelmed you feel, the more likely you are to continue the habit of planning ahead and eating well.

2. Make your grocery list and stick with it.

Using the recipes you have selected, make a master list. Before heading to the store, take an inventory of items you have on hand and mark these off your list. Add grocery staples to your list that may not be required for your recipes – i.e. coffee, creamer, eggs, condiments, etc.

3. Check your calendar.

If you are working late one night during the week, plan to grab takeout from somewhere to make things a little easier on yourself and your schedule. Select a few places as “go-tos” – places that have healthy, balanced and delicious items on their menu. For example, my go-to is Chop’t Mexican Caesar Salad sub kale for romaine, hold the cheese, add tomatoes, and dressing on the side. I have a crazy schedule, therefore I know my go-to places and have these restaurants on speed dial.  The goal is to know what lies ahead so you can plan accordingly.

4. Commit to breakfast being a make-at-home meal.

Honestly, there is no need to eat breakfast outside of the house unless you simply ran out of time. There are so many options to make ahead of time as “grab and go” breakfast options that this really shouldn’t be an issue. *Breakfast ideas coming soon!

5. Break down prep work into steps.

Maybe it’s intuitive to some, but when I first started meal planning, I thought it made the most sense to conquer my meals recipe by recipe. However, I can now tell you with confidence that if you do it this way, you might as well put a sleeping bag in the kitchen because you will be there F O R E V E R.

Instead, look at the steps of each recipe and conquer similar steps simultaneously. I like to start by rinsing, drying and chopping all vegetables I plan to incorporate into a week’s worth of recipes, and place chopped vegetables into separate containers until they are ready to use.  This prevents excessive washing of cutting boards and scrubbing knives a million times. No one likes dish duty…but if you do, get a pair of gloves because no one likes alligator hands.

If you have more  specific questions about meal planning, or are a Charlottean and interested in my Meal Planning + Preparation Services, feel free to send me a message. I’d love to chat and help you figure out a plan that’s right for you.

Happy planning!