Pumpkin Spice Granola

I have often wanted to make granola but always thought the stuff from the store is good enough, why bother. Well now I get it. Before I even tasted the granola, I was won over while the granola was baking by the heavenly smells of the pumpkin spices, roasting nuts, and oats permeating through my house. This was enough to convince me that I will never buy packaged granola again! Give it a try and feel free to substitute types of nuts/dried fruit that you prefer and spices that you prefer or that are seasonal. Thank you to Jen Jones of Sweet Green Kitchen for the recipe. I only made very minor adjustments.

Pumpkin Spice Granola

  • Servings: 5 cups of granola
  • Difficulty: easy
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Healthy and savory homemade granola with pumpkin spice.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of rolled oats (I like thick old fashioned rolled oats)
  • 1/4 cup chopped raw walnuts
  • 1/4 cup chopped raw almonds
  • 1/4 cup chopped raw pistachios
  • 1/4 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds, shelled)
  • 1/8 cup flax seeds
  • 1/8 cup ground flax
  • 1/8 cup psyllium husk (ground)
  • 1/8 cup wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 -2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon cloves, 1/4 teaspoon ginger or just 2 teaspoons cinnamon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 Tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut sugar or brown sugar (I have read don’t use honey because the delicate enzymes will be destroyed by the heat)
  • 1/2 cup of no sugar added, 100% fruit jam (apricot or strawberry is recommended)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried fruit-sweetened dried cranberries

Procedure

  1. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Line a large 12″x17″ rimmed baking pan with parchment paper (or grease the pan). Set aside.
  3. Mix the coconut oil, sugar and jam in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until well combined.  Remove from heat and add vanilla and water, stir and set aside to cool slightly.
  4. Mix all the dry ingredients (oats through salt) in a large bowl.
  5. Pour the wet ingredient mixture into the dry mixture. Stir until the dry ingredients are fully mixed with the wet. Add additional water if necessary.
  6. Press granola mixture into the pan, press mixture down so it all sticks together. Press hard (with a back of a measuring cup for example).
  7. Bake the granola in the oven for 15 minutes. Stir the granola and re-press into pan. Cook for 10 more minutes and stir again adding the chopped cranberries and re-press into pan. Place back into the oven for 15 more minutes, but make sure not to let it burn, granola can be perfect one minute and burned the next!
  8. Remove from oven and allow to cool on the pan. It may cook a little longer after you take it out. When cool store in a large airtight container. Enjoy!

Notes: updated 11/9/17

  • Don’t add dried fruit right away, it tends to take on a burned flavor. I have had more success adding it in the last 15 minutes of cooking, although a lot of recipes say add it after cooking, but then it won’t stick to the granola and I like my granola chunky. 
  • I have tried both cooking the wet ingredients and not cooking them and I see the logic in cooking them, the ingredients emulsify that way, but I am not sure the end result is any different. I re-wrote the recipe to include the cooking of the wet ingredients step, but I am still on the fence about this.
  • Overall cooking granola is pretty tricky! I am finding that it can burn very quickly, so cooking it low and slow is my mantra. I have experimented with cooking it at 280 degrees, but maybe that is too conservative, seems a little raw, so I think 300 is better.

https://healthyseasonalcooking.wordpress.com

October 30, 2017, updated 11/9/17

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Granola before baking
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Granola after baking
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Finished product in my storage jar.
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Pomegranate and Grilled Haloumi Salad

It is autumn and that means pomegranate time! I love pomegranates but I hate getting the arils (seeds) out of them. I pretty much have avoided them unless I was willing to shell out the cash to buy the arils in a package. Then to be honest they are often slimy and not so great. But lo and behold I discovered recently that cutting open a pomegranate doesn’t have to look like something was butchered in my  kitchen! I can’t believe I didn’t know this until a couple of weeks ago–how did I miss this? This would have saved my children and myself a lot of anxiety every autumn when they wanted my to buy whole pomegranates and I would try my best to avoid it or get really crazy with bibs and aprons and tons of paper towels to contain the flying red juice. Sorry kids! Click here for detailed instructions on how to accomplish this feat and keep your hands their natural color.

I got this recipe idea from the wonderful chef my husband hired for my birthday recently. She made this incredible little appetizer of crostini, grilled Haloumi cheese and pomegranate seeds. The flavors were so incredible and so autumn-like! So today I was trying to come up with an interesting salad with pomegranate seeds and then I thought about the warmed Haloumi cheese and voilà, this is what I came up with. Hope you all like it as much as we did!

Pomegranate and Grilled Haloumi Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Vibrant pomegranate, fennel, tomato, baby lettuce and Haloumi salad is full of wonderful autumn flavors .

Credit: adapted from Haloumi, Pomegranate and Rocket Salad on Taste.com.au 

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 180 grams Haloumi Cheese, cut into thin strips
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 12 ounces of mixed baby lettuces
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, very thinly sliced, reserve some fronds for garnish
  • 1 pomegranate, seeded (see this page for excellent instructions)

Procedure

  1. Mix first four ingredients in a small bowl with a whisk. Slowly add the olive oil while whisking to emulsify it. Set dressing aside.
  2. Place the greens and fennel slices in a large serving bowl.
  3. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the pine nuts to the dry pan and toast for a few minutes. Careful they burn fast! Remove pine nuts and set aside.
  4. Add a little cooking spray to pan and heat up again. Add the Haloumi slices and cook for about 2 minutes on each side or until slightly browned. Remove from pan and place on top of salad.
  5. Heat up the tomato halves in the hot pan for just a couple of  minutes, adding a little salt and pepper and spread them on top of the Haloumi on the salad. Add the pomegranate seeds and toasted pine nuts and serve with the dressing on the side (or toss if you prefer).
  6. Enjoy!

Nutrition Information

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October 25, 2017

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Beautiful pomegranate arils
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Slicing the fennel
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ingredients
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Cooking the Haloumi
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The finished salad

Healthy Banana Muffins

As I was making my son breakfast I noticed that I had two perfectly ripe bananas. Too ripe for eating but perfect for baking, so I whipped up a quick batch of banana muffins. Yum! These are so delicious and quite healthy too with the whole wheat flour, buckwheat flour and almond meal, only a cup of sugar and wholesome bananas, eggs and yogurt. Try it for a quick breakfast with some fruit or a healthy snack.

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Healthy Banana Muffins

  • Servings: 12 large muffins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Rich, fragrant and healthy banana muffins.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 cup almond meal (flour)
  • 1 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seed meal
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (or more)
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt (I use non-fat, but use what you prefer)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, juice sweetened or unsweetened (watch out, these can have a lot of sugar added) or raisins
  • 1/4 cup nuts of choice (I used pumpkin seeds today)
  • parchment paper muffin liners

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Combine flours and next 7 ingredients (through salt) in a medium bowl. Stir with a whisk.
  3. In a small bowl mix with a whisk the yogurt, oil, egg, banana and vanilla extract until smooth. Add the cranberries and nuts. Stir gently.
  4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, stirring just until moist. Will be pretty thick.
  5. Spoon the batter into a muffin tin lined with parchment paper muffin liners. The parchment liners don’t require any oil, they are non-stick and are an incredible find! If you don’t have these then lightly spray your muffin tins with cooking spray.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean.
  6. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
  7. I usually freeze half the batch to put in a lunch box or enjoy at a later date.

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May 16, 2017

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Mixing the dry ingredients
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Mixing the wet ingredients
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All ingredients mixed together

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Tomato, Corn and Avocado Salad with Ricotta Salata

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Pretty warm day here in the Bay Area. I decided I would make crab cakes Crab Cakes and a tomato, corn and avocado salad. This was based on what looked fresh at the grocery store today. Just a quick salad that I threw together, no actual recipe, but I tried to capture it the best I could in the recipe below. Enjoy!

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Tomato, Corn and Avocado Salad with Ricotta Salata

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: very easy
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Healthy and quick spring/summer salad.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half or quarters depending on size
  • 1 avocado, diced and soaked in lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice (approx)
  • 2 ears of fresh corn, cooked and sliced off the cobb
  • 2 tablespoons ricotta salata cheese, very small dice
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil

Procedure

  1. Combine the tomatoes, avocado with lime juice, corn and ricotta in a medium bowl. Try to add the corn while it is still hot or warm, it warms up the rest of the salad and makes the flavor more intense. Mix well.
  2. Sprinkle with the salt, pepper and olive oil and mix well.

https://healthyseasonalcooking.wordpress.com

May 10, 2017

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Artichoke Hummus

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So easy and so delicious! I got the recipe from Feed Me Phoebe and I have made it several times. The first couple of times I used Great Northern beans instead of Garbanzo beans and I have also used marinated artichokes instead of water-packed artichokes, but I think it is healthier with the water-packed artichokes. I have also added a couple of handfuls of fresh spinach in the past, which I would have done today, but I am out of spinach! The hummus is great any of these ways. Below is the basic recipe, pretty much unchanged from Phoebe Lapine’s recipe.

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Sublime with a Himalayan Pink Salt Lentil Chip

Artichoke Hummus

  • Servings: 6-10
  • Difficulty: very easy
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Super quick and healthy hummus with items easily found in a pantry.

Credit:  Feed Me Phoebe 

Ingredients

  • One 15 ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
  • One 15-ounce can artichoke hearts in water
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (one lemon)
  • kosher salt
  • pinch or two of paprika
  • one or two tablespoons of water
  • splash of extra virgin olive oil

Procedure

  1. Combine all ingredients except for the olive oil in a blender or food processor and puree until fairly smooth (I like it a little bumpy still). Taste for seasoning.
  2. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with a splash of olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika. Serve with crudités and lentil chips (or the more traditional pita chips). Enjoy!

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May 9, 2017

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Sizzled Shrimp and Asparagus Provençal

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I took a little blogging-break, but hopefully I am back for the next month or so. June blog entries will probably be very light if at all. But hey, who wants to cook in the summer anyway! This a a very simple and easy dish to slowly get myself back in the swing of writing again. This is a Food & Wine recipe that I added asparagus and mushrooms to. A very flavorful and nice quick weeknight dinner.

Sizzled Shrimp and Asparagus Provençal

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy+
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Healthy and flavorful dinner that combines garlic, lemon and olive oil with shrimp, asparagus and mushrooms to make a quick dish for a busy weeknight.

Ingredients

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 pound cremini mushrooms (or white button), cut into thick slices
  • 1 pound asparagus, ends broken off and sliced into one-inch pieces
  • kosher salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (save time and buy it deveined, it is worth it!)
  • 2 tablespoon small capers, drained
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Procedure

  1. In a very large skillet heat some olive oil until it shimmers. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and sauté for a few minutes. Add the asparagus and the shrimp and cook over high heat until the shrimp are lightly browned and barely opaque, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the capers and cook for 30 seconds. Turn the shrimp and add the lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of the chopped parsley. Cover and cook over low heat for 4-5 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through and the sauce is slightly reduced. Transfer the shrimp mixture to a dish and spoon the sauce on top. Add a sprinkle of the remaining 1 tablespoon of parsley and serve. Enjoy with some crusty whole wheat bread or rice.

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May 8, 2017