Chai Granola

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Adapted from the original recipe by Peaceful Cuisine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmyNb3seDLI

 

Although you may associate the word “fiber” with prunes and getting older, granola’s oats deliver impressive amounts of fiber which will keep you fuller for longer. The nuts add healthy unsaturated fats, and some protein. Tea provides added antioxidants. However, in order to reap these benefits, try to avoid granolas with added sugars and oils. This granola recipe is fast, easy, gluten-free, and vegan. Best of all, you know exactly what is going into it. I usually make my granola on the weekend and enjoy it throughout the week for a filling breakfast.

the ingredients:

300g rolled oats
120g liquid sweetener (I used maple syrup)
60g coconut oil
30g shredded coconut
60g raw almonds
3 tbsp tea leaves (I use rooibos wedding chai from Alice’s Tea Cup)
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt

optional: dried fruit such as dried blueberries or dried cranberries

the method:

  1. Heat the oven to 180C/350F.
  2. Mix all of the ingredients together EXCEPT FOR THE DRIED FRUIT.
  3. Bake on a split or parchment for 25 minutes.
  4. Add dried fruit if using.

the notes:

  • “except for the dried fruit” was in caps for a reason. Don’t do what I did and end up with a batch of burnt dried blueberries ruining your wonderful granola. I painstakingly picked most of them out that time, to make it edible.
  • I tried this recipe with raw hazelnuts instead of raw almonds, and I found that the hazelnuts got overcooked. The almonds hold up nicely.
  • Store in an airtight container.
  • My favorite ways to eat this granola is plain, as cereal with almond milk and berries, on top of yogurt, or on top of ice-cream.

 

 

 

Enjoy!

 

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3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

Adapted from the original recipe by Lizel Jane: http://liezljayne.com/3-ingredient-peanut-butter-cookies-gluten-free-sugar-free-dairy-free/

 

I absolutely love peanut butter cookies. They are always rich and satisfying, but sometimes a bit too sweet. This simple recipe is gluten free, dairy free, and refined sugar free. While coconut sugar is still sugar, it does have more nutrients than refined sugar. You can use the same amount of regular cane sugar if you don’t want to use coconut sugar.

 

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the recipe:

Ingredients:
-1 cup unsweetened peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
-2/3 cup pure coconut sugar (maple syrup can be used, but it will result in a softer cookie)
-1 egg

Optional Ingredients:
-1/4 tsp cinnamon
-1/4 tsp vanilla extract
-tiny pinch sea salt (don’t add salt if your PB has added salt)

the method

1. Preheat oven to 180°C/ 360°F

2. Line a baking tray with parchment paper (you don’t even need to grease your tray, there’s enough natural oils in the peanut butter – and so you should be able to lift the cookies easily).

3. Mix the egg, peanut butter, and coconut sugar together in a bowl with a fork or spatula.

4. Add the optional ingredients if you want to (cinnamon, vanilla, pinch sea salt).

5. Give the batter a quick mix with your hands.

6. Roll the batter into little balls between the palms of your hands, and place on the baking tray.

7. Spread the cookie dough balls out on the tray, so that they all have enough space between them. They don’t expand very much.

8. Gently press each cookie dough ball onto the tray with a few fingers to flatten them slightly.

9. And then optionally, you can also gently press the back of a fork onto each cookie to give it some cute little lines.

10. Bake the cookies at 180°C/ 360°F for 8-12 minutes (depending on if you prefer your cookies a little softer, or more crunchy)

  •  I baked my small cookies for 9 min and let them cool on the tray. After baking, remove the cookies from the oven (take note that they won’t look cooked yet, but they are – they need to cool to set).

11. Leave the cookies to cool (so that they can set properly) before lifting them from the tray.

Once cooled, store in an airtight container to keep fresh, they should last up to a week (if they aren’t all gone before that).

 

Lizel says: “If you measure out the batter to make 20 cookies before baking, then each cookie will only contain 100 calories”

I made 26 cookies, each with a ~3cm diameter. I like to make my desserts on the smaller side. I know I will eat more than one, no matter the size, so it is better if they are smaller. Feel free to make them larger too, just increase cooking time.

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ingredients

I have a tiny kitchen and mise-en-place is usually not practical. French for “put in place,” the idea is to organize all of your ingredients in the proper amounts before you cook. If I did this in reality, I would have no counter space left. True story. After I took this picture I mixed everything into a large bowl. While the chef in me says “don’t tell them to NOT pre-measure everything,” it’s really not necessary with this recipe. Just measure everything directly into a large mixing bowl. This brings me to my next point. If you’re not trying to take a pretty picture of the mixing process, use a practical mixing bowl, not a shallow serving bowl.

Before mixing with hands. I always make a large ball with the dough, and divide it into halves as many times as I need to until I have enough dough balls of the right size. (Think: 1–> halves –> quarters –> eighths –> until the balls of dough are small enough for each cookie).

 

 

Enjoy!

Blooming Tea

Arguably the prettiest type of tea, “blooming teas” or “flowering teas” are tea leaves and flowers that have been dried and compressed to “bloom” when steeped in water. Preparing blooming tea is incredibly simple, and stunning to watch unfold. You can find flowering teas at many specialty tea shops. These purple amaranth flowering teas were brought back for me from a bazaar in Turkey, by a loved one.

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  1. Place one tea ball in a clear glass teapot. You can also use a glass cup or french press.
  2. Bring water to a near boil.
  3. Pour the hot water into your glass container.
  4. Watch for about five minutes as your tea flower slowly opens up from a tiny ball into a flower-like bloom.

Note: You can add more water after you finish your tea, but just note that it will become increasingly bitter.

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Enjoy!

 

 

The Extras: Behind the Scenes!

The biggest problems with shooting food have been lighting, and figuring out how to avoid capturing any unwanted items from the background!

Easy Smoothie Bowl

Truth be told, this was my dinner. In my book, any time is smoothie bowl time! Smoothie bowls are a great way to get a large variety of nutrients into one meal, plus they are quick and easy to prepare.

The Base:

  • 1 frozen banana-  It is easier to blend when pre-cut into chunks
  • 3 frozen strawberries
  • frozen mango chunks 
  • cashew milk
  • greek yogurt
  • Sambazon açai juice- I got my bottle from Costco

Put all of the ingredients into the blender, and blend. Start with less liquid than you think you will need, you want the texture to be more solid than a drinkable smoothie. I added some frozen mango chunks when I added too much juice. These are the fruits and liquids I used. There are no rules when combining your favorite fruits, milks, yogurts, and juices, but no matter the combination, I recommend at least one frozen banana. This helps greatly with texture.

The Toppings:

  • chia seeds
  • my homemade granola (recipe coming soon!)
  • chocolate covered almonds
  • ground black sesame seeds
  • hemp seeds
  • dried strawberries 

 

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Life hack: Save your gelato containers and fill them with chia seeds. It will make you feel better about buying more gelato. Your ground flaxseeds need a home too right?

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Morning Matcha

Every morning I start my day off with tea, and more often than not, I make a cup of matcha. While matcha lattes seem to be the newest Starbucks craze, matcha tea has been consumed for hundreds of years in Japan. “Ma” meaning powder, and “cha” meaning tea, “matcha” literally translates to powered green tea. Because the entire tea leaf is dried then carefully milled into a powder, you consume all of the nutrients of the whole leaf, as opposed to drinking tea from leaves steeped in hot water. Actually, one cup of matcha is estimated to have the same amount of nutrients as ten cups of regularly brewed green tea!

To make your own cup of matcha you will need:

  • Matcha powder of choice: There are many different grades of matcha on the market. Taste, texture, nutrient content, and other factors change depending on the quality. Ceremonial grade matcha is what I use. It is made from the youngest tea leaves. It is the most expensive, but it has the best taste and highest nutrient content. There is also Culinary grade matcha which is then divided into classic grade, café grade, and kitchen grade. Lower-quality matcha varies in taste and nutrient content accordingly. Just like you wouldn’t use an expensive bottle of wine to cook with, you generally do not want to add anything to ceremonial grade matcha, nor do you want to cook with it.
  • water
  • a bowl
  • a matcha whisk: available online

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Step 1: Bring water for about 1 cup of tea to just under a boil

Step 2: Take approximately 1/2 tsp of matcha powder and add it to your cup or bowl.

Step 3: Add a tiny bit of water to the powder and whisk in a “W” “M” zigzag motion until it is dissolved.

Step 4: Add about 8 oz of water, or to taste.

Step 5 (optional): Add sweetener or milk. Personally I have come to love the taste of matcha without anything added. If you think it tastes too bitter, try to decrease the amount of powder used. Although these proportions are the measurements for the traditional preparation, I prefer about 1/4 tsp for a cup of matcha.

Note: If you don’t want to invest in a matcha whisk just yet, I have seen people add the powder to a mason jar with water, and shake to dissolve.

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Fun fact- I didn’t get to drink this one. Living in a New York City apartment means I need to get creative with my 2 foot beam of natural sunlight. I made the mistake of setting up my photo on the floor. As I made my little “matcha latte” sign I heard *SLURP SLURP SLURP,* apparently dogs like matcha too…

Airplane Snacks

After waking up at 6am for my flight, not eating breakfast, and “randomly” getting selected for a scan and pat down, all I wanted was a snack. Only a yummy snack can soothe the battered soul that goes through airport security. Airports are really stepping it up with all of the food options, but they can cost a pretty penny so I like to take some food with me. These are some of my favorite in-flight snacks. Alternatively, you can cave and buy some Twizzlers and eat those instead. Not that that happened…

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  • gomacro protein bar in cashew caramel
  • roasted salted cashews
  •  dried rhubarb
  • dried strawberries
  • chocolate covered almonds
  • mini Justin’s Peanutbutter cups
  • various ginger honey candies

 

…. and twizzlers. It was the thought that counts right?

 

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Homemade Hazelnut Butter

As much as I love Justin’s Maple Almond Butter, most of the time I cannot bring myself to pay $14 for a 16oz jar. This is where homemade nut butters come in. Making your own flavored nut butters is actually quite easy (and cost effective). All you really need is the nut of choice.

Here is my simple hazelnut butter recipe. I prefer to make smaller batches more frequently for optimum freshness, but you can easily double it for a larger amount.

Prep time          Cook time           Total time
15 mins               15 mins                30 mins
Makes: 1 cup
Ingredients:
  • 2 c raw hazelnuts
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon plus more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt plus more to taste
  • optional: 2-3 tsp coconut sugar, maple syrup, or honey to sweeten
  • optional: 1/3 c dark chocolate chopped or 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • optional: a little oil if needed for texture. Olive oil is a good choice, but not too much

Hazelnuts are high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats, as well as having high amounts of folate, which is needed for the production of red blood cells. They are are also high in minerals, and vitamins such as biotin, which is needed to grow healthy skin and hair.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and add hazelnuts to a baking sheet.
  2. If raw, roast for a about 12-15 minutes. If the nuts are already roasted, roast for 8-10 minutes. You should smell a nutty flavor, but do not let them overcook.
  3. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
  4. Use your hands or a kitchen towel to roll the nuts around and remove most of the skins.  This will make for a creamier nut butter, but it doesn’t have to be perfect.
  5. Add the cleaned hazelnuts to a food processor or high speed blender. Blend on low until a butter is formed.
  6. Optional: Heat the chopped chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between.
  7. Once the hazelnut butter is smooth, add any additional ingredients and blend until well incorporated.
  8. Transfer to a clean jar and store at room temperature for 2-3 weeks.
Before and after roasting.
Peeling the Hazelnuts. You can see my patience decreased from the first few perfectly peeled hazelnuts.
Blend until smooth and store in an airtight container.

Manna Bread Toast

One of my favorite easy breakfasts is a Manna Bread Toast. I find one serving to be filling, and conveniently portable. As someone that eats small meals constantly, this is enough for me to start my mornings. However, it may not be enough for you if lunch is serval hours later. Manna Bread  is “cake-like, free of salt, no oils, no sweeteners, no leavening agents. Manna bread is moist and delicious, high in protein and fiber.”

Manna bread is kept in the frozen food section, and must be kept in the freezer at home until use. After years of hastily trying to defrost my loaf, and finding myself trying to cut a bread rock, I came up with the brilliant idea of pre-slicing the bread when I got home from the supermarket. It was a “duh” moment after years of nearly loosing a finger.

To prepare: I toast my slice of bread in the toaster oven, then top it with peanut butter or hazelnut butter, and slices of bananas. It wraps up nicely in tinfoil if I need to take it on the go.

I like the Fruit and Nut loaf, although there are many different ones to choose from. Ingredients: Sprouted organic wheat kernels, filtered water, organic raisins, organic dates, organic almonds, organic cashews, organic hazelnuts, organic cinnamon, organic nutmeg, organic oatmeal

This is the Manna Organics website, however, I purchase my bread form my local Whole Foods: https://www.mannaorganicbakery.com/index.html

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