Maple Coconut Quinoa Granola

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This maple coconut quinoa (yes, I said quinoa) granola is so good! The maple and coconut flavors pair really well together and the quinoa adds a great crunch.

I created this recipe out of desperation. I’ve had tummy trouble for as long as I can remember, so I’ve recently started the low FODMAP diet to see if I can pinpoint the cause. You can read more about the low FODMAP diet here if you’re interested, but in a nutshell, I have to eliminate a number of “problem” foods for several weeks and then slowly add them back to determine which foods are triggering my symptoms. That means some of my favorite foods are now off-limits (cereal with milk, apples with peanut butter, avocados, bread, ice cream (gasp!), etc).

Desperate to find a low FODMAP snack that I could enjoy (gluten-free, dairy-free, etc), I came up with this recipe, and boy am I glad that I did! I would eat this over wheat cereal any day. Even my kids and husband loved it.

Maple Coconut Quinoa Granola

My favorite way to eat this granola is sprinkled over yogurt (lactose-free for me) with some frozen raspberries. Yum!

Maple Coconut Quinoa Granola with Yogurt

Keep in mind that raisins, almonds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds are considered low FODMAP as long as they are kept in small quantities (2 tablespoons or less), so keep your portions small if you are following a low FODMAP diet.

I also recommend soaking the nuts and seeds prior to making this recipe, especially if you have trouble digesting them. The soaking/drying process will take about 24 hours, so be sure to start the day before you want to make the granola. Or you can skip the soaking process if you’re short on time.

3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup pre-soaked nut/seed mix (instructions below)
1/2 cup gluten-free oats
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup golden raisins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Pour the quinoa into a fine mesh strainer and rinse well under cold water to remove the bitter coating. Add the rinsed quinoa, nuts/seeds, oats, shredded coconut, and salt to a large bowl and stir to combine. (Note: if you are using pre-soaked nuts/seeds (instructions below) they will be lightly salted, so you may want to reduce the amount of salt in the recipe.) Pour in the melted coconut oil and maple syrup and mix together until evenly coated.

Spread the granola out on a large cookie sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, stirring a few times during baking. Remove from the oven and stir in the golden raisins, then let cool for at least 15 minutes. Store in an airtight container on the counter.

Nut/Seed Soaking Instructions:

  1. Fill a large bowl with warm water and mix in a tablespoon of salt.
  2. Add raw sunflower seeds, raw pumpkin seeds, chopped walnuts and chopped almonds to the bowl (or your favorite nuts and seeds).
  3. Soak nuts in the salt water overnight for 10 – 12 hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 125 degrees.
  5. Drain the nuts and spread onto a large baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for about 10 hours (this will dry out the nuts and prevent them from getting moldy).
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Spinach Chips

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I’m a spinach lover and I always have a big bag of baby spinach in my fridge. I put spinach on sandwiches, salads, omelets, smoothies – pretty much anything that I think can use a bit of green. Still, I often have a hard time getting through the bag before the spinach leaves start to get slimy.

I stumbled onto this recipe the other day and had an “aha” moment. Spinach chips – of course! The perfect way to use up my extra spinach! Spinach chips are similar to kale chips, but with a much lighter texture. My kids loved them too, so this recipe gets a gold star in my book.

Ready to go into the oven:
Spinach Chips

Ready to eat:
Spinach Chips (cooked)

2 big handfuls of pre-washed baby spinach
Olive oil (use a Misto Olive Oil Sprayer, if you have one)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. (Note: this step is important; otherwise the spinach will stick to the baking sheet.)

Lightly spray the parchment paper with olive oil using an olive oil sprayer (or put a bit of olive oil on a paper towel and wipe it onto the parchment paper).

Spread the baby spinach evenly between the two baking sheets, making sure to keep the spinach in a single layer. Lightly spray the spinach with a bit more olive oil (alternatively, you can toss the spinach and olive oil together in a bowl, but be sure not to use too much oil).

Sprinkle salt and pepper over the spinach and bake for 12 minutes (you can cook both baking sheets at the same time). After 12 minutes, turn the oven off and keep the spinach in the oven for another 5 minutes.

Remove the baking sheets from the oven and let the spinach cool for a few minutes before digging in. Enjoy!

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Honey Lime Chipotle Pulled Pork

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I have recently discovered little cans of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce in the Hispanic food section of my grocery store. They are my newest pantry staple. The adobo sauce adds a smoky spiciness to food that really makes the flavor pop.

Honey Lime Chipotle Pulled Pork

This pulled pork recipe features chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, complimented by honey and fresh squeezed lime juice. The pork is sweet, smoky, spicy, and tangy. The best part is that it’s cooked in the Crock Pot! I served this on toasted buns, but it would also be great in tacos or a burrito bowl.

1/2 cup juice from 3-4 limes
1/3 cup honey
1 7-ounce can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (you won’t need the entire can)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
3-4 pound bone-in pork shoulder

Stir together the lime juice and honey in a small bowl. (Note: it may help to warm the honey a bit first.) Add 3 of the canned chipotle peppers (don’t worry about chopping them up) and 2 tablespoons of the adobo sauce from the can to the bowl. Refrigerate the remaining chipotle peppers and adobo sauce to use in another recipe (eggs, roasted sweet potatoes, chicken, etc). Add the balsamic vinegar, garlic, and salt to the bowl and stir to combine.

Pour about half of the sauce into the bottom of your Crock Pot. Place the pork shoulder in the Crock Pot and then pour the remaining sauce over the top of the pork.

Cook on high heat for about 4.5 hours (or low for 8-9 hours). Use a large spoon to skim any excess fat off the top of the sauce, and then shred the pork using two forks and mix well to incorporate into the sauce. Season with salt, if needed. Serve hot and enjoy!

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Sherbet Punch

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It was my daughter’s 9th birthday over the weekend (and also my dad’s; they share a birthday – isn’t that sweet?), and every year she requests that I make Sherbet Punch for her birthday party.

(I hope I’m not the only one who’s been calling it “sherbert” all of these years, instead of “sherbet”. Sheesh, how did I miss that?)

Sherbet Punch

Anywho. This recipe couldn’t be easier and the kids love it (not to mention a certain mom I know). Just 3 simple ingredients and about 2 minutes of your time is all that is required. I like to prepare this right before it will be served, since the foam from the berry sherbet tends to turn odd colors after it’s been sitting out for a while.

Sherbet Punch prepared

1 46-ounce can pineapple juice, chilled
1 2-liter bottle of ginger ale, chilled
1/2 container of your favorite sherbet flavor

Pour the pineapple juice into a punch bowl or large beverage dispenser. Slowly pour in the ginger ale. Gently stir a couple of times to combine.

Place scoops of the sherbet on top of the pineapple juice/ginger ale mixture (the sherbet will float on top and start to foam a bit).

Serve the punch topped with a spoonful of the frothy sherbet, and let the celebration begin!

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Honey Mustard Chicken

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We eat a lot of chicken in our house; it’s good, it’s versatile, and the kids will usually eat it without much complaint. Plus certain cuts, like bone-in chicken thighs, can be pretty easy on the wallet. Now I’m usually a boneless-skinless-chicken-breast kind of gal, but these thighs coated in a honey-mustard herb sauce and breaded in crushed Stove Top stuffing (sounds good, right?) may turn me into a chicken thigh convert.

Honey Mustard Chicken

5 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
5-6 bone-in chicken thighs
6 tablespoons honey Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Dash cayenne pepper
6 ounce box chicken-flavored Stove Top stuffing, crushed into coarse crumbs

Place an oven rack at the lower part of your oven and preheat the broiler.

Combine the melted butter and olive oil together in a small bowl. Brush all sides of the chicken with the butter/olive oil and place skin side down in a 9×13 baking dish. Broil the chicken 8-10 minutes, then flip the chicken and cook the other side another 8-10 minutes (note: the chicken won’t be completely cooked at this point).

Take the baking dish out of the oven and remove the chicken to a plate. Carefully pour the pan drippings into a glass measuring cup or small bowl and set aside.

In a separate small bowl, combine the mustard, green onions, thyme, black pepper, cayenne pepper, a dash of salt, and 1 tablespoon of the pan drippings. Coat both sides of the chicken with the mustard mixture and then roll the chicken into the stuffing crumbs to coat.

Place the chicken back into the baking dish, skin side down, and then drizzle a bit of the pan drippings on top. Cook the chicken for another 8-10 minutes, then flip the chicken, drizzle the other side with some pan drippings, then cook another 10 minutes, or until browned and cooked through. Enjoy!

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Chicken with Paprika Cream Sauce

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So, remember a couple of weeks ago when I said I was going to be posting some healthier recipes for us? Well, this is not one of them. It is absolutely delicious though, and worth every calorie. The chicken is tender and delicious, but the sauce makes this dish! It’s hard to go wrong with heavy cream.

Me + bowl of paprika cream sauce + stretch pants = happy girl

Chicken with Paprika Cream Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter, divided
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2/3 cup minced onions
1 tablespoons paprika
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream

Heat the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with a bit of salt and pepper. Add two chicken breasts to the skillet, or as many as will fit without touching. Cook until the chicken is golden-brown on the bottom, about 3 minutes, then flip and cook the other side for another 3 minutes or so. Reduce the heat to medium, if needed, to prevent burning. Your chicken most likely won’t be cooked through at this point (if the chicken feels soft when you press on the top, then it’s still pink in the middle), so cover the skillet with a lid and cook for 3-5 more minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through (it should feel firm and the juices should run clear). (Note: the lid creates steam inside the skillet which cooks the inside of the chicken much faster.)

Safety warning: Keep the lid level (don’t tilt it) when you take the lid off the skillet; otherwise the condensation on the lid will drip down into the hot oil in the skillet and cause the hot oil to splatter.

Remove the cooked chicken from the skillet, keep warm, and repeat the above process for the remaining chicken breasts. Once all of the chicken is cooked, remove it to a plate and keep warm.

Turn the heat down to low and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter to the skillet. Add the onions, paprika, and 1/8 teaspoon of salt. Cook over low heat, stirring often, for 2-3 minutes or until the onions soften, being careful not to burn the paprika.

Add the chicken broth to the skillet and turn the heat up to high. Be sure to scrape up all of the yummy brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Boil over high heat until the liquid has thickened and reduced by at least half. Add the heavy cream and boil until thickened slightly. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the cooked chicken back to the skillet and turn to coat. Serve the chicken over rice with a generous spoonful of sauce. Enjoy!

*adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking

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Skinny Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken

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Happy Friday! I’ve been craving buffalo wings lately; maybe because the Super Bowl is fast approaching and I’m starting to think about all of the yummy things we can eat while watching the game. I like football, but it’s really all about the food and the funny commercials for me!

Although tasty, buffalo wings really aren’t that healthy. Anything that is fried and then dipped in a buttery sauce doesn’t exactly make the health food hall of fame. So, I decided to make a healthier recipe that not only tastes great, but is also uses every busy mom’s favorite appliance: the Crock-Pot (yay!). This recipe is so easy to make and results in super-tender chunks of chicken infused with spicy buffalo wing sauce flavor…mmm, good. You can use this chicken in a variety of ways: buffalo chicken wraps, buffalo chicken sandwich, on top of a salad, or any way your heart desires.

Skinny Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken

1 ½ cups chicken broth
1 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
2 frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Add everything except the chicken to the Crock-Pot and stir to combine. Add the frozen chicken breasts and flip to coat in the sauce.

Cook on high for about 4 hours. Break up the chicken into chunks and then stir into the sauce and serve.

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White Chicken Enchiladas

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Happy New Year! I love how optimistic I feel at the beginning of the year. I’ve got some goals in mind and I’m ready to conquer my bright, shiny new list of “to dos” for the coming year. I’ve got a good feeling about 2014; I think it’s going to be a great year!

Unfortunately, I’ve acquired a bit of extra “padding” from the holidays, so I’ll be working on some healthier recipes for you (and me!). To start us off, how about some delectable white chicken enchiladas, lightened up with fat-free Greek yogurt? These dreamy enchiladas have all of the creamy taste and texture of sour cream (or heavy cream), but without any of the added fat!

White Chicken Enchiladas

2 cups cooked, diced chicken
Cumin, chili powder, and garlic powder, to taste
2 cups shredded Jack cheese, divided
10 soft-taco sized white corn tortillas
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup plain, non-fat Greek yogurt (I like Fage)
1 4-ounce can diced green chilies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish and set aside.

Add the cooked chicken to a medium bowl and season with cumin, chili powder, and garlic powder, to taste. Add 1 cup of shredded cheese and stir to combine.

Add a spoonful or two of the chicken mixture to the center of a tortilla, then roll up the tortilla and place in the prepared baking dish. Repeat for the remaining tortillas.

In a large sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add the broth and whisk until smooth. Heat over medium heat until thick and bubbly, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the yogurt and green chilies, but do not let the mixture come to a boil.

Pour the mixture over the enchiladas and top with the remaining cheese.

Bake 20-25 minutes and then turn on the broiler for about 3 min, or until the cheese is browned. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then serve and enjoy!

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Gingerbread Bars

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Can you believe it’s less than two week until Christmas? Christmas is my favorite holiday and I always try to make it last as long as possible (yes, I am one of those people who start listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving), but the holiday still seems to end too soon.

One of my very favorite Christmas activities is baking, especially since it’s a fun low-key activity to do with my kids. To kick-off the holiday baking season, I made these yummy gingerbread bars. They taste similar to a gingerbread cookie, but soooo much easier to make. I shared these gingerbread bars with my daughter’s 4-H group and the kids devoured them (and came back for seconds and thirds)! It’s a very simple gingery bar, so I was kind of surprised they were so popular with the kiddos….just imagine if I topped them with frosting!

Gingerbread Bars

After tasting these gingerbread bars, my youngest is demanding that we also make gingerbread men, gingerbread houses, and ginger cookies….hmm, I wonder if Costco sells ground ginger in bulk?

1 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
2/3 cup butter
1/4 cup molasses
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
White sugar (use organic or sugar in the raw, if you have it)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9 x 13 baking dish.

Add the brown sugar, butter, and molasses to a large mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed until just combined. Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Gradually stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture using a wooden spoon. The batter will be quite thick, so you will need to spoon the batter into the baking dish and smooth it out with the back of the wooden spoon (or rubber spatula). It will spread while baking, so it doesn’t need to be perfectly smooth. Lightly sprinkle the sugar over the top. (Note: I like to use organic sugar because the crystals are larger and they have a slight molasses flavor.)

Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, and your kitchen smells amazing!  Let cool completely, then cut into squares and enjoy!

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Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup

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Thanksgiving is almost here, and chances are that you are busy planning your menu for the big day. You probably have some “classic” dishes that make it to the table every year, but if you are looking to try something different, below are a few of my favorite recipes for Thanksgiving.

Before I get too caught-up in the food though, I want to stop and remember the other reason that we celebrate Thanksgiving, which is to give thanks. I am so thankful for my wonderful, hard-working husband and my two beautiful girls. They make me laugh every day and life would be awfully dull without them. I am constantly amazed by the amount of love and support that we get from our family and friends. It is such a wonderful feeling to have so many people caring for us; just thinking about them makes me feel like I’m getting an enormous group-hug. We’re also blessed to live in such a peaceful country community. I love that my girls get to experience nature every day and feel safe to explore and make new discoveries.

Fall Salad with Cranberries and Candied WalnutsFall Salad





Butternut Squash Soup
butternut squash soup






Roasted Brussels Sprouts
roast brussels sprouts






Buttery Dinner Rolls
dinner rolls






Apple Cobbler
Apple Cobbler






Pumpkin Bread
pumpkin bread






Almond Pear Pie (the photo doesn’t do it justice)
Almond Pear Pie






Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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