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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Apple Pumpkin Muffins

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These Apple Pumpkin Muffins are so good! It’s like apple pie and pumpkin pie combined, but much healthier. I used 2 cups of Truvia Baking Blend, but the muffins were a bit too sweet for my taste, so I suggest using a bit less sugar (or your favorite sugar alternative). These muffins are excellent with my morning coffee or tea and are healthy enough to feel good about packing them in my children’s lunch boxes.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups Truvia Baking Blend (or your favorite sugar/sweetener)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 15oz can canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup applesauce
2 cups, peeled and chopped apple
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line 18 muffin cups.

Add the flours, oats, Truvia (or sugar), cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda, and salt to a large bowl, and whisk together until well combined.

In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, pumpkin, and applesauce. Add this mixture to the flour mixture, stirring until just combined. Fold in the chopped apples and walnuts. Spoon the batter evenly among the 18 muffin cups.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins spring back when lightly tapped.

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Triple Berry Crisp

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Hello everyone! Sorry for the long hiatus. My summer activities seem to be keeping me busier than I expected. Oh, plus, we got a new puppy (it’s like I have a new baby in the house again - but with very sharp teeth). His name is Raleigh.

Isn’t he cute?

Anyway, I hope this recipe is worth the wait. It really is delicious (if I do say so myself)! My kids and I went berry picking at a local farm (so fun!), and we came home with a bounty of Marion berries, Ollalie berries, and raspberries. This was my first experience with Marion berries and Ollalie berries, which are similar to blackberries, and just as delicious. I combined all three berries for this recipe, but feel free to experiment with other berries, if desired.

My family began devouring the berries immediately, but I managed to set aside enough berries for this wonderful dessert. It’s similar to a fruit cobbler, but the fruit is sandwiched between two layers of yummy oat “topping”. I love the combination of hearty oats with sweet berries. I topped the crisp with walnuts, because everything is better with nuts (in my humble opinion).

3 cups fresh berries (I used Marion, Ollalie, and raspberries)
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 cup oats
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8×8-inch baking dish (or other medium baking dish – I used an oval dish).

Add the berries and white sugar to a medium bowl and gently stir together. Set aside.

In another medium bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, flour, and salt. Add the butter pieces and then cut the butter into the oat mixture using a pastry blender or 2 knives (you can use your fingers too), until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Add half of the oat mixture to the bottom of the baking dish and press gently with your hand, packing the mixture slightly.

Add the berries to the baking dish (you may need to drain the accumulated juice from the berries first) and spread evenly over the oat layer.

Top the berries with the remaining oat mixture. I like to take handfuls of the oat mixture and flatten them slightly with my hands before placing them on top of the berries. Sprinkle the walnuts on top of the oat mixture.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the topping is firm and browned. Let cool for 20 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream.

Store any leftovers in the refrigerator (it tastes great cold too!).

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Fresh Blackberry Pie with Walnut-Oat Meringue Crust

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Wild blackberry bushes grew in abundance along the American River in Northern California, where I grew up. In early summer, I would spend hours plucking sweet berries from those thorny bushes, until my lips and fingers were stained purple. I’ll always remember the taste of sweet blackberries, right off the bush.

This blackberry pie brings back memories of those days spent gorging myself on blackberries. There isn’t any sugar added to the filling – just big, beautiful, sweet blackberries. The walnut-oat meringue crust is from Shirley O. Corriher’s CookWise cookbook, and is amazing! It’s light, hearty, mildly sweet, and it pairs beautifully with the unsweetened blackberries. It’s really easy to put together, and tastes so much better than an ordinary pie crust.

One word of caution: since the blackberries aren’t cooked, they won’t last more than a day or two. This pie is definitely best when eaten the same day it is made. So, invite some friends over to share in your blackberry bliss!

1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3 large eggs whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup oats
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 big baskets of fresh blackberries (try your local Farmer’s Market)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Vanilla ice cream (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lay the walnuts out flat on a baking sheet, and roast for 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside.

Add the egg whites and cream of tartar to a large bowl, and beat until soft peaks form when the beater is lifted. (Note: I think I could have beaten my egg whites a bit longer, so I would say beat until “medium peaks” form.) Beat in the sugar and baking powder. Gently fold in the walnuts, salt, oats, and vanilla with a rubber spatula.

Spray a 10-inch pie plate with cooking spray and dust lightly with flour. Spoon the meringue into the pie plate. Spread thinly over the bottom and pile higher on the sides. (Note: my meringue was a bit too thin, so it all just settled in one layer. If this happens to you, don’t fret, because it will still turn out great.) Bake at 325 degrees until set and lightly browned about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely on a cooling rack.

Place a fine mesh strainer over a glass measuring cup. Press about 1/2 cup of the fresh blackberries through the strainer using the back of a spoon, collecting the juice in the measuring cup. Discard the blackberry pulp. Add enough water to the blackberry juice to make 1/2 cup.

Add the cornstarch to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in a small amount of the juice/water mixture, until the cornstarch is smooth, then pour in the remaining juice/water and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened (this will probably only take about a minute). Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes, then gently fold in the blackberries.

Spoon the blackberries onto the cooled meringue crust, and refrigerate to cool thoroughly. Serve with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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Chocolate Chip Walnut Scones

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Let’s face it; scones are basically giant cookies that we get to eat for breakfast, so why not add some good stuff like chocolate chips! These flaky and mildly sweet scones are wonderful with your morning coffee or tea, and a good way to sneak some chocolate in before lunch time. I adapted this recipe from Joy of Cooking. These scones freeze beautifully, so you can store the extra scones in the freezer and defrost them as needed.

1 cup unbleached flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour (or use all unbleached flour for a lighter texture)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup roughly chopped walnuts
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together the unbleached flour, white whole wheat flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut the cold butter into the flour mixture using a pastry blender or 2 knives, until the largest pieces are about the size of peas.

Stir in the chocolate chips and the walnuts. Add the heavy cream, and mix just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Use your hand to gently knead the dough against the sides of the bowl about 5 to 10 times.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and pat down the dough until it is about 3/4 inch thick. Cut the dough into 12 wedges (you can make them larger, if you prefer) and place on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake until the edges are golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before serving.

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Chocolate Banana Bread with Walnuts

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It has been cold and wet this week so I have been in a bit of a baking frenzy. I started the week with this amazing chocolate banana bread. The chocolate adds some decadence to this moist bread and changes simple breakfast bread into a sweet treat.

1 stick of butter (1/2 cup), softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 overripe bananas
3/4 cup unbleached flour
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour (or use all unbleached flour)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour a 9×5 inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a small bowl, mash the bananas with a fork, then stir into the butter mixture.

In a medium bowl, add the unbleached flour, white whole wheat flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder. Use a whisk to stir the dry ingredients together until well combined.

Gradually mix the flour mixture into the banana mixture. Mix in the milk, and then stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts.

Pour into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

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Fall Salad with Cranberries and Candied Walnuts

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I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! We had a lovely time with family and friends; I feel truly blessed! Okay, back to the recipe . . .

This simple salad, topped with dried cranberries, candied walnuts, and creamy goat cheese is so delicious that it feels like I’m eating dessert, rather than vegetables. This is a great salad to have during the fall and winter months when tomatoes and other common salad vegetables are out of season.

1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sugar
6-8 cups of your favorite salad greens (I combine mixed greens with baby spinach)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup creamy goat cheese
Vinaigrette salad dressing

In a medium pan, over medium heat, add the walnuts and sugar. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar melts and the walnuts are thoroughly coated. It will take several minutes before the sugar begins to melt, so be patient. Melted sugar gets extremely hot, so if a walnut happens to pop out of the pan during the cooking process, don’t try to pick it up with your bare hands, or you will get a bad burn (unfortunately I know this from experience). When coated with sugar, pour the walnuts out in a single layer on a sheet of waxed paper or foil to cool.

Wash and dry the salad greens and place them into a salad bowl. Sprinkle the dried cranberries and candied walnuts (after they have cooled) over the salad greens. Toss gently to mix.

Plate individual portions of salad, and then place a few pieces of goat cheese on each portion. Drizzle with your favorite vinaigrette dressing and serve.

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Pumpkin Bread

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This quick bread is an excellent way to enjoy one of my favorite fall flavors: pumpkin. It’s also relatively healthy considering there isn’t any butter or oil – not to mention the boatload of vitamin A! This moist and spice-filled bread tastes like pumpkin pie (and is just as good as a certain coffee-house pumpkin bread, in my opinion). This recipe makes 3 loaves: one to eat now, one to share with friends, and one for the freezer to enjoy later.

Cinnamon and sugar for dusting the baking pans
3 cups canned pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
3 cups white sugar
6 eggs
4 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
Chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a small bowl, combine cinnamon (about 1/2 teaspoon) and sugar (about 1/4 cup). Grease three loaf pans (I used two 9×5 pans and one 8×5 pan), and sprinkle with the cinnamon/sugar mixture.

In a large bowl, mix together the pumpkin, applesauce, sugar, and eggs. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves; gradually stir into the pumpkin mixture until well blended.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. If desired, sprinkle chopped walnuts on top. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the top browns and springs back when lightly pressed. Let cool, and enjoy!

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Banana Sour Cream Bread

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This is my favorite banana bread recipe. The addition of sour cream makes it super moist, and I love the cinnamon-sugar flavor on the crust. Click here to view the original recipe, which yields four loaves (I reduced the ingredients to make only two loaves).

2 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 (16 ounce) container sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Grease two 7×3 loaf pans. (Note: if you have larger loaf pans, you may be able to fit all of the batter into one loaf pan; just be sure to increase the oven temperature to 325 degrees, and allow for extra baking time.) In a small bowl, mix together the 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Dust pans lightly with cinnamon-sugar mixture.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 1 1/2 cups of sugar (don’t worry if it doesn’t get “creamy”, just be sure to mix it well).  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well. Stir in the mashed bananas, sour cream, vanilla, and cinnamon. Add the salt, baking soda, and flour and mix well. Then stir in the walnuts. Pour the mixture into the prepared pans.

Bake for about 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

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Apple Cobbler

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Mmm, there is something comforting and completely satisfying about warm apple pie on a crisp autumn day. I love apple pie, but this cobbler is better than most apple pies that I’ve tasted, and it’s easier to make too! The almonds add another flavor that makes this cobbler unique (and extra tasty). You can also split this between two smaller baking dishes, and either share one with a friend, or stick it in the freezer for later.

6 cups peeled and sliced apples
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons cornstarch
6 tablespoons water
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped almonds

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.

In a bowl, combine the sliced apples, 1 1/2 cups sugar, and cinnamon. Let stand for about 15 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix together the cornstarch and water until smooth. Pour into the apple mixture and stir well. Pour the apples into the bottom of the baking dish.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, and 1/2 cup sugar. Add the melted butter and milk and stir until combined. Stir in the walnuts and almonds. Place individual spoonfuls on top of the apple mixture (it’s okay if you don’t cover all of the apples), and bake for about 45 minutes.

Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Ah, bliss!

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