Autumn is here. The cool air, the beautifully painted trees, and the leaves that crunch beneath your feet as you walk on them. It is when we start to crave warm comfort foods from the oven to warm our bodies from the inside. There are of course savory dishes, but one sweet dish that I feel is very comforting is a warm crisp. They are made often at my house during the cooler months, served warm from the oven with cool ice cream melting over the jammy fruit. Although I love all crisps, apple has to be my favorite. Especially when made with sweet tart apples like the honeycrisp. I have a gluten-free recipe for apple crisp that I would love to share with you all!
Have you tried chia seeds? It may seem like it is nothing special at first glance, but really it is a nutritional powerhouse! Full of healthy omega-3s and anti-oxidants, it is known to help in balancing blood sugar levels. I have to admit, when I first heard about them I was skeptical, but I now eat them daily. It is a great after-workout energizer when soaked in coconut water instead of a sugar filled energy drink. I have recently discovered a new favorite way to eat them, in a breakfast porridge. I first saw a similar recipe on a raw food website and decided to create my own! It is an energizing breakfast that keeps me full until it is time for lunch. The best part is, it requires minimal preparation time, and it can be prepared the night before so no rushing in the morning. Here is my recipe, but feel free to substitute your favorite fruit and nuts if you do not have raspberries and walnuts on hand.
On a cool night, one of my favorite dinners is a bowl of warming chili. It is nice and hearty, and it makes the house smell wonderful. Add a side of vegan corn bread and a salad and I am set! One of my favorite chili recipes adds squash. It makes it slightly sweet, and so delicious. I am going to share my favorite vegan chili recipe with you. It has a few special ingredients that may sound odd, but they make the chili broth taste rich and flavorful. Also, I use white beans in my chili in place of the usual black or pinto, as my mother used to use them in all her soups. I add a kick to my chili with a habanero, but if you would like it a bit more mild, feel free to stick with the jalapenos or omit the hot peppers. This chili can be tailored to your liking, and the best part is it freezes wonderfully for a quick meal later.
When the cooler Autumn weather hits, we start to crave warm comfort foods like soups. I can remember when I was younger, my mother made homemade soup often, and it was so good that I always thought canned soup to be inferior. Afterall, there is nothing more satisfying than sitting down to a warm bowl of soup on a cool night that you have made yourself. It was recently requested by a good friend of mine that I make a creamy vegan wild rice soup. So I came up with a recipe for Mushroom Lentil Wild Rice Soup. It is hearty enough to serve as a meal with a light salad, and it freezes nicely if you want to eat a serving then save a few for the future. I always have a freezer full of soups in the cooler months for those nigths where I do not have time to cook. Why not enjoy a warm bowl of comfort?
Sometimes it can be a challenge to fit breakfast into a busy schedule in the morning. Often times we rush to get to work or school, skipping breakfast and feeling hungry before lunch time hits. It is important to be able to get your system going with something nutritious while tasting good. It gives energy for the rest of the day and prevents from over indulging and feeling tired later.
So often times on a busy day, I will whip up a smoothie, and drink it on the way to where ever I am going. It does not take long to make. You can vary the ingredients with what you feel like eating, or what is in season at the time. In the summer, I choose berries, peaches and mangos. In the fall and winter, apples and berries are wonderful. Throw in some protein powder to keep you full, maybe some oats, and you are set!
Below, I have included one of my favorite autumn smoothies, apple pie smoothie. It reminds me of cinnamon scented apple pie with ice cream and yet it is healthy! Nothing wrong with a breakfast that tastes delicious as well as nourishes the body!
Since it is national breakfast month, I thought it appropriate to post something breakfasty. No, not pancakes or eggs and bacon, something that can be taken with you if you are on the go, or snacked on later in the day, home made granola!
If you have never made your own granola before, it is about time you tried; it is a real treat. The heavenly aroma that emerges from your oven while it is baking is like nothing else.
You are rewarded when it is just cool enough to taste, but still warm from the oven to enjoy a sample (or two or three because it is hard to stop enjoying). The best part about it is you can add in the things you like most and to suit your tastes. I have included my favorite recipe here, vanilla scented nut and cacao nib granola. It is like a grown up chocolate chip cookie married some granola; it smells amazing and tastes even better! You will have a hard time going back to buying already made granola in a bag or box once you try making it!
Quinoa is a staple dinner item in our house. Its versatile, neutral taste helps to fill any dish. This “filler” packs a healthy punch with flavonoids, antioxidants, omega-3s and an overall nutritinal density. Unlike its grain conterparts, quinoa is known as a complete protein source. Buying it in Fresh & Natural’s bulk department is the best way to keep the price down and makes you the decider as to how much you need.
No need for the fish oil today! This entree or side dish is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids which are vital for a normal metabolism. Omega-3s have been known to be linked to heart, cellular, joint and mental health benefits. Did I scare you off with the health components of this dish? Don’t be…it’s delcious, even a 3-year-old will eat it. This dish can be served cold or hot as a side dish or an entree. You choose. This is a great side dish to store in the fridge and eat cold throughout the week. The lemon essence brings out the extraodinary, rich flavors of the wild caught salmon and just gets richer with taste as it sits. Great for anytime of the year!
I can remember begging my parents to buy me fruit roll-ups fruit snack when I was in elementary school. My mom usually said, “No, those are too full of sugar”, but my Dad usually caved and got them for me. There was something about the fruity chewy goodness that I enjoyed. Now, 20 years later, there are some better options for fruit snacks and fruit leather, ones containing just real fruit. I recently made some fruit leather because I was curious as to how homemade would taste; it turned out delicious!
Much better than the fruit roll ups which I remember tasting artificial overly sweet fruit. I know if my mom knew how to make these when I was in school, she definitely would have let me have them. After all, they are real fruit! The best part is you can choose what flavor to make. This time I made peach raspberry, and the fruit was so flavorful and ripe that it needed very little additional sweetening.
All you moms add these to your kiddos lunches, and your kids will love them just as much as store-bought fruit roll ups. It’s a great way to get one of their fruit servings for the day! Feel free to substitute their favorite fruits in the recipe!
To continue what I started (see Homemade Peanut Butter recipe blog), no peanut butter is complete without the proper jam. As far as the jam goes, I prefer the quick non-sugary method sweetened with honey or agave nectar. It only requires a clean jar and a pot, no special equipment. My favorite is strawberry vanilla, but of course you can use whichever organic fruit you prefer. No fruit in season? Frozen works just fine.
So, if you want to make yourself a special peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you should combine my Homemade Peanut Butter blog recipe with my Vanilla Scented Strawberry Jam! If you have kids, even better for them because they can help you choose the flavors to make.
Note: You can substitute the strawberries for other fruits such as raspberries, peaches, blueberries or mangoes.
Sometimes it’s a chore to think of what to make for dinner. Everyone is busy. We are all looking for quick, delicious recipes that the kids will like. When I was little, one thing that my mom would make that would always go over well was noodles. Whether spaghetti, pasta salad, or macaroni, it didn’t matter I cleaned my plate. In recent years, I have come to appreciate a quick noodle dish called Spicy Thai Peanut Noodles. It always is a crowd pleaser. I have served this to guests and even children, and they were all raving about the sauce. I personally add chicken style seitan for extra protein, but if you prefer add chicken instead or just omit it all together. The great thing about this entree is you can use whichever veggies you have on hand. I list carrots, peas, radishes and scallions here, but broccoli and bell peppers are also great choices too. It is very versatile. Leftovers keep well until lunch the next day. It is perfect to bring to work or school lunches!