YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Conner’s Own Spectacular Granola

Karma is when you discover that the yoga course for which you registered (how silly to think that it was solely in order to learn yoga!) brings you to Conner Speigner, a gifted chef from Cleveland, Ohio. 

Conner learned her craft at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, NC. She is proud to share that her world travels and adoption of a plant-based diet led her to discover her personal mission: to heal with food, and to prove that nutritious is delicious! You won’t find any arguments from me. This granola really is delicious. Try sprinkling it on coconut milk yogurt the way Conner does, or feel free to use it however you like.

1 cup walnuts
1 cup almonds
1 cup sunflower seeds
2 apples
1 orange, peeled
all the zest of that peeled orange
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup maple syrup

1. Soak the walnuts, almonds, and sunflower seeds for 8 to 12 hours (overnight is good). Drain the nuts and seeds, blend in a food processor until you have a minced texture (do not overblend or you’ll end up with nut butter), and remove to a large bowl. Set the mixture aside.
2. Place the fruits, lemon juice, and maple syrup in the food processor and blend until smooth.
3. Add the fruit mixture to the nut mixture, and combine well.
4. Spread the mixture in a thin layer on a dehydrator tray, and dehydrate 36-48 hours at 115F.

If you do not have a dehydrator, use your oven as follows: Spread a thin layer of mixture on cookie sheet lined with either parchment paper or a silpat (silicone mat). Bake at 200 F (or the lowest temperature) for at least 2 hours. Leave the oven door cracked open for approximately 6 more hours. If you do this right before bed, the granola should be perfect by morning!

Conner is currently employed as a chef at The Root Cafe, located in Lakewood on the west side of Cleveland, where she serves up organic, local, vegetarian, vegan, and raw vegan fare. If you’d like to learn more about what Conner can do for you, you can reach her at connerspeignerAToutlook.com.


Reply to Kirsten

Comment: I am reading that you eat potato salad in the morning. I was surprised…not much protein in that ? But my question is…in the Calgary Herald there was an article about breakfast, which mentioned you and oats. How do you prepare steel cut oats ? Soak overnight w how much apple cider vinegar ? And do you rinse it off in the morning or eat the vinegar? Thanks! Kirsten

Hi Kirsten

I’m not sure which potato salad you’re referring to because there are a few. Can you give me the posting date? Perhaps you’re referring to the Simplest Salad that I posted just a few weeks ago on April 30th? If so, the ingredients include a potato, cucumbers, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, olive oil, salt, and fresh herbs. Although it’s certainly not what I would characterize as a high-protein meal, it is a highly nourishing one, with tons of phytonutrients, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and nourishing fats of more than one kind, along with enough protein to get me through til lunch. So give that a try, and don’t measure its value by protein content alone.

With regard to the oatmeal, I was not aware that Calgary Herald had quoted me, but they left out an important bit of information. The recipe is 1/2 cup steel-cut oats, 1 cup water, and 1/4 tsp. vinegar (cider or white). Mix and leave on the counter at room temperature all night. No rinsing required. In the morning the oats will be cooked (by the acid), and a short heat-up in the microwave will be all that stands between you and breakfast. You will not taste the vinegar at all. Feel free to add raisins, milk, butter, honey, or anything else you would add to your oatmeal if you had cooked it on the stove for 30 minutes.

Thanks for reading YHIOYP!


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Sweet Potato Brownies

I’ve heard of black bean brownies before, and I have even made them on occasion, but I had never heard of sweet potato brownies until a couple of weeks ago. This recipe comes from Katherine, a newly arrived co-worker who is committed to good health, running in the sunshine, and preparing delicious, nutritious food. Lucky for us! The amount of sweetness in this recipe makes it perfect for a special dessert, though I wouldn’t hesitate to eat it for breakfast, either. 

2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1/2 cup smooth peanut (or almond) butter
1 cup cooked sweet potato, mashed
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup chocolate chips (dairy-free)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a small cake pan with a bit of olive oil on your finger.

Warm the maple syrup in a medium-sized saucepan on medium heat. Add peanut (or almond) butter, stirring until the nut mixture begins to take on a toasted smell. Turn off the heat, add sweet potato and cocoa powder, and mix until smooth. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Transfer the mixture to the cake pan, spread evenly, and bake for 20 minutes. Do not use a cake tester — you want it to still be very slightly damp. Allow to cool completely prior to cutting.

Yield: 9 squares


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Red Lentils & Sweet Potatoes

I’m on a kick here. I think it might be the spinach. Or maybe the garam masala. It might be the orange vegetables and their phytonutrients. This recipe is slightly simpler than the chickpea-spinach curry one I posted a few weeks ago, but it’s also out of this world. The leftovers are so fantastic that you may decide to eat them for breakfast AND lunch, both.

1 small-medium sweet potato, peeled
1 small-medium onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (use 1/2 tsp. if they aren’t super fresh)
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. garam masala
1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup red lentils
4 cups fresh spinach
a pinch of salt

  1. Dice sweet potato into ½-inch cubes, and set aside.
  2. Heat 1/4 cup water plus 1 tsp. olive oil, and sauté onions and garlic for one minute.
  3. Add red pepper flakes and continue to cook until all the water has boiled off. Add turmeric and garam masala, and stir well.
  4. Add broth and sweet potatoes, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to med-low, cover pot, and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Add red lentils, and simmer 7-10 min until lentils and sweet potatoes are both fully cooked. Add additional water as needed to keep ingredients moist.
  6. Add spinach and stir until soft.
  7. Add salt to taste and serve.

Serves 2.


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Cherry-Chocolate Mousse

Looking for something cool to serve in small, elegant glasses on a warm evening? This lovely mix of fruits, almond and chocolate will make your heart sing and your eyes flutter. Promise.

1 small banana
12 ounces frozen cherries
1 tablespoon almond butter
1 oz. dark chocolate (70%), finely chopped

Combine the banana, cherries and almond butter in a food processor or high-speed blender. Puree until smooth and creamy. Stir in the chocolate, and spoon into bowls.

If you would like to try making a firm ice cream, freeze 2-3 hours, and then serve with a proper ice-cream scoop.

Serves 4.


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Spinach & Chickpea Curry

Let this list of spices inspire you! Sure, you can reach for the curry powder in the spice cabinet, but wait! Don’t! You are not going to believe the difference between THAT and THIS. It’s diamonds vs. paste. Top shelf vs. moonshine. Everything you’ve ever wanted vs. anything you’ve ever settled for. You will be so grateful, and your tastebuds will, too.

If you’d like, you can serve this beautiful curry with a bowl of rice and a plateful of cucumber slices. The original recipe comes from So Vegan. So check it out.

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped coarsely
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 thumb-sized chunk of ginger, peeled and chopped roughly
4  large tomatoes, quartered
1 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. coriander seeds
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. hot chili powder
3 1/2 cups chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup coconut cream
3 cups raw spinach
1 handful fresh coriander leaves
pinch of salt
1/2 fresh lemon
1 tsp. coconut oil for frying
sliced cucumber for garnish

1. Add onion, garlic, ginger and tomatoes to a food processor and process until smooth.
2. Crush the mustard seeds and coriander seeds until fine, either with the side of a knife blade or a mortar & pestle.
3. Heat 1 teaspoon coconut oil in a frying pan on medium heat.
4. Fry the cumin, coriander, turmeric, garam masala, mustard seeds, and chili powder for 2 min.
5. Add the onion and tomato mixture, stir well, and simmer on low heat for 20 min.
6. Add coconut cream and chickpeas, stir well, and heat for 3-5 min.
7. Add a pinch of salt, a drizzle of lemon juice, and a small handful of coriander.
8. Add all the spinach, and stir briefly until wilted.

Serves four.


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Brigid’s Chocolate Chip Goji Berry Gluten-free Muffins

I happen to have the privilege of working with some very talented people, and Brigid Titgemeier is one of them! Brigid started a blog this year to share her expertise as a registered dietitian, and you must check it out. This past week she posted her recipe for Chocolate Chip Goji Berry Muffins, which she describes as “the perfect way to combine the nutritional benefits of eggs and oatmeal in one delicious muffin!” No complaints here. The nourishing, high-quality ingredients add up to a spectacularly gorgeous, delicious, and satisfying yum! And so much better than a “breakfast bar.”

Goji berries are a long, slender, red berry that you can pick up in the dried foods section at many grocery stores. You don’t need a special recipe to eat them; they taste good straight from your palm, too. Rich in vitamin C, fiber, and phytonutrients, you can be sure that you are nourishing yourself with these sweet little babies.

Ghee, if you are curious, is simply another term for clarified butter. You can buy it, or you can make it as follows: Gently melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Within minutes, the butter will separate into 3 layers, with foam on top, milk solids on the bottom, and clarified butter in between. Spoon off the foam, discard, and then, without disturbing the bits of milk solids resting on the bottom of the pan, pour the clarified butter into a clean glass jar. That’s it!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 3/4 cup oats, certified gluten-free
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • a dash of sea salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup grass-fed ghee [or cold-pressed coconut oil if you avoid dairy]
  • 1/2 cup dairy-free chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup goji berries
  • cold-pressed coconut oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. To prevent sticking, rub a bit of coconut oil into each cup of a 12-cup muffin tin.
  2. In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients (chickpea flour, almond flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and sea salt).
  3. In a separate bowl combine the wet ingredients and mix well (eggs, banana, peanut butter, vanilla, maple syrup and ghee [or coconut oil]).
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  5. Stir in chocolate chips and goji berries.
  6. Spoon batter into the muffin cups to 2/3 full.
  7. Bake 14-16 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown.
  8. Cool on a wire cooling rack for 10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Simplest Salad

I’ve been making this salad for breakfast, yes breakfast, for months now. I know it’s a bit unconventional in the U.S. to eat salad for breakfast (though not in Europe and the Middle East), but it’s such a great way to start the day. Its success is built on simplicity. My strategy remains similar, week in and week out. It is never quite the same, and always delicious. Thank you to Alice Waters for teaching me to eat simply. This salad makes one single serving, but is infinitely flexible if you’d like to invite a friend or an army to your table to share a meal.

1 medium white potato (organic), cooked
2 small (pickling) cucumbers (approx 4 inches long)
8 grape or cherry tomatoes
2 tsp. sunflower seeds
2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt
a small handful of fresh herbs (choose from among chives, basil, mint, thyme, oregano)

Dice the potato into 1/2 inch cubes, and add to a bowl.
Halve the cucumbers the long way, and slice into thin half-moons.
Slice each tomato in half.

Mix together the vegetables, and add the herbs. Sprinkle with olive oil and sea salt. Mix well.
Sprinkle the top with sunflower seeds just before serving.

Thank you, Alice Waters.


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Lemon-Sesame Kale Salad

A kale celebration for kale lovers everywhere (!). If you don’t happen to have any kale right now, you can still make this salad with any other greens growing in your garden or sitting in your fridge. Radicchio is a good addition, too. Do I post a lot of recipes for kale? Maybe. But I know hardly anyone who eats enough green, leafy vegetables. What’s the deal with green leaves? They’re basically a nutrition powerhouse, with loads of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber, you name it. Exactly like taking a multivitamin. But without the constipation.
  • 1 head of kale
  • 1 cucumber (peeled, seeded, and diced)
  • 2 ripe avocados, diced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced 
  • 2 cups (1 can) chickpeas, rinsed well and patted dry
  • 2 Tbsp. sunflower seeds (shelled) for garnish
Dressing:
  • 1 /2 cup tahini 
  • 3 /4 cup water
  • 2-3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove (med-large), minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
1. Prepare the veggies and beans, and toss into a large bowl.  Set aside.
2. Whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl, adding a bit of water drop by drop (one teaspoon at a time) if necessary. Remember the water in the veggies will thin the dressing further.
3. Pour the dressing into the vegetables, mix gently, and serve immediately.  Garnish with sunflower seeds.
A prior version of this recipe comes (with many thanks) from Angela at vegangela.com.

YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Beautifully Red Cabbage Salad

Welcome to lunch for a week with spicy, crunchy, sour power! When I saw this recipe I knew right away that it had a future in my kitchen! Even still, cabbage is one of those foods that is highly underrated — especially the red kind. But go ahead and make some for you, your gang, and your co-workers! You’ll be very happy you did.

1 small head of red cabbage, cored
2 bunches flat-leaf Italian parsley, rinsed well and chopped finely
1 bunch scallions (white and green parts), rinsed well and sliced thinly
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice (fresh is best, but not essential)
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped (separate whites & yolks if you’re inclined)
1/2 cup roasted almonds, chopped coarsely
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

1. Cut the cabbage into small chunks, and process in small batches in a food processor (short, quick pulses) just a few times until chopped roughly. Avoid overprocessing or you will have raw cabbage soup.
2. Empty chopped cabbage into a large bowl, and mix in parsley and onions.
3. Whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste, and pour over the cabbage mixture. Toss thoroughly.
4. Sprinkle with nuts and chopped eggs. Serves 4-6.

Thank you to the incomparable Blender Girl for a prior version of this recipe.