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.


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: 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: Breakfast Blueberry Scones

You may not have realized, but scones don’t need to be made with wheat flour. These gorgeous scones, made from nut flour, are flavorful and sweet, gentle and crumbly on your tongue, and full of nourishing ingredients. Whether you’re wheat-sensitive or simply curious, these scones are the perfect treat if you’re looking for a sweet, nutritious something to enjoy with your morning tea or coffee.

1 1/3 cups cashew or almond flour
1/2 cup arrowroot flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tsp. fresh lemon peel, chopped fine
3 tbsp. maple syrup
2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat oven to 350F.
C
ombine cashew flour, arrowroot flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl.
In a second bowl, combine coconut oil, maple syrup, lemon peel, vanilla, and egg.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, and stir with a spatula to form a well-combined dough.
Gently f
old in blueberries.
Pour batter into a round 9-inch pan. 
Bake 30 minutes, until crust turns golden brown.
Allow to cool 10-15 minutes. Use a sharp knife to cut into 6 beautiful wedges.

Thank you to greatist.com for this lovely, lovely recipe.


Ratchet Up Your Breakfast to a New Level

This week I’m going to spend a few minutes talking about the typical American breakfast, namely toast bagels muffins waffles pancakes “cereal” biscuits bread. Basically just white flour and sugar. Stripped carb. I put “cereal” in quotes because the word cereal really means grain (like oatmeal, millet, kasha, bulgur wheat), and not boxes of sweetened, dyed, highly processed products of limited nutritional value.

Something I’ve noticed just in the past few months is that EVEN friends, colleagues and acquaintances who have made the switch to real food, and who have rid their kitchens of items from that list of typical American breakfast foods above (at least most of the time) can still be strongly influenced by the list. Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Slow Chicken & White Beans

In honor of the upcoming marriage of HLJ to ESS:
Here’s a magnificent recipe, inspired by the fact that this year is the #Year of the #Pulse! You know how much I love beans and the flavors developed by slow cooking! Try putting it up right now, and you’ll have a very special, delicious and nutritious meal for dinner tonight. Of course, if you’re me, you might decide to make it tonight instead of in the morning, so it will be ready just in time for breakfast tomorrow.
Whenever food cooks in our slow cooker through the night, it gives me delicious dreams. Sometimes it even wakes me up, a few times for a few moments, to savor the smells. Then, when morning comes, I can barely get myself up and dressed fast enough in my hurry to get downstairs to eat my yummy breakfast from the crockpot! I’m not kidding — consider yourself forewarned.

Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Muffin-y Goodness

Of course, this is an especially good week for an egg recipe…

My sister saw a recipe for these beauties last week, and now you should try them! I love the idea of eating a few for breakfast, taking some for lunch, popping one or two for a mid-afternoon snack, and then making a whole new batch. But maybe not all on the same day.

My advice? Use eggs with the brightest orange-yellow yolks, berries with deepest warmest color, and the sweetest, ripest bananas you can find. You can’t possibly go wrong! Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Sharon’s Sweet-Potato Oatcakes

This week I have an amazing new recipe from my friend, Sharon, who was so pleased with it that she decided to send it along to share with us! I am thrilled to be able to post it for you today, because I imagine that you are going to love it, too! I doubled her recipe to give you a few extra to share or save for breakfast tomorrow. Thank you, Sharon! Continue reading


Fake Fruit Food

A few months ago I wrote about the “high margin-to-cost” breakfast cereal business. I have a few more thoughts, this time not specifically about the product itself, but about the pervasive use of fruity words in the naming of those breakfast cereals. Continue reading