breakfast/ gluten free/ no-bake treats/ snacks/ vegan

Salted Caramel Banana Ice-Cream

This recipe is the food equivalent of extreme sports. The totally healthy, whole-foods ingredient list may shave off a bit of its extreme, bad boy looks, but don’t be fooled by its safe image! This is no ordinary healthy dessert.

Unlike many healthy dessert recipes (you know, the ones that boast about being “low-sugar” or “low-fat” without disclosing the fact that they are also
“low-flavor”), this salted caramel banana ice-cream is beaming with intensity of flavor.

For starters, know that this ice-cream is more than simply blended frozen fruit. Ice “cream” needs just that, a source of cream (i.e. fat!) to provide it’s namesake.

Enter peanut butter. And hemp seeds.

In addition to providing a heap of creaminess, peanut butter is packed with nutrients. Rich in essential amino acids like niacin and lysine, it is a great source of plant-based protein.

Peanut butter is also chalk full of heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Oh, and it’s also incredibly cheap compared to other nut butters. All in all, it’s a worthy pantry staple.

Hemp seeds are another rich ingredient. Not only are they one of the best plant-based sources of Omega-3’s, but they also contain a significant amount of protein, which accounts for ~25% of total calories.

The frozen, speckled (i.e. ripe!) bananas provide the sweet cement for this creamy concoction, but the striking flavors are no doubt salted caramel and peanut butter (a match made in culinary heaven).

If you’re often underwhelmed by the “salted caramel-ness” of recipes that, well, promise SALTED CARAMEL, then you’ve come to the right place. This ice-cream isn’t tame in the “salt” or “caramel” departments.

To achieve truly WOW-level salted caramel, you’ll need:

1. Two generous tablespoons of salted peanut butter

2. A couple soft and gooey medjool dates (translation: naturally-sourced caramel galore!)

3. A couple pinches of flaky sea salt, to finish things off

Full of fruit (and the vitamins and minerals that are bound up in it!), fiber, healthy fats, and a large pinch of protein, this ice-cream is only extreme in the sense that it is located on the very far end of the healthy-dessert spectrum.

Some people possess magical capabilities, and claim they can eat ultra-sugary foods day in and day out without any ill-effects, but I am most definitely not one of those people.

Hence, the creation of this “ice-cream.” It’s for those of you who, like me, have a sizable sweet-tooth that isn’t going away, but who also have a strong desire for healthy eating and feeling. Hoorah for the magic of bananas!

On a final note, this ice-cream is what I imagine exists at the end of a rainbow. A pot of salted caramel gold. With a generous sprinkle of salted chocolate granola to top? Thank you, Mr. Leprechaun.

salted caramel peanut butter banana ice-cream

Print Recipe
Serves: ~1

Ingredients

  • 2 medium-large ripe & spotty bananas (pre-frozen)
  • 2 tbsps salted natural peanut butter (if yours is unsalted, simply add ~a couple pinches to taste)
  • 2 large medjool dates (or ~3-4 deglet noor dates)
  • 2 tsps hulled hemp seeds
  • Dash or two milk, such as nut or coconut (add gradually as you go, keeping it to a bare minimum)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • To top:
  • Salted dark chocolate granola or chunky monkey granola (or other 'nola of choice!)
  • More peanut butter (obviously)
  • Shredded coconut
  • Chopped gooey date and/or sliced banana
  • Pinch or two (or three) flaky sea salt, such as Maldon (this really elevates the salted-caramel flavor!)

Instructions

1

To begin, add the frozen bananas, peanut butter, dates, hemp seeds, and vanilla extract to your high-powered blender. Blend on high speed, using the tampering device to nudge the ingredients along until they are well incorporated and begin to take on a creamy consistency. Add 1-3 dashes of milk as you blend, trying to keep the additional liquid to a bare minimum as too much will yield a liquidy ice-cream.

2

You’ll know the ice-cream is done when no noticeably large chunks of frozen banana or date remain. Now for the fun part: pour it into a bowl and top things off with generous sprinkles of granola, shredded coconut, flaky sea salt (if you’re looking to elevate the salted caramel flavor just a tad more), and whatever other toppings suit your fancy! Enjoy immediately, as it doesn’t retain the same texture after freezing.

baked sweets/ breakfast/ gluten free/ vegan

Salted Dark Chocolate Granola

Some most mornings I wake up craving chocolate. Not sugary, milk chocolate (no offence, Hershey), but deep, rich, dark-as-night chocolate.

The idea of chocolate for breakfast may initially conjure up the image of S’more pop-tarts (my childhood affinity for the marshmallowy toaster pastry still lingers), or a mound of ever revered Cocoa Puffs, but today (pop-tarts are scheduled for tomorrow) I come bearing a very, very different picture.

For starters, this granola doesn’t reside in a creatively marketed cereal box; there are no flashing, colorful lights, and (much to everyone’s dismay) no cute, anthropomorphic animals, bound to woo you and/or your young child.

Instead, this granola stands alone, simply and soundly, stripped of the marketing gimmicks, and highly-processed, suspicious ingredients, that the rainbow colors and animals are intended to distract us from in the first place.

I’m still a somewhat impressionable kiddie-at-heart (aren’t we all?); snagging a mere sight of a box of Lucky Charms still makes my eyes pop, and the thought of a cereal bowl crowded with the lightly neon colored marshmallows still manages to rev me up with excitable energy. It’s as though anticipating eating sugar produces the same effect on me as actually eating it.

If artificially-colored sweets still make you swoon, but you’re also trying to nudge your taste pallet in a healthier direction, having a big jar of this oober chocolatey granola on hand will serve as a daily blessing.

Lightly sweetened with maple syrup (or insert whatever liquid sweetener you have on hand here), and richly flavored with a generous amount of cocoa powder, this granola is the answer to my late-night, chocolate-obsessed, prayers.

Oh, and don’t forget to (obviously) topped things off with a ~few~ generous sprinkles of flaky, crystallized sea salt. (Maldon, you are a chocolate-lover’s savior.)

Sweet, salty, chocolatey, but also strangely healthy (?), this granola helps keep me grounded when both the Trix rabbit and the Lucky Charm’s Leprechaun are trying to ensnare me in their deceitfully delightful traps.

salted dark chocolate granola

Print Recipe
Serves: ~6

Ingredients

  • 3 cups traditional rolled oats (ensure gf if necessary)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsps ground flax seeds (flax meal)
  • 2 tbsps chia seeds
  • 1/3 cup unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (add more to taste if you'd prefer more sweetness)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • To finish
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips or roughly chopped chocolate! (~70% cocoa)
  • ~1 tsp flaky sea salt, such as Maldon (add to taste)

Instructions

1

Preheat oven to 340 F. In a large bowl, combine the oats, cocoa powder, salt, and chia seeds. In a separate, small bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, syrup, and vanilla extract. In 2-3 batches, pour the liquid over the oats, stirring well to ensure the oats become evenly covered.

2

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or lightly oil it), and spread the oats out into an evenly distributed layer. Press down with a spatula to make the granola stick together better; doing so will encourage larger chunks to form! Bake in the middle rack of the oven for 10-12 minutes, before removing and lightly flipping over large sections. Continue to bake for a further ~9-14 minutes, until noticeably toasted but not burnt (keep a watchful eye).

3

Allow the granola to fully cool before stirring through the chocolate and adding a finishing pinch of flaky sea salt (it will also gain more crunch as it cools down)! Store in a tight container for ~1-2 weeks.

Notes

Recipe inspired by/adapted from The Minimalist Baker's salted chocolate granola recipe, which was inspired by Pure Elizabeth's store-bought granola!

breakfast/ gluten free/ snacks/ vegan

High-Protein Brazil Nut “Mylk”

No, that’s actually not a glaring typo; “mylk” is the trendy new name for dairy-free milk. Despite appearing as though it was misspelled by a 7-year old, “mylk” actually helps clear up much of the confusion that accompanies dairy-free milk (yes, milk is a highly controversial subject).

Some people (most notably dairy farmers and lobbyists) take issue with the idea of dairy-free “milk.” Milk is milk, they say. And maybe they have a point. Is almond milk really “milk,” or is it a ~90% water, almond, and vitamin-fortified concoction (that also happens to have a milk-esque creamy color)?

Sure, “mylk” is not milk. However, it’s also a fast-spreading reality that more and more people are opting for the strangely spelled beverage.

Take the endearing new dairy milk alternative, oat milk, for example. Whether you find it cute, cool, or a cue to *eye roll*, the fact is that the cereal grain milk is quickly racking up $ and fans, including baristas around the world, who find that it pairs better with coffee than other plant-based milks.

Dairy-free milk critics may be technically right in their assessment of non-mammal-milks; at the end of the day, “milk” still refers to the liquid secreted from an animal’s mammary glands.

However, it’s also true that dictionary definitions are not steadfast and timeless. Words and their meanings reflect the tides of time, and something tells me that dairy-free milk is no one-hit wonder.

I introduce to you brazil nut milk. This is no watery take on real milk; instead, it’s satisfyingly creamy, without requiring any assistance from added vegetable gums (and other unpronounceable ingredients), as is often the case in store-bought plant-based milks. Plus, the scoop of protein powder helps ensure that you feel a lasting fullness (goodbye, mere water bloating!).

Although brazil nuts may appear bland, and far from treasurable, they are in fact the richest (and certainly the tastiest) source of naturally-occurring selenium.

Simply put, brazil nuts are a nutritional gem! 1-3 nuts a day is about as much as you need to check off your daily recommended amount of the highly-important mineral (RDAs will obviously differ based on age and sex).

Selenium plays a crucial role in getting rid of damaging free-radicals and reducing oxidative stress. In addition to brazil nuts, selenium is also concentrated in fish and meat.

Obviously, no one has the time to ensure they’re hitting all of their nutrients everyday. Being busy AND having the desire to cook and eat healthy equals one seemingly untangleable conundrum.

But that’s where simple, shortcut recipes like this high-protein nut milk come in handy. Submerging my granola in this milk every morning means I stay fuller for longer, and don’t begin to feel peckish until lunch time actually rolls around (protein is more satiating than sugar!).

Plus, the nutrient-dense content of this mylk means I can continue to enjoy my quick-fix breakfasts without worrying that I’m missing out on essential micro and macro-nutrients! Suffice it to say the brazil nut is a nutritional gift from Nature.

high-protein brazil nut mylk

Print Recipe
Serves: ~2 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 4 brazil nuts (~12 g; mine are on the smaller side, so add ~2-3 if yours are quite large)
  • 1 scoop unflavored pea protein powder (I use Naked Pea brand; or sub with another neutral-flavored protein powder, such as soy or whey)
  • Half a ripe, lightly speckled banana, or ~1-2 tsps maple syrup, agave, or other liquid sweetener of choice (add to taste based on desired sweetness)
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
  • Small pinch salt

Instructions

1

Pour the water, brazil nuts, protein powder, vanilla, and pinch salt into your high-powered blender, and blend on high-speed for ~1 minute until creamy and frothy. Add half a banana or 1-2 tsps syrup, adding more sweetener to taste as you go. Blend for a final ~10 seconds.

2

Store in the fridge for 3-5 days (the hint of banana will not affect the milk after 1-2 days, but any longer and it may start to get a bit funky. If you don't intend to drink the milk that quickly, know that using syrup will definitely keep it fresher for longer!).

breakfast/ gluten free/ vegan

Nutty Gingerbread Granola

This granola is a little nutty; “nutty” because it is full of nuts, and by “full” I mean really full.

The 3:1 oat to nut ratio that you ordinarily find in granola recipes has been turned upside down and rattled around.

Thanks to the equal parts oats and nuts, this ‘nola is super crunchy and (plant-based) buttery.

If you are A) a granola feign, and B) an avid snacker-of-nuts, this recipe will likely find a special place in your heart to curl up and reside for the rest of eternity.

The 50:50 amount of oats and nuts means there is a generous amount of healthy fat packed into each serving. As a result, the usually high amount of oil that is added to granola has been reduced to a mere 2 tbsps.

That’s right, there’s no need to douse your oats in oil to achieve crunchy, golden granola-galore!

In addition to providing a mountain of richness, the heap of nuts offer a significant amount of nutrients to the mix.

Walnuts are full of brain-healthy Omega-3 fats, and pecans, hazelnuts, and almonds, contain a host of other essential nutrients, ranging from minerals such as magnesium and calcium, to the antioxidant Vitamin E, which works to protect our cells from damage. Not to mention nuts are loaded with gut-friendly fiber!

Obviously, no one loves a sandy mess of a granola (unless, of course, we’re talking about the golden flakes of dust at the bottom of a bag; the dregs that offer a delicious, sweet dusting to a bowl of yogurt just when you thought you were all out of toppings).

In order to bypass the shattering, there-are-no-big-chunks-in-my-granola reality, ground flaxseeds are combined with water to make a “flax egg.” The mixture acts like a glue, and helps nudge together the loose ingredients into chunkier pieces.

You may find that this recipe is nutty in another sense, too. I didn’t pull the breaks on my love of molasses and ginger. In other words, this is a truly “gingerbready” granola recipe.

This recipe does not call for ungodly amounts of golden syrup or granulated sugar. Instead, the bright, gingerbread flavors are given ample room to SHINE!

If the flavor, perhaps simply the sight, of deep, tar-dark molasses gives you goosebumps, fear not. You can easily swap out ~1-2 tbsps of the molasses for more maple syrup (or whatever liquid sweetener you choose to use).

This recipe is not intended to induce molasses nightmares, although I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that a river in Hell violently flows with the bitterly sweet, black goo…

Whether you choose to make your own tweaks or not, try not to skimp on the candied ginger bits! They are small, but mightily powerful in flavor, embellishing the granola with bits of sugar-crusted, edible sunshine. If the sun had a flavor, it would undoubtedly be fiery ginger, dontcha think?

nutty gingerbread granola

Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats (ensure gf if necessary)
  • 1 1/2 cups mixed raw nuts, such as walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts,... (I like to roughly chop ~half of the nuts + leave the other half whole, for a bit of variety!)
  • 1/3 cup ground flax seeds + 2 tbsps water
  • 1/4 cup unsulphered molasses (if you aren't a huge molasses fan, replace ~1-2 tbsps with maple syrup for a bit more sweetness)
  • 3 tbsps maple syrup, or other liquid sweetener of choice
  • 2 tbsps olive oil (or other neutral-flavored veggie oil)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • Generous dash or two ground cloves
  • Heaped 1/4 tsp kosher salt (add more to taste)
  • 1/3-1/2 cup candied/crystallized ginger bits

Instructions

1

Preheat oven to 350 F. Stir together the ground flax seeds and water, and set aside to congeal.

2

In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, spices, and salt. In a separate, small bowl, whisk together the molasses, syrup, and oil. Drizzle the wet mixture over the dry ingredients in a few batches (this will ensure that the oats/nuts become evenly coated). Finally, pour in the flax "glue," stirring to combine until the resulting mixture is sufficiently stuck-together (if at this point it still appears to dry and crumbly, add a few drizzles of maples syrup as needed).

3

Pour the granola onto a lined baking sheet, and use a sturdy spatula to flatten it as best you can into a single layer (this will help create more large chunks). Bake the granola for ~12 minutes, after which time, remove it from the oven and use a spatula to flip over large sections of the granola sheet (this will inadvertently break it up into smaller chunks). Be sure to spread out the pieces across the whole baking sheet so there is more room for the granola to aerate.

4

Return to the oven for a further ~15 minutes, or until a subtle, spiced molasses smell emanates from the oven, and the granola is no longer wet to the touch (it may seem a little underdone or soft, but it will significantly crisp up as it cools down!). Allow to *fully* cool on the baking sheet (~45 minutes), before storing in a glass container until breakfast or snack time (or perhaps even dinner, because why not?!).