There’s something really peaceful about doing nothing on a nice spring day. Next to me is an open door that leads to my partner’s backyard. I can hear the birds and the rustle of the new leaves. Something about it makes me want to cook anything just so I can go take food pictures outdoors. This is precisely what I did for the ice cream, except these pictures were taken in my own backyard (for a lack of better term). Oddly enough, it had never occurred to me before to go take pictures outdoors. The nicer weather has been around for a few weeks, and I’ve still been taking pictures indoors.
Oh, breakfast. If you read my blog, you know I have a weird relationship with breakfast. As much as I know breakfast is important, my stomach can’t seem to want to allow me to eat breakfast right when I wake up. This tends to be problematic for work. I climb up ladders and run around like a headless chicken for hours before I can take a break and get something decent to eat.
I’ve been bringing smoothies to work, but they aren’t substantial enough, and I end up being hungry fairly quickly. My new attempt at fixing this problem is granola. The good thing about granola is that you can change the recipe to include all sorts of different flavours and nutrients, according to your mood and your needs.
Since there is a possibility I will be moving in a couple of months, I wanted to use up some of the extra little bags of food I have. I wouldn’t usually put almonds in my granola (but maybe that’s going to change), but I had a bag of slivered almonds laying around. I was debating using raisins, but then decided there was enough variety in this granola. I’ll save the raisins for the next one.
If you’re doing one of those vegan, gluten free, sugar free, alcohol free detoxes, this granola is perfect. It doesn’t even have to be a breakfast. You can snack on it while sipping a cup of green tea. It’ll fill you up enough to avoid snacking on junk.
Sugar Free Superfood Granola
2 cups rolled oats – not the quick cooking kind (I use Only Oats)
2/3 cup slivered almonds – mine were blanched
2/3 cup unsweetened coconut shavings
2 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp hemp hearts
2 tbsp flax meal – using whole flax won’t get you all the nutrients
1 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp oil (use coconut oil if detoxing)
1/4 cup maple syrup
Preheat over to 350F.
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl (my chia seeds tend to all end up at the bottom). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (I highly recommend it). Spread the granola in an even layer and bake for 30 minutes. Cool before transferring to an airtight container.
If you’ve tried kale chips in the past but you didn’t enjoy them because you found them bitter, try salt and vinegar kale chips instead. The acidity of the vinegar contrasts the bitter taste nicely. I like it as a mid afternoon snack. It’s better than a sugary snack that will make you crash before the end of the day and make you want to eat more before dinner.
I’m sure you’ve heard about a bajillion times that kale is good for you. But do you understand why? The term “superfood” gets thrown around a lot, but it actually doesn’t mean a whole lot. Everybody has a different body. This means that each individual has different needs. Instead of calling foods “superfoods”, I prefer to look at their nutrient profile.
Kale is a cruciferous vegetable, or what you may know as the cabbage family. These are vegetables that have anticancer properties and help support the liver. Kale contains lots of vitamin K, which is important for coagulation. It also contains lots of vitamin A and C, two important antioxidants that help support the immune system. Additionally, it has a variety of B vitamins, which help provide energy, and support the reproductive system.
Salt and Vinegar Kale Chips (paleo, vegan)
About 6 medium sized kale leaves
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt to taste
Preheat oven to 325F.
Wash the kale and dry completely. Rip the kale into bite sized pieces and place it on a cookie sheet. Add the salt, vinegar, and oil, and toss the kale around. I do this with my hands.
Bake for 10-20 minutes, depending on your desired level of crispiness. Take the kale out of the oven halfway through to toss it around.
If there are any leftovers, store them in an airtight container. But I’ll just say that I’ve never had any leftovers.
It’s easy to find gluten-containing snacks with a crunch. Chips, pretzels, crackers, you name it. While there are gluten free versions of all of these items, they’re not always as good. Not to mention that they’re not the healthiest snacks in the world either, and they tend to cost a fortune. Some also replace the gluten with other allergenic grains. Roasted chickpeas to the rescue!
When I made these, this time, I had a bit of a cold and was looking for a vegan source of zinc. While pumpkin seeds fit the bill, I wasn’t in the mood. Unless they have the shell (i.e. when you dig them out of a fresh pumpkin), they lack the crunch I wanted. The only thing with roasted chickpeas is that they’re kind of dry, so it’s almost necessary to have a beverage handy while eating them.
I’ve provided you with a recipe to dress them up, but essentially, you can season roasted chickpeas however you please.
Roasted Chickpeas (vegan)
1 can chickpeas
1/2 tsp each: salt, black pepper, chili powder
Preheat oven to 425F.
Drain, rinse, and dry the chickpeas as much as possible. I run a paper towel over them to absorb some of the water. You can add the seasoning to the chickpeas in a bowl, but I do it all directly on the baking sheet and toss them around to cover them evenly.
Bake until the chickpeas are crunchy and toasty looking. For me, that’s about 45 minutes, but it depends on the brand of chickpeas you use and how well you managed to dry them. Remove from the oven every 15 minutes to toss and then put them back in the oven.
Update: my friend followed the recipe and said that his chickpeas burned, so I suggest keeping a close eye on them after half an hour.
Do you ever eat out of boredom? I certainly do. I’ll eat whatever I find that’s ready to go. Rather than eating junk food, I’ve decided to keep pickled veggies on hand. I always ate pickles as a snack when I lived with my family. They were always too acidic for me though. Also, unfortunately, some pickles contain gluten (watch out for malt vinegar).
When making your own pickled veggies, not only can you choose the veggies you want to pickle, but you also get to pick(le) the flavour you want. I went with the theme of uncrushed spices, but you can really just use your favourite spices.
This was a bit of a fun project. It didn’t take long to do, but I got to get excited about waiting long enough for the flavours to have blended. If you’re a foodie and a student, this project might be just what you need during midterms. Not time consuming, but an effective procrastination method.
I am providing you with the recipe for the brine I made, but it can be modified to suit your taste, so get creative!
Easy Pickled Veggies
What you need
Veggies of your choice
Jar (about 1L)
1 cup water
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp whole mustard seeds
1 tsp whole peppercorns
1 tsp whole coriander seeds
What you do
Start by putting the spices in a saucepan over medium heat to mildly roast them (not the bay leaf). Keep them moving in the pan to not burn them. Heating them up will help bring out the flavour. You can do this for about two minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients. Stir well to dissolve the sugar.
While the brine warms up, fill the jar as much as you can. If it’s not full enough, the brine won’t reach the top of the jar once you pour it. Even after the jar looked full, I was able to keep shoving carrots between other carrots.
Once the brine reaches a boil, remove it from the heat and pour it into the jar. It will need to cool down before going into the fridge. These pickles aren’t shelf stable so you don’t want to keep them more than a month.
Let them sit in the fridge for 3-4 days to allow the flavour to get into the vegetables.