Tag Archive: Walnuts

Homemade Pumpkin Granola

Homemade Pumpkin Granola

It was really only a matter of time before I combined pumpkin and granola, wasn’t it?

If you like granola and yogurt with a cup of tea on crisp Fall morning, this is definitely a recipe for you. Most of the flavor comes from the pumpkin spice rather than the actual pumpkin. Still it tastes(and smells!) delicious.

Homemade Pumpkin Granola Serving

If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice on hand, just use a mix of cinnamon, allspice, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg to get the same flavor. You can also add in an extra 1/2 cup of raisins or dried apple slices if you want to add a touch of sweetness.

Homemade Pumpkin Granola

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Ingredients(Makes about 3 cups):

  • 2 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • 2 Tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup crushed walnuts

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, maple syrup, pumpkin, oil, spice and salt thoroughly.
  3. Lay the wet oats out on a non-stick baking surface in a thin layer.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes, breaking up the oats around 10-15 minutes before taking them out of the oven.
  5. Let the oats cool completely once they’re done.
  6. Mix in the walnuts and store the granola in a sealed container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Homemade Pumpkin Granola Yield

You can also feel free to add white chocolate chips and candy corn. I can say from experience that that’s a winning combination.

Raw Walnut Brownies

Raw Walnut Brownies

Sometimes the simplest recipes are the best. I don’t think that’s true always, but certainly in this case it is. It’s amazing what you can make with just dates, walnuts, and cocoa powder.

This is something I’ve been making for years now. I think I learned the originally recipe from a food blog that no longer exists; it’s simple enough that you don’t have to write it down or bookmark a page to remember it. The trick to making these well is recognizing what consistency the dough should be; thankfully these are very forgiving and it’s easy to figure out after making a few batches(and you’ll want to make a few batches).

Raw Walnut Brownies Block

You can use any nut for this but I think walnuts are the best both for flavor and texture. They also pack a lot of omega-3s which are great for anyone’s diet. I’d suggest adding crushed walnuts into the batter dough after processing to give these a crunch.

Raw Walnut Brownies

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 0 minutes

Ingredients(Makes 8 squares):

  • 2 cups pitted dates
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1-2 Tablespoons water

Raw Walnut Brownies Ingredients

Method:

  1. Blend the dates in a food processor until they are pulverized and start to stick together.
  2. Add the walnuts and continue blending until the dough starts to stick to itself. Add water as necessary if your ingredients are too dry to clump.
  3. Lastly add the cocoa powder and continue blending until it’s mixed in.
  4. Dump the processed ingredients onto a piece of parchment paper. With your hands, clump them together into a square or rectangle.
  5. Freeze the dough for 5-10 minutes until it’s firm and cut it into even sized squares. Store in the refrigerator for freshness.

Raw Walnut Brownies Serving

You can add chocolate chips or other dried fruit to make this a little more exciting, but I think this is a perfect snack or pick-me-up for after a meal all on its own.

Pumpkin Seed Trail Mix

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I’m constantly eating during the day. I can never understand those people who “forget” to have a meal or go 6-7 hours without eating; the roaring of my stomach would not let me or anyone else in the room forget to eat. It just wouldn’t happen.

On Monday I have a class for 5 straight hours in the afternoon. Considering I can’t go 2 hours without needing to eat something, that alarmed me at first. I knew I’d need snacks—lots and lots of snacks—to keep focus. Something portable and nutritious, just like trail mix.

pumpkin-seed-trail-mix

Trail mix can really be anything. When I was thinking of what to make mine like, I thought about the pumpkin seeds I had in the pantry and all the things I’d put in pumpkin bread: walnuts, ginger, raisins, chocolate if I felt like it. So why not make a pumpkin bread trail mix? Only without the bread. Because bread doesn’t make great trail mix.

Besides being delicious, this trail mix has a lot to offer. Iron-deficiency is commonly associated with vegetarianism because of the lack of red meat. But that doesn’t have to be the case with a good diet. Pumpkin seeds and raisins are both high in iron*. Walnuts are a great source of omega-3s as everyone knows by now. And ginger is a cold-fighting ingredient(not to mention tastes great when it’s candied, just like anything else).

Pumpkin Seed Trail Mix

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 0 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup shelled pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup diced candied ginger
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate, white chocolate, or cinnamon chips

Method:

  1. Toss all of the ingredients together and enjoy.

pumpkin-seed-trail-mix-5

*I got all of those facts about iron off of Wikipedia, just like a good student would.

The Amateur Gourmet’s Quinoa Converter

the-amateur-gourmet's-quinoa-converter

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you probably know that I love quinoa, have for a long time, and certainly don’t need to be “converted” to it. But when I saw Adam’s Quinoa Converter recipe(and hilarious cartoon), I knew I wanted to give that recipe a try because it just looked so darn good.

the-amateur-gourmet's-quinoa-converter- mound

I’ve made quinoa for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I don’t understand how you couldn’t love it. Sure, it’s plain; that just makes it easier to add other flavors to spice it up. And yes, it is something of a “health food” food; Adam, if you’re reading this then you can have a laugh over the fact that I made this after coming home from yoga.

the-amateur-gourmet's-quinoa-converter-raisins-walnuts

I only made a few changes to the recipe. I used 2 Tablespoons each of apple cider vinegar and olive oil for the vinegar and oil listed in the recipe to cut down on the fat. And instead of the fresh parsley I used about 2 Tablespoons of dried Herbes de Provence.

the-amateur-gourmet's-quinoa-converter-mixed

This reminded me a lot of tuna salad, which I used to love. I find vegetarian/vegan “tuna” salads are usually hit or miss, and this was definitely a hit. Swapping in mayo for the oil next time wouldn’t be a bad improvisation.

the-amateur-gourmet's-quinoa-converter-shot

This was pretty damn delicious. Every time we have relatives over I usually make my vegan quinoa stuffing; now I have a new recipe to work into the rotation. If you still need convincing to try quinoa, try this recipe.

Semi-Raw Chocolate Rum Truffles

Semi-Raw-Chocolate-Rum-Truffles

This weekend I’m moving back to Providence, which means I’ll be just a short bus ride away from my favorite bakery again. Lord help me, my stomach, and my wallet.

I keep trying to make some of their desserts in my own kitchen to save a little money, and I think I’ve figured out another one. Their rum truffles from what I can tell are a blend of dates, walnuts, cocoa powder, and rum that tastes amazingly close to a “real” chocolaty dessert for something that’s made with whole foods. Since I’ve been kind of on a date ball kick lately, I wanted to see if I could make these, too.

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Ps. If you’re ever around Providence you need to get the gluten-free chocolate pound cake that’s lurking in the back. I’m not even a big fan of cake but will happily eat a slice or two of that. It’s high on my list of recipes to recreate right behind this one. All I need is about a dozen taste testers who are willing to eat through a couple failed pound cake attempts.

Semi-Raw Chocolate Rum Truffles

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 0 minutes

Ingredients(Makes about a dozen):

  • 3/4 cup walnut pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons rum
  • 8oz pitted dates
  • 6 Tablespoons cocoa powder plus more for rolling
  • Extra 1/4 cup walnut pieces(optional)

Semi-Raw-Chocolate-Rum-Truffles-Bottle

Method:

  • Blend 3/4 cup walnut pieces in a food processor until it turns into a smooth, buttery consistency. You can add the rum at the beginning to help the walnuts blend faster.
  • Add in the dates and continue processing until the dough sticks to itself and starts forming into a ball.
  • Add in the cocoa powder and continue mixing until all of the powder has been worked into the ball.
  • Stop the food processor. Add in the extra walnuts if using and work them into the dough using your hands.
  • Pour some cocoa powder into a flat-bottom bowl or plate. Break off pieces of the truffle dough and roll them into circles in your hand, rolling them in the cocoa powder afterwards to cover all sides.
  • Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

Semi-Raw-Chocolate-Rum-Truffles-finished

These were good but a little lacking in the rum flavor. Next time I might try extract for a stronger punch of flavor. The originals also look better than mine came out, but isn’t that how it always is?

Walnut & Herb Quinoa Cakes

walnut-and-herb-quinoa-cakes

One of my favorite things about being home so far has been having a stove to use whenever; it’s much more motivating to cook something when your refrigerator and stove aren’t separated by 3 flights of stairs.

Quinoa cakes are something that have always intrigued me; they look so fancy and yet always sounded like something easy to make. Finally after seeing Emily post about them, I knew I had to try them. These couldn’t have been easier to throw together. I just took the ingredients out of my pantry and they were cooked before I knew it.

This recipe calls for precooked quinoa, so if you’re planning on making this note that cooking the quinoa will take extra time if you don’t already have some.

Walnut & Herb Quinoa Cakes(inspired by this recipe)

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Ingredients(Makes 2 cakes or 1 serving):

  • 3/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons cooked quinoa
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons crushed walnuts
  • Oil for cooking

walnut-and-herb-quinoa-cakes-fork

Method:

  1. Combine the first five ingredients together in a bowl and mix until it all comes together.
  2. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat and add a little oil to keep the cakes from sticking. Drop a lump of the quinoa mixture onto the hot pan and with a spoon or fork flatten it into a patty shape.
  3. Cook for 5 minutes on each side, flipping once halfway through to get a nice, crisp crust. Repeat with the other half of quinoa and egg mixture.
  4. Serve hot or cold as leftovers.

walnut-and-herb-quinoa-cakes-serving

I loved how the walnuts on the outside toasted up and gave incredible flavor to the cakes. Overall this was a surprisingly easy and delicious recipe, something I’d make again and again.

Eat Healthy: Raw Brownies

filling-up-on-raw-brownies

I could never give up chocolate. It’s a daily thing for me. Even when I want to eat healthy, I’m always drawn back to it, and frankly I have no willpower to resist.

That’s where the beauty of something like raw brownies come in. These are sweetened with dried fruit and the only fat comes from nuts, which are whole foods. It’s a big improvement over refined sugar, cocoa butter and milk fat. To make these, I threw together some dates, figs, hazelnuts and walnuts in my food processor, and then folded in extra walnuts when it was done to give them an added crunch. Not only are they delicious, but they’re filling, too.

filling-up-on-raw-brownies-serving

Since that’s not exactly a recipe, I thought I’d share a few raw chocolate cake recipes I have made in the past that are similar and just as delicious:

Gabriel’s recipe is super simple. It has added coconut oil and agave nectar which makes the brownies a little more moist and extravagant. It’d be the perfect thing to make if you want to impress someone and show off how good raw food can be.

Katie’s recipe has just fruit for the sweetener and nuts for the fat like the ones I made. I like the addition of vanilla for a stronger chocolate flavor.

filling-up-on-raw-brownies-stack

I went through the first batch of these all too quickly. You’d better double the recipes since I’m sure you’ll fall in love with them, too.

No-Bake Gluten-Free Date Bars

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I’m a very brand-loyal person, whether it be the shoes on my feet or the food on my plate. One brand I absolutely love is Attune Foods. I met their representative Annelies at the Chicago Healthy Living Summit; her passion for Attune’s healthy line of cereals and chocolate was immediately apparent and impressed me and I’ve been a fan ever since. 

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Their Erewhon line of cereals make terrific certified gluten-free alternatives to mainstream rice and corn-based cereals and have been doing so for decades. While I’m not a fan of cereal for breakfast, I do like baking with it, especially for no-bake desserts like this one. These bars have the same flavors as my other date bar recipe but are so much simpler to make. The bottom layer is only slightly sweet with a nutty and spicy rice flavor to it, while the topping adds a good punch of flavor and texture difference. It’s a quick and easy crowd-pleaser.

No-Bake Gluten-Free Date Bars

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients(Makes 16 squares):

  • 1 box Erewhon Rice Twice cereal
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2-3 Tablespoons water
  • 1 cup dates, diced
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup crushed walnuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon course sea salt(optional)

no-bake-date-bars-grabbing

Method:

  1. In a food processor, blend the cereal until it makes a fine flour.
  2. Add the melted butter, powdered sugar, almond butter, and cinnamon and continue blending until mixed.
  3. Slowly add the water until the cereal mix starts sticking to itself. Shut off the processor and move it into an 8 by 8 baking pan and press into an even layer. Refrigerate for the time being.
  4. In a small pot, bring the dates, brown sugar, and water to a boil. Continue boiling until the dates are soft and mushy and the water has evaporated. Remove from the heat and mash together into a somewhat smooth puree.
  5. Spread the date mixture over the crust in an even layer. Top with walnuts and sea salt if using. Chill for at least one hour before cutting into squares.

no-bake-date-bars-serving

The Attune Foods October recipe challenge is open until October 20th. They will also be holding a November and December recipe challenge so don’t worry if you can’t think of anything to submit for this contest period. In fact, just don’t enter so that I have a better chance of winning. Kidding. Sort of.

Banana Breakfast Quinoa

banana-breakfast-quinoa

Breakfast is almost never a planned meal around here. I’ll wake up and see what I can cook in the microwave and have ready to eat in less than 5 minutes. That works most of the time, but once and a while it’s nice to change things up and eat something that actually has some thought put into it, like this breakfast quinoa.

banana-breakfast-quinoa-spoon

There’s no reason to just eat quinoa for lunch or dinner. It has a fairly plain taste on its own and can easily be made savory or sweet. It’s especially good as an oatmeal replacement for gluten-free people because you don’t need to worry about buying gluten-free quinoa the way you do rolled oats. For as good as it tastes, this bowl is really easy to whip up, too, using leftover quinoa from your last meal.

If you don’t have leftover quinoa for this but still want to make it, cooking a batch only takes 15 minutes. For each 1/2 cup cooked quinoa you’ll need 1/4 cup uncooked quinoa and 1/2 cup water brought to a boil and covered until all the water’s been absorbed.

Banana Breakfast Quinoa

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 0 minutes

Ingredients(Makes 1 serving):

  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 banana, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup(optional) plus more for drizzling
  • 2 Tablespoons crushed walnuts

banana-breakfast-quinoa-overhead

Method:

  1. Using a fork, mash the banana in a bowl into a smooth puree.
  2. Add in the quinoa, cinnamon, and salt and mix together. If the quinoa’s not sweet enough, add the maple syrup to enhance the flavor.
  3. Move into a serving bowl and add on top the walnuts and more banana and maple syrup if desired. Serve as a cold breakfast or—if you prefer—heat it up in the microwave or oven like a hot cereal.

banana-breakfast-quinoa-toppings

You can really top this with anything. It’s especially good served hot with a melting dollop of PB&Co.’s Mighty Maple on top.

How To Prepare Beets + A Beet Salad Recipe

How-To-Prepare-Beets

When I worked in a restaurant over the Summer, I spent more time with beets than I’d ever thought I would. I would work on preparing them for service for hours. I thought I’d never touch them again until I saw them at the farmers’ market last week and decided to grab some to share my knowledge.

Beets aren’t exactly difficult to prepare, just a bit tedious. First we roasted them in a salt bath. The theory is that the beets absorb the salt, making their sweetness more potent. Whether that worked or not we constantly debated. Once they came out of the oven, we had to peel them, all done by hand while still piping hot. It was not the most fun job to have to do for an hour, and my fingers often looked like I had just committed a murder afterwards.

How-To-Prepare-Beets-Stem

The other part of beet preparation was the greens. I didn’t know beet greens were even edible; I had always thrown mine away thinking they were poisonous like radish leaves. The proper way to peel a beet green is to pinch the leaves and remove the long, thick, purple spine in the middle. Doing this with one bunch of beets isn’t too troubling; doing it with 30 bunches of beets—well, that was anther story.

Roasted Beets

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of beets, stems removed
  • 1/2 cup salt

How-To-Prepare-Beets-Raw

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Pour the salt down on a baking tray.
  3. Lay the beets down on top of the salt. Roast for 60-70 minutes until a fork can pass through easily.
  4. Remove the tray from the oven and let cool slightly for 5 minutes or so.
  5. Gently peel the skin off of the beets using your hands. You might want to use a dish towel to protect your hands from the heat and dye of the beets.

We served our beets in the restaurant in a salad. The salad prepared there had goat cheese and pistachios in it. Since I don’t eat cheese and didn’t have pistachios, I made a modified version with oil and walnuts. The recipe below could work for either variation.

Roasted Beet Salad

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 0 minutes

Ingredients(for 1 serving):

  • 6 medium-sized roasted beets, cooled to room temperature
  • Greens from one bunch of beets, washed and deveined
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese(optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt(omit if using goat cheese)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil(omit if using goat cheese)
  • 2 Tablespoons crushed walnuts or pistachios

How-To-Prepare-Beets-Ingredients

Method:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl
  2. Toss the ingredients until thoroughly mixed together.
  3. Plate and serve at room temperature.

How-To-Prepare-Beets-Salad

If my restaurant experience taught me anything, it’s that I’m perfectly happy eating canned beets. They’re cheaper, more convenient, and just as nutritious. That being said, preparing your own beets from scratch makes for an impressive dish.