Quinoa Sunflower & Chia Seed Crackers

Mmmmm crackers. I love me a good cracker. Oddly, however, I rarely buy crackers. It’s one of those things I just never grab when I’m on autopilot at the grocery store. So maybe I enjoy crackers so much because they’re novel to me. Or maybe it’s just because I love carbs.

Vegan & Gluten-free Quinoa Sunflower Chia Seed Crackers

Well, I guess these crackers aren’t that carby. They got quinoa in them, but they also pack a buttload of healthy fats – polyunsaturated from the sunflower seeds, and omega fatty acids in the chia seeds. Also, hello holy fiber. These babies are packed full of them.

Quinoa Sunflower & Chia Crackers - Sunflowers

Can we talk about sunflower seeds for a minute? I seriously think they’re underrated. They’re not only tasty, but mega-cheap, and seriously nutritious! They’re one of the foods highest in polyunsaturated fatty acids – aka the best fatty acids, and the ones that can help you lower your blood lipid profiles when used to replace other fats and/or carbs.

Quinoa Sunflower & Chia Crackers - Quinoa

Anyways back to crackers. These were kind of made on a whim based on what was in my pantry at my mom’s house in Wisco last week. And then they turned out really great. Like, way better than I had expected. I love when that happens. It makes me happies. Much more happies than when you make something you think is gonna be great and then it’s totally meh or you leave it in the oven way too long by accident because you can’t get your dog back inside from playing with frogs in the lawn and then you totally burn the crap out of whatever your’e making. Not that I speak from experience.

Quinoa Sunflower & Chia Crackers - Vegan & Gluten-free

These crackers are hearty, flavorful, and satisfying. They pair great with avocado. They would also be pretty great with hummus, or are perfect on their own. You can also omit the garlic and pair them with sweet toppings, like nut butter or jam. You do you.

Vegan Quinoa Sunflower & Chia Crackers

Let’s take a second to acknowledge the avocado in the photo above is a little bruised. Let’s also acknowledge that it is still perfectly edible and since I hate wasting food and avocados are darn expensive, no, I did not run to the store to buy a new one for this photo. Sorry, guys. But this is about the crack-tastic crackers anyway.

Quinoa Sunflower & Chia Crackers Vegan

Say cracker again. *cracker.*

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Bake Time: 15 minutes
makes about 6 large crackers

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup raw quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 clove garlic (optional)

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Mince garlic clove if making savory crackers. Otherwise, skip this step.
  3. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mix well.
  4. Line a baking pan with parchment paper (I used a 9″ x 9″ pan). Spread cracker mixture over parchment paper.
  5. Place in oven for 30 minutes. Carefully remove from oven. Place a second piece of parchment paper over the crackers, and flip crackers. Return to oven and bake for an additional 20-30 minutes, or until just set/crispy.
  6. Remove from oven. Allow to cool and enjoy.

 

Simple Seed Bars

All I really want in life is NUTS and SEEDS. Do you feel me?

 Simple Seed Bars. Vegan && Gluten-free. Four ingredients!

There are so many puns that can be made when it comes to one of my favorite categories of foods, but for real I really am obsessed with nuts of all kinds. I always start to say my favorite and it results in me being like, “Probably cashew. And walnuts. Oh and obviously almonds. Peanuts for the peanut butter reasons. Did I mention that I love pistachios? Wait, also….” etc.

Simple Seed Bars. Vegan and Gluten-free. Four ingredients.

So when it comes to favorites, I can’t choose one. But I can almost guarantee I’m down to put nuts in my face any time of day any day of the week. They have always been and forever will be a staple snack in my diet, as well as a lovely accompaniment to chocolate, and of course, the breadth of my beloved nut butters.

Simple Seed Bars. Vegan & Gluten-free. Four ingredients.

Whenever I’m looking for a snack bar, I always look for ones with tons of nuts. This is why Kind Bars are my favorite snack bars. What makes me sad is that Kind Bars are expensive. Yes, I buy them anyway, and no I don’t think they are bad for you despite the drama going on with them right now.

Simple Seed Bars. Vegan and Gluten-free. Four ingredients!

Moving on. Last night I set out to make my own nut bars. Except then I burst open my bag of Sunflower Seeds. There was about a cup or so left in the bag that just went all over the place. This was when I decided I should just use the rest of them before they went to poop, salvaged what I could, and set out to make Simple Seed Bars.

Simple Seed Bars. Vegan and Gluten-free. Four ingredients!

The fun thing about these bars is that you can make them two ways: baked or frozen. If you like your nuts raw, simply store them in the freezer. If you like your nuts toasty and want the bars to hold together a bit better for traveling, bake them up for 10-15 minutes. I tried both methods and honestly enjoyed them both. Make a batch and try it both ways if you dare. Or don’t. Do you.

Simple Seed Bars. Vegan & Gluten-free. Four ingredients!

Baked or frozen these babies are crunchy, nutty, and full of satisfying seedy goodness. Sweetened only with dates, they have just enough glucosey goodness to keep your sweet tooth happy without horrifying it the way Quaker Chewy Bars do to mine. These are the perfect, easy, simple snack and when paired with fruit make a brilliant breakfast. And with only four ingredients and minimal prep, they couldn’t be easier. I truly hope you make them. That’s all for now folks, hope to SEE(d) you soon. #punny

Simple Seed Bars. Vegan && Gluten-free. Four ingredients!

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes if using freezing method, but need at least 30 minutes if freezing; 10-12 minutes if using baking method
Level: easy makes one 9″ inch pan of Seed Bars, serving about 6 as a snack

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups (8 ounces) dried pitted dates, soaked in 2 tablespoons water for 10 minutes
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 3/4 cup nuts of choice (I used a mixture of cashews and pecans, any will work)
  • 3/4 cup raisins (and/or other dried fruit – I added some dried cranberries and cherries as well)

Directions:

1. Soak dates in water until tender, about 10 minutes. If using baking method to prepare, preheat oven to 350°F.

2. In a food processor, grind dates until a paste is formed.

3. In a large bowl, combine sunflower seeds, nuts, and dried fruit, Mix well. Add date puree and mix well again until a sticky dough has formed. Press dough into a parchment paper-lined 9″ inch square baking sheet.

4. Cover with an additional piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap and if using freezing method, place in the freezer to set, at least 30 minutes. If baking, place in oven for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden. Allow to cool before enjoying.

If using freezer method, keeps best if stored in freezer or refrigerator; if baking, store in an airtight bag or container.

Spicy Apple Jicama Salad

Some of the best food inventions are a results of accidents. I stand by this theory. Like this Puppy Chow Granola that came about on a long day after a cookie fluke. I swear some of the craziest food combos are created when people drop things or try to make due with what they have around.

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This salad is no different. It’s a creation inspired by happenstance. Allow me to explain. My sister is obsessed with making this salad with roasted shredded Brussels sprouts, lemon juice, apples, and dried cranberries. When I was at her house last week, she was slicing some lemon for the dressing. I then used the same knife to cut the apple. Then I nibbled on some apple. And I realized how delicious citrus juice tastes on cold, crunchy apple slices. Tangy, sweet perfection.

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This lovely flavor combination inspired me to start rubbing leftover limes (I made a key lime pie for my bday on Saturday) on all my apple slices. Delicious. It’s a mash up that tastes refreshingly tropical.

While I was munchin on this for lunch a few days ago, I was also brainstorming what I should make for the January Recipe Redux challenge, which was “Start Smoking in 2015,” which is a pretty punny way to say we were encouraged to create dishes with smokey or spicy undertones. I decided to try the apple/lime combo with a variety of spices. I tried smoked paprika, spicy paprika, turmeric, curry, Sriracha and even taco sauce just to place with the whole spicy lime apple flavor palate (also, I’m weird and put hot sauce in many places it shouldn’t be). Anyways, chili powder was the standout winner. It adds an unexpected contrast to the sweet yet tangy Pink Lady apples. It’s kind of like those ladies who sell sliced mango with chili powder and hot sauce in Union Square. Except in the comfort of your own home and no hassle of carrying a zip-lock baggie of juicy drippy messy mangos down the street and/or awkwardly trying to consume them on the subway.

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I reasoned that jicama would make a *~*delightful*~* crunchy companion to the apples. Next I threw in a little arugula for a pop of color, and some roasted sunflower seeds for an earthy flavor to balance the other taste elements going on, and and because in general I love nuts in salads (and everything). #nutcrazy. The salad ended up being a delicious, sweet, tangy, crunchy, spicy, and intriguing side dish that is totally addicting. It’s one of those things you want to just keep eating to try to figure it out. It’s a bit infatuating. Much like scrolling through pictures of your puppy on your cell phone.

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I highly encourage you to step outside of your usual side-dish / salad comfort zone and give this recipe a go. It’s the ultimate combination of flavorful fruit, vegetables, seeds, and spices, and the flavor combination will inspire you to try new things. Enjoy!

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Prep Time: 12 minutes

Cook Time: 0 minutes

Level: Easy

serves 2-4 as a side dish

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup jicama, cut into matchsticks (1 small or 1/2 a large jicama)
  • 1 1/2 cup pink lady apples (about 2 apples)
  • 1 cup arugula or baby kale
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries (optional)

Directions:

1. Chop jicama and apples into match-stick pieces of roughly even size. Place in a bowl. Juice limes and add lime juice. Sprinkle with chili powder and toss until all pieces of jicama and apple are evenly coated with lime juice.

2. Add arugula and sunflower seeds. Toss again. Sprinkle with dried cranberries if desired. You can also drizzle a bit of honey, agave, or maple syrup if you want to bump up the sweetness a bit.

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3. EAT ! 😀

For more smoky, spicy dishes to heat up your January, click around below !

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Pumpkin Sunflower Seed Granola Bars

I have a granola bar addiction. There’s something so wonderful about these tiny squares of oats loaded with other goodies that I can never get enough of.

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I think my granola bar obsession peaked in college because granola bars became “special treats.” Let’s face it: groceries in New York can be expensive. As in a box of 5 Kashi bars is literally $7.99 at Duane Reade. Unless I bought granola bars at Trader Joe’s which I find a leeetle bit too sweet sometimes, granola bars became occasional treats I would buy only when they were on sale or when I was home on breaks. And then on breaks I’d go to Target and buy like 10 boxes of granola bars and pack them all in my suitcase and bring them back to school with me. I’m sure if my luggage ever got searched it was a lol to TSA.

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My dream granola bar is chewy, full of big chunks of nuts and lots of textures, and loaded with dried fruit, and a healthy dose of chocolate. Most of the time. Other times I want something a little simpler and more like a not-sweet snack that will keep me going in the afternoon. That’s right folks – sometimes I want things that aren’t too sweet. Gasp. I know. The nice thing about cooking/baking is that if you want these babies sweeter, you can add as much sugar as you like and make ’em to your liking. Making things from scratch is great, isn’t it? Thought so.

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These bars have a nice, deep earthy flavor thanks to the pumpkin + sunflower combo. Grinding up the nuts into a nut butter not only binds the oats together, but gives them a hearty texture and some staying power thanks to all the healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats they have to offer.

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I honestly liked these more than I expected to. They’re chewy but hearty. And they have this distinct deep savory-sweet flavor that keeps you wanting to nibble. They’ll grow on you with every bite. Prep time is minimal, and one batch gives you a whole pan / week’s worth of snackies. I suggest you mix up your usual granola bar routine and give these a whirl. Make your days be full of peace, love, and excessive amounts of granola goodness. 🙂

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Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Level: Easy

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup shelled sunflower seeds [or, if you have it, 1/2 cup sunflower seed butter + 1/2 cup sunflowers]
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup – 3/4 cup brown sugar, depending on desired sweetness
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (optional, but recommended)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Place 1/2 cup sunflower seeds in a food processor and puree until the seeds reach a smooth nut butter paste. Add canned pumpkin and continue to puree until well mixed.

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3. In a large bowl, combine rolled oats, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and brown sugar. Mix well.

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4. Add pumpkin/sunflower seed butter mixture to the oat mixture. Mix until well combined and all oats are moist. Add the remaining 1/2 cup sunflower seeds and mix again. The mixture will be thick and cookie-dough like.

5. Line a 9×9 baking sheet with parchment paper or grease well. Pour dough into pan and press down using a spatula or your hands.

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6. Bake for 20-25 minutes until browned and fragrant and edges begin to pull away from the sides slightly. They make seem a little gooey when you take them out of the oven but they will continue to set as they cool.

7. Cool completely and cut into whatever sized bars you want. Store in an airtight container or bag for up to a week.

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Cherry Chia Muesli Bread

We’ve been out of bread for like, 52 hours in this house. Which is, in my humble opinion, an emergency. I’ve been picking up whole grain bagels from Panera on the daily to get through these rough times. But last night, when I found myself unable to bear the thought of waking up to a bread less morning, I decided the store was too big a hassle (read: did not want to put pants on) so I dug deep into my dwindling pantry and decided to whip some up to bake in the morning.

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IMG_9441  IMG_9514  sorry for the excessive bread porn..

I was inspired by these weird Muesli rolls I grew quite found of when I studied abroad in Paris. This Monoprix grocery store right by school sold them $0.60 and when paired with some fresh fruit it made for the perfect little breakfast to eat before class (b/c eating IN class was a no-no in Franceland).

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Another no-no in France was iced coffee. It was like finding a nice, straight, actually decent non-pig boy at NYU. Basically impossible. I spent a gross amount of money and endured a lot of snickers from Starbucks cashiers who served me my iced Americanos, as they seemingly always enjoyed pointing out their appropriate names.

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So in Paris, not as much iced coffee. But great muesli rolls I’ll remember forever. Win some, loose some. Overall one of best experiences of lyfe.

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Back to bread: it’s the BEST. Especially when it’s homemade. Like this stuff. I didn’t have raisins like the muesli rolls I ate in France so I used dried cherries which I diced up. I also didn’t have millet seeds (which are GREAT in breads like this) so I used some chia seeds.

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The result was frickin’ delicious and a true treat to wake up to baking this morning and eat as a second breakfast because let’s be honest I need to eat within 10 minutes of getting out of bed or I punch people. So it baked as I downed my berries and oatmeal and served as a delicious mid-morning snack-attack buster.

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It’s really great warm. Or toasted. Or with almond butter. Would also pair nicely with goat cheese. Or cheddar. Or as part of a sandwich. Sweet or savory. Or just plain. Okay I really like this bread. Go bread. BREAD!! #carbs5ever

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Prep Time: 4 hours (including rising – if left overnight will be longer)

Cook Time: 22-35 minutes

Level: Easy

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups warm water
  • 1 packet yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (to feed the yeast! nomnom #betterrising)
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats, divided half
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup mixed nuts, chopped (I used almonds, pistachios and cashews. and tbh this was because I bought an individual bag of these nuts at Walgreens earlier in the day and they were what was around. walnuts would work great. use what you have, always!)
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons chia seeds

Directions:

1. Heat water to 110-115 degrees and sprinkle yeast and sugar into the bowl. The sugar is for the yeast to eat. This will help it activate and your dough to rise. <–this is your mini food science lesson of the day.

2. Let the water/yeast sit for 5-10 minutes until it smells yeasty and looks foamy. Yum. Add flours, salt, and 1/4 cup rolled oats and mix.

3. If using a stand mixer, attach the dough hook and let it work its magic for about 5 minutes. If doing it by yourself (bless your soul) kneed on a floured service for about 10-14 minutes.

4. Place dough in an oiled bowl and allow to rise/double in size. Two or three hours is minimum. I did overnight.

5. Punch down dough. This redistributes the yeast (#foodscienceminilesson2) and transfer dough ball to a lightly floured surface. Knead a few times and use a rolling pin or hands to flatten.

6. Chop nuts and dice dried cherries. Add sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and remaining 1/4 cup rolled oats together. Mix nuts, seeds, and chia together to make muesli.

7. Sprinkle about half of muesli onto flattened dough and then fold dough in half so the muesli is on the inside. Give it one knead then roll out then flatten the dough once more, sprinkling 1/4 of the muesli mix (half of what’s remaining) here and there. Next fold and knead the dough into  a round ball orby thing. Honestly I think when it looks a little imperfect it looks more beautiful.

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8. Sprinkle what’s remaining of the muesli on top of the dough and allow to sit (shaped) on a gently oiled baking sheet for an hour. This is the second rising aka the “proof”. It’s actually more important than the first. (#foodscienceminilesson3) Don’t skip this step. The proof is in the puddin’ LOL. sorry.

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9. While the dough is proofing, relax for a while. Walk your dog. When there are about 20 minutes left in your proofing time, preheat the oven to 450 degrees and place an empty baking sheet on the lowest rack. This has a purpose I promise. Give the dough ball a slash or two (or three) with a knife.

10. When the oven is preheated and dough is proofed, place bread in the oven on its baking sheet. Pour a large cup of water onto the lower empty baking sheet to create steam which will help your bread brown and develop a beautiful crust. You can also spritz it a few times with a spritz bottle full of water, but this seemed more complicated at the time.

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11. Allow bread to bake 22-30 minutes until fragrant and golden and delicious. When it is done, should should hollow when you tap it on the top.

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12. Allow it to cool (if you can wait) and slice with a serrated knife. Enjoy plain or with literally any topping because it is so good you can do no wrong. Like, it’d even taste good with ice cream and pickles on top. Probably. Maybe. Anyways, eat up.

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