Almond Strawberry Crisp

Summer is my favorite season. Not because I don’t have school, and definitely not because of the weather. Summer is my favorite because summer food is the best food.

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Summer desserts are some of the best things in the world; warm, gooey berries against cold ice cream… these are things I dream of–literally. But because I’m lactose sensitive and my body isn’t a fan of processed sugars, the traditional fruit crisp or crumble isn’t really my jam anymore.

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Over Memorial Day weekend, I tested this recipe for a refined-sugar free, gluten-free crisp, at it was awesome. Because I made it for my family, I used butter as the binding agent, but coconut oil would work just as well, and in my opinion actually taste better.

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June is the month where the barbecues start and the outdoor parties flourish, so I hope this healthier (but just as delicious) crisp will be on your menu this summer. Enjoy!

Ingredients

for the filling

  • 2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1 teaspoon coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

for the topping

  • 1 ½ cups rolled oats
  • ⅓ cup sliced almonds
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter (or melted coconut oil)

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375º F.

In a large bowl, combine the strawberries, coconut sugar and cornstarch and mix well until each strawberry is coated. The sugar draws the liquid out of the berries and the cornstarch thickens it; this is what makes fruit desserts so gooey and delicious.

In another bowl, whisk together the oats, almonds, cinnamon and second portion of coconut sugar. Mix until well combined, then add the butter and mix again.

Layer the strawberries into either 6 ramekins (what I used) or a small baking dish (think 8 by 8 or smaller). Then, top with the oat mixture and bake for 20-25 minutes. I put my ramekins on a baking sheet to make it easier to get them in and out of the oven without burning myself, but this also makes the crisp cook a little faster.

Once out of the oven, let cool for 5 minutes, but serve warm. I topped mine with plain yogurt.

 

4 Breakfasts that SCREAM Spring Break

Spring Break is finally here, and I am so looking forward to a week of kicking back, relaxing and trying to ignore the homework I was assigned. Even though I’m not traveling anywhere this week, I’m planning on making the most of every day, at least food-wise.

For me, that means a focus on breakfast. When I don’t have to haul ass out of the house early, I love being able to sit down and actually enjoy my morning meal, especially because it’s the best meal of the day. So here’s a breakfast for each day of your week to brighten up the morning. #BreakfastFTW

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First, a tropical green smoothie bowl topped with fruit, coconut and chia seeds to give an already healthy meal an extra kick. I love green smoothies, and this is a way to dress it up even prettier. If you want to just blend up the smoothie though and drink it in a glass, it would still taste like a vacation on a tropical island.

 

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Next, simple avocado toast that’s packed with flavor and will totally get you ready for a day of fun. Fried eggs are my favorite, but a 7-minute boiled egg would be perfect as well. Then feel free to throw something extra on there, like salsa or sriracha, to take it to the next level.

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Now, a simple kiwi and yogurt parfait, which I now know is not the name of the blonde character in High School Musical. In other realization news, Shark Tank has nothing at all to do with aquariums or fish, and I can’t believe it took me this long to figure that out. Perfect for a midweek media crisis, this is a sweet and sour way to remember that you can at least make yourself breakfast, and that no one really watches Shark Tank anyways.

 

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And finally, because you deserve something easy, a 30 second mango lassi that’s sweet, healthy and sure to wake you up in the morning. If this doesn’t taste like vacation, I don’t know what will.

 

Tropical Green Smoothie Bowl

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Ingredients

  • 2 leaves lacinato kale, destemmed and chopped
  • ½ ripe avocado
  • ¾ cup coconut water
  • 1 cup frozen pineapple
  • 4 strawberries, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes
  • ½ banana, sliced
  • chia seeds to taste

Instructions

Toss the kale, avocado, coconut water and pineapple in your blender, and blend until the consistency is smooth but still thick. It could be helpful to go in and give it a mash around once or twice in between blending.

Pour the contents out into a bowl and top with the strawberries, coconut, banana and chia seeds in a pretty pattern. #instaworthy

Avocado Toast

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Ingredients

  • 2 slices bread, toasted
  • 1 large avocado
  • 2 large eggs
  • cracked pepper

Instructions

In a small pan, heat up some oil and crack in both eggs. I cooked mine sunny side up, but over easy or soft boiled would work really well.

Mash ½ the avocado on each slice of bread and place the egg on top. Top with pepper and serve.

Kiwi Yogurt Parfait

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Ingredients

  • 1 kiwi, diced
  • ¼ cup plain greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup granola

Instructions

In a tall glass with a stem, layer your ingredients starting with granola, then yogurt, then kiwi and repeat until all your ingredients are gone or you’ve run out of space in your glass. I like to have a small dollop of yogurt on top and garnish it with small pieces of kiwi and granola clusters.

Mango Lassi

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Ingredients

  • ½ cup frozen mango
  • ¼ cup plain greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup coconut milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend for at least 30 seconds, until the smoothie has come together and there are no mango chunks left. Serve in the coolest glass you can find.

 

Mixed Berry Smoothie Bowl + Love Trumps Hate

Valentine’s Day is usually a day associated with chocolate, candy and unhealthy food. But if you’re in a stable relationship or single and okay with it, there’s usually not a huge reason to go overboard. Still, a small gesture is nice, even on a day that’s only celebrated to sell cards.

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What’s more romantic than sharing a smoothie bowl? Show your love by using the blender in the early hours of the morning and treating your loved one to a healthy, satisfying breakfast.

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Though in all seriousness, even though Valentine’s Day is a bit of a joke, remembering the importance of love and compassion isn’t. In America right now, and all over the world, it’s becoming increasingly harder to show empathy and do the right thing. Governments everywhere are starting to crack down on rights; in Iowa, the legislature is for sure voting to defund Planned Parenthood. In America, people from 7 different majority-Muslim countries are being barred from entry.

As bad as that may seem, I try to remind myself that love trumps hate. Yesterday, I attended a rally for solidarity against the Muslim ban. Yes, people were fired up and angry. But I felt an overwhelming wave of positivity and support as well, because some people are still compassionate and some people still believe that love is the answer.

Whether it’s on a local stage, national stage or a personal matter, remember that love will always trump hate.

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Making sure you’re taking care of yourself and living a balanced life is the first step to resistance against hate and fear. Eat your smoothie bowls and always keep fighting.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup coconut milk (mine had separated so I did ½ cup of the solids and ½ cup of the liquids)
  • ½ banana
  • 1 ½ cups frozen berries (I used strawberries, blueberries and blackberries)

Instructions

Add all the ingredients into a blender, and blend on high speed until the smoothie comes together. It should be quite thick, and actually kind of hard to pour out.

Now it’s time for toppings; I used the other ½ banana, some granola and a handful of cacao nibs, but you can use whatever you want! I recommend something with texture, though, because that’s what makes smoothie bowls so great. Other good options would be almonds, coconut flakes or shaved dark chocolate if cacao nibs aren’t your thing.

Chai Spiced Oatmeal Bowl

A healthy breakfast might seem strange coming off of two weeks’ holiday dessert, but I think something healthy, yet warm and cozy, is the perfect way to detox from the sugar high. Oatmeal is a satisfying breakfast for a cold morning, especially when it’s paired with fruit and peanut butter.

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It’s definitely about time to get back on track with healthy eating, and I hope this oatmeal bowl helps you do that… or at least serves as inspiration of what to do with your days off. Enjoy!

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Ingredients

for the oatmeal

  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup milk (I used cashew milk, but whole milk, almond milk or soy milk would work as well)
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

for the toppings

  • ½ red apple
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup peanut butter

Instructions

In a medium saucepan, bring the oats, water, milk and vanilla to a gentle simmer on medium heat. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, pepper and salt, then turn the heat down to low and stir until you achieve your desired texture. I like my oatmeal pretty thick, so I do it for maybe 5 or 7 minutes.

In a nonstick pan, add the coconut oil and apples and let it heat up. Sprinkle the cinnamon on the apples and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the apples are soft.

Add the oatmeal to a bowl with the sautéed apples and peanut butter and eat hot.

 

Apple Pie

I was at a local grocery store lately and I saw something I’ve never seen before: $1.88 per pound honey crisp apples. Needless to say, I bought way more than I could’ve eaten.

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Some sort of apple dessert was in order, so I decided to truly embrace the fall tradition and make an apple pie. It was the perfect Sunday night dessert after a long weekend of journalism and editing video for the school paper, and it tasted even better than I imagined it would.

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But back to apples: honey crisps are my favorite both to eat and to cook with. They have a really good balance of sweet and tart, and are perfect as hand fruit and in desserts. Their unique flavor also allows for food that really showcases apple; I’ve had apple pies and turnovers that are sugary or heavily spiced, but I kept it light with just brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, hoping to let that apple flavor shine through.

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The dough recipe I already use was also perfect for this, and made just about the right amount for my 9-inch tart pan. I even had a tiny bit extra, that I used to make a flower detail on the top, just to make things fancy. After all, it is almost November and soon all the apples will be out of season.

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If you’re ever in need of something easy and comforting, try out this pie recipe and tell me what you think of it. Enjoy!

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Ingredients

for the crust

  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup cold butter, cubed
  • ½ cup ice cold water

for the filling

  • 5 mid-size apples, peeled and diced
  • 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons butter (for sautéeing)

Instructions

In a large bowl, whisk together your flour and salt.

Then, with your hands or a pastry blender, work the butter cubes into the flour, making sure not to let your body heat melt the butter. Do this until you reach a crumbly, sand-like texture.

Add in the cold water two tablespoons at a time, until the dough comes together. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour.

In the meantime, prep your apples. In a large bowl, mix together your diced apples, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Heat a cast iron skillet to medium-low heat, and let the butter melt in it before adding your apples.

Cook the apples for 5-8 minutes, or until they’re soft and fragrant.

Preheat the oven to 400º F.

Take your dough out of the fridge, and roll out into two large sheets, ¼” to ⅛” thick.

Lay one of the sheets at the bottom of a lightly greased pie or tart pan (I used a tart pan because I like how the finished product looks, but a pie pan is easier to use) and cut off the excess. If using a tart pan, be careful to get the crust into all the little nooks.

Fill the pie bottom with your sautéed apples, then lay the second piece of dough on top and use your fingers to meld the two dough sheets together. Then, vent your pie. I had excess dough, so I added a little flower design on top to make it that much more special.

Brush the crust with an egg wash (1 egg + 1 tablespoon cream or milk) and bake for 25-30 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the kitchen smells like baked apples.

Let the pie cool completely before serving

Note: if using a tart pan, make sure to use one with a removable bottom, so that the pie can be released from the pan and served.

 

Caramel Pear Tarts

Pears, a sweet, soft fruit, are often overlooked during fall in favor of more “typical” fall foods such as apples and pumpkins. I know I’ve definitely done that in the past, but this year I decided to use them to my advantage and make these super flavorful pear tarts that just scream fall.

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The base is my favorite pie crust recipe, but it easily doubles as a tart dough thanks to its flakiness and versatility. Plus, it goes really well with these fall-spiced pears.

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The house smelled so good while I was sautéeing the pears, too, because I added a whole host of fall spices and some brown sugar. Oh, and the best part? The finished product gets drizzled with my favorite salted caramel sauce to add some more fall flavor.

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Pear tarts look super classy but they’re one of the easiest desserts you can make. If you need to impress someone anytime soon, I highly recommend arranging some pears nicely onto one of these tarts and serving it with caramel.

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Ingredients

  • 1 ⅛ cups all purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
  • ¼ cup ice cold water
  • 3 mid sized pears (any variety)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • extra butter for sautéeing
  • salted caramel sauce

Instructions

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and the salt. Work the cold butter into the mixture with either two knives, a pastry blender or your hands; I usually do it by hand, just because it’s faster, but the other two methods lend themselves better to clean hands.

Then, add your water in bit by bit, until the dough comes together.

Divide the dough in two, wrap each half in plastic and chill for at least half an hour.

While your dough is chilling, prepare the pears.

Peel and cut each pear into small wedges, 1 to 2 inches in length and ⅛ of an inch in width. They don’t have to be exactly the same size, because that means you can do a variety of designs later on.

Add the pear wedges to a bowl and toss them with the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and brown sugar.

Heat a pan greased with butter on medium low heat, and add your pears. They can be close together but they shouldn’t overlap, because you want them to cook evenly.

Sautée each round of pears for around a minute, then let them cool on parchment paper or a silicone mat.

Spray your tart pans with cooking spray. I use mini removable bottom tart pans, because it makes it way easier to get the tarts out.

Pull your chilled dough out of the fridge and roll it into 6 even circles ⅛ of an inch thick. Lay each circle into one of your pans, making sure the dough gets into all of the creases and cut off any excess.

Preheat your oven to 400º F.

Chill the dough in the pans for 10 more minutes, then use a fork to poke holes all around the dough. This will stop it from puffing up too much.

Bake the tarts for 15 minutes, and let cool for 30 minutes before filling.

Once the tarts are cool, arrange your pear slices inside them. I did leafy, flowery designs because it finally feels like fall, but this is the creative part, so go wild.

For a finishing touch, drizzle on some of my salted caramel sauce before serving.

 

Independence Day Dessert

The 4th of July has always been one of my favorite holidays. Not because I like America all that much, but because I’ve always enjoyed the food opportunities that have come with it. And when I say food opportunities, what I really mean is the leeway to put berries on anything I damn well please.

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This specific dessert is even better than the rest, because I put it in a mason jar. It’s so cute and tiny! I love how small it is, and I swear I will use these jars forever.

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A layer of rich, decadent brownie, a dollop of whipped cream and a dash of blueberries and strawberries on the top… (dies a little bit)… almost too good to be true. Almost. But I managed it, and thoroughly enjoyed eating it.

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Ingredients

for the brownies

  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 ¼ cups flour

for the rest

  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • ½ cup raspberries

 

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350º F.

In a heatproof bowl, combine the chocolate and the butter and either melt in the microwave or melt over a double boiler.

Stir in the granulated sugar and the brown sugar and mix until combined.

Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition to ensure that the eggs don’t cook in the hot chocolate mixture (you really don’t want that).

Stir in the salt, cocoa powder and flour, and mix until just incorporated.

Pour into a 9” by 13” pan lined with tin foil, and bake for 32-36 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from the pan and let cool completely.

In a large bowl, whip up the pint of cream until you form medium peaks.

Cut the cooled brownie up into 1” cubes, and place 2 or 3 cubes at the bottom of a ½ pint mason jar or other small container. Top with whipped cream and a few berries, and serve.

Energy Packed Granola

This filling and energy packed granola isn’t only healthy, but it’s super easy to make, tastes great and is a super convenient snack.

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It’s good on yogurt, of course, but the reason I made some now is that I’m about to go on a trip to Europe. Airplane food has never been great, especially the food on American based airlines. But with a bag of this, the flight shouldn’t seem so long and arduous. Plus, if I eat some right before landing in Berlin, I might be able to stay awake through the afternoon and adjust to the time difference.

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The fruits–full of natural sugars and high-glycemic–will convert to usable energy quickly, meaning there won’t be any lag between my snack and having to translate all the German words. Nuts, on the other hand, are more of a “slow burn” food, and will supply energy over several hours. This way, I won’t crash as soon as we venture into the city.

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Obviously, it’s a great snack or meal supplement for at home as well, but I thought a good way to kick off my travel posts over the next two weeks would be with this travel tip: bring your own food, because it’s going to be healthier than the airplane food. In addition, airplane food is only served at mealtimes, which is a struggle if you sleep on planes or happen to be hungry at non-appointed intervals. I hope you guys enjoy this recipe, and I look forward to telling you about my travels.

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • ¼ cup chopped almonds
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg white
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup dried cherries

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350º F.

In a large bowl, mix the oats, almonds and walnuts until evenly distributed. Then, add the cinnamon and stir until combined.

Add in the coconut oil, honey and vanilla, and mix again until the mixture is coated.

Stir in the egg white until clumps of granola form.

Spread the granola on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20 minutes until the oats and walnuts are golden brown.

Let cool completely on the baking sheet, then transfer to a bowl and stir in the raisins and dried cherries.

Store in a plastic container or mason jar up to two weeks.

Tropical Fruit Smoothie

It’s all of the sudden getting super hot outside here in Iowa, and my natural reaction is to do something to cool off. Sure, water is fine, but this smoothie is a lot tastier and more interesting on a hot day.

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To make it seasonal and fun, I made this smoothie with mixed tropical fruits I had in the freezer and coconut water. The coconut water is not only healthy, but makes this smoothie dairy-free and liquid-y enough to drink.

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That being said, this drink is still super thick and icy, making it perfect for a hot summer day, especially if you’re trying to stay healthy. Give this a try if you’re into cold drinks, sweet fruit and health benefits!

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Ingredients

  • ½ cup coconut water
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 ½ cups frozen tropical fruit **I used a mixture of mangoes, peaches, kiwi and strawberries**

Instructions

Blend all the ingredients together on high speed in your blender. I had some trouble at getting the frozen fruit to blend at first, so I moved it around a little with a spatula in between blending. If you’re still having trouble, add a little more coconut water to get the blender going.

Pour into a glass and serve cold.

Honeydew Sorbet

Honeydew melon has always been one of my favorite foods. From its slightly sweet taste to its pale green color, everything about it makes me love it. So when I saw a video on YouTube that had a recipe for healthy honeydew sorbet, I had to try it.

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My version didn’t turn out quite as well as theirs did (mine got harder faster, and it was difficult to scoop) but it tastes great and is a perfect summertime dessert. Plus, there’s nothing unhealthy in it at all–and the honey can be substituted for sugar if you want to make it vegan.

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Fair warning, though: if you start eating it, chances are it’ll be sort of hard to stop.

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Ingredients

  • 1 pound honeydew chunks
  • ½ tablespoon honey
  • ¼ cup water

Instructions

Freeze the honeydew chunks for 4 to 8 hours until frozen solid.

In your food processor, grind up the frozen honeydew on high speed until it resembles a thick paste. Then, mix in the water and honey, and grind for another minute on high.

Put the end result in a container, and freeze for at least another hour before serving.