Homemade Tropical Granola Clusters

When you are staring at the vending machine thinking about grabbing an afternoon snack to cure your munchies, you may be thinking that a granola bar is the smartest choice. Not necessarily… Although granola bars seem healthy, they can be packed with a ton of sugar and have an shockingly long ingredient list. On a positive note, granola and/or granola bars are incredibly easy to make at home and can be lightened up to better suit your health goals!  Tropical Granola Clusters | Dietitian Debbie Dishes The theme for this month’s Recipe Redux was to share a healthy bar or snack you often include in your lunch. I love granola so I decided to whip up these yummy granola clusters. I typically include nuts and cranberries, but I was feeling like I needed to try something a little different. I found this delicious mix of tropical dried fruits at the store that was just perfect for this recipe! The secret to a perfect snack is to make sure you include a good balance of fat, protein, and whole grains. These granola clusters do just that! Nuts and quinoa add satisfying crunch and protein, while almond butter provides healthy fat. Tropical Granola Clusters | Dietitian Debbie Dishes

Homemade Tropical Granola Clusters
Author: 
Recipe type: Snack
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8-10
 
Put a sweet, tropical spin on your regular granola with these homemade tropical granola clusters - perfect for midday munchies.
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups oats
  • ½ cup quinoa, rinsed well
  • ⅔ cup almond butter
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 4 teaspoons chia seeds
  • ½ cup chopped almonds
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  • ¾ cup dried tropical fruit, chopped
  • Dash of sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Spread oats and quinoa into a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake for ~20 minutes or until aromatic and lightly toasted. Set aside.
  3. Heat almond butter, coconut oil, and honey over medium-high heat in a small saucepan. Stir and cook until melted into a creamy sauce.
  4. Combine chia seeds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, oat/quinoa mix, salt, and fruit in a large mixing bowl. Pour almond butter sauce over top and stir well to combine.
  5. Spread oat mixture into a 9x11" baking pan lined with wax paper. No need to press evenly into the pan - it's best to leave some large pieces. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until lightly browned.
  6. Set aside to cool, then transfer to the refrigerator until completely set. Once completely cool, break into 1-1½" inch chunks and enjoy!
  7. Store in the fridge in an airtight container.

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Pescatarian Meal Plan with Eating Bird Food

Eating Bird Food Pescatarian Meal Plan Happy Friday! This week, I am happy to be sharing some healthy, seasonal recipes from Brittany’s  fabulous blog, Eating Bird Food! I have been reading Eating Bird Food for quite a while – I was just so inspired by Brittany’s personal journey to a healthy lifestyle. Check out her blog for more tasty recipes like the ones featured in this week’s meal plan! (It was difficult to choose only 5 to include in the meal plan since there are so many great ones on her blog!)

Meal Plan for the Week of August 24-30

Farmers Market Shopping List Here is a convenient printable shopping list to take with you to the Saturday/Sunday morning farmer’s market. The portions on the list will allow you to make each recipe for at least 4 servings so adjust if needed. In addition to market produce, you’ll find a list for any store items or pantry staples you will need for any of the entree recipes this week. Pick up additional ingredients for side dishes based on my suggestions above or your personal preferences. To get a printable version of the meal plan and shopping list, click this link –> Eating Bird Food Meal Plan PDF. Eating Bird Food Pescatarian Meal Plan What favorite blogger would YOU like to see featured next Friday? Let me know in the comments!

Simply Wholesome Bowl with Roasted Vegetables and Chimichurri

One of my favorite dietitian bloggers is McKel from Nutrition Stripped. A dish that she often talks about is the “nourish bowl” which is a combination of super foods combined in a bowl with a carbohydrate, healthy fat, and protein. The intention is to make a nutritious meal that can be served in a single bowl. I love this concept and find myself doing it often! (Check out this Italian tempeh kale stir fry for example.)

Nourish Bowl with Roasted Vegetables and Chimichurri | Dietitian Debbie

The inspiration for this meal in a bowl (ie. “simply wholesome” bowl) came when I tried chimichurri sauce for the first time at this new empanada place down the street from us. After dipping my empanadas in that deliciousness, I knew I had to try making it for myself at home! Chimichurri reminds me of pesto with a Mexican flare. Basil is replaced with fresh parsley and cilantro and a healthy dose of vinegar adds a bit of tang. I think I may just start putting it on almost everything! Since chimichurri goes well with Mexican foods, the rest of the food in this bowl reflected those flavors.

As you can see, this bowl is chock full of healthy roasted vegetables, red quinoa, black beans, and queso fresco. If you don’t feel like heating the house up with the oven, simply grill the vegetables. Make this bowl vegan by leaving off the queso fresco at the end. 

Nourish Bowl with Roasted Vegetables and Chimichurri

This bowl is a complete meal on its own that is loaded with healthy nutrients.

  • Black beans are an important food for vegetarians and vegans because they are a good source of nutrients normally concentrated in animal based foods like protein, calcium, vitamin B6, magnesium, and iron. A serving of beans also provides up to 20% of the recommended daily intake for fiber which has been strongly correlated to lowered risk of colon cancer. 
  • Herbs like parsley and cilantro used in the chimichurri are high in antioxidants and Vitamins A and K.
  • Olive oil is mainly monounsaturated fat which may be healthier for your heart and provides other important fat soluble vitamins like Vitamin E and K. 
  • Quinoa, like black beans, is high in protein, vitamin B6, magnesium and iron. These little seeds are also packed full of fiber and antioxidants. 

Simply Wholesome with Roasted Vegetables and Chimichurri
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
This nourishing meal in a bowl is loaded with nutrients and delicious flavors. Make this nourish bowl with roasted vegetables and chimichurri today!
Ingredients
  • For the Nourish Bowl:
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 zucchinis
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 ear corn
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Pinch of Salt and Pepper
  • 1 (15-oz) can black beans, rinsed well
  • 2 ounces queso fresco
  • For the Chimichurri:
  • 1 cup fresh parsley
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ⅓ cup rice wine vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup cilantro
  • ¾ teaspoon ground red pepper (adjust to your spice preference)
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • Dash of salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Chop vegetables into evenly sized pieces (about ¼"). Toss in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pour onto a cookie sheet and spread into a single layer. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until tender.
  3. While the veggies are roasting, heat quinoa and broth in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and then cover. Continue to simmer for 20-25 minutes or until broth has been absorbed.
  4. For the chimichurri - combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until it resembles a pesto.
  5. To assemble your nourish bowls, layer quinoa, black beans, veggies, cheese, and chimichurri together.
  6. The bowl is great served warm just after cooking or toss everything, portion, and chill in individual containers for work. So yummy!

Nourish Bowl with Roasted Vegetables and Chimichurri

Vegetarian Meal Plan with Veggie and the Beast

Vegetarian Meal Plan with Veggie and the Beast

This week’s vegetarian meal plan features recipes from Katie’s blog, Veggie and the Beast. In addition to her fabulous recipes, one thing that kept me coming back to Katie’s blog was hearing about how another veggie/meat-loving couple coexisted. (Will and I aren’t the only ones!) Below, were my 5 top choices for seasonal recipes from her lovely blog for this week. (It was really hard to choose!) In addition to her blog, Katie is also working on a high protein vegetarian food cookbook which sounds awesome so follow her blog to get any updates!

Meal Plan for the Week of August 17 – 23

 Farmers Market Shopping List

Here is a convenient printable shopping list to take with you to the Saturday/Sunday morning farmer’s market. The portions on the list will allow you to make each recipe for at least 4 servings so adjust if needed. In addition to market produce, you’ll find a list for any store items or pantry staples you will need for any of the entree recipes this week. Pick up additional ingredients for side dishes based on my suggestions above or your personal preferences. To get a printable version of the meal plan and shopping list, click this link –> Veggie and the Beast Meal Plan PDF

Vegetarian Meal Plan with Veggie and the Beast  Check back next Friday for a meal plan featuring recipes from Eating Bird Food! Do you have a favorite food blogger you would like to see featured here? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!

Guest Post: DIY Homemade Vanilla Extract

I love reading DIY blogs where people make super creative and artistic things at home which they feature in their houses gorgeously decorated houses.  I, on the other hand, only wish I had that DIY gene. In addition to cooking, Jenny from Honey & Birch has that enviable knack for DIY/crafting too. (I may be a tad jealous!) I met Jenny at a Windy City Blogger happy hour and have been thinking about doing a guest post exchange ever since. Head over to her blog to see my post on 15 tips for packing a healthy lunch. Today, she is sharing this really cool DIY homemade vanilla extract with you. I can’t wait to try it too! I am very excited to be sharing on Debbie’s blog today!  While I most often post recipes on my blog, the occasional DIY does make an appearance.  Of these DIYs, my favorite and the easiest is DIY vanilla extract. DIY vanilla extract is very easy to make and is great for your kitchen or to give away as gifts.  You only need a few supplies and time – the extract needs to soak for about 8 weeks before it’s ready to use. DIY Vanilla Extract | Honey & Birch

DIY Vanilla Extract | Honey & Birch

Supplies

To get started, you only need four things – glass bottles with stoppers, vanilla beans, a sharp knife and vodka.  I also used a funnel and a measuring cup to make pouring the liquid easier, but these two are optional items.  Even with them, there’s a good chance you’ll still spill if you’re not careful. You can find glass bottles at HomeGoods or Ikea that are reasonably priced.  When shopping at either of these stores for bottles, the most important to look for are bottles that seal very well and that hold at least 4 ounces of liquid.  For this tutorial, I used 4 ounce Boston Round bottles I found on Amazon. Next, you will need vanilla beans. The first time I made vanilla extract, I purchased 12 Madagascar Vanilla beans from Spice House in Chicago. They have 5 locations throughout Illinois and Wisconsin, and a really awesome online shop.  I could (and should) just drive over to one of their locations to pick up my spices, but I love getting packages delivered.  This time around, I bought them on Amazon.  Do some research before you buy them – if you hunt you can usually get a good deal. For the size bottles that I bought, I used 1 vanilla bean per bottle.  Adjust accordingly – remember, my bottles hold approximately 1/2 cup of liquid per bottle. And the final, but most important ingredient is the alcohol. I went with vodka but you can go exotic if you want and do bourbon or whiskey.  Alcohol itself is the key ingredient in this mix. Because I wanted a vanilla extract that was very… vanilla, I went with the cleanest vodka I could find. By clean, I mean with the least amount of vodka taste.  Surprisingly, with all my research, it wasn’t Grey Goose, Belvedere or another top shelf vodka.  It was Svedka.  You can use whatever vodka you’d like.  :)

Directions

1.  To start, slice all of your vanilla beans in half lengthwise.  Do this slowly so that you don’t cut yourself.  Then cut all your halved vanilla beans into equal sized pieces.  The pieces should be small enough to fit inside the bottles you chose. DIY Vanilla Extract | Honey & Birch 2.  Place the pieces of 1 vanilla bean into each bottle.  Remember that my bottles hold 4 ounces of liquid – if your bottle holds 8 ounces (1 cup) then use 2 vanilla beans per bottle. DIY Vanilla Extract | Honey & Birch 3.  Fill each bottle with enough vodka so that the tops of each vanilla bean piece is covered.  Using the optional funnel and a measuring cup make this less messy. DIY Vanilla Extract | Honey & Birch 4.  Close each bottle tightly and give it a good shake.  You should store the bottles in a cool, dark place for at least 8 weeks before using.  Each week shake the bottles once or twice. DIY Vanilla Extract | Honey & Birch So easy, right? Every week when you shake the bottles, the vanilla extract will become more and more potent.  Because of the alcohol, the shelf life of each bottle is virtually infinite, given that the bottles are closed tightly each time.  After they have sat for at least 8 weeks, all you need to do is give the bottle a good shake before you use it. If you are giving bottles away as gifts, consider attaching a handmade label, including the bottled date and instructions for use. DIY Vanilla Extract | Honey & Birch Above is my newly bottled vanilla extract and a bottle from the first batch I made.  It has a gorgeous tawny color and a pungent vanilla scent after sitting for several months.  I use it for all of my baked goods now and its better than the store bought versions. I hope you enjoy this kitchen DIY!

Layered Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Soft Serve

I think I may have formed a chocolate covered frozen banana habit. You see, there is a frozen banana stand at the farmers market at work every Thursday and now a week never goes by without a frozen banana. (Every week I also have to refrain from making an Arrested Development “there’s always money in the banana stand” joke…) The vendor covers the frozen bananas in dark chocolate and chopped peanuts and it’s just perfect. Mmm… The flavor combo of banana, chocolate, and peanut just can’t be beat! 

Layered Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Soft Serve

This soft serve is like a frozen chocolate dipped banana that can be eaten with a spoon. Make this for breakfast topped with a bit of granola (like this homemade granola) or serve it for a delicious, healthy dessert with just a bit of chocolate syrup perhaps? Unlike typical soft serve, this version is chock full of healthy nutrients:

  • Oats have many health benefits including better blood pressure control, prevention of constipation, and improved insulin sensitivity (Source). 
  • Bananas are known to be a good source of potassium, but the also offer over 15% of your daily needs for vitamin B6 (a key player in protein metabolism) and vitamin C (important for healthy skin and hair). 
  • Milk and yogurt are great sources of calcium, potassium, and B12. In addition, yogurt offers additional digestive benefits because it includes probiotic bacteria which promote intestinal health, prevent bloating, and support immunity.
  • Peanut butter gives this soft serve more protein to keep you from getting the mid-morning munchies. In addition to protein, peanut butter is a good source of vitamin E and heart healthy monounsaturated fat. 

Layered Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Soft Serve

4.5 from 2 reviews
Layered Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Soft Serve
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Add some fun variety to your normal breakfast routine with this layered chocolate, peanut butter banana soft serve. Top with granola for a filling, healthy breakfast.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup vanilla reduced fat yogurt
  • ½ cup skim milk
  • ⅓ cup oats
  • 3 bananas
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • ½ cup granola (store-bought or homemade)
Instructions
  1. Combine the yogurt, milk, and oats together in an small jar or ziploc container. Shake or stir well to combine and let sit in the fridge overnight. (This will soften the oats.)
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Slice three bananas and arrange them in a single layer on the parchment paper and place in the freezer overnight.
  3. In the morning, pour the oat mixture and frozen bananas into your blender. Puree on high until thick and smooth. Pour out half of the mixture (it should be about 2 cups) and set in aside.
  4. Add peanut butter to the half of the mixture still in the blender and puree until peanut butter is mixed well. Pour peanut butter mixture into a clean container and set aside.
  5. Pour the half of the mixture set aside earlier in to the blender and add the cocoa powder. Puree until cocoa powder is mixed well.
  6. Layer the 2 mixes in clean glasses. Top with granola and serve chilled.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 2 Cups Calories: 427 kcals Fat: 12 g Protein: 17 g

 

Layered Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Soft Serve

“By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by National Dairy Council and the Quaker Oats Center of Excellence and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.”  

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Vegetarian Meal Plan with Cookie + Kate

Vegetarian Meal Plan with Cookie + Kate

Today’s meal plan is extra special because all of the recipes are from one of my favorite vegetarian food blogs, Cookie + Kate! Kate creates simple, approachable vegetarian recipes and pairs them with drool-worthy photos. Plus, as a mutt Mom myself, I can’t help but awww over any adorable pictures of Cookie, her pup. Kate was gracious enough to let me create a handy meal plan with her recipes this week. It was tough to pick only 5 to include in this week’s plan! 

As you’ll see on the shopping list below, all the recipes included in the meal plan this week focus on summer vegetables so you can shop the farmers market for your produce and then pick up the rest of your supplies at the grocery store. If you don’t have a local farmers market, then almost all the produce you need is listed at the top of the list to make your shopping go a little faster. 

Meal Plan for the Week of August 10 – 16

Farmers Market Shopping List

Here is a convenient printable shopping list to take with you to the Saturday/Sunday morning farmer’s market. The portions on the list will allow you to make each recipe for at least 4 servings so adjust if needed. In addition to market produce, you’ll find a list for any store items or pantry staples you will need for any of the entree recipes this week. Pick up additional ingredients for side dishes based on my suggestions above or your personal preferences. To get a printable version of the meal plan and shopping list, click this link –> Cookie and Kate Vegetarian Meal Plan PDF.

Vegetarian Meal Plan with Cookie + Kate

 

Do you have a favorite food blogger you would like me to create a meal plan for? Just let me know!

Farro, Arugula, and Balsamic Salad

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If you have been reading my blog for a little bit, you may already know how much I like to shop the bulk bins at the store. This salad is actually a result of such shopping! I had come across several blogs posting about this new grain called farro. Farro is an ancient grain in the same family as wheat. When cooked, it reminds me a lot of wheat berries since it stays satisfyingly chewy after cooking and has a bit of a nutty flavor. Some use it as a substitute for rice in dishes – even risotto!

Farro, Arugula, and Balsamic Salad | Dietitian Debbie Dishes

When I am getting tired of my standard salad of leafy greens and beans, I like to try out a new grain based one. Grain based salads are great for busy work weeks because I can make up a big salad on the weekend and just portion out individual servings each day. If you can’t find farro at a store near you, feel free to substitute with brown rice, quinoa, or wheat berries.

Farro, Arugula, and Balsamic Salad | Dietitian Debbie Dishes

Farro, Arugula, and Balsamic Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Farro adds a delightfully chewy addition to this grain based salad that is packed with flavor.
Ingredients
  • For the Farro:
  • 1 Cup Farro
  • 2½ Cups Water or Vegetable Broth
  • For the Dressing:
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 4 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Teaspoon Maple Syrup (optional)
  • Dash of Salt and Pepper
  • For the Salad:
  • 4 Cups Arugula
  • 2 Ounces Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 Cup Halved Cherry Tomatoes
Instructions
  1. To make the farro, heat the water and farro together in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and cook for 40-45 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed and the farro is chewy but no longer hard. Set aside to cool.
  2. Place all the dressing ingredients into a jar and shake well to combine.
  3. To make the salad, place the farro, tomatoes, cheese, and arugula in a large bowl. Pour dressing over top and toss to coat.

  Farro, Arugula, and Balsamic Salad

Beet, Tomato, Feta Salad with Italian Dressing

Lately, I seem to be on a huge feta kick. Do you ever get that way? Where you just keep eating the same food over and over again for a few weeks? Some of my other recent food kicks/”jags” have been apples and peanut butter, blueberry almond butter smoothies, and tempeh kale stir fry. In college, it was peanut butter and jelly – every day.

Beet, Feta, and Tomato Salad with Italian Dressing

I think the reason feta has been such a staple in my kitchen of late is that it pairs so well with fresh tomatoes. Summer is the time to enjoy tomatoes! This salad combines some of the best flavors of summer: beets, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and fresh basil. Everything gets chopped up and tossed together in a tasty homemade Italian dressing. 

Beet Feta and Tomato Salad with Italian Dressing

This salad only gets better with time so if you are trying to get a head start on meal prep, this is definitely a dish that can be made a day ahead. It is perfect for summer potlucks/cookouts!

Beet, Feta, and Tomato Salad with Italian Dressing

5.0 from 1 reviews
Beet, Tomato, Feta Salad with Italian Dressing
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3-4
 
This beet, tomato, feta salad with Italian dressing is perfect for last minute cookouts where you need a simple dish that highlights the flavors of summer.
Ingredients
  • 4 small beets (roasted, canned are ok)
  • 1 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 4-5 chopped fresh basil leaves
  • For the Dressing
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ¼ cup distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ¼ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Pinch of Salt and Black Pepper
Instructions
  1. Begin by chopping all of your vegetables and placing them into a small mixing bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine all of the salad dressing ingredients and stir well.
  3. Pour over the chopped vegetables and toss to coat.
  4. Serve chilled!

 

 

 

Vegetarian Meal Plan for Summer: August 2-9

  Vegetarian Meal Plan for Summer

Just in time for the weekend farmers market, here is another shopping list and weekly vegetarian meal plan. The shopping list includes all the ingredients you need to prepare the entrees listed for the week. All the recipes are vegetarian, but can easily be adjusted for any of my non-vegetarian readers.  The recipes and amounts listed on the shopping list serve 2-4, so double or triple the amounts as needed for your family.

Weekly Meal Plan for August 3 – August 9

  • Monday: Tempeh Sloppy Joes - A vegan twist on an absolute classic. For non-vegetarians who may not want to try tempeh, substitute ground turkey in its place. Pair this with a side salad and sweet potato fries. 
  • Tuesday:  Marinated Mushroom and Sweet Potato Tacos - Everyone loves tacos! Celebrate taco Tuesday with these vegetarian tacos that are loaded with flavor. You won’t want to stop after just two. :-) These would be great served with a side of calabacitas!
  • Wednesday: Italian Tempeh Kale Stir Fry - Serve this tasty stir fry with some rice or cauliflower “rice” for a quick weeknight meal.
  • Thursday: Saag Paneer - Make this dish come together much faster by skipping the instructions for making homemade paneer and buying it at the store. If you can’t find paneer, you could substitute halloumi cheese or cubed feta and toss it in at the very end. This dish goes perfectly with a side of lentils. 
  • Friday: Spicy Sweet Potato Pasta with Spinach and Chickpeas - This sweet potato pasta dish is really a one bowl meal. Perfect for a lazy Friday night. 

Shopping List for Farmers Market and Grocery Store:

Below, you will find the shopping list to take along with you while you shop the farmers market and grocery store. (Click on August 3rd Weekly Meal Plan to print it!) I try to shop the farmers market first and then pick up whatever I couldn’t find at the market while shopping at the grocery store. Pick up additional produce to make side dishes based on your personal preferences or the suggestions I provided above.

Weekly Vegetarian Meal Plan for Summer

 For more meal plans/shopping lists that are simple, vegetarian, and seasonal – check out this meal plan from last week!