Toddler-Friendly Vegan Pumpkin Muffins

Eureka! I have stumbled upon a vegan pumpkin muffin recipe that’s crumb-resistant, dairy-free, low-sugar and toddler-approved. It’s the unicorn that will make serving up healthy breakfast on weekday mornings that much easier.

I say resistant because just like sunscreen, there’s no truly crumb-proof muffin; however, even my spirited toddler couldn’t take these down in a crumbly blaze of glory. I attribute the “glue” that binds these together to my food processor. I’d imagine a blender would produce the same result.

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Combine the following in a food processor or blender:

  • 2 1/4 cups oats
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar (equals about 8g coconut sugar per muffin, so I might half this next time around)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin spice

While blending, add the following:

Bake at 350 degrees until a fork comes out clean from the middle of each muffin.

Makes 12 muffins.

Note: I started with the foundational elements of Healthy Helper’s Vegan Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes (who adapted the original recipe from the Oh She Glows Every Day cookbook – as featured on Blissful Basil) and subbed out or modified some of the ingredients to make low-sugar muffins for breakfast.

French Toast Egg Cups

A sudden craving for French toast paired with a leftover baguette led to a new approach to eggs cups this morning. 


In each cup of a muffin tin, crack one egg and add a splash of almond milk (vanilla works great for a French toast flavor, or unsweetened for a savory option). 

Next take a slice of a French or sourdough baguette (previously buttered is a bonus) and submerge one in each muffin cup. Flip it over with a fork to get the bread nice and soaked.

Bake at 350 degrees until cooked through.

They’re tasty with maple syrup for a sweet French toast inspired breakfast…


Or savory with ketchup. Cheese would be good too!

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

I’m a sucker for good gnocchi, and wanted to use up the abundance of sweet potatoes and almond flour that have been hanging out in my cupboard for a good three months. The kicker is I don’t do ricotta, so I adapted this recipe to make sweet potato gnocchi with goat cheese and my own (mediocre) kale pesto creation. It’s not as hard as it sounds, and takes no more than an hour from start to finish.

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For starters, peel and chop a 2 lb bag of baby sweet potatoes or 2+ large sweet potatoes. Boil for 20 minutes, or until tender.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Once the sweet potatoes are tender, drain the water and add 1 cup of goat cheese to the pot. Mash with a potato masher, and then add 2 1/2 cups almond meal/flour and combine into a dough-like texture. Roll into bite-size scoops and place on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet; bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.

Note: depending on the sauce you choose, you may want to opt for boiling the gnocchi. That’s what I’m going to try next time for that pillowy, melt-in-your-mouth texture.

Optional: I made a kale pesto with sauteed kale, olive oil, parmesan cheese and almond milk. This particular combo needs a little more work before it’s ready for the spotlight. Feel free to share your favorite kale pesto recipe in the comments!

Ground Turkey Shepherds Pie in the Crock Pot

Ever since I made my first corned beef and cabbage in the crock pot 10+ years ago, I’ve been hooked on slow cooked St. Patty’s fare.

With limited staples on hand, I decided to try my hand at this Shepherds pie recipe using ground turkey, baby Yukon Gold potatoes, carrots and broccoli. It turned out well! Luck of the Irish perhaps?

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First, prepare mashed potatoes using your preferred technique and scoop into a bowl so you can use the same pot for the meat to cut back on dishes. 

Brown ground turkey and 2 cloves of garlic, and then add the following:

  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 generous handfuls of sliced baby carrots (or 2 regular chopped carrots)
  • 1 cup frozen broccoli (or peas)
  • 1 cup broth (I used chicken)
  • 1/4 cup wine (I used white)
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Generous sprinkling dried thyme

Stir and simmer until liquid is almost fully absorbed. Add to a greased crock pot in an even layer and then spread the mashed potatoes over the top. Season with salt and pepper.

After cooking on low for about 3-4 hours, grate cheddar cheese over the top. Slainte!

Almond Flour Waffles

In my quest to eat less processed or refined foods, and more nutrient-rich foods in their original forms (or close to it), I’ve stumbled my way through some baking disasters. Fortunately, this morning I made my first successful batch of almond flour waffles.

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Thanks to The Daily Dietribe for testing out the right ratios of flour to starch – a key make-or-break factor in baking with nut flours and root starches. I found that adding one egg was necessary to keep the waffles from splitting in half when opening the waffle iron.

Almond Flour Waffles (Adapted from The Daily Dietribe)

1 – 1/4 cups almond flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp coconut palm sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup almond milk

1 egg

Mix dry ingredients separately from wet ingredients. Combine and whisk in egg. Make sure your waffle iron is greased. You may need to play around with settings and open the iron slowly to make sure waffle is thoroughly cooked.

3-Egg Broccoli Breakfast Casserole

This morning, my excitement and plans to remake last weekend’s delicious breakfast casserole were thrown a curve ball when I discovered only 3 eggs left in the fridge. But not to worry! Adding more veggies and shredded cheese does the trick.

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First, saute frozen breakfast sausages (I like Applegate) until thawed on low; then fill the pan with frozen broccoli and continue cooking and stirring until thawed. Slice sausages into pieces.

Next, combine 3 (or more if you have ’em) whisked eggs, 1/4 cup of almond milk, 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (adjust based on your heat tolerance), 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 minced garlic clove and 1/2 cup of shredded cheese in a bowl.

In a 9×13 greased pan (or smaller for thicker slices), pour the broccoli and sausage, along with a handful of spinach or kale (I used the latter). Then pour the egg batter in and stir to combine. Sprinkle a little extra cheese over the top.

Bake at 375 degrees, covered, until golden brown on the edges. (It took about 45 minutes in my oven, but keep an eye on it.)

I believe the the red pepper flakes are the secret to this recipe’s success (and David’s ringing endorsement); and for a girl that is a major wimp about anything spicy, I’ll be the first to admit it.

Checklist:

4+ frozen breakfast sausages

1/2 bag frozen broccoli

3+ eggs

1/4 cup almond milk

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup shredded cheese, plus extra for topping

Kale or spinach, optional

Thai Peanut Crock-Pot Pork and Coconut Milk-Steamed Potatoes

Tonight’s dinner was a Thai spin on slow cooked meat and potatoes, minus the caloric unknowns of takeout. Even with my simplified and somewhat clumsy hybrid of Domestic Superhero’s Crock Pot Thai Peanut Pork and Eats Well with Others’ Coconut Potato Curry, the crock pot generated heavenly smells all afternoon, and the potatoes turned out oh so tender.

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Here’s what to do:

In the crock pot, place a pork tenderloin followed by a jar or so (drained) of roasted red (bell) peppers, 1/2 cup of soy sauce and 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Sprinkle 2 minced garlic cloves and 1/2 cup of peanut butter around the liquid. Set the crock pot on low for 6-7 hours.

Midway through, turn loins over and distribute peppers over the top to keep meat moist.

Towards the end of the cooking time, shred meat in the pot and let it cook in its own juices until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, drizzle about 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large pan or Dutch oven over medium to low heat. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon cumin, followed by 1/2 cup soaked and chopped cashews, and stir to coat. (Keep heat low so cashews don’t burn.) Add about 1 pound red potatoes and toss to coat. Next, add a mixture of 1/2 cup water and 2 tbsp tomato paste, followed by a can of lite coconut milk, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper and 1/2 bag of frozen peas.

Cover and simmer until potatoes are tender; turn potatoes from time to time. (If needed, add almond milk to bring the liquid level to the mid point of the potatoes.)

Serve shredded pork in a bowl with the potatoes, peas and coconut milk broth. Enjoy the clearing of your sinuses!

Healthy Crock Pot Bangers & Mash

My favorite part of summer is eating dinner al fresco with the heavenly Delta breeze in effect. In winter and spring, my crockpot became a Sunday ritual, so why I figured why not put it to use for June’s maiden dinner on the patio.

With chicken apple sausage in the fridge, onions from the farmers market, and potatoes in the cupboard, I came up with a healthy, dairy-free version of bangers and mash.

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In the crock pot, pour about 4 cups of broth (I used leftover mushroom broth from soaking dried mushrooms for Wednesday night’s quinoa) and add two sliced onions (I used yellow with 1-2 inches of the light green stems). Then place four chicken apple sausages (or other healthy, all natural brats) in the crockpot, followed by peeled russet potatoes (as many as can fit as a top layer). Sprinkle generously with salt and cook on low for 4-5 hours.

Remove potatoes and mash in a separate dish, using spoonfuls of cooked broth and almond milk, until desired consistency. Salt to taste. Serve potatoes, followed by broth and onions, and place a sausage or two on top.

Oscar Remix: Crock Pot Almond Milk Pulled Pork

In 2009, it was raining on Oscar Sunday, so I whipped up a milk-braised pork tenderloin and mashed potatoes dinner using ingredients on hand in our tiny SF apartment. Last year, same occasion, I swapped in almond milk and added pappardelle. Today, it’s act III, but the crock pot is now playing a lead role in my kitchen.

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To the crock pot, add pork tenderloin and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Add about 1 cup of chicken broth and 2 cups of almond milk. Cook on high for 4 hours (or low for 6-8), or until pork can be easily separated with forks.

Optional mashed potatoes:

Midway through cooking the pork, place 4 peeled russet potatoes around or on top of the pork. Cook for 2 hours, and flip halfway through. Remove potatoes and mash with melted butter and almond milk. Season with salt & pepper, and stir in green onions. Keep warm in the oven at 200 degrees, as needed.

Served pulled pork over a bed of mashed potatoes; ladle juices over the top.

Easy Like Sunday Morning Crock Pot Pork & Mashed Potatoes

2014 is the year of the crock pot, in my book. But finding recipes that use my favorite staples, like pork tenderloin, without delving into canned this or processed that, can be difficult. So this morning, I borrowed from some basic crock pot concepts and added my own healthy spin, to attempt pork tenderloin and carrot stew with mashed potatoes. Fortunately, it worked!

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You will need:
– 1 onion
– Pork tenderloin
– Baby carrots (1 package)
– Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes
– Salt & pepper
– Optional: green onions, butter for mashed potatoes; flour for gravy

Slice a whole onion and spread evenly to create a layer on the bottom of the crock pot. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Add two pork loins (from one package) on top of onions. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Pour one small package of baby carrots on top of the pork. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

For the final layer, add as many freshly peeled potatoes as you can fit on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

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Cook on low for 6 hours, and then keep on warm while you prepare the potatoes (or as long as needed).

For the mashed potatoes, remove the cooked potatoes one by one with a spoon from the crock pot (they will be soft). Then mash in an oven-safe casserole dish with desired ingredients. I used 1 cube of melted butter, 1 cup of almond milk, 1-2 chopped green onions, and salt & pepper to taste. Keep warm in the oven at 200 degrees until ready to serve.

For gravy, I ladled some of the juice from the crock pot into a small saucepan and whisked in about 1/8 cup of flour slowly. My gravy turned out pretty lumpy, so this part will require further refinement.

I may also add more liquid next go around, so there’s even more juicy goodness. But all in all, this was a hearty and health home style meal without a parade of dishes!