Category Archives: Side Dishes

Roasted Applesauce

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I’m convinced that toddler’s are bottomless pits.

When the kiddo finds something that she likes to eat, she can just eat and eat and eat and… Well, you get the idea. One day last week, she ate 5 clementines with breakfast. Yes, five. She also had a pancake. She’s been known to devour pretzels like she hasn’t eaten in days.

Her favorite, though, happens to be those squeeze packets of flavored applesauce. It started as baby food.  We didn’t do a lot of pureed baby food, but there was a time when she wasn’t such a voracious eater. Squeeze packets of baby food (i.e. flavored applesauce) got us through. The thing is, she never dropped the habit. Continue Reading

Spiced Cranberry Apple Preserves

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When we moved into our house over eight years ago, my husband and I planted a small apple tree. We were new homeowners and knew very little about gardening. We did, however, love  the idea of having fresh apples in our back yard.  So, when we were at the local hardware store and spotted the cute little dwarf macintosh apple trees all lined up, we had to have one.

Fast forward to the present. Our tiny sapling of a tree is now a full fledged apple tree full of apples. (Granted, it is a dwarf apple tree, so it’s not huge.) They always say that the best time to plant a tree is 10 years ago, right? There may be some truth to that saying.

In years past, the apples were very small and rotted or fell to the ground before we ever had a chance to pick them. This year, though, the tree was full of apples. So, on a sunny Saturday morning a few weeks ago, we headed out to the back yard to pick some apples.

I was just hoping for a handful of apples to make a pie, or perhaps an apple crisp.  We got to picking and having a good time (the kiddo LOVES to pick apples), and pretty soon we had two giant baskets full of apples. I didn’t weigh them, but I think there were 30 pounds of apples. Continue Reading

Roasted Zucchini and Tomatillo Salsa Verde

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By this time of the summer, anyone who has a zucchini plant (or two… I never learn) in their garden is starting to get desperate for some creative ways to use zucchini. Sure, there are recipes for zucchini bread, sauteed zucchini with a bit of garlic and butter, zucchini ribbon salad, more zucchini bread, zucchini quesadillas, stuffed zucchini, grilled zucchini, and the list goes on… But, once they’ve all been made (twice), it’s time for something new.

Yesterday, I picked the first few tomatillos from our garden. I hadn’t intended to start picking the tomatillos yet, but the kiddo started grabbing a few off of the massive plant. I didn’t want them to go to waste, so I picked a few more of the larger ones and decided to make some roasted salsa.

While I was out there, I discovered 8 (yes, e-i-g-h-t) new zucchini on my plants. I’ve already had my share of raw zucchini ribbons, zucchini bread, and an assortment of other zucchini recipes. I’ve also frozen 16 cups shredded zucchini to use later in the year. So, I decided to try adding some zucchini to my salsa. It worked beautifully.

I roasted the zucchini and tomatillos with some jalapeños and poblanos (from the garden!) as well as some onion and garlic. The zucchini rounded out the salsa and added a touch of sweetness. It also helped stretch my few precious tomatillos into a generous batch of salsa for dipping! Continue Reading

Almond Pecan Butter with Cocoa and Cinnamon

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It’s a funny thing sugar.

I think it is probably one of the most loved and most hated foods that we eat. One look on Pinterest and you will find more sweet and decadent treats than you could ever possible eat. (A few of them may have even come from this site.) But, you’ll also find equally many people posting about how sugar is addictive and the root of all evil… At least, the root of all health evils.

It can be hard to navigate it all, and I certainly don’t have all of the answers. But, I’m working on figuring out what works for me.

Until very recently, I ate a lot more sugar than I’d like to admit. At first, it stemmed from baking on a regular basis, often to post recipes here. Then, as I had less time to bake and write, I found myself needing a sweet treat in the afternoon. I’d munch on anything from cookies to candy to chocolate chips straight from the bag. I knew it wasn’t real healthy, but I also felt like I couldn’t stop. I craved it constantly.

Eventually, I decided it was time to stop. I was determined. While I’m not necessarily convinced that sugar is the root of all evil, I certainly knew that I needed to cut back.  That was the primary reason I decided to do a 10 day detox from sugar, gluten, dairy, and caffeine a few weeks ago (more about that coming soon, I promise!). I knew my habits and I knew that I was having trouble just “cutting back” on my own. Continue Reading

Cocoa Granola Clusters

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Today’s recipe has been in the works for over a year… It all started when my sister-in-law brought us a package of cocoa granola clusters.  She thought they would be a great snack to have around the house when we were just adjusting to life with a newborn. She was right. We were hooked.

When I first tried the granola clusters, I immediately said, “I could make these.” But, the process of adjusting to having a baby to take care of didn’t leave me with a lot of time to work on developing a recipe. I was lucky to take a shower. I still am.

So, I’ve fiddled around with the recipe on and off for over a year.  The first batch turned out to be more like a chewy granola bar with far too much liquid.  There were some batches that didn’t clump up very well, some batches that clumped a bit too much and turned into granola rocks.

I am happy to announce, however, that I have finally achieved the granola clusters that I had been dreaming of for so long. The secrets? Instead of rolled oats, I use quick oats… They usually aren’t my favorite, but they seem to clump up a bit better. I also add an egg white to the liquids in the recipe to help to bind everything together. It seems so simple now, but it took me a while to get it right!

Now that I’ve got the recipe down, it’s become one of my favorite gifts for new moms.  It’s especially good for moms who are breastfeeding because it’s packed with great nutrients including oats, almonds, ground flax, and coconut oil.

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You don’t have to be a new mom (or dad!) to enjoy this one, though… I think just about anyone will enjoy snacking on these granola clusters.  The addition of cocoa makes them taste like a special treat, but as far as chocolate goes, these are a relatively healthy choice. Plus, they are gluten-free (assuming you double check your ingredients to make sure they aren’t processed with any gluten), so they are a great alternatively to lots of gluten-filled snacks, if that’s a concern for you.

Cocoa Granola Clusters
Makes about 5 cups

  • 3 1/2 cups quick oats (preferably organic and gluten-free), divided
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg white

Preheat the oven to 300ºF. Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper or a silicone liner and set aside.

Combine ½ cup of oats with the almonds in a food processor.  Pulse the mixture until the almonds are well chopped.  Transfer to a large mixing bowl.  Add the remaining oats, cocoa powder, flax, cinnamon, and sea salt.  Stir to mix the dry ingredients well.

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In a separate small bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, maple syrup, brown sugar, and egg white.  Pour the liquids over the dry ingredients and use a spatula to stir until everything is evenly moistened.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking sheet.  Use a spatula to press down gently on the mixture to press it together and spread it evenly in the pan. Bake for about 55-60 minutes, turning the pan once or twice to make sure everything bakes evenly.

Allow the granola to cool on the baking sheet.  Then, break into clusters before snacking.  The granola clusters will keep in an airtight container for a week or so, but they aren’t likely to last that long.