Unrefined Living

maintaining a healthy balance of the mind, body, and plate


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Peanut Butter Chocolate Sauce

Peanut Butter and Chocolate…together….in a sauce?  Yes please!  This makes for a rich and simple topping for dessert, or in my case breakfast.  My favorite is on top of a big fat bowl (jar) of banana ice cream.  I think I’ve died and gone to heaven!  And it’s healty—er, I swear!
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Heat the following ingredients either in the microwave for 30 seconds, or over medium heat until completely melted:

  • 1 Tbsp all natural creamy peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp unrefined coconut oil

Then add the following to heated mixture and stir until smooth and well combined:

  • 1 Tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup (or raw honey/agave)
  • optional: a drop of vanilla extract

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Chocolately Cranberry and Ginger Spiced Granola

So, you might say I have a slight infatuation with granola.  I do.  I admit it.  But, it’s so yummy and fun to make I can’t help myself.  It also gives me a valid excuse to make a smoothie or nana ice cream so I can top it with my granola.  Not that I ever needed an excuse before…

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Anyway, I made this batch for the holidays and I am just now getting around to talking about it.  It’s been such a busy holiday season.  I am not even sure where the holidays went, or 2014 for that matter.  Oh, before I forget, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

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Ok, ok, back to baking.  If you haven’t tried making your own granola yet, then put this on your 2015 to do list.  You probably won’t buy store brands after learning how easy and tasty (and healthy) making your own can be.  Unfortunate for Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s 😉

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I adapted my recipe from Cookie and Kate, hope you enjoy as much as I do.  And quick side note, feel free to increase the chocolate sauce measurements…if you are a chocoholic!

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 What you will need:
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup buckwheat groats
  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 3/4 cup pecans
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 molasses
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder (plus 1 tbsp more for thicker sauce)
  • 1/3 maple syrup
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 chopped dried cranberries
  • 1 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
  • (Optional) carob or chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat.  In a large bowl combine oats, nuts, salt, cinnamon, and ginger, and mix well.  Add in molasses.

Heat coconut oil in double boiler or microwave until melted (microwave is about 30 seconds on high).  Add raw cacao (or cocoa) powder, maple syrup, and vanilla to create a chocolatey sauce.  Pour chocolate sauce into bowl with other ingredients and mix well.

Spread granola mix evenly onto baking sheet and bake for about 10-15 minutes checking once to make sure edges aren’t burning.  The granola may need a nudge.  Then add the coconut and cranberries and bake for another 7-10 minutes, again keeping an eye on it to prevent from burning.  Remove from oven and let cool completely.  If the center seems slightly wet it’s ok, it will continue to cook as it cools, and it should get crunchier.  You might also like to add some carob or chocolate chips to your granola.  Chocolate makes everything better!

Store in an air tight container (mason jars work well), and will last for a few weeks.

Enjoy granola as a yogurt topping, or add to banana ice creamsmoothies, or smoothie bowls.  You might also enjoy adding granola to a bowl of warm milk as a warm cereal alternative.  Or just eat straight from the jar!


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Pumpkin Spiced Granola

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Ahhh, October!  You had me at “pumpkin spice.”  For the first time this past summer I made my own granola.  And I must admit, it was really quite amazing.  It started with a few batches of lavender flavored, then when I realized there is a world outside of lavender, I played with a chocolate version (still tweaking this one). And then this week, I hit the jackpot on the first try.  Pumpkin Spiced Granola…made with love!  How can you beat that?  I want you to know that I am surely not a granola making expert, so I researched a few different recipes before I sort of just mocked up my own.  So if you try this, and you don’t like it….I am truly sorry for you.  Seriously.  🙂
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Getting down to business…here is what you will need:
  • 1.5 C rolled oats
  • 1 C buckwheat groats (or additional oats)
  • 1/3 C pepitas/pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 sliced almonds
  • 1/4 C dried cranberries (or raisins)
  • 3 Tbsp coconut sugar (or sugar of your choice)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp pumpin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 C pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 maple syrup (or agave or honey)
  • 1 egg white (optional)

 

Preheat oven 350F.  In a large bowl mix oats, buckwheat groats, seeds/nuts, cranberries, coconut sugar, sea salt, and spices.  In a smaller bowl whisk [melted] coconut oil, pumpkin puree, and syrup.  Pour mixture over dry granola ingredients and toss until thoroughly coated.  An added step (which can be omitted) is to whisk one egg white until frothy.  Pour egg white over granola and mix well.  This step will create granola “clumps’ for you hard core tree huggers who love clumpy crunchy granola (hehehe) 🙂  Prepare baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat and spread granola evenly.  Bake 25-35 minutes poking and turning granola every 10 or so minutes to prevent burning on the edges.  Remove from oven and cool fully. This will also allow it to dry up and get even crunchier!!!  And then, top your your favorite yogurt or nana icecream.  You can even throw in a handful of carob or dark chocolate chips if you so desire.  Be sure to also enjoy the lovely aroma this will create through your home!

 

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Mocha Iced Frappucinno (healthier version)

 

IMG_0956Have you ever had an iced frappucinno at Starbucks or any coffee shop?  Well, as tasty as it might be, it is most likely loaded with GMO’s, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavoring and sweeteners, and antibiotic injected milk. Not to mention extremely high in calories!  Actually, incase you haven’t heard, Starbucks is a big supporter of Monsanto.  If you are a Starbucks addict, you might be interested in learning more about this issue before you make your next purchase.

Even though I have always opted for a plain old basic coffee shop cup of joe, I have enjoyed the occassional fancy high calorie drinks from time to time.  And I won’t lie, they are so good, and often leave me feeling so bad!  And although I successfully gave up coffee last year, I do still crave the flavor some days. Which is what led me to find an easy healthier version I can make at home, and it’s way cheaper!  I even think this version tastes better.  But who knows, maybe thats my healthier taste buds talking!  Anyway….if you like fancy coffee then you should try this.  I swear it’s not hard and you probably have most of the ingredients needed.  I add a frozen banana to mine to create a smooth creamy ice cream like texture, but you can omit that if you don’t love bananas like I do.  You know how I feel about ba-nana ice cream.  Enough chit chat, let’s get started!

What you will need:

  • 1 1/2 c almond/coconut milk (or your choice of healthy milk)
  • 2 tsp instant coffee (I use decaf, organic when possible)
  • 1 Tbsp. raw cacao powder (omit if you don’t like “mocha” and just want it plain)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut sugar (can substitute with agave, pure maple, honey, stevia, etc)
  • 1/5 frozen banana (not necessary but gives ice cream-like creaminess)
  • Dash of sea salt
  • 5-7 ice cubes

Blend everything together in high speed blender until smooth.  I find that this comes out better when I heat a few tablespoons of water and mix the instant coffee/espresso first then add that to the blender with the rest of the ingredients.  Either way, the result is still delicious!  Sprinkle with cinnamon and guzzle.  Be careful of the brain freeze!

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Chocolate Cherry Smoothie

 

 

IMG_1005I am loving smoothies lately.  I used be a juicer, and I still am.  But recently my needs have changed and I crave thicker denser beverages.  Not to say this won’t change again soon, but for now I am addicted to chocolate smoothies.  Who wouldn’t be?  It’s chocolate for crying out loud!  And I love that I have the liberty of adding whatever the heck I want.  I always make sure to add veggies and protein so I can justify replacing a meal or snack with something chocolatey.  It’s a win win!!!

 

What you will need:

  • 6 frozen cherries
  • 2 frozen bananas
  • Handful spinach or kale
  • 1 C water/coconut water/milk
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. cacao powder
  • 1 scoop protein powder (optional)
  • 4-5 ice cubes (optional)

Add everything to high speed blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!


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Crunchy Homemade Granola

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Guess what?  I found an easy flavorful granola recipe for you to try.  So far I’ve made it four times, and inflicted it on many friends (some family) who raved about it.  It’s a keeper.  Actually, I’ve never made granola before this.  I used to by it but having to read labels and deal with sugar content and additives is just a pain in the butt!  Not to mention if I didn’t eat it quickly it would go stale and have to get tossed in the trash.  A waste of money if you ask me.  So now I have no excuse.  If I take the time to make something, I am damn well going to eat it before it goes bad.  And so far this recipe is the best I’ve had…in my entire granola life!  Of course, like all other things in life, that too is subject to change.  But for now, I am true to this granola!

I came across this recipe while looking up something entirely different, not even sure I remember what I was searching for.  Anyway, I am glad I accidentally stumbled across it.  The original source is a recipe for Lavender flavored granola.  I happen to love eating lavender flavored anything, so for me this was a win win.  However, if you can’t stand the thought of eating something flowery, you can simply eliminate the lavender and have yourself plain ole granola, or add something you do like, if you so choose.  Again, win win!

This recipe was inspired by Healthy Nibbles & Bits.

What you will need:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup shredded or flaked coconut (unsweetened)
  • 1 cup buckwheat groats
  • 2/3 cup cashews (raw is best, but any will do)
  • 2/3 cup walnuts or almonds (chopped/slivered)
  • 1/3 cup pepita seeds
  • 1/3 cup honey (use raw maple or agave if vegan, or any other sweetener of choice)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried lavender (slightly less, or omit completely)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • dash of sea salt
  • egg white *(optional – see note below)
  • carob chips (optional and to be added after granola is cooked)

Preheat oven at 325 (F), and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon mat.  Mix ingredients in a large bowl (except egg white).  If you are using the egg white, whisk in a separate bowl until frothy, then pour over granola and lightly toss. *The original recipe called for egg white to create a cluster-like effect.  I’ve done with it it and without it, both options are lovely!  Bake for 30-45 minutes. I like to check mine halfway through and move it around with a spatula so the sides don’t burn.  Keep an eye on it, you want it to get golden brown.  If you went with the lavender option you will soon have an amazing aroma throughout your kitchen. Remove from oven and cool completely.  Store in airtight mason jar or container.

This recipe is so fabulous that I barely changed a thing, and luckily I had all of the ingredients on hand.  You can substitute as needed.  And if you have no idea what to do with granola, here are some of my favorite suggestions:

  • Top your favorite yogurt
  • Add to your overnight oats
  • Garnish your nana icecream
  • Add to fresh fruit salad
  • Enjoy as a hot cereal by adding warmed milk  (preferably almond/coconut)
  • Add carob chips and divide into small ziplock baggies to bring to work as a snack
  • Add to favorite smoothie or smoothie bowl
  • Make your own granola bars or balls

There are many more options.  I am currently experimenting with various granola flavors and will blog about it soon.  I hope you enjoy as much as I did!

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Coconut Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal

Hello, my name is Michelle, and I am an oatmeal addict.  My addiction started about 5 years ago after I was ‘diagnosed’ with high cholesterol (eek!).  It was the very first major change I made to my daily routine. And since then oatmeal has been my breakfast of choice, with the exception of vacation badness and some healthier experimental pancake trials.  It wasn’t until recently (thank you Instagram) that I’ve begun to venture off into the world of unknown healthier breakfast creations.   But that being said, I still love and crave oatmeal every morning.  And while my oatmeal used to consist of the basics (plain oats, cinnamon, water, fruit, and nuts), I have gotten more creative with it over the past year or so, and I have to credit Chocolate Covered Katie for most of my inspired combos.  Sometimes it takes for someone else to demonstrate that it’s ok to live on the edge, venture outside of your comfort zone.  And let me tell you….chocolate in my breakfast was definitely living on the edge!   Did I mention I am also a chocolate addict?  So you see, this is a danger zone for me.  But it’s ok, I have it under control now.  I swear…..ish….!

So getting back to the reason for this post.  Three things I love: chocolate, coconut, and oatmeal. Baked so it’s like one big cookie.  Soft and gooey on the inside, brown and crispy on the outside.  Oh my!  If you have 20 minutes to spare (perhaps on your day off) and you love these three things too, then this is a must try.  Katie calls it coconut cookie dough oatmeal.  Indeed it is.  I made a few modifications and this breakfast bake is a WIN in our house.  Thanks Katie!

What you will need:

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (less if you are not used to large bowls of oatmeal)Made with Repix (http://repix.it)
  • 1/2 mashed ripe banana
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 nut milk (or water, coconut water, regular milk…organic of course)
  • 1 tbsp coconut butter (melted or room temp if your house is warm)
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (I can assure you I used more than this amount)
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut (and a few to sprinkle on top)
  • 1-2 tsp coconut sugar (or natural sweetener of choice)

More options

  • 1 tsp ground flax (to mix in or sprinkle on top…or both)
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp sliced almonds for topping
  • 1/4 tsp coconut extract
  • dash of sea salt

Preheat oven to 380 degrees.  {I use my toasted oven and bake it closer to 400 degrees, watching it to make sure it won’t burn}  Combine ingredients well using a fork (I swear it mixes better).  Pour into small glass oven-proof bowl or pan.  I like to lightly grease the bottom of my bowl with oil so it’s not a pain to clean later.  Add a few extra chips on top and bake for about 20 minutes or more depending on preference.  Turn your oven to broil for about 5 more minutes to get a crispier top layer.  Top with almonds, milk, and whatever else your little heart desires.  Enjoy!

Made with Repix (http://repix.it)


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Acai Breakfast Smoothie Bowl

I am so excited!  My frozen acai packs arrived yesterday, which means that I can finally join in on this acai madness.  I’ve been eyeing these bowl creations for some time and finally had a chance to remind myself last week to order a bunch from Amazon.  Amazon as in the shopping website, not the rainforest…although that is essentially where the acai berry originates.

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So what is acai, you ask?  And why the sudden obsession?  Well, as I said, acai berries are produced in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest and have been used for centuries to heal and boost energy.  The acai berry is most commonly known today as a “superfood,” meaning its loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, and omega fatty acids. Regular consumption (and/or use) of acai has been said to help lower cholesterol, heal and improve the appearance of skin, aid in digestion, protect against harmful free-radicals, promote anti-aging, and reduce inflammation (just to name a few).   I always try to maintain a colorful diet since fruits and veggies that are brightly colored are our best protection against disease.  And since I’m a big fan of anything purple, this acai breakfast bowl most definitely has my support!  The only downside is the price.  But I am not making this everyday, at least not yet.  So hopefully my frozen packs will last me a while.  Hopefully…..

Ok, so getting back to the acai bowls.  I’ve been following instagrammers who create such gorgeous breakfast bowls that not only make my mouth water but also make me wonder how long it took to perfect such art!  Anyway, I did my best with what little art skills I have.  This breakfast was super filling and so cold, a perfect choice for 90 degree summer heat!  Eat up before it turns to soup.

photo-5What you will need (for 2 bowls):

  • 2 unsweetened acai frozen packs (I bought mine here)
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/2 banana (not frozen)
  • 1 cup frozen organic blueberries
  • 6 frozen cherries (or strawberries)
  • 1/4 coconut milk (might need a few tbsp more)

Some optional toppings:

  • blueberries
  • strawberries
  • banana slices
  • unsweetened coconut flakes
  • sprouted grain cereal (crunchy)
  • granola
  • carob/cacao nibs
  • chia seeds
  • flaxseed
  • goji berries
  • sliced kiwi
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar (or honey)

Blend acai, frozen banana, cherries, milk, and banana until smooth.  You may need to stop and stir, then add a bit more milk depending on how dry the mix looks.  I added 2 more tablespoons to mine.  The consistency should be thick and smooth.  Spoon smoothie into two bowls and decorate with your favorite toppings.  Mix it all up and wolf it down.  Beware of the brainfreeze!  Enjoy 🙂

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The after photo, with a few 70% dark chocolate chips 🙂


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Overnight Oats

No sleeping bag required.  Just oats, milk, and yogurt.   And of whatever else your little hungry heart so desires.  The options seem endless.

Overnight oats have been one of my favorite go-to breakfast concoctions for quite some time.  I make various versions for my self and husband, and he is obsessed with it.  He actually gets offended if I don’t make it for him.  Crazy huh?  Anyway, they are super easy to make, and you can prep a day or two in advanced so you have yourself a couple of on-the-go “healthier” breakfast options.  Just think, you can skip the long line at {enter the name of your favorite breakfast place}, and have this much simpler and satisfying breakfast of champions.  You can also add any flavors you like.  Just know that the more you add, the more calories you will be consuming and possibly the less healthy it will become.  So be mindful of your choices.  You don’t need much, as the yogurt is pretty filling.

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What you will need:

  • 1/3 c nut milk (your choice)
  • 1/3 c yogurt (I choose greek 10% milkfat, organic if at all possible)
  • 1/3 c organic/gf slow cooking rolled oats (instant oats don’t work as well)

A few of my favorite options (but not necessary):photo_4-2

  • 1/2 ripe mashed banana (for me this is necessary)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds (also necessary for mine)
  • 1 tsp ground flax
  • 1/2 scoop protein powder (this might require a few more tbsps of milk)
  • 1 tbsp of honey (or coconut sugar if vegan)
  • 1 tbsp chocolate chips (the darker the better)
  • handful of fresh berries
  • 1 tbsp of chopped nuts
  • sprinkle of cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp nut butter (all natural is always best)
  • 1tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao powder

Add the first three ingredients to a clean mason jar (or something similar).  Then add in chia seeds and mashed banana, if you desire.  Then stir with a fork.  You can use a spoon but a fork is better!  Continue adding anything else you choose, and stir well.  Make any adjustments needed, such as adding more milk if it’s dry, more yogurt if it’s watery, etc.  Then put the jar in your fridge overnight, and see how the oats are beautifully “cooked” by the morning.  You can store this for up to 2 days in the fridge.  Enjoy being creative and happy eating!


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Ice Cream for Breakfast?

 

photo_2-12Why not?  That’s the best part of being a “grown up.”  I can eat dessert for breakfast and no one will tell me otherwise!

There are so many mouth watering health-foodie posts lately and I wish I could try them all.  Acai bowls are at the top of my list.  However, since I still haven’t gotten around to stock up on the necessary ingredients, I chose to go with a fruity banana blueberry ice cream jar (not bowl), which was heavily inspired by a lovely young lady I follow on Instagram (she is an ice cream for breakfast advocate!). Yay!

Bananas are one of my favorite ways to indulge on ice cream in a much “healthier” and dairy-free fashion.  (And yes I have other ice cream methods…)  Bananas are a natural sweetener and taste delicious when frozen and blended.  The taste and consistency mimic that of regular ice cream, but with a much lower glycemic index.  Bananas also contain a wonderful mix of vitamins and minerals, and have been know to help with hydration.  I’m sold!  I also added some frozen blueberries, fresh strawberries, and Ezekial Sprouted Grain cereal for the extra crunch factor.  That pretty much justified me eating it for breakfast!  Ok enough small talk, let’s get to the good stuff….

 

What you will need:photo_1-13

  • 1 1/2 frozen bananas
  • 1/2 c frozen organic blueberries
  • 3 tbsp almond/coconut milk (or more depending on thickness you desire)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Optional:

  • 2 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp natural peanut butter (I omitted it here, but can attest that it’s a great option!)
  • 1/4 c Ezekial Sprouted Grain Golden Flax Cereal (or granola, or similar)
  • 2-3 fresh organic strawberries, sliced
  • 1 tbsp sliced almonds
  • 1 tbsp dark chocolate chocolate chips
  • 1tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut

Add frozen bananas, blueberries, and almond milk to blender and mix until smooth.  You may need to add more almond milk or less depending on how frozen your bananas are.  Add vanilla and raw cacao (or cocoa) powder and blend again.   Scoop into jar or bowl and top with your favorite toppings.  Or, layer with toppings in a glass jar.  You can also pop it back into the freezer for a few minutes to set and eat later.  I couldn’t wait.  Enjoy!

Double Trouble

Double Trouble