Mango & Rosewater Frozen Yogurt with Crushed Pistachios

frozen yogurt
Summer has officially descended upon us with soggy heat waves, thunderous storms, brilliant Supermoons and sunshiney landscapes. I am a native Floridian and I tolerate heat and humidity extremely well (though I can’t say the same for my hair), but a chilly sweet treat on a hot summer day is a welcome relief after a long, sweaty day at the beach or a ten foot walk to my car over a 110 degree blacktop parking lot. This delicious, sugarless frozen yogurt is a simple and nutritious alternative to heavy, fatty ice creams and pre-packaged frozen yogurts which contain mountains of sugar.

Ingredients:
– 1 1/2 cups mango, fresh or frozen
– 1 cup fat free plain (or vanilla) Greek yogurt
– 1/4 tsp rosewater
– 1 tbs raw, unprocessed agave nectar
– 1/4 tsp vanilla extract (omit if using vanilla yogurt)
– A handful of crushed, salted pistachios for serving
– Fresh mint leaves for garnish

Directions:
1. Puree mango in a food processor or blender. Add yogurt and blend. Add rosewater, agave, and vanilla extract and blend for at least 2-3 minutes or until mixture is completely smooth.

2. Pour mixture into an airtight container and freeze for at least 8 hours.

3. When yogurt has frozen, remove from freezer prior to serving and allow it to thaw for a bit (or cheat and put it in the microwave for 20 second increments until it is soft enough to spoon and serve).

4. For each serving of frozen yogurt, take a large handful of pistachios and place them in a sealable plastic bag. Seal bag and gently crush pistachios with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle crushed pistachios over frozen yogurt.

5. Garnish with fresh mint leaves and serve.

A special thank you to my enormously talented aunt for the beautiful, hand made ceramic dish featured in this post.

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Chocolate Cherry Chia Oatmeal

ch-ch-ch

So, I’ve been experimenting with a gluten free diet for the past week and I have to admit that I have more energy and my stomach has been noticeably flatter, which is pretty fantastic. But I’m not doing it for the beauty perks. I wanted to see what would happen and if I could detect a change in the way my body reacts to food. I’m actually pretty surprised at how quickly and clearly I could detect a positive difference in my energy level and my digestion – and I don’t even have gluten sensitivities. Needless to say, my peanut butter and banana on whole wheat toast is not a viable gluten free breakfast option at the moment, so I whipped up this super delicious superfood powerhouse breakfast bursting with fiber and antioxidants and protein and… CHOCOLATE!

Ingredients:
– 1/2 cup steel cut, GF oatmeal
– 1 cup water
– 8-10 fresh sweet red cherries, pitted and roughly chopped
– 1 1/2 tbs cocoa powder
– 2 tbs dark chocolate almond milk (optional – it makes it creamier)
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 3 tbs raw agave nectar
– 2-3 tbs chia seeds
– Dash of cinnamon

Directions:

1. Bring water to a boil. Add oatmeal, stirring. Turn heat to medium-low and allow to cook for a minute or two.

2. Add cocoa powder, vanilla extract, cinnamon and agave. Mix well and let the mixture cook for another minute.

3. Add 3/4 of the fresh cherries to the mix, reserving the other 1/4 for garnish. Add chia and chocolate almond milk and mix well.

4. When oatmeal is fully cooked and creamy, remove from heat and spoon immediately into a bowl. Garnish with reserved fresh cherries and serve hot!

Sweet Quinoa Breakfast Porridge

porridge

Another breakfast entry! OMG! Seriously, this is getting out of hand. But you’ll love this, I promise. It’s super packed with protein and fiber, gluten free, and can be easily veganized by swapping the honey for agave syrup (I know “veganized” isn’t actually a word, but you knew what I meant). This breakfast will keep you full literally all day, so it’ll help prevent snacking on random temptations. I ate this for breakfast and its nearly 5:30pm and I can’t even think about dinner yet…

Ingredients:

– 1 cup uncooked quinoa
– 2 cups almond milk (unsweetened or vanilla)
– 2 tbs. cinnamon
– 1/2 cup toasted pecans
– 2-3 tbs. raw, unfiltered honey
– 1 large banana, thinly sliced
– 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
– 2 tbs. water
– 2 large handfulls dried cranberries

Directions:

1. In a medium saucepan, combine quinoa, almond milk and cinnamon. Mix well and place over medium-high heat. When almond milk begins to boil, turn heat to low and add thinly sliced banana, honey and vanilla extract. Mix well. Cover with a tight fitting lid and allow to cook for approximately 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. While quinoa mixture is cooking, place pecans on a sheet of foil and place in toaster oven on low. Allow to toast until golden brown. Remove from toaster and wrap tightly in foil to keep warm.

3. After 10-15 minutes, add 2 tbs. water to porridge and mix in. Allow to cook for an additional 5-10 minutes until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is cooked through.

4. Once quinoa is cooked, crumble pecans and cranberries into mixture, reserving some of each ingredient to sprinkle on top. Mix well and spoon into bowls. Sprinkle remaining pecans and cranberries on top. Serve immediately.

Serves 2-3 people depending on how hungry you are! Feel free to experiment with different fruit, nuts, spices and other ingredients! I’m sure this would be amazing with blueberries and coconut. Or Almonds and brown sugar. Or figs and maple syrup. Ok, I’m starting to get hungry now. Finally.

Earl Grey Pancakes with Lavender Infused Maple Syrup & Fresh Blueberries

pancakes
For anyone who’s read anything previously posted on this blog, my intense love for breakfast, lavender and Earl Grey tea has already been firmly established. Incorporating this blissful trifecta into a Sunday morning is a perfectly luxurious way to savor the last day of the weekend.

Ingredients:

For the pancakes
– 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
– 1 tbs. raw Agave nectar
– 2 tsps. baking powder
– 1 tsp. baking soda
– 2 eggs
– 2 cups fat free, plain Greek yogurt
– 1 3/4 cups strongly brewed Earl Grey tea
– 1 tbs. or 1 tea bag of Earl Grey tea leaves (open the bag used to brew the tea)
– As many fresh blueberries as possible!
– Cooking spray or EVOO in a spray bottle for the pan

For the syrup
– 1 cup pure, unfiltered maple syrup
– 1 tsp. vanilla extract
– 1/2 tbs. of culinary lavender buds (or lavender picked from an organic source and allowed to dry)

Directions:

1. Preheat over to 200 degrees.

2. In a small sauce pan, combine maple syrup, vanilla extract and lavender. Stir and place over low heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally.

3. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and baking soda. In a separate, large bowl, whisk the eggs, yogurt, agave and 1/4 cup of the Earl Grey tea. Carefully pour wet ingredients into flour mixture and fold together slowly with a rubber spatula until moistened. Slowly pour the remaining tea into mixture, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring gently after each pour to integrate all liquid. Once all tea has been poured into batter, add the tea leaves and stir until evenly distributed.

4. Spray a large pan or griddle with cooking spray or EVOO and place over medium heat. Ensure pan is thoroughly heated without allowing oil to burn. Slowly pour 1/4 cup of batter at a time into pan to create a pancake. Do not crowd pancakes in pan so they do not stick together. Once bubbles begin to form on the top of the pancake, flip with a metal or bamboo spatula and cook until golden brown on the bottom. Remove from pan and place onto a large, oven-safe plate. Place plate on top rack of oven to keep pancakes warm. Continue the above until all batter has been used up, placing each finished pancake onto the plate in the oven. You may need to respray the pan in between pancakes.

5. Remove heaping plate of pancakes from oven. Pour syrup through a strainer into a clean container (a small mason jar, a syrup pourer, a gravy boat, etc). Serve hot with tons of fresh blueberries!

Feel free to admire my vintage Waffle House plates!

Lavender Sugar

lavendar sugar
Lavender is my favorite flower. When I was about 17, I lived in France for a summer and took a bus into Geneva, Switzerland to study at the Université de Genève. I had a one mile walk to the bus in the morning and a one mile walk back in the evening. Every morning, I braved the bees and picked a few stalks of lavender from a wild plant growing between the cracks in the sidewalk adjacent to an empty lot. I kept it in my backpack throughout the day and picked some more on my walk home. By the end of the summer, I had miraculously avoided bee stings and amassed a tremendous bouquet of dried lavender, which I carefully carried onto my return flight and brought back to the States intact. That sweet purple bouquet accompanied me on major location and life changes for a decade until an ill-behaved (although particularly adorable) cat destroyed it one uneventful Miami morning. Anyway, I credit France with my discovery of lavender’s unique beauty and usefulness, and ever since I have deeply loved its scent, its color, its flavor, and its versatility – what else can you bathe in, scent your skin, clothing and hair with, gift to a loved one in a bouquet, decorate your home with, use to heal skin abrasions and blemishes, induce calm and focus through aromatherapy, consume with dinner, consume again with dessert, and yet again in a pre-bedtime tea? Ok, maybe roses or chamomile buds, but I still say lavender is a superhero, and this is a very simple recipe to prove it. It will liven up your tea, lemonade, pancakes, cupcakes, and candies. It is particularly delicious in Early Grey tea with a splash of almond milk.

Ingredients:

– 1/2 cup unbleached, raw sugar
– 1 tbs. dried culinary lavender buds (or lavender picked fresh from an organic source and allowed to dry completely)

Directions:

1. Pour 1/2 cup sugar in a clean and dry airtight container. A small mason jar is perfect.

2. Pour 1/2 tbs. of lavender buds into a coffee grinder and grind until powdered. Pour powder into sugar. Seal the jar and shake well. Add remaining 1/2 tbs. of intact buds to jar and reseal. Shake well.

3. Allow mixture to sit in a cool, dry place (NOT the refrigerator!) for 1-2 weeks before use, shaking occasionally.

Will keep indefinitely if properly sealed and kept away from moisture.

Candy Tea

Tea
This amazingly delicious tea isn’t actually made with candy, but its such a sweet treat that I dubbed it “Candy Tea.” It’s a cozy, comforting nod to hot chocolate without all the empty calories. Full credit for the creation of this recipe goes to my beautiful, talented and whipsmart little sister, who gave me permission to share it with the world via Cat Scratch Kitchen.

Ingredients:

– Vanilla Black Tea (Benchley Vanilla black tea is perfect)
– 1 tablespoon of raw honey
– A scant 1/4 cup of chocolate almond milk

Steps:

1. Bring water to a rolling boil and steep tea for 3-5 minutes.
2. Add honey and chocolate almond milk and stir.
3. Cozy up with a good book and sip blissfully.

Quinoa, Oat and Banana Squares with Dried Cranberries

Granola Bars

I love snacks.  I eat all day.  Like, literally all day.  So I try to snack responsibly.  I came up with this recipe for a healthy alternative to packaged, processed granola squares that are full of sugar, high fructose corn syrup and chemicals I can’t pronounce easily.   These squares make a super convenient, on-the-go snack packed with protein, fiber, essential fatty acids, and vitamins to provide you with genuine energy — not a temporary sugar rush. They will keep in the fridge for at least a week in an airtight glass container, separated by squares of parchment paper.  I have never had a problem with these sticking to the pan, but you can line the pan with parchment paper if preferred.

Ingredients:

– 1 cup uncooked rolled oats
– 1/4 cup uncooked quinoa
– 1/4 cup chia seed
– 2/3 cup toasted almonds or pecans
– 1/4 cup raw flaxseeds
– 1/2 cup dried cranberries
– A dash of cinnamon
– A splash of agave syrup
– 2 large, ripe bananas

Steps:

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2.  Combine all ingredients except bananas in a food processor.  Pulse until ingredients are well chopped and integrated.

3. Mash bananas in a separate bowl with a fork and add to food processor with other ingredients.  Pulse until evenly distributed. If the mixture is too dry, add a few extra pieces of banana or your choice of nut butter (or a drop of coconut oil) to increase moisture and pulse until incorporated.

4. Using a rubber spatula, carefully scrape mixture into a square baking pan and pat down evenly.

5. Bake for 15-20 minutes and let cool before cutting squares with a sharp knife.  Remove each square by popping up the corners with a fork.  Cool completely on a cooling rack.

The ingredient options for these squares are endless – add dried blueberries, apricots, raisins, chocolate, walnuts, toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds, peanut, apple or almond butter, Nutella, shredded coconut…..if you can dream it, do it!