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Olive Oil Granola

September 18, 2017

I know a lot of people are hanging on to summer as we head into late September, but since it's been autumn here since June, I'm digging it. The local tomatoes barely grew anyway, and the ones that did tasted like nothing - give me some pumpkin! and beets, carrots, grapes, apples! Local apples are a while off yet but I did eat a windfall apple the other day and it was just perfect. It was so cold all year that the autumn vegetables are already doing well. I think it's a lot easier to appreciate what's available for shorter periods of time when you really try to only eat seasonally. I get so excited every time I see something new at the market or shop and try not to jump ahead of myself in terms of what's growing locally. What's the point, when seasonal produce is so much tastier and cheaper anyway? 

By the way this recipe does not use produce BUT it sure combines well with fruit.

Continuing with this staple/everyday recipe theme I've been doing lately, here's my very favourite granola recipe! This is another recipe I make about once a week on my batch cooking day to have for snacking throughout the week. I first made this a few years ago because I was out of coconut oil but it became my standard over time, and I just switch out a few add-ins and spices depending on the time of year and what I'm doing with it. It's a really inexpensive recipe using olive oil and seeds instead of pricier ingredients, and I prefer it as an everyday snack over really nut-heavy recipes. If I'm giving it away as gifts sometimes I'll mix in some nuts and a few sweeter spices to fancy things up a bit. If you want a granola recipe that calls for coconut oil, try this one from last autumn, it's excellent.

My standard spice for this recipe is sumac. It's a citrus-like spice from the Middle East that's not really sweet but adds a nice popcorn-like flavour to the granola. Really, this granola tastes just like popcorn. Sumac is pretty inexpensive especially if you get it at a Middle Eastern grocer, and it's great with roasted vegetables, hummus, in sweets, and more. If you don't have or can't get sumac (I can only get it at one market here so I often don't have any), substitute cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, or whatever spice you'd like. I've made this recipe with all three and I liked it every time. If you're worried that it won't be sweet enough because of the olive oil, well, maybe you're right. It depends on your personal taste. If you like cloying, super-sweet granola, maybe you should head to a different website. This is just lightly sweet but it's great to have with fruit as it's not overwhelming - and the taste is fairly neutral so it goes with seasonal fruits all year round (unlike cinnamon or nutmeg). 

Don't forget to share on Instagram (tag @occasionallyeggs), I love to see what you're making!

Olive Oil Granola
Makes a little over 3 cups

2 cups / 250 grams rolled oats
1/2 cup / 80 grams sunflower seeds
1/2 cup / 80 grams pumpkin seeds*
1/4 cup / 50 grams chia seeds
2 teaspoons sumac*
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup*

Preheat the oven to 150C / 300F and line a large baking sheet* with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix the oats, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia, sumac, and salt. Add the olive oil and honey, then use your hands to mix until the dry ingredients are fully coated.

Transfer the granola mixture to your prepared baking sheet and wet your hands lightly to spread it into an even layer. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until golden. The granola won't be crisp when you take it out, so just look for colour. It will crisp up as it cools.

Place the baking sheet onto a drying rack to cool. Once the granola is completely cool, break it apart and store in a sealed container for up to a week on the counter, or a month in the refrigerator.

1. Alternatively, use a full cup of sunflower seeds instead of half pumpkin seeds. I imagine sesame seeds would be good too but I haven't tried that.
2. You can do half cinnamon half sumac, all cinnamon, or a mix or cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. I like it with all three of those spices individually as well.
3. I use creamed honey and use my hands to work it in. I find liquid honey can make things a little sticky. Creamed honey makes a bit of a clumpier granola and maple syrup results in one that's quite fine, but both are excellent.
4. I use the standard European size baking tray with high sides. A regular large baking sheet is good, and if you have smaller ones you might want to bake the granola on two sheets.

Pumpkin Salad from Bowls of Goodness

September 11, 2017

I got this absolutely stunner of a book in the mail a couple of months ago but have been waiting to share a recipe until now. I fell in love with all of the autumn chapters, perhaps because I was looking a little further ahead than I should have been - in any case, I would happily make and eat every single recipe in this book. Most of the recipes are truly full meals in a bowl, and this style of cooking is so easy and has such great results. It's really the way to live on a WFPB diet, especially if you're a batch cooker like I am. This salad was the recipe that jumped out at me on my first look through the book, when I bookmarked several to try in the upcoming months, so I waited until the ingredients were in season again. It was the first time I've had beets and pumpkin since last winter, and what a treat! I'm sure I'll start to get sick of them as we subsist solely on root vegetables during the colder months, but for now they're a revelation all over again.

Bowls of Goodness by Nina Olsson takes the concept of whole foods, plant based bowls and expands on it to create a beautiful, carefully thought out cookbook that deserves a spot of honour on your shelf. To be quite honest at first I thought I wouldn't be so impressed with this book - I already eat a whole foods diet and half my food is in bowl form. But Nina has written a truly wonderful cookbook that's full of ideas I want to incorporate into my eating habits. In my opinion, every single recipe in the book is suitable for a weekday meal, but many are also lovely to serve to guests or as a holiday meal. It's also encouraging me to move outside my comfort zone a little in terms of flavour and some ingredients that I wouldn't often think to add to my bowls. It's vegetarian, not vegan, but cheese and eggs aren't mainstays in any sense. They could easily be replaced with vegan alternatives. The book isn't soy heavy but a handful of recipes use tofu, tempeh, and miso. 

It's a highly accessible book, but far from boring or plain. Nina comes from a fine art and design background so of course the book is gorgeous and packed with really lovely photography. It's written in an engaging and straightforward way that's suitable for people new to plant based cooking (I'll happily gift this book to friends and family) but it's great for people who are familiar with this style of eating, too. I received the German edition as a review copy but the content is the same - the titles might be a little different so bear with me!

A handful of recipes I can't wait to try:
• Mushroom Pasta - Tagliatelle in white wine sauce with mushrooms, thyme, and tarragon
• Back to the Roots Bowl - Roasted vegetables with broccoli puree, carrot dressing, & sprout salad*
• Chai Vanilla Pears - Poached pears in red wine & Indian spices
• The Green Queen - Avocado with poached egg & miso carrot dressing
• Fig & Pear Salad with Walnuts - fruit, nuts, & goat cheese (no cheese for me)
• Japanese Noodle Soup - Soba noodles and tofu in spicy ramen broth

* this recipe looks so good that I'm willing to eat sautéed kale, my most hated vegetable.

This particular recipe is a warm autumn salad with roasted pumpkin, root vegetables, seeds, and a creamy tahini dressing over greens. It knocked my socks off and I'll be making it all autumn and winter. The dressing is amazing and it combines so perfectly with the earthy, sweet vegetables and herbs. I'll mix in some puy lentils or chickpeas and maybe serve it with a little quinoa next time I make it to up the protein a little more, but it was very filling even without those little additions. 

You can find Nina on Instagram and her blog, Nourish Atelier. Bowls of Goodness is available on amazon and other online retailers, and in major stores in the US, Canada, and Europe.

This recipe is lightly adapted from Bowls of Goodness: Vibrant Vegetarian Recipes Full of Nourishment. Copyright © 2017 Nina Olsson. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, Edel Germany GmBH and translated into english.

Pumpkin Salad
Serves 2 as a meal or 4 as a side

1/2 of a small pumpkin, about 400g, with seeds
400g beets, cut into wedges (4 medium)
2 small red onions, cut into wedges
1 bunch radishes, halved
Olive oil for roasting
1 handful thyme leaves
1 small handful oregano, chopped*
1 small handful tarragon leaves
1 handful rucola*
1 handful sunflower seeds*
Sea salt

Preheat your oven to 200C / 400F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Remove the seeds from the pumpkin and place them into a sieve. Rinse with cold water, then place the seeds in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain, and place on one of the prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle some salt over the seeds and bake for about 5 minutes* or until the seeds are golden. Watch carefully so they don't burn.

Peel the pumpkin if necessary* and cut into bite-sized pieces. Place the pumpkin, beets, onions, and radishes onto the other prepared baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over the vegetables and add the salt, thyme, sage, and tarragon. Roast for about 25 minutes, or until the pumpkin and beets are soft. Watch carefully for the last five minutes as you don't want the vegetables to be too soft.

Place the roasted vegetables into a large bowl and fold in the rucola. Top with the pumpkin and sunflower seeds and serve with the tahini dressing.

Lemon Tahini Dressing

Juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons tahini
1 clove of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon maple syrup
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper

Mix all of the ingredients in a small container and add water if needed* to thin the dressing.

1. I substituted oregano for sage as I have it in the garden, but sage is clearly the better choice in this recipe.
2. The recipe calls for spinach, I used rucola (arugula) but I think any hardier green would be good.
3. I switched sunflower seeds in for hulled hemp seeds.
4. I ended up roasted my seeds for just over ten minutes before they were properly golden, but I think she used a butternut squash in the recipe and they have much smaller seeds.
5. I used an organic hokkaido pumpkin so I didn't have to peel it.

Carrot, Red Lentil, and Spinach Soup

September 10, 2017

I've gotten a lot of positive feedback on my last post about sharing my favourite go-to recipes for every day. This is another recipe I make all the time, and it's so great for 1. when I haven't gotten groceries for three days, 2. when my budget is low, or 3. when I'm starving and need a quick and easy dinner that isn't pasta. It can be finished in about half an hour, including prep time, which is just chopping carrots, onions, and garlic. It's an all around great simple recipe and makes good use of batch cooked ingredients and pantry staples like canned tomatoes and frozen spinach. It's so budget friendly, especially at this time of year, as carrots are in season and so inexpensive and delicious. I've been making this for years but hadn't written down the recipe until recently and I got such wonderful feedback on my instagram, including a bunch of messages, that I decided it was time to share it here. 

Like all of my go-to recipes, this one can be easily adapted to suit your tastes. I like to include lots of spices - cumin, turmeric, ginger - but I've also made it with just a little cumin and standard salt and pepper. You can switch out the carrots for sweet potato if you'd like. I use carrots because they're much more available here in Germany and about 1/6th of the price of sweet potatoes, but in Canada I did it about half and half. Other greens work well instead of spinach, and I've even added a couple of potatoes to the mix before. The brown rice can be replaced with quinoa, millet, or other grains, or simply left out and the soup served on its own. Like most soups, it can be altered, as long as you stay within the general guidelines. That being said, I'm sharing this version of the recipe because it's the best one, so alter it at your own risk (at least the first time around!).

This makes a big pot of soup, far too much for my little two person family, but it freezes fantastically and I love having a few jars in the freezer. It's a total life saver for busy or tired (read: burned out) days and since I usually have brown rice or sourdough bread around, it's a meal. If we're having it for dinner and I don't have either of those, I usually make these biscuits. I don't mind having the soup on its own but let's be real, carbs make everything better. 

Carrot, Red Lentil, & Spinach Soup
Makes about 2 litres of soup

1 teaspoon coconut or olive oil
1/2 red onion, chopped
5-6 medium carrots, about 3 cups chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 cm piece fresh ginger, minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon sea salt*
400g jar diced tomatoes
6 cups / 1.5 litres vegetable stock
1 cup red lentils, soaked*
1 cup / 150 grams frozen spinach*
Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Cooked brown rice, to serve

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium. Add the onion and sauté for a couple of minutes or until soft and fragrant. Stir in the carrots, and cook for another minute or two. Add the garlic, ginger, and spices, stirring to coat the vegetables, to wake up the spices. Now add the salt and tomatoes, stir, and pour the vegetable stock in.

Increase the heat to high and bring the soup to a rolling boil. Add the lentils and reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the carrots are tender. Stir in the spinach and turn off the heat, letting the hot soup thaw the spinach*. Add the lemon juice, taste, and season if necessary. 

Serve over brown rice and store leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer.

1. This is a starting point for salt - you will likely need to add more at the end, but you don't want to over season while cooking in case the stock you're using is quite salty.
2. Try to soak the lentils for 24 hours if you can. I like to soak red lentils as part of my batch cooking on the weekend and then freeze jars of them for this soup or red lentil patties. If you can't soak them or you forgot, just give them a rinse before adding them to the soup.
3. If you want to use fresh spinach, go for about 100g and remove any larger stems.
4. Using the heat from the soup to thaw the spinach has two purposes - it brings the soup down to an edible temperature, and it keeps the nutrients of the spinach largely intact. And the colour stays nice and green!

Sunflower Seed Energy Bites

September 05, 2017

Since I started doing wellness coaching, I've been discovering, reading, and utilizing many more blogs than I used to. I had a handful that I read consistently but didn't keep up as well as I should have. Now, however, I need to read blogs every week to find new recipes to share with clients, and there's a lot of amazing work being done in this community. I have a running document going and keep adding whole foods blogs that have really wonderful recipes - I'll share a handful of my favourites below for anyone looking for some great blogs that focus on healthy, plant based foods. I subscribe to over a hundred WFPB blogs but I can't share all of them here, unfortunately! This is clearly not an exhaustive list, just a few sites that share great vegetarian recipes or have extensive archives as some of them don't have very many new posts.

Green Kitchen Stories
The Simple Green
The First Mess
Faring Well
Good Eatings
Dishing Up The Dirt
Dolly & Oatmeal
The Green Life
Happy Hearted Kitchen
Vanilla & Bean
Kraut Kopf
Vegetarian Ventures
My Darling Lemon Thyme
Naturally Ella
With Food & Love
The Full Helping
Oh She Glows
Chocolate for Basil

Working as a wellness coach has also brought me to the realization that it's okay to write posts that are just great, everyday recipes and not necessarily fancy or for special occasions. So for the past couple of weeks, I've been photographing the things that I make on a weekly basis and that we eat as part of our daily fare. I'll be sharing more of these simple, go-to recipes in the future alongside some of the special recipes that I also like to make sometimes.

These raw energy bites have become a staple in our home since moving to Germany. We've been eating only organic food since we moved here, which is wonderful, but it's also meant that we can't buy as many grocery items that are pricier, like nuts or medjool dates. I've been using more seeds, basic flours like spelt, and less expensive fruits. Despite what other blogs tell you, regular dates work perfectly well to make energy bites, and you'll save a lot of money by using them. If they're a little hard, just soak them in hot water for half an hour. Any longer, and your bites will probably be a little too soft when thawed and too hard when frozen from the extra water content.

This recipe can be easily adapted to your tastes by changing the spices or type of oil used. If I have hazelnut or walnut oil (which make great gifts for food-lovers) then I use them - hazelnut particularly makes a nutella-like bite that's absolutely delicious without having to splurge on hazelnuts. If you're not fond of lots of spice, then you can just add vanilla or cinnamon, and you can mix up the seeds used too. Sesame, hemp, and chia are all great in these. Adding bee pollen to energy bites is my favourite way to eat pollen, but you don't have to use it. Obviously they're very healthy, with high protein, fibre,  and healthy fats, but you are getting quite a lot of fruit sugar from the dates, so just have one or two per day. I rarely use a recipe for energy bites but this is how I generally make them, so I wrote the measurements down for you!

Sunflower Seed Energy Bites
Makes about 20 bites

3/4 cup / 125 grams raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup (packed) / 130 grams dates*
3 tablespoons cacao
2 tablespoons bee pollen (optional)
1 tablespoon oil (hazelnut, walnut, or coconut)*
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pod cardamom, crushed
Pinch nutmeg
Pinch salt

In the bowl of a food processor, add the sunflower seeds and blend until a coarse meal forms. If you blend too long, oils will release and you'll make sunflower butter. (Don't do that.)

Add the dates, cacao, bee pollen, oil, and spices. Blend until the dates have broken down and a ball of dough has formed in the processor. 

Form the dough into small balls, about half the size of a golf ball, using your hands. You can roll it in cacao if you'd like. Place the bites onto a plate or board and freeze for 30 minutes before removing and placing in a jar or container. Store them in the freezer and thaw slightly before eating.

1. I use deglet noor dates, but of course medjool will work in this recipe. Remove the stones before blending.
2. The oil is not absolutely necessary, but it does add a nice element of flavour, will help keep your energy levels up for longer, and makes the bites easier to roll. Of course to keep them nut free use an oil that isn't made from nuts.

Whole Grain Biscuits

September 02, 2017

I usually bake a loaf of this sourdough bread once a week. It has a complex flavour and we love it, but sometimes it can be a little much. Every once in a while I forget to make it before we run out, too, and that's when I make biscuits instead. They're perfect with soup and stew, another thing I make weekly & freeze leftovers for later. You might think that whole grains simply don't work with biscuits, especially vegan biscuits, but these are tender and a little flaky, despite being made with whole grain spelt flour and coconut oil. They're not going to taste like white flour/butter/cream biscuits, but if you want a healthier option that's still really delicious this is it. 

I've been making this recipe for a couple of years now and it's my go-to at least a couple times a month, and it's always a bit exciting to have fresh biscuits. Exciting at least until we polish off the whole batch that evening and end up with biscuit bloat, but still worth it. I'm not saying that these give you an upset stomach, but they might if you eat ten, but I'm sure your self control is far better than mine (i.e. non existent). 

I have tried these with olive oil instead of coconut and they're simply not very good, so I don't recommend that. I've also had best results using a food processor instead of making them by hand, and adding non-dairy milk in tiny increments until they just come together. That depends on your flour and the humidity in your home, so I have a range instead of a single measurement. A couple other things; full fat coconut milk will make them extra tender, but if you don't want to max out on fat or don't have it, use a different type of milk. I most often use oat milk because I always have it and it's less pricey than coconut milk. 

You don't have to roll and cut them if you don't want to. I only do it about half the time, and the other half I just make drop biscuits. To do that, just drop large spoonfuls of batter onto your prepared baking sheet and bake normally. They're arguably even better and certainly easier, but just don't look quite as nice!

Whole Grain Biscuits
Makes about ten

Whole Grain Biscuits
Makes about ten

1 1/4 cups spelt flour*
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon arrowroot flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon coconut sugar
1/4 cup solid coconut oil
Up to 1/4 cup full-fat coconut milk*
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 190C / 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and coconut sugar to the bowl of your food processor with the blade attachment in place. Pulse until combined. 

Drop the coconut oil in small pieces into the flour mixture. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Add the coconut milk one tablespoon at a time, including the lemon juice with the first addition. Pulse in between each addition and add the milk by tablespoon until the mixture just comes together (see photos above). It should hold when pressed with your hands.

Form a ball with the dough, and then flour a flat working surface. Roll the dough out to about 3cm thick, then fold in half, and roll it again. Repeat this four times, and then roll it again and cut with a small biscuit cutter (6cm*). Bring the scraps together and roll them out again, continuing to cut biscuits until no dough remains. The last biscuit might be a little messy looking.

Place the biscuits onto your prepared baking sheet and gently brush with leftover milk. The milk wash helps them to brown in the oven. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden. Best served warm.

1. I use whole grain spelt flour, and have tested these with sprouted spelt, kamut, and light spelt flour. They all work really well so use what you have.
2. You can substitute any type of non-dairy milk for the coconut, but they will be slightly less tender. I frequently use oat milk and have made them with nut milk with good results.
3. If using a larger biscuit cutter, adjust baking time accordingly (just watch until they're golden). If you don't want to roll/cut, then make drop biscuits instead.
4. To avoid any light coconut flavour, use refined coconut oil and oat or almond milk.