Chocolate Chunk Nut Butter Blondies

Chocolate Chunk Nut Butter Blondies // My New Roots

My friend Adam is a serious health-foodie. He teaches sprouting workshops, is part of a vegetarian soup club, and appreciates a good sourdough as much as I do. He’s also quite fearless in the kitchen, combining tastes and textures I would never dream of, most often successfully. There was that one time however he put peppermint oil in a batch of his granola, and it tasted like breakfast and toothpaste all at the same time. I admire his gumption, but he will never live that one down.

One day while I was over at his place, I was really craving a cookie. He lives near a very high-vibe bakery so I was nearly out the door when he said, “wait! I have something you should try”. He proceeded to tell me that his experimental cookies were flour-free, grain-free in fact, and contained only six ingredients. I was scared – this sounded like a treat from wrong town. But when I took my first skeptical nibble, I was shocked. This cookie was everything I had ever wanted: rich, moist, not-too-sweet and deeply satisfying. Then he told me that it was just almond butter, eggs, maple syrup, chocolate, baking soda and sea salt. Um, what?! No flour? How was this even possible? Inexplicable, culinary wizardry at its best, that’s for darn sure, and an experiment gone absolutely right.

After googling almond butter cookies, I discovered that this kind of recipe had been floating around the interwebs unbeknownst to me. Anyway, I got Adam to make them for me again this past summer at his cottage, posted them on Instagram, and many of you asked for the recipe. I tinkered with them a lot to make sure they were just right, changing up the nut butters, using different sweeteners, various add-ins etc. (it’s a tough job, I tell ya). Then it dawned on me: what if I put the dough into a pan and made blondies?! For the win.

Now I don’t know about you, but I take my indulgences seriously. When I crave something sweet, I definitely don’t mess around with mousses, flaky pastries or light-n’-airy items. Heck no. I want to sink my teeth into something substantial, for it to announce its presence to my stomach with a fulfilling thud, and feel like I actually ate something. These blondies are just that. Aside from their incredibly rich, satisfying flavour, the texture of them is ultra chewy and have that dense brownie quality I love so much. It still baffles me that there isn’t any flour in the recipe, since it just feels like there is, from a “this-must-be-really-bad-for-me perspective. Like I said, there is some serious alchemical conjuring taking place, proving that the universe loves us, so don’t ask any questions.

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Being choosey about your Chocolate
Yes, yes, we’re talking about blondies here, but don’t all blondies have chocolate in them? I’m no expert, but I do believe this is a necessary addition. How do we go about choosing our chocolate though? Is there really a difference between cocoa mass percentages? Does organic really matter? Does milk chocolate count? Here are my top four tips for making sure your chocolate isn’t total junk food.

4 Tips for Choosing the Healthiest Chocolate

Choose dark chocolate varieties. The darker the bar, the higher the cocoa mass percentage will be. When a bar says it is 70% cocoa that means it has a relatively high concentration of health-promoting compounds, like polyphenols and antioxidants. It also means that there is less room for schwaggy stuff like refined sugar, processed oils, and flavourings. Always choose a bar with a minimum of 70% cocoa solids for maximum benefits. If the chocolate bar does not list a cocoa percentage, don’t buy it.

Read the ingredients. High quality chocolate should only contain three to four ingredients: chocolate, cocoa butter/ cocoa mass, and/or cocoa liquor, plus sugar. If the bar contains any oil, milk or milk products, soya lecithin, emulsifiers, ‘natural flavour’, or preservatives don’t buy it.

Buy Organic whenever possible. Cacao plants are some of the most heavily sprayed crops in the world. As pesticide residues can end up in the final product, choose chocolate that has been made from organically grown beans.

Learn about the process. Although it will require a little reconnaissance work, finding out how your chocolate was manufactured is important in determining how healthy it is. Drying cacao beans in the sun instead of roasting them preserves many of the chocolate’s delicate nutrients. Make sure that their processing temperature is not over 110°F. Avoid chocolate whose processing includes “Dutching”, an alkalization method that actually removes the polyphenols, as they lend characteristic bitter flavour to the finished product.

I also encourage you to purchase Fair Trade Certified chocolate whenever possible, as it makes a huge difference to the lives of cacao farmers and their families. Fair Trade is an international certification that ensures that farmers are guaranteed a minimum price for their product, decent working conditions, and that the processes they use protect the natural environment.

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The blondies are not overly sweet, which I appreciate. If you like your desserts on the more saccharine side, I believe that swapping out ¼ cup of coconut sugar and replacing it with maple syrup would work very well. This would also help keep the blondies moist on the second and third day (although they won’t last that long. Trust.). You could also choose a chocolate with a lower cocoa mass, such as 70%, but don’t go lower than that, as the sugar in it will outweigh the health benefits of the chocolate itself. I chose a bar at 85%, which tends to be a little bitter, but I find it pairs well in this dessert.

As far as nut butter goes, anything goes.  I used a homemade almond and hazelnut butter blend in these, which was unreasonably delicious (for a blended nut butter recipe, check out my post here). Because my nut butter was a deep caramel brown, my blondies turned out more like brunettes (tee hee), so the colour of your finished product depends on the nut butter you use. I tried a homemade sunflower butter in my experiments and it worked really well. I would also like to try tahini and pumpkin seed butter, although I know the colour in that case may be a little weird! I have a feeling cashew butter would taste out of this world, and pecan or walnut as well. And I definitely recommend roasted nut butter over raw for depth of flavour, and because you’ll be baking these anyway.

I will say that I really tried making these darn things vegan, but guys, it just didn’t work! Eggs in this case are crucial because they not only bind the ingredients, but they give the blondies air and volume. Using chia and flax works to bind, but you’ll end up with a tasty puddle. If that’s okay with you, go for it! I obviously ate all of my experiments, and quite happily indulged in many yummy, almond butter “pancakes”. I did not try vegan egg replacers though, and that may work better. If you have success in this arena, let me know.

And can we take a minute to talk about my favourite part of all? The corner pieces. If you actually own one of those funky all-corners brownie pans, you get where I’m coming from friend, and this is the time to use it. The edges are extra dense and chewy, slightly crisp and oooohhhhh my goodness I can’t even write about this anymore. On to the recipe.

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Seeing as it’s February and we’ve been so very behaved since the first of January (right…?) I thought it was time to pull out the big guns and celebrate with these ladies. I hope you drop everything you are doing right now and go make them. It’s true, blondies have more fun!

xo, Sarah B

Show me your Blondies on Instagram: #MNRblondies


My New Roots

illy, Ground Espresso Coffe, Dark Roast, 8.8-Ounce Tins (Pack of 2) Review

illy, Ground Espresso Coffe, Dark Roast, 8.8-Ounce Tins (Pack of 2)

  • Dark roast, fine grind coffee for use in all espresso machines
  • Made with 100% Arabica coffee beans
  • Packed in Nitrogen to preserve freshness
  • Coffee beans are skillfully roasted
  • Air-cooled, and packaged in an air-free pressurized environment
  • Strong, robust flavor
Fine grind for use in all Espresso machines

List Price: $ 38.68 Price: $ 18.91

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Super Thick Coconut Yogurt (the shortcut method!)

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Hi, my name is Angela and I’m in love with coconut meat. I also like shortcuts, so discovering frozen bags of coconut meat made me a bit giddy…

coconutmeat

When I first tried coconut meat I wasn’t sure if I liked it, but it totally grew on me. It’s lightly sweet, super filling (it packs 8g fibre per 1/2 cup!), and has this irresistible silky, smooth texture. I love just eating it on its own as well as making it into this shortcut “yogurt”. Adriana on the other hand…well let’s just say when I let her try some of the yogurt (a version with just coconut and water), she made a dramatic gagging face while sticking her tongue out. I guess it’s not for everyone. haha! Maybe she’ll come around.

These bags of frozen coconut meat are more expensive than buying the young Thai coconuts and retrieving the meat yourself, so it’s something I splurge on once in a blue moon when I’m craving a fuss-free homemade coconut yogurt. But it can be whirled up in seconds! And no risk of hacking my hand off with a cleaver (I’m working on my cleaver skills…still not quite there yet). This shortcut recipe isn’t a true yogurt because it’s not fermented, but that’s partly why I love it so much. No wait time, no fuss. I empty a couple probiotic capsules in the yogurt, but you can totally leave the probiotics out if you wish. We’ll call this a “cheater’s” yogurt. A gotta-have-it-now yogurt. For those of you in the GTA, I find these frozen bags of coconut meat at Organic Garage..I think Whole Foods carries it too. If you want to do it the old-fashioned way, you can do that too of course! I link to a Youtube tutorial in the recipe below.

homemadecoconutyogurt

Hello dreamboat! As I mentioned, this version is super thick! It has a similar consistency to Greek yogurt. You can make it however thick or thin you wish just by adjusting the liquid amount. I find 1/2 cup of coconut water and 2 cups of coconut meat = a lovely thick yogurt…no straining required. Likewise, you can make it as sweet or tart as you want by adjusting the sweetener. I don’t like super sweet yogurt so I only add a tablespoon of sweetener into the blender. If I don’t want the yogurt to change colour, I use cane sugar (such as in these photos), but I also like to use maple syrup or raw coconut nectar too (which will dim the bright white yogurt a bit). You can also get creative and try making different flavours by adding fruit, chia jam, etc. I think I might try a coconut-mango-lime version next!

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I made parfaits with strawberry-raspberry chia seed jam paired with a granola that I’m testing for my next cookbook (in the meantime, check out my Lightened Up Summer granola and the granola clusters in the Oh She Glows Cookbook). This yogurt is also awesome in vegan overnight oats, smoothies, and I hear you can make raw ice cream with it too.

Here is my batch of strawberry-raspberry-vanilla chia seed jam below. As a general rule of thumb for making chia seed jam, I use about 300-450 grams of fruit, 3 tablespoons of pure maple syrup (adjust depending on tartness of fruit), 2 tablespoons of chia seeds, and a pinch of pink salt. You can flavour it with vanilla, lemon, orange, etc. For how to make it, see this post.

chiaseedjam

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Super Thick Coconut “Yogurt”

Vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, no bake/raw, nut-free, oil-free, soy-free

This “shortcut” coconut yogurt is as simple and fresh as it gets! I occasionally buy coconut yogurt from the grocery store, but when I want something that is super fresh and without any added ingredients I will make this version for a fun treat. Granted, it’s not a true yogurt since there’s no fermentation, but I love how quick this version is. I often take the shortcut by purchasing frozen coconut meat (found in the freezer section of some health food grocers, like Organic Garage or Whole Foods) rather than buying young coconuts. Once the meat is thawed it just takes a minute of blending to create a yogurt with a texture similar to Greek yogurt. If you are well-versed with young coconuts and a cleaver, feel free to scoop out the flesh the old-fashioned way too! See this video for a tutorial. I recommend making this recipe in advance so it has time to chill in the fridge. Thanks to Gena from Choosing Raw for the recipe inspiration!

Yield
2 cups
Prep Time
5 Minutes
Cook time
0 Minutes
Total Time
5 Minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh young Thai coconut meat (or thawed Young Thai Coconut Meat, see headnote)
  • 1/2 cup coconut water (or use filtered water in a pinch)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (reduce for a less tart flavour)
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon probiotic powder, optional (you can empty probiotic capsules, if desired)
  • pinch of pink salt or fine grain sea salt
  • liquid sweetener to taste (I use 1 tablespoon natural cane sugar)

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients into a high speed blender and blend on low, gradually increasing the speed to high, until super smooth. Keep blending until it’s not grainy anymore. Adjust sweetness to taste by adding sweetener if desired and blending again. I add a tablespoon of cane sugar and blend on high to pulverize it in my Vitamix.
  2. Spoon the yogurt into an air-tight container and chill in the fridge for at least a couple hours.
  3. Serve with granola and chia seed jam, parfait-style, if desired. Or simply enjoy alone. This yogurt is also great mixed into vegan overnight oats or added to smoothies! I’m not positive on the shelf life because we usually enjoy it within a couple days, but I imagine it lasts at least a few days in the fridge in an air-tight container.

Tip: In the photo, I made parfaits with strawberry-raspberry chia seed jam paired with a granola that I’m testing for my next cookbook (in the meantime, check out my Lightened Up Summer granola and the granola clusters in the Oh She Glows Cookbook)

coconutyogurtreciperaw-8778

Oh She Glows

A Week in Meals | August

A Vegetarian Week in Meals | http://naturallyella.com

The produce: Summer Squash, Tomatoes, Berries, Cucumbers, Zucchini, Green Beans

The Pantry items: Brown Rice, Oats, Quinoa, Polenta, and Chickpeas

The star of the week: Hatch Chiles

Make ahead: Harissa, Spinach Pesto, and even the sweet corn soup

I’m always eager to say something or sometime is my favorite. I love the month of October, black coffee is amazing, and I’d live in the mountains if I could. I tend to keep the things I don’t like to myself. However, I will share that August is probably my least favorite month. It’s usually hot, my brain still associates August with going back to school/band camp, and all the fun family times are coming to an end. The one saving grace for August is the produce.

Summer produce is still in full swing while the fall produce is starting to make an appearance. It’s a time when early apples are cozied up with peaches and Brussel sprouts make there debut at the market. The next two months are a great transition time for food. As with July, August is a great time to can- especially if you know frost is headed your way in a month or two!

Cucumber Satay Crunch Salad

Monday

B: Egg and Green Bean Skillet

L: Cucumber Satay Crunch Salad

D: Stuffed Hatch Chiles with Cilantro Lime Yogurt

Mixed Berry Overnight Oats | @naturallyella
Stuffed Hatch Chiles with Cilantro-Lime Yogurt  | http://naturallyella.com

Tuesday

B:Mixed Berry Overnight Oats

L:Stuffed Hatch Chiles with Cilantro Lime Yogurt

D: Zucchini and Summer Squash Galette

See the full week.

The post A Week in Meals | August appeared first on Naturally Ella.

Naturally Ella

Black & Decker CTO6335S Stainless Steel Countertop Convection Oven, Silver Review

Black & Decker CTO6335S Stainless Steel Countertop Convection Oven, Silver

  • Product note: the logo design of this item may vary depending on when the product was manufactured
  • Extra-large digital display
  • Preset one-touch functions
  • Fits a 12-inch pizza or large casserole
  • 120-Minute Timer, Removable crumb tray
Convection cooking in a stainless steel design with an extra-large digital display combines exceptional performance and style. The one-touch preset functions are convenient and easy-to-use. Oven is large enough to fit a 12-inch pizza or casserole dish. With a convection cooking feature, this handy oven circulates hot air when baking for faster and more even results. Convection bake, broil, toast or keep your foods warm, plus the 120-minute timer automatically shuts oven off as signal bell lets y

List Price: $ 89.99 Price: $ 63.99

Black and Decker TO1303SB 4-Slice Toaster Oven, New, Free Shipping

$33.51
End Date: Saturday Aug-22-2015 23:04:21 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $33.51
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Hamilton Beach Countertop Oven with Convection Model 31121A Free Shipping NEW
$63.99
End Date: Thursday Aug-20-2015 22:18:42 PDT
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How to Make Exercise Part of Your Lifestyle

How to Make Working Out Part of Your Lifestyle | A Couple Cooks

We are thrilled to bring you a new post in our Healthy + Whole series on a topic we haven’t covered much in this space: exercise.  Along with diet, fitness is a significant part of a healthy lifestyle. While we tend to focus on balanced, healthy eating in our regular content, we’ve found a balanced approach is an essential part of the conversation that should be highlighted as well. To do so, we bring you Ashley McLaughlin of the blog Edible Perspective: a knock-out food photographer, recipe developer, fitness guru, and most importantly, a dear friend of ours. We couldn’t agree more with Ashley’s balanced approach to integrating working out into everyday life. Let us know your thoughts in the comments, and make sure to check out Ashley’s blog for her stunning recipes and photos!

All photos by Ashley McLaughlin Photography

 

Hello, hello!

It’s such an honor to be guest posting on A Couple Cooks today. Sonja + Alex are two of my favorite people ever, and I absolutely adore this blog. I was lucky enough to meet them a few months back and just didn’t get enough during their short visit. So since we can’t hang out all of the time, I do things like bug them on Google messenger and take over their blog, instead.

My favorite part about Sonja + Alex’s blog is how they seamlessly integrate such diversity into their post topics. It’s not just about the food, but an overall approach to a living a healthy and happy life. So today I’ll be talking about working out and staying active and how I make that part of my everyday lifestyle.

I’ve always been a pretty active person. I think it started from playing sports growing up and throughout high school. Our high school workouts were pretty intense, and this is when I learned how to lift weights, gain speed, jump higher, build strength, etc. I’ve always felt like those were important tools to learn at that age and they’ve stuck with me throughout the years. They gave me a good foundation to build from and made me realize how good it feels to be active, consistently.

How to Make Working Out Part of Your Lifestyle | A Couple Cooks

Since high school, my workouts have varied greatly. In undergrad (OH-IO!), I was a gym rat. The gym was free, it was close to home, and it was easy an easy option. For four years I lifted, rode the bike or elliptical machine, and also speed walked around campus trying to make it to class on time. I didn’t really have the time or energy to get creative with my workouts, as most of my time was spent in the architecture building.

Then, for most of grad school I actually didn’t work out. I would go through little phases of running or lifting but wasn’t consistent at all. There just wasn’t enough time! In my last semester of grad school, though, I was introduced to a hot vinyasa yoga class and fell in love. This happened at the same time when my husband Chris and I were starting to be more mindful of our eating habits. We were fairly healthy before then, but decided to start making small changes after becoming more educated on our food system, organics, sustainability, animal welfare, etc. A few of the first steps we took were cutting down on our processed food intake, making more meals from scratch, lowering our meat consumption, and eating more vegetables. We started small and made improvements that made sense to us.

This is the time when I really started to create balance and diversity in my workouts. I wasn’t as focused on how many calories I was burning, but more on how good my mind + body felt when I left each yoga class. I felt strong, mentally and physically. It was a major turning point in my way of thinking about working out. I wasn’t working out to burn off the previous night’s dessert, but to clear my head and gain strength.

How to Make Working Out Part of Your Lifestyle | A Couple Cooks

So for the past 6 years I’ve maintained a very active lifestyle and it’s felt extremely natural. It’s part of my daily routine and is something I don’t give much thought to. It just happens. Staying active keeps me sane, especially since I work at home by myself. There isn’t any one routine or strategy I follow for my workouts. I don’t count calories I eat or calories I burn. I like to switch things up and make sure I’m enjoying whatever I’m doing. Because if I’m not enjoying it, why am I doing it?

Whether it’s walking the dogs each day, cruising around town on my bike during the summer months, hopping on my road bike for a long ride, snowboarding during the winter, or hiking in the mountains with friends, I love any and all time spent being active outside. It lets me soak up some vitamin D. It lets me clear my head. It lets me breathe fresh air. It makes me calm.

How to Make Working Out Part of Your Lifestyle | A Couple Cooks

I also like to incorporate more formal workouts into my routine a few times each week. This could be anything from riding our stationary bike at home and doing a few sets of pushups, to getting to the gym for a strength training sesh or swim at the pool. I’ve also recently become obsessed with The Dailey Method barre classes. It clears my head and centers me like no other workout I’ve ever done, plus, it’s incredibly challenging physically. (You can typically save a lot of money on barre/yoga/etc. classes by volunteering to work the front desk!)

Over the years I’ve learned not to stress about missing a workout, or even two or three. If I only have time to walk the dogs, hop on the bike for 15 minutes, or do 3 sets of pushups, that’s okay. It equals out with the days of more intense workouts. My focus is on an overall picture of good health. It includes my physical health and mental health. It includes what I’m putting into my body and how I’m staying active. It includes rest and downtime. It includes ice cream + chocolate. It’s about balance and showing myself kindness.

This is my way of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

How to Make Working Out Part of Your Lifestyle | A Couple Cooks

How to Make Working Out Part of Your Lifestyle | A Couple Cooks

 

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Deluxe Butternut Macaroni ‘n’ Tease

macncheese5

I’m over winter, but winter definitely isn’t over. Although I really can’t complain about the balmy temps here in Denmark, it’s dark and damp and I would probably pay a lot of money to see the sun right about now. And my heart does go out to all my family and friends freezing their tooshies off stateside. Yikes! I’m here to help. Or at least, this recipe is here to help.

Like most kids, I ate a lot of macaroni and cheese growing up, the kind that came in a blue box with the magical, neon orange flavour powder. Sometimes my mom would toss in a few slices of bell peppers and cocktail wieners and my brother and I felt like kings. Kings! Those were the days. In fear of falling short of that level of awesomeness, I haven’t actually attempted to make mac ‘n’ cheese on my own past the days of high school. Until recently this winter, a gnawing hunger for warmth, comfort and nostalgia took hold and just wouldn’t let go. If you’re anything like me (a human) you’ll love tucking into this tasty meal every week until spring hits.

So, what makes this mac ‘n’ tease a tease? It’s vegan! Not one speck of cheese or milk or butter or cream in sight. Nope. Instead the delectable sauce is a winning combination of roasted butternut squash and garlic, creamy butter beans, and cheesy nutritional yeast. Although not exactly like the cheese sauce of yore, it is still completely smooth and creamy, rich, unctuous, and deeply satisfying when combined with fat noodles and the most amazing non-breadcrumb-topping made out of sunflower seeds. That’s right.

Deluxe Butternut Mac 'n' Cheese // My New Roots

Nutritional Yeast: A Cheesy Tease
Although the name is slightly unappealing, nutritional yeast is a delicious and versatile seasoning to have in your pantry. Made from a single-celled organism called, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, the yeast is grown on cane or beet molasses, fermented, then deactivated with heat to stop the growing process. The yeast is sold both as flakes and powder (use half the amount of powder if a recipe calls for flakes). The natural colour of nutritional yeast is vibrantly golden. The flavour is often described as cheesy, which makes it a perfect substitute for dairy products in dressing and sauces. I sprinkle nutritional yeast on popcorn, salads, sandwiches, soups, blend a little into hummus and other savory dips. Because of its high nutritional content, many people treat nutritional yeast as a food supplement.

First and foremost, nutritional yeast is an excellent source of B-vitamins, and in many cases B-12 (though not all brands, read the label to make sure). Our bodies need B-vitamins to convert food into energy, keep stress at bay, alleviate insomnia, nervousness, fatigue, PMS, and mood swings (so, kind of important). Nutritional yeast also contains high amounts of protein with 4 grams per tablespoon, and contains 18 amino acids. It is a good source of dietary fiber, folic acid, selenium, and zinc. It is gluten-free and vegan.

In North America nutritional yeast is available at natural grocers and bulk food stores. In the UK, it is sold under the brand name Engevita; in Australia, it is called savory yeast flakes; in Scandinavia it is sold as yeast flakes or B-yeast / B-gær (due to the high B-vitamin content). Among cool kids, nutritional yeast is referred to simply as nooch. Drop that bomb at your next vegan potluck for major street cred. It should also be noted that nutritional yeast is not the same as brewer’s yeast, dry active yeast or baking yeast. Do not use these as a substitute for nutritional yeast in any recipe. It will be gross.

If you suffer from Candida or suspect that you have yeast issues, not to worry. Nutritional yeast is totally safe and will not infect you or exacerbate yeast conditions. It should be avoided however by those that are allergic to yeast and yeast products, like bread products, grapes and beer.

Deluxe Butternut Mac 'n' Cheese // My New Roots

The shape of pasta you use for this really matters. I chose a large, deeply ridged, tubular pasta that said “macaroni” on the package, but it’s much closer to rigatoni if you ask me. Rigatoni, penne, classic macaroni, ziti, or even conchiglie (shells) would work here, as the ultimate goal is to get as much sauce in and around each noodle as humanly possible. In fact, I guarantee when you make the sauce you’ll be questioning my recipe amounts – there is a lot of it, people. But once you pour it over the cooked pasta and start stirring, it magically disappears into the nooks and crannies only reappear later in your mouth, like a rich and savoury flavour explosion from heaven. Tubes work best for obvious reasons, but I’ll let you decide how you want your sauce delivered. And I hope that it goes without saying that you should make an effort to find the most high-vibe pasta you can. There are so many on the market these days, even at regular grocery stores, so no excuses! No white pasta!

Deluxe Butternut Mac 'n' Cheese // My New Roots

And yes, there is topping. In keeping with the gluten-free theme I went with a Sunflower Crumble Topping that I am quite chuffed about. It’s savoury, crunchy, and totally takes this meal to the next level – better than breadcrumbs I tell ya! And it’s delicious not only on mac ‘n’ cheese, but garnishing avocado toast, grain salads, and roast veggies. You may have a little extra of the topping, but my casserole dish is relatively deep and narrow compared to most, and I wanted to make sure you had plenty to cover the top of yours. If you want to save time and skip steps, the pasta and sauce alone is super delish all on its own. But. The topping.

After cooking up this meal, I looked around the kitchen at the dish carnage and shrugged my shoulders. You know why? So worth it. Yes, you will use pretty much every cooking element and piece of equipment you own, but make it a Sunday project, invite some buds over and have them clean up. You did cook them a totally awesome meal after all, it’s the least they can do. 

Deluxe Butternut Mac 'n' Cheese // My New Roots


My New Roots

Aroma 20-Cup (Cooked) Digital Rice Cooker and Food Steamer, Stainless Steel Review

Aroma 20-Cup (Cooked) Digital Rice Cooker and Food Steamer, Stainless Steel

  • Number 1 Rice Cooker Brand in the US
  • Perfectly prepares 4 to 20 cups of cooked rice and automatically keeps it warm for hours
  • Easy-to-use digital controls for white rice, brown rice, programmable steam and keep-warm
  • 15-hour delay timer is perfect for flexible meal planning
  • Nonstick inner cooking pot removes for quick cleanup in the dishwasher
The Aroma 10-cup (uncooked) 20-cup (cooked) digital rice cooker food steamer is truly a meal making powerhouse. Not only does it make perfect rice and steam delicious meats and vegetables, but it also features a programmable slow cook function. Set it to slow cook up to 10 hours for an amazingly tender roast. Surprise the family with a delicious jambalaya that takes just minute to prepare. Steam chicken and broccoli while cooking brown rice for an easy, healthy meal in one pot. The meal making o

Price: $ 34.90

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How To Pack Food For A Weekend Away In An Hour! (Plant-Based)

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We’re off to a wedding, a birthday party, my in-laws, and then to visit my grammy (Adriana gets to meet her Great-Grammy!) over the long weekend. This means we’re going to clock a ton of hours on the road, so I am coming prepared! Even though a lot of our meals will be made for us (such as dinner Saturday and Sunday night), I like to fill in the blanks by packing some light meals and healthy snack options to have on hand.

After I made the recipes Eric said, “Whoa, that didn’t take you long at all!” – and he was right, it took me just over 1 hour to prepare 4 recipes. Granted, I was going turbo mode, but still. I purposely selected quick and easy recipes (many are from the 2-day meal plan) which I also tend to have most of the ingredients for in my fridge and pantry. And if I don’t have all the ingredients I just improvise! So when Eric commented on how quickly the packed foods came together it struck me that this would be fun to share on the blog. I hope you’ll enjoy this glimpse into what I’m packing for a weekend away. (Keep in mind this isn’t intended to cover all of your meals – just to supplement when necessary. Feel free to tweak it as you see fit.)

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What I made (click the links to the brought to the recipe!):

  1. Chickpea Salad with butter lettuce “wraps”
  2. Gazpacho (amazing for summer – no cook and super refreshing)
  3. Energy bites – I’m still perfecting the recipe in the photo above so rather than sharing it before it’s ready, I recommend you try these amazing Dark Chocolate Cherry Energy Bites! <—a fav!
  4. Vegan Overnight Oats (note: I doubled this recipe, plus added 2 extra tbsp chia seeds, and 2 small chopped bananas for more volume. If the mixture gets too thick, you can thin it with a bit of almond or coconut milk)

Not shown: I’m also packing a few of my Coconut-Cardamom Overnight Oat Parfaits for the car! If I had more time I would’ve also made a batch of my Lightened Up Summer Granola.

What else I packed:

Hummus, portable fruit, homemade maple cinnamon almond butter (or store-bought), my favourite crackers, food for Adriana. Eric says he’s bringing the Vitamix to make green monsters at his parent’s house. Who is this guy? I don’t know how we’re going to fit everything in the car…especially with a stroller, baby stuff, and my shoes for every terrain (rustic, outdoor wedding!). Should be interesting…

Tips:

– These are my go-to glass storage containers. Mason jars also work lovely!

– Pack several ice packs to ensure the food stays cool and fresh. You don’t want to arrive at your destination with room temperature food.

– Pack the energy bites on top so they don’t get squished.

– You can improvise with these recipes a lot. I make all kinds of versions of Gazpacho, the energy bites, and the chickpea salad. For this chickpea salad I didn’t have any celery so I just used a whole red bell pepper (diced) instead. It’s pretty forgiving so don’t worry!

– Pack the gazpacho in a thermos if you want to save room in the cooler. Otherwise a large 2-quart mason jar will hold the batch.

energybites

Ok, now I’m turning it over to you. Which foods do you like to pack for trips? Share your favs below!

Well guys…I seriously cannot believe it’s August 1st. *still in a 2015 time warp* I hope you are enjoying the dog days of summer. Soak it up and have a fun + safe weekend!!

Oh She Glows

Grilled Vegetables with Quinoa + Tomato Sauce

Grilled Vegetables with Quinoa + Tomato Butter Sauce | A Couple CooksGrilled Vegetables with Quinoa + Tomato Butter Sauce | A Couple CooksGrilled Vegetables with Quinoa + Tomato Butter Sauce | A Couple Cooks

In our home, summertime = grill time. It’s one of Alex’s favorite pastimes to fire up our charcoal grill, and one of mine to eat whatever comes off of it. But since grilled food is heavy on the meat and we’re “mainly” vegetarian eaters, how does that work? Is a vegetarian grilled meal a veggie burger or tofu dog?

Vegetarian or plant-based grill recipes can actually be quite creative, we’ve found. A heaping mound of grilled vegetables is one of the best taste treats in the world, each veggie with its own unique charred, smoky flavor. Add some sides with a bit of protein, and you’ve got a fantastic summery patio meal.

After we made this meal on a weeknight and shared a photo of it on Instagram a few weeks ago, several of you asked for the recipe. Your wish is our command! Alex makes this meal frequently in the summer, so I followed him around to document his method.

A few notes on the recipe:

  • If you make all the components in this recipe, you’ll dirty a fair amount of pots and bowls. If you have a charcoal grill, the recipe takes about 1 hour to make, so make sure to try it on a night where you have sufficient time and energy for cooking and cleanup. We like to make a double or triple batch and have leftovers throughout the week.
  • Alex can make this recipe by himself quite easily, but I’d need another person’s help to pull this one off. If you’re not a seasoned home cook, you may want to try this with another helper, or make sure to leave yourself sufficient time for the recipe.
  • You can use any vegetables you’d like or have on hand; we’ve listed the veggies we used below. Some favorites we did list were button mushrooms and green onions, which are also great options.
  • This recipe uses our version of Marcella Hazan‘s famous tomato butter sauce. To make it vegan, substitute olive oil for the butter (but definitely try the butter if your diet allows!).

If you don’t yet, follow us on Instagram! We love hearing your feedback on what recipes you want to see.

More Vegetarian Grill Recipes

Mains

Sides

Grilled Vegetables with Quinoa + Tomato Butter Sauce
 
by:
Serves: 4

What You Need
  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 3 cups water
  • 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (San Marzano, if possible)
  • 1 yellow onion
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 8 pounds whole vegetables (we used 1 head cauliflower, ½ head broccoli, 1 yellow pepper, 1 green pepper, 2 small zucchini, 2 medium sweet potatoes, 8 small red and purple potatoes, and 1 yellow onion)
  • 3 tablespoons peanut or grapeseed oil
  • 1 pinch cayenne
  • 15-ounce can cannellini or white beans (optional but recommended)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper

What To Do
  1. Preheat a grill to medium high heat (if you’re using a gas grill, you can preheat a bit later). Start a large pot of water to boil.
  2. Start the tomato sauce: Peel and half the onion. In a small sauce pan, add tomatoes, onion, 5 tablespoons butter, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally, while preparing the remainder of the recipe. When the sauce is done, remove the onion.
  3. Start the quinoa and cook it while preparing the remainder of the recipe. When it is done, fluff it with a fork, then cover and leave warm in the pan until serving.
  4. Meanwhile, chop vegetables into large strips or chunks, keeping them fairly large for easy grilling.
  5. When the large pot of water is ready, parboil the crunchier vegetables, such as potatoes, broccoli, and cauliflower, until they are softened. We grilled regular potatoes for 12 minutes, sweet potatoes for 8 minutes, and cauliflower and broccoli for 5 minutes in the same pot (simply drop the longest cooking vegetable in and stagger the start times accordingly).
  6. When the vegetables are boiled, place them together with the fresh vegetables in a large bowl. Add up to 3 tablespoons peanut or grapeseed oil, up to 1 tablespoon kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, and 1 pinch cayenne; stir to combine. The veggies should be coated but not soaking in oil and lightly covered in salt.
  7. Drain 1 can of cannellini or white beans. Place the beans on a square of aluminum foil, then add 1 tablespoon olive oil, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon dried basil. Fold over the foil and seal the packet on all sides.
  8. Add the vegetables and packet to the grill; cook until veggies slightly charred and tender, about 8 minutes per side. The bean packet can be removed when warmed.

 

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