What's cookin', good lookin'?
The first week of 2019 (and my first week with Creative Kitchen), I intended to cross off one prompt: "A dish that brings you comfort." That one prompt quickly turned into three as I was feeling inspired and, well, eating the food I made. So I've split these three prompts into three separate posts with a recipe in each so you're not reading a novel.
As you saw, I made Chickpea Green Chile stew (delish!) from Thug Kitchen 101 for the "dish that brings you comfort." It brought comfort alright, and a lot of heat. I used green chiles from my partner's farm up in Northern New Mexico that had been hangin' out in my freezer for a while, and man they hit the tastebuds with fire!
That stew lasted me the week for most dinner meals, but I really wanted to wake up to something delicious and homemade, as well.
You see, I love breakfast. Like love love. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day because mornings are my favorite part of the day. Especially early mornings. I like to get up around 6 am while it's still dark out and the world is hushed. This time of day is so solidly silent which brings me a sense of calm and creativity before to-do's get doin'.
In this time of silence, I make a cup of coffee, make some breakfast - typically eggs from my partner's farm* or oatmeal, and then sit down to free-write in my journal for at least one page. Essentially a brain dump without a filter. At each equinox or solstice, I read back through every morning of entries from the previous season and underline every sentiment that is a "chorus" (what I keep writing and saying about what I want to pursue in my life, what I enjoy, what I want to cut out of my schedule, what I wish for, etc.). This is a practice from the incredible book, The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron which, "artist" or not, is a wonderful resource to move through your creative blocks and gain confidence in your self-expression).
*[A note about these eggs: Y'all, yes I'm plant-based most of the time, but I believe in listening to your body and allowing for fluidity based on your personal needs and beliefs. These chickens have SO much land to roam around on, get only the highest quality organic feed, and you know what else? They have a radio tuned to the classical music station playing all the time in their coop. So yes, I eat these eggs].
I was looking for a change from the routine of eggs or oats and decided to make Vanilla Coconut Granola from Angela Liddon's Oh She Glows Everyday, another cookbook I received for Christmas (my family knows me quite well).
What's funny is I now have two cookbooks that are on totally opposite ends of the plant-based spectrum. On one end is Thug Kitchen 101: Fast as F**k. This cookbook is all about making cooking approachable, quick, easy, and healthy! It's not about it being gorgeous or perfect (in fact on one of their recipes for coconut pralines, they write, "they taste a lot better than they look" on top of the dish's photograph. They cuss almost every other word and descriptions of their meals are laugh-out-loud funny ("You know lentil soup is good for you, but most of it tastes like sweaty sock water" describes the "Not Terrible Lentil Soup" recipe). They also throw in a lot of rad facts about the fast food industry and how corporations have come to control a lot of the food on our plate. They advocate that it's about time to get back to cookin' at home and get. on. team. you.
Oh She Glows Every Day, on the other hand, is beautiful, sparkling, pristine. And I love it just as much as I love Thug Kitchen 101. Angela Liddon's book shows off the gorgeous patterns and colors of natural foods with stunning meals and photography by Ashley McLaughlin. Liddon's focuses on plant-baed recipes that are made from whole food ingredients (basically no processed stuff). Sometimes this means ingredients I've never heard of or never used. It's fun to learn about the wide variety of foods that exist.
I started cooking from Liddon's original cookbook, The Oh She Glows Cookbook, mid-summer when I checked out from the library (and then renewed it three times). It really opened my eyes to how I can cut out more processed ingredients from my meals which gave me more energy and made me feel better in my body. She also includes many recipes that are gluten-free and soy-free which is a great resource if you're cooking for multiple eating needs in your family.
To break-in Oh She Glows Every Day, I made the "Vanilla Super-Seed Granola with Coconut Chips" mostly because I had all of these random bags of seeds and nuts in small amounts hanging out in my pantry and I wanted to use them up.
This granola uses a variety of seeds and nuts (and you can interchange most freely), so I got after it. I didn't have any large-flake coconut, but I did have a ton of shredded coconut so I used that instead (even though the recipe says not too because it won't provide the same crunch. The shredded created a chewy texture which I really enjoy). I also used slivered almonds that I had leftover from an old recipe instead of hemp hearts (without the almonds it would have been nut-free). I did not use 2 vanilla beans or vanilla bean powder because I didn't have them on hand (I'm all for experimenting with what you've got instead of buying all new for every recipe).
The granola is delicious with these interchanged ingredients! It's crispy, flavorful, and has a chewy-ness (that's a good thing) thanks to the coconut shreds. I enjoy it in a ceramic cereal bowl I made years ago specifically for oatmeal and cereals with oat milk, peanut butter drizzle, and sliced bananas. But mix and match toppings as you wish!
Here's the recipe! Make some of your own swaps if you feel so inclined and let me know how it goes!
Vanilla Super-Seed Granola with Coconut Chips
from Oh She Glows Everyday
Vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, kid-friendly, freezer-friendly
Makes 6.5 cups (about 20 1/3 cup servings)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 23-28 minutes
2.5 cups unsweetened large-flake coconut (I used coconut shreds because it's what I had on hand)
2 cups gluten-free rolled oats (I used regular rolled oats: on hand)
3/4 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/2 cup hemp hearts (I used slivered almonds: on hand)
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds or more pepitas (I used sunflower: had 'em)
2 tablespoons coconut sugar or granulated sugar of choice (I used Sucanat, an unrefined cane sugar that I learned about in the original Oh She Glows. It is a shortened word for "Sugar Cane Natural")
1 and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons homemade sunflower seed butter or store bought (I used peanut butter instead: had on hand)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 vanilla beans, halved lengthwise and seeds scraped, or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean powder (did not use)
1) Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line an extra-large rimmed baking sheet (15 x 21 inches) with parchment paper.
2) In a large bowl, combine the flaked coconut, oats, pepitas, hemp hearts, sunflower seeds, sugar, cinnamon, and salt.
3) In a small saucepan, melt the coconut oil, then remove from the heat. Whisk in the maple syrup, sunflower seed butter, and vanilla until combined. Stir in the vanilla bean seeds (or powder) and set aside the vanilla bean pods, if using.
4) Pour the wet mixture on top of the dry mixture and stir until the dry mixture is fully coated.
5) Spoon the granola mixture onto the prepared baking sheet (along with the reserved vanilla bean pods). Spread the granola into an even layer.
6) Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and stir. Bake for 8 to 13 minutes more, until the granola is just starting to turn a bit golden along the edges. The granola will be soft when it comes out of the oven, but will harden as it cools. Let cool completely on the baking sheet, about 1 hour or so, then transfer to glass jars for storing. If you use vanilla beans, feel free to place the pods in the glass jar too for even more vanilla aroma.
7) The granola will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 weeks, or you can freeze it for a couple of months. My preferred storage method is freezing cooled granola in zip-top freezer bags for easy grab-and-go portions. Be sure to press out all the air before sealing.
Check in next Monday for "A dish that takes an hour to make."
Make it a great week!