Spicy Cinnamon Brownies (no bake)

A quick healthy fudge like brownie alternative that is no bake, super dense, a little sweet with a surprising spicy kick at the end! 

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With the holidays right around the corner, we are all looking for some recipes to make; whether they are healthy, indulgent, simple, dessert ones, main dishes or whatever they are; we always need something and usually last minute! That is how it goes for me at least and when that is the case, it then needs to be easy to make, only require a few ingredients, and obviously taste good! I feel that I am always "stuck" making the dessert recipes with my family because they probably know they are going to have some type of healthy spin on them yet still taste like the real deal...so I decided to make these super fudge-y / dense brownies that are a little sweet with a major spicy kick at the end....and you don't have to bake them! Which is ideal when there are what feels like 100 things going on in the kitchen during the holidays! 

...of course I added in some collagen in the recipe and I used Vital Proteins Marine Collagen. I use this every single day whether it is in my smoothies, energy bites, soups, coffees, salad dressings or waters. Just about anything you can think of, you can sneak this in there! I think if you search "collagen" on my blog over 7 or so recipes will pop up using this! Like this, Golden Mylk smoothie, or this sweet potato salad, and even this dark chocolate avocado pudding!  I use it to strengthen my digestive system, my nails, hair and feel that it was truly helped in repairing / improving my leaky gut and my severe digestive issues! The great thing, is that it is tasteless, so it will not change a thing in the recipe or in any recipe that you use it in! 

Back to these brownies. They are so chocolatey. Sweet. Fudge-y and perfect for the holidays or just when you need something! They almost remind me of a Mexican Hot Chocolate, but in a raw brownie form! They are easy too. You need any type of nuts as the base; I prefer almonds/walnuts, cacao powder, cinnamon, almond butter, dates, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, cacao nibs and the collagen! I am sure that you have most of these ingredients on hand! Then you blend it all up, roll it out and done! Raw brownies, done in less than 10 minutes. 

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Dessert
Yields:
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes (unless you place in the freezer for 30 minutes or so to harder before cutting)

What you need:

1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 creamy almond butter
2 scoops collagen (optional, but added benefits!)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
pinch of sea salt
pinch of nutmeg
1/3 cup cacao powder (or sub chocolate protein powder!)
3 dates, chopped & pitted
1 tbsp vanilla
small handful of cacao nibs, for topping

What you need to do: 

1. In your food processor blend together the walnuts and the almonds until finely ground. I left mine a little chunky. 

2. Add in the dry ingredients (cacao powder, sea salt, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, collagen, nutmeg). Give it a quick pulse

3. Add in the dates, vanilla, and the almond butter and blend together until fully combined and a dough is formed. 

4. In a square pan (brownie pan or a bread baking loaf) that is lined with parchment paper, add the mix and press firmly until the dough is even. Sprinkle with cacao nibs or toppings of choice. 

5. Cut into squares OR place in freezer to harder for a few minutes to make it slightly easier. 

Store in an air tight container in freezer for longer or in fridge for up to 2 weeks. 

NOTES:

The collagen is optional, but you will get added benefits from using it! 

Adjust the measurement of cayenne pepper to your liking! You won't taste it right away, but it will be more of an after taste, so start small! 

You can sub almond butter or sunflower seed butter or completely leave this out all together and use about 1 cup of dates to hold everything together. 

To make them completely nut free, sub the nuts with seeds! 

Maple Cranberry Brussels Sprout Spinach Stuffed Acorn Rings

A sweet & savory side dish perfect for the holidays!

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With the holidays coming around the corner there is always such a frenzy as to what you are going to eat, bring to a party or simply what the actual plan is. Usually, it always seems to sneak up last minute and you need something somewhat quick, simple, looks, and tastes delicious that can feed enough people too! This is why I love these acorn stuff rings; I filled them with brussels sprouts, spinach, pistachios, cranberries, and Sir Kensington's Spicy Brown Mustard with just a few other seasonings and they came out perfect! They were a combination of sweet and savory and pretty simple to make. I tend to make these a lot around the holidays because for leftovers, I eat them for breakfast with a fried egg or for whomever is staying with us that week. 

To make this recipe even simpler I used the spicy brown mustard as my main sauce instead of making my own! I love the Sir Kensington's Spicy Brown Mustard because of the ingredients; it only has mustard seeds, Vermont maple syrup, sea salt, and a little bit of cane sugar, yet only contains 1 gram of sugar per serving! So it isn't over powerfully sweet! I also love their dijon mustard and made these amazing salmon burgers with it, see the recipe here. You can find most of their products at Whole Foods, they are all NON-GMO and made with such clean ingredients. I have a few other recipes with their products on my blog too, just give it a search (a creamy cold pasta salad, or tuna tacos with a mustard vinaigrette!)

The great thing about these acorn stuffed rings is you can really fill them with anything, serve them as a side or make them a little more hearty by adding in quinoa, lentils, or even ground turkey. The only thing that I suggest doing is before baking the acorn squash rings is brushing them with a little olive oil and a touch of maple syrup with just caramelize them adding to their sweetness and of course add in the spicy brown mustard to your stuffing mix to give them an even tangy savory sweet taste! 

They make a really pretty presentation and are so good! You'll love them! 

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What you need:
Yields 6-8 acorn squash rings
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes  
Total time: 50 minutes

2 medium size acorn squash
1/4 heaping cup of Sir Kensington's Spicy Brown Mustard
1/4 cup pistachios (or any nut/seed of choice)
1/4 cup cranberries
2 cups spinach
1.5 quarts brussels sprouts
sea salt to taste
pepper to taste
2 tbsp. maple syrup (optional) 
10 sprigs of thyme

What you need to do:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees and line a backing sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. 

2. Carefully cut the acorn squash into rings. I tried to cut them as evenly as possible, but it might be difficult and found that at the end it didn't matter, they still all cooked evenly through. 

3. Place the acorn rings on the baking sheet with a little bit of olive oil and cook for 15 minutes on one side. Flip, then continue cooking for about 10 minutes. Check, if they need more time, continue to cook until golden brown in color and soft. It will most likely be a total of 30 minutes. 

4. While the acorn rings are cooking: Prepare the stuffing. In your cast iron pan or large skillet; on medium heat; add the chopped brussels sprouts with about 2 tbsp of olive oil. Cook until tender and they start to brown. After about 10 minutes, add the spicy brown mustard, sea salt, pepper, and any other spices of choice. Mix and continue to cook for another 5-8 minutes. 

5. In the same pan, add the nuts/seeds, cranberries, and the spinach. Cook until the spinach becomes soft; just a few minutes. 

Now, the acorn squash rings should be done. Take them out and begin to stuff them with the mixing above. Each ring will fit about 2 heaping spoonfuls. I then placed mine back in the oven for about 5 minutes, but that isn't necessary. 

6. Drizzle with maple syrup and fresh thyme leaves. 

Serve immediately. To re-heat simply put back in the oven under broiler for a few minutes or at 400 degrees until warm (10 minutes)

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Tahini Almond Butter Beet Bars

Honestly, with the amount of beets that I consume each week it is kind of hard to imagine that I used to despise them, BUT I don't think I gave them a fair chance, cooked them correctly, nor truly looked into how amazing they are for your body, especially if you are an athlete or just work out a fair amount! Once I started dipping them into cashew cheese (trust me), adding them into tacos, or making these crispy roasted beet chips a few times a week or even these mint chocolate coconut beet bites, I've been addicted. Over this past summer I ate my weight in beets because they were so abundant at the farmers market, so I decided to make another recipe to share with you all using beets, but this time, I am using beet powder, from Love Beets! This is actually, the same beet powder that I used to make the mint chocolate coconut beet bites

I wanted to make a snack recipe for many reasons; snacks are a huge part of my meal prepping each week because I always need something healthy/substantial or on the go while I am in between yoga classes, taking workout classes myself or something to hold me over until my next meal. Also, Fall can be a transition month for many of us, we might be traveling more, the holiday stress, starting school, working more, or simply adjusting to a new workout routine as we head into the colder months and in that case you might need to adapt your eating schedule to fit those needs; i.e be prepared with more nutritious and filling snacks! 

So, what is so great about beets?! 

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For starters, this powder from Love Beets is made from 100% beets and has zero grams of added sugar! Just 1 tablespoon is equal to 3 beets! I actually love adding this powder into my chocolate smoothies, sprinkling it on top of salad, or even adding it into my pesto; the taste isn’t over powering and it is so versatile! Love Beets has a section on their website with all the benefits of beets that you can check out here, but one of the things that I love about beets is that they can help increase exercise and stamina performance! So, they can help with improving blood and oxygen flow to your tired, overworked, or just sore muscles; this is because they are rich in nitrates! This is exactly what you want when you are working out - relax blood vessels and let blood flow more freely to your working muscles! Therefore, you can exercise longer or simply more efficiently!! They also are high in iron which is great for anyone who might suffer from fatigue; i.e. anyone that might be hitting the gym hard, training for a long race, teaching many fitness classes, or just walks all over the city for their workout! This powder makes it so easy to add it into your everyday routine; few scoops into your smoothies, energy bites, or these bars and your good to go! 


These bars are also loaded with almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts (great for fiber, magnesium, selenium, healthy fats), tahini, almond butter chia seeds, oats, and of course Love Beets that adds just a touch of sweetness to the bars. I didn't add any sweetener to the bar because as you know I don't have the biggest sweet tooth, but feel free to add (see directions below!) These have been great before a workout without weighing me down, especially before yoga when you need juuuust a little something before class yet not too much or you've just made the worst decision OR it makes a perfect little snack after to hold you over on your ride home until you can make yourself breakfast or lunch! They are salty, a little sweet, crunchy, and each bite is filled with nuts, coconut and cocoa nibs! They are perfect, to me!  

Snacks:
Yields:
Prep time: 10 minutes
Freezer time: 1-2 hours to settle, or overnight! 

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What you need:

3/4 cup gluten free oats
4 tbsp. chia seeds
1 1/4 cup shredded coconut flakes, unsweetened
1 1/2 cups of almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts*
1/4 cup cacao nibs
1 1/2 tbsp. Love Beets Powder
1 tbsp. cinnamon
few pinches of sea salt
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup tahini
1/2 cup almond butter (crunchy or creamy works, less oily the better) 
3 tbsp. sweetener of choice IF needed; maple syrup, honey etc. (see notes) 
Dark chocolate for topping. 

What you need to do:

1. In your food processor blend together the shredded coconut for 10 minutes. Almost as if you were going to make coconut butter! While that is blending...

2. In a large mixing bowl add: the oats, chia seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg, cacao nibs, sea salt, Love Beets powder. Mix. 

3. Add the coconut to the large mixing bowl and give it a good mix. 

4. To the same mixing bowl, add the tahini, almond butter, and sweetener of choice if using. Mix until well combined. *At this point I actually found it easier to add everything back into the food processor, including the nuts, to combine with a few pulses. If you do this, do not over pulse or mix as it will become too liquid-y. 

5. In a lined 8x8 pan with parchment paper (paper overflowing the sides) add the mix! Press down firmly and let it set in the freezer for 1 hour or so, or over night! 

6. Melt your favorite chocolate, I used 100% dark chocolate and drizzle over before cutting into squares. You can also melt the chocolate and drizzle it before you place the mix into the freezer. I did it after. 

NOTES:

1. I kept mine in the freezer even after cutting as I found that it kept the shape better. If you are taking these to work, school, or traveling they will be fine! They will be on the softer side and will start to melt a bit, but not fall apart. If you are worried about this, and can't keep them on the colder side for longer, I would add 4-5 dates in the blender with all of the ingredients and they will hold their shape and each bite will still be low in sugar, just do not use the liquid sweetener! 

2. Any nut butter will work! I would stick with something that isn't oily as the bars will melt faster. 

3. For the nut mixture, I just added in handfuls of each until it totaled 1.5 cups. You can also use any nuts you would like or seeds too! You can easily make these bars nut free, but using all seeds and sunflower seed butter! 

4. For the sweetener. I would stick with using dates to keep bind them together a bit more. If you are using a liquid sweetener, I would then adjust the nut butter and tahini ratio because they will be a bit too soft. I would suggest 1/2 cup almond butter, 1/4 cup tahini (or vice versa) then sweetener or choice. If you are using dates, keep the ratio the same as in directions. 

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Zucchini Pizza Boats

A healthy spin on your typical pizza base, made with just a fresh ingredients, but the options are endless to please everyone's taste!

You guys are going to love these zucchini pizza boats! I seriously could not wait to take a bite of them while they were cooking in the oven because it smelled exactly like a pizza was cooking in there with all the spices, fillings, and the sauce that I was using...which I will get to in a bit! They also can go on the grill too, which will give them a nice charred taste! If you are going to do that, I would suggest sautéing whatever you are filling the zucchini with first in a little bit of olive oil or coconut oil first on the stove, then filling the zucchini, and then grilling them on the grill, just to ensure that everything is evenly cooked.

Obviously by now you know that I am obsessed with zucchini especially in the summer because, one the vegetable is so fresh and abundant, two I am constantly making zoodles or zucchini chips on the grill since it is so easy and a huge time savor when I am in a rush, and three I love hiding them in things like my paleo chocolate zucchini bread...but this time, I needed to change it up! For some reason, I am always craving grilled pizzas in the summer, but sometimes I don't want to eat all of the bread that goes along with it, just because it's so hot out and I'll admit, that I am a little lazy when it comes to making my own pizza dough, even though the crispy crust is my favorite part! So, that is where the dilemma always comes into play. I wanted pizza but also something really light at the same time. So, that is how these zucchini pizza boats were created! Plus, they are ready in half the time, easier, filled with veggies, and you can create as many different ones as you want in each of the zucchini "boat."

All you have to do is cut the zucchini in half length wise, carefully scoop out the seeds in the middle to create a boat, add the sauce and then your fillers! I made a few different ones and I think my favorite was the tomato basil! I listed a few different combinations below, but feel free to get creative and come up with your own combinations. If you make any different ones, let me know in the comments!

Main Meals/Side Dishes
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes (less time if you do not cook the fillers!) 

Ingredients:

Serves 3-5*
*Depending, each person can have their own pizza boat, or multiple

Base:
4 large zucchini
1/2 cup of your favorite tomato sauce
Olive oil
Sea salt + pepper

Filler Ideas (the ones that are pictured above)

Margherita Pizza
tomato sauce, sliced cherry tomatoes, mozzarella (optional), basil leaves, sea salt, pepper, drizzle of olive oil.

Veggie Pizza:
tomato sauce, sliced tomatoes, mixed greens, red peppers, sea salt, pepper, oregano, sprinkle of nutritional yeast.

Onions & Peppers:
tomato sauce, sliced tomatoes, diced onions, diced red bell peppers, meat (such as sausage, optional)

Greek Style Pizza:
tomato sauce, sliced cherry tomatoes, olives, diced onions, feta cheese.


 

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. If you are planning to saute the onions, peppers, or any of the fillers, do this now. You can saute each separately in olive oil over medium heat until tender.

2. Wash, dry, and cut each zucchini in half long-ways. Next, carefully, with a spoon, scoop out the center, where the seeds are. Do not scoop the spoon too deep and break through the skin of the zucchini. You want to create a space to put your desired fillings in.

3. Place the zucchini on the lined baking sheet and lightly brush each zucchini half with olive oil (bottom and inside). 

4. Fill each zucchini with about 1-2 tbsp. of tomato sauce and your desired fillings.

5. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. The zucchini boat will be tender. Finish off with sea salt, black pepper, and fresh basil leaves.

Serve immediately. To re-heat, place in the oven at 350 for 5-10 minutes, until warm or under the broiler for a few minutes.

Cacao Oatmeal Bake w/ a Cashew Cream Spread (GF, DF)

A super simple oatmeal bake filled with collagen, anti-inflammatory agents and gut friendly ingredients that'll keep you satisfied all morning. It seriously tastes like brownies! 

Typically for breakfast I’ll either have a smoothie, a few energy bites, or pick at leftover veggies from the day before with tahini. I am usually not hungry when I first wake up and tend to wait till mid morning to eat, while sometimes that might not always be ideal, I then often need food that I can take on the go or make ahead of time that will last for a few days! Secondly, I always want to make sure that it is packed with gut and brain healthy/ friendly ingredients; such as fiber, protein, contain anti-inflammatory agents, antioxidants, boost my mood, healthy fats, and last but not least- collagen; an ingredient that seems to do it all these days! This way, even if I am taking something small with me on the go or having a light snack mid morning, I know that it is packed with benefits that will keep my body fueled and properly nourished until I work up an appetite!

SO, one thing that I love making ahead of time is either overnight oats or baked oatmeal. I honestly prefer baked oatmeal because it kind of feels like you are eating a cross between a cookie and a brownie; especially when it is warm out of the oven. The edges are super crispy and the middle is soft and can be gooey depending on how long you bake it for and what you put in the mix (chocolate chips, fresh fruits, nut butters etc!). I made this raw cacao collagen packed oatmeal with a few things in mind: first:

I wanted to use ingredients that are good for you; really good for you: I filled it with turmeric, ginger, maca powder, raw cacao, cinnamon, ground flaxseed and Vital Proteins Marine Collagen. We all know that the ones mentioned before the collagen can each separately help with inflammation, balancing hormones, boost your mood, help with digestion, contain omega 3’s, contain antioxidants, give you energy, balance your blood sugar levels, and so much more! So, what about the collagen?

I have a few recipes throughout my blog using the collagen and usually add the collagen into my daily smoothies, my baked goods (cookies, breads, desserts), chia puddings, and really just about anything you can think of! One of the best part about the collagen is that it is completely flavorless. Even if you add it to your morning coffee or latte, I promise you, you will not taste a think but will reap it’s benefits while you are sipping! The Marine Collagen is great for anyone that does not include meat in their diets or simply stays away from beef! However, for this recipe and anything else, their grass feed Collagen Peptides works interchangeably. 

Why collagen: On the Vital Proteins website, you can see the major benefits of the collagen listed here, but for starters; you all know that I suffer from major digestive issues such as SIBO, leaky gut, and IBS. Since I’ve started to incorporate collagen into my diet for the last two years, even just a few times a week, I’ve noticed major changes! Not only is it great for gut health because it helps repair damaged intestinal lining and restores the health of your gut! This is why I am so obsessed with drinking bone broth; which side note, they now have bone broth to-go packets! So you can essentially heat up water and pour one it and drink up! Another major changed that I noticed once I started to incorporate collagen into my routine was the growth of my hair and nails. My hair was becoming longer and my skins were too; as well as stronger! My skin was even glowing! It is also packed with protein, so adding it to this oatmeal bake was an easy decision!

Also! I decided to make a bake around the 4th of July holiday theme since it is only a few days away! Since many of us travel, it is such an easy breakfast to make for family or friends. It is super quick to prepare and only takes about 30 minutes in the oven and you can really add in anything you want. Going with the theme, I topped it with fresh blueberries and strawberries and this amazing cashew cream that had just a hint of sweetness! The cashew cream reminds me of the inside of an Oreo cookie and since this oatmeal bake is primarily chocolate; it feels like you are eating a brownie; yet it so so GOOD FOR YOU!

Oatmeal Bake: 
Prep time: 5 minutes
Bake time: 35 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes

What you need:
2 cups oats
1.5 cups + 2 tbsp almond milk
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. coconut oil, melted & cooled
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp almond butter (or any nut butter of choice) 
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tsp of EACH: ginger, turmeric, maca powder
1/4 tsp. sea salt
2 tbsp. cacao powder
2 scoops marine collagen
1tbsp ground flaxseed or chia seeds
3 tsp. cinnamon
fresh berries for topping 

*Note: you can omit the ginger + turmeric if you wish or add less of each! 

Cashew Cream:
Prep time: 4 hours (soaking of cashews)
Total time: Soaking time + 5 minutes to blend together
Yields: 1.5-2 cups

1.5 cups soak cashews (for at least 4 hours or more)
1-2 tbsp maple syrup
pinch of sea salt
3/4 cup fresh water
1 tbsp. vanilla
dash of cinnamon
1 scoop vital proteins marine collagen 

What you need to do: 

First prepare the cashew cream by soaking the cashews for at least 4 hours or overnight. 

  1. Drain and rinse them with clean water after they have soaked.
  2. Add them to a food processor with water, maple syrup (start with 1 tbsp first), sea salt, vanilla, and cinnamon. 
  3. Pulse for 1-2 mins, until well mixed. 
  4. The spread should be very creamy and smooth in texture. If not, add more water (start with 1 tbsp at a time). Taste test at this point and adjust to preference with either more sweetener, cinnamon, sea salt, vanilla etc! 
  5. Place in an air tight container while you prepare the oatmeal bake so the spread thickens

Oatmeal Bake:

  1. Preheat the oven at 350 degrees and grease your cast iron pan with coconut oil. If you do not have a cast iron use a 9x13 oven safe pan and either grease with oil or line with parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine the wet ingredients (almond butter, coconut oil, almond milk, vanilla). Mix completely until well combined
  3. Add the dry ingredients. 
  4. Mix until well incorporated
  5. Pour into your pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. The edges will be crispy and the middle with be soft to touch. 

NOTES: 

I did not add any sweetener into the oatmeal bake because of the cashew cream spread on top, which contains maple syrup. This had more a rich chocolate taste. Note, that most of my recipes contain no sweeteners, therefore if you are used to things on the sweeter side or added in maple syrup etc, I would add in 1-2 tbsp. of liquid sweetener of choice. 

You can sub any nut butter you prefer 

The first time I baked it for 35 minutes and then the second time I baked it for 30 minutes. I preferred it cooked less because oatmeal tends to become a little on the drier side when you bake it. Therefore, I would either bake it LESS OR add more liquid. 

Cashew Cream:

It will last up to 5 days in the fridge.

You can make this the day before.

Any leftovers can be used on cupcakes, other desserts, breads, toast, mousse, cakes, dipped in fruit, etc! 

You can also top this bake with peanut butter or almond butter etc! It still tastes so good, but I love it with the cashew cream because it is just something different! Plus the cashew cream stays fresh for about 5 days!