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!

Easy Breakfast Egg Muffin Cups

A simple protein & veggie packed make ahead breakfast for the week in under 20 minutes. 

Each week I get hooked on a new breakfast and then overeat it until I get sick of it and move on to the next thing. Anyone else guilty of doing that? I get so addicted to one thing and can't stop! I always need something quick, pretty simple to make, healthy and filling. In order to save a little bit of time in the morning I like to plan a few meals ahead of time, especially breakfast and make a few bit batches on Sunday, whether it be chia puddings, oats, yogurt bowls, smoothies etc. This week was these simple egg muffin cups. They aren't anything new and you've all seen them floating around, but they are so addicting and kind of fun to make! Also, prep time is so minimal and you are set for the week with breakfast or a healthy protein filled snack. Each muffin cup can be filled with different ingredients and spices too so you won't be bored each morning when you grab one on your way out the door.

All you have to do is crack how many ever eggs in a bowl (egg whites work too) fill the bowl with your favorite veggies (meat if you're feeling that), any spices you want, grease a muffin tin with coconut oil and pop them in the oven for about 20 minutes. Done. How easy is that? 

Here is the basic recipe: 

Ingredients: 
(8 eggs filling 1/2 cup gave me 7 muffins)* it will depend on how you fill the muffins and how much filling you have (ie. veggies/meats etc)

8 organic eggs
2 handfuls chopped spinach
1 cup chopped zucchini
2 tbsp. diced onion
1/4 cup chopped basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
few dashes of sea salt
few dashes of black pepper
dash of turmeric
2. tbsp. nutritional yeast
Coconut oil or spray for the muffin tins
 

Directions:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and generously spray your muffin tin with desired cooking spray. Set aside

2. Crack the eggs into a large mix bowl and mix. 

Side note here: You can either, quickly cook the zucchini and the onions over the stove top on medium heat in a sauce pan before placing them in the egg mixture or add them raw. They will cook a bit in the oven, personal preference. I didn't the first time and they were tender. IF you are adding meat (sausage, bacon etc) to the egg muffins, you will need to cook before!! 

3. Add the veggies and the spices to the egg mixture and mix until well incorporated. 

4. Distribute evenly into the muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees. 

Let them cool before removing. Store them in the fridge and to re-heat place under the broiler for a few minutes or heat the oven to 400 degrees and place them in the oven for a few minutes until warm. 

I like to serve them with avocado, salsa or on top of toast.

Ideas!!!

Sweet potato apple chicken sausage egg muffins (sweet potatoes, apple chicken sausage, onions, eggs, peppers, spices)

Pizza egg muffins: cherry tomatoes, basil leaves, cheese of choice, spinach, sea salt, pepper, eggs.

Kale & Chive: kale leaves, ham, chives, cheese of choice, onions, red peppers, pepper, sea salt, eggs.

Traditional: bacon, cheese of choice, sea salt, pepper, eggs, onions, spinach.  

Enjoy xx


 

Paleo Gingerbread w/ a cream cheese spread (GF/DF)

Ok, I am just going to put this out there....and say that I personally think that I might like this better than the paleo chocolate zucchini bread on my blog that you guys make all the time and maybe, just maybe, any banana or pumpkin bread that I have made! Hopefully I am not kicking myself for saying this later and you guys actually do enjoy this, since I am the only one testing this bread...the woes of living alone; talking to yourself when recipe testing and thinking you've hit the jackpot....but trust me!!

This bread is super light, moist (& yes, moist! I know people tend to cringe when they hear that word, but how else am I supposed to describe it?!), and just tastes delicious. I imagine this is what all things Christmas would taste like if it were mixed together and then baked in the oven for about 35 minutes. 

Did I mention the bread is paleo too? I tend to find paleo breads a little easier to digest, lighter on the stomach, and just all around less dense. Also, it is full of iron, calcium, and minerals thanks to the molasses, which also gives it such a bold taste! The molasses paired with the cinnamon, nutmeg, and the ginger give the bread such a warm spicy feel making this bread perfect for the holiday season. I also added a little coconut vinegar to the mix to keep the bread moist. Have you ever noticed that when you add a little this into your baking dishes it helps keep the bread from becoming so dry? The coconut vinegar that I used is from Better Body Foods, and essentially can be used the same way that ACV is used. It is packed with things such as amino acids, potassium, vitamins, fiber, and FOS; a prebiotic for digestive health! Also, if you are allergic to dairy, like me, and you see a recipe call for buttermilk, you can mix coconut vinegar together with almond milk as a replacement! 

I topped off the gingerbread with a little bit of dairy free cream cheese from one of my favorite brands. The two flavors just go together, like PB & jelly. You don't really need to do anything to the cream cheese, but I decided to get a little fancy and add some vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, and almond milk to the food processor with the cream cheese to give the bread a little something something. 

So make this for a healthy treat, breakfast, a snack, or your coffee's side kick, because it is super delicious! 

Breakfast/Snack
Makes 1 loaf
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 35 minutes
total time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

paleo gingerbread coconut vinegar.JPG

Wet ingredients
4 eggs
1 tsp. Better Body Foods coconut vinegar (optional)
1 tbsp. vanilla
1/4 cup vanilla unsweetened almond milk
2/3 cup blackstrap molasses
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted

Dry ingredients:
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup almond flour (*did not try oat flour)
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. pink himalayan sea salt
1 heaping tsp. ginger
1 heaping tsp. nutmeg

Cream cheese topping
1/2 cup dairy free cream cheese * I use kite hill plain dairy free cream cheese
1 tbsp. vanilla
sea salt to taste
a pinch of cinnamon
a pinch of nutmeg
 

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and either line a 9X5 pan with parchment paper or grease it lightly with coconut oil. Set aside. 

2. In a medium size bowl or your vitamix, mix together the wet ingredients

3. In a different bow, combine the dry ingredients and mix until well combined. 

4. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients or add them to your vitamix and mix until well incorporated. 

5. Pour the mixture into your prepared loaf pan and bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes. I checked after 30 minutes and decided that it needed another 5 minutes. 

I keep the bread in the fridge for up to a week then I would freeze after that! To heat it up, pop it in the oven for a few and you are good to go!

Cream Cheese spread:

In a food processor combine all of the above ingredients (cream cheese, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, and sea salt). You also can leave the cream cheese plain or taste test as you are mixing and add in anything else. I would say that this part of the recipe is more to taste and not an exact measurement.

Zucchini Fritters

Zucchini fritters, pancakes, latkes, whatever you want to call them- you need to swap your zoodle spiralizer and whip out the grater for a weeknight dinner, snack, or appetizer upgrade!

Over the Thanksgiving holiday I had more time than usual to think of new recipes to experiment with for the week. I always make my “go-to” dinners, but I need to change things up in the kitchen. Anyone else tend to eat the same thing day after day? My motivation post a long day at work, working out, and then commuting home is pretty much non-existing. If something isn’t already prepared or requires minimal brainpower, I will either spoon enough nut butter with yogurt to call it a day or mash avocado on toast.

Since zucchini is the main vegetable that I constantly buy, love, and have an abundance of, I knew this would be the easiest veggie to change up since it doesn’t require any change in my usual run to the market.

While searching different websites for ideas, I kept coming across different types of fritters – carrots, sweet potatoes, chickpeas etc – I knew I wanted to try making zucchini ones.

My mom and I headed straight to the kitchen and decided to get to work.  We experimented with two small zucchini and a simple batter of egg, flour, onions, salt and pepper.  I mixed up the flour and herbs while she chopped up the onions, which we later realized that we added too many onions. We were basically eating an onion fritter! We also forgot to add the egg, which we took out of the fridge, but had no IDEA where it went rolling off.  Hopefully, it’s not something we will find months later…

Anyways, after realizing the mistakes we made with the first batch, I knew exactly what needed to change. We didn't allow the zucchini to release enough of the water, which resulted in a somewhat soggy middle section of the fritter. Zucchini has so much water. I am surprised every single time I cook zucchini as to how much water is released. Also, we should have flatted the zucchini fritter with the back of the spatula after dropping the mixture in the skillet. They needed less chopped onion and a more even balance of spices and herbs. 

Once I was back in my own kitchen, I made the changes and they came out perfect! I decided to use almond flour and added a scant amount of curry powder- it made such a difference! The curry powder definitely balanced out the other flavors and gave the fritters a little kick! Allowing the grated zucchini to release the excess moisture will make a difference in the crispy mushy ratio, but if you are short on time and want these ready in less than 30 minutes- they will still come out tasty! I would suggest keeping the fritters on the skillet for a few extra minutes.

If you are opposed to lightly frying the fritters you can certainly bake them in the oven until they have become golden brown.

They make such a great snack, appetizer, or addition to your usual scrambled eggs in the morning!

Appetizer/Main Meal/Side
Yields: 12
Prep time: 1 hour [depending]
Cook time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

6 small organic zucchini
3 cloves of garlic, minced & chopped
½ yellow onion, chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten
freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
3 tsp. sea salt (or to taste)
1 tsp. curry
1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil
¾ cup almond flour or coconut flour (or any flour your prefer)
1 tsp. baking powder
Olive oil or coconut oil for frying

Optional add ins:
Chopped parsley or cilantro
Scallions
Lemon zest
 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Slice off the ends of the of the zucchini and grate them on the large holes of a grater.

Place the grated zucchini in a large strainer. {I placed the strainer over a large bowl and placed it in the sink} Add 2 tsp. of salt and set aside for 30 minutes to 1 hour.  The longer you let the zucchini sit the more moisture will drain out. This will ensure a crispy fitter versus one that is very soggy.  After 30 minutes or an hour wring out the zucchini or pat the zucchini dry with a paper towel. 

**While the zucchini is releasing the moisture in the strainer you can continue on with the recipe.

Over medium high heat add 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil or coconut oil to a sauce- pan.  Once the oil becomes warm, add the minced garlic. Sauté the garlic for 4-5 minutes. 

In the same pan, add the chopped onions and continue to sauté for another 8-10 minutes or until the onions have become to caramelize or brown. Set aside.

In a large bowl add the almond four, salt, pepper, curry powder, baking powder & mix. Next, add the onions, garlic, and the strained zucchini.  Mix together.

Add the lightly beaten eggs to the bowl and mix until well combined.

In a non-stick skillet heat 2 tbsp. of olive oil over medium high heat.

Scoop a spoonful (1/4th size ish) and drop the mixture onto the skillet. I used a small skillet here and was able to fit 3.  You don’t want to overcrowd the skillet, as it will be difficult to flip the fritter.  

Flatten the zucchini mixture slightly with the back of the spatula.

Cook the fritters over medium –high heat roughly 4 minutes on each side.  The edges will become golden and crispy. After 4 minutes, flip the fitters and wait until the edges have become browned (4 minutes). You can repeat this process once more if you would like.  You may need to add more olive oil in between batches.

Place the finished fritters on the baking sheet that was covered with parchment paper. Once all the fritters have been fried and moved to the baking sheet, put pan in the oven. 

The amount you continue to bake them in the oven depends on how crispy you like them.  I left the fritters in the oven for 15 minutes. This step is also optional but I think that allowing the zucchini fritters to bake in the oven allows the them to finish setting, develop crisper edges, and release any extra moisture.

Serve warm. To reheat the zucchini fritters you can simply place them on a baking sheet under the broiler for a few minutes.

Topping ideas:
Poached or runny egg
Yogurt or a sour cream
Sliced avocado