Completely Addictive Spicy Candied Nuts

At my house, we like to eat our Thanksgiving dinner in the middle of the afternoon rather than at night.

But no matter how much I tell myself to save room for the big meal, my body still thinks it wants to eat at lunchtime. Obviously, the solution is appetizers! You cannot go wrong with these easy spice-candied nuts. I make them every year and they are a hit! My little ones love them, my adult friends and family love them—they are magical and delicious!

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Rainbow Cauliflower Bowl

Rainbow Cauliflower Bowl

I’ve become kind of obsessed with cauliflower.

Lately, I’ve been eating it almost every day, with beet hummus, for breakfast scrambled with eggs, instead of rice with Indian food.

And then Sarah and I decided to combine our powers for good and make a colorful, healthy lunch totally based on cauliflower.

I am NOT on the low-carb bandwagon. Wheat would have to go extinct for me to give it up for the rest of my life. Despite these truths, I really love replacing grains with cauliflower.

Here’s the thing. I am the type of person who wants to spend time eating. It’s hard for me to feel “done” eating if my plate is clean in five minutes or less, even if I’ve actually had enough calories to fill me up. This is why vegetables, and cauliflower specifically, are amazing. More volume for less calories, longer meals with less overeating just because I still have the munchies.

This rainbow bowl is delicious and surprising. There are a lot of components, but all together they make an incredibly satisfying meal!

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Green Bean and Farro Salad with Manchego

Green Bean and Farro Salad with Manchego

I like to collect cookbooks. Mostly pretty ones. Often written by bloggers I enjoy and famous chefs.

Yet, like everyone in my generation, when I want to figure out what is for dinner, I usually ask Pinterest.

Which is why it’s so weird that I have been cooking lately from magazine clippings and *gasp* the actual pages of the books on my shelves!

When I found this grain salad as I was idly flipping through a magazine one morning, I immediately wrote all of the ingredients on my grocery list and purchased them the next day. I love whole grain salads, and you should, too!

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Red-Handed Beet Burgers

Red-Handed Beet Burger

Admit it. You love veggie burgers. You can’t escape the truth.

Veggie burgers are one of the best things about being vegetarian, in my opinion. (Why eat something boring when you can eat something creative?) And these beet burgers with quinoa and black beans are no exception! They are delightful and hearty and a little smoky.

They are also a brilliant backdrop for all sorts of toppings, so pick your pleasure and take a big bite.

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Almond Butter Cookie Cups

Almond Butter Cookie Cups

I have a new favorite dessert.

Them be fighting words, people. Favorite is a strong statement.

It’s almond butter cups. You know, like peanut butter cups, but with almonds. And, surprise! Oats! And coconut oil! And maple syrup! Instead of a dry, crumbly nut center, these cups have an almost cookie-like base with homemade chocolate on top.

And the kicker is that they are actually good for you, as far as desserts go! You see, they are full of healthy ingredients like raw cacao powder and raw nuts and unsaturated fats.

I swear no one will never eat one of these and think, “This dessert must be healthy.” Every time I set them out for a group of friends, they disappear practically in the blink of an eye. You should make these. You should make them right away!

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Nutella Breakfast Strudels

Nutella Breakfast Strudel

I know you are probably getting sick of sweets from me. And I was all geared up to share a few simple savories…but then I realized it’s going to be Valentine’s day very soon.

And I have a long tradition of covering you in chocolate for Valentine’s day. Chocolate is, after all, one of my first loves.

So here we are. And you may, if you have been tracking with me for a while, notice something special about the amazing pastries I am sharing with you today: they are full of BUTTER!

Woot! Caitlin’s pediatrician cleared me to eat dairy again. This may or may not have happened two days after I had a small psychotic break and ate a cupcake that I totally meant not to eat.

Anyway. You better believe I have been loading up on all the cheese and butter and cream I have been craving for the last few months. Because as delicious as food can be without dairy, it’s hard to achieve true decadence in the absence of butter.

So I decided this year that we would indulge in breakfast instead of saving all our chocolate for dessert. (Though, let’s be honest, these strudels make an amazing dessert if you have the patience to wait for dinner time!)

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Raw Fudge Brownies

Raw Fudge Brownies

If you know me, you may know that I occasionally go on a one-woman crusade against refined sugar.

(Whaaaat!? Give up refined sugar? But…what about dessert? For heaven’s sake, your blog is named after brownies, girl! No one can live without sugar. Forget diamonds, chocolate is a girl’s best friend.)

This first started as I became aware of how much sugar is in everyday foods, such as mayonnaise and bread and salad dressing and granola. At that time I had a young baby, and I was bound and determined that he would not eat any refined sugar, ever (hah). I started researching the effects of sugar on the body, and it led to making a New Year’s resolution to avoid all refined sugar for 31 days.

I never intended to give up sugar long-term, but here are a few things that happened during that month:

  1. at first, I was reallly, reallly hungry, and quite a bit cranky, but then my hunger levels started to regulate;
  2. I became more adventurous in what I ate;
  3. I stopped binge-snacking during my kid’s nap time because I was thinking more about what would be good for me to eat, and I was avoiding most of my lazy snack foods;
  4. people started telling me how thin I looked. I didn’t really lose weight during this time, but eating no refined sugar and less highly refined carbs in general actually made my body shape change! I did not exercise one single time, so this was definitely a result of my sugar fast;
  5. I felt really proud of myself;
  6. I still totally ate dessert! Because, let’s face it, no big change in your diet will be sustainable unless you find ways to include the things you really love. For me, that is dessert!
  7. everything tasted sweet even without refined sugar. When I finally started eating sugar again, I ate much smaller amounts (initially anyway) because it was overwhelmingly sweet and honestly made me feel a little sick for a few weeks.

I write a food blog and I love to bake, so I did go back to eating sugar. But I enjoyed my sugar fast more than I expected! So much that I repeat it a few times a year, especially if I have been going overboard with sugary foods or if I am feeling out of balance or mentally/physically/emotionally unhealthy.

Since my first refined sugar fast, clean eating has become quite trendy. Basically, eating “clean” involves aiming for whole, nutrient-dense foods, and avoiding highly refined foods.

These raw brownies totally fit that bill, and they are completely delicious. Not only are they sweetened entirely by the naturally occurring fruit sugars in Medjool dates, but they are full of healthy things, like raw nuts and raw cacao! They are chewy and dense and chocolatey and rich, so rich. (Plus, they are other good things, like vegan and gluten-free!)

Raw brownies will satisfy any dessert craving, and you can feel good about eating them!

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Brownie Baked Oatmeal

Brownie Baked Oatmeal

One of the hardest parts of giving up dairy has been figuring out what to eat for breakfast.

There have been a lot of mornings in the last month and a half that found me staring listlessly into the open refrigerator for five minutes, walking away grumpily, going back two times, and then opting to just drink coffee and wait until lunch. (P.S., those days also found me binge eating Triscuits with hummus at 11:20 because I was just too hungry to keep waiting…)

Before you go on suggesting all the things you think I should eat, let me just remind you: no dairy, no meat, no fruit (because yuck.), no refined sugar first thing in the morning. And let me nip it in the bud before you start telling me about all the great fake dairy I can use instead of butter.

Butter. I miss you. Nothing could ever take your place.

(P.P.S., I made a lot of my Christmas cookies with Earth Balance this year, and I would be totally lying if I pretended that my refrigerator standoff hasn’t ended with me hiding in the corner of the kitchen, despairingly eating butterless cookies for breakfast. At least three times. And then suffering the sugar coma consequences.)

Isn’t it amazing that in a world full of buttery, yogurty breakfasts, there are also dishes of baked oatmeal that are vegan and taste just like brownies?

Brownies are the best. I have been known to eat my feelings, and this is just the best possible way to do that! Brownies are indulgent and comforting, and yet we could even call this brownie healthy! There are whole grains, chocolate (we have to take care of our souls, too, people), chia seeds, healthy fats, and no refined sugars!

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