Tropical Granola

Tonight was my first attempt at granola…and it was a huge success!
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees

In a bowl combine:
3 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup trail mix (I used almonds, walnuts, cashews, dried papaya, and raisins)
1/4 unsweetened coconut shreds/flakes
1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 tsp brown sugar
A pinch of salt

In a separate bowl combine:
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla

Mix dry and wet ingredients together. Pour into a baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Bake for 20 minutes, then stir and continue baking, stirring every 5 minutes until golden brown (mine took an additional 10 minutes). Remove from the oven and allow to cool before enjoying!!

Feel free to substitute any nuts, dried fruits, honey for maple syrup, get creative!

Creamy Carmelized Onion Pasta

The more I try dairy free recipes, the more amazed I am at how you can get super creamy food from veggies and nuts! In this case, eggplant is the base of a super creamy pasta sauce. I got the idea for this recipe <a>href=””>here</a&gt;, but naturally, I made my own changes!  I am not a fan of eggplant, at all, so if you’re like me, please try this! It tastes nothing like eggplant and just makes for a super creamy, HEALTHY sauce!

1 onion, thinly sliced
2T olive oil
1 box of pasta (I used a 12oz box of veggie elbow macaroni)
1 eggplant, peeled and cubed
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
2T Olive oil
4T nutritional yeast
1T garlic powder
1T cornstarch
1 cup unsweetened plain almond milk
3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup panko
Cooking spray

Sautée onions in olive oil until carmelized, stirring frequently (I like to really cool them, at least 30 minutes)

Toss cubed eggplant, garlic cloves, and cherry tomatoes in olive oil and place on a sheet pan, roast at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until golden, stirring half way through. While the veggies are roasting, boil water to cook the pasta.

In a blender, place garlic powder, nutritional yeast, cornstarch, almond milk, and chicken broth. Once the veggies are cooked and have cooled slightly, add them to the blender and purée until smooth. Season to taste.

Combine the cooked pasta, carmelized onions, and eggplant purée. Stir well and pour into a baking dish. Top with panko and spray with cooking spray. Place in the oven until bubbly, about 10 minutes, then broil until the panko is golden.

Serve and enjoy!! (I apologize for the lack of pictures, I was too eager to eat, and I’m having trouble uploading the one picture I did take!)

Chocolate Bananas Foster Oatmeal

So it would seem I’m on a bit of an oatmeal kick this week! I’m loving experimenting with different flavors, plus I’ve had a small toothache so oatmeal has been an easy food to eat!

Like breakfast foods, I wasn’t a huge fan of chocolate before I got pregnant, now I can’t get enough! (I thought those pregnancy cravings would go away after I had the baby…nope!!) So any chance I had to add some chocolate to anything I go for it (note: this is just as delicious without the cocoa powder)

Combine the following in a microwave safe bowl:
•1/2 cup old fashioned oats
•1 cup unsweetened almond milk
•1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
•1/2 banana, sliced
•1 Tbsp packed brown sugar
•1/2 tsp vanilla

Microwave for 2 minutes, stir well, then microwave another minute or two. I like my oatmeal a little thicker so I microwaved it for 4 minutes total. Make sure you watch it closely so it doesn’t bubble over! The oatmeal will thicken as it cools, the picture below is right after, 2 minutes later, and 5 minutes after that.
You could make this with water or regular milk, but I like the creaminess the almond milk gives!


Apple Pie Oatmeal

Before I got pregnant I wasn’t much of a breakfast person. It was just a meal I knew I needed to have before I could go about my day. Now I love breakfast for any meal of the day: breakfast burritos, omelettes, scrambles, French toast, waffles, pancakes, anything! Unfortunately, eating breakfast out is a little tough when I can’t eat dairy, so I’ve been making great breakfasts at home! May I present to you….Apple Pie Oatmeal. Classic American dessert meets classic American breakfast!


In a microwave safe bowl, combine the following:
IMG_2338.JPG•1/2 cup old fashioned oats
•1 cup unsweetened almond milk
•1 Tbsp dried cranberries
•1/4 of an apple, chopped
•1 Tbsp packed brown sugar (or any other sweetener)
•1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon (not pictured)

Stir it all together and microwave for 2 minutes. Stir well and microwave 1 more minute. Make sure you keep a close eye on it, oatmeal loves to bubble over the sides if the bowl! This could also be made on the stove, but being a new mom I am all about time saving dishes!
Be careful when you take the bowl out of the microwave, as the bowl and oatmeal will be very hot! Allow to cool slightly (and it will thicken as it cools) before enjoying! I like to add a drizzle of honey over the top for a little added sweetness!


Meal Plan: August 16-21

We are starting to get the hang of me being back at work part time, and meal planning has definitely helped! It takes the stress out of each day, trying to figure out what to make; it allows me to do all my grocery shopping over the weekend; and it allows me to plan ahead to find the best deals and plan my meals around sales so I’m as to save money. I highly recommend it, even if you don’t work!

Saturday:Copycat Chick Fil A Sandwich and Crispy Green Bean Fries
IMG_2062.JPGI love Chick Fil A, but it is so hard to eat out while I’m still not able to eat dairy. In both of these recipes, I was easily able to make them dairy free by using unsweetened regular almond milk instead of the cream/milk. I couldn’t even tell the difference!
The pickles on the sandwich were homemade (it was also the pickle juice I used to marinade the chicken) using this recipe, but instead of using dill seed I used a few sprigs of fresh dill.
The icing on the cake (or the sauce on the sandwich) was definitely the copycat Chick Fil A sauce. If you haven’t tried this sauce, you MUST! It’s like a BBQ honey mustard sauce, but is way better. I don’t like mustard, at all, but I love this sauce! It also made a great dipping sauce for the green beans!

Sunday: Kale Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
IMG_2072.PNGI made this salad with things I had on hand, so instead of pomegranate I used dried cranberries, instead of pecans I used sliced almonds, and I didn’t add any feta since I can’t eat dairy. I love the quinoa in this, and it would also be good with some grilled chicken.

Monday: Steak au Poivre with Roasted Broccoli and Potatoes
IMG_2123.PNGMatt has started making dinner on Monday nights because I work in the afternoons, and what a treat that has been! His favorite place to find recipes right now is in an amazing book called Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequest. Highly, highly, highly recommend it!

Tuesday: Baked Honey Garlic Chicken with Brown Fried Rice
IMG_2121.PNGThis chicken was so good! Super crispy and the sauce coated it perfectly.
For the fried rice I heat vegetable oil in a wok, add leftover brown rice and cook until heated through. Then I add some diced onion, frozen mixed veggies, scrambled egg, sesame seeds, a couple tablespoons of soy sauce and about a teaspoon of sesame oil. Then I cook it until everything is hot, and add more soy sauce if needed!

Wednesday: Sesame Soba Noodles
IMG_2122.PNGSoba noodles were on clearance at the grocery store so I thought it would be fun to try them. This was the perfect dish for a hot day! I followed the recipe but added some cucumber and added a little chili oil which was delicious! The dressing would be great for a cucumber salad too!

Thursday: Chickpea Salad with Honey Garlic Lime Vinaigrette
IMG_2168.PNGThis salad was AMAZING! I can still taste it days later! It’s best if made ahead of time so the flavors all have plenty of time to meld. I made it around 1pm and it was great for dinner (it tasted great right after I made it, but got even better by dinner and then even better still for lunch the next day). I added an extra tablespoon of red wine vinegar and also added shredded chicken and thin sliced shallots instead of cherry tomatoes. I can’t wait to make this again!

Meal Plan: August 9-14

My first week back to work went well, the schedule is pretty ideal for being able to see my baby lots! And how could I not want to see this face as much as possible?? I mean, look at her!
IMG_1623.JPGOk, now to the food!

Saturday: Homemade Ahi Sushi
IMG_1942.JPGA family from church (thanks Tammy!!) gave us fresh caught Ahi, so what better way to enjoy such a treat than in it’s original state!
We used soy paper, spread sushi rice on the paper, then laid cucumber, artificial crab meat mixed with a little mayo and sriracha, avocado, and green onion. Then we carefully and tightly rolled up the sushi and topped with the fresh ahi.
For dipping sauce we made unagi sauce (equal parts soy sauce, mirin, and sugar that is reduced down). It was SO GOOD!!

Sunday: Ahi Sushi…again
It was so good the first time around, so we had it again!!🙂
This time we had it with yummy egg drop soup

Monday: Sweet Potato Zucchini Fritters
So I didn’t exactly follow the recipe…at all…I more used this recipe as an idea, so here is my version!

Grate the following into a bowl:
1 zucchini
1 sweet potato
1 onion
Add to the bowl and mix well:
2 eggs
4 tablespoons of flour
a little salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, and paprika
Heat vegetable oil in a pan. Place a spoonful of the mixture into the oil, saute until brown, flip and repeat. Place the cooked fritter on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.
In the mean time, place a cooling rack on a baking sheet and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the cooked fritters on the cooling rack and place in the oven, bake about 10 minutes.
I topped the fritters with an aoli made from mayo, garlic powder, ground coriander, dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice.

Tuesday: Tex Mex Orzo
IMG_1982.PNGThis one pot meal was super easy and delicious! I added some chopped avocado when I served it!

Wednesday: 5 Ingredient White Chicken Chili
IMG_2022.PNGI made a half batch of this and it was enough for dinner for both of us plus leftovers for lunch. In true VanGent fashion, I put my own twist on it by adding a can of diced tomatoes and a bunch of kale…delicious!
I served it with this homemade focaccia bread. IMG_1999.JPGSince I can’t eat dairy, I topped the bread with sea salt (I only put half the salt in the bread), rosemary, and thinly sliced onions.

Thursday: Grilled Veggie Sandwichthi

IMG_2023.PNGThis is always a hit in our house. So easy and delicious! This time we made it on the focaccia I made last night (see recipe above).

Stay tuned for next week’s meal plan!

Meal Plan: August 1-7

Matt got back from his mission trip in Mexico on August 1, so I wanted to make sure he has great meals this week! Plus I went back to work on Monday so I did my meal planning a little early!

Friday: Chicken Parmesan (Matt’s favorite)
20140802-185756-68276573.jpgPound the chicken thin, dredge in flour, then egg, then season bread crumbs. Place the breaded chicken on waxed paper and place in the fridge for 10 minutes (if you skip this step, your breading will be more likely to fall off when you cook the chicken. Then saute/lightly pan fry the chicken in olive oil until golden brown on both sides. Top with mozzarella and then hot tomato sauce. I used my tomato sauce.
I served it with zucchini that I cut into spears, topped with olive oil, basalmic vinegar, and garlic powder and baked at 350 degrees until soft.

Saturday: Pineapple Grilled Mahi Mahi
20140803-193717-70637978.jpgThis was so fun to make! I chose to use Mahi Mahi, but next time I think I’ll try salmon or chicken.
Soaked some twine in water while you prepare the pineapple. Cut the the pineapple so the ends are the same size as your piece of whatever you are grilling. I brushed the fish with a little teriyaki sauce, then sandwich the fish in the pineapple and tie up with twine. This has to grill for a long time, but don’t worry about the fish drying out, the juice from the pineapple keeps is nice and moist! I served this with some rice and fresh pineapple.

For dessert I surprised Matt by making one of his favorite treats…CHURROS! If I had know how easy it was to make churros I would have made them a long time ago! I don’t have a piping bag, so I just used a ziploc bag and cut a hole in the corner!

Sunday: Corn-off-the-Cobb Chicken Tacos
20140803-195417-71657391.jpgThese tacos were so much better than I expected!!
I cooked the chicken ahead of time (while the baby was napping, since I didn’t know how much time I would have later!). I put olive oil in a pan, browned one side of the chicken, then flip the chicken and pour about a cup of chicken broth in the pan, cover and simmered about 10 minutes or until the chicken was cooked. Once it had cooled a little I shredded for later.
For the corn (a fresh gift from my aunt), I wrapped them in a damp paper towel, husks and all, and microwaved for 4 minutes, flipping half way through.
We had these on warn corn tortillas topped with fresh pico de gallo and guacamole. SO GOOD!

Monday: Crock Pot Honey Garlic Chicken with Protein Garlic Mashed Potatoes with sauteed onions, kale, and green beans
20140805-074248-27768353.jpgToday was my first day back at work so we decided to have a crock pot meal (when I was pregnant I prepared a few crock pot meals and froze them). Unfortunately, with my pregnancy brain I didn’t save the recipe, but I believe it was some combination of honey, minced garlic, soy sauce, ketchup, and oregano. I do apologize!
The mashed potatoes were left over from another meal, so I decided to spruce them up by sauteing diced onions, cut green beans (I used frozen), and kale, then adding the mashed potatoes and sautéing until the potatoes were hot and starting to brown.

Tuesday: The plan was to make sweet potato zucchini fritters but my poor hubby got sick so we had matzo ball soup from a local diner instead

Wednesday: Broccoli Apple Salad
20140806-193651-70611240.jpgI pretty much followed this recipe except I used sliced almonds instead of walnuts and added avocado. I also blanched the broccoli for about 30 seconds in hot water just to take a little of the bite off.
The dressing called for sour cream, so I used the vegan sour cream that I’ve written about a couple times.

Thursday: Dragon Bowl
IMG_1920.PNGI saw this recipe on The Chew. It sounds a little strange…but it’s so good! Matt even said it was in the top 10 dishes I’ve ever made! Sautéed kale and rice, roasted sweet potatoes, fried chickpeas, avocado, fried egg…each component is delicious on it’s own, and even better together!