5-minute pecan, pistachio + coconut granola

instant granola

If you’ve read my post on homemade granola, you know that I love the whole process of mixing and matching  dried fruit, nuts and sweeteners. When I make granola, it’s a bit of a process because I want it to have all my favorite dried fruit in it so I make huge amount which needs to be baked in batches . I didn’t have any breakfast at work the other day but my friend said she’d share her yogurt with me. She warned me that she didn’t have any toppings for it so we quickly jumped into the kitchen and within 5 minutes had made a quick and tasty muesli/granola/yogurt topping. We were so impressed with our creation that I just had to share it.

This only makes enough for an instant fix but who knows, maybe you’ll give up baking your granola altogether!

5-minute granola

yield: 2 portions


  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans and pistachios (or your choice of nuts)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened dehydrated coconut flakes
  • 1/4 rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup


  1. In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast nuts, coconut and oats. Stir constantly until golden and fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  2. Remove mixture to a bowl. Add maple syrup and stir until everything is coated. Allow to cool until mixture starts to clump together, about 2 minutes.
  3. Serve over yogurt.

squash hummus + salted pepita brittle


Everyone is on the pumpkin train right now and I don’t mind it one bit. I love anything pumpkin or sweet potato, which usually involves a cocktail of warm spices like nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon, but what I really love is when something is actually pumpkin or sweet potato flavored and not masked by fall spices. Back Forty makes a wonderful pumpkin hummus with no fall spices. A pool of olive oil settles on top and it’s garnished with a few toasted pumpkin seeds. I tried to make my own and I think came pretty close to their recipe. At first I was going to puree the squash with white beans but the flavor of the squash is so subtle I decided to leave them out so that the squash could have its moment. I had an acorn squash on hand but I’m sure this would work with a sweet potato or butternut squash or pumpkin.

The salted pepita brittle is a little bit of crunchy-salty-sweet on top, which I love. I’m not sure what Back Forty does to their pumpkin seeds but this quick little brittle is a nice treat on top, please don’t skip it!

squash hummus + salted pepita brittle


  • 1 small acorn squash, cut in half
  • Olive oil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon tahini paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne plus more for garnish
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon salted pepita brittle (recipe follows)


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Scoop out seeds of the squash and discard. Spread a thin layer of oil over the squash flesh. Place, cut sides down, on lined sheet pan. Bake in oven until tender, about 40 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.
  2. With a spoon, scoop tender flesh of the squash out of its skin and remove to the bowl of a food processor. Add maple syrup, tahini, oli oil, salt, cumin, cayenne and nutmeg; whirl until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning.*
  3. To serve, spoon puree into a bowl. Drizzle generously with olive oil. Garnish with salted pepita brittle and a dash of cayenne. Serve with warm toast, pita or flatbread, preferably something soft that won’t disturb the delicate flavor of the dip.

Salted pepita brittle: To a small skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon raw pepitas; stir constantly until golden. Add 1 teaspoon sugar and a pinch of coarse salt. Stir until sugar is melted and completely coats pepitas. Quickly remove to a cutting board or wax paper and allow to cool. Once hardened, break up the pepitas and use as garnish.

*Do adjust seasoning as needed! These measurements are for a small acorn squash that was not very sweet. Sweet potatoes are much sweeter than acorn squash, so easy on the maple; they are also much more dense and may require more seasoning than this. Start with these measurements and work your way up.

smoky + chunky lentil soup

Yesterday I prepared for hurricane Sandy by making a big batch of lentil soup. I don’t normally like lentil soup, not because of the lentils but because of the texture. They’re always thick, lumpy and usually have cumin in them, which I don’t love. So I made this lentil soup to please my taste, but I’m sure you’ll like it too. It’s brothy, not lumpy, it has chunks of carrots and tomato and I’ve flavored it with chipotle and smoked paprika. The other thing I like about it is that the lentils are whole and intact with a bit of bite to them, not mushy. I was inspired by Heidi Swanson’s lentil soup, which looks divine, but I made a few additions to make it just right for me.

smoky + chunky lentil soup


  • 2 cups dry green lentils
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 2 cups diced carrots
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 bunch kale, deveined and roughly chopped


  1. In a large pot of boiling water, cook lentils until ‘al dente’. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, paprika, chile and salt. Cook and stir until carrots are fork tender, not soft.
  3. Add tomatoes, lentils and 5 cups of water. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add kale. Stir into soup until kale is bright green. Serve with a sliced hard-boiled egg, if desired. ( I may do this later)

date, nut + pretzel dust crumble

I got this idea from The First Mess blog. She does a raw date and nut crumble over a raw almond cream fruit topping. Doesn’t that sound wonderful? The minute I saw the post, I knew I had to try it. I hadn’t been this excited about a recipe in a while, which is silly because it’s so simple – but oh-so-genius!

Like the original post implies, this is much like a disassembled Larabar – your favorite nuts pulsed with dates and some spices. This is delicious as is, but I OD’ed on Larabars a few years back and realized that the fat content was just too high for me and they tend to make me nauseous after a few bites. This too was lacking a bit of something to break up the fattiness of all the nuts so I thought pretzel dust! I tested it on a little spoonful and it was just what I was looking for.

The recipe makes a nice batch, about 2 cups, so save it in an airtight container in the fridge and use on fruit and yogurt, ice cream or even sprinkled on some toast. I know the photo above only has the crumble on the yogurt, but I ended up covering the fruit with about 1/2 cup of the crumble. Trust me, it’s delightful!

date, nut + pretzel dust crumble


  • 1 cup mixed nuts (I used walnuts, almonds and pecans)
  • 6 medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (or cardamom if you have it)
  • 1/2 cup ground salted pretzels
  • 2 tablespoons hemp seeds


  1. Combine nuts, dates, salt, cinnamon and vanilla in a food processor; pulse until the nuts and dates become large crumbs and the mix holds together when you pinch it.
  2. Remove crumble to a bowl and mix in pretzel dust and hemp seeds. Refrigerate leftovers.

cactus salad with queso fresco (ensalada de nopal)

I’ve recently become obsessed with the cactus salad at Cafe El Portal, so I had to recreate it. In a way, I think I’ve ruined my obsession because now I won’t have this intense need to go have it every time I’m anywhere south of Houston St. I guess that’s a good thing though.

What’s driving me wild about this salad is the texture. The cactus leaf has a great snap to it and the simple lime dressing makes it refreshing and light. It’s very easy to make so I would recommend it as a salad to bring to a potluck. It’s different and the flavors are simple enough that everyone could like it. El Portal serves it in a bowl with corn chips and their amazing salsas on the side.

I’ve always been intimidated by cactus, therefore I’ve never cooked with it, but I watched a video on how to clean it and it’s pretty simple. Just use a large, sharp knife and scraped both sides until the splinters have been shaved off. For a video, watch here. Once cooked, the cactus leaf secretes a slimy substance much like okra does, so be sure to rinse under cold water after boiling.

raw cactus strips boiling

cactus salad with queso fresco 


  • 1 pound cactus paddles (nopales), cleaned and trimmed
  • 1 large white onion, peeled
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1 cup roughly chopped cilantro
  • 1 serrano chile, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 2 limes
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup crumbled queso fresco
  • Avocado for garnish


  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cut one side of the onion and add piece to the water. Add garlic clove.
  2. Cut the cactus into 1-1/2-inch strips. Add to water. Reduce to a simmer and cook until tender and dark green, about 10-15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes to make about 2 cups. Remove to a colander and allow to drain.
  4. Chop the remaining onion to make about 1-1/2 cups. Remove to a large bowl. Add the cilantro, serrano chile, oregano, juice of the limes, oil and salt. Add the drained tomato; toss gently.
  5. Once cactus is tender, remove to the colander; rinse with cold water; drain. Add the cactus to the tomato and onion mixture; toss gently. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.
  6. To serve, sprinkle with cheese and garnish with avocado slices.

fresh cherry, apricot + jicama salsa

I have been taking advantage of all the beautiful cherries in the market lately but instead of baking them into a dessert I wanted to create something where I could really savor the texture and flavor of the cherries in their most natural state. I broke up the deep sweetness of a huge bowl of pitted cherries with tart apricots (which I’m loving right now too), crisp jicama, lime juice and fragrant jalapeño and cilantro, still leaving the majority of the salsa to be the meaty little cherries. This was lovely paired with my new favorite chips, Curry & Mango Dippers, and also in grilled mahi mahi tacos. I would also love to see it on a goat cheese crostini. Cherries and goat cheese make a beautiful pair!

cherry, apricot + jicama salsa


  • 2 cups pitted cherries, chopped
  • 2 apricots, pitted and chopped
  • 1 cup finely diced jicama
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 jalapeño, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. In a large bowl, combine cherries, apricots, jicama, lime juice, cilantro, jalapeño and salt; mix gently.
  2. Refrigerate until cool, about an hour.
  3. Serve with chips, endive scoops or over fish.

coconut oatmeal with fresh cherries, toasted coconut + almonds

Whole Foods had a one-day cherry sale last week – $1.99/pound! So of course I bought a bag. It ended up being too many cherries to just eat casually so I pitted the whole bag for use over the weekend. My first use – oatmeal!

I eat oatmeal with almond butter and fruit everyday at work so if I’m going to make oatmeal my weekend breakfast it has to be a bit more special than that. I wanted to cook the oatmeal in something that would make it super creamy and naturally sweet (I usually just use water) so I used canned coconut milk. It gives it a pleasantly subtle flavor, not too sweet which was perfect because the sweet cherries really got to shine. A little bit of toasted coconut and crushed almonds for texture made for a super hearty and delicious breakfast. I’d suggest adding some banana slices if you have one, if not then just a drizzle of agave adds a sweet touch.

coconut oatmeal with fresh cherries, toasted coconut + almonds

serves 2


  • 1 cup light coconut milk, plus more for garnish
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/8 cup raw almonds, crushed
  • 1/8 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup halved pitted cherries
  • Agave syrup


  1. In a medium saucepan, bring coconut milk, water and salt to a boil. Reduce heat and add oats. Cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is almost absorbed, about 10-12 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small skillet over high heat, combine almonds and coconut flakes. Cook, stirring constantly, until edges of coconut flakes are brown. Remove from heat.
  3. To serve, divide oatmeal evenly among two bowls. Add 1-2 tablespoons of coconut milk to eat bowl if all the liquid has been absorbed. Garnish each bowl with almond-coconut mixture and pitted cherries. Sweeten with agave, if desired.
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