Tag Archives: walnuts

Yogurt with Mixed Berries, Walnuts, and Dark Chocolate

This is such an easy and healthy recipe for breakfast, a snack, or dessert! it’s from a new book called The SirtFood Diet. Before I received my review copy, I had never heart of “Sirtfoods.” In a nutshell, what I read in this book was that polyphenol nutrients from certain plants are good for us. And plants that have “noteworthy amounts” of sirtuin-activating polyphenols are called “Sirtfoods.” I know this sounds pretty technical, but the book gives a good explanation about all this. It also provides information about the top 20 Sirtfoods, along with other foods that are beneficial. I found that I actually like a lot of these foods, which include Arugula, Garlic, Green Tea, and even Cocoa!

This book explains that Sirtfoods, rich in special nutrients that help activate the same “skinny genes” in our bodies that fasting triggers, can help in effective weight loss–and so the Sirtfood Diet was created by nutritionists Aidan Goggins and Glen Matten. I haven’t tried the diet, so I can’t endorse it, but I’m sharing what the book says about it. The diet includes a plan for losing 7 pounds in seven days, along with keeping the weight off. There’s a recipe section that includes a good variety of healthy dishes–some even include chicken and beef. The authors also recommend having a good juicer to get the most benefits from this diet.

After looking through the recipe section, I decided to try this yogurt recipe because I loved all the ingredients and it was so simple to make. Simple as it is though, I actually made this recipe the wrong way! I put the berries over the yogurt instead of the yogurt over the berries! it does work better to put the yogurt over the berries as the recipe says, so be sure to layer the ingredients right! Even though I made this wrong, it does look pretty, doesn’t it? 🙂

YOGURT WITH MIXED BERRIES, CHOPPED WALNUTS, AND DARK CHOCOLATE from the SirtFood Diet

Makes 1 serving

  • 1 1/3 cups mixed berries (I used some organic fresh strawberries and frozen blueberries)
  • 2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt (or vegan alternative, such as soy or coconut yogurt)
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons dark chocolate (85 percent cocoa solids), grated

Add the mixed berries to a bowl and top with the yogurt. Sprinkle with the walnuts and chocolate.

That’s all there is to it! I’m so glad dark chocolate is good for you, even if it’s the 85% cocoa solid kind; I actually like the really, really dark chocolate better than the sweeter varieties.

Are you a healthy eater and have you heart of Sirtfoods?

Sharing at Fiesta Friday, Meal Plan Monday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me Monday, Full Plate Thursday.

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Royal Riviera® Rogue Valley Salad

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A few days ago, I found a nice surprise on my doorstep–a box of beautiful Harry & David® Royal Riviera® Pears! And Harry & David® is also extending a special offer to me and my readers–a 20% discount on your next purchase of anything on their site when you enter the code NANCY20 during checkout! So if you still need some gifts, you’ll want to check out their site!

I learned a little about the history of these pears, too. These sweet and juicy pears, traced back to 19th century France, were brought to Oregon’s Rogue Valley in 1897, where they thrived in the climate there. And for 80 years Harry & David® have been shipping these pears from their southern Oregon orchards.

I was wondering why there was a spoon in the package, and then I saw a note explaining that, in celebration of Harry & David’s® 80th anniversary, and also in honor of National Pear Month (yes, December is National Pear Month!) they were inviting some pear lovers to take the “Spoon Test Challenge” to see if their claim that Royal Riviera® Pears are really “so big and juicy, you can eat them with a spoon” is true. So I did take the Spoon Test Challenge, which involved letting the pears ripen for 1-2 days, slicing them in half, and using a spoon to eat the juicy pear. And I am happy to verify that yes, these pears really are juicy enough to eat with a spoon! They are really, really good. If you like pears or know someone who does, these are a real treat!

Here are some serving suggestions for these pears:

  • Halve, core, and eat with a spoon (makes a wonderful, healthy dessert!)
  • Slice and serve after dinner with an assortment of fine cheeses
  • Slice pears for salads
  • When slicing pears for salads or dessert, Harry & David® recommends peeling them first, then sprinkling with some lemon juice to keep them looking fresh

Here’s a recipe for a salad you can try–this recipe was included in my package of pears, so I thought I’d share it with you. This would make a great salad for your holiday meal! You can also find more salad recipes at Harry & David.com.

ROYAL RIVIERA® ROGUE VALLEY SALAD (recipe and photo from Harry & David)

royalFor the dressing:

  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons Champagne vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon honey (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 cup walnut oil
  • Whisk together the first 5 ingredients. Gradually whisk in the walnut oil. chill for 20 minutes.

For the salad:

  • 1 head butter lettuce, washed and dried
  • 1 large or 2 small Royal Riviera® Pears, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 2/3 cup Rogue Creamery or other blue cheese
  • 2/3 cup Harry and David® candied pecans, roasted pecans, or roasted walnuts

Gently tear the lettuce into bite sized pieces. Arrange on four chilled plates. Top with fans of pear slices. Sprinkle blue cheese evenly over the pears and lettuce and top with nuts. Drizzle the dressing generously over the salad and serve.

Are you a pear-lover, too? What kinds of recipes do you like to use pears in?

Berry Walnut Granola

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I am a big fan of granola, and I prefer homemade–I think it tastes so much better! I’ve posted several recipes for granola bars, like Crunchy Honey Almond Granola BarsDark Chocolate Granola Bars, and chewier Granola Bars. I’ve also made an unsweetened Cranberry Raisin Nut Toasted Oat Cereal. So I thought it was about time I posted a granola cereal recipe that I like making. It’s sweetened with honey, shredded coconut, and a mix of dried berries. You can serve it with milk or Greek yogurt in the morning and it’s great as a snack, too! This recipe makes A LOT of granola, so you can halve it if you want to make a smaller batch.

BERRY WALNUT GRANOLA by NancyC

Makes 16-18 servings 

  • 6 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts (or substitute pecans)
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 2 cups sweetened coconut flakes (shredded coconut)
  • 1 1/2 cups raw sunflower kernels (or use roasted kernels but add them to the mixture after baking)
  • 2/3 cup non-GMO canola oil or light olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups honey
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 cups dried mixed berries (I used a mix of dried cranberries, cherries, and blueberries)
  • parchment paper for lining pan

Adjust oven rack to middle of oven. Preheat oven to 325˚F. Line a 13 x 18″ rimmed baking pan with parchment paper; set aside (or use two rimmed 10 x 15″ cookie sheets).

In a very large bowl, stir together the oats, nuts, wheat germ, coconut flakes, and sunflower kernels.

In a medium microwave-safe bowl, stir together the oil, honey, and cinnamon; heat in microwave for 30 to 40 seconds, then stir until well-blended.

Pour honey mixture over oat mixture in large bowl, stirring to coat evenly. Spread mixture in an even layer on the lined 13 x 18″ pan.

Bake at 325˚F for 20 minutes; remove from oven, stir mixture (so it will bake evenly), then return to oven for another 20 minutes–for a total baking time of 40 minutes. Remove from oven and stir in the dried mixed berries. Let granola stand until cooled, then stir again to break any large clumps. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Are you a granola fan too and do you make homemade granola?

Linked to Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener and Inspire Me Monday at Create with Joy.

Dark Chocolate Caramel Nut Bars

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This is a good, easy cookie bar recipe that I’ve had for quite awhile! I think I originally found it in a magazine ad and then I came across it later at Kraft Recipes. This recipe uses a cake mix as part of the ingredients for the yummy chocolatey crust, so it’s simple to put together. I usually prefer making things from scratch, but sometimes a mix comes in handy if you’re in a time crunch. And these bars are so good you may not mind that they’re made with cake mix!

My version of these bars is a little different from the original recipe–I usually use pecans instead of walnuts (this time I used a little of both), dark chocolate chips instead of chocolate chunks, and regular chocolate cake mix instead of German chocolate. When you’re in the mood for a very chocolatey, chewy, caramel treat, this is a great recipe to try! Save some time by unwrapping the caramels ahead of time before you make these!

DARK CHOCOLATE CHIP CARAMEL NUT BARS by NancyC, adapted from Kraft Recipes

Makes a 13 x 9″ pan of bars

  • 1 (11-ounce) bag Kraft caramels, unwraped
  • 1 (5-ounce) can evaporated milk, divided
  • 1 package (2-layer size) chocolate cake mix with pudding in the mix
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts, divided (I used a mix of pecans and walnuts)
  • 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap caramels and melt them with 1/3 cup of the evaporated milk in a saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently until caramels are completely melted. Remove from heat; set aside.

Mix remaining milk, dry cake mix and melted butter in a large bowl. Press half of the cake mixture firmly onto the bottom of a greased 13 x 9-inch baking pan to form crust. Bake 8 minutes, then remove from oven.

Sprinkle 1 cup of the nuts and 3/4 cup of the dark chocolate chips over the crust. Drizzle evenly with melted caramel mixture. Top with teaspoonfuls of the remaining cake mixture; press gently into caramel mixture with back of spoon. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of nuts and 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips.

Put back in the oven and bake an additional 16 to 18 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

Note: if you want to eat these warm (they’d be great with some ice cream on top!) wait about 20 to 30 minutes before cutting them so they won’t be so gooey. For less gooey bars, wait about an hour before cutting them, when they’ve cooled more. Be sure not to wait more than a few hours before cutting them; if you do, they will be harder to cut since the caramel and bottom crust will harden some.

It may be a little tricky to get your first piece out of the pan without crumbling it a bit, but once that’s out, the rest of your bars should come out easily!

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The combination of dark chocolate, nuts, and caramel is so good! What’s your favorite chocolate/caramel dessert?

Linked to Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener, Inspire Me Monday at Create with Joy.

Whole Wheat Honey Banana Bread

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The first time I made this banana bread, the weather was chilly and rainy…the perfect time for baking! As I’ve mentioned before, I like trying out different banana bread recipes and decided to try a whole wheat version that I found on the King Arthur Flour website. I just made a few small changes, using both whole wheat and white whole wheat flour, a little more banana, and a little more chopped walnuts.

I really liked the way this banana bread turned out–moist with a great banana flavor. It’s sweetened with brown sugar and honey, and you can’t really tell it’s made with whole wheat flour–maybe because the white whole wheat flour helps to tone down the wheaty taste. So, if you like baking with whole wheat flour, you’ll want to give this a try!

WHOLE WHEAT HONEY BANANA BREAD by NancyCreative, adapted from King Arthur Flour

Makes one 9 x 5″ loaf

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 4 medium)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour (or use 2 cups of either flour)
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Lightly grease a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.

In large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until smooth. Add vanilla, baking soda, salt, and mashed bananas, beating until well combined. Beat in honey and eggs, then add the flour and chopped walnuts, stirring until smooth.

Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan, smoothing the top. Let it rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Bake the bread at 350˚F for 50 minutes, then gently lay a piece of aluminum foil across the top to prevent over-browning. Bake for an additional 8 to 10 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Let loaf cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and set on a wire rack to cool completely.

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I haven’t made that many recipes with whole wheat flour–I mainly use unbleached flour–but I do want to try more! Do you bake with whole wheat flour often?

Linked to I’m Lovin’ It, Foodie Friday, Nifty Thrifty Tuesday, Inspire Me Monday, Anti-Procrastination Tuesday.

Cranberry Raisin Nut Toasted Oat Cereal

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Last spring, I made some granola bars, and it was then that I discovered how much I loved the taste of toasted oats. After I toasted the oats for that recipe, I sampled some right from the pan and they were really good just by themselves–they had a richer, slightly nuttier flavor after being toasted. So I made a note to try making some toasted oat cereal sometime. Which brings me to this post. 🙂 I finally got around to toasting some oats and making a healthy homemade cereal!

This cereal is not sweet like granola, so it may not appeal to everyone.  It’s not as crunchy as granola either, since it doesn’t have a honey or maple syrup coating. But if you like the idea of eating pure toasted oats with dried cranberries, raisins, and nuts mixed in, then this cereal is for you! You can serve it with milk or, if you like your cereal more on the crunchy side, serve this over some vanilla yogurt–it will hold its crunchiness longer. That’s actually how I prefer to eat it, with vanilla yogurt. And I like eating it with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup on top, too–that makes it sweet enough for me! This cereal is a nice option for those of you who like to have oatmeal for breakfast–kind of like a toasted version of oatmeal!

CRANBERRY RAISIN NUT TOASTED OAT CEREAL by NancyCreative

Makes about 10 cups

  • 7 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup light olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped (or pecans)
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup raisins, golden or dark
  • Milk or vanilla yogurt
  • Honey or maple syrup for drizzling over cereal

Preheat oven to 375˚F. Line a 13 x 18″ baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper (or use 2 cookie sheets).

In large bowl, combine oats, oil, and salt, mixing until oats are evenly coated. Transfer mixture to baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Bake, stirring oats every 10 minutes, for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown.

Remove pan from oven and lower temperature to 350˚F. Sprinkle the chopped nuts evenly over the toasted oats and bake for an additional 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from oven and let oat/nut mixture cool about 10 minutes, then put mixture into large bowl. Add the dried cranberries and raisins, stirring until all ingredients are evenly distributed.

Serve in cereal bowls with some milk or vanilla yogurt and add a drizzle of honey or maple syrup on top. Cereal can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Another way you can make this–just toast the oats for about 30 minutes at 375˚F (stirring every 10 minutes) without adding the nuts; then, when you’re serving the toasted oat cereal, you can top it with fresh fruit, chopped nuts, a drizzle of honey or maple syrup, or whatever other toppings you like.

FYI, when you are toasting your oats, your kitchen will definitely have a toasty-oaty scent for a few hours! Which makes it kind of cozy on a cold day. Have you toasted oats before?

I’m linking this up to Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener.

Pomegranate Walnut Banana Bread

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I had some very ripe bananas a few days ago, so naturally I thought of making banana bread. But I wanted to try something different. I’ve been seeing recipes with pomegranate seeds quite a bit, and I finally tried some. I love the way they taste, so juicy with a light sweetness, and a little crunchiness to them, too (that’s the inner seed part). And I hear they’re so good for you! So I decided to try them in banana bread and add some walnuts…and that’s how I came up with this Pomegranate Walnut Banana Bread. It’s very dense and moist, with a light sweetness from the pomegranate seeds and the Light Cream Glaze. The pomegranate seeds and the walnuts give this bread a crunchy texture, too, so it’s a bread you’ll want to chew on a bit more. I really liked it–if you like pomegranate seeds, I think you’ll like this, too! If you haven’t ever eaten pomegranate seeds, here’s a helpful article that tells you more about them at LiveStrong.com.

Seeding the pomegranate can take a little time since there are quite a few seeds in there, so if you don’t have the time or interest in seeding a pomegranate, you can buy pomegranate seeds in the produce section of many grocery stores, or even at some Sam’s Clubs (although it’s definitely cheaper to seed your own pomegranate). The juicy outer parts of the seeds are called Arils–you may see the packaging labeled like that. Also, I recommend greasing and flouring your pan, even if it’s nonstick, because this loaf is so dense and moist, it could easily stick to the bottom of the pan if you didn’t. I greased and floured my pan, and it came out very easily, so it pays to do that!

POMEGRANATE WALNUT BANANA BREAD by NancyCreative

Makes one 9×5″ loaf

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup non-GMO canola oil or light olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Half & Half (light cream)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 large very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • seeds from 1 large pomegranate, divided (about 2 cups total–use 1 2/3 cups in the batter, and save the rest for sprinkling on top of the bread after it’s glazed and on each individual slice when serving)
  • Light Cream glaze (see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease and flour a 9×5″ loaf pan; set aside.

In large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, salt, and baking powder.

In medium bowl, beat the eggs, then add in the oil, Half & Half (light cream), and vanilla, blending well. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients in the large bowl, mixing everything well.

Fold in the mashed bananas, blending well, then blend in the chopped walnuts and pomegranate seeds.

Bake at 350˚F  for 55 to 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean or almost clean. Let loaf cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

When cake is completely cool or just slightly warm, top with the Light Cream glaze…

LIGHT CREAM GLAZE

  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 2 Tablespoons Half & Half (light cream)
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds for garnish (sprinkle some on top of the loaf and some on each slice when serving)

Mix confectioner’s sugar and Half & Half together until well-blended and smooth. Drizzle over loaf. Sprinkle some of the pomegranate seeds on top of the glaze and let set before serving; sprinkle the rest of the seeds on each slice when serving.

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I’m so glad I finally gave pomegranate seeds a try! Have you made any recipes with them?

Spinach and Feta Salad with Fresh Beetroot from The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook

If indulging in British delicacies from another era sounds good to you, then you’ll need to check out The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook, inspired by the popular Emmy Award-winning series. I recently received a review copy from the publisher and enjoyed looking through this classic recipe collection. There’s a wide range of sophisticated snacks, entrees, and desserts, including Mrs. Isobel Crawley’s Smoked Salmon Tea Sandwiches, Saxe-Coburg Soup, Potatoes Lyonnaise, Mrs. Patmore’s Downstairs Pork Pie, Decadent Chocolate Almond Cake with Sour Cream Icing, Classic Vanilla Rice Pudding, William’s Bilberry Pie, and many more delicious-sounding recipes.

Author Emily Ansara Baines points out: “In a world where appearance is key, it’s no surprise that each meal served at Downton Abbey is a gargantuan display of opulence.” So trying out these recipes is a great way to treat yourself! 🙂

I decided to try one of the salads, since it was very unique and different from any I had ever made–the Spinach and Feta Salad with Fresh Beetroot. I am developing a taste for beets more and more, so I really enjoyed this salad…and the fact that it has feta cheese in it, too, is appealing to me since I’m a big feta cheese fan! The candied walnuts that top the salad are also a great touch.

Here’s the recipe…

SPINACH AND FETA SALAD WITH FRESH BEETROOT from The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook

The unique addition of fresh beets–known as beetroot in London–mixed with these ingredients makes for a surprising, but delicious salad that everyone at Downton Abbey would enjoy. The festive mix of sweet flavors (such as maple syrup and orange juice) would provide guests at any garden party or luncheon with an extra excuse to smile.

Makes 4-6 servings

  • 4 medium beets, scrubbed, trimmed, and cut in half
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 10 ounces fresh spinach, washed and dried (I used baby spinach leaves)
  • 1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 oranges, sliced
  1. Place beets in saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then cook for 30 minutes or until tender. Drain and cool, then cut beets into cubes.
  2. Place walnuts in a skillet and briefly heat over medium-low heat. Add maple syrup and butter. Cook and stir until walnuts are evenly coated, then remove from heat and let cool.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together orange juice concentrate, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil, and set aside.
  4. Place a large helping of spinach leaves on plates, then divide candied walnuts among plates over greens. Place equal amount of beets over greens, then top with feta cheese. Drizzle each plate with some of the dressing, followed by orange slices.

Are you a Downton Abbey fan? Or a fan of classic British recipes?