Free and Whole Living

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Papa’s Granola

I have had many requests for more breakfast items, and I have been working on granola bars and the perfect breakfast cookie.  I hope to get both of those items finalized pretty soon.  I love granola.  It is a great breakfast or snack.  It is full of great protein and fiber from the gluten free oats, nuts, flax seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds.  There is a little sweetness from the dried fruit and maple syrup, but it’s not very sweet at all.  Just a hint of sweetness and spice from the cinnamon.  I used to make granola for my family, and my dad just loved it.  This is based on that recipe, the only difference is that I added flax, chia, and hemp seeds.  You can add any type of nuts, seeds, dried fruits, or even vegan dark chocolate chips.  This is a great recipe to have in your rotation.



5 cups gluten free rolled oats (I used Trader Joe’s)

2 cups dry quinoa (I used Trader Joe’s tricolor quinoa)

1/4 cup flax seeds

1/4 cup hemp seeds

1/4 cup chia seeds

2 cups nuts (I used walnuts and almonds)

3 teaspoons cinnamon, divided

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup maple syrup or agave

1/4 cup fruit juice

2 cups dried fruit ( I used cranberries and raisins)


Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl add: oats, quinoa, seeds, nuts, and 2 teaspoons cinnamon.


Add oil, maple syrup (or agave), 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and fruit juice in a small saucepan.  Simmer on medium-high heat.

Take off the heat right before it comes to a boil.

Pour on top of the oat mixture.

Stir well with a wooden spoon.

Pour evenly on the prepared sheet pans.

Smooth mixture with a wooden spoon until both pans are pretty even.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Check pan after about 10 minutes. Stir granola and turn the pans, so they can cook evenly.

Take out of oven and let sit in pans for 5 minutes.

Add the dried fruit and stir.  Let cool completely.

Store in airtight containers in a dry cool place or in the refrigerator.  This recipe yields about 9 cups.

It will stay nicely in the freezer.









Strawberry Rhubarb and Ginger Crumble

Kristen’s crumble

I made this dessert for two going away parties at work.  I saw these beautiful strawberries at the market and I also saw rhubarb and decided to give it a whirl.  I have never had strawberry rhubarb pies before, nor have I ever made it.  I discovered a new-found love for rhubarb.  And, I absolutely love the combination of the sweetness of the strawberries, the tartness of the rhubarb, with the sweet-spiciness of the ginger.  This is  definitely  one of my favorite desserts.  Several of my co-workers told me that it was their favorite thing that I have ever made, so I decided to make it again for my friend Haydn’s going away.



4 cups strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and quartered (or halved for smaller berries)

2 cups rhubarb, rinsed, trimmed, and diced

4 tablespoons candied ginger, diced

1 tablespoon + 1/4 cup coconut sugar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided

1 cup gluten free oats

1/2 cup almond meal

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

1/4 cup coconut oil

Filling Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spray or brush a 9″ pie plate or casserole dish with coconut oil.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, add strawberries, rhubarb, 2 tablespoons ginger, 1 tablespoon  sugar, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.

Mix well.  Add lemon juice and zest.

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Pour into the prepared baking dish.  Set aside.

Crumble Directions:

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a  paddle attachment, add oats, almond meal, walnuts, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 2 tablespoons ginger, and 1/4 cup coconut sugar.

Mix on medium, until the ingredients are mixed well.

Sprinkle crumble topping on top of the filling.

Bake for 30 – 35 minutes, or when your kitchen smells like strawberries and cinnamon.


Haydn’s crumble













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Strawberry Citrus Cupcakes


I made these delicious cupcakes for my papa’s fathers day dinner.  I have been playing around with different gluten-free flours trying to come up with moist and spongy cupcake.  Anyone that has ever attempted baking a gluten free cake that has flavor, is moist, and spongy knows how hard of a feat that really is.  But, I finally made a cupcake that was not crumbly or tasted like cardboard.  Which, unfortunately  are many of the  gluten free baked goods on the market.  And, it is especially difficult when you don’t use eggs.  But, I love using chia and flax replacement eggs in my recipes.  I use the same amount of chia eggs that I would in a regular cake recipe.  Well, after many failed attempts at making cakes, I used a combination of almond and millet flours.  I also used strawberry puree and decreased the amount of maple syrup that I was going to use.  And, the citrus juice added a nice zesty flavor.  I didn’t ice it, but it would be nice with a citrus glaze.


1 1/2 cups almond flour ( I ground raw almonds in my mini food processor)

1 cup millet flour

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons ground chia or flax

6 tablespoons water

1/3 cup coconut oil, melted or olive oil

1/3 cup maple syrup or agave

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 cup each, fresh lemon and lime juice

1 tablespoon each, lemon and lime zest

1 cup strawberries, pureed

2 tablespoons candied ginger, chopped


Add chia meal and water into a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.

Stir and set aside.

In a medium bowl add flours, xanthan gum, baking soda, and sea salt.

Whisk well to combine.

Add oil, maple syrup or agave, and oil to the chia “egg”.


Mix on medium speed until combined.

Add dry ingredients half a cup at a time.

Alternate with the citrus juice.

Mix in between additions, starting with low speed and increasing to medium.

You should start and end with the dry ingredients.

Add candied ginger and mix well.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a muffin pan with baking cups or spray with coconut oil spray.

Scoop 1-2 tablespoons of batter into baking cups, filling 3/4 full.


Bake for 15 – 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Take out of oven and cool in muffin pan for 5 minutes.

Transfer cupcakes to a cooling rack to cool completely.


They go great with coffee or tea.













Beet Risotto

I have been thinking of a nice Father’s Day menu for my Sunday visit with my papa. I usually bring him dinners when I visit him.    It is the highlight of my week, deciding on the menu, and seeing his face light up when he eats my food.  My father always loved cooking and eating Italian food.  Being in the kitchen with him is always one of my favorite memories.  He was always happy with a bowl of pasta, olive oil, and parmesan.  So, in honor of that, I decided on making beet risotto.  Since we both don’t eat gluten, and I had arborio rice, I decided on the risotto.  He loves beets and I love the vibrant color of the rice by using beet juice in the recipe instead of vegetable stock.  I hope you love this dish.  It is so good.  I used to use butter to finish my risotto before I turned vegan.  I used two tablespoons of earth balance vegan butter at the very end, and it was very creamy and good.  One of the things that I do miss is parmesan.  I haven’t thought about it in so long, but when I was writing about my dad’s love for pasta and parmesan, I just had this intense craving for it.  I discovered some very easy recipes using nutritional yeast to make vegan parmesan.  I will try it very soon and post a recipe that I like and can eat. Some call for sesame seeds and they don’t agree with me so much, but I did find one using cashews.  I will let you know how it turns out.



1 cup onions, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup arborio rice

3 – 4 cups fresh beet juice

1 cup roasted beets, diced

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 – 2 tablespoons vegan butter or olive oil


To make fresh beet juice:

Rinse, peel, and dice 2 medium beets.

Add 2 cups of water and beets in a juicer or blender ( I have a Blendtec).

Blend until all of the beets have been juiced ( I selected the whole juice button for the allotted time).

It yields about 4 cups of juice.


Pour juice into a medium saucepan.

Heat on medium heat.  Turn down to a low simmer.


To make the risotto:

Heat a large skillet or a cast iron pan on medium heat.  Add olive oil.

Add onions and garlic.  Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.


Add arborio rice and stir well, until the rice is coated in oil and begins to get a little color.  Do not let it get too brown.


Add a half cup of  beet juice.  Stirring well.

Continue adding juice and stirring constantly for 15-20 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed.


Taste the risotto.  It should be a little firm ( al dente).

Take off the heat and add vegan butter or olive oil.

Stir and serve warm.

I served this with sauteed kale and roasted beets.  The best part was seeing my dad’s face when he was eating! It was priceless.












Dark Chocolate Chip Sea Salt and Cranberry Cookies

Lately, I have been obsessed with sea salt.  Sea salt flavored sweet potato chips from Trader Joe’s, and I especially love dark chocolate and sea salt.  I love sweet and salty combinations, so I just thought all of these flavors would be great together.  They are so good! The flavors are amazing; the sweetness from the chocolate, mixed with the salt, and the tart cranberries.



¼ cup coconut sugar

1/3 cup coconut oil

2 tablespoons flax or chia meal

6 tablespoons water

2 cups gluten free all purpose flour

1 cup gluten free oats

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

½ teaspoon sea salt plus more for sprinkling

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup milk alternative ( I used coconut milk)

½ cup dried cranberries

½ cup dairy free dark chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Add coconut sugar and oil in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.

Mix on low and increase speed to medium.

Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Add flax or chia meal and water in a small bowl and set aside.


In a medium bowl add flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, ½ teaspoon sea salt.


Whisk well to combine ingredients. Set aside.

Add flax or chia meal, coconut milk, and vanilla extract to the coconut sugar mixture and mix on medium speed.

Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.

Add dry ingredients one cup at a time.

Start mixer on low and increase speed to medium.

Scrape the bowl after mixing.

Add dried cranberries and chocolate chips stir until combined.


Scoop dough by using a tablespoon or small ice cream scoop.

Place 2” apart on prepared baking sheet.


Bake 10-12 minutes.

Sprinkle with sea salt as soon as you get them out of the oven.

Cool on wire racks.







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White Nectarine and Berry Crisp

One of my very favorite desserts are crisps.  I use whatever fruits are in season.  I love apple and cranberry crisps in the fall, and peach and blueberry crisps in the summer.  The nectarines were beautiful and ripe, and I settled on white nectarines.  I like their taste raw, and I love them baked with a little cinnamon.  I also had strawberries and decided to throw them in.  Play around with fresh and dried fruits, berries, and nuts.  The possibilities are endless.




2 cups sliced White Nectarines

2 cups mixed berries ( I used blueberries and strawberries)

1 cup gluten free oats

½ cup almond meal (ground almonds, not flour)

¼ c coconut sugar + 2 tablespoons

2 teaspoons cinnamon

¼ c coconut oil

zest and juice of 1 lemon



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray or lightly brush a 9” pie plate with coconut oil.

To make the filling:

In a medium bowl, add the nectarines, berries.


Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of coconut sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, lemon juice, and zest.

Stir well to combine.

Pour into greased pie plate.

To make the crisp topping:

In a medium mixing bowl, add the gluten free oats, almond meal, ¼ cup coconut sugar.

Add coconut oil, and mix well using your hands.


Add the crisp topping on top of the fruit.


Bake 30-40 minutes (I cooked mine for 35 minutes).

Take out of the oven and let cool.  Serve warm with your favorite non-dairy “ice cream” or by itself.  Enjoy.





Carrot, Ginger, and Chickpea Soup

Carrot and ginger soup is one of my favorite soups.  I wanted to do a little twist by adding chickpeas which are high in protein and add texture, and by adding my go to curry and turmeric.  The spices add warmth and a little kick. It is a comforting and warm soup on this dreary and rainy Seattle day.  It’s just what I needed today.



2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon ginger, minced

2 cups carrots, peeled and diced

1 can chickpeas, drained or 2 cups cooked and cooled

2 teaspoons curry

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon salt

4 cups vegetable stock or water


Heat a large pot on medium heat.  Add oil.

Add onions, garlic, and ginger.


Stir and saute for 3-5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent and the garlic and ginger are fragrant.

Add the carrots.  Stir and cook until the carrots begin to soften, 3-5 minutes.


Add the chickpeas.  Stir well to combine.

Add the curry, turmeric, cumin, and salt.

Stir well.  Add the vegetable stock or water.


Stir well to combine.  Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Bring to a boil.


Turn the heat down to low and cover.  Cook for 20-25 minutes.

Take off the heat and blend some of the soup with a hand blender to keep some of the texture.

Or, if you prefer a smoother soup, you can pour it into your blender and puree it.

It just depends on your taste.


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