Rob’s Infamous Granola #Gluten Free/Low Sugar/No Salt

22 01 2014
Last night my good friend Rob emailed me a recipe for granola. It was perfect timing, as I was heading to the grocery store and had been planning on buying granola — well I should probably make it instead no? I could save myself some money and have the option to put in only what I like to eat. In the past I have had trouble with burning the granola and putting in some unpleasant ingredients… Rob’s instructions were easy to follow and the granola came out awesome! I had it for breakfast today with some bananas. I added all the sweetener options and didn’t think it was too sweet (I also used agave instead of honey, not much clumping but a nice sweetness level). So in his own words, Rob’s Gluten free, Low sugar, No salt Granola:
This is delicious, nutritious, easy and freezable. Make your own cereal without the preservatives, extra sugar, and salt that comes with boxed store brand. Did I mention its cheaper?

Ok, basically granola is toasted whole oats with fun stuff stuck to/on it. This recipe makes one large cake pan worth of granola.

Makes about 8 cups
Dry Ingredients
– 3 cups whole oats (have to get the oldschool stovetop kind, NOT the instant)
– 1 cup chopped or ground almonds, unsalted
– 1/2 cup flax seeds
– 1/2 cup chi’a seeds
(Other options, crushed peanuts, walnuts, cashews, sesame, sunflower)
Wet Ingredients
– 1/3 cup coconut oil (comes in a liquid or a semi-solid form, doesnt matter which )
– 1/4-1/3 cup maple syrup (depends how sweet you like it)
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Clumping Promoters
– 2 tablespoons of honey (optional, once again sweetness factor determines)
– 3/4 tablespoon ground cinammon
– 1/2 teaspoon cloves
– 1/2 teaspoon allspice
– 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice (optional)
– 2 pinches of salt (you don’t have to have salt, its a flavor enhancer, I like a bit but if you don’t like it, forget it)
– 1 tablespoon brown sugar (optional, another sweetness enhancer, leave it out if you are going for max healthy)
Post Bake Mix-Ins
– Raisins ( I put in a half cup but its to your preference)
– Dried Banana chips
– Chopped Dates
– Dried Cranberries
[I added shredded coconut as well]
1. Pre-heat oven to 325
2. Mix all the spices in a small bowl
3. Mix all the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl EXCEPT Chi’a seeds
4. Mix in half the spices to the dry ingredients, stir until evenly distributed
5. Put all the wet ingredients in a small sauce pan, heat on LOW (burns quick), stirring occasionally, until everything is 100% liquid i.e. all the chunks are out of the coconut oil.
6. Pour half the wet ingredients onto the dry ingredients, mix in 1/2 the remaining spices, stir until evenly distributed
7. Add chi’a seeds
7. Pour the remaining wets and spices into the dries and mix, clumping isn’t necessarily a bad thing
8. Drizzle the honey on the mixture, stirring slowly to promote clumping (if you don’t care about clumping or don’t want sweetness, you can skip this step)
9. Taste the mixture, adjust spices to preference
10. Spread mixture evenly onto long rectangular cakepan or cookie sheet (I think they are 12 inches pus long)
11. Put in oven for 15 minutes, then remove from oven, mix and turn mixture to promote browning
12. Put in for another 15 minutes. remove and turn to promote browning
13. Put in for 5 minutes or until golden crust has formed
14. Flip mixture, trying not to mix it up too much, then put back in oven till crust forms on other side
15. Remove, let cool, add in Post Bake Mix-ins
16. Enjoy


Metal cookie sheets tend to cook/toast faster than glass cake pans and require more careful flipping, you also have to look out for loner oats that get burnt near the edges of the cookie sheet.

Adding the spices and wets gradually ensures even spice distribution. Adding Chi’a seeds after the wets ensures you don’t just get a big chi’a deposit on the bottom of your bowl, the things are tiny so you have to mix them in with some stickiness.

People differ in their granola preferences, some (like me) like it really toasted and crunchy, some like it softer and muesli-like. How long you bake it after the initial 30 minutes is going to determine your toastiness level.
All sweetners are optional, except perhaps a certain level of maple syrup. Agave nectar works well in place of maple syrup, gives a …plant-y organic-y taste to it if you are into that.
At its most basic level, the granola formula is oats, some kind of oil or fat, spices, sweetener, oven. You can add or subtract anything else according to your liking, you just have to determine if it gets baked or added in last. My general rule, anything raisin-like or dried fruits goes in post-bake, anything grain or nut gets baked.
Doubling, tripling, and quadrupling the recipe works well, it can all go in the oven provided you have enough containers. 3 batches usually gets me through the week, but I tend to eat granola like its my job. Stuff keeps well just in a bag on the counter like ordinary cereal, but if you are worried you could refrigerate/freeze.
Good Luck

Roasted Chickpea Nuts

21 08 2013

This is one of my favorite quick snacks because it is easy to make and kid friendly. You can throw it on the top of most meals or munch on it alone when you need a quick pick-me-up. I found this recipe in The Voluptuous Vegan by Myra Kornfeld and I love it! In fact I never have enough of these, so I usually double or triple the recipe. Just make sure to set the oven timer so you don’t forget and burn them all (I’ve done that too many times).



1 1/2 Cups of cooked chickpeas

2 Tbsp Vegetable oil (coconut, canola, olive, etc)

1 Tbsp Lemon juice

1 Tbsp minced ginger

Sprinkle of cayenne pepper

Sprinkle of salt


Pre-heat the oven to 375. Mix the ingredients in a bowl and pour onto a baking pan (with parchment paper if you want an easier clean-up). Cook for about 45 minutes until the chickpeas are golden brown, small, and crunchy. Stir occasionally in the process to prevent burning. Serve hot or pack away for later.

Cauliflower and Zucchini Pakoras

7 07 2013

I asked my housemate Fred to write up the recipe for his pakoras since they were such a big hit at our Indian themed community dinner. Lucky for us he agreed to, so what follows is the recipe he used to make them. If you are having any sort of party (or just want to celebrate life) I highly recommend these little snacks!

What on earth is a pakora?

A pakora is generally a  vegetable dipped in a seasoned garbanzo flour or graham flour based batter, and deep fried.

Pakoras are relatively easy and fun to make, and are certain to be a crowd pleaser even among children who aren’t too fond of vegetables or even those who don’t have much of a taste for Indian food.

You may eat them with your fingers as a snack, or as an accompaniment to a sumptuous banquet, or anything else along the spectrum of the meal scale. This recipe has been adapted from Lord Krishna’s Cuisine; The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking.


The first step in pakora making is to gather an ingredients pile.  Here’s what you’ll need to make 25-35 pieces:

1+1/3 cups of chickpea flour (sifted, if you are into sifting.  I’m personally not a sifter)

1+1/2 teaspoons of salt

2 teaspoons of your favorite oil.

2 tablespoons of ground coriander

2 teaspoons of ginger powder (if you have it)

1/4 to 1/2 tsp of baking powder

Oil for deep frying.  I used XVOO (extra virgin olive oil).

1 head of cauliflower

a zucchini


Mix the flour with the salt and the 2 tsps of oil and coriander powder and ginger powder and baking powder.  Add a few tablespoons of water and mix thoroughly.  Continue to add water until the consistency is like that of heavy cream.  (consistency is important for proper cooking!) let sit for 10-15 mins and stir again to check consistency is still right.


Heat 2.5-3 inches of oil in a deep frying vessel of your choice until ready for frying. (355 degrees or so)


Dip 5 or 6 quartered cauliflower flowerets or zucchini half moons into the batter, letting the excess drip off, and then one at a time carefully place into the hot oil.  Fry until golden brown.  Take out and put in a colander or on a plate with a paper towel or cloth towel to absorb the excess oil.

STEP 4: Serve immediately!  (after letting cool enough to safely consume) or keep warm for a little while until ready to serve.

Note: If you want to increase the experience, you can make some sort of a ‘yogurt-ish’ dipping sauce including shredded cucumbers, cilantro, salt, tomatoes, or something along these lines.  Or vegenaise.  They will be very enjoyable without a dipping sauce as well.

Roasted Kohlrabi

4 06 2013

Last week I met a new vegetable named kohlrabi, and let’s just say it was love at first sight. I was completely enthralled by how beautiful it is and since trying them for the first time, I’ve become obsessed.


The easiest way to eat these is raw. After peeling them you can munch on them like an apple, chop them and eat with your favorite dip, or shred them in with other vegetables. I found raw they taste like a radish, but with much more flavor.

However, not wanting to stop here, I decided to try roasting some. Oh man, they came out tasting like a spicier version of broccoli with an amazing texture! They were the perfect thing to top off the very large salad I made post farmer’s market (because what better way to celebrate a farmers market than making a salad).



Kohlrabi (the more the better), peeled and julienned

Olive Oil



Nutritional Yeast

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Put kohlrabi on an oiled baking sheet (making sure they all get coated in oil) and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Roast for about 30 minutes or until golden brown, remembering to stir about every 15 minutes. Once the kohlrabi is fully cooked (softer and browning on the edges), sprinkle generously with nutritional yeast and serve. These make a great addition to any salad, but can also be snacked on plain.


16 01 2013

Dosas. How to describe the wonderfulness that is a dosa. Okay, it’s true, I’m completely addicted. If you wanted to take me on a date, you should take me to an Indian place and order me a dosa. I haven’t played around enough to know how to make these from scratch, but the Hypermarche in Dakar has this amazing dosa mix. All you need to do is add water and fry them up. Note: you will need a non-stick pan or at least a good quality pan to do this. I tried it with some of the old stainless steel and used to be non-stick pans at the regional house and it failed miserably.


There are so many great ways to eat these! You can fill them with a potato and pea filling, use them as flat-bread to scoop up some lentils, or (because I have no access to corn chips) I have even used them to eat hummus. Honestly, I would be tempted to just snack on them plain. So go to Hypermarche, buy these, and if they are out tell them they need to restock! If you live in Europe, you can buy them online here. Otherwise, check out this store, but it seems a bit pricey?

Lazy (lack of) Dinner

7 01 2013

Ok, we’ve all been there. I was just too lazy to make dinner last night and really not that hungry. So here is what I decided to treat myself with: A banana shake and a peanut butter chocolate Macrobar. Please, don’t judge :p Instead, leave a comment with your favorite non-dinner dinner. Is it pudding?


Nutritional Porridge

3 01 2013

This year I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity through Peace Corps to work with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) as their Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator in Kedougou, Senegal. I am currently helping them monitor their nutrition program, known as PRN. CRS works in many villages in the region of Kedougou to identify malnourished children and pregnant/nursing mothers. Then we follow-up with them by recommending they visit their closest health structure, teaching them how to make nutritious foods from local materials, tracking their progress, and enrolling them in our program to hand out USAID food if this is available in their village.

Recently, I went to a seminar on how to make nutritional porridge and it gave me a whole new meaning to the idea of cooking from scratch. The porridge is fairly simple, and you could probably whip this up in under half an hour. Basically you combine bean (black-eyed pea) flour, peanut flour, rice flour, and sorghum or millet flour. Then you add sugar until it tastes okay and you have your porridge mix. Next you take a small amount and add hot water until it is the desired consistency. To me this kind of tastes like a cross between porridge and baby food, which I guess it is? Still, it is super nutritious so feel free to eat it or feed it to your loved ones.

It could be a great weaning food. Also, it makes good portable camping food! True, it doesn’t taste amazing, but it tastes good enough and don’t we all need some more hearty easy vegan camping food?

I think you can buy all of these flours at a natural foods store although you might need to make your own black eyed pea flour. I haven’t done this yet, but I think if you roasted the dry black eyed peas for about 20 minutes you could grind them up in a spice grinder or food processor and it would work just fine (check out this post on making mung bean flour). Unless you have a grain mill, and then can we be friends please?

Not having those resources, here is how we made the porridge:

First, we took the peanuts that had already been harvested from the fields and de-shelled and we picked through these to get out rocks, dirt, and missed bits of shell:


Next, we roasted the peanuts a bit over an open fire:


Then, we took off the peanut skin and pounded it into flour:



Now we could move on to preparing the sorghum flour. First the sorghum needed to be pounded down:


After pounding, we shook the husk and dirt out of the sorghum and then washed it:



DSC04943After drying, it could then be pounded into flour:


Finally we picked out the rocks and then roasted the black eyed peas (we bought these at a store so it was a short cut). After roasting, these were also pounded down into flour. All that was left was to wash and pound the rice (also bought at a store). Then, after a short seminar on the different health benefits and recap of how things were made, we mixed all of these flours in equal proportions and added a good amount of sugar (enough so that it tastes sweet). This flour was bagged up and given to the women; they say it will last fifteen days without refrigeration. Malnourished children and women are recommended to eat four servings of this porridge a day. One serving was defined as one cup of tea (which is about half a cup) of dry flour mixed with hot water until desired consistency is reached. All in all it was a great seminar, and at the end of a long but enjoyable day we walked home:


Oh yeah, did I mention that this village is on top of a mountain and has absolutely spectacular views? I love my job.

Spring Rolls

21 12 2012

Until recently I felt like spring rolls where one of those fancy dishes you can buy at a restaurant but are too difficult to make at home. Sadly though, most restaurants don’t serve spring rolls that I’m not allergic too, so I guess I had taken it off the menu. Surprisingly one day here in Senegal my friend Meredith Hickson declared she was going to make spring rolls. Hand made spring rolls, here in Senegal, how? However, she pulled it off and they were amazing! Now this has become one of my go to meals that I whip up quickly when I don’t know what else to make. If you are living here in Senegal and want to make these you just have to ask for ‘nem’ wrappers – lots of boutiques and ‘toubob’ stores carry them. Once you get the hang of it, feel free to experiment with different fillers. Let me know what tastes best to you!


makes 10-20 rolls serves about 1 person (for a meal)

Spring Roll Ingredients:DSCN1284

Rice wrappers

1 cup shredded carrots (about 1 carrot)

1 cup shredded cabbage (about half a cabbage)

ginger paste or powder (1/2 – 1 tsp)




chives or lettuce (optional)



Dipping Sauce Ingredients:

olive oil

balsamic vinegar (import from Dakar)

peanut butter




Sautee carrots and cabbage until vegetables are soft. Add ginger, salt, and pepper to taste. To learn how to roll these spring rolls, check out this awesome blog post on spring roll rolling! Basically you will get a couple of spring roll wrappers wet, then one at a time add a little bit of filling and roll them up. If you happen to have chives or lettuce on hand you can stick a little bit in each spring roll along the edge next to the filling.

Make the dipping sauce by combining all ingredients and stirring till emulsified. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Now you can either fry the spring rolls a second time, or eat them fresh. Either way, serve with dipping sauce and enjoy.

Tomato Sandwich

25 10 2012

I think this is my mom’s favorite sandwich. When she found out the date I was coming home to visit the first thing she said was “I’m going to go get you some soy-free veganaise so you can have a tomato sandwich from the garden before the frost comes”. I thought she was a little too excited about this, then I had one. Oh man, I am completely addicted. I want to eat these all day long (I did for a few days then I realized I should probably vary my diet a bit).


1 or 2 slices of fresh tomatoes (tomatoes out of season don’t taste good)

generous amounts of soy-free veganaise

1 or 2 slices of gf bread or gf english muffin

basil (optional)

mustard (optional)

Toast bread. Slather mayonaise. Place tomato. Place Basil (optional). Eat like this, or add a second slice of bread to close the sandwich. Put mustard (optional) on this second slice if you want to switch things up a bit.

To me, this is the taste of summer.

Now that gardening season is here in Senegal I can’t wait to grow some tomatoes, anyone want to send me some veganaise?

Kothimbir Vadi

23 10 2012

I found this recipe on, and am so glad I stumbled across it because it is a gem! This is kind of like a frittata or fried polenta made from chickpea flour and cilantro. When I made it I didn’t use garlic pods or chilis (because I didn’t have them), although I threw in a little cayenne pepper. I think it came out good, a bit mild, but I don’t like spicy food.

The next day I served it with some black lentils I had cooked up and they went great together for a protein heavy lunch. It also makes a great alternate “tea cake” to serve with chai (-:

To make this in Senegal ask for “Persi Sinioux” at the local market: that is cilantro. It is also called coriander (to clarify, what we call cilantro is really just the leaves of the coriander plant). Chickpea flour can be found at Hypermarche, it is unmarked but found in the Indian Foods aisle. They have been out of stock lately, but promise it is coming soon. Ask for “Ble de Pois Chiches”. Most of the spices you can find in Dakar, but feel free to substitute if you don’t want to spend the money. I found ginger and garlic in the market, and then just used curry powder instead of the correct spices. It is not as good, but still very tasty.

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