healthy brunch mini parfaits + maple coconut granola | spice & dicehealthy brunch mini parfaits + maple coconut granola | spice & dice

healthy brunch mini parfaits + maple coconut granola | spice & dice

I’m a huge fan of brunch. It’s actually starting to become a regular Sunday thing among my friends. I love returning from my long run, taking a hot shower, and then emerging to a scene of friends, delicious food smells and the sheer joy of creating something special together.

healthy brunch mini parfaits + maple coconut granola | spice & dice

We go all out during brunch. Everyone contributes something – whether it’s pancakes, home fries, sausage, a fruit salad, or mimosas. One of my favorite breakfasts of all time would have to be a homemade parfait. I often will set out the fixings – I brought them to share at work once as well – but they usually go untouched: no one quite knows what to make of an assortment of yogurt, fruit and granola sitting out on a table. Sure, separately, they’re great. But together, they’re wonderful.

healthy brunch mini parfaits + maple coconut granola | spice & dice

healthy brunch mini parfaits + maple coconut granola | spice & dice

For Easter this year, I’m going to be bringing mini pre-made parfaits to the table with homemade granola. You can’t really go wrong when you bring something healthy and delicious to Easter brunch.

healthy brunch mini parfaits + maple coconut granola | spice & dice

healthy brunch mini parfaits + maple coconut granola


yields: 10 mini parfaits

Ingredients:

Granola

  • 1/4 cup + 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup + 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 4 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. maple extract
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Parfaits

  • 10 8-ounce mason jars
  • 1 quart of your favorite greek yogurt (I used vanilla)
  • 24 oz. frozen mixed berries
  • 1 ounce dark chocolate

Directions:

Granola

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor or blender, add 1/4 cup almonds and 1/4 cup pecans. Pulse until roughly ground. Transfer to a bowl. Chop the remaining almonds and pecans into smaller pieces. Combine them with the ground nuts.
  3. Microwave the honey and coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl for 30 seconds, or until melted. Pour liquid into the bowl of nuts.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and stir to combine.
  5. Spread the mixture evenly on the baking tray and bake for 12 minutes, removing once after 6 minutes to stir. When done, remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container and use within 3-4 weeks.

Parfaits

  1. Spoon a small layer of greek yogurt into the bottom of each of your jars.
  2. Next, add some frozen berries onto the layer of greek yogurt. Spoon another layer of greek yogurt into the jars, followed by a second layer of berries. End with a final layer of greek yogurt, making sure to leave room on top for granola.
  3. Chop the dark chocolate into tiny pieces. Top each parfait with a little bit of the dark chocolate. If eating right away, top with a few scoops of granola as well.

Granola recipe adapted from Lovely Little Kitchen.

chicken-dinner-3134

This week has been sort of a lull compared to my normal schedule. On a whim, I joined my mom and sister at a new spin class on Monday night. As I normally (yet unintentionally) do, I started out too hard and have rendered myself useless these past few days. I’m sore everywhere. I had to cut my run short on Tuesday because my quads were screaming at me and my poor, limping form was causing more harm than good. The four flights of stairs that I take every morning to get to my office have just about killed me. I’ve resorted to living room core work and dining room spinning. On the plus side, these seemingly quicker workouts have actually allowed me more time to cook real dinners.

chicken-dinner-3103

I’m not much of a meat eater – I only eat meat once or twice a week – but when I do eat meat, it’s usually chicken. I love the versatility of chicken. You can bake it, fry it, grill it, cook it in a crock-pot. You can shred it, serve it cold, eat it with vegetables, top it with marinara, dip it in bread crumbs.

chicken-dinner-3108

Chicken is so easy to cook and it’s so easy to switch up. I especially love popcorn chicken – or chicken with a crunch – but I’m not a big fan of fried foods, and neither is my body! But…you can have your chicken and eat it too. This chicken isn’t fried, it’s baked, and it’s still crunchy! I also serve it over a bed of spinach with some other healthy and crunchy veggies.

chicken-dinner-3133

This recipe makes roughly 4 servings (4 salads), depending on how much chicken you like in your salad.

chicken-dinner-3139

Baked Cajun Chicken and Spinach Salad

yields: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • cooking spray
  • 4 chicken tenders (about 1 large chicken breast, sliced lengthwise into quarters)
  • 2 Tbsp. milk or almond milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup panko
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. Cajun seasoning
  • spinach
  • shredded carrots
  • cucumber, sliced
  • feta cheese
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Beat the egg and milk together in one bowl. In a second bowl, mix the panko and Cajun seasoning.
  3. Cut your chicken tenders into small nugget-sized piece. (About 1-2 inches in diameter.) First dip the chicken into the egg mixture, then coat with the panko mixture. Place coated chicken on the baking sheet.
  4. Cook the chicken nuggets for 15 minutes, or until fully cooked. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes.
  5. While waiting for the chicken to cook, prepare your salad. Assemble spinach, carrots, cucumber slices and feta cheese in a bowl. Add in extra ingredients if desired. Top with cooked chicken.
  6. Drizzle 1 Tbsp. olive oil and 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar on to each salad serving.

Farro Salad with Pesto, Peas, Cucumbers and Mozzarella  | Spice & Dice

It’s been getting steadily warmer these past few weeks and I’m ready for summer. I’m already craving fruit skewers, cold drinks (iced coffee, anyone?), kayaking and grilling. This weekend, I decided that it was time make a cold salad.

Here’s the kicker. I’m on a self-imposed strict budget now. I’ll be moving in 7 days (!!) which will involve a few mandatory expenses. So this salad had to be budget-friendly. Like anyone on a budget, I skipped my usual supermarket and went straight to Trader Joe’s.

Farro Salad with Pesto, Peas, Cucumbers and Mozzarella  | Spice & Dice

There, I spotted the 10-minute farro. A few weeks earlier, a close friend of mine had served some of TJ’s 10-minute farro with dinner and I made a mental note to pick some up because it was delicious. So the idea for the cold salad was born.

The idea was to eat this every day for lunch and with dinner…but then the weekend came and my plans changed. Determined to eat every bit of this salad, I put the remainder of the salad in the freezer and it’s kept just fine! I’ll probably pull it out sometime this week and eat it as a side with a grilled chicken breast.

Farro Salad with Pesto, Peas, Cucumbers and Mozzarella  | Spice & Dice

Farro Salad with Pesto, Peas, Cucumbers and Mozzarella

yields: 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. 10-minute farro
  • 16 oz. sweet frozen peas
  • 1 medium cucumber
  • 6 oz. fresh pesto
  • 8 oz. mozzarella log
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Prepare the farro according to the instructions on the bag. Set aside and let cool.
  2. Pour the frozen peas with a cup of water into a pot. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 2-3 minutes or until the peas are all broken apart. Don’t overcook or they will become mushy. Drain and set aside to cool.
  3. Chop the cucumber into small dime-sized pieces.
  4. Chop the mozzarella log into similar dime-sized pieces.
  5. Combine the farro, peas, cucumbers and mozzarella in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the pesto, sea salt and pepper. If your pesto is rather dry (mine didn’t have very much olive oil floating on top), add in up to 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil.
  6. Refrigerate and serve. The salad stays good refrigerated for up to a week in a closed container.

Vegetable Quinoa Salad - Spice & Dice

I love quinoa. It’s a relatively new addition to my diet but I’ve grown fond of its texture and taste as well as its versatility. I’ve eaten it in breakfasts, snacks, disguised as other foods, and in salads.

Vegetable Quinoa Salad - Spice & Dice

Vegetable Quinoa Salad - Spice & Dice

This salad is perfect for works lunches. It keeps for a while in the fridge, it’s fresh and filling. I take pride in my work lunches. I’m on a strict budget and have packed a work lunch every single day since September. That’s five months that I haven’t spent a dime during a lunch break. It’s a habit that’s grown on me and now I aim to keep it going.

Vegetable Quinoa Salad - Spice & Dice

Behold. My smorgasbord of a salad: Vegetable Quinoa Salad.

This recipe makes a lot. It lasts me an entire week, sometimes longer. It’s also the perfect amount for a party dish.

Vegetable Quinoa Salad

yields: 8-10 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 cup feta cheese (crumbled)
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes (halved)
  • 1 1/2 cup frozen edamame (thawed/microwaved)
  • 1/2 orange pepper (diced)
  • 1/2 yellow pepper (diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 red onion (diced)
  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans (washed)
  • 1 cup mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1/4 Tbsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 Tbsp. pepper
  • 6 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice

Instructions:

  1. In a saucepan, bring quinoa and 2 cups of water to a boil. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, combine first 13 ingredients (through pepper). In a smaller bowl, combine the vinegar, olive oil and lemon juice. Stir the mixture into the larger bowl. Mix well. For best taste, refrigerate for an hour to allow the mixture to absorb into the vegetables.