Honey Maple Almond Clusters (White Sugar-Free)


It’s Independence Day weekend, which for most of us east-coasters means a long weekend at the beach! So Andrew and I packed up the car last night and drove 5 hours down the coast to the NC/SC border for a much-needed mental and physical break. And then Arthur arrived… the first hurricane of the season with the worst timing. Currently we are cooped up in the beach house on our first day here, waiting for the storm to pass. It’s just grazing us here, so we’re lucky, and thinking of the people (especially our friends) in the Outer Banks who are about to get a direct hit tonight. Stay safe!

In my world, road trips only mean one thing: Car snacks. A couple years ago I would have stocked up on Sour Patch Kids and chocolate covered pretzels on our gas station stop before heading out. Those days are (thankfully) gone, but I still wanted that sweet and salty fix, so I whipped up some Honey Maple Almond Clusters before heading out! Car snack fix, done and done. And not too terrible in the nutrition department, I might add. Heavy on the nuts and seeds, with natural sugars rather than the white and brown that are in typically brittle recipes. I added grass-fed butter for the extra richness and flavor, but you could certainly leave it out if you choose. Car packed, clusters made, plus a green smoothie in the cup holder, and we were set for the hours ahead! Now just to ride out this rain…

Honey Maple Almond Clusters

  • 3/4 cup unfiltered honey
  • 3/4 cup  grade B maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 cups raw almonds
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup watermelon seeds
  • 2 Tbsp grass-fed butter (I used salted Kerry Gold)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the honey, maple syrup, and water.
  2. Bring this mixture to a boil (about medium to medium-high heat), and use a candy thermometer to keep track of the temperature. (The thermometer is important! Sugar is very finicky.)
  3. Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper. Measure out your add-ins beforehand, as you will need to act quickly once your sugar mixture comes to temperature.
  4. Continue to boil sugar mixture until it reaches 300 degrees F, or the “hard crack” stage, stirring frequently. Beware, it will foam up. If it foams too much, stir, or remove from heat briefly and then return. This stage takes longer than expected–anywhere from 30 min to an hour. Be patient!
  5. Once the mixture reaches the hard crack temperature, remove from heat and quickly add your butter, almonds, seeds, vanilla and cinnamon. Stir and fold in the ingredients quickly, as the sugar will start to stiffen.
  6. Add the mixture to the lined 8×8 pan, and smooth into an even layer.
  7. Allow to cool in the freezer (they will be easier to break when really cold).
  8. Once completely hardened (like hard candy), remove from the pan and break the mixture into bite-sized clusters.
  9. Helpful hints: I found it broke more easily if I flipped it over so the bottom was facing up. I used a butter knife and just went for it. Caution–this is a messy process. Expect to sweep the floor and every inch of counter within a 4-5 foot radius. Maybe invest in some protective eye wear and send small children and pets out of the room. Standard flying object precautions. Also, these got slightly chewy at room temperature, so I found that storing them in the fridge kept them super crunchy. And one more thing… Please don’t pull out a filling eating these.
  10. Enjoy!



No Bean, Watermelon Seed “Hummus”


Ah hummus, one of the things I miss greatly about no longer eating beans/lentils. I tend to avoid beans and lentils because of their anti-nutrient properties, and also because they usually give me extreme stomach pain (not terribly uncommon for beans–they do tend to have that, ahem, reputation–but often times it is literally unbearable for me.) But I was missing the veggies dip aspect, so I did some tinkering to figure out what I could come up with. I’d seen hummus made from cauliflower, and cashews, but I chose to go a different route: Watermelon seeds. Say what? you ask. Yep. Let me give you a brief synopsis of watermelon seeds. They are a plant-protein powerhouse. We’re talking 11 grams of protein in 1 ounce. That’s 2 tablespoons. That’s about half of a handful. That’s A LOT of protein. Oh and 15% of your daily iron value in the same 1 ounce. Um yes please and thank you. You can learn more about these little bundles of nutritional joy in my Watermelon Seed ingredient post. So because not only do I use these watermelon seeds for this “hummus,” but also tahini (sesame seed paste), there are about 13 grams of protein in 2 tablespoons of this stuff. Compare this to 2 grams of protein in your traditional, chickpea hummus. (Um, was anyone else disillusioned by this? I was under the impression that hummus was a good source of protein for oh I don’t know, my entire life…) This makes this dip the perfect afternoon snack if you ask me! Now, don’t expect this to be the texture of your traditional hummus. Try as I did, it’s just not the creaminess you’re used to. But the flavor profile is hummus-y indeed, and if you ask me, for the added benefits, I would gladly take a difference in texture. Snack away!

No Bean, Watermelon Seed Hummus

  • 1 cup raw, sprouted watermelon seeds
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 tsp each of smoked paprika, onion powder, and dried yellow mustard powder
  • dash of cayenne, to taste
  1. Soak the watermelon seeds in filtered water for 3-4 hours. They will become slightly soft, like pumpkin seeds when gutting a pumpkin. Drain, and rinse.
  2. In a small food processor or blender, blend your soaked watermelon seeds until they start to form a paste.
  3. Add the rest of your ingredients, and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.
  4. Store in the fridge. Hummus will separate, just stir with a fork to reincorporate.

Serving size: 2 Tbsp. Makes 8 servings.



Creamy Avocado Lime Spinach Pesto


THIS. This is the most versatile sauce I’ve ever made, and a staple in my fridge. I put it on everything. EVERYTHING. Okay maybe not desserts (but I’m not knockin’ it). But chicken, burgers, spaghetti squash, seafood, salads… yes, yes and yes. It’s creamy, garlicy, limey, a tad spicy, and nutrient dense. And it’s easy to whip up as well. Avocado makes this nice and smooth and creamy, fresh basil gives it a pesto taste, and spinach sneaks in extra nutrients. Plus garlic and lime, which obviously speaks for itself. Yum. I repeat. YUM. Once you try this, it’ll become a staple for you too! You won’t be able to help yourself.

Creamy Avocado Lime Spinach Pesto

  • 3/4 cup of olive oil
  • 10-12 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 ripe avocado, skin and pit removed
  • 1 handful of baby spinach
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • juice of 1 large lime
  • Salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste

Makes about 1 cup of sauce

  1. Place all ingredients into a blender or food processor (I use my Ninja Master Prep and it works like a charm), and combine.
  2. Scrape down the sides and continue to blend.
  3. Repeat until completely combined and smooth texture has been achieved.
  4. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. May need to stir to recombine.
  5. A little goes a long way, enjoy!

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Clean Eating Breadsticks (Gluten-Free, Grain-Free)


In my humblest o’ opinions, these are the ULTIMATE clean eating breadsticks. Have I mentioned I’m a carboholic? Right. So breadsticks were my friend. Or so I thought, until I realized that all of the crap in them, like so many of my other favorite “friends,” was making me miserable. So with some tinkering, I’ve managed to come up with a dough that is bready, fluffy, and versatile. I’ve used this base as a pizza dough, as a bun for sloppy joes, and even attempted modifying it to create cinnamon rolls (fail, terrible fail, but I will persevere). Best part about this hearty dough is that it isn’t loaded with expensive nut flour. The base is sunflower seeds (a favorite of mine), which when bought already hulled and unroasted are on the cheaper end of the clean eating budget. In the following pictures, I’ve shown how you can create your own sunflower meal. I actually used a combination of sprouted sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds simply because that’s what I had on hand, but you can easily use just sunflower seeds, or another nut meal (ie almond flour, or cashew meal) as a 1:1 replacement. As I already mentioned, the versatility of this dough is amazing, and I can guarantee that this will not be the last time this recipe shows up in a post! It holds together pretty well (considering it’s a gluten-free recipe, I can only do so much people!), is definitely hearty enough to dunk, and is protein-packed enough that it will leave you completely satisfied–unlike its high-glycemic, white flour counterpart. Oh, not to mention all of the good fats and oils packed into these little babies, which not only makes them healthy, but most definitely keeps them moist and fluffy. If you’re like me and NEED a clean bread replacement, or maybe are just looking for a more filling alternative to the yeasty, sugary white bread we’ve gotten so accustomed to, look no further, this stuff was made for you!

Clean Eating Breadsticks

  • 1 cup ground sunflower seeds
  • 1 Tbsp almond flour (to make these nut-free, use an extra Tbsp of flax meal instead)
  • 1 Tbsp flax meal
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 2 pastured-raised eggs
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp oregano or Italian seasoning mix
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Makes four 2″ x 6″ breadsticks.

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, and line a baking sheet with a piece of oiled parchment paper.
  2. Grind your sunflower seeds in a small food processor until in a medium-fine meal (as pictured below).
  3. Combine your dry ingredients in a large bowl (ground sunflower seeds, almond flour, flax, coconut flour, baking powder, and spices).
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and mix by hand until thoroughly combined. Your mixture should stick together in a loose dough ball shape.
  5. Divide your dough into 4 even sections, and mold into breadstick shapes. This dough will not roll out like a traditional bread does, so what I usually do is start to form the breadstick shape in my hands, then place on the baking sheet and continue to mold the dough until I have obtained my desired size and shape. The dough should hold its shape, but still feel slightly loose and watery. Place the breadsticks 1-2 inches apart on the baking sheet.
  6. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until they are golden brown in color, browned on the bottoms, and cracked on the tops.


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