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Homemade Nutella

Posted by on Apr 15, 2014 | 0 comments

I posted this bad boy on instagram last Friday and immediately had messages from friends saying things like “UM, you know how much I love nutella right?!” or ” did you seriously just post homemade nutella – you’re bringing my back to my childhood”

Homemade Vegan Nutella | thefreshdirection.com

Creamy.

Chocolaty.

Toasty.

Nutty.

Butter.

I wish I could share a nostalgia-inducing story with you about how I ate nutella for breakfast all the time as a kid too and was therefore inspired to revamp the traditional store-bought butter to create a simpler, more natural, less preservative filled, VEGAN alternative.

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Not really the case.  To be honest I don’t know if we ever had nutella in the house.  We were more peanut butter people.  I didn’t really feel deprived or anything though.  It just wasn’t something we were into.  Kind of like cheeze whizz.  Not really into that either.

Homemade Vegan Nutella | thefreshdirection.com

But then I was inspired to buy some hazelnuts during a recent trip to the bulk food store.  They were on sale.  They looked yummy.  I had visions of hazelnut butter dancing in my head and thus this homemade nutella was born

Homemade Vegan Nutella | thefreshdirection.com

It takes some patience as all good things in life do.  Your food processor will be challenged but give it some time and some frequent breaks to scrape down the sides of the processor and the rewards will be well worth it!  To give you a better, more tangible timeline – from the time you put your toasted hazelnuts in the processor to the time you have creamy butter will be at least 20 minutes depending on your machine’s capabilities.  Don’t give up though!  There will be a moment where you think you’re just going to have well ground hazelnut powder and then a minute later the oils are released and butter begins to clearly form.  Keep going a little longer to get things extra smooth though.  It won’t be the same as the store-bought version, but it’s simple, healthy and delicious, which is really what I was aiming for.  I don’t think we can ask for much more than that, do you?

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Quinoa and Arugula Spring Salad

Posted by on Apr 11, 2014 | 1 comment

When Spring arrives there is a sense of awakening in the city.

Arugula and Quinoa Spring Salad | thefreshdirection.com

People emerge from their homes. Patio furniture is set up and smiling patrons enjoy cold beverages while chatting with friends.  People prematurely go out in public in shorts when it’s either a) not warm enough yet or b) their pasty white legs aren’t ready yet.  Either way, the world is a bit greener.  A bit brighter. Hibernation is over. Haaaa-lle-lujah.

Arugula and Quinoa Spring Salad | thefreshdirection.com

That’s kind of the vibe I’m hoping to see this weekend.  I think we’re cracking the double digits temperature wise for the first time since October or something. That’s 5 long months, friends.

To help summon the Spring-ish vibes, I whipped together a rather seasonally appropriate salad.  Farmer’s Markets are also even more magical this time of year.  I love seeing all the fresh local produce spilling out of the crates and the bright flowers lining the sidewalks. Last weekend I was so tempted to buy myself a little bouquet but refrained since I was leaving the next day for another work-related trip.  Maybe this weekend I’ll treat myself though!

This salad is light and refreshing.  Next time I may add some chickpeas or try it with a lemon/garlic/tahini style dressing for a little twist.  If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to BBQ and I’ll serve it with some grilled veggies.

Here’s to hoping!

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Skillet Baked Carrot Cake Oatmeal

Posted by on Mar 10, 2014 | 1 comment

Something I greatly appreciate in recipes is customizability.  Don’t have this? Add that.  Don’t like this?  Try that.  You know – recipes that serve more as guidelines or as a starting point for something great.  Something made great because you made it that way for you.  It suited your tastes and reflected what you had in your pantry. It didn’t require a trip to three different health food stores to find the ingredient that had no viable substitute.

Skillet Baked Carrot Cake Oatmeal | thefreshdirection.com #vegan

Those recipes have their place, sure.  But for something simple like a weekday breakfast, making it in about 30 minutes with the result being a great base for many-a-toppings for your breakfasts for nearly a week is something I look for and gravitate to.

 

That’s why I love making granola.  Usually one bowl required.  A quick flick of the wrist to get things incorporated, spread it out on a baking sheet and in about half an hour, voila! granola.  If this sounds good to you, check out some of my granola recipes here, here and here.

Skillet Baked Carrot Cake Oatmeal | thefreshdirection.com #vegan

When I’m looking for a warmer breakfast – something I’ve gravitated toward this winter – I often whip up a baked oatmeal.  It seems a bit fancier than your traditional ‘make-the-morning-of’ microwave/quick stove-top variety.  I also somehow find ways to sneak veggies into baked oatmeals which makes me justify the extra scoop of almond butter or drizzle of maple syrup I inevitably put on top.  I’ve made one baked oatmeal for the blog before and I was craving it last week.  However, since you guys liked it so much (one of the more popular recipes around these parts) I wanted to change it up a bit to share a variation with you.

Skillet Baked Carrot Cake Oatmeal | thefreshdirection.com #vegan

Enter Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal.  Like the zucchini variety here, the veggies are virtually undetectable amongst the hearty oats, sweet maple syrup and chewy raisins.  Here comes the customizability part:

Don’t like raisins?  Add some chopped dates, cranberries or leave them out.

Don’t have almond butter?  Any nut butter will do.

Don’t have ground flax? Try ground or whole chia seeds instead.

Don’t have carrots?  Go for zucchini.

And my favourite part – the toppings! Almond (or other nut/seed) butter, maple syrup, chopped pineapple(!!), almond milk, chopped walnuts (or other nut!), greek yogurt… ice cream?  The list could go on.  Serve it hot. Serve it cold.  The choice is yours, and it will be great because you make it so.

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