Vegan Shamrock Shake

Vegan Shamrock Shake - the simple hive

After seeing recipes for Shamrock Shakes all over Pinterest, I decided to try a healthier spin.  After all, I’m not getting any younger, or healthier, and pounds aren’t as easy to shed as they once were.  I can’t do anything about getting older, but I can do something to be healthier.

Go away extra pounds!  You aren’t welcome here.

Because I like ice cream, but still want to be able to fit into my jeans, I came up with a healthy and delicious Shamrock shake that is filled with energy-giving foods.  Because St. Patrick’s Day is just around the bend, and because I want you to be able to fit into your jeans too, I’m sharing the love.

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Island Coconut Loose Tea Blend

 

Island Coconut Loose Tea Blend

Because it’s cold outside and hot tea is the only thing right now that keeps me from going into total hibernation, I’ve been tinkering in the kitchen with some new loose tea blends.  I stocked up with some organic herbs earlier in the year to help us live healthier and improve our overall well-being.  Herbal tea soothes the soul, folks!

Soul-soothing is what I need.  Always.

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Because I’m cold-natured and long for a sunny, beach destination any time of the year, I made this tea blend.

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Gluten-free Strawberry Lemon Tart

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Last week was a difficult week.  Because I was stressed out, I wanted something sweet.  I’m healthy that way.

Since we deal with dietary restrictions and food allergies, wanting a sweet treat usually goes unfulfilled.  After all, gluten-free convenience can be pricey.  My frugal nature does not permit me to buy a six-dollar box of cookies.  I just cannot do it.  My mother once accused me of having lived through the Depression.

After rummaging through my fridge and pantry, I came up with a few items that seemed to go well together.  They went so well together, in fact, that I made this a second time for our church potluck and I’ve had several requests for the recipe.  So, here you go.

For the filling, you need:

16 oz. cream cheese, softened

zest and juice from 2 lemons (Meyer, if you have them)

1 cup granulated sugar

For the crust:

3/4 cup pecans

1 cup dried dates, pitted

1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

2 Tbsp. coconut oil

pinch of sea salt

For the topping:

sliced strawberries

white chocolate, melted

 

What to do:

In a food processor, pulse the pecans until they are a coarse crumb.  set aside in a separate bowl.

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Next, process the dates and the remaining crust ingredients until everything has a crumbly texture.  Then add the pecan crumbs back to the mixture and pulse a few times to combine.

Dump the crust mixture into an 8-inch spring-form pan.  I used a spring-form pan because I don’t have a tart pan.  Use what you have.

Press the crust to the bottom of the pan, using the bottom of a measuring cup or a spoon to press evenly and firmly.

Place the crust in the refrigerator to firm up a bit while making the lemon cream.

Since I was making this on the fly, I had to zap the cream cheese in the microwave for 30 seconds to soften.  Once again, plan ahead.  Don’t be like me.

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In a bowl, combine the cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice and zest.  Beat until creamy.

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Spread the lemon cream on top of the crust.  Then lick the beaters.  And the bowl.  Don’t forget the spatula.

If it turns out that you love the lemon cream as much as I do, I highly recommend making this recipe for Gluten-free Meyer Lemon Cream Crepes.

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Now it’s time to make the top pretty.  Layer the sliced strawberries and drizzle a little white chocolate on top.  If you don’t have white chocolate, use dark, semi-sweet or milk chocolate.

Side note:  The photo above is from the “test” recipe.  This recipe will result in a filling with twice the thickness.  Feel free to add more strawberries to the top as well. I didn’t take a picture of the final tart recipe, because I don’t have my act together. Thank you for listening.

A word of caution about the chocolate drizzle.  Go lightly on the amount.  To much chocolate covering the top will make slicing the tart difficult.  You will mangle at least one piece beyond recognition and be forced to eat the evidence.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

gluten-free crunchy coconut & pecan granola

crunchy coconut and; pecan granola (1)

I’m about to share something with you that rocked my world when I discovered this truth.  Lean in.

Not everyone has a sweet tooth.

Are you as stunned as I am at this revelation?  I don’t get.  I think they are cyborgs.  Surely, that’s the only logical explanation.  Or, maybe there is a finite number of sweet teeth in the universe and some people have more than one, leaving other poor souls without one.  I have at least three.  One is dedicated solely to chocolate.  Another seems to favor lemon, while the last loves coconut.  There may be more, but they have yet to make their debut.

This granola recipe is for the cyborgs in your life who don’t care for sweets, but deserve a treat for Valentine’s Day.  We may not understand them, but we love them nonetheless.

Crunchy Coconut Pecan Granola

You need:

the usual suspects

the usual suspects

3 cups oats (I use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free oats)

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

1/2 cup apricots, chopped

1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

2 Tbsp. flax seeds

2 Tbsp. coconut oil (I love the flavor of this brand)

1/4 cup honey (use good-quality, local honey)

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. vanilla

1/3 cup warm water

1/2 tsp. almond extract (optional)

Here’s what you do:

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.  Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine oats, pecans, apricots, coconut flakes and cinnamon.  Stir well to distribute the cinnamon.

melt coconut oil in hot water

melt coconut oil in hot water

In a measuring cup or bowl, combine warm water and coconut oil.  Stir until the coconut oil melts then stir in the honey and vanilla.  If you really want some over-the-top flavor, add almond extract to the liquids. (I’m allergic to almonds so I omit this when I’m making it for my family.  When I make it for friends, I add it and it is well-received.  It is delicious without it.  Follow your heart on this matter.)

add liquids and stir

add liquids and stir

Add the liquid mixture to the dry mixture and stir to coat.

spread on parchment-lined baking sheet

spread on parchment-lined baking sheet

Spread the granola on the baking sheet and place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

stir granola

After 30 minutes, stir the mixture around the baking sheet and then spread it out again in a thin layer.  Continue to do this in 10 minute increments until the coconut and oats turn light golden brown.  The overall cooking time for my oven is usually 45-50 minutes.  When I make this in the evening, I turn off the oven after 40 minutes and let it cool in the oven overnight.

let finished granola cool

let finished granola cool

When granola is completely cooled, store in an airtight container.  Stored this way, it will stay fresh for a couple of weeks.

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This granola is great with any kind of milk (cow’s, soy, coconut, etc.) poured over it.  My favorite way to eat it is with creamy, organic vanilla yogurt.

With this basic recipe, you can customize it to omit allergens to use what you have in the pantry.  No pecans?  Use another nut or sunflower seeds.  You don’t like apricots? Use chopped dates, dried cranberries or raisins instead.  You don’t have whole flax seeds?  Use ground flax seeds.  You get the idea.

Go forth in crunchiness.