These Superfood Pecan Energy Bars were created in partnership with the American Pecan Council. All opinions are our own.
Wholesome snacks is a topic Alex and I get asked about a lot. Now that we have a toddler, we think about it a lot too! These homemade pecan energy bars are our newest invention for nutritious snacking. And let me tell you, our son Larson is OBSESSED with them! Literally. Every time I ask if he wants a pecan energy bar, he shouts YES and gobbles it up before I turn around! Not only are these kid approved, they’re perfect for adult snacking too. The sweet flavor is reminiscent of pecan pie, and they’re full of superfoods like pecans and chia seeds. Making energy bars at home lets you control the ingredients and they’re slightly cheaper than purchased energy bars. Keep reading for how to make homemade energy bars–and some sweet photos of Larson enjoying them!
What’s great about pecans?
Pecans are the highlight ingredient in this recipe, and there are so many things we love about this nut! We eat pecans in just about everything, and loved highlighting them in this pecan energy bars recipe. Pecans are:
Nutritious: Pecans are very nutrient dense! They’re among the highest in “good” monounsaturated fats, and contain protein, fiber, flavonoids and essential minerals (copper, manganese and zinc).
Versatile: Pecans are not just for pecan pie! They’re an easy snack right out of the bag or mixed with dried fruit for
a fast trail mix. We love tossing them into our morning oatmeal, on yogurt parfaits, and salads. And of course, using pecans in granola bars and energy bars is only natural.
Local: Of all the major tree nuts eaten in the US, pecans are the only ones indigenous to America! They were originally grown wild and enjoyed by Native Americans; now they’re harvested in over a dozen Southern states.
How to make homemade energy bars?
Wondering how to make homemade energy bars? We prefer making homemade energy bars instead of granola bars, since they’re typically more nutrient dense and have less sugar. The energy bars we like to make are similar to store bought Larabars. However, our homemade energy bars version is slightly cheaper (about 2/3 less cost) and you have ultimate control over the ingredients! The ingredient list is very short: the main ingredients are pecans, dates, and oats. A twist to these homemade energy bars is we added a new superfood: chia seeds! Adding chia seeds to energy bars gives a boost of protein, fiber and Omega 3s.
To make homemade energy bars, you’ll need a large size food processor for blending the ingredients. In our recipe, after blending we bake the bars for 30 minutes in a low oven. This helps to dry them out a bit and improves the texture so they’re not so sticky. (Alex’s idea, and a good one!) Below we’ve also included instructions on how to package them for on the go wholesome snacking!
Are they kid friendly?
YES. Larson is SO into these! To him, they’re the perfect kid friendly nutritious snack. Here are a few photos of him looking very grown up (!) and gnawing on these pecan energy bars. (Where did our baby go?)
Looking for pecan recipes?
The pecan is one of our favorite nuts and we love working it into recipes. Here are a few of our favorite pecan recipes:
Wondering how to make homemade energy bars? These superfood pecan energy bars are 100% kid approved and the perfect wholesome snack recipe.
15 Medjool dates (9 ounces) *
1 cup raw pecan halves
1/2 cup gluten free oats
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 200F.
Place the dates in the food processor and process or pulse until they are mainly chopped and a rough texture forms. Then add the remaining ingredients and process for a minute or so until a crumbly dough forms.
Line a baking sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Dump the dough into the center of the parchment paper and use a rolling pin to roll it into a rectangle that is 6” x 10.5”. Cut the dough into 14 bars that are 1.5” x 3”. (You don’t have to be as precise as we were, but we found it was easiest for cutting uniform bars!)
Bake the bars for 30 minutes (this step helps to make the texture more dry and less sticky). Cool the bars to room temperature, then store refrigerated in a sealed container between sheets of wax paper.
If you’d like to package them for on the go snacking, cut out 4” x 6” rectangles of wax paper, wrap them around the bars, and secure them with tape.
* We recommend using Medjool dates: they’re a large, tender and sweet variety of dates that create the perfect texture for these bars. They’re available at most grocery stores; many times they are in the bulk or produce section, or packaged in the dried fruit section.
Keywords: Pecans, Pecan Bar, Larabar, Homemade Larabar, Energy Bar, Pecan Energy Bar, Superfood Bar, Healthy Snack, Healthy Pecan Bar, Healthy Granola Bar, Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Snacks for Travel, Kid Friendly, Kid Foods, Kid Approved
These Grilled Teriyaki Mango Skewers were created in partnership with the National Mango Board. All opinions are our own.
Ever tried mango skewers? They might be our new best summer grilling recipe! Seriously, the sweetness of the mango with savory veggies and a homemade teriyaki sauce—that sweet and salty combo had all of our friends begging for more! We made these mango skewers for a cookout and everyone kept picking the mangos off of the skewers because they were so, so good. We used a variety of mango called the Honey mango that’s a bit smaller and a little sweeter than the typical mango available here in the US. How to make mango skewers and homemade teriyaki sauce? Keep reading.
What are Honey mangos?
The variety of mango we used for these grilled mango skewers is called Honey mangos, one of the six main varieties of mangos sold in the US. Four of those varieties are shown above! A few fun facts about Honey mangos:
When it’s ripe, the skin turns to a deep golden color and small wrinkles appear. So, wrinkled equals ripe!
Honey mangos are also known as the Champagne mangos or Ataulfo mangos—so look for any of those names in the grocery.
It’s smaller, sweeter and more tender than the varieties of mango more common in the US.
One cup of diced mangos provides 100% of your daily vitamin C!
How to make mango skewers?
Making mango skewers is very simple—probably the hardest part is how to cut a mango! To learn how to cut a mango, here’s a fun video Alex and I put together: Watch how to cut a mango. It’s really helped me because I now envision the steps from the video in my mind before I cut mangos, instead of just asking Alex to do it for me! To make mango skewers, you’ll need to cut the mangos into larger pieces than the dice shown in the video, so that they’ll stay on the skewers instead of falling off.
Another tip for chopping veggies for skewers is that we also like to cut most of the veggies larger than you typically would dice them. For the red onion, cut it into wedges and thread a few layers of the onion onto the skewer (see above). Since the mango is the best part, we added proportionally more mango than veggies to each skewer.
How to make homemade teriyaki sauce?
Somehow after 8 years of writing a food blog, Alex and I had never made homemade teriyaki sauce (gasp!). Homemade teriyaki sauce is actually very simple: and in this recipe we made it even simpler by distilling it down to its major components. Our recipe uses just soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and maple syrup. The mixture is heated and then a slurry of cornstarch is mixed in, which makes it thick and glossy. It can truly be made in about 5 minutes. We’re never buying purchased teriyaki sauce again! As noted in the recipe, as it cools the sauce gets very thick. After storing it in the refrigerator, you may find you need to mix in a very small amount of warm water to bring it to a slightly thinner consistency.
Let us know if you try these grilled mango skewers in the comments below!
Looking for more mango recipes?
Here are other delicious mango recipes from A Couple Cooks!
Ever tried mango skewers? These grilled vegetable skewers feature mangos and a homemade teriyaki sauce to make a sweet and savory summer grilling recipe.
For the homemade teriyaki sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
For the skewers
3 Honey mangos *
1 red pepper
1 orange pepper
1 medium zucchini (or 2 small)
1 medium red onion
To serve: turmeric rice, quinoa, or another grain
Preheat a grill to medium heat. If using wooden skewers, soak the skewers for at least 30 minutes while preparing the recipe.
For the homemade teriyaki sauce: Combine the soy sauce, maple syrup, rice wine vinegar, and water in a medium saucepan and set over medium heat. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch with about 1/4 cup water and whisk until dissolved. Add the cornstarch mixture to the saucepan. Heat the sauce a minute or two, stirring, until it becomes very thick, smooth and glossy. Remove the sauce to a bowl and cool the sauce while you make the remainder of the recipe. (You can also make the teriyaki in advance and refrigerate until serving.) If the sauce becomes too thick after cooling, add a very small amount of warm water a little at a time to return to the desired consistency.
For the skewers: Cut the mango into large cubes (larger than a dice) so that threads onto the skewers. Chop the red pepper, orange pepper, zucchini, and red onion into large pieces (you can cut the onion in wedges and use a few layers when threading). Thread the veggies and mangos onto skewers. Tip: We threaded our mangos 2 chunks at a time so there is proportionally more mango than veggies per skewer.
Place the skewers on a tray and brush them with the glaze on one side. Place the skewers on the grill, glazed side down, then brush the tops with the remaining glaze. Grill 6 to 10 minutes per side until tender and lightly charred.
If serving over rice or quinoa, make the grain according to the package instructions. When the skewers are finished, place over rice or quinoa and serve with any remaining teriyaki sauce if desired.
*Honey mangos are also known as Champagne or Ataulfo mangos.
These Tahini No Bake Cookies were created in partnership with Kroger. All opinions are our own.
Say hello to these delicious healthy cookies that are perfect for summer: chocolate tahini no bake cookies! And to help you find that tahini, there’s a #KrogerApp! Perhaps you know of our popular bliss bites recipe, a peanut butter and chocolate no bake cookie that just about everyone we’ve served them to loves–except for people with a peanut allergy! A friend of ours has a tree nut allergy, so we wanted to create a no bake cookies recipe that would work for her too. Turns out tahini is perfect for making no bake cookies without peanut butter. Where to find tahini? We got the ingredients for this recipe at our local Kroger store using the Kroger mobile app! The Kroger app was perfect for finding the tahini, since we weren’t sure where it might be in the store! Keep reading for more.
What’s the Kroger app?
What is Kroger’s mobile app? The #KrogerApp brings together time-saving and money-saving features all in one tool. If you’re like Alex and me, you need to be convinced on why to download a app. Here are some features of the Kroger app–it lets you:
Make your grocery list anytime, anywhere! If you’re anything like me, you write your grocery list when you’re on the toilet, on a break at work, or on the go. The Kroger app lets you add to your digital list anytime!
Locate products in the store. The aisle locator feature helps you find products in the store, which is perfect for someone like me who is directionally challenged. Seriously, the time I spend wandering around store aisles! The Kroger app led me right to the tahini. (Alex doesn’t have this problem, but I know countless people who do–including myself!)
Order and pick up your groceries curbside. Perfect for people tight on time (who isn’t?), you can use the Kroger app to order your groceries and pick them up curbside. You can build your cart and check out in the app, then select a date and time at your preferred store to pick up your order curbside.
Save money! The Kroger app provides dozens of digital coupons worth hundreds of dollars in savings.
Legal deets: Limit one per digital account. Limited to new app downloads only. We reserve the right to withdraw this offer at any time. Offer redemption expires August 1, 2018. Only valid on a purchase of $50 or more. Offer is non-transferrable. $50 purchase is after all discounts are applied and excludes Alcohol, Tobacco Products, Fuel, Money Orders, Western Union, Green Dot Cards, Money Paks, Taxes, Postage Stamps, Gift Cards/Certificates, Lottery, Promotional Tickets, CRV, Prescriptions and Customer Care Center Services. Exclusions apply; see store for complete list. Void if reproduced, transferred or where taxed, prohibited or restricted by law. DO NOT DOUBLE. Must use Rewards card. Coupon only valid at Kroger Family of Stores.
Here are a couple shots of Larson and I shopping together for the no bake cookies ingredients!
How to make no bake cookies?
Making no bake cookies is pretty simple, but of course Alex and I wanted to make it even simpler! For our tahini no bake cookies, I combined all my ingredients into liquid measuring cup and microwaved them for a few seconds until they came together into a smooth batter. Then I mixed in the oatmeal, poured it into cupcake liners, and garnished with sesame and flaky sea salt. What results is a delicious dark chocolate cookie with a salty sweet flavor.
To make healthy no bake cookies, here we’ve opted to use no refined sugar. Maple syrup makes these cookies naturally sweet. We’ve also used coconut oil instead of butter to make them vegan no bake cookies. Because of the coconut oil, the tahini no bake cookies are not shelf stable, so store them in the refrigerator or freezer. I love a dark chocolate flavor to my tahini no bake cookies, so I use Dutch process cocoa powder or baking cocoa to get a dark chocolate flavor. You also can use regular cocoa powder if desired. However, we served these to a big party including kids, and they ate them all up in a flash! So even kiddos enjoyed the dark chocolate flavor here.
No bake cookies without peanut butter? What’s tahini?
We created these healthy tahini no bake cookies specifically for our friend who has a peanut allergy–or really, a tree nut allergy! Tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds. If you or your guests have a sesame allergy, you should stay away from this recipe! However, if you’re allergic to tree nuts and can tolerate sesame, this is the recipe for you!
Tahini is an ingredient we use all the time in our kitchen! If you don’t use it, consider getting a jar. First and foremost, we use it to make our Classic 5 Ingredient Hummus. It’s also fabulous in creamy sauces (it makes them dairy-free), like this Lemon Tahini dressing we put on our Roasted Nourish Bowl. And, of course you can use it to make tahini no bake cookies! Score.
What do you think of these tahini no bake cookies? Would you try them out? Let us know in the comments below. PS Larson was the best shopping partner! :) He LOVES these cookies, he calls them “chocolate!”
Looking for more vegan dessert recipes?
Here are a few other vegan dessert recipes from A Couple Cooks:
Looking for delicious healthy cookies? These chocolate tahini no bake cookies are vegan, made without peanut butter, and win over the whole family.
3 tablespoons tahini
1/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder (or regular cocoa powder)
5 tablespoons coconut oil
5 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch kosher salt
1 cup rolled oats
Flaked sea salt, for garnish
Sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)
Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.
In a glass measuring cup, place the tahini, cocoa powder, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla extract, cinnamon and kosher salt. Microwave 20 seconds, then stir until full combined and smooth but not hot. Stir in the rolled oats.
Spoon about 2 tablespoons each into the cupcake liners and spread if necessary to make flat cookies in the bottom of the cups. Top with sesame seeds and flaked sea salt. Freeze for 20 minutes. Store refrigerated or frozen. Keep refrigerated as close as possible to serving.
Keywords: No Bake Cookies, Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Plant Based, Dairy Free, Vegan No Bake Cookies, No Bake Cookies without Peanut Butter, Healthy Cookies, Healthy No Bake Cookies
Are you ready for our frosé recipe? If you haven’t tried it (and please tell us you have!), frosé is frozen rosé wine. Basically, it’s a mashup between a frozen cocktail and that quintessential summer wine. Now, most frosé recipes are sickly sweet. And some people complain that freezing rosé removes the character of the wine. So Alex and I set about to create a frosé recipe that was not too sweet AND tastes like rosé. We think we were successful, and so do our friends who very willingly volunteered as our taste testers! Wondering how to make frosé? Keep reading!
How to make frosé (frozen rosé)
Frosé is very simple to make: the hardest part is thinking ahead. If you can, whip up the frosé recipe the night before, then blend and serve the day of. Despite the name, it’s not just rosé that’s frozen: simply freezing rosé makes it bitter and flat-tasting. A frosé recipe includes sugar to offset the bitterness (usually made as a simple syrup), and strawberries to add some color and additional flavor.
What is all natural frosé?
To put the A Couple Cooks spin on frosé, we wanted a healthier frosé recipe that was pretty simple to make. We also wanted to keep the character of rosé intact. Many frosé recipes can be sickly sweet, so we decided to make a frosé with no refined sugar. Here we’ve used honey to make a naturally sweet frosé (you can also use maple syrup for vegan). There’s only 1 tablespoon for 6 drinks, which keeps the frosé recipe just sweet enough.
The kicker in this frosé recipe is that we found a trick: we add a splash of room temperature rosé when serving! This makes it just sweet enough (since freezing rosé dulls the sweetness). It also brings in a nice slushy texture.
Have you tried a frosé recipe? Are you into this all natural version of frosé? Let us know in the comments below!
Looking for more naturally sweet cocktail recipes?
Here are a few other naturally sweet drink recipes:
Wondering how to make frosé (frozen rosé)? This all natural frosé recipe is simple, refined sugar free, and tastes just like rosé!
1 750mL bottle rosé wine (one you like to drink; we like ours on the dry side)
8 large strawberries (about 1 1/2 cups ripe strawberries, halved), plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon honey (or maple syrup for vegan)
Open the rosé and pour 2/3 cup into a glass measuring cup; set aside for when serving.
Remove the tops of the strawberries and cut them in half.
In a blender, blend the remaining rosé, strawberries, and honey until smooth and fully combined. Then pour the mixture through a strainer and into a covered baking dish.
Transfer the baking dish to the freezer and freeze at least 6 hours, or overnight. (The alcohol in the mixture will keep it a slushy texture instead of freezing solid.) Blend the mixture again until it comes to a fluffy texture.
To serve, place the blended mixture into a glass. Then pour a splash of rosé into each glass (this step is important: it gives the final texture and brings in the character of the rosé). If desired, garnish with strawberries and serve.
Keywords: Frosé, Frozen Rosé, How to Make Frosé, Drinks, Cocktails, Summer Drink, Summer Cocktail, Rosé Wine, Wine, Wine Cocktail
This Ultimate Grilled Veggie Burger was created in partnership with Kroger. All opinions are our own.
Are you ready for the ultimate grilled veggie burger? Alex and I have seen so many veggie burgers fall apart on the grill over the past 10 years. So we are beyond excited to share this recipe with you: a veggie burger that doesn’t fall apart on the grill and tastes delicious! There’s even a video! It’s part of our 6-episode Summer Barbecue Series hosted by Alex, me and our friend baking blogger Tessa from Handle the Heat. Alex, Tessa and I created six brand new summer recipes for you and the entire series is sponsored by Kroger as part of their #RedWhiteandBBQ summer resources. Three of the recipes are healthy vegetarian recipes from A Couple Cooks and three are Tessa’s delicious baked goods, each featuring ingredients we found at our local Kroger store. See our video below!
GIVEAWAY:We’re giving away a $100 Kroger gift card to celebrate the launch of the Summer Barbecue Series! Head over to YouTube and add a comment on the video to enter! US only, ends June 29 at noon PST.
Ready? Watch the video: how to make grilled veggie burgers!
As you may know, Alex and I aren’t fully vegetarian. But we eat vegetarian about 90% of the time, so this A Couple Cooks website is full of our everyday healthy vegetarian recipes. Since we’re what we call flexitarian, when we fire up the grill for summer entertaining often Alex will just eat a real burger! However, I eat vegetarian recipes even more than he does (maybe 97% of the time), so typically I’d prefer vegetarian grilling ideas. There are lots of vegetarian grilling ideas that are outside of a bun (like these grilled nachos), but sometimes you just want a big burger, right? So we’ve created this easy veggie burger recipe for when you want to eat vegetarian at a summer barbecue. And we promise, cross our hearts, that this veggie burger doesn’t fall apart on the grill! In this recipe, we’ve featured Simple Truth Organic Garbanzo Beans and Kingsford charcoal for the grill.
What are your grilled veggie burger tips?
It’s actually kind of hilarious how many times Alex and I have made grilled veggie burgers that flopped. I think we might have grilled veggie burger PTSD, actually! The reason that it’s so difficult to make a veggie burger that doesn’t fall apart on the grill is that, newsflash: it’s not a meat burger! Molding together a bunch of vegetables and grains does not necessarily equal the consistency of a burger. Problems with grilled veggie burgers are that they’re too dry and crumble on the grill, or they’re too mushy, like the consistency of mashed potatoes. After 10 years of experimenting, we have some grilled veggie burger tips for you! Here are all our secrets to a veggie burger that doesn’t fall apart on the grill:
Rice: In this grilled veggie burger, we’ve used rice to make a firm texture. It also helps the visual appeal.
Walnuts: We’ve also added some walnuts, again to create a firm texture.
Chickpeas (garbanzo beans): Chickpeas are main veggie here; we mash them with a fork to keep some of their texture as well.
Flour: The flour acts as a binder to hold everything together. You can use any type of flour, including gluten free flour if desired.
Egg White: We tried to make this recipe vegan, but unfortunately it needed another binder! Egg white is the final secret ingredient to keep everything held together. (If you’re adventurous and want to try a vegan sub like flax egg, do so at your own risk!)
Barbecue sauce: We painted our burgers with barbecue sauce to get a color and shine that looks similar to a beef burger.
And how does the grilled veggie burger taste?
To us, this easy veggie burger recipe is truly the best we’ve ever made. And we still can’t believe how beautiful it turned out! It doesn’t taste exactly like meat, but the experience feels just like eating a burger and is incredibly tasty in its own way. Even better, it’s truly a veggie burger that doesn’t fall apart on the grill. How about you: would you try this grilled veggie burger recipe? Tell us in the comments below.
Make the rice according to the package instructions. If making the rice directly before grilling, quickly cool it by spreading the rice into a single layer on a sheet pan and placing it in the freezer for 2 minutes until it cools. Otherwise, you can make the rice in advance and refrigerate until using.
Preheat a grill to medium heat.*
Mince the garlic and onion. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the the onion and saute for 3 minutes, then add the garlic and saute for for 2 more minutes until golden and translucent. Remove from the heat.
Roll over the walnuts with a rolling pin until they are fine and crumbly.
Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans. Place them in the bottom of a large bowl and mash them with a fork. Mash until about 90% of the garbanzo beans are mashed; a few can remain whole.
Measure out 2 cups of the rice and add it to the bowl with the garbanzo beans. Then add the onion and garlic mixture, 2 tablespoons olive oil, walnuts, flour, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, kosher salt, black pepper. Mix together, smashing any rice clumps so that everything mixes evenly. Stir in 1 egg white, then mix until everything comes together into a sticky dough.
Using your hands, form five or six 1-inch thick patties by firmly patting and squeezing the dough together (making 5 results in a very thick burger; making 6 makes moderate-sized burgers). Set the patties on a baking sheet or plate for grilling. Brush both sides of the burgers with olive oil.
Place the burgers on a grill and grill for 10 to 12 minutes on one side, until firm and grill marks appear. Gently flip the burgers and brush them with barbecue sauce. Grill for an additional 10 to 12 minutes on the other side, then serve immediately.
To serve, place the burgers on a bun, topped with guacamole or another creamy sauce, tomato and lettuce (or other burger toppings of your choosing).
*You can also bake this grilled veggie burger if it’s not grilling season! Preheat an oven to 375F, then bake for 30 to 40 minutes until evenly browned on both sides, flipping once. Brush both sides with barbecue sauce, then return to the oven for 2 minutes.
Keywords: Burger, Veggie Burger, Veggie Burger on the Grill, Grillable Veggie Burger, Grilling Recipe, Grilled, Summer Recipe, Grilling Season, Veggie Burger that Doesn't Fall Apart on the Grill
This No Mayo Potato Salad was created in partnership with Kroger. All opinions are our own.
Next up in our Summer Barbecue Video Series is one of the best recipes we’ve ever created: this incredible no mayo potato salad! Potato salad without mayo? Yes! This is the best healthy potato salad recipe and it’s even more delicious than that classic picnic potato salad with loads of mayo. Want to learn our secrets? Watch our Summer Barbecue Series video below! It stars Alex and me with our friend, blogger and author Tessa from Handle the Heat. Alex, Tessa and I created six brand new summer recipes for you and the entire series is sponsored by Kroger as part of their #RedWhiteandBBQ summer resources. Three of the recipes are healthy vegetarian recipes by me and Alex and three are Tessa’s baked deliciousness, each starring ingredients we found at our local Kroger.
GIVEAWAY:We’re giving away a $100 Kroger gift card to celebrate the launch of the Summer Barbecue Series! Head over to YouTube and add a comment on the video to enter! US only, ends June 29 at noon PST.
Ready? Watch the video: how to make no mayo potato salad!
Why make a potato salad without mayo? A few reasons. First, classic potato salad is traditionally set out on a table in the heat of summer. But most food safety guidelines (and your mom!) say to not leave out foods with mayo for over an hour in the heat. Making potato salad without mayo gets rid of this problem altogether! Also, no mayo potato salad is vegan and dairy free, perfect for serving to guests of all diets. Finally, Alex and I are not against mayo, and we include moderate amounts of mayo in part of our healthy diet. However, this no mayo potato salad makes up for the mayo with healthy, real food ingredients, so we’d say it’s a healthy potato salad too. The best healthy potato salad we’ve ever had, in fact! Are we convincing you yet? In this recipe, we featured two star ingredients from Kroger (and got everything else there too!): Vlasik dill pickles and Simple Truth Yellow Mustard.
(Me and Tessa during the video shoot!)
What’s the secret to no mayo potato salad?
Instead of mayonnaise, our secret ingredient in this no mayo potato salad is…cashews! That’s right, we’ve made a vegan mayonnaise out of cashews, and man is it good. How to make vegan mayonnaise? It’s very simple to make vegan mayonnaise, the basic steps are:
Soak your cashews. Soaking cashews makes them break down enough to form a creamy texture when blended. Using a high speed blender is best for blending the cashews, but you can also use a regular blender and soak a bit longer. The longer you soak the cashews the better. Soak them overnight if you think of it; otherwise, you can get away with just soaking them while you’re making the remainder of the salad.
Blend the soaked cashews with seasonings. Once the cashews are soaked, give them a whir with the remaining ingredients. In our cashew mayonnaise recipe, yellow mustard plays a key role, along with white wine vinegar, garlic powder, and maple syrup to soften the flavors. The result is a very, very tasty creamy spread that tastes like mayonnaise, but fully vegan and dairy-free!
How about the secrets of classic picnic potato salad?
The second secret of our best healthy potato salad to discover was, what are the other elements in a classic picnic potato salad? You know, the kind your Grandma makes, or the kind you can pick up from the grocery deli counter. I wanted to meld our no mayo potato salad concept with the classic version. I did quite a bit of research into classic picnic potato salad, and here’s what I found:
Use Yukon gold potatoes. Yukon gold potatoes are perfect for classic picnic potato salad because they hold their shape when boiling, and also absorb the creamy sauce.
Sprinkle vinegar onto the warm potatoes after boiling. This trick really does make for that tangy taste that’s typical of classic picnic potato salad.
Use pickles. I used to not like pickles and sometimes they still freak me out, but they’re essential to a classic picnic potato salad. Even Tessa doesn’t like pickles (see the video!), and she couldn’t stop eating this salad.
Is it really the best healthy potato salad recipe?
To us, our No Mayo Potato Salad really is the best potato salad we’ve had. It tastes like your favorite deli counter potato salad, but more vibrant and delicious because it’s a healthy potato salad that’s made from all real food ingredients. A friend of mine tested the recipe for us and texted me that it was out of this world and a huge hit with her family!
So there you have it! Is our no mayo potato salad the best healthy potato salad recipe? Or best potato salad recipe in general? Tell us in the comments below.
Place the cashews in a bowl and cover them with water. Soak them while making the recipe, at least 30 minutes if using a high speed blender and about 1 hour for a regular blender. If you think ahead, you can soak the cashews overnight before making the salad. (You also can make the cashew mayo in advance.)
Boil the potatoes: Quarter the potatoes, keeping the skins on. Place them in a large saucepan filled with cold water. Bring it to a boil and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until tender when pricked with a fork. Drain and rinse the potatoes under cold water. Allow to cool slightly, then peel the skins off with your fingers and cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Place the potatoes into a bowl and sprinkle with the white wine vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Mix and let stand until ready to assemble.
Slice the celery stalks in half lengthwise, then thinly slice them. Thinly slice the green onions. Mince the dill pickles.
Make the cashew mayonnaise: After the cashews have soaked at least 30 minutes (more, if time), drain them. In the bowl of a blender, place the cashews, water, olive oil, yellow mustard, white wine vinegar, maple syrup, garlic powder, and kosher salt. Blend on high for several minutes until smooth and creamy. (Makes about 1 cup; store refrigerated if making in advance.)
In the bowl with the potatoes, mix in the cashew mayonnaise, celery, green onions, pickles, 1 tablespoon yellow mustard, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until serving.
Keywords: Potato Salad, Potato Salad without Mayonnaise, Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Plant-Based, No Mayo Potato Salad, Picnic Recipe, Barbecue Recipe, Summer Recipe
These Loaded Grilled Nachos were created in partnership with Kroger. All opinions are our own.
This past month we’ve been working on a secret project that’s being revealed…now! Guess what? We made a 6-episode cooking video series for you! It’s called the Summer Barbecue Series and it stars Alex and me with our friend, blogger and author Tessa from Handle the Heat. Alex, Tessa and I have been working hard to create sixbrand new summer recipes for you and the entire series is sponsored by Kroger as part of their #RedWhiteandBBQ summer resources. Three of the recipes are our everyday healthy vegetarian recipes and three are Tessa’s baked perfection, each starring ingredients we found at our local Kroger. (More on the series below.) These Loaded Grilled Nachos are the first up in our series and man, are they good. When Alex made them for me the first time, I was completely surprised with how flavorful they were. So without further ado, here’s the first video in our series: Loaded Grilled Nachos!
Ready? Watch the video: how to make nachos on a grill!
Loaded Grilled Nachos - YouTube
The Summer Barbecue Series is a 6-episode video series that we dreamed up with our friend Tessa. Tessa runs Handle the Heat baking blog and she adds a sprinkling of science to her approach. She’s got a fabulous YouTube channel and book. We met in Detroit, hit it off, and dreamed up a collaboration to get us in front of the camera. We were so excited to bring on Kroger as our partner and create 6 new summer barbecue recipes with ingredients you can find at their stores.
Why grilled nachos?
Grilled nachos are a perfect grilled recipe to wow a crowd for summer entertaining! Making nachos on the grill brings a smoky, charred flavor to the nachos and they look stunning in a cast iron skillet. They’re a fun summer recipe to share with guests on the patio. You can eat them as a main dish with a side salad, or as an appetizer for a summer happy hour. Our grilled nachos feature our best nacho toppings to make them out-of-this-world good. In this recipe, we featured two star ingredients from Kroger (and got everything else there too!): Mission tortilla chips and Private Selection salsa.
How to make nachos on a grill?
The basic concept of how to make nachos on a grill is to place the nachos in a cast iron skillet, cover it with foil, and grill it for a few minutes to melt the cheese. But Alex and I wanted to amp up the grilled flavor in these grilled nachos. Instead of just a few minutes on the grill, Alex had the idea of grilling the nacho toppings! So in this recipe, we’ve used the grill not once but twice: once to grill the veggie toppings, and then again to melt the cheese. Grilling the vegetables for the nacho toppings amps up the smoky, grilled flavor so it’s there in every bite!
If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, it’s not necessary for this recipe. You can use any grill proof pan for the recipe, including an aluminum sheet pan.
What are the best vegetarian nachos toppings?
If you follow Alex and my story, you’ll know we’re not fully vegetarian. But we eat vegetarian about 90% of the time, so most of the recipes on this website are vegetarian and vegan recipes. And our cookbook is a vegetarian cookbook (named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious!). So we’ve become experts in making vegetarian recipes taste meaty and delicious, satisfying for everyone around the table. So what are the best nachos toppings, from a vegetarian perspective? For this recipe, we used these vegetarian nachos toppings:
Quick “refried” beans: We smashed pinto beans with salsa and stirred in some garlic powder and salt for a quick topping that tastes like refried beans. You also could use canned refried beans.
Grilled vegetables: We used the grill twice in this recipe, first to grill up vegetable toppings for the grilled nachos to infuse that smoky flavor. This recipe has red bell pepper, jalapeño peppers, and red onion, but you could use any vegetables you like.
Cheese: Cheese is a must for nacho toppings! (Stay tuned for a vegan nacho cheese recipe we have in the works.) We found it’s best to place the cheese on top of the beans layer so that it stays gooey, instead of right onto the chips which makes it harden.
Guac: Another favorite vegetarian nacho topping of ours is guacamole: it adds a super savory, creamy deliciousness to each bite!
Cilantro: Cilantro makes for stunning confetti and adds a fresh undertone as vegetarian nacho toppings!
To us, these are the best nacho toppings: but what are we missing? What are your favorite nacho toppings? Tell us in the comments below.
Prep the veggies: Cut the bell pepper in half, top-to-bottom, and remove seeds and pith. Cut the stem off the jalapeños and use a paring knife to carefully remove seeds, leaving peppers whole. Cut the onion into quarters top-to-bottom, leaving the bottom root attached the pieces stay together on the grill. Place the peppers and onion into a bowl, then drizzle them lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt.
Grill the veggies: Place the peppers and onion directly onto the grate and grill for 6 to 10 minutes until charred and slightly tender, turning occasionally. Remove from the grill and use for topping the nachos (below).
Make the beans: Drain the pinto beans and add them to a small bowl with the salsa, olive oil, garlic powder, and kosher salt. Mash with a fork until all beans are mashed and the texture is similar to chunky refried beans.
Assemble and grill the nachos: Place the tortilla chips into a medium cast-iron skillet or grillable pan. Top the chips with the beans, then cheese, and then the grilled veggies. Place the skillet on the grill until the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.
Load the nachos: Top the finished nachos with sliced green onions, sour cream, guacamole, and torn cilantro leaves.
Last weekend Alex and I went to our local farmer’s market and I posted a photograph on Instagram of our bag of produce, complete with garlic scapes. What to make with garlic scapes? I asked. We were both completely surprised by the amount of engagement of this topic. So many people had something to say about how to use garlic scapes! Grilling them was a popular choice, but the most popular of all: garlic scape pesto. I was surprised by the amount of interest around garlic scapes since they’re very niche, seasonal produce. Alex and I have been writing a vegetarian food blog for 8 years, and in the early days a farmer’s market find like garlic scapes would have minimal interest. So we’re so very excited to learn that so many of you also are wondering what to make with garlic scapes! Here’s a bit of info on garlic scapes, followed by our garlic scape pesto recipe.
What are garlic scapes?
Garlic scapes are the stalks that grow out of bulbs of garlic. They’ll eventually bloom flowers if you don’t harvest them, so they’re typically harvested before flowering. You can recognize garlic scapes from their long and curly stems. Garlic scapes are similar to scallions, but have a much stronger, garlicky flavor.
Where to buy garlic scapes?
When are garlic scapes in season? You’ll find garlic scapes popping up at your farmer’s markets in early summer: mid-June and early July. They likely won’t be available at a supermarket, so a farmer’s market is the best bet for where to buy garlic scapes. You can also grow garlic scapes in your garden!
What part of the garlic scapes do you eat?
When Alex and I started making our garlic scape pesto recipe, we actually had to search the internet quite a bit to understand what part of the garlic scapes to eat! We finally found out that you remove and discard the bulb end (where the end flairs and turns a bit white). You also remove any tough stems from the other end of the garlic scape (this may have already been done prior to purchase). Once you’ve done this, you can chop the garlic scapes into pieces and process them into the pesto.
What to make with garlic scapes?
Garlic scape pesto was by far the most popular suggestion to our question on Instagram about what to make with garlic scapes. For our garlic scape pesto recipe, we used walnuts instead of the traditional pinenuts, because they’re cheaper and we typically have some on hand. We also added basil, which helps to amp up the green color and provide another flavor to complement the garlic.
After tasting I will say, a little goes a very long way with this garlic scape pesto! Instead of eating it off of the spoon like I did, I’d consider spreading a thin layer onto grilled meat or pizza dough, or swirling a bit into yogurt and adding salt and pepper to make a delicious yogurt dip. Remember: it’s potent stuff! So you’ve got fair warning.
The other popular answer to our question about what to make with garlic scapes was to place them on the grill and grill for a few minutes until charred. I love this idea and would love to try it out. However, we like the garlic scape pesto since it makes quite a bit and you’ll be eating off of this jar for weeks.
Wondering what to make with garlic scapes? Here’s a simple garlic scape pesto recipe. Use it with grilled meat, spread onto pizza, or swirl in a yogurt dip!
8 garlic scapes (1/2 cup chopped)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil, plus more if desired
Chop the garlic scapes: Remove and discard the bulb end of the garlic scapes. Then remove any tough stems from the other end of the garlic scapes and chop them into small pieces.
Place everything except the olive oil in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped. Then turn on the machine and drizzle in the olive oil. Add additional olive oil if desired for a runnier consistency. The resulting pesto is very garlicky, so use it sparingly!
Keywords: Pesto, Garlic Scapes, Garlic Scape Pesto, What to Make with Garlic Scapes, Food Processor
This California Salad with Avocado Oil Vinaigrette was created in partnership with DeLallo. All opinions are our own.
Our Pretty Simple Cooking book tour took us all over the country, and on the road we stayed in the homes of friends or family. I love seeing what’s inside people’s kitchens, and on these visits one thing stuck out to me. Several times, I noticed avocado oil sitting on the counter. Olive oil is pretty standard, but I was intrigued: why avocado oil? When I asked this question to separate friends, they all had a similar answer. Avocado oil is a neutral-tasting cooking oil with a very high smoke point, so it’s perfect for sauteing and frying. And, it has a unique flavor that’s delicious when drizzled over salad greens or whisked into an avocado oil vinaigrette. Is avocado oil the trendy new thing? Yes, but it seems like it’s here to stay! And after making this healthy avocado oil vinaigrette, we’re hooked.
All about avocado oil
When DeLallo came to us to create a recipe with their extra-virgin avocado oil, we didn’t know much about avocado oil. Healthy avocado oil salad dressing is one place to start, but there are all sorts of ways to use this healthy oil. Here are a few things we learned about avocado oil:
Avocado oil comes from the first cold press of the fruit, and has all the health benefits of raw avocados. It’s loaded with healthy monosaturated fats and antioxidants, and is a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals.
The flavor is nutty, buttery, fruity and mildly sweet, just like a fresh avocado.
The oil is ultra-versatile with a high smoke point, perfect for drizzling, dressing, dipping, marinating and high-heat cooking.
DeLallo avocado oil is made with fresh handpicked Chilean Hass Avocados and is produced in Chile.
Each bottle contains the oil of about 12 whole avocados!
How to make homemade salad dressing with avocado oil
So, how to make homemade salad dressing with avocado oil? It’s essentially the same as other dressings that you whisk together at home, with one caveat. While making this avocado oil vinaigrette, we learned that avocado oil doesn’t act the same way as olive oil. Using the amount of acid (citrus or vinegar) we’d typically use in an olive oil dressing resulted in a watery consistency when we used avocado oil. There was no emulsion, so the dressing didn’t stick to the salad greens. So in our avocado oil vinaigrette recipe, we’ve cut the vinegar and added more Dijon mustard to carry the texture! The resulting avocado oil vinaigrette is perfectly creamy and tart, perfect for any salad.
What’s a California salad?
To go with our healthy avocado oil salad dressing, we came up with this California salad. We made up the name California salad, since it’s loosely based on a salad we had in LA while on book tour in California! While our salad ended up pretty different from the original one, it’s incredibly delicious and a perfect way to show off the flavor of the avocado oil and vinegar dressing. The salad features greens, chickpeas, fresh dill, and ricotta salata cheese, a delicious cheese we ate on several salads in California and loved. If you can’t find ricotta salata cheese, feta crumbles work as well.
Also, all of the fresh salad ingredients here were purchased at our local farmer’s market and grown by our favorite farmers at Full Hand Farm. So I guess you could call our version an Indiana Salad…? Make sure to shop local where possible!
How about you: have you tried avocado oil? Would you make this healthy avocado oil salad dressing? Let us know in the comments below! As always, show us on Instagram if you make our salad or dressing by tagging @acouplecooks and @delallofoods.
How to find avocado oil
DeLallo is our favorite avocado oil, and good news! You can find it online here, or in a local grocery that carries DeLallo products.
This recipe is…
This California salad with avocado oil vinaigrette is vegetarian, gluten free, naturally sweet, and refined sugar free. For vegan and plant based, omit the cheese.
1 to 2 heads Boston lettuce or fresh high-quality local baby greens, enough for 8 cups
2 green onions
15-ounce can chickpeas, optional
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Torn fresh dill
Ricotta salata, sliced or feta crumbles (omit for vegan)
For the avocado oil vinaigrette: Measure out the avocado oil into a glass measuring cup. In a medium bowl, whisk together the white wine vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, grated garlic, kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper. Then gradually pour in the avocado oil, whisking constantly, until fully integrated and a creamy emulsion forms.
Wash and dry the lettuce and chop it into bite-sized pieces (if using baby greens, no chopping is necessary). Use a vegetable peeler to peel the carrots into ribbons. Thinly slice the green onions and radishes.
If using chickpeas, drain and rinse them, then mix them with a drizzle of avocado oil, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper.
To assemble the salad, place the greens on the serving bowls or plates. Top with chickpeas, carrots, radishes, almonds, torn fresh dill, and ricotta salata or feta crumbles, then drizzle with avocado oil vinaigrette.
Keywords: Salad, Avocado Oil Dressing, Avocado Oil Vinaigrette, Avocado Oil, How to Make Homemade Dressing with Avocado Oil, Homemade Dressing, Healthy Avocado Oil Dressing, Healthy Salad, Side Salad, Summer Salad
Our garden is finally at the point of giving us beautiful salad greens each day. Since local strawberries are in season, we had the idea to combine them with our greens to make a killer strawberry salad! Strawberries are a natural pairing with the acidity of a balsamic vinaigrette. In fact, Alex and I learned about pairing strawberries and balsamic in an Italian cookbook where the balsamic vinegar is used in a classic Italian dessert (here’s our spin on it!). Here I used our favorite vinaigrette method to whip up a creamy honey balsamic dressing using local honey and Dijon mustard. Paired with spicy red onions and some toasted almonds, it was a simple and delicious way to enjoy them!
How to make homemade salad dressing?
Making homemade salad dressing is cheap and easy. It’s also a healthy alternative to using purchased salad dressings, which can contain additives and preservatives! When Alex and I first started cooking at home, we were inspired by several books to throw out all our store bought salad dressings and star making homemade salad dressing! We loved that using just a handful of ingredients, we could whisk up salad dressing that was made of real food and skipped any added ingredients.
The key to how to make homemade salad dressing is to have the correct ratio of acid to oil. In the past, Alex and I liked to cut back on the oil in our dressings, but having enough oil is important to get a creamy emulsion. If you want less oil, use less of the overall dressing! Plus, using a healthy fat like olive oil is part of our philosophy of a healthy diet, so I now am happy to consume olive oil!
Another important thing for how to make homemade salad dressing is to use a medium bowl and whisk in the oil gradually. Whisking in the oil gradually is key to forming a creamy emulsion, which allows the dressing to stick to the salad leaves instead of being too wet.
What’s in your best strawberry salad?
Strawberry salad is a pretty classic dish, so our best strawberry salad stays true to form. Here’s what’s in our favorite strawberry salad recipe:
Local strawberries: If at all possible, finding local strawberries is the number one key to a good strawberry salad! If you don’t have access to local berries, try to buy in the summer when strawberries are in season and find the ripest strawberries that you can.
Creamy honey balsamic dressing: As I mentioned, strawberries are a natural pair with the acidity of balsamic vinegar, which makes the berries shine! See above for our tips on how to make homemade salad dressing. It’s so simple, you’ll never go back!
Cheese crumbles: We like to add cheese crumbles to our strawberry salad, but they’re not necessary for a killer salad. For vegan, simply omit the cheese crumbles and use maple syrup in place of honey in the dressing. Our favorite cheese crumbles are feta cheese and blue cheese.
Nuts: We’ve added nuts for crunch in this salad, and you can use any you’d like! Here we recommend pecans or sliced almonds.
Red onion: The color and flavor of red onion is our final touch to bring a savory flair to this salad. One tip we have is to get rid of onion breath! If you soak the slices of red onion in cold water for about 15 to 20 minutes before serving, it mellows the flavor and softens the risk of onion breath.
Let us know if you try try our strawberry salad recipe in the comments below!
Looking for more homemade salad dressing recipes?
Here are a few of our favorite homemade salad dressing recipes:
This strawberry salad with honey balsamic vinaigrette recipe is vegetarian, gluten free, naturally sweet, and refined sugar free. For vegan, use maple syrup in place of honey and omit the cheese crumbles.
Want a salad with strawberries? With creamy honey balsamic dressing, this strawberry salad recipe is tasty and features how to make homemade salad dressing.
For the salad
2 cups ripe strawberries
8 cups mixed salad greens
1/2 red onion
1/3 cup sliced almonds or pecan pieces
1/3 cup feta cheese crumbles
Fresh ground black pepper
For the balsamic vinaigrette
2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons olive oil
Wash and slice the strawberries. Wash and dry the salad greens.
Thinly slice the red onion Tip: To mellow the flavor, soak the onion slices in cold water for about 20 minutes prior to serving, then drain.
Optional: In a small saucepan over medium heat, toast the nuts for a few minutes until they are golden brown, stirring frequently and watching carefully so that they don’t burn.
Make the balsamic vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey and kosher salt. Then gradually whisk in the olive oil 1 tablespoon at a time until fully emulsified and creamy.
To serve, spread the greens on a plate and top with strawberries, red onion, almonds, feta cheese crumbles, vinaigrette, and several grinds of black pepper.
Keywords: Strawberries, Strawberry, Strawberry Salad, Vinaigrette, Balsamic Vinaigrette, Dressing, How to Make Homemade Salad Dressing, Salad Dressing, Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette