Creamy Vanilla Cinnamon Breakfast Smoothie with Cashew Butter

cashew cinnamon vanilla smoothie

I finally found an answer to the age old question (and frankly, it’s not an answer I ever thought I’d hear myself say, but here it is): yes, it is possible to have too much chocolate.

Last week I realized I think I’d finally reached a maximum saturation of chocolate, after I noticed that one day I’d put it in everything: pancakes, trail mix, smoothies, hot chocolate, dark chocolate in the afternoon, and so on. I mean, raw cacao is indeed a superfood, but once you’ve crammed into nearly every food you consume, there comes a point when your body says, please! Another flavour, por favor.

And so I’m listening. I think I’m getting pretty good at understanding when my body is telling me it needs something new, and I try to listen to those subtle nudges. As a result, I’ve packed away my standard chocolate protein powder/raw cacao breakfast smoothie and replaced it with something that’s…well, I suppose basically the same in concept, but an entirely different flavour.

cashew cinnamon vanilla smoothie

Effectively this smoothie is kind of the like the green monster smoothie that people used to post all over the internet: non-dairy milk, nut butter, banana, greens (these will make your smoothie this glorious light green colour – though for the sake of photographic clarity, I left out the greens in this version), and some vanilla protein powder. I think french vanilla flavour would be best. I tried it with a ‘chai spice’ protein powder and it tasted exactly like eggnog, which was not what I was going for. You could also use plain protein powder, but consider adding a drop of two of vanilla stevia/or vanilla extract and plain stevia.

I also think you could totally use another nut butter in here if you’d prefer (I know cashew butter is quite expensive). Almond butter would be good (I once had a cinnamon almond butter that was heavenly), or maybe even sunflower butter! That said, cashew butter has such a lovely toasty nutty flavour – it just goes so nicely with cinnamon. Maybe treat yourself this once.

cashew cinnamon vanilla smoothie

So yes. It’s been a while since I posted last. It’s still a busy time – my part-time school program at CSNN is in its final, busiest months; work is really busy, and there is lots on the go. But, spring is here (heck, it’s practically summer) and I spent time planting today in the garden (tomatoes, beans, squash, oh my!), so I’m feeling a renewed sense of joie de vivre and possibility. I can get it all done, I feel purposeful (and not overwhelmed), and I have lots to look forward to.

And I’m having my cashew smoothie for breakfast tomorrow too. So many joys.

Enjoy the beauty of May!

Creamy Vanilla Cinnamon Breakfast Smoothie with Cashew Butter

  • Author: Eat Well, Live Vibrantly
  • Recipe notes: plant-based, gluten-free, protein-rich, healthy fats


  • one cup non-dairy milk (add some coconut milk if want luxury!)
  • one frozen banana
  • one scoop of your favourite plant-based vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (or more, to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons cashew butter
  • a few ice cubes
  • optional extras:
    • one handful of spinach
    • 2 teaspoons maca powder
    • 1 tablespoon grass-fed collagen powder (note: this is quite obviously not plant-based)


  1. Throw it all in a blender/nutribullet/swirly-with-blades type device and blend until creamy!

© Eat Well, Live Vibrantly

Make Chickpea Flour Shine With These 5 Awesome Recipes

chewy chocolate chip chickpea cookies - vegan & gluten-free

Sometimes after buying a large bag of chickpea/teff/sorghum/coconut/almond/etc. flour, you make the recipe you intended to make and then think, ‘huh. Well, that still leaves me 95% of this flour. What do I do with it now?’

It’s handy to have a back-pocket repertoire of recipes that feature whatever flour you have in mind. And chickpea flour is a great place to start building that repertoire.

There are a number of amazingly delicious and healthy things that you can do with chickpea flour, and that you can really ONLY do with chickpea flour. As in, the recipes require chickpea flour to work. When you’re into gluten-free baking, it’s really great to find a recipe that showcases your gluten-free flour for the beauty that it is.

For the recipes below, you don’t need any other flours or blends. Nope, you scoop out the chickpea flour and you’re off to the races. I like that kind of simplicity.

savoury chickpea flour crackers with onion and sesame seeds

Now, I’m sure I’ve talked about the nutrition of chickpea flour before, but I’m going to do it again because it helps it stick in my brain and because it’s worthwhile information to share.

In addition to being a beautiful golden yellow colour, chickpea flour has fibre, protein, iron, and it is, of course, naturally gluten-free. It also has B vitamins and trace minerals, and is most infinitely better for you than bleached all-purpose flour (which should really be limited to special occasion baking, or eliminated completely).

Below are five amazing recipes below that I have vetted personally for awesomeness.  The process was rigorous and scientific, let me tell you. I am 99.6% confident you’ll agree with my findings that the below recipes are both delicious and nutritious.

Enjoy those golden halycon chickpea flour days.

Make Chickpea Flour Shine With These 5 Awesome Recipes

  1. ONE BOWL CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES: chewy, healthy, chocolatey, easy to make, and full of protein and fibre. You can’t beat that for a chocolate chip cookie.
  2. ITALIAN SOCCA: an amazing crepe-like flatbread that you can cook up in a skillet, and use for pizza crusts, wraps, and more. Like a chickpea flour pancake, socca is totally delicious, especially with caramelized onions.
  3. VEGAN FRENCH TOAST: chickpea flour makes the most perfect vegan french toast ever. Or, if you want to call it by its chickpea flour name, you can use “fronch” toast, which helps distinguish it from regular french toast and quite frankly is way more fun to say.
  4. SAVOURY CHICKPEA FLOUR CRACKERS: you can make these crackers any way you want. They’re really quick to make and very hearty for those of you that like a substantial cracker with a good crunch. The flavour options are extensive.
  5. QUICHE a la CHICKPEA: if you haven’t already guessed, chickpea flour is a perfect stand-in for the custardy, savoury protein of eggs. These mini quiches are awesome. Make them crustless or with a gluten-free crust if you are looking for something a little more luxury. Then, add some caramelized onions or sundried tomatoes. Ooh la la!

© Backyard Owl

Festive Apple Cider Scones (v, gf)

apple cider scones.7

I think it’s fair to start a countdown to Christmas now, no? I mean, we are almost exactly a month away. And these scones definitely communicate a festive, cinnamon-y, “I love winter” kind of feeling, which is what one certainly wants to cultivate in the weeks before Christmas. And in the weeks after Christmas, come to that.

These scones are gluten-free, vegan, made with coconut oil, and stocked with apple cider-infused cooked apples, as well as just some more plain ol’ apple cider. I amped up the cinnamon factor as well, upon the recommendation of my sister.

apple cider scones - vegan and gluten free

Admittedly I went back and forth for awhile on the topping – glaze, no glaze, glaze, no glaze. I really try to use natural sweeteners, and while there is nothing wrong with the occasional indulgence of icing sugar, I wanted something just slightly less processed. In the end, I decided a simple cinnamon sugar topping was best, using organic cane sugar.

These apple cider scones would make a delightful addition to any festive brunch, as well as any lazy weekend breakfast. Make them in addition to some banana espresso scones, and you have a variety of please every palate. Round it out with some tofu scramble, coconut yogurt, fresh fruit, and perhaps a green juice or two, and you have a festive morning meal that can’t be beat.

apple cider scones - vegan, gluten free

Festive Apple Cider Scones (v, gf)

  • Author: Backyard Owl
  • Recipe Notes: vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free
  • Yield: 8-10 scones


  • 2 cups brown rice flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pink salt (if you don’t have pink salt, use another coarse salt)
  • 1/3 cup cold coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 apple, diced (if organic, wash well but keep the peel on)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider + another 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon + another 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • OPTIONAL: 1/4 tsp additional spices of choice: nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and/or ginger

For the topping:

  • 2 teaspoons organic cane sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon


  1. Measure out coconut oil and chill in fridge until firm. Here’s a tip: measure into the 1/3 cup and then scoop out onto a plate and chill that way. Once chilled, the coconut oil can be more difficult to extract from the measuring cup.
  2. In a small saucepan, stir together 1/2 cup of the apple cider, 1/4 teaspoon of the cinnamon, and diced apple. Cook over medium heat until apples are very soft and almost all of the cider has been absorbed. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together another 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and 2 teaspoons organic cane sugar (for the scone topping).
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together brown rice flour, baking powder, salt, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.
  5. Using your hands or a pastry cutter, cut together cold coconut oil and flour mix until it resembles coarse sand (the goal here is to create bits of coconut oil covered with flour – to create the flaky scone texture). Put in fridge until ready for use.
  6. Mix together almond milk, maple syrup, apple cider, and cooled cooked apple mixture.
  7. Pour apple/almond milk mix into cold flour/coconut oil mix and stir gently. When halfway mixed, turn out onto a well-floured counter top and continue gently combining (you don’t want to squish the coconut oil bits you’ve so carefully prepared) until you’ve formed a soft dough.
  8. Form into a square of dough about 1 inch thick. Using a sharp knife, slice into 9 squares (or so) and place on baking sheet.
  9. Freeze for 10 minutes before baking (or until oven has preheated – see next step).
  10. Preheat oven to 425F.
  11. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until firm on the outside and lightly golden.

Enjoy! These are best served on the day they’ve been made, but they also keep in the fridge for another two to three days.

© Backyard Owl

Crunchy Homemade Oat & Buckwheat Granola (vegan, gf)

granolaAs part of my quest to reduce food packaging, I’ve been experimenting with new breakfast recipes. Raw buckwheat porridge was one, and this fabulous buckwheat granola is the other. I feel like buckwheat has always been on the periphery of my food consciousness, but never had a starring role. I knew about it in flour form, of course, for pancakes, but never thought about using buckwheat groats in my everyday kitchen. Now, however, buckwheat groats have found a home. Mixed with sunflower and pumpkin seeds, shredded coconut, rolled oats, and hemp seeds, and coated with coconut oil and maple syrup, these buckwheat groats have amazing crunch. Throw in some raisins and whatever other dried fruit suits your fancy, and you have one serious breakfast contender.

buckwheat groats

buckwheat groats and sunflower seeds

But to answer a question I’m sure you’ve all been wondering: what are buckwheat groats, anyways? And why is groats such a funny word? Well, I’m not sure I can answer the latter (I mean, it rhymes with oats, but is somehow so much more hilarious), but with regards to the former, buckwheat groats are the hulled seeds of the buckwheat plant. If you don’t know what a buckwheat plant looks like (I didn’t!), take a quick look here. It’s a beautiful plant, with white blossoms, and it’s neat to make the connection between those little seeds and the beautiful green and white triangular bits that come in the buckwheat groats bag. Sidebar: if you’ve never googled what quinoa (also a seed) looks like, in plant form, I highly recommend it. Gorgeous, colourful – so unique-looking. But I digress.

granola2Back to buckwheat. Buckwheat groats (different from kasha, which is buckwheat in its toasted form) are light green, brown, and cream, and, interestingly, despite its name, all buckwheat is gluten-free. The buckwheat plant is actually related to the rhubarb plant, and a quick google search tells me buckwheat’s health benefits are many: low on the glycemic index, high in crucial minerals like zinc and manganese, and full of protein and heart-healthy fibre. For all you gardener types, Mother Earth News has an interesting article here on how to grow your own buckwheat.  Now THAT would be taking it to the next level – making homemade granola from homegrown buckwheat? Living the dream!

This granola is simple to put together: all the dry ingredients go in one bowl, all the wet ingredients in another, mix them together, and bake them in the oven until golden. Then add dried fruit, store in a jar, and voila! Granola deliciousness.

Crunchy Homemade Oat & Buckwheat Granola

  • Author: Backyard Owl
  • Recipe Notes: vegan, gluten-free (if using certified gluten-free oats), naturally-sweetened


  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup buckwheat groats
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup nut pulp* (optional, but a nice way to use up leftover pulp from making homemade nut/seed milk)


  1. Preheat oven to 325F.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together oats, buckwheat groats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut, hemp seeds, salt, and cinnamon.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt coconut oil and add maple syrup and vanilla. Stir in nut pulp, if using.
  4. Combine wet and dry ingredients until all dry ingredients are coated.
  5. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring once or twice, until golden.
  6. Remove from oven, and if desired, clump together to cool (this helps form clusters); or, leave as is to cool. Add raisins.
  7. Store in an airtight jar or container and enjoy!

© 2014 Backyard Owl