Friday, November 14, 2014

Cashew Milk - 2 Ways

If you haven't had the delight that is a homemade nut milk, do yourself a favor and make these two. Cashew milk is one of the easiest nut milks to make (no straining involved) and has an incredibly smooth, creamy flavor. Perfect for cooking oatmeal, adding into your morning coffee, or enjoying a full glass.

Today I'm sharing my go-to cashew milk recipe and chocolate cashew milk. The best part is that you can make BOTH recipes out of one blender full. Just bottle up half of the cashew milk and then add in the optional chocolate goodness for a second half batch. I like 2-for-1 deals AND recipes.

One of the biggest perks of making homemade nut milks is that YOU get to decide what goes in it and there are no gross preservatives. But before you get your blender out, remember this important tip: when making any nut milks, it's always important to soak your nuts. Why? Nuts contain anti-nutrients, usually in the form of phytic acid, which binds to certain nutrients and prevents your body from digesting and absorbing optimally. Soaking nuts increases the bioavailability of nutrients and activates beneficial enzymes that aid in your body's natural process of digestion.

Soaking time depends on the size and type of nut. Cashews are a softer nut, so 2-4 hours will suffice. An almond, or a larger heartier nut, will probably take more like 6-8 hours or overnight. However, if you're pressed for time or want a glass of nut milk RIGHT NOW, soak your nuts for 10-20 minutes in hot water. This helps but isn't as effective as a longer soak would be.

Cashew Milk - 2 Ways
Yields 3 cups

1 cup cashews, soaked 2-4 hours, strained
3 cups cold filtered water
1/4 cup dates, soaked in warm water for ten minutes (or, 2-3 tablespoons pure maple syrup)
1.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, plus 1 vanilla bean, scraped (if you have vanilla bean on hand)
For the chocolate variation: 3 teaspoons raw cocoa or cacao powder

Directions: Put all ingredients into a blender in the order listed. Secure lid and blend on high until smooth. Enjoy chilled and keep in the fridge for up to three days.

Note: If you don't have a high speed blender (like a Vitamix or Blendtec), I highly recommend soaking your cashews longer to prevent grittiness. 

What's your favorite nut milk?!  I also love homemade almond milk and even sunflower milk for a nut-free option.

xo Dianna

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Barbecue Roasted Chickpeas

Um, I guess it's winter now?  It's freezing here in Kansas City. Literally a high of 31 degrees today. The heat in our new house works like a charm and I am incredibly thankful for energy efficient windows and no windy drafts. Just as the weather changes so do my cravings. I'm totally into salty, crunchy, savory snacks these days...and turning on the oven. 

To satisfy my current craving, I whipped up a batch of these super simple roasted chickpeas. These little nugs are slathered in a super delish, low sugar and sodium, local barbecue sauce and roasted for thirty-ish minutes until they come out perfectly golden and crispy.

My only concern is that I didn't make enough for sharing when G gets home. And that one of the chickpeas fell off the pan mid-stir and has yet to be recovered. Ugh.

Side note: my sister is going to kill me for having these snack plates. They're a staple from our childhood from our great Aunt Dina. She'd serve us toasted corn muffin tops or stale Italian cookies on them whenever we stayed at her house. Every time I eat off of one I think of Aunt Dina and her quirkiness.  She'd use scotch tape on her face for anti-aging purposes ("it prevents wrinkles", she'd tell us when we asked her why she had taped around her eyes) and after she passed we found a big container full of little cotton balls, the kind you find in the top of vitamin bottles, on top of her fridge. YEARS worth of cotton balls and pill containers. For what reason? That we will never know. But that was just so her. You never really understood why Aunt Dina did what she did, but in retrospect that was probably one of the best life lessons she could have taught us as kids and especially women- to be ourselves in every moment, even if everyone else things you're a bit kooky. 

Aunt Dina's plates live on! But with more sophisticated snacks than toaster muffins. I think she'd be proud.

Barbecue Roasted Chickpeas
Yields 2 cups

2 cups cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
1 teaspoon ground garlic
1.5 teaspoons olive oil

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Put chickpeas in a medium bowl and add in barbecue sauce, ground garlic, and olive oil. Stir to mix well. 
  3. Spread chickpea mixture out evenly on a baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until chickpeas are crunchy and browning. Stir once at 20 minutes. 
  4. Remove from oven, cool, and enjoy! 
Note: These are best eaten immediately as they can get soggy when stored in a container. I doubt you'll have any leftover for saving anyways!

Have you ever tried roasted chickpeas before? What's your favorite way to prepare them? I'm thinking of trying cinnamon and sugar next...

xo Dianna

Thursday, October 9, 2014


My exercise routine has started to become, well, less routine, as each day becomes shorter, darker, and colder. Fall has that effect on me. Now begins the time where my oversized Grandpa robe sees a lot more of me than my sneakers.

As a dietitian, I know very well the importance of exercise. In fact I really do love to be active. Put me on a bike ride, in the garden, at the end of my dog's leash or on a hike and I could be active all day. But when I schedule a trip to the gym or sign up for a race, exercise always feels like that terrible nagging errand I have to do. Which makes me absolutely not want to do it. And when temperatures begin to drop and darkness takes over even before I get off work, my inherent laziness takes over. 

Enter in my personal #100miles100days challenge! There is no weight loss or marathon at the end of this challenge. The goal is to simply follow through with a promise to myself; to keep a clear head, to keep my feet moving, to enjoy the outdoors, and most importantly, to follow through. It's a small and seemingly easy goal (at least now while the temperatures are above sixty degrees) but the challenge isn't the physical activity part, a mile is peanuts, but the hard part is sticking with it for more than a week. I'm challenging myself to get moving an extra mile EVERY DAY, for the next ONE HUNDRED days. That's until January 16th, 2015. Even when it is raining, snowing, sleeting, below zero, and even when I'm sick. 

The real accomplishment will be exhibiting self-motivation over consecutive days, a hundred consecutive days. No days off. No skip days. No let-me-lay-in-bed-and-watch-netflix-in-my-pajamas-all-day days. This already sounds terrible.

I'll be posting much of my progress over on Instagram using the hashtag #100miles100days. You'll probably see a lot more image of my feet and of my sweet pup, Winnie. If you want to challenge yourself with me just tag me in your posts (@chardincharge) and use the hashtag. I'd love to have a buddy.

Let it commence! 

xo Dianna

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Chocolate Covered Pecan Clusters

Hi. I think I know you, you used to come here often. You've probably been wondering where I've been, huh? I know, I know...these pages have been pretty silent. A lot has happened! September proved to be a tremendous improvement from Awful August for the following reasons...

I'M OFFICIALLY A REGISTERED DIETITIAN!!! Credentialed. Expert status. After 5+ years of schooling, 1300+ hours of unpaid intern status, and practically two weeks of full-time studying, I took the exam and won. SOEXCITEDIDONTKNOWWHATADJECTIVETOTYPE!!!! I'm more than happy to share my experiences with you if you're interested in the nutrition field. Just connect with me via comment below or any form of social media. I also can be reached via carrier pigeons.

I'm an EMPLOYED Registered Dietitian. I have my own office, a salary with benefits, and a name tag that says "Dianna Sinni, RD" on it! If that's not baller status, I don't know what is. You know, because name tags are a big deal and stuff...

We're moving! My love bought a house. It's a 105+ year old house that has been rehabbed beautifully. Tall ceilings, hardwood floors, a proper laundry room and THREE bathrooms. Now I have choices when I need to pee! Just wait until you see the kitchen, I am going to nap on the countertops and pet the subway tiles. It's the little things that get me excited.

Ok, enough of MY life updates. How are YOU? Are you happy? Are you blue? One thing I've learned in the past two months is that life is strange. It gets you down, a lot of the time, but it'll also bring you right back up even higher than you were before. So however you are feeling and whatever life is handing you right now, I think you should take a break and make these [vegan] Chocolate Covered Pecan Clusters. 

Just go with it.

Chocolate Covered Pecan Clusters
Makes 6 clusters

1 cup pecans
4 tablespoons pure maple syrup, divided
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup cacao powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash of sea salt

  1. Heat a dry skillet over medium heat and toast pecans for 1 minute. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the maple syrup, cooking until pecans are coated and the syrup is thick and bubbly, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and lay pecans in clusters of 4-6 on parchment paper.
  2. In a double boiler, melt the coconut oil. Whisk in the cacao powder, vanilla, sea salt, and last tablespoon of maple syrup until well combined. Turn off the heat and pour the cacao mixture into mini muffin tins, filling 6 spaces about 1/4 of the way. Stick in the fridge for 10 minutes to harden slightly, but not totally solid.
  3. Add one pecan cluster, which should have cooled and hardened together, into each muffin tin space and pour the remaining chocolate over the top of each cluster. Chill in the fridge to set and remove when ready to enjoy!
NOTE // Since coconut oil is liquid at room temperature, these clusters will melt if left on the counter. I keep them in the fridge or freezer in a sealed container lined with parchment paper. 

Hope you like these ones! If you aren't a fan of ooey gooey chocolate nutty goodness, we might need to reevaluate our friendship. 

xo Dianna

P.S. Do you know how hard it is to take pictures of melting chocolate?! Sticky fingers, soft chocolate, a sunlit window, and a camera make for a tricky situation.