Tag Archives: Walnuts

Salads Vegan Vegetarian Meals

Farro Salad with Cherries and Walnuts…Plus a Complete Labor Day Barbecue Meal!

Hi friends! I hope you had a great weekend.

I am so excited for today’s post because I am teaming up with some of my blogger friends to bring you a complete healthy Labor Day barbecue feast! We each put together a different course for the menu, and oh man, I want to dig into all of these delicious creations. Let’s take a look!

Kacy from Healthy For Real made a Hearty Black Bean Corn and Kale Appetizer.

Black Bean and Corn Appetizer from Kacy at Healthy For Real

I made a grain-based Farro Salad with Cherries and Walnuts (Vegan and Refined Sugar-Free)

Farro Salad with Cherries and Walnuts Recipe ll Vegan and Refined Sugar Free! ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com


Dani from Dani California Cooks made Grilled Dijon Salmon Skewers (Paleo).

Grilled Dijon Salmon Skewers from Dani at Dani California Cooks

And Chef Vanessa Musi made a delicious Peach Bourbon Pie for dessert (Gluten-Free, Vegan and Refined Sugar-Free).


Make sure to click over to their posts to check out their amazing recipes!


Now are you ready for this delicious Farro Salad with Cherries and Walnuts?

You guys know I am OBSESSED with farro — it’s my all-time favorite grain. Farro is perfect for big batch salads like this one because it doesn’t get soggy after being dressed and it holds up very well in the fridge for a couple of days.

Farro Salad with Cherries and Walnuts Recipe ll Vegan and Refined Sugar Free! ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

I love, love, love the sweet-tart flavor that the cherries give to this salad, and there are so many different textures thanks to the added crunch from the walnuts and celery.

Farro Salad with Cherries and Walnuts Recipe ll Vegan and Refined Sugar Free! ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

I know you guys are going to love this one and I can’t wait for you to try it!

Farro Salad with Cherries and Walnuts Recipe ll Vegan and Refined Sugar Free! ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Farro Salad with Cherries and Walnuts
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • ¾ cup uncooked farro
  • ⅓ cup diced celery
  • 1 cup sweet cherries, pitted and halved
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 2 Tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 1.5 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ Tablespoon raw honey (or maple syrup for a vegan option)
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  1. Bring 2.5 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the farro and a pinch of salt. Cook for 15 minutes or until al dente. Drain and cool.
  2. In a large bowl combine the farro, celery, cherries, walnuts and parsley.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, honey and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Toss the farro with the dressing. Chill for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to come together.


Farro Salad with Cherries and Walnuts Recipe ll Vegan and Refined Sugar Free! ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com


Gluten-Free Poultry

Persian Chicken Stew (Fesenjan)

I am in one of those phases where I just want to cook the same thing over and over again. It’s not due to a lack of imagination, but rather an addiction to some seriously delicious meals that have come out of my little kitchen recently.

One of them, in particular, is this incredible Persian Chicken Stew, also known as Fesenjan.

Persian Chicken Stew (Fesenjan) Recipe

In this stew chicken is slow cooked in a mixture of ground walnuts, my beloved pomegranate molasses, and an assortment of spices. While this meal does take a little bit more time than I typically like to spend on a weeknight meal, it’s worth it. This warm meal is incredibly comforting on a cold evening, but unlike plenty of “comfort foods,” this Persian Chicken Stew is very healthy.

Persian Chicken Stew (Fesenjan) Recipe

Feel free to increase this recipe if you’re serving more people or want leftovers – the stew reheats very well the next day! I serve this Fesenjen with rice and a side of vegetables, like my Spiced Roasted Carrots (a perfect pairing, in my opinion!). Next time, I am going to try to adapt this recipe for the slow cooker, first browning the chicken and sautéing the onions in pan, and then putting the rest of the ingredients in the slow-cooker to simmer all day.

Persian Chicken Stew (Fesenjan) Recipe

I hope your family loves this meal as much as we do!


Persian Chicken Stew (Fesenjan) Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • 1 cup walnut halves
  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts, trimmed of excess fat, cut into 1.5 inch pieces
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped (1.5 cups)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 3 Tablespoons pomegranate molasses (Make your own here)
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup pomegranate arils, optional for serving
  1. Heat a large pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the walnut halves and toast, stirring reguarly for about 8 minutes. Be very careful not to let the walnuts burn. Once lightly browned, remove the walnuts from the pan and place on a plate to cool. Once cool, place in a food processor or blender and grind the walnuts until finely ground (like sand).
  2. Return the pan to medium heat and add 1 Tablespoon of the extra-virgin olive oil. Once hot, add the chicken pieces and brown on all sides. Sprinkle the chicken with salt while it is cooking. Once browned (but NOT cooked through), remove the chicken to a plate.
  3. Add the remaining olive oil to the pan, and then add the onions. Cook until translucent, 8-10 minutes. Stir occasionally to remove the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the pan and add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer on very low heat for 15 minutes, covered.
  4. Stir in the ground walnuts, pomegranate molasses, sugar, and spices. Cover again and cook on very low heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and adjust sugar/salt to taste.
  5. Serve with rice and sprinkle with fresh pomegranate arils.

This Persian Chicken Stew is delicious on a chilly fall or winter evening. The combination of ground walnuts and pomegranate molasses make a delicious sweet and savory sauce! It's healthy and gluten-free! ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Appetizer Snacks

Muhammara (Roasted Red Pepper Dip)

The first time I tried Muhammara was at Momed, a modern Mediterranean restaurant in Beverly Hills. I had no idea what it was, so the waitress kindly let us sample some before we placed our order.

It. Was. Incredible.

Muhammara (Roasted Red Pepper Dip) Recipe l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Muhammara, which is quite common in Syrian and Turkish cuisine, is a delicious roasted red pepper dip served with warm pita. This dip has incredible texture thanks to blended walnuts and breadcrumbs. It is thick, vibrant in color, and so perfectly spiced from cumin and red pepper flakes.

Muhammara (Roasted Red Pepper Dip) Recipe l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

My only issue with Muhammara is that it causes me to lose all self-control. MUST.EAT.ALL.THE.DIP.

Especially when there is warm, doughy pita bread involved…

Muhammara (Roasted Red Pepper Dip) Recipe l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Besides toasting the walnuts, there is no cooking time involved, so this dip comes together in under 20 minutes.

Muhammara (Roasted Red Pepper Dip) Recipe l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

I served mine with warm Whole Wheat Pita and alongside a main meal of Mediterranean-spiced turkey meatballs.

Feel free to use this dip just as you would use hummus: on a sandwich, served with veggies, you name it!

Muhammara (Roasted Red Pepper Dip) Recipe l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Travis already insisted that this become a staple in our house. I guarantee you’ll love this just as much as we do.

Muhammara (Roasted Red Pepper Dip) Recipe l www.littlechefbigappetite.com


Muhammara (Roasted Red Pepper Dip)
Prep time
Total time
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 5-6
  • 7oz Jarred Roasted Red Peppers, rinsed (Alternatively, you can roast 2 large Bell Peppers in your oven)
  • ½ cup Whole Wheat Breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup Walnuts (Toasted in a small pan on medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes)
  • 4 Garlic Cloves (Mashed into a paste)
  • 1 tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 tablespoon Pomegranate Molasses (I found mine at Whole Foods)
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon Dried Red Pepper Flakes (or to taste)
  • 2-3 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  1. Combine all ingredients except the olive oil in the bowl of a large food processor. Process for 20 seconds. Scrape down the sides. Process again on low, slowly adding the olive oil 1 Tablespoon at a time. Stop after each Tablespoon to check the consistency of the Muhammara. It should be thick and not completely smooth.
  2. Pour the contents into a bowl and either serve immediately or store in the fridge until ready to eat. I think it tastes best after it sits for a few hours.

Muhammara is one of my favorite appetizers! It's a roasted red pepper dip made with toasted walnuts and pomegranate molasses. Serve it with veggies or whole grain crackers for a healthy snack. ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Gluten-Free Salads Vegan

Roasted Pear and Fennel Salad

This past week I took a nice solid detox away from everything.

I flew back to the East coast for a wonderful week of relaxation with my parents. I don’t get to go home as often as I would like, so when I am home, I try to savor every moment of it.

This trip I split my time between Boston and Maine, which was very special because I haven’t been to our home in Maine since before I moved to Los Angeles (a year and a half ago!).


While I was home, I got to see some of my best friends: Amanda, Gabby, and Jenni. They all live in Boston, so I am always so appreciative for the time I have with them when I come home. The time always goes by too fast, though!

It was especially nice to be home with this little cutie:


Diesel was quite spoiled this holiday season. He got some new toys and a pretty badass new sweater. He was pretty thrilled about them. He is one of the few dogs I know who actually enjoys wearing sweaters and jackets (as opposed to constantly trying to paw them off). Since he is so small, he gets cold  easily during the winter, so I think he appreciates the added layer!



How cute is his little nub of a tail?


As I have mentioned before, one of my favorite parts of going home is the chance to cook with my dad. Whenever I come home, he always has a new recipe or kitchen gadget he is excited to show me. I always love the opportunity to learn from him.

My dad made a version of this Pear and Fennel Salad before and raved about it.  It sounded delicious to me and since we had a pear and some fennel in the fridge, we decided to make it again and just invented the rest by adding other ingredients we had in the kitchen. The end result was delicious!

Roasted Pear and Fennel Salad Recipe -- perfect for winter! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

I have used chopped pears into salads before, but never roasted them first. After trying this salad, I will always roast my pears in the future. It really brings out the natural sweetness in the fruit and makes the slices almost melt in your mouth!

What really made this salad, though, was a wonderful Cranberry Pear Balsamic that my parents picked up in Arizona. We just sprinkled the balsamic by itself (no oil!) onto the salad and it was simply perfect. I urge you to try and find this balsamic (or something similar). If you can’t find it though, don’t worry. You can still make this salad and substitute another white balsamic in its place.

Roasted Pear and Fennel Salad Recipe -- perfect for winter! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

This was a wonderful winter salad. I know I will make this many more times over the coming months. It is easily adaptable to whatever ingredients you have on hand. You can use spinach in place of arugula, raisins instead of cranberries, pecans instead of walnuts, the list goes on.

If you make this, let me know what combinations you try!


Roasted Pear and Fennel Salad
  • 1 unpeeled pear, halved, and then cut into ⅛ inch slices
  • 1 fennel bulb, stems, cores and tough outer layers removed, then cut in half and sliced lengthwise into ⅛ inch thick half-moons
  • 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup walnuts, toasted*
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries or raisins
  • 3 large handfuls of arugula
  • Cranberry Pear Balsamic Vinegar (or another White Balsamic of choice)
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spread the fennel and pear slices on the baking sheet, arranging in a single layer. Sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of olive oil over the fennel and pear. Roast for 20-25 minutes until golden brown at the edges. Watch carefully as to not burn. Remove from the oven and allow the fennel and pear slices to cool.
  2. Arrange a medium salad bowl with the arugula at the bottom. Then add the cooled pear and fennel slices. Sprinkle the cranberries and toasted walnuts on top. Then serve with the Cranberry Pear Balsamic Vinegar.
* To toast the walnuts either place them on a separate baking sheet in a single layer and toast in the oven while the pear and fennel are roasting for about 5 minutes (watch them carefully because they will burn quickly). OR heat a medium skillet to medium-high heat and add the walnuts. Toast for 4-5 minutes, stirring regularly. The walnuts will be done when they turn a darker shade of brown and you will be able to smell them toasting.


Desserts Gluten-Free

Healthy Brownie Bites

I have been seeing lots of raw vegan desserts pop up around the internet these days. Some of them intrigue me, but most of the time I sit there and question the fact that combining XYZ ingredients is actually going to taste like a piece of carrot cake, apple pie, or the like. I am all for healthy desserts, but my goal is have the healthier version taste exactly (or better!)  than the real thing. That's why I love desserts like my Whole-Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies - they're healthier than the classic chocolate chip cookie, but they taste so gosh-darned freakin' delicious, so you never feel like you're missing anything. Healthy "Brownie Bites" Recipe - Little Chef Big Appetite So when I saw this recipe for 3 ingredient recipe for truffles that claimed to taste like healthy brownie bites, I knew I had to give it a whirl.  I thought, "Hey - if they don't turn out well,  at least I only wasted three ingredients!" Healthy "Brownie Bites" Recipe - Little Chef Big Appetite So, I set out to make these little bites. At first I wasn't impressed -- they weren't sweet enough for my liking. But, after making a few changes to make them a bit sweeter, I think I made a real keeper. Healthy "Brownie Bites" Recipe - Little Chef Big Appetite I was snacking on these all throughout the weekend. As someone who usually craves something sweet right after lunch or dinner, I think these are perfect. You get that sweet chocolate-y fix without loads of calories. Healthy "Brownie Bites" They also transport quite well, so they could be a great healthy dessert to bring to a party this holiday season. Did I mention they are vegan, gluten-free AND dairy-free, so they are bound to please all of your friends with dietary restrictions. If you try them let me know what you think!    
Healthy “Brownie Bites”
Prep time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 10
  • 1 cup Walnuts (raw, unsalted)
  • ½ cup Dates (pitted)
  • 2 tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 2 teaspoons Stevia (or another all-natural sweetener)
  • ½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • ½ cup Sweetened or Unsweetened Shredded Coconut (Optional)
  1. Place the walnuts in a bowl of a food processor and process until they become like sand (about 45 seconds). Add the dates, cocoa, stevia and vanilla and process until well combined and the mixture looks like brownie batter (about 20 seconds). You may have to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula once or twice to make sure all of the ingredients are well incorporated.
  2. Form the dough into balls slightly smaller than a golf ball, rolling to smooth in your hands. Put the shredded coconut in a small bowl or plastic baggie and toss the balls in the coconut. Place the bites in the fridge for about 30 minutes to harden and then they will be ready to serve. I stored mine in the fridge.

Gluten-Free Side Dishes Vegan

Carrots with Raisins and Toasted Walnuts

Holy cow, I could eat the whole batch of these carrots. I really could.

Carrots with Raisins and Toasted Walnuts Recipe

There would be nothing wrong with that. It’s a perfectly healthy side dish. And if I did I would have super duper vision, right? Or something like that.

You have to use your food processor to shred these carrots. Now, I know pulling out that food processor is a big pain. We all complain about it (even if we have a dishwasher). But you better do it, because grating these carrots by hand will be a nightmare. I know from experience when I made Emily’s Carrot Cake back in college. All I had was a 6-inch hand grater and I believe it took me about 45 minutes, two very cramped wrists, and a whole lot of determination (and love for Em) to grate those carrots. Use the food processor, people.

Carrots with Raisins and Toasted Walnuts Recipe

The end result is a slightly sweet side dish that makes a delicious accompaniment to poultry, tofu, and meatless meals. This carrot salad is also great for potlucks or picnics because it can be served straight from the fridge or at room temperature.

Carrots with Raisins and Toasted Walnuts Recipe

Feel free to make this ahead of time – I think it is even better the next day!


Carrots with Raisins and Toasted Walnuts
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
  • 1 lb. carrots, peeled and grated
  • ½ cup walnuts, toasted* (I used prechopped, but walnut halves are fine)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • juice from 1 lemon (about 2 Tablespoons)
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 3-4 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1.5 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon raw honey or maple syrup
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Stir all ingredients in a large bowl. Place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Remove, taste, and season with salt and pepper as desired. (DO NOT season with salt and pepper before putting the carrot mixture in the fridge, as the flavors really come together during the 20 minute period). The carrots can either be served right away or left in the fridge and served at a later point.
*To toast the walnuts, heat a medium pan to high heat. Add the walnuts and STIR CONSTANTLY until they begin to brown -- once the walnuts start browning they can burn very quickly so be careful not to burn them. Once they are toasted (you will smell them), remove from the pan onto a plate to cool.

Bread and Muffins

100% Whole Wheat Bread with Nuts and Seeds

I made this whole wheat bread. It was so good that I don’t want to buy sandwich bread anymore.

It may become a problem because after it came out of the oven I ate about four slices worth, until I was finally able to gain the will power to pull myself away. It wasn’t easy. I was back at it a few hours later.

I’m going to teach you how to make this bread.

100% Whole Wheat Bread with Nuts and Seeds l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Yes, it does involve yeast.

Yes, you must wait for it to rise. Twice.

Oh, don’t you walk away from me. Get back here. You’re making this bread.  I’ll help.

You’re going to thank me in the end. It’s that good.

Ok here we go, people.

You need a few basic ingredients. Whole wheat flour, walnuts, sunflower seeds, flax seed (optional for a nuttier flavor), honey, olive oil, salt and yeast.

See, you have these things. Told ya you could do it.

(You have to chop the walnuts and sunflower seeds into small pieces. A food processor is best, but that’s not so common in most college kitchens. So, if you have to, you can use a rolling pin instead. Just place the sunflower seeds and walnuts between two pieces of wax or parchment paper and roll the pin over the top piece, pressing down firmly to ensure you are breaking the nuts and seeds).

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and then add some warm water.

You have that, too.

Here’s your dough. Cover it (plastic wrap or a dish towel) and let it rise. Two hours, please.

You can do a lot in two hours. Please don’t hang around and watch it rise.

100% Whole Wheat Bread with Nuts and Seeds

Form the risen dough into a log. You may want to flour your hands. Stickity-stick-sticky.

100% Whole Wheat Bread with Nuts and Seeds

Place it in a lightly greased bread pan and…

100% Whole Wheat Bread with Nuts and Seeds

put a shower cap over it! Yup, a shower cap. Weird, huh?

It allows the dough to rise, covered, in the pan, but also prevents sticking.  If you don’t have a shower cap, a lightly greased piece of plastic wrap placed loosely over the dough will work fine.

Let it rise again. Two hours, people. You know the drill.

100% Whole Wheat Bread with Nuts and Seeds

After two hours, the dough should have crowned about 1” to 2” over the top of the pan.

Time to place this baby into the oven. 350 degrees. No higher.  No lower.

100% Whole Wheat Bread with Nuts and Seeds

and BAM! In 40 minutes you have yourself a beautiful homemade, healthy baked bread. Perfect for sandwiches, toast, or just snacking right out of the pan.

100% Whole Wheat Bread with Nuts and Seeds

Look at that beauty. I know you want to make this now. I see you looking for that bread pan.

Let me know how it goes. That is, if you have the self control to walk away from loaf…

100% Whole Wheat Bread with Nuts and Seeds


100% Whole Wheat Bread with Nuts and Seeds
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 1 loaf
  • 4 cups (16 ounces) Whole Wheat Flour
  • ¼ cup (1.25 ounces) sunflower seeds, chopped
  • ¼ cup (1 ounce) walnuts, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons flaxseed (less or none at all if you prefer a less nutty flavor)
  • 3 Tablespoons (1.25 ounces) olive oil
  • 5 Tablespoons (3.75 ounces) honey (molasses or maple syrup are fine substitutes)
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 2½ teaspoons instant (rapid rise) yeast
  • 1⅓ cups lukewarm water
  1. In a medium bowl combine all ingredients. Mix until you have a fairly shaggy dough. Let it rest for 20 minutes, covered. Then, knead the dough until it is fairly smooth. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for two hours, until it is nearly doubled in bulk.
  2. Gently deflate the dough (I just pressed down on it with my fingertips about ten times). Shape it into a log and place it into a lightly greased 8½” x 4½” bread pan. Cover the pan with a clear shower cap (or lightly greased plastic wrap) and let it rise for another 2 hours, until the dough has crowned 1” to 2” over the rim of the bread pan.
  3. Bake the bread in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. (Mine was done at about 35 minutes, so make sure not to over bake). Place a piece of aluminum foil over the top of the pan for the final 20 minutes of baking to make sure the top crust doesn’t burn.
*Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour