magnolia crunch

Delighted by the popularity of our not-too-sweet but very seedy beet your heart out granola (made with gluten-free organic oats), we set out to create an entirely grain-free alternative that was equally crunchy and packed with protein and healthy fats to fuel you for hours. After some of the standard trial and error, we created something that, I think, is even better than the original.

ingredients: organic large flaked coconut, organic pumpkin seeds, locally grown beets, organic dates, organic sunflower seeds, organic raisins, organic chia seeds, organic locally grown carrots, organic golden flax, filtered water, organic virgin coconut oil, organic tapioca flour, organic cinnamon, organic ginger, himalayan pink salt, lemon extract, vanilla extract

beet your heart out granola

Even if you can proudly resist candy, donuts, ice cream, and pretty much all processed sugars (good for you), you’ve got a crutch. Something you need after dinner (even if you’re stuffed), before brushing your teeth at night. A habit so entrenched you fear you might start slapping your loved ones or twitching on the floor if you can’t have it. At least I hope you do, because I don’t want to feel like I’m going out on a limb here. For me, it’s granola.

I’ve been making granola for years, baking enough every week to fill about three 1/2 gallon jars, using a basic formula but essentially winging it every time with different seeds, nuts, and spices. Believe it or not, my tiny family (basically, me and my husband, though my 3 1/2 year old is joining our ravenous ranks, slowly but surely) goes through it like wildfire even when I screw up and it’s not that good. Even at its best, it’s never as sweet as any other brand I’ve tried (oh, and boy do I still buy and try many) in which maple syrup or honey is among the first three ingredients. I consider those “dessert granolas” for enjoying in a mug of (raw) milk after dinner.

I usually use local honey as a sweetener, but I wanted to try something different here– a breakfasty granola that’s less sweet but more textured and nutritious to get you through a busy morning. Steaming beets (my preferred preparation) leaves us with quite a bit of magenta juice in the bottom of the pot, and it’s too beautiful and nutritious to waste. Some of it goes into our sweet beet crackers, but the rest, I use in the granola, adding a bit of anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory betalain, folic acid, and circulation-boosting properties to my daily breakfast (read more about beet benefits here).

I combine the beet juice organic dates to create a purée about the consistency of honey, and mix with the oats and four kinds of protein-rich seeds. The result is a low sugar snack that can add crunch and a smidge of sweet to your yogurt or even your salad.

ingredients: certified gluten-free rolled oats*, beet juice, raw sunflower seeds*, raw pumpkin seeds*, dates*, chia seeds*, golden flax*, goji berries, filtered water, virgin coconut oil*, vanilla extract, cinnamon*, Himalayan pink salt, lemon extract

*certified organic

beet thins

These crackers were first inspired by a millet cracker recipe in Ruth Yaron’s Super Baby Food (page 509). As I gushed in my book review back in March, I adore the book’s simple, practical language, and brief, to-the-point recipes. Her style makes it easy to experiment, using her recipes as templates from which to swap ingredients and play around a little with flavors. Some of my experiments are abject failures.  This one is, hands, down, my favorite cracker. Ever.

After making a few batches of these beet crackers with millet and pumpkin seeds (falling quickly in love), I swapped in quinoa, which I have since stopped using because the deep earthy grain flavor overshadowed the other subtle flavors.  The beets (which I’ve sourced from several farms, including Broadhead Mountain Farm, Double H Farm, Lettuce Grow Farm, and Bellair Farm) and figs combine with rosemary and sea salt to generate a sweet and savory quality without any added sweeteners. After making these with local pastured butter for many weeks, I responded to requests for a dairy-free cracker and managed to create a vegan version that should still satisfy crunch-craver. No one wants something that called itself a cracker when the crunch factor just doesn’t hold up to expectation.

These are tasty on their own and even better with some Caromont Farm goat cheese. A groggy post-nap Fionn gobbled several after sneaking them from the still-warm cookie sheet on top of the oven. Enjoy, and thanks for the inspiration, Ruth!

Ingredients: locally grown beets, organic golden flax, organic millet, organic pumpkin seeds, organic dried figs, himalayan pink salt, lemon juice, fresh rosemary

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#paleo #sugarfree #grainfree#nutfree #beets #omega3s

Butterfly Beet Crackers

Ay caramba! This week, I am on snack-duty for my son’s class at The International School of Charlottesville, so I am on task to make three different, veggie-based snacks that will only gross out a small minority of the 12 toddler group (mostly boys). The teachers gave me a heads up that the learning theme would be shapes and colors, which served as a good excuse to use my motley collection of cookie cutters. As I procrastinated the challenge of a green snack, I decided that I wasn’t quite through with the beet theme of Valentine’s Day, and modified the savory Rosemary & Beet Crackers with some dates and warming spices, and used a butterfly shape. Honestly, I recommend sticking with a straight-up square version, as transferring the cut butterflies from the sheet of dough to the prepared cookie sheet is not only time consuming, but left me feeling like a cruel lepidopterist. Stretched, distorted wings and whatnot. Nevertheless, the flutter (one among several names for a group of butterflies, apparently) turned out pretty well, and are be great spread with a little goat cheese. That reminds me, Caromont Farm will be among my first stops when City Market opens for the season next month, as my freezer stash of their goat cheese is waning!

Nervous that the flutter might feel a little naked, I whipped up a curry dip with some black eyed peas, coconut milk, and a little honey, at the last minute before leaving for school on Monday. This was apparently was a good decision, according to the teachers, and I turned the leftovers into a salad dressing for my post-workout lunch (sloppy fried eggs and kale that stuck to the dirty iron skillet that I can never seem to keep seasoned properly).

Butterfly Beet Crackers
Serves 20
A beautifully magenta grain-free beet cracker sweetened with dates and warm spices. Essential fats come from sunflower and flax seeds.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
20 min
132 calories
11 g
0 g
9 g
4 g
1 g
40 g
128 g
6 g
0 g
8 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 132
Calories from Fat 76
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 9g
Saturated Fat 1g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 6g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 128mg
Total Carbohydrates 11g
Dietary Fiber 4g
Sugars 6g
Protein 4g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 1 1/4 cup steamed chopped beets
  2. 6 tablespoons water remaining from steaming beets
  3. 6 Medjool dates, pitted and halved
  4. 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  7. 1 cup golden flax seed
  8. 1 1/2 cups sunflower seeds
  9. 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  10. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  11. 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  12. 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  13. 1 teaspoon sea salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Soak your dates in the beet water (which should be a deep magenta) in a measuring cup for at least 10 minutes.
  3. In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the sunflower seeds and flax seeds. Pulse until a coarse meal forms.
  4. Add the spices and salt. Pulse until everything is a fine meal. Remove mixture and place into a medium sized bowl. Do not wash the processor bowl.
  5. Add the drained beets and soaked dates (with the liquid) to the to the food processor, along with the apple cider vinegar and melted coconut oil to the food processor. Process until the beets and dates are pretty thoroughly pureed.
  6. Use a spatula to scoop out the beet mixture, adding it to the bowl of dry ingredients. Stir until everything is combined, and a ball of dough begins to form.
  7. Pat the dough into a rectangular shape on a large piece of parchment paper. Top with another sheet of parchment paper and roll to about 1/8-inch thick rectangular shapes. Transfer the dough, parchment paper and all, to a baking sheet. Remove the top piece of parchment. Trim any jagged edges off with a knife or pizza cutter. Using the knife or pizza cutter, score the dough into cracker shapes, or whatever cookie cutter you have that doesn’t have any fine points that would inevitably lead to premature cracker breakage. Clearly, my preference is butterflies.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes until firm to the touch and light brown around the edges. Remove the pan from the oven and turn the oven off. Separate the crackers along the pre-cut lines and space them out a little bit on the baking sheet so the air can circulate around them. Place the pan back in the oven for 5 minutes. This step helps to crisp up the crackers a little more. After 5 minutes, remove the crackers from the oven and cool completely, for at least three hours. Crackers will continue to crisp up as they cool. Store in an airtight container once cooled.
  1. Yield will vary depending on the size you cut your crackers. If you opt for squares rather than using a cookie cutter, 1.5 x 1.5 inch squares will yield 75-80 crackers. Nutritional information assumes a serving of about 4 square crackers.
Adapted from 'Love Train' Beet & Rosemary Crackers