Meet My Monster (Sandwich and Dip, That Is 😉)

I love the savory, creamy goodness of a spinach and artichoke dip, and wanted to find a way to make it healthier so I am able to indulge more often 😃 This recipe’s creaminess comes from puréed beans/hummus, with some Parmesan cheese to bring that familiar salty, savory bite.

This is a really versatile dip! Serve with firm veggies like carrots and peppers sliced into planks and/or crackers of choice. Top baked chicken or fish — even bake the protein nestled into the dip for more savory goodness! Toss with cooked pasta or rice for a yummy side dish. Use as a base for pizza or calzone filling. Spread on your favorite bread when making your favorite sandwich. Or, as I show below, turn it into your new favorite sandwich!

Meet My Monster (Sandwich and Dip, That Is 😉)
Copyright 2017 by Lauren Bradford
(aka The Food Puzzler)

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: approximately 1 hour (either recipe)
Serves: Monster Patties (5) or Appetizer Dip (10)


1# bag chopped frozen spinach (no need to thaw or squeeze out excess liquid!)
2 15-oz cans artichoke hearts, chopped fine
2 cups puréed white beans or hummus (plain, red pepper or garlic)
1 cup shaved or grated Parmesan cheese
1 medium red onion, diced small
2 tablespoons each garlic and onion powder
1 teaspoon each salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon oil of choice
4 tablespoons flax seeds, ground and reserved


1. Coat the bottom of a medium-sized baking dish with the tablespoon of oil and set aside.

2. In a very large bowl, thoroughly combine all but the ground flax seeds.

3. Transfer all but 2 cups of the mixture into the baking dish, cover with a piece of parchment and then foil. There are plenty of options here:

– If you want to make the dip immediately, heat your oven to 350 degrees and bake until hot, about 30-40 minutes, stirring halfway through.

– If you are making it one day ahead, place in the fridge. The next day, leave it on your counter for half an hour prior to heating your oven and baking at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, stirring halfway through.

– If you freeze the dish for later use, place it in your fridge the day before baking to thaw it out a bit, and leave it on your counter for an hour prior to heating your oven and baking at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring at 30 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, place the reserved ground flax seeds and the remaining 2 cups of mixture together in a microwave-safe bowl. Combine, cover with parchment and warm through at the defrost setting for 5-10 minutes, and then let rest for 5 minutes so the flax can work its magic.

5. Divide into five equal portions and form into patties. (In the picture above, I made extras into bite-size balls as well as patties, fun for dipping!) Place on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Here, you can also bake immediately or freeze for later use (or bake, cool and freeze for quick sandwiches during the work week). If baking immediately, place in a 300 degree oven for 30 minutes. Then, flip over gently, place back in the oven, turn off the heat and let rest for 15 minutes.

Assemble your sandwiches with whatever toppings you like, these savory patties are very flexible! Here, I use roasted red peppers, tomato slices, fresh greens and a fried egg. I also eat them with extra cheese melted on top, with a side of greens.


Strawberry-Banana & Chocolate PB Breakfast Biscotti


One Package 5-Grain Cereal
One Container Unsweetened Applesauce
One Bunch Ripe Bananas
Limitless Possibilities

I have so many weird allergies at the moment, and we aren’t sure yet what causes reactions, that I generally figure it out by trial and error. Unfortunately, most of my reactions stem from food, so I’m always trying to find ways to make things I can eat — and want to eat — which recapture foods I love and miss. If they last well in the fridge and freezer, and boast nutrients, it’s a bonus!

These breakfast biscotti are easy to make and customizable to any tastes. Chocolate chips, nuts, fruits; the possibilities are endless! The one thing I recommend is not adding fresh fruits to the batter, as it can make the resulting biscotti spongy. Fresh fruits I put on top prior to baking, and smush them in a bit. Freeze-dried fruits can be mixed into the batter just like nuts or chocolate chips.

Strawberry-Banana and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Breakfast Biscotti
Copyright 2017 by Lauren Bradford (aka The Food Puzzler)

Prep time: 15 minutes
Baking time: approximately 30 minutes
Makes: 24 of each flavor


Strawberry-Banana Breakfast Biscotti

1 cup applesauce
3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour from processing oats or 5-grain cereal in food processor or spice grinder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup chia seeds
10-12 strawberries, sliced and roasted for 10 minutes, for topping

Chocolate Peanut Butter Breakfast Biscotti

1 1/2 cups applesauce
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour from processing oats or 5-grain cereal in food processor or spice grinder
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup PB powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup peanuts, divided


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment and lay out the slices of strawberries. Place them in the oven as it warms up, and leave them in until you see juices start running out. Remove and cool.

2. Have two large bowls on hand. Into each bowl, mash 3 bananas. Then, mix in the measured applesauce and vanilla.

3. Place all of the dry ingredients except for the oat/grain flour into their respective bowls and mix completely.

4. In the Strawberry-Banana bowl, mix in the seeds. In the Chocolate PB bowl, mix in half of the peanuts.

5. Finally, mix in the amounts of flour into their respective bowls and mix completely. This is a thick dough, so I recommend mixing by hand. Let bowls rest for 10 minutes.

6. On two parchment-lined sheet pans, form the dough into rectangles about 1/2 inch thick. When you form the Chocolate PB dough, wetting your hands makes it easier to form the dough.

7. Press the strawberries on top of its dough, and the rest of the peanuts on top of its dough, and place them in the oven.

8. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating them halfway through the baking time.

9. Rest for 10 minutes, then make 24 slices out of each dough, being careful of the steam that comes up.

10. On freshly-parchment-lined sheet pans, arrange the slices cut-side down and place in the oven. Turn the oven off and let the breakfast biscotti rest for 5 minutes more.

11. Remove from the oven and serve immediately, or cool and store in the freezer in an airtight container.