Homemade Energy Bars

I haven’t bought an energy/power/protein bar from the store in years. OK, maybe a stray lara bar earlier this year because of an emergency, but that’s it. The marketing and packaging lead you to believe these bars are healthy and good for you, but one look at the ingredients and it’s obvious that’s not true. Check out the ingredients listed for the “Power Bar”:

GLUCOSE SYRUP, RICE AND SOY CRISPS (RICE FLOUR, SOY PROTEIN ISOLATE, ALKALIZED COCOA), CHOCOLATE FLAVORED COATING (SUGAR, FRACTIONATED PALM KERNEL OIL, COCOA, WHEY, NONFAT MILK, SOY LECITHIN, NATURAL FLAVOR), WHOLE OATS (CONTAINS WHEAT), ROASTED PEANUTS, SOY PROTEIN ISOLATE, OLIGOFRUCTOSE (FROM CHICORY ROOT), PEANUT BUTTER (PEANUTS ,SALT), RICE CRISPS (MILLED RICE, SUGAR, SALT, MALTED BARLEY), INULIN (FROM CHICORY ROOT), VEGETABLE GLYCERIN, AND LESS THAN 2% OF: CALCIUM PHOSPHATE, SOY LECITHIN, SUGAR, NATURAL FLAVOR, POTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, SALT, GROUND ALMONDS, ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C), FERROUS FUMARATE (IRON), BUTTER (CREAM), PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B6), THIAMIN HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B1), RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2).
That is not what I call healthy, clean, or powerful.
I made these oat-y, seed-y, fruity bars the other night from a recipe adapted from the kitchn. I changed it slightly because I wanted to add more ingredients.
Mix in a small saucepan: 1/4 cup peanut butter, 1/4 cup brown rice syrup, 1/4 cup coconut oil. Stir well over low heat until blended.
brown rice/peanut butter
Remove from heat and add 1 and 1/2 cup apple sauce,  2 tablespoons ground flax seed (I used flax meal), 1 teaspoon vanilla. Mix well.
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In a separate large bowl combine:
3 cups whole rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 pumpkin seeds
1/2 sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup diced dried apricots
1/2 cup raisins
oat bars
All of these dry ingredients can be adjusted to your taste. Be Creative! I chose to also add:

shredded coconut
cinnamon
cacao nibs
chia seeds
homemade granola bars
Combine wet and dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly and spread evenly in a greased  8×8 baking pan.
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Bake at 325 for 40 minutes.
chocolate covered granola bars
I wanted a little extra something on these so I melted some organic chocolate chips on top and spread with a knife. Not enough to cover them, but enough to get my daily chocolate fix in a healthy way! Check out my recipe for homemade protein balls here!
homemade energy bars
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Gluten Free Pumpkin Nut Muffins

The grey day this weekend inspired me to bake as it always does. It’s funny how weather can affect what we feel like cooking. I also wanted a chance to try brown rice flour which I had just purchased for the first time. I normally bake with whole wheat flour but am branching out to some of the other great flours available like brown rice, almond, and oat flour (which is easily made by blending whole oats in a blender until fine).

I had some pumpkin in the freezer that needed to be used as well so I came up with these nutty, healthy muffins made with honey and unsweetened apple sauce.

brown rice flour muffins

Combine 2 cups brown rice flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoons baking powder.

In separate bowl combine 2 eggs, 1/2 cup honey, 1 cup mashed pumpkin, 2 cups unsweetened apple sauce, 2 tablespoons olive oil (or avocado, coconut).

pumpkin muffins batter

Add generous sprinkle (about a teaspoon or more) of cinnamon, nutmeg, and a dash of all-spice

spiced pumpkin muffins

Add wet ingredients to dry and mix well. Stir in any or all of the following:

Walnuts, Pumpkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Shredded Coconut, Raisins. I used all but the coconut, I just thought of that one!

nuts and seeds

Pour into muffin tin and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

healthy pumpkin muffins

These muffins have a lot of liquid ingredients  so be sure and bake thoroughly, use a toothpick to check. Some of mine came out a little too “doughy” for my liking because I didn’t leave them in long enough. Patience has always been my weak spot.

These are SO good!!! Moist, chewy, full of flavor and texture. Plus NO white flour or white sugar (of course!)

I spread mine with almond butter while still warm!

pumpkin nut muffins

Easy Quinoa Pilaf

Quinoa is a main staple of my diet. It’s actually a seed,  but is considered a whole grain. It also is a complete protein so it’s good for vegetarians.  I love it because it’s so versatile. Once you cook up a batch you can divide and use it in different ways. I usually make some for dinner and then save some for breakfast topped with honey, raisins and cinnamon. This is a good alternative if you are sensitive to oats.

Be sure to rinse the dried quinoa thoroughly before cooking to remove the natural residue that can be disruptive to some digestive systems. If you notice a bitter taste at all on your quinoa then you probably didn’t rinse it well enough. It is a naturally occurring coating so it’s not dangerous, just doesn’t taste good.

fluffy quinoa

I let my quinoa steam in a covered pot for about 20 minutes after bringing to a boil.

I added some spices, including tumeric, pepper, and dried garlic.

tumeric

I added a tblspn of nutritional yeast for a “cheesy” creamy flavor. Nutritional yeast is a source of B vitamins and good for vegetarians who may be lacking in that nutrient. Can’t wait to cook with this more often!

nutritional yeast

I put in  lentils and leftover roasted veggies that included onion, cauliflower, broccoli, and beets and topped with chopped walnuts. Try: tomatoes, corn, black beans and cumin for a mexican flavor. Or edamame, carrots, mushrooms and tamari for an asian flavor.

roasted veggies

lentils and quinoa

Stir well and bake for about 15 minutes to warm up and blend together.

I am going to come right out and say I used too much tumeric which is why it’s so YELLOW.  I got so excited about this healing spice I was overzealous in my sprinkling. Quinoa soaks up flavor like tofu, so go easy on whatever you add to it. Making small (or big) mistakes is part of intuitive, creative cooking- you learn as you go!

Check out my article on being brave in the kitchen and learning to trust your instincts here!

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Tahini Cookies

We had our first light dusting of snow this morning and I am curled up with some hot chai tea waiting for my morning yoga class.

My beautiful Magnolia catching the snowflakes

My beautiful Magnolia catching the snowflakes

It is the perfect baking day. Sometimes I like to bake with butter, eggs, and chocolate, and sometimes I like to go the healthy route. It depends on how the rest of my diet is going. This week I made a healthy, vegan cookie using oats and tahini- a middle eastern sesame seed puree found in the international section of grocery stores. I found the original recipe from here and added a few things.

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Blend 2 scoops oats (about a cup) in the blender until fine. I like to stop when there are still a few slivers of oats for texture.

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In a bowl combine tahini and honey. You want to whisk the tahini well in the can to smooth it out, it can tend to get thick when stored in the fridge. Add a few drops of water if necessary. Sprinkle in cinnamon.

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Stir in oats. I used my hands to really mix everything together well.

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It was a little dry so I put a spoonful of natural peanut butter in the mix- the flavor goes well with tahini and honey

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I tossed in dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.

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You could add in any type of nut, raisins or shredded coconut as well. Think trail-mix  stuff.

After mixing the dough well, place balls on cookie sheet and press down to flatten with a fork.

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Bake at 350 for 12 minutes.

Allow to cool completely as these are crumbly when warm. Of course I know that because I had to try one too soon and it fell apart.

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Are these moist, gooey, decadent delights? No. But they are an awesome energy source full of all natural ingredients,  and have a spicy, sweet, rich taste that is satisfying.

Tahini Tempeh Stir-Fry

Let me start by saying Tahini is such a forgotten condiment (at least it was for me) and so amazingly delicious! It’s also very versatile; it can be used as a dressing, marinade or topping for meat and veggies.  I’ve even had Tahini cookies which tasted like peanut butter cookies. It’s roasted sesame seed puree but you won’t find it with the other nut butters. It’s usually in the Middle Eastern/Ethnic section of most grocery stores. I learned this dressing recipe in the cooking/nutrition class where I am volunteering and observing.

Whisk together 1/2 cup tahini with water, enough to make it as thin as you desire. Add 3 Tblspn fresh lemon juice,

2 minced garlic gloves, 2 Tblspn Tamari, 2 Tblspn Maple Syrup. Whisk away, store in fridge. The can of Tahini should also be stored in the fridge.

For my protein, I cubed up a square of Tempeh (fermented soy)

and sauteed with some scallions and carrots in coconut oil. I didn’t need anymore garlic as the tahini that I was going to use later had plenty.

After it had slightly browned, I added shelled edamame (soy beans- found in frozen vegetable section) and drizzled in some tahini dressing.

I added a touch more tahini before serving over brown rice. Because in all honesty, I could drink the stuff I love it so much.

With this dish you are getting a great source of plant protein plus a whole grain. It works well left over so make a large batch for later in the week.  I also have half my Tahini dressing ready to be used on salads or greens as I wish.

Tofu can be substituted if you prefer the softer texture. I like the chewier, denser tempeh.  Which do you prefer?