Healthy Gluten/Dairy/Sugar-Free Chewy Granola Bar Recipe

I’m always on the hunt for the next awesome granola bar recipe. I love experimenting with new ingredients! I read through a handful of recipes this week and decided to mash them all together and make my own, like usual. This recipe didn’t disappoint. I love that it uses ground up oats for oat flour, and pretty much every seed I had in my pantry. The other thing I loved, is it used the majority of the dates that I had sitting on top of the fridge as the binder. Blending the dates in water creates a paste that acts as a binder with the oat flour. It’s perfect and sweet without any added sugar. Woot! Seriously addictive and the perfect snack for my purse. For a little added visual appeal, I sprinkled unsweetened shredded coconut on top. Now they look perty.

Here are the little squares of fruit that I picked up at the Bulk Barn. I can’t for the life of me remember the name of them, they have strawberry, raspberry and mango – and they’re pressed together with other fruit. I liked the way they looked so I bought a small bit of them to try in this recipe. The kind I used is the raspberry ones.

Dried fruit

I use an 8 x 8 baking pan instead of the 9 x 11 glass baking dish because I wanted the bars to be square instead of rounded at the corners (I am very specific about how my baking comes out, okay! :)). I had some left over after pressing it into the square pan (didn’t want them to be too thick) so I decided to make mini bites out of the leftover and used the mini-muffin pan.

When lining the pan, overlap your parchment paper so it covers each side. Much easier to remove and prevents breaking after they’re cooled.

In the pan

 

Mini

 

I baked them for about 15 minutes and they came out PERFECT. I threw a couple in a ziplock and into my purse they went. Nice easy bite-sized snack.

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After the original batch finished baking, I let them cool (DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP) and then cut them into bars!

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Mmm… just perfect. They were easy to cut and even easier to eat! Enjoy!

Finished product

 

Ingredients:
• 3/4 cup gluten-free rolled oats, ground into a flour
• 1 cup water
• 3/4 cup packed pitted Medjool dates
• 1/2 cup chia seeds
• 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
• 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
• ¼ cup red oat bran
• ¼ cup hemp seeds
• ¼ cup sunflower seeds
• 1/2 cup dried fruit of your choice, chopped to desired size
• ¼ cup your favourite nut butter (I used almond)
• 2 teaspoons cinnamon
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325F and line a 9-inch square pan with two pieces of parchment paper, one going each way.
2. Add rolled oats into a high-speed blender. Blend on highest speed until a fine flour forms. Add oat flour into a large bowl.
3. Add water and pitted dates into blender. Allow the dates to soak for 30 minutes if they are a bit firm or your blender has a hard time blending dates smooth. Once they are soft, blend the dates and water until super smooth.
4. Add all of the ingredients into the bowl with the oat flour and stir well until combined.
5. Scoop the mixture into the pan and spread it out with a spatula as evenly as possible. You can use lightly wet hands to smooth it down if you need to.
6. Bake at 325F for about 23-25 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then lift it out and transfer it to a cooling rack for another 5-10 minutes. Slice and enjoy! I suggest freezing leftovers to preserve freshness.

30 minute Playlist to Get You Motivated

In my morning readings today I came across this article from the Huffington Post titled:

If This Playlist Can Help The Seahawks Win A Super Bowl, It Will Surely Get You Through 30 Minutes On The Treadmill

Who doesn’t want to feel like they’ve won the Superbowl after a workout?

Like the article says, the right music can get you motivated, and motivated BIG. I like this track list because it’s loaded with heavy hip hop/rap… who doesn’t love a little Luda and Tupac in their mash-up?  Oh! There’s a song you’ll remember from the movie Fast & Furious too.

This mix is a bit slow for a run (for me), but if you’re into lifting, I think this could definitely do the trick. Crank it up and pump it out baby. You’ve got this, ain’t nobody gonna hold YOU back 🙂

Cheers friends, have a great day!

(Image courtesy of http://crossfitinvoke.com)

Very Berry Spelt Multi-Grain Muffins

Well after that sugar rush of caramel corn last night (I had a handful then had enough), I am craving muffins today.  Multi-grain berry muffins.  I am not a muffin girl and when I do eat a muffin, it’s never the fruit kind but for some reason today, I want a wholesome soft, fluffy fruit muffin. I’m looking forward to having this in the morning, cracked open, drizzled with yogurt and sprinkled with nuts and chia seeds. Perfect breakfast? I think so!

I enjoy the flavour of spelt flour along with the hard wheat red bran in this recipe. In half the batch I threw in some cacao nibs just ‘cause.  This recipe will be sure to satisfy your whole grain and sweet tooth all at the same time!

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Ingredients:

2 c           spelt flour

½ c          yellow corn meal

½ c          hard wheat red bran

1/3 c      lightly ground flax seeds

¼ c          chopped walnuts

2 tbsp    sesame seeds

1 ½ tsp  baking powder

1 tsp      baking soda

1 tsp      ground cinnamon

½ tsp     pink Himalayan sea salt

Small handful of chocolate chips (optional)

2              large eggs

1 c           orange juice

½ c          organic coconut oil

½-¾ c     agave

1 tsp      vanilla extract

1 ½ c      mixed frozen berries, thawed

1 tbsp    rolled oats

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a medium-sized muffin tin with your favourite cupcake liners.

2. In a large bowl, combine the spelt flour, cornmeal, oat bran, flax seeds, chopped walnuts, sesame seeds, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.

3. In a smaller bowl, whisk the eggs lightly. To the eggs, add the orange juice, coconut oil, agave and vanilla, whisking until they are well combined. Pour the wet into the dry and whisk just until blended. Mix in the berries (and the juice they produced when defrosting) and cacao nibs (if using).

4. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins, filling the muffin cups almost to the top. Top each muffin with a sprinkling of the oats. How pretty!

5. Bake for 18 to 25 minutes, or until the muffins are deep golden brown and spring back lightly when pressed gently in the center and a toothpick comes out clean.

Enjoy my friends!

This months obsession: Dehydrating!

If you have been reading my blog for a while you probably know that every few months I adopt some sort of new food obsession.  Lately it’s been sprouting and raw food… this month it’s DEHYDRATING!

I’m the type of person who doesn’t spend a lot of money on fancy kitchen appliances. When I want to try something new, I usually look for it used on Craigslist or Kijiji.  I refuse to spend oodles of moolah on some new kitchen ‘essential’, use it for a couple of months then surrender it to the dust bunnies in my basement. Nope. Not gonna do it.

A couple of years ago I wanted to try juicing. I know a good juicer isn’t cheap, so I got it used from a very nice gentleman on Craigslist. I paid $40 bucks for it. Sweet, right? I juiced for a month straight, loved it… then I moved and didn’t have the kitchen counter space for it, so it sat in the pantry. When we moved into our new house it made another appearance and I have been using it off and on for months. Definitely not a waste of $40. I love it and bust it out when I’m alternating between smoothies and juicing. I even keep the pulp from the juice so I can bake with it. See? Not a fad. I like to call it a ‘periodic obsession’. I have many of those.

This is a loaf of zucchini banana bread with carrot, ginger, apple and beet pulp. It was super dense and very yummy. Perfect for breakfast and really awesome toasted.

Banana Zucchini Bread

Yumm, that looks good huh! Hm… haven’t had bread in a while. Could totally go for… Nope. Stop. Not eating wheat.

Anyway. Where was I?

Right.

Enter dehydrator!

Nesco Dehydrator

Okay, so I have desperately wanted a dehydrator for a reeeeaallllyyy long time now.

Like

months.

That’s a long time to obsess over something, right?  I picked this gem up at Home Hardware for $39 on sale.  Shazaa!

I started with apple slices on Sunday. Read in the booklet that you should pre-treat them with something acidic like orange/grapefruit juice and water so they don’t brown. I had a bunch of apples left from the orchard and got to work. I didn’t core the apples for two reasons; 1) I don’t have an apple corer, 2) I think it’s a waste of time. As long as the seeds are removed the little shell around them gets crispy when the apple dehydrates so you don’t notice it anyway. I tossed the pre-soaked apples in cinnamon and put them on the tray.

I didn’t take a picture of the apples. They turned out so good I ate the whole batch. So uh, here’s a picture of the sweet potato chips and kiwi that I did yesterday!

Sweet potato and kiwi

I only seasoned the sweet potato chips with salt and a little garlic powder.  The kiwi was just sliced and put straight up on the tray. Looks groovy, huh?

The kiwi is a huge favourite in my house. It’s a little chewy and tart, with the right amount of sweetness.  I grab a piece every time I walk by the counter. Totally addictive. Perfect snacks to keep in my purse so I don’t go hangry. Those raw power breakfast bars I made don’t last long and the chocolate can melt quickly in the summer, so these are prefect in any weather and won’t make your fingers messy!

The sweet potato chips turned out really bland. Garlic powder is NOT the right spice. I made another batch with another batch of apples yesterday and seasoned the sweet potatoes with chipotle pepper (ground). They were so spicy!  I’ll take it down a notch next time. Also way too salty. I need to find a happy medium with the salt.  I also did zucchini chips with the last of the sweet potato. I used a black peppercorn seasoning and I didn’t realize it had salt already in it, and added more. Oops, ew. They are awful to eat on their own, but I’ll throw them into a salad for a salty crunch so they don’t go to waste, or throw them into a soup and rehydrate them. Huh. Let me think about that one some more.

Definitely need to figure out the salt ratio though. I think I will try paprika or onion powder next time.

On the 2nd batch of apples, triple the amount of cinnamon, FELL onto the apples. Oh well. Who hates cinnamon? Not moi. So I decided instead of rinsing them off, to just let it be. Mental note for next time: use a cinnamon shaker and don’t free-shake.

New batch! IMG_2642

We have a ripe pineapple on the counter, so tonight I’m going to dehydrate half of that.  I really like having both fresh and dried fruit in the kitchen. I will most likely bake something in the near future with my dried fruit goodness.

I’m thinking of dehydrating some carrots, celery, potato, onion etc., and making my own vegetarian soup mixes in mason jars to give friends over the holidays.  Sounds like a fun project but I don’t know that I’ll have time to research and get it all together before we leave for holiday.

Ah well… it will be my next obsession I’m sure. I must create and move on to the next!  Here are some pictures of the goodies I’ve obsessed over this week. Enjoy friends!

Oh and here’s a picture of my cat, Art. Just cause he looks freaking cute in the box.

Art

sweet potato - chipotle

zucchini

Ready to go!

Kiwi

apples

Raw Food Reset (Day 10-12) and Final Thoughts

Ah ha! I did it!  I actually loved every day of this ‘reset’.  I did it for 12 days overall, and while I may have veered off the raw path here and there, I have pretty much stuck to clean, healthy eating, sans meat, wheat and dairy.

The summary:

  • I’ve lost 7lbs
  • Feel fantastic
  • Have much more energy
  • Sleep better at night
  • More focused at work
  • More productive at work
  • Less sluggish in the gym
  • Ran my first 5k in a very very long time
  • Enjoy running (more than before) because I am mentally able to focus better
  • Don’t crave junk food
  • Don’t eat anything processed anymore
  • REALLY enjoy eating raw, vegan, and now prefer that most of my meals are raw
  • Dramatically reduced bloating
  • Reduced my alcohol intake
  • Have started dehydrating my own food (veggies and fruit) for nutritious snacks
  • Have been turned on to a whole new world of really yummy vegan raw food

In a nutshell (hehe that’s vegan and raw) I am super happy with my new eating an exercising habits. I am loving how I feel and want to continue this new lifestyle.

I’ve had a great time blogging about it as well, and it has helped keep me on track. In the next few weeks I’ll post updates about all the new fun food stuff I’m dehydrating and eating!

If anyone has any awesome raw, vegan or vegetarian recipes they’d like to see, or SHARE, please leave a comment!

Raw Food Reset Day 8 & 9

These posts are getting boring! I’ve been eating the same damn thing for daaaayyysss. Some how not getting tired of it, except for the tart.  I’ve had it three days in a row and today I think I just had enough of sundried tomatoes and hummus.

We hit up the spin class last night.  It wasn’t as successful as I hoped it would be.  The instructor played ONE track the whole time.  She did the same drill, over and over, without any rhythm. At one point she incorporated jumps, sets of 2, then 4 then 6.  None of it was counted or to a beat, so the whole class was up and down up and down up and down… well you get the idea… all over the place.  She looked up at us 4 times in 25 minutes. I had no clue what was going on, and I’m a spinning instructor!! It was definitely not the ideal first class for B. I will go back to the gym but I’ll try another instructor.

I have eaten the exact same thing the last three days.. only difference being dinner:

Breakfast: mixed frozen berries with cashews, banana

Snack: grapes, kiwi

Lunch: sundried tomato tart and mixed green salad

Snack: apple

Dinner: Tuesday I just had an avocado, tonight I had yam noodles with miso sauce.

Nothing more than that to report. I have some cooked carrots and parsnips for lunch tomorrow because that’s what the famjam had tonight with a roast for dinner.  I am out of salad, peppers, broccoli etc. So I will have to get a salad at work.

I really meant to go for a run tonight, but I am SO tired I just couldn’t do it after I ate dinner at 7:30. I’m going to look for vacations for Xmas and head to bed. Hoping I can get to the gym early tomorrow AM and run on the treadmill and do some weights. Here’s hoping!

Have a great night peeps!

Raw Food Reset – Day 7

I made it! 7 days!

Although I’ve cheated here and there, I’ve really done a great job of keeping the 90/10 split of raw/cooked. Nothing special to report today.  Feeling fantastic and looking forward to eating new raw recipes this week.  I am going to keep this going, I am feeling great and tomorrow night’s spinning class will be a testament of how my body feels on this raw ride. OH, right, – I managed to convince B to go to a spin class near by tomorrow night, so we’ll probably have salad for dinner with avocado and head off to class.  I’m REALLY excited to do this with him. I look forward to posting pics of us all sweaty after class 🙂

On Wednesday night, I’m going to make raw yam noodles with miso sauce. Another awesome recipe from This Rawsome Vegan Life. Seriously. If you haven’t been over to her blog yet, get on it!

Here’s what I ate today:

Breakfast: Frozen mixed fruit with cinnamon and a banana

Morning Snack: red seedless grapes

Lunch: sundried tomato and zucchini hummus tart with a salad (beets, spinach, cucumber, herbs and arugula)

Afternoon Snack: power protein bar (1/4 bar)

Dinner: B brought home some chicken byriani so I had a couple of spoonfuls of rice with an avocado chopped up. Not really satisfying but the rice tasted so good. A coworker of his made it and it so I had to try a little.

That’s it friends!  I really can’t tell you how much fun I’m having experimenting with this new way of life. I am even waking up before the alarm in the AM and having the most wonderful sleeps.  Not having any alcohol is a huge driver of that, but still.  I give the eating habits a high-five. I’m honestly excited about the yam noodles.

Okay, I’m having some yummy David’s Tea before bed.. it has chili peppers in the green tea! Divine.

Night friends! Have a rawsome Tuesday!