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.

IMG_3176[1]

 

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

IMG_3163[1]

 

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.

Worth The Wait Focaccia!

In addition to my bread obsession, I have discovered a love of fresh homemade focaccia.  If you have never tried to make this wonder-bread before, you must try. It is SUPER simple, but takes patience as does any good bread. You can however, make a quick version of it and it will be great but if you’re looking for the moistest, fluffiest and most flavourful focaccia? Well you had better take a nap, find a hobby or play some video games while you wait. The good news is that most of the waiting can be done overnight, so just find something to do for 3 hours or so 🙂

This recipe is not mine, I found it while scouring online and OH MY am I ever glad I tried it and am thrilled to share it on my blog.  It is now filed in my ‘keep’ list because it’s just absolutely perfect. I’ve made it once and will be making it again for an upcoming family gathering. Caution: people WILL swoon.

in the tray

I had some crispy garlic infused oil from some Filipino garlic rice I made recently, and I decided to throw it into the dough mix right at the beginning. Excellent idea! (Pats self on back).  If you have any infused oil that you like, I suggest adding it to the mix. It adds another dimension of flavour you can’t get from just adding fresh/dried herbs to the top of the dough before baking. Don’t add too much, I’m talking a 1tbsp or two at max.

The tray

The rest of the directions in the recipe I followed to a T. I did let it rest from 9pm at night until 11am the next morning before starting to ‘turn’ the dough. It had plenty of time to ferment and create oddles and oodles of delicious pillowy bubbles. Right before baking, I halved some cherry tomatoes and carefully pushed them into the dough. I picked some fresh rosemary, sprinkled it on top along with some chopped kalamata olives and thinly shaved red onion.  I finished it off with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt and popped it in the oven.

close up

My batch was the perfect size.. I think I was able to get over 30 pieces from the rectangle tray. Only three pieces were left over at the end of the night. It was a HUGE hit, and I know it will be in your home too!  Thank you SO much to Jenny for posting this recipe on her awesome blog, which I recently discovered. You will want to bookmark her page folks, she’s a keeper! 🙂 To find the full recipe, click here.

3

Three perfect pieces

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie


I’ve added one more kitchen appliance to the ‘obsession’ list. The infamous “Magic Bullet”! Although I haven’t been going crazy since I’ve had it (just give me another month okay, I’ve only had it for a couple of days lol), I have made two really successful Pumpkin Pie Smoothie variations.

Thanks to my mom for pureeing up the pumpkin and keeping it in the freezer for me for the last couple of months… otherwise I definitely wouldn’t have made this. I am NOT a fan of canned pumpkin. I didn’t have time to buy them this past October, cut them up, boil.. yada yada.. so this recipe wouldn’t be possible without my momma.

This is not an original recipe, as I’m sure you’ve seen many variations of it online and other blogs.  I read one or two then just threw mine together, knowing my tastes.

I have to say that the one made with coconut milk was just perfect and everything I imagined it to be. Thick and creamy and more resembled a pie. The almond milk version is much lighter and not as thick. Still both are fantastic and I would drink either one any day.

Ingredients

– 1/2 c organic pureed pumpkin

– 1 c light coconut milk or unsweetened original almond milk

– 1/2 frozen organic banana

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground clove

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1 squirt of stevia (Oddly, I don’t measure this ingredient)

1 tbsp ground graham cracker crumb

pinch of Himalayan pink sea salt

Throw all ingredients into your handy-dandy Magic Bullet or blender and blend until smooth.  Add two cubes of ice if you want it super cold. Drink and enjoy.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

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 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!

Raw Food Reset – Day 2

Woke up in this morning feeling pretty good.  I unfortunately was up at 4am stretching my glutes, hamstring and inner thigh from the run.  I knew I’d feel it later in the day if I didn’t stretch, so there I was at 4am, laying on the carpet at the foot of the bed, stretching.  My cat Art laid down beside me and watched. Cute. I slept till 6 something, hit snooze a few times and hopped in the shower.

I thought I would wake up starving, but I didn’t. I was a little hungry, but I knew I could wait until work to eat my banana. I had a glass of raw apple cider that I bought from the farm on Sunday before leaving the house. So fresh, so sweet.  I don’t usually drink juices so this is new for me. I like it.

Weighed myself this AM as well. I’m down 2lbs. lol. LoosingI the water weight is so awesome.

I forgot my raw collard wrap that I had planned on having for lunch, so I knew I’d have to grab something from the cafe at work because the salad wouldn’t be enough. It was a long day at work, didn’t leave the office until after 6pm, so the 2nd apple I packed myself came in handy. Back to back meetings, busy designing training material I didn’t leave my desk much. Only to refill my hot water and go to the loo.  Productive person I am! (Yoda voice)

Here’s what I ate today:

Breakfast: Organic banana, raw apple cider

Snack: 1 Kiwi, assorted veggies with almond butter (ate this throughout the day, not just for AM snack)

Lunch: Salad with apple, walnuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, tomato, cucumber, grated carrots and kale.

Dinner: Made that cleanse gazpacho soup from the DO EAT RAW app. I failed to add the avocado and lemon juice at first when I was blending it and it came out kinda chunky. Like watery salsa. I wasn’t impressed but figured, what the hell.  I managed to find a ripe avocado and a lime and added the juice and the whole avocado. WHAT a difference.  Creamy and delicious. I also added a good pinch of salt and ground chipotle pepper to it for a kick.

The soup doesn’t LOOK that appetizing, but it is pretty good. I’ll definitely make it again. I forgot to add the spinach, so mine only has kale in it. Next time I’ll add that too. My blender just wasn’t big enough and I had to keep doing it in batches until the consistency was to my liking.

Cleansing Gazpacho Soup

Cleanse Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 little red bell peppers chopped
  • 6 green onions
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tomatoes chopped
  • 5 leaves kale, chopped
  • Ginger root, 1/2 inch
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup fresh spinach
  • Himalayan sea salt, pinch
  • 1/2 tsp ground chipotle pepper
  • 2 tbsp lemon or lime juice
  • 1 cup warm water

Blend all ingredients in a blender until creamy and smooth.  Tada!

So I totally cheated a bit tonight and sautéed (on super low heat) some chopped crimini mushrooms.  I really felt like I needed something more tonight but after eating maybe 2 mushrooms, I had enough.  Weird.  I packed the rest for lunch tomorrow.

I didn’t even eat all the soup that I had poured for myself. I’m hungry but I’m not, and I’m not used to it. I’m so determined to eat clean that even though I want a HUGE hunk of cheese or a toasted bagel with whatever salami I can find with mayo spread all across it, I still wouldn’t eat it if you put it in front of me.

No exercise today, some stretching before bed but that’s about it. I will do sprints tomorrow to prep for the race on Sat, but that will probably be the extent of my cardio this week. Yoga on Thursday and MAYBE spinning on Friday. I hate to say no to a spinning class!

So far.. day 2 is a success!

Thursday and MAYBE spinning on Friday. I hate to say no to a spinning class!

So far.. day 2 is a success!