Banana Granola Bars

Banana Granola Bars 2

This picture should tell you how good these bars are. I forgot to snap a pic before I started eating!

Banana Granola Bars cooked

These granola bars are my own creation and they are awesome. No sugar, no butter, no unhealthies.

At about 150 nutrient-dense calories each, these bars are nutritious, tasty, and filling. Perfect for an anytime snack. I love to slather one with natural peanut butter and devour. <3 Enjoy!

Banana Granola Bars 4

Banana Granola Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats 
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour 
  • 1 tbsp flax meal 
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans 
  • 1/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries 
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 bananas
  • 1/4 cup molasses (or honey, pure maple syrup, etc.), more or less to preference 
  • 1/8 cup natural peanut butter (or almond butter)
  • 1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, optional

Preparation:

Toast oats and pecans for about 10 minutes at 300 degrees. Watch carefully so they don’t burn.

In a large bowl mix the coconut flour, coconut, flax, cranberries/raisins, salt, and cinnamon. Add the toasted oats and nuts and mix all together.

Microwave bananas for 2 minutes until broken down and all sweet and liquidy. Add molasses (or other sweetener) to hot banana puree and stir to combine. Then add the peanut butter and vanilla to the banana mixture and stir until well combined.

Pour wet mix into the dry ingredients and incorporate completely.

Line an 8 x 8 inch pan with parchment paper. Pour the mixture into the pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top if you so desire! Press mixture firmly into pan.

Bake in 300F oven for 30 minutes, checking at 25 minutes. Let bars cool completely.

When completely cool, remove from pan by pulling up by the parchment paper.

Place parchment and bars on a cutting board and cut into bars or squares. They will keep for several weeks in the fridge.

Banana Granola Bars 5

Banana Granola Bars 3

Banana Granola Bars

Banana Granola Bars cooked 2

Calorie count: 1,745

# of bars: 12

Calories per bar: 145 calories

Farmer’s Market Saturday

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Simple pleasures are the best. I love watching the produce at the Farmer’s Market change with the seasons. It’s all about squash, beets, and eggplant right now, and I’m not complaining.

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The beauty of beets. With matching fingernail polish <3

Farmers Market 10.18.14

Toasted Oat and Coconut Muesli

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It all started when I bought a massive tub of old-fashioned oats from Aldi’s yesterday.

Muesli

I wanted to make something with them so badly and I was feeling snacky, so I went for my go-to granola. That recipe typically takes at least 40 minutes. Well, within 15 minutes my granola was burnt to a crisp. My oven is a nightmare and my landlord will now get an earful about how her oven burnt my granola, among other deceased baked goods. May they rest in peace.

Muesli 6

(Crystallized Ginger. Mmmm)

I couldn’t eat my granola, but I wasn’t done with the oats. I wanted to DO somethinggggg with them. For whatever reason, I thought of muesli. I’ve never made muesli before. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten muesli before. In fact, I’m not even positive I have seen muesli before. But I was going to make it.

Muesli 8

(Coco-Cran-Almond-Ginger-Chia Muesli, to be exact.)

Muesli is like a less fancy granola. But seemingly boring things can surprise you sometimes.

Muesliafter 2

Muesli is super easy and surprisingly delicious! The preparation is easy peasy, but you do have to plan a little before you enjoy it. The oats have to soak up the milk for at least a couple of hours, or even overnight. It ends up super creamy, dreamy, soft and lovely. The cranberries get all plump and somehow the almonds maintain their crunch. Also, if you add frozen blueberries, everything turns a magical shade of lavender.

The whole thing is like cereal that’s gotten a little soggy in the milk too long, but you like it like that. You really, really do.

Muesli 5

Toasted Oats and Coconut Muesli

Recipe adapted from Joy the Baker

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
  • 1/2 cup dry-roasted almonds (unsalted), chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (low or no sugar)
  • 2 tbsp crystallized ginger, chopped
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • Almond milk
  • Optional: frozen fruit, honey, pure maple syrup, etc.

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment and bake oats in an even layer for 5-7 minutes, or until toasted. Watch carefully so they don’t burn. Take out oats and dump in a large bowl. Pour coconut on same sheet with parchment paper and bake in an even layer for 3-5 minutes, or until toasted. Watch even more carefully! Take out and dump coconut into the same large bowl.

Toss the oats and coconut together, then add the dried cranberries, chia seeds, spices and salt. Mix until everything is combined.  … and, that’s it!

As I said, you need to plan a little before enjoying muesli, so once it’s all mixed together you can store in single-serve mason jars for an easy and portable breakfast. To prepare: the night before, or at the very least, about 2 hours before you want to eat it, take your cute jar of muesli and sprinkle some frozen blueberries on top. Pour almond milk over top just until the milk covers the blueberries. Place in the fridge and then, right before serving, drizzle with some maple syrup or honey. I found that the crystallized ginger provided plenty of sweetness, so I didn’t use anything extra.

Muesli 7

Muesli 2

Muesliafter

Spent Grain Banana Bread

Spent Grain Banana Bread 6

I recently came into possession of some “spent grains” from a fairly famous local brewer. :) Spent grains are basically “the leftover malt and adjuncts after the mash has extracted most of the sugars, proteins, and nutrients.” They can be used for all sorts of things, but of course, I used them to bake something delicious.

Spent Grain Banana Bread 2

In researching different recipes to utilize the grains, I became somewhat disheartened, because so many comments to the recipes noted how dry the end product was. I decided to use a recipe I already had, and use a small amount of spent grains to add some toasty flavor. I sort of eased my way into using spent grains so I wouldn’t end up with a dry and bitter banana bread on my first try. To use spent grains in baking you typically have to dry it out in the oven for several hours, then grind it up into a flour consistency. I used the method found here to make my spent grain flour.

Spent Grain

Spent Grains pre-drying in the oven.

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Dried spent grains being ground into flour.

Spent Grain 3

Alas! Spent grain flour.

Spent Grain Banana Bread 5

My god is this banana bread good. I’m fairly certain I semi-collapsed when I took my first bite, fresh out of the oven. It helps that I had an amazing base recipe to start with, but I am definitely patting myself on the back for this one. The recipe comes from Dominique Ansel, a very famous New York pastry chef. I used to work mere blocks from his bakery, so I am verrryyyy familiar (embarrassingly so) with his talents. One variation in technique I always make to my banana breads, is to microwave the ripe bananas before mixing them with everything else. This draws out a lot of the sugars and gives them a sort of roasted flavor. I’d like to think Dominique himself would be interested in this technique. It really adds something special in my humble opinion.

Spent Grain Banana Bread 7

This recipe is perfect (seriously you should just stop what you’re doing, go buy some “Manager’s Special,” overripe bananas, and get down to work on this right now), but next time I work with spent grain, I think I will make a hearty, savory bread to really highlight the toasted flavor of the grains. And then perhaps pair that hearty bread with a complementary brew. Excuse me now while I go look into that …

Spent Grain Banana Bread 8

Banana Bread with Spent Grain

Recipe from Dominique Ansel 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups flour (or 2 cups flour if you’re not using spent grains)
  • 1/2 cup spent grain flour (omit if you’re only using regular flour)
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 overripe bananas, mashed
  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preparation:

Note: This recipe is for 1 regular sized loaf. If you’re making mini loaves like I did, do everything the same except only bake for about 25 minutes. It could take less or more time, but that was how long mine took.

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Place peeled bananas in a medium bowl and microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. This will draw out some of the natural sugar and juices.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, spent grain flour (if using), baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and baking powder. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and combine with the mashed bananas. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix together until just combined. Fold in the melted butter until fully incorporated.

Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan (or mini loaf pans) and bake until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Mini loaves will take about 25 minutes. Allow to cool for 20 minutes before slicing.

Spent Grain Banana Bread 3

Spent Grain Banana Bread 4

Spent Grain Banana Bread

Spent Grain Banana Bread 9

 

Peasant Bread

Peasant Bread 2

There is really nothing like homemade bread. I’ve made bread and rolls from scratch several times, but it’s often a bit of a pain. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always worth it – it just takes time, patience, and practice.

THIS recipe however, takes none of those things. Well, a little time, but not nearly as much as other recipes. This bread is incredibly easy to make and surprisingly flavorful! It’s sort of baffling really, because it’s comprised of only 4 ingredients + water. This is the second time I’ve made this and I think it will become like second nature to me pretty soon.

This recipe is also fun because you bake the bread in a bowl so it has an adorable round shape to it. You could probably bake it in a loaf pan, but how boring is that? As a variation, you could press this dough into a small, greased sheet pan to make focaccia. Just make dimples in the dough with your fingertips, then sprinkle with whatever focaccia toppings you like!

If you have an inkling for fresh made bread, try this. It’s delicious, practically fool-proof, and gives you total kitchen cred for not doing that much.

Peasant Bread

Peasant Bread

Recipe from Alexandra’s Kitchen

Note: I halved the recipe this time, so the bread you see pictured is half the size of the what you will get if you follow the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons active-dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp room temperature butter

Preparation:

  1. Mixing the dough:
    In a small mixing bowl, dissolve the sugar into the water. Sprinkle the yeast over top. There is no need to stir it up. Let it stand for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the mixture is foamy and/or bubbling just a bit — this step will ensure that the yeast is active. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. When the yeast-water-sugar mixture is foamy, stir it up, and add it to the flour bowl. Mix until the flour is absorbed.
  2. Cover bowl with a tea towel or plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot to rise for at least 1 hour, but preferably closer to 2 hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Grease two oven-safe bowls with 1/2 tablespoon of butter each. Using two forks, punch down your dough, scraping it from the sides of the bowl, which it will be clinging to. As you scrape it down try to turn the dough up onto itself. You want to loosen the dough entirely from the sides of the bowl, and you want to make sure you’ve punched it down. Take your two forks and divide the dough into two equal portions — eye the center of the mass of dough, and starting from the center and working out, pull the dough apart with the two forks. Then scoop up each half and place into your prepared bowls. This part can be a little messy — the dough is very wet and will slip all over the place. It’s best to scoop it up fast and plop it in the bowl in one fell swoop. Let the dough rise for 20 to 30 minutes on the countertop near the oven (or near a warm spot) or until it has risen to just below or above (depending on what size bowl you are using) the top of the bowls.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375º and make for 15 to 17 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and turn the loaves onto cooling racks. If you’ve greased the bowls well, the loaves should fall right out onto the cooling racks. If the loaves look a little pale and soft when you’ve turned them out onto your cooling racks, place the loaves into the oven (outside of their bowls) and let them bake for about 5 minutes longer. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before cutting.

Peasant Bread 5

Peasant Bread 4

Peasant Bread 3

Curried Acorn Squash Soup

Curry Acorn Soup 3

Sweet Acorn squash. Spicy curry. Roasted garlic. Nutty Parmiggiano. Salty, toasted seeds.

Oh, and warm, homemade bread.

Curry Acorn Soup

This soup is an edible embrace of Fall. So colorful, so flavorful, so warm and yummy.

I learned this trick to bake the garlic inside the squash halves from the one and only, Mr. Guy Fieri. (I mean, not personally, I just read it in one of his recipes.) I had my doubts about Guy at first, but over the years he has earned my respect. Him and his white crunchy hair know what’s up. Maybe that’s the source of all his powers …?

Baking the garlic this way imparts a nice flavor into the squash, while drawing out that unmistakable sweet, roasted garlic flavor. Total sidenote: I love that acorn squash, when cut, look like big cartoon flowers. <3

Curry really brings out the best in squash, in my opinion, so this recipe is a real winner. It’s a little spicy, and very well spiced, sweet, and just a touch salty. I toasted the seeds from the squash and sprinkled them on top. That will be another recipe for another day. A grate of parm and a slice of fresh bread and you’ve got a knockout meal.

Curry Acord Soup 2

Curried Acorn Squash Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 acorn squash
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth, low sodium
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp Sambal (Asian chile sauce)
  • 1-2 tbsp coconut milk (not light)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (more or less to taste)
  • Pepper to taste

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the squash in half and remove seeds. You can discard or set them aside to roast later. I highly encourage the latter. Cut a flat spot on each end so the squash will sit flat. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and arrange the squash, cut side up.

Add a peeled garlic clove (or two if they’re small) in the cavity of each squash half. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Roast until very tender and starting to caramelize and collapse, approximately 1 hour. Remove from oven and when cool enough to handle, remove the squash from the skin. Reserve the garlic with the squash.

In a large saucepan, add the other tablespoon of olive oil. When oil is hot, saute shallots until tender then add curry powder and other spices. Let the spices toast for a minute or less and then deglaze the pan with half of the stock.

Add squash and garlic into the pot and allow the flavors to meld. Add in the rest of the stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Using an immersion blender or a regular blender, carefully puree soup until smooth and creamy. Return to pot and stir in coconut milk. Cook over low until heated through.

Serve with Parmigiano-Reggiano, toasted squash seeds, and fresh bread.

Curried Lentil Kale Soup

Lentil Soup

I’m a lover of lentils. They know it, I know it. We have an understanding. I use them all the time because they taste good PLUS, they are a great source of protein and fiber. They give me the nutrients I need, while not weighing me down like meat often does.

Soups like this are perfect for when you don’t have much in your kitchen, but still need to make a meal. I pretty much always have lentils and some sort of greens around, so this is a staple for me. It’s spicy and spiced, silky from the coconut milk, and rich with legumes. It’s lovely on its own, but paired with some crusty French bread it would be perfection.

Curried Lentil Kale Soup 

Recipe adapted from 40 aprons 
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 4-6 cups stock
  • 1 scant tbsp olive or coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp curry
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (more or less to taste)
  • Handful of torn or chopped kale (I used a mixed assortment of greens from the farmer’s market)
  • Splash of coconut milk (amount dependent on preference)
  • Salt to taste
Preparation:

Rinse the lentils in a colander and pick out any stones. Combine with 4 cups stock  in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium skillet and sauté the onion over medium heat, stirring frequently, until softened and slightly caramelized, about 10 minutes or so. Add the garlic and spices and fry until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Scrape into the lentils and add coconut milk and kale. If soup is too thick, add up to 2 more cups stock.

Bring soup back up to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, until soup is reduced slightly and kale is tender. Add salt to taste.

Single Serving Oatmeal Cookie

Single Oatmeal Cookie 3

Sometimes I really impress myself. It almost always happens when I’m desperate and hungry.

Today, I wanted a cookie for breakfast. Like, a healthy cookie. But I found myself without. So I attempted to make one. Yes, just one. And it was pretty successful!

Single Oatmeal Cookie

It’s not so much a recipe as it is a technique. You just take a little leftover cooked oatmeal (I used steel-cut oats), about 1/4 cup, and add in whatever extras you want. This time I added honey, dried cranberries, cinnamon and unsweetened coconut. Next time, I will add peanut butter and raisins. If I had thought of the peanut butter thing this time, I would have done that first.

You mix it all up in a little ramekin and press it down firmly with the back of a spoon. Then you microwave for about 3-4 minutes until the oatmeal mixture starts pulling away from the sides of the ramekin and has dried out a little.

At this point, I was able (with the help of an oven mitt – it’s hot!) to simply flip the ramekin over onto a little plate and out popped my single-serving cookie. It was perfect with my espresso and just what I wanted. Great start to October … it’s the little things.

Single Oatmeal Cookie 2

Banana Nut Granola

Banana Nut Granola

Well, I found out this weekend that I cannot handle being alone with a bowl of granola. Or a box of cereal, or a bag of popcorn kernels … you get the idea. Let’s just say, this granola never saw me coming. Poor thing was gone in less than 24 hours.

This recipe was kind of an experiment, but it came out surprisingly well! I’ve never made a granola with actual fruit blended and cooked with it before. It added a nice level of sweetness and actually sort of made granola clusters. It really did taste like a delicious deconstructed banana nut bread with raisins.

This is the kind of recipe you can adapt easily based on what you like. Next time I might try pumpkin instead of banana and chocolate chips or cranberries instead of raisins. You can use whatever nuts you like, whatever spices you like, even add ingredients like shredded coconut or seeds. Enjoy!

Banana Nut Granola 2

Banana Nut Granola

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rolled oats (I used a rolled grain blend with all kinds a good stuff)
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 cup honey or pure maple syrup
  • 1 banana
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup raisins

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Place banana in a bowl and microwave for 3 minutes. Sounds bizarre I know, but I learned this trick from America’s Test Kitchen, my absolute favorite PBS show. Cooking the banana releases sugar and juices and helps it infuse even more sweetness into what you’re baking. It also softens the banana so it can be easily blended with the other wet ingredients.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the softened banana, coconut oil, honey or syrup, and vanilla extract. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, pecans, spices, and salt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and toss to coat until everything is well saturated.

Pour the granola onto the prepared pan and spread out to make an even layer. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the granola is dried out and toasty. Every 10 minutes take the pan out and toss the granola so it doesn’t burn. Toss hot granola with raisins so they plump a bit.

Banana Nut Granola 3

Moroccan Chicken and Chickpea Stew

This recipe is simple, easy, and as comforting as a warm fleece blanket, fresh out of the dryer.

Yeah, think about that.

Moroccan Chicken and Chickpea Stew

Crock pot meals are the best. I put everything together (which took all of 5 minutes) in the early afternoon, and dinner was ready when I got home from evening class. Perfect timing because I really needed a warm welcome right about then. This little stew is perfect for this time of year because it’s warm and yummy, which is needed as the nights get colder, but still nutritiously good for you, since we’re all still (mostly) concerned with eating healthy and working out … feelings which will quickly dwindle as we descend into winter. Bring on the salted caramel hot cocoa and warm cheesy everything!

Seriously though, this stew just makes you “Mmmmmmmm.” It’s comforting and delicious with lots of warm spices, and after so many hours in the crock pot, the chicken just falls apart. This is a dinner that will make you feel good inside and out!

Moroccan Chicken & Chickpea Stew

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 28 oz. can tomato juice
  • 1 15 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 package frozen peas
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice (for serving)

Preparation:

Place onions in the bottom of your slow cooker. Place chicken on top of onions and sprinkle with curry powder, cumin, cayenne, salt and garlic. Pour tomato juice on top of chicken and onions. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. During the last hour of cooking, take chicken out and shred into bite-sized pieces. Place shredded chicken back into crock pot and stir in chickpeas and frozen peas. Serve hot over steamed brown rice.