Peanut butter Granola bars

I know I said the last granola bar recipe was going to be my last granola recipe, but I wanted to really show the versatility in making these.  So THIS is my last granola bar recipe.  I promise.

For this recipe, I replaced the coconut oil with peanut butter and almond butter.  Because all you really need is a fat of some kind.  (You could use butter, bananas)

I soaked my chia seeds this time because I was having an issue with the ones on the outside of my bars falling off.  I seem to have solved that problem this time.

Not only did these come out really crunchy, but they are also the cheapest granola bars I have made to date.  I just kind of threw them together with whatever I had on hand.  (Time to food shop!)

Peanut butter Granola bars

  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup raw honey
  • 1/4 coconut sugar
  • 1/3 cup gluten free all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter (nothing but peanuts)
  • 2 tbsp natural almond butter
  • 1/4 cup of chia seeds, soaked for a minute
  • 1 1/2 cup nuts, dried fruits (I used a combination of pepitas and dried cranberries)

Pre heat an oven to 350 degrees, and oil a baking pan.  8×8 is a good size.  Mix all the ingredients in a bowl (I did this by hand) and then lay it all into the oiled pan, pressing it in flat making sure its even all around.  Cook for 20-30 minutes (it should be nice and browned on the top)  and then let it cool for at least 2 hours.  Cut into bars.

 

 

 

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Strawberry Pistachio Granola Bars

strawberry granola bars

Okay, so I may be a little obsessed over Granola bars.  I’ve made 3 more batches since my last blog post.  I even ordered a bar pan from pampered chef.  It isn’t here yet, but I’m super excited about it.  I promise, this will be my last post  with a granola bar recipe because I think after this one you guys will get the point about how to make them, and how  customizable they are.  But this one is REALLY good, and I had to share.

I used coconut sugar in this recipe, which has trace amounts of nutrients, and a lower GI then regular sugar, so its at least a tiny bit healthier for you then using brown sugar but it  tastes about the same.  There’s also flax and chia seed in here for added omega 3’s and some weight loss boosters.   The preserve I used are natural, grape juice sweetened preserves, so make sure you read your ingredients,  you don’t want anything with high fructose corn syrup.  And of course, buy organic whenever you can!

Oh and my normal camera’s battery is dead so I had to take pictures with my cell phone, sorry about that.  These guys really deserve better photos.  I’ll take other ones later when the battery charges =)

strawberry granola bars

Strawberry Pistachio Granola Bars

  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup raw honey
  • 1/4 coconut sugar
  • 1/3 cup gluten free all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cup nuts, dried fruits (I used a combination of pistachios, freeze dried strawberries, flax seeds, and chia seeds)
  • Strawberry preserves

Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees, and spray a 8×10 pan with oil.  Mix all the ingredients together, except the preserves.  I do this by hand.  When its all nicely combined, press most of  it into the pan, reserving about 1/4 of it for the top.  Spread a thin layer of the preservers over the top of the granola mix in the pan, I used the back of a spoon to do this.  Then top with the rest of the granola.  Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.  Let it cool at least 2 hours, I stuck mine in the fridge over night. Its much easier to cut into bars after it has cooled off.

 

Cut into bars and enjoy!  These freeze great too.

 

Homemade Ramen Soup

Happy 2014 everyone!  I hope you all had a safe and wonderful new years eve.  I spent the night in with my son, it was a nice and quiet night with thoughts of the upcoming year.  I’m currently 20 weeks pregnant, so this year is going to be an eventful one for me and my family!

Today I thought I’d cook up something easy, fast, and cheap.    I’ve mentioned before how much I love soup, but sometimes I don’t feel like slaving over a stove or waiting to soak my noodles before I can eat.  This dish cooks up in 10 minutes and you have a lot of options to customize it depending on what you have on hand.

The best thing about this dish, is its just as fast to make as if you were to use the normal flavor packets that come with the noodles, but of course this isn’t loaded with salt and MSG.

 

Homemade Ramen Soup  \

Ramen Soup:

  • 5 Dried Shitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 5 minutes to soften them
  • 2 packages of ramen noodles (remove the seasoning packages and throw them out)
  • 5 Green onions

For the base:

  • 2 cups of water
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp garlic ginger paste (or 1/2 tbsp grated garlic and 1/2 tbsp grated ginger)
  • 1 tbsp vegan bullion or 1 tbsp White miso  (depending on what you have on hand, both will lend a nice flavor to the dish, of course the miso is the healthier option)
  • 1/2 tbsp toasted sesame oil

Other things you can add:

  • Cubed Tofu
  • Toasted Sesame seeds
  • thinly sliced Radishes
  • (For my non Vegan friends – hard boiled eggs)

Place the ramen noodles in a pot of water and bring to a boil.   You want to take them out of the water as soon as it starts to boil so they don’t get too soft.  (they’re going to soften up more as they sit in our soup)   After the water boils, drain them in a colander and set aside.

In another sauce pan, combine all of the ingredients for the base except the sesame oil.  (Sesame oil should never be boiled, it should always be added to the end of cooking for flavor.)    Bring it all to a light simmer, and then, and I did this with a scissor, cut off the stems of the mushrooms,  then cut the mushrooms into slivers right into the soup base.  If you’re using other ingredients like tofu, or radishes, add them now.  I then  took my scissors and cut the green onions right into the soup base as well.  Turn off the flame, and add the sesame oil, giving it all one good stir.

Put the noodles in a bowl, then ladle the soup on top of it.  Enjoy!

And remember, when eating noodles, its totally okay to slurp!

Cheesy Mexican Chicken Skillet (Vegan)

 

photo

Its been some time since my last blog post, we were spending some time with family in Wyoming.  Between the steak houses and the family cooking, it was hard to stay healthy.  Of course, vacation is over and its time to get back on track, and this time my husband is totally on board with me.  This is my take on a Cheesy Mexican skillet dish.    To keep this as healthy as possible, remember not to cook your vegetables too long, you don’t want them soggy and over cooked.

 

Vegan Cheesy Mexican Skillet

  • 4 tbsp vegetable broth
  • 1 onion, sliced thin
  • 1 package white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 tbsp chili pepper (or less if you don’t want it spicy)
  • 1/3 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup frozen organic broccoli florets
  • 1 package vegan shredded chicken
  • 1 tbsp organic stone  ground mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, diced (let to sit 10 minutes)
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 2 green onions, diced
  • 1/2 cup Monterrey jack vegan cheese (daiya brand)
  • salt to taste (optional)

In a large skillet, heat the vegetable broth up till it starts to steam.  Add the onions and mushrooms, cover and let simmer for 3 minutes over medium heat.  After 3 minutes, uncover it, and add the broccoli, vegan chicken, chili pepper, and oregano.  (At this point, If  it all starts to stick to the pan, add a bit more vegetable broth, but no more then 1 tbsp)  After a minute, add the mustard, tomatoes, green onions, and vegan cheese.    Let the cheese melt into the dish, stirring for another minute.  Add salt to taste (or omit)

 

I served this with fresh organic corn on the cob, and brown rice.

Bombay Potatoes and Chickpeas

Bombay Potatoes and Chickpeas

 

I was at the grocery store, and I saw a pre-packaged dish called Bombay potatoes and chickpeas.  Its an Indian dish where the potatoes and chickpeas are cooked in a rich tomato sauce.   It looked so good, but of course the sodium was 28% of the recommended daily allowance, so I passed it up.  (Not to mention all the added preservatives and whatnot that are also lurking in it!)  But I had to try it, so this is my attempt to make bombay potatoes.  Amchur powder is a bitter mauve powder made from green mangoes, and it goes really well with potatoes.  The chili pepper that  I used is from Kashmir (hence the name), a place in Northern Indian.  It is VERY hot, so only use a pinch of it in recipes, or exclude it completely if you don’t like spice.   So I have no idea if this dish tastes anything like actual Bombay potatoes and chickpeas, but its really good regardless.    To my credit however, I did research a bit  before attempting to make this and found many different recipes.  The basics are all here, cumin, coriander, turmeric, garlic, ginger and onions….if anyone has ever had this dish before I’d love to hear from you to see if I hit the mark!

Waxy potatoes are always better to use then regular russet potatoes because they are less starchy, plus their glycemic index is less.

Bombay Potatoes and Chickpeas:

  • 4 tbsp vegetable broth
  • 3 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 inch of ginger, grated
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp coriander
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp Kashmir chili pepper
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tsp amchur powder
  • 3 waxy potatoes, diced
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • salt

In a wok heath the broth till it steams, then add the garlic, ginger and onion, cover and cook for 4 minutes.  Uncover it, add the  cumin, coriander, turmeric and chili pepper, stirring constantly, cooking another 2 minutes or until its fragrant.  Add the crushed tomatoes, and the amchur powder, and stir it up so the sauce mixes with the spice mixture.  Add in the potatoes, cover it back up and cook 30 minutes over medium-low heat.   The smaller you dice the potatoes the less time it will take to cook.  They are done when they are easily pierced with a fork.  After 30 minutes add the chickpeas, stir it up, and cook, covered, another 10 minutes.   Season to taste with salt.

This dish would be really good with some chutney and naan bread.

Indian Spiced Coconut Lentil Soup

Indian Spiced Coconut Lentil Soup

Its a cold rainy day today, the kind of weather you would expect in Autumn, or maybe even later winter, definitely not the type of weather you would think of in late June.  Honestly, though, nothing surprises me in Washington anymore.  This soup is a comfort food of mine, full of protein and fiber, and chock full of nutrients.    Make this over rice for a more filling meal, or eat it as I am, as a soup.

Indian Spiced Coconut Lentil Soup

  • 2 cups cooked Lentils (I used Green Sprouted Lentils from TruRoots)
  • 2 Tbsp Vegetable Broth
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 can diced tomotes
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 can coconut milk

Heat the broth in a pan and when it starts to steam, add the onions, cover and cook 3 minutes.  Uncover and let it  cook another minute, adding the garlic and ginger and stirring until it becomes fragrant.  Drain a little bit of the liquid off the tomatoes, and add them into the onions.

While that’s cooking through, add the coconut milk to the cooked lentils, and heat it up over medium heat, about 5 minutes.

Add the onion/tomato mixture to the lentils/coconut mixture, and continue to cook over medium heat, uncovered, another 5 minutes.   Season it with salt.

Eggplant and Zucchini Indian Stir Fry

Eggplant and Zucchini Stir Fry

 

I learned to cook this dish from an Indian family that I used to work for as a nanny.  It was my first meal I cooked without oil before I even knew that cooking without oil was a way.  The eggplant and zucchini in this dish cook in tomato juice, and it is simply spiced with just a bit of turmeric, a hint of ginger, and a bit of garlic.  I make this dish over brown rice, and eat it as  a main course, but it could of course be a side dish as well.  One zucchini with the skin has about 2g of protein, 2g of fiber, and a ton of vitamin A.  Since it is a low energy food, it keeps you feeling fuller longer and helps manage weight.

I could only use half the zucchini in this recipe, it was so huge!

I haven’t mentioned what allicin is in a while, so just a reminder as to why we let the garlic sit for 5 minutes:  when garlic is cut it releases healing enzymes called allicin.  These enzymes are antibacterial and help to ward off germs.  Usually these enzymes would be released when we chew but since most people don’t chew thoroughly, it is best to let the knife do the work for us.  Many studies have been conducted on garlic and its healing properties and they have concluded that people who consume at least 6 cloves of garlic a week are much less likely to get sick.  Taking garlic extract pills is also very useful…but why take a pill when you can just make delicious meals with fresh garlic and get the same effect!

 

Eggplant and Zucchini Indian Stir Fry

  • 2 tomatoes, cubed
  • 2 tbsp vegetable broth
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed and let to sit at least 5 minutes to release the allicin
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 green zucchini, diced (you can dice them larger then normally if you are having this as a main dish)
  • 1 eggplant, diced (again, you can dice it bigger)
  • (optional) 1 yellow squash, diced
  • salt to taste

Heat the vegetable broth in a large wok with  a lid, and when it begins to steam, add the diced tomatoes and cover it up for 5 minutes, cooking over medium heat.  The tomatoes will begin to break down.   After 5 minutes, add the garlic and the ginger and cook until it becomes fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Add the onions, cover it back up, and cook another 3 minutes.  Add the turmeric and stir it all up until it looks yellow.  Next add the zucchini and the eggplant, and the squash if you’re using it, cover it up and cook 15 minutes.  You might not even need to cook it for the full 15 minutes,  depending on how large you made the chunks, how crowded your pan is, or in my case how large the zucchini is!  (I had to cook mine for longer then 15 minutes because the zucchini was so  big that at first it didn’t all fit into my wok!)  Every so often check on it, give it a stir, make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom and the eggplant and zucchini aren’t over cooking.

You want the vegetables to become a bit translucent, but not wilt so much that they fall to mush when you stir your dish.

When its done, season it with a bit of salt, and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Spicy Cold noodle salad (vegan, gluten free)

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So I had a lot of leftover pasta from the pancit, so I took them and made a cold noodle salad.   Its really fast to make, and really tasty.  I always try to use up leftovers, there’s usually always something you can do with them if you get a little creative.  And if you hadn’t noticed, I really love noodles.

The red chili peppers contain capsaicin,  which is known to help boost metabolism and aid in weight loss.  Additionally, eating chili peppers is said to boost your endorphins which can make you feel happier and promote serotonin which can enhance your mood and your memory.  If that’s not enough, sriracha can also help the body’s ability to dissolve blood clots, fight inflammation, improve circulation, and help you fight a cold by acting as an expectorant.

There’s also vitamin A from the cucumbers and  carrots, antioxidants, protein from the amino acids and sesame seeds, plus its low in calories.

Spicy Cold Noodle Salad:

  • 1  cup cooked mung bean noodles
  • 1  cup cooked rice stick noodles
  • 1 tbsp amino acids
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sriracha hot sauce (use less if you don’t like things spicy)
  • 2 dashs stevia
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 3 roughly chopped green onions
  • sesame seeds (you can use slivered almonds, or crushed cashews, any kind of nut or seed would work here)

Mix the amino, oil, vinegar, hot sauce and stevia together in a bowl.   Put the rest of the ingredients together, mix them up well, and then pour on the sauce.  Toss to coat it all well and let it chill, covered, in the fridge for an hour.  Enjoy!

Garlic Dill Spinach Noodles with Mushrooms and Onions (Gluten-free, Vegan)

Vegan Alfredo

 

  • 2 Packages of Gluten Free Spinach soy noodles cooked according to the package instructions and drained well.  (This is a good brand, I also like the ones in the water that only need to be soaked. – http://www.celiac.com/glutenfreemall/pasta-company-glutenfree-spinach-fettuccine-pasta-frozen-unit-p-2296.html)
  • 1/2 cup Cashew Sour Cream (Recipe here – you need to make it really thick, just add less water when blending it up)
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves, let sit for at least 10 minutes
  • 2 tbsp dry dill weed (or 4 tbsp fresh)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp vegetable stock
  • 1 package crimini mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • Fresh parsley

In a blender, take the cashew sour cream, the garlic, dill and salt, and blend it up until its nice and smooth and there’s no garlic chunks.  In a sauce pan, saute the mushrooms and onions, covered, in the stock for 2 minutes.  Uncover it and cook it for one more minute.  Mix the noodles with the garlic cashew cream, then place the mushroom and onions on top.   Garnish with fresh Parsley.

 

 

Steamed Pumpkin Pot Stickers with Ponzu Sauce

Pumpkin Pot Stickers with Ponzu Sauce

 

I’ve been brainstorming these babies all month!  I had found some  organic canned pumpkin on sale and I knew I had to make something out of it.  While Pumpkin is a more winter time vegetable, you can find canned pumpkin all year round and this is what I used.  Making this versatile vegetable into pot stickers gives it a whole new dimension and wonderful flavor.    I had tried making the filling the with cilantro but it overpowered the flavor of the sauce.  By all means though, play around with it.  Some other ideas I had to add to make it more  crunchy was cabbage and water chestnuts.  Like I always say, cooking should be fun, and you shouldn’t be afraid to experiment!

These wrappers are not gluten-free, I have no idea if you can even buy gluten-free wrappers anywhere, but I did however find a recipe to make your own, I’ll add the link at the end.  These are not homemade wrappers, however, but the ponzu sauce is all my own, as is the filling.

Ponzu Sauce:

  • 1 tbsp Siracha hot sauce
  • 2 tbsp Liquid Amino Acid
  • 1 tbsp Rice Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Mirin
  • 1 dash stevia
  • 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 tbsp lime juice

Filling:

  • 1 inch of ginger, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced and let to sit at least 10 minutes
  • 1 tbsp vegetable broth
  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 tsp amino acid
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1 tsp lime juice

Bring the vegetable broth to a boil in a pan and cook the ginger and garlic, covered, 1 minute.  Uncover and let the liquid evaporate, about 1 minute more.  If any extra liquid remains, drain it off.  In a food processor, add the rest of the ingredients and pulse until its all mixed up and finely chopped.

Bring about 2 inches of water to a boil with a steamer insert.  Fill the wrappers with 1 tsp each of the filling, then fold them over in half.  To seal them, dip your finger in some water and wet the very outer edge and press them closed around the outside.  Stand them up in the steamer insert and let them cook about 5-7 minutes.

How to make Gluten Free wrappers:

http://gardenofglutenfree.com/2012/03/18/deliciously-gluten-free-asian-pot-stickers/