Homemade Chocolate Chip Granola Bars – I saw it on Pinterest

Image

I’ve been wanting to make these for a while now and finally mustered up the courage to try it.  I got this idea from Pinterest.  If you haven’t tried Pinterest, please do-it’s brilliant!  I have my own personal pile of recipes I want to try.  You can find me on Pinterest here.  I got this recipe from Fifteen Spatulas via her You tube video.  Of course I didn’t have all of the same ingredients she used, so I think mine turned out a little different (different isn’t bad).  Here is what I used:

4 Cups of Old Fashioned Oats

1/4 Cup of Whole Wheat Flour

1/2 Cup of Toasted, Shredded, Unsweetened Coconut

1/3 Cup Brown Sugar

1 Cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips

1/2 tsp Salt (she added Kosher salt – I didn’t have any)

1/2 Cup Sunflower Seed Oil (she used grape seed oil – I didn’t have any)

1/2 Cup Honey

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Directions:

Toss all the dry ingredients around until mixed.

Mix Oil, Honey and Vanilla to combine.

Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and mix together until combined.

Put onto pan with parchment paper (I had to use tin foil) and press with a flat spatula until it is about an inch thick.  Use the back of the spatula to square off the edges to make a rectangle (or something close).

Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.

Let cool completely before you cut them into bars with a sharp knife.

I put them in little snack bags for the kids to take to school.  One of the reasons I made these granola bars is because my kids go to a nut free school. I had to find a recipe without peanut butter in it.  I’m petrified of sending my kids to school with anything that might have peanut butter in it, so I will make my own peanut butter bars soon, but they will have to be out of reach so that the kids don’t end up sneaking one to school without my knowing.

This is the dry mixture.

Image

And the wet and dry mixed together.

Image

J14A3873

The finished product!

J14A3876

And you might think they turned out perfect without this last picture (but then I’d be lying).  They were delicious, but we had a problem!  I may have cut them before they fully cooled (because I was way too excited), and I may have left them in a few minutes longer than I should have.  They were more crunchy than they should have been and they got stuck to the tin foil a bit.  I had to use tin foil because I didn’t have any parchment paper (no, I was not formerly a baker).  I am so proud of myself for trying this, even though they weren’t perfect.  My kids LOVED them and I didn’t waste a bit.  I actually saved all of the loose pieces and put them in some french vanilla yogurt – delicous!

Image

J14A3917

So there you have it….my very first attempt at granola bars.  Stayed tuned.  I AM going to be trying this until it works!

Strawberry Spinach Salad – My Favorite Lunch

Fruit on a salad?  I used to crinkle my nose and say, “no thanks” while thinking, you mix fruits and veggies?  Gross!  That was me before I actually tried it.  Just like the time I finally tried sour cream in college and discovered that  I actually liked it.  Oops. I missed out on numerous years of not having sour cream with my nachos.  Bummer.  I feared what I didn’t know (and still do actually!).  So anyway, I tried a spinach salad with strawberries, almonds, blue cheese, and balsamic vinegerette.  I fell in love and have been eating it ever since.  This was at least 8 years ago and I’m still feeling the love.  In fact it is my favorite lunch and I promise I’m not just saying this.  I eat it whenever I have all the ingredients in the house (which I usually do).  It takes me minutes to make and I’ve gotten so I’m not picky about what I put in it.  I use whatever cheese is in the house.  It is usually sharp cheddar cut into little bit-size pieces, feta, or blue cheese.  I love cheese.  I’ve used pears, apples, and even grapes to top my salad.  I have discovered that grapes and strawberries are pretty tasty.

Here is my recipe:

Organic Baby Spinach

Strawberries (or another fruit)

Blue Cheese (or another kind)

Sliced Almonds ( my husband prefers toasted, but I don’t have the patience or time to do this daily).

Balsamic Vinaigrette (I have fallen in love with Simply Natural Organic Balsamic Vinaigrette with extra virgin olive oil that I buy at BJ’s Wholesale-so yummy).  I’ve also used Newman’s Own.

And that is it.  Very easy and so healthy for you too.  Don’t be scared, try it!

Image

5 Things I Am Changing For My Health (and my family’s health)

This post is re-posted from my old blog:

1.  I start every morning out with a green smoothie.  Well, actually I have a cup of coffee first.  Maybe someday that will change too, but for now it makes me very happy.  I used to drink at least 2 cups in the morning, now one does just fine.  I look forward to my smoothie every morning.  Most days it take the place of breakfast.  It makes me feel like I’ve started this day with the best food that I can have for my body.  It fills me up and keeps me going. 

Image

This is what was in my smoothie today:

1 handful fresh organic Kale

1 handful organic mixed greens (from a bag)

Almond milk

Plain Kefir

1 Banana

2 handfuls of frozen peaches, strawberries, and bananas

1 handful of frozen pineapple

1 teaspoon of Chia Protein Powder

Drizzle of honey to sweeten

 

Throw it all in together and blend until smooth.  I keep coming back to this one.  It’s my favorite!

2.  I am eating salad for lunch.  Most days I have a spinach salad with strawberries, pears, or apples (whatever is in my kitchen), cheese (again whatever I have-usually feta, blue cheese, or Colby Jack), almonds, and topped with balsamic vinaigrette.  Other days when I’m in the office and couldn’t find time to make lunch, I buy a delicious tuna salad with lettuce, cucumbers, onions, carrots and topped with a homemade vinaigrette dressing.  So yummy!

I find that eating this way doesn’t make me feel hungry.  I am satisfied and healthy!

3.  I am buying and cooking more vegetables for my family.  I’m trying to always have something on hand that is fresh.  I would like to change the portions that we are eating.  As Americans we tend to have meat as the biggest part of our meal, then starches and lastly (it seems) veggies.  So I am trying to make veggies cover more of our plates and less of everything else.  Luckily my kids love vegetables so this shouldn’t be so hard.  Getting my husband to eat more veggies might be tougher.  He could just eat the meat for dinner and be happy with it.

4. I am reading blogs and books on health.  Learning can be scary these days, but it only fuels my desire to keep us healthy.  Every day I learn something new that can help us feel better.  Today I learned that we won’t be eating hot dogs and lunch meat unless they are nitrate free.  Apparently this causes cancer and there have been bans dating back to the 70’s.  Finally there are enough studies for change.  I am also learning how to help my husband with his heart burn.  This may be a tough one!

5.  All of our household products are organic and green.  I am done with chemicals.  We have enough chemicals walking in on our shoes every day.  Our new policy is, “shoes off at the door”.  I’m hoping this helps minimize the chemicals in our home, improving our air quality and health.  It will hopefully help out with the sweeping and vacuuming too.  It is so hard to stay on the family when everyone is, “just coming in to get one thing”.  We will get there!

What things are you all doing to stay healthy or change your ways?  Changing is so hard!  I struggle daily with sweets.  I have to remember to take things slowly so that everything becomes routine.  My goal isn’t to give up sweets, but to eat them less frequently.  I want to live a happy life too.  Depriving isn’t happy to me!  Live healthy!

Green Smoothie Ice Pops

J14A7589

This is my little guy.  He’s a month away from being two.  In this picture he is eating a Green Smoothie Ice Pop!  For the last few months I have been making myself a green smoothie most mornings.  They are typically the same most mornings (yep once I find one I like I stick to it).  Here is my typical morning smoothie:

  1. A handful of greens (Kale, Spinach, and most recently Collard Greens).  Usually I buy them fresh and they go right into the blender from the fridge.  Occasionally I will use frozen if I don’t happen to have anything fresh.
  2. Almond Milk, plain and unsweetened to cut down on calories (the one I have now is Almond Breeze).
  3. Frozen fruit (usually a handful of pineapple.  Sometimes BJ’s Wholesale has a nice mix of pineapple, peaches, and grapes)
  4. A ripe banana (frozen or right from the fruit basket.
  5. Chia Protein Powder (approximately a tsp. or two), or Ground Flax Seed.
  6. Honey to sweeten

Green smoothies are so good for you and really don’t take long to make once you get used to the ingredients and what kinds you really like.  I often have a bit left in my blender that I hate to waste, so I started pouring the rest into Silicone Ice Pop Makers.  They look like this: J14A7615 blog

Drew had two for lunch today.  Who knew he’d pick the green smoothie over the peanut butter and jelly I also gave him.   I was so proud and felt so good he was having greens.  I will now be giving him these daily until he gets tired of them and then I’ll make him a new flavor.  These ice pop makers are great.  I’ve heard that you can also send a smoothie to school with your kids in these handy containers and by lunch the smoothie will be partially defrosted and ready to eat.  The only problem we ran into was that the pop would slip back down inside the silicone so that my son was unable to figure out how to keep it sticking out long enough to eat.  I solved the problem by bending the bottom of the pop and wrapping a produce elastic (the kind that comes wrapped around your asparagus) around the bottom.  This worked like a charm and he was happy with my solution.

How do you get your kids/babies to eat their greens?  I love hearing other parent’s ideas!