I have tried my hand at making granola bars or protein bars countless times before. While they tasted good, they were nothing like the traditional store bought bars. They either fell apart into crumbles, or were too goopy. I couldn’t get the consistency right. Until now.
Look at those beauts!
The secret to it was brown rice syrup, for it’s binding abilities. It’s not something I usually buy, but I had some left over from making these healthy rice crispy treats.
If you find yourself wanting a similar-to-store-bought granola bar that you can make yourself with healthier ingredients, these are for you. It is nutrient dense, filling, and chock full of good fats and protein. With the right packaging, I think it would make a really cute gift too! Perfect, perhaps, for a new mom to eat one-handed while still getting enough calories to nourish her baby! I remember being starving during the 1AM breastfeeding sessions and always needing a granola bar. Wish I had had these!
Ok, I know it’s April, but this is not an April fool’s joke!
One of the main ingredients in this mousse is… the liquid from a can of chickpeas. I kid you not! And it makes for the fluffiest mousse I have ever made!
I first heard about using chickpea liquid, or aquafaba (literally meaning bean water) in a vegan group. Someone posted about using it to make meringue, as it acts just like egg whites. I was so intrigued but at the same time, a little weirded out. I mean, I eat or use chickpeas in recipes all the time, and whether I open a can or cook them from dried… I always pour the liquid down the drain.
Well, it’s been a couple months, and I decided to get over it because I knew how using ingredients in a different way can turn into something so delicious. Pizza crusts made from cauliflower, “cheese” made from cashews, decadent desserts made from avocado, and the most common (for me), fruit smoothies packed with tons of greens!
I am SO GLAD I got over it and my husband and daughter are too because they loved this dessert. I also sent it out for taste testing with another family. Everyone loved it. And no one complained that it tasted like beans. (Because it doesn’t!)
All the times I tested this I used the liquid from a can of chickpeas that contained salt. If I had unsalted, I would have used that and just added a pinch of salt to bring out the sweetness.
It is really quite forgiving of a recipe, too. I tested it with anywhere from 2/3 to 1 cup chocolate dollops. The one with more chocolate was the clear winner from all my taste testers. However, without anything to compare it to, the one with less chocolate was amazing too. You can also use a different sweetener, such as stevia or maple syrup, or leave it out altogether.
Top with fruit, extra chocolate, or chopped nuts if desired!
I liked serving in these pastel fancy glasses, perfect for spring!
Light and Fluffy Chocolate Mousse (with a surprising ingredient!)
The inspiration for this recipe comes from… our VERY happy indoor basil plant!
Smiling? Or munching on some basil?
Do you know that basil is surprisingly delicious when mixed with fruit? I first discovered it when I used to make this orange basil smoothie by FullyRawKristina, check out her video below:
I hadn’t used basil in smoothies much (if at all!) since I used to make the orange one. Now that we had such a thriving plant, I knew I needed to mix up my greens and create a delicious smoothie recipe!
Do you mix up your leafy greens? I have to admit, spinach is our go-to, followed by kale. Spinach just blends so easily without altering the taste, which is why I love it. However it IS important to rotate greens. This will provide your body with a whole spectrum of different nutrients that you may be missing out on if you use the same green, smoothie after smoothie, day after day. Variety is important in your smoothies as well as the rest of your diet! For example, dandelion greens have more calcium and iron than spinach and kale!
There are so many possibilities too, especially during the peak grow seasons near you. I love going to the farmer’s market and seeing what they have… collards, cabbage, bok choy, chard, leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce… And if I buy beets, there is no way those beet greens are going to waste! Or herbs! You can throw in parsley, cilantro, or BASIL!
Note this makes one LARGE smoothie. If I am having it as a meal, I will have it by myself, usually in a bowl with a lot of toppings (I added granola, banana, chia, hemp seeds all to the smoothie bowl above after I shot a pic!) Why a bowl? I love smoothie bowls if I am sitting down to a meal, it forces you to eat slower, and it feels more like eating vs just sucking it down through a straw. You can’t beat the convenience of a smoothie if you need a meal-on-the-go though!
If I want it as a snack, I will split it with the fam.
Berries marry basil beautifully in this bright pink smoothie! A delicious change of pace from your typical green smoothie.
1 cup water
⅓ cup basil (loosely packed)
2 cups frozen mixed berries (I used strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries)
2 tbsp raw almonds
½ tsp vanilla
If not using a high speed blender, blend water and spinach first, then add all other ingredients until smooth, adding more water if necessary.
If using a high speed blender, add all ingredients and blend until smooth.
This is a THICK smoothie. If you want to drink it as opposed to eating it as a bowl, you may want to add a little more water.
Note: I get asked if it matters what type of blender you have. This can be made in a standard blender, it will probably work better if you blend your greens and liquid FIRST, as noted in the instructions.
I swear by THIS BLENDER though. I use it in my kitchen daily, if not multiple times per day. Yes, there is an SNL skit (or something related) making fun of how expensive it is. For us, the warranty made it more worth it, especially since we had burned through a couple blenders before getting it. You can also check out certified refurbished ones.
I’d love to hear from you! Do you mix up your greens in your smoothies? What is your favorite? Leave me a comment!
Both my mom and mother-in-law get Martha Stewart Living magazine, and I remember seeing her recipe for this green tea crepe cake twice because of flipping through their mags. The second time seeing it, I said, I AM making this.
Of course, Martha’s has white flour and white sugar, which my family avoids, so that had to be subbed out. I also am doing another six week dairy-free period. I consume less dairy than most people as it is (hello nut milk!), but in the past I have felt better going completely dairy-free, so I’m trying it again and am going to pay attention to any changes I notice both while not eating it and if introducing again. Martha’s crepe cake has butter, heavy cream, and whole milk. So much dairy! That had to be changed too. 😉
This is sweetened naturally with maple syrup in the crepes, and honey in the matcha pastry cream.
Still a dessert, but one that I feel good about feeding to my family and friends! Especially because there are many health benefits to matcha green tea. Wellness Mama has a nice post about the benefits, you can read it here.
Where to buy matcha? I bought mine online, but you can also find it at most grocery stores. After doing a bit of research, I paid a bit more for Japanese matcha because Chinese teas have been found to have dangerous pesticides, while Japanese tea has more strict standards regarding pesticide use. (Greenpeace randomly tested 18 Chinese green tea samples in 2103, and 12 of them tested positive for banned pesticides.) Make sure that you are not buying one with added sugar or powdered milk. The only ingredient should be matcha. If it is organic or non-gmo, that is ideal. This is the one I bought: Matcha Green Tea Powder.
This recipe is a bit needier than most of my other recipes, but I think it is worth it! It tastes amazing (as long as you like the slightly earthy flavor of matcha!) and it is different and pretty to serve!
First, you start off with your crepe batter. Whisk it all together and get cooking your crepes. For the crepe connoisseur, these may be a little thicker and take longer to cook than you are used to. I did the best that I could! Making it dairy free, gluten free, and naturally sweetened will change the consistency I guess.
Play it by ear with the heat, size of your crepes, and how thinly you pour the batter.
Mine took about 4 minutes on one side, then flip and just about a minute (or less) on the other.
I got two pans going because I was impatient.
Stack them up on a plate (they won’t stick together!) as you go, and get working on your pastry cream.
The essential part about this is to use only the chilled “cream” portion of your canned coconut milk. (This is my favorite brand).
Then, start the layering process! Lay down a crepe, spread on some cream.
Lay down another crepe.
Keep going until you use all of the crepes, or it gets high enough for you! We ended up with 15-18 crepes in our cake, considering the first crepe is almost always a throw-away (well, we still eat it! but not pretty), and Caterina wanted to eat some during the cooking process. You may end up with more if you can get keep them thin and don’t have a hungry toddler around!
Note that the pastry cream gets more runny at room temperature, and firms up more if kept in the fridge. After all the layering (and I left the cream out while cooking the crepes), our cake was a bit wobbly.
It firmed up nicely in the fridge though, to help with cutting and serving.
Look how gorgeous it is with all those layers!
Is this not the perfect green dessert for upcoming St. Patrick’s Day?
Green Tea Crepe Cake (dairy free and gluten free!)
Combine crepe batter ingredients and whisk until well mixed.
In a greased hot skillet add a small amount of batter, just enough for a thin layer in the pan. After 3-4 minutes flip and cook another minute. Stack finished crepes on a plate and set aside.
While the crepes are cooking, make the matcha cream by whipping all the ingredients in a large bowl until smooth. It is best to chill the cans coconut milk for several hours prior to making as it will help the cream thicken.
Once all the crepes are finished and the cream is made begin layering the cake. Layer each crepe with a scoop of the matcha cream as tall as you dare. Mine was about 15 crepes tall.
Chill for 2 hours before serving to ensure your cream doesn't squish out when you try to cut the cake.
I’d love to hear from you! What is your favorite way to enjoy matcha? Or, what is your favorite GREEN recipe for St. Patrick’s Day?
They looked at five different cohorts aged 70 and over from around the world
Of all the food factors they looked at, only ONE was associated with longer lifespan across the board: intake of legumes
It didn’t seem to matter what kind (Japanese eating mostly soy in tofu or miso, those in the Mediterranean eating mostly lentils, white beans and chickpeas, Swedish eating brown beans and peas)
Again, like the title of the study, higher legume intake is the most protective dietary predictor of survival
If that isn’t a reason to try out this bean dip, I don’t know what is. Oh, maybe that it was approved by a group of about 10 moms who tried it? “Yum! This is so good! Blog it!” is a direct quote. 😉
This recipe is inspired by a recipe for burgers that we’ve made several times from Crazy Sexy Kitchen by Kris Carr.
The recipe can also be found here. A couple times we made them, the burgers didn’t hold together very well and we ate them with a fork. My husband said, “This would make a great dip!” I adapted it by removing some of the binding ingredients, like, cornmeal, added some ingredients, like jalepeno, and tried mixing up the grains. Delicious!
The only thing is… it isn’t visually that appealing. That’s kind of the nature of the beast with black bean dip though.
One thought is to save some black beans and sweet potato chunks and put them on top with an herb like cilantro.
Since I was bringing it to a party and serving with chips, I thought some salsa, a little homemade guac, and cilantro on top would brighten it up nicely.
If you are feeling a little more ambitious, you could make a pretty appetizer by utilizing it as a spread. Get some healthy crackers, spread on some of the dip, and once again put whatever toppings on. Some with a little avocado, some with black beans and sweet potatoes, some with tomatoes or salsa, green onion, and herbs. Get creative!
Since I make recipes a couple times to test and got “dipped out”, I also made this into a meal by putting a big scoop onto a salad. Very filling!
One of my 2017 goals is to declutter. I am going to do one “area” of our house each day for the year! Well, that’s the plan anyway. 😉 January’s main focus was on the kitchen. To help make it not so overwhelming, I am just spending 10 minutes (somedays are a little less and some a little more) to do one drawer, or one shelf on the pantry, or one cabinet. The one that is coming up (but I’m putting off) is my recipes and cookbooks. I know that there are some that I haven’t opened in YEARS, and I also have piles of recipes that I have printed, when realistically, I probably don’t need that paper… more often than not I look up recipes on my phone or iPad. But for some reason I want to hold on to them!
One book that I found and opened up boasted about fast fix meals, I think all of them were 30 minutes or less. The only problem was, the reason they were quick is because the “ingredient” in many of them included a can of “cream of mushroom/broccoli/chicken/etc” soup! I love soup, but I rarely buy them in a can because I find that more often than not, they have ingredients I want to avoid… even “natural” or organic soup! Adding that book to my donate box!
I loved the idea of using cans to make it really easy, though. Especially because my husband is still on crutches. Anything to make life easier lately, I’ll take! I’d already done a “dump and go” soup with cans in this taco soup recipe. What else could I do?
As if answering me, someone in a Facebook moms group I’m in posted requesting soup recipes. I shared my taco soup and crockpot curry. Someone else posted about using salsa and black beans to make a black bean soup. Bingo!
I took it and ran with it, making several versions, that all came out GREAT!
And, no chopping required. (Except for cutting open an avocado for the optional topping).
And, it’s inexpensive! (all organic from Aldi… jar of salsa $1.99, 2 cans of black beans $0.79 each, quart of broth $1.99, and some cumin which I already had). Then for the topping it was just one avocado (I don’t usually buy organic) $0.69, a lime $0.25, and some salt. The grand total for this meal that serves 4-6 depending on serving size… $6.50.
This recipe truly proves that eating healthy doesn’t mean spending hours in the kitchen, and doesn’t mean spending a fortune!
It would be even cheaper if you made your own beans from dried and made your own broth from vegetable scraps (future blog posts? 🙂 ). Although, then of course it wouldn’t be “quick.”
One other note is that I always try to buy salsa without added sugar. Look at the label! The Aldi brand organic salsa does have added sugar, but they have another brand (at our store) that does not. If you have a choice with the canned beans, always look for a BPA-free can, and “less salt.” And if you have an Aldi by you but have never gone, go check it out! Organic salsa at Wegmans can be over $6 for the same size jar!
Don’t feel like you have to get the same one I did though. I actually tried this with 4 different salsas. One mild, one medium, one smoky, and one chipotle lime. This recipe was good no matter what I did to change it up!
I had fun making this feel fancier with the avocado lime swirl. Just blitz in a food processor. But, feel free to just cut up pieces of avocado to put on top to make it even quicker! Or, you could get storebought guacamole. Again, I would just try to find one with no yucky additives or sugar. (Sugar in guac? I haven’t seen it, but nothing surprises me with the food industry anymore! I once bought minced garlic in a jar just to get home and see that it had high fructose corn syrup in it). Check your labels!
My daughter also had fun with the extra avocado lime topping. She kept requesting pictures on corn chips! Here is her little hand trying to eat the soup while my husband was distracting her with the chips so I could take the photo.
Eating the “caterpillar” chip.
And the soup is all gone! One last smiley face chip…
Monday we did some awesome meal prepping… big batches of rice, beans, broth, boiled eggs, cut up veggies, etc. When I saw all that rice and told my husband about my rice pudding for breakfast idea, he was not into it. He wanted a smoothie instead, and I AM a smoothie lover… so we had smoothies.
The next day I made this without asking him, served it to him, and he LOVED it! 😛
Perfectly spiced with chai-inspired spices, great to start your morning with on a chilly day!
The secret in making this for breakfast is to cook the rice ahead of time. Sure, it might be better if you cooked the rice with the milk and spices, but I was being practical here. There is no way I have an hour to cook breakfast on most days!
You can make this with any kind of rice. Just how I mix up my grains, I also mix up the type of rice I buy. Right now I’m rocking out with red rice (this is the one I bought). If you haven’t tried red rice though, I encourage you to give it a try! It has a wonderful flavor and chewiness to it, as well as health benefits. It has way more antioxidants than brown rice (10 times more!) The rice’s red color is provided by anthocyanins, which can aid in cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes. (source).
Simply combine all ingredients in pot, and cook until it is all deliciously combined, and the milk has cooked down a bit.
Serve up in bowls with an extra sprinkle of cinnamon and additional raisins if you wish!
I would like to say that this is kid approved, and it probably IS, but not by my kid… She requested “plain rice” both times I’ve made this so far, haha. 😉
Temperatures are in the single digits, the sky seems to constantly be gray, snow is falling.
With this winter weather, nothing beats cozy blankets, fuzzy socks, glowing candles, and… your hands wrapped around a cup of hot chocolate!
Of course I would want to make a healthier version of your typical hot chocolate. Why do I call my recipe the HEALTHIEST homemade hot chocolate? It has the healthiest sweetener!
Check out this video for more info comparting sweeteners: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-healthiest-sweetener/. (The founder of nutritionfacts.org, Dr. Michael Greger, is the author of a book I am currently reading. I love that he is bringing evidence-based nutritional science to the masses with this book):
Spoiler: It’s date sugar! And it makes sense that it would be the healthiest considering it is essentially a whole food. Just ground and dried up dates! It gives this hot chocolate just enough sweetness, while adding a rich creamy thickness. The only caveat is that in order to get it really smooth, I found that a blender was necessary. Making it on the stove, despite my whisking, seemed to leave some chunks. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to chew my hot chocolate. 😉
I think you will love this and can’t wait for you to try it! If you don’t have date sugar, go out and buy some and let me know what you think! I also use it in these to-go oat jars.
I knew this intellectually, but seemed to have forgotten over the past couple of weeks, as I tried to do everything.
My husband had surgery and I was taking care of him, taking care of our daughter, cooking, cleaning, and picking up extra shifts at work to cover for him. I was taking care of everyone else, but not myself! If you follow my Instagram you saw my vitamin c + ginger packed smoothie that I made when I was feeling under the weather. What else did I make?
Enter: Elderberry jello.
Elderberry has a very long history of medicinal use. Additionally, it has been studied and found to be effective in the treatment of cold and flu in adults and children, as well as other conditions (source, source, source). We buy elderberry concentrate from our chiropractor. You can also buy it here.
Protein is important for optimal immune function. Protein can come from many healthy sources, organic eggs and meats, beans and legumes, nuts. In these jello jigglers, we have grass-fed gelatin, which provides us with important amino acids, “building blocks” of proteins. Make sure you buy a quality, grass-fed gelatin, like this one.
I used Organic Antioxidant Force juice for this recipe. This is the exact one, which I bought from Aldi for around $4 for a large bottle. There are many brands though, I know Trader Joe’s has a 7 juice blend, and I believe Santa Cruz makes one as well. You can sub in any juice you want, although I always make sure to buy organic and in a glass bottle.
Honey! In my regular healthy gelatin jigglers recipe, I don’t use sweetener. I like to use honey as a sweetener for this recipe, as the elderberry extract is not sweet tasting, and honey has antioxidant, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties. Make sure you use raw and local honey, if possible. The majority of honey you find in stores is refined and processed, and like most refined/processed foods, it can damage your health rather than help.
These are kid-approved too! My little girl loves them, and I think they helped prevent her from getting sick.
Now, if you excuse me, I’m back to being super mom! (With more handwashing, vitamins, and rest 😉
These healthy gelatin jigglers have elderberry concentrate, which is shown to be effective in treatment of flu in adults and children. Along with grass-fed gelatin, raw and local honey, and organic antioxidant force juice, these are an immune boosting treat that taste great!
2 cups organic juice (I used antioxidant force, which is a blend of pomegranate, tart cherry, red grape, purple carrot, cranberry, and blueberry)
3 tbsp. grass-fed gelatin
3 tbsp. elderberry concentrate
1 tbsp. raw local honey
In a small saucepan heat the juices and honey just until steaming.
Remove from heat and while stirring SLOWLY sprinkle the gelatin into the juice blend and continue stirring until mixed. You may see some clumps this is fine and if you let the hot juice sit for 5 minutes the clumps will dissolve.
Once all the gelatin is dissolved, transfer the jello liquid into your preferred mold and refrigerate at least 3 hours or until firm.
I’d love to hear from you! Have you ever added elderberry in your diet when you were sick or to help prevent sickness? Leave me a comment!
Wow, I can’t believe it’s been a month since my last new post! We had a great November, with plenty of outside time!
Then… the snow hit! We actually got to have some fun in the snow too, unlike last year, where it seemed like we got her all bundled up but then she only wanted to be out in it for one minute. We got a solid 30 minutes this time before she needed to go in for a potty break!
Anyway, the blog front may have been quiet, but I’ve still been experimenting in the kitchen, as usual! Made several batches of butternut squash risotto, that has amazing flavor, but I really wanted to perfect it in the crock pot, and the texture wasn’t quite right, yet.
I had a great Thanksgiving with family and didn’t do ANY cooking over those couple days, except for some no-bake Pumpkin Pie Bars with my sister.
What do I have for you, today, then? A new take on one of my favorite cookies as a kid… Molasses cookies! I didn’t even bother looking at the recipe my mom used… I knew it would be full of white flour, white sugar, and butter!
I’m very happy with this new version of an old favorite of mine, and it is SO darn healthy, for a cookie! It is sweetened with banana, dates, and molasses (of course), and has other great ingredients in there too.
Make sure you use blackstrap molasses (buy it here) for this recipe so you get all the health benefits! What health benefits? I love this image from Dr. Axe’s website:
Typically, I like my cookies under-done, but in this case, I liked the version I cooked for longer. The shorter cook time will give it more of a soft larabar-like consistency, which is fine if that’s what you want.
The only thing I wasn’t thrilled with was the pictures… thanks to winter lighting I was trying to take them in the dark, and editing only helped so much. I promise you, the flavor will not let you down though. And, you don’t have to go through the holiday cookie season without any cookies, just make a healthy cookie like these!
The molasses cookies I remembered as a kid had a vanilla frosting, so of course I wanted to whip up a quick frosting for these. Just 3 ingredients… coconut butter, maple syrup and vanilla extract! Coconut butter is funny in that it is rock solid when it’s cold, and liquid when warmed. What I do is put the whole jar of coconut butter (I get this kind), and put it in a bowl of really hot water while I make the cookies. Then, it’s softened enough to mix with maple syrup and vanilla. Easy peasy!
Delicious soft molasses cookies, that may be the healthiest molasses cookie ever. No white flour and sugar, no butter. And they are easy to make too, just requiring you to blitz everything in a food processor!
1 banana (ripe with spots)
1 cup dates
2 tbsp. almond butter
¾ cup almond meal
2/4 cup oats
2 tbsp. flaxseed
¼ cup sunflower seeds
2 tbsp. cinnamon
⅓ cup molasses
2 tbsp. coconut butter, softened
1 tbsp. maple syrup, room temperature or warmed
½ tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350.
Combine all cookie ingredients in food processor.
Pulverize until well mixed and uniform, stopping to scrape down sides if necessary.