My own take on granola bars

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of granola bars is “chewy” Quaker Oats bars. In college, “chewy” bars were one of my go to snacks. The downside? They only curbed my hunger for about an hour. Then I’d feel ravenous once again. Since venturing into the working world post college, I’ve expanded my granola bar menu. Now, I reach for something other than those little (but delicious!) Chewy bars. Luna, Fiber One, Lara, and Clif Kids, all have a vast amount of chocolaty, peanut buttery, dessert-like options that seem to fill me up for a couple of hours, but none of those bars combine all my favorite things in one…if only I could combine a few! So, that’s what I set out to do today. My own take on granola bars combines oats, peanut butter, and maple syrup, with dark chocolate chips, dried cherries, walnuts, cinnamon, vanilla, and an apple together. The best part is…you can substitute the dark chocolate chips for white or milk, the cherries for raisins or cranberries, the walnuts for another nut of your choice, and the apple for a banana. A zillion easy recipes, right at your fingertips. Voila! You have a protein-packed, decadent, yet health-ified, chewy granola bar.

Ingredients
½ apple (I used a granny smith)
1 cup + ½ cup whole oats
½ cup raisins
½ cup pecans(walnuts or cashews would work too!)
½ cup chocolate chips ( white chocolate or butterscotch would be delish!)
½ cup raisins (I used ¼ cup raisins, ¼ cup craisins)
½ cup maple syrup
¾ cup peanut butter (I used creamy, but chunky would do!) 

Optional Ingredients
1.5 tsp. Vanilla
1 tsp. Cinnamon
Protein powder 

Directions

1) Cook Apple on stove, then mash in a large bowl.

2) Add all ingredients to bowl and mix together.

3) Smooth out in 8 by 8 pan, and chill in refrigerator for 2 hours.

I guess since these are technically a “bar”, you should cut them into squares, but I prefer to eat them straighttttt from the pan :)

Lentil-Barley Burgers

I may have a slight obsession with veggie burgers. Call me crazy, but they just get better and better! Recently, I’ve tried barbeque, mushroom, and spicy black bean(my favorite)! The intensity of flavor in each burger creates little need for condiments, although ketchup and Dijon mustard are two of my must-have toppings. I used to turn my nose up at them…until my Mom made me try them! Now, I buy different types of veggie burgers on most of my grocery store visits. I’ve wanted to concoct my own recipe and see if it measured up to my freezer favorites for quite some time. Tonight was the night! Since I’m a new fan of barley, and have wanted to try lentils for some time, I searched for a recipe that incorporated both nutritious ingredients…Lentil-Barley Burgers fit the bill! On a scale of 1 to 10…these were a 10. My roomie thought so too J

Inspired by Cooking Light

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup dried lentils

Cooking spray

1 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup grated carrot

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 tablespoons tomato paste

3/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

3/4 teaspoon salt, divided

3/4 cup cooked pearl barley

1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 large egg whites

1 large egg

3 tablespoons canola oil, divided

7 Grain Deli Flat burger buns

Directions:

1. If you haven’t already done so, cook barley. I cooked 1 cup of barley in 2.5 cups of water, for 30 minutes. This means I have leftover barley…yay!

2. Combine 1 1/2 cups water and lentils in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes or until lentils are tender. Drain. Place half of lentils in a large bowl. Place remaining lentils in a food processor; process until smooth. Add processed lentils to whole lentils in bowl.

3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion and carrot; sauté 6 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add tomato paste, oregano, chili powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add onion mixture to lentils. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, barley, and next 4 ingredients (through egg); stir well. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes-1 hour or until firm.

4. Divide mixture into 8 portions, shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 patties; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil and 4 patties.

 
It was so delicious…I barely got a picture of the finished product. Here’s a glimpse:
Yes, you see globs of ketchup and mustard on the side…whooops! Make these…they’re unreal!  

Guiltless Vegetable Fettuccine (with elbows!)

Guiltless Vegetable Fettuccine (with elbows!)
I spent this past weekend with my Mom and twin sister. Our time together is too short, and it always leaves me yearning for more…and yearning for my Mom’s food. It was no surprise that tonight, I craved one of Mommy dearest’s specialties…healthy fettuccine. I RARELY crave pasta,, but when I do, the craving hits. And boy, does it hit hard! For some reason, tonight the carb’s were screaming my name. I seldom order alfredo dishes in restaurants simply because they are too rich for my stomach, but this dish is light, flavorful, and full of fiber! I happened to have all the ingredients on hand for the alfredo sauce, and everything came together in less than 20 minutes. An easy meal for the start of the workweek, yes please!

Ingredients:
1 T Margarine

2 small cloves garlic, minced

1 T Flour

1 1/3 cup skim milk ( you may need more, but add gradually).

2T light cream cheese

1 ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

4 cups whole wheat elbows (or pasta of your choice)

One head of broccoli, steamed

One cup corn, steamed

Sauce Directions:

1) Melt margarine in saucepan, then add garlic.

2) Stir in flour, and gradually add milk, stirring with a wire whisk.

3) Cook 8 minutes, or until thick.

4) Stir in cream cheese, and cook 2 minutes.

5) Add 1 cup parmesan cheese, and stir until melted.

*I steamed the broccoli and corn on the stove at the same time the pasta was cooking.

**I also boiled the water for my pasta before I started the sauce, and as I was making the sauce, the pasta cooked.

Lucious, yet light.

Enjoy :)

Grammie’s Bran Muffins

Not a day goes by that I don’t think about my Grammie. Memories of the time we spent together cross my mind daily. Thoughts of Groveton ice-cream bars, the scent of melting butter on homemade toast, chewy molasses cookies, boxes of Apple Jacks(notice how these memories all involve food?!!) all remind me of the wonderful grandmother she was and always will be. I missed her deeply last weekend, and decided I’d cook a batch of bran muffins in her memory. After all, these were just one of her many secret recipes!! If you’re looking for a healthier muffin, look no further! These are full of flavor, fiber, and nutrients. A muffin that fills me up without slowing me down? Yes please! Here’s to Grammie Rowden, I love you.
 

 
Grammies Bran Muffins

1 cup Fiber One cereal
1 T shortening

1 T applesauce

½ cup molasses

2 T sugar

½ cup raisins

1 cup boiling water

1 ¼ cup white flour

1 tsp. Soda

½ tsp. Salt

Directions:
Put 1 cup cereal in a medium sized bowl. Add 1 T. shortening and 1 T applesauce, molasses sugar, and raisins. Pour 1 cup boiling water over this and let set until the cereal is soft. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the above mixture. Put in sprayed muffin cups. Sprinkle sugar on the top of each muffin. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

 

A Simple, Sinful Dessert

As a child, my favorite lunch was peanut butter and fluff. As an adult, it’s still my favorite, although I’ll occasionally substitute jelly for the fluff. Don’t I sound so grown up? J I can’t be trusted around a bag of Reeses peanut butter cups and don’t even talk to me about peanut butter M&M’s. An apple isn’t quite an apple without a smear or two of peanut butter and an English muffin is just plain tasteless without it!
It’s pretty clear I hate the stuff. Luckily, my sister and I both adapted a love for peanut butter, so whenever I go to visit…it’s our snack of choice J
My deep love for peanut butter goes even further when I bake with it. I never consider baked goods with peanut butter as a “bad” choice simply because it’s such a great protein source. When I saw this recipe, I couldn‘t contain my excitement. I bookmarked it immediately! It’s simple to make, rich in taste, and involves the saltiness of pretzels and peanut butter with the sweetness of milk chocolate, combined in one. Wish I could say I only ate one….but that was five truffles ago L
Enjoy!

 

Ingredients
1/2 cup crunchy natural peanut butter
1/4 cup finely chopped salted pretzels ( I used Rold Gold Honey Wheat sticks)
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips, melted  

Preparation

Combine peanut butter and pretzels in a small bowl.

 Chill in the freezer until firm, about 15 minutes.

Roll the peanut butter mixture into 20 balls (about 1 teaspoon each). Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper and freeze until very firm, about 1 hour.

Roll the frozen balls in melted chocolate.

Refrigerate until the chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.

Three Bean Veggie(and turkey!) Chili

Growing up, my twin and I became accustomed to our Mom’s chili recipe: Lean ground beef, kidney beans, green peppers, and stewed tomatoes; a simple yet compelling recipe, served along with egg noodles. This recipe has been a family favorite for as long as I can remember. Don’t get me wrong, I still LOVE going home for this meal, but ever since I convinced my Mom substitute lean ground turkey meat in place of the beef, I’ve been hooked! You may have noticed that I LOVE vegetables, so naturally, I adore vegetarian chili. The only problem is, I also love meat in my chili since I grew up eating it this way, and because it adds to the thickness and the flavor. Since receiving my crock pot as a Christmas present, I’ve been dying to make a knock-out chili. Lucky for me, January/February’s Cooking Light featured their Best Chili recipes. So I took their 3 bean Vegetarian Chili and added my own spin to it! Enjoy :)
Three-Bean Veggie and Turkey Chili
Inspired by Jan/Feb. Cooking Light

Ingredients:
2 red bell peppers

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 cups organic vegetable broth ( I used regular)

1 1/2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash

1 (28-ounce) can no-salt-added tomatoes, undrained and chopped

1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1lb lean ground turkey meat

Shiitake and Sweet Pea Risotto

Believe it or not, I’d never tried risotto until I moved to the North End after college. In fact, I didn’t even know what it was! One things for sure…I fell in love at first bite. Unlike a typical rice, this had a creamy, cheesy thickness, and was full of my favorite things: shrimp or chicken, mushrooms or butternut squash; to me, it was my carb and my vegetable in one, the perfect combination. The only thing is, I knew the restaurant versions had to be fat laden, because they were just too tasty! Ever since my first taste, I’ve been trying to perfect my own, lighter risotto. On this one, I think I came pretttty darn close. Thanks for the inspiration, Cooking Light!

Shiitake and Sweet Pea Risotto
Inspired by March 2010’s Cooking Light
Ingredients:
4 Cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 T butter
½ cup chopped onion
1.5 tsp minced garlic, divided
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
4 cups thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps
¾ cup frozen green peas
6 T parmesan cheese, divided
¼ tsp ground black pepper

Directions:

1) Bring chicken broth to a simmer in a saucepan, keep warm over low heat.

2) Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook 2 minutes. Add 1 tsp garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add rice; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add wine; cook 2 minutes or until liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently. Stir in ½ cup broth; cook 2 minutes or until liquid is absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth, ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes).

3) Spray large skillet over medium heat. Add sliced mushrooms, and sauté until tender. Add remaining garlic, and set aside.

4) Stir mushrooms, peas, ¼ cup cheese, and pepper into risotto; cook 3 minutes. Serve, and sprinkle each serving with cheese.

A creamy, cheesy, healthy risotto. Amen!



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