Friday, August 31, 2012

Super-Powered Granola Bars

I think I have died and gone to heaven.

Our naturopath gave me this recipe during our appointment for Chloé the other day.  It was almost worth the price of the consultation just to get this recipe ;)  These granola bars are one of the tastiest snacks I have ever eaten.  This also happens to be an allergy/intolerance-friendly recipe that is packed to the brim with all things healthy.  

This recipe originates from EcoParent.  The naturopath gave me a couple of recipes she had gotten from this magazine, and they all sound super delicious.  And, of course, are uber healthy.  My fave :)

I don't really consider myself to be a crunchy mama.  But I came across this video on youtube earlier this week (as well as the follow-up video) and laughed as I found myself identifying with more than a few things.  Then I took a peek on-line at EcoParent, which I didn't know about at all, and found myself wanting to get a subscription.  

Hmm.... maybe I'm a little crunchier than I thought??? 

After all, I buy into alternative therapies, such as osteopathy and naturopathy.  I breastfed both kids, wore them in slings, co-slept and used cloth diapers until their sensory issues became evident.  And though I do find myself on occasion using processed foods for convenience when life is just too busy with the kids, I am definitely all for eating as little pre-packaged and processed foods as possible.  And I get super excited over recipes such as these with all sorts of random superfoods.

Yup.  Probably a little bit crunchy... lol.

But I digress.

After getting this recipe from our naturopath, I walked into our house, went straight to the kitchen and immediately got to work on these.  That's just how yummy I thought they were going to be.

These are a little more time consuming to make than other granola bar recipes, such as my no bake hemp seed granola balls.  You've got to roast a few of the ingredients and later, melt a few things together.  It's not terribly tough, but just a few more steps than many other traditional granola bar recipes.

But let me tell you... these are soooooooooooooooooo worth the effort.  I think these must be the best gosh-darned granola bars I have ever tried in my life.

Now, I'm usually pretty able to make delicious treats, have one, and then leave them in the kitchen without further obsessive temptation.  For instance, I can control myself without effort around peanut butter brownies, even though I LOVE peanut butter.  Same with some of my favourite sinful muffins, such as muffins that taste like donuts and maple syrup muffins.

But I somehow had a repeat of when I made that delicious homemade French brioche earlier this year...

I think I had two of these bars in the afternoon before picking the kids up from daycare.  And then another upon my return.  And I then had to use every ounce of willpower in me to prevent myself from having a fourth before going to bed.

Even Logan is in LOVE with these.  Yesterday, I packed two HUGE pieces for our visit to the hospital for his eye blinking.  I figured that that would be plenty of food for both him and myself, even if we got stuck there a long time.  


He had polished off BOTH of the huge squares by 10:30 a.m., barely leaving me a bite!!!  And each was a big portion even for me!

Ah well... This'll be a great way to stuff him full of healthy things.

Because not only are these delicious.  But they couldn't be healthier if you tried.  Flax, chia, hemp... what else could you ask for??

Now, I'm not sure what exactly makes these so darned delicious.  So I'll tell you how I made mine so that you can replicate.  Or choose to do differently.  Whatever suits your fancy.

As an aside, this is the first time that I've ever used coconut oil (which I had coincidentally picked up at the health food store just a few days earlier).  So I'm not sure if that's part of why they were so good too.  

I used:
  •  brown sugar, because I didn't have any coconut sugar
  •  maple syrup, only because I prefer it's flavour to agave 
  • dried cherries because I didn't have goji berries or dried cranberries.  Mmm... I think that the mix of slightly salty with the sweetness of the dried cherries is part of what I loved so much!
  • chocolate chips, because I didn't even know what cocoa nibs were until googling them!
I omitted the lemon zest, only because Jérôme doesn't love lemon and I thought it kinda sounded weird in a granola bar anyway.

Just a quick note also, that I get my hemp, chia and ground flax at Costco.  Which is also where I had gotten my dried cherries.

2 C oats (or gf oats) (I used large-flake)
1 C sunflower seeds (I used raw unsalted)
3/4 C unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 C hemp hearts 
1/4 C chia seeds
1/2 C ground flax seeds
1/3 C coconut oil
2/3 C maple syrup (or agave syrup)
1/4 C coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 C goji berries (or cranberries)
1/2 C cocoa nibs (or chocolate chips - for dairy-free chocolate chips, you can buy these ones here
1 tsp. lemon zest

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.  Line an 8 x 12 inch baking dish with parchment paper.

2.  Toss the oats, sunflower seeds, and coconut in a bowl and spread out on a dry sheet pan and toast for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned.  (Don't skip this step - they're not nearly as tasty if you don't toast everything).

Oops!  I can't read directions.  I also toasted the hemp seed.  Turned out fine :)

3.  In a small pot, melt the coconut oil, maple syrup, coconut sugar, and salt on medium heat until it boils.  Stir for one minute and take off heat.  

4.  Add vanilla and toss over oat mixture, adding all the rest of the ingredients, and combine well.  (Note: the chocolate chips melt into the mixture as you stir.  If you prefer they be whole, wait for the mixture to cool before adding chocolate chips.  Though I liked it this way, as it gave the entire bar a bit of a chocolatey flavour).

5.  Pour mixture into parchment lined 8 x 12 inch baking pan.

6.  Bake at 300 degrees Farenheit for about 20 minutes, until golden.  (Note: I cannot read directions and only noticed the temperature change while typing.  I baked mine at 350 degrees and love how they came out a bit crunchy.  But if you prefer less crunchy bars, you'd be better to follow the original directions).

7.  Let cool in pan before cutting in squares. (Or just scoop it all directly into your mouth!).

Makes 30 squares

Tip:  If using the goji berries, try eliminating the lemon zest for a slightly more conventional granola bar flavour.

Difficulty level: moderate 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Nuts About Nuts!!

I saw our naturopath this morning and...


I feel this deserves a blog post all of its own.

Or maybe even a party???

So excited does not even begin to describe how I am feeling right now.  My mind is whirring with ideas of different peanut butter treats to whip up.  Such as my no bake hemp seed peanut butter balls with REAL peanut butter!! 

or, perfect for fall, peanut butter apple crisp.

There's also my personal favourite, which I haven't made in a couple of nut-free years, pender harbour bars:

or even just plain pb and natural homemade strawberry jam on gf toast

There are just so many possibilities!

I also wanted to quickly share a little food update regarding my kids.  

We re-introduced soy to Chloé this past weekend - via a very delicious soy chai latté, which I have missed oh so much this past month!!!  (note: I am breastfeeding and did NOT give the latté directly to Chloé!!). 

And I am happy to report that so far, so good.  She has been a bit fussy and bothered by all things sensory since yesterday, but I think that is related more to her having started full-day daycare than anything else.  She had been fine from re-introduction until yesterday.  Just to be sure, our naturopath wants me to keep testing until Monday and re-eliminate (then re-introduce) soy if she is still fussy on Monday.  Fingers crossed, as I love me a good chai latté, even if it has to be soy.

My other update is that both kids are eating soooo much better since we started cutting out a few foods.  In the past couple of weeks, Logan has started eating boiled egg whites, quinoa, guacamole (nope, not Willie's delicious guac, a natural Costco version, as I've just been too busy!), corn, peas, watermelon, grapes, mandarin oranges and strawberries.  He has also tried AND swallowed a few very tiny bites of both chicken and salmon, which is a HUGE change for him.  

Also very notable is that he has started mixing textures a little bit.  He has eaten pretzels dipped in peanut butter and nachos with guacamole so far.  Which is a huge, huge step for him and a good entry for us into the mixing of other textures.  In fact, he loves nachos and guac so much that he screams for "guaccoli" for breakfast in the morning.  Yesterday at the park, when I had only pretzels for snack, he kept saying "want some yogurt, want some grapes, want some watermelon".   And I thought, finally!!! Something other than crackers!

Chloé has also made huge changes in her eating.  She has gone from pretty much eating
only smooth purées and some crackers to eating textured purées, including ones with pieces, as well as watermelon, banana, raspberries, peas and quinoa.  Real ones!  Not in a purée.  Before, she wouldn't put any pieces of anything except cracker into her mouth.  She would also pick out chunks in purées, after gagging on them and would then refuse to eat anything else.  What a difference!
little monkey #2 suddenly LOVES her watermelon!!

between the two of them, the kids have me running to the
grocery store almost daily for more watermelon

As I mentioned before, both kids have been referred to the Pediatric Feeding Program at the local hospital.  We got a call that Logan will be seen next week and Chloé, likely a few weeks later.  So I suspect that we will continue to see such great progress with feeding :) 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice Cream

As summer is quickly nearing to an end, I realize I should get around to publishing the remainder of my summer recipes.  Which, in fact, should have been posted back when summer was in full swing and everyone would be wanting to make them.  But that's just not life with two little ones...

I had mentioned here that I had gotten an eensy bit excited about my ice cream maker this summer.  I hunted down this recipe after my sister mentioned how much she was loving some of the store-bought coconut milk ice creams she was eating, after having started a dairy-free diet.  It sounded delicious, so I hunted down and made this recipe well before we started our own dairy-free diet.

I got this recipe from the blog Cheeseslave. It's not terribly time consuming to make and the outcome is delicious homemade ice cream with little effort.  

Don't substitute low-fat coconut milk for the regular stuff, as it will make the texture of the ice cream more icy instead of creamy.

2-3 tbsp. cocoa powder
2 C full fat canned coconut milk 
pinch of salt
1/4 C honey or stevia to taste
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
4 egg yolks

1.  Add coconut milk and cocoa powder to medium saucepan on low heat and whisk to combine.  

2.  Stir in the sea salt, honey (or stevia) and vanilla extract, and whisk until honey is incorporated.  Remove from heat.  (Note: if you are using stevia, you don't need to heat it).

3.  Whisk in the egg yolks.

4.  Chill this mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator.  (You can skip this step if you're not heating it).

5.  Follow the manufacturer's instructions of your ice cream maker.  In 30-45 minutes you will have ice cream! 


If you prefer a bit of a harder texture, place the ice cream in the freezer for a minimum of two hours to harden - that is, if you can wait that long to try it (we couldn't!!).

Difficulty level: easy

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Homemade No-Drip Yogurt Popsicles

This post is a follow-up to yesterday's jelly smoothy.  Logan didn't make his way through the whole jello/yogurt batch on his own.  And, though it tasted just fine, I didn't have much interest in eating it myself.  So I thought I'd try to stick it into some popsicle molds to see what would come of that.

And, low and behold... it led to no-drip popsicles!!  The kind you can give to your two year old in the car without fear that they will be covered from head to toe when you arrive at your destination.

Now, of course, I cannot guarantee that these will not get all over your child.  Since he or she could just stick their hands into this once it is no longer frozen and rub it all through their hair like they could with regular yogurt.  With a gelatin touch.  Which just might be a lot of fun to clean up!!

But I've had much success letting Logan eat these both in the car and while walking through our house (and he can usually be pretty messy!!).

Simple as can be.  Just follow yesterday's super quick recipe for the jelly smoothy and then scoop it all into popsicle molds and freeze.

I tried to make a version with just yogurt and fruit.  But those dripped all over my house.  So back to the jello version I went.  Just for a bit of sanity.

Logan enjoyed these all summer!

Difficulty level: easy

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Child-Friendly Dessert: Jelly Smoothy

As you can probably guess from the types of recipes I post, I'm not a huge fan of all things processed.  

However, my husband loves Brazilian jello.  Not the regular Jell-O brand stuff.  But the Brazilian equivalent.  Because it comes in all sorts of tropical flavours like passion fruit, mango, pineapple and coconut.  A good friend of ours, who happens to be Brazilian, always brings some back from Brazil for him every time she goes home to visit.  So we always have a stash of it in our basement pantry for Jérôme's Brazilian jello cravings.

But then we found out that he is diabetic.  So this stuff isn't the best for him.  So it just so happens that it's been sitting in our pantry ever since.

I came across this recipe here and thought that it might be a way to get Logan to eat away this jello stash of ours, while at the same time getting some protein.  I used Greek yogurt so that it would have that much more protein.  Plus, it's what I happened to have in the fridge when I first made this and it worked well ;)

1 package jello (which, you could fly to Brazil to pick up, if you're needing an excuse to travel)
1 C boiling water
2 C plain yogurt
1.  Mix together the jello and boiling water and stir until dissolved.


2.  Once cooled a bit, stir in the plain yogurt.  Place in the fridge until set and enjoy. 

I'm sure you could stir some chopped fruit into this before letting it set.  But given Logan's texture issues with foods, I didn't dare!

Difficulty level: easy


Friday, August 24, 2012

Appetizer: Baked Brie in Pastry with Green Apples

This is one of those recipes that you can whip up in mere minutes when you have a spur of the moment get-together.  Plus, it's incredibly delicious.  I mean, who can say no to melted brie??

Brandi has made this delicious appetizer for us a few times when we've been over.  I made it earlier this summer when guests were over.  In fact, I had bought some more brie to make another one, just before going dairy-free.  Said brie happens to still be sitting in my fridge, all lonely, with no other dairy products to keep it company. 

Here's what you need:

1 package Pillsbury crescent rolls
1 piece of brie cheese (I used a 300g round from Costco
4-5 Granny Smith apples, cut into wedges

1.  Unroll the crescent rolls onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.

2.  Place the brie on the dough.

Seem simple enough yet?

3.  Wrap the dough around the brie, making more effort than I did to make it look beautiful ;)

4.  Bake in a 350 degree Farenheit oven for approximately 30 minutes, or until pastry is browned.

5.  In the meantime, slice your green apples into wedges, sprinkling with a bit of lemon juice if you are not going to serve them immediately (to prevent browning).

6.  Serve hot, immediately after taking out of oven.  Serve a slice of the dough-wrapped brie on top of a piece of apple.

Difficulty level: easy

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Healthiest Ice Cream on Earth: Chocolate Banana Spinach Ice Cream

Now, I know that, having read the title of this post, you're all thinking this has got to be gross. 

Truth is, much like a green monster smoothie, you can't even taste the spinach.  

This isn't true ice cream.  Which is what makes it so healthy.  But it's incredibly delicious and a fantastic substitute for ice cream.  And it's so close to ice cream, your kids may not even notice the difference.  

Mine didn't.

We even did an experiment where we gave Logan a little bit of real chocolate ice cream, followed by this.  And he didn't even notice the difference. 

Maybe I shouldn't be so excited about that???  This may indicate there will be no Nobel-prize winning going on in this household...

Now, I have to share the history of this ice cream in our house.

It seems that in my excitement to use my ice cream maker (see my recent posts here and here), I may have inadvertently sent an unintended message to Logan.  A message that ice cream is a breakfast food.  Since we went through a phase where he was waking up every morning, screeeeeeeaming for ice cream.  

A message that ice cream can be eaten 3 times a day.  Since he was asking for it at every meal.  Every.single.meal.

Wait - I think it may have actually been a message that ice cream can be eaten 5 times a day, since he was also asking for it at each snack too.

The other night after dinner... scratch that... before he'd even eaten dinner, he started screaming "biiiiiiiiig ice cream".  When dinner was finally over and I got him out a little homemade popsicle, he kept loudly insisting "nooooo BIG ice cream". 

Now let's not get all crazy here.  He's not actually getting ice cream 5 times a day.  Nor is he getting the BIG ice cream he demands.  I've been saying an awful lot of no's to him lately.

But when I read recently on Oh She Glows about this banana soft serve ice cream (made only with bananas and milk), I knew I had to start making this for Logan instead.  However, I didn't get around to making it until Angela posted her recipe for her peanut butter, jam and banana popsicles made with banana soft serve. 

I'm not exaggerating when I say that I pretty much dropped everything, ran to the kitchen and whipped up a batch.  And then ate almost half of it.

What???  I'm breastfeeding ;)

So since I already had everything out to make Angela's version of this ice cream (which was delicious beyond words!!), I figured I'd also whip up a batch of something similar, that my sister recommended to me way back when.  This also combines Angela's banana soft serve with her green monster smoothies

And this invention is this chocolate banana spinach soft serve ice cream right here.  

Perfect for my little Logan who screams his head off all day long that he wants ice cream.  Here ya go little guy.  Eat your heart out :)  He can now enjoy ice cream whenever he wants.  Even for breakfast.

Best part?

He loves putting tons of "sprinkles" on his.  Which are really chia seeds.  He's so gonna hate me when he gets older! 

Check out this video here to see his excitement over his chia sprinkles. 

And yes - he does insist on eating his ice cream with the ice cream scoop.

As for the recipe, it's super simple.  All you need is:

2 cubes of frozen spinach, defrosted (mine didn't blend well when I didn't defrost them first)

 4-5 frozen bananas


1-2 tbsp. cocoa powder

a couple of tablespoons of milk (I used coconut milk, since we're now dairy-free

And then you just blend all of it in your food processor until smooth, adding more milk as necessary.  

This makes a delicious soft-serve "ice cream" that you can serve immediately.  Or pop it in the freezer for a harder consistency.  You'll just need to take it out a few minutes before serving to let it soften enough to scoop out.


Or you can just eat it out of the mixing bowl.

Just don't forget to add your chia sprinkles for all of these health benefits.

Difficulty level: easy