Category Archives: Dessert

Nuts and Dark Chocolate Sea Salt “KIND” Bar Recipe

 

Sometimes, you don’t have time for breakfast or lunch and need something quick and portable. Maybe you need a before- or after-workout snack with protein. Or the kids are hungry and want a snack, but you don’t want them eating sugary fatty junk or ruining their appetite for dinner.

You’re at work, at 11am or 2pm, and hunger hits, but you can’t leave to get something and your next meal feels like hours away. Or you or your partner is hungry and staring into the refrigerator like a roast chicken may magically appear, but you can’t or don’t want to cook something right now.

This sounds like a job for the granola bar.

Granola has long been a popular breakfast food, differentiated from the similar muesli because it was sweetened and usually baked. To make granola, rolled oats, nuts, spices, honey or other sweeteners, and sometimes puffed rice are mixed together and baked into clusters of wholesome cereal.

The names Granula and Granola were trademarked in the 19th century in America by the Jackson Sanitarium, a prominent health spa near Danville, and John Harvey Kellogg (yes, that Kellogg). And then someone had the bright idea to take this loose granola, which is kind of messy, and press it into a bar shape. These can then be individually wrapped, and stuck in a purse, pocket, or backpack for later consumption.

Granola bar popularity took off, and continues to rise. According to theglobeandmail.com, “Granola bars, breakfast bars and cereal bars, which are referred to collectively as “snack bars,” are part of a food category that’s grown 5 per cent a year since 2005 and is worth an estimated $720-million in Canada, according to figures provided by PepsiCo Foods Canada, which owns the Quaker brand.” All across the Americas, New Zealand and Australia, Europe and China, people love the portability and growing options snack bars offer.

One of the many reasons people love snack bars so much is their perceived healthfulness. After all, they have oats in them, which are full of fiber, beneficial to heart and digestive health. Unfortunately, today’s granola bars’ nutrition facts don’t often match their health claims.

For example, Special K chocolaty crunch bars claim that each bar only contains 90 calories and that they can help reach and maintain a healthy weight. But the bars, which themselves weigh only 22 grams, contain eight grams (nearly two teaspoons) of sugar. Sugar is also listed as the first ingredient. Another popular All-Bran bar claims to be high in fiber, yet each bar contains only 4 grams of the daily recommended 25g (for women) or 38g (for men).

So what’s a health conscious adult looking for a perfect portable food to do? Make your own of course!

It is much easier than you may think. You could get very serious about it, purchase a candy thermometer, meticulously source and weigh ingredients in the pursuit of the perfect bar. But that’s not how we roll here. Soon you will see how simple making your own healthy homemade snack bars can be!

KIND bars have become a favorite of mine lately, because they have ingredients you can see and pronounce, with no preservatives, fillers, artificial flavorings, and each bar is held to high standards for a low calorie count and sugar content. I had no idea there were so many options now though! There are KIND fruit & nut bars, KIND Plus, KIND nuts & spices, KIND & STRONG… you get the idea.

And the best part is, this is a WAY healthier bar than a typical granola bar. There are no oats, just puffed rice, whole raw or roasted nuts, and some sweeteners that also keep everything sticking together. These are inherently gluten free. Obviously, if you or someone you know is allergic to nuts, please don’t make these. But if not, then dive on in!

I based my recipe loosely off of Kelly’s recipe from Eat Yourself Skinny. I personally most love the dark chocolate sea salt bar, so that’s what this recipe mimics. But you are free to add whatever you enjoy to create your own copycat, or a brand new kind of bar!

The general rule I follow is 1 cup nuts/dry fruit : 1 cup cereal : 1/4 cup sweetener. I would use organic plain puffed rice if I had it, but when I wanted to make these and went to the store, Kashi Go Lean puffed cereal was the closest thing I could find. It works.

I’ve tried peanuts, walnuts, almonds, and cashews so far. I’m sure you could use just about any type of nuts in these, but I would recommend always including almonds. And I have not tried any with dried fruits yet, but that is the next experiment in line.

This recipe makes enough for a 9×13 pan, for approximately 30 of the delicious 1 inch x 3 inch bars.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups puffed rice cereal
  • 3 cups whole nuts (almonds + peanuts/cashews + walnuts)
  • 1/2 cup brown rice syrup
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 4 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 1 tbsp vanilla flavoring

The dark chocolate drizzle is of course optional, but highly recommended. For that you will need:

  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate pieces
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • Sea Salt

mixed nuts in a bowl

Step 1: In a large bowl, mix all your nuts, cereal, and ground flax.

Step 2: In a sauce pot, mix the brown rice syrup, honey, and vanilla. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 2 minutes. It is a balancing act, too short and you will get a syrupy bar, but the longer you boil, the more likely you will create a crunchy bark rather than pliant bars. But regardless, it will taste great in the end, I promise.

Step 3: Pour your syrup over the nuts and cereal, and mix well to combine.

Step 4: Line a pan with foil, and press the mixture into the pan. You can use a spatula, your hand, or a cup sprayed with cooking oil if you want to make it extra flat and compact. Put it in the refrigerator for about an hour to chill and harden.

If you don’t want to add the chocolate drizzle, you can stop here and cut the bars to the desired size. I cut it into 10 strips, then cut each strip into 3 bars so they are about 1x2ish inches. I then wrapped each bar individually in wax paper.

But if you’re a chocolate lover like me, I definitely recommend continuing on to steps 5 & 6 below…

Dark chocolate drizzle for KIND bars

Step 5: In a microwave safe bowl, combine the dark chocolate chips, coconut oil, and a sprinkle of sea salt. Microwave 30 seconds at a time, stirring each time, until melted.

Step 6: Drizzle the melted chocolate all over the granola. You could dip the bottoms in chocolate too, but I found the drizzle on top was the perfect amount. Chill in the refrigerator again for about an hour to harden. Cut into desired bar size.

These will keep well in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks, or you can freeze for handy snacks for months. I doubt they will last that long though…

According to MyFitnessPal.com, these bars only have about 100 calories each, and 8 grams of sugar*. Not too shabby!

Recipe Nutrition Calculator

: 30

Total: 3,119 334 176 107 580 227
Per Serving: 104 11 6 4 19 8

*This calculation is for the bar without adding the chocolate.

Nuts and Dark Chocolate Sea Salt “KIND” Bars

Nuts and Dark Chocolate Sea Salt “KIND” Bars

Ingredients

  • 3 cups puffed rice cereal
  • 3 cups whole nuts (almonds + peanuts/cashews + walnuts)
  • 1/2 cup brown rice syrup
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 4 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 1 tbsp vanilla flavoring
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • Sea salt to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, mix all your nuts, cereal, and ground flax.
  2. In a sauce pot, mix the brown rice syrup, honey, and vanilla. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 2 minutes.
  3. Pour your syrup over the nuts and cereal, and mix well to combine.
  4. Line a pan with foil, and press the mixture into the pan. Put it in the refrigerator for about an hour to chill and harden.
  5. In a microwave safe bowl, combine the dark chocolate chips, coconut oil, and a sprinkle of sea salt. Microwave 30 seconds at a time, stirring each time, until melted.
  6. Drizzle the melted chocolate all over the granola. Chill in the refrigerator again for about an hour to harden. Cut into desired bar size.
  7. These will keep well in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks, or you can freeze for handy snacks for months.
Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
http://www.budgetepicurean.com/vegetarian/nuts-and-dark-chocolate-sea-salt-kind-bar-recipe/

Save

Save

Save

Save

Chocolate Chia Pudding

 

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to jump on the chia pudding band wagon! I’d read about so many uses for chia seeds, and how they are an amazing vegan source of omega-3s and fiber along with a host of other micronutrients, added chia to salads, smoothies, crackers, and bread recipes, and have made chia fresca and enjoyed it. But it took forever to try this!

Don’t make my mistakes people. Make this tonight!

Chocolate chia pudding ingredients

Chia seeds may seem expensive, but a little goes a LONG way! They absorb water and can swell up many times their size, creating a gel-like coating around the seed. It is a strange texture at first, but give it a try. The health benefits are worth it!

Chocolate chia pudding ingredients in bowl

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c chia seeds
  • 1 cup almond or coconut milk
  • 2-3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder

Chocolate chia pudding mixing

Step 1: Mix all ingredients in a large bowl with a whisk, or you can put it in a mason jar with a lid and shake it like you mean it!

Chocolate chia pudding ready to eat

Step 2: Refrigerate one hour or overnight. It will thicken as it sits. If you want it thicker, add more chia, if you want it thinner add more milk. It makes about 4 1/2 cup servings and should last a week in the refrigerator.

Chocolate chia pudding with strawberries

Top with granola and fresh berries for an amazing breakfast or anytime snack! The thick gel consistency of the seeds makes it almost exactly like pudding. And if you really love chocolate, use chocolate almond milk, or double the cocoa powder. It’s the healthiest treat that tastes like dessert I’ve ever had!

 

Mini Apple Pie Bites

 

These little gems were inspired while searching for healthy options to make for Pi Day (March 14 = 3.14) to take to work and share. While I do love pie, I don’t love butter, preservatives, saturated fat, mountains of sugar, etc. But I also don’t want to eat a bland, tasteless pile of cardboard and call it “pie”.  So what’s a health-conscious dessert lover to do?

Make these!

Mini Apple Pie Bites

They are like a mix between apple pie and apple crisp, in a bite-sized muffin-like package! And with about 50 calories per mini muffin, you can easily have 2 or 3 and not even feel bad. They are very easy to customize too. Add raisins, mash in a banana, change the spices if you don’t like nutmeg. If you add some protein to the recipe these would make a great pre- or post-workout snack.

This recipe makes about 24 mini muffins, or you could make a dozen normal sized muffins. If I had known how delicious they would be, I’d double or triple the recipe! This will become a staple in my house I’m sure. Better stock up on applesauce…

Apple Pie Bites Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup pancake mix
  • 2 cups applesauce
  • 1 whole apple, diced small
  • 2 tbsp syrup or sugar
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg

mini apple pie bites mixed ready to bake

Step 1: Wash your apple, and dice very finely. Once baked this gives your pies a sweet, chewy texture. If you don’t want any chunks at all, just replace with another 1/2 cup applesauce.

Step 2: In a bowl, mix all the ingredients well. If too dry, add a bit of water or apple juice. If too moist, sprinkle in more oats until you get the consistency you desire.

mini apple pie bites in tin

Step 3: Spray a mini muffin tin, and add 1 tbsp of the mixture. Bake at 375 for 17-20 minutes on the bottom shelf of the oven, until pies are solid and turning brown on top. Let cool, then pop out onto a plate.

Mini Apple Pie Bites

Mini Apple Pie Bites

Ingredients

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup pancake mix
  • 2 cups applesauce
  • 1 whole apple, diced small
  • 2 tbsp syrup or sugar
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Wash your apple, and dice very finely. Once baked this gives your pies a sweet, chewy texture. If you don't want any chunks at all, just replace with another 1/2 cup applesauce.
  2. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients well. If too dry, add a bit of water or apple juice. If too moist, sprinkle in more oats until you get the consistency you desire.
  3. Spray a mini muffin tin, and add 1 tbsp of the mixture. Bake at 375 for 17-20 minutes on the bottom shelf of the oven, until pies are solid and turning brown on top. Let cool, then pop out onto a plate.
Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
http://www.budgetepicurean.com/vegetarian/mini-apple-pie-bites/

I can’t wait to share these at our Pi Day party!

 

Balsamic Berry Sauce

 

Fresh berries are nature’s candies. Bright and juicy, they are one of the most healthful natural foods. Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, whatever the color they are super! If you want to use them for something other than snacking and parfaits, here is a great dessert sauce recipe!

This sauce is a perfect accompaniment to ice cream, or poured over angel food cake, or even by itself with some fresh cream. It would make a great sauce for chicken, duck, or pork as well. You may like it so much you just eat it from the pan with a spoon! Not that I would or did do that…

Frozen berries would work just as well, you would just have to cook it a little longer to evaporate the extra water. The longer you simmer, the thicker and more syrup-like this will become. You could even use it on top of pancakes! I used half blackberries and half raspberries, you could mix however you like.

20170113_185604

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen berries
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar

20170113_212955

Step 1: In a frying pan, mix berries with sugar, lemon juice and balsamic. Bring to barely a simmer, and cook on low heat for 20-25 minutes, until berries have liquefied and the mixture has become thick and syrupy.

20170113_213011

Step 2: Pour over some high quality vanilla or flavored ice cream, and enjoy warm!

This is delicious warm, and has a nice little tang from the vinegar. The lemon juice brightens it, but it is not absolutely required. You could try cherries too, I bet that would be the bomb diggity.

 

Last-minute Valentine’s Day meal ideas

 

 

So, you want to have a romantic dinner but don’t want to shell out $20 and up? Me too!

With Valentine’s Day only 2 days away, you may be thinking about having a special meal with a special someone. It doesn’t matter if you’re cooking for yourself, some of your girlfriends or bros, your significant other, your parents, your dog, whatever, cooking a meal is always an act of love. An act of survival too, sure, but also you’re taking the trouble to turn raw ingredients into something edible.

Even if it’s a box of easy mac, or as fancy as a seven course meal, the person enjoying the finished product knows a little dash of love went into it.

And while a romantic dinner out on the town is nice every now and then, there are several advantages to cooking at home. One, you get to control the ingredients that go into your food. Restaurants use all kinds of ingredients you might not want to know about: stabilizers, emulsifiers, preservatives, MSG, salt and sugar by the tablespoon. At home, you know what is going into your food, and thus into your body.

Two, you can control portion sizes. There is a ton of research out there, not to mention if you’ve been around 2-3 decades or more you can see it for yourself, pointing fingers at ballooning portion sizes as a contributor to the obesity epidemic. When you eat out, you want to “get your money’s worth”, and restaurants know that giving you more food but with cheaper, less healthy ingredients, is good for their bottom lines. Terrible for your bottom, however, which will expand along with the size of the plate.

And finally, it is far cheaper per meal to cook at home. If you go out to a moderately priced chain, you are hard-pressed to find a full meal for less than $15 for dinner. Then add in tip, time, and gas money to get there. If you go out to a nicer restaurant or a place with a prixe-fixe menu, you are probably looking more into the $50 per person range. Restaurants know people want a special experience for Valentine’s Day, and take advantage by making fancy looking and sounding menus and tripling the prices.

Why not have just as special a meal, in a quiet place where you can actually hear each other talk, with no rush because the place wants to turn over your table? That’s right, I’m talking about your home!

Oh, and yes, you do have to do your dishes unlike at a restaurant. But you know what? That can be part of the experience if you know your dining partner well. Make it into an assembly line as you wash and dry together, laughing and maybe splashing each other throughout. Or tag-team dishwasher loading, then curl up on the couch with a good movie while it runs. You can make even chores fun if you try!

 

And now for the potential menu!

Below are a wide range of recipes, each will take you less than an hour, and I specialize in recipes that are affordable and simple. You won’t find more than 10 ingredients, and most of them you likely already have on hand.

Choose a few things that you know how to make, or know you will enjoy eating, and make some magic happen.

 

Appetizers – having multiple courses helps spread the meal out, giving you time to talk to your dining partner and bond. Appetizers don’t have to be complicated, give one of these a try.

Main course – even if you think you can’t cook, you should give it a try! Start with something very simple, and give it a test run today. Then you may find some ways to tweak it or make it better or easier. Or just jump in with both feet, what’s the worst that can happen, you order a pizza later?

Dessert – everyone loves dessert! You could even make your entire meal just a dessert buffet! But I’d recommend choosing just one thing you feel you can make, then sprinkle in an extra cup or two of love, and enjoy it.

Drinks – for adults and under-agers alike, a special drink makes a memorable addition to a special meal. You don’t have to get crazy with dozens of ingredients and multiple steps. Even something as simple as adding thinly sliced citrus to a glass of water can elevate the everyday to the special day.

 

Pink Fluff

 

With summer in full swing, there are picnics to attend, pool parties to have, and barbecues and potlucks to create a dish for.  This is the time for quick and easy, no-bake, crowd pleasing recipes.  It is hot enough outside, you don’t want to turn on the oven. And you only have an hour until you need to show up at someone’s door, dish in hand to share.

I’ve got you covered.

My family has a recipe that’s been around as long as I can remember. It is a part of every summer picnic, get-together, birthday party. Everyone who tries it for the first time loves it, and wants to know the secret. The secret of Pink Fluff.

What is Pink Fluff?

Well, it’s pink, and it’s fluffy. (And ridiculously high in sugar, so use good judgment with portion sizes 😉 )  All you need is 4 ingredients, canned, no need to even drain.  Mix well, chill, and get ready for the compliments to roll in.

Pink fluff ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 1 can crushed pineapple
  • 1 can cherry pie filling
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tub cool whip

Pink fluff ingredients to be mixed

Step 1: In a large bowl, mix all four ingredients, and refrigerate. Don’t worry about draining the pineapple, just pour it all in. The cherry pie filling is what gives Pink Fluff its lovely color, or you could boost it with a few drops of food coloring or fruit juice.

Pink fluff ready to eat

This stuff is addictive, it is tasty on its own right out of the bowl with a spoon, or it is also a great fruit dip.  Mix in some bananas, chopped strawberries, fresh cherries, or grapes. Slice up some apples or oranges and use them to dip. Keep this recipe in your back pocket, and you will never be unprepared for a picnic again! Enjoy.

 

Happy Easter!

 

Happy Easter everyone!  I hope today is filled with family and food and cute woodland creatures, and maybe some chocolates too.  But don’t get too crazy.  Remember, Easter & Halloween are dentists’ favorite holidays.

I will be enjoying the day with family, having an egg hunt, dying hard boiled eggs, eating some ham, and yeah probably having more than a few pieces of candy. 🙂  (Oh, and don’t tell, but I totally want to surprise everyone with this unbelievably easy [microwave only!] carrot cake recipe and healthy cream cheese frosting!  I really hope it is as delicious as it sounds.)

Enjoy the roundup below of creative, healthy ideas to make this the best Easter ever!

 

Natural Easter Egg Dyes from Rodale’s Organic Life

natural easter egg dye

How to Make Vibrant Naturally Dyed Eggs

50 Non-Candy Egg Stuffer Ideas

40 more Non-Candy Ideas

40 Egg-cellent Non-Candy Easter Egg Fillers

No One Will Guess These Easter Brunch Recipes Are Healthy

Easter Brunch

If they're going to be on your Easter table, they should totally look pretty. Get the recipe from Delish.

And of course, we can’t forget the CANDY!

50 Homemade Easter Candy Recipes

50 Homemade Easter Candy Recipes

15 Healthy Easter Desserts

 

 

Image at the top of page from HERE.

Homemade Shamrock Shake

 

Can you believe that St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner already!  This year it is on March 17th.  And one of my favorite things about this time of year, though I avoid the place like the plague at all other times, is McDonald’s Shamrock Shake.

Yes, I know they are horrible for you, and probably don’t even contain dairy but “sugar infused plastic“, but damn are they delicious.  And it only happens once a year…

But, the facts remain that they are terrible for your health, so in an effort to swear them off I attempted my own homemade version.  The recipe I used is similar to this one from SparkPeople.  Now I don’t have to wait all year, or hope that the ice cream machine isn’t broken, I can have a Shamrock Shake anytime!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup frozen Greek plain or vanilla yogurt
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • Couple drops food coloring
  • Couple drops peppermint flavoring
  • 2 tbsp honey or sugar

Step 1: In a blender, combine all ingredients.

Step 2: Blend well until smooth.  Add as much green as you want.

Step 3: Pour into a glass and enjoy!

 

Birthday Dirt Cake

 

As a kid, I was always given the choice of what cake to have for my birthday.  Sometimes I’d pick chocolate, sometimes white cake, sometimes pie.  And then I discovered dirt cake.

Dirt cake is aptly named, because it looks like dirt.  It is essentially just chocolate pudding topped with crushed Oreo cookies.  But the combination looks very much like mud and dirt, especially when the finishing touch is added: gummy worms.  Trust me, kids love it!  Kids of all ages.  🙂

Give it a try and see how easy to make it is.  I had it as a young kid, and late into my 20s I still request it.

IMG_2908

Ingredients:

  • 2 packs chocolate pudding (or homemade)
  • 12 or so Oreo-style cookies
  • Optional: gummy worms

IMG_2914

Step 1: Make the pudding according to directions (or if you’re ambitious, make it from scratch) and chill.

IMG_2915

Step 2: Put the cookies in a sealable plastic bag, and crush with a rolling pin or your fist.

IMG_2916

Step 3: Top the pudding with the crushed cookies.  If you wish, add gummy worms, or other candies to decorate.  Enjoy!

 

 

Pumpkin Cheesecake Shots

 

With Thanksgiving past, and Christmas looming, the flavors of fall still linger and mix with the onset of winter.  Pumpkins and gourds are in abundance.  Ginger and cinnamon scents fill the air as cookies bake, while the crunch of fallen leaves give way to pine scented boughs and trees.  And pumpkin spice flavored <insert anything here> is still king.

While you are rushing about grocery shopping, house cleaning, gift buying and wrapping, you may need a few moments to yourself amidst the chaos.  Especially if you will be hosting or staying with family (for multiple days), an adult beverage is always welcome.  With the ubiquitous pumpkin spice creamer, plus just a dash of two other players, you can whip up an amazingly delicious sugar-bomb of holiday spirit!  Careful, this stuff is so good, it’s easy to lose track of how many you’ve had!

This recipe makes enough for 4 shots, or 1 large glass over ice.  Feel free to whip them up as needed, or make a large container full and keep it in the fridge.  You know… just in case…

Pumpkin Cheesecake Shot Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 1 shot cake flavored vodka
  • 1 shot Khalua
  • 2 ounces pumpkin spice creamer

Pumpkin and Pumpkin Cheesecake Cocktail

Combine all ingredients in a glass over ice and mix.  Strain into shot glasses, or drink as a beverage.  I just made up a double batch, and keep it in the refrigerator in the mason jar the creamer was originally.  I make my own flavored creamer occasionally; you can follow this recipe from The Nourishing Gourmet, or if you’re vegan try this one from Girl Makes Food.