Category Archives: Recipes – Snacks

Banana Strawberry Oat Bars (Gluten, Dairy & Sugar Free)

Strawberry Oat BarsGood day, everyone. I hope that the new year finds you well. During this time of year I enjoy baking (even more than usual) and the lingering aroma of baked goods throughout the house. These oat bars make a great breakfast or snack. Plus, they are free from gluten, dairy and sugar, so many of your friends will be able to eat them!

I was inspired by Sweet as a Cookie’s version of Vegan Banana Strawberry Oatmeal Bars. I used the suggested ingredients except I substituted coconut palm sugar for the Stevia, used parchment paper instead of nonstick spray, and I doubled the recipe so that it would fit in my 9×13 pan.

You may find that these bars become one of your favorite comfort foods. Speaking of comfort foods, have you voted for your favorite comfort food? It just takes two clicks to cast your vote on sensitiveeconomist.com. Thanks!

Ingredients
2 bananas, mashed
2/3 cup natural applesauce (unsweetened)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups quick oats
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 cup strawberries, diced
3 tbsp. coconut palm sugar, optional

Preparation
Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare an 9×13 pan by greasing with butter or covering with parchment paper; set aside. In a medium sized bowl combine bananas, applesauce, and vanilla extract. Once combined mix in baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Stir in oats until everything is well mixed. Add the strawberries to the mixture and combine. Pour mixture into the prepared pan and flatten evenly with a spatula. Sprinkle optional coconut palm sugar over unbaked bars. Bake for approximately 35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for approximately 10 minutes. Cut into 10 evenly sized bars and enjoy!

Cinnamon Applesauce is Fit for Fine Dining or Casual Dinners

Greetings everyone! I hope that you are enjoying the holiday season. Even though I have not blogged much lately, I have continued to bake and cook – some old favorites as well as some new creations. I hope that you have had a chance to do what you enjoy as well.

The U.S. Census has put together an interesting collection of facts about the holiday season. I was surprised to learn that more than one half of the potatoes produced in the U.S. come from two states – Idaho and Washington. Also, it is estimated that the value of retail sales by electronic shopping and mail-order houses in December 2012 across the nation was more than $39 billion. In terms of mail, almost 15 billion pieces of mail is expected to be delivered between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve by the U.S. Postal Service. The busiest mailing day was December 16, and December 18 was the busiest delivery day. I think it’s fascinating to think about all of the ways that holiday preparations affect the economy.

I have been collecting some statistics of my own. Thanks to all of you who gave an opinion in my last poll – how do you like to enjoy apples and pears? Nearly 30% of the respondents enjoy these fruits just the way they are, with no alterations necessary. Approximately 20% of the respondents enjoy the pie variety, and another 20% prefer them in tart form. So I think that many of you will enjoy this very easy recipe for Cinnamon Applesauce, because it tastes very fresh and similar to pie filling.

applesauce1Start with about 12 apples. I like using Macouns because they are crisp and sweet, but you can use your favorite variety for the applesauce. The most time-consuming part of the applesauce process is peeling, coring, and slicing the apples. However, if you have a trusty Apple Corer-Slicer-Peeler, then this step takes about five minutes. If you enjoy making applesauce or any other apple recipe, you will enjoy cooking even more if you have this great gadget.

applesauce2After the apples are peeled, cored, and sliced, place them in a large skillet or saucepan, and cook on medium high heat until the desired consistency, stirring occasionally. Since my apples were sliced rather thinly, and I prefer the end result to be a chunky applesauce, the cooking time was about 20 minutes. However, it can take 30-45 minutes if you have large slices and prefer smooth applesauce.

applesauce3Once you have the desired consistency, stir in 3/4 teaspoon of cinnamon. The approximately two cups of applesauce is now ready to eat, and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.

I find applesauce to be a very comforting and satisfying accompaniment to my dinners, especially meals that involve pork roast. I hope that you enjoy this dish too, fit for either a fancy dinner or a regular one.

Speaking of comforting foods, what is your favorite comfort food? This question is the subject of my latest poll, which can be found on the middle of my blog’s home page. To respond to the poll, simply choose one answer from the list (or write in your own) and click ‘vote.’ You will then see how your answer compares to the ones already recorded. I am interested to see what will be the favorite comfort food!

Minding the Vitamix – Part 2: Fresh Green Hummus

green hummusThe alternate title for this blog post is: Top of the morning – and the balance of the day – to you!

MIL’s Vitamix blender continued to sit on my counter, so I thought I would try my hand at one of my favorite snacks, hummus. Hummus is an Arabic word meaning “chickpeas” and is made by mixing mashed chickpeas with oil, lemon juice and other seasonings. I had never made my own hummus before, preferring the convenience of a store-bought package. I now realize how easy it is to make and how creative I can get with the seasonings.

Since today is St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I would try making hummus seasoned with spinach so that its hue would match the official color of the day. If you do not have spinach on hand, other green, leafy vegetables like parsley, basil or kale would do well. My inspiration for this recipe is from Just a Pinch’s White Bean Green Hummus.

Ingredients:
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
2 oz fresh spinach leaves, rinsed (about one large handful)
2 tbs dried parsley
2 cloves garlic, peeled
juice from 1 lemon
1/3 cup olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation:
Using a food processor or Vitamix blender, pulse all ingredients until desired consistency is reached. Serve with pita points, crackers, or vegetable slices.

May you always have walls for the winds,
a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire,
laughter to cheer you, those you love near you,
and all your heart might desire.

I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free.

Kristi’s Homemade Pumpkin Hummus

I am happy to share the following recipe and story from my friend and colleague, Kristi. Thanks for writing a guest post, Kristi! I had an opportunity to sample some of these hummus leftovers, and the delicious factor is quite high. If you are looking for a yeast-free and sugar-free pita, check out Chatila’s Bakery.

PumpkinHummus.aspxBefore the Thanksgiving holiday, I came across some pumpkin hummus in the store made by one of the well-known hummus producers – but was disappointed to find that it contained sugar (which of course, made it very yummy – but not so healthy). So I was so excited to come across this recipe for homemade pumpkin hummus that is super easy to make – and just in time for the holiday season when pumpkin, whether fresh or canned (just make sure it doesn’t have any additives) is abundant. PS – We recently found out my husband has a sensitivity to garbanzo beans, so it’s an added plus that this recipe is made without them – and he still gets to enjoy the hummus experience!

Ingredients
4 (6-inch) pitas, each cut into 8 wedges
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon pumpkin seed kernels, toasted (optional)

Preparation
Preheat oven to 425°.

Place pita wedges on baking sheets; coat with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 6 minutes or until toasted.

Place tahini and next 7 ingredients (through garlic) in a food processor, and process until smooth. Add parsley; pulse until blended. Spoon hummus into a serving bowl; sprinkle with pumpkinseed kernels, if desired. Serve with pita wedges.

Anjou Too Will Enjoy These Pear and Oat Scones

I have been on a bit of a scone kick lately. It all started with the raisin millet scones, which have turned out to be a lovely snack at any time during the day or evening. When I saw this recipe for apple and oat scones in the February 2012 Martha Stewart Living magazine, I became inspired and decided to add them to my repertoire.

The next morning I took out my mixing bowl and ingredients. Since I did not have any apples I used pears instead. In order to eliminate the brown sugar and turbinado sugar, I added maple syrup and maple sugar to retain the sweetness. I shortened a few of the steps (I did not rotate the baking sheet while cooking or flatten the dough into disks as suggested in the original recipe). The result is a sweet and chewy treat that is delicious with a cup of tea. I also discovered the beauty of parchment paper – it makes baking sheet cleanup a breeze. Enjoy these scones with pears or apples, or perhaps a combination of the two!

Ingredients
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 1/3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats, plus more for topping
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 cups diced pears (cut into 1/4-inch cubes)
2/3 cup cold buttermilk (or 2/3 cup milk plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice)
Maple sugar, for sprinkling

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk together flour, oats, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in butter with two knives (or rub in with your fingers). The batter will resemble crumbs. Add pears and buttermilk (or milk plus lemon juice), stirring until dough just comes together.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Pat dough into a 6-by-8-inch rectangle, and cut into twelve 2-by-2-inch squares with a floured knife. Place about 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with maple sugar and oats. Bake until golden brown, 20 to 22 minutes. Let cool on sheets for 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Something Swanky, Food Trip Friday, Cybele Pascal Allergen-Free Cuisine and Sweet as Sugar Cookies.

Leslie and Rick’s Homemade Yogurt

Leslie and Rick have been enjoying their own (no sugar) yogurt for awhile, and they were kind enough to share their recipe as today’s blog contributors.

We’ve been making our own yogurt. All you need is milk (fat free, 1-2% or whole- your preference) and a high quality plain yogurt containing acidophilus & bifidus cultures (Stonyfield or Liberte work well). Basically, you need to heat the milk to 185 degrees fahrenheit, cool it down to 110 degrees and add starter yogurt (a soup spoon works well).

Our technique makes the process very simple. We use a one quart ball mason jar filled with about three cups of milk. Place the jar in a medium sauce pan filled with water. Heat on high. It should only take about 5 minutes after the water boils for the milk temp to reach 185. Maintain the 185 for at least one minute. Using a candy thermometer as a spoon eliminates the need for an extra utensil since it’s in the jar anyway.

Remove the jar from the pan. Pour out the hot water and replace with cold water. Set the jar back in the pan until the temp drops to 110. Stir the 2 blobs of yogurt in well, put a lid on the jar, wrap it in a kitchen towel and let it sit in a warm place (like near a radiator), for 10 hours. If there’s a little water on top of your yogurt, pour it off before refrigerating. This yogurt is a bit thinner in consistency than you may be used to, but that’s because there are no artificial thickeners.

Make sure you leave enough of your home made yogurt in the jar to act as the starter for your next batch. Enjoy.

This recipe is shared with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Food Trip Friday, Cybele Pascal Allergen-Free Cuisine and Sweet as Sugar Cookies.

Baked Kale Chips are Nutritious and Even Delicious

Chips can actually be made from kale? Kale chips taste good? In our house, the answers to these questions are “yes” and “yes.” I first read about kale chips at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, and was amazed at how easy it was to make them. Since I already knew that I liked kale, I decided to give this idea a try. The result was a light and crunchy chip with a great flavor. It is a great alternative to potato chips, as well as a nice sandwich topper. The picture is of my lunch the other day – I had a side of the kale chips with my turkey sandwich on yeast-free, sugar-free pita bread from Chatila’s Bakery.

To prepare, I did the following: wash and dry the kale, and pull the kale off of the stalks. Rip the kale into bite-size pieces. Place kale on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until kale is lightly browned.

I hope you give this recipe a try whether you are a kale lover or novice. You won’t be disappointed!

I am sharing this recipe with Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Food Trip Friday and Cybele Pascal Allergen-Free Cuisine.

Inspired by Millet to Bake Raisin Maple Scones

Yesterday afternoon I found myself (yet again) walking slowly up and down the aisles of my neighborhood health foods store. There are many things to look at and try! I paused to check out all of the flours – there are so many kinds! Apparently I was feeling courageous because I picked up a kind of flour I had never tried before – millet flour. In fact, I have never used anything other than flour made from wheat, although the recipe on the back of the packaging caught my eye and persuaded me to get creative. I had not eaten a scone since incorporating a yeast and sugar free diet, and upon reading the recipe I suddenly had a hankering for the English biscuit. So I bought my millet flour and brought it home.

You may ask what millet flour is…I did the same, and did some online research. According to WiseGeek, Millet flour is made from millet, which is a whole grain and gluten free. A serving of the flour, which is one third of a cup, contains about 4 grams of protein, 15% of the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of iron; is high in B vitamins, magnesium and potassium; and has 12% of the U.S. RDA of dietary fiber.

Millet flour has a naturally sweet taste so you can often cut sugar in recipes when using the flour. A little millet flour in breads makes them lighter with a crunchy crust. However, many suggest that no more than a third of wheat flour in recipes should be replaced with flour from millet because it also requires a complementary binding agent.

It was now time to bake…the recipe on the Bob’s Red Mill Millet Flour package was my starting point. However, I substituted the sugar with maple syrup. I also added some oats for a little crunch and sprinkled some maple sugar on top for extra sweetness. My whole milk yogurt also worked just fine even though the recipe called for nonfat. These scones were delicious! I liked the taste of the millet flour…it has a nutty flavor. I hope you enjoy this very lovely treat.

Millet Raisin Maple Scones
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup millet flour
4 Tbsp oats
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher (or sea) salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 cup canola oil
4 egg whites
1/4 cup plain yogurt
3/4 cup raisins
maple sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a baking sheet and set aside. In a large bowl stir together the flours, oats, baking powder, salt and baking soda. In another bowl mix together the maple syrup, canola oil, egg whites and yogurt. Pour oil mixture into flour mixture, and stir until well blended. Next mix in the raisins. With your hands form the dough into a ball and place on a floured surface. Knead dough lightly 3 or 4 times, then place onto baking sheet. Pat into a smooth 8-inch circle. Using a sharp knife, cut into 8 wedges; leave in place. Sprinkle with maple sugar. Bake for 30 minutes, and let cool for 5 minutes before serving. Yields 8 tasty servings.

I am also sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Joy of Desserts</a, Beauty and Bedlam, The Lady Behind the Curtain, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Something Swanky, Food Trip Friday, This Chick Cooks, Sweet as Sugar Cookies, Everyday Sisters and Cybele Pascal Allergen-Free Cuisine.

The Blueberry Industry and Crumb Bars

Did you know that the U.S. leads the world in blueberry production, at almost 200,000 metric tons in 2008? North America certainly dominates this market since the next largest producer is Canada with almost 95,000 metric tons. Poland is distantly in third place with almost 8,000 metric tons.

The states that cultivate the most blueberries are Maine and Michigan with the Great Lakes State slightly edging out the Pine Tree State. Maine’s lead is in the wild blueberry market; virtually all of Maine’s cultivated blueberries are processed while about half of Michigan’s are used fresh and the other half processed.

The acres of land harvested for blueberries has about tripled between 1980 and 2009. The grower price for fresh blueberries has doubled during the last fifteen years while the price for processed has plummeted. Perhaps this is evidence of the increased demand for these sweet and healthy little fresh gems of goodness?

For those of you who would like to learn more about the blueberry industry, the USDA has a great web site with lots of interesting data like the facts above. If however, all of this talk about blueberries has you ready to eat some, below is a fabulous recipe for crumb bars that I adapted to make refined-sugar free. It’s a great time of year to use blueberries! And if you still have a few fruits left over, might I suggest making some blueberry oat bran muffins as well. Happy native blueberry season!

Blueberry Crumb Bars

2/3 cup agave nectar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup canola oil
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 pinch ground cinnamon (optional)
4 cups fresh blueberries
1/3 cup agave nectar
3 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon maple sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 inch pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together 2/3 cup agave nectar, both flours, and baking powder. Mix in salt and cinnamon, if desired. Mix in the oil and egg. Dough will be slightly crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.

In another bowl, stir together the agave nectar and cornstarch. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer. Sprinkle with maple sugar, if desired.

Bake for 40 minutes or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares (about 16).

Adapted from Jam Hands and AllRecipes.

I am also sharing this recipe with Joy of Desserts, Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Beauty and Bedlam, Tempt my Tummy Tuesdays, Lady Behind the Curtain, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Something Swanky, Food Trip Friday and Sweet as Sugar Cookies.

MaryAnn’s Blueberry Oat Bran Muffins

This blog post is contributed by MaryAnn of Oatmeal Bread fame. MaryAnn baked the muffins using the original recipe with cane sugar and then tried a version with agave nectar and some other revisions.

After baking the already healthy (and delicious) blueberry oat bran muffins courtesy of the blog Chocolate & Zucchini a couple of times with regular granulated sugar I decided to try them out with agave. I had never baked with agave before, so I had no idea how they would come out – I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised!  The first thing that I noticed was the difference in the batter – it thinned it out a little bit, which I actually found to be a good thing because the batter is quite thick and heavy (probably partially to do with the fact that I am using Greek yogurt, which is far thicker than regular yogurt). The original version of the muffin is not overly sweet, so I decided to do a 1 for 1 swap of the sugar and agave, and it turned out perfectly – my husband said he didn’t notice a difference in the taste what so ever. I thought that the taste was slightly less sweet, but in a very subtle way, and that the texture was a bit lighter, but overall they tasted very similar and baked up beautifully. This will be a recipe that I will be using often and can feel good about eating. Next time I might have to bake a double batch because they don’t last very long in our house!

Blueberry Oat Bran Muffins
- 1 cup oat bran
- 1 cup flour (I used whole wheat)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- a good pinch salt
- 1/2 cup agave nectar
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 cup plain yogurt (I used plain/fat free Greek yogurt)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 eggs, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 360°F (I lowered the temp by 25 degrees because I had read that agave browns faster than regular sugar, so the bake time was a little longer – I think in my oven it ended up being about 19 minutes) and grease a 12-muffin tray really well.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the bran, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt until no lumps remain. Add the blueberries and toss gently to combine.

In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, oil, vanilla, eggs and agave. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients, and fold it in gently with a spatula until no trace of flour remains. The mixture will be lumpy, but resist overmixing.

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tray, filling each muffin mold by about three quarters. Bake for 12 to 16 minutes (possibly longer if using lower temperature) until set and golden. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Makes 12 muffins.

This recipe is also being shared with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Food Trip Friday http://www.foodtripfriday.net/ and This Chick Cooks and The Lady Behind the Curtain.