Road Trip Protein Bars

In getting ready for our trip across country…22 hours one way to our destination to be exact, I made some healthy snacks to have alongside us as we drive.image

I love using my stash of dried fruits, nuts, and seeds, to create something super yummy, and good for you too.

I know in the U.S. there are all kinds of places to stop on road trips, some healthy, and some not so healthy…but here in Mexico, at least the roads we travel, there is literally nothing. 🙂 Lots of desert. So, I like to plan ahead so we have energy and fuel to keep us going for the long hours ahead.image

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Pete requested energy bars, so I whipped a new recipe…they are no-bake which makes them quick to make, and not only are they chock full of protein, but healthy fats, and fiber as well. These will stick with ya!

Road Trip Bars
3/4 c pumpkin seeds, raw
3/4 c coconut, shredded and unsweetened
1/4 c + 2 Tbsp rice protein powder, vanilla
1/4 c + 2 Tbsp flax seeds
3 Tbsp chia seeds
dash cinnamon

17 whole prunes, pitted
1 tsp. vanilla
4 Tbsp coconut oil, room temperature
2- 4 Tbsp. water

6 Tbsp. rolled oats

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the dry ingredients, except the oats quickly. Just a few pulses because you want things to stay a little chunky, so your bars have texture. Place the mixture in another bowl and set aside.

Next add the wet ingredients to the food processor and blend until they become nice and smooth. They won’t be liquidy, more like a soft, sticky paste.

Add the wet mixture to the dry, and toss in the oats. Stir until everything is well blended, and the mixture comes together in a ball. If it seems sticky, just add more oats, 1 Tbsp at a time, until you get the texture you want.

Line a 8×8 baking pan with waxed paper and press the dough into the pan. You want to compress it well so the bars stick nicely together. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Cut into 16 bars, wrap in saran wrap if you like, and then store in the refrigerator in a airtight container.
*I’m keeping them in a cooler as we travel.image

Curious about the nutrition facts?
For 1 bar: 175 Calories, 13g fat, 7g protein, 11g carbs, and just 3 g of sugar.
A protein bar filled with whole foods, and low in sugars, I’ll take it! And, they are mighty tasty too! 🙂

Hope you’ll try these for your next road trip, or they’d make great day hike, camping, or sporting event snacks.

See you this weekend for the final week of the Finish February Fit Challenge!

~ Liesl

Weekend Brunch ~ Whole grain Blueberry Nutmeg Mini Scones

This last weekend we had a little brunch.

When I think of brunch I think of all those delicious, a little more labor intensive breakfast goodies that I never otherwise would have time to make. Most often I think of scones. 🙂

While making scones isn’t necessarily a lengthly process they don’t make it into my week-day breakfast repretoire. So, when brunch was suggested…I just had to indulge myself.

This mini scones are light, flaky, hearty, and not too sweet. If you like your baked goods a little sweeter I would suggest adding a 1/4 – 1/2 sugar to the batter in addition to the maple syrup. You could also forgo the mini version, and press the dough into one large round…the bigger the better. Since I knew we would be having lots of other yummy goodies I opted for the mini version, so I could try a “little” of everything.

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Ingredients:
1 cup oat flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. nutmeg, freshly grated

5 Tbsp. coconut oil, solid
2 Tbsp. ground flax seed + 6 Tbsp. water (mix & set aside for 5 min.)
1/4 Grade B pure maple syrup
1/4 cup almond milk
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
* 1 tsp. coconut oil melted, to brush on top + 1 tsp. sucanat for sprinkling)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Mix together your flax seed and water, and set aside. (2 flax eggs)

In a large bowl combine the oat and wheat flours, baking soda & powder, sea salt, cinnamon, and fresh nutmeg. Next, with a pastry blender or fork cut in the 5 Tbsp. of solid coconut oil until the dry ingredient mixture resembles coarse crumbs.imageIn a small bowl combine the flax/water mixture, almond milk, and maple syrup. Whisk until just blended. Add the frozen blueberries to the crumb mixture, and stir until mixed. Slowly add the wet mixture to the crumb mixture and stir until combined. imageTurn out the scone dough onto a floured surface and knead just a few times until your mixture comes together. Cut the dough in half, and knead each half just a couple times each to make a nice ball. imageTransfer the two dough balls to a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Press each dough ball into a circle about 6-8 inches in diameter. Lightly cut the tops of each circle, don’t cut all the way through the dough, just make slits on the top. I cut one into 8 mini scones, and the other 6. One of my dough circles was a little bigger than the other.

Brush the tops with 1 tsp. melted coconut oil, and sprinkle with sucanat or a large grain sugar.imageBake the scones for 12-15 minutes, or until they begin to brown lightly on the top. Cool.

Serve the scones still warm with a tasty omelet, quiche, fruit, or whatever other delicious brunch offerings you can dream up.
They would also make a delicious afternoon coffee treat with a small dollop of whipped cream. image

Who’s having brunch this weekend? What is your favorite brunch dish to make for special occasions?

~ Liesl

Spicy Salmon Chowder – Dairy Free

Stay away from creamed soups, isn’t that what we’ve always been told? I would say that’s generally good advice, unless you are making your own. It is easy to make creamy soups healthier, and while they WILL taste different than their fatty restaurant counter parts, in my opinion making a creamy soup at home gives you the freedom to highlight it’s ingredients rather than it’s base.

I for one, love chunky vegetables in soup. Don’t cut the veggies into ity, bity pieces in my kitchen. I like soup with texture. The creaminess is supposed to accentuate what truly gives the soup flavor.

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This chowder is light, but not light on flavor and is perfect for a cold rainy night snuggled up on the couch with a good movie, or in front of the fireplace on a “date night in” with your significant other.

SPICY SALMON CHOWDER
1 small onion, diced
1 serrano pepper, diced & seeds removed
1 red pepper, diced
1 medium potato, cubed
1 c. carrots, sliced
1 small zucchini, cubed
1 small can corn, or frozen (about 1/2 cup)
1- 6oz. can wild salmon (a fresh salmon fillet baked and then flaked from the skin would be amazing as well)
3 c organic chicken broth (I like homemade, or Pacific brand)
1 1/2 c. unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)
1 T dried dill (you can use fresh, just add to taste)
Sea salt to taste

Method:
Heat 1/2 c of the chicken broth in a large soup pot or dutch oven. Add the onion, serrano, and red pepper and saute’ until they begin to get soft; 5-6 minutes. Add the carrots, potato, remaining broth, almond milk, and dill. Bring to a boil, and then turn down the heat and simmer until the potatoes and carrots are soft, about 15-20 minutes.
Once the potatoes and carrots are soft add the corn and zucchini and simmer for another 5 minutes. Finally add the salmon and heat through. Taste and adjust with more salt if needed.

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Serve steaming bowls of this spicy salmon chowder topped with cheddar cheese and to the side a square of fresh baked cornbread or this millet bread, which is one of our favorites.

Tips:
*Feel free to get creative with the veggies in this soup and use what you have on hand. Asparagus, mushrooms, or poblano peppers all sound like they would make amazing additions to this soup.
**Also, almond milk is optional. You can use whatever milk choice that you prefer. A can of evaporated milk is decadent if you are feeling a little naughty. 🙂
***If you like REALLY spicy try adding another serrano or two. Taste your serrano while you are cooking so you know exactly the amount of heat that it will put out.

When the weather turns chilly what soup is simmering on your stove? What soup do you order out, but never make at home?
When the weather bites at my bones I’ll usually put on a pot of tomato and basil soup, or my Mom’s lentil soup.
I make a lot of different kinds of soup so the second question is a hard one, but I would have to say miso soup. I love it, I just never have miso on hand. It’s not a staple ingredient here in Mexico.

I hope you’ll try the salmon chowder, if you do let me know what you think!
And cheers to fall, cooler weather, and the start to holiday season!

Liesl

Roasted Zucchini Salad w/Mustard Vinaigrette

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A refreshing salad packed with flavor, color, and vitamins. If you are looking for a new way to use the bounty of your garden as it finishes up for the year this salad is for you. Tossed with a light mustard-y vinaigrette it’s simple, fresh and delicious.

ROASTED ZUCCHINI SALAD w/ MUSTARD VINAIGRETTE
3 large zucchini, chopped & roasted
1/2 large tomato
3/4 c. corn kernels, or (1 cobs worth)
1/4 c. kalamata olives, diced
1c. garbanzo beans, cooked & drained
1c. quinoa, cooked
Fresh basil leaves (about 10-12) chopped
Fresh mint leaves (about 6) chopped

MUSTARD VINAIGRETTE
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1.5 T red wine vinegar
1 T sherry vinegar
1 T garlic mustard (I use TJs Garlic Aioli mustard…it’s mustard heaven)
1 T water
Pepper, salt, & gran garlic to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Chop the zucchini in cubes, whatever size that you like. Put the zucchini cubes in a 9×13 baking pan, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with granulated garlic, pepper, and salt. Roast the zucchini in the oven until it is soft, but still slightly firm. No one likes gushy zucchini. 🙂
While the zucchini is roasting mix up the vinaigrette in a small bowl. Add all the ingredients and whisk until blended.

Once the zucchini is cool, pour it to a large mixing bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir well.

Take your vinaigrette and give it a few more whisks, and then slowly pour it over the salad ingredients. Mix well.

Put your salad in the refrigerator to chill; I would recommend 2-4 hours before serving. However, in my opinion, this salad would be delicious served with warm zucchini and recently cooked quinoa as well.

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The depth of flavor and freshness in this salad came through just as I was hoping. If you try it I hope that you will enjoy it as much as we did.

Happy Cooking!

Liesl

Bittersweet Hazelnut Espresso Granola w/ Sour Cherries

Every other weekend I make a batch of granola. It makes a quick breakfast layered in a bowl with homemade plain yogurt and fresh fruit. Also, my husband LOVES granola. He eats it for breakfast, then second breakfast, and then snack, which means that sometimes I make a batch every weekend. He could eat worse things though, so I’m not complaining.

Homemade granola is a healthy alternative to store bought breakfast cereals which are often loaded with added sugars and preservatives. You can load your granola with whole grains, seeds, nuts, and dried fruit depending on what you are in the mood for. The options are truly endless in a well- stocked pantry.

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While I have a base granola recipe that I fall back on often, I also like to play with the sweeteners and other ingredients to create something new every once in awhile.

This version, Bittersweet Hazelnut Espresso Granola with dried cherries is sweet from the dried Bing cherries and agave, but bitter from the espresso, and it turns your milk into sort of a cocoa latte surprise that you get to enjoy at the end!

Bittersweet Hazelnut Espresso Granola w/ Dried Sour Cherries
makes roughly 8 cups

4 cups rolled oats
1 cup sunflower seeds
½ cup popped amaranth (you can sub another ½ cup oats)
1 cup coconut, unsweetened, shredded
4 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
¾ cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
¾ cup dried sour cherries

3 Tbsp. extra virgin coconut oil
¾ cup dark agave syrup
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
¼ cup hot water
1 Tbsp. instant coffee or espresso

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl combine the oats, sunflower seeds, amaranth(if using), coconut, and cocoa. Stir until well combined. Then add the chopped hazelnuts and cherries; stir.

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In a saucepan over low heat melt the coconut oil, together with the agave. While those are melting, in a small bowl dissolve the instant coffee or espresso in ¼ cup of hot water. Once dissolved add to the coconut oil, agave mixture, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.

Add the warm liquid to the oat mixture and stir until everything is well coated.

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Spread the granola in a thin, even layer onto two cookie sheets and bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes. At ten minutes give each cookie sheet a good stir.

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Notes**
– I like my granola really well cooked and crunchy so I cooked it for the full amount of time, but if you like yours a little on the chewier side go for less baking time.
– You could substitute any grain for the amaranth if you want, or just use more oats. I think buckwheat groats, raw millet, or whole flax seeds would all be delicious.

Question:
What is your favorite way to eat granola?
 
I eat my granola in a small bowl with a little bit of almond milk for a snack.