This is my journey in keeping my family happy and healthy.
In this day and age, what parent knows best what to do and how to care for their family?
There are so many conflicting ideas, so much wisdom, and so many paths.
It is here that I will compile information on what I have learned and the choices I am making.
Maybe my path will help others.... or not. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

HEALTHFUL RECIPES: My next attempt at a "Breakfast" Granola Bar

Okay so the first attempt at a "Breakfast Bar" was a good one, but not perfect, and not absolutely what I wanted to eat regularly. I want to make a bar that I can regularly add to my family's breakfasts or lunches, or just to snack on when nourishment was needed.

My next attempt certainly covered more of the bases I was looking for. This time I added puffed rice for a neat mouth-feel! I also eliminated the flour, bananas & yogurt, for making it less like a cake-bar and more like a granola bar. And of course I nixed the cardamom.

Here's my new recipe:

2 cups oats
2 cups puffed rice
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup pistachios
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup coconut oil (warmed)
1 tbsp vanilla

Some bittersweet chocolate
a dash of cream

To begin, mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl mix the wet ingredients together. Then add the wet ingredients to the dry. Then oil a baking pan. I used a 9 x 13 and that was pretty good. I poured the ingredients in the pan and pressed down firmly and evenly. You really want it to compact and stick together.

I cooked it at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes. Then cooled on the counter while I prepared the chocolate coating. I added the chocolate because the bars seemed to be falling apart easily. This seems to be the downside to using honey! To do the chocolate, I melted it in the microwave and added a bit of cream to thin it out so I could spread it over the bars. Then I chilled the bars in the fridge.

My complaint with this version was that the honey causes the bars to never solidify, so you have to keep them in the fridge or they will fall apart. I don't really want to use sugar, but I may have to, to get the effects I want out of my bar. Perhaps using an unrefined raw sugar would work? I will have to try that next time.

So the bars were not exactly perfect, but they were DELICIOUS! As my husband put it, "these are like CRACK."Try 'em and see what you think. What would you do to change them and make them better? The honey & peanut butter made it lip-smackin' good! And the crunchiness of the puffed rice fulfilled all my childhood fantasies. This is certainly closer to perfection.... but my quest continues....

This recipe is linked to Kelly the Kitchen Kop's Real Food Wednesday.

Friday, March 16, 2012

HEALTHFUL RECIPES: Homemade Granola Yumminess & Breakfast Parfaits!

I know I know... I should be working on the continuation of finding the perfect granola bar recipe. But instead I'm moving onto granola. I left feeling frustrated that my attempt did not turn out perfect, because I'm a perfectionist, so I am allowing myself to get distracted with making yummy granola. I will get back to the granola bar search in due time.....

In any regard, my intention with my family, is to make breakfasts both nutritious AND fun! And I'm thinking that "Breakfast Parfaits" sound like a awful lot of fun and deliciousness in one meal. Sounds like dessert, but it's healthy and a great way to start your day.

We get so stuck in food ruts at our house. We have the same breakfast day after day, that my littlest daughter has begun to refuse eating breakfast. I think I'm dropping the ball as a mom. But no more!

This parfait will be composed of homemade granola, plain yogurt, fruit & some sweetener like honey or maple syrup if need be... stacked up in a gorgeous glass parfait cup. What kid, or adult, could resist?

Today's granola recipe is adjusted from this one here. I added shredded coconut & ground flax seeds, and I used honey & maple syrup for my sweeteners, along with coconut oil for the fat.

What I have been learning is that once you realize that granola is a formula (actually many versions of the formula), you can add almost anything you want. Here are two I found: Formula 1 & Formula 2.

Because I never like to follow directions entirely, I took all the ideas from many different formulas to make my own. It's a whole lot like... throw in some of this, some of that, etc. My kind of cooking.

I started with 4 cups of oats (because that seemed like a reasonable amount), added 1 cup shredded coconut, and 1/2 cup ground flax seeds.

In a separate bowl I added 1/3 cup warmed coconut oil, 1/3 cup honey & 1/3 cup of maple syrup. I also added a large splash of vanilla extract.

Then I added the liquid to the dry and stirred together till you could see that everything was fully coated. I cooked it at 350 degrees for about 20 or so minutes, checking and stirring every 10 minutes or so.

It really looks and smells delicious! I couldn't help myself as I grabbed handful after handful and crammed it in my mouth. I know, not very lady-like of me. But it was good and I guess I was hungry.

Now onto the parfait part.....

This is the easy part. First I put some granola in the bottom of the parfait glass (Yes I actually have fancy ice cream glasses... I picked them up at the thrift store!). Then I covered that with plain yogurt, sliced bananas, and a drizzle of maple syrup. Rinse repeat, to make up two lovely layers of yummy goodness!

How can you resist!!?

I have to say it was delicious!! Even my picky toddler loved it. I guess breakfasts are a go again.

Don't forget to get creative! There are somewhere around a million different combinations you can make (okay I made that up). You are only limited by your imagination. Try different things in the granola, like sliced almonds, or sunflower seeds. Use a different oil, or different sweeteners. And the same goes for the parfait part.... add different fruits, flavors of yogurt, anything!

Have fun!!

This is linked to Real Food Wednesday by Kelly the Kitchen Kop

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

HEALTHFUL RECIPES: Breakfast Bar Experiment 1

I am on a quest to make healthy meals / foods for my family. My little girl is in the "super picky" toddler stage, and getting her to eat a healthy balanced meal can be a chore. If instead, I can get a few power packed items in everyone each day, I will be happy. The trick to this, is to make them incredibly tasty, as well as healthy & nourishing. I've been working on my "Super Smoothie Recipe," which I will post soon. But I also wanted to get the rest of the nutritional powerhouses into other foods throughout the day. So began my quest for the perfect, soft granola bar.... a healthy addition to breakfast or lunch. Packed full of nutritional goodness!

This is by no means close to the perfect bar (by my perfection-ish standards)... it is the first try in experimentation. However, I thought it might be interesting to keep track of my process. So here goes....


Dry Ingredients:

2 cups oats
1/2 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 cup chopped pistachios
1/2 cup oat flour
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cardamom

Wet Ingredients:

1/4 - 1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 diced banana
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup yogurt
1 tbsp vanilla
Melted chocolate


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put all dry ingredients into a bowl and mix well. In a small (microwave-safe) bowl add honey, peanut butter, and coconut oil and heat on high for 1 minute. Then mix well. In a medium bowl add all wet ingredients plus your peanut butter / honey mixture, and mix well. Then add this mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well. Grease an 8 x 8 glass pan (I used coconut oil). Pour in mixture and spread and flatten. Bake about 30 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Cool and cut into squares. I melted chocolate and drizzled it over the top, but you don't have to do that.

So after trying this Experiment #1, I definitely feel they need more sweetness, and I'd nix the cardamom next time. But that's just me. I'm generally iffy on cardamom, and this was no exception. I just thought I'd try it because it sounded exotic. If you like cardamom, you might really enjoy the flavor it adds to this. I think I would also add coconut flakes (maybe sweetened). Oh and it was a bit overly chewy / gummy. So I would use a bigger pan and spread them out more. I might even try a tad more peanut butter, or less yogurt and add some applesauce instead. My mind is pondering it all.....

These ones are fairly edible to my standards. My daughter ate one fairly happily, only looking questioningly at me once or twice and shoving it all in her mouth at once. I take that as a good sign. However, she didn't want another piece. So I think she got wise to me. Ergo more sweetness. I think the coconut flakes would bring in more sweetness too, and a better mouth-feel.

So I will try that next...... :)

If you're wanting to experiment yourself, try adding different nuts or dried fruit, or other sweeteners. Really, you're only limited by your imagination!
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