Apple Peanut Butter Snack Bars

By Megan

Sometimes I get tired of buying snack bars for my husband because, a) they are expensive and b) they aren’t always the healthiest or tastiest option.  My friend here in GA referred me to this recipe from Happy Healthy Mama that has transformed our snacking world.  I was thrilled when my husband came home from the field and ate these healthy, gluten free snacks with enthusiasm. I’m even more thrilled that I can eat them too.  I have made them for a brunch recently as well and they received rave reviews.  They contain fiber, and protein so are very satisfying and filling, though beware of tummy aches because you will want to eat ALL of them!  Best of all, they are made with no oil, no flour, and no refined sugars.

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It’s funny because this recipe requires very little explanation; I always feel like I have to fill up these spaces with words, but I think I will allow the pictures to speak for themselves.  Simply mix all the ingredients in a medium sized bowl, transfer to a baking dish, bake, and enjoy!

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Tips: The recipe does not call for chocolate chips but lets be honest, chocolate makes everything better :D; dairy free chocolate chips would work just as well.  The recipe calls for a 9×9 inch pan which works wonderfully but I found the bars have a more cake-ie texture.  If you want something a little crispier around the edges and gooey in the center, just spread the mixture on a cookie sheet instead.

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Apple Peanut Butter Snack Bars:

2 cups GF rolled oats

1 cup shredded apple (one medium apple)

1/4 cup Peanut butter

1/2 cup honey

2 eggs

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9X9 baking dish and set aside.

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well.  Transfer the mixture to the baking dish and use the back of a wooden spatula to press it down evenly.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until the edges are just barely browned. Allow to cool before cutting into squares.

Vegan Scallion Pancakes with Brown Rice Flour

By Megan 

The other night I was making a soup and thinking, “Hmmm, what could I make to go with this beside just my normal salad, potatoes, or roasted veggies?”  I came across this recipe for these miniature, crispy scallion pancakes in my It’s All Good cookbook and immediately knew I had to try them.  Plus, the shock value of announcing that we were having pancakes for dinner was well worth it.  Once made, it was hard to keep my fingers off these bite size, savory treats and they paired perfectly with the soup I had made.  I will make them again in the future as they are so versatile and a unique pairing to any meal.  Warning before you get to cooking: these babies are addictive and finger-lickin good!

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These little gems are so simple to make. You simply mix the batter and then slice the scallions thinly to add to the batter.

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Once the batter has been mixed, oil your pan with a neutral oil (like canola oil, grapeseed, or safflower oil), and allow to heat. Use a tablespoon measure to spoon the batter into the hot oil.  When you see the edges begin to bubble and brown, flip the pancake to brown the other side.  These miniature delights should be crispy on the edges and softer toward the middle. So delicious!

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Scallion Pancakes with Brown Rice Flour:

1 cup white spelt flour, if you can tolerate a little gluten, or all-purpose gluten-free flour (if the flour doesn’t include Xanthan gum, and 1/2 teaspoon)

1/4 cup brown rice flour

1 1/4 cups ice water

1 Tbs. sesame oil

1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions, white and light green parts only

Neutral oil (canola, grapeseed, or safflower oil) for frying

Coarse sea salt

Whisk the flours together with the water and sesame oil. Fold in the scallions and a large pinch of salt. Heat a shallow layer (about 1/4-inch) of oil in a large nonstick pan over high heat and add as many tablespoonfuls of batter as will fit without crowding.  Cook each pancake until it’s nicely browned, about 2 minutes on a side.  Drain the pancakes on a plate lined with a paper towel and sprinkle each with a tiny pinch of salt. Repeat the process with the remaining batter, adding more oil to the pan as needed. Serve these immediately! 

Broccoli Chicken and Cheddar Panini

This past weekend I had the pleasure of visiting my very dear college roommate, Laura.  We only get to see each other about once a year, but each time, I feel like no time has passed and we slip right into the way things used to be.

Since we lived together for 3.5 years, we did our fair share of reminiscing over the weekend.  Our senior year, we lived with two other friends in a campus apartment and the four of us set up a meal rotation where we each cooked once a week.  I kicked things off by setting off the fire alarm and evacuating the entire apartment building.  My friends could barely contain themselves as we stood around with a bunch of co-eds wondering who in the world was dumb enough to set of the smoke detectors (I guess the secret’s out now!).  That was one of the first of many meals we shared together; some meals huge flops, others smashing successes, but all viewed through the rose colored glasses of fond memories.

Some of the meals that I do remember were Laura’s turkey burgers.  She paired a lot of creative flavors together, all of them delicious.  So, I was not surprised that when we started talking food this weekend, she suggested a panini with roasted broccoli, cheddar and turkey.  I was intrigued so I looked up the recipe immediately on my way home and made it the very next day.  Laura came through again with another delicious flavor combination.  The caramelized flavor of the broccoli pairs beautifully with the sharp tang of the cheddar cheese and the addition of roasted garlic adds a nice complexity.  The original recipe calls for focaccia bread and I substituted the gluten free version my sis posted a few weeks ago.  I also used grilled chicken instead of the turkey cold cuts called for in the original recipe.

The sandwich has few ingredients and comes together quickly.  Once you have roasted off some broccoli, you simply stack all of the ingredients on your bread of choice and then place the sandwich in a panini press or skillet with several heavy plates weighing it down.

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The sandwich should cook until the cheese is thoroughly melted and the outside of the bread is browned and crispy.  If you are using a skillet, you should flip the sandwich half way through the cooking time.  Slice in half  and serve warm.

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Broccoli Chicken and Cheddar Panini (adapted from Shutterbean)

Ingredients:

2 cups coarsely chopped broccoli florets

2 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves minced garlic

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1 loaf of regular or gluten free focaccia (note: I used my sister’s version but topped it with shallots, parmesan and minced garlic)

8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese

2 chicken breasts, prepared to your liking and sliced

1 tbsp butter

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Toss broccoli with olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes.  Roast on a baking sheet for 20-25 min until softened and nicely browned.  Divide the focaccia into four sections and slice each section in half.  Layer broccoli, chicken breast and 2 oz of cheese on each sandwich. Butter the panini press or skillet and cook sandwich until all of the ingredients are melded together and the cheese is nicely melted.  If you cook the sandwich in a skillet, be sure to weight it with several heavy plates or another skillet.  You should also flip the sandwich halfway through cooking.

Happy Labor Day Week + A Giveaway!

Although I know that fall doesn’t officially start until September 20th, I always feel like it starts as soon as Labor Day is over.  It’s as if we are holding out for that last summer fling before we have to start diving back into our hectic schedules with serious conviction.  To help make this transition easier for my dear readers, I thought I’d share one of my new favorite things with you!

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I have long been a user of the Lifefactory glass water bottles.   The only problem is that I was never really satisfied with the lid.  They started out with just a screw cap, which was cumbersome. Later, they released a cap with a nozzle, which was certainly an improvement, but the cap comes off easily, making it a bit hazardous to tote around in your bag.  Recently, I was perusing the aisles of Whole Foods when I discovered that Lifefactory had released a brand new straw cap!  Finally! A cap that is not difficult to use and its easily transportable.  This is the perfect bottle to tote around to all your activities. Whether you are headed back to school, toting your kids all over creation or jetting off to a million meetings, this is a must have to keep you hydrated, healthily.   You can buy both a 16oz and 22oz version of the bottle right off the Lifefactory website.  Or, you can try to win one off my site this week!   I will be giving away a 22oz straw cap bottle in carbon gray to one of my wonderful readers.  To enter, simply subscribe to my blog and leave a comment below.  You can also post an additional comment if you repost this giveaway on any of your social media accounts .  I will draw and announce a winner next Wednesday.  As always, thanks for stopping by!

Rules:

1) a max of two entries per person, please

2) sorry, but no international shipping is available at this time

3) I will announce the winner on Wednesday, September 11th, but if I can’t reach the winner by Monday, September 16th, an alternate winner will be chosen.

UPDATE!!!! The contest is now closed.  Thank you all for participating.  A winner was chosen via random.org.  Congratulations to makingmondays!  Please contact me with you mailing information and I will ship your prize ASAP!

Grilled Chicken and Strawberry Salad

Yep, I’m posting another salad recipe.  I know, I know….but I can’t help myself.  There are just endless way to combine endless ingredients and they all taste insanely delicious.  As an added bonus, I find salads are the best sort of whole meal in one dish, making it ideal for my busy life.

This is the type of salad that hits all the right notes.  Smokey grilled chicken, sweet strawberries and tangy balsamic vinegar are the perfect combination.   Oh, and did I mention there is very little cooking involved?  I’ll take that on a hot summer night any day.

There really isn’t anything too complicated about the preparation of this salad.   You’ll want to start by marinating a few chicken breasts in your favorite Italian dressing.   I did this first thing in the morning and refrigerated them until dinner.   Grill the chicken on high for about 15 minutes and allow to rest while you are preparing the remainder of the salad.

The real little gem in this salad is the strawberries.  They are so perfectly ripe this time of year.  You’ll want to wash and chop about a cup and a half of these.  Aaaannnnd you might need to throw in a few extra in case you can’t resist and need a pre-dinner snack.

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While the strawberries are drying, prepare some sugared almonds.   Simply throw a half cup of slivered almond into a pan with 2 tbsp brown sugar and 1 tsp water.  Allow the sugar to melt, get bubbly and coat the almonds.  Pour onto parchment paper and allow them to harden and then break them apart into small pieces.

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The rest is simple.  Cut up the remainder of your vegetables and slice the chicken.  Place all of the ingredients over a bed of mixed greens and toss with a store bought or homemade balsamic vinaigrette.   Serve alone as a light main dish or alongside something more decadent to make you feel better about what you are eating.  Either way, it’s delicious!

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Grilled Chicken and Strawberry Salad (adapted from Recipe Girl–served 2-4)

Ingredients:

Salad:

6 cups mixed greens or spinach

1 1/2 cups ripe strawberries, washed and sliced

3/4 cup chopped cucumber

1 1/2 cups grilled chicken that has been marinated in your favorite store bought Italian dressing

1 avocado, sliced

1/3 cup blue cheese or feta cheese

1/2 cup slivered almonds

2 tbsp brown sugar

Vinaigrette:

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 tbsp strawberry jelly

salt and pepper

Directions:

Prepare the almonds by placing them in a skillet with the brown sugar and 1 tsp water.  Allow the sugar to melt and bubble until thickened and fully coating the almonds.  Pour the almonds onto parchment paper and allow to harden.  Break apart and set aside.  Mix all of the vinaigrette ingredients and shake together until emulsified.   Wash and slice the fruit, vegetables and chicken and place all ingredients in a bowl.  Toss with the vinaigrette.

Vegan, Gluten Free Cinnamon Bread

Today I am happy to have my sister write another guest post highlighting yummy cinnamon bread. Hope you enjoy!

I have a health condition that requires me to be gluten free along with several other dietary limitations.  Now before you go and feel sorry for me, don’t; navigating a gluten free world has become a fun challenge for me over the years.  I recognize that this is fun for me, but not always so fun for my wonderful husband who is admittedly addicted to his gluten.  He loves his breads, french toast, muffins, or whatever flour-filled morsel he can get his hands on.  I don’t deprive him of all gluten haha, but I have slowly been making efforts to lessen the amount of gluten in his diet.  Plus, I’ll admit, I am great at resisting just plain breads, but it becomes increasingly more difficult to resist pumpkin bread or say, cinnamon bread if it is around the house all the time.  In order to avoid temptation and satisfy my husband’s gluten-hungry palate    I decided to try making this bread that I felt might bridge the gap between two worlds.  Did I mention my husband LOVES cinnamon!?  Naturally, when I saw this recipe on Sheletthemeatcake I had high hopes it’d be a success.  It did not disappoint and was gone within two days. Move over gluten-filled breads!

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Gluten free breads can often be intimidating to people because many recipes require that you go out and get several different types of flour, mix them yourself, then add them to the recipe.  Well, you may consider me lazy, but I  just use an all purpose GF baking mix found in most grocery stores.  I usually use Pamela’s pancake and baking mix but this time I used Bob’s Red Mill.  After tasting the bread, though still good, I would highly suggest sticking with Pamela’s if you can find it.  Plus Pamela’s is rice based while Bob’s base is garbanzo beans and if you’re anything like me garbanzo bean flour is just too heavy for a delicate digestive system.

It’s important that you follow the instructions on this bread implicitly.  This includes starting your yeast and flax mixture exactly as directed.  I know, I know, it’s no fun to follow the rules in baking, but trust me you won’t regret it.  Once you have mixed your flax/water mixture and your yeast mixture the rest of the recipe comes together as any other bread would.

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Tips: I found that using Maple, agave nectar was a very complimentary accent to the cinnamon flavor and is a little lighter than using straight maple syrup. The flour measurements from the recipe, when combined,  adds up to 3 1/2 cups of the all purpose GF flour.
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Note: The streusel (pictured above) does not look like what a normal streusel would. Don’t worry, once poured over the bread and baked, it hardens a bit and creates a gooey center.  The recipe calls for grapeseed oil but next time I think I will use coconut oil as I think it would add great flavor to the bread.  This bread tastes wonderful warm with coconut oil spread over the top.  I dare you to just eat one piece!
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Cinnamon Bread

1 ½ cup hot water

2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast

5 tbsp ground flax in ¾ cups water

3 tbsp maple syrup/honey/agave

2 tsp vanilla

3 tbsp sunflower oil/grapeseed oil

1 cup quinoa flour

1 1/4 cup sorghum/millet flour

¾ cup potato starch

½ cup tapioca flour

1 tbsp xanthan OR guar gum

1 ½ tsp sea salt

1 tsp baking soda

½ cup cane sugar/coconut sugar

2 tbsp cinnamon

Streusel

½ cup cane sugar/coconut sugar

4 tsp cinnamon

½ cup sunflower oil/grapeseed oil

Heat water and pour into your mixing bowl. Add yeast and allow it to proof for 5 minutes.
Add the ground flax to the 3/4 cup of water. Stir and let sit while the yeast is proofing.
When the yeast and water mixture has proofed add oil, honey, flax mixture, and vanilla.

In a medium-sized bowl, thoroughly combine the dry ingredients (I usually do this while my yeast is proofing). Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and combine. Mix on medium speed for 5 minutes (if you’re lucky you have a KitchenAid mixer to do this for you!). I usually stop my mixer once to wipe down the sides.

At 5 minutes you will have a fairly wet batter – not your typical bread dough. Remember! It’s gluten-free bread we’re working with here.

Prepare streusel by combining the cane sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Add the sunflower oil and mix well.

Divide half of the batter between two oiled bread pans (8 x 4 inch). Spoon half of the streusel mixture onto each half-filled pan (you might want to wet your fingers in order to help you spread the batter around a little).  Using a fork, spread the streusel around lightly pressing into the batter.   Top streusel with remaining bread batter (again, wet your fingers to help you spread the batter around the pan).  Pour the remaining streusel over the two pans and use a fork to spread the streusel around.  Let the loaves sit covered for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake 1 loaf for 50 – 60 minutes (check at the 45 minute mark since oven temperatures can vary so much). The second loaf should go into the fridge covered until it’s ready for the oven. Refrigerating will slow down the yeast. You don’t want it to over-proof.

Use a knife or a cake tester to check loaves for doneness. You want something that will go right to the bottom of the loaf to check for wet ingredients.

Let the finished bread cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes.  Remove from pans and let sit until cool.  Store in a plastic bag for 3 days on the counter.  After 3 days, slice and freeze (I highly doubt there will be any cinnamon bread left by this point).

NOTES:
Don’t cook two loaves at the same time.
Try rotating your loaf at the 25 minute mark 180 degrees.

Grilled Fish Tacos

   This July was a big one.  My brother got married, my mom had a birthday and my husband turned 30!! We spent a fun weekend visiting his parents and celebrating the big day, but I always like to make him a meal to help commemorate big days in his life.  His mom and I often joke that his love language is food, especially any sort of Mexican food.  This year, he requested fish tacos with all the fixings.  I wanted to go for a lighter version since the usual beer battered and fried fish pieces were hardly low calorie. I went for a marinated and grilled tilapia and it did not disappoint!  These tacos are incredibly easy and ridiculously delicious.    They are best when accompanied with pico de gallo, guacamole, cilantro and a few lime wedges.  I also made some black beans to serve on the side.

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The fish is marinated in a simple mixture of onions, lime, olive oil and spices.  While the fish marinates, slice some red cabbage and dress it in a simple mixture of mayo, lime and salt and pepper.

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   Right before serving, simply throw the fish on the grill for about 5 minutes per side or until the fish flakes easily.  

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    Break the fish into bite size chunks and serve on warm corn tortillas with the cabbage, some chopped cilantro and your desired toppings.  And then, don’t be surprised if you want to make these every. single. week.

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Grilled Fish Tacos (adapted from Epicurious)

Ingredients:

2 cups sliced white onion

3/4 cups chopped cilantro, divided

8 tbsp lime juice, divided

1/4 cup olive oil

2 cloves mince garlic

1 tsp dried oregano

1 lb tilapia

1 cup mayo

1/2 head red cabbage, sliced

corn tortillas

lime wedges, pico de gallo and guacamole 

Directions: 

  Mix the onion, 1/4 c cilantro, 6 tbsp lime juice, garlic and oregano in a shallow dish.  Place the tilapia on top of the onion mixture and spoon some of the onions over the fish.  Cover and marinate for 1 hour, flipping the fish half way through.  

  Meanwhile, thinly slice the cabbage and place in a medium bowl.  Wisk together 2 tbsp lime juice and mayo and pour over the cabbage.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

    Preheat the grill to a medium high heath and brush the grill grates with oil. Grill fish for 3-5 min per side until totally opaque.   Break fish into bite size pieces and place in warm corn tortillas.  Serve the tacos with cabbage, guacamole, pico de gallo and chopped cilantro.