Dried Fruit and Nut Granola Bars + Back to School Pantry Must-Have

granola 4It is hard to believe that summer break is coming to an end. With so many obligations to worry about as we approach the start of a new school year, it’s important to focus on our home and pantry. Stocking up on simple pantry staples will keep your meals healthy, balanced and quick.

Oats
Homemade granola bars are one of the many recipes for which oats will come in handy. Mixed with assorted dried fruit, coconut and chocolate chips you will have a quick on-the-go breakfast or snack.

Whole grain pasta
One of the most versatile dry ingredients is great for busy day dinners and left over lunches. Garnish with fresh pesto, cheese, homemade tomato sauce or fresh veggies.

Nut butters and spreads
Easy to spread on pancakes, tortillas, or apple and banana slices for a satisfying snack or the perfect addition to any smoothie.

Honey
A great substitute for sugar and sweeteners, honey is also the perfect ingredient to start your morning routine. Squeeze half a lemon and 1 tbsp honey into hot water, for a caffeine-free boost. It might even kick your coffee cravings.

Dried fruit and nut granola bars are one of my favorites and can be made with a variety of ingredients that you have in your pantry!  granola6granola 3

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Dried Fruit and Nut Granola Bars
Yields 12
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Ingredients
  1. 2-1/2 cups old fashion rolled oats
  2. 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  3. 1/3 cup honey
  4. 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  5. 1/4 cup brown sugar
  6. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  7. 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  8. 1/4 cup dried pineapple, chopped
  9. 1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
Instructions
  1. Combine oats and slivered almonds on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees or until lightly toasted.
  2. Combine butter, honey, brown sugar and vanilla extract in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook until butter and sugar are melted.
  3. Pour butter mixture over the toasted almonds and oats; add all the dried fruit.
  4. Spread mixture onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and spread evenly.
  5. Refrigerate until firm and ready to be cut.
  6. Cut granola into 12 bars and store in airtight container or wrap individually.
INK foods : In Nanny's Kitchen http://inkfoods.com/

 Recipe featured in Advocate Magazine
Photography by Megan Weaver 

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Clean Eating for the New Year

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As we ring in the New Year, many of us look for a new start, whether it’s de-cluttering the house or adopting a healthier lifestyle. You can achieve both by cleaning out your pantry and swapping processed junk for whole foods. Here are five ingredients to kick-start a year of clean eating.

1. Almond flour
If you are taking a break from grains or just want a replacement every now and then, almond flour is the perfect substitute for traditional flour. It adds good nutrients and a mild nut flavor to your recipe.

2. Whole almonds
If almond flour is good for you, so is its source. Keep the pantry stocked with whole, unsalted almonds for a variety of protein-packed recipes.

3. Coconut oil
Coconut oil replaces any high-heat cooking oil and has many health benefits. This oil is one of the most versatile and can be used in baking as a dairy-free butter replacement.

4. Coconut flour
Used in small amounts but full of fiber, protein and healthy fat, coconut flour is a perfect substitute for wheat flours.

5. Coconut milk
Creamy and full of flavor, coconut milk can be added to smoothies, soups and sauces. It also can replace milk or cream in baking. This ingredient is one of the best to have in your pantry.

6. Coconut sugar
A simple and easy baking substitute, coconut sugar looks more like brown sugar but can replace all sugar for baking. It adds an earthy flavor boost to any dessert that you want to lighten up.

 

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Grain Free Dairy Free Red Velvet Cupcakes

 ll6There are many reasons I love that I am pastry chef, but one of the main reasons is that you get to help celebrate all the wonderful events going on in someone’s life.   A few weeks ago, when I was asked to create a dessert for the 2nd birthday of Loubies and Lulu’s, I felt very honored, but I also felt the pressure to come up with a special dessert that encompassed everything Loubies and Lulus is about.  With two dessert options for the party, I chose one of my favorite clean sweets, Coconut Banana Chia Pudding and  Drea challenged me to create one of her favorite desserts, a healthy version of the very popular red velvet cupcake. This was a fun one for me to play around with and I was able to create a delicious and moist grain free and dairy free cupcake for her event. I have used some of my favorite ingredients for this clean sweet and everything that can be found in your local natural grocery store; almond flour, coconut oil, and coconut sugar. I hope you enjoy this recipe and I want to congratulate Loubies and Lulu’s for a wonderful two years of blogging!ll3 ll1

Grain Free Dairy Free Red Velvet Cupcakes
Yields 12
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Ingredients
  1. Red Velvet Cake
  2. 2 ¼ Cups Almond Flour
  3. 1-Cup Coconut Sugar
  4. 1 tsp Baking Soda
  5. ½ tsp Salt
  6. 2-½ Tbsp Cocoa Powder
  7. ½ Cup Coconut Oil, melted
  8. ½ Cup Coconut Milk
  9. 2 Eggs
  10. 1 tsp Red Food Color, Natural
  11. 1 tsp White Vinegar
  12. 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  13. Honey Meringue
  14. 2 large Egg Whites
  15. ½ cup Honey
  16. 1 tsp Ice Water
Instructions
  1. Red Velvet Cake
  2. 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line cupcake pans with paper cups.
  3. 2. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until combined and batter looks smooth.
  4. 3. Scoop batter into cupcake papers, filling them half way.
  5. 4. Bake cupcakes for 25-30 minutes, rotating them at 15 minutes.
  6. 5. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before piping the honey meringue icing.
  7. (if you are not eating the cupcakes the same day, store them in an airtight container and ice with meringue when ready to serve)
  8. Honey Meringue
  9. 1. Bring 2 inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.
  10. 2. In a heatproof bowl, combine egg whites and honey
  11. 3. Place the bowl with egg whites over the simmering water and whisk consistently until they are warm to the touch.
  12. 4. Remove the bowl from the heat and transfer to mixing bowl that attaches to your mixer
  13. 5. With the whisk attachment, start whipping your egg whites and honey on high
  14. 6. Add the teaspoon of water to your egg white and whisk until thick and glossy
  15. 7. Once cupcakes are cooled and ready to serve, pipe the meringue onto the cupcakes
  16. 8. Using a kitchen torch, lightly brown the meringue
  17. 9. Refrigerate if you are not serving them immediately
Notes
  1. Makes 12 regular size cupcakes or 24 mini cupcakes
INK foods : In Nanny's Kitchen http://inkfoods.com/
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Chocolate Cherry Granola Balls

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I might be mildly obsessed with these little bitty bite size treats.  I actually cannot stop eating them and I made them as a snack for my girls…well maybe a little for me (I do LOVE peanut butter)!  I have been focusing on healthy snacks in our house, to close out the summer and start the new school year fresh and these are on the top of my list.  

Summer is kind of a party for our family, no schedule, no routine and a lot of special treats (it helps us get through the day).  With only a  few more weeks left before school goes back, I want to prepare myself with the perfect afternoon snacks that are healthy, easy to make and the whole family loves. These peanut butter granola balls are the perfect refuel treat after a long day at work or school.  The hardest time of day, 4pm-5pm, when the whole family is hungry and I can’t make dinner fast enough, this is when we need these healthy snacks ready to go.  

I created thes bite size granola balls because I wanted something quick and easy that I can whip up any time with no oven needed.  I actually think these healthy treats taste more like dessert to me…and I am ok with that!   Enjoy these for breakfast, snack or as an after dinner treat and you won’t feel guilty about it!  

Feel free to change out some of the ingredients for your favorites!

Other Options:
Almond Butter —>Peanut Butter (makes them have a drier texture, but still good)
Raisins or Dried Cranberries—>Dried Cherries
Sliced Almonds—>Shredded Coconut

Chocolate Cherry Granola Balls
Yields 20
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup oatmeal
  2. 1/2 cup peanut butter, creamy
  3. 1/2 cup dried cherries
  4. 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  5. 1/4 cup coconut flakes, unsweetened
  6. 2 Tbsp honey
  7. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  8. pinch of salt
  9. pinch of cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl
  2. Mix until totally combined
  3. scoop a heaping 1 Tbsp of the oatmeal mixture and roll into balls
  4. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to eat!
INK foods : In Nanny's Kitchen http://inkfoods.com/
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Fruit Leather

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This is the perfect snack with the perfect ingredients and my girls loved it! They always seem be eating some type of fruit snack (which sounds really great and healthy) but when you actually look into the store bought fruit leather or fruit by the yard, there is so much added sugar and other unknown ingredients that totally takes away from the FRUIT in fruit snack. In this homemade, all fresh ingredient fruit leather, there is no added sugar and can be made with a large variety of fruits, fresh or frozen.  I have made two flavors that our family has enjoyed; Peach+ Mango is one of my favorites with flavors that make you feel like you are eating a pie and Strawberries+Mint will provide a refreshing taste for both kids and adults.  I love adding herbs and spices into snacks, allowing our girls to be familiar with other flavor profiles.  I hope you enjoy these easy clean sweets as much as we have!   

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Peach Mango Fruit Leather
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Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 cups fresh peaches, sliced (skin removed)
  2. 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen mango, cubed
  3. 1 Tbsp honey
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F and prepare sheet pan with silpat
  2. In a blender combine the peaches, mangos, and honey
  3. Blend until perfectly smooth
  4. Pour pureed fruit onto the sheet pan
  5. Bake at 200 degrees F for 5-6 hours
  6. Allow the fruit leather to cool completely
  7. Cut into 1 1/2" strips and roll with wax paper
  8. Store in air tight container
INK foods : In Nanny's Kitchen http://inkfoods.com/

Strawberry + MintSONY DSC

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SONY DSCStrawberries + Honey + Mint are the flavors that I chose for this recipe, but it can be made  with a variety of different fruits.  Peach, Mango, and  Mixed Berry are the next flavors on my list to make.  Hope you enjoy these easy clean sweets as much as we have! 

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Strawberry Mint Fruit Leather
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Ingredients
  1. 3 cups fresh strawberries, stems removed
  2. 1 Tbsp honey
  3. 4 mint leaves
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F and prepare sheet pan with silpat
  2. In a blender combine the strawberries, honey and mint leaves
  3. Blend until perfectly smooth
  4. Pour pureed fruit onto the sheet pan
  5. Bake at 200 degrees F for 5-6 hours
  6. Allow the fruit leather to cool completely
  7. Cut into 1 1/2" strips and roll with wax paper
  8. Store in air tight container
INK foods : In Nanny's Kitchen http://inkfoods.com/

Clean Sweets: Coconut, Pineapple & Mango Popsicles

SONY DSCSummer is here and the weather is hot, so we have popsicles on our mind!  Everyday or maybe a couple times a day, I get asked “can we have a popsicle” by our oldest and the baby seems to understand very clearly because she is also there waiting.  I agree, it is the most refreshing thing to eat in the summer heat.  Instead of buying them from the store with all the extra added sugar, these are the perfect clean sweets that you and your kids will love…mine have already tasted several of them :).  These have only four ingredients are can be varied with your favorite fruit; light coconut milk, fresh or frozen fruit and honey…sounds simple to me and it tastes light you should be on the beach enjoying this as a cocktail. 

SONY DSCDon’t be scared off if you don’t have any popsicle molds, I made these in the mini dixie cups and then added the stick before freezing.  If you are feeling ambitious and think you might make them more than once, here are some of the molds I love… Norpro Popsicle Mold, Zoku Classical Popsicle Mold, and  Sipper Ice Pop Molds (perfect for kids).
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Coconut Pineapple Mango Popsicles
Yields 8
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Ingredients
  1. 1 can light coconut Milk
  2. 1 cup frozen pineapple (or your fruit of choice)
  3. 1 cup frozen mango
  4. 2 Tbsp honey
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredient in a blender or food processor until smooth
  2. Pour into molds and freeze
  3. Enjoy!
INK foods : In Nanny's Kitchen http://inkfoods.com/
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