National Granola Bar Day

Granola Bars with oats and nuts on the tableThe United States is a country that is obsessed with food. Now that can be a good thing or bad thing, depending on how you look at it. Today is another day of observing a food item. Yes today is – National Granola Bar Day.

A granola bar includes whole grains, like oats, and quinoa and barley are also used. There are also dried fruits and nuts. To sweeten the bar either honey, molasses, agave nectar or sugar syrup is used. There are a variety of combinations that can add flavor and nutrition.

Making granola bars is a simple task. You mix the ingredients which are then pressed into a baking pan, and later cut into bars.

Granola bars are a go to food, because of seen as a energy bar. The are conveniently carried on hiking trips or biking trails. The bars can be high, but despite that, they are a healthy alternative to a candy bar. Eating a granola bar as a snack is okay, as long as you are active so as to burn the calories.

Outside of the United States granola bars are known by several names, including flapjack, meusli bars and cereal bars.

Here’s our rendition of a all organic, gluten free, paleo approved Granola Bar, and the following is what you will need.

mixed oats, nuts, seeds, raisins, honey and coconut oil, black background, selective focus

2 1/2 cups rolled oats

1cup wheat germ

1cup flax seed, slightly ground

14  cup sunflower seeds, optional to use sesame seeds, or pumpkin seeds

1 cup almonds, sliced, these nuts can also be used cashews, walnuts, peanuts, macadamias or pecans

1cup dry shredded coconut

1 teaspoon Himalayan salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons vanilla

1cup honey, optional to use raw honey

4 tablespoons butter

1cup brown sugar

1 cup dried fruit, including cranberries, golden raisins, pineapple, apricots, cherries, papaya, and prunes (optional to use fresh fruit)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and set aside.

Combine the oats, wheat germ, flax seeds, sesame seeds and almonds.

NOTE: If you chose to mix in another nut with the almonds, divide the nuts up into 1/2 cup servings, such as 1/2 cup of sliced almonds and 1/2 cup of the nut of your choice.

Spread mixture out evenly over the baking sheet and toast for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden. Stir mixture once or twice, to evenly toast the grains.

NOTE: We slightly ground our flax seeds, as whole flax seeds can not be digested whole, therefore not receiving the benefits of the seed.

In a large bowl combine salt, coconut, cinnamon and dried fruits, and set aside.

In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, add the vanilla, honey, butter and brown sugar. Stir continuously, bring mixture to a soft boil.

NOTE: You can use raw honey because of it dense nutritional content, but after baking the bars much of the vitamins, minerals, and enzymes will be destroyed from the high heat, therefore processed organic honey would be okay to use.

When oat mixture is done toasting, transfer to the same bowl with coconut mixture and stir to evenly combine, then add the honey mixture and stir to incorporate.

Line a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish with waxed paper. Spread the mixture, using the back of a wooden spoon, pressing the mixture out over the waxed  paper evenly to create a smooth, even surface.

Place another piece of waxed paper over the top, pressing down to evenly compact the mixture.

NOTE: Compacting is important so the bars won’t fall apart when cut. You can place a smaller pan within the 9 X 13 inch baking pan to press the mixture out evenly. You can also use a large drinking glass, by rolling it over the wax paper.

Homemade Granola Bars on the tea cup backgroundCool, than refrigerate about 2 hours. Doing so ensures a clean cut. After cutting the baked granola into bars, wrap them in waxed paper and store in a covered container and store in the refrigerator.Ty can even be store in the freezer for up to between 6 to 8 months.

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Garlic Thyme Chicken Thighs

Garlic Thyme Chicken ThighsGarlic has been used for many purposes other than food, throughout history.

  1. Homer mentions garlic in his famous Odyssey, saying that the deity Hermes, gave garlic to Odysseus as a protection against the goddess Circe‘s evil sorcery in which she turned men to swine.
  2. fresh grlic clovesDuring the Roman Empire garlic was a symbol of the common people, since no noble would debase himself by smelling of garlic.
  3.  Unfaithful Egyptian husbands relied on garlic’s unique “scented” properties, as they would chew a clove or two on their way home from visiting their mistresses, ensuring that a jealous wife would be unable to detect any stranger’s perfume.
  4. At the peak of  Egypt’s power over 4,00 years ago, garlic was given to the laborers and slaves who were building the great pyramids in order to increase their stamina and strength.
  5. Modern day Germany and Czechoslovakia both have an old Proverb that says, “A bite from a watch dog is much more cutting and painful if the dog has eaten garlic at the New year,” and another says, “Garlic is as good as ten mothers.”
  6. Garlic has been used to ward off vampire’s, so the legend goes, and during the medieval era when children went to play or work in the fields, cloves of garlic hung around their necks to protect them from the evil spells of the local witch.
  7. French priests of the Middle Ages used garlic to protect themselves against bubonic plague.
  8. During World War I, European soldiers prevented infection by putting garlic directly on their wounds.

After 6000 years of folklore, garlic has now come to be valued not only as a food source, but seen for it’s therapeutic benefits. Such as an article in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry states saying that garlic taken in conjunction with whole grains appears to increase the body’s absorption of iron and zinc.

Over the centuries of human history, garlic has remained synonymous with eternal youth, health, vigor and vitality.

Our featured recipe has fresh garlic cloves, 20 to be exact. Here is what you will need to prepare – Garlic Thyme Chicken Thighs.

2 tablespoons avocado oil 

4 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on

Himalayan salt

Black pepper

20 cloves garlic, separated and peeled, about two full heads

2 tablespoons gluten free multi-purpose flour

1 cup chicken broth

10 sprigs fresh thyme leaves, leaves removed and stems discarded

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Over medium high heat, in a cast iron skillet, heat the avocado oil .

chicken thighs seasoned with salt and pepperSeason the chicken thighs generously with salt and pepper.

chicken thighs skin side down in a cast iron skillet

Cook the chicken thighs skin side down on medium-high heat until well browned, for about 5 minutes, then flip the chicken thighs skin side up and cook for another 3 minutes. Remove the chicken thighs to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium, add the garlic to the same skillet, and cook, occasionally turning, until garlic starts to brown, 3 or 4 minutes.

partially cooked chicken thighs and gralic cloves in a cast iron skilletReturn the chicken to the cast iron skillet, cover with a lid (if the skillet has one) or aluminum foil, and place in oven for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and put it on a stove top. Have caution though removing the cast iron skillet, as the pan will be very hot.

cream sauce with thyme for Garlic Thyme Chicken ThighsRemove the chicken thighs, garlic, and all but 2 tablespoons of oil from the pan. Over medium heat, whisk in the 2 tablespoons of gluten-free flour with the oil in the pan.

Next, gradually whisk in the chicken broth and fresh thyme leaves for 1 or 2 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Remove the pan from the heat, and season the sauce with salt and pepper.

Garlic Thyme Chicken ThighsAdd the roasted garlic and chicken thighs back to the pan. Serve with your favorite side dish, a salad, and enjoy.

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Toasted Coconut Banana Pudding

Toasted Coconut Banana Pudding - Top View

Our pudding is referred to as “Toasted Coconut,” because it has that appearance of being toasted as we used coconut sugar. Coconut sugar is like brown sugar in appearance, but doesn’t have the same effect on blood glucose in the blood stream. In other words, it does not spike your sugar levels.

The Glycemic Index of coconut sugar is 35 as reported by the Philippine Coconut Authority, the largest supplier of coconut sugar along with Indonesia. 35 is classified as a low glycemic food.

Coconut sugar has many natural occurring nutrients, including magnessium, potassium, zinc, iron, B vitamins, and amino acids. Because it is unprocessed, the nutrient content is intact, unlike refined white table sugar.

Coconut sugar is actually more sustainable than sugar cane. The coconut palm tree produces up to 75% more sugar per acre than cane sugar, while only using 20% of the resources.

Now for the featured recipe: Toasted Coconut Banana Pudding, and here is what you will need.

1/2 cup organic coconut sugar

1/3 cup organic arrowroot starch

1/2 teaspoon organic Himalayan salt

3 cups silk Coconut milk (or your preferred organic brand)

3 tablespoons organic coconut butter

1 teaspon organic vanilla extract

About 30 to 40 organic vanilla wafers

3 ripe organic bananas

Toasted organic coconut for garnish (optional)

Organic heavy cream, whipped for topping (optional)

mixing ingredients in sauce pan to make Toased Coconut Banana Pudding

Whisk together coconut sugar, starch and salt in a medium saucepan.

Slowly whisk in coconut milk, oil, and vanilla. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly.

Lower heat and simmer whisking occasionally until mixture thickens, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.

layering sliced bananas and vanilla cookiesTo assemble spread a layer of vanilla wafers in a 9 X 9 inch square baking dish, or a 9-inch round baking dish (your choice) top with half of the banana slices and half of the pudding.

Continue with another layer of vanilla wafers followed by remaining bananas and ending with remaining pudding, spreading to cover all banana slices.

Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 to 5 hours or overnight.

Toasted Coconut Banana Pudding - Side ViewTo serve, line a dessert glass or small dessert bowl with some vanilla cookies, and top with fresh organic whipped cream and toasted coconut.

This is a gluten free and all organic dessert. Enjoy!!

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Carrot Cake Pancakes with Orange Maple Mascarpone Sauce

Gluten Free Carrot Cake Pancakes with Orange Maple Mascarpone Sauce

Gluten Free Carrot Cake Pancakes with Orange Maple Mascarpone Sauce

You may have heard of mascarpone as an Italian style cream cheese, but a softer texture, than the regular cream cheese, such as the brand name Philadelphia Cream Cheese. Mascarpone can be used in cheesecakes, and is also used to make Tiramisu. Because of its creamy texture, it makes a grand accompaniment with berries, like strawberries. The Italian style cream cheese is described in flavor as sweet, rich, and creamy-like with a mild buttery flavor.

Mascarpone was invented in southern Italy around the 16th century. It is made using the cream of cow’s milk. The name Mascarpone, pronounced  Mahs-kahr-po-nay, is thought to be related to the root word mascherare, an Italian verb meaning to “dress up” or “camouflage.”

This dressing up of the cow’s cream, relates to the way the cream cheese is made. It begins from mascarpa, which is a by-product that is extracted from the whey that is leftover from making stracchino, a semi-soft cheese made from whole cow’s milk, and once extracted from the whey, it is then coagulated with lemon juice and drained, and you have: Mascarpone.

Now for our featured recipe: Gluten Free Carrot Cake Pancakes with Orange Maple Mascarpone Sauce, and here is what you will need.

2/3 cup coconut flour

1 ripe medium banana

1 medium carrot finely grated, do not pat dry (should equal about 1 cup)

1/2 cup dried coconut, shredded and unsweetened

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons melted coconut butter

1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

3 eggs

2 cups coconut milk (can also use buttermilk, milk, or almond milk)

The Orange Maple Mascarpone Sauce to follow.

Ingredients for Carrot Cake Pancakes with Orange Maple Mascarpone SauceMix all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.

Carrot Cake Pancakes cooking in a skilletWarm a ceramic coated skillet over medium heat, and add a tablespoon of coconut butter. When butter is melted, add a ladle full of the pancake mix, and cook about 1 1/2 minutes on each side.

Before making the pancakes, in a separate small mixing bowl, make the Orange Maple Mascarpone Sauce, as follows.

Ingredients for Orange Maple Mascarpone Sauce

 

1 – 8 oz. tub of mascarpone cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 zest of an orange

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon real maple syrup

1/8 teaspoon Himalayan salt

Mix all ingredients in a small mixing bowl, and set aside. If there is any leftover cream cheese sauce, save in a glass jar with a tight lid for up to 10 days in the refrigerator.

Carrot Cake Pancakes with Orange Maple Mascarpone Sauce

 

When you have finished cooking the pancakes (makes about 6 large cakes), plate them and top with the Orange Maple Mascarpone Sauce. You can also top the sauce with some grated carrot, and nuts, like pecans or walnuts. Enjoy!!

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Gluten Free Creamy Pesto Fettuccine

Gluten Free Creamy Pesto Fettuccine

I like going to the Kona Grill here in town. They make the best Apple Walnut Bread Pudding and a wonderful Macadamia Chicken Salad. My favorite though is their Basil Pesto Linguine. I did adventure into the kitchen and used my cooking skills to try and mimic the dish (I posted it here: Basil Pesto Linguine). It came out pretty good, though it still needed something. So back to Kona Grill I went.

This time I was fortunate, as the manger came by my table and asked how our food was. I told her that I had tried my hand at making this dish, but it still needed something. She told me the pesto sauce contained chipotle peppers in adobo sauce as well. Then she said that is all she could say. But for me that was enough.

Play the video to get a glimpse at the finished dish. Though we did forget to put the small cherry tomatoes, we did even miss them, As the recipe had the same flavor as the Kona Grill. This time though I used gluten free fettuccine pasta.

Here is what you will need for the featured recipe.

16 ounces of cooked gluten free Fettuccine

1 lb. of chicken breasts, about 2, skinless and boneless

2 Andouille sausage links, about ½ pound

Can of Chipotle Peppers in Adobe Sauce½ cup fresh basil pesto (link here for recipe – History of Pesto Sauce)

1 teaspoon chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

1/3 cup heavy cream

15 cherry tomatoes (about), sliced in half to measure 1 cup (optional)

Cook gluten free fettuccine according to package instructions.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Meantime, while chicken is a little frozen, slice chicken breasts horizontally 2 to 3 times, depending on thickness of the breast meat. Cut slices into 1-inch chunks. Place cut chicken onto a baking sheet and place in heated oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until chicken is oblique in color and no longer pink.

Next add pesto to a small bowl and mix in adobo sauce and heavy cream, and set aside.

Cooked chciken and andouille sausage with creamy pesto

Place a large frying pan over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Next slice links down the middle and remove meat from casings and place into pan and start moving meat around with a spatula, so meat falls apart into small chunks.

Now add cooked chicken, and mix in with sausage. Next add pesto – chipotle sauce and mix in.

Prepared Gluten Free Creamy Pesto Fettuccini in a large ceramic coated  pan

Next add cook gluten free pasta, and mix till well incorporated.

Gluten Free Creamy Pesto FettuccinePlace pasta onto a serving platter, then plate and serve.

 

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Gluten Free Penne with Caponata Sauce

Gluten Free Penne with Caponata Sauce

You have no doubt heard of people who eat a gluten free diet. A gluten free diet excludes gluten, a protein found in wheat and related grains, like barley and rye. Gluten causes health problems in those who suffer with Celiac disease (CD) and in some cases those who may have allergies to wheat.

Some have argued we need carbohydrates and wheat needs to be eaten. Also others have voiced that eating Gluten free is just a fade diet. Are these statements true? We would say no.

Making the choice to take gluten out of your diet is for health reasons, and it has nothing to do with losing weight, as most fade diets proclaim. Secondly, you can obtain the same amount of carbohydrates as you would in wheat products as you can in eating fruits and vegetables.

De Boles Gluten Free  pasta for - Penne with Caponata SauceThe fact is most substitutions used for wheat do have some carbohydrates in them. Such as the product we chose to prepare are featured recipe.

This product De Boles is not exclusive to just using white or brown rice flour or corn flour, no but rather it uses brown rice flour with whole grain quinoa flour and ground flax seed flour, as well as the rice bran.

This gluten free product has 4 servings with 41 grams of carbohydrates per serving. As there is whole grains, and bran, it will not raise blood sugar levels.

Now for our featured all organic recipe: Gluten Free Penne with Caponata Sauce and here is what you will need.

1 red onion

1 red sweet pepper

1 yellow sweet pepper

3 small purple carrots

2 zucchini

1 medium egg plant

2 cloves garlic, minced

14 ounce can roasted tomatoes

1 teaspoon dried oregano

3 – 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preapred vegtables for - Gluten Free Penne with Caponata Sauce

Cut all the vegetables into chunky dices, but mince the garlic.

Sauting carrots, onions and garlic in olve oil

In a large skillet, saute oil, onions, garlic and carrots for 3 minutes. Next add the eggplant and peppers, and cook 3 minutes more, stirring frequently.

Now add the zucchini and cook 3 minutes more, and again stir frequently.

Adding roasted tomatoes to suateed vegetablesAdd roasted tomatoes….

adding oregano

Add the oregano and stir in, till well incorporated. Let simmer for 10 minutes.

Cooked pasta for - Gluten Free Penne with Caponata Sauce

Mean while, cook the gluten free pasta according to package instructions. Drain do not rinse. By this time the vegetables should have completed the 10 minutes of simmering.

Gluten Free Penne with Caponata Sauce

In a large serving bowl mix vegetables and pasta together. Plate and serve with a favorite meat, such as fresh ground turkey basil and feta sausages, from the Whole Foods Market. Enjoy!!

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Curried Apple Pumpkin Soup

 

Curried Apple-Pumpkin Soup

We found this recipe Curried Apple Pumpkin Soup, in the October coconut sugar2012 issue of Prevention. This soup is a gluten-free and vegan food.

Pumpkin is full of cancer fighting properties, which includes beta-carotene (read more here: Pumpkins Ability to Fight Cancer). For better absorption of this phytonutrient, pair it with a healthy fat, which we did using coconut oil.

Phytonutrients or phytochemicals are natural occurring chemicals that help protect plants from germs, fungi, bugs, and other threats. In turn when you eat the plant food and its phytonutrient, you get that protection as well.

Okay, enough of the science, and on to the featured recipe. Oh, by the way, you will note we used coconut sugar in the recipe.

Coconut sugar is a perfect 1:1 replacement for refined sugar. It has naturally occurring nutrients like magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron and 8 vitamins and amino acids.

Here’s a FACT: The coconut palm tree produces up to 75% more sugar per acre than cane sugar and uses only 20% of the resources.

Coconut sugar will not spike your blood sugar, making it a great food for diabetics.  Coconut sugar is a vegan food and great for gluten-free cooking and baking.

ingredients for Curried Apple Pumpkin SoupOn to the featured recipe, and here is what you will need:

1 large Granny Smith apple

1 tbsp. coconut oil

1 small yellow onion, chopped

1 tbsp. red curry powder

2 tbsp. ginger, fresh, grated or chopped

1 tsp. garlic, minced

2 cups fresh water

2 cups pureed pumpkin

Himalayan salt and coconut sugar to taste

Preparing Instructions

Melt oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Next add chopped apple and cook until golden in color. Next add onion, curry powder, ginger, and garlic. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring until soften and when you are able to smell the onion and garlic.

Stir in the water and pumpkin (add more water if too thick). Simmer stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.

Season the soup with Himalayan salt and coconut sugar, if desired. Serves 4 soup bowls.

We found the soup has a warmer flavor of ginger when aloud to set for a day or two. Enjoy!!

 

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