When you're in the mood for a healthy treat, Larabars are a go-to for many people - they're one of the few snacks that are gluten free, vegan, paleo, raw and actually taste good. Apple Pie was always my favourite flavour of Larabar, when I used to buy them, but unless they're on sale, I rarely buy these anymore. Firstly, because it's really easy to make your own, and secondly, because their parent company opposes GMO labelling. There are dozens of Larabar copy-cat recipes out there on the web, and so many different ways of achieving a common goal! I've seen recipes made with apple sauce, apple chips, apple rings, and actual apples - but this is my way of making Larabar copy-cats. These are great little snacks for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, or even for an on-the-go breakfast.
Recipe notes: My brand of apple chips was simply Fuji apples and cinnamon. Try to find apple chips with as few ingredients as possible, or dehydrate your own apples. If your chips don't have cinnamon, add about 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of cinnamon to the mix.
As far as dates go, I've used all different types of dates with success. Medjool, Algerian, Deglet... they're all good! There are subtle differences in flavour, so if you prefer one over another, use whatever you like.
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup pecans
1 cup dates, pitted
1 cup apple chips
unsweetened coconut flakes
optional: cinnamon, splash of vanilla
1. Add dates to food processor or magic bullet and pulse until they're finely chopped. Add the nuts and apple chips to the food processor. Pulse until the nuts are finely chopped and the mixture holds together when you mould it in your hand. (Don't allow the nuts to form into a paste/nut butter). You should still be able to distinguish small pieces of nuts and dates in the mixture.
2. Prepare a dish with some coconut flakes (about a half cup)
3. Form the mixture into small, 1-1/2 inch balls. Roll the balls in the coconut flakes.
These should be okay to keep covered on the counter for a few days, but any longer than that, you should store them in an airtight container in the fridge.
Living on my own, I don't always get to my produce when it's in the best shape for eating raw, so when I was faced with a giant peach that smelled delicious, but was slightly soft, I thought I could either cut it up and mix it into my yogurt, or I could make myself a delicious Sunday morning treat. With no grains/gluten and no refined sugar in the house, this was pretty much a no-brainer. I dug through my pantry and fridge, and came up with a recipe that I think will become a staple in my kitchen (I plan on replacing the peach with apples in the fall - yum!)
Paleo Peach Cobbler for One
1 ripe peach, peeled and cut into small chunks
1/2 a vanilla bean
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp ground flax seeds
1/4 cup almond flour
2 tbsp shredded, unsweetened coconut
3 tbsp butter, melted
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon
dash of sea salt
slivered almonds (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place peaches in a bowl. Scrape vanilla beans on top of peaches, add cinnamon and combine.
Place the fruit mixture at the bottom of a small oven-proof dish (I used a 23cm dish) or individual ramekins & set aside.
In a separate bowl, combine flax, almond flour and coconut until blended. Add the wet ingredients & spices, and mix until combined.
Top the peaches with the crisp mixture. Add slivered almonds if desired.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the topping is a light golden brown.
This makes an awesome breakfast when served warm... or throw some homemade vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt on the side for a quick and easy dessert.
I recently started a new job, and I've found that they like to do potluck food days for various occasions. Birthdays, holidays, anniversaries... if there's a reason, there's a food day. So when a surprise potluck was planned for my boss's boss's boss (catch that?), I knew I had to make something with a little more pizzazz than my standard desserts.
So I went to some web friends, who pointed me in the direction of a tortellini salad. It seemed simple enough for even me to make, given that I rarely cook. I thought I'd share my easy, lazy's girls version of Tortellini Salad.
- One bag of Cheese Tortellini
- Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Baby Spinach
- One jar of Roasted Red Peppers
- Other veggies as you see fit
For my tortellini, I went with a full bag of Barilla's Cheese and Spinach Tortellini. I simply followed the directions on the bag to cook the pasta. Once they were done, I strained out the water and let them sit to cool down.
While the pasta was cooking, I sliced the red peppers into thinner slices, so it could easily be tossed with the rest of the salad. I placed them into the container I'd be taking with me to work and refrigerated it while I waited for the pasta to cool.
After about 30 minutes, I checked to make sure the pasta had cooled down, then put the pasta into the container with the red peppers. I chopped up some baby spinach and added that on top, then poured some balsamic vinaigrette over it all. With a large spoon, I mixed it all up to get it nice and covered with dressing.
You'll want to let it cool for a few hours. Be sure to mix it up again when serving to ensure you get the peppers and spinach, since they may settle. Then enjoy!
Voila! I got compliments from my co-workers on it and I look forward to the next occasion to make this easy dish again.
When I found some ground chicken on sale for a great price at the grocery store, I just had to pick up a package... but then I found myself wondering what to make with it. I could have made fajitas or meatballs, but I wanted something different - and I was really in the mood for broccoli. Fajitas and broccoli just don't go together in my mind, so I had to come up with something new!
I used ingredients that are staples in my fridge & pantry - and because I was super hungry, I had to come up with something quick. The little bit of tapioca included in the sauce thickens it up nicely, and it tastes so good. This recipe serves two, but I must admit - I definitely went back for seconds after finishing my first dish!
Spices to taste (I used a few shakes of chili pepper, and crushed red pepper)
1 tbsp olive oil
250 grams ground chicken (1/2 package)
1 cup frozen broccoli
Add all ingredients for the sauce to a bowl and whisk together until smooth. Set aside.
Heat olive oil on medium high heat in a pan. Add the chicken once the oil is hot. Once the chicken is browned, add the sauce to the chicken. Cook a few minutes longer until the sauce thickens.
Meanwhile, steam your broccoli using a steamer and a shallow pot of water. If desired, you can add a little bit of minced garlic to the broccoli for a little bit of extra flavour.
To serve, place the broccoli in the bottom of a dish, and spoon the chicken on top, allowing the sauce to drizzle over the broccoli.
Note: this would also taste great with some jasmine or basmati rice, if you allow rice into your diet!
The recipe doesn't take long at all to prepare - maybe 30 minutes max from ingredient gathering to final meal, so it makes it perfect for a work night. I think it would taste great as leftovers too, however, I would probably steam the broccoli fresh the next day - microwaved/reheated broccoli doesn't always have the same flavour.
I'm pretty sure that this recipe will be added to my current rotation of weeknight dinners - how about you? Are you going to give it a shot? Leave tips in the comments if you try it or customize it for yourself!
As part of my Influenster #jadorevoxbox, I was given a family size bag of Hershey's Kisses to try and enjoy. Let me repeat that: a FAMILY sized bag. That's a lot of kisses for one girl - especially one girl who's trying to be conscious of her eating habits. I prefer eating primal/paleo most of the time, but I don't mind the occasional splurge, so I came up with this recipe for chocolate cookies that use mostly primal friendly ingredients. Of course, the Kisses aren't, but if you don't mind the splurge, go for it!
These cookies are rich, and sweet, and irresistible!
2 oz chocolate (I used Kisses, you can experiment with other milk/dark/bittersweet chocolate)
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup butter, cubed
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
18 Hershey Kisses (or more/less depending on how many cookies you get out of your batch)
Preheat your oven to 350.
Melt 2 oz of chocolate either in the microwave or over a double-boiler.
To the base of a food processor add almond flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and coconut sugar. Pulse together until well blended.
Add cubed butter. Mix until dough is crumbly.
Add eggs, vanilla, and melted chocolate. Mix until smooth and fully incorporated.
Pulse in coconut flakes.
Drop by tablespoon-full onto a parchment- or silpat-lined baking sheet (note: I ran out of parchment so I used foil that was greased with coconut oil). They will spread quite a bit while baking, so make sure you leave enough space around each cookie. I fit 9 on an oversized cookie sheet. Press a Hershey Kiss into the top of each cookie.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until set. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. They'll still be soft, but will firm up out of the oven.
These were pretty darn delicious. Everyone who tried one gave me lots of compliments, and didn't even realize that they were made with my "crazy" ingredients! Love when that happens.
** Note: I do have process photos of all the steps, so if you need them, feel free to leave a note in the comments. I'm not sure that they add much to the recipe, because it's all pretty straight forward. But let me know if you need help with any of the steps!
As I venture through my thirties, I find myself becoming more aware of the products I put into my body. Last week, the World Health Organization advised that sugar should make up just 5 per cent of our daily calorie intake, which is half of its previous recommendation. And one of the sad facts of the North American diet is that even if you avoid all desserts, you're still putting way more sugar into your body than it needs. Sugar is hiding in everything from cereals (even the "healthy" ones), to fruit juices (even the "natural" ones), salad dressings, pretty much everything on a fast food menu, and so on.
Even worse than regular white table sugar are the alternatives that are marketed to dieters and diabetics. Products like Equal, Splenda and other aspartame-based products are pumping chemicals into your body which may or may not have health risks such as cancer attached to them. I'd definitely prefer to avoid those.
Don't even get me started on High Fructose Corn Syrup.
So, what are we supposed to do, living in a world surrounded by sugar? Ideally, the best course of action would be to change your taste buds. Train them not to crave the sweet anymore. If you're serious about this, my best advice would be to follow the Whole 30 plan for one month. It's HARD. But I did it. And you can too. And it's worth it.
If you're not quite ready to go that far, here's a list of the sugar alternatives that I like to keep on hand in my pantry:
Coconut Sugar Coconut Sugar (aka coconut palm sugar) is derived from the sap of the coconut palm. The sap is heated to remove water content, and then crushed into granules. It looks and tastes similar to brown sugar. It's low on the glycemic index, and can be used at a 1:1 ratio in most recipes. Coconut sugar is gaining popularity in North America and can be found in many grocery stores (I actually saw some in No Frills, our local discount grocer, last night!), or it can be ordered online.
Maple Syrup Maple Syrup is personally, one of my favourite sweeteners to use. It is readily available, and easy to use. When replacing sugar with maple syrup in baked goods, you will probably need to reduce the amount of other liquids by about a quarter to a third. Slightly less easy to find in stores is maple sugar, which is the dehydrated, granulated form of maple syrup. But it may be easier to replace in recipes.
Honey (Raw, Local)
Honey, particularly raw, local honey if you can find it, is an excellent choice as a sugar alternative. It has health benefits beyond many sugar alternatives as it aids in local allergies and is packed with vitamins. It is sweeter than table sugar, and packs more calories. Honey has a different flavour than most other sugars, so it may not always be the best substitute in baked goods - but it is definitely excellent in a cup of tea.
Xylitol Xylitol is a sugar alcohol and is commonly found in chewing gum, as it's known for its tooth remineralizing properties. In its granulated form, it is very low on the glycemic index and can be replaced 1:1 with sugar. It has fewer calories than sugar and is absorbed slower by the body, which makes it an excellent alternative for diabetics. The one down-side to xylitol that I've read about is that it may produce a laxative effect if consumed in high quantities. I've personally never experienced this, but since reading it, I avoid using it as a substitute in recipes calling for a large amount of sugar.
Stevia is derived from a plant in the sunflower family. It comes in various forms: granulated, powdered, or liquid drops being among the most popular. The liquid form is often flavoured. Stevia is popular as a sugar substitute because it has zero calories, zero carbs and is at zero on the glycemic index. Depending on the brand, stevia can have a licorice-type aftertaste, so it's not necessarily my favourite of the sweetener alternatives, but it definitely has its place on this list.
**Note: One other sugar alternative that I do not personally use is Agave Syrup. I've read a lot of pros and cons on agave, and I'm not convinced that it's any better than table sugar, or any of the sugar alternatives I currently use in my own home. Feel free to discuss your thoughts in the comments!