Healthy Treats, Snacks

Trail Mix Oat Cookies

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A few years back, one of my daughters had brought home a cookie recipe from Pioneer Girls- what is that? It’s a faith based “Brownies/Girl Guides”, as I like to refer to it :). The recipe was called Spirit Cookies/Scripture Cookies and each ingredient had a bible verse to go along with it. It was really cute and I noticed that this recipe wasn’t far off from being healthy, simple and free from most common allergies. So, I decided to revamp it and make my own version……except there won’t be a bible verse for each of my own ingredients, I’m not that clever.

Since my original recipe contained gluten and honey, I set out to make batches that were either gluten free but had honey, batches that contained gluten but without honey and batches that were both gluten free and vegan. There were many, many flops-of course my kids loved theses the most, they just didn’t look like the ones in the photo (they were too flat).

Here are a few…..

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I also want to mention that for any gluten free recipe, I’ll try to avoid the majority of premade gluten free flour mixes. These premade flours usually use refined ingredients. It would be beneficial to your health and wallet if you made your own.

As much as it is beneficial to avoid certain foods for optimal health, it’s even better to focus more on what we are adding in to the diet rather than the taking away, ” I can’t have that”, restrictions. The more you add in nutritious foods, the better you will start to feel and your body will crave more of the good foods¬† (because they won’t taste like high sugar or high salted, deep fried card board ūüėČ ) and the junk will get pushed to the side, changing your mind set from ” I can’t have that” to “I don’t want that”.¬† And, all those foods that you used to crave and love so dearly- cookies, pizza, burgers, chips, ice cream, can be revamped and made into something that will love you back!

Let’s talk a little about how these little cookies can be the right kind of treat. We are trying to focus on adding in foods that will give your body something back or feed your cells instead of robbing them. The ingredients in these cookies as opposed to your basic cookie with high sugar, high fat, refined carb content, have more vitamins and minerals to feed your cells, stabilize blood sugar levels and leave you satisfied. When we eat foods that are lacking in nutrients, especially fibre, we feel the need to keep eating. Have you ever eaten a piece of cake or had a cookie and it went down fairly easy, leaving you a bit hungry or feeling like you could go for another piece whether it’s right away or an hour or so after?………

Here’s Why

  • Fibre and The Lack There Of:¬† Fibre fills you up quickly, leaving you full a lot faster. It also helps you to maintain steady blood sugar levels so that you won’t be crashing soon after a sugar spike and then left feeling tired and in need of some energy (food/sugar/caffeine). In the long run, the lack of fibre coupled with these refined carbs will foster a¬†poor microbial environment in your gut, leading to a condition called Candida. This condition will cause you to crave more of these foods as well, and the cycle will continue if we don’t stop it.

A few things you can do to encourage a healthy microbial environment in your belly are by adding in more whole grains,starting with oats- If you haven’t already, try adding in a bowl of¬†oats into your breakfast menu. If you aren’t sensitive to gluten, incorporate more flours like spelt in place of white flour. Spelt is an older relative to wheat and is easier to digest, especially if it has been sprouted first. Add in more nuts and seeds like¬†raw pumpkin seeds¬† , flax seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts or almonds for a nutritional boost. These will help with blood sugar stability as well. If you have a sweet tooth like myself, try using a less refined sugar instead of buying products with sugar already added. This way you’ll have more control over how much sugar is going into your food. Pure maple syrup is a better choice when it comes to added sugars. It still contains some of its vitamins and minerals and thus becomes a sugar that isn’t as quickly released into the blood stream.

Ok, It’s cookie time!

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Because of their nutrient value and lower refined sugar content, these cookies would be breakfast worthy- the gluten free version is pretty much just an oatmeal bowl in the form of a cookie ūüėČ

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Trail Mix Oat Cookies

Makes: 25-30 small cookies

Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

Cook Time: 20-30 minutes

Ingredients

Dry Ingredients:

2 cups rolled oats

1 cup spelt flour

1/2 cup raisins

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, raw

1/4 cup sunflower seeds, raw

1tbsp chia seeds

1tbsp cacao nibs , optional

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp sea salt

Wet Ingredients:

2 flax eggs (1tbsp ground flax to 3tbsp water=1 flax egg)

1/2 cup virgin coconut oil, melted

1/2 cup unpasteurised honey or 1/4 cup plus 2tbsp of pure maple syrup for the vegan version

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 350¬ļ F

  1. Make you flax eggs first by putting 2 tablespoons of ground flax and 6 tablespoons of water into a small dish, mix together and let it sit until it sets (see photo below).
  2. Place spelt flour, oats, baking soda, sea salt and cinnamon into a medium sized mixing bowl and whisk with a fork until mixed well. Next, add in seeds, raisins and cacao nibs (if using), mix together.
  3. In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, add in your melted coconut oil, honey or maple syrup, vanilla and flax eggs. Mix until it slightly comes together.
  4. Add your wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until well combined. If you’re using maple syrup, you will need to let your batter sit for 5 at least minutes before placing onto a cookie sheet because this sweetener isn’t as thick as honey and may make your batter runny.
  5. Using a medium sized cookie scooper or a large table spoon, scoop cookie batter, making sure it is packed firmly and then place dough onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Once the cookie dough is on the cookie sheet, you might want to pack it together if some of it starts to separate.
  6. Place cookies in preheated oven and bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly golden brown. We usually bake our cookies for 8 minutes because I like mine a bit softer ūüôā
  7. Let cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

Here’s what the flax egg looks like…..

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Gluten Free Version

Makes: 15- 20 medium cookies

Ingredients

Dry Ingredients:

1 cup gluten free oat flour (see note)

1 cup buckwheat flour (see note)

1 cup quick oats, certified gluten free

1 cup rolled oats, certified gluten free

1/2 cup raisins

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, raw

1/4 cup sunflower seeds, raw

1tbsp chia seeds

1tbsp cacao nibs, optional

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp sea salt

Wet Ingredients:

2 flax eggs (1tbsp ground flax to 3tbsp water=1 flax egg)

1/2 cup  brown rice syrup or 1/2 cup unpasteurised honey if not vegan

1/2 cup virgin coconut oil, melted

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Instructions

*Note: For the flours, instead of buying pre made oat and buckwheat flours, you can easily make your own at home. For the oat flour, process rolled oats in a food processor until it is flour like in consistency- it doesn’t need to be super fine. For the buckwheat flour, place buckwheat grouts into a coffee grinder, preferably that doesn’t get used to grind coffee, and grind into a flour (it grinds up quickly).

*This batch of cookies is not as sweet as the others. If you’d like to add a bit more sweetener with out flattening the cookies, you could add in a package of stevia.

Preheat your oven to 350¬ļ F

  1. Make flax egg and set aside until it has set
  2. Place flours, oats, baking soda, sea salt and cinnamon into a medium sized mixing bowl and whisk until mixed well. Next, add in seeds, raisins and cacao nibs (if using), mix together.
  3. In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, add in your melted coconut oil, brown rice syrup or honey, vanilla and flax eggs. Mix until it slightly comes together.
  4. Add your wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until well combined. Let batter sit for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Using a medium sized cookie scooper or a large tablespoon, scoop cookie batter, making sure it is packed firmly and then place dough onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. If cookie dough doesn’t stay nicely packed, use your hands to lightly pack it back together without flattening the cookie.
  6. Place cookies in preheated oven and bake for 9-10 minutes or until lightly browned.
  7. Let cookies cool on the pan for 5-8 minutes until transferring to a cooling rack.

Enjoy!

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Thanks for stopping by ūüôā

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Healthy Treats, Snacks

Raspberry Bliss Bars

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It feels like it’s been awhile since I’ve last posted a recipe! We are currently riding into our second week of spring break and enjoying ever minute of it-the absence of rushing to get from point A to point B, not having to pack lunches or worry about who’s having what for breakfast or even eating it!¬† Breaking from our busy schedule means I’ve with drawn form my work as well. As much as I love my job, my kids are my number one priority- we only have them for a small window of time before their adulting on their own (hopefully)…..I don’t know about you but my kids seem to grow at a rapid rate!! ūüėČ

Enough of that, how about these bars??

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The bits of cashew along with little bits of raspberry, all held together with sweet gooey dates….

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I find these little energy bars to be very indulgent. Their packed with antioxidants, fibre, plant protein, vitamins and minerals. They are also cheaper than their store bought counter part!

These bars are fairly easy to make. If you have dates, nuts/seeds, you can turn it into a number of plant based desserts/snacks- energy bites, energy bars, pie crust, crumble, gooey filling, raw muesli…etc. Just add in a few extras to turn it into something fabulous!

To start the process, I like to grind the nuts/ seeds into a type of nut/seed meal until it looks like this…

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Next, I add in the chewy/dried fruit such as dates and raisins along with the raspberry extract and a pinch of sea salt. Then, process until it forms a gooey dough.

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I added in the ¬† freeze dried raspberries* last so that they wouldn’t turn to dust in the bars. I wanted keep some of their form so that you can see and taste the berries.

Once your mixture has come together nicely, place it in an 8X8 inch baking pan that is lined with parchment paper. Next, with clean/slightly damp hands, press the mixture out to the edges making sure that it is even.

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You can cover the mixture with an extra piece of parchment paper to help smooth it out even more. Leave the mixture covered and place in the freezer for 4 hours or over night. These bars are better if kept in the freezer until they are ready to be eaten. If you want these bars to be “shelf stable” and lunch kit worthy, use less dates (3/4 cup of packed) instead of the full amount. And to make them nut free, you can use sunflower seeds or a mix of sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds instead of the cashews.

Once the bars have firmed up, cut into 10 bars-feel free to cut them up smaller for younger children because these can be quite filling.

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Don’t worry if yours don’t turn out perfectly formed……mine never do. I usually cut off the odd looking edges and they end up becoming samples for the kids that happen to be watching and drooling during the whole process ūüėČ

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A note about the berries….. if you’ve clicked on the highlighted area, you’ve probably noticed that they aren’t cheap! A bag will last for three to four batches of these bars though. Also, I’ve found that if you buy in multiples, they are cheaper.

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Raspberry Bliss Bars

Serving: 10 bars

Time: 5 minutes plus freezing time

Ingredients:

1 cup pitted dates, packed

3/4 cup raw unsalted cashews

1/2 cup raisins

1/8-1/4 cup freeze dried raspberries*

1 tsp pure raspberry extract*

Pinch of sea salt

Instructions:

1. Place cashews into a food processor and process until it turns into a crumbly mixture, about 30 seconds.

2. Add in your dates, raisins, raspberry extract and sea salt. Then, process until mixture forms a gooey dough, about 30-60 seconds.

3. Add in your freeze dried raspberries and pulse for 20 seconds. If there are bits of raspberries that haven’t made their way into the mixture, mix them in by hand when taking the “dough” out and into the lined baking dish.

4. With clean/ lightly damp hands, press the formed mixture in the middle, spreading it out evenly to the edges.

5. Cover and place in the freezer for 4 hours or leave in over night.

Tip:

To make these bars nut free, sub the cashews with your favorite seeds or a combination of seeds. You can also add in 1/8- 1/4 cup of rolled oats for a firmer bar.

Enjoy ūüôā

Thanks for stopping by!

Healthy Treats, Snacks

Holiday Spice Energy Bites

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Here is a quick and easy recipe for those busy days during the holiday season. You can pop these into the kids lunches or your own. If there are nut allergies in your household or if your child goes to a school that is nut free, the almonds in this recipe can be substituted with a variation of seeds for a nut free version. These little bites are a great source of sustained energy. They won’t give you the quick energy that leaves you tired and hungry an hour later. For a time saver, make a couple batches and freeze ( they freeze well!). These don’t need to be limited to a snack, they can also be brought as a dessert/treat to your next holiday gathering! Fill up on a couple of these and you won’t want any of the other desserts or you might just be inclined to eat less of the unhealthy stuff.

Holiday Spice Energy Bites

Makes 22-24 energy bites

Ingredients:

1/2 cup  raw unsalted almonds

1/4 cup hemp hearts

1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds

3/4 cup pitted dates, packed

2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp all spice

1/4-1/2 tsp ground ginger

pinch of cardamom ( optional)

pinch of nutmeg

2-3 drops of food grade pure orange oil/ extract ( optional) or 1 tsp grated orange peel

 

Instructions:

  1. Place almonds in a food processor and process for 5-10 seconds ( if your omitting almonds, skip this step)
  2. Add in the your seeds and process for 15 seconds
  3. Next, add in your dates, spice mix and vanilla. Process on high for 30 seconds or until mixture can form into a ball when scooped out.
  4. Scoop out about a rounded teaspoon full of the mixture and roll into a ball. You may need to wash your hands half way through as the mixture gets a little sticky.

 

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If you liked this recipe and are looking for more, feel free to sign up for updates on recipes like this one! ūüôā

Enjoy!

 

Breakfast, Healthy Treats, Recipes, Snacks

Simple After School Snacks

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It’s safe to say that after school the majority of kids come home hungry or in my kids case, famished. It’s like they haven’t eaten all day. As I watch them empty the contents of their lunch kits, I see half of the lunch that was packed, untouched-most of which consists of the things I would have liked them to eat first; nuts, seeds and vegetables. Yes, even I still haven’t been able to get my children to love their vegetables. But overtime I’ve kept making sure that vegetables either accompanied their meals or are put into a recipe. Fast forward a couple years and they’ve started to add a few of these¬†vegetables to their favorites list or at least to the list of things they’ll tolerate……baby steps.

Some of these snack ideas that I’m sharing might be¬†familiar to some of you but I¬†want to emphasize two things in regards to them.

Keep Them Whole

By this I mean whole grains and whole fruits. One of the reasons why kids are feeling hungry after school¬† is because blood sugar levels are low. When this happens our kids tend to crave¬†foods that have a high sugar content. The more¬†refined and sugary their morning and afternoon meals were, the more likely you are to bring home a tired,¬†cranky/irritable and hungry child that kind of looks like your child but doesn’t behave like them ūüėȬ†Not fun for the child or the parent!

Get the Kids involved

Time for their creativity to shine.¬†Have all the ingredients out buffet style and let the¬†kids assemble¬†and pick out¬†their choices¬†and variations for their snack masterpiece. Children are more likely to¬†eat¬†something they’ve made or helped to make.

Here are a few simple and very versatile snack ideas that you can add to your family’s repertoire of foods to curb the mid day munchies.

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Apple Slices, Almond Butter, Dried Cranberries Plus a Few Exras

This snack can be¬†changed up with¬†different nut butter and dried fruit. For a nut less version, you can¬†use a seed butter¬†and sprinkle with sunflower seeds or hemp hearts. The kids can turn these into mini apple treat pizzas¬†by using all of the ingredients or only a couple. I found that our family liked having all the different tastes and textures. You’ve got sweet, tart, crunchy, and chewy all in one bite!

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Homemade Hummus With Veggies Of Choice

If you’re in a pinch, you can use premade hummus but be sure to read the ingredients label as some contain harmful oils and chemicals. And once¬†you’ve stumbled on a good homemade recipe, store bought won’t even compare.¬†Using dried beans means a little more time. It is best to make a big batch to have on hand, plus it is cheaper. If you don’t have the time and are looking to buy canned chickpeas, I’d suggest buying the ¬†brand Eden Foods as these aren’t processed with chemicals and the lining of the can¬†is BPA free.

Our Favorite Hummus

4 1/2 cups of cooked chickpeas or 2 cans, drained and rinsed

4 small cloves of garlic, crushed

1/2-1 lemon, juiced

1/2 cup of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp sea salt

pinch of freshly ground pepper

Instructions

Place all the ingredients, except the oil into a food processor. You can also use a hand held blender, especially if you choose to make a smaller batch. Blend on high when using the food processor and slowly add in oil and blend until it has a fluffy texture (1-2 minutes), you might need to scrape down the sides a bit. If you are using a hand held blender, you can add the oil before blending. Blend on high speed until fully blended. Top with hemp hearts for an extra boost of protein, fibre and omegas.

Cut up some of your child’s favorite veggies and dip away. Or let your child get a little creative and make one of these guys

IMG_7928 (1)This guy gives a whoot¬† about healthy eating ūüėČ

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PB&J Smooothie

Here is an alternative to the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich that doesn’t require bread. This smoothie is loaded with antioxidants and¬†immune boosting nutrients that will¬†help¬†fight that¬† back to school/fall cold.

Recipe

1 cup of  unsweetened milk alternative of choice

3/4 cup frozen berry mix

2 tbsp natural peanut butter or seed butter for nut free option.

1 tbsp Stevia, Wholesome Brand doesn’t have¬†as¬†strong of a taste as other brands of stevia do

or 1 tbsp of unpasteurized honey

Instructions

Place liquids into a high speed blender then add peanut butter, frozen berries, and blend on high until smoothie is well blended.

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Loaded Brown Rice Cakes

Here is another opportunity for the kids to get creative as these can be turned into mini pizzas. The possibilities are endless. These can be made savory with hummus or guacamole as a base. The only main thing to try and focus on is to keep the ingredients whole by adding foods that are an ingredient rather than foods that have a list of ingredients. These rice cakes aren’t technically a whole food but these ones (Lundberg Organics ) contain two ingredients that are a whole food. Brown rice is a whole grain, white rice isn’t. Refined grains lead to unstable blood sugar levels and are lacking¬†important vitamins and minerals which in turn will send hunger signals soon after.

For these loaded rice cakes I used:

1. Natural almond butter, blueberries, unpasteurized honey, topped with hemp hearts

2. Natural almond butter, bananas, dried unsweetened cranberries

3.  Natural peanut butter, bananas and unsweetened coconut flakes

You can sub the nut butter for seed butter for nut free version or variety.

My goal is that¬†this be simple, nutritious, contain ingredients that you¬†might regularly have on hand and that those ingredients be interchangeable……..and fun of course!

I hope these recipes benefit your afterschool time with your children. If you’d like updates on more recipes like these ones, feel free to sign up down below!