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September 30, 2011

Green Monster #6

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I feel like kiwis are a fruit that go somewhat unnoticed.  It isn't a food that most people will run to the store to buy, like I tend to do for foods like pineapples, grapes, bagels, peanut butter, and . . . this list could go on and on, but I'll just stop there  :)


But why do they fade into the background?  (Well, it may be because of how they look:  unappealing!)

BUT, despite the hairiness part, did you know that kiwifruits are super healthy?  (What fruit isn't?!)

One medium kiwi averages out at 70 calories a piece, with 4g of fiber and vital nutrients, such as 115% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C, 12% of your vitamin E and 45% of your vitamin K.  Plus, it contains minerals, like potassium!  You may think I am crazy when I say this, but, I eat the kiwi skin too . . .


*gasp!*

Don't worry, my friend said "ew" too.  But the skin is packed full of antioxidants and fiber.  It is part of the fruit, just like the skin of an apple.  It should be left on!  I'll admit, the first bite feels like you're about to bite a chunk of grass out from the ground, but after that, it is just like eating an apple.  If you are still grossed out by the skin, though, simply blend it up into a smoothie!  And since it's green, why not add some avocado?  Oh, and some spinach...

I love the little kiwi seed speckles!

Green Monster #6:  [high fiber, vegan]
(serves 2)

   2 Kiwis, ripe and with skin left on!
   1 Avocado, small
   1 cup Pineapple Chunks
   big handful of Baby Spinach
   1 cup of Unsweetened Soymilk (or "milk" of choice)
   10-14 drops Stevia Extract (or sweetener of choice)

Directions:
1.  Scrub your kiwis gently to remove any dirt or pesticides (if not buying organic, I didn't), and cut the ends off of the kiwi, discarding them
2.  Put all of the ingredients into a large, powerful blender and blend for about a minute, or just until no chunks of kiwi skin are left.  Enjoy!


Have a good weekend!  Slurp slowly  :)

September 27, 2011

Peanut Butter & Dark Chocolate Shortbread Bars

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What???  Peanut Butter and Chocolate Shortbread Bars can be healthy?!?


Yes!  A butter-free "shortbread" crust comprised of whole grain oats, honey and natural protein powder ...  a soft PB filling that is to die for, using natural peanut butter ...  a delicious, thick dark chocolate peanutty layer to top it all off.


Are you salivating yet?

But you know me, it took a few trials to get these bars just right.  Ah, and so we begin:

Trial #1:
     When we're talkin peanut butter and chocolate, I don't think anyone could go wrong there  :)  Just because these bars were sticky and gooey, they were still mighty delicious!  These bars did not have a shortbread crust because I thought of adding it the second time around.  Oh, and clearly. . . there was not. enough. chocolate!


Trial #2:
     I was really surprised that the shortbread actually turned out like shortbread!  It was crumbly, just like real shortbread cookies are.  But, the crust came out thicker than I expected, almost as thick as the peanut butter filling!  In the next trial the shortbread crust recipe will be cut in half.
     As for the peanut butter filling, I was imagining a soft texture.  Unfortunately, it was hard, dry and crumbly. I think the dryness factor was because of the brown rice syrup, which is a lot thicker than honey, so in the next trial honey will be used instead.
     And finally, the chocolate topping.  It looked good, the texture was great, but the taste was awful--I used 100% cacao unsweetened chocolate mixed with 2 tbs of peanut butter and and 20 drops of stevia extract, and not even that could rid the bitterness from the chocolate!  Plus, right after making the bars, I remembered that I was using whey protein concentrate (a milk product) in the peanut butter filling, rendering the 100% cacao chocolate useless antioxidant-wise (read this post for more info on chocolate-antioxidant absorption).  So in the next trial, 60% cacao chocolate will be used for a much more pleasant taste.


Trial #3:
     YUMMM!  I don't think the word "delicious" can even begin to describe these cute little baby bites!  The "buttery" vanilla shortbread, the soft peanutty filling, the smooth chocolatey topping, mmmm. . . much better than the previous trials--no dryness, no bitterness, no sticky peanut butter layer!  Although (for some reason) while I halved the shortbread crust recipe, I didn't half the salt.  So, apart from the salty crust I made, I have no complaints!


Well, I might have one.  Dare I say, I think these bars had too much chocolate?

     ...

I heard you gasp!  But don't cover your ears screen, please!  Let me explain!  Even though the chocolate added a good bite to the bars, I felt it was too strong and detracted from the peanut butter flavor.  I think that the 4oz of chocolate I used should be reduced to 3oz, or maybe even 2oz?

     ...

Oh no, should I retract that statement?  Should I expect some hate mail from the chocolate-lovers out there?



No, I don't think I'll get hate mail.  These bars are just. too. good.
They have the perfect balance of flavors with optimum nutrition!


Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate Shortbread Bars:  [no bake, high protein, GF, vegan]
(makes 9 big squares or 36 bites)

   Shortbread Crust:
       96g (1 cup) Old Fashioned Rolled Oats, blended to a flour (GF if you like)
        48g (1+1/2 scoops) Vanilla Protein Powder
        1/4 tsp Salt
        105g (5 tbs) Brown Rice Syrup
        28g (2 tbs) Coconut Oil
        1/2 tsp Hazelnut Extract (or vanilla)
        1/2 tsp Stevia Extract
        1/4 tsp Butter Extract

   Peanut Butter Filling:
        256g (1 cup) Natural Peanut Butter (no sugar/salt/oil added)
        189g (1/2 cup + 1 tbs) Honey or Agave
        1/2 tsp Stevia Extract
        96g (3 scoops) Vanilla Protein Powder

   Chocolate Topping:
        2-4oz 60% Cacao Chocolate (2oz if you like chocolate, 4oz if you love it to the point where you'd marry it)
        32g (2 tbs) Natural Peanut Butter (no sugar/salt/oil added)
        20 drops Stevia Extract



Directions (for the shortbread crust):
1.  Line a square brownie pan with parchment paper both ways for easy removal later.
2.  Mix together the blended oats, protein powder and salt, then add in the brown rice syrup, coconut oil and extracts.  Stir until everything is incorporated and even (you can use a hand mixer and a large bowl if you like)
3.  Press the mixture down into the brownie pan until every corner is even in height.  This batter makes just enough to fit the bottom of the pan.  Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes, or until firm and dry.

Directions (for the peanut butter filling):
1.  In a large bowl, add the peanut butter, honey/agave and stevia extract and stir.  Add in the protein powder and pinch of salt and stir until combined (you can use a hand mixer for this too).  It should look like a big, soft blob of peanut butter play-doh.
2.  Press this onto the shortbread crust until even in height.  I would suggest using a pastry roller if you have one, but I used a rubber spatula.  Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes, or until firm.

Directions (for the chocolate topping):
1.  Break up the chocolate into pieces, and microwave at thirty second intervals until melted.
2.  Add the peanut butter and stir in until melted and incorporated.
3.  Add the stevia extract five drops at a time, stirring after every 5 drops.
4.  Pour the mixture over the peanut butter layer (if the chocolate is too hot, let it cool a little bit) and spread until even.  Refrigerate until the chocolate has just barely hardened, then take it out and slice (this allows the chocolate so slice in nice lines rather than break, which happened to me because I refrigerated it overnight and then sliced them).  Store in the refrigerator covered with plastic wrap.
5.  To serve, take out of the refrigerator to soften for 10 minutes, EAT!


These are best eaten close to room temp.  The fork slides easily into the bar and you get all three flavors in one scrumptious bite!  When they are eaten right out of the fridge, the layers will separate on you . . . it's not like I know that from copious experience or anything, because I'm super patient  ...  that was sarcasm.


Mmmm . . . deliciousness!   "I'll just have one more" you say.


Oh, those famous last words . . .


September 22, 2011

Orange Creamsicle Frozen Yogurt

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I'm sad to see summer go, but on the other hand, I'm really looking forward to Fall  (mostly because it's still hot here in Arizona.  It was 97 degrees out today!  And tomorrow, it's supposed to be 101...  *exhales*


I want to see people wearing jackets, not shorts.
I want to see people drink hot coffees, not iced lattes.
I want to smell pumpkin, nutmeg, peppermint.
I want to see a Christmas tree...

But that won't happen... all we have are cactuses!


So, in commemoration of the summer that never seems to end that I am sad to see go, I made some frozen yogurt.  I was actually planning on making Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, but I had a tube of juice concentrate in my itty bitty dormroom freezer, so it needed to go!  Oh, and I also forgot to freeze my ice cream maker bowls...  anywaysss...  to the frozen yogurt!  It was plenty sweet, and it actually reminded me of the orange creamsicles I used get at the beach with my family in the summer as a kid.  It crystallized a little bit the second time I froze it, but that can be fixed if you add a tablespoon of vodka or use an ice-cream maker.  This healthy and easy fro-yo is the best way to yank summer back into our lives!


Orange Creamsicle Frozen Yogurt:  [low fat, high protein]
(makes ~4 cups)
    one 12oz tube Frozen 100% Juice Concentrate (I used Dole's Orange Peach Mango)
    6oz (3/4 cup) Plain, Nonfat Greek Yogurt
    one 12oz can Evaporated Fat Free Milk
    14g (1 tbs) Grapeseed Oil

Directions:
1.  In a large bowl, put all of the ingredients into a large bowl, then stir until everything is incorporated
2.  Follow your ice cream maker instructions  (I did this without an ice cream maker, but a little bit of the oil floated to the top while in the freezer.  If you don't mind this, you can just freeze it until scoopable)
3.  Let thaw on the counter for 30-50 minutes (I like my ice cream like a soft serve, so I left it out for 50).  Enjoy!


This frozen yogurt is super healthy.  It would make a great post-workout snack, too--it is high-glycemic and full of carbohydrates and complete proteins to replenish your muscles fast.  And even if you do not work out, this fro-yo is a good replacement for store-bought kinds.  No corn syrup here!  I added the oil to make it more substantial (it may have helped with the texture too).  Just because store-bought tubs are "fat free" doesn't mean they are healthy... especially when there is more sugar than fruit.  If you want fiber with this snack, just add some raspberries, blueberries or blackberries (or any fruit, really) on top.

Oh, and another thing to love about this fro-yo:  it is high potassium!  A tube of juice concentrate has 54% of your daily potassium, the milk has 36%, the yogurt, 7%... all totaling to a whopping 97%!!  If this recipes makes a little less than 4 cups, than your almost-1-cup-serving will give you 24% of your daily potassium.  Is that already not an excuse to make three batches of the stuff?


Let's all celebrate the end of summer and the beginning of Fall...
But when we miss summer, we can get it back any time of the year with this simple frozen yogurt  :)


September 21, 2011

Coffee Creamer #2

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Coffee is a major staple in the college student diet...  it just is.


Or at least, it is for me anyways.  Just two days ago, I took my first Chemistry exam (woohoo, it's over!), and just to make sure I was on top of my game the day of the exam, I drank three coffees (yes, three...)


The exam was at 5pm and was only one hour long.  If I spent all hours of my life week studying to ace the exam, the last thing I needed was to be tired and make a silly mistake.

It's a weird feeling, you know?  Being finished with something very important--something that only comes around a few times every semester.  All of the lectures, the textbook readings, the frustration studying, etc, just to take a short exam with thousands of other students...  It's a really nervous/exciting/in-the-moment/adrenaline-rush feeling.  It's actually sort of... fun?

Yeah, I'm weird.  My friend gave me a face when I said that too...  Anyways, while I'm taking a break off the coffee for the next few days, I'll give you the creamer recipe I used quite a lot these past weeks!


Coffee Creamer #2:   (single-serving)
    3 tbs Dried Nonfat Milk
    1-2 tbs Sweetener (like erythritol, Truvia, etc)
    1 cup HOT Coffee
    8-13 drops Stevia Extract (to taste)

Directions:
1.  In the bottom of your coffee mug, add the dried milk and sweetener
2.  Pour the coffee into the mug and whisk until there are no clumps.  Add the stevia and stir again.

Oh, coffee, I'll miss you!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

How to Get Started (studying, cleaning, etc):
     My classes this year demand more hours studying rather than writing ten-page papers or completing plentiful homework assignments.  Around the start of school this fall, I was getting stuck when it was time to study--I didn't know where to start!  All I had written in my agenda was,  study chemistry.  And on the next day, I would write,  STUDY CHEMISTRY!  since I didn't the last day.  I realized that writing those two words were not get me anywhere.  On the outside, it seemed like such an easy task, but once I got started, that task overwhelmed me.  I can't review all those notes!  I can't read half the textbook by next week!!  My worries created anxiousness, and deterred me from studying.  Why was I procrastinating?  Why didn't I know where to start?
     For one, the task, "study chemistry," is plain ambiguous!  And so is "clean house" or "organize closet."  They seem simple from the outside, but once you start, they seem so daunting.  When preparing for the exam I took just a couple days ago, I found that writing each individual task separately was much more effective.


For studying...
     -Instead of writing:  study chemistry,  write:  gather study materials (notes, homework, labs, textbook)
     -For the next day, write:  review notes, or,  review chapter [insert # here]
     -If you are like me and highlight your textbook, then write:  review highlighted passages
     -etc...


For cleaning...
     -Instead of saying:  clean house, start with something like:  wash dirty clothes, or, clean out refrigerator
     -Look around your house and start with one corner, not one room, then just start cleaning!  When I used to get really unorganized, I would dump everything messy in the middle of the room, then slowly put things away to where they were supposed to be, one by one... hang a shirt here, file that paper away there, put away the bagels... you get the picture  :)
     I know that a lot of other students have this problem too.  Studying (and cleaning) is very important, so skipping it is not an option.  I hope this helps, and makes your to-do list tasks seem less intimidating!


-Jess

September 14, 2011

Mint Chocolate Chip Sherbet Ice Cream

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Yes, a sherbet ice cream!  A hybrid between an icy, sweet sherbet and smooth, creamy ice cream.


Surprisingly, making ice cream is getting more fun each new recipe!  First was the Peanut Butter & Jelly Ice Cream, and then my favorite so far, the Spiced Pumpkin & Maple Ice Cream.  Although I've gotta say, using cream and whole milk would make things a lot easier...

But "easy" just reminds me of my past, when I used to slather butter all over my bagels, when I avoided the gym to avoid the uncomfortable feeling of effort, and give my all into my schoolwork... living like that is a breeze...


Whereas, making food 100% whole and nutritious (while also being tasty), takes a lot of time, care and effort--I like how challenging it is to make healthy desserts (as you can see in my plentiful "trial-and-error, then, trial-and-MORE-error" recipes).  But we just have to remember, there is always a replacement for an unhealthy ingredient!

Such as butter.  Such as powdered sugar.  And in this case, cream.

What could I do to replace the typical ice cream ingredients?  Like:

   Cream?  Use evaporated fat-free milk or coconut milk (depending on the ice cream flavor you are making)
   Corn Syrup?  Brown rice syrup, honey, maple syrup, agave, etc...
   Food Coloring?  Avocado and maybe even a handful of spinach!  (You know me! You've seen it before)

I know that my own version of the mint chocolate chip ice cream isn't an exact replica of the store-bought ice creams.  It doesn't have that bright blue/green color we all associate mint with.  It is a sherbet ice cream:  a mix of the frosty sherbets and the velvety ice creams.  But, it is minty and it sure is chocolatey!

Mint Chocolate Chip Sherbet Ice Cream:  [low sugar, high fiber/protein]
(makes 5 cups)
Mixture #1:
   225g Avocado (ripe, about two medium)
   1 tbs Lemon Juice
   10 Fresh Mint Leaves (you can definitely use more)
   42g (2 tbs) Honey
Mixture #2:
   two 12oz cans Evaporated Fat Free Milk (not condensed!)
   1 tsp Vanilla Extract
   1+1/2 tsp Mint Extract
   3/4 tsp Stevia Extract
   1/8 tsp Salt
Add-In:
   1/2-3/4 cup Mini Dark Chocolate Chips

Directions:
1.  In a blender, puree Mixture #1
2.  If your blender can hold more than 5 cups of contents, then add Mixture #2.  If your blender doesn't fit that much (like my Magic Bullet), put Mixture #2 into a large mixing bowl and whisk slowly to mix
3.  Stir in the blender mixture/Mixture #1 until combined, refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight
4.  Make the ice cream according to the instructions, and when the ice cream has about 5 minutes to go, add the chocolate chips (my ice cream was sort of like a soft serve after 20 minutes in the ice cream maker, so I froze it for about 3-4 hours)
5.  Freeze until firm but scoopable.  If you freeze overnight, you will probably need to let it sit on the counter for a bit to soften up.  Enjoy!


I could taste the avocado a little bit (which I wasn't very fond of), but that can be easily fixed by adding more mint leaves and obviously, more chocolate chunks  ;)

After every spoonful with a hunk of chocolate... I had no worries in the world  :)

September 9, 2011

Spiced Pumpkin & Maple Ice Cream

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I have to admit, I have never been a fan of pumpkin.  I'm sure you are looking at your screen with a look of shock:  wide eyes and eyebrows high.  At those pumpkin-carving block parties, I always used to think this girl was crazy for eating the pumpkin innards and seeds.  I used to think my friend was weird for buying cans and cans of pumpkin "before the season is over."  Even when I was browsing FoodGawker I was always wondering, "What is everyone's obsession with pumpkin?"


Well, in case you were starting to think I was some weird freak of nature, I would like to say that I've come around to the pumpkin flavor.  I don't love it, but I've come around to it.  There are a whole bunch of things I don't like, but other people will just die for...  like cheesecake, flan, creme brulee, oatmeal, jello, whipped cream, cream cheese, and in this season's case, pumpkin pie!


Okay, now I'm sure you're are looking at your screen wondering if you are reading this correctly.  Well, yeah, you are...  but before you think I'm even more weird, I'll just give you the recipe...


Spiced Pumpkin and Maple Ice Cream:  [fat free*, high protein]
(makes ~5 cups)
Wet:
    one 12oz can Evaporated Fat Free Milk (fortified with vitamin D)
    8oz Fat Free Cream Cheese
    246g (1 cup) 100% Pure Pumpkin, canned
    42g (2 tbs) Molasses
    28g (2 tbs) Coconut Oil, soft*
    14g (2 tsp) Pure Maple Syrup
    1 tsp Vanilla Extract
    1/2 tsp Maple Flavor
    10 drops Lemon Extract
    3/4 tsp Stevia Extract
Dry:
    60g (3/4 cup) Whey Protein Concentrate
    52g (1/4 cup + 2 tbs) Dried Nonfat Milk
    48g (1/4 cup) Sucanat
    1+1/2 tsp Cinnamon
    1/16 Nutmeg (I put just a tiny pinch, maybe it was even 1/32 tsp)
    1/8 tsp Salt

Directions:
1.  In a large mixing bowl (or very large blender), add the wet ingredients and mix well
2.  Add the dry ingredients and mix again until combined
3.  Refrigerate the mixture for 3 hours or overnight (preferably overnight)
4.  Follow your ice cream maker's instructions to churn (I let mine run for 20 minutes, but it was more like a soft serve so I put the mixture into a freezer-safe container and froze it overnight)
5.  When ready to serve, take the ice cream out of the freezer and let sit at room temp for 30 minutes to soften up, and then... DIG IN!

*After refrigerating the mixture overnight the coconut oil rose to the surface.  Even after being mixed in the ice cream maker for 20 minutes, it was left in little chunks (that is what those little white spots are over the scoops).  You can certainly omit the coconut oil as it didn't spread or add anything to the ice cream.  I just kept it in the recipe because fat provides satiety while also making the ice cream more nutritionally "balanced," just in case any of you folks would want to add it too.


This ice cream was so good!  In my first bite, I thought, "Oh, no!  Wayyy too much flavor!"  And then I looked back at the ice cream, grinned, and scooped myself another big bite.  Dang, that is some good stuff right there!

Is there even such a thing as too much flavor??

So if you like gingersnaps and spicy things like Mexican hot chocolate, this is the ice cream for you.  And if you like healthy and tasty, fat free desserts, then this is definitely for you too!


Here are the nutrition facts for one serving (1 cup) without the coconut oil:


Can you believe it?  Well, please do, because I double-checked this label...  I couldn't believe my eyes!  Plenty of vitamin A and calcium, 2g of fiber, 25g of protein -- you can't find any of that in any store-bought tub.

Tip:  If you want to absorb the vitamin A, keep the coconut oil in the recipe (or maybe use canola oil) - read the nutrient guide on the bottom of my Nutrition Page.

I'm still in shock... a creamy ice cream without all the cream, whole milk, half and half, butter and partially hydrogenated oils?  Yes, it is possible.

September 7, 2011

Jelly Bars

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Yum, Yum and YUM!

I am currently swamped with homework assignments and I'm prepping (or at least trying to) for the exams just a couple weeks away!  I gotta have some free time though, which I love, because I get to make sweet, delicious food  :)  I have always wanted to make bars like these (it was even on my Recipe Wishlist for quite some time), but every other recipe I found required baking.


And I don't want to bake -- it's too dang hot!  I guess that's Arizona for ya...


Us Arizonans need to cool off somehow, though.  Most people turn to ice cream, but I prefer fruity, ice-cold  Green Monsters  (although, I did turn to ice cream the other day with that Peanut Butter and Jelly Ice Cream...)

But, I need something new, something easy and fast!


With those other recipes I found--along with having to turn on the oven--their crusts and crumble-toppings used sticks and sticks of butter.  Just because it's being combined with oats and fruit jam, does not make it okay to pack on an unnecessary amount of unhealthy fats!

Just b-e-a-u-tiful!

I had to make these bars twice to get it right.  It's hard to make a no-bake crust without a stick of butter, a lot of coconut oil, or a bunch of dates.  Dates are healthy fruits and all, but they are also high-glycemic.  When you're sitting in a chair for most of the day (in my case, in class or at my desk), low glycemic foods are choice  (read more here).  Pie crusts and no-bake crusts either use crushed crackers or ground almonds as part of a base, both of which provide some volume and a likable texture.  As I have no cookies or almonds in my pantry, I decided to use crushed Crispy Brown Rice Cereal (a healthier version of Rice Krispies).  Although, in the end, they didn't provide much texture (at least I don't think) they provided flavor (I absolutely love these Brown Rice Krispies, they taste exactly like the Rice Krispies in the blue box!  I used to eat cups and cups of the stuff as a kid...)


I like these bars because they serve as the perfect snack:  adequate fat and fiber, healthy and high-protein.  In the twelve bars I made, each bar has 4g fat, 2g fiber and 7g protein!  I ate three, hehe... but for something so sweet and tasty, I'm glad it's nutritionally balanced!  It doesn't make me feel guilty, as I would probably feel if I ate one jelly bar made in a bakery storefront!


Version #1:
     The crust smelled a little... boring... so I added 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, and BAM, it smelled awesome.  I flattened the mixture into a rectangle container, covered it with my strawberry filling (strawberry jam plus 1 tbs agave) and topped with a crumble made with 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1 tsp coconut oil and 1 tsp agave.  I just blended the oats in my Magic Bullet until it became a flour, then blended again with the coconut oil and agave... it even turned out like a real crumble!
     After refrigerating and slicing up the bars, they felt more like bite-sized slices that should have been served to Alice in Wonderland... they were just too small!  I was picturing bites the height of petit fours:  little cubes of fruity, oaty goodness, similar to the size of these Maple Oat Petit Fours.  They were as thin as can be.  Unfortunately, the height of the bites wasn't the only thing wrong--who told me that cinnamon tasted good with fruit jam?!  Um, no one.
Reminder to self:  don't mix cinnamon with strawberry jam.  It tastes... strange...  Thus, the second trial came along!

Version #2:
     I omitted the cinnamon in the crust and the agave from the strawberry layer (it was too liquidy).  I doubled the crust recipe to add some height, and changed up the crumble recipe (but I don't know why, the crumble was perfectly fine the first time around!)  I really like these bars.  The crust was really moist and chewy and the strawberry jam just completed the dish.  The crumble--I have to admit--is pretty unattractive, so I'll give you the crumble recipe from the first version.
     I told myself to refrigerate the bars for at least 30 minutes, but I took it out after 5... they were just so cute I had to try one!  Okay, okay... maybe I just have issues with patience, but they were delicious and I was glad I didn't wait out those 25 minutes of torture when these babies were all alone, waiting to be eaten!).  The bars were a little "bendable" after 5 min, but If refrigerated for longer they would be firmer.  I'm just telling you this in advance, because, you know... you might not wait 30 minutes either!  ;)


Jelly Bars:  [high protein, high fiber, vegan]
(makes 12-16 bars)

   Crust:
       60g (2 cups) Crispy Brown Rice Cereal
       96g (1 cup) Old Fashioned Rolled Oats (GF if you like)
       93g (3 scoops) Vanilla Protein Powder
       26g (1/4 cup) Ground Flaxseed
       1/4 tsp Salt
       42g (3 tbs) Coconut Oil, melted
       168g (1/2 cup) Agave Nectar
       2 tsp Vanilla Extract
       3/4 tsp Stevia Extract

   Filling:
       5 tbs 100% Fruit Spread (I used strawberry)

   Crumble:
       48g (1/2 cup) Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
       5g-10g (1-2 tsp) Coconut Oil, melted
       7g (1 tsp) Agave Nectar
       10 drops Stevia Extract

Directions:
1.  For the crust, blend the brown rice cereal and oats in a blender until it becomes a homogeneous flour, pour into a large bowl of a stand mixer (if you don't have a stand mixer, use a hand mixer and deep bowl so that pieces fly everywhere)
2.  Add the protein powder, flax and salt to the bowl and stir on low-speed
3.  Microwave the coconut oil and agave together in a microwave-safe bowl at 10 second intervals until coconut oil is melted and agave is runny (but make sure it's not hot!)
4.  Add the vanilla and stevia to the coconut-agave mixture and pour the contents into the large bowl.  Stir on low until everything is incorporated (we aren't baking these so we don't have to worry about over-beating the batter!)
5.  Line a brownie pan with parchment paper and pour the crumbles into the pan.  I tried to flatten this with a spoon, but the crumbles stuck, so I wrapped my hand with saran wrap and flattened it that way.  If you are super fancy, use a pastry roller!  Just make sure that the crust is even (mine wasn't, sadly)
6.  Scoop the jam onto the crust and spread with the back of a small spoon all the way to the edges, trying to make every section even
7.  For the crumble, blend the oats in a blender until oats are just broken up and pour into a bowl
8.  Add 1 tsp of coconut oil and 1 tsp of agave and stir with a fork (or make it easier and use the electronic mixer again).  If it is too dry, add another tsp of coconut oil and stir again
9.  Grab a handful of the crumbles and sprinkle over the bars to your liking (I don't like too much... I like to see the jam)
10.  ENJOY!

To store, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.


I'm so glad I finally made these bars.  I can finally cross it off my Recipe Wishlist!

Now all I need to do is cross off "STUDY CHEMISTRY!!!" in my agenda planner ...  *exhales*

September 4, 2011

Maple Oat "Petit Fours"

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These are not granola bites, and they are not cubed cookies.


They are soft, they are chewy.
They are moist, they are tasty.



Edit:  they are dang tasty!

And they don't need to be baked!  Who wants to turn on an oven when its 105 degrees outside?
Um, not me.  And probably you too... unless you live in a fridge.


I was originally trying to make Oatmeal & Fruit Jam Bars, but I didn't feel like cutting up pieces of parchment paper and lining a brownie pan (silly reason I know), so instead, I pressed the mixture meant for the crust into a chocolate mold.  As I was eating a petit four, I realized that the texture was really soft, similar to Larabars.  The petit fours were moist from the oat flour and maple syrup, making these cute like cubes low-glycemic and more likely to sustain your energy and hunger for a longer time.  They were really nutty due to the flax, and I immediately wanted another one.

Quantity control, Jessica, control!  Let's just say I took another one.  Or three.


Maple Oat Petit Fours:  [no bake, low fat, high protein, GF, vegan]
(makes 24 one inch cubes)

   96g (1 cup) Old Fashioned Rolled Oats (GF if you like)
   60g (2 cups) Crispy Brown Rice Cereal
   64g (2 scoops) Vanilla Protein Powder
   52g (1/2 cup) Ground Flaxseed
   1/4 tsp Sea Salt

   42g (3 tbs) Coconut Oil, liquid
   168g (1/2 cup) Pure Maple Syrup (I used Grade B)
   2 tsp Vanilla Extract
   3/4 tsp Stevia Extract
   1/4 tsp Maple Flavor

Optional Add-Ins:
   2-4 tbs Natural Peanut Butter
   1/4 cup Dried Fruit (chopped if they are large)
   1 tsp Cinnamon

Directions:
1.  Blend the oats and rice cereal in a blender (I like to see some oats in there, so I didn't blend for too long) enough to get most of it as flour.
2.  Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, mix together the oat/rice cereal mixture with the protein powder, flax and salt.
3.  In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the coconut oil, maple syrup and extracts.  Mix into the dry ingredients (should have a moist crumble consistency).  Add any optional add-ins now.
4.  Line a loaf pan with parchment paper, or just get out your chocolate mold, and press the mixture in until compact (the mixture may stick to your fingers.  I wrapped my fingers in saran wrap which helped )
5.  Refrigerate for at least an hour.
6.  Pop out the "petit fours" and they are ready!  If you are using a loaf pan, remove from the container and slice into desired size.  Bars would be great too!  Store covered in the fridge.

Note:  these are really soft at room temperature (which is a good thing!), and a little more firm when on the cold side... I prefer it at room temp, but it's your choice. I topped a couple petit fours with strawberry jam this morning (sooo gooood), but if you are using cinnamon in the mix, I wouldn't recommend the jam on top... not a good match in my opinion!

PS:  now that I think of it, what would be great is a petit four dipped slightly into dark chocolate... similar to those Nature Valley Granola Thins... yum!

September 2, 2011

Peanut Butter & Jelly Ice Cream

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I think it's quite obvious...  I like looove peanut butter!  As proof, I'll tell you about my PB-filled week:

It began Monday, when I made the Peanut Butter Protein Balls I love so much.
On Tuesday, I halved my Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookie recipe (for my thighs' sake) and ate it in cookie dough form.
On Wednesday, I enjoyed the PB and Maple Bagel Spread.
On Thursday, I craved my PB and Chocolate Rice Krispy Treats, but sadly, I was out of chocolate protein powder...

So, what did I do to make up for the missing krispy treats?

I made a batch of yummy, healthy, bone-building goodness  (read nutrition info below)

It's the most creamy, sweet, healthy ice cream ever.  I also may have splurged last week and bought a few things... one of them being an ice cream maker  (yes, I'm a shopaholic, but that is besides the point).  I thought making ice cream would be easy, you just dump a bunch of ingredients into the machine and...  BAM!  It's ice cream!  Right?  Uh, no... totally wrong.

Trial #1:
     Let's start from the beginning: the tiny fridge in my room is not big enough to fit my ice cream maker's freezer bowl, so I had to use the dorm's common refrigerator.  I put my bowl there, and came back 24 hours later (don't worry, no one vandalized the bowl, just keep reading).  I stirred some unsweetened vanilla soymilk together with whey protein concentrate and dried nonfat milk to make a "cream" replacement, then I added 1/4 cup of peanut butter.  The instructions say to chill the mixture overnight, but I skipped this step due to overwhelming excitement from the new product.  I grabbed the freezer bowl from the common freezer and ran back to my room to use immediately (I followed that portion of the directions!), poured in the "experiment mixture" and turned the machine on.  While it was churning, I could see ice cream chunks forming.  I took a spoon and scooped out a little to taste...  BLEGH!!  What is that?!?  Long story short, it tasted fishy, the peanut butter wasn't as dominant as I'd hoped.  Wonder why it was fishy?  I placed my freezer bowl in the common freezer between someone's salmon filets and frozen shrimp!  Somehow the fishiness was transferred onto my freezer bowl and tainted my ice cream--so just a fair warning to you all, be careful where you put your ice cream maker bowl!

Trial #2:
     This was delicious!  In the first bite you are instantly hit with a strong peanut butter flavor, and the sweetness from the fruit and jam are just spectacular.  It is a classic childhood treat with a healthy makeover.  I would love to make popsicles out of this, but I don't have a popsicle mold!


Peanut Butter and Jelly Ice Cream:  [high protein]
(serves 5)
    12oz (1+1/2 cups) Skim Milk (enriched with calcium and vitamin D)
    60g (3/4 cup) Whey Protein Concentrate
    52g (1/4 cup + 2 tbs) Dried Nonfat Milk
    128g (1/2 cup) Natural Peanut Butter
    42g (2 tbs) Brown Rice Syrup (or honey, maple syrup, agave)
    1/2 tsp Stevia Extract
    1/8 tsp Salt
    1/3 cup 100% Fruit Spread (I used Raspberry)
    ~10 Strawberries, diced

Directions:
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the skim milk, whey protein concentrate and dried nonfat milk.
2. Whisk in the peanut butter, brown rice syrup, stevia and salt.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
3. Chop the strawberries and put into a small bowl along with the jam and stir.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight.
4. Follow your ice cream makers' instructions
5. When it is almost done churning (about 5 minutes to go) slowly add in the jam and strawberries




As a general guide, I'm comparing my PB and J Ice Cream to the Haagen Dazs, Chocolate PB Ice Cream:

=

1) Fat:
     PB and J Ice Cream:  one serving (3/4 cup) has 13g of fat (where every gram comes from 100% pure peanuts!  No cream, no half and half, and no whole milk)
     Haagen Dazs:  one serving (1/2 cup) has 24g of fat, but if comparing at equal sizes, or, 3/4 cup, the fat level of this ice cream would jump up to 36g!  Almost 3x the fat of the PB & J Ice Cream.  This will set you back over 55% of your daily fat intake.

2) Saturated Fat:  for more info on saturated fats you can click here
     PB and J Ice Cream:  3/4 cup has 2.5g or 13% of your daily intake
     Haagen Dazs:  3/4 cup has 16.5g or a whopping 83% of your daily intake!  Better steer clear...

3) Cholesterol:
     PB and J Ice Cream:  this is made without eggs (I know, it sounds weird... eggs in ice cream?  But yes, many ice cream companies use egg yolks to achieve a creamy texture the cheapest way possible.  Many recipes use 5-6 yolks for a batch that serves 5-6.  One yolk per serving!).  Although egg yolks are rich in vitamins and minerals, they are just like any other food:  only good in moderation!  (And I don't believe that 5-6 yolks in a small batch of ice cream is "moderation" since it is impossible to have only one cup)  Also, in the ice cream making process, some of the egg proteins are denatured.
     Haagen Dazs:  for 3/4 cup, this ice cream will gladly hand over almost half of your daily cholesterol intake!  Tsk tsk...

4) Vitamin D and Calcium:
     PB and J Ice Cream:  because the milk used is enriched with extra calcium and vitamin D, your body will absorb both at ease for 2 reasons (there are more, but I'll just list 2):
          1.  Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, so to absorb it, you need to consume it with a food containing fat.  This just makes the PB & J Ice Cream even more special!
          2.  You need vitamin D to absorb calcium, and they work together to ensure proper bone development and bone density.  It was recommended to have 4 servings of dairy every day to reach the calcium levels the human body requires.  If you're vegan, then you must find other sources and make sure you get enough.  For 3/4 cup, this ice cream has 40% of your daily calcium!
     Haagen Dazs:  for 3/4 cup, this has 15% of your daily calcium (I've gotta admit, that's a pretty good number... but then I looked at the ingredients: Cream, Skim Milk, Sugar, Peanut Butter (Peanuts, Peanut Oil, Sugar, Salt), Egg Yolks, Chocolate, Cocoa Processed with Alkali).  3/4 cup of this will give you 36g of unhealthy sugars.  If you are a peanut butter ice cream lover, beware and read the ingredient list.  When I was looking for an ice cream to compare to, many used partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats)!

This PB and J Ice Cream is bone-assisting while Haagen Dazs' Ice Cream is fat-stimulating!


Did I mention...  I'm still in the mood for peanut butter?
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