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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Nut and Seed Granola Bars

 I like to call these my energy power bars. They are LOADED with (healthy) fat so I treat them as a meal or substantial other words, I don't just munch on these. When I have a bar I'm full for hours, making them an ideal on-the-go meal for a busy day.

In an effort to be awake as little as possible during suhoor this Ramadan, I've prepared these for our early morning meal. I love that they're nutritious, filling, extremely satisfying and will not make us thirsty throughout the day!

I wanted to stay true to the essence of these nut bars and chose to omit any dried fruit, but you can easily customize these to your taste. Some delicious add-ins include: shredded coconut, dried fruit (chopped apricots, figs, cranberries, cherries, raisins...), and a dash of cinnamon would make these super yummy.  Try your favorite combination of nuts, anything should taste great! Of course it should go without saying that the addition of chocolate chips would be divine ;)

I made my own almond butter, but if you prefer you can use 1/2 cup of ANY nut butter in place of the 1 cup whole almonds I used below to make my nut butter.

Makes 12 bars

-1 cup old fashioned oats
-1/2 cup honey roasted slivered almonds (Trader Joe's)
-1/2 cup whole almonds
-1/2 cup pepita seeds
-1/2 cup sesame seed cashews (Trader Joe's)
-4 tablespoons chia seeds
-2 tablespoons flax seeds

-1 cup whole almonds
-1/2 cup maple syrup (sub honey)
-1 tablespoon coconut oil (optional, will make the bars more moist)
-1 tablespoon vanilla
-1/4 teaspoon salt

To make
-Turn oven on to broil setting. In a large roasting pan, combine oats, slivered almonds, whole almonds, pepita seeds, cashews, chia seeds and flax seeds. Roast on LOWER RACK of oven (to prevent burning) in 5 minute intervals, checking and tossing the mixture around to get an even roast. I roast mine for about 10-15 minutes.
-Meanwhile, combine whole almonds, maple syrup, optional coconut oil, vanilla and salt in a powerful blender or food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.
-Line a 7x11 inch pan with parchment paper and give it a light spray with non-stick spray. Add the creamy almond butter to the roasting pan with the nuts and use your hands to mix together well. The mixture will be sticky, but keep combining until everything is well coated with the almond butter. Taste your mixture and adjust maple syrup content, adding more if you feel it isn't sweet enough.
-Press the mixture tightly into the prepared parchment lined pan until you have an even layer. Cut into bars and enjoy. I keep this out of the refrigerator for about 3 days then transfer to the fridge. It will keep for weeks when refrigerated.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Carrot Cake Muffins + Brown Sugar Cinnamon Cream Cheese Glaze

I realize things have been getting a little dessert-heavy around here....I'm not sure if I should apologize or accept your thanks?? As far as I'm concerned, if it's sweet, tastes good and IS good for you, then I've done the world a favor with each additional recipe! I'm often part of discussions about whether it is more satisfying to indulge in a few bites of something decadent or enjoy a whole slice of a wholesome treat that may be compromised on flavor. Here's my take: I'd rather eat a cookie and feel like I ate dessert for breakfast than a lumpy bowl of oatmeal. If I've already made the treat, they'll last a couple days and that means less prep time. When I'm in a rush I can eat a muffin on the go, as its a little hard to drive and eat a bowl of oatmeal.  So the reality is that I'm treating these sweet delites as breakfast, not dessert, and in which case its a win-win.  Want the decadent stuff? One of my fav's are these red velvet cheesecake brownies!

My new secret ingredient in baking is molasses. It adds such a depth of flavor, color and moisture to these muffins. I've been throwing it into my banana bread and muffins too and I'm really in love!

Another trick up my sleeve in this recipe is homemade buttermilk. I love what it does for baked goods but I feel pressured to keep baking whenever I have an opened carton in my fridge. Turns out this little homemade version is even better because I can control how much lemon to add and determine how thick my buttermilk gets. I've found 1 tablespoon of lemon juice per 1/2 cup milk to give me the nice thick consistency I like.  It's VERY simple to prepare: the first thing you do when you start baking is mix your milk and lemon juice in a cup and leave it aside for at least 5 minutes. Go about your business preheating the oven and mixing the other ingredients and when you're ready for the buttermilk, give it a quick stir and use it. That's all.

A third bonus I have for you today is if you're out of applesauce, all you need to do is finely shred an apple! You don't even need to peel it first (but I hope it goes without saying that the apple needs to be washed...). Using shredded apple (aka quick applesauce) helps add moisture to the muffins and allows us to remove fat. It doesn't do much for flavor, so don't worry, this is a carrot muffin through and through.

I like to keep my muffins on the counter and the glaze in the refrigerator and frost my muffins right before serving. That way my muffins stay extra moist on the countertop and the glaze stays fresh in the fridge :)

Makes 12 muffins

-1/2 cup milk
-1 tablespoon lemon juice
-1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
-1 medium apple, finely shredded (1/2 cup)
-1 egg
-1 tablespoon vanilla
-1 teaspoon molasses
-2 tablespoons coconut oil
-3/4 cup brown sugar

-1 1/2 cups flour
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1 tablespoon cinnamon powder
-1 teaspoon ground ginger
-1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
-1/4 teaspoon cloves
-1/2 cup raisins
-1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut

-1/2 cup chopped nuts (I love using pecans)
-2 tablespoons flax seeds

To make
-Mix milk and lemon juice and set aside.
-Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake pan with 12 liners. I also coat my cups with non-stick cooking spray, just in case.
-Mix together the shredded carrots, shredded apple, egg, vanilla, molasses, melted coconut oil, and brown sugar until well incorporated.
-In another bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon powder, ground ginger, nutmeg and cloves.
-Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet, stirring only until they are mixed together. Do not over beat your mixture or your muffins will be dry.
-Stir in raisins and shredded coconut. Add optional nuts or flax seeds.
-Scoop 1/3 cup of muffin batter into lined cupcake pan and bake in a preheated oven for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out with a few crumbs attached. Remove from the oven and cool on a cooling rack.
-Store muffins tightly covered for up to 1 week. Move the the refrigerator after 3 days.

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Cream Cheese Glaze

-8 ounces softened cream cheese
-1/2 cup white sugar
-3/4-1 cup brown sugar
-1 teaspoon cinnamon powder (use up to 1 tablespoon)
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla

To make
-Mix the ingredients in a bowl until smooth and creamy. I usually do this by hand but you can also whip them with a stand mixer. Taste and adjust cinnamon content and brown sugar to desired sweetness.
-Store extra glaze in the refrigerator.

I'd love to connect with you! Like SavvyChef on facebook and follow Savvy_Chef on instagram. Tag Savvychef in your creations and pin the recipes on pintrest :)