Oat Nut Fruit Gems

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(Becky, the Mama)

My mother, Ruthie, went from loving her sugary desserts (a la last week’s Honey Slice cookie recipe) to a diet almost completely without sugar a couple of decades ago.  A health crisis with her blood pressure and heart, meant major changes in her daily diet – all for the better.  Out went everything white: sugar, white flour and white rice… and in came the brown and fiber-filled replacements.  But, we are not the sort of women to suffer deprivation in our family.  Being the creative and resourceful cook, Mother found several ways to satisfy her sweet tooth while also getting healthier, sporting an adorably slim figure, and having more energy than women decades younger than she!

This is one of my all-time favorite sweet, healthy, satisfying treats that she baked. She served them in a pretty cloth-lined basket at a family supper and they disappeared in what seemed like minutes. Everyone from kids to adults raved about them.

The basic ingredients are so simple:  oats, mashed bananas and grated apples.  From there you can throw in the kitchen sink:  any nuts, seeds, flavorings or dried fruit that you like.   Another bonus is that you can serve this recipe to most of the people in your family (or friends) on special diets.  The recipe is naturally vegan, and if you use gluten-free oats, it is gluten-free and can easily be adapted to use less sugar or made sugar-free.  Kids not only love them, but as you can see from my little helper below, they also love to help make them.

My grandson Georgie, furiously mashing the bananas with a potato masher.

My grandson Georgie, furiously mashing the bananas with a potato masher.

If you want to create warm memories of baking with little ones this Christmas, but prefer not to send them into a Sugar Orbit in the process: this is the perfect mom and child, or grandma and grandchild project, to whip up together.

The texture is somewhere between a muffin, an oatmeal cookie, trail mix, and baked oatmeal.  Made with sugar they get a nice crunch on the outside but are moist and slighty chewy on the inside.  Perfect for quick breakfasts-to-go, they also make great snacks for school lunch boxes and any outdoor enthusiasts in your family.  Wrapped in foil they are wonderful sources of energy when hiking, camping or snow-boarding.

This recipe makes 2 dozen.   Best stored in fridge and then heated for a few seconds in microwave.

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 Oat Nut Fruit Gems

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees

Ingredients

2 large bananas, mashed (use 3 if bananas are small)

2 large peeled apples, grated (use 3 if apples are small)

3 cups oats (I like Old Fashioned Oats for the chewier texture)

½ t. sea salt

1/3 c. raw organic sugar (or use other sweeteners such as brown sugar or coconut sugar or even  Stevia, according to taste )

½ c. dried chopped fruit (I used dates and dried cranberries. Coconut also works well in this recipe.)

1/2 nuts and/or seeds (I used walnuts and pecans)

2 t. vanilla

 

Directions

Mix all of the above together in a large mixing  bowl.  Spray or oil muffin pans.  Fill them about 2/3 full and gently press down with back of spoon. if you want them to look more muffin-like you can mound them a bit in the middle, as they won’t rise. (No leavening or eggs.)

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Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until just golden brown around edges and top.

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When cool to touch, gently remove from pan.  If not eaten in a day, store in fridge in a sealed bag or plasticware and zap for a few seconds in microwave to warm.

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Honey & Lime Tortilla-Sopapillas

(Becky, the Mama.)

Sometimes the simplest things really are the best.  I call this recipe Vacation Sopapillas because I usually have the ingredients lying around the condo or timeshare.  If I were a person of the camping persuasion (which I am not), I would definitely be cooking these babies up around the campfire, using an iron skillet.  Hopefully, however, I’ll never be forced to do that.  My husband bought me this greeting card, and truer words have never been spoken.

I also call these my Vacation Sopapillas because they are so ridiculously addicting that I don’t allow myself this treat on a regular basis.  So I try to only make them on vacation. Seriously, if you cook these… try to eat just one and let me know if it is humanly possible.

This is a recipe you can throw together with minimum mess in a couple of minutes, just for little ol’ marvelous you.  Since they are best eaten fast and warm, I don’t even try to serve these to a crowd.  This a gift you give to yourself, and maybe, just maybe, one other person who you love very, very much.

The trick is to use uncooked tortillas.  If you’ve never tried them, boy, are you in for a treat.  You’ll never go back the pre-cooked varieties again. The brand I like best is called Tortilla Land (click link for $1.00 off coupon) and typically you find them in the refrigerator section of Costco and sometimes Sam’s or Wal-mart.  If I can’t find this brand of tortillas, however, it seems I can almost always find Guerrero brand (click on link for $1.00 coupon) which are soft semi-cooked tortillas, and they are not refrigerated.  They just hang out on the shelves with the other regular tortillas in almost any major grocery store.  Be sure to look for the yellow packaging (as pictured below); they should look very thin, not quite cooked all the way.

The beautiful thing that happens when these uncooked or semi-cooked tortillas hit a very hot skillet with a little olive oil/butter is that they puff up, very much like a big sopapilla. Only without all the work and the frying.  My favorite version of these tortilla sopapillas is simple.  After cooking I quickly slather it with a little butter, honey, a squeeze of lemon or lime, and light sprinkle of raw sugar.  To eat it – you can tear it up in little pieces; roll it up enchilada style; or cut it in fourths, bending it in half, and eating it the way Italians eat flexible pizza.

For variety, I also like filling the puffy tortillas with sliced bananas that have been gently cooked in a skillet with a little butter and brown sugar. Then I roll it up like a burrito and drizzle with a bit of honey.  Cooked apples with cinnamon and sugar make a fabulous filling as well.  The only limits to this simple recipe is your imagination.

Lime & Honey Tortilla-Sopapillas

Ingredients:

1 raw or semi-cooked tortilla (Tortilla Land brand or Guererra preferred)

1 t. olive oil

2 t. soft butter (vegan butter for Vegans)

2 t. honey

small squeeze fresh lemon or lime

1 t. raw sugar

Instructions:

Put 1 t. olive oil and 1 t. soft butter in a hot skillet, and stir until blended.  Put one uncooked tortilla in the pan. When it puffs up and browns on one side, flip it and brown the other side.

Immediately put tortilla-sopapilla on a plate, spread with butter, then honey, a quick squeeze of fresh lime and a sprinkle of raw sugar.

For banana sopapillas: slice one small banana and put in a skillet with a teaspoon of butter and a teaspoon of brown sugar. Stir just until bananas are warm and absorb butter and sugar.  Proceed as above, only fill the tortilla with warm banana slices, roll like a burrito and serve with a little more honey. Eat with knife and fork.  A dollop of ice cream and sprinkle of cinnamon couldn’t hurt either.

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The Title: Honey & Lime Tortilla-Sopapillas
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© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Not-Too-Sweet Banana Butternut Squash Smoothie

Banana Butternut Squash Smoothie

For those of us who don't like sweets before noon, this smoothie with butternut squash, walnuts and just a 1/2 teaspoon of maple syrup is the perfect not-too-sweet morning treat.

Though most days, Jared and I adore and respect each other, not every day is marital bliss. Just like any other couple, we have our “moments.” Recently we had one of those “moments” on a lunch date. I was hungry and had hardly eaten breakfast. If you know me well, I am unpleasant to be around when I’m hungry. I try to never let myself reach hunger for this reason. The tiff was over something little and unfortunately left unresolved for the night as Jared had to head straight from lunch to scout a ballgame out of town. There is a good reason that we mostly aim to resolve arguments quickly. I’m not one of those people that “just needs time.” Jared is.

So a few hours after Jared left, the argument to him magically resolved itself. That magical dust must have passed over me though.  While waiting on the ballgame to start, he sent me a Words With Friends (basically a Scrabble app for iPhones) game request. My first thought was “Yeah, I’ve got some words for you, buddy.” But then I realized I might be dealt letters for words like “love” or “apology.” It wasn’t a risk I was willing to take. So I instead rejected his game request. That will get him. We are not friends right now and I don’t want to play with you. So there! 

This may be a new low for me.

The next morning before getting out of bed, Jared graciously apologized. I’m pretty sure that all of my maturity shifts to him during our arguments.

In an effort to keep from turning into a 4-year old again, I made myself sit down that morning with a healthy breakfast and a little quiet time.

I had cooked up some butternut squash for Jackson the previous day and used a cup of it to throw into a smoothie. I still wasn’t quite in the mood for being overly sweet or for an overly sweet breakfast. This smoothie paired with a little peanut butter and honey toast was the perfect not-too-sweet breakfast to start my day. Filled up in mind, spirit, and body, I was finally ready to be friends and play nice.

Banana Butternut Squash Smoothie

Rachel’s
Banana Butternut Squash Smoothie

Ingredients

1 c. Butternut Squash (I’ve used acorn squash too), cooked and cooled*
1 c. milk of your choice
1/4 c. walnuts or pecans
1 banana
1 t. cinnamon
A few grates of fresh nutmeg (optional)
1/2 t. maple syrup
A handful of ice

Directions

Put all the ingredients except for the ice in the blender, blend until smooth. Add a little more milk if needed. Add ice and blend again until it is finely crushed throughout. If you like a sweeter smoothie, you can add a little more maple syrup.

*The easiest way for me to cook squash is to cut it in half lengthwise and put both halves in a baking dish face down with about an inch of water in the bottom of the pan. Cook at 400 for about 30 – 40 minutes or until the flesh of the squash can easily be scooped out with a fork or spoon. For the smoothie, just scoop out the flesh when it cools down and store in tupperware in the refrigerator until ready to use (will keep for a few days). You can also freeze it in ice trays and then store the frozen cubes in a ziplock bag for at least a month. Just thaw a few whenever you need them. Steaming, roasting, or boiling the squash would work fine too if that’s your preferred method.

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The Title: Not-Too-Sweet Banana Butternut Squash Smoothie
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