No Bake Apricot Bars

Vegan Apricot Cashew Bars

Some women nest when they are pregnant by obsessively organizing the nursery until every onesie is folded just so and all the outfits are color coordinated and sorted by size, some scrub the house obsessively. I did a little of those, but mostly I cooked. And when I say I cooked, I mean I cooked!

In the two weeks before Jackson arrived, I completely filled my freezer with everything from chili and cornbread, to pot pie, to muffins, to waffles, to cookies and hummus. I started with an empty freezer and when my nesting was over, I literally had to remove the ice basket to fit everything in.

One of the recipes I made, 5 Ingredient No Bake Date Bars, from the blog “Oh She Glows,” barely made it to my due date. My family and I could not keep out of them. They are like crack, but healthy crack. In fact, they could probably cure drug addiction.

Angela at Oh She Glows is a genius when it comes to making healthy vegan treats. I can’t wait for her cookbook to come out. These bars have no added sugar, only five ingredients and don’t even require turning on the oven. My favorite thing about them is that they are best eaten straight out of the freezer. When Jackson arrived and I was a new nursing mother, I would suddenly be ravenous, and could hardly think straight until I had food in me again. These were the perfect fuel for my sudden hunger attacks, high in protein and fiber, they were filling and healthy, but felt indulgent.

I’ve made different versions of the bars countless times now, but yesterday I tried a new combination that really rivaled it’s original counterpart. Instead of dates and almonds, I used dried apricots and toasted cashews. Wow! I don’t know which one I like more. I took them to the leader meeting for my MOPS (Mother’s of Preschoolers) group last night and several requested the recipe. So as promised, here you go ladies!

The sweet tangy pureed apricots sandwiched between layers of rich salty cashews hits three of the five taste bud senses and also combines creamy, chewy, and crunchy textures. It’s satisfying on every level.

No Bake Vegan Apricot Bars

5 Ingredient No-Bake Apricot Cashew Bars

Inspired by OhSheGlow’s 5 Ingredient No Bake Vegan Date Squares

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 1.5 cups whole cashews (toasted, roasted, honey roasted – whatever you have)
  • 1.5 cups regular oats (for Gluten-free, use GF oats)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt (omit if cashews are salted)
  • 10-15 dried apricots (~ 1/2 a cup), roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

Filling:

  • 25-35 dried apricots roughly chopped (~2 cups)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup water

Directions:

1. Spray a muffin tin (my preference) or 8×8 pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a food processor, process cashews, salt, and oats until a fine crumble forms. Add apricots and process until crumbly again. Add coconut oil and process until sticky. Remove from processor, set aside 3/4 cup of the mixture for later, press remaining into cupcake molds or pan to form a crust. For muffin tins I use a tablespoon and put a heaping tablespoons into each mold, then use the back of the tablespoon to press down and smooth out the layer.

2. Process the apricots and 1/2 cup water in the food processor (I’ve found a smaller work bowl works better than a large one if you have a full sized food processor–in fact I just used my mini one for this step) until a paste forms, stopping to scrape down the sides and adding a little more water as needed (don’t exceed 1 cup). Scoop out the apricot mixture into the pan or evenly into the muffin tins and gently spread out to cover the crust.

3. Sprinkle on the reserved crust and gently press down into the apricot mixture, just so it sticks. Freeze for at least an hour or until firm. Cut squares or pop out of muffin molds and wrap individually with saran wrap. Store in freezer. Enjoy straight from the freezer or slightly thawed as a delicious, guilt-free treat!

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: No Bake Apricot Bars
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/05/02/no-bake-apricot-bars


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.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Not-Too-Sweet Banana Butternut Squash Smoothie
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/04/30/not-too-sweet-banana-butternut-squash-smoothie


Kinda’ Healthy Vegan Apple Fritters

Kinda' Healthy Vegan Apple Fritters

Confession: I don’t eat kale and carrots for every meal. Especially with a hyper eight month old on my hip, sometimes the best meal I have all day is a can of black beans wrapped in a tortilla. Well, I don’t generally wrap and eat the whole can itself. I do try and at least open the can first. I’m no savage.

Sometimes I crave down right bad things for me…like donuts. My favorite donut for as long as I can remember is an apple fritter. That two-handed sweet cinnamon pastry with bits of real apple, deep fried and drizzled with sugary icing. What’s not to love?

Well, the 500 or so calories and 20 or so grams of fat might be a little unlovable, and the milk, egg, and butter are less than kind.

I set out to make a healthier version of my old favorite. These are definitely still a treat, but subbing half of the flour for whole wheat flour, apple sauce for eggs, and nondairy milk and margarine for their dairy counterparts helps. Then instead of making huge fritters, I made mini fritters that were pan fried instead of deep fried. They still aren’t health food, but they are certainly better than the average donut shop fritter.

I prefer a donut for dessert, but if you’re a sweets-for-breakfast kind of gal or guy, then feel free to make these ahead and then re-crisp them in the morning under the broiler. I might cut the sugar a little if I were having these for breakfast though as I’m not a sweets-for-breakfast kind of gal.

Rachel’s
Kinda’ Healthy Vegan Apple Fritters

Makes 15 small fritters

Ingredients

Fritters
1 Apple, peeled and chopped into small pea size pieces
1/2 c. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (or your flour of choice)
1/2 c. All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 t. Baking Powder
2-3 t. Cinnamon
1/2 t. Fresh Grated Nutmeg (fresh really is best)
1/4 c. Vegan Sugar
Dash of Salt
1/2 t. Vanilla Extract
1 T. Earth Balance Margarine, melted
1/4 c. unsweetened applesauce (ripe banana also works well)
1/3 c. non-dairy milk
Canola and/or Coconut Oil

Icing
3 T. Powdered Sugar
1/4 t. Fresh Grated Nutmeg
Nondairy milk

Directions

Fritters
Mix the dry ingredients together, then add the wet until everything is just combined, being careful not to over mix. Fold in the apples.

Put approximately 3 tbs of oil into your pan (you may need more or less depending on how large your pan is) and turn the burner onto med low heat. (I found on my electrical stove, 3, on a 9 setting nob, was the perfect setting.) Carefully drop batter by the tablespoon into the oil. Cook for 60-90 seconds on each side. You might want to test one first before doing a whole batch to see if your oil is the right temperature. You want them to be crispy on the outside and cooked thoroughly on the inside. Put fritters on a paper towel lined plate. Repeat, adding more oil as needed until all the fritters are pan fried.

Icing
Mix the powdered sugar and nutmeg with a tiny drizzle of milk. Keep add milk a little at a time until the icing is thin enough to easily drizzle over the fritters. If it gets too thin, just add a little more powdered sugar.

Drizzle the icing over the fritters and try your best not to eat the whole batch before your husband gets home from work. If, by “accident,” you do, just call that a trial batch and make another official batch for sharing. I think my next recipe trial better be one of the kale and carrots variety. 🙂

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Kinda’ Healthy Vegan Apple Fritters
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/04/05/kinda-healthy-vegan-apple-fritters

Blueberry Raspberry Oat Nut Bars

blueberry raspberry bars 002(Becky, the Mama.) This week I had a run of crazy mistakes that defy even my questionable logic.  One day began by sending  my husband’s business blog post, unedited, to hundreds of subscribers on the wrong day. From there it seemed every hour was punctuated by a wrong move, a major mess or spill in the kitchen, an embarrassing misspelling on social media, or a relational faux pas.

I was determined to make the next day mistake-free, and sailed through until about 3:00 pm, when I darted into a store and ran into a friend. Her face was full of compassion as she hugged me.  “I read about all your latest mishaps on Facebook, bless your heart.”

I smiled and said, “Yes, but I’m having a much better day. No mistakes yet!”

She pointed to my abdomen and said, “So that big white sticker that says, ‘Citrus juicer, $5.00’ on your stomach, is that on purpose?”

Oh well, there’s “always tomorrow.”

This morning I woke feeling chipper, and posted a status on Facebook that described my excitement about going to my friend Sue’s house to celebrate her birthday with some of her good home cooking.  I decided to whip up my favorite quick and easy berry bars to bring for dessert. They are a “just right” treat; not too sweet. Perfect under ice cream after dinner, but wonderful with a glass of milk for breakfast as well.

As we were enjoying our meal around their table (fabulous tenderloin steak, fresh corn on cob, and pesto pasta), Sue’s husband Jason grinned and asked, “Should we tell her now?”

“Tell me what?” I asked.

“Oh, Jason,” Sue said. “I wasn’t going to say anything.  Becky had a hard week.”

“What?” I repeated.

Jason laughed.  “Sue’s birthday is next week.  We’d actually invited you to come for dinner next Sunday! But when Sue saw your status update, we thought, ‘Let’s just go with it.  We’re free tonight, anyway.’”

I left half a pan of these blueberry  raspberry bars with Jason and Sue, and hope it will remind them of how much I love them for being so patient and kind to their absentminded friend.

P.S. My daughter Rachel just wrote, “When my mom came to stay with me after Jackson was born, she made me these blueberry raspberry bars. I was a ravenous new nursing mom and let me just say, these did not last very long! They are especially delicious in the middle of the night with a glass of almond milk. Sigh…I miss those early nursing days when I could eat constantly and still lose weight!”

Blueberry Raspberry Bars

Becky’s Blueberry Raspberry Oat Nut Bars

Ingredients

Serves 12-15, depending on how big you cut the bars.
1 c. butter (vegans can substitute coconut oil or Earth Balance butter or a mixture of both)
1 c. brown sugar
1 3/4 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. oatmeal
1/2 c. chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, whatever nut you like)
1 c. fresh or frozen blueberries

1 c. fresh or frozen raspberries

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Dump the first four ingredients into the food processor and pulse until crumbly. Add the oatmeal and nuts,  process just until blended. (You can also do this with a mixer or use clean hands for the job.)  Press half of the mixture into a greased 9×13 inch pan: spread blueberries over the mixture and sprinkle with the remaining oatmeal mixture. (Like a crumb topping.) Bake about 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 10 minutes before cutting into bars.

If you have any leftover (and this is a big IF),  I have found they stay freshest when wrapped well and refrigerated, then nuke the portion you want to eat for  few seconds in microwave.

Try these with other fruits (raspberries, strawberries, cherries, pineapple, apples, rhubarb… or combos thereof).

Also works well with other flours (gluten free) and grains. Can sub wheat germ or other flakey grains for some of the oats to upsize or vary the nutritional value.  You can use date sugar instead of brown sugar for sweetening, and keep it sugar free.

I love for people to find a basic recipe-method that works, then get creative with it, to make it their own.  This is a great recipe to “play with,” because it is hard to mess up! (Even for me.)

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Blueberry Oat Nut Bars
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/03/19/blueberry-oat-nut-bars/
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