I just returned home to Denver after a fabulous road trip with my husband Greg, to visit my daughter (co-author, co-blogger, co-conspirator), Rachel and her little family in Texas.
Her little boy Jackson, the most cheerful 2 year-old in the Lone Star State, greeted us at the door as if we’ve never been gone, and we were instant buddies again.
We loved watching him play in his “beach” (sandbox), help his dad out with yard work….
and make himself at home in the kitchen.
(He disappeared for 20 seconds and Rachel found Jackson eating this tub of vegan butter, and when she took it from him – quick as a flash, he grabbed another unopened tub and ran with it to the other side of the house, as if the butter tub was a football and he was toddler quarterback.)
Speaking of football and butter…. funny lady Anita Renfro posted this cartoon yesterday that cracked me up, because this could easily be me and Rachel watching Chopped, while our husbands watch Monday Night Football.
And speaking of cooking and football…
I just may have created the perfect football snack. These Crispy, Nutty Cocoa Energy Bars are a cross between a granola bar, a Pay Day candy bar, a Reeses and Rice Crispy Treats. They are also vegan, gluten-free (if you use gluten-free oats), chocked full of protein, healthy fiber, Omega 3s. But your guests and kids will never guess these treats are mostly good for them.
The great thing about this basic recipe is that you can really be creative with what you like, and what you have on hand to make it your own. They are perfect to tuck into your kids’ lunches. Kids prefer these to cookies, in fact, and you can be sure that they are getting plenty of fiber and protein to help slow the absorption of sugar. So no sugar crashes as happens so often with cookies.
Go, Team, Go!
Crispy, Nutty Cocoa Energy Bars
½ cup peanut butter (I used the natural kind)
½ cup agave nectar (you can substitute honey or brown rice syrup if you prefer)
1 ½ T. coconut oil (or olive oil)
2 T. pure maple syrup
¼ cup brown sugar
½ t. sea salt
1 t. vanilla
2 cups oats (use gluten-free oats if you want to make this recipe gluten free)
2 cups cocoa crisped rice cereal (I used a brand from the natural cereal section)
½ cup hemp seed or wheat germ or flax meal
2/3 cup chopped peanuts (I used a mixture of plain roasted and honey nut. They were already in fairly small pieces so I didn’t chop them.)
Preheat 350 degree
In a saucepan mix the first 6 ingredients and bring to a slow boil for 2 minutes. Turn off heat. Add vanilla. In a large bowl place oats, rice cereal, hemp seed (or wheat germ or flax), and nuts. Pour the hot peanut butter mixture over the dry ingredients and combine well. Pour all into a pan that has been greased with coconut oil or olive oil. Pat the mixture down firmly, using a piece of plastic wrap to keep it from sticking to your hands.
Bake for 15 minutes, let cool and then let harden in fridge (or freezer, if you are in a hurry). Then using a sharp knife, cut into squares or rectangles. (Or footballs, if you are feeling creative!)
Variations: Add coconut, chocolate chips or dried fruit. Use other nuts besides peanuts, and another nut butter instead of peanut butter, especially if you worry about peanut allergies. Almonds and almond butter or cashews and cashew butter would be delicious. Try another kind of crispy, light cereal for cocoa rice crisp cereal. (I have used Corn Chex, crushed, with good results.)
(Becky, the Mama.)
Food memoirist Alyssa Shelasky described her mother as being a strict health-nut (who’d never eat anything that would “tick off Michael Pollan”), before being green and organic was cool. Alyssa’s school lunches were healthy leftovers like chicken salad and fruit, with notes of hand-written inspiration tucked into the brown bag. Nary a Dorito or Slim Jim in site. And yet, even this Whole Foods Mama had a daily vice. Every morning alongside with her cup of milky white tea, she ate a chocolate packaged snack cake filled with goopy marshmallow cream. Yes, she ate a Devil Dog.
In her defense she ate one and only one. Every single day. For sixty years. Without guilt.
Later in the day, Alyssa’s mom would walk to the Farmer’s Market, loaded down with fresh veggies, enjoying every antioxidant-filled bite.
Now that Hostess has gone out of business, a box of Devil Dogs can be found on the internet for about $35.00 a box. “Freshness guaranteed.” (Presumably because they are so rich in chemicals, they are guaranteed to last forever.)
Though I draw the line at Twinkies and Devil Dogs for breakfast (even if I could afford such luxuries), I’m all in favor of making Chocolate a breakfast food.
To that end, I offer you this recipe for Double Chocolate Berry Nut Muffins. If I’d had blueberries or dark cherries on hand, I would have used those in this muffin. What I did have on hand was strawberries and kiwis, so improviser that I am… into the bowl they went. I’ve never let lack of correct ingredients stop me from whipping up a recipe. I once made a carrot cake without any carrots, subbing zucchini and crushed pineapple. It was delicious.
The result of my experiment was a just-right sweet muffin made moist from the coconut oil, Greek yogurt and fruit, chocolaty from cocoa and chocolate chips, with a nice crunch from chopped pecans. I used white whole wheat flour (which has the same nutritional value as whole wheat flour, but is made from white instead of red wheat); and organic unprocessed sugar to ease my conscience even more.
So, okay, I’m not ready to declare these chocolate muffins a “health food.” But hey, they are no Devil Dogs.
Double Chocolate Berry Muffins
Makes 2 dozen regular muffins, and one pan of miniature muffins
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2 ¼ c whole wheat white flour ( I used King Arthur brand)
1 ¼ c. organic sugar
½ c. unsweetened cocoa powder (if you like extra dark chocolate use dark chocolate cocoa)
2 t. baking power
1 t. baking soda
¾ t. salt
1 cup Greek Yogurt, plain
½ cup milk or almond milk
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted if it is solidified
1 t. vanilla or almond extract
1 cup berries (blueberries don’t need chopped, but strawberries, cherries, raspberries or blackberries will need to be diced into about ¼ inch pieces.)
1 cup chocolate chips
½ c. to 1 c. chopped nuts
Sift and stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a separate large bowl, and make a well in the center; set aside.
Whisk together the yogurt, milk, coconut oil, eggs, and almond or vanilla extract in a bowl until evenly blended. Pour the yogurt mixture into the well, then stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Fold in the berries, nuts, and chocolate chips. Spoon into prepared muffin cups, filling half full. (I used cupcake liners.)
Bake until a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
Try with a little smear of Nutella; or a slice of banana and peanut butter, or a spoon of cherry or strawberry preserves. Heaven….
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The Title:Double Chocolate Berry Muffins
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This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook