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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This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
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The Title: Oat Nut Fruit Gems
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-Pz
This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook

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Healthy Skillet Apple Crisp (Vegan, Wheat, Dairy and Sugar Free)

Healthy Apple Crisp

After returning from a recent trip where I travelled without Greg (“The Other Half of my Heart and Brain”), we paused and took inventory of all the things I lost along the way: some clothes, my credit card,  my car keys (the kind with a computer chip that cost $70.00 to replace), and my camera.

Thankfully the credit card surfaced in a bag I’d left at home.  The hotel found my camera and zipped it to me quickly, Fed-Ex.  Three days later, my local library called to let me know that Frontier Airlines had my car keys in the Lost and Found. (My library card was attached to my giant key chain.  I remembered then that I’d let my grandbaby Jackson play with them on the plane.  Let this be a lesson to all:  Never trust a 13 month old baby to put your keys back in your purse when he is finished playing with them.)  Never found the clothes

Though Greg knows my absent-minded nature all too well, even he was amazed at all I’d managed to misplace in such a short time.

One morning soon after, he came upstairs to our bedroom to wake me up in time for a morning appointment.  “Becky,” he asked, “How in the world did you ever wake up without me to help you all those years when you traveled alone, speaking?”

“Well,” I answered sleepily, “the hotels had this thing where you could ask them to call you and wake you up. But I forgot what they call it.”

Greg smiled.  “A wake up call.”

“Yeah, that’s it!”

What is funny is the things my brain does remember: every word that Greg said to me when we fell in love, and the sweet things he continues to say to me almost a decade later.  Dozens of quotes I’ve found meaningful over the course of my life . Then there are recipes.  I have a remarkable taste memory, and can remember a long list of ingredients in recipes I’ve cooked and loved, simply by remembering the taste of it in my mind.

After cooking for years,  I can now imagine a dish I’ve never eaten, but would like to try making, and somehow my brain clicks off the  ingredients automatically.  Thus, the recipe for this skillet apple crisp that turned out exactly as I imagined it would: buttery, not-too-sweet, crunchy and rustic. It has no refined sugars, but is made with natural coconut sugar and tad of pure maple syrup. (It is easy to find coconut sugar these days in the baking aisle:  I found this bag at a local Wal-mart.) The topping has no flour: it is all oats and nuts and seeds, giving it a fabulous crunchy texture. It is loaded with fiber and protein, a comforting autumn dessert, and healthy enough to serve the next day for fruit-nut breakfast oatmeal – re-heated and served with a little milk, cream or almond milk.

Amazing Healthy Skillet Apple Crisp (Wheat, Dairy and Sugar Free)

 

Ingredients for Apple Layer:

2 T. Earth Balance Butter (or regular butter if you are not vegan)

2 T. coconut sugar

2 T. maple syrup

1 t. cinnamon

3 cups fresh organic apple slices,  loosely packed,  ¼ inch  thick, peel left on (This took about 5 small apples, so I imagine 3 or 4 larger apples would do)

2 T. raisins or dried berries

Ingredients for Topping:

1 c. old-fashioned oats

½ c. nuts (I used walnuts)

2 T. hemp, chia or flax seeds

¼ c. coconut oil (or other healthy oil if you do not have coconut oil on hand)

3 T. coconut sugar

¼ t. salt (unless nuts above are salted, then omit)

1 t. cinnamon

1 T. pure maple syrup

Optional: 2 T. Roasted Pumpkin Seeds for garnish (may also use sunflower seeds or slivered almonds)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a 10 inch iron skillet, melt Earth Balance butter over a low flame.  Mix rest of “Ingredients for Apple Layer”  into the melted butter.

Put all “Ingredients for Topping” into a food processor, except the maple syrup.  Process until mixture is crumbly, about the size of Grape Nuts cereal.  Sprinkle over the apples. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of maple syrup over all.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until topping is brown, apples are soft and juices beneath are thick and syrupy.  Top with pumpkin seeds, if desired. Serve plain or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, yogurt or coconut milk-based ice cream.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Healthy Skillet Apple Crisp (Vegan, Wheat, Dairy and Sugar-free)
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-GO
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


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/
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved