Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Apricot Coconut Granola Bars

I have been experimenting with homemade granola bars for a while now. I just couldn't get it right. Last week it was our day to bring a healthy snack to our childbirth prep class. I thought I should look for a new recipe for granola bars. I got searching and found one that looked good. Of course it was off of, one of my favorite sites for recipes. Her recipe looked great and the bars looked chewy, which was what I wanted. I decided to try it out, and of course I tweaked it a bit. When I make homemade treats I try to make them healthier than a store bought version. That means no preservatives, no high fructose corn syrup, no extra sugar, and only natural ingredients. Her recipe called for corn syrup, which I try to avoid, so I made some changes and everything came out delicious! Here is my recipe for Apricot Coconut Granola Bars.

1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats
1/2 cup cane sugar
1/3 cup oat flour (if you can't find oat flour like me, then grind the oats in a food processor until finely ground.)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups chopped dried apricots (I chopped them in the food processor.)
1 cup shredded coconut
7 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp water

Preheat oven to 350.

(I chopped the dried apricots and coconut in the food processor until they were tiny bits. I did the apricots first and then when they were just about the right size I added the coconut.)

Stir together all dry ingredients, including apricots and coconut. In a separate bowl combine melted butter and all the wet ingredients. Then pour the wet into the dry stirring to evenly coat. Line an 8 x 8 pan with parchment paper with the edges hanging over and spray all sides of the pan. Pour the mixture into your pan and press firmly down. You want to make sure that you press firmly to make sure that everything binds together and will hold once it is baked and cut.

Bake the bars for 30 -40 minutes. Check to see they are browned on the edges and maybe even in the center a bit too. Take out of the oven and cool the bars completely before taking out and cutting. You might even want to place in the fridge after they are cooled to help with the cutting.

Using the paper that was hanging over the edge take the bars out of the pan and cut into little squares. I made 16 total but you can cut them any way you want.

These are super yummy and we had none leftover from our class. Patrick was very sad and made me promise to make some more for us to eat. So I did!

I also made a chocolate peanut butter version. For that instead of apricots and coconut I added about 2 cups of mini chocolate chips and into the wet I added 1/3 cup chunky peanut butter, a natural no sugar added brand like Adams. Of course I was meaning to make a peanut butter chocolate chip bar but forgot that when you add warm melted butter to they dry ingredients it would melt the chips. Oops. So it ended up just being a chocolate peanut butter bar. You could add the chocolate chips right before baking if you don't want them to melt. It's good either way I'm sure, we had none of those left either.

Now that you have this recipe you can play around with the ingredients. Instead of the apricots and coconut just add 2-3 cups of your favorite fruit and nut combination and see what you get! Hope you love this as much as we do!!


Wednesday, March 23, 2011


It's been a tough week for me. I've been feeling rather emotional, crying over everything. This did not happen to me during my first pregnancy but hey, lots of things have been different this time around. I cry when I miss people, I cry when I watch something full of emotion, and I almost started to cry last night when I learned about how amazingly strong the uterus is and how amazing a woman's body really is. Yikes!! So I thought that it would be a good time to try new recipes and poor myself into that. Yesterday I made two batches of homemade granola bars, which both turned out amazing. I took them to the childbirth preparation class that we are attending and we came back with empty plates. (We were a little sad about not having any for ourselves but PAtrick made me promise to make more.) I didn't take pictures of them so I will make some more later this week and post it with pictures. Last night I also made a new pasta dish, that was not a huge hit with me. Tonight I decided to make a quiche. I haven't made too many quiches but I know I can make anything that I want to when I want to and have the time to. I started this morning by making the dough for the crust and then putting it in the fridge to chill. Later this afternoon I took it out, rolled it out, and then baked it. Then this evening I made the filling and baked it. This quiche recipe was from I like their recipes because I can always count on it to be on the healthy side. (Even though quiche is quiche and will be high in cholesterol and add cheese to that and you get more cholesterol.) I figure for a once in a while meal it will be fine. I changed it a little by making the crust with whole wheat flour and then adding asparagus to the top of the quiche due to a request from my 4 year old. The quiche came out great and then some. We all ate our slices and a couple of us had seconds. Can't wait for breakfast tomorrow to have some more! :) I am going to give you my adapted version.

Spinach, Green Onion, and Gouda Quiche topped with Asparagus

6 tbsp butter, softened
3 tbsp 1 % low-fat milk
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cups unbleached flour
3/4 cups whole wheat flour

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 thinly sliced green onions
3 cups baby spinach
1 cup 1 % low-fat milk
3/4 cups Gouda cheese
3/4 tsp salt
dash of nutmeg
3 large eggs


Place butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until soft and fluffy. In a small bowl combine milk, salt and egg yolk, stir with a whisk. Add milk mixture to butter a little at a time and blend until well blended. Add flour, beat until just combined. Press dough into a 4 inch circle on plastic wrap; cover and let chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350

Unwrap dough and on a floured surface roll out to a ten inch circle. Fit the dough down into a 9 inch pie pan. Freeze for 15 minutes. Bake for 25 minutes until browned slightly and fluffy. (Mine did have a few air bubbles in it but that's okay.) Let cool.


Over medium high heat add olive oil and green onions and saute until tender. Add spinach and saute until just wilted.

Combine milk and the rest of the ingredients in a bowl, stir with a whisk. Stir in spinach mixture. Pour filling into crust.

Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes. (Mine took a little longer to set.) I like to let it get a little brown on the top too. Let sit for 5 minutes before cutting into wedges and serving.


This was easy even though I had to make my own crust. I like to do things from scratch whenever possible to avoid having preservatives in our food. I like to make sure I know everything that goes into our food. That being said, you could always buy a store bought crust and just make the filling. The filling couldn't be easier to make and then who doesn't like to sit back and relax, or wash dishes (sarcasm), while the dish is in the oven?

Hopefully the rest of the week gets better, but I have a feeling that as time is getting closer, 6 more weeks to go, I will just be getting more emotional. Oh well, c'est la vie! Or at least it's my life at the moment.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spinach Side

I have said before that spinach is a super food. It is full of wonderful nutrients that as I always say to London, "It's soooo good for our bodies." She has taken to saying this about all fruits and veggies. When I make dinner I always am thinking what vegetable or side dish would go with this. I am 33 weeks pregnant and right now am trying to use a lot of vegetables as side dishes as opposed to starches or carbs. I bought a huge box of spinach from the store the other day when I made some spinach pesto and decided that a side of sauteed spinach would go well with the Salmon I made. I decided to also throw in some mushrooms to that saute as well.

A while back I was eating mostly vegetarian. I came across Liquid Smoke. Who doesn't love that smokey meat flavor? Most of us when craving certain foods really are only craving the flavors of that item. When you crave something that is smokey off the grill it usually is just that smokey flavor we are craving. When making a vegetarian chili there is usually just a little something that is missing, that is when you add a few drops of liquid smoke. Liquid smoke is collected by collecting the condensation made from different woods when smoking them in a smoker. You get the great smokey flavor with no meat added.

Back to the spinach. I wanted to make it taste almost as if there was ham, or prosciutto in the spinach so I decided I would look to liquid smoke to add that little bit of smokey flavor and depth to the spinach. (You can find liquid smoke at your grocery store near the ketchups.)

olive oil
diced onion, just a bit to add flavor
Spinach, enough to feed your family. (REmember, spinach wilts down to almost nothing so add more when in doubt.)
mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper
liquid smoke, a drop or two

Heat the olive oil. Add the onions and mushrooms and saute for a bit. Add the spinach, salt and pepper and cover for a bit. When you notice some wilting going on take the lid off and saute some. Add the liquid smoke and saute until done to your liking. This is a great side dish. It's so good for your bodies. :)