Tag Archives: easy

Healthy Granola Bars

Frisbee tournaments are my favorite part about summer weather in Boston. The heat and humidity–not so much! But one thing I’ve discovered this year is that they’re a great opportunity to debut some experimental “power” foods that will get us through the 8-hour long days of running (and pantsing each other, of course).

Homemade Healthy Granola Bars

There are a few traditional sideline foods–pickles, PBR, Cheez-Its, Pretzels, candy, the occasional Butterfinger bar to give to a player who drops a disc on a really key play…hehehe. I usually prefer to bring food with more protein, though, because the all-carbs thing makes me crash by the early afternoon. Mike invented some “energy bites” which I’ll probably make again soon and post, but last weekend I decided to try my hand at granola bars.

I don’t usually LOVE granola bars, but they are a great way to deliver a mix of nutrients with some great texture and taste. These came out really crunchy–very similar to the Nature Valley brand granola bars–but they softened (and improved, I think) after sitting in the sun in the Ziploc bag for a little while. They definitely helped power me through the day in small bits, though, and they’re made of (mostly) super-healthy, wholesome ingredients. No fake stuff here!

Healthy Cranberry Almond Granola Bars
Adapted from Epicurious’ recipe for Raisin and Cardamom Granola Bars.

4 cups instant oats, toasted first for about 10 minutes
1 cup dried sweetened cranberries
1.5 cups toasted raw almonds, chopped roughly
1 tsp cinnamon
6 Tbsp butter (3/4 stick)
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
4 Tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line your granola sheet (I used half of an 11×17 pan with thick bars as a result) with aluminum foil that hangs over the edges by at least an inch. Butter the foil. If your oats and almonds need to be toasted, do that first (oats for 10 minutes, almonds for about 6-8, or until they smell like popcorn).

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, cranberries, almonds, and cinnamon. Over medium heat, combine the butter, brown sugar, and honey. Once the butter melts, remove from heat and add vanilla. Combine all ingredients and stir until well coated. If it doesn’t stick together yet, add more honey and continue stirring.

Pour the granola mixture onto the foil. With another piece of aluminum foil, press down the granola so that it sticks together in an even layer. Remove that piece of foil and set it aside. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven, let cool for a few minutes, then press down again with the foil. CAREFUL–it will be hot! I used a towel around my hand when pressing down with the foil.

After completely cool, lift from pan using foil overhang. Cut into pieces with a sharp knife.

Chocolate Silk Pudding

Chocolate pudding on the porch with spring strawberries
Though I am not usually a pudding person, a craving hit me last week and I sprung into action. I made (who else?) Smitten Kitchen’s version and threw some fresh strawberries in at the end to spruce it up.

I don’t think I cooked mine for long enough because it was *very* liquidy, but I actually really enjoyed it like this.

Chocolate Silk Pudding
The recipe below is nearly verbatim from Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for chocolate pudding. I loved it without adaptation.

1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole milk
~6 oz. dark chocolate, chopped roughly
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Combine cornstarch, sugar and salt in the top of a double boiler. Slowly whisk in the milk. Use a heatproof spatula to combine milk and dry ingredients. Place over gently simmering water and stir occasionally, scraping the bottom and sides. Whisk occasionally to prevent lumps. After 15 to 20 minutes, when the mixture has thickened and coats the back of the spoon (without dripping), add the chocolate. Continue stirring for about 3 minutes, or until the pudding is smooth and thick. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

2. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a serving bowl or into a large measuring cup with a spout and pour into individual serving dishes.

3. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days. You can place plastic wrap directly on top of the pudding to prevent pudding skin or you can just cover the top of the serving dish with plastic wrap to encourage pudding skin–your choice.

Peppermint Bark

I love to make desserts, but I don’t love to leave dessert on my kitchen table for snacking on every time I walk by. I’ve been building up my list of holiday desserts for weeks now, but one was pleading for making: peppermint bark!

Simple and Elegant Peppermint Bark

After staring at the words “peppermint bark recipe” in my bookmarks toolbar for the longest week of all time, I finally got down to work and slapped it together. It turns out this recipe is really, really easy…and the product is *so* beautiful. No one believed me when I told them it took less than an hour and only three ingredients!

The best compromise on quality and price for white chocolate that I could find was Whole Food’s 365 Everyday (the house brand) white chocolate chips. The second ingredient is indeed cocoa butter, but instead of the $9/lb for Callebaut, they were only $4/lb. I used Cadbury Royal Dark for the chocolate base, but I think I would use more bitter chocolate next time–maybe 70% cocoa or more–to balance the sweetness of the white chocolate.

Peppermint Bark
Adapted from Use Real Butter’s recipe for peppermint bark.

1 pound dark chocolate, broken into pieces
1 pound white chocolate chips
12 candy canes

Press a piece of aluminum foil flat into a jelly pan, being careful to get the corners down. Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave in bursts of 20 seconds on low power, stirring between each heating period. Be careful not to burn the chocolate. When melted, pour onto the tinfoil and spread with a rubber spatula to even thickness throughout. The edges do not need to be perfectly square. Refrigerate for 20 minutes, or until hardened.

While dark chocolate is in the refrigerator, break the candy canes in half then place in the food processor. Pulse briefly a few times until pieces are no bigger than 1/4 inch across. Place a sieve over a bowl and shake the crushed candy canes into the sieve so that the powder collects in the bowl.

Melt the white chocolate, careful not to overcook. Stir in the powdered part of the candy canes using as few strokes as possible. Spread the white chocolate-candy cane mixture over the hardened dark chocolate using a CLEAN rubber spatula. Sprinkle the larger pieces of candy cane over the white chocolate and gently press them down with your (clean) hands. Refrigerate for another 20 minutes or until hardened.

Once firm, remove from the pan by lifting the tinfoil. Cut the bark into pieces of your choosing and serve! These will keep for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator.