Banana-Oat SuperDad Snack Bars

My dad is one of the most awesome guys I know (have to include the hubby in this one), and he really is my best friend. I can always count on him for anything, including lifting heavy boxes and trucking furniture up and down stairs.

Though he really wasn’t thrilled that we were moving away, my dad showed up on moving day and gave us every ounce of energy he had. That little man did the work of ten (and I even caught him doing sit-ups in between trips!). Seriously, my husband and I were in awe.

I look forward to being in as awesome shape as he is now in my 60’s. While we were taking water breaks, he just kept on going, and going, and going. Okay, he did take a few breaks to snack on these banana oat bars …

Banana-Oat Superdad Snack Bars (Dairy-Free)

Bananas and oats have to be my dad’s two favorite foods, but he shies away from baked goodies since in his mind they are all loaded with sugar and refined flours. So I created these whole-grain, naturally-sweetened snack bars to keep us all powered up and happy.

Admitedly, my husband and grandma (the two sugar fiends) preferred the blueberry-cashew bars I made (still working on the recipe, as I thought they were too crumbly). However, my dad and I were loyalists to these snack bars, which had a dense, but somewhat cakey consistency. In fact, after the pan was gone (that very same day), dad asked me to make more!

Banana-Oat SuperDad Snack Bars

This recipe is Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Nut-Free, Free of Refined Sugars, and Optionally Wheat-Free / Gluten-Free (seek out some of those certified gluten-free oats)

  • 1-1/4 Cups Quick Oats (not instant)
  • 1/4 Cup Agave Nectar or Honey*
  • 2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil, melted or softened (or oil of your choice)
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 Cup Flour (I ground more oats in my spice grinder to a flour consistency, feel free to use the flour of your choosing … AP, whole wheat, or even almond flour)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Egg (brought to room temperature if using coconut oil)
  • 1 Cup Mashed, Ripe Banana (about 3 small or 2 large)
  • 1/2 Cup Shredded Coconut (I used unsweetened)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and grease an 8 x 8 baking dish.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the oats, agave or honey, oil, and vanilla. Briefly set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Briefly set aside.

Returning to your mixing bowl, stir in the egg, banana, and coconut, until everything is well combined. Stir in the reserved flour mixture (since I was using oat flour without gluten, I wasn’t worried about over-mixing. Be careful not to overmix if you are using a wheat-based flour).

The batter will be a little thick. Spread it evenly in your greased baking dish, and pop it in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before cutting. Can be stored in the fridge if you like ’em chilled (I do).

* According to our taste buds, these bars were perfectly sweet, but if you prefer a sweeter treat, feel free to up the agave or honey to 1/3 cup or add a couple tablespoons of Sucanat or brown sugar.

Cinnamon Raisin Version

The above recipe is my slightly coconutty version. You can mix up the flavors if you wish. The following changes will give you a cinnamon raisin banana oat bar:

  • Substitute grapeseed oil or other neutral-tasting oil for the coconut oil
  • Substitute 1/2 cup of raisins for the coconut
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or more if you like!)
  • Substitute maple syrup for the agave/honey (optional)

Yields about 9 snack bars

bananaoatbars3

Blog Events: I shared this post with Fight Back Fridays.

Hearty Oat Chocolate Chippers (Gluten-Free & Vegan)

Though I have finally migrated from the “Lite Bites” section of Cookies for Everyone! to the “Drop Cookies,” I still went straight for the Hearty Chocolate Chippers. My cookie cravings lately seem to be intertwined with my body’s call for nutrition. But a cookie is a cookie after all, and still a worthy indulgence in my book. 

Oaty / Hearty Chocolate Chippers

As you can see, my cookies are a bit on the toasty side. Not burnt by any means, and still utterly delicious, but about 2 minutes past their prime. I believe there is a slight faux pas in the original recipe, which calls for too long of a cooking time (me thinks the 2’s should be 1’s). Luckily, I caught them before they turned into hockey pucks, and while they were still tender and delicious! I have adapted the recipe below to reflect the correct cooking time and any of my minor ingredient changes. Enjoy!

Hearty Oat Chocolate Chippers

Adapted from Cookies for Everyone! by Leslie Hammond and Betsy Laakso

This recipe is Vegan, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free*, Egg-Free, Peanut-Free, Tree Nut-Free, Soy-Free, Wheat-Free, and relatively Low Fat. See ingredient links and notes for best options to keeping this “free-from” profile.

  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar, Packed
  • 1/4 Cup Grapeseed, Canola, or Vegetable Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Water or Milk Alternative of choice (plain or vanilla)
  • 1/2 Cup Unsweetened Applesauce
  • 1/4 Cup Flax Meal
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup White or Brown Rice Flour [I used brown. keepin’ them hearty!]
  • 1/2 Cup Oat Flour* [original recipe calls for sorghum flour]
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Cups Rolled Oats**, Quinoa, or Rice Flakes [I used oats]
  • 1 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Preheat your oven to 350ºF (180°C, or gas mark 4).

With a mixer or by hand, cream together the brown sugar, oil, water or milk alternative, applesauce, flax, and vanilla until smooth.

Add the remaining ingredients except for the oats and chocolate chips, and mix until dough is well combined.  Add the oats and mix again until all ingredients are combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Use a small ice cream/cookie scoop or drop dough by rounded tablespoon onto the baking sheet.  Flatten slightly.

Bake for about 15 to 18 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly browned and semi-soft to the touch in the middle.  Let cookies sit for a few minutes before removing from baking sheet.  Remove from baking sheet to a flat surface (like a large plate) or wire rack to cool completely before enjoying.

* To make oat flour (gluten-free or regular), place some oats in your spice grinder and whiz for about 30 seconds, or until they are pulverized into a flour.

** To keep these cookies gluten-free, use certified gluten-free oats or use the sorghum flour and choose quinoa or rice flakes over the oats.

Yields 3 dozen medium-sized chippers

heartychocolatechippers

Giveaways This Week:

Giveaway: Gourmet Tortilla Chip Sampler Packages for Your Summer BBQ’s!!

Healthy, gourmet, and all-natural are rarely terms we associate with the humble tortilla chip, but things are different at Food Should Taste Good. I had the chance to sample all of their completely delicious original flavors a while back … but, now they have four new flavors, and they want you to taste just how good they are! They will send a gift package to three of you (yes, that is 1 .. 2 .. 3 winners!) to include full-size bags of their four new tortilla chip flavors.

My good friend Hannah, author of My Sweet Vegan and blogger extraordinaire at Bittersweet, taste tested each of the new flavors, and I have some highlights and mini-photos from her review to get your taste buds ready:

  • Yellow Corn – “refreshingly clean and crisp tasting”
  • Lime – “the mellow, natural zest that met my tongue was a very pleasant surprise”
  • Cinnamon – “very aromatic from the minute they’re released from the bag”
  • Potato Chive – “these chips proved to have a very rich potato flavor, tasting earthy in the best way possible”

Food Should Taste Good Tortilla Chips

Special Diet Note: These chips are gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and vegan! Can’t beat that.

To enter to win, leave a comment on this post. You can just say hi, you can tell me how much you love this blog (brownie points are tallied), you can tell me which chip flavor you are most excited about, and/or you can put in a special request for a chip flavor you would love to see Food Should Taste Good come up with next.

To enter more than once, Tweet this giveaway via your twitter account, tell your friends on facebook, and/or link to this post from your blog. Be sure to leave a separate comment letting me know you did so! Two of last month’s winners were actually tweets, so every little bit helps!

Comment entries will be open through Tuesday, June 16th, after which time the three winners will be announced. Good luck!

foodshouldtastegoodnew

Though I usually wait until after the giveaways to post up deals from the companies, I know that you will want these whether or not you win, so here goes …

  • Printable Coupon: Join the fan club on the Food Should Taste Good Website (under special offers-coupons), and they will email you a printable coupon for $1.00 off. I have already used mine.
  • Recipe Contest: Once you have these crunchy snacks in hand, get creative and come up with a recipe. Submit your recipe on the contest page and if chosen for that month (one winner per month), you will receive a whole case of chips!

Okay, comment away to enter …

Homemade Strawberry Julius … The Ultimate Workout Reward!

 

Whew! 5 days into the new fitness program and it is definitelly kicking our butts. Thank you all for your inspiring comments the other day, we are keeping motivated!

Thus far my husband and I have done three days of 90-minute cardio-type weight and muscle training (can we say torture?), an hour of some serious cardio, and 90 minutes of the hardest yoga I have ever done. I am trying to add in some walking along with that to keep these stiff muscles moving! Did I mention we signed up for two-hour long tennis lessons. Call us insane, but we are actually enjoying it … that is, now that the initial bout of cripling pain is wearing off.

So, with this new fitness routine comes an amped up diet. More calories (yes, I said more!), more protein, less sugar, and less fat. The two aspects that are hardest for us are the protein load (to be addressed in another post) and the less sugar. We are sugar addicts around here. Pretty much the only sugar found in the meal plans is slated for post-workout.

Okay, I must admit, that part is genious. Think about it, you can have that wonderfully sweet and thirst-quenching drink and delicious bar … AFTER you finish your workout. Can we say motivation?

strawberryjulius2

The recommended post-workout drinks contain milk in some form or another, so I have had to invent my own. Needless to say, I have spent all week perfecting this post-workout beverage to get the biggest enjoyment bang for my buck. The most important aspect is that the drink have a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein. Surprisingly, that means a lot of wonderful sugars in the form of fresh fruit and sweetener.

Since I am using Egg White Protein Powder (but you can use another type if you wish), the famous “Julius” immediately came to mind, and since it is officially strawberry season … well, need I say more? Of course, this is a versatile, easy little recipe that you can use as a recovery drink, for added protein (say for those little ones), or as a dessert … just see my notes below. Enjoy and have a great weekend!

Rewarding Strawberry “Julius”

This recipe is optional vegan, optional egg-free, dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free, and nut-free

  • 2 Cups Strawberry Halves
  • ½ Cup Water
  • 3 Tablespoons Honey or Agave Nectar or 1/4 Cup White Sugar (I use honey)
  • ½ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • Pinch Salt (optional)
  • 2 Cups Ice
  • 1.5 Tablespoons Egg Protein Powder (or enough of your favorite protein powder to equal roughly 16 to 18 grams of protein OR if you aren’t seeking a big protein boost, use 1 large egg white)

Combine the strawberries, water, honey, vanilla, ice, and salt (if using)  in your blender and blend it to a nice smoothie consistency. Add more water or ice as you see fit. Add in the protein powder and just give it a few quick pulses to blend it in.

A Few Quick Notes:

  • If using egg protein powder, it will nicely foam up like a Julius very quickly. I can’t say for other protein powders since I haven’t tried them, but the taste should still be excellent. If not using this for a protein drink, you can also use 1 large egg white (3 T pasteurized egg whites) in place of protein powder.
  • If you aren’t looking for a 4:1 ratio in particular, feel free to reduce the sweetener to your taste. 
  • If you want lower calories, reduce both the sweetener and the protein powder in half (but for optimum indulgence, I don’t recommend it!).
  • If you just want a dessert, go ahead with the protein powder or sub in a pasteurized egg white, or unsweetened milk alternative in place of the water for more of a strawberry smoothie.
  • As is, each serving has about 10g of protein, just under 40g of carbs, and is so incredibly yummy!

Yields 2 yumilicious servings

strawberryjulius

Blog Events: This recipe was submitted to the Strawberry Feast at My Kitchen Treasures.

Virtuous Whole Grain Banana Muffins

In case you haven’t noticed from my past recipes, I am always looking for ways to use up those leftover bananas. For some odd reason, I purchase the same amount of bananas year round, regardless of our internal demand. In the summers, morning smoothies ensure that we go through at least one or two bananas per day, but in the winter and early spring, the last thing on my mind is a monstrously chilly beverage. So here I sit, once again, with a bunch of quickly ripening bananas, simply begging to lend their sweetness to a baked goodie.

Trying desperately to keep it healthy, I was elated when I found a whole wheat banana muffin recipe on Recipezaar that numerous people swore rose beautifully. They did not lie. I altered the recipe in several ways (reducing the fat a touch, adding some flavors, etc.), but still used their moisture ratio as my guide. These muffins turned out, dare I say about a whole grain muffin, relatively light and fluffy! Keep in mind; these are muffins, not cupcakes. They aren’t overly sweet, yet they are perfect (in my opinion) for early morning taste buds or with afternoon tea. I added raisins for an extra jolt of natural sugar, but you can swap them out for nuts, chocolate chips (I can’t stand chocolate in muffins/bread, just me though), blueberries, or other add-ins. You will still need some of that hot water in the ingredient list though (see the recipe to know what I am talking about).

banana-nut frosted banana muffins

I “frosted” one fresh out of the oven with a quick mixture of some leftover mashed banana, nut butter, ground flaxseeds, and some flavors to taste (molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg). For a sweeter added touch, “frost” them with your favorite jam.

Whole-Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Banana Muffins

This Recipe is Milk-Free, Soy-Free, Tree Nut-Free, Peanut-Free

  • 1/2 Cup Raisins (or more if you like)
  • Boiling Water (about 1 cup should do)
  • 1-3/4 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons Wheat Germ
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Cup Mashed Ripe Banana
  • 1/4 Cup Grapeseed or Vegetable Oil
  • 1/2 Cup Honey or Agave Nectar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Place the raisins in a small bowl, and cover them with the hot/boiling water.

Preheat your oven to 325ºF and grease 12 muffin cups.

In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the flour, wheat germ, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Briefly set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, blend the banana, oil, honey, eggs, and vanilla. Drain the raisins, reserving the liquid. Add 5 tablespoon s (1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) of the hot raisin water to your mixing bowl.

Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in your large mixing bowl, stirring just to combine. Do not over mix. The baking soda begins to react as soon as it hits the liquid, so over mixing will cause the muffins to loose some of their fluffiness … a few lumps are okay.

Stir in the plumped raisins, and divide the batter evenly between your 12 muffin cups.

Bake for 20 to 24 minutes, or until they just begin to take on a golden hue, and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin, comes out clean. Let cool for a few minutes in the muffin cups, then remove to a wire rack.

Yields 1 Dozen Muffins

dairy-free banana wheat muffins

Wheat-Free Option:
Use spelt or oat flour in place of the wheat flour, and substitute ground flax for the wheat germ.  I would guess that you could also use your favorite gluten-free flour blend (with xanthan gum as directed) to make them gluten-free / casein-free too if you wished).

Tips:
Be sure the bananas are quite ripe; this will add sweetness to the muffins.
Measure the oil in a ¼ cup, then use the same cup to measure the honey. The oil coating on the measuring cup will help keep the honey from sticking.

Happy Baking!