August 31, 2012

Healthy Shmealthy- I call it YUM.

Hubby & I recently decided to make some positive changes in our home - one of them being living healthier.  It's not like we were total crazies in the past or anything as far as our eating habits go, we are just being much more conscious of the things we put into our bodies (and don't, for that matter).
So anyway, just because we're eating healthy and all that jazz does not mean we're scrimping on taste and indulgences :)
So these are three of our 'staple' recipes around here that help us satisfy our snacky cravings without ruining our bodies with sugar, preservatives, chemicals and other nasties that come in the pre-packaged food.

Granola Bites
I found a recipe similar to this on Pinterest, but have modified it a few times until I found one that's perfect for our family.  It's super easy to make, no-bake and a perfect little snack!
We love these because they're naturally sweet (honey, not sugar) and they have all sorts of health benefits from the flaxseed and chia seeds (omega-3s, fiber, lingans, etc) and they're a good source of protein (from the PB, chia & flax).

You'll Need:
1 (heaping) C of old fashioned oats ( I use Quaker Oats (the big tub))
1/2 C of flaxseed meal ( I use Bob's Red Mill)
1 T Chia seeds (I find mine at Trader Joe's)
1/2 C natural (no stir) peanut butter (I use Jiff Natural)
1/3 C raw (local if possible) honey
A splash of vanilla

Combine all the ingredients (I recommend starting with dry, mixing, then adding wet) toss the bowl in the fridge for 20 minutes or so, then you can grab a spoon and scoop out and roll into balls.  Viola - that's it!  Easy. As. Pie.  Or.... granola.  :)

Our little bear loves things so much - for our 'adult version' I add 1/2 C mini chocolate chips - it adds a little kick of sweetness, but if you wanted to keep it uber-healthy you could use carob chips instead :)  I recommend storing them in the fridge, but you don't have to keep them there (for example, if you were to pack them in a lunchbox, they'd be just fine!)

Choco-Oat Cookies

These are another sweet snack that is perfect for satisfying that sweet tooth, that doesn't 'feel' quite as healthy as the granola bites, but certainly is! I got the original recipe from a friend, but have modified it for us :) I love that I can give Owen cookies and not feel the least bit guilty about it - and he demolishes them!

You'll Need:
1 over-ripe banana, mashed (the browner the peel, the better)
2T Coconut oil
1T Pure Maple Syrup
1/2 t vanilla
3/4 C old-fashioned oats
1/4 C flaxseed meal
1/4 t cinnamon
1/8 t sea salt


Mix the ingredients all together, scoop onto the cookie sheet (I prefer my Pampered Cheff baking stone), smash down a little bit and bake at 350* for 15-20minutes.

As you can tell from the ingredients, these don't technically have to be cooked, so baking them is up to you.  (Owen ate at least 3 tablespoons of raw batter when he helped me make them the other day!) I bake mine around 18 minutes depending on the size of my cookies and they firm up pretty nicely but are still soft/chewy like a cookie.  Also, I find it easiest to use a 1/8 measuring cup to scoop out the cookies, then flatten them on the cookie sheet.  These cookies don't spread or puff up at all, so you can put them pretty close together, and whatever shape you smash them into, that's what they'll stay like.

After I make a cookie-sheet-full for Owen, I add semi-sweet chips into the rest of the batter for us.  Again, you could substitute carob chips to keep it even healthier.
These store fine in a non-airtight (but covered) container on the counter, or in the fridge.  I prefer them at room-temp, but have found sealing the container all the way tends to make them mushy.  Hubby likes them refrigerated better so we split the batch :)

Grahams
I kind of love graham crackers.  Stale ones.  Yup, I like 'em a little chewy and a little less crispy.  But alas, there is sugar and other stuff in the graham crackers at the store (even Trader Joe's brand!) that I'd rather not ingest, so I set out to find a homemade recipe.  I found one on Pinterest (i heart pinterest if you haven't figured that out yet) but (again) modified it.  (I'm pretty sure I almost never keep a recipe the way I find it - I always have to make it my own!)

You'll Need:
1/4 c. butter, melted and cooled (organic if you have it!)
1/2 c. raw (local if you can find it) honey
2 T water
3/4 t sea salt
1/2 t baking soda
2 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
1 egg (cage free, organic if you can!)

Once the butter is melted and cooled down a bit, mix in the honey until blended (a fork worked well for this)
Then add the water and egg and mix until completely blended.
Next add salt, baking soda and half of the flour, mix until blended, add remaining flour and mix until well blended.
Set it in the fridge for a half hour or so to firm up a bit.
Flour your rolling pin and work surface (I used parchment paper to roll it out on, rather than flouring the counter - it made for much easier transfer to the pan later and meant I didn't have to flour the counter!) Roll out the dough extremely thin.  The thinner you roll it - the crispy your crackers will be.  Score with a pizza roller, then use a fork to poke holes.

Bake on a pan (I used my Pampered Chef Pizza Stone, as you can see, my grahams were not exactly... um 'regular'.)  at 350* for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.  They will crisp up more as they cool on the counter.
Not only are these healthier than store-bought - but they are much cheaper too!
I will note that this is a recipe I feel like I haven't perfected yet.  I may add a dash of stevia to sweeten it up just a tad, or try swapping out a T of honey for pure maple syrup and see what flavor that gives me.  I like this version, but I don't feel like it's spot-on with the flavor I'm looking for.  

So that's it!  I hope you try these and I would love to hear your feedback when/if you do!