No-Bake Granola Bars (gluten-free, low sugar)

No-Bake Granola Bars Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

Wow. Let me just start by saying, it’s been a while. This summer has been absolutely insane, but in a good way! I’m working full time at two different locations (both of which I love), beginning my career as a therapist intern, and still conducting personal research on the relationship between nutrition and mental health. Speaking of which, if you haven’t had a chance to “like” becauseitsgoodforyou’s page on Facebook, you may have missed the link to the article I wrote regarding the relationship between food sensitivities and Autism Spectrum Disorder that was published on Psychologytoday.com. I was working with a mentor for several months to  perfect the article and I must say, I am pretty satisfied with the way it turned out. I also hope I am able to provide a little extra help and insight to those who read the article and are dealing with ASD.

Anyway, on to the good stuff.

No-Bake Granola Bars Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

Although I may not have physically been on becauseitsgoodforyou.com, my heart has still been here and I definitely haven’t stopped experimenting in the kitchen. Some recipes have turned out amazing and some were, well, not so amazing. I’ll try to keep up with posting some of the better ones that I happened to snap pictures of before serving to friends (or devouring myself). The no-bake granola bars you see on this post are somewhat similar to my granola nut cookies that I posted back in April although these are actual granola, as they contain oats, and are slightly healthier in my opinion. The core of this recipe stemmed from another blogger’s granola bars  (see: Coco and Tea) and was adjusted to fit my needs. I’ve been on this low sugar kick for the past month so I opted against adding any additional sugar aside from the natural sweetness of nuts, fruit, and a little bit of honey and vanilla flavoring. The first batch turned out way too crumbly and would fall apart after taking one bite. This batch however, turned out just right! I think the almond butter is the secret to binding everything together in this recipe.

No-Bake Granola Bars Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

WHAT YOU NEED:

• 1 cup rolled oats
• 1 cup raw mixed nuts (Brazil, pecan, almond, peanut, macadamia, etc)
• 1 cup chopped dried fruit (I used raisins and apricots)
• 1 cup ground seeds (pumpkin, flax, sunflower, etc)
• ½ cup raw, creamy almond butter
• ¼ cup sunbutter
• ¼ cup raw honey
• ½ cup coconut oil
• ½ tsp vanilla extract
• dash of salt
• coconut oil cooking spray
• Optional: Chia seeds and/or coconut flakes and/or protein powder

No-Bake Granola Bars Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

PREPARATION

• Pour oats, mixed nuts, dried fruit, and ground seeds to a large bowl. Toss well.
• Mix sunbutter, almond butter, coconut oil, salt, honey, and vanilla in a small saucepan. Heat on low, stirring often, for about 3 minutes or until mixture is well combined.
• Pour wet ingredients into bowl with dry ingredients and mix with a spatula until the dry mixture is completely covered.
• Lightly spray your hands with coconut oil cooking spray.
• Press mixture firmly into a small baking pan (using your hands is the best and easiest way, hence the coconut oil spray)
• Option: Top with chia seeds, coconut flakes, or sprinkle protein powder for added nutrients
• Place pan in freezer for 20 minutes or until granola hardens
• Cut into rectangles and serve

No-Bake Granola Bars Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

WHY IT’S GOOD FOR YOU

Grinding these seeds beforehand and keeping the granola bars un-baked were two very important factors when creating this recipe, as it optimizes the amount of healthy, Omega-3 fatty acids your body can absorb from the seeds. Omega-3’s help control the amount of inflammation in our body, lessening the risk of arthritis, diabetes, asthma, and even cancer.  Incorporating a small handful of nuts every day into your diet can help with weight loss, stress-reduction, reduce the risk of lung cancer, lower cholesterol, assist in healthy heart health, and prevent cognitive decline. A study performed by UCLA even showed that a small handful of walnuts per day could assist with men’s reproductive health. In addition, nuts are a great source of dietary fiber, protein, and B-vitamins.

Advertisements

Broccoli and Toasted Almond Salad

If you have read my previous posts, you know I’m all about quick and easy recipes. I also eat salads pretty regularly – I pack one up for lunch and bring it to work every day. Usually I use spinach as the base and add various toppings like carrots, cucumbers, fennel, beets, etc., and top it off with some fig balsamic, pomegranate vinegar, or coconut aminos for the dressing. But sometimes I want a salad that has something besides a spinach base, which is why I fell in love with this simple broccoli salad. The only real work associated with making this is toasting the almonds and chopping up some veggies. It can be made in under 10 minutes and is easily transportable. Not to mention, it’s vegan, (almost) raw, paleo, and all that other good stuff. The toasted almonds are definitely the star of this show, so make sure not to skip out on those. This salad is even tastier when you add a little avocado and lemon on top. Also, if you don’t have red wine vinegar, you need to find some. Using RWV for the dressing goes especially well with this dish, although you would be fine using a standard oil/balsamic mix too.

Broccoli Salad Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

WHAT YOU NEED:

• ½ Red onion, sliced thinly with a knife or mandoline
• 1 bag broccoli florets, chopped
• ¼ cup sliced almonds
• Red wine vinegar, or other dressing of your choice
• 1 Avocado (optional)
• 1 tbsp Grapeseed oil
• salt and pepper to taste

Broccoli Salad Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

PREPARATION

• Pour grapeseed oil into a frying pan on medium heat
• Add toasted almonds to frying pan and toss with oil
• Add salt and pepper while constantly mixing the almonds around the pan. Once they start to darken, take them off the heat and let them cool on a paper towel. Be careful because they will burn quickly!
• Add broccoli, onion, and almonds to a large bowl. Toss with red wine vinegar and top with avocado (optional)

Pretty simple, but oh so delicious!

Broccoli Salad Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

WHY IT’S GOOD FOR YOU 

Broccoli, in addition to being a great anti-inflammatory food, plays a role in our bodies ability to detox and rid itself of unwanted contaminants. It also contains a strong dose of vitamins A and K, two nutrients that help keep our vitamin D levels balanced. Almonds and other nuts may contain a decent amount of fat, but don’t worry, it’s the good kind. They’re high in monosaturated fats, which are known to reduce the risk of heart disease. Magnesium is also abundant in almonds and helps improve the flow of blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the body.

Paleo Style Avocado and Key Lime Pie

A couple of weeks ago my laptop took a turn for the worse. My photos wouldn’t upload, programs would randomly close, and the screen would black out at the worst possible moments. Fortunately, the good people of Apple were able to fix my Macbook and return it to me as good as new! Unfortunately, this little electronic hiccup has prevented me from posting. But while my laptop was in the shop I was busy in the kitchen, and now I’m back with a handful of healthy recipes to share. If you read my last post, you know that I promised to share some Paleo-friendly meals, so I did some research and a little experimenting and came up with a few recipes that I am pretty excited about. Another bonus- Most of these recipes are not only Paleo, but also vegan/vegetarian. The next few posts will be dedicated solely to food, so make sure you’re checking back often for new meal ideas! Now, without further ado….

AVOCADO AND KEY LIME PIE (Paleo/Vegan/Raw) – This is an interesting take on a traditional key lime pie because the “frosting” is made of avocado and coconut oil, the crust is gluten-free, and it’s raw. These little bites are great as an appetizer, dessert, or even as a breakfast snack. Don’t let the green tops fool you, these guys have a little sweetness and a lot of deliciousness!

Paleo Key Lime Pie Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

Avocado and Key Lime Pie Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

WHAT YOU NEED:

• 2 Avocados
• Juice from 1 lime
• ½ cup coconut oil
• 3 tbsp raw honey
• ½ cup coconut flour
• ½ cup dates, pitted
• pinch of salt

Avocado and Key Lime Pie Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

Avocado and Key Lime Pie Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

PREPARATION

*before beginning this recipe I like to prep the honey and coconut oil by mixing them up a bit in small bowls and letting them sit to help soften. You can also throw them over the stove for a few seconds.

• Add avocado, lime, coconut oil, and 2 tbsp honey to a bowl. Blend well (this is the filling)
• In a food processor, mix together dates, coconut flour, salt, and 1 tbsp honey (this is the crust)
• Press crust mixture into lined or greased muffin pan
• Spoon in filling mixture on top of crust
• Freeze for 1 hour
• Remove pies from muffin pan and serve!

Avocado and Key Lime Pie Becauseitsgoodforyou.comAvocado and Key Lime Pie Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

WHY IT’S GOOD FOR YOU

Coconut flour is a great gluten-free, grain-free substitute for baking. It’s packed full of fiber, helps improve digestive regularity, and helps regulate blood sugar levels. It also contains the same healthy fats that are in coconut oil / coconuts and has been shown to boost metabolism. Avocados are another source of healthy fat and fiber. In addition, they contain a third of the daily recommended dose of vitamin C and half the recommended dose of vitamin K.

There’s plenty more where this came from. I’ll be posting more Paleo recipes every couple of days. Stay tuned!