almond butter + oat + chia protein bites

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there are often days when i am dragging like crazy in the afternoon. days when i did not get that second cup of coffee in the morning and by 2 pm all i want to do is go crawl back in bed and go to sleep. usually i try to snack on something packed with protein for a pick me up, whether it’s a hearty homemade granola with loads of chia and flaxseed (on a good day) or a huge spoonful of peanut butter with an apple (on a normal day).

for a few years now, i have been a huge fan of juice plus complete protein powder. it is a staple in our home and we go through it super fast. it’s one snack that i can get in my kids’ tummies that is easy AND good for them (how rare is that?! well with MY kids it is…). we make shakes daily and i add it to a lot of things, including smoothies and snack recipes, like this one. use your JP complete, or if your family uses a different brand of protein powder, you can sub it in this recipe (as long as it’s vanilla). the egg white is optional, if you want to make the bites vegan – but they add an extra punch of protein (and i like the glossy finish it gives the bites 🙂

almond butter + oat + chia protein bites
makes 12-14 balls

ingredients

1/2 cup oats

1/2 cup almond meal (or we love guiltless superfoods’ new flour)

1 scoop (1/4 cup) juice plus vanilla complete powder

1/2 cup nut butter (almond or peanut butter are our favorites)

1 tbsp chia seeds

2 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 heaping tsp vanilla bean paste)

1 tbsp local honey

1 egg white (optional)

directions

  1. mix all ingredients well in a bowl with a spatula or your hands. roll into 1-inch diameter balls (packing them as you roll so they hold their shape). place on a small plate and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before eating so they can firm up. transfer to an airtight container – will keep for about a week in the fridge.
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maple brown sugar oatmeal cookies

maple brown sugar oatmeal cookies | via she likes to eat

i was blazing through target a few weeks ago – the way one does when accompanied by a 4-year old and a 2-year old who are not into shopping the way you are and goldfish snacks are no longer cutting it – and i barely glanced at a display of packaged cookie mixes, all in autumn-inspired flavors. only later did this register and i began to dream of a similar cookie that i had seen, with maple syrup and brown sugar… i thought i would maybe mix in some oats… my wheels were turning.

so i looked in my trusty recipe box – the one you are looking at right now – and went to my oatmeal biscoff cookies with vanilla-soaked raisins recipe, figuring i could edit it to make this cookie recipe i was working on in my head. although i thought it would take a few tries to get it just right – since cooking with maple syrup can be tricky..well, baking PERIOD can be tricky when experimenting – but the first batch, really, was MONEY.

i done it all by mine-self, y’all. (insert ozarks backwoods accent here.)

these babies are a comforting, classic fall cookie. the oats give them texture and they are perfectly crispy on the outer edges and yet gloriously chewy in the center. they are the cookie i crave on a cold fall day, when i don’t want anything fancy, just simple, with a glass of cold milk.

maple brown sugar oatmeal cookies
makes about 34 cookies

ingredients

2 1/2 cups flour

1 cup plain quaker oats

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 sticks butter, at room temp

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

1/3 cup pure maple syrup (not imitation syrup)

directions

1. preheat the oven to 350. line 2-3 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt – set aside. in another bowl, cream together butter and both sugars with a mixer (handheld or standing), at medium speed until light and fluffy. add in vanilla, then add in eggs one at a time and mix until fully incorporated. add in maple syrup. continue mixing on low to medium speed for another 1-2 minutes.

3. add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix together with a spatula until just combined. using a cookie scoop or a spoon, place balls of cookie dough an inch or more apart (they will spread a bit during baking) onto prepared cookie sheets. bake each sheet separately, baking for about 13-14 minutes each, until the cookies begin to darken around the edges and are set in the center. allow cookies to cool on a wire rack before removing from cookie sheets.

homemade chewy granola bars


the little she loves them.
i have been craving them like crazy (pregnancy does that to you, apparently).
but store bought granola bars have so much unwanted junk in them, i wanted to make my own version. and when it comes down to it, it is WAY more cost effective to home-make your own.

so of all the versions i entertained, this one was my favorite. you can make this recipe super simple & basic or you can have a little bit of fun with it. the vanilla & the cinnamon are both optional and the nuts can be replaced with more dried fruit. the options really are endless!

this recipe is from king arthur flour, via the smitten kitchen. (it is a super flexible recipe and if you go to her site, you can find a few more ideas on making it lots of different ways.) 



homemade chewy granola bars

ingredients
1 2/3 cups oats
1/4 to 1/2 cup granulated sugar (use more for a sweetness like store bought bars, less for a mildly sweet bar.)
1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats processed until finely ground in food processor)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 – 3 cups dried fruits and nuts (total of 10-15 ounces; also, i ground the nuts a bit in the food processor, since kids would be eating them)
1/3 cup peanut butter or other nut butter
1 tsp vanilla
6 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
1 tbsp water

directions
1. preheat the oven to 350. line  a pan (one 8x8x2 or 2 bread loaf pans; i actually used a 9×13 rimmed cookie sheet – depends on how thick you want your bars) in one direction with parchment paper, allowing it to go up the opposing sides. lightly grease the parchment paper and the exposed part of the pan with butter or cooking spray.
2. stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruits & nuts. in a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter, honey, and water. toss the wet ingredients with the dry (and peanut butter, if using) until the mixture is evenly crumbly (see this “mixing with your hands” cooking tip). spread into prepared pan, pressing mixture in firmly to ensure they mold to the shape of the pan.
3. bake the bars for 20-35 minutes – depending on the thickness of your bars (mine, being pretty thin, took about 25 minutes) – until they are brown around the edges. don’t be afraid to get a little color on the tops. they’ll still seem soft and almost underbaked when you press into the center of the pan, but don’t worry, they’ll set once completely cool.
4. cool the bars on a cooling rack for 20 minutes, then use your parchment “sling” to lift and remove the bars from the pan and cool another 10-15 minutes in the parchment on the rack. transfer back to the pan or cookie sheet and put in the fridge to cool further, about 30 minutes. this will help the bars set completely and not be as crumbly. once cool, use a serrated knife to cut the bars into squares or rectangles. to store, wrap the bars individually in plastic wrap and keep in the fridge (they do best in the fridge instead of out on the counter).

suggestions for fruit & nut mixture:
dried cranberries, blueberries, cherries, apricots, raisins, pecans, walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, coconut, pepitas, sesame seeds, flaxseeds, dried apples, rice krispies, wheat germ, chocolate or peanut butter chips.
enjoy!
(first photo via)

fluffy healthy banana oat pancakes

fluffy healthy banana oat pancakes
it’s saturday, so i figured i’d post about everyone’s favorite weekend morning breakfast… PANCAKES.

there isn’t always time to make them on weekdays and we’ve kind of made it a saturday morning tradition around our house. this morning was the first time the little she helped me make them. i pulled up a chair for her to stand on and she helped me mash the bananas and stir the batter. i have now hopefully started her own little obsession with The Spatula. just like mommy.



not only are these pancakes the fluffiest i have ever made, they are also healthy. they’re made with whole wheat flour, ground flaxseed, honey, yogurt… lotso good stuff. it’s so great to be able to give these delicious pancakes to my family (as the little she chants “pancakes! pancakes!”) and know that they are good for her.

WIN for mommy.

note: this recipe makes a lot of pancakes, so i finished off all of the batter and froze the leftovers. see below for instructions.


fluffy banana oat pancakes
recipe adapted from simple bites
(makes about 25-30 small pancakes)

ingredients

1 cup oat flour (or old-fashioned oats)

3 cups whole wheat or all-purpose flour

1 tbsp ground flaxseed

1 tbsp wheat germ

1 tbsp plus 1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups milk (you can use low-fat or whole milk)

1 cup vanilla yogurt

3 tbsp canola or grapeseed oil

1/3 cup honey

1 1/3 cups ripe, mashed or pureed bananas (3-4 medium sized)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
directions
1. if you’re using oats and not oat flour, put the oats into a food processor and process until the mixture is very fine. in a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, ground oats, flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. set aside.
2. in a second large bowl, combine the milk, yogurt, oil, honey, mashed bananas, and eggs. hand whisk until thoroughly combined, but do not beat.
3. make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until well incorporated. again, do not beat mixture. just stir until moist & combined.
4. turn your griddle or pan up to medium-low. grease with cooking spray, oil or butter (the flavor that the butter adds is amazing & it makes the edges a little crispy) – this is key, otherwise the pancakes will blacken on the outside. add batter to the griddle using a 1/4 cup scoops (don’t make them too big or they can blacken easier). cook until they are browning on the bottom and the tops have just begun to bubble before flipping.
5. pancakes can be kept warm in a 150 degree oven on a cookie sheet while you are making the rest. serve with your favorite maple syrup or honey (but these pancakes are so gloriously delicious, i think they can be eaten with no syrup at all).
*to freeze leftovers:
cool completely. place pancakes in freezer bags (i like to use the freezer press-n-seal wrap) in twos. to reheat, warm in a toaster, toaster oven, or microwave.
enjoy!