Pineapple Coconut Larabar bites

Pineapple Coconut Larabar Bites

Pineapple Coconut Larabar Bites

It’s race season again – regardless of your sport. It happens every spring and like recent years, I’m feeling left out. It’s my own doing, of course, and I could definitely make running or cycling a priority, but right now, I’m not quite there. Sincerely, though, Cheers to those of you who are on it. I will get there, but I’ll be a few months behind and probably a bit late for the races and events (unless I hit some of the fabulous autumn ones, which is possible).


Down the Tube

Since it’s race season, I want to share with you my (quasi) famous Pina Coloda Larabar bites. Erika even called me out once, so I’m finally making good on this. They are, of course, a knock off from the real deal, but if you really want to know, these are better. I’m not a fan of most real Larabars. They’re too sweet, too gummy, and too old. That whole packaging thing makes them darn convenient, but not as tasty as they should be.

Freeze-dried pineapple

Freeze-dried pineapple

For this, you’ll need an ingredient that can be a bit tricky to find, I admit. FREEZE-DRIED PINEAPPLE. But it’s worth looking, and I recommend some of the “food storage” websites. I found mine through Thrive when they did a gig at Costco, and no, I’m no affiliated with them at all. But you can also find them on Amazon, and check your local health food store. Everything else is usually found in a well-stocked whole-foods plant-based kitchen. I apparently really like dashes(-).

Pineapple Coconut Larabar Bites

Pineapple Coconut Larabar Bites

I rolled mine into balls. For photography’s sake, probably not my best bet since they look like meatballs, but for convenience’s sake, super handy. My kids love these, though I think they do find them a bit too sweet at times (no, my kids aren’t average),

Larabar Base - almond and dates

Larabar Base – almond and dates

These are Raw, Plant-based, and Gluten-Free if you use GF ingredients, which they should be. And they’re excellent training or race food.

the "Dough"

the “Dough”

Pineapple Coconut Larabars

1 1/3 c. pitted dates
1 c. raw almonds
1 c. freeze dried pineapple
¾ c. shredded unsweetened dried coconut
Water, as needed

Put everything in your food processor and let it rip, pulsing as needed. If, like mine, your dates are too dry, add just a little water (1T at a time) through the feed tube of your food processor to get it moving. It should ball up nicely and be super sticky. Either press into a well-oiled or parchment-lined 8×8 pan, or wet your hands and roll into balls. (I used my 1oz. scooper and these are a bit larger than I’d like.) Chill and cut into 1 ½” squares or transfer bites to an airtight container. Enjoy – they keep for awhile if you forget about them, but I don’t think you will.

Off the Beaten Path & Happiness in a Cookie Bite

Maybe I’m crazy… maybe I’m strange… but I have to say that this morning, I was unimpressed with the local morning news show. In fact, I was about ready to throw a shoe at the tv screen. But THAT would have been crazy, and destructive.

On the news roll:

Diet Coke: For 10 minutes I was told about the miracles of diet coke and the genius of new flavorings. Since EVERYBODY drinks it, now I will want to drink it even more because of said flavorings. The speaker even went far enough to compare this diet coke with a refreshing glass of cold water after a long run. Say what?!?

Party Decorations: Cut up a ton of plastic tablecloths to make tassels for balloons, the more tassels the better. Sure, a waste of plastic, but that’s not what irked me. They then went into the helium shortage saying that I need to search all over to find the helium and then use the VERY LARGEST balloons I can find because they are all the rage. So shortage= increased consumption. Awesome.

Diet coke: again! Every report included more comments about the miracle of diet coke. Over and over. Best part, the name of the recipe was the “DIRTY COKE.” Go figure. If only it were for the right reasons.

How to fill small empty spaces in your home: if you have an empty corner, fill it! Must have more stuff!

Eat more hotdogs: Garnishes. Where to buy the best ones. How to cut them creatively. Not a huge deal, people eat meat. But once again, not applicable to me.

I don’t drink diet coke. I would rather use fresh cut flowers than super-size helium balloons. And I am always on the hunt for more things to purge from our home in the name of simplicity. And hot dogs? Bleh.

I know I am not “normal.” But am I really THAT strange? So I’m mormon, vegan, running, nature loving momma. Honestly, I’m ok with that. In fact I feel like I am living true to myself and what I believe. It’s a good thing. No regrets.

Now for a recipe!  My fantastically talented step-mom Kim is a kitchen wiz and found a version of this recipe (she has an eye for a good recipe.) I switched to unsweetened coconut, added cinnamon, used almond instead of peanut butter and added sea salt (since we use unsalted nut butters.) I know we have other no-bake cookie options on this site but this is our family’s new favorite. It has been perfect for the kids cold lunches and a great way to get extra protein and omegas into their growing little bodies. The kids happily eat them up in moments, though I may help a little. 🙂

Happiness in a Cookie Bite

1 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. almond butter
1/4 c. liquid sweetener of choice
1 c. unsweetened coconut
1/2 c. ground flaxseed
1/2 c. chocolate chips (best if chopped into smaller pieces)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch sea salt (to taste)

Mix ingredients in a bowl. Chill one hour. Add a little water or extra almond butter if too dry. Roll with wet hands into 1 inch balls. Refrigerate up to 1 week.

Tasty Tuesday Series: Ragnar Recovery (Fruited Nut Rolls)

So I’m back at home, rested and over the Cafe Rio fiasco. I’ve been drinking recovery green smoothies with maca like a fool and downing shots of wheat grass like it’s nobody’s business.

Erika and I at the finish line

Race Lowlights:

Using Honey Buckets for more than 30 hours straight

Getting the ‘runs’ during my 9 mile unsupported downhill mountain leg due to a questionable coconut water beverage I consumed at the first exchange. Let’s just say I was grateful for some bushes to offer cover and that what I used to ahem, clean myself, was NOT poison ivy

Having to have Steve take over for the last 3 miles of said above downhill leg because I couldn’t finish it

Telling Erika gleefully that we were having whole grain waffles for breakfast then remembering she is on a grain restricted diet for another week. Sorry!

Race Highlights:

Hanging out with some of my very best friends while running through some of the most beautiful terrain ever, what could be more fun than that?

Christina getting interviewed by local news while wearing her light up Medusa hairdo

The dude that kept flashing his nipple at us while running as Erika and I made catcalls out to him out of the back of the truck

Finishing with no black toenails and no vomiting

Eating Amanda’s giant homemade Larabar

Sleeping at Steve’s Cabin for a few hours and eating Sue’s spaghetti dinner she makes every year

Eating Oreo’s for the first time in months, because, hey they’re vegan and junk food at Ragnar once a year won’t kill me

Not being crazy sore or stiff after the race (thank’s plant-based diet!)

These Carb-Load Rolls I make every year for Ragnar (sorry, we ate them, no photos)

Ragnar Carb-Load Fruited Nut Rolls

Ingredients: 2 C. white whole wheat flour, 2 C. unbleached organic flour, 2 C. rolled oats, 1/4 C. vital wheat gluten, 2.5 c. warm soymilk, 1 T. coconut oil, 1/2 C. dried blueberries, 1/2 C. dried cranberries, 1/2 C. dried zante currants, 1 C. chopped pecans, 1/4 C. agave, 1 t. cinnamon, 1.5 T. heaped active dry yeast and 1 T. salt. Method: Combine all ingredients in kneading apparatus (I use my bread-maker) and let knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Remove dough, divide into 24 pieces. Place side by side on a large cookie sheet. Let rise until doubled in size in a warm place for about an hour. Rolls should be touching. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until tops are lightly browned.

More photos and details coming on Somer Saturday

Tasty Tuesday Series – Ragnar on the Brain (Ragnar Trail Mix)

It’s Tasty Tuesday and while I’m eating lots of tasty foods, I have Ragnar, packing, planning and nervousness on the brain and I can’t focus long enough to take photos or give you any real recipes. But I can offer you some running inspiration in the form of these books (in order of recommendation).

One of my all time favorite reads. Re-reading it right now, laughing my butt off and guzzling chia drinks like a Tarahumara. Radical.

Autobiography of my favorite Vegan super-athlete, Scott Jurek

 Plant Based eating’s newest superhero! I haven’t read this yet, but it arrived on my doorstep via Amazon this week. His name makes me laugh because I can’t think about it without thinking of the Rick Rolled sensation on youtube. Hehe.

And because I can’t really give you a Tasty Tuesday without a recipe, here is a vegan version of  Steve’s Tasty Trail Mix.

Steve’s Tasty Ragnar Trail Mix

Equal amounts vegan m&m’s, raisins and roasted salted cashews. I know, simple eh, but hey look at Steve, it works for him…..

Until Saturday then 😉

A meat eating mother’s despair: my five year old decided he was vegetarian (Mom’s peanut butter candy)

When my son, Andrew, was 5 we took a trip with my vegetarian sister to the Portland coast. Andrew watched Susan eat with interest and about two days into the trip he said “aunt Sue, you don’t eat meat. Why?” I shot my sister a menacing look of “if you convince my son to be vegetarian I will eat your first born!” Somehow she mistook that look to actually mean “go ahead, please, enlighten my son.” And so, as I prodded, threatened and bribed my five year old to eat his highly processed, deep fried fish sticks, that I believed he needed and were good for him,  my sister did enlighten him. Andrew, had never really liked meat since he was small, meal times were usually a nightmare. One time he sat to the table for six hours because he wouldn’t finish his food (this was an experiment in a battle of two control freaks—I lost). The day we returned home from Portland. My five year old, in his five year old voice, said “mama. I am a vegetarian.”


This is the trip that changed our lives. He is 5 in this picture

Of course I tried to reason with him, explain that growing boys needed meat to get big and strong, but he wouldn’t hear it. He was vegetarian and that was that. I tried to be the responsible mom and say, “you will eat meat.” but short of grinding it up and feeding it to him intravenously there was no way this child was going to eat meat. So I settled in, thinking he would grow out of it, I “supported” him. I made chicken noodle soup for the family and picked the meat out of his bowl (I admit this with only slight shame as I was not vegetarian, not interested in becoming vegetarian and didn’t really understand what it meant to be vegetarian.) He was a picky eater anyway, now it was worse. Everyone gave me advice on what to do, I found the best thing was to support him the best I could. But I remained a meat eater. I did take him to the Dr to see if he could grow ok without meat, the Dr, surprisingly, said he was fine.

Many people teased him, including members of my own family. Many people thought I was a bad mother for not making him eat nutritiously (they didn’t have kids). His dad threatened, begged, pleaded for him to drop the ridiculous idea, but despite or maybe because of all of that Andrew just dug his heels in deeper and was more determined to be the best vegetarian ever. And, to my pain, he was.  A year or two after going vegetarian he discovered labels and he started reading them. If he didn’t know what an ingredient was he would look it up, this self-educating slowly shrunk his already small menu of things he would eat. He didn’t like vegetables and only ate them under duress. There were a few fruits he would eat, but again only if I forced him. His mainstay was Mac and Cheese, cheese sandwiches, white rice, peanut butter and jelly and black bean, brown rice and cheese burritos. I made two meals every time I cooked.

Over the last three years he has brought up being Vegan and I absolutely forbid it. I told him when he was 18 and could cook for himself he could go vegan. Last August, 2011, at age 12 he went Vegan.  I forbid it. He went vegan. For six months he lived on black bean and brown rice burritos and peanut butter and agave sandwiches—I didn’t know how else to get him his protein.  He continues to self-educate and has discovered a lot of white sugar is refined using cow bone. He no longer eats anything that has sugar in the ingredient list. I had to start making homemade tortillas so I could make him homemade black bean and brown rice burritos. I made everything from scratch. It was a lot of work, and it wasn’t very good.

He is vegan because he can’t stand to think of an animal being harmed in anyway. The more he studied the more he despaired, learning animals are used in almost EVERYTHING humans use.


Andrew with one of his many pets, Tusken (bearded Dragon)–My house isn’t usually this messy, I was making a costume for the midnight release of Star Wars Episode I


Here we are nerding out at midnight, yes that is me on the end, in costume

I despaired. I didn’t know how to help him. We got chickens because he will eat their eggs since he knows they are not fertilized and our chickens are super happy.

We milk our goat so I can cook with their milk—I was desperate to do whatever I could to get him his protein.


This is Penelope, she is still a baby, but will be a great milker

I cooked what limited things I could, but I knew he wasn’t getting the nutrition he needed. He got sick a lot, he was moody and had little energy. Sometimes I cried myself to sleep wondering how I could help my boy—how I could convince him to at least go back to being vegetarian.

My sister has helped a lot. She has talked to him about being tolerant of others choices. This is very hard for him. He is 13. Everything is wrong or right, black or white. My sister introduced me to her friend and animal rights activist, Colin, who actually did volunteer work on “The Sea Shepherd” in Alaska (This is the boat on Whale Wars that goes around the world fighting for sea animals that are being annihilated by fisherman). He wrote a beautiful letter to Andrew that helped me more than it did Andrew. He sent us several Vegan cookbooks and offered real support.

A few months after corresponding with this friend, I met Somer. She told me about how she was eating and why. She was in the middle of the “Green Smoothie” challenge and I decided to do it too. That was March 19, 2012. I told Andrew if he would drink 16 oz of green smoothie I would go vegan for a week. He did it. I was shocked. That was the most vegetables he had eaten in a year. I went vegan. I have been vegan ever since.  Having Somer , Colin, this blog and a like-minded community has changed my world.

Andrew is still a very picky eater. The recipes I have found and love, he usually doesn’t (ie African Peanut Stew). But he always takes two bites—that is the rule. Whenever I find something he likes I feel like I have won a gold medal. A few weeks ago I tried Chef AJ’s Disappearing Lasagna from “Unprocessed” I followed the recipe pretty much exact. He loved it. He ate it four days in a row. He ate it for snacks. He said he wished it wasn’t green as he wolfed down his fourth helping. When it was gone he cried there was nothing “tasty, like lasagna to eat.” I have made it 3 times in the last 3 weeks.  The only alterations I have made is I put the mushrooms in the food processor and blend them pretty small. Andrew doesn’t like chunks, so if I blend it up—no problem. So if I say a recipe is “Andrew” approved you should be able to feed it to a meat eater and they will probably like it. This weeks Andrew approved dishes are

Chef AJ’s Disappearing Lasagna (mushrooms diced very fine) watch the video here:


Here is how mine turned out, and it freezes great!

For his treat he has had Somer’s no oil banana muffins and my sister came up with this yummy recipe for peanut butter candy.


Mom’s Peanut Butter Candy (adapted from a recipe from Linda Smith)

½ cup Natural creamy peanut butter

½ cup honey or agave

¾ cup powdered soy or rice milk

¾ cup quick oats

Method: blend everything in your food processor for about 10 minutes (the longer you blend the creamer it is). Roll into balls.

A 5k, No-Bake-No-Stove-top Cookie Bites, and Ragnar Relay Planning

Ok, It’s Friday, but I’m posting early for Somer Saturday because I have a crazy busy day tomorrow!

I am travelling 2 hours to run a 5k tomorrow. Normally I wouldn’t travel that far to run such a measly distance, but it’s for a good cause! My brother Abe is putting on the Sprint to Print 5k in Logan, Utah. Proceeds support the Utah State Art Department where he teaches printmaking classes and is finishing his Master’s degree. Check his stuff out on Facebook. I miss him like crazy and can’t wait to hang out with him!

Plus, I get a t-shirt with one of his awesome designs on it. Afterwards we will eat some Cafe Rio, putz around, then I will drive 2 hours back to be home in time to host our sweet Ragnar Relay Wasatch Back team meeting. This is year 5 as El Capitano of team ‘Hard Day’s Night’ (super appropriate name for a Ragnar Relay, and coincidentally one of my favorite Beatles songs 😉 ). I really want one of those 5 year wasatch back club jackets so I hope they don’t stiff me. For everything you need to know about Ragnar (and many things you don’t want to know) check out my friend Christina’s blog here. She is the resident expert with 10 Ragnar races from all over the country under her (fuel)belt.

Anyway, I made some snackage for our drive….a faux larabar hybrid from several recipes I was inspired by and they are all ready all gone and I need to make another batch! As a kid my favorite cookie was a No Bake Cookie. Well if you have ever eaten those, this recipe tastes just like a no bake cookie, but without sticks of butter or margarine, or crazy amounts of sugar. In fact, this recipe is sweetened by dates and only 2 T. of agave. Pretty awesome if you ask me.

No-Bake-No-Stove-Top Cookie Bites

1 C. raw cashews, almonds or walnuts (I used a 1/3 C. of each)

1 C. rolled oats

1.5 C. packed dates, roughly chop after measuring

1/4 t. kosher salt

1.5 t. vanilla

2 T. natural peanut butter

2 T. raw agave

2 T. cocoa powder

1/4 C. dairy free dark chocolate chips

Process dates, nuts, chocolate chips, cocoa powder, oats and salt in the food processor until fine.

Add peanut butter, agave and vanilla and process again until it forms a ball, kinda like a ball of dough. If your batch doesn’t do this, add water a teaspoon at a time until it does (dates can sometimes be dried out and need a little re-moisturizing).

Press into 8×8 pan lined with saran wrap. Roll it smooth, I used an empty glass jar. Freeze for 20 minutes. Remove from freezer, lift saran wrap (and block of goodness) out of pan and place onto cutting board. Slice into 8 pieces across and 8 pieces lengthwise.
Will make 64 pieces. Each piece has 30 Calories, 1 fat grams, 1 gram protein and 4 grams carbs. Keep in a closed contained in the fridge to maintain freshness.
Oh and for those detractors who said Amanda couldn’t possibly be giving her baby all the nutrients he needed while in-utero WHILE consuming a plant-based diet….
 He came naturally into this world on Wednesday and he weighs nearly 10 lbs

Banana Bread Larabar DIY Recipe & Artisan Bread Pandemonium

It’s Tasty Tuesday where I bring you some of the awesome things we have freaked out over enjoyed in the last week. While I am typing this, I can’t stop thinking about Amanda and that she is very likely to have her baby today even though she would prefer he didn’t come til Wednesday. Sending her good vibes! Funny how in addition to your real sisters, you find soul sisters that you love the guts out of. I’m getting weepy or it’s raining outside or something (Flight of the Conchords silliness) and I’m digressing….

Three ingredients, that’s what I love about larabars! I buy them when they are on sale like hotcakes, they are so simple and pure: Dates, Bananas and Almonds! When they aren’t on sale or I’m feeling particularly crafty…. I make these. If you know anything about Mormons, you may or may not know that we really don’t have horns, but we do stockpile food storage like its going out of style, and that sometimes we end up with items we aren’t quite sure what to do with, enter – freeze-dried bananas, they have a 25 year shelf life and have been getting all lonely and dusty in my storage area, and strangely, they are considered a raw food.  If you don’t live in Utah and don’t have access to affordable freeze-dried bananas in ridiculous quantities, you can always buy them online  or use this recipe here instead. Although my banana ratio is higher and therefore, superior super tasty.

DIY Banana Bread Larabar

1 1/3 C. pitted dates, chopped (measure whole dates into measuring cups, then chop)

1 1/2 C. freeze-dried bananas

1 C. raw almonds

(ok, so there is really 4 ingredients in my recipe)


Method: Process dates and freeze-dried bananas in food processor until mixture is fairly fine and crumbly. Add almonds and process until all pieces are pea sized or smaller. Add water, a teaspoon at a time (no more than 6 teaspoons total) and pulse after each addition. The freeze-dried bananas need some re-hydration because they basically turn to powder when processed. How much water you need will also depend on how moist your dates are. Mixture is ready (may still seem a bit dry) when you can pull some of the mixture out and it will stick together when pressed into a ball.

I formed the recipe into balls instead of bars because it’s simpler, cuter and enables me to control my portions a little better so I don’t eat the whole batch. The recipe made 25 balls. Each has 46 calories, 2 grams healthy fats, 6 grams carbs and 1 grams protein. Store them in the fridge and they should stay fresh for up to two weeks. Pack them in your lunches, have them for an afternoon snack, take them for running fuel, love them.

Have you heard about the Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day revolution? Seriously out of control. This bread practically makes itself: you don’t knead it, you don’t double-rise it, you don’t even add any sugar or oil! you make one big batch of dough, put it in your fridge and can use it for 2 weeks for seriously less hands on time then 5 minutes a day!?! I feel like a fake french bakery chef in my kitchen whipping out amazing loaves of bread that are crazy delicious with a lovely crispy crust and amazing large holed crumb interiors. I learned about it from Amanda and Jen’s earlier posts on this blog. Why haven’t I known about this until now?

Here is the master recipe (white) with video demo (must watch to get technique)

Here is the wheat version recipe with video demo

I ended up buying both the books because I have never made such incredible bread in my whole life (and I really make a lot of bread).

The only thing I do different from the recipes above is use this dutch oven method here to bake instead of their traditional stone and steam method. It gave my bread a much better rise then their recommended method and made it even more amazing than before. For troubleshooting visit their FAQ’s page. And buy the dang books! You won’t be sorry! So in love with this bread!

Nuts. (Rosemary-Garlic Roasted Almonds)

I don’t know how single moms do it. I don’t know how they feed their family healthy food and stay sane and work and walk the dog and even get dressed in the morning. I do it for a few days every month, and I don’t even have to leave for work (although, it might be easier if I did), and I still wonder when I will hear the door unlock and I can breathe that sigh of relief that my husband is home.
I’m currently waiting for that key in the lock sound. But his flight was delayed, so here I am with time on my hands. I should be sleeping. But I’m not.
Instead I want to tell you about some nuts I “roasted”. If you’ve read my posts before, you might know that I’m a big fan of the Community Food Co-op of Utah. One of their monthly offerings is a Nutty Guys four pack, which usually includes four pounds of different nuts or dried fruits. Often, the nuts will be raw almonds. I love raw almonds, but sometimes I get bored with them. I mean, they’re “healthy” and all, but choking them down pound after pound gets boring. And nobody else in our house will eat them that way unless we’re out of absolutely everything else but ground beef.
I pulled open my trusty “America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook” and figured they had to have something. And of course they did. Only, I sort of modified it, like I modify everything I ever make. And I have to tell you, I think I improved it, at least flavor-wise.
I’m not sure what happened to getting the stuff to stick. All the yummies ended up at the bottom of the nut holder after a day, so maybe next time I’ll either try more butter, or butter and oil, or just oil. I don’t know, but whatever way, I will be doing this again. And bear with me on this. I have just started using garlic powder and I know real garlic would be better, but in a pinch, I take what I have. It is admittedly, much faster than using the real stuff.
So, next time you find yourself reaching for pre-roasted nuts, consider this alternative instead, and buy a bunch in bulk and experiment. I know I will be.

Rosemary-Garlic Roasted Almonds
2 c. raw almonds
1 T. unsalted butter or oil (or more if you really want to make it stick)
1/2 t. dried rosemary
1 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper (okay, really, a few grinds will do)
1-2 minced garlic cloves or a few shakes of the garlic powder (oh, I cringe just typing it)

Heat butter or oil in a nonstick skillet. Add almonds, dried rosemary, salt, pepper, and garlic. Toast the almonds on medium-low heat, stirring often until they are fragrant and the color deepens slightly, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and allow to cool before serving, if you have very, very strong willpower. I do not, so half of mine were gone before they were cooled. Store in an airtight container for a week or so.

Gra Bars [aka homemade granola bars]

Several years ago, we lived in my brother’s basement. Upstairs were two rowdy toddlers and the older one had a great love for “gra bars”. We usually had store bought ones and he would gobble them up. As I become more and more interested in learning to make all of my food, not just because it’s healthier, but also because it tastes better, I am finding ways to make delicious convenience foods. This year, rather than fill my neighbor gifts full of sugar, I opted to include these granola bars. I don’t know if they liked them (because most people aren’t as food-nerdy as I am) but we did. And we keep loving them.
They are sweet enough, but also salty. They have no added oils, just what comes from the nut butter you use. They have kept well in a plastic zipper bag, and they’re not too dry and not too hard. This recipe is adapted from another, as I liked mine thinner and with a bit of a modification on the ingredients.

Granola Bars
adapted from this recipe
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup pepitas (the green pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 cup very coarsely chopped almonds (or other nut)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup natural nut butter (I’ve tried peanut and almond, and like almond better)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)

Preheat the oven to 325. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat (one of my favorite kitchen things). Next, line a rectangular baking pan (9×13 inches) with two perpendicular sheets of parchment paper that are long enough to leave an overhang. The sheets will form a “basket” for you to lift out the sheet of granola, before you cut it into bars. Or if you do a double batch which works really well, just re-use one of the baking sheets (you’ll need two for toasting) with the Silpat underneath.

Combine the oats, coconut, seeds and nuts; spread out evenly on the rimmed baking sheet and toast for 15 minutes. When the oat mixture has been toasting for about 10 minutes, combine the honey, nut butter, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and vanilla in a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. If the sugar dissolves before the oat mixture is done toasting, reduce the heat to low.
When the oat mixture is done toasting, transfer it to a large bowl and add the honey mixture and fruit; stir to incorporate. Spread the mixture in the prepared pan, using the back of a wooden spoon or bottom of a measuring cup to press the mixture firmly into the pan and create a smooth, even surface. Bake the granola mixture for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven, press the granola into the pan again, and let it cool completely on a wire rack – I just let it go overnight.
Using your parchment “handles,” lift the granola sheet out of the pan and onto a cutting board. You may either cut or break the granola bars. They are pretty either way, but easier with less crumble if you break them. To cut, use a large sharp knife. Store in an airtight container.

Breakfast for a month – Protein Bars

We doubled our batch of Alton Brown’s protein bars yesterday, in addition to making a double batch of our granola, some cookies, and a mess of pasta for lunches.

We like alton’s recipe – well, Matt does especially, and I like that Matt has a breakfast full of goodness rather than the old standby of hot chocolate or toaster pastries (read: pop-tarts or costco’s organic version of the same). It’s full of dried fruit, tofu, protein powder, and peanut butter. Well, see below for the full details. We doubled the batch, cooled them overnight, cut them into 24 squares each, and popped the whole lot in the freezer. If you don’t end up with silken tofu, like we did, toss the firm stuff in the food processor (which will already be out because that’s what you roughly chopped your fruit in) and whiz it up until smooth. Sorry no photo, but that’s way on the back burner for now. Oh, and get yourself a cheap kitchen scale, use your Bed, Bath and Beyond 20% off coupon (that never expires) and do yourself a favor. I use it ALL the time.

Protein Bars
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2005
4 ounces soy protein powder, approximately 1 cup
2 1/4 ounces oat bran, approximately 1/2 cup
2 3/4 ounces whole-wheat flour, approximately 1/2 cup
3/4-ounce wheat germ, approximately 1/4 cup
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 ounces raisins, approximately 1/2 cup
2 1/2 ounces dried cherries, approximately 1/2 cup
3 ounces dried blueberries, approximately 1/2 cup
2 1/2 ounces dried apricots, approximately 1/2 cup
1 (12.3-ounce) package soft silken tofu
1/2 cup unfiltered apple juice
4 ounces dark brown sugar, approximately 1/2 cup packed
2 large whole eggs, beaten OR equivalent egg replacer/flax eggs
2/3 cup natural peanut butter
Canola oil, for pan

Line the bottom of a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish with parchment paper and lightly coat with canola oil. [super important, because this stuff is sticky] Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the protein powder, oat bran, wheat flour, wheat germ, and salt. Set aside.

Coarsely chop the raisins, dried cherries, blueberries and apricots and place in a small bowl and set aside.

In a third mixing bowl, whisk the tofu until smooth. Add the apple juice, brown sugar, eggs, and peanut butter, 1 at a time, and whisk to combine after each addition. Add this to the protein powder mixture and stir well to combine. Fold in the dried fruit. Spread evenly in the prepared baking dish and bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 205 degrees F. Remove from the oven and cool completely before cutting into squares. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week.