Protein Granola Bars

I think I may have a bar obsession. I think that having protein, natural fruit sugars and even veggies in a hand held granola- breakfast bar is just about the most convenient food for me. Being constantly busy taking care of my family ie husband, dog and 5 year old, keeps me looking for the most healthy convenient food I can get my hands on. And if it packs a punch of protein, well that’s all the better. That means whatever sugar is infused into it will not only be paired with a healthy carb like most bars are, I get some protein to go with it. Here’s to some long lasting energy!

I swear that before I moved to the lost coast, I tried a whole lot of bars from whole foods and my local health food markets. I’ve taste tested quite a few that I developed a little bit of a spoiled taste for them. But selfishly Getting Lara bars and chocolate veggie bars everyday for a snack at jr college, was a big dent on the food stamps and that’s family food money.

Once I moved to Fort Bragg, CA, I stopped buying convenient food. Not that I couldn’t afford it, its just that I couldn’t even dare be selfish with the food stamps and buy single packaged food that only I liked. So, I started buying the ingredients that I saw inside the granola bars and breakfast bars that I enjoyed. Gluten free flour, dried fruit,honey,almond butter, bananas, dates…even my favorite dried cereals.. this is where the fun began.

I started doing research on making homemade granola bars. Who would have thought that simply brown sugar, peanut butter and cereal would be an amazing granola bar.

I tried it many different ways and came to find that brown sugar is way too dense of a sugar to be working with.10575320_567413930037463_3123956352662254093_o 10628888_611317425647113_6284684981733403910_o 10697163_594644247314431_5571454421522645772_o

I tried working with honey and maple syrup instead. Those are interesting with a nut butter, and dried cereal and even fresh fruit.

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After a while my taste buds could detect the high amounts of sugar in the granola bars and it was making me sick, I missed the veggie bars and fruit bars. The natural sugar in the dried fruit was a perfect energy kick for the middle of my day and working and taking care of business. Making sugary syrupy granola bars at home are great if I am trying to replace the Quaker Oats sugary granola bars they sell in the store in the kids section, but not for my house.. we don’t eat those things.

So I stopped making them. I started to realize that it wasn’t that I was missing anything in my bars.. it was I was putting too much.. so I stopped adding sugar or syrup. And I started using only exclusively fruit and nuts. Granted Lara bars are easy to make if you have a high speed blender or food processor and they are plenty of copycat Lara bar recipes out there.. I found a ton here.

http://wellnessmama.com/1047/energy-bars/

http://www.creativesimplelife.com/simple-homemade-larabars/

http://leitesculinaria.com/88638/recipes-homemade-larabars.html

http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2012/07/01/recipe-homemade-larabars-4-ways-including-nut-free/

The biggest thing that I had trouble with in those various recipes was weather or not to add water to your dried fruit paste before you make it into a bar.. the wetter your dried fruit, the wetter the bar, and I hate having to freeze a granola bar, or even keep it wrapped up and cold.. I just want a fruity yummy veggie bar.. that you can hold in your hand without it falling apart and it chewy and sweet without sugar..

cereal oatless bars
cereal oatless bars
too sticky
too sticky
too wet
too wet

I found the answer to my prayers here,.. it wasn’t a recipe its a formula. And the formula works.

http://www.nomeatathlete.com/homemade-energy-bar-recipe/

http://www.nomeatathlete.com/homemade-granola-bars/

It turned out the answer to the bar I am looking for is called a protein bar and people make them before they go to work out, with protein powders and even kelp powder to add minerals and vitamins. I realized what I wanted was definitely not a granola bar, its a protein packed breakfast-workout bar that is basically a meal replacement, when you really need it. I found some recipes that even have hidden protein like white beans and almond butter…

I started to make more protein bars that resembled blonde brownies but tasted like veggie bars.. here are some examples..

cocoa fruit bars
cocoa fruit bars
banana bars
banana bars
pumpkin bars
pumpkin bars

Conclusion:

I think that the best way to make protein bars now are without syrup, or sugar and using fruit sweeteners such as banana and dates and raisins and other dried fruit. Brown sugar is for sure a cop out when it comes to trying to make a granola bar,…not the most healthy choice but it works well. If your willing to learn the formula for protein work out bars and tweak it yourself.. you will thank me in the long run.

Because you never know when your too busy to cook, and or are going to be hungry while your out. And no one wants to even think about the option of fast food for convenience anymore, so make your own replacement meal bar and formulate your favorite kind for on the run.

cocoa cereal bar with coffee
cocoa cereal bar with coffee
oat bar with apple butter spread
oat bar with apple butter spread
oat-banana bar frosted with cranberrys and walnuts
oat-banana bar frosted with cranberrys and walnuts

I have also found some interesting baked oat bars and or cakes that qualify my criteria..and I will try and keep these recipe list updated as I go.. please feel free to comment with more recipe links if you have some similar..

http://www.nutritionistinthekitch.com/2013/09/21/vegan-pumpkin-pie-energy-bars-gluten-free-protein-addition-optional/

http://thefitchen.com/2014/02/26/no-bake-gluten-free-and-vegan-proteinbars/

http://www.runningwithspoons.com/2014/01/07/soft-and-chewy-protein-granola-bars/

http://www.healthfulpursuit.com/2012/07/oil-free-carrot-cake-proteinbars/

http://cleaneatingchelsey.com/2011/10/11/chewy-pumpkin-spice-granolabars/

http://ohsheglows.com/2014/01/08/soft-chewy-sugar-free-baked-granolabars/

http://www.sugarfreemom.com/recipes/no-bake-chewy-cocoa-granolabars-refined-sugar-gluten-nut-free/

http://minimalistbaker.com/super-seedy-granolabars/

http://www.lovefoodeat.com/beet-date-and-fig-cake-bars-veg

http://noshingwiththenolands.com/playground-granolabars-sundaysupper/

Crock Pot Beef Stew- Recipe

Crock Pot Beef Stew

1 lb beef stew meat

1 onion diced small

2 carrots chopped small

½ stalk celery chopped

½ stalk celery diced

3-4 small potatoes (red work well) chopped

Garlic (optional)

Paprika

Salt

Pepper

Corn starch

Water

Tomato Paste ½ cup

  • First prep and set aside carrots and potatoes
  • Place diced onion with diced celery with small amount of butter and 2 tbs water into crock pot on high put lid on. if using garlic put it in here, diced well, or as powder or minced is very good, but only 1 table spoon or so. 11062821_668077603304428_8576596098755609455_o
  • While onions-celery are caramelizing, take beef stew meat and thoroughly coat with paprika corn starch salt and pepper to desired taste,..first do the salt and pepper then sprinkle paprika then coat with corn starch.
  • When the onions are done cooking and have soaked up all the water. Place meat into crock pot and add remaining chopped veggies on top, place water over top until it is covered and add tomato paste after it cooks for about 4 hrs on high.. cook stew until meat is tender when tested.

here are some different pictures of beef stew I have made.

cauliflower should only be added in small amounts
cauliflower should only be added in small amounts
larger pieces of meat will have to cook longer
larger pieces of meat will have to cook longer
excellent over rice
excellent over rice

Crock Pot Fun

Slow cooker- Crock Pot favorites to try

My family loves slow cooked food. When I start prepping a meal and its in the crock pot cooking by 11 am, then you know its going to be a great dinner. Here are a few of my favorites to share..

recipe here:

How to survive being a Mom

If there is one thing I wish I had when my son was born is a book on how to be a good mother, learning as I go I wanted to share some tips I have learned to keep my sanity, hope they help, its quite a learning experience being a mom. =)
1. Prepare coffee the night before: their is no better satisfaction after whatever life brings you with a child then having fresh hot coffee when they wake you up at 6 am. So have your percolator, machine or French press ready because the moment you wake up, its go-juice time. Same goes for tea or Yerba mate if you roll that way, get it ready. And if you have a machine on a timer that makes it ready for you in the am, I envy you.
2. Your shower is your sanctuary: The moment that curtain closes, you better start meditating because is the quietest moments of your day.( that is if you get to shower alone.) Put the shower fan on and your at a spa far away at the beach in another country, drowning out the sounds of your home. Don’t let the mommy anxiety get to you, we all know that dad and child could potentially burn the house down and make a colossal mess for you to clean whilst your meditating in the shower, but most Likely they are not and all is well and you are fine to relax, so do it.
3. Do your dishes: Ain’t nothing like waking up to a clean kitchen, if all you do is take your garbage out and do your dishes before bed every night, you will thank me. And it will feel better each time you wake up and have to start cooking while your half asleep waiting for coffee to brew, because your kitchen is clean.
4. Plan, Plan, Plan,: the more you prepare the better you’ll be. Preparing a outing bag for a child really helps even after they graduate from diapers, my son takes at least 1 toy and book everywhere to stay entertained. Planning food is essential with children, plan they will snack, so buy snacks for the month. Planning your meals and dividing bulk packages of meat is essential for feeding a growing child and a great way not to go crazy. Being a mom is 80% planning and 20 % having fun while doing it.
5. Save for the future: Save $ by cutting coupons, find store coupons and manufacture coupons and save even more. Shop seasonal sales and even subscribe to sale emails online, you can save a lot of money. Shop the discounted day old section at stores and bakeries and more importantly you can save $ by buying bulk and buying ingredients not food. Save all your recyclables, egg cartons, milk jugs and toilet paper rolls all come in handy when you have a child.
6.Get creative: You cannot be a great mom without using a whole lot of creativity and imagination. How to convince a 4 yr old to clean his room? Get creative. How to occupy him while you have guests over? Get creative. Got a whole lot of veggies to cook? Get creative. Rainy day everyone’s sick and nothing to do? Get creative. Activity books and kids game books really help to get things started.
7.Have a dream desk: the biggest thing us mothers tend to do is get lost in our families and always self sacrificing for our families happiness, security or comfort. A dream desk is where you shelter your individuality, for me its my art desk, for others I could just be a nook in the house, where your inner creative child to be safe and grow to be a stronger woman. Without the “safe” place we cannot grow and be stronger for our families and be a better MoM. Nurture your self, keep your individuality safe and be confident in asserting your amazing uniqueness. Your dream desk should help to give you that confidence.
8.Know your role: I don’t mean to sound so old school But as a mother we should have responsibilities to our family and shouldn’t break them to try and be more ourselves. Their is a fine line between being a confident role model mother and being a confident single childless woman. We need to have respect for ourselves. For people to respect us, we need to respect ourselves. Dancing all night in clubs is given up when your a mother, you have a ‘role’ and you should want respect, you made another human and are raising it to be a respectful one, right?! Respect thyself, so know your role.
9.Never stop dancing: I know what I said in the last one. Dancing in clubs is unacceptable, But blasting music all day for 5 years and dancing with your toddler around the house before they go to school is perfectly fine, in fact its encouraged. Don’t smother your own happiness, dance with your children.
10.Keep your romance alive: Last but not least, love your man. If you have one. They gave your children and do what you can to keep things brewing in between diaper changes. I know its hard But seeing a happy mommy and daddy is better then the opposite.
Oh and prepare to get dirty, your in for one messy bumpy ride.. have fun.