Posted on April 24, 2013
My husband is a body builder and works at a gym. Every day I pack him a lunch of boiled potato with egg, a cut up apple and a few granola bars. He needs a lot of food to sustain his workout so we were using a lot of granola bars. I dislike using processed foods, especially in quantity, so I decided to investigate how hard it would be to make my own granola bars. This is what I came up with.
These are so easy and so good for you. I have practiced this recipe many times and I finally figured out the correct ratio of the different ingredients.
To make these granola bars you will need:
- jelly roll pan (approx. 13×18″) or two brownie pans (9×9″)
- parchment paper
- cooking spray or butter wrappers for greasing
- pizza cutter — for cutting the bars
The ingredients you use are mix and match but you need a ratio of: 4:2:2:.5 — 4 cups dry, 2 cups sticky/moist, 2 cups binder, 1/2 cup fat. Here’s a breakdown of what each category can contain:
- whole oats (the most popular and obvious choice)
- puffed rice
- bran flakes
- wheat germ
- flax meal
- pretzel pieces
- nuts: almonds, walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios, raw peanuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, soy nuts
- seeds: sunflower, flax, pumpkin, sesame
- dried fruit: banana chips (crushed), raisins, apricots, apples, prunes, dates, cranberries, blueberries, pomegrante
- chocolate chips — white, milk or dark
- butterscotch chips
- toffee pieces
- coconut (unsweetened is better for this)
Binder —the standard recipe is the first option but you can also consider adding:
- 1 1/2 cups lightly packed brown sugar & 1/2 cup honey
- corn syrup
- maple syrup
- butterscotch syrup
- chocolate syrup
- Oil (choose an oil without a strong flavor like canola or grapeseed)
Add Ons — You can also experiment with adding other flavors but keep the ratio constant
- Peanut butter or other nut butters
- Cocoa Powder
So the actually cooking process is simple. This makes approximately 16 bars:
- Preheat the oven to 250° and toast the dry ingredients in a pan, mixing half way through, for 10-15 minute — include the coconut if using that
- After toasting, pour the dry ingredients in a bowl and add the sticky/moist ingredients as well — if using chips (chocolate, etc.), freeze the chips and add them at step 4.
- Heat the fat and binder in a saucepan over low heat until liquid
- Pour fat/binder mixture into bowl with other ingredients — if adding chips, let the mixture cool again and add them right before baking.
- Preheat the oven to 300°. Grease the pan(s) and line with parchment paper, making sure it extends past the edges
- Pour the mixture into the pan(s) and press down with the button of a spatula
- Bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool until slightly warm to the touch
- Remove bars from pan by sliding knife around the edges and lifting up the parchment paper
- Cut into bars with the pizza cutter — if the mixture is still slightly warm, it is much easier to cut. but, if it is still hot, it will fall apart when removing from the pan so take care.
That’s it, enjoy.
Can you think of another ingredient that I haven’t mentioned? Let me know and I’ll add it.
Posted on April 6, 2013
- 1 cup peeled and pureed fresh beets
- 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 1 cup greek non-fat yogurt like Fage
- 6 ounces good-quality unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- 1¼ cups sugar
- 3 large eggs
- Zest of 1 orange plus 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 1¼ cups self-rising flour
- Boil the beets whole until tender and then peel under cold water. Puree in a food processor or food mill until smooth.
- Preheat oven to 350•
- Heat a saucepan with water and place a metal bowl over it. Melt the butter and chocolate.
- With a stand or hand mixer, mix the eggs and sugar until smooth.
- First blend in the yogurt, then the cocoa powder, orange zest, orange juice and finally the pureed beets.
- Add the melted chocolate and blend well.
- Add the flour slowly.
- When all blended, pour into a greased 9 x 9″ pan.
- Bake 15-20 minutes until center is slightly soft but the rest is firm.
Posted on March 17, 2013
Today is Saint Patrick’s Day and I will be cooking a traditional Irish meal of corned beef and cabbage but last week I made a delicious winter stew with Indian flavors that was worth a share.
My husband, Karan, is Hindu and therefore does not typically eat beef or pork. But Karan is also a bodybuilder and has plans to compete again. His need for protein is immense and he realized that his body needed the protein that beef offered. I have been vegetarian before so I know you don’t have to eat meat to get the protein you need but with bodybuilding it requires such a high quantity of protein that the sheer amount of food, and the time to eat it, makes beef a good option. We look for the highest quality meet, preferably organic, and have it at most once a week.
Lamb could be substituted for beef as well.
- 2 cups beef cut into small cubes (about ½”)
- 1½ cups plain greek yogurt
- ½ lemon squeezed
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 10 cloves of garlic pressed
- 2 tsp fresh ginger grated
- ½ tsp hot paprika or cayenne
- 1 medium to large tomato diced
- 1 cup rutabaga peeled and cubed small
- 2 cups white potato peeled and cubed small
- 1 cup green peas
- 1 medium onion minced
- 1 tblsp ghee or oil for frying
- 3 cups vegetable stock (saved water from cooking vegetables works great)
- Marinate the beef with the garlic, ginger, spices, lemon juice and ½ cup yogurt. Let sit for 1-2 hours in a non-reactive bowl (stainless steel, glass) and cover.
- After time has passed, saute onions in oil over medium heat.
- When onions are glassy, increase heat add meat marinade, stirring quickly.
- When meat is starting to brown, add diced tomatoes and stir until they start to break down.
- Add potatoes, rutabaga and stock. Cover and reduce heat.
- Cook down until root vegetables are soft and liquid is almost gone, about 45 minutes.
- Add green peas and rest of yogurt. Cook another 10 minutes to blend flavors, remove from heat and serve.
Posted on February 27, 2013
It’s very interesting to watch American television with Karan, especially us both having lived outside of the U.S. for so long. I see our culture as a foreigner. So what do I see? I see dramas filled with crimes, medical conditions and dysfunctional families. I see silly comedies where the characters are uncomfortable with sexuality. I see advertisements for fast food, easy preparation “home cooking” and lots and lots of medications.
It is the advertisements that really caught my attention. In this country, the cost of healthcare is a huge issue. The expense is one reason I chose to live outside of the U.S. Yet while we complain about our health and the cost to treat it, we live in a culture which promotes a way of life that is in direct contrast with being healthy. Advertisements even claim that you can eat what you want as long as you take this pill. If you feel discomfort after eating something, it is most likely because the meal wasn’t good for you in some way but instead of changing what or how you eat, the solution is to cover up your body’s “message” by taking a pill.
When I had my children, I had a goal to instill in them healthy eating habits. It is my opinion that it is is one of the best things you can do for a child. By healthy eating habits I don’t mean just feed them healthy food while they kick and scream about it. I mean to teach them to love, crave and relish healthy food.
My children have very healthy eating habits. I am often told how lucky I am. They eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables (yes even spinach with the right preparation), no soda or junk food (at home and rarely outside) and more importantly, they have learned to love the taste of fresh, natural food.
Learned is the key word — my kids eat healthy but they didn’t get there without some guidance.
Parents always moan and groan about how their kids won’t eat healthy but, even though some kids are pickier than others, all kids learn to taste and appreciate food at an early age. So it is important what they get exposed to; what they taste.
I also learned healthy eating habits at a young age, thanks to my mother, so being healthy hasn’t been a big struggle. I wanted my children to feel the same but unlike my childhood, I didn’t want to make their diet so strict that they felt they couldn’t just enjoy being a kids sometimes.
Here are my tips on how to build healthy eating habits that grow healthy kids.
A wide variety
Every palate is different. I guarantee that even picky kids will find several fruits and vegetables that they like but they need to try a wide variety to find them. You might surprise yourself and find there are ones new to you as well. So don’t just go by the standbys you have used again and again, explore the huge range of fruits and vegetables to choose from. Some ideas to I might suggest is to plan to use a different vegetable every night of the week; visit ethnic markets to expand your choices and ask people in the market how they use them.
Introduce and introduce again
A child’s taste changes as they grow so it is important to continue to introduce tastes even if they decided they didn’t like it before. I remember as a kid that for a while I would only eat the florets part of broccoli and then just the stalks and back to the florets. It is important to keep introducing as many fruits and vegetables as you can to give kids a chance to try them many times as they grow. Remember, habits take a while to break but they also take a while to form.
Get silly; relate on their level
You want kids to be interested in fruits an vegetables? Then you need to talk to them in a way that interests them. Saying something is good for them or they have to eat it does not help. Think about it. An adult with unhealthy habits rarely changes because they “should” but rather because they have to for health or medical reasons. With kids, the goal is never have to get to the point of making them, just pique their interest. You can start with how Popeye eats spinach (well from a can blech! but still) and Bugs Bunny likes carrots but I try to engage them a bit farther. I got them to eat beets by telling them that when they eat them their tongue turns pink and if they eat more, well a lot more is pink later. May be a bit crude but my kids love beets now.
Every vegetable has a story so tell it. Explain where they come from, what effect they have on your body and your health — engage them and they will be willing to try it.
Show them the source
We are so disconnected from our food these days. In most cases we don’t grow or raise the food we eat but in the past we always did. It’s no wonder that our appreciation for healthy food, especially in children is so lacking. As adults we might know we need to eat something because it is good for us, but for kids, they are much more visceral. So connect them with the source. Grow anything such as herbs or tomatoes just to show kids the process. Take them to farms, greenhouses and farmers markets. Show them fruits and vegetables in their freshest, most natural form. That is also what you should cook for them.
Here is an example. Many people by “baby carrots” to give their kids. They think they are doing something good by giving them vegetables. Problem is that “baby carrots” are actually fully grown carrots that have been cut and put into a tumbler to smooth the edges. They are convenient to buy and easy to eat but due to their extra processing, far less fresh than regular carrots and have basically no taste. Regular carrots that you have to peel and trim are far fresher and if cooked until tender and then tossed with a pinch of salt and a pat of butter are sweet and delicious. The result is that if you serve your kids fresh, natural food, they get to taste and appreciate the real flavors of the food instead of the convenient ones which have no taste at all.
Supersize the portions of vegetables
I have found that most people prepare a small amount of vegetables to go with their meal. This is in part because it is the ways we eat in America and also because we come to expect that our kids won’t eat many vegetables anyways. Instead of skimping on the veggies, try making enough to fill half the plate of everyone at the table. Consider how at Thanksgiving you make the bowl of mashed potatoes, instead make a bowl of broccoli, beets, carrots, or any other vegetable you choose. It has been my experience that when presented with a large quantity instead of a skimpy side dish, kids often feel that given the amount of vegetables on the table, their chances of not eating ANY are that much slimmer. Additionally, sometimes it takes several bites to really taste something so it is important that kids get enough bites for the taste.
This one goes for adults as well. If you or your kids think you don’t like a particular vegetable, try it again with a different preparation. If you had it cooked, try it raw or roasted instead of steamed. I love lots of vegetables but there are some that I’ve struggled to develop a taste for. Brussel sprouts and broccoli are two that I didn’t really like at first because I always had them prepared the same ways: steamed or sauteed and then tossed with tamari (a type of soy sauce and olive oil). My mother usually was the one to make them and she loves tamari. She puts it on lots of things but I discovered that it was the tamari that I really didn’t like. In addition I found that roasting these vegetables make them sweeter and less bitter. So the message is — don’t rule a vegetable out until you have prepared it many different ways.
Vegetables in everything
In addition to encouraging children to enjoy the taste of fruits and vegetables, it is a good idea to incorporate vegetables in every recipe. I have several recipes on this site you can try such as my macaroni and cheese which uses pureed butternut squash in the cheese sauce or pancakes which use applesauce for the fat and I also often add bananas or other fruit as well. There are tons more recipes on this site and the internet in general which you can refer to. The key is if you always add fruits and vegetables to your recipes, especially ones where they ‘disappear’, then kids get used to the subtle flavor they add. My kids now don’t like traditional macaroni and cheese because they say it is too “cheesy”.
Good quality fat as an accent
A common technique to get kids (or adults for that matter) to eat vegetables is to load them up with fat: cheese, cream, butter. But that is a bad idea for two reasons: the obvious one that you eat all that extra fat and secondly, you don’t get to taste the flavor of the food itself. An accent of a good quality fat goes a long way. Good choices are just a dab of pure butter, feta cheese, blue cheese, buttermilk (low fat is fine), coconut milk and extra virgin olive oil. For most vegetables, just a small pat of butter and a sprinkle of salt will awaken the flavor without drowning it out. See more here on this post about cooking.
Posted on January 29, 2013
Above Photo Credit [Source] — I don’t have my own photo (yet) because we ate the mousse before I could take one!
Ladies…we love our chocolate. Not to exclude you gents but we ladies really love our chocolate. But we don’t love the guilt, the fat, the extra inch on our thighs. I like to stay trim but when it comes to food, I try to cook as naturally as possible. That’s why I love this recipe because it is decadent, low fat and without artificial ingredients. I can personally attest that this recipe is a gem — so delicious.
- • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate , broken into pieces
- • ⅓ cup white chocolate chips
- • 2 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- • 6 tablespoons water , plus an extra ½ cup
- • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- • ½ cup sugar ￼
- • 3 large egg whites
- • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- Melt semisweet chocolate, white chocolate, cocoa powder, 6 tablespoons water, and vanilla in medium bowl set over pot of barely simmering water until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
- Bring ½ cup water and sugar to vigorous boil in small saucepan over high heat. Boil until slightly thickened and large bubbles rise to top, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat while beating egg whites.
- With electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat egg whites in large bowl until frothy, about 1 minute. Add cream of tartar and beat, gradually increasing speed to medium-high, until whites hold soft peaks, about 2 minutes. With mixer running, slowly pour hot syrup into whites (avoid pouring syrup onto beaters, or it will splash). Increase speed to high and beat until meringue has cooled to just warm and becomes very thick and shiny, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Whisk ⅓ meringue into chocolate mixture until combined, then whisk in remaining meringue. Spoon mousse into six 6-ounce ramekins or pudding cups, or large serving bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Chill overnight. (Mousse can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.)