Tag Archives: oats

Get Ready Granola Bars!


        I’m in high gear preparation-mode these days. Lee and I are finally in our (probable) last U.S. port before we head east to the Bahamas! I say probable because we may decide to push south to Miami before crossing the gulf stream. For now, we’re anchored off of Riviera Beach, FL. I can’t get enough of the warm weather and sunshine but there is so much work to do!
        There are provisions to buy. I hear vegetables are scarce in the Bahamas so I have some serious stocking up to do. Various wedding related errands need running and our list of necessary boat supplies is long.
        I knew the next few days would be busy to say the least, so I made time for baking this afternoon. Not only did I get to check that activity off my list (for now), I also ended up with super snacks to fuel the craziness.
        I wanted to make granola bars that were on the crunchy side, naturally sweetened, and contained my favorite spice: cardamom. I think it was a crunchy granola bar recipe and my beloved Spicy Oatmeal Cookies from How It All Vegan that got me hooked on cardamom. It’s the perfect spice for not-so-sweet sweets. It catches you off guard on your first bite and keeps you coming back to figure out what’s going on in your mouth!
        These granola bars came together in my head this morning. I didn’t get a chance to make them until we got back from lugging 3 jugs each of anti-freeze and oil down the street. Ingredients flew into a pot, onto a baking sheet, and into the oven. The smell of coconut and cardamom made it difficult to resist pulling these out early and digging in.
        I think I succeeded with a certain amount of crunchiness and the perfect spice but my granola bars are probably not sweet enough for most people. Dried figs provide the only sweetness and I was happy with that. However, I would suggest adding some honey if you want more satisfaction in the sweet department. More dried fruit or a different kind (like dates) would also help. I think that’s what I’ll try next time.


Granola Bars #1 (I anticipate making many more)

A handful of dried figs, chopped (about 3/4 cup when chopped)
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon flax seed meal
2 cups oats
2 scoops (1/4 cup) vanilla soy protein powder (or your protein powder of choice; dried milk would work too)
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
Dash of cinnamon
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine chopped figs and water in a medium saucepan over med-high heat.
Bring the mixture to a boil and cook, partially covered, until the water had reduced to a syrup and the fruit hunks are soft and breaking down. Remove from heat.
Add coconut oil to the saucepan and stir until it melts.
In a separate bowl, mix oats, spices, protein powder, and flax.
Add the oat mixture to the saucepan along with the beaten egg.
Mix ingredients with a fork until they are completely blended.
Pour the mixture into a square baking pan or a cookie sheet lined with parchment or foil. Press until flat and even. I made an irregular square-like shape on a baking sheet. Cut outlines of bars and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes (longer for more crunch).
After baking, remove bars from pan and cool on a wire rack.


Filed under other goodies

Chocolate Peanut Protein Cookies


        2011, here I come! I’m back from my Christmas hiatus and blogging is a top priority for this year. There are so many recipes I can’t wait to share and so many dishes I want to try! The highlight, I think, will be taking my culinary and other adventures to the Caribbean. Warm water, tropical fruit, and new cultures are on the horizon and I’m anxious to experience everything!


Double chocolate fig from Fran’s Chocolates in Seattle.

        On to the food. It’s not like I wasn’t cooking over the holidays. I took advantage of my mom’s kitchen in all it’s spacious glory. We baked Christmas cookies (decorated cut-outs like we always do), put together quite a spread for Christmas dinner, and enjoyed several family favorites.
        Eating Light and Crisp Waffles, one of my mom’s standard breakfast treats, for dinner on Christmas eve was perfect. I am very sentimental about those crispy, tangy waffles and they made a satisfying dinner on a winter evening.
        Our meals out were as memorable as the one’s we prepared at home. My mom’s new neighborhood boasts fabulous restaurants like the vegetarian delight, Cafe Flora.
        We even had a little dinner party with a few Seattle friends, an occasion when it helps to have two cooks in the kitchen!

        I was sad to leave Seattle on New Year’s eve, but Lee and I had to get back to the boat in Charleston and keep moving south. I managed to pull together black-eyed peas and slang jang on New Year’s day. My grandmother would be so proud. Yesterday I was back to my old baking tricks and I’m proud of my first treat for 2011!
        These cookies are appropriate for resolution season, although that was not my intention when I came up with them. Brainstorming recipes while I run frequently produces interesting results. This time it was super-sized cookies with bonus protein!
        I wanted to use up the last of some Trader Joe’s chocolate hemp protein powder. I put the last few scoops in these cookies and now I wish I had more! I think I like it much better with peanut flour and oats in a cookie than I do in a smoothie!
        These big, cake-like cookies are chocolate peanut butter heaven. I’ve been munching them happily with the knowledge that I’m fueling up with protein, fiber, and healthful fats.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Cookies
(Makes 7-8 large cookies)

1/2 cup peanut flour
1 cup regular oats
1/2 cup chocolate hemp protein powder (may substitute with another chocolate protein powder or 1/4 cup cocoa powder + 1/4 cup flax seed meal)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cane sugar
1/4 cup prune puree (1 prune baby food container) or applesauce
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine flour, oats, protein powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, beat together egg, sugar, prune puree, and yogurt. Stir in vanilla.
Add wet mixture to dry ingredients, stirring till fully combined.
Spoon onto prepared baking sheet (lined with parchment, silicone mat, or cooking spray), leaving 2 inches between each cookie. I made mine quite large and ended up with 7 cookies.
Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes. Try one while it’s warm and gooey!


Filed under desserts, other goodies

Everyone’s Muffins


        It’s a grey, blustery day in Maryland (hence the sky replacement for the poorly lit pictures I’m not too happy with). I woke up indecisive about what to bake. With Thanksgiving fast approaching something suited to that holiday seemed appropriate but I’m just not in the holiday mood quite yet. Maybe it’s because this will be the first Thanksgiving I spend away from family. It’s time for Lee and I to start our own traditions!


        I guess I’m working my way up to Thanksgiving because today’s muffins are dinner table appropriate, or a great start to a long day in the kitchen. As an added bonus (or a requirement at some tables), these muffins are vegan. Laurel’s Kitchen included vegan recipes back when even vegetarians were still considered wackos. Everyone’s Muffins were so named for their acceptability to all diets, even those that exclude milk and eggs. Hey, they’re also great when you’re in Maryland and you haven’t been to the grocery store since New York! Actually, I went to the store yesterday but I still really wanted to make these muffins!
        This is the second time I’ve made Everyone’s Muffins. I followed the recipe exactly the first time but tweaked one ingredient for this batch. The leftover brown rice in the ice box caught my eye and was much more accessible than the master supply of oats I’d need to raid since I just emptied the container in the galley. Cooked brown rice seems like a nice addition to bread. It adds that chewy rice texture, fiber, and protein. In retrospect, though, I should have adjusted the amount of liquid in the original recipe because my muffins turned out very. very moist. They will probably be better after sitting overnight but the rice obviously didn’t absorb as much liquid as uncooked oats would have.
        Oh well. They taste good and they’re good for us. I love “un-sweet” muffins like these. You can butter them up and slather them with jam (or cranberry conserve, perhaps). Eat one for breakfast, serve them with dinner, make muffin sandwiches – these are as versatile as muffins get.

Everyone’s Muffins (Oatmeal Variety)
From Laurel’s Kitchen by Laurel Robertson, Carol Flinders, and Bronwen Godfrey
Makes 12

1 1/2 cups warm water*
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 cups rolled oats*
2 pinches nutmeg

*I replaced the oats with the same amount of cooked brown rice. If you do the same, try decreasing the amount of water by 1/4 cup or so.

Dissolve the yeast in the water in a large bowl.
Add the salt, oil, sugar, and whole wheat flour and beat well.
Add the oats and nutmeg and beat vigorously (you’ll have a batter not a dough).
Cover the bowl with a towel and leave it to rise in a warm place for at least an hour.
Stir down the batter and spoon it into lightly greased muffin tins (or use silicone cups in a muffin tin. I think paper would stick).
Let the muffins rise for about another hour.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. and bake muffins for about 20 minutes. The tops will be brown and crusty.

If I make these with rice again I’ll decrease the liquid and maybe increase the baking time. Maybe I’ll just try the other variety of Everyone’s Muffins – Buckwheat! Now I need to focus on more pressing matters…

Any suggestions for a vegetarian Thanksgiving for two?


Filed under muffins

Chewy granola bars

When life gives you smashed bananas, bake something!


That’s my new favorite saying and these are my new favorite thing to make with smashed bananas. In June, when I was hit by a car on my bike in Annapolis, MD, I made banana bread with the battered bananas that had been in my backpack. This is probably the easiest way to produce baking-worthy bananas around here, since I eat them up faster than they can ripen.
This time the beautiful bunch of perfect fruit I bought at Trader Joe’s in Manhattan went for quite a ride in our latest sailing disaster. By the way, I was so excited to find my favorite store blocks from where we were moored. I stocked up all my usual TJ’s fare. The sailing disaster was the scariest experience of my life so far. I’ll give the short version here but the full account is on my other blog, Pirat.
It was 6pm, very dark, and Lee and I were finishing our dinner in the cockpit. I looked over my shoulder to see a breaking wave about to hit our boat. Chaos ensued. We had come upon an uncharted shoal off the coast of New Jersey (Who knew New Jersey could be so treacherous!). Several walls of whitewater knocked our boat on it’s side and the keel (heavy thing on bottom of boat) thunked against the bottom a couple of times. I thought we were going to be smashed to bits and have to be rescued. We made it off, though, and pulled into Atlantic City, where we’d been heading in the first place, within a couple of hours.
Among the things to go flying down below was the bunch of bananas. I think Lee stepped on them while they were on the floor. I just stepped in the remains of my sweet potato from dinner. Yum.

On to the baking! These granola bars were next on my list of things to make anyway so I was actually kind of excited to have all the ingredients ready. It was very satisfying and therapeutic to whip up a sweet treat during our recover day.
I based my bars on quite a few granola bar recipes from all over the place. As with granola, finding the perfect recipe seemed impossible. I’m too picky about what goes into a good granola bar. I did like the idea of using mashed bananas and they made the end product fabulously soft and chewy. After enjoying the tasty combination of banana and coconut oil in my Banana Bran Scones, I opted to use coconut oil in the granola bars as well. It’s flavor is much stronger than in the scones and I love the banana-coconut fragrance these gave off when baking.
Nut and fruit additions are totally customizable. I used slivered almonds and no dried fruit but I think chopped dates and walnuts or pecans would be delicious. I may try toasting the nuts for more flavor next time and adding a little vanilla or almond exratact.


Featured on Baking is Hot

Chewy Granola Bars
Makes about 12 bars

Dry Ingredients
2 3/4 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup flaxseed meal
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
Wet ingredients
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup agave syrup or honey
2 soft bananas
1 egg (or egg replacer equivalent for vegan version)
1/2 cup slivered almonds
optional: 1/4 – 1/2 cup dried fruit

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
Melt coconut oil in a medium-sized saucepan over very low heat.
When it is completely liquified, add bananas and mash them thoroughly.
Add agave and egg and beat well till everything is combined.
Pour the oatmeal mix into the saucepan with the wet ingredients, stir everything up, and add the nuts and fruit (if using).

Time to get messy!
Scoop about 1/4 – 1/3 cup of the mixture into your hands. Shape it into an oblong bar (I found cupping my palms together worked well) and place it on cookie sheet with a non-stick baking surface (silicone mat or parchment).
I got 13 bars of about the same size out of my mixture but you can make them as big or small as you want. They also don’t have to be bar-shaped – make them round and they look like cookies! I do think shaping them rather than spreading the whole mixture in a pan and cutting it after baking is a good idea. The bars seem crumbly but they firm up nicely.
Bake for 15 minutes at 350.
Place on a wire rack to cool, and try a bar right out of the oven. Yum!


Filed under other goodies