Pumpkin Sunflower Seed Granola Bars

I have a granola bar addiction. There’s something so wonderful about these tiny squares of oats loaded with other goodies that I can never get enough of.

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I think my granola bar obsession peaked in college because granola bars became “special treats.” Let’s face it: groceries in New York can be expensive. As in a box of 5 Kashi bars is literally $7.99 at Duane Reade. Unless I bought granola bars at Trader Joe’s which I find a leeetle bit too sweet sometimes, granola bars became occasional treats I would buy only when they were on sale or when I was home on breaks. And then on breaks I’d go to Target and buy like 10 boxes of granola bars and pack them all in my suitcase and bring them back to school with me. I’m sure if my luggage ever got searched it was a lol to TSA.

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My dream granola bar is chewy, full of big chunks of nuts and lots of textures, and loaded with dried fruit, and a healthy dose of chocolate. Most of the time. Other times I want something a little simpler and more like a not-sweet snack that will keep me going in the afternoon. That’s right folks – sometimes I want things that aren’t too sweet. Gasp. I know. The nice thing about cooking/baking is that if you want these babies sweeter, you can add as much sugar as you like and make ’em to your liking. Making things from scratch is great, isn’t it? Thought so.

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These bars have a nice, deep earthy flavor thanks to the pumpkin + sunflower combo. Grinding up the nuts into a nut butter not only binds the oats together, but gives them a hearty texture and some staying power thanks to all the healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats they have to offer.

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I honestly liked these more than I expected to. They’re chewy but hearty. And they have this distinct deep savory-sweet flavor that keeps you wanting to nibble. They’ll grow on you with every bite. Prep time is minimal, and one batch gives you a whole pan / week’s worth of snackies. I suggest you mix up your usual granola bar routine and give these a whirl. Make your days be full of peace, love, and excessive amounts of granola goodness. 🙂

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Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Level: Easy

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup shelled sunflower seeds [or, if you have it, 1/2 cup sunflower seed butter + 1/2 cup sunflowers]
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup – 3/4 cup brown sugar, depending on desired sweetness
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (optional, but recommended)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Place 1/2 cup sunflower seeds in a food processor and puree until the seeds reach a smooth nut butter paste. Add canned pumpkin and continue to puree until well mixed.

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3. In a large bowl, combine rolled oats, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and brown sugar. Mix well.

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4. Add pumpkin/sunflower seed butter mixture to the oat mixture. Mix until well combined and all oats are moist. Add the remaining 1/2 cup sunflower seeds and mix again. The mixture will be thick and cookie-dough like.

5. Line a 9×9 baking sheet with parchment paper or grease well. Pour dough into pan and press down using a spatula or your hands.

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6. Bake for 20-25 minutes until browned and fragrant and edges begin to pull away from the sides slightly. They make seem a little gooey when you take them out of the oven but they will continue to set as they cool.

7. Cool completely and cut into whatever sized bars you want. Store in an airtight container or bag for up to a week.

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{Healthier, Vegan} Pumpkin Muffies

I love Panera. “Meet me at Panera Bread” is one of my favorite phrases to hear. Perhaps it’s a nostoglia thing (I ate a lot of Panera growing up) but p-bread forever has a soft spot in my heart. Those sourdough rolls. The baguettes. Their Strawberry Poppyseed Salad. Dat soup. The bread bowls. The bagels. The Med Veg sandwich with the cilantro-jalepeño hummus. The fact that my bestie Sarah Cath worked there. The unlimited in-house coffee refills. I could go on forever.

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When it comes to the baked goods Panera has to offer, Pumpkin Muffies also have a special place in my heart. To me, pumpkin muffies represent surprises my dad would bring me if he had grabbed lunch there during work, a (welcomed) treat on rare school mornings, or special weekend breakfast noms. I remember the excitement I’d feel every time I’d get that signature brown paper bag with that Panera criss-cross pattern and could see the bottom had a slight greasy oil circle at the bottom. At that moment, I knew: it was a Pumpkin Muffie, just waiting to give me a powder sugar mustache.

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Fluffy, sweet, pumpkin-y, and with those strange powder sugar balls, these babies are incredible and I love them unconditionally. I don’t quite know why I’ve never tried to make them at home before, but yesterday morning for whatever reason I just needed to do so. And that’s just what I did.

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I made mine with oat flour because it results in super soft baked goods, which is exactly what I was aiming for, and they’re whole grain, so they feel less junk-y than the original ones. The muffins themselves are super fluffy, almost bouncy, cinnamon-y, and are a bit less sweet than the Panera version.

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I used chia seeds + water as an egg substitute/nutritional booster, but you can also use flax, applesauce, or an egg if that’s more your style. The topping? That’s still pure sugary goodness. And that is totally fine.

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How do you make them muffies you ask? I placed a biscuit cutter on my baking sheet, put two generous spoonfuls of batter into it, allowed to batter to kind of adhere to its shape for a hot second, then lifted the biscuit cutter and repeated this 12 times until I had 12 muffies. You could also use a circular cookie cutter, pipe in a circle using a wide-tipped pastry bag or plastic bag with a large corner end snipped off, or do your best and try to spoon the batter into circular shapes. It’s up to you. Even if you bake them in a muffin tin as regular muffins, they will still taste delicious, don’t you worry. 😉

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Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15-20 minutes

Level: Easy

Ingredients – Muffies:

  • 2 1/4 cups oat flour (all purpose would also work)
  • 1/2 cup almond or soy milk
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar (any kind will do)
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds or flax seed + 2 tablespoons water (can also use 3 tablespoons apple sauce)
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • dash of salt

Ingredients – Topping:

  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. In a small bowl, combine almond or soy milk and vinegar. Set aside and allow to curdle for at least 10 minutes. In another small bowl, combine chia seeds + flax seeds and water and set that aside too.

3. In a large bowl, combine oat flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Whisk until well combined.

4. Add canned pumpkin, sugar, almond milk + vinegar mixture, and chia seeds + water into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Use a spatula or spoon to fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.

5. Place a silicone baking pad or sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Place a biscuit cutter or circular cookie cutter down on the sheet. Place two generous spoonfuls of batter into the biscuit cutter. Allow the batter to form to the shape of the circle. Lift the biscuit cutter, and repeat 12 times until you’ve made 12 circular muffies.

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6. Place muffies in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until puffy, fragrant, bouncy upon touch, and a toothpick placed in the center of the muffies comes out clean.

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7. Place muffies on a cooling rack and allow to cool. Meanwhile, combine powder sugar and brown sugar in a small bowl and mix together.

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8. Once muffies have cooled, sprinkle topping all over them. I recommend doing this right once muffies are COMPLETELY cool, and/or preferably right before eating, otherwise the powder sugar may absorb into the muffies and they’ll look shiny and weird. Store in plastic baggies or an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. These also freeze and reheat well. Especially in the toaster. Yummies = when you have toaster muffies. Hooray! Muffies all week long. Happy Monday everyone :)!

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nutty brown rice krispie treats

IMG_5234love making homemade granola and granola bars. In fact, that might be the next recipe I post. but today, I wanted something a little sweeter and decadent than my standard healthy granola bar recipe produces.

I was also in the mood for something with a little more crunch. For me, texture plays a huge part food. Sometimes i just want to eat something soft, like a big chewy cookie made even softer with oatmeal baked in. Other times, only something with a bite will do, and a nut-infused candy bar is the only thing that will satisfy me.

Today, the mood was crispy. I was specifically craving one of those crispy-style granola bars that Kid’s Cliff Bars makes, but i also felt like cooking, so i decided to make my own.

This recipe, like all recipes really, is just a guideline. Use whatever you have around the house – toss in your choice of nuts and toppings. Whatever you end up with, it’ll likely taste delicious!

another bonus – not that i am – but this recipe is gluten free for those who must be conscious of it!

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For the bars:

  • 4 cups brown rice krispies (regular will also work)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey (or agave)
  • 1 cup peanut or almond butter
  • 3/4 cup nuts (i used almond and cashew today)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (or butterscotch or white chocolate chips)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips, melted (for optional drizzle on top)

 

Directions:

  • Melt butter in the microwave (about 30 seconds). Add brown sugar and mix.
  • Add honey to brown sugar/butter. Mix again.
  • Add peanut butter. To make stirring easier, it may help to microwave for about 20 seconds before mixing.
  • Fold in cereal. Mix with a spatula or large spoon until evenly coated. If they aren’t “sticky” enough at this point, add more honey until they are sticky!
  • Add nuts & chocolate chips.
  • Pour into a 9×13 pan that has been buttered or sprayed with cooking spray.
  • Melt remaining chocolate chips in the microwave, and drizzle on top of bars.
  • Place in the fridge to let them firm up.
  • Cut, eat, enjoy! 🙂

 

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