Tag: once again nut butters

Jumbo Flourless Chocolate Muffins

This recipe takes a different approach to  my usual baking,  not so much in the ingredient choices, but in the size of the finished product. If you have been following our recipe blogs for a while, you likely noticed my preference for “bite-sized” type of baked goods, small portioned desserts and mini-sized versions of recipes. But there are times when one just needs a jumbo -sized muffin! Maybe you need one after a long week at work, or a particularly challenging meeting, or perhaps after a bad episode of your favorite T.V. show. Whatever the reason, there are times when it is appropriate to indulge in a super-sized baked treat. And for those times, we want you to be prepared with a quick recipe to go to.

When baking large- sized muffins, it is crucial that the batter  you are preparing have enough leavening agent to grow and stay fluffy during the oven baking process. Not to get too technical here, but your leavening agent, also known as raising agent, incorporates gas bubbles into the dough. The two most often used in baking are baking soda and baking powder. So why don’t we  take a minute to explain the difference between the two? You can use this information to create your own recipes and have confidence they  won’t flop when put in the oven.

Baking soda, aka: pure sodium bicarbonate, combines with the moisture and an acidic ingredient in your mix, resulting in a chemical reaction that produces bubbles of carbon dioxide. These expand when in the oven causing your dough to rise. Since they act immediately, once the baking soda is added, you are on a timer to get your muffins to the oven or else they could fail to rise. Note that the recipe depends on an acidic ingredient for it to work. This can be yogurt, buttermilk, lemon juice or even chocolate. Without one, your baking soda won’t work at all. It’s nice to check to see if   your baking soda is fresh by adding a teaspoon to vinegar some of it; if it bubbles immediately, you are good to go!

The other agent widely used in our recipes is baking powder. This one contains sodium bicarbonate as well, but also includes the acidifying agent (cream of tartar) and a drying agent (starch). It can stand a little extra time, as it does not lose its potency so quickly, so you don’t have to rush your batter  into the oven. It will work once it reaches warmer temperatures, allowing your muffins  to rise in the oven while baking. It can also be tested for freshness by adding a teaspoon to warm water; if it bubbles right away, it’s fresh!

Some recipes will actually ask for both, baking soda and baking powder. This allows the raising to happen twice:  once while you are mixing it (because of baking soda) and then again when it reaches the oven (because of baking powder), giving your recipe  an extra boost of air bubbles. The art of baking is a balance of science and experience. And I don’t claim to be an expert in by any means! But learning little facts about the most common ingredients will help us all advance along the  road to becoming  “master bakers.”

As a little  side note, did you know that most (if not all, I’m still investigating this) cake, cookie and muffin recipes that call for a pinch of salt do not necessarily need it? That’s right! If you are concerned about your sodium intake, try omitting the salt when you can and see if your end results are the same. So far in my kitchen, it has worked. Hooray for healthier shortcuts that are successful!

~ Carolina

jumbo flourless chocolate muffins on onceagainnutbutterblog.com

Jumbo Flourless Chocolate Muffins

¾ cup Once Again Cashew Butter

2 eggs

1/3 cup Killer Bee Honey

1/3 cup Unsweetened cacao powder

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons milk or water

¼ cup chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Beat together cashew butter, eggs and honey. Add in the cacao powder, vanilla and baking soda. If mixture is too thick, add in 2 to 3 tablespoons of water or milk (your choice). Place batter in muffin tins, sprinkle a few chocolate chips on top, and take the batch  to oven for  20 to 25 minutes. Enjoy the muffins  warm, or store them in an airtight  container for up to 3 days. Makes 6 large muffins. #glultenfree #noiol #norefinedsugar

Sticky Almond Bars: Make Your Own Granola Bars: Easier than it sounds!

Sticky Almond Bars: Make Your Own Granola Bars: Easier than it sounds!

Summer time is great for so many things! Amongst all the days of fun and play I like to sneak in a few days in the kitchen to get creative. Usually the rainy days, which here in Florida are quite common in the summer. During the school year I resort to granola bars quite often, not just for the kids but for myself as well. It is an easy to grab snack that packs a ton of nutrition and hold me over until the next meal nicely. The problem is that I can get quite picky with granola bars, it’s usually a whole process to pick the right one at the store. It involves a whole lot of label reading, comparing and then taste testing to find a good one, and not to mention I often spend quite a bit of money.

Long story short: I decided this summer to try out some granola recipes! During the hectic school year with activities and homework I just don’t have the time to experiment as much. Therefore this past weekend I looked through my cookbooks (yes, I actually still have a few paper bound books!) for inspiration. I knew I wanted to make a granola bar rich with fiber, protein and natural sugars as much as possible. As a family we enjoy the sticky kinds much more than the hard dry granola bars, so that’s where I started.  Here are the ingredients I picked and why:

20140622_192812221_iOS  Dates- Great for making the “sticky” goodness of the granola bar! Dates are sweet so they eliminate the need to add refined sugar to the recipe. They also are very rich in fiber, iron, potassium and tannins (a polyphenolic antioxidant known to possess anti-infective, anti-inflammatory and anti-hemorrhagic properties). They contain a moderate amount of vitamin A, Calcium, manganese and other antioxidants as well.

Mixed nuts – The nuts added the protein to my bar. Great plant sourced protein and healthy fats, they also some crunch. Choose any combination you would like! They can be roasted or raw, whatever you prefer.

Honey – My favorite natural sweetener! It’s sweeter than table sugar therefore you need less, and it has vitamins too such as vitamin B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin and antioxidants.

Oats – They provide the bulk of the recipe but also add to the fiber content of the bar. They have a unique antioxidant profile, which combined with their high fiber content makes oats a heart friendly food!

Dark Chocolate Chips – Well… what can I say, I love chocolate! By choosing a chocolate chip that is over 60% cacao I can eliminate some excess sugar. Dark Chocolate is a good source of antioxidants, fiber, copper, iron, magnesium and manganese.

Lightly Roasted Almond Butter – Definitely what made this bar so scrumptious! The flavor of the lightly roasted almond butter just20140622_194927119_iOS set this bar apart from the other recipes I’ve tried before. It adds protein and it has a very heart friendly fat profile with unsaturated fatty acids and lots of fiber as well! Not to mention it is rich in vitamin E, magnesium, calcium and cooper too.
Creating this recipe was fun but it did take me a few trials to achieve the “finger licking” sticky point for my taste. You can substitute or add any ingredient you’d like to make it your own, the secret is keeping the oats, dates and almond butter measures consistent. My next recipe will skip the chocolate chips and add coconut flakes! It was quick to prepare, didn’t require any baking and a sure keeper for when we return to our busy schedules! And you know they are a success when the kids are asking to trade their popsicles for more granola bars.

…. Enjoy your time in the kitchen,

Carolina


Sticky Almond Granola Bars

serves up to 10 people

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1 cup of dates – pitted (if you use dried dates, rehydrate them in ¼ cup warm
water for 30 minutes)

¼ cup Once Again honey

¼ cup Once Again Nut Butter Lightly Roasted Almond butter

½ cup Mixed Nuts (of your choice! Raw or toasted)

1 ½ cup oats

¼ cup dark chocolate chips

Instructions:

Place dates in food processor and mix until puree. Add it to a large mixing bowl with oats, nuts and chocolate chips. Lastly add the honey and almond butter and stir it quickly. It helps if you slightly warm the honey and almond butter over the stovetop. Then place it in 9×9 (or 8×8 for thicker) pan lined with parchment paper and flattened evenly. Place it in the freezer for 15-20 minutes to set, then cut into 10-12 bars. Keep them in airtight container in fridge or you may freeze them too!

Wake Up to Overnight Oats!

I have seen several bloggers post numerous recipes for “overnight oats” but I must admit I hesitated to the whole idea until about a week ago. I have been in search for ways to use some of my glass jars that I usually just dump into the recycle bin. In my leisurely search in Pinterest I came across the idea of using the peanut butter glass jar to make overnight oats. What really caught my interest was that instead of soaking the jar with water and detergent to clean it when all the butter was gone, I could just add the overnight oat ingredients to it as is and REALLY use up every last drop of nut butter!overnight oats recipe

I’m a huge advocate for “short cuts” that make your life easier when it comes to cooking. My mornings are way more rushed than I ever imagined they would be. I remember the days where I stretched out in bed and took some deep breaths contemplating what this next day would bring… nowadays I pretty much open my eyes to breakfast orders, homework help requests, reminders of lists I need to complete, and checklists of afterschool activities we must prepare for. Sure I could set an alarm and wake up 30 minutes earlier to give myself extra time, but that would mean waking up at about 4:30 am! Needless to say this whole “overnight oats” thing really was a perfect fit for my morning routine. Breakfast that was prepared the night before and actually gives me a reason to smile as I jump out of bed. I can’t believe I took so long to try it!

Some other side benefits were that my kids really enjoyed helping put them together the night before.  The idea of having “personalized” breakfasts for the next day convinced them to belly up to the counter and pick their own ingredients. I used some of my many Once Again Nut Butter jars that I’ve been saving since they have a nice airtight lid and are the perfect size. And if I get around to it this next weekend I might even paint the name of each one of our household members to the jars (Oh, if you know some good techniques for painting on glass let me know, that will be my next Pinterest search!).

The sky is the limit when it comes to “Overnight Oats” recipes. The main ingredients are a ¾ cup of old fashion oats of your choice, ½ cup milk of your choice (we used almond milk, unsweetened) and 1 tablespoon of Once Again Nut Butter, then you add your toppings. Close your jars and place it in the refrigerators overnight (or at least for 1 hour). That’s it! It will be ready to enjoy the next day, you can always add a little extra milk if it’s too thick the next day.

My husband’s version has an extra tablespoon of nut butter since he eats breakfast pretty early and doesn’t usually get to lunch until 1pm. My egg-and-toast-man wasn’t too sure about this oatmeal in a jar either, but after a couple of days where he actually endured his morning meetings and made it to lunch without a headache he was convinced too.

overnight oatsMy kids preferred theirs with lots of strawberries and blueberries, while I added some chia seeds and cinnamon to mine which reminds me of the more traditional oatmeal I used to eat as a child. You can eat it cold right out of the jar in the morning, which during the summer just makes more sense. Or you can also warm it up for a few minutes if you prefer it that way.

Have fun creating your own favorites!

… wake up happy every single day,

Carolina

Feeding Summer Campers!

It is the time of year moms have tears in their eyes as they watch their children complete one more year of school! Some are tears of joy, some are tears of “oh no… I must get summer camp registrations done ASAP”.  Most kids have been doing the countdown for the last 2 weeks already! Summer means no wake up time, no homework, and no projects. They focus on fun in the sun, camps and new friendships. Summer camps are great for kids to get involved in new sports or activities and making memories that last a lifetime.

To ensure your kids maximize their fun this summer, pack their lunches and snacks with the right foods that will provide long lasting energy. Just like for school lunches we follow some simple steps to double check for all food groups in each lunchbox; for summer camp they need an extra boost of energy and protein to endure the long days of physical activity and of course lots of hydration. Here is a check list and some examples of foods filled with the right nutrients:

  1. 3-4 ounces of lean protein: chicken, turkey, tuna fish, turkey jerky, hard boil egg.
  2. Plant based protein and healthy oils: handful of nuts, 2 tablespoons of Nut Butters, beans and chickpea hummus (made with olive oil).
  3. Fiber and micronutrientsonce again lunch box
    1. Fruits: 1 cup of grapes, mandarin oranges, pears, apples, berries, watermelon.
    2. Vegetables: ½ cup broccoli, tomatoes, celery, spinach, cauliflower, baby carrots.
  4. Calcium boost: Yogurt, 1-2 ounces of cheese, milk, fortified almond, soy milk.
  5. Whole Grain: Quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat bread, tortillas, crackers, bagels, pasta.
  6. Hydration: Water or coconut water.

Following this list will help you build up a variation of lunches to last a whole summer! Variety is key to ensure your kids will get a wide range of vitamins and minerals. Try to alternate different fruits and vegetables as much as you can. Use it for planning your grocery shopping lists too. Have key ingredients you can rotate and put together different sandwiches, wraps, dips, kabobs and other fun ideas that will keep your child nourished and ready to enjoy camp all summer long.

… pack lunches for success,

Carolina