Sunday, February 22, 2009

Groovy Granola Bars

I love packing lunches for my kids. Ok. That's a lie. But I do love sneaking healthy snacks into their lunches. I could say that they prefer nutritious salads and lots of veggies in their lunch, but that would be a lie as well. Come on, they're kids... and this is what I usually pack them:

* A sandwich, either peanut butter & honey, jelly, or banana OR a tasty muffin.
* Sliced apples or grapes.
* Something salty, like stick pretzels & peanuts or Sun Chips.
* And... something in the "goodie" category. This usually consists of some homemade "healthy" cookie or bar- which at times is not so healthy - because it contains a considerable amount of Earth Balance.
Side note: If I put carrot sticks in their lunch they don't eat them - so I feed them their veggies at home where I can make sure they don't wind up in the bottom of the trash can. (Which at times they do anyways!)

A friend of mine gave me this fun lunch box granola bar recipe. It originally called for 1 egg, 1/4 cup oil and 3/4 cup brown sugar. I adapted it by using 1 1/2 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer, 1/4 cup natural peanut butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar.

The result? Mmmm... you decide!!

This is a fun recipe to tweak and find your favorite variation. You can use coconut, different dried fruits and nuts, the combinations are endless. Substituting the peanut butter for the oil creates the perfect "glue" for all the little extras you add.

Groovy Granola Bars
  • ¼ cup natural peanut butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, optional
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups crispy rice cereal
  • ½ cup golden raisins, or equivalent
In large bowl, combine peanut butter, brown sugar, honey, vanilla and egg replacer. Add flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Stir in oats, cereal, and raisins. Spray 9 X 13 inch pan with oil spray. Press mixture into pan. For chewy bars, bake 20 min -for crunchier bars bake 30 min, both at 350 degrees. Let cool and then slice into 16 bars.

You can reduce the sugar to your liking as well. Experiment to find your families favorite. My kids love them with chocolate chips, of course!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Spinach, Black Bean, & Rice Enchiladas with Authentic Red Sauce

I really wanted to enter Susan V's Vegetable Love contest this year. But with family staying with us from out of town, I forgot and now might be too late! 11 hours to be exact. I'm going to enter anyways but I don't think she'll put it in...we'll see. (Please, oh, please!) There. I thought a little begging might help.

Update: She did add my recipe to the bottom of the post. I'm not in the contest, but my recipe is there for all to see! (Thanks Susan!!)

This enchilada sauce recipe comes from my friend, G. Valdez' great grandmother. It is authentic baby!! So if you love enchilada sauce (which I do), then you will love this recipe. It is incredibly easy! This is what the chiles look like that you need to purchase. One bag makes one recipe.

Spinach, Black Bean & Rice Enchiladas with Authentic Red Sauce

Authentic Red Enchilada Sauce

1 bag of dried California Chiles (about 10 in bag)
cooking liquid from chiles (enough to equal 5 cups when all ingredients are added)
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cocoa
5 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon sugar (not in the original recipe, but added for good measure)

1. Break off the stems of the chiles and remove all seeds.
2. Place chiles in pot and fill the pot with water.
3. Bring water to boil and cook for 20 minutes, until chilies are tender.
4. Strain out chilies, but reserve the water.
5. Place chilies in blender (or Vitamix : )) along with the rest of the ingredients, then add enough cooking liquid to equal 5 cups total sauce.

Assembling Enchiladas:

1. Dip corn, low-fat flour or low-fat whole wheat tortillas in sauce -
2. Lay fresh spinach leaves down first. Followed by your favorite Mexican Rice (or use my recipe), then top with a spoonful of canned black beans (liquid drained)
3. Roll up and place in a 9 X 13 pan. You can cover and refrigerate at this point. Saving the last step until right before you eat.
4. Ladle additional sauce over enchiladas and bake at 350 degrees for 20 min.

Added Tip: Because you don't fry the tortillas in oil, they tend to soak up a lot of sauce when you bake them. Next time, I will bake them with very little sauce, reserving the rest. Then before I serve them, ladle the warm sauce over the enchiladas resulting in a moister enchilada with more sauce on top instead of baked in. They were still delicious, however - I just like it more saucy!

Jenn's Mexican Rice

1 yellow onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red bell pepper, chopped fine
2 cups short grain brown rice (or your favorite rice)
4 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup salsa (fresh is fine)

1. Saute onion and garlic in a few teaspoons of water or a quick shot of non-stick spray - until golden.
2. Add the red bell pepper and saute till soft.
3. Add the rice and stir until rice begins to brown.
4. Add liquid, cumin, sugar, and salsa.
5. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and cook for 25 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.
6. Add corn and cilantro. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.

Happy Valentine's Day!

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