oatmeal jam bars

I went home to visit my parents for Easter, before heading to L.A. for a writers conference. The timing worked out great because I got to spend a couple extra days with my family before making the short drive to Los Angeles. As always, it was a relaxing time in my hometown… going out for breakfast with Dad, running errands with Mom, watching a few good movies, reading a ton, and catching up on some playtime with Mr. Mur-dog! I also got in some quality baking time, as I always love to do when I am on vacation. Baking is so relaxing and nourishing for me!

Ready to do some baking in my Easter outfit!

Ready to do some baking in my Easter outfit!

One of my favorite things to do is when I’m at my parents’ house is to rifle through their pantry for ingredients that need to be used up, and then find a way to plug these into a recipe. This visit, I made a batch of my beloved three-ingredient cookies, substituting granola for the oats. I also made some lemon bars for Gramps, who joined us for Easter dinner. Then I noticed that Mom had a soon-to-be-expiring jar of jam to use up, along with a ton of oats. So after some online searching, I tweaked a recipe I found to make some healthy oat jam bars using the ingredients at hand. I loved these for dessert… and they are still healthy enough to eat for breakfast, too! I also think these would be a great road trip snack or a healthy snack for kiddos. {You don’t need to tell your kids how healthy these are!} ūüėČ

In my own healthy living journey, I have been trying to eat fewer packaged and processed foods and to make more foods on my own. One thing I love about making my own food is that I know exactly what goes into it… and, in turn, exactly what is going into my belly. Also, baking takes way less time than I would have thought before I started doing it routinely. I typically like to bake on the weekends and enjoy treats most of the week! Baked-from-scratch goodness just feels fancier to me than store-bought treats. Many baked goods can easily be frozen for later, too, and then heated up in the microwave or toaster oven when you’re ready to eat ’em!

Another good thing about making your own snacks and breakfast foods and desserts, rather than buying them from the store? You save a lot of packaging waste, which really adds up over time in our landfills! AND you save money. It’s a win-win!

healthy easy oatmeal jam bars

{This recipe was adapted from this one by Diana at My Humble Kitchen.}

  • 1 & 1/2 cups whole wheat white flour
  • 1 & 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil¬†or butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup¬†agave
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup jam {I used raspberry}
  • 1 cup fresh berries
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a small glass baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, 1 cup of the oats, salt, cinnamon and baking soda.
  3. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the coconut oil or butter.
  4. Stir the melted coconut oil or butter, the honey, and the agave together. Add to the dry mixture.
  5. Transfer about 2/3 of the dough to the prepared baking pan. Pack the mixture down firmly.
  6. With a spoon, spread the jam evenly over the dough.
  7. Sprinkle the fresh berries throughout the jam layer.
  8. Top the berry-jam layer with the remaining 1/3 of the dough.
  9. Spread the remaining 1/2 cup of oats over the top, being careful to cover any bare areas where the jam is peeking through.
  10. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the top is golden brown. {Be careful not to over-bake — these burn easily!}

Note: Allow to cool completely before cutting.

oatmeal jam bars

Hope you enjoy! These make a wonderful breakfast, healthy dessert, or after-school snack!

if you liked this recipe you might also enjoy:
raspberry brown-butter bars
vegan healthier toffee bars
quinoa breakfast bars via The Lean Green Bean
homemade no-bake granola bars via PB Fingers

gluten-free apple pie bites

apple week

Hi friends! Apple Week continues today with a recipe for apple pie bites, adapted from one I came across at The Washington Post online. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of these babies … you’ll just have to trust me on this. They’re: 1) delicious; 2) easy to make; and 3) gluten-free! In other words, these apple pie bites are the bomb dot com.

For the crust:
– 1/2 cup gluten-free flour {I used coconut flour, which turned out very well}
– 1/2 cup almond flour or almond meal
– 1/2 tsp cinnamon
– 2 tbsp agave syrup or maple syrup
– 2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
– 1/4 cup ice water

For the filling:
– 1 cup finely diced, skin-on apple
– 2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 tsp agave syrup or maple syrup
– 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a mini muffin pan and set it aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal and cinnamon. Add the maple syrup, applesauce and water; stir to form a soft dough.

3. Divide the dough evenly among the wells of the mini-muffin pan. Use your fingers to press down the dough so that it lines the bottom and sides of each well.

4. Now make the filling: stir together the apple, applesauce, vanilla extract, maple syrup and cinnamon in a separate bowl. Divide evenly among the dough-lined muffin pan wells, pressing down the filling so it is firmly packed.

5. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes; the edges of the tarts will be lightly browned and the filling will have settled a bit. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then use a fork to gently dislodge and transfer each tart to a wire rack to cool.

These are the perfect light dessert or portable snack! Happy baking!

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you might also enjoy these recipes:
apple cake with crumb topping and a brown sugar glaze
baked sugar & cinnamon donut holes
melinda’s vegetable salad with apples, bacon & honey-apple vinaigrette

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: 3-ingredient banana cookies

kttovenmittbanner425

Hi everyone! Time for another Kitchen Tip Tuesdays post! {Here are links to my previous posts about making the most of oven time and reusing leftovers in new recipes.}

I have a quick recipe to share with you today — it’s an easy and delicious cookie that is also healthy for you! And it only has three ingredients {one of which is chocolate!} ūüôā That’s my kind of recipe!

This would make the perfect sweet dessert, kid-friendly snack, or grab-and-go breakfast. It’s also a great way to use up spotty bananas before they go bad.

banana cookies

All you need to make these babies are:

  • 2 bananas
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips {if desired; I used mini chocolate chips for mine}

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Mash bananas in a bowl. Add oatmeal and chocolate chips and stir until well combined.

banana dough

3. Plop dough onto a greased cookie sheet {I greased mine with coconut oil} and bake for 15-18 minutes.

Done and YUM! How easy is that?

banana cookies done

This recipe is also easily customizable to suit your tastes! You can add chopped nuts, raisins, peanut butter, coconut … whatever your taste buds desire!

What are some of your favorite grab-and-go recipes?

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if you enjoyed this post, you might also like:
peanut butter breakfast cookies
chocolate strawberry coconut cookies
2-ingredient pumpkin spice cookies

chocolate-chip banana muffins

One of the first baking recipes I ever learned to make was my mom’s banana bread. To me, banana bread just tastes like home. And it’s a great recipe for someone like me who hates to waste food. I prefer to eat bananas when they are just ripening, still a little green at the tips. When they begin to get brown spots, I really don’t care for them. But thanks to Mom, I don’t have to worry about them going to waste — I just whip up a batch of banana bread…

…or banana muffins! In the past few years I’ve gotten really into making muffins instead of bread because I just find muffins so much more portable — easy to slip into a lunchbox or grab for breakfast on the way out the door. {That said, you could easily adapt this recipe for a loaf of bread if you’d prefer!}

I added chocolate chips to Mom’s recipe for a little extra treat to start the school year off right. ūüôā¬†Hope you enjoy these as much as I do!

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chocolate-chip banana muffins

  • 1/3 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 & 3/4 cup flour {I used whole-wheat flour}
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup ripe mashed bananas {I used two bananas}
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin with paper cups and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well.

3. In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients.

4. Add a portion of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing well. Then add a portion of the mashed bananas. Continue alternating dry ingredients and mashed bananas until the entire mixture is combined. {Batter will be slightly lumpy due to the bananas.}

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5. Add chocolate chips.

6. Spoon batter into paper muffin cups, about 3/4 of the way full.

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7. Bake for 22-25 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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Enjoy! These are great for breakfast, a mid-afternoon snack, and also make a great healthy dessert!

Hope your week is going great,
-Dallas

homemade chocolate-covered popcorn

I read in a magazine recently that popcorn contains more antioxidants than some fruits and vegetables! Adding to that, one cup of popcorn {the healthy, air-popped variety, that is} has less than 50 calories! Hello, my new favorite snack. I also love popcorn because it is so versatile ‚Äď you can add seasonings to make it salty, cheesy, spicy, or sweet.

Or ‚Ķ kick it up a step further and add some chocolate to the mix! {I know, I know, this definitely crashes-and-burns the whole ‚Äúunder 50 calories‚ÄĚ thing ‚Ķ but the way I see it, chocolate-covered popcorn is pretty healthy on the dessert scale!} I made mine with dark chocolate to take advantage of even more antioxidant power.

chocolate popcorn

Before making this dish, I had never even attempted to melt chocolate before. I do not have a double-broiler so I just used my microwave. I was worried it would be difficult or time-consuming, but it was incredibly easy. I am already looking forward to livening up my next movie night in with Mike by whipping up another batch of this addicting treat!

homemade chocolate-covered popcorn

– 1 package popcorn of choice {I like to use a healthy, whole-grain version with no added butter or salt}
– 1/2 cup chocolate chips
– 2 tsp butter
– salt, cinnamon, or other spices to taste

1. Pop popcorn according to package directions. Dump into a big bowl and pick out any unpopped kernels. Sprinkle with salt and cinnamon.

2. Melt chocolate and butter over a double-burner or in a microwave-safe bowl. {Melting times vary based on the power of your microwave, but I’d recommend using a series of shorter time increments and stirring more often so as not to burn the chocolate by cooking too long!}

3. Pour melted chocolate onto the popcorn.

popcorn

4. Using a spoon {or your hands!} mix popcorn and chocolate together, breaking apart any large clumps of chocolate, until the popcorn is evenly coated.

chocolate covered popcorn

5. Allow to cool, then store in an airtight container.

I gifted a batch of this popcorn to a coworker using a homemade “upcycled” gift container. I’ll share more about making homemade gift containers in my post tomorrow, so stay tuned! ūüôā

upcycled gift containers

Have a wonderful day!

Till soon,
Dallas

marvelous monday: apple-banana oatmeal muffins

You know how much I love muffins, especially healthy, hearty and delicious muffins that will get your day off to a marvelous start! Here’s another recipe that I found and tweaked slightly to make it more nutritious. I will be enjoying for breakfast all week and I hope you like it, too!

apple-banana oatmeal muffins
{recipe adapted from this one at Rock Recipes}

– 1 & 1/2 cups oatmeal
Р1 cup  whole wheat flour
– 1 tsp baking powder
– 1 tsp baking soda
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 2 tsp cinnamon
– 1 tsp nutmeg
– 2 eggs
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 2/3 cup milk {I used soy milk, but any kind will do!}
– 1/4 cup applesauce {I used no-sugar-added}
– 1/4 cup brown sugar
– 1 ripe banana, mashed

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper wrappers.

2. Peel the banana and mash it until the biggest lumps are out.

3. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, applesauce, milk and vanilla. Set aside.

4. In a different bowl, mix together oatmeal, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

5. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, mixing well.

6. Add in the banana. If batter is too thick, add more applesauce.

7. Spoon batter into muffin tins until they are about 3/4 of the way full.

8. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until a fork inserted in the center comes out clean.

These muffins are SO good served warm! Inspired by Julie at the blog Peanut Butter Fingers, I topped mine with some dark chocolate peanut butter for a healthy breakfast that tasted decadent. It’s the perfect way to get an ordinary day off to a special start!

You can download a printable version of this recipe here: apple banana oatmeal muffins.

Have a marvelous day! ūüôā
-Dallas

midnight snack: pancakes!

I don’t know if I had a lighter dinner than usual last night, or if I burned more calories yesterday zipping around campus in the rain, or what … but late last night I found myself feeling hungry. And you know what was calling to me from the pantry? Pancake mix! So I decided to whip up a quick small batch of butterscotch/chocolate-chip pancakes for a special late-night treat.

Here is the recipe I used to make my perfect, sweetly satisfying late-night snack in case you’d like to try it out yourself sometime. If not for a midnight snack, perhaps for breakfast? ūüėČ

chocolatey butterscotch pancakes

– 1 cup pancake mix {I used Aunt Jemima}
– 3/4 cup water
– handful of chocolate chips
– handful of butterscotch chips
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 2 tsp cinnamon
– butter for greasing the griddle

1. Stir together ingredients, being careful not to overmix. Batter will be lumpy.

2. Let batter sit for 3-5 minutes. While batter is resting, warm griddle pan on stove over medium-low heat.

3. When griddle is hot, grease pan with a little butter. {I always use butter because it is the way my mom makes pancakes … I love the crispy edges it gives them!}

4. Cook pancakes 4-5 minutes per side, flipping over when the middle starts to bubble.

5. Serve warm, with syrup if desired. {I prefer mine plain, with the chocolate all melty!}

Mmmm … the perfect end to a blustery autumn day. I was so excited to eat them that I completely forgot to take a picture! Sorry about that. I’m sure you can imagine them!

It could be that my pancake craving comes because I’ve been missing my brother Greg an extra lot lately. Pancakes always make me think of him. He is a pancake fiend! He’s coming to visit me in just a couple weeks and I could not be more excited.

What are some of your favorite late-night foods?

-Dallas

You might also enjoy:

strawberry & chocolate-chip pancakes
midnight stroll around the neighborhood
chocolate, strawberry & coconut cookies

peach streusel muffins

Happy weekend everyone! Hope you are out doing something relaxing, lovely and joyful. It is a gorgeous sunny crisp fall day here in West Lafayette, and I am soaking it in! My plans for the day include lunch at Panera, doing some work there, and then going for a nice walk down by the river. I’m making orange chicken with veggies in the crock-pot for dinner tonight … I’ll let you know how it turns out!

You may remember a few weeks ago I found a recipe on the blog Stacey Snacks for peach streusel muffins … at the time I didn’t have any peaches so I adapted it to make blueberry streusel muffins. They turned out great! However, I was eager to try it with peaches as the original recipe called for, and I finally did.

The results were incredible! These just might be my favorite muffins ever. Stacey was right about the combination of the peaches and the streusel topping … heavenly!

I was a little intimidated first by the streusel topping, but believe me it is super easy to make. These muffins are also a healthy breakfast or snack {or even tasty enough for a healthy dessert!} because they are packed with peaches and use applesauce and protein-packed Greek yogurt in place of oil.

peach streusel muffins

for the topping:
– 1/3 cup uncooked oatmeal
– 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
– 1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
– 1 tsp ground cinnamon
– 3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

for the muffin batter:
– 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1/2 cup sugar {or 1/4 cup stevia/truvia}
– 1 tsp baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
– 2 tsp ground cinnamon
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 3 eggs
– 1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
– 1 cup Greek yogurt
– 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
– 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
– 2 ripe peaches, cut into chunks {I like mine with the skin on for extra nutrients, but you could certainly peel them if you prefer}

1. For the topping: In a small bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir in the butter, and mix until well blended. Set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin cups with paper liners or spray with nonstick spray.

3. In a medium bowl, sift together the dry ingredients, from flour to salt, and set aside.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, butter, yogurt and vanilla.

5. Add the egg mixture to the dry mixture. Stir until just moist and blended, being careful not to overmix.

6. Fold in the peaches.

7. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pan until the batter comes to the top of the paper liner or pan. Sprinkle with the brown sugar streusel topping, and lightly press the topping into the muffin batter.

8. Bake for 22-25 minutes, until tops are golden brown and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Have a scrumptious weekend!

‚̧ Dallas

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-Time spent: about 1 hour {including bake time}
-Cost: less than $5

You might also enjoy these previous posts:
blueberry/blackberry/raspberry muffins
good morning sunshine muffins
coconut zucchini muffins

coconut zucchini muffins

Happy Friday, everyone!

Now that I’m settling fully into my school routine, I’ve found myself baking muffins even more frequently than usual. When I can make healthy, fruit-or-veggie-filled versions at home, they’re the perfect thing to grab for breakfast on my way out the door or bring as a snack to eat between classes.

Since I love coconut, I was really excited to see this recipe on one of my favorite food blogs Two Peas & Their Pod for coconut zucchini bread. One look at the delectable photos was all it took to convince me I needed to try it out myself! I tweaked it to make coconut zucchini muffins. Here’s my take:

coconut zucchini muffins

– 1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1 teaspoon cinnamon
– 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
– 1 & 1/2 cups shredded zucchini (squeezed and drained in a paper towel)
– 1/2 cup brown sugar
– 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
– 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt at room temperature
– 1 large egg, at room temperature
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line a muffin tin with papers and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

3. In a separate large bowl, combine shredded zucchini, sugar, applesauce, yogurt, egg, and vanilla extract.

4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until moistened. Stir in the shredded coconut.

5. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tins. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. I also sprinkled some extra cinnamon on top of each muffin about 10 minutes into the baking time.

These turned out great! Delicious and healthy, a perfect breakfast or snack or even dessert.

Have a wonderful day! Happy baking!
-Dallas

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-Time spent: about 1 hour, including bake time
-Cost: less than $5.00

If you liked this recipe, you might also enjoy this recipe for chocolate spice zucchini muffins!