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PepInYourStep

These bars are rocking! I’m coining them the “Pep In You Step Bars” because they are made with pepitas {pumpkin seeds} and frankly it sounded funny when I wrote it down. Plus the balance of protein and sweetness makes me happy, gives me a boost of energy {gotta love chocolate, right?}. I am in love with them for multiple reasons. They taste yummy, are made with wholesome ingredients and also serve as a basic recipe to expand upon. I imagine the crust or bottom layer could be made into cookies {without layer of chocolate} or adding a single chocolate chip into the center {kinda like a thumbprint cookie}. You could even substitute different nuts for the pumpkin seeds. Kids dig’em and they pack really well in lunches. These little gems could easily replace your pre-packaged granola or protein bars, trust me. Stock up on the ingredients and have them ready for a last minute after-school snack! Give it a go and let me know what you think.

PEP IN YOUR STEP BARS

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds 
3/4 cup pitted Medjool dates, chopped
1/4 cup raw almond butter
1/8 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/4 unsweetened coconut flakes
3/4 cups chocolate chips or dark chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoons coconut oil

  1. Line an 8″x8″ baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Place the pumpkin seeds in a food processor or Vitamix, mix until ground. Add the dates, almond butter, maple syrup, coconut flour, and coconut flakes and process until the mixture forms a dough. Its going to be really thick! {and even shut off my Vitamix!} Press firmly and evenly into the prepared pan. Refrigerate until firm, 3-5 hours.
  3. Combine the chocolate and coconut oil in a sauce pan until the chocolate is almost completely melted and stir until the chocolate is smooth and shiny. Pour over the firmed dough and spread into an even layer. Refrigerate until the chocolate hardens, about 1 hour. Cut into bars and enjoy!
     
     

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Much to my surprise, my kiddos love soup! Its an excellent, no brainer way to ensure they are eating vegetables. With having an infant in the house, it doubles as instant baby food. I’ve experimented with red lentil soup before but found that many recipes end up tasting like curry and have a mushy texture that my kids detest. They typically prefer a minestrone type soup and so I gave it a twist by adding red lentils {and they didn’t even know it!}. There is your protein, bam! I make a large batch so that I have left overs for school lunch the next day. Forgive me if the measurements in recipe are off, I honestly made the soup up on the fly so feel free to adjust ingredients to your taste. Enjoy!

RED LENTIL VEGGIE SOUP

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 Tbsp tomato paste

3 carrots, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

2 yukon potatoes, chopped

1/2 cup red lentils, rinsed

6 cups veggie broth

optional: chopped bok choy or other greens

  1. Warm olive oil over low-medium heat, add onion and garlic. Saute until they begin to caramelize and slightly brown. Add tomato paste and cook a minute or two. Increase heat to medium and then add carrots, celery and potatoes; stir to combine and coat all veggies.
  2. After a few minutes {5-10}, add the rinsed lentils and broth. Simmer over low heat until veggies are tender {half hour or so} and lentils will have “broken down” giving the soup a thicker consistency.
  3. If you opt for the added greens, add them in last minute and cook until just wilted. I typically serve the kids their soup before I add the greens {that way it cools down and by the time my greens are soft we’re ready to eat together}.

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Here is a super easy and quick granola bar recipe that can be whipped up in the time it takes you to run to the store {those days when you realize you have soccer snack duty/kinder snack/no lunch fixins, etc.}. The best part is you probably have the majority of the ingredients stocked in your pantry. Whats cool about these bars is that just about anyone can eat them, regardless of allergies or food sensitivities because they are gluten free, nut free and vegan! I’ve yet to meet a kid who turns them down, so its the perfect treat for parties.

 I was inspired by the website weelicious.com and added my own two cents to the basic recipe. Just a couple tips to make these bars fool-proof:

  • Press the granola mixture down really well. I use a small sized cookie sheet/baking pan to flatten the granola while simultaneously supporting the perimeter of formed granola rectangle before baking. 
  • Resist the urge to cut bars too soon, patience grasshopper and your efforts will be rewarded. The last thing you want is a bunch of crumbly granola {although its awesome this way, too!}.
  • About 5 minutes before timer goes off begin to check your granola bars to make sure they aren’t browning too fast or burning. Everyone’s oven bakes different.

Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

4 cups gluten free oats

1/2 to 3/4 cup Coconut flakes

1/4 cup gluten free all purpose flour

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup chocolate chips or raisins or any dried fruit

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In large mixing bowl, combine the oats, coconut, flour, brown sugar and chocolate chips. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, maple syrup and vanilla.
  4. Add the oil blend to the oat blend and stir until combined/evenly moist.
  5. Transfer granola mixture to prepared baking sheet and press together to form a large rectangle {see photo below}.
  6. Bake for approximately 40 minutes at 325 degrees.
  7. Let cool completely and grab a serrated knife to cut into bars. Enjoy!

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I wish I had a fabulous photo to document this awesome cookie but unfortunately none I took would do it justice. The cookie is crisp on outside and chewy on the inside, so good with a cup of hot chocolate or tea. I split the dough before I added chocolate chips so that I could add raisins to the other half {for the other half in our house}. So here it is, simply the recipe. The original recipe is on Oh She Glows a vegan food blog, however I modified it for the everyday foodie. Everyone in my household loved these cookies and the extra step of making the “flour” from nuts and oats really didn’t take much time at all. Just took a couple more “ups and downs” with the baby in tow. He loves to watch the blender and juicer in action anyway. Totally worth it! Okay, short and sweet, no time to waste while the little one is sleeping:

GLUTEN FREE CHOCOLATE ALMOND BUTTER COOKIES

  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup raw almond butter
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt
  • 1 cup GF rolled oats, blended into a flour
  • 1 cup almonds, blended into a flour
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips or chopped chocolate bar or raisins

        1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  1. With an electric mixer or in a stand mixer, beat the butter and almond butter until combined. Add both sugars and beat for 1 minute more. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract until combined.
  2. Beat in the remaining dry ingredients (baking soda, baking powder, salt, oat flour, and almond flour) one by one.  Fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Shape 1-inch balls of dough, I used a Tablespoon to scoop. Place on the baking sheet. There is no need to flatten the balls as the cookies spread out. Place balls 2-3 inches apart.
  4.  Bake for about 11-13 minutes until lightly golden.  Allow to cool for 5-10 mins. on the baking sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack for another 10 minutes.

Raw Cacao Nuggets

Raw Cacao Nuggets

The Raw Food Rage. What’s it all about? Since I’m such a foodie, I had to try it out. A friend loaned me the cookbook Raw Energy by Stephanie Tourles thats full of raw food recipes for energy bars, smoothies, and other snacks. Stoked! Those are all my favorite food categories. I’ve been intimidated by the raw food diet because of the mass amount of time it takes to prepare meals {so the rumor goes}. So I decided to just take it one step at a time, let’s start with a snack or dessert rather. I tested the Chocolate Turtles recipe from the above mentioned book and it was SO yummy! The chocolate flavor is intense, which I love but honestly my kids thought they were too rich. Perhaps I’d modify the recipe with less cacao and add ground almond meal. What I enjoyed most about this recipe was the ease, minimal ingredients, super quick to prepare and these nuggets instantly satisfied my sugar tooth~chocolate cravings. Check it out and judge for yourself, enjoy!

 

RAW CACAO NUGGETS

1/2 cup raw almond butter

1/2 cup raw cocoa {cacao} powder

1/4 cup raw agave nectar

~1/3 cup small raw pecan halves

 

1. Put almond butter, cocoa, and agave in a large bowl. Stir to blend until sticky, stiff dough forms.

2. Line bottom of an 8 inch pan with parchment paper.

3. Form and roll dough into little balls, about 1 1/2″ in diameter. Set balls in pan.

4. Gently press a pecan half into the top of each ball. Cover pan and chill in refrigerator for at least 4 hours. I stored mine in freezer {they only lasted overnight because I ate them all, yikes!}

Makes ~16 balls

Back-To-School Snack Bars

Abruptly our Summer time adventures have come to a close, booooo! I didn’t want it to end. This is quite a surprising statement for me given at the release of school in June I was a bit nervous, anxious and honestly concerned for my own sanity with having 3 children home full-time {no camps, no vacations, no plans, etc.}. “Camp Mama” was honestly the best situation I could have found myself in {other than surfing in Indonesia with all my best girlies} because it gave our family time to get to know each other all over again. In April, we became a family of five. Our baby Benicio is an angel and SO understanding, forgiving, joyful, a true blessing from above. We spent our days lazy at home, sunning at the beach, skating at the park and swimming in Tio’s pool. Now we’re back to reality and I DON’T like it! Its also Semilla Snack Bags busiest time which doesn’t help my stress level. Although there are moments when I feel at total peace, few and far between, but nevertheless they do occur. Thankfully. On that note, with much gratitude to all the Snackers who support our bags and continue to heroically teach their little ones to reduce their waste, I present the Back-To-School Snack Bar. This recipe will give you enough bars to last the entire week, pack’em in the Snack Circle. May you all have a liberating first day back at school and hope all the Mamas choose to do something good for themselves {surf. workout. yoga. coffee alone. shop. whatever takes you to your happy place.} Enjoy!

BACK-TO-SCHOOL SNACK BARS

1 cup Organic peanut butter or raw almond butter

1/3 cup brown rice syrup

1/3 cup maple syrup or raw honey

1 1/4 cups crispy rice cereal

1/2 cup toasted almonds

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

3/4 cup ground flax seeds {I just popped whole flax in the blender or food processor and pulsed}

1/2 cup chocolate chips

  1. Mix nut butter, rice syrup and maple syrup/honey together in medium bowl and set aside. {possible you may need to warm over low heat to incorporate but not necessary}.

    2. In another large bowl, combine rice cereal, almonds, coconut, chocolate, and flax. Fold dry ingredients into nut butter mixture until well combined.

3. Spread batter into 8×8 inch glass baking dish, press firmly and evenly into dish. Cover and refrigerate for 45 minutes or until  firm. Cut into squares and store in airtight container within fridge.

Ready for the first day!

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My kids love pancakes. Just this morning my 5 year old son ate 4 of them and still asked me for more! On a near daily basis my kids request these and I’ve finally got it down so I can whip them out even during the before school morning rush. This recipe is basic {not entirely wholesome} but nevertheless its a good staple to have in your recipe collection. I fancy them up with fresh berries, raw almond butter, and even tahini with local bee pollen and pure maple syrup {random in my opinion but the jefe of the house wouldn’t have it any other way!}. And by all means, if you prefer to supplement the unbleached flour with whole-wheat, buckwheat flour, etc. then give it a go. I tried to slip the 100% whole wheat flour in one time and there was major back lash from the hungry crowd {I stick with whole wheat pastry flour or unbleached now}.

Pancakes, quick breads and most bread goodies turn out best when made with a “light hand”. Along with a few other tricks {see below} you should be able to turn out an impressive batch of flapjacks that your entire family can’t resist! Here is a list of Do’s and Do Not’s that may help taking into consideration before you begin:

DO:

  • When measuring flour, spoon it into a dry cup measure, then level off excess with a knife. DO NOT pack the flour down, you’ll end up with panrocks that are hard to swallow.
  • Use a whisk to combine all dry ingredients together.
  • Use a griddle, heavy skillet or cast iron pan that has been gradually preheated to medium heat.
  • Prep the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet in another the night before for a more efficient, less stressful morning meal.

DO NOT:

  • Once you’ve combined the dry and wet ingredients, RESIST the urge to over stir the mix. Just a few strokes with a fork or wooden spoon is plenty. The random lumps will magically take care of themselves once in the pan.
  • Don’t flip them too early, less is more…your signal to flip will be once bubbles start to form on upper side of pancake.


BUTTERMILK PANCAKES

1 1/2 cups unbleached flour or whole-wheat pastry flour

1 to 3 tablespoons sugar

dash of salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 eggs

3 tablespoons safflower or canola oil

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla

  1. Whisk dry ingredients in one bowl. In a second bowl, beat eggs with a whisk and add oil, buttermilk and vanilla. 
  2. Pour wet ingredients into the dry and stir just enough to combine.
  3. For each pancake, drop 1/8 cup or 1/4 cup batter onto skillet set over medium heat. Cook, undisturbed until fine bubbles appear over surface after a few minutes.
  4. Flip them over and cook until lightly browned on the second side, about 1 minute. NO patting or turning a second time, resist!
  5. Serve right away or keep warm in a 200 degrees preheated oven.

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