Sweet & Salty Granola Bars

Breakfast? Dessert? Fuel for a long hike? Check, check, aaaaand check.

These bad boys are salty, sweet, chewy (hence the title…) triple threats. I really love a dessert that’s healthy enough to be a breakfast. This also reverses. I really love a breakfast that doubles as dessert. Ice cream excluded.

Maybe.

Moving on.

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Have you ever opened up a wrapper from what you thought was a healthy power bar and tried to pronounce the ingredient list? It’s like listing the chemicals you’ll be using in a science experiment.  Me and my bod aren’t feelin it. We’re cool off that.

In granola’s defense, there are lots of brands now, like Larabar, that have only a few simple and actually pronounceable ingredients. What a concept?! But how about taking it a step further and making your own? These granola bars are concocted with tons of brown rice and oatmeal to fuel your exercise, nuts to keep you feeling satiated, and dried fruit and honey to tickle your tastebuds pink. They are vegan, gluten free, and sweetened only with honey. Although the recipe may look seemingly convoluted, fear not, hippy, the nuts and fruits in these groovy granola bars can easily be swapped for whatever you have on hand. Although nothing beats the combo below, I have found. These are by far, the best granola bars I have ever had.  The texture, the flavor, just…everything. I’m over here like, “granola bars, are you made out of beaver?”

‘Cuz…Dam.

I’m leaving in a couple days for a week of hiking with my brother.  I will be void of phone and computer and I cannot wait. Along with trail mix, those semi-tasty semi-weird light weight freeze dried meals you buy for way too much money at REI, and lots of fruit, these granola bars are coming with me in my pack.  Which I am trying, desperately, to keep under 30 pounds. My brother has warned me to bring only what I need. We really need the Coleman dual fuel lantern and the flamingo tent pegs right?

Hashtag packrat.

Take these granola bars hiking. Take them on a long bike ride. Take them on a mountain climb.

…Or enjoy while watching Netflix in your underwear.  The choice, my friend, is yours.

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Sweet & Salty Granola Bars

  • 1.5 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 3 cups brown rice crispies
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup dried apricots
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 1/4 T sea salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  1. Heat oven to 350 or turn on the toaster. Chop the almonds and toast them.  Watch them carefully and stir them frequently, they go from perfectly toasty to burnt in a matter of seconds. You want them to be brown and give off a roasted aroma. Next toast the oats, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds.  Woah woah woah Mr. Multitasker, slow your roll. You have to toast them separately because they all have different burn times. I learned this the hard way…
  2. Slice and dice the apricots into small chunks.  When all items are sufficiently toasted, toss them in a bowl with the rice crispies, dried cranberries, and sliced apricots.
  3. In a small saucepan, heat the almond butter and honey.  You want to heat up the mixture until it gets all melty.  Don’t let it boil or even come close to boiling- this is your granola bar “glue.” Good news for the kids who used to eat paste in kindergarden. Stir in the salt and cinnamon.
  4. Slowly pour this over the nut mixture and stir until evenly incorporated, being careful not to crush the crispies. We need them to uh, stay crispy, after all.
  5. Pour the whole mixture into a 9×13″ glass baking pan lined with parchment paper or whatever pan or dish you fancy. Press down evenly and firmly, again being careful to not crush those little crispies. Cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours.  When ready, cut into 2″ squares and wrap individually.

 

And for the music:

This song, a newbie called Oasis by Alpines, just makes me want to get up and dance.  Which can be problematic whilst in traffic and driving alone. I get lots of stares. Unwelcome ones. I was playing this while chopping up these granola bars and rest assured I will be blasting it in my headphones on the plane in a few days. So, so good.

http://thesavvysweetpotato.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/OASIS.mp3

BBQ Tempeh Sandwiches with Rainbow Slaw

Hi, weather? Is that you? Oh, hi it’s Cory, and I have to admit you’re leaving me more confused than my chemistry textbook.  One day you’re above 80 and I’m drinking a Dogfish poolside and the next it’s pouring down rain. It would be lovely if you could make up your mind!  I dreamt up these wonderful sammich’s when it was hotter than purgatory and now I’m bundled up in my rain jacket cursing the sky because I can’t ride my bicycle.

Wellllll, I am going to post this recipe anyway 🙂

BBQ sauce is inextricably reminiscent of summer time, just the mere aroma of it can send me delving into a wonderful summertime nostalgia. But what to slather it in if you don’t eat meat? Tempeh! DUH! If you have never heard of tempeh, well today is your lucky day.

Tempeh is similar to tofu, but in my opinion, much better. It’s dense, chewy, and much more similar to meat than tofu.  You can buy it at most grocery stores in the natural food section! It’s basically fermented soy; and before all you health-food-phobics tear your hair out and run the other way screaming, that just means it’s easier for us to digest!  Along with offering up a hefty amount of protein and B vitamins, tempeh is a probiotic; it contains bacteria good for our gut.  Please don’t get me started on which bacteria because I am a gigantic microbiology nerd and won’t be able to stop myself once I start.

Rhizopus Oligosporus.

Okay sorry, that was it. I’m done. I feel much better now.

BBQ and coleslaw…they go together like peas and carrots.

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…Only better.

This recipe perfectly pairs tempeh smothered in a thick smokey homemade BBQ sauce with a tart refreshing and crispy apple coleslaw. Squash it between two pieces of bread and we’ve got a duo that’s sexier together than Brangelina.

BBQ Tempeh Sandwiches with Rainbow Coleslaw

  • 8 oz package of tempeh

For the BBQ Sauce:

  • 1.5 cups ketchup
  • 1.5 T white vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 2 T liquid smoke
  • 1 T sweetener of your choice: honey/brown sugar/agave

For the Slaw:

  • 2 cups red cabbage
  • 1 large green apple
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T honey/agave
  • juice of 1/2 lime or lemon
  • salt/pepper
  1. Prepare the tempeh first: cut the block into thin strips and steam for 10-15 minutes.  Lay strips in a glass baking dish and set aside
  2. Now make the BBQ sauce!  Add all ingredients in a sauce pan and heat, stirring very frequently over medium heat for about 10 minutes.  Stir that sauce like your life depended on it. The fate of this sandwich rests solely in your hands. I mean whisk. Add more paprika for more heat, and less liquid smoke if you prefer a less smokey sauce.  If you’re a fan of sweeter BBQ sauce, add more sweetener, but calm down you sugar fiend, not too much because it will burn faster when you cook the tempeh.  Trust meh.  Taste and add more salt/pepper if you deem it necessary.
  3. Smother the tempeh in the sauce, coating both sides, and let marinate for at least an hour.
  4. When the tempeh is more saucy than my mother on Mardi Gras, it’s ready to bake.  Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then flip the tempeh and bake another 10.
  5. While the tempeh is cookin’, prepare the slaw.  Cut the cabbage and apples into really thin strips.  Mix all the liquid ingredients and add in the apples and cabbage at the end, coating them sufficiently.
  6. Toast up some carb-e-liscious bread (or gluten free bread…) and stack tempeh and slaw in between. For a more savory sammich’, I would switch out the cabbage in the slaw for carrots, add 2 T tahini to the slaw, and then layer a slice of gouda cheese in there. This ain’t no Burger King, but you can still have it your way.

 

And don’t think I forgot the music in this post.  (I almost did.  Blasphemy.)

Speaking of excellent duos (peas/carrots, Brangelina, BBQ sauce/coleslaw…) I present to you a new and exciting feel-good jam from San Francisco based boy-girl duo CATHEDRALS.  It’s called Harlem and I’ve got this on replay. Bump this as you’re shreddin’ them apples.

Cacao Date Shake

Okay, so I solemnly swore not to make any dumb date puns on this post but the temptation is all too great.  And I just. can’t. resist.

…I’ve got a hot date tonight.

With my boyfriend  blender. And trust me, it’s going to be really, really good.  No awkward moments where you both pretend to reach for the bill.  You don’t have to laugh at his corny jokes. You don’t have to make out after you’ve scarfed down a salad filled to the brim with red onions.  Just sit…and sip.

Have you ever craved a chocolate milkshake? Umm…yeah, me too. Far too often than I care to admit.  As in liiiiiike…every day.  And this delicious shake satisfies that sweet tooth. I wouldn’t be posting it if it didn’t.  You think I’d be all up on here posting a weenie little vegan shake that tastes like chalk and rabbit pellet?  Absolutely not.

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This shake is made with bananas, almond milk, cacao/cocoa, and WOAH you guessed it, sweetened with dates.  I started experimenting with dates when I began cutting back on refined sugars in my baking.  Along with honey, maple syrup, and agave, it turns out making a paste from thick and chewy dates is a wonderful way to add a little natural sweetness. Dates, despite their off-putting wrinkly exterior (see off-putting photo above), are loaded with fiber, iron, potassium, and vitamins A and K.  Mix them up with the rest of the ingredients like potassium-loaded banana and fibrous chia seeds, and you’ve got pure unadulterated creamy dreamy chocolatey goodness that’s healthy, too.

Ladies can I get an amen.

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Aaaaaand it’s amazing topped with granola for a nice pre-sweat-inducing bicycle ride.

Cacao Date Shake

  • 3 Medjool dates (these are the stickier, sweeter type but really any type will do)
  • 2.5 T cacao (unsweetened cocoa powder will work beautifully too!)
  • 1 banana, frozen if possible
  • 1 cup almond milk, or other non dairy beverage like soymilk
  • 1 T chia seeds
  • 4 or 5 ice cubes

The directions are about as simple as it gets:

  1. Add ingredients to blender….
  2. Blend.
  3. Are we following? Groovy.  But wait!  There is ONE exception: the dates!  You can either let them soak for 10 minutes in warm water or (if lazy like myself, read on) throw them in a bowl, cover with water, and microwave for about a minute or a minute and a half. Then take out the pits and add them in with everything else and blend, blend, blend away!
  4. If you have time to plan ahead, it is best to add the chia seeds to the nut milk and let them soak for a good 10 minutes.  Chia seeds are super absorbent little guys and they will thicken up the milk.  This shake is great plain, or you can put on your fancy pants and top it with almond butter, granola, or fresh fruit.
  5. Getcho’ sip on.

 

This sun is out, the birds are chirping…spring is definitely in the air….and all this talk of dates. And hot dates for that matter, or in my case, complete lack thereof.   Regardless, here’s a sweet little lovey dovey ditty by The Donkeys to soothe you while you stab the Blend button repeatedly. Happy Friday kids.

Pesto Spaghetti Squash

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Here is a green dish that does not involve corned beef, cabbage, or anything Irish for that matter.  But hey, it’s still green!  Eat this and you won’t get pinched!

There’s a saying in my house, “once you start cooking spaghetti squash, ya don’t look back.”

Alright, so I completely made that up. Totally BS. But still, if there WERE a saying in my house, it might be that one. Who knew that you could create spaghetti from a squash? The first time I tried it I felt like how jesus must have felt when he turned water into wine. If only I could turn squash into wine….hmm…more pondering shall be done on that later.

This is great news for all my gluten-free people, but even you gluttonous gluten-devourers (you know who you are…and I’m looking in the mirror with a guilty look on my face and a feeling of shame) can appreciate this recipe.  It’s simple and so delicious.  Honestly, the most difficult part is getting the stupid squash open.  Normally for me this requires hacking the thing in half with a large knife while whoever is within a 20 foot radius of me gasps in horror and prays for my safety.  It can be difficult as spaghetti squashes are rather large and pretty thick, but with several swift stabs and a nice set of muscles on your arms (just kidding, if I can do it, you can do it!) it can be pried open in a few minutes.

Most pesto recipes use parmesan cheese, but the vegan part of this recipe comes from the fact that the cheese is replaced by nutritional yeast.  Don’t be scared by the name! I promise it is not vegan alien food. It hails from the earth and it’s delicious. It’s packed with vitamin B, zinc, folic acid, selenium, and even protein! It packs a punch of flavor that most describe as cheesy and nutty…many people actually put it on their popcorn.  I absolutely LOVE cooking with this stuff, it’s sold as a powder and you can find it in the bulk section of your grocery store. Now, where were we? Ah, yes, spaghetti.  Spaghetti with pesto. Yessssss, of course. Luck of the Irish…er….Italian..

Pesto Spaghetti Squash

  • 1 spaghetti squash (large yellow & oval)
  • 8 T olive oil
  • salt/pepper
  • 3 cups fresh basil, loosely packed
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 6 T pine nuts or walnuts
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  1. Start by cooking up that beast of a squash. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
  2. Split the spaghetti squash in half with a large, slightly terrifying knife.  Scrape out the seeds and place each half, cut side up, on a baking dish.  Drizzle each half’s inside flesh with 2 T olive oil and a shake of salt and pepper.  Cook for 30-50 minutes depending on the size of the squash, just keep checking periodically. They are done when you can easily pierce the inside and drag a fork through the yellow part creating spaghetti-like strands all the way down to the rind.
  3. When it’s ready, fork out as much of the spaghetti strands as you can into a bowl and set aside.
  4. To make the pesto, put the nuts, basil, 1 tsp of salt, and garlic into a food processor until finely ground.
  5. Add remaining 6 T of olive oil to the pesto, then the nutritional yeast, and process until smooth and creamy.
  6. Combine ‘spaghetti’ and pesto sauce.  If you fancy a lot of sauce, I would double the sauce recipe 😉 Noms.

 

Because it’s St. Patty’s, you should totally jam out to some Irish music while you’re gettin down to bidness. Here’s an acoustic version of a Dropkick Murphys song. Cheers!