Chocolate Pecan Energy Bites a Healthy Gluten Free Treat

Pecan Chocolate Energy Bites sm

Chocolate Pecan Energy Bites make a great healthy snack. They’re gluten-free, vegan and Paleo too.

I’m always on the hunt for road trip snacks. I don’t mind stopping along the way to buy something to eat – it helps to break up the drive and relieve the kids’ boredom. But more often than not, the most satisfying road trip snacks are those that you pack from home.

Cookies are a staple for us, and hard boiled eggs, along with whatever leftovers might be in the fridge. And fruit of course, if we’re travelling within Canada. Chocolate pecan energy bites are the newest addition to my travel snack repertoire.

Chocolate Pecan Energy Bites make a great healthy snack. They're gluten-free, vegan and Paleo too.

Chocolate Pecan Energy Bites are the perfect afternoon pick-me-up for those times when you want something with staying power. 

The combination of nuts, dates, and  unsweetened cocoa powder — along with a little molasses and maple syrup to help bind everything together — creates a healthy treat with substance.

Chocolate Pecan Energy Bites are made made with no refined sugar.

This is a versatile recipe. Molasses helps to make them taste more chocolaty and you could always replace the Tbsp. of maple syrup with more molasses. Or you could use a little honey. The recipe works well with both pecans and walnuts and is especially good when made with a combination of the two. Also, I find the texture is best when I use Medjool dates.

UPDATE: I seem to be making this recipe weekly and have had delicious success with the following combinations:

  • Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and chia. Delicious as ever! The ratio is: 1/2 cup each of sunflower & pumpkin seeds and 1 Tbsp. chia.
  • All cashews.
  • Half a cup of cashews and half a cup of walnuts.

This recipe has been adapted from The Rawtarian

Chocolate Pecan Energy Bites

Makes 16 generous balls

Ingredients:

  • 1 generous cup pecans or walnuts (or a combination)
  • 1 cup pitted dates (lightly packed)
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp. Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • ¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ¼ tsp. salt

Instructions:

  1. Whir the nuts in a food processor until crumbly.
  2. Add the dates and process until nuts and dates are combined.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and process until the mixture sticks together. (Don’t let it get too smooth – you still want some texture.)
  4. Form into tablespoon-sized balls and chill.

Nutritional info: Per ball. Calories: 99, Fat: 6 g, Saturated Fat: 1.4 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 38.5 mg, Carbs: 12.4, Sugar: 8.9 g, Protein: 1.3, Fibre 2.4 g, Potassium: 157 mg, Calcium: 15.3 mg

 

 

10 Healthy Side Dishes for Summer

healthy side dishes for summer

Every great barbecue needs side dishes to go with it. Here are 10 healthy favourites.

Funny how I grew up thinking that the May long weekend was the start to summer. It’s funny, because I live in Southern New Brunswick where the average temperature in May is 16 degrees. Regardless of the weather, there was always the dare to get dunked in the river the Victoria Day weekend. But I also recall at least one May long weekend when there were snow flurries.

If you’re planning a barbecue, here are 10 healthy side dishes to go with what ever you plan to put on the grill.

10 Healthy Side Dishes for Summer

Quick Pickled Onions:

Quick pickled onions are mellow and tart with the fresh taste of lime juice and just a hint of savoury sweet from molasses.

sweet pickled onions 4

Molasses Roasted Onions

When cooked for a long time, onions develop a rich, savoury sweetness that complements meats, cheeses and anything spicy. The recipe calls for a little balsamic vinegar (or cider vinegar) which balances the sweet and gives the flavour a bright edge.

Oignons rôtis à la mélasse

Grilled Nectarine Salad

This salad is gorgeous, with a chipotle molasses dressing that has a great sweet-with-heat balance. The nectarines soften when they’re grilled and the sugars caramelize a bit, which makes them irresistible. Both the dressing and the nectarine flavours go beautifully with the fresh, creamy goat cheese that you nestle in beside the fruit.

Salade de nectarines grillées

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Eating this pretty salad will give your the delicious hint of summer that you’re craving.

strawberry-salad-1

Salad with Molasses Vinaigrette

This salad is sprinkled with peppered walnuts and dressed with a vinaigrette filled with fresh herbs.
black papper walnut salad with molasses vinaigrette

Marinated Tomato Salad

I grew up eating this marinated tomato salad at big family parties where the food was laid out on the dining room table and served buffet style. Nestled in among the plates of ham and potato salad this salad was stunningly beautiful and added a welcomed variety to the standard fare.

Tomatoes

Snow Peas & Red Pepper Salad

Leafy salads are great but sometimes it’s nice to have a salad with a bit more crunch and colour, which is just what this salad offers.

Snowpea-1

French Potato Salad (no mayonnaise)

The salad is also loaded with vegetables, so there is more flavour and texture than your regular potato salad. And the dressing isn’t mayonnaise-based so you don’t have the same hot weather storage worries.

French potato salad recipe is made without mayonaise. It's tossed with a mustard vinaigrette instead.

Marinated Broccoli Salad

This salad tastes especially good when it has had a chance to sit for a few hours to mellow the texture and flavour of the raw broccoli. What’s better, it can last in the fridge for a few days and maintains its crunch.

molasses marinated broccoli salad

Wild Rice & Barley Salad

The grains are tossed with an aromatic vinaigrette spiced with coriander, cumin, turmeric and cinnamon, then sprinkled with currants and toasted almonds. The salad is full of flavours and textures that are just right for fish and chicken dishes. But you could also add some cooked lentils and crumbled feta to make it more substantial.

wild rice and barley salad sm

Bonus recipe: My favourite…

Carrot Cabbage Slaw

Carrot cabbage slaw with tangy orange dressing

Every great barbecue needs healthy side dishes to round out the meal. This selection gives enough variety to keep everyone happy.

One more thing…

If you’re in search of family-friendly food that’s easy to prepare, healthy and tastes good, then sign up to receive blog posts by email..

We’d love to send you our monthly newsletter too. Our Molasses and More newsletter includes cooking tips, menu ideas and featured recipes. Here’s the link to our monthly email sign-up form.

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Energy Bites

 

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Energy Bites: A wholesome, sweet treat filled with chia, flax, hemp and more.

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Energy Bites: A wholesome, sweet treat filled with chia, flax, hemp and more.

Sometimes you need a sweet treat that feels wholesome. After nibbling through chocolates and ice cream on Valentine’s Day, the craving for sweets doesn’t disappear and if anything, it gets a little stronger, especially with my kids. That’s why it’s good to have sweet snacks on hand that are healthy and satisfying, like these Oatmeal Peanut Butter Energy Bites. They hit the spot, are filling and full of good stuff. And I almost forgot – they’re gluten-free too.

My daughter, who often makes a conscious effort to complain about healthy food, devoured each and every peanut butter energy bite that I rolled in coconut. I preferred the bites rolled in cocoa powder and almond flour.

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Energy Bites: A wholesome, sweet treat filled with chia, flax, hemp and more.

This recipe lends itself to endless variations. You could use different nut or seed butters and change up the quantities of chia, flax meal and hemp, all depending on what you have in the cupboard. Another option is to swap the honey for maple syrup if you’d like a brighter sweet flavour.

To make these school friendly, substitute sunflower seed butter for the peanut butter.

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Energy Bites will last for a week in the fridge.

This recipe is slightly adapted from the blog Family Bites.

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Energy Bites

Makes 18 balls

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • ½ cup natural peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp. Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 2 Tbsp. honey or maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 Tbsp. ground flax seed
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. hemp seeds
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Shredded coconut, almond flour or cocoa powder for rolling (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor, pulsing until they come together. Scrape into a bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Using a tablespoon measure, scoop the mixture and shape it into balls. Roll in your preferred coating or leave plain.
  3. Place them on the prepared baking sheet and chill for 30 minutes before serving.

Nutritional info*:

Per ball: Calories: 88.4, Fat: 4.8 g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Carbs: 10 g, Sugar: 4.8 g, Sodium: 2.3 mg, Fibre: 1.5 g, Protein: 2.6 g, Potassium: 110 mg, Calcium: 16.7 g

*This nutritional analysis is incomplete. It does not include nutritional impact of hemp seeds or any coating, if used.

Easy Almond Cookies are Healthy and Delicious

Easy almond cookies have a chewy texture and wholesome substance. They're gluten-free, refined-sugar free, paleo and taste like real cookies.

Easy almond cookies have it all: great flavour and texture, low in carbs and calories, gluten-free, refined sugar-free, vegan, Paleo.

The original title of this recipe is The World’s Easiest Cookies and they came by that name honestly. With just five ingredients (in my slightly adapted version) easy almond cookies take all of five minutes to mix up, the dough needs no chilling and they bake in 12 minutes flat.

Easy almond cookies have a chewy texture and wholesome substance. They're gluten-free, refined-sugar free, paleo and taste like real cookies.

Once cooled, easy almond cookies have a lovely chewy texture and wholesome substance.  Thanks to the ground almonds they feel more filling than many cookies and they’re also more nutritious (along with being low in calories and fat). But they still taste like real cookies.

One more thing, easy almond cookies are also gluten-free so a nice treat for those of you who are in a constant search of decent cookies free of gluten.

As well, they contain no refined sugar.

Easy almond cookies have a chewy texture and wholesome substance. They're gluten-free, refined-sugar free, paleo and taste like real cookies.

My son is crazy about these cookies so they make a great after-school treat (or a little after-supper sweet).

This recipe is just slightly adapted from the terrific recipe website The Kitchn.

Easy Almond Cookies

Makes 18 cookies

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp. Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 3 Tbsp. real maple syrup
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk the almond flour and baking powder together. Stir in the molasses, maple syrup and vanilla and mix until well combined (batter will be sticky).
  3. Scoop dough into a tablespoon measure and roll into balls. Place on prepared baking sheet, an inch apart.
  4. With the palm of your hand or the bottom of a glass, lightly flatten the tops of the cookies.*
  5. Bake until the cookies are set and the bottoms are golden, about 12 minutes. Cool slightly on the pan and then remove to a rack.

*For crisp cookies, flatten the dough balls into discs with the bottom of a glass before baking. Adjust baking time accordingly.

Nutritional info:

Per cookie: Calories: 46, Fat: 1.3 g, Saturated Fat: .1 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Carbs: 6 g, Sugar: 3.2 g, Sodium: 10.2 mg, Fibre: 0 g, Protein: 2.8 g, Potassium: 140.6 mg, Calcium: 40.9 g

 

4 Healthy One Pot Meals to Try This Week

Healthy One Pot Meals: healthy soups, chili and stew

Get the whole family back on track this month with these easy one-pot meals.

I noticed this morning that the Canadian Tire flyer was featuring a big sale on exercise equipment. (I didn’t even know that you could buy treadmills and such at Canadian Tire.)

It’s the time of year when “healthy” everything is top of mind. After the excesses of the holiday season people are ready for a change and I suspect most of us are craving comfort food, wholesome eating and simplicity in the kitchen.

That’s where these wholesome and healthy one pot meals come in handy. They’re satisfying in so many ways. One-pot meals are easy, can be very healthy, and are hearty too.

An easy way to eat more vegetables

I learned long ago that the best way to get my kids to eat more vegetables – to get us all eating more vegetables – was to serve stew or hearty soup for weeknight meals. You can stuff all sorts of vegetables into one-pot meals.

Here are four simple, healthy one-pot meals that are just right for January. All are good on their own but could also be served with a simple side salad and a biscuit or cornbread. Double the batch if you’d like to have lots of leftovers.

4 Healthy One Pot Meals

Roasted Red Pepper Lentil Soup

This is my mom’s recipe for lentil soup and one of the easiest soup recipes you’ll ever make. The recipe is versatile too – make the Moroccan flavoured version or the Mexican, depending on your mood and what’s in the cupboard.

Roasted red pepper lentil soup is ready in 30 minutes.

Black Bean Turkey Chili

This is another of my mom’s recipes and a family favourite in our house. It’s a great meal for a snowy Saturday.

Black bean turkey chili combines some sweet with heat.

Chickpea Sweet Potato Curry

This Thai-inspired recipe from my neighbour makes a satisfying vegetarian meal. One of my favourite ways to eat sweet potatoes.

Chickpea sweet potato curry

Simple Black Bean Chili

This is a basic chili recipe with great flavour and extra texture from corn kernels. And it isn’t too heavy. We love it served with nachos.

black bean chili

Double Ginger Granola Bars for True Lovers of Ginger

Double Ginger Granola bars: Generous on the candied ginger, this bar has a clean wholesome feel and the sort of texture that keeps you nibbling away until half the pan is gone. The oats in this recipe are toasted which gives the bars a wonderful, well toasty, flavour and deepens the colour of this no-bake treat.

Double Ginger Granola Bars are a lean and clean oat bar made exclusively for lovers of ginger

This is a seemingly simple bar that’s full of surprises…

If you like a classic granola bar with a little oomph then these double ginger granola bars are your ginger dream.  Generous on the candied ginger, this bar has a clean wholesome feel and the sort of texture that keeps you nibbling away until half the pan is gone. The oats in this recipe are toasted which gives the bars a wonderful, well, toasty flavour and deepens the colour of this no-bake treat.

Double Ginger Granola bars: Generous on the candied ginger, this bar has a clean wholesome feel and the sort of texture that keeps you nibbling away until half the pan is gone. The oats in this recipe are toasted which gives the bars a wonderful, well toasty, flavour and deepens the colour of this no-bake treat.

Caution: This bar has a great bite thanks to the ginger. If you’re the sort of person who loves to nibble a sliver of candied ginger in lieu of dessert I think you’ll love this recipe.

The recipe is vegan and gluten-free (choose certified GF rolled oats if necessary.) For a richer (non-vegan) flavour replace the coconut oil with butter.

This is a granola bar recipe that was a runner-up in a recipe contest we held a couple of years ago:

Molasses & Ginger Chew Granola Bars

Double Ginger Granola Bars

From the blog It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken

Makes 18 generous bars

Ingredients

  • 2½ cups rolled oats
  • ½ cup pecans, chopped
  • ⅓ cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp powdered ginger
  • ¼ tsp Salt
  • ½ cup candied ginger, chopped

Topping:

  • 2 Tbsp pecans
  • 2 Tbsp candied ginger

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Line a 9″ x 9″ baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Spread the oats and pecans on a large baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, tossing a couple of times. Remove from the oven and place in a large bowl. Stir in chopped ginger.
  4. In a saucepan over medium heat combine the molasses, brown sugar, coconut oil, vanilla extract, powdered ginger, and salt.  Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly about 5 minutes.
  5. Pour molasses mixture over the oats and toss until the oats are well coated.
  6. Scrape mixture into prepared pan and press the mixture until firmly packed and smooth on top. (I place a sheet of parchment on top of the bars and then lay an 8”x8” pan on top. Then I press on the smaller pan with as much strength as I can muster.)
  7. Sprinkle over the topping ingredients and press them into the base.
  8. Refrigerate for a couple of hours and then cut into 18 bars.

One more thing…

If you’re in search of family-friendly food that’s easy to prepare, healthy and tastes good, then sign up to receive blog posts by email. .

We’d love to send you our monthly newsletter too. Our Molasses and More newsletter includes cooking tips, menu ideas and featured recipes. Here’s the link to our monthly email sign-up form.

 

Apple Sage Baked Beans | Comfort Food with a Twist

Apple Sage Baked Beans: A classic recipe for molasses baked beans seasoned with savoury sage and tart apples.

Molasses baked beans with apple and sage – classic comfort food with a twist…

I don’t know how old I was when I finally decided I liked baked beans.

Baked beans were a common Saturday night supper when I was growing up, along with molasses brown bread. And when I was really little mom would sometimes add chopped hot dogs to the baked beans, I suppose to make the meal more palatable to those of us who hadn’t yet acquired a taste for them.

Apple Sage Baked Beans: A classic recipe for molasses baked beans seasoned with savoury sage and tart apples.But then one day I had leftover baked beans at breakfast, alongside fried eggs, and it was like an epiphany.

The layered flavours of sweet and smoke, and the soft texture of the beans made me realize how satisfying they are, in the comfort food sort of way.

Today I still love baked beans best with breakfast (with a poached egg) but they’re a side dish that can go with so many foods.

Apple Sage Baked Beans: A classic recipe for molasses baked beans seasoned with savoury sage and tart apples.

I don’t know how long it will take my kids to develop a taste for real baked beans.

In the meantime, I’ll keep getting them to taste each batch I bake and hope for the best.

I have high hopes that they’ll love this new recipe. Based on a recipe from East Coast Living magazine, this version of baked beans is filled with apples and seasoned with sage, which add a new dimension to the flavour and makes them especially well-suited to fall.

I usually have cooked navy beans in the freezer, which comes in handy when I want to make recipes that call for dried beans. If you’re using already cooked beans, two cups of dried beans equals 51/2 to 6 cups of cooked beans.

Not a fan of sage? Substitute thyme for the sage called for in the recipe.

Apple Sage Baked Beans

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dried white beans (navy is my favourite)
  • 1 slice bacon (omit for vegetarian/vegan version)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 apples, peeled and cut in chunks
  • 1/2 cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1-2 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage (or ½-1 Tbsp. dried)*
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Generous pinch of pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups water

*Can substitute thyme.

Instructions:

  • Soak 2 cups of dried navy or white beans in water overnight.
  • The next day, drain the beans, put them in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 45 minutes.
  • Fry the bacon (if using), discard pan drippings and roughly chop.
  • Drain the beans and put them in a large ovenproof pot with a tight fitting lid, or a bean crock. Add the bacon, chopped carrot, onion and apple.
  • Mix together the molasses, maple syrup, Dijon, sage, garlic, salt, pepper and water and pour over the beans. (Add additional water, if required, so beans are just covered.).
  • Cover the pot and cook at 275 F for 4-6 hours, until tender. Stir occasionally and add water if necessary so the beans do not dry out. Take the lid off for the last hour of cooking to help the beans brown and to thicken the sauce.

One more thing…

If you’re in search of family-friendly food that’s easy to prepare, healthy and tastes good, then sign up to receive blog posts by email..

We’d love to send you our monthly newsletter too. Our Molasses and More newsletter includes cooking tips, menu ideas and featured recipes. Here’s the link to our monthly email sign-up form.

 

Almond Butter Energy Bars Recipe

Packed with protein, fibre and lots of flavour, Almond Butter Energy Bars bars are perfect for those days when you’re on the go.

Packed with protein, fibre and lots of flavour, Almond Butter Energy Bars bars are perfect for those days when you’re on the go.

This is how I coax my kids to go on hikes when we’re away on vacation…

Find a local bakery and let them choose snacks for the hike.

As long as there are treats in our backpacks and a chance to enjoy them throughout the climb my kids are game to hike.

And to be fair, my kids usually enjoy hiking, but some extra encouragement enroute to the next lookout is always welcome.

Packed with protein, fibre and lots of flavour, Almond Butter Energy Bars bars are perfect for those days when you’re on the go.

My favourite climbing snack is a hearty granola bar from a local bakery in mid-coast Maine. Moist and filled with seeds and nuts the bars pack well and are filling. One is definitely enough.

This Almond Butter Energy Bar recipe is my version of that wholesome bar.

Store them individually wrapped in the freezer if you want to have them on hand for hikes or anytime you’re on the go.

Almond Butter Energy Bars Recipe

Makes 36 bars

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups quick rolled oats
  • 1 cup bran (natural)
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ½ cup chopped almonds
  • ½ cup raisins or dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup wheat germ or ground flax
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • ½ cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup almond butter (can use peanut butter)
  • 1 Tbsp. milk (coconut, cow, nut or seed milk)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • ¾ tsp. baking soda

Instructions:

  1. Mix oats, bran, coconut, seeds, almonds, raisins, wheat germ and chocolate chips in large bowl.
  2. In a saucepan, combine molasses, oil, sugar and almond butter. Cook over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves and mixture is smooth. (Stir constantly.)
  3. In a small dish, combine milk, vanilla and baking soda. Stir into molasses mixture and remove from heat.
  4. Pour molasses-milk mixture over dry mixture and stir until dry ingredients are moist. Scrape mixture into a 9”x13” pan. Press mixture firmly into pan
  5. Bake at 275°F for 30-35 minutes.
  6. Let cool, cut into bars and store in the refrigerator.

 

Nutritional info: Per bar. Calories: 174, Fat: 10.5 g, Saturated Fat: 2.9 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Carbs: 18.9 g, Sugar: 8.5  Fibre: 2.7 g, Protein: 3.5 g, Potassium 228 mg

One more thing…

If you’re in search of family-friendly food that’s easy to prepare, healthy and tastes good, then sign up to receive blog posts by email..

We’d love to send you our monthly newsletter too. Our Molasses and More newsletter includes cooking tips, menu ideas and featured recipes. Here’s the link to our monthly email sign-up form.

 

Packed with protein, fibre and lots of flavour, Almond Butter Energy Bars bars are perfect for those days when you’re on the go.

Three-Seed Gluten Free Granola Bars

Three-seed gluten free granola bars are gluten free and nut free.

Three-Seed Gluten Free Granola Bars are a wholesome treat for snack time.

My kids are obsessed with packaged granola bars.

There is no shortage of baked goods in our house and our cupboards, fridge and freezer are overflowing with lunchbox options. But still my kids say that there’s nothing in the house to eat.

It’s enough to drive me crazy.

They’d walk out of the house with nothing but an apple for lunch if it wasn’t for my husband’s insistence on a compromise. We have found our middle ground but the one packaged food that  irks me most is packaged granola bars.

Three-seed gluten free granola bars are gluten free and nut free.

May be it’s that fact that granola bars are just about the simplest things to make at home and that you can stuff all sorts of healthy and delicious things into a batch.

Then there’s the extra packaging that comes with individually wrapped packaged bars.

Whatever their reasons my kids prefer packaged granola bars, which is why it surprised me when they devoured this batch. And it was my daughter, the pickiest of the two, who kept going back for more.

I suspect they were drawn to this recipe because they’re not as oaty as most that I make, and they’re baked so the texture is a little different than the stovetop variety that’s pressed into a pan.

Three-seed gluten free granola bars are gluten free and nut free.

The chocolate coating is optional, depending on how picky your crowd is. (Just melt chocolate chips and spread it on the cooled bars). Dried cranberries or apricots are another nice addition to this recipe.

The extra bonus with these gluten free granola bars is that they’re nut-free too so are school-friendly.

Looking for more snack ideas? You might enjoy these recipes: 10 Wholesome Snack Ideas for the Whole Family

A special thank you to my friend Linda the Cheese Lady for the recipe.

Three-Seed Gluten Free Granola Bars

Makes 16 generous bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 3 Tbsp. sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 2 Tbsp. honey or maple syrup
  • 5 – 6 Tbsp. melted coconut oil (or grape seed or canola oil)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup bittersweet Chocolate Chips

Instructions:

  1. Line an 8″x8″ pan with parchment paper. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F
  2. In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients.  In a medium bowl combine the wet ingredients.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir well.
  4. Stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Press into prepared pan
  6. Bake for 25-28 minutes (you want the edges to be a little brown so they’re crunchy.)
  7. Cool completely before slicing.

Nutritional info: Per bar. Calories: 163.5, Fat: 8.5 g, Saturated Fat: 4.6 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Carbs: 20.6 g, Sugar: 9.9, Fibre: 2.1 g, Protein: 2.9 g, Potassium 180 mg, Protein 2.9 g

One more thing…

If you’re in search of family-friendly food that’s easy to prepare, healthy and tastes good, then sign up to receive blog posts by email..

We’d love to send you our monthly newsletter too. Our Molasses and More newsletter includes cooking tips, menu ideas and featured recipes. Here’s the link to our monthly email sign-up form.

 

Wholesome snacks: Naturally Sweetened Coconut Mounds

Wholesome snacks: naturally sweetened coconut mounds

Homemade Coconut Mounds let you feel good about giving into your cravings

Sometimes all you need is a little nibble of something sweet to satisfy a craving and these Coconut Mounds seem to do the trick. They’re really part energy bar, part chocolate bar, so let me give into my sweet tooth without feeling like I have been eating junk.

These Coconut Mounds use natural sweeteners as a white sugar substitute:

Coconut balls usually call for sweetened coconut and lots of icing sugar. This naturally sweetened version reduces the sugar by more than half by using unsweetened coconut and just a bit of molasses and honey to sweeten and bind the coconut. A little coconut oil is essential to holding it all together since it firms up well.

Wholesome snacks: naturally sweetened coconut mounds

I use 72% chocolate as a coating. It’s slightly bitter so a nice balance for the coconut. If you prefer something sweeter you can go with melted chocolate chips.

It takes less than 10 minutes to mix and shape these coconut mounds and then they sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes to firm up. You can get the dipping chocolate set while they’re chilling.

Naturally Sweetened Dark Chocolate Coconut Mounds

Adapted from Pinch of Yum

Makes about 18 Tablespoon-sized mounds

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups desiccated coconut (medium)
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
  • 3 Tbsp. Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 1 Tbsp. honey or maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • 150-200 grams of dark chocolate for dipping (can use chocolate chips)
  • Extra coconut for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. Pulse the coconut in a blender or food processor a few times so it looks a bit like almond flour.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk the melted coconut oil with the molasses, honey, vanilla and salt.
  3. Scrape coconut into the bowl with the oil mixture. Stir until well combined.
  4. To shape the mounds, scoop the mixture into a one-tablespoon measuring spoon and press it firmly into the spoon until the top is flat. Nudge the mound out of the measuring spoon and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, flat side down.
  5. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until you have time to do the chocolate dipping.
  6. Melt the chocolate slowly in a double boiler. Drop each mound into the melted chocolate, flip to coat and remove with a large fork. Place on the cookie sheet flat side down.
  7. Sprinkle over some coconut and refrigerate until chocolate has hardened.
  8. Store in the refrigerator.

Nutritional info – Per mound: Calories: 144.4, Fat: 12.2 g, Saturated Fat: 9.9 g, Cholesterol: .2 mg, Sodium: 15.3 mg, Carbs: 8.7 g, Sugar: 4.8 g, Potassium: 166.9 mg, Calcium: 16.6 g, Fibre: 2.3 g

 Coconut mounds - a step-by-step guide

 

Wholesome snacks: naturally sweetened coconut mounds

 

One more thing…

If you’re in search of family-friendly food that’s easy to prepare, healthy and tastes good, then sign up to receive blog posts by email..

We’d love to send you our monthly newsletter too. Our Molasses and More newsletter includes cooking tips, menu ideas and featured recipes. Here’s the link to our monthly email sign-up form.

Hearty Granola Cookies full of healthy stuff

granola cookies sm 2Granola was a big recess treat when I was little. It wasn’t that easy to eat out of a little bag but it was tasty and filling. This was in the mid 1970s when granola wasn’t mainstream and granola bars had yet to be invented.

I can’t recall what mom put in her granola, aside from rolled oats, but I do remember it was very sweet and buttery.

hearty granola cookies

My family’s first granola recipe came from a neighbour who got it from a friend in California.

That original recipe is long gone but this cookie recipe, given to me by a co-worker a decade ago, reminds me of it. They’re sweet and buttery and loaded with all sorts of good things.

Hearty Granola Cookies

Makes 24 cookies

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup butter or coconut oil
  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • ¼ cup honey or maple syrup
  • ¼ cup hot water
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats (GF if necessary)
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries, raisins or currant
  • ½ cup toasted wheat germ (or ground flax for the GF version))
  • 1/3 cup sesame seeds
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup chopped almonds
  • ½ cup chopped cashews or hazelnuts
  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl mix the oats with the nuts, seeds and coconut.
  3. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the brown sugar, molasses, honey, hot water, vanilla and salt.
  4. Stir until the mixture is smooth and the sugar is dissolved.
  5. Remove from heat and pour half over the dry mixture. Stir well then add remaining sugar mixture.
  6. Mix until fully combined. Cool a bit before stirring in chocolate chips.
  7. Scoop dough by tablespoonful and form into 3” cookies that are about half an inch thick. (Wet your fingers with cold water to keep the mixture from sticking to your hands as you form the cookies.)
  8. If you let the batter cool for a bit it will be a little stiffer and easier to shape. Make sure you smooth the sides.
  9. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  10. Cool completely before moving them – they need to set.

Hearty Granola Cookies Nutritional info:

Per cookie. Calories: 284, Fat: 15.7 g, Cholesterol: 10.9 mg, Sodium: 61.3 mg, Carbs: 32.5 g, Sugar: 16.4 g, Protein: 5.5 g, Fibre 4.2 g, Potassium 278 mg

Want to make them traditional granola bar style?

At step 2 throw all of the dry ingredients into the food processor and blend until everything is uniform. Scrape into a mixing bowl, add sugar/butter mixture and combine well. Stir in chocolate chips and press into a parchment-lined 9″x13″ metal pan. (Press as firmly as possible.) Bake at 350 F for about 35 min or until they’re golden around the edges. Cool completely before cutting.

hearty granola cookies

 

One more thing…

If you’re in search of family-friendly food that’s easy to prepare, healthy and tastes good, then sign up to receive blog posts by email.

We’d love to send you our monthly newsletter too. Our Molasses and More newsletter includes cooking tips, menu ideas and featured recipes. Here’s the link to our monthly email sign-up form.

 

Creamy Thai inspired Chickpea Sweet Potato Stew

chickpea sweet potato curry

My neighbour Robyn and I share a love of chickpeas. One of the best curries I have ever tasted was Robyn’s chickpea curry, a surprisingly speedy bean, tomato and spice dish that is wonderfully  flavourful and doable for a weeknight meal.

Another favourite is her sweet, creamy Thai inspired Chickpea Sweet Potato Stew. Spiced with as much heat as you like, the flavour is balanced with the sweet potato and the savoury sweet of a little molasses.

chickpea sweet potato curryThis is a substantial vegetable dish. With two sweet potatoes, a good amount of baby spinach and some peas this makes a hearty meal.

As well, I have been known to toss in half a pound of shrimp and a tablespoon of fish sauce to take the flavours in a different direction.

I serve this chickpea sweet potato stew over brown basmati rice with a little mango salsa on the side. Leftovers are delicious for lunch the next day.

chickpea sweet potato curry

Robyn’s Chickpea Sweet Potato Stew

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • a small knob frozen ginger
  • 1-2 tsp. Thai curry paste (you decide how spicy you want it)
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (about 1 can)*
  • 1 14 ounce can coconut milk (400 ml)
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter or almond butter
  • 1-2 Tbsp. Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • A few handfuls baby spinach
  • a handful chopped cilantro
  • Sea salt, to taste
  1. Add a splash or two of oil to a stockpot over medium heat. Toss in the onion and garlic and sauté them until they’re lightly browned, about 5 minutes or so.
  2. Grate the frozen ginger into the pan with a Microplane grater or standard box grater and add the Thai curry paste.
  3. Continue cooking until the spices are heated through and fragrant, another few minutes.
  4. Add the sweet potatoes, chickpeas, coconut milk, orange juice and peanut butter. Bring to a simmer, lower the heat and continue simmering until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.
  5. Stir in the molasses, peas, spinach and cilantro.
  6. Season with salt. Serve over rice.

*If you’re using dried chickpeas soak then cook about a cup for this recipe. (You’ll end up with about 2 1/2 cups of cooked)

One more thing…

If you’re in search of family-friendly food that’s easy to prepare, healthy and tastes good, then sign up to receive blog posts by email.



We’d love to send you our monthly newsletter too. Our Making Life Delicious newsletter includes cooking tips, menu ideas and featured recipes. Here’s the link to our monthly email sign-up form.

 

 

Chewy Coconut Cranberry Granola Bars

gluten free coconut cranberry granola bars

This is the first winter of my adult life that the size of the snowbanks matches those of my childhood memories.

It’s magical, in a storybook illustration sort of way, although it isn’t 100% jolly. Snow forts, skiing, snowshoeing and sliding aside, an overly snowy winter is exhausting.

gluten free coconut cranberry granola barsThere is a silver lining (buried under 315 cm of snow): blizzards and snowbanks make the cosy smell of homemade baking all the more enticing.

To beat the cold and snow I have been cooking extra hearty food and sweet treats loaded with energy to fuel all of our shovelling. This recipe is a recent favourite — a wholesome and nutritious granola bar topped with a wafer-thin coat of chocolate to make them extra appealing for my kids.

gluten free coconut cranberry granola barsIt’s a shame these Coconut Cranberry Granola Bars aren’t school friendly (because of the nut butter), but they are nutritious. With lots of fibre, protein, calcium and more, they make for a great afterschool snack and even better picnic food. And they’re gluten-free, if that’s important to you.

chewy coconut cranberry granola bars

Chewy Coconut Cranberry Granola Bars

Adapted from Ambitious Kitchen

  • 2 cups rolled oats*, pulsed in the food processor a few times
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. ground flax
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 1/2 cup creamy natural peanut butter or almond butter
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup chocolate chips to melt and spread on top (optional)
  1.  Line a 9-inch square pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl combine oats, coconut, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax and dried cranberries.
  3. In a medium saucepan over medium low heat, combine the molasses and peanut butter (or almond butter). Bring just to a simmer and remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and coconut oil.
  4. Pour molasses mixture over oats-seed mixture and stir until well combined.
  5. Scrape mixture into prepared pan, spread it evenly and press into pan as firmly as possible.
  6. Melt chocolate and spread on top. Refrigerate until firm.
  7. Cut into 16 bars. Store in a cool place.

*Choose oats labeled gluten free to avoid gluten cross contamination common in most rolled oats.

Nutritional profile per bar (recipe makes 16 bars):

Calories (kcal) 223.2
Fat (g) 12.5
Saturated Fat (g) 4.
Cholesterol (mg) 0.2
Sodium (mg) 7.3
Potassium (mg) 341.4
Carbohydrate (g) 24.4
Fibre (g) 3.5
Sugar (g) 10.2
Protein (g) 5.7
Folate (DFE) 24.1
Calcium (mg) 40.5

Molasses baked beans with a touch of sass

Molasses baked beans

I associate February with crazy storms. When I was in grade three our region was hit with the Groundhog Gale, a massive nor’easter that hit on February 2nd, Groundhog Day.

As an eight year old it was thrilling.

Molasses baked beans

It all started out as a normal school day.

Off we walked to our neighbourhood elementary school in a heavy breeze and pelted with rain. Before recess we could see garbage cans being blown down the street and before lunchtime we were told that school was closing due to the storm and we were all to go home.

Most of us were walkers so out into the gale we went to make our way home.

It was the most thrilling walk of my life. With the wind at our backs we were tossed along the rain coated ice like it was some kind of high-speed carnival ride. We were blown into puddles and hung onto trees to catch our breath. We screamed in delight and took the long way home to prolong the fun.

Can you imagine?

Molasses baked beans

Apparently the winds were clocked at over 140 km per hour and there were reports that salt spray from the Bay of Fundy was found on homes more than 10 kilometres inland. I’m sure we were home before it got that bad but still…

My poor mom hadn’t even been notified that school was closed.

Molasses baked beans

Baked beans are the sort of satisfying meal that helps you weather February storms. The long baking time keeps the kitchen cozy (although they can be baked in a crockpot) and leftovers can be eaten with breakfast.

This is the recipe that I grew up with, adapted from The Laura Secord Canadian Cook Book. It has a bit of a bite from the pepper (that’s the sass) to balance the sweetness and develops an amazing depth of flavour. Enjoy these baked beans with oatmeal brown bread , Sarah’s Brown Bread or cracked wheat brown bread

Molasses Baked Beans

  • 2 cups dried navy or pea beans
  • 1 small onion, peeled
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 ½ tsp. dried mustard
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 slice of bacon, chopped or 1 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
  • Boiling water
  1. Soak 2 cups of dried navy or white beans in water overnight.
  2. The next day, drain the beans, put them in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 30 minutes (or until the skins break when you blow on them).
  3. Preheat oven to 300 F.
  4. Drain the beans and put them in a large ovenproof pot or bean crock. Bury peeled onion in the middle of the beans.
  5. Mix together and pour over the beans: brown sugar, molasses, salt, dry mustard and pepper. Dab with the butter or oil or sprinkle over the bacon pieces.
  6. Pour over enough boiling water to just cover the beans.
  7. Cover the pot and cook for 4-6 hours, stirring occasionally and adding water if necessary so the beans do not dry out. Take the lid off for the last half hour of cooking.

Tasty tips: You can also add half a peeled apple to the mixture along with the onion. Try adding left over molasses baked beans to your next batch of chili.

One more thing…

If you’re in search of family-friendly food that’s easy to prepare, healthy and tastes good, then sign up to receive blog posts by email..

We’d love to send you our monthly newsletter too. Our Molasses and More newsletter includes cooking tips, menu ideas and featured recipes. Here’s the link to our monthly email sign-up form.

Here’s to eating well, every day,

Bridget signature

Roasted Squash Salad with Cider Vinaigrette

Roasted squash salad with cider vinaigrette

Winter calls for a whole different kind of salad, salads with substance and a bit of a bite.

I think that’s why this roasted squash salad with peppery arugula and cider vinaigrette is so appealing. When the weather turns cold, “cool and crisp” are not what I crave in a salad.

Last fall we spent a long weekend in Maine with my twin brother and his wife. It was a little family getaway before the holiday rush and a chance to play tourist in an area that we often visit but never explore. On the first day we coaxed our kids through the Portland Museum of Art and puttered in the Old Port eating homemade Maine Potato Donuts, window shopping and people watching.

It was fun, sure, but we quickly decided that, why play tourist when you can hang out with your bro and his wife, cook the evenings away and try lots of new wine?

Roasted squash salad with cider vinaigrette

It was a delightfully relaxing weekend with an abundance of family time and the chance to flip through some new cookbooks.

My sister-in-law has a terrific eye for cookbooks and had just bought my brother an entire stack of Barefoot Contessa cookbooks.  An entire stack.

This roasted squash salad recipe was one of the first that I came across so I put it on the menu for one evening. I have made it six times since and I make a double batch of the dressing so I always have some in the fridge. Sometimes I top this salad with sautéed pears instead of the squash and sometimes I use both roasted squash and sautéed pears.

Roasted squash salad with cider vinaigrette

Roasted squash salad with cider vinaigrette

Slightly adapted from Ina Garten aka Barefoot Contessa

For the squash

  • 1 buttercup or butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the cider dressing:

  • 3/4 cup apple cider or apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup olive oil or grape seed oil
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper

For the rest of the salad

  • 5 ounces baby arugula or baby spinach, washed and spun dry
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, walnuts or pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup freshly shaved or grated Parmesan (omit if vegan)
  • 3 tablespoons dried cranberries or pomegranate seeds

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the olive oil and molasses. Add the cubed squash and toss to coat. Spread on a parchment lined cookie sheet in a single layer, season with salt and pepper and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until tender. .
  3. While the squash is roasting, combine the apple cider, vinegar, and shallots in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil until reduced to about 1/4 cup (precision isn’t necessary). Remove from heat and whisk in the mustard, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  4. Place the arugula in a large salad bowl and toss with the dressing. Add the dried cranberries, nuts and parmesan. Plate each serving and top with the squash or toss the squash with the greens and serve it that way. Suit yourself.

One more thing…

If you’re in search of family-friendly food that’s easy to prepare, healthy and tastes good, then sign up to receive blog posts by email..

We’d love to send you our monthly newsletter too. Our Molasses and More newsletter includes cooking tips, menu ideas and featured recipes. Here’s the link to our monthly email sign-up form.

Here’s to eating well, everyday,

Bridget signature

 

 

Roasted squash salad -squash

Almond butter cereal bars a tasty remake of the 1970s classic

Almond butter cereal bars

Remember cereal bars from the 1970s?

My mom made them all the time. She was forever on the lookout for big batch sweets because there were seven of us kids rushing in the door after school each day, famished and ready to devour anything on the counter.

Almond butter cereal bars

Mom used to buy these huge bags of puffed wheat cereal that were about half the size of our dishwasher.

I swear they took up a full seat in the car coming home from the grocery store.

I wasn’t much for eating puffed wheat or puffed rice with milk (too much floating and the sugar wouldn’t stick) but I loved the big batch cereal bars. A little chewy, they always seemed to last longer than a cookie and mom cut them into nice big squares.

It was likely cereal squares that I made to get my “Baker” badge in Brownies. They’re that easy. Just melt a few ingredients together in a big pot, stir in the cereal and press them into a pan. The hardest part is waiting for them to cool.

baker

The only hitch with mom’s recipe is that they used to stick together in the tin. A thin coating of dark chocolate on the top mostly takes care if that and it dresses them up a bit.

(Did you get your “Baker” badge in Brownies?)

 

There are so many kinds of puffed cereal available these days that you can make a different kind of cereal bar every week, if you like. Here’s a chewy gluten-free version with puffed millet:

Gluten free almond butter cereal bars with puffed millet

 

 

Almond butter cereal bars

Inspired by Aida Mollenkamp and my mom

  • 10 Tbsp. almond butter (1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp.)
  • 1/3 cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • 3 ½ cups puffed kamut, rice,  millet or quinoa
  • ½ cup (heaping) of dark chocolate pieces (chocolate chips or 70% bar broken into pieces)
  1. Like an 8” x 8” pan with parchment paper or grease it well.
  2. In a large pot over medium heat combine the almond butter, molasses and honey or maple syrup.
  3. Stir until it comes to a gentle boil.
  4. Let it bubble for 30 seconds to a minute then add the vanilla, salt and pour in the cereal.
  5. Stir well with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Scrape the mixture into the prepared plan.
  6. Press lightly to spread and flatten.
  7. While they’re cooling on the counter, melt the chocolate in a heavy pot, in the microwave or in a double boiler.
  8. Spread melted chocolate over top of the squares and refrigerate until the chocolate is set.
  9. Cut into squares.

Best eaten within two days.

Do you prefer your cereal squares crispy? Try our Crispy almond butter granola bars

crispy granola bars 2

 

One more thing…

If you’re in search of family-friendly food that’s easy to prepare, healthy and tastes good, then sign up to receive blog posts by email. The sign-up form is on the top left hand side of this page. We’d love to send you our monthly newsletter too. Our Making Life Delicious newsletter includes cooking tips, menu ideas and featured recipes. Here’s the link to our monthly email sign-up form.

Here’s to eating well, everyday,

Bridget signature

Almond butter energy balls recipe – no-bake & speedy

almond butter energy balls are no-bake, speedy and gluten free

 

I don’t always have time to bake and sometimes I feel bad about it. Keeping my kids well fed is something I often obsess about but it can be challenging. (Not that keeping cookies in the house means my kids are well fed, but it’s all part and parcel of our wholesome and homemade approach to life.)

Take today for instance…

It’s my anniversary. I have a trunkful of Sauvignon Blanc and delicious dinner aspirations.

My son’s lacrosse game is at 7:15. I’ll spend the evening at the rink and won’t be baking cookies or sipping wine.

This is not a complaint, it’s life and there is always Friday night.

This almond butter energy balls recipe is the sort of recipe that fits into busy days and evenings. It takes may be five minutes to pull together and another five minutes to roll into balls. You could even mix it up in the food processor if you think it’ll save time.

They’re tasty bites that are healthy enough to eat for breakfast and are a great snack on the go. They’re also gluten free (if that’s important to you).

 

almond butter energy balls recipe are no-bake, speedy and gluten free

Joy’s almond butter energy balls recipe

Watch the video: How to make Almond Butter Energy Balls

No-bake and speedy

  • 1 cup rolled oats (gluten-free if that suits your constitution)
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut (unsweetened)
  • ½ cup almond butter (or peanut butter)
  • ½ cup ground flax seed
  • 1/3 cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips (mini chips or an extra dark chocolate bar, chopped)
  1. Blend and roll into balls.
  2. Refrigerate or freeze

Makes about 2 dozen balls.

A few tips:

To make them more nutritious use an extra dark chocolate in place of the chocolate chips. I like to use a bar that’s 70% cocoa content, or higher.

For the oatmeal use large flake or quick oats, not instant oatmeal. (Instant oatmeal goes gluey and is lower in fiber).

Are you looking for more gluten-free recipes? Try oatmeal flax bars:

Gluten-free oatmeal flax bars

 

Gluten-free oatmeal flax bars – sweet snack food extraordinaire

IMG_8931

My daughter’s school is thick into the book “The Leader in Me: The 7 habits of happy kids” and this month was all about “Think Win-Win.”

Important lessons for little kids, and big kids too.

I think I might write a book called “The Feeder in Me” seeing as I spend half of my day trying to get good food into my kids’ bellies.

Which brings me to these tasty granola bars/breakfast bars/healthy snack bars…

These oatmeal bars are definitely “Think Win-Win” food: Kids like them because they’re sweet and moms like them because they’re full of good stuff.

I suspect these were the original granola bar. Traditionally made in a cast iron skillet these one-pan bars have just a few great ingredients that make them work as a breakfast bar or healthy snack. They’re gluten-free (and vegan too if you substitute the butter for coconut oil).

The recipe offers no end of opportunities to adapt. You can add slivered almonds and dried cranberries or chopped apricots and toasted sun flower seeds or chocolate chips and chopped hazelnuts, drizzle them with melted chocolate…

Sweet oatmeal flax bars

  • 5 Tbsp butter (or coconut oil)
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • ¼ cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 2 ½ cups rolled oats (choose certified gluten free oats if you can’t tolerate any gluten, since cross-contamination with wheat, rye and barley is common)
  • 2 Tbsp ground flax or almond meal
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  1. In a medium-sized pot combine butter, molasses and sugar.
  2. Heat over medium until butter has melted and sugar has dissolved.
  3. Boil for 30 seconds to a minute.
  4. Remove from heat and add vanilla.
  5. Stir in rolled oats and flax (or almond meal). Mix well.
  6. Press into well-greased (or parchment lined) pie pan.
  7. Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes, until edges begin to darken.
  8. Cool completely in pan.
  9. Cut into wedges while still in the pan or upend on a cutting board to slice.

Melt butter, sugar and molasses together in a pot.
Bring to a boil then remove from heat and add vanilla, flax and rolled oat.
Mix well. Then press into a prepared pan (using buttered hands works well).
Cool completely in pan then upend on a cutting board and cut into wedges.

Looking for more gluten-free sweet snack options? Try these chewy coconut oatmeal cookies.

 Nutritional information for gluten-free oatmeal flax bars:

Nutritional facts

12 servings

Amount per serving:
Calories 139.2
Total fat 6.4 g
Saturated 3.3 g
Polyunsaturated .9 g
Monounsaturated 1.8 g
Cholesterol 12.9 mg
Sodium 36.9 mg
Potassium 109.3 mg
Total carb 17.7 g
Fibre 2.0 g
Sugars 5.7 g
Protien 2.4 g

 

One more thing…

If you’re in search of family-friendly food that’s easy to prepare, healthy and tastes good, then sign up to receive blog posts by email..

We’d love to send you our monthly newsletter too. Our Molasses and More newsletter includes cooking tips, menu ideas and featured recipes. Here’s the link to our monthly email sign-up form.

Warming roasted red pepper lentil soup recipe ready in 30 minutes

roasted red pepper lentil soup

How do you deal with a crummy weather forecast?

Make soup…

This is a version of my mom’s 30-minute soup recipe that she found in a grocery store magazine a while back.  It literally takes half an hour to make so is a popular meal in our house. And my kids love it.

I’m a fan of soup, especially thick and hearty concoctions. They’re warming and filling and that’s important when a snow bomb is headed your way.

Tomato-based soups are my favourite but the acidity of canned tomatoes can often use a little taming. That’s where the molasses comes in. It takes the edge off and adds great complexity and flavour. It’s a sweet with oomph.

This is the kind of soup  that you can make your own. Cook the base (which is delicious on its own, by the way) and then add a few more ingredients depending on your mood. Sometimes I go the Mexican route and sometimes I’m more in the mood for Moroccan flavours.

If you prefer a thinner soup play with the amount of broth to get the consistency that works for you. Or add extra tomatoes. This is soup afterall. Very forgiving.

Mom’s Roasted Red Pepper Lentil Soup Recipe

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 1 can (28 oz) of crushed tomatoes or jar of strained tomatoes
  • 2-4 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 jar of roasted red peppers, rinsed and finely diced (about 1 ½ cups worth)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3/4 cup dried red lentils
  • ½ Tbsp Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Squeeze of lemon

Variations:

Moroccan

  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Pinch of smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans
  • 2 generous handfuls of baby spinach
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro or parsley

Mexican

  • ½ Tbsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 ½ cups frozen corn
  • Handful of chopped cilantro

Instructions:

  1. In a large pot over medium heat saute the onion in the oil until just starting to brown.
  2. Add the garlic, crushed red pepper, tomatoes, broth, and bay leaf.
  3. Stir and bring to a gentle boil.
  4. Add the red peppers and the lentils and bring to the boil again. Stir often.
  5. Once the lentils are cooked add the molasses and oregano.
  6. Season with salt and a squeeze of lemon.
  7. Eat as is or add the Moroccan extras or the Mexican.
  8. Heat just until additional ingredients are warmed through.
  9. Serve immediately.

Saute the onions just until they start to brown. Crushed red pepper adds a nice heat to the base. The core seasonings, paprika, molasses and fresh cilantro, add great depth to the flavour.

Navy beans are my favourite addition to this soup. Soak and cook your own for better flavour and texture. (Extras can be frozen so you have them on hand whenever you need them).

 

One more thing…

If you’re in search of family-friendly food that’s easy to prepare, healthy and tastes good, then sign up to receive blog posts by email.

We’d love to send you our monthly newsletter too. Our Molasses and More newsletter includes cooking tips, menu ideas and featured recipes. Here’s the link to our monthly email sign-up form

Black Bean Chili that Sticks to Your Ribs

Black Bean Chili is hearty and warming and reminds you that a substantial meal does more than just fill the belly.

Black Bean Chili is hearty and warming and reminds you that a substantial meal does more than just fill the belly.

There is nothing that I like better on a cold January night than a big bowl of black bean chili. It’s hearty and warming and reminds you that a substantial meal does more than just fill the belly.

I got the idea for adding molasses to my chili from one of our Facebook friends who balances the extreme heat and spice of her chili recipe with molasses. I also have a family friend who makes his chili with molasses baked beans so there is a good dose of sweet with the heat.

Black Bean Chili is hearty and warming and reminds you that a substantial meal does more than just fill the belly.

You’ll see that the tangy sweetness of molasses pairs beautifully with tomatoes. It softens their tart acidity and adds flavour with just the right substance.

This recipe is vegetarian but works with ground beef or ground turkey as well. Just add a bit more broth or even another can of tomatoes if you find yours too thick. As well, feel free to mix up the beans. Kidney beans or a blend of beans makes for a great variation.

Serve it with this cornbread for a delicious, filling meal.

Black Bean Chili

Ingredients:

  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 tsp cumin seeds (or 2 tsp ground cumin)
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • Cayanne pepper to taste
  • 4 tsp oregano
  • 1 28 oz can or 24 oz bottle of tomatoes (prepared tomato sauce will do)
  • 1 cup broth or water
  • 2 cups cooked black beans (about 1 ½ cans)
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • ½ Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Crosby’s Fancy Molasses (or more, to taste)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • Juice and zest of ½ a lime
  1. In a big pot over medium heat saute the onions in oil until soft.
  2. Add the garlic, spices, oregano and bay leaf and stir for a minute then add the carrots.
  3. Cover for 10 minutes, stirring a few times. (Add some of the broth if it seems too dry).
  4. Add corn, tomatoes, beans, broth and chipotle (if using) and let simmer, uncovered for about 20 minutes.
  5. Stir in the vinegar and molasses. Thin with more broth if it’s too thick for your liking.
  6. Season with salt and decide if it needs more heat (cayenne) or sweet (molasses)
  7. Add the lime zest and juice and cilantro.

Serve with grated cheese and cornbread. Don’t forget to fish out the chipotle chili so nobody eats it whole.

Chili is adaptable so feel free to add any kind of beans or vegetables. Cubed sweet potato or squash are delicious too.

 

One more thing…

If you’re in search of family-friendly food that’s easy to prepare, healthy and tastes good, then sign up to receive blog posts by email..

We’d love to send you our monthly newsletter too. Our Molasses and More newsletter includes cooking tips, menu ideas and featured recipes. Here’s the link to our monthly email sign-up form.

Roasted Root Vegetables Recipe with Molasses Cider Glaze

Roasted root vegetables recipe with molasses cider glaze. Served in a hollowed out roasted squash, it's impressive, and easy.

Roasted root vegetables recipe with molasses cider glaze is easy and impressive. 

Sometimes I aspire to be a bit like Martha Stewart; to take the time and attention to set a stunning table or arrange charming seasonal decorations outside the front door.

Truth is I can barely manage to vacuum up the dog hair and clear the dining table of clutter to make room for place settings before our guests land at the door. (Meanwhile my husband is getting the laundry out of view, rounding up the kids and making sure there are no Lego pieces in the path of sock-footed guests.)

My entertaining energy goes into creating a great meal and then relaxing to enjoy it with friends.

Every once in a while a dish comes along that by its very nature has that “Martha” look, and gives the appearance that you have outdone yourself, with really not a lot of effort.

This is that dish. And in spite of the number of steps listed below, it’s pretty easy.

Roasted root vegetables recipe with molasses cider glaze. Served in a hollowed out roasted squash, it's impressive, and easy.

Cider-glazed roasted root vegetables recipe (served in roasted winter squash)

Adapted from A Periodic Table

For the cider glaze:

  • 2 1/2 cups apple cider (or apple juice)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Crosby’s Fancy Molasses

For the vegetables:

  • 1 medium-sized buttercup squash, top third cut off, and seeds removed
  • 4-6 cups of root vegetables, cut into one-inch dice (a mixture of carrots, parsnips, turnip, rutabaga, sweet potato, beets)
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 2 firm, tart apples, peeled and diced
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped fresh sage or 6-8 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • Sea salt & pepper to taste

For the cranberry pumpkin seed sprinkle:

  • 2 teaspoons butter or olive oil
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin seeds
  • pinch kosher salt
  • pinch chili powder
  • ½ cup dried cranberries

Instructions:

To make the glaze:

  1. Combine apple cider and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium high heat and simmer until it reduces to about 1/2 cup (15-20 minutes). Be careful not to overdo it.
  2. Remove from heat, add the molasses. Set aside.

Roast your veggies and apples:

  1. Place your choice of root vegetables, along with the apples, onion, garlic and herbs, into a large bowl and toss with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil and the sage or thyme.
  2. Turn your mixture out onto a large baking sheet or pan lined with parchment paper.
  3. Season with salt and pepper
  4. Rub the inside of the squash, and the flesh side of the “lid”, with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Place it on a baking sheet, flesh side down.
  6. Put both pans in the oven and roast at 400 F until tender and starting to brown a bit. About 25-35 minutes.
  7. (Toss the chopped veggies every 10  minutes or so)

Toast your pumpkin seeds:

  1. Melt the butter (or warm oil) in a small pan over medium heat.
  2. Add pumpkin seeds to the pan along with the chili powder and toss with the butter.
  3. Toast gently until they start to pop, stirring them around in the pan to ensue nothing burns or browns too much.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the cranberries.

To assemble your squash bowl:

  1. Place roasted quash on a warmed serving platter and fill with the roasted root vegetables.
  2. Pile extra roasted vegetables alongside the squash.
  3. Pour over the cider glaze and sprinkle with the roasted pumpkin seed cranberry mixture.
  4. To serve, slice squash into 4-6 wedges and plate, scooping up some extra root vegetables.

 

Coconut Flax Molasses Cookies are a tasty vegan treat

Coconut flax molasses cookies are a tasty vegan treat

Sometimes I need variety in my cookie life, a little something different to grab my taste buds and remind me that cookie possibilities are limitless.

That’s what this recipe did for me. Originally I assumed this coconut flax molasses cookie recipe was a molasses cookie recipe with shredded coconut. But it turned out that they’re made with coconut oil, which I had in my cupboard because lots of healthy stuff has been written about it.

I prefer natural fats like butter, canola oil and now coconut oil. Margarine and shortening make me uncomfortable.

These cookies are full of surprises. The texture is soft and light and the spicing delicious.

Coconut flax molasses cookies are a tasty vegan treat

Coconut Flax Molasses Cookies

Ever so slightly adapted from the blog mollyalicenests.com

1/2 cup coconut oil*, melted
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
1 Tbsp ground flax seeds
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup milk, room temperature (can use nut or seed milk)
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp Chinese five spice powder *
1/4 cup sugar for rolling

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl combine melted oil, sugar, ground flax, milk, molasses, and vanilla. Mix well.
  2. (Tip: cold milk will make your coconut oil seize up. Not good).
  3. Add dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt, and five spice powder) and mix to form a dough.
  4. Roll dough into balls by the tablespoon and coat in the rolling sugar.
  5. The dough will feel almost silky so work quickly!
  6. Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
  7. Bake at 350° F for 8-10 minutes.

* Look for coconut oil in the natural foods section at your grocery store. It’s solid at room temperature.

* Chinese five spice powder is a blend of cinnamon, licorice root, anise, ginger, cloves, and fennel. (That’s 6 spices, I know, but that’s what’s written on the bottle in my cupboard). If you don’t have any five spice, use a mixture of the spices you do have.

 

One more thing…

If you’re in search of family-friendly food that’s easy to prepare, healthy and tastes good, then sign up to receive blog posts by email.


We’d love to send you our monthly newsletter too. Our Making Life Delicious newsletter includes cooking tips, menu ideas and featured recipes. Here’s the link to our monthly email sign-up form.

 

 

Chili Molasses Sweet Potato Wedges

Chili molasses sweet potato wedges are oven-baked, healthy and have a sweet-spicy kick.

I’m a mom so one of my very important jobs is to feed my kids and I think I do it well. My kids write things like “You’re a good cook” on Mother’s Day cards and they tell me stuff like “microwave Kraft Dinner looks disgusting” because they know I like to hear them trash processed foods.

I like to tell people that my son is a beautiful eater. At 11 he’ll eat anything you put in front of him, except lettuce (I guess it’s a texture thing). It’s a joy to watch him eat.

Until last night.

Yesterday he was fitted with an orthodontic thing – like a retainer with a little lock in the middle. And I have the tiny key. One little turn every morning. It’s like assembling something from Ikea and for some reason reminds me of The Borrowers.  If I lose the key they said I could use a paper clip. (Would you poke a paper clip into your child’s mouth?)

He said it doesn’t hurt, it’s just that his mouth feels full and that there’s too much stuff in there to deal with chewing food. So last night, instead of supper, he had a banana mango smoothie with yogurt. It was very good. But a child can’t live on smoothies for a month so tonight I’m making him sweet potato wedges. They stay soft enough that you don’t have to do a lot of chewing to get them down. And they’re tasty and nutritious.

If chewing isn’t a problem for you, feel free to cook them longer than I have suggested below.

Chili molasses sweet potato wedges

Ingredients:

  •  4 medium sweet potatoes cut into wedges

Coating:

  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • ¼ tsp. dried chipotle peppers (or more if you like heat)

Instructions:

  1. Combine coating ingredients and toss with the sweet potato wedges (you might have to use your hands to coat the wedges evenly) .
  2. Spread in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 F for 20-30 minutes, turning at least once.
  3. Serve hot, sprinkled with a bit of salt.

 

Beer barbecue sauce with molasses – let summer begin!

Beer-bbq-sauce-839x1024

This homemade beer barbecue sauce with molasses is simple and so flavourful. Use it on chicken, steak, vegetables, whatever. It’s great for oven “barbecuing” too.

This is that last day of school for my kids so the official kick off to summer in my books. The occasion calls for a summer barbecue to celebrate two months of freedom and a break from the morning rush.

This beer barbecue sauce recipe came from my Uncle George decades ago. He was very into grilling and we were not so this recipe helped us along. I can’t say we ever became a family of barbecue aficionado but our meals made on the grill could pass with a push.

I have always felt out of my element cooking with the barbecue so more often than not default to “oven” barbecuing. I suspect the distance between the kitchen and the barbecue is much to blame since all of that running back and forth to manage things cooking in both places is often more effort than it’s worth. Still, I have somewhat mastered the art of indirect cooking on our backyard grill. It’s a wonderful method for half chickens and is more relaxing since there is no need to hover over the flames. Instead you simply heat the grill to medium, turn off one side, place the chicken on the “off” side and close the lid. There is a little moving and flipping required from time to time since the side of the bird closest to the heat cooks more quickly but still, it’s fairly low maintenance.

When the chicken is pretty much cooked through I apply a few layers of this sauce during the final 10 minutes or so of cooking.

To change up this recipe use different types of beer. We have always made beer barbecue sauce with a locally brewed lager but I had a note from someone who tried it with a sturdy stout beer and had great success.

Beer Barbecue Sauce with Molasses

  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • ½ cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup chili sauce
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (look for gluten-free if nexessary)
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • ½ cup beer
  1. Saute the onion in 1 Tbsp. of oil until soft. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil and simmer for 20-25 minutes. (Sauce will thicken as it cools.)
  2. Brush barbecue sauce on grillables during the last few minutes of grilling.

Nutritional info: Per Tbsp. Calories: 24, Fat: 0 g, Saturated Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 29.5 mg, Carbs: 5.4 g, Sugar: 3.3 g

One more thing…

If you’re in search of family-friendly food that’s easy to prepare, healthy and tastes good, then sign up to receive blog posts by email..

We’d love to send you our monthly newsletter too. Our Molasses and More newsletter includes cooking tips, menu ideas and featured recipes. Here’s the link to our monthly email sign-up form.