Snacks


Honey-Coconut Chex Mix

Honey-Coconut Chex Mix

Who doesn’t enjoy Chex Mix? There’s more than enough recipes to satisfy every sweet or salty taste out there, and if you ever lived in Hawaii, you may have received Furikake Chex Mix from one of your aunties or coworkers at Christmas.

I prefer a salty Chex Mix, so made a variation of the original recipe found here. (the Chex cereal website has a huge selection of sweet and salty recipes, mostly with microwave directions.) After sampling the savory, garlicky flavor, I decided I wanted a sweet one, too.  I checked out a few blogger recipes and came across several variations of a recipe that uses shredded coconut and Honey Grahams cereal. It already sounds delicious, doesn’t it?

Improvise
I didn’t have corn syrup and I didn’t have Honey Grahams, so I made a few modifications. First, I used light agave syrup and honey. Next, I took one commenter’s suggestion and added a bit of coconut extract to give it a stronger, coconuttier flavor (and boy, does the kitchen smell GOOD!)  The addition of chocolate chips tastes great, but it may overshadow the wonderful coconut flavor, so you may want to sample a bit before adding a bunch of chocolate chips in your mix.

I was worried the butter-agave-honey mixture wouldn’t solidify, so I ended up baking it in the oven for 20 minutes (The Bomb Diggity recipe doesn’t need to be baked). I was glad I did. The syrup was more concentrated, intensifying the sweet, buttery flavor and created a crispy-chewy, coconut candy coating.

The Verdict
I had a feeling my husband would prefer the sweet version, so I asked him to try the salty one first. He liked it, but definitely preferred the Honey-Coconut Chex Mix. I gave him two containers of sweet and salty mixes to take to work, then started on another batch to keep at home. :)

Adapted from the Gooey Sweet Coconut Chex Mix (aka The Bomb Diggity), here is my version of a coconut Chex Mix.

Honey-Coconut Chex Mix

Honey-Coconut Chex Mix

Honey-Coconut Chex Mix
Make it Gluten-Free with GF pretzels!

Ingredients:

2 cups Rice Chex
2 cups Corn Chex
1 cup salted pretzels, twists or sticks
1/2 cup almonds (slivered or whole), macadamia nuts, or any nut you like
3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup light agave syrup
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or white chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.

Combine cereals, pretzels, almonds, and unsweetened coconut in a 13″x9″x2″ baking pan. Set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter, agave syrup and honey. Boil for 2-3 minutes, being careful not to let it boil over the sides. Remove from heat, stir in coconut extract.

Pour over cereal mixture and toss well with heatproof rubber spatula. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through baking.

With only 4 cups of cereal, you can use a casserole dish or rectangular cake pan.

With only 4 cups of cereal, you can use a casserole dish or rectangular cake pan.

Remove from oven and let cool for about 2 hours, stirring every 5-10 minutes (mixture will harden as it cools). You can also spread this out on a wax paper-lined cookie sheet if you don’t have time to stir the party mix, just break into small pieces when cooled. Add chocolate chips. Store in airtight container for up to 3-5 days. Makes about 6 cups.

It’s week 21 of my pregnancy, and I’m starting to feel the weight of the baby right on my bladder, not to mention the occasional muscle spasms which indicate my body “practicing” for delivery, and what I’m guessing is to be some movement of our little brotchen:

3-15-13_19_weeks_c

He’s looking nice and healthy…and yes, it’s a BOY!!!

Here’s proof of the gender:

3-15-13_19_weeks_b

Butt shot with a clear view. :)

Food = Fatigue? I’ve been feeling really tired the past several days, and I wasn’t sure why. Sleep was okay, exercising was okay (when I wasn’t too tired) but I was still struggling to keep my eyes open after breakfast. I decided to change up what I was eating, starting with breakfast. No more peanut butter and toast, even with a cup of calcium-fortified soy moo. Maybe cutting out the wheat would help, at least for breakfast (including sprouted grain breads.)

Muffins_Grain-Free_1

Clockwise from top: coconut biscuit, apple cinnamon raisin, and pumpkin muffin with almond sprinkles.

Grain, Grain, Go Away I came across several grain-free muffin recipes from wellnessmama.com the other day, and boy, are they GOOD! I made three versions already: apple cinnamon (with raisins), pumpkin, and also some coconut biscuits to serve with some buffalo chili we had last night. They all were delicious, and since they were grain free it was a great way to see if grains–including my sprouted wheat toast–may have contributed to my all-day fatigue.

The Results were Inspiring Well, I certainly didn’t feel like taking a nap after eating those delicious muffins, so maybe I’m on the right track. More protein than your average muffin, low in carbs, and they contains healthy fats. It’s wonderfully moist and tastes even better cold–and not many muffins can brag about that! So taken was I by wellnessmama’s muffins, I wanted to make a chocolate version. Following her cinnamon apple muffin recipe, I made a few modifications. The result: a light, sponge-like chocolate cake-muffin dotted with melted semi-sweet chocolate chips. It’s makes a delicious snack, or even a bonus to your already healthy breakfast. Now who’s ready for a grain-free muffin?

Muffins_Grain-Free_2

Moist cakes with a slightly spongy texture and rich chocolate flavor.

Double Chocolate Muffins inspired by wellnessmama’s grain-free Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Ingredients:

1/2 cup coconut flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder (such as Medaglia d’Oro)
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
3/4 cup applesauce
3 tablespoons agave syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (gluten-free ones such as Enjoy Life, if you’re allergic)

Directions: Preheat oven to 400. Coat 12 muffin cups with cooking spray, set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk dry ingredients (not chocolate chips.) Push to the sides, making a well in the center. To the middle of the bowl, add eggs, apple sauce, agave syrup, vanilla, and coconut oil. Blend wet ingredients on medium-high speed for a few seconds, then incorporate dry ingredients by “grabbing” flour mixture from the sides with the beaters and blend until combined. Using a rubber spatula, stir in chocolate chips. (NOTE: batter may be liquidy, so to keep chocolate chips from sinking to the bottom, sprinkle on muffin tops after baking for 2 minutes–batter will firm up–then return to oven and bake for the remaining time.)

Using a 1/4 cup scoop, fill 12 muffin tins. Sprinkle top with extra chocolate chips, if you like. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out with a little bit of a moist crumb. Cool on a wire rack.

You can store these muffins in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, or tightly wrap in foil and freeze for up to 2 months.

Be sure to visit www.wellnessmama.com for other delicious recipes as well as tips and ideas on making homemade cleaning products, beauty treatments, and other information on easier, healthier living.

At 17 weeks pregnant I’m trying to be more conscious of choosing foods that have more nutritional bang for your buck. Of course, not everything that goes down my gut is 100% good-for-you food (I like Burger King’s breakfast combo: bacon & egg muffin sammies with those golden hash brown coins…yummm!) but I do try and make the extra effort when it comes to home-prepped meals, particularly with breakfast.

Why Shimmy When You Can Shake?
During my second month of pregnancy I started eating tons of fruit high in Vitamin C (pineapple, oranges, strawberries, kiwi) and drinking lots of ice water, which I never really enjoyed (it had to be hot or room temp with lemon. For some reason, my stomach didn’t like plain/cold water.) Seeing how I needed more water and a lot of nutrients for the growing baby, I figured the best way would be to introduce shakes into my diet. They’re easy to prepare, you can make a big batch to last several days, and the flavors are delicious!

Natural (Ingredient) Selection
First off, I know dairy is not my friend. Milk bloats me up and makes me tired, so I use either soy or almond milk or both  (NOTE: almond milk has no protein, so consider adding a protein boost of some kind when making your breakfast shakes.)

Next, I like the versatility tofu. After doing the “How to Tofu” challenge in October, I learned quite a bit about this food, and learning that it contained plant estrogens that may help with hot flashes was what I needed to combat my night sweats. (waking up at 2 a.m. in a 55 degree bedroom drenched in sweat is no fun, because as soon as that cold air hits you–brrr!)

Of course, shakes have to be nice and thick. Lots of you may have enjoyed Overnight Oats where you soak your oatmeal in milk in the fridge overnight and eat it for breakfast the next morning. Adding a bit of oatmeal to your shake will do a nice job of thickening it up, especially if you let it sit for a day or two.

Finally, I needed some flavor. Chocolate? You bet! Orange? Of course! Berries? Fiber- and vitamin-rich, how can you go wrong? But don’t stop there, you got peanut butter, banana, peach, coconut, pineapple, vanilla, apple, passion fruit, pumpkin…just think of those delicious frozen yogurt flavors and you’ll come up with something creative and delicious!

The Results?
Thick, creamy, flavorful, and filled with lots of good stuff for you and your baby (if you got one in there!) These shakes are around 300 calories each and I try to make it so you get 10 grams of protein in per serving.

Basic Tofu Shake Mix
Incredibly easy!

1 box Mori-Nu Silken Lite Tofu
2 tablespoons light agave syrup
3 tablespoons (1/4 cup) oatmeal
12-16 oz light vanilla soy milk
4 oz coconut milk (or use more soy milk)

Directions: Add everything to a blender and mix on medium speed until combined. Use one of the flavor variations below or make your own. Refrigerate unused portion for up to 5 days.

Now this shake says, "Good morning!"

Now this shake says “Good morning!”

Orange Bang Protein Shake
Reminiscent of those whipped fruit drinks served at gas stations and Orange Julius’s everywhere!

Ingredients:
Half recipe of tofu shake mix (recipe above)
2-3 tablespoons frozen concentrated orange juice
½ scoop vanilla protein powder (I use Vitacost Soy Protein Powder, vanilla flavor)
zest from 1 orange (eat the orange after zesting, it’s good for you!)
Crushed ice
additional water to thin

Directions: Mix everything in blender on medium speed until combined, adding additional water to thin, if necessary. Pour into glass and enjoy.

Mixed Berry Shake
Fresh and fruity, but watch out for seeds if you’re using raspberries or blackberries!

Ingredients:
¾ cup frozen mixed berries
Half recipe of Tofu shake mix (recipe above)
additional water or vanilla almond or soy milk
additional agave syrup or stevia

Directions: Add frozen strawberries or mixed berries to blender FIRST and blend on medium speed until chopped finely, turning off motor and scraping down sides as necessary. Add tofu shake mix and blend until combined, thinning with water or almond or soy milk. Pour into glass and enjoy.

This shake gets its thickness from tofu and oatmeal!

Orange zest is perfect to brighten up the heavier chocolate flavor.

Chocolate Orange Protein Shake (my favorite!)
I love letting this sit in the fridge for a day or two because it gets extra thick

Ingredients:
Half recipe of tofu shake mix
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
Zest of 1 orange (eat the orange after zesting, it’s good for you!)
additional vanilla almond or soy milk
additional agave syrup or stevia

Directions: add tofu shake mix to blender and start on low speed. Open chute and add cocoa powder through zest. Add almond or soy milk to thin out and sweeten with additional agave syrup or stevia, if necessary. Pour into glass and enjoy.

So what’s your favorite way to shake up your breakfast and snacks?

Apple_Cake_2

Topped with fresh apples and tart lemon sauce that soaks into the not-too-sweet cake.

This is a modified version of an apple cake recipe from the book, Cook Right 4 Your Type, a book that teaches about eating according to your blood type. It’s filled with a lot of great recipes and lists of foods that you should eat or avoid according to your blood type (A, B, AB, or O). I’ve tried this diet a few years ago and it certainly has helped reduce my fatigue, get rid of the constant bloated feeling I always had (even after eating only half the food on my plate), and drop a few pounds without having to count calories.

This version of the Blood Type Diet’s apple cake has a blend of flours, the addition of yogurt, and brown sugar instead of white  in the batter. I made a few other tweaks to enhance the flavor and texture without making it too sweet. This cake would be a wonderful alternative to a breakfast muffin and is terrific with afternoon tea. The fresh apples and tart lemon flavor are perfect with a touch of cinnamon and tastes great while still piping hot from the oven.

Apple_Cake_1

Invert the cake onto a plate and serve while still steaming.

Upside Down Apple Cake, serves 9
If you don’t have oat or buckwheat flour you can just use spelt or all-purpose flour

Ingredients:

1/3 cup unsalted butter
1 cup spelt flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided (make sure it’s nice and fragrant!)
1/2 cup nonfat Greek-style yogurt (like Chobani)
1/2 cup vanilla almond or soy milk
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-3 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/3 cup granulated sugar
zest from 1 lemon
1/3 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a square 9″x9″ baking dish or round cake pan, melt butter in oven.

While butter is melting, combine dry flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.

In a separate bowl, combine yogurt, milk, eggs, and vanilla. Remove baking dish from oven, pour in 1/4 cup melted butter and leave the rest in dish. Combine with a wire whisk.

Make a well in center of dry ingredients, pour in wet ingredients, fold with a spatula to combine, do not over mix.

Arrange sliced apples on bottom of buttered baking dish in overlapping pattern. Sprinkle with granulated sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Drizzle lemon juice over apples.

Gently pour cake batter into pan, ensuring all apple slices are covered. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until toothpick inserted halfway in center of cake comes out clean. Enjoy immediately.

On Tuesday I posted a recipe for Gluten-Free Pumpkin Brownies and now here’s the chocolate chip version!

If you are tired of using rice flour in your brownies, try these out. The mixture of oat and buckwheat flour plus roasted pumpkin (or sweet potato, if you prefer) is the right combination to make a rich, dense, chocolaty brownie…like this one:

Chocolate chip brownies: moist, delicious, and gluten-free.


Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Brownies,
makes 16 squares

Ingredients:

3/4 cup mashed roasted pumpkin, pumpkin puree, or mashed roasted sweet potato
1/4 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup canola oil or melted coconut oil
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup oat flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder (such as Medaglia D’Oro)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup gluten-free semisweet chocolate chips (such as Ghiardelli) or pecans, or both

Directions:

Combine roasted pumpkin or sweet potato with chopped dates. Cover and refrigerate least 2 hours so dates can absorb moisture from the pumpkin.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8″x8″ pan with foil, allowing 2″ of overhang on sides. Coat with cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl combine wet ingredients (pumpkin through vanilla). Set aside.

In a large bowl mix dry ingredients (except chocolate chips) with a whisk. Make a well in center and pour in wet ingredients. Mix until combined.

Pour into prepared pan and sprinkle with chocolate chips or pecans, patting lightly with fingers to set the chips into the batter. Bake for 25-27 minutes, center will still be moist when tested with a toothpick.

Cool for 10 minutes and cut into 16 pieces. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the fridge or tightly wrap with plastic wrap and foil and freeze for up to a month. Enjoy!

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