Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Homemade Larabars

I've never been a "bar" eater, especially nutrition bars.  I just can't justify consuming 300 calories from a package smaller than my hand.  With that said, I will admit that I have never tried a store bought Larabar, so I don't really have anything to compare these to.   But I did see them on the shelf at Target when I was there yesterday and couldn't help but laugh at the price.  I will go into the cost details a little later, but really, you can't go wrong with these bars.  

I originally came across this recipe on Pinterest and once I got an understanding of the basic ingredients, I realized the flavor combinations are endless!  The recipe is pretty basic for all the bars, consisting of nuts and dates and then whatever mix-ins you'd like!

Basic Homemade Larabars

2 Cups RAW Nuts (use whatever nuts you like!)
1 Cup Pitted Dates
1 Cup Dried Fruit / Other Mix-ins

Mix-In Ideas:
Apple Cinnamon (dried apples and cinnamon)
Cherry Pie (dried cherries)
Cranberry Raisin (pictured above)
Chocolate Chip (chocolate chips)
Nut Butter Chocolate Chip (nut butter of your choice and chocolate chips)
Fruit Zest & Juice

Like I said, the mix-in ideas are endless!!

Place all ingredients into a food processor (if using mix-ins that you want left intact such as chocolate chips, coconut, etc., leave these out and mix them in by hand later).  Blend until mixture starts to sick together.  Add water if needed (only add 1/2 tsp at a time - you won't need much if any).  Place parchment or wax paper on the bottom of an 8x8 baking dish (I made two batches so spread mine on a small shallow cookie sheet and this was perfect).  Spread mixture on top of the parchment paper and spread out .  Flatten to preferred thickness and make sure they are nice and condensed so they will stick together.  Cover and put in fridge and let sit overnight (or for at least an hour).  The next morning, lift bars out of dish by pulling out the parchment paper.  Cut into desired sized bars and enjoy!

A couple of tips - if you plan on using any "wet" ingredients in your bars, such as fruit zest or nut butters, use only 3/4 cup of dates to begin and add more if needed to help mixture stick together.  


Now you might be asking how these compare cost-wise to the store bought Larabars:

The average price for a single Larabar I discovered is approximately $1.25 (this is how much they were at Target both as singles and in a box of multiples, and you can by a box of 16 bars on for $20, which equals $1.25 per bar).  So let's go with $1.25 per store bought bar. 

Nuts are pricey - lets be honest.  So how can these bars actually be economical, you might ask?  

BULK my friends....BULK.

Let me first tell you that I HATE buffets and buying things out of bulk food bins.  I don't like the idea of someone else's grubby hands having access to food I might be putting in my mouth.  I have even seen people eating straight out of the bulk food bins.  If you are one of these people who do this, please stop.  It just grosses me out!  Just kidding.....but no really, don't do it.

Anyway - I started pricing nuts at various grocery stores and realized these bars were going to be EXPENSIVE!  And then a friend of mine told me about the bulk bins at Winco and I cringed and almost cried.  But I sucked it up one Saturday and went and was pleasantly surprised to see that their bulk bins for nuts are actually the pull down kind so you can't just reach your grubby little hands in the whole bin and pick out what you want to eat at that moment.  So I was a happy girl.  The dried fruit is still in the old fashion barrel type containers, but I'm slowly getting over this phobia and purchased small amounts of dried fruit this way and I'm not sick or dead yet.  So far so good.

But okay, here's the price breakdown:

6 lbs various nuts and seeds + 4 lbs of dried fruit = $24.87 at Winco (your price will vary depending on what kind of nuts you purchase, but I bought cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and pecans) (this would have cost me well over $50 at Safeway or Fred Meyer).  

With the amount of nuts and fruit I purchased, I estimate that I will be able to make approximately 32 bars (each batch makes approximately 8 bars - I might be able to make more than 32 total, but I'm making a very safe estimate). 

This equals about $0.78 per bar!!!


Give it a try and find out for yourself!!!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Paleo Banana Muffin With Strawberry Spread

One thing you will note right away is that I am NOT a photographer by any means.  Most of the pictures I will be posting throughout this journey will be taken with my iPhone and edited with basic photo editing software (in other words, the free stuff that comes on your computer).  If I make this process too time consuming, I won't stick with it, so it has to be relatively easy in order it to be successful. 

It just so happens I have a friend who is embarking on this Paleo journey at the same time as me, so it has been fun bouncing recipe ideas off of each other and sharing where the cheapest place is to get Paleo approved ingredients.  This friend of mine messaged me about these muffins and raved about how delicious they were, heated up and drizzled with the strawberry topping.  So of course I had to make them and we tried them this weekend.

This first recipe is definitely a winner when you're in the mood for something sweet.  It would also be good as a breakfast treat because you feel like you're eating dessert for breakfast!

Paleo Banana Muffins With Strawberry Spread:

1/2 Cup Almond Flour
1/4 Cup Coconut Flour
1 Tbsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Seat Salt
3 Large Ripe Bananas 
4 Eggs, Room Temperature
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Tbsp Raw Honey
6 Tbsp Coconut Oil, Melted

Strawberry Spread:
1/2 Cup Coconut Oil
1/2 Cup Honey
4 Fresh Strawberries (I used 7 Strawberries & 5 Raspberries)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine the flours, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sea salt in a medium mixing bowl.  Stir with a form to combine and to break apart any chunks.  Set aside.
3. Place the bananas, eggs, and vanilla extract in a blender and blend until combined.  Add in the coconut oil and honey and blend well until smooth.  Add the flour mixture and blend to combine.
4. Pour the mixture into lined muffin tins (makes enough for 12 muffins).
5. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
6. Left muffins cool.

While Muffins Are Cooling:
7. Place the coconut oil and raw honey in a food processor or blender and blend until combined.
8. Add your berries and blend until smooth.
9. Serve spread with the muffins.

After letting the muffins cool off right out of the oven, my husband, Logan and I shared one.  Logan had no complaints - he smacked his lips and chowed down.  My husband and I both noted the difference in texture right away, but I thought the flavor was still good.  I decided to whip up the berry spread and ended up adding a couple more strawberries and a handful of raspberries because they were starting to go bad and I needed to use them.  With the addition of the berry spread on top of a heated up muffin, these things were AMAZING and you forgot about the texture difference.  

I would definitely make these again!

Original Recipe Taken From: Paleo Cupboard ( and Slightly Modified

New Resolve, New Goals, New Lifestyle - We're Going Paleo

It's been over two years since I've posted a new recipe, and I promise there are a million reasons why...some of them good reasons, others not so much.  But sometimes life just gets in the way and stuff happens.  With that said, we now have an 18-month-old creature (named Logan) wandering around the house and I feel it's okay to say he is the biggest reason why I have not managed to maintain my food blog.

With Logan came a lot of changes in our house and for our family.  We had to move kids into different bedrooms, start the remodel of adding another bedroom, putting in a backyard, etc., etc., etc.  The list goes on and on, and I'm ashamed to say the additional bedroom is still not finished and aside from a gate being put up on the fence, the backyard hasn't seen much progress either.  Kids tend to make you shift your priorities, but we're working on it.

The one good thing Logan has done for our family is renewed our attempt to get back on track to living a healthy lifestyle.  There are a lot of "conditions" that run in both sides of our family (Husband's family: hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, etc.  My family: various cancers, allergy and skin conditions, and possible behavioral disorders, some of which have probably not been diagnosed but I'm convinced they are there).  In our pursuit of jumping back on the bandwagon of healthy living, I came across a lot of information about the Paleo lifestyle and the overall health benefits associated with this way of living.  

For those who have never heard of Paleo, it is basically a lifestyle that reverts back to the days of paleolithic eating of our hunting-gathering ancestors.  It is a process of removing all processed and prepackaged foods from your diet and relying on whole, clean and nutrient dense foods to provide nourishment to your body.  This includes eating only grass-fed meats, free range poultry, wild fish, vegetables, fruit, berries, and some nuts and seeds.

Studies done over time have shown the Paleo Lifestyle to be associated with multiple health benefits that you just can't ignore:

Increased and more stable energy levels
Improved sleep quality
Healthier skin and hair
Improved mood and attitude
Sustained weight loss
Muscle growth / increased fitness
Lowered risk of heart disease
Lowered risk of diabetes
Lower risk of cancer
Higher immune function
Improved glucose tolerance
Decreased insulin secretion and increased insulin sensitivity
Improved lipid profiles
Healthier gut flora
Better absorption of nutrients from food
Reduced allergies
Reduction in pain associated with inflammation
Improvements in respiratory problems (asthma)

Info taken from:

With our family histories, I think it is the least we can do to teach our kids how living a healthy lifestyle can benefit them now as children, and in the long run as adults and seniors.  A lot of people who haven't spent enough time or energy researching the Paleo Lifestyle have nothing but negative things to say about it, but I truly feel that you can't knock it 'til you try it!  So this is where our new journey starts.  I want to prove to those naysayers that you CAN enjoy delicious and nutritious foods without pumping your body full of overly processed, highly sugared and dangerously over preserved crap (Good Read: Pandora's Lunchbox: How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal by Melanie Warner).  

Please keep in mind that this is a new journey for us and not everything I attempt to make is going to turn out the first time.  I will post recipes that I have found to be successful for our family with the hopes that others will see the kinds of foods my family is enjoying and try it out themselves.  So without further ado...enjoy!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Day #124 - Spicy Sausage & Peppers Penne

Tonight's meal was another quick and easy one. The recipe calls for hot Italian turkey sausage, but I couldn't find any at the grocery store when we went grocery shopping last weekend - so I opted for spicy Italian chicken sausage. The nutritional information is more favorable for the chicken sausage anyway - and I doubt it would have tasted any different. It was a really filling meal and the bell peppers add so much flavor!


8 oz Uncooked Penne Pasta
1 lb Hot Italian Turkey (or Chicken) Sausage (about 4 links)
3 Medium Bell Peppers Cut Into 1/4" Strips
1/2 Cup Coarsely Chopped Onion
2 Garlic Cloves, Pressed
1 Can (14.5 oz) Diced Tomatoes, Undrained
1 can (8 oz) Tomato Sauce
2 tsp Italian Seasoning **See Note below
1/4 Cup Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese

** Note: I keep a mixture of this Garlic Bread Seasoning on hand for occasions like this. It's the most fabulous mixture of ingredients and can be used on garlic bread, bread sticks, in pizza sauce, in other pasta sauces, etc.


Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and keep warm.

Meanwhile, cook sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat for about 15 minutes, or until sausage is lightly browned and no longer pink. Remove sausages from the skillet; cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces and set aside.

In the same skillet, cook the bell peppers, onion and garlic over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes, or until peppers are crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. Add sausage, tomatoes, tomato sauce and seasoning mix. Cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes or until heated through.

Place pasta in a large bowl; pour sauce mixture over pasta, tossing to coat. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information (Approximately For 2 Cups):

Total Calories: 330 cal

Total Fat: 3.5 g

Total Carbs: 40 g (2 carb exchanges)

Total Protein: 21 g

When paired with 1 piece of Francisco French Bread, 1 tbsp of Smart Balance Light Butter Spread, Sprinkling of the Garlic Bread Seasoning mentioned above, 2 cups of salad and a low calorie dressing, the total nutritional information is approximately: 450 calories, 4 g of fat, 57 g of carbs, and 23 g of protein.

Day #123 - Honey Mustard Pork Medallions & Orzo Pilaf

This is one of those meals you could easily work into your monthly menu planning. It's so easy and tastes so good! It would be fabulous paired with any kind of grain as a side - I pulled the recipe for the Orzo Pilaf from the back of the Orzo box. It can't get any easier than that!

I just have to add that I just finished eating leftovers for lunch - and it makes a fabulous lunch! Now I'm off for a walk around Bellevue! Enjoy!

Honey Mustard Pork Medallions:


1 Lb Pork Tenderloin
2 Tbsp Honey
1 Tbsp Yellow Mustard
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Ground Allspice
1/8 tsp Red Pepper
1/4 cup Water
2 tsp Packed Brown Sugar


Slice pork loin into 1/4" slices. Mix all ingredients except water and brown sugar in a shallow bowl. Add pork; turn to coat with marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes. In a separate bowl, mix water and brown sugar until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

Spray a non-stick skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat. Remove pork from marinade and discard remaining marindate. Cook the pork in the skillet for 5 to 6 minutes, turning once, until no longer pink. Remove pork from the skillet and cover with foil to keep warm.

Reduce heat to low. Stir water & sugar mixture into drippings in the skillet. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir for one minute. Drizzle sauce over pork and serve.

Quick Orzo Pilaf


8 oz Dry Orzo
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Small Onion, Diced (1/2 Cup)
1/2 Cup Diced Red or Green Bell pepper
2-1/2 Cups Water
1 Chicken Bouillon Cube
1 Cup Frozen Peas & Carrots


In a saucepan, saute onion and bell pepper, about 3 minutes over medium heat, or until vegetables soften.

Add orzo, water and bouillon; stirring frequently, bring to a boil.

Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in peas and carrots; cover and cook an additional two minutes, or until orzo is tender and peas and carrots are heated through.

Nutritional Information (Approximately for 4 oz Pork Loin):

Total Calories: 190 cal

Total Fat: 5.0 g

Total Carbs: 11 g

Total Protein: 26 g

Nutritional Information (Approximately for 1/3 Cup Orzo):

Total Calories: 210 cal

Total Fat: 1.0 g

Total Carbs: 41 g

Total Protein: 7.0 g

Monday, May 2, 2011

Day #122 - Szechuan Chicken

We decided to try something new and different with our dinner menu for the next two weeks. Everything you see posted for the next 14 days will be low in carbohydrates (2 carb choices or less). While Jim is the only diabetic in our house - I'm convinced we could all use a little diet makeover and this is a good starting point for us. And the meals we have planned look really fabulous! I can't wait to try them all.

This first one turned out pretty good - the flavors were good. My only complaint is that the chicken was too dry and I'm pretty sure it has to do with how they have you cook the chicken. Next time - I will have Jim cook the chicken on the grill to keep it nice and juicy.


1 tsp Minced Garlic
1 tsp Grated Fresh Ginger
1/2 tsp Salt-Free Lemon-Pepper Seasoning
1/2 tsp Crushed Fennel Seeds
1/8 tsp Ground Cloves (just a pinch)
1 Pound Chicken Tenders Cut Into 1/2" Slices
1 Tbsp Canola Oil
12 oz Bok Choy Cut Into 1/2" Slices
1/4 Cup Chicken Broth
1 Tbsp Reduced-Sodium Soy Sauce
Red Pepper Flakes (optional)


In a mixing bowl, combine the garlic, ginger, lemon-pepper seasoning, fennel seeds, and cloves. Add the chicken. With your hands or a spoon, toss well to coat all the chicken pieces with the seasoning.

Set a wok or a large skillet over high heat until very hot. Add the oil and swirl to coat the pan. Place the chicken pieces into the pan so they are separated. Cook for 1 minutes or until browned on the bottom. Turn and cook for an additional 1 minute until browned. Reduce the heat to medium-high. Add the bok choy and cook for about 2 minutes, tossing until the bok choy leaves are wilting. Add the broth and soy sauce.

Bring almost to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear. Serve and garnish with red pepper flakes if desired.

Nutritional Information (Approximately for 4 oz of chicken):

Total Calories: 156 Calories

Total Fat: 4 gm

Total Carbs: 3 gm

Total Protein: 28 gm

When paired with 1/2 a cup of brown rice and a side salad with light dressing - you have a fabulous meal for under 350 calories!!!

Day #121 - Steak & Pasta Salad

This one is pretty self explanatory. Jim grilled the steaks while I made the pasta salad (which consists of mini bow-tie pasta, diced tomatoes and orange bell peppers and mixed with your favorite low-fat Italian salad dressing).