Classic Raisin Molasses Bran Muffins – v, gf

classic molasses raisin bran-muffin vegan gluten free

I love bran muffins. It’s something that I easily forget when I’m busy stuffing chocolate chips into every recipe I make, but a trip to Virginia last weekend (Virginia has nothing to do with bran muffins, per se, except that I was there when I remembered how delicious bran muffins are) reminded me that the moist, plump raisin, molasses-y taste of a well-made bran muffin can’t be beat.

And I should emphasize the well-made part.

I used to work at a bakery that made an awesome raisin bran muffin, and while I can’t quite remember the recipe, I do remember the ingredients and what the batter looked like, so when trying to find a recipe template, I had some land marks to follow.

classic molasses raisin bran-muffin vegan gluten free

There are a few stages to making a bran muffin batter, but don’t be worried. You just need to have a few different bowls going, and then eventually you condense them, bowl by bowl, until you have a lovely muffin batter. Note that this batter keeps really well in the fridge, so if you wanted to double it and bake half later in the week, go for it. In fact, part of me almost thinks the batter is even nicer AFTER sitting in the fridge a bit, but I have no scientific evidence to back that up.

These muffins bake up really nicely with a beautiful round dome top (important for me in a muffin – what’s with those gluten-free muffins that sometimes look like they’ve been frightened and are jumping in different directions out of the muffin tin?). They are extra delicious with some coconut oil or vegan butter.

Bran muffin luxury!

classic molasses raisin bran-muffin vegan gluten free

Moist Raisin Molasses Oat Bran Muffins – v, gf

  • Author: Emily Joldersma R.H.N., inspired by Mom’s Bran Muffins original recipe at The Moveable Feasts blog
  • Recipe Notes: vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup oat bran (not sure if you can’t find certified gluten-free, but that will be necessary to make these strictly gluten-free)
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons ground chia seeds + an additional 4 tablespoons almond milk (your chia egg)
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup fancy molasses (or go hard with blackstrap, though I haven’t tested this – apparently fancy molasses is difficult to find organic and non-GMO)
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup gluten-free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill; if you like, you could also substitute a nice kamut or spelt flour too)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon xantham gum, optional but recommended
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt/Himalayan pink salt
  • 1 1/4 cups raisins, plumped

Instructions:

  1. Plump raisins by putting them in a small bowl and covering them with warm/boiling water. Easy peezy. Before adding them to the batter, you’ll just drain off the water.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together almond milk and apple cider vinegar. Let stand for 5 minutes, then add the baking soda, chia, additional almond milk, and oat bran.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together the melted coconut oil, molasses, maple syrup, and vanilla.
  5. In a medium bowl, sift together gluten-free flour, baking powder, cinnamon, xantham gum, and salt.
  6. Now we start the combining:
    1. Add the milk/bran mix to the oil/molasses mix and whisk well.
    2. Add the flour mix to the liquid mix and stir until combined.
    3. Add raisins to the batter.
  7. Scoop batter into a prepared muffin tin (either lined with paper cups or lightly greased with oil).
  8. Bake for 18-24 minutes, or until tops spring back when gently pressed.
  9. Let cool and then try a few! They freeze really nicely and will keep on the counter for 2 to 3 days, I would think. But freezing is probably best.

© Eat Well, Live Vibrantly

 


Crunchy Chickpea Flour Crackers with Onion and Sesame Seeds

savoury chickpea flour crackers with onion and sesame seedsThere is a reason I included chickpea flour as one of my ‘extra choice’ items for my April clean eating challenge – these crackers are that reason. These crackers, and all of the other awesome stuff you can make from chickpea flour, like socca, chocolate chip cookies, and vegan french toast.

Chickpea flour is underestimated and undervalued but the stuff is kickass. It’s got fibre, protein, minerals, and it’s naturally gluten-free. It’s versatile, delicious, and it’s fun. You’re baking with ground up chickpeas! What’s not to love?

Just don’t taste the batter.

savoury chickpea flour crackers with onion and sesame seeds

Now, some of you will probably disregard this advice or will perhaps have had traumatic chickpea flour experiences in the past. You will wrinkle your noses in disgust and say, Emily, I went ahead and tasted that chickpea flour batter.  It was touch and go there for awhile – I barely made it out of the experience alive. How could you lead me so astray?

Well, as with all things chickpea (in my experience), that beany bitterness bakes itself right out of the batter while it’s in the oven. Keep the faith. The resulting product will be savoury, delicious, crunchy, and sans-bitterness.

And with this base recipe, you can pretty much add whatever you want – omit the sesame seeds and add sunflower seeds; try with other seasonings (like garlic powder or chili powder!). It’s amazingly flexible.

savoury chickpea flour crackers with onion and sesame seeds

And you are making your own crackers! You’re part of the solution! No more boxes or plastic packages to throw away. No more spending your entire paycheck on one box of gluten-free crackers (because let’s be honest, that’s how much they cost). Just simple, savoury, chickpea flour.

Crunchy Chickpea Flour Crackers with Onion and Sesame Seeds

  • Author: recipe inspired by this basic version at Heather G Nutrition
  • Recipe Notes: egg-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chickpea flour (cold)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus 1 teaspoon for brushing on top
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons organic onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon himayalan pink salt (reduce if you aren’t interested in a nice salty cracker)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons water (or so)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together chickpea flour, sesame seeds, onion powder, pink salt, and baking powder.
  3. Stir in olive oil.
  4. After the olive oil is kind of ‘smooshed’ in, stir in water. The dough should kind of be a bit sticky but not too sticky. It should feel like cookie dough.
  5. On a well-floured surface, roll out the dough until thin (as thin or thick as you like your crackers). Keep flouring everything so the dough doesn’t stick.
  6. Using a bench scraper/dough scraper or some other device to cut the dough into strips and transfer to your baking sheet, then cut into squares.
  7. Brush lightly with a bit of olive oil.
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes until light golden.
  9. Store in an airtight container.

Crunch and enjoy!

© Backyard Owl

 


Easy No-Bake Almond Butter Protein Bars with Chocolate and Coconut – v, gf

homemade chocolate almond butter protein barsI love a good vegan protein bar. Convenient, tasty, and portable, they can sometimes be the perfect answer to “me so hungry.”

But, it’s easy to start relying on them to fill in the gaps, well, just about everywhere. After the gym, as an afternoon snack, in place of supper, and so on.

It’s an expensive habit, and in the end, still a processed, manufactured product, meaning: not as good for you as real, whole foods. That said, if I can find a way to make a more “whole foods” version of a protein bar, I’m not going to say no.

homemade chocolate almond butter protein barsThese bars are made with almond butter, coconut oil, shredded coconut, chia seeds, almonds, cocoa powder, dates, raw vegan protein powder, and dark chocolate. Calgon, take me away.

As with most other bars (like my cookie dough protein bars or chia energy bites), the premise is simple. Whir a bunch of stuff in a food processor, mix some other stuff in a bowl, and then melt some dark chocolate as the finisher.

I’ve tried to include enough protein sources (nuts, seeds, protein powder) to make this a reasonable source of protein. If you’re noshing on it after a workout, you want it to provide the required amino acids.

So give these a try and see what you think. They have great flavour, hold together really nicely, and look really pretty.

homemade chocolate almond butter protein bars.3

Easy No-Bake Almond Butter Protein Bars with Chocolate and Coconut

  • Author: Backyard Owl
  • Recipe Notes: vegan, gluten-free, no-bake, soy-free (depending on protein powder), naturally-sweetened (also depends on protein powder)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 10 medjool dates, pitted
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds, whole or ground
  • 2-4 scoops protein powder (I use a raw, rice-based protein powder that is sweetened with stevia)
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons maca powder (optional)
  • pinch Himalayan pink salt (to balance the sweetness of the protein powder)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, soft
  • 1/3 cup flaked coconut
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil

Instructions:

  1. In a food processor, whir together oats and cashews until finely ground. Add dates, and process until a moist paste forms.
  2. Press into an 8×8 square pan.
  3. In the same (now empty) food processor, process almond butter, coconut oil, shredded coconut, and cocoa powder. Whir in protein powder, salt, maca powder, and chia seeds. Mix until the paste is smooth and mostly uniform (pieces of coconut will remain).
  4. Pour this mix on top of the prepared crust. Sprinkle with flaked coconut.
  5. Put in the fridge to firm up.
  6. In the meantime, melt 1 teaspoon coconut oil and chocolate chips over a double boiler (a heat-proof bowl sitting over a pot of boiling water). Drizzle over top of firmed up bars.
  7. Cut into squares (whatever your desired size) and store in the fridge.

© Backyard Owl


Avocado Lime Ice Cream (vegan, gluten-free)

vegan avocado lime ice cream with coconut milk

I’ve been wanting to make an avocado lime ice cream for a long time now. The flavours seem so summery, and since baking delicious summer zucchini and carrot cupcakes that also contained avocados, I’ve been reawakened to the joys and possibilities of turning avocados into tasty desserts.

This weekend, the last of the summer, is an opportunity to embrace summer flavours and have last one hot weather hurrah. I know, I know, generally September is hot too (remember when you’d have bought a fabulous new back-to-school jacket and it would be WAY too hot to wear it but you’d wear it anyways because it was part of your new look?), but there is something extra special about making this ice cream as part of a delicious summer send-off.

avocado lime ice cream with coconut milk

This recipe – which I took from GI365’s lovely blog – makes magic for a variety of reasons. I shall now be insufferably cute by naming 5 reasons (one for each of the 5 ingredients – awww!) you should consider making this amazing vegan ice cream now, or at leastfor your next dinner party/barbeque/business meeting/road trip/day in your pyjamas:

  1. avocados and limes are so beautifully green and you will marvel with every tangy sweet bite how a colour so beautiful could also be 100% natural;
  2. avocado and limes have done savoury in guacamole – now is their time for sweet;
  3. avocado is mellow and creamy; lime is tangy and fruity. Together, they create a blend of complementary flavours and textures, which makes for a very addictive dessert;
  4. this ice cream is naturally-sweetened; also, avocados contain healthy fats and antioxidants, coconut milk has good-for-you medium chain fatty assets, and lime juice is alkaline and has Vitamin C – I’m not saying this makes this ice cream the equivalent of a kale smoothie, but it does mean there is some healthy stuff happening at the same time as the delicious stuff;
  5. aside from requiring an ice cream maker and a blender, this ice cream is really easy to make. No additional thickening, cooling, or heating required to get this ice cream from peel to spoon.

vegan avocado lime ice cream with coconut milk

Avocado & Lime Coconut Milk Ice Cream

  • Author: GI365 – view the original recipe for Coconut Lime Ice Cream
  • Recipe Notes: vegan, gluten-free, wheat-free, naturally-sweetened

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon lime zest (preferably from an organic lime)
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1 can (or slightly less – it still works!) full-fat organic coconut milk + 1/4 cup water
  • 2 ripe avocados, peeled

Instructions:

  1. Whisk together lime juice, zest, maple syrup, coconut milk, and water.
  2. Add peeled avocados and using an immersion blender, blend until avocados are fully pureed. If you don’t have an immersion blender, toss the entire mixture into a regular blender.
  3. Pour the blended lime-avocado mix into an ice cream mixture and freeze according to instructions. Usually this means mixing for 20 to 30 minutes in the ice cream maker and then firming up in the freezer for at least 3 hours.
  4. Before serving, remove from freezer and let soften at room temperature for 20 minutes.
  5. Serve in your favourite (vegan) waffle cones, waffle bowls, sugar cones, or just dish it up in whatever vessel you have hanging around!

© 2014 Backyard Owl


15 Tips for Reducing Food Packaging Waste

pking wasteLet’s talk about reducing food packaging and food packaging waste. But first, let’s talk about stress and energy. I had a stressful week. One of my beautiful, lovely, (and I thought: safe) indoor cats had a fluke accident, needed surgery, experienced some complications from the surgery, and had to stay at the vet’s for several days of additional care. Hopefully I get to pick him up and take him home tomorrow.  This, needless to say, was stressful. And also costly. Looking at pet insurance is now on my to-do list. But the point is, I don’t know about you, but when I get stressed, my energy levels drop into my boots. Going to work and coming home seem about the most I can manage, and cooking meals, writing blog entries, tending to my community garden plot, and going biking all seem to take a lot more energy than they did before. So when I was thinking about these tips for reducing food packaging, I wanted them to be easy enough and manageable enough that they could be attempted even during a stressful week, even when energy is low, and even when there are so many other things vying for our attention.

At its heart, reducing food packaging waste is really about two things: good intentions and planning. Together, good intentions and planning help you forge new habits and awareness when it comes to food packaging. Before you know it, you’ll be wondering why it is that you haven’t had to empty your garbage or your recycling in weeks, because they are just so darn empty. And you’ll feel a hop in your step, because your impact on the planet is lighter and you know yourself to be a conscious consumer.

15 Tips for Reducing Food Packaging and Food Packaging Waste

  1. Get inspired and get educated. Read about people who have taken it to the next level and ignite your own passion for kicking excess packaging to the curb. I like My Plastic-Free Life as an example.
  2. Bring your own grocery bags. Leave reusable bags in your car, or get a tiny one that folds up and keep it in your purse. You’ll almost always need a bag at the grocery store, so why not reduce the packaging you need to carry your other packaging home?
  3. Bring your own produce bags or skip them altogether. You know those people who pull plastic bags off the rollers at the grocery store like they’re pulling toilet paper off the roll and/or starting a lawnmower? Don’t be one of those people. Either bring a few small bags along, skip the bags altogether (you’re going to peel and/or wash the food first, right? and I’m assuming there isn’t any contaminating meat in your cart) or purchase a set of washable, reusable mesh produce bags. I have four such bags and they are worth their weight in gold. There is a whole world of reusable bags out there. Check out all these fun options.
  4. Shop at the bulk store and bring your own bulk bags. This one can be tricky, because buying six chocolate almonds and putting them in a fresh bag each week might not be the best way to reduce food packaging. My secret? Keep the bags! When I get home, I pour the grains/flours/chocolate chips I’ve purchased into jars, and then I fold up the bags and store them in the pantry. Next time you might be going to the bulk store, just toss ’em in your reusable shopping bag, and use them for your next purchase. Now, some bulk stores have more stringent rules around health and safety, so just be prepared that if you accidentally scoop four pounds of the wrong kind of cashew into your bag from home, there are no put backs. You scoop it, you bought it.
  5. Shop at your local farmers’ market and bring your own bags. You know we couldn’t get through this list without a good farmers’ market reference. Mushrooms, dried tomatoes, olives, fresh fruit and vegetables, hummus, sauces, bulk foods, the list goes on and on. Most markets have an indoor and/or an outdoor part, and between the two, they cover most things you might need, and, frequently, without any packaging. Plus, farmers’ markets will often let you use your own bags, and the money goes directly to the farmer or farm stand, without supporting (I’m going to get a little political on you here) the pseudo-corporate advertising and processed food playground that is often the large chain supermarket.
  6. Shop at your local co-op or independent grocery store (and yes, bring your own bags). Again, same reasons apply. Most foods come from closer by, you can use your own bags, you can form a relationship with the store and its employees, and you will generally have more options for local, organic, unpackaged foods.
  7. Develop a collection of bags for different purposes and keep them organized. You might notice a bit of a ‘bring your own bags’ refrain here. I think of my pantry bag selection as just being part of my overall storage collection. I have glass storage containers, mason jars, shopping bags, produce bags, bulk item bags, paper bags, etc. Then, when I review my grocery list, I just decide what bags I might need, pop them into the reusable bag, and off I go.
  8. Don’t buy packaged produce. This one is pretty straightforward. Avoid buying foods that come packaged in styrofoam containers, or wrapped in foil, or in a non-recyclable bag, especially if there are unpackaged versions sitting right beside hoping to get your attention.
  9. Bring your own travel mug. I admit, I wouldn’t initially have thought of this because I so infrequently purchase drinks. I don’t say that to be ‘rah rah Emily’ – I’m just being honest (I have other vices, don’t worry). However, if you are an avid coffee or beverage purchaser, you can make a significant dent in your personal waste footprint by bringing your own mug.
  10. Bring your own doggie bag container. This one involves a certain amount of pre-planning, it’s true. But if you can pull it off, hats off to you. If you know are you are going out for dinner, bring along an extra glass tupperware container. I almost never manage to eat my entire meal, and that means even your restaurant meal ends up with food packaging waste in the form of styrofoam containers. Put the second half of your black bean burrito in your own container, and the magic happens. A second meal with no packaging waste.
  11. Avoid purchasing individually packaged items. Throwing out a little package every time you want a snack isn’t really a great way to go, and plus, those stupid 100 calorie treat things are never satisfying anyways.
  12. Make it yourself. Homemade foods are fresher, healthier, and (almost always) better tasting. Making your own muffins, cookies, breads, pizza crusts, almond milk, hummus, spice blends, and so on really reduces packaging, especially if the ingredients were bought at the bulk store in bags you brought from home.
  13. Buy it in season and freeze/preserve/dry/sauce it. I canned for the first time last year – not nearly as scary as I thought, and not a single incident of botulism. Buy a few extra containers of tomatoes or strawberries or rhubarb each time you shop at the market and freeze it. That might save a few plastic bags down the line in January when you want some strawberries and the only ones for sale are from New Zealand or come frozen in a non-recyclable plastic bag.
  14. Try glass straws. This one seems kind of random, maybe, but if you are a serial smoothie drinker, you know what I’m talking about. Glass straws are washable, reusable, and especially handy if you want something to protect your teeth while drinking your morning lemon and water.  I have this straw from Upaya Naturals and I love it. It’s strawsome (I did not come up with that).
  15. If you have to purchase something in a package, look for something recyclable, like glass, BPA-free cans, or recyclable plastic, or something you know you can use again. For cereals, try to buy the kind that just come in a recyclable bag, not a non-recyclable bag inside a box. Buy soups in mason jars and keep the jars for storage. Wash out bulk bags and use them again. Keep twist ties and rubber bands. You get the idea.

If you have any other tips, please share them below!

And remember, this isn’t about perfection. It isn’t about never buying another container of manufactured almond milk. Remember the stressful week above? I definitely caved and bought some almond milk in a package. I made homemade, too, but it didn’t last the week and I didn’t feel up to making more. The point is to make some strides, however small, towards making your grocery trip an empowered experience: heavy on the delicious healthy foods and light on the packaging and planet. Try one tip for the next month. Or try two. Or lovingly kiss your almond milk tetrapack goodbye and vow to never purchase packaged almond milk again. Choose your level. It’s a cliche, but it’s true: every little bit helps.

Chocolate Chip & Raisin Almond Pulp CookiesAnd now, I’m off to make some more chocolate chip almond pulp cookies. Waste reducing and food upcycling at its finest. Until next time!

© 2014 Backyard Owl

 


Homemade Sweet & Tangy Maple Mustard

mustard.1I’ve been wanting to make homemade mustard for some time, ever since I learned that you can make it with about five ingredients and a whisk. Prior to that time, when I lived in the mustard dark-ages, I thought mustard was a complex web of ingredients, built following a secret recipe, and that it was folly to even to contemplate that a mere mortal such as myself could create that beautiful yellow condiment available in grocery stores the world over.

And yet.

The theme for June is reducing packaging, and making your own mustard is a really easy way to do so, and also to feel pretty damn good about yourself and your kitchen skills with really very little labour or cost. And what would summer be without a good mustard-based salad dressing, or a generous dollop of mustard on a vegan sausage or sandwich, or that secret ingredient in your tangy potato salad? Plus, the beauty of homemade mustard is that you can customize it and make really gourmet flavours – herbed thyme mustard, maple mustard, garlic mustard, and so on.

mustard.2There are a couple of ways to make mustard: one involves soaking and then crushing up mustard seeds with some other ingredients, resulting in a beautifully rustic ‘stone-ground’ kind of mustard. The other way involves stirring together dry mustard powder (essentially ground up mustard seeds) with apple cider vinegar, a few other spices, your sweetener of choice, and boom. Mustard.

Before I leave you with the recipe, take care to note the golden rule of mustard: mustard mellows with time. Easy enough, right? Slap freshly made mustard on your sandwich after day one and you can expect to have your sinuses clean as a whistle. It’s got that horseradishy “whoosh” of heat. For those of you for whom the answer to “what kind of salsa do you want?” is always “mild, please,” give this mustard a few days or two weeks to mellow.  You can also “can” mustard via a boiling water bath if you want it to last ages, but otherwise, just store in a beautiful airtight jar and it should last a goodly while – at least one month, or up to six months if you’ve sterilized your glass jars first (i.e boiled in water for 10 minutes). I’ve seen several recipes that suggest mustard can be stored at room temperature, but I say, for safety sake, go with the fridge.

So, there you have it! A generous half cup of organic mustard powder cost me about $2 – plus the vinegar and maple syrup, this batch might have cost me $3.50 or $4. So about on par with what you’d pay at the grocery store, perhaps, but you have complete control over the quality and organic-ness of the ingredients and you also get the bragging power of having made it yourself. And bonus: no mustard jar to throw out or recycle at the end.

Homemade Sweet & Tangy Maple Mustard

  • Author: Backyard Owl
  • Recipe Notes: vegan, gluten-free, oil-free, soy-free, naturally-sweetened
  • Yield: 1/2 to 2/3 cups mustard
dry mustard

dry mustard / ground mustard

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup dry mustard (also called ground mustard)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric (for colour)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • generous pinch each: ground black pepper and garlic powder
  • if you’re feeling adventurous: a pinch of smoked paprika

Instructions:

  1. Whisk together all ingredients (in a glass or non-reactive bowl).
  2. Store in a (glass) jar.
  3. Feel like a pioneer.
  4. Plan out several recipes that use mustard.

NOTE: I mentioned this above, but it is worth repeating: numerous recipes I consulted said that if you want to keep your mustard for longer than one month in the fridge, it is worthwhile to sterilize your glass jars first. Also, if you want shelf-stable mustard, and want to process the jars in a water bath, consult a website with mustard canning expertise, like Food in Jars.

© 2014 Backyard Owl

 


Easy Twice-Baked Oat & Raisin Granola Bars with Dark Chocolate (vegan, gf)

The standard granola bar is, pardon my language, kind of a tricky bastard to create in the homemade healthy kitchen. Why? Well, I suppose it is partly because we are all used to the ubiquitous store-bought granola bar, which is either the supremely sugary chewy kind that sticks to your teeth or the super crunchy kind that if accidentally left in the bottom of a lunch bag or purse, seems to shatter into a million pieces like the dust of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh.

Easy Twice-Baked Oat and Raisin Bars with Dark Chocolate ChipsMade without corn syrup, refined sugars, or whatever it is that makes those other granola bars worthy of being karate-chopped, homemade granola bars live in a kind of in-between land. Chewy (but not in that taffy-pull candy kind of way) and crunchy (but not in a creepy Pharaoh dust kind of way), they are their own creature. These bars are a dense, toothsome, nutty, sweet but not overly so, delicious, normal-tasting experience. And I mean normal-tasting here really as the highest compliment. These bars taste like oats, and almond butter, and coconut oil, and raisins, and applesauce, and dark chocolate chips. And they taste like these things because that’s what they are made of. And I like that.

Now, I should explain about the twice-baked part. You’ll recall that my aim was to create a bar that was chewy, in that good “I’ve got fibre” kind of way, but also a bit crunchy.  In this recipe, chewy happens as the inevitable result of mixing oats with applesauce. The twice-baked part was a bit of biscotti inspiration. I mean, if you make a biscotti extra crunchy by baking it twice, why wouldn’t it work for a homemade fruit and oat bar? And it does work for the most part, which makes me, I think, something of a diabolical kitchen genius.

Easy Twice-Baked Oat and Raisin Bars with Dark Chocolate ChipsThese bars are also customizable, as most of my recipes are. Use dates or dried cherries instead of raisins; omit the chocolate chips; use all almond butter; use all coconut oil; use all applesauce (though this will make them veer evenly more sharply to the soft and chewy side of things no matter how many times you bake them); use pureed pumpkin instead of applesauce; add shredded coconut; throw in pumpkin seeds; and so on.

Let your inner granola bar artiste run wild! Make these a canvas that expresses everything you’ve always wanted to say about homemade granola bars. Paint a canvas of fruit and nut and oat and chocolate beauty that the world won’t soon forget.

And then bake ’em twice and eat ’em.

Easy Twice-Baked Oat and Raisin Bars with Dark Chocolate Chips

  • Author: Whole Living magazine (Jan/Feb 2013), with tweaks by Backyard Owl
  • Recipe notes: vegan, naturally-sweetened, gluten-free (if using certified oats), oil-free (if using all almond butter)
  • Yield: 9 generous granola bars or 12 smaller bars

IngredientsOat and Raisin Granola Bars with Dark Chocolate Chips

  • 3 cups (gluten-free) rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup dark vegan chocolate chips
  • 2 tsps ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup smooth natural almond butter (at room temperature) OR 1/4 cup almond butter plus 1/4 very soft (or melted) coconut oil
  • 4 tbsps ground flaxmeal or ground chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 3 tbsps almond milk (or 3 tbsps orange juice)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Lightly grease a 9×13 pan with coconut oil (note: if you wanted thinner bars, put them in a larger pan).
  • Whisk together dry ingredients plus raisins and chocolate chips.
  • Thoroughly mix together almond butter, coconut oil, applesauce, chia seeds, almond milk, maple syrup, and vanilla.
  • Mix wet and dry ingredients well, until all oats are coated with almond/syrup mixture.
  • Scoop mix into prepared pan and bake for 30 mins at 350F.
  • Remove from oven, let cool slightly, and cut into 9-12 bars.
  • Place bars on a baking sheet and bake for another 10-15 minutes at 350F again, until nicely browned all around edges.
  • Cool and enjoy! These bars freeze beautifully.

© 2014 Backyard Owl