Thursday, January 2, 2014

Grab a Pencil! Teri Is Posting an Actual RECIPE on Her Blog!

I have decided to try to eat healthier in 2014. How does this concern you? Well... I like to bring people along on all my journeys and this is no exception. If I'm going to eat healthier, then you are too. If I have to learn some new foods, shop in new stores, gag down new vegetables -- so do you! Won't this be great?

My sister-in-law was here for Christmas. When my sister-in-law is here, full years are added to my life expectancy, just from being around her. She's THAT healthy. This is a person who makes cinnamon rolls from SCRATCH. She hasn't heard of Pillsbury. Or maybe she has, but she scorns it. And she spent what seemed (to me) like hours removing the seeds from a couple pomegranates in order to use them for topping on the cinnamon rolls. Before Christmas morning, 2013 - I would not have believed that fruit and cinnamon rolls could go together in any way. The result is extraordinary. And it is amazing when you mix little mini chocolate chips in with the pomegranate seeds. However, I am wasting time. I did not really come here to tell you about the cinnamon rolls, interesting as they are. I came here to tell you about the protein bars I made today from Rachel's recipe. I will show you the recipe and then I will walk you through it because I expect that, like me, you thought that only people like Clif, Power Bar, and Luna made protein bars. (Kinda like only Pillsbury makes cinnamon rolls.)

This recipe is from Rachel's blog, which I highly recommend. Just visiting the blog one time will reduce your chances of all kinds of diet-related diseases. Actually following some of the recipes will probably make you a different person. I'm not pressuring you. Some of us don't like change.

Banana Bread Protein Bars-Only slightly adapted from, "Oh She Glows"

Yield: 10 bars
Dry ingredients:
  • 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup raw buckwheat groats*, ground into flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 3 tbsp chia seeds
  • 3 tbsp mini dark chocolate chips (Rachel's note: I use semisweet chocolate chips and chop them up in the food processor.)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt

Wet ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 small-medium)
  • 1/2 cup natural smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut nectar syrup or brown rice syrup (Rachel's note: I use brown rice syrup)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350F and line an 8-inch square pan with 2 pieces of parchment paper, one going each way. Tip – to get the parchment to stick to the pan, give the base a spray with olive oil and do this for the next paper too.

2. Add raw buckwheat groats into a high-speed blender and blend on high until a fine flour forms. Whisk all dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl.

3. Mash bananas until smooth and measure out 3/4 cup. Stir together the banana and all the wet ingredients in a bowl.

4. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir well until combined. The dough should be very sticky!

5. Scoop batter into prepared pan. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the batter and press it down to spread out the batter evenly. You can also remove the paper and wet your hands lightly and spread it out that way. Make sure it’s as even as possible.

6. Bake at 350F for 22-26 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and the bread is firm to touch. Cool in the pan completely (I left it for 1 hour) before removing and slicing into bars.

*Notes: Raw buckwheat groats are not the same as kasha or toasted buckwheat. Raw groats have a milder flavour than toasted. You can find raw groats online, in some health food stores, or the bulk bins of Whole Foods. 

Okay, first things first. Rachel mentions pre-heating the oven. If this sounds foreign to you, you're worse off than I thought and you should probably go watch the Food Network for a half a day or something. Or Google "oven" and start there.

Next, you'll notice a few weird things under the "dry ingredients" list. Buckwheat groats is the first. Weird or not, they can be obtained at Whole Foods Market. I highly recommend the Whole Foods on Las Vegas Boulevard. Nowhere else will you find such a unique fusion of Las Vegas culture (read: off-duty show dancers wearing lace pants and high-heeled boots), BMW-driving granola-types (everywhere else this would be an oxymoron), and richy-rich tourists stopping in to pick up - I don't know - a bag of grain or something. That's what you're there for: several bags of grain. Look in the grain bins for the "buckwheat groats" and get yourself a couple scoops. Then locate the chia seeds. Not chia PETS... chia seeds. I can only trust in Rachel that these are as nutritious as all-get-out. They cost a freaking arm and a leg so prepare your bank account before your Whole Foods trip. Finally, you'll see the recipe calls for "unsweetened coconut." I did not know there was such a thing. I thought coconut had to be sweetened to make it worth eating. In any case, I found mine at Smith's in the baking aisle - wonders never cease!

Once you mix the dry ingredients, the result will be unlike anything you've ever seen or smelled. My daughter took a whiff and proclaimed it "disgusting." I just laughed coolly and said, "Oh, honey, that's just the aroma of pure health!" as if I've smelled it every day of my life.

The wet ingredients are fairly straightforward for folks like me, except I had no clue what brown rice syrup is. Found that at Whole Foods too once I breezed past the young employee man wearing a beanie talking to a customer about the nine ways he uses his organic beet juice powder. I almost stopped to listen but I felt my head begin to spin, so I moved on.

You'll want to mix all this stuff together in the order Rachel dictates, spread it in a pan and bake it. Then freeze the bars and every morning after your workout (you are working out, right? because if you're not we need to have another talk) you can set it on a plate to thaw while you whip up your veggie smoothie. Trust me, these bars are delicious.* And someone somewhere can tell you all the benefits you will reap from the buckwheat and chia seeds. It won't be me. I'm worn out from all this learning, shopping, baking, and sarcasm.

*All kidding aside, I ate several of these yummy bars at Rachel's house when I visited there this past summer. On that visit alone, I added twelve years to my life. We did this thing called CrossFit in her home gym... I'll tell you all about it another day.
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