Monday, April 23, 2012

Homemade Granola Bars (My first attempt)

With some of the ingredients that I bought over the weekend I decided that I was going to make my own granola bars.  I didn't do much in the way of research before hand, I mean how hard can it really be?  Well I felt as my first attempt they turned out pretty good.  I think that I baked them just a little too long, but when you aren't focused on the oven and instead on your boys outside that tends to happen. 

The options are really endless when it comes to what you can add, you could just use oats or use a combination of oats and cereal or pretzels.  Dried fruits, nuts, nut butters, sweeteners (I recommend natural), candy, really anything!

I used:
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup pretzels, crushed (helpers are great for this step!)
1 cup mixed nuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup craisins
2/3 cup peanut butter
2/3 cup honey
(I was going to also use carob chips and coconut, but forgot the chips and the coconut was bad.)

Lightly toast the oats, pretzels and nuts. While that is toasting, heat the honey and peanut butter until the peanut butter is really runny (about 1 minute in the microwave).

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl, press into a greased 9 x 13 pan.  Bake at 350 until just golden and set.  Probably only 20 minutes. I didn't wait until they were cooled to cut because I didn't want them just to crumble. (And even if they did you now have granola!) The flavor was there, I just would have liked the texture to be more chewy and less crunchy.  If I baked them for less time then I may have achieved that, but I have next time, and I will make another batch.

Store in a plastic or glass container with a tight lid, they should last for about a week or so.

Make ahead Lunches: Vegetarian Salads

This post follows my Day of Preparation post. I made three salads this weekend, all can be eaten cold but at least one I would recommend eating warm. I made these looking for a protein packed vegetarian lunches that will keep me feeling full longer after a workout.  Each salad was made to have two servings. I don't plan on eating these salads all on their own, I have various other items to go along with the them.  All of the salads can be tweaked to you tastes, and can even just be used as a side dish.

First, I made a Garbanzo and Rice Salad

1/2 cup of cooked rice
1/2 cup of garbanzo beans, cooked or canned
3 cucumber slices, chopped
1/2 celery stalk, chopped
2 green onions, white and light green only
1/8 cup chopped tomatoes, more if you would like
2 tablespoons basic vinaigrette (recipe below)
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together, store in a container with a tight fitted lid in the refrigerator.

Basic Vinaigrette
1 clove garlic, mashed
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 shallot, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

The second, Warm Mushroom and Pearl Couscous Salad

2/3 cup pearl couscous, cooked
1/2 cup sherry mushrooms
1/8 cup marinaded baked tofu, cut into small cubes, I used Trader Joe's
2 tablespoons soybeans, steamed and shelled
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together, store in a container with a tight fitted lid in the refrigerator. Warm in the microwave or on the stove top, if you use the stove top you may want to add a little vegetable broth.

The third, Black Bean and Sweet Potato Salad

1/2 cup black beans, cooked or canned
1 cup roasted sweet potato, cut into bite size cubes
1/2 cup cooked rice
1 tsp chopped jalapeno
1/8 cup green pepper, chopped
1/2 tsp cumin
a dash of Cheyenne (optional)
1/2 tsp Chipotle Seasoning
1 tablespoon basic vinaigrette
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together, store in a container with a tight fitted lid in the refrigerator. (This can be eaten warm or cold)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A day of Preparation

I have been trying to figure out lunches that I can make ahead or at least partially make ahead that are also pretty high in protein.  After my lunch hour workouts the lunches I have been making just aren't cutting it, I find I am hungry about an hour or two after I eat and starving by dinner time.  So, this weekend just ended up being the weekend I decided to figure out my lunches.  I had to go to the grocery store for one of those big shopping trips anyway so I made a separate list with just things I needed or wanted, in addition to our normal list. 

My list included: dried Garbanzo Beans, peppers, garlic, dried Black beans, celery, cucumbers, oats, onions, dried fruit, flax seed, mushrooms, potatoes, nuts, tomatoes, fresh fruits, pretzels, tofu just to name a few.  If you notice I am trying to keep with a vegetarian theme.  I can control what I eat for breakfast and lunch, but dinner is our family time and I am grateful to have a husband who makes dinner every night during the week.

I was inspired by a blog I came across called Oh She Glows, the author did a two part post on make ahead lunches. So I decided that I could do the same but with my own recipes.  When coming up with lunch ideas I also was thinking about how I could do as much prep as I could to make my mornings easier.  I bought dry beans, rice and couscous, all of which I made a larger batch so I was able to freeze some for later use.

My goal was to make granola bars, various salads, and wrap stuffers.  I spent the day cooking the beans, rice, and couscous, roasting vegetables, sauteing the mushrooms, and cutting raw vegetables.

I roasted the tomatoes with garlic, onion, olive oil and salt and pepper for about 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees. While the tomatoes were in the oven I sauteed the mushrooms with garlic, onion, salt and pepper and sherry until the sherry was absorbed, then added just a few of the roasted tomatoes.

On top of the preparation I did today, I also bought items that I can just throw in my bag. Oranges, carrots, hummus, yogurts, bananas and premade trail mix. This week will be a test, I should have enough snacks and protein to make it through the day.