February 26, 2013

Bran Flake Cereal with Almonds and Cranberries

When it comes to snacking, I'm not one to shy away from having an evening snack while watching TV, but I do like to keep my snack options pretty healthy.  I like to munch on things like rice cakes and mini bags of popcorn, and my current favourite late-night treat is a bag of these apple cinnamon snack sticks that I picked up from Trader Joes.

Most often, my snack of choice is a box of cereal. I do have a few criteria though - it has to be on the healthier side with lower sugar, and it has to have a mixture of flakey pieces with smaller crunchy clusters for variety, and bonus points for having extra ingredients like nuts and dried cranberries.

Since I always have a hard time finding a cereal at the grocery store that matches those requirements, I finally decided to make my own mix, and I couldn't be happier with the results!

The inspiration to make my own cereal came from a recipe I saw on Pom Wonderful's site. It sounded pretty easy once you have the right ingredients, and I knew that I could customize the recipe a bit to make a personalized cereal mix.

When I went to the bulk bins of the nearest organic store to pick up my ingredients, I had a bit of a setback when I couldn't find any bran flakes other than the ones that come in a giant bag. Since I didn't need a huge bag, and the packaged variety also contained more sugar than I wanted, I changed directions a bit and decided to make my own bran flakes!

Using a recipe I found online, it was actually easier that I would have thought to make bran flakes using common pantry ingredients like whole wheat flour, wheat bran and ground nuts. The trick is to make sure you roll your dough out really thin so that you end up with light and crispy flakes, shown below:

Once you've made the bran flakes, you combine them with a mixture of other dry flakes and sliced almonds with a healthy dose of cinnamon and vanilla for flavour. The process is basically the same as making your own granola - mix the dry and wet ingredients, then bake in the oven - except this cereal stays looser rather than clumping up like a crunchy granola.

The only sweetness in the cereal comes from a bit of pure maple syrup, plus some dried cranberries that I added after baking.  I loved that I was able to control all of the ingredients that went into my cereal, as well as the amount of sugar. I thought it had just enough sweetness and I loved the notes of cinnamon and vanilla that came through.

This makes a great snacking cereal (my favourite bits were the larger bran flakes!), but I also tried it as a breakfast cereal with almond milk and really liked it that way too.

While I don't think I'll be making my own cereal all the time from now on, I learned that it's easier than you may think, and it's fun to be able to customize your own mix yourself!

Bran Flake Cereal with Almonds and Cranberries
Adapted from PomWonderful and Mr. Breakfast

1 cup bran flakes, purchased or homemade from this recipe*
1 cup other mixed dry flakes (I used 1/3 cup each of rye flakes, spelt flakes and barley flakes)
1/3 cup oat flakes
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup wheat bran (can substitute wheat germ)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp melted coconut oil
1/3 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 275ºF and prepare a large baking sheet by lining with parchment paper.

Mix all the dry ingredients (bran flakes through to salt) in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the maple syrup and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and add the coconut oil. Gently mix everything together.

Spread cereal in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 40-45 minutes, flipping once halfway through. Remove from oven and add cranberries. Let cool completey, then transfer to a sealed container to store.

Makes 1 large batch.

*Note: I cut the bran flake recipe in half, which gave me 1 cup. If you prefer a higher ratio of bran flakes in your cereal, feel free to make the whole bran flake recipe and reduce the amount of other flakes in your cereal.

February 22, 2013

My Week in Food

Happy Friday!  I've had a pretty busy week food-wise, so I thought I'd take a break from posting a new recipe and share about my week instead!

Since Monday was an official holiday here in Ontario for Family Day, and I had the rest of the week off from school for Reading Week (the equivalent of Spring Break for anyone who's not familiar with the term), I spent the week back home at my parent's house, where I enjoyed taking breaks from work by going grocery shopping and trying new recipes.

I started off the week on Sunday with a day trip across the border, where I stocked up on groceries from Meijer, Whole Foods and Trader Joes. I got lots of new-to-me snacks and food items that I'm super excited about! One thing I always look forward to buying in the US is yogurt because there are so many different kinds that we don't have here in Canada, especially greek yogurt. I had to limit myself, but here's the selection of yogurts that I ended up bringing back with me. I even got to pick up some frozen greek yogurt which I had been dying to try!

Without access to all of my usual pantry ingredients and cooking supplies, I didn't get much done in the way of recipe development on my week off, but I still did lots of cooking and trying out recipes from other blogs. I also had fun sharing meals and some of my homemade treats with my family, since I'm used to cooking for just one.

Since I like having healthy snacks around, I brought home a second batch of these healthy almond cookie bites that my Mom enjoyed, and I managed to get my Dad eating things like raw date newtons and baked oatmeal for breakfast.

My favourite snack that I made this week was these raw mini cinnamon buns topped with a healthy cream cheese frosting.  The recipe for the cinnamon buns is from Rawified, where you can find more pictures and easy-to-follow directions. The dough is made up of ground almonds, flax and maple syrup, and the filling is a mixture of dates, cinnamon, raisins, and chopped nuts.

I topped mine with a simple frosting that I made by mixing equal amounts of light cream cheese spread (the kind that comes in a tub) with fat-free vanilla greek yogurt, and a splash of vanilla extract. When you take a bite with the frosting, it really does taste like a cinnamon bun, but a much healthier version!

I decided to turn the rest of the week into an ethnic exploration in terms of our family meals, and we tried out recipes from Korean, Indian, and Vietnamese cuisine.

First up was our Korean-inspired meal, which you may have already seen if you follow me on Facebook.  I had bookmarked this recipe for a Korean bibambap style bowl from Fat Free Vegan but I hadn't tried it yet because it involves making at least 4 different components and seeking out a couple of essential ingredients from the Asian supermarket.

I'm glad I got over my hesitations and finally decided to go ahead and make the recipe though, because it actually wasn't too difficult and it was definitely worth the extra effort! I loved each of the components on their own: the kale, black eyed peas, bean sprout salad, the spicy sauce, and also a quick kimchi that I made from a recipe in Vegan Eats World.

The fun part was mixing everything together with rice and getting different flavours with each bite. Our mouths were definitely on fire from the spicy kimchi and the sauce, but in a good way!

After a successful experiment with a new cuisine, I went back to one that I was more familiar with - Indian! I had been wanting to try making a popular dish called pav bhaji for a while but I was always scared off by the long list of ingredients. Pav bhaji is basically a big mixture of vegetables that gets mashed together and eaten with toasted and buttered buns (the pav) and topped with onion and cilantro - kind of like the Indian vegetarian street food version of sloppy joes.

Everything seemed to go well when I cooked the vegetable mixture, but in the end I thought it didn't really have any flavour, despite all of the spices that went into it.  It definitely didn't taste the same as the authentic pav bhaji that I remember eating in India, and I'm going to put at least part of the blame on the fact that I couldn't find the pav bhaji masala spice mix and so I went with a different masala spice instead. I'm sure the recipe could be improved and if I manage to make a better version, I'd definitely like to share it on my blog in the future!

The hit of our Indian meal was the side dish that I made using a recipe from Vegan Eats World (again!) for shredded cabbage with a warm mustard seed and turmeric dressing and roasted cashews. This is a recipe I would normally skip over without a second thought, but I had seen a couple of good reviews on it, so I gave it a try and was surprised at how much I liked it! The flavour of the dressing is what really makes it unique, and the addition of cashews and raisins (my own addition) makes the salad even more interesting!

I only snapped a quick photo that doesn't really do it justice, but for anyone who has the Vegan Eats World cookbook, I recommend giving the recipe a try (p.276).

Last but not least in our little series of international themed meals was a personal favourite of mine - Vietnamese subs.  I had first tried banh mi last year and posted a recipe for a vegetarian tofu version on my blog. I thought it was time that I made the recipe again, since I liked it so much, and I'd also have the chance to introduce my parents to banh mi!

I followed the same process as before (found here), except this time I found much more appropriate sub buns to serve them on instead of a baguette. It was also an easy meal to adapt for both a vegetarian and a non-vegetarian version by using either tofu or chicken as the main protein.

Again, my quick shot of meal might not look all that appealing, but you'll have to believe me that it definitely tasted good! I was glad that both of my parents really liked their banh mi too.

Since the sandwiches were so filling, I thought a light side dish would be best, so I made these spicy jicama fries to go with our meal (pictured above).  They were nice and crispy and refreshing, and even though they didn't exactly fit the Vietnamese theme, they still went well as a side to the banh mi.

Anyway, I realize this is getting to be a rather wordy post, so I'll stop here. If you managed to make it through this long post, thanks for reading and hope you all have a great weekend!

February 20, 2013

Coffee Banana Muffins

On a snowy, chilly day like today, nothing sounds better than sitting down with a warm mug of coffee and a freshly baked treat like banana bread. And with these muffins, you can have both coffee and banana bread combined into one!

I discovered my love for the combination of coffee + bananas a few years ago when I got into making my own smoothies. In the summertime when it was just too hot to fathom drinking a hot coffee in the morning, I started making cold coffee smoothies by blending up a frozen banana with milk and instant coffee.

I've been wanting to try this combination in baked form for a while, and now I can say that it lived up to my expectations!

I thought both the banana and coffee flavours came through pretty strongly in these muffins, and in perfect balance with each other. 

Besides those two ingredients, these muffins have a couple of other special additions that take them beyond regular banana bread. First, instead of using chocolate chips, I added raw cacao nibs for a bit of crunch and a hint of chocolate flavour, while still keeping them healthy enough to eat for breakfast.

Second, I replaced half of the flour with ground up cinnamon cereal.  This idea came from a muffin recipe I had seen on Diet, Dessert & Dogs, and I was curious to try it out for myself. I was a bit worried that the cereal would make the muffins too dry, but it seemed to do just the opposite - the muffins had such a nice texture and were super moist. 

I have to say, these are some of my favourite muffins that I've made lately - they're vegan and pretty healthy overall, but without tasting too healthy. I also think the recipe would work well turned into a loaf instead of muffins, so I'll have to give that a try the next time I have a bunch of ripe bananas to use up!

Vegan Coffee Banana Muffins
Inspired by Flavor in Spades and Diet, Dessert & Dogs

1/2 tbsp ground flax
3 tbsp water
2/3-1 cup flake cereal* 
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 tbsp instant coffee mixed with 3 tbsp soy milk
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp melted coconut oil
2 tbsp cacao nibs

*Note: A cinnamon flavoured cereal works well in this recipe. I would also recommend choosing a brand with low sugar, so that your muffins don’t end up too sweet. I used a homemade cinnamon flavoured cereal with very low sugar. 
Update: If you don't have cereal, I made this recipe again with 1/2 cup oat flour (from rolled oats that I ground myself) instead of the ground cereal and it worked well too!

Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare a muffin pan by spraying the muffin cups with cooking spray or lining with paper liners.

Mix the flax with the water and set aside to thicken for at least 5 minutes.

To make the ground cereal, start with about 2/3 cup to 1 cup of cereal (the amount you will need depends on the size of the flakes – use more with larger flakes and less with smaller flakes). Place the cereal in a blender or food processor and grind until it resembles a flour.

Place 1/2 cup of the ground cereal, along with the whole wheat flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. Whisk to mix thoroughly.

In a separate bowl, mix the mashed bananas, coffee-milk mixture, maple syrup and vanilla. Add this wet mixture to the dry ingredients and give it a stir. Add the flax mixture and the melted coconut oil. Use a spatula or a wooden spoon to mix all the ingredients gently, just until the dry ingredients are incorporated. Fold in the cacao nibs.

Divide batter evenly into six prepared muffin cups. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until the tops feel firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (mine took about 28 minutes).

Remove muffins from pan and let cool on a wire rack.

Makes 6 muffins.

This was submitted to Wellness Weekend at Diet, Dessert & Dogs.

February 15, 2013

Edamame Mushroom Wontons with Dipping Sauce

After making my baked banana, chocolate and strawberry wontons, I still had a lot of leftover wonton wrappers that I didn't want to go to waste, so I decided to come up with a savory recipe to use them with. I had seen a couple of recipes for edamame filled wontons online, and when I consulted my Vegan Eats World cookbook for more ideas, I saw a recipe for edamame gyoza with dipping sauce that sounded perfect!

Gyoza are typically made with round dumpling wrappers (like these ones from The Fig Tree), so I used a slightly different method to adapt the recipe as wontons instead.  I also changed up the filling ingredients from the original recipe a bit and added some mushrooms for more bulk and flavour. I couldn't decide what kind of mushrooms to get when I was at the Asian mart, but I ended up going with fresh enoki mushrooms because of their delicate texture and slightly sweet flavour that I thought would pair well with the edamame (plus they looked so cute!).

The filling for the wontons is blended up in a food processor until you get a slightly chunky, thick mixture that will hold together well inside the wontons. It also has a vibrant green colour, as you can see here:

Making the filling is the easy part, and then comes the somewhat tedious process of forming the wontons and cooking them. I made the wontons following the same method as last time - place a dollop of filling in the center, then fold over one corner to make a triangle shape and seal tightly.

Instead of boiling or frying the filled wontons, I decided to steam them because it seemed like the safest option to avoid having them break apart while cooking. That method seemed to work really well - they held together (for the most part) and I liked how the texture of the wontons became soft but chewy like pasta.

I found that the wontons themselves had a lot of flavour from the mixture of bold ingredients inside - although the green chili was almost too overpowering for my tastes, so I would probably leave that out next time.

The best way to eat these though was dipping them into a sweet and sour sesame-soy-lime dipping sauce.  I thought the flavours of the dipping sauce really complemented the wontons and helped to balance out the spicier edamame filling.

These would be a great appetizer to serve as part of as Asian meal, or eat them as a light meal on their own. Feel free to make a double batch of the dipping sauce and use it with other small bites or appetizers too, like sushi, spring rolls, dumplings, or scallion pancakes. 

Hope you all enjoy the weekend!

Edamame Mushroom Wontons with Dipping Sauce
Adapted from Vegan Eats World

1 cup frozen shelled edamame
~200 g fresh enoki mushrooms
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
3 green onions, minced
1 small Thai green chili, minced (optional)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp mirin
1/2 tsp sesame oil
~30 wonton wrappers

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a dash of salt, then add the frozen edamame. Boil for about 5 minutes, then drain, reserving as much of the cooking water as you can. Rinse the edamame with cold water, then transfer to a food processor.

Wash the mushrooms well, and chop off the woody stems (I cut off almost half of the entire bunch). Chop the rest of the mushrooms and add to food processor (you should end up with about 1 ¼ cups chopped mushroom).

Add the remaining ingredients (except wonton wrappers) to the food processor and pulse or process briefly until all the ingredients are combined (it’s okay to leave it a bit chunky).  Transfer mixture to a bowl.

To make the wontons, lay out one wrapper and keep the rest of the wrappers covered with a damp cloth or paper towel.  Place 1 heaping teaspoon of the filling mixture in the center of the wrapper. Wet the edges of the wrapper with water using your fingers, then fold over one corner to make a triangle. Press the edges of the wrapper together firmly, pinching with your fingers to seal well. Set the filled wontons on a greased baking sheet and keep covered with a damp cloth or paper towels. Continue making the wontons until your filling is used up.

Put the reserved edamame cooking water in a large pot and add more water if necessary to get about 3 cups. Bring to a simmer and add a steamer basket. Steam the wontons by placing about 7 or 8 wontons (as many as can fit in the steamer without overlapping) in the basket and cover the pot with a lid (Note: I found it easier to spray my steamer basket first with cooking spray, otherwise the wontons got a bit stuck). Steam each batch for 3-4 minutes, until the wonton wrappers are cooked like al dente pasta. Carefully remove wontons and transfer to a plate.  Continue steaming in batches.

Serve immediately with dipping sauce.

Makes about 30 wontons.

Dipping Sauce
3 tbsp tamari (or low sodium soy sauce)
4 tsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp mirin
1 tsp agave nectar
1 tbsp finely minced green onion
1 tsp finely minced fresh ginger
1/2 tsp sesame seeds

Place all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to mix well.  Store in the refrigerator.

February 12, 2013

Blueberry Pancakes with Persimmon Topping

As I'm sure all of you know, Valentine's Day is coming up in just a couple of days. Perhaps lesser known is the fact that there are actually two special holidays this week, and today is one of my favourite holidays of the year: Pancake Tuesday!

Pancake Tuesday, also known as Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday, is a holiday that I've grown up with. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, today is the last day before Lent and was traditionally associated with eating a rich meal to use up ingredients like eggs and milk, which is how pancakes became the customary meal eaten on this day!

For my family and I, we just liked having a reason to eat breakfast for dinner once a year, and we always looked forward to making a big batch of different types of pancakes to enjoy together.

So in honour of that tradition, I have a new pancake recipe to share with you today! I actually made these about a month ago when I picked up my first persimmons ever from the market and needed to come up with ideas for ways to use them.

Persimmons look sort of like tomatoes and taste similar to apricots, with notes of spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. The Fuyu variety (which I bought) has a firm texture that softens up a bit when cooked, so I thought they would make an amazing pancake topping.  All you need to do is chop your persimmons and simmer them on the stove with warm spices and maple syrup until they get nice and soft, warm and gooey. The best way I think to describe the flavour of the topping was that it tasted like Christmas!

Since I also had some blueberries on hand, I decided to make blueberry pancakes as the base for my persimmon topping, which turned out to be the perfect choice! Blueberry pancakes were always my favourite kind of pancake to eat on Pancake Tuesday, and they paired so well with the persimmons.

The pancakes themselves were super thick and fluffy from the addition of coconut flour - a tip I picked up from Peachy Palate (who has tons of other vegan pancake recipes on her blog too!). These were on the denser side though, so if you prefer a lighter pancake, feel free to use your own vegan pancake recipe as the base, but I highly recommend adding the blueberries!

I thought these hearty blueberry spelt pancakes with the warm persimmon topping made for a nice filling winter breakfast, and they could also be a great dinner tonight for those of you planning to celebrate Pancake Tuesday!

Single Serving Vegan Blueberry Pancakes with Persimmon Topping
Note: I used this pancake recipe from Peachy Palate, but feel free to use your own favourite vegan pancake recipe, with blueberries added to the batter (see directions below).

Persimmon Topping
1 ripe Fuyu persimmon, peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch each of cardamom, nutmeg and cloves
3 tbsp water
1 tbsp maple syrup

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the persimmons are soft. If it starts to look too dry, add another tablespoon of water.

Keep warm on low heat until the pancakes are ready.

1 recipe for coconut flour pancakes (just the pancakes, not the toppings)
Note: I added 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp vanilla to the batter for more flavour
~1/3 cup blueberries

Follow the recipe directions for the pancakes in the link above. When you add the batter to the pan to cook the pancakes, add a handful of blueberries to each pancake, distributing them evenly and pressing them into the batter with your fingers. Flip and cook the other side of the pancake.

Serve warm, topped with persimmon sauce and more maple syrup if desired.

Makes 1 large serving (3 pancakes)

February 07, 2013

Baked Banana, Chocolate & Strawberry Wontons

Valentine's Day is one week away, and even though I don't particularly care for the holiday itself one way or another, I still wanted to make some kind of dessert recipe for my blog in honour of the spirit of love that Valentine's Day celebrates!

The inspiration for this recipe came from Oh My Veggies, who posted these baked banana wontons a while ago. I loved the idea of filling wonton wrappers with fruit and baking them in the oven for a healthier option than frying. I also thought they made a fancy looking dessert that would be fun to serve for Valentine's Day, so I decided to make my own version.

I liked the idea of using banana in the filling, but I also wanted to incorporate more traditional Valentine's themed ingredients so I added chocolate and red strawberries to both the filling and the topping for the wontons.

Stuffed inside each wonton is a mixture of mashed banana with strawberry jam, along with a piece of milk chocolate.  Once you've assembled all of your wontons, they go into the oven to bake and when they come out, the filling is warm and gooey so that you taste chocolate melted together with banana and jam with each bite.  For a non-chocolate lover like myself, these have a nice balance of light fruit and rich chocolate, without any of the ingredients being too dominant.

Since the wontons would have looked a little plain on their own, I made an easy strawberry sauce by simmering fresh strawberries on the stovetop with a bit of agave, vinegar and vanilla extract for more flavour. Finally, a drizzle of melted chocolate and a light dusting of powdered sugar turns this into a fancier looking dessert that you can serve to your loved ones or treat yourself with on Valentine's Day.

I ended up eating most of these myself immediately after I made them (telling myself that wontons can count as dinner), so you don't need a holiday to enjoy them either!

Feel free to play around a bit with the ingredients too - I liked the combination of strawberries with banana, but I think raspberries would also make a delicious sauce, and a sprinkle of toasted almonds or pistachios would add a nice crunch. You can also try baking them at a higher temperature if you want the wontons to be more crispy, but I personally preferred the way these came out with a soft middle and chewy edges.

Baked Banana, Chocolate & Strawberry Wontons
Inspired by Oh My Veggies and Weight Watchers
Note: My version of this dessert was not vegan, but if you can find eggless wonton wrappers and vegan chocolate, you can make a vegan version!

Strawberry Sauce
1 cup chopped strawberries, tops removed
2 tbsp agave nectar
1/2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

12-15 square wonton wrappers
1 medium banana, mashed
2-3 tbsp strawberry jam 
Half of a Hershey’s milk chocolate bar (or another chocolate bar)
1 ¼ tsp melted coconut oil, divided
~1 oz dark chocolate
Icing sugar for serving
More chopped strawberries for serving (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

First, make the sauce: Place strawberries, agave, and balsamic in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the mixture starts bubbling, reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Mash the strawberries up a bit to get a smoother sauce. Keep warm on low heat while you make the wontons.

For the wontons, lay out one wrapper and place one heaping teaspoon of banana in the middle. Top with ½ tsp of strawberry jam and half of a rectangle of Hershey’s chocolate (or an equivalent amount of another chocolate if you use a different kind). 

Wet the edges of the wrapper with water, then gently fold over one half so that it forms a triangle. Seal the edges together with your fingers tightly, being careful not to let the filling squeeze out.

Keep a small bowl with 1 tsp melted coconut oil aside. Brush both sides of the wonton with melted coconut oil and lay on the prepared baking sheet. 

Repeat with remaining ingredients until the banana mixture is used up – I got 12 wontons.

Place baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, until the outside is starting to brown on the edges.

Meanwhile, melt the dark chocolate in the microwave. Heat on high for 30 seconds, then add ¼ tsp coconut oil and microwave again in 15 second intervals, stirring each time, until the chocolate is smooth and melted.

To serve, lay wontons on a plate and top with a few spoonfuls of the strawberry sauce. Drizzle some of the chocolate sauce over top and use a sieve to add a dusting of icing sugar.  Add some chopped fresh strawberries as a garnish if desired.  Serve warm.

Makes about 12 wontons, or 3-4 servings.

Note: These are best eaten fresh as the edges will get chewier the longer they sit out, but if you have leftovers, you can store them in the fridge and reheat briefly (only 10-20 seconds) in the microwave. 

February 01, 2013

Recipe Round Up: Healthy Snacks

The month of January is a popular time for people to start new diet resolutions, or at least try to eat healthier.  Now that the month is over, I thought this was a good time to share another round-up of healthy recipes that I've tried from other blogs!

This time, the theme is healthy snacks - including portable snacks to power you through the day's activities, and homemade versions of snacks that you might usually buy at the grocery store.

Peanut Butter, Coconut & Dried Fruit Granola Bars
First up are these granola bars from Peanut Butter Runner. I never seem to make the same granola bars twice because I like to experiment with new combinations, and this recipe was the latest version that I've tried. I used dried apricots and dates for the fruit, which provided most of the sweetness and they were nice and hearty from the oats. These bars have been fueling me through my new schedule of exercise classes - they make a great pre- or post-workout snack!

Chili Garlic Crackers
I usually buy crackers from the store, but I saw this recipe on Versatile Vegetarian Kitchen and wanted to try making my own. These aren't necessarily the healthiest crackers, as they still have a bit of butter and sugar, but I like to think that since they're homemade and have less of the processed ingredients, they're still a pretty healthy snack choice!
They had a lot of flavour from the addition of garlic and green chilies and were super spicy for my taste, which I liked! They were also perfect on a charcuterie board to eat with different types of cheeses and tapenades.

Almond Joy Cookie Bites
I just bookmarked this recipe from Oh, Ladycakes, as seen on Vegan Yack Attack last week, and had a chance to make them this morning because I had almost all of the ingredients on hand. I did have to make a couple of substitutions which I think compromised the full flavour potential of these cookies (like leaving out the dark chocolate and using a different type of nut butter, plus my coconut had lost its freshness).  I still liked the combination of almonds, coconut and cacao nibs, so I'm excited to try the raw version of this recipe from Ashlae next!

Lentil Trail Mix
I was very curious about this trail mix when I first saw it on Healthful Pursuit and I finally had the chance to make it earlier this month to bring along as a snack on a family day trip.  I made a few changes based on what I had on hand, like using chopped dried mango and papaya for the fruit, along with the cranberries. I admit it was a bit odd at first and not everyone who tried it was a fan, but I personally loved the crunchiness of the red lentils and the sweetness of the dried tropical fruit!

Oat Snackles
These cookie bites from Let them Eat Vegan, as seen on Plant-Powered Kitchen, were another snack that I made for our family day trip that we spent outdoors at a provincial park.  They were nice and chewy and I liked the addition of the raisins and chocolate chips. Next time I would use less lemon zest, since the combination of zest with dried fruit reminded me too much of fruitcake, but other than that, they made a great healthy and portable snack!

Baked Plantain Chips
I've been wanting to try making my own plantain chips, since it sounds so easy, so I bought a plantain the other weekend and followed this recipe from the Kitchn.  I made half of the chips with a mandolin so that they came out super thin (at the bottom in the pic below), and the other half I cut with a knife a bit thicker (the top half of the plate). 
The thinner pieces turned out more like actual crispy chips and made a nice light snack, while the thicker ones were good for dipping in salsa. I liked them both ways, and this is definitely a snack that I want to make more often - maybe for Super Bowl this weekend!

Have a great weekend everyone, and I'll have some new recipes to share with you next week!


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