18 April 2016

Easy, No-Bake Energy Bars

Easy, No-Bake Energy BarsWe've been doing a pretty good job with meals lately.  We've managed to cut our food waste way down by only making what we will eat and / or eating leftovers for lunch, as well as not being afraid to utilize the freezer for future consumption.  Really pretty simple stuff, but stuff I didn't take time to do before.  Here recently, however, I've been missing something.  Snacks!

I haven't been buying a lot of junk finger foods since we moved.  That certainly doesn't mean I haven't been tempted in the grocery store.  Even stopped and gave some things a hard look.  But I've done a pretty darn good job of resisting.  Think money.  Think chemicals.  Think health! (It's not 100% effective, mind you, but does do the trick most of the time.)

My point is this:  I realized that the body's desire to snack is rarely there.  As long as I eat a bit of breakfast and a lunch, I'm usually good 'til dinner.  Which must mean, at least for me, if it's in the pantry (cupboard, fridge, whatever) I. will. eat. it.

But, ya know, cravings do come.  And they've been swirling around me the last several days.  I usually have some sort of fruit around, but I eat it with breakfast or lunch.  So I didn't want that.  I did make myself some popcorn one day, and that was good.  But I still wasn't satisfied, and I'm sure you know what the problem was – I wanted something "sweet."

So finally I went through my Pinterest boards to find a homemade granola bar recipe to try.  One of those things that's been on the to-do list for some time, but haven't felt the urgency until now.

I settled on some Oatmeal Energy Clusters because I already had all the ingredients, save one.  The basic recipe is from The Chew's Clinton Kelly.  I just made one addition.  You'll need:
  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 2 tbsp chia and/or flax seed mixture (I use Decadent Blend Chia & Flax Seed with Coconut & Cocoa)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used minis)
  • 2/3 cup shredded coconut (try to get unsweetened)
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup raw honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Put everything in a big bowl, in the order typed above.  Mix it well.  I had to do it with my hands to really get it together.  If your mixture is stubborn, try adding some more peanut butter and/or honey.  You could also warm the honey and peanut butter together, to get more of a liquid.  Then add to the other ingredients.  But I was too lazy to go through all that.  Here we are mid-mix.  I forgot to snap an image before starting.

Easy, No-Bake Energy Bars Mixture

Now.  If you follow Clinton Kelly's recipe, you would put the mixture in the fridge for a while, pull it out and roll pieces (roughly 1-inch in size) into balls.

I knew that would not work for me.  Popping a 1-inch "cluster" in my mouth would not result in a craving satisfied.  I know that's my brain talking, but it doesn't matter.  I need more than one bite to my snack.  If you're like me, you'll want to make bars.

Take something akin to a 9"x9" pan and line it with parchment paper.  (I used a toaster oven baking tray that measures 10"x8".) Press the mixture out evenly to the size of the pan.  You could add another piece of parchment paper and use a rolling pin, if it'll fit.  But, again, I just used my hands.

Easy, No-Bake Energy Bars Pressed In Pan

Lift the bottom parchment out of the pan and square off your gonna-be bars, if necessary.  The pan was really just a guide.  Then let everything dry for at least an hour.

Easy, No-Bake Energy Bars Prior To Cutting

Now it's time to cut the bars.  My pizza cutter worked well.  I made a single cut down the middle long-ways.  Then another cut down the center the opposite way.  Then each half (which is quartered) into thirds.  Does that even make sense? Lord, help me.  Let's just say I got a dozen bars.  Each one measured approximately 4-inches by 1 1/2-inches.  The image below only shows eleven bars because I ate one already! (She sheepishly grins.)

Easy, No-Bake Energy Bars Cut

Another good thing about these bars, in addition to requiring more than one bite to eat, is they are relatively healthy.  They're full of fiber, protein, potassium, magnesium, and antioxidants, including Vitamin E.  Chia and flax seeds also add Omega-3.  You can also customize them even more.  Maybe add dried fruits or nuts.  Go crazy with it!

These bars should last about a week in a sealed container on the counter.  You could put them in the fridge to extend the shelf life a bit.  Give them a try! Real food with no added chemicals is a good, good thing.  From my mountaintop to yours.

Easy, No-Bake Energy Bars Ready To Eat

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Shared at Art of Home-Making Mondays, Homemade Mondays, The Homemaking Party, Thrifty Thursday, Happiness is Homemade, Coffee and Conversation, Wonderful Wednesday, From the Farm, and Tuesdays with a Twist.



Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a very small commission if you click a link and buy something. This helps support my mountain homestead dream as well as my blogging activities, and the price you pay will be no different than if you arrived at the same destination through any other link. My opinions are my own, to be sure. If I link to a product and say I like it -- I truly like it! Thanks for reading, following, and supporting Stephlin's Mountain.

17 April 2016

Strawberry Popping Corn (Almost Time!)

100_6874This post would probably be better placed at the end of the growing season, after the corn has been harvested and allowed to dry, to give a bit of a how-to.  But I'm taking another approach.  Posting this now to tempt you to grow your own, if you're not already doing so.  This will be my first year sowing these seeds, and I need partners!

Last fall, we procured some of this beautiful, rather petite, richly colored strawberry popping corn from our local CSA.

I knew this type of corn was smaller than the "usual" ears you see, but I admit it was even smaller than I expected.

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I've read you can grow corn in containers.  And especially this type since the stalks are shorter.  This growing season, I'm going to give it a try.  I have a food grade container that is at least twelve inches in diameter and almost two feet deep.  Hopefully, a few stalks will comfortably fit.

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I also read fish emulsion is a good addition to the soil when growing corn.  I don't have emulsion (and really don't have a desire to make it), but I do have fish oil.  I wonder if that would work? I also think wind is really helpful in the pollination.  No worries there.  We've got that covered in our little valley between the (bigger, taller, higher) mountains on either side of us.

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I didn't really have room to start corn indoors this year.  I've already got eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, and lettuce growing inside.  But it's almost time to begin outdoors.  Another couple of weeks is all I should have to wait.  I'll utilize the greenhouse, then, too.  Since it will be about three months before harvest, I hope to get it right the first time!

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Once I do (hopefully!) harvest the cute little red popping corn, as you can see by these photos, getting the kernels off is pretty easy.  You might want to wear gloves, though.  I didn't my first time, and my thumb paid for it.  Nothing too bad.  They really do pop right off.  But I'll probably try gloves next time.

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I saved kernels from the strawberry popping corn I got from the local CSA.  If it grows for them, maybe it will grow for me!

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Three little ears gave me almost a half-pint mason jar full.  Isn't it pretty? It pops up nicely, too. And it's my understansding it will last in the jar at least until you are ready to harvest again the next season.

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So? Did I tempt you? Are you going to join me in growing some popcorn this season?

As I type this, I'm watching a bright yellow monarch butterfly flit about on a hot pink azalea bush.  Yep, I do believe Spring is here! --

Shared at Clever Chicks Blog Hop, Happiness is Homemade, Simple Saturdays, Simply Natural Saturdays, Freedom Fridays, Simple & Sweet Fridays, Art of Home-Making Mondays, Homemade Mondays, The Homemaking Party, Thrifty Thursday, Tuesdays with a Twist, and From the Farm.

From my mountaintop to yours,

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