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Sep 12, 2011 - Breakfast Foods    Comments Off on Weekday Cooking – Home Made Granola Bars Recipe

Weekday Cooking – Home Made Granola Bars Recipe

Granola bars are often the perfect snack in between workouts or during the middle of the day when you’re feeling like a light snack to tie you over between meals. But if you’ve ever been to the grocery store to pick up a small box of somewhat healthy granola bars you’ve probably been overcome with sticker shock. Now, if you’re like me, in addition to making my own granola bars from home I also pick up a box or two online at wholesale prices so that when I don’t have time to whip some up I’ll have a supply of tasty bars ready for me in the pantry.

In this article I’m going to hopefully walk you through a fairly simple recipe to help you make your own home made granola bars. You can of course make whatever type of bar you’d like, but the ones we’re going to be making today are going to be of the cranberry variety.


Obviously, first of all you’re going to need to pick up some ingredients. Chances are if you’re any type of regular baker or have any interest in cooking, you probably have most of these ingredients already. I thought about including links to places where you could pick up some of these ingredients in bulk online, but compared to store prices, you probably wouldn’t be saving much and you’d end up with a few pounds of things like rolled oats or chocolate chips which would probably just end up going stale in your cupboard anyway.

  • 4.5 cups of rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cups of butter
  • 1 cup of honey
  • 1/3 cup of brown sugar
  • ½ cup of chopped almonds
  • 2 cups of chocolate chips
  • 1 cup of flour
  • A few drops of vanilla extract

Step by Step

Now comes the fun part: the baking. If you don’t already have one out and ready, you’re going to need a cake pan that measures at least 12” by 12.” You can get by with a cookie sheet or thinner pan if you don’t have a deeper baking pan, but your granola bars will turn out much thinner and may not be the chewy and thick kind you’re used to. Who knows, maybe it’s something to experiment with?

1. Step one in any recipe is to ensure that the oven is preheated for the baking process. You’re going to want to heat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, which is about 165 Celsius if you’re baking overseas.

2. Take the baking pan you’re going to be using and with something like Pam or butter, lightly grease the pan so that the granola bars don’t stick to the bottom. (They will stick!)

3. Next, you’re going to want to grab a pretty big bowl from your cupboard and mix together the oats, flour, melted butter, baking soda, honey, brown sugar, and the few drops of vanilla.

4. Once all of that has been mixed together thoroughly, it’s time to mix in the almonds, chocolate chips, and anything else you’d like to include in your bars. I like to throw in a handful of cranberries from time to time to make the bars a bit different each time I make them, but obviously the choice is up to you. Another popular choice is the addition of raisins. While I don’t like raisins myself, they’re easy enough to stir in and spread throughout the mix.

5. Once you’ve gotten your mixture ready to go, scoop it all into the baking pan and push it down so that it’s packed in fairly tightly. This prevents bubbling or air from getting inside the bars which causes uneven baking.

6. Bake on the middle shelf of your oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until the bars begin to brown.

7. Before you cut up the bars to eat them, let everything cool on in the pan for about 15 minutes before you take a knife to them.

8. Chop them up into appropriate sized granola bars and place them out for eating or get ready to wrap them up for later use.

In regards to wrapping, I like to use a sturdy saran wrap that lets me put the bars in the fridge or pantry for a week or so at a time so that they’re kept fresh and I always have granola bars ready to eat. You can alternatively put them in small Ziploc bags to take them with you to work or to put them in the freezer to keep them for longer.

Pre-Made Alternatives

As I said before, you probably don’t always have time to make your own granola bars from scratch. Having a supply of premade ones in your pantry can never hurt when you’re in a hurry and want a quick snack between meals. My favorite brand by far is Nature Valley. Not only are they crunchy and the right balance of sweet and healthy, they also come in many different variety flavor boxes that make it easy for me to change up what type of bar I’m eating each morning.

Nature Valley Variety Pack: This particular pack comes with the popular oats and honey variety of their bars as well as peanut butter and cinnamon flavors. Each bar is an excellent source of whole grains in your diet. Eating whole grains has been proven to reduce the risk of many chronic diseases. Nature Valley bars obviously come in a wide array of flavors, but oats and honey and cinnamon are by far their most popular.

Sep 7, 2011 - Breakfast Foods    Comments Off on Homemade Pancake Recipe For The New Chef

Homemade Pancake Recipe For The New Chef

Pancakes are one of the easiest and most delicious foods you can make for breakfast. And although they’re generally viewed as unhealthy, you can add some fruit or nuts to your pancakes to add a bit of a health kick to them so you’re not left feeling as though you haven’t had enough of a healthy start for the day. The homemade pancake recipe we’re going to cover today is easy enough that anyone can follow it, even first time chefs.

Why Make Them Yourself

Although it’s much easier to go to the store and pick up a packed of pre-made pancake mixture, the flavor and texture of the pancakes never pan out the right way when you’re making them from a premade batter. Making pancakes from scratch results in much tastier pancakes and pancakes that can be completely customized in flavor.

What You Need

All of the ingredients you need to make pancakes are probably already in your fridge or pantry, meaning you won’t have to make a few extra trips to the store to get what you need. Let’s take a look at what you’ll need to complete this recipe.

  • 1.5 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3.5 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 1.25 cups of milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar (preferably white, but brown sugar works as well)

The Process

If you have kids around, you can invite them to help you as making pancakes can be a lot of fun for families to do together.

1. Grab a large mixing bowl from your cupboard so that when you add all of the ingredients together, you have a little extra room to other things in.

2. Take the flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar and sift them into your bowl. The goal is to have them be a nice powdery texture as opposed to clumpy and unmixable.

3. With the ingredients mixed and sifted into the bowl, make an indentation in the center of the mixture to be able to add the milk, egg, and butter. The well serves as a miniature bowl so that the milk, egg, and butter mixture don’t seep into the powdered mixture right away.

4. Mix everything together until you reach a smooth consistency of batter. If you find that the batter is too thick, try adding a little more milk to the mixture to soften it up.

5. Now that the batter is ready, it’s time to prepare your frying pan or griddle. Heat the griddle to a medium heat (about 4 or 5 on a 1-10 scale on the stove) and spray it with non-stick spray.

6. Once the pan is heated, add about a quarter of a cup of the pancake mixture onto the pan and let it simmer for about a minute or so. The goal is to brown and harden one side of the batter.

7. When one side of the pancake has browned, it’s time to grab your spatula and flip the pancake over to do the same to the other side.

8. Enjoy!

Tip: If you would like to add fruit or nuts to your pancakes, the best time to do it is when you’re mixing the batter. Add a sprinkle of nuts or crushed bananas into the mixture and mix until uniform. If you’re adding solid fruits like strawberries or blueberries, it may be a good idea to add them once the pancake has made it to the pan. Sprinkle on your toppings onto the still moist part of the batter and when ready, flip the pancake over to cook the fruit into the pancake itself.

Best Pancake Mix

Although I said earlier on that making pancakes from scratch is much better than using a premade mixture, I know that not everyone has the time to make their own pancakes from scratch every morning. The best batter I’ve ever been able to find online is from a company called Pamela’s. Their Ultimate Baking and Pancake Mix is to die for and makes the pancake process much easier than if you were to do things from scratch.

The mixture is completely gluten free, making it perfect for folks that normally have to avoid premade pancake batter because of the gluten content. And with enough mix in a shipment to last a few weeks, if not months, it’s definitely worthwhile having in your kitchen if your family loves pancakes and you don’t feel like making them from scratch.

Aug 23, 2011 - Breakfast Foods    Comments Off on Oatmeal Cookie Recipe – From Mom’s Diary

Oatmeal Cookie Recipe – From Mom’s Diary

No child can probably remember a childhood without fresh baked cookies from their moms. Oatmeal cookies are one of the easiest cookies you can make if you’re just getting started in the baking world. Not only do they taste great, the ingredients are relatively cheap and almost everything you need can be picked up online for a fraction of the price of what you’d pay in a grocery store. Today I’m going to be going through a very easy to follow recipe for oatmeal cookies as well as giving you some pointers on how you can save money on all of the ingredients that you need so that you’re not breaking the bank every time you want to remember what mom’s baking touch was like.

The Recipe

First of all, we’re going to go through all of the ingredients you need. You probably have most of this at home, but anything you don’t own can easily be found on Amazon. One thing I like to avoid buying from a local grocer if I can is baking oats. The reason is because many stores consider them to be a “specialty” item and typically mark up the price to compensate for their low prices on everything else. You can bypass these high prices by buying your oats online in bulk and keeping them in an airtight container in the pantry until next time you’re ready to bake.


  • 1 cup of butter
  • 1 cup of brown sugar and 1 cup of white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • Vanilla extract
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups of baking oats
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda


Once you’ve gotten all of your ingredients together, it’s time to start the baking process.

1. The first thing you’ll want to do is ensure that the butter is at room temperature so that it’s easily creamed. Combine both cups of sugar and the butter in a medium sized bowl and mix them until they’re a creamy paste. Add in one egg at a time and whisk them into the creamy mixture. Once both eggs have been beaten into the mixture, add a few drops of vanilla extract to the mixture and stir once more.

2. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and the cinnamon until it’s a homogeneous powdered mixture. With the mixture in hand, add it to the creamy mixture you made in step one and combine the two thoroughly. Be sure to add the powdered mixture to the creamy mixture, as moving the creamy substance to a new bowl will leave some of the mixture behind. Once both bowls of ingredients have been mixed together, it’s time to add in the 3 cups of oats.

3. With the mixture completely made, cover the bowl with saran wrap and put it in the fridge. Leave the mixture in the fridge for about an hour so that it’s completely chilled.

4. As the cooling time is winding down, it’s time to start getting the oven ready. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

5. Grease two cookie sheets with either butter or non-stick spray that can be purchased from your local grocer or online and prepare to put the cookies onto the tray.

6. Remove the batter from the fridge and roll the cookie dough into miniature balls that are approximately an inch in diameter. Place the balls 2 inches apart on the cookie trays so that they don’t spill over into each other during the baking process.

7. With your cookies prepped on the trays and the oven preheated, it’s time to put them into the oven for baking. You’ll want to bake the cookies for about 8 minutes so that they’ve flattened out and are beginning to brown on the bottom.

8. Once the cookies are removed from the oven, place the cookie tray on a cooling rack and leave it for at least 10 minutes before your children’s fingers go near them!

All of the batter you make can produce about 40 cookies when made an inch in size. If you’d like bigger cookies, you may only be able to get two cookie sheet’s worth of cookies, but they’ll be more filling!

More Cookie Ideas

My girlfriend is a big cookie aficionado and has many different baking books lying around the apartment. Her favorite cookie book by far is one by the name of “The All-American Cookie Book.” The descriptions on how to properly mix and bake the cookies are phenomenal and for someone like me who doesn’t bake all that often, it’s really a foolproof guide to making perfect cookies every time.

It’s worthwhile noting that in the beginning of the book there is a section devoted to how to measure all of your ingredients out for the perfect cookies every time. It may seem trivial to read this section if you’ve baked anything before, but the detail is definitely necessary for even expert bakers.

Aug 21, 2011 - Breakfast Foods    Comments Off on Unhealthy Foods – Healthy Alternatives

Unhealthy Foods – Healthy Alternatives

Part of the reason people are able to save money at the grocery store is because they fill their carts with unhealthy foods. It may seem counterintuitive that unhealthy food would cost less than the healthy alternative, but through inexpensive and inorganic ingredients, food companies are able to make processed food at a fraction of the cost of all natural and healthy food for customers to consume. If you’re looking to turn your diet around and not spend a lot more at the register next time you’re shopping for groceries, the following tips should help you out immensely.

Remember, not every food item is for everyone, and depending on your dietary needs, some recipes may not be appropriate. The key is to try different things out and decide on what you like and don’t like and what best fits into your diet and lifestyle.

What Makes Food Unhealthy?

While it’s easy to toss the term “unhealthy food” around, what exactly makes food unhealthy? Foods that are classified as unhealthy are foods that don’t supply the body with the nutrition it needs to function properly. Highly processed foods are generally low in nutrients because in the processing portion of the food preparation, the nutrients are lost in cooking or mixing with other ingredients. The more chemicals and additives that are added to foods to preserve them on the store shelf the unhealthier they generally are.

Processed foods are also typically very high in sugars and saturated fats. The body has a difficult time processing sugars because they are often complex carbohydrates that the body can’t do much with. Expending all of its energy on digesting the sugars and finding no nutritional value from them once they’re deconstructed, the body becomes weak. Eating things like fast food and prepackaged meals can introduce processed sugars and unhealthy fats that the body can’t use for nutrition and ultimately leads to things like heart disease and obesity.

What to Look For

If you think that you’re taking in too many unhealthy foods every day, it may be time to step back and figure out what you can change about your diet. It may not be a steadfast rule, but if you’re purchasing foods in the grocery store that have been prepackaged and the ingredients list looks more like a novel length than a list of simple ingredients, you may want to opt to put that food back on the shelf.

Another easy way to gauge whether or not something is unhealthy for you is to look at the fat and saturated fat content of the food. In the United States, the FDA recommends you eat no more than 20 grams of saturated fats in a day. By looking at how much fat certain premade dinners and meats have in them before consuming them, you can drastically cut down on your weight gain and cholesterol intake.

Knowing  how to treat your body and what to put in it is vital to your life’s longevity. You can get more insight through a number of ways including taking courses in an online msn program.

Things to Eat Instead of McDonalds

Unfortunately, McDonalds is easy to grab and go. What makes unhealthy foods so popular is that they’re often the easiest to make and they’re the most accessible. If you’re looking to introduce healthier foods into your diet but aren’t sure where to start, a fantastic book that we recommend reading is called “The World’s Healthiest Foods, Essential Guide for the Healthiest Way of Eating.”

The ultimate goal of the book is to introduce much healthier foods into your diet and make them tasty to boot. But although there are huge benefits by following the advice in terms of what foods you should and shouldn’t eat within the book, what has us recommending the book not only to you, but also to our friends, are the cooking times of most of the meals. The book keeps busy people in mind and understands that unhealthy foods are easy to prepare. To rival unhealthy meal choices, the book focuses on making most of the meals within itself ready to eat in just a few minutes.

You can obviously get more complicated and extravagant than the meals outlined in the book, but for anyone getting started in the world of healthy eating, this book is definitely the way to go.

Start Small

The problem with most people who try to change their diet is that they try to do it all at once. It would be nice if you could go from an unhealthy lifestyle to completely healthy overnight, but by trying to do so, you’re ultimately setting yourself up for failure. Starting slow and making healthier decisions when you can is a good way to build morale until you can build yourself up to full meals based around vegetables and lean meats and grains.

A good example of what you can do differently is that instead of having cream cheese on your bagel in the morning, you can instead substitute it for low fat butter or low fat cream cheese spread. You probably won’t be able to taste the difference and you’ll save yourself a large amount of calories by making the switch. Another thing to try to ease yourself into a healthy lifestyle is to use whole grain bread for your sandwiches instead of white bread. White bread is simply wheat bread that has been bleached and artificially flavored to taste better. By using wheat bread you’re giving your body healthy whole grains and fewer calories than a slice of white bread and after a few days of eating it, you won’t be able to tell the difference anymore.

Aug 12, 2011 - Breakfast Foods    Comments Off on Why You Should Opt For a Low Carb Diet + Recommendations

Why You Should Opt For a Low Carb Diet + Recommendations

It’s a common misconception that carbohydrates and breakfast cereals are the optimal breakfast for getting the day started right. On the contrary, quite the opposite is true. While carbohydrates are an essential part of any healthy diet, they’re not necessarily the best bet for your breakfast of choice. Most of the carbohydrates that come from breakfast foods are found in things like cereal. If you want to cut down on carbs, the first thing you’ll want to get rid of is of course cereal.

Why Cereal Isn’t Good for You

Cereal isn’t just bad for you because of the high carbohydrate content. What really get in the way of the healthy parts of cereal are the often processed grains and sugars that are added to the product for flavor.

Healthy Alternatives to Carbohydrates for Breakfast

Believe it or not, there are plenty of alternatives to having things like cereal or other forms of carbohydrates in the morning. Among the healthiest are things like protein and fiber, which can be found in things like low fat meat and vegetables. If you find that you’re strapped for time in the morning and can’t afford to have a healthy breakfast made from scratch, you may want to consider drinking something like a protein shake or breakfast shake to boost your body’s nutritional content early in the morning.

Vegetables: A popular rule to follow is that for every 2 units of meat or grain you have on your plate, you have 8 units of vegetables to match. That means that for ever 4 scoops of veggies you have, you should only have 1 piece of meat or starch. Vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals that are essential to going through the day well, as well as in boosting your immune system.

Protein: If possible, try not to immediately think that you should have some sort of meat to count towards your required protein for the day. While meat is good to have for its protein content, it’s also often high in things like saturated fats which can clog your arteries and cause heart disease. A good alternate source of protein for your breakfast is beans. Beans contain both fiber and protein, making them an excellent choice for a low carb breakfast.

Shakes: Not everyone has the time to cook themselves a breakfast from scratch every morning. If you’re thinking of still skipping breakfast, all hope is not lost. Alternatives such as breakfast shakes can be had to help give your body the boost it needs to get through the day. While shakes shouldn’t be used as a meal supplement daily, they are still a viable source of things like protein and fats that your body needs to run smoothly.

Breakfast Shake Options

Carnation Instant Breakfast Essentials:

Among the most popular breakfast drinks are those made by a company known as Carnation. Carnation Essentials have about twice the amount of protein you’d get in an egg and twice the amount of calcium you’d find in a regular cup of yogurt in every glass. Each packet comes with 3 canisters, each holding 14 servings of the drink. What makes Carnation better than most of the other brands on the market that sell breakfast drinks is that they lack a “synthetic” taste to them. Other products use chemicals and dyes to artificially flavor their drinks to make them seem more realistic. The flavors come in chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry varieties, meaning you’ll be able to enjoy any of the flavors no matter your tastes.

Nature’s Plus:

In contrast to the milky taste of the Carnation breakfast drink, Nature’s Plus packs a completely different punch. Made from the vitamins and minerals found in fruits and plants, this particular drink is crafted to give you the boost vegetables and fruits provide in the morning. Recently added to the drink is a shot of all soy protein powder to help give you a boost of protein in the morning as well. While not as much protein as the Carnation option listed above, it’s still enough to get your day started the right way and give you the energy you need to make it through work or school.

Carb Solutions Protein Shake:

Lastly, if you’re trying to replace carbs in your diet altogheter, replacing them with protein isn’t a bad idea. With only three net carbs per serving of the drink, each drink promotes healthy weight loss by being low in sugars and carbs to help your body digest the protein first and prevent you from losing weight. Plus, there are only 2 grams of fat in every serving, which is also nice if you’re trying to burn more energy during your day or during exercise.