Monthly Archives: October 2013

Homemade Granola Bars

Between the breakfast section in my new Sweet & Skinny cookbook and the Healthy Breakfast competition I am overseeing with Tetra Pak, I have been thinking a lot about ways to make breakfast fun and good for you! One of my favorite recipes is for these simple do it yourself granola bars. They are great because you can add whatever ingredients you want. Personally I like to make mine with flaxseeds (for a dose of Omega3’s) or with puffed quinoa cereal (for extra protein). Usually I add goji berries or apricots for something sweet, but depending on my mood I also sometimes add pineapple (for a dose of vitamin C and Bromelain). If you come up with your own tasty and creative combination please let me know. I’m always looking for new inspiration!

Do it Yourself Granola Bars

Makes 12

1 1/3 cup oats

1/2 cup flax seeds or puffed quinoa cereal

1/3 cup almonds or walnuts, chopped

1 cup dried fruit, such as apricots and goji berries

1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup apple juice

2 tablespoons honey

¼ cup sunflower oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon salt

 

Preheat the oven to 375F. Lightly grease a 7×11 pan and line the bottom with parchment paper, set aside.

Spread the oats, flax seeds, and almonds out on a baking tray. Toast the ingredients in the oven for about 8 minutes, or until fragrant and the nuts are golden.

Meanwhile, pour the brown sugar, apple juice, honey, oil, vanilla and salt into a large pot and cook over medium heat. Allow the mixture to simmer for about 10 minutes, until thick and syrupy.  Remove from the heat and pour the remaining ingredients into the pot and stir to combine. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and press it into the pan with a spatula. Work quickly, it will set up fast.  Allow the bars to cool for about 20 minutes. While they are still slightly pliable, cut the bars into 12 pieces and wrap tightly. Store the bars at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

(Photo from Sweet & Skinny with Marisa, taken by Ioanna Rofopoulou)

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Great Recipes for Baking with Stevia

Between wrapping up my new cookbook and all my travels, it’s been a while since I have given Truvia some love. As many of you already know, I am a spokesperson for Truvia and a huge fan of the Stevia based sweetener. Just yesterday I had an email from yet another individual who is diabetic, and struggles with not being able to to bake the way she once used to.  This email from a frustrated person brought Truvia back to the forefront of my mind.

I think Stevia is a good alternative for people that can’t eat sugar. As previously mentioned, I suggest before you start baking with a product that you do a little research. Because there are over 200 varieties of the Stevia plant, the crystal form of Stevia can vary a lot in flavor and quality. So do some research into the Stevia products on the market before making a purchase. Once you have found the best quality Stevia products then you should taste them to see which one you like the most. Last, but not least, test the Stevia out in a recipe. I suggest you start simple, try making a mousse or pie.  From here you can branch out into more complicated recipes, such as cakes, ice creams and cookies. I do suggest you follow a recipe (such as the recipes in my Sweet & Skinny cookbooks!), as Stevia is not a 1-1 swap with sugar, and it perform differently in baking.   To learn more about Stevia, as well as sugar’s role in baking, you can read my Huffington Post article Enjoying the Sweeter Side of Life

Here is a simple lemon yogurt mousse recipe to get you started on your quest for baking with Stevia instead of sugar. Enjoy and good luck!

Lemon Yogurt Mousse with Blueberries and Basil

Serves 4

1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup plain Greek nonfat yogurt
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons Truvia or other preferred brand of Stevia (quantity can be adjusted according to your personal taste and desired sweetness)
1 cup fresh blueberries
4 fresh basil leaves, rolled up and cut cross-wise into thin ribbons

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the whipped cream while slowly adding in the Stevia. Beat the cream until stiff peaks form. Swiftly whisk in the yogurt, lemon zest, vanilla and salt.

Divide half of the mousse evenly between four six-ounce dessert glasses. Top with half the berries and half the basil. Spoon the remaining mousse over each and top with the remaining blueberries and basil. Serve immediately.

Make Ahead! The mousse can be refrigerated, tightly covered, up to one day in advance. Prepare the blueberries and basil just before serving.

 

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