Apricot-Banana Oatmeal Bites

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I wouldn’t call these cookies, but they satisfy a sweet tooth and come in cute little packages. The texture is crispy on the outside and oatmeal-like on the inside. This is the kind of snack I would serve to my all-female book club, but it probably wouldn’t fit in as well at a Superbowl party.

Be sure to use Turkish apricots if you’re worried about heartburn. If not, any dried fruit will work here. If you want the bites to be more gooey and less oatmeal-like, try reducing the oats to 1 cup. This recipe is very forgiving, so throw everything in the bowl and bake!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups oats (gluten-free if desired)
  • 1/2 cup nuts (I used pecans and almonds)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 overripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup dried Turkish apricots, chopped

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DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and move the racks to the top and lower thirds of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the oats and nuts until finely chopped.
  3. Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl until well combined. IMG_5924
  4. Scoop 1 heaping tablespoon of dough into your hand and roll it into a ball. Place it on the parchment paper and flatten slightly. Repeat with the remaining dough. IMG_5928
  5. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Then switch the cookie sheets and bake for 13 to 15 more minutes, until the bites are golden brown and the air in the kitchen smells toasty.
  6. Move bites to a cooling rack. Once cooled, store in the fridge or freeze for later.

Makes 20 to 24 cookies. Active time 15 minutes; total time 45 minutes. Adapted from http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/banana-oatmeal-snack-cookies

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Fruit & Cheese Phyllo Puffs

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Did you know that phyllo dough is less rich than other pastries? It actually isn’t that unhealthy, so it’s a great crust option if you want to make low-fat desserts or pot pies.

I made these appetizers for a small party at my house—luckily, because I would have eaten them all myself if no one else was around. The goat cheese is creamy but has texture from the walnuts, and the dried fruit pairs well with the honey. A tiny drizzle of balsamic vinegar provides complexity without adding too much acid. The filling is wonderful, but the best part is the flaky crust.

These puffs look complicated, but they aren’t difficult to make. Just be sure to dry your cutting board between the first and second batches of phyllo stacks; otherwise the water you used to seal the first group of puffs will make the second group fall apart.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 oz goat cheese, softened
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 8 sheets phyllo dough, thawed
  • 1/4 cup dried Turkish apricots, chopped
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar

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DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Mix goat cheese, walnuts, and honey in a small bowl. Microwave for a few seconds if the cheese isn’t soft enough for you to incorporate the ingredients.
  3. Stack four sheets of phyllo on a cutting board, lightly brushing each sheet with oil. Cut the stack into six equal squares.
  4. Place 1 tbsp of mixed apricots and raisins in the center of each square. Top with 2 tsp of the goat cheese mixture, and drizzle lightly with vinegar. IMG_4625
  5. Use your fingers to wet the edges of each square with water, and bring together the opposite corners to form a triangle. Press the edges together to seal the puff. Place on the baking sheet and spray the tops with cooking spray.
  6. Repeat with the remaining phyllo sheets and fillings.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes, until the edges of the phyllo are golden brown. Serve warm.

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Makes 12. Adapted from http://www.sheknows.com/food-and-recipes/articles/947489/5-fabulous-phyllo-appetizer-recipes

Oatmeal & Apricot Bars

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I just ate the last of these oatmeal and apricot bars and already want to make another batch. They’re as belly-filling as a bowl of oatmeal but are so convenient for eating on the go. What a great recipe idea!

These bars have the texture of a thick bowl of oatmeal, and the add-ins float to the top during baking to simulate the toppings. You can eat these cold, but they’re much better when reheated in the microwave for about 30 seconds.

Some sort of savory add-in is key to making these bars interesting. I hear flax is very healthy, but I didn’t have any. I’m going to stick with the black sesame seeds; I don’t have enough uses for this huge jar that’s left over from sushi making.

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I eyed this recipe originally as a dessert, and I would serve it that way, but you’d need to make it sweeter (at least for my sweet tooth). A scoop of vanilla nonfat frozen yogurt or a smear of pear butter would do the trick. You could also add more sugar before baking.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1-1/2 cups rolled oats (gluten-free if desired)
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds, rough chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried Turkish apricots (preservative-free), chopped
  • 1 tbsp black or toasted white sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups plain soy milk

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DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine oats, almonds, apricots, sesame seeds, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and ginger.
  3. Lightly beat egg whites and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients with milk, and mix well.
  4. Spray an 8 x 8 baking dish with cooking spray, and pour the mixture into it. Use a spatula to distribute the oats and almonds evenly into the corners.
  5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes our clean. Cool completely then cut into bars. Refrigerate for a week, or freeze individually and defrost for a quick snack.

Serves 8. Active time 10 minutes; total time 40 minutes. Adapted from http://iowagirleats.com/2013/08/16/baked-blueberry-almond-oatmeal-bars/

Almond Butter Cereal Bars

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I ran out of the jumbo marshmallows that were left over from summer camping trips, and my sweet tooth has been unsatisfied ever since. When this puffed millet cereal was gifted to my cabinet, I decided to try a healthier version of Rice Krispies treats.

This millet cereal is nuttier than Rice Krispies. I combined it with honey, vanilla, and almond butter instead of the fake-sugar marshmallows. Dried apricots add chewy bursts of sweetness to the mix. (I’ve been missing dried fruit, which is very acidic. Luckily, the Dropping Acid blog discovered that Turkish apricots are alkaline enough for refluxers to eat regularly!)

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These bars are sweet, salty, and deliciously carby. They’re pretty healthy as dessert goes, but almond butter does have high fat content, so be sure not to eat the whole pan. (It would be easy to do!) Also, I recommend keeping these in the fridge to help them stay together—they aren’t as sticky as Rice Krispies treats.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup sweetened, salted almond butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 cups puffed millet cereal
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried Turkish apricots (preservative-free)

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DIRECTIONS

  1. Bring the first 3 ingredients to a boil in a small pan. Once boiling, remove from heat and stir in vanilla until mixture is smooth.
  2. Put millet cereal in a large bowl, add liquids, and stir until cereal is well coated. Add apricots and stir to distribute.
  3. Pour the mixture into an 8×8, parchment-lined pan sprayed with cooking spray. Use wet fingers to press the mixture very tightly into the pan and to flatten the top.
  4. Refrigerate until firm (about 2 hours), cut, and enjoy!
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