oatmeal raisin breakfast bars

If you follow along on Instagram — and I hope you do, I’m actively posting food photos daily — you know I’ve been participating in the #alittletoofluffy challenge with 74 other Instagram ladies.

At the end of December, I hit bottom. On a few different levels, including kicking and screaming my way into a new year that placed me not quite where I thought I would be entering 2014.

And the husband gave me a new coat for Christmas (a size larger than the one I have of the same brand) that didn’t quite zip. Eeeeeeek. :(

But instead of exchanging it, I decided to keep it and get moving — that same week, I saw Danielle and Carina posting about the #alittletoofluffy challenge, it was perfect timing. It’s basically doing what you can do for YOU to be active, make healthy food choices, and rally with a group of supportive women, all at different stages in their weight loss/health journeys for a total of six weeks. Perfect, right!?

We’re half way through the challenge and I’m happy to report I’ve been wearing my new down coat all weekend! I won’t lie, it’s a little more snug than I’d like it to be in a couple spots, but I’m well on my way… and I’m currently in 7th place out of 75 women as of yesterday, so please keep your fingers and toes crossed!

Eggs have been my breakfast of choice.

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Eggs and smoothies.

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But I needed some other on-the-go options, so I adapted my Banana Nut Breakfast Bites into these little breakfast bars.

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Oatmeal Raisin Breakfast Bars

(gluten-free, no sugar added, dairy-free)

2 cups certified gluten-free oats (GF Harvest is my go-to brand)

2 small overripe bananas (keep them in the freezer!) 

1 cup unsweetened applesauce

½ cup raisins

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

3 tablespoons coconut flour

 

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease pan.

In a large bowl, add all ingredients and stir to combine. Let it sit for a few minutes, then stir again — the coconut flour soaks up liquid quickly. Using a cookie scoop or spoon, scoop batter into pan squares and pat down to evenly distribute.

Bake at 350 for 14-16 minutes, until they start to brown on the top and edges. Allow to rest for a few minutes in the pan, then remove and cool completely. (or eat one warm like I did)

EnJOY!

Makes 12 servings, 100 calories each serving. 

oatmeal raisin breakfast bars

Sarah’s Baking Notes: 

  • That fun pan is the Pampered Chef Brownie Pan, my sister-in-law gave it to me as a gift and she’s a consultant if you need anything, just shoot her a message via her PC page. 
  • Like the other breakfast cookies, these aren’t super sweet (just they way I like them) so if you prefer more of a treat, you could add honey, coconut sugar, or sugar of your choice.
  • Non-GF friends can use regular oats, and I bet regular AP flour would work too.
  • If you don’t have the pan, you can make them in an 8×8 baking dish and slice them up, they will take longer to bake though.
  • I kept the raisin amount pretty low for calories sake, but feel free to add more raisins, nuts, other dried fruits, go wild! ;)
  • Wisconsin dark winters win for lighting every single time — and I’ve decided that from now on, I’m just going to post the photos from my iPhone and not put off posting something to wait for the perfect lighting in the morning and freeze my fanny off out on the balcony to get a shot. It is what it is and I’d rather share more real life recipes!

National Peanut Butter Day

It kind of feels like my birthday — it’s National Peanut Butter Day!

So I rounded up some of my recipes for you today (or any day) to celebrate. I bet you have most of the ingredients right in the kitchen.  And if you can’t do peanut butter, you could substitute almond butter or sunflower seed butter.

In case you missed my last post — Banana Breakfast Sushi 

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3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies (see photo for recipe)

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Real food approved. 3 ingredients. No sugar. Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Mock Ice Cream

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My all time favorite cookies. Crowd pleasers. Flourless. Grandma G’s Monster Cookies!

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And some days? Just grab a spoon!

 

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{banana breakfast sushi}

Many moons ago, my friends from Attune Foods sent me boxes of their cereals to try out — at the time, I shared these Berry Good Crispy Rice Treats with you. (they were a hit at our GF Get Together that month!)

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I’ve been going through old photos this weekend and came across some more shots of the fun ways we used the cereals.

My best buddies were visiting that week, and I knew Chef Carter was going to be a fan of the cocoa crispy brown rice…

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I was right! :)

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We got a little crafty one morning — and came up with breakfast sushi!

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And I have all the ingredients in the house today, so it only seems logical that I make it again, yes?

You should too!

Breakfast Sushi

bananas

chocolate chips

nut butter  (I used peanut butter) 

Erewhon crispy rice cereal of your choice (wouldn’t the cocoa ones be good here?!) 

The amounts depend on how many bananas you are using– this is one of those recipes where you can’t really go wrong. If you have extra melted chocolate and peanut butter, just add in some crispy rice cereal to the bowl, stir it up, spread onto wax paper and you’ve got a sweet crispy treat for later.

For each banana, I use a small handful of chocolate chips and about a tablespoon of peanut butter. Melt in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until completely melted. Slice bananas. Dip banana pieces into melted mixture, then roll in cereal and set on a wax paper covered tray. Place in the fridge for a few minutes to set.

You could also use white chocolate chips and the berry crispy rice used in the bars pictured above. Feel free to omit the chocolate and just do nut butter. And next time I’ll definitely be using the cocoa crispy rice. (If Carter doesn’t eat it all first!)

EnJOY!

 

This super simple recipe is linked up to Gluten-Free Wednesdays — go check out ALL of the other recipes by clicking on the graphic below!

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stuffed spaghetti squash: lasagna style

It’s a good feeling to still be using up goods from the garden harvest — squash will actually last quite a long time when stored in a  cool, dry place. (thanks Mamasita!)

If I could get away with it, I would eat pizza every single day. Or lasagna.

No joke.

Or anything Italian for that matter.

Time-out story: I’ve heard Italy can be easier to navigate gluten-free than many other countries, anyone been? It’s on my life list. I’ll get there someday.

But for now… I’ll keep coming up with ways to “healthify” my addiction to Italian foods.

Who’s with me?

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Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

1 spaghetti squash

1 lb Italian sausage (we like to mix spicy & sweet)

2 cups of your favorite pasta sauce (or see the simple sauce recipe below)

2 tablespoons fresh basil

½ cup ricotta cheese

½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese (plus extra for topping)

Olive oil

salt & pepper

Roasting the squash

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Wash spaghetti squash, cut off stem and slice squash lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and gunk. (save the seeds and roast them!) Brush with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and place in baking dish (9×13 works well) with a little water in the bottom of the dish — as the squash cooks, you can add more water if it dries up. Roast for 45-60 minutes, depending on squash size, or until inside is soft and easily “fluffs” with a fork. It will look like very tiny spaghetti noodles… hence the name, cool huh? :)

While squash is roasting, brown Italian sausage in large skillet over medium heat. Remove sausage from the pan and set aside, but SAVE the drippings in the pan for the next step.

If you are using a jar sauce, add that to the pan now and simmer.  If you chose to make the super simple sauce recipe below, use the drippings in the pan instead of the olive oil to start your sauce.  Add the sausage back into the sauce.

In a bowl, combine the ricotta, mozzarella, and fresh basil, set aside.

When squash is tender, remove from oven and using a fork, scoop, fluff, flake, scrape, whatever you’d like to call it, to get the inside of the squash to look like spaghetti noodles. You don’t have to get at ALL of the squash, you can scoop more later when you get to the bottom after it’s been filled and you’re enjoying it for dinner.

Now we FILL THEM! Start with a scoop of the red sauce, followed by a layer of the cheese mixture, (you can add extra mozzarella on each layer too!) and repeat the layers until you’ve over filled your squash, ending with a layer of red sauce and then topping them with mozzarella. Trust me. Over fill ‘em.

Turn the oven to broil and put them back in to brown up the cheesy top.

EnJOY.

xoxo

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Simple Red Sauce

1 small yellow onion, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
3 basil leaves, chopped
1 large can crushed tomatoes
4 oz tomato sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced (I use a garlic press)
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat. 

Add onion and celery and sauté for 4-5 minutes, until they start to soften. Add garlic and sauté 30 seconds, stirring frequently. Stir in tomatoes and tomato sauce. Season with salt & pepper. Reduce heat and simmer while roasting squash, add fresh basil at the end of cooking. 

 

This recipe is part of Gluten-Free Wednesdays, be sure to check out all of the recipes each week!

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CHRISTMAS SANGRIA

We had our annual Gluten-Free Cookie Exchange last night — my heart goes out to anyone who missed it!

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Plates of goodies.

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Mounds of hot cocoa toppings.

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But the top requested recipe at the end of the night?

The Christmas Sangria! (man, I love this group.)And ironically, TODAY is National Sangria Day. Who knew? Actually, Shirley from Gluten Free Easily knew and shared her sangria recipe on Facebook… which reminded me I had started typing this  post early this morning and didn’t finish. So you have her to thank for getting me in gear and getting this posted — just in time for you to take to your family get together, Katie! ;)

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CHRISTMAS SANGRIA

(Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)

2 large oranges, one sliced, the other juiced  (I’m talking BIG oranges. Barely fit in your hand. If not, use three.) 

2 lemons, sliced 

1-2 cups fresh cranberries (we’re flexible around here — use what you’ve got!) 

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup triple sec

2 bottles cheap red, fruity wine

2-3 cans club soda or white soda (optional — I used it in the sangria at the cookie exchange) 

Add sliced orange, lemons, and sugar to large pitcher. Using a wooden spoon, mash fruit and sugar. Pour in triple sec, wine and juice from second orange and stir to combine. If you choose to use the soda, add that as well, followed by the cranberries. Chill in the fridge for at least two hours — the longer the better! Serve over ice.

Cheers!

Have a JOYful weekend.

xoxo || Sarah

Italian Chili & Garlic-Parm Biscuits

A couple of weeks ago,  I took my annual birthday trip to Denver.

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As usual, D-town did not disappoint. (and that bestest friend of mine? she outdid herself  — I’m so blessed!) :)

A day trip to the mountains with my BFF and her bees.

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A night out on the town, just the two of us — THE best birthday dinner at True Food Kitchen. (get yourself there ASAP!)

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A day of baking. It’s tradition. Me and the bee.

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Top request from the hive?

Pumpkin Spice Cookies with RumChata Cream Cheese frosting. (with a new-to-me mix I’m loving!)

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It was football Sunday and little bee and I were feeling generous, so we threw in a batch of Italian Chili too.

My Italian Chili with Garlic-Parmesan biscuits were featured recently in a Pairdd box — new to the Pairdd scene? Check out my full review HERE. And go order your meal HERE.

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Photo credit: Pairdd.com
 

We mixed things up and made the chili in the slow cooker, leaving the oven open for baking business. There’s something about a hot pot of soup simmering on the stove that calms me, so that’s my preferred mode, but life is short and sometimes we need a quick throw-it-all-in-and-GO meal, so now you have the slow cooker option too. You will want to either remove the lid and allow the liquid to reduce down after cooking for 2-3 hours on high, or thicken it up with some GF flour or cornstarch. (I did the latter adding a tablespoon of flour at a time, mixed with a little water. Repeat this step until you get the consistency you like.)

The biscuits? You probably want to double the batch — they won’t last long!

{Italian Chili}

 1 medium onion, diced                                         1 green pepper, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced                                         1 cans tomato juice (11.5oz)

14.5 oz can navy or northern beans                1 cup chicken stock

1 tablespoon Penzey’s Pasta Sprinkle             fresh parmesan for topping

14.5 oz can diced tomatoes                                  1 lb ground Italian sausage ( ½ spicy, ½ sweet is my combo)

salt & pepper

 

  1. Using Dutch oven or large stock pot, brown Italian sausage. Remove from pan and set aside.
  2. Using leftover grease from sausage, sauté onions and green peppers until tender.
  3. Add garlic, stirring, for about 30 seconds.
  4. Return the sausage to the pot, followed by the beans, tomato juice, diced tomatoes, chicken stock, and pasta sprinkle. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer over low heat 30mins or longer to reduce down to your preferred thickness.
  6. Top with fresh parmesan and serve with warm garlic-parm biscuits.

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{Garlic Parmesan Biscuits}

1 cup Gluten Free Flour Mix (I used Cup4Cup, if not using a pre-made mix, add 1 teaspoon guar gum)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sugar or honey
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tsp garlic powder (add more if you want more garlic flavor) 
2 tablespoons shortening
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine: GF flour mix, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar/honey, guar gum (if used) Add shortening and butter. If you feel like getting messy (the way to go!) use hands to mix until dough forms. (a food processor works well too) Add cheese, sour cream, and milk. Stir to combine all ingredients well, then drop by 1/4 cup size balls onto a baking sheet. A cookie scoop works well too. Bake for 15-17 minutes at 400 degrees, until golden on top, depending on size — the recipe makes about 6 biscuits, but you can make them mini-biscuits as well, these are pretty hearty.

Brush with melted butter immediately after baking them.

Wordless Wednesday: Gluten Free Flourless Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe

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*BUY those CUTE cards here, from my friend Claudine from Gluten Free Gift!*