White Beans with Leeks and Thyme ‘Slow Cooker Friday’ Stew or Soup

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That ended up being quite a long title, but the ingredient list is all the shorter to make up for it. And yes, I realize it’s not Friday ūüėČ

Shorter days and all the holiday activity can leave you tired and sleepy. It’s darker earlier and after the hustle and bustle of the holidays most don’t feel like doing as much as on a sunny summer evening. Add to that the weeks of overindulgence that usually lead up to the end of the year, the lethargic feeling that comes with it and you know you really don’t want to cook at all. But luckily to your aid comes the slow cooker! After a long week of work or entertaining, you deserve to come home to a meal that’s good, good for you and won’t break the bank! Prepare in the morning and decide if you want soup or stew on your way home! (Sorry there are no picture of the soup, we were too hungry and it was dark out, but let me tell you, it was yummy)

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I used a 2 qt size round cooker for this recipe. Makes 4 servings if you add some Chicken Sausage Patties on the side.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb dry white beans ( I have used both baby lima and regular dried lima beans) rinsed
  • 1 cup leeks, white and light green parts only, (from about 2 stalks) cut into rounds and cleaned well*
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cube Rapunzel (no salt added) bouillon
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 4 cups water
  • (optional) pancetta or speck as a topping or chicken sausage patties as a side

* Leeks can trap a lot of dirt, so submerge the cut rounds in cold water and move pieces around with your hands, changing the water a couple of times if necessary until no more ‘sand’ collects on the bottom

imageHere served with a nice slice of 10 grain sourdough for a vegetarian dinner (resuscitate your sourdough starter in the back of the fridge, you will need it for this yummy bread, recipe coming up soon)

Directions

  1. Rinse beans well, then layer into the slow cooker and add 3 cups of water.
  2. Add the cleaned leeks, salt and thyme sprigs.
  3. Turn your slow cooker to high and wait 5-6 hours until beans are fully cooked, adding water if necessary. (On low the recipe will take longer, about 8-9 hours)
  4. When you get home, either serve as is, or add another cup of water and using a hand held blender, puree the beans and leeks until smooth, adding more water if you like a thinner soup.
  5. Cook some chicken sausage patties until nicely browned and serve along the stew or cook a slice or two of Pancetta or Speck, crumble and top your soup with it

imageCopyright © 2012 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved

Chicken Sausage Patties

Chicken Sausage PattiesSausage can be a mixed bag of tricks. Store bought it often contains a lot of fat with¬†the flavor that we all want. But if you want to control fat and sodium content, blending up your own patties (unless you know of a great source that makes chicken sausage from just breasts) is often the only choice. It’s quick and cheap and oh so versatile! Trim all visible fat from the chicken breast prior to making these.

Ingredients

  • 1 boneless chicken breast half, coarsely chopped (1/2 to 3/4 pounds)
  • 1 egg white
  • 3 tablespoons scallions or onion to taste
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp paprika, sweet
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs such as parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper pieces, red and green (about 1/4 pepper each)
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper, (optional, to add some spice)

Directions

  1. Pulse all the ingredients except the peppers in the blender until chopped, but not pasty
  2. Stir in the pepper pieces and using a table spoon, form into 2-3″ patties.
  3. Cook in a hot skillet until cooked through and nicely browned. (Or bake in a 375¬ļF oven)
  4. Can be made in advance and frozen. When needed just pop in the microwave or defrost and heat in the toaster oven.

Serve as a side with soup or White Bean Stew with Leeks and Thyme

Copyright © 2012 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved

Warm Winter Salad

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Now that the holidays are coming to a close, and New Years is staring to wave at us with all its new beginnings and good resolutions. Why not indulge in something reminiscent of comfort food, but without the guilty pleasure price tag? This salad is just right for that. Sustaining enough to not leave you looking through the cookie jars in the break room, but nourishing and light at the same time. It’s a salad for those that don’t like salad. Like my one friend that doesn’t see why anyone would want to eat ‘crunchy water’. This would even work for her, a no greens salad!

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And of course, where would we be with our healthy living resolutions if it were not going to be convenient? So this one packs neatly into a jar, dressing and all. When ready, just shake, remove the lid and heat up ( I like mine warm), or enjoy cold!

imageper serving you will need:

Ingredients

  • 1 small sweet potato
  • 3 tbsp chick peas (cooked or canned)
  • 5 small mushrooms, quartered
  • 1/2 small zucchini, diced into cubes
  • 3-4 tsp roasted garlic dressing
  • 2 cup mason jar

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Directions

  1. Prick sweet potato with a fork, wrap with 2 paper  towels, drizzle some water on the paper towel for moisture and microwave until soft and cooked through. (Alternately use  some leftover roasted sweet potato, peeled) Once cool enough to handle, peel and cube and set aside to cool completely.
  2. Heat a teaspoon olive oil in a small skillet, add mushrooms to pan and quick sauté for 1 minute. Set aside to cool. Add zucchini to pan, and sauté for another minute, set aside to cool completely.
  3. Layer ingredients into a  2 cup mason jar in the following order:
  • creamy roasted garlic dressing
  • sweet potato
  • chick peas
  • zucchini
  • mushrooms
  • lid

You can assemble this salad completely and store in your fridge for up to 4 days!

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Copyright © 2012 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved

Sweet Potato and Tarragon Gnocchi

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It’s been cold and rainy again and all I want to eat is soup, stew and gnocchi. So here another New World take on classic potato dumplings. They involve a little sticky work, but are so worth making. The tarragon really takes this former ‘poor people’s food’ from everyday to special occasion.They also freeze great, so make more than you need, freeze right on the sheet then store in zip top bags and cook from there when you’re ready. That way you could A) store them for a busy week night or B) make them ahead as a holiday side dish to serve with your Christmas dinner.

imageThe dough is a bit sticky, so make sure you flour the work surface well

imageready for the freezer!

Ingredients

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 egg
  • about 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 sprigs French Tarragon, leaves only, chopped

imageThey will look like little pillows ūüôā

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 375, poke sweet potato with a fork and roast on a cookie sheet until soft  hen pricked with a knife, about 25 to 35 minutes, depending on the size of the sweet potato.
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats, set aside.
  3. Set sweet potato aside until cool enough to handle, then peel and squish through a potato ricer into a bowl, let cool 10 more minutes (you want it to be cool to the point where the egg does not cook when you add it).
  4. Stir in the salt, tarragon leaves and the egg, then gently incorporate the flour.
  5. Set dough aside for 15 minutes to allow the flour to absorb some of the moisture.
  6. Then flour your work surface well, and cut off a portion of dough the size of a baseball. Gently roll into a rope, about 1 1/2″ diameter, keeping your hands floured.
  7. Using a knife, cut 1″ sections of dough from the rope and place on a ¬†prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all dough has been used up.
  8. For eating right away:  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook about 8-10 gnocchi at a time until they swim to the surface, skim out using a wire mesh strainer, drain and serve.
  9. For use later: Freeze on baking sheets until gnocchi are firm, then transfer to zip top bags and store in the freezer until ready to use. Then bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook 5-6 gnocchi at a time, cooking less gnocchi at a time and making sure the water stays boiling, since the frozen dumplings will bring the water temperature down drastically and if the water isn’t hot enough, you risk having them fall apart.

Ideas for serving them:

  • with freshly grated Romano cheese and a drizzle of olive oil,
  • top with your favorite sauce,
  • bake in the oven topped with a little Parmesan cheese until slightly browned (highly recommend)
  • serve alongside roast chicken or game and don’t forget the side of cranberry or lingonberry jam!

imageCopyright © 2012 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved

Mushroom Gruyère Tart

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This past weekend I was on a mission to not go out and buy more, but use up all the odds and ends that can accumulate in your kitchen and fridge over the week. In my case that involved some mushrooms that were begging to be eaten and the large chunk of cheese that I bought and had not made much of a dent into looked like a contender as well. Add an open container of cottage cheese and you’re talking! And pie crust is always easy and cheap to make, you can even make a large portion ahead and freeze it for later.

And in the tradition of a true leftover dish, this can be made without the mushrooms, add some leftover steamed¬†broccoli for example, Cheddar or other semi hard cheese can be substituted for the Gruy√®re. Play with it, it’s really easy to make something yummy if it is served in a pie crust. The result heats up well for lunch in a toaster oven or even as a light dinner with a side salad of spinach and pomegranate seeds. Ever¬†since I discovered how easy it is to get to the seeds,¬†I have been in love with the juicy little red things, when the weather gets colder, I know they will show back up in the stores soon ūüôā

Also I am super sorry for still not posting the Sweet Potato Spatzle I promised a little while ago. Turns out I was so exited making them, that I never wrote the recipe down ūüôĀ So I will have to recreate them before I can share it with all of you. Not like I mind eating them again so soon, lol.image

Ingredients

  • 1 single pie crust I (preferably whole wheat and homemade)
  • 8 oz brown button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 oz Gruy√®re ¬†cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese (min 4% fat*)
  • 1 tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt

*using lower fat contend can make the result dry

Directions

  1. Heat  a little oil in a skillet, cook the onions until they start to become translucent, then add the mushrooms and salt. Cook until both the mushrooms and onions are soft, then add the balsamic vinegar and cook for an additional minute. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  2. In the meantime, heat the oven to 380¬ļF. Roll out pie crust and fill a pie or tart pan with the dough.
  3. ¬†When the mushrooms are cooled down enough, add the eggs, grated cheese and cottage cheese (make sure you let the mixture cool down so the eggs don’t ‘cook’ when added) Stir well and fill into prepared crust. Smooth out the top.
  4. Bake in  the middle of the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until slightly browned and set in the center.

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© 2012 SimpleHealthyHomemade

Gluten Free Pumpkin Crêpes

What better start could there be for a brisk fall day, than adding pumpkin to your crêpes on a Sunday any morning? And when you come back from running errands, your house still smells like pumpkin pie!

Make sure you keep these fairly thin as they tend to stay more moist than regular pancakes, too thick and the center will be more like pumpkin pie filling: namely dough-ey

These ‘cr√™pe-cakes’ were fine too. Any thicker though I have not had any luck with…

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 /2 cup water
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup sweet sorghum flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/4 cup chick pea flour/ besan
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Directions

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients, then add everything else
  2. Heat a non stick skillet over medium heat and quickly coat the inside with a bit of coconut oil, using a crumpled up paper towel.
  3. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into the heated pan and tilt to coat the entire bottom of the skillet. Cook until bubbles show through and the batter stops looking shiny, then gently turn them over to cook the other side. (These are pretty delicate, so do make sure your skillet is non stick and cook them enough before attempting to flip over.)
  4. Repeat with the remaining batter, keeping the crêpes hot on a plate in the preheated oven or stick them in the toaster over (heat before, then turn off and put the plate in it)

© 2012 SimpleHealthyHomemade

Ricotta and Spinach Malfatti

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I have a secret fascination with gnocchi, or dumplings or whatever you want to call them. I think the part that really gets me is the fact that you make a sort of dough and then dump it in boiling water, AND if you do it right, it doesn’t fall apart but cooks and comes out of the water the same shape it went in. Seems crazy that should work at all, right?

                 

In the center shown with slow cooker sauce and sweet potato

Well, since we are on the topic, here’s another one I tried recently. With the fall weather setting in, I am veering over towards more substantial foods, but this one is surprisingly light and delicate, for a dumpling. It’s mostly ricotta after all! Still fascinated that they hold together in the water, although it just occurred to me, duh, that pasta is essentially dough as well, cooked in water. I guess the fact that pasta is much drier and flat never allowed me to make the connection? ūüôā Now granted these are a bit more delicate than Spaghetti, and need special precautions, but as long as you keep the water just below a serious boil, you’re good to go. And they are worth every minute spent on making them. Don’t let the long list of steps scare you off, they are much easier to make than it is to describe how to make them, seriously!

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Malfatti which translates literally as ‘ badly made’ are a regional specialty from Italy. I had first seen them on menus and tables back in Europe, then heard about them again when I started reading Robert’s blog, and his recent post on flour-less Malfatti reminded me to finally give them a try. Not flour-less, I’ll leave that for later, since that seems to require a bit more dumpling experience, I hear.

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Another thing to keep in mind before running to your kitchen: all the recipes I saw recommended draining the ricotta in a cheesecloth lined colander, in the fridge overnight, some with a weight on it. However my ricotta did not cooperate and drained nothing, so here’s my solution: When ready to make the dough, blot with several changes of paper towels, squeeze and blot several times before placing in a large bowl.

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So here’s what you need for the ‘screwed ups’ or Malfatti

Ingredients

  • 2 cups ricotta, drained in cheesecloth in the fridge overnight
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • semolina (or corn meal) for dusting so they don’t stick
  • 1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano or other hard italian cheese

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Directions

  1. Drain the ricotta overnight in the fridge in a cheesecloth lined colander over a bowl or blot with several changes of paper towels, squeeze and blot several times before placing in a large bowl.
  2. Separate the egg yolk from the egg white, reserve egg white for another use, and add the yolk to the ricotta bowl.
  3. Cut the spinach leaves into a chiffonade (roll up a few at a time and slice thinly) then add with the salt to the ricotta. Stir with a fork until mixed.
  4. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the flour over the ricotta mixture and using a spatula or your fingers, gently incorporate until just coming together.
  5. Prepare a baking sheet with a non stick mat ans sprinkle with semolina.
  6. Generously flour a work surface, turn out the dough onto the surface an knead 4 to 5 times. (Do NOT overmix or the dough will get tough = not good)
  7. In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then reduce heat until just at a simmer and no big bubbly movement can be seen in the water.
  8. Using 2 teaspoons, cut a piece from the dough, shape and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.¬†Sprinkle all the Malfatti with semolina while they are ‘waiting’
  9. Gently slide dumplings into simmering water, 5 to 6 at a time and cook until they float to the surface. Scoop out using a wire skimmer and place back on the baking sheet.
  10. Preheat broiler on low and when they are all cooked, sprinkle with the Pecorino and quickly finish the Malfatti in the oven until the cheese melts, they should stay white.
  11. Serve with any sauce that makes you happy.

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© 2012 SimpleHealthyHomemade

Banana ‘Fritters’

imageOr what to so with those ‘ugly’ bananas…

‚Üď

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Maybe I am just weird but I tend to believe that others out there do not like mushy bananas either. You know, the ones that sit in the fruit basket forgotten like the proverbial step child until, without warning suddenly they turn brown, in a matter of hours it seems. Alright, admittedly I am exaggerating, but I just really do not like them even when they start getting the little brown spots. At least not for eating as a banana. No, at that point I will resort to using them up in all manners of ways that I came up with over the years (I don’t like to waste and throw them out after all) from smoothies to sweetener in baked goods and muffins, to ice cream topping, I have tried most anything. How about you guys, do you have any favorite banana-use recipes?

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This would be great as a snack or an indulgent breakfast: Pancake batter banana ‘fritters’. Since the bananas get soft and extra sweet as they cook, no need for syrup. Haven’t tried this, but some chocolate spread, like Nutella might be good…

Ingredients

  • You need a few ugly bananas (very ripe)*
  • leftover pancake batter (or for a simple recipe go here)
  • short Bamboo skewers (to fit in the pan)

* one banana makes about three skewers on average.

Directions

  1. Slice bananas into rounds, about 1/2″ thick and thread 3 to 4 pieces onto short bamboo skewers (if you only have the long ones, cut them in half before or it won’t fit in the pan) You want to thread them on like you are making a flat snow man, if that makes sense (so they lie flat)
  2. Heat a skillet over medium high, when it’s hot, add a bit of oil and swirl to coat
  3. Put the pancake batter in a shallow dish and dip, first one side then the other, of the banana skewer until the slices are completely coated in batter.
  4. Cook in the preheated pan until set and slightly browned, then turn over and cook on the second side. Depending on the size of your pan, you can cook 3 to 4 skewers at a time. Enjoy hot!

Because of the skewer they are easy to pick up and eat!
image© 2012 SimpleHealthyHomemade

Potato Gnocchi

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With the cooler weather, the desire for more substantial foods comes back as well. Thicker sauces and thicker sweaters are a hand in hand occurence in this house. I crave different foods when the weather changes, and a good plate of airy and light yet filling gnocchi has never been passed off by this girl here. But when you research or ask around, it seem that short of moving to a monastery in the Italian Alps and apprenticing for a solid three years, or at least adopting an Italian ‘Nonna’ (and they are hard to come by), there is no chance that you might even come close to something edible. Light and delicate and not rubbery, dense or chewy is what I am dreaming off and honestly due to all the info and feedback, it took me a good year of just looking at my potato ricer (that was purchased with just this very task in mind) before I attempted my first batch. When I finally went for it, I could hardly believe how simple it seemed. Had I only realized that it would be so easy to make these from scratch I would have eaten them weekly. ¬†So sadly I have lived without gnocchi for quite some time, having been served lumps of what must have been an illegitimate love child of paste and rubber, I had been too scared to even try the frozen variety at the store. Anyone know if they are any good?

But taking an afternoon and making a batch of nice, homemade gnocchi, is going to give you the best result. You just have to be mindful of a couple of important points and you should have no trouble creating a lofty, delicate gnocchi!

imageMy little gnocchi factory ūüôā

Go ahead, give it a try! The important factors (from my research supplemented by my limited experience) are using a potato ricer, and just barely putting the dough together, if you knead it as many recipe’s are calling for, it will get dense due to the gluten developing inside the dough, and last but not least of course, the type of potato is important too: Russet, or another starchy variety is recommended.

imagemakes enough for about 3 meals for 2 people

Ingredients

  • about 2 lb of Russet potatoes (I used 3 big ones, might have been more than 2 lb, but that’s what most recipe’s call for)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1 tsp salt

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Directions

  1. If necessary, cut the potatoes into manageable pieces (so it fits in a pot) and cover with cold water, bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and cook, covered, until cooked and tender when tested with a knife.
  2. Drain and set aside until juts cold enough to handle, peel the potatoes, cut in half and pass them through a potato ricer into a large bowl. Set aside, uncovered to cool to almost room temperature, about 20 minutes. (They need to cool down to the point where they won’t cook the egg that will get mixed in)
  3. Slightly scramble the egg, then add to the potatoes with the salt and stir with a fork until mixed in.
  4. Add about 1 1/4 cup of flour and gently incorporate into a crumbly dough, using your hands. Make sure the flour is all moistened then press all of it together against the bottom of the bowl.
  5. Generously flour a work surface and wash your hands. Turn dough out onto floured surface and quickly knead until the flour is fully incorporated and the dough is soft and a little tacky but feels delicate and mostly smooth. About 30 seconds to 1 minute max. (do NOT overwork or the gnocchi will be tough)image
  6. Place dough back into bowl and cover with a kitchen towel to prevent it from drying out.
  7. Line two baking sheets with parchment and flour lightly, set aside.
  8. Lightly re-flour work surface and using a piece of dough about the size of a small orange, roll into a 3/4″ diameter roll on the floured surface, below the palms of both your hands.image
  9. With a sharp knife, cut the rope about every 3/4″so you get a little dough piece roughly 3/4″ square. Traditionally Italian Gnocchi have little ridges that are made by pushing/rolling the gnocchi over the tines of a fork, but you could just as well leave them in the ‘pillow’ shape after cutting.image
  10. Place the gnocchi in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet, and repeat until you used up all the dough.
  11. If you are going to cook them within the next 2 to 3 hours, you can leave them out on the counter,otherwise place in the freezer(on the sheets) and when frozen store them in zip top bags for use anytime!
  12. To cook, bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil and slide the fresh gnocchi off the parchment into the water, about 15 to 20 at a time, stir and cook for 1 minute after they float to the surface. If they are frozen, cook right from the freezer but cook less at a time as the water temperature comes down when you add frozen things and the gnocchi will end up falling apart before they cook or (not sure what’s worse) become soggy.

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© 2012 SimpleHealthyHomemade

Granola Power Bars

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Hiking or kayaking was on my list for the past weekend, but the weather has been a little , shall we say, un-cooperative. Since last night it literally thunderstorms every hour. So I have been limited to moving out onto the deck with book, cookie and tea, then back in, then back out with juice and book, then back in…¬† My poor kitty ‘Einstein’ is terrified of thunderstorms. He runs into the basement and hides. He’s been there pretty much all day ūüôĀ saw him once, I think I will take some water and food down to his little corner… Poor fellow.

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But on the upside of things, being limited to close to the house, I had plenty of time coming up with something that would be yummy (criteria number one), give me some sustained energy (i.e. complex carbs) and would be portable enough to take along, you know on hikes and such. Like a power bar. And since I really, really liked the granola¬†I made recently (and this one), I started there with my ingredient list… And as an added bonus I supplemented with sprouted lentils for protein. To try lentils was an idea I got from Leanne’s Beach Bum Trail Mix¬†Doesn’t that just look awesome? Heck, if they can go into trail mix, imagine how they would be sprouted and put into bars!

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Ready for outdoor adventures!¬†If only it stopped pouring…

imageEven my boyfriend, who’s not all that concerned with healthy eating, loves these!

imageSprouted Lentils, before drying

Ingredients

  • 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup popped amaranth grain (buy or do it yourself)
  • 3/4 cup sprouted (and dried*) red lentils
  • 3/4 cup date pieces or chopped dates
  • 1/2 cup sweet brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup flax seed
  • 1/4 cup flax meal
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup rice syrup
  • 1/4 cup honey or agave nectar

* to dry the lentils after sprouting, preheat oven to 350F and place sprouted lentils out on a baking sheet. Cook for about 25 minutes, until crunchy. imageOk, so I got a bit picture happy. Did I mention, it was raining all day?

Directions

  1. Mix oats through brown rice flour in a large bowl, set aside
  2. Mix flax seed, flax meal, chia seed, water and apple sauce, let rest 20 minutes. Then add the sweeteners and the peanut butter and mix until well combined.
  3. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients in the bowl and stir until incorporated.
  4. Spread on a lined baking sheet (a US quarter sheet or half of a bigger cookie sheet works well) until about 3/4″ thick
  5. Bake at 350 for 60 to 65 minutes, checking and turning the sheet after 40. Then turn oven off and leave them in the oven overnight.
  6. In the morning, cut into rectangles roughly 1″x 4″, makes about 24

imageI used one side of a US half sheet size. Spread it out, it won’t go anywhere. And makes for some odd shaped bars at the end, you know, the ones YOU have to eat right away, to make it neat ūüėČ

imageCopyright © 2012 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved