No-Bake Chewy Granola Protein Bars

No-Bake Chewy Protein Granola BarsAs I mentioned when I posted that sweet potato veggie burger recipe, I’ve been on a kitchen mission lately to recreate things I regularly buy. It saves money, and it means I know exactly what is in everything I’m eating—always a nice bonus. I try to eat as little pre-packaged food as possible, but it can be tough to avoid the convenience of granola and protein bars when I’m running around in between teaching classes, getting in my own workout, and working on the blog. There are some wholesome, real-food bars out there, but for the most part, reading the ingredient labels on those things is like reading a chemistry equation. Why not just make my own? Can’t be that hard, right? Right! These are super easy. No-Bake Chewy Protein Granola BarsNo-Bake Chewy Protein Granola Bars 

No-Bake Chewy Granola Protein Bars

Yield: 8

No-Bake Chewy Granola Protein Bars

Ingredients

  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • ½ cup protein powder (I used Healthy Skoop)
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • ½ cup almond butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup almonds (I used roasted almonds but raw would be perfect, too!)
  • ½ cup dried cranberries

Instructions

  1. Crush the almonds into little chunks--I did this by pulsing them in the food processor a few times. Put the dates in a food processor and blend until chopped into a big gooey, sticky ball.
  2. Mix the oats, protein powder, dates, crushed almonds and dried cranberries in a bowl.
  3. Place the almond butter, vanilla and honey in a small skillet and heat over low heat until fully combined and runny. Pour it over the dry mixture and stir together. Use your hands to make sure it’s fully combined.
  4. Line an 8” x 8” pan with parchment paper and press the mixture evenly into it.
  5. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes.
  6. Lift parchment paper from the pan and cut the mixture into 8 equal bars.

Notes

Store in a Tupperware container for a couple days. If you want them to last longer, store in the refrigerator. These are a little sticky, so I’d recommend placing a small piece of parchment paper in between them when stacking for storage.

http://pumpsandiron.com/2015/01/28/no-bake-chewy-granola-protein-bars/
No-Bake Chewy Protein Granola BarsNo-Bake Chewy Protein Granola BarsNo-Bake Chewy Protein Granola Bars

As you’ve probably noticed, I’m not a huge animal-product consumer. The protein powder I used in these bars was introduced to me by a BTone client—Healthy Skoop is plant-based, and I’m really liking it! I admittedly don’t supplement my diet very often, but when I do make a morning smoothie or a recipe like this, the vanilla Healthy Skoop has been great. If you want to try it out, you can use the code PUMPS15 to get 15% off any purchase through 2/28/15 (excludes the super sampler).No-Bake Chewy Protein Granola Bars No-Bake Chewy Protein Granola Bars

Do you use plant-based protein powder or stick to whey? What’s your go-to brand? How about protein bars—what brands do you like?

Hope all you Northeast readers are staying warm and enjoyed the snow day yesterday!

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Oyster Mushroom Tacos from Just Add Cooking

Oyster Mushroom TacosI hope for your sake you’re reading this from somewhere other than the Northeast. It is FREEZING. I had snot icicles hanging from my nose on the brief, one-block walk from the T to the studio…that’s how cold it is. (I know, I know, I’m sexy and you want to date me.) Anyway…

As I mentioned in a previous post, I got the chance to try out Just Add Cooking, a Boston-based meal delivery service, and I loved it. So start, the logistics:

You can pick between a four-person box or a two-person box, and can opt to have three to five meals delivered each week. Two-person boxes start at $79/week and four-person boxes at $109/week. The Wednesday of the preceding week, you log into your account and can pick from a variety of meal options (the options change each week). For mine, I picked Oyster Mushroom Tacos (recipe below!), Scallops in Peppery Butter and Beef White Beans and Leeks (I don’t eat red meat, but I let my boyfriend pick out one—aren’t I nice??). That Sunday night, Just Add Cooking delivers a box to your home with all the ingredients you’ll need to put together your three chosen meals, sourcing them locally. Also in your package are detailed, easy-to-follow recipes for each. Scallops in Peppery Butter Oyster Mushroom Tacos Beef White Beans and Leeks

My boyfriend and I loved all three of the recipes—seriously, couldn’t even pick a favorite because they were all so tasty. When I first opened the box, I was nervous it wouldn’t be enough food, but the serving sizes were perfect to satisfy two people. And it was so nice to not worry about grocery shopping for dinner those few days! Just Add Cooking Oyster Mushroom Tacos Oyster Mushroom Tacos Oyster Mushroom Tacos

To give you a little taste, I wanted to share one of the recipes with you so you can recreate it at home. I have to admit, I thought these were mushroom tacos with oysters in them, but turns out there’s a type of shroom called the oyster mushroom. Doh.

Enjoy! Oyster Mushroom Tacos

Oyster Mushroom Tacos from Just Add Cooking

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 2 servings

Serving Size: 2 tacos

Oyster Mushroom Tacos from Just Add Cooking

Ingredients

  • 5 oz oyster mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 chipotle in adobo sauce
  • ½ cilantro bundle
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ can pinto beans
  • ½ lime
  • 4 small flour tortillas
  • 1 avocado
  • ¼ cabbage
  • Salt

Instructions

  1. Prep: Cut the mushrooms into 1-inch pieces. Peel and slice the red onion thin and mince the garlic. Chop tomato and remove seeds from chipotles and chop. Rinse pinto beans. Shred cabbage. You need about 1-½ cups. Mix in a bowl with ½ tbsp olive oil, juice from ¼ lime and ¼ tsp salt. Dice avocado.
  2. Preheat a large pan over medium heat. Add ½ tbsp of olive oil and sauté onion with a pinch of salt for 3 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and mushrooms and cook for 5 more minutes. Then add tomatoes, chipotles, cilantro and cumin and turn up the heat. Cook for 5 more minutes.
  4. Lower heat and add pinto beans and juice from ¼ lime. Cook until everything is warm. Season with salt.
  5. Toast the tortillas in a dry pan and stuff with mushrooms, avocado and slaw.
http://pumpsandiron.com/2015/01/08/oyster-mushroom-tacos-from-just-add-cooking/

Big thanks to Just Add Cooking for the free trial!

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Black Bean Soup with Tofu Croutons

Black Bean Soup with Tofu CroutonsIs there anything better than a warm bowl of soup on a cold winter day? As I was typing that sentence I just thought, “Um, yes, a plane ticket somewhere tropical. That’d be much, much better than soup.” But let’s focus on the small joys in life here.

Throughout my time working with Nasoya on this series of tofu recipes and posts, I did a ton of experimenting in the kitchen trying to find ways to have fun with the texture of tofu. I think one thing that often turns people off from tofu is the mushy factor, but there are ways to change this. Turns out a little bit of cornstarch goes a long way. Now, I know cornstarch isn’t exactly a superfood (ha!). I sort of think of it like white rice–not bringing much to the table, but also not a total bad guy. I don’t regularly cook with it, but the texture benefit that comes from just a small sprinkle on the tofu is well worth it.

It took some brainstorming and failed attempts (tofu + ground rolled oats = no. Just…no), but I finally got a winner. Especially with a soup that’s already high in protein (from the beans), I wanted the tofu in this recipe to add something special outside it’s nutritional value. And these tofu “croutons” are awesome. A crispy, flavorful outer shell and warm, soft middle that seems to soak up the soup with each bite.

Black Bean Soup with Tofu Croutons Black Bean Soup with Tofu Croutons

Try this soup next time you’re looking to serve up a Meatless Monday dinner. It’s filling and delicious, and will satisfy even the meat lovers in your family (when my boyfriend first tried it, his first comment was “It tastes like there’s meat in here—am I eating chili?”).

Black Bean Soup with Tofu Croutons

Black Bean Soup with Tofu Croutons

Yield: 6

Black Bean Soup with Tofu Croutons

A vegan, Mexican-flavored soup with crispy tofu croutons.

Ingredients

  • 2 cans black beans
  • 2 cups frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cups low-sodium veggie broth
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 vine ripe tomatoes, diced
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp salt
  • For the croutons:
  • 1 pack organic black soybean tofu plus (and firm or extra firm tofu will do!)
  • ½ cup cornstarch (you won't use it all, you just want enough to roll the cubes in)
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Place tofu between paper towels on a plate. Cover with another plate and place something heavy on top (a can of beans, etc.) to add pressure so that water will drain from the tofu. Leave it there while you cook the soup.
  2. Add a splash of extra virgin olive oil to a large pan and sauté onions on medium-high heat. After a couple minutes, add in the garlic and bell pepper. Sauté for an additional two minutes.
  3. Add in the remaining ingredients (beans, corn, broth, tomatoes, spices), mix together, and let simmer uncovered over medium heat for 30 minutes.
  4. If you want a thicker soup, take about 1/3 of the soup and run it through a blender. Pour back into the pan and stir it all together.
  5. Cut tofu into ½-1” cubes. Mix the corn starch and spices together and roll the tofu in mixture. Heat a coupe tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil on high and toss in the tofu, flipping occasionally until golden and crisp (about 5 minutes).
  6. Serve soup with tofu croutons on top.
http://pumpsandiron.com/2015/01/05/black-bean-soup-with-tofu-croutons/

Enjoy this soup! And before I sign off, a big thanks to Nasoya for a wonderful partnership. This is my last post in the series I did with them, and in addition to providing high-quality, organic, non-GMO tofu, their team is a pleasure to work with. It was a step outside my cooking comfort zone to work with tofu in such creative ways, and I loved every second of it!

Black Bean Soup with Tofu Croutons

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