Happy Tuesday! We are moving one step closer to the weekend, life is good!
Because my recent bars baked with Stevia in the Raw (SITR) didn’t work out I decided to look for a recipe that didn’t use ANY added sugars or sugar substitutes. I don’t mind regular Stevia in my morning coffee, in MRM Whey Protein Powder or in the occasional baked goods however I want alternative options that don’t rely on it. I really liked the Gluten-Free Carrot Muffins from Elana’s Pantry because they were only sweetened with dates, so I went back to her site looking for more ideas. I found one with only 5 ingredients, 3 of which are kitchen staples!
These bars are made entirely from dried apricots, pecans, eggs, vanilla extract and sea salt. Okay, 6 ingredients if you count the chocolate chips that I added. A food processor made prep quick and easy, and using a 8″ x 8″ pan made for effortless 1-dish baking. These bars are moist, flavorful and not too sweet. Mr. Nine liked the flavor, but he thought the texture was weird. I’ll have to disagree and say the texture was fine, a cross between a traditional cookie bar recipe and a Larabar. They hold their shape nicely (if you allow them to cool properly before cutting). The nuts give these bars a little texture and the chocolate chips add tiny bits of sweetness. Use dark chocolate (70% or higher) if you can or leave the chocolate out entirely if you have a strict diet. I love dark chocolate and the small amount (1/2 cup for the whole batch) is very reasonable. These are also gluten-free, dairy-free (if you use chocolate chips from Enjoy Life), and paleo-friendly (if you are okay with dark chocolate). Another bonus? They only take about 5 minutes of hands-on time to make. Throw the food processor container, blade, measuring cup, spoon and spatula in the dishwasher and sit back while they bake in the oven. I will definitely make these again, perhaps experimenting with additions of cinnamon, chia seeds or shredded coconut!
Excited to have this whole batch to snack on throughout the week. I keep mine in the fridge to prolong their freshness, but I doubt they’ll last more than a few days. I already had one with breakfast and two as a post-workout snack.
Here’s the recipe for Apricot Power Bars if you want to try them yourself!
In other food news, I made these yummy Sausage and Sweet Potato Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms from Pam at Paleo Table. Unlike traditional stuffed mushrooms which are filled with cheese and breadcrumbs, these contain no grain or dairy! Ground Italian sausage adds bulk, while mashed sweet potato adds body.
I used baby portobello mushroom caps that were 3″-4″ in diameter and increased the cooking time until I saw that the mushrooms were beginning to release some water content (about 35 minutes). Instead of mixing the sausage and potato in the food processor, I simply mashed the potatoes in a bowl and then stirred in the almond meal and sausage-onion mixture. Drizzled with balsamic vinegar, these stuffed mushrooms both savory with a hint of sweetness. These also reheat well in the microwave, making them perfect for a grab-and-go work lunch. I’m saving this gluten-free, dairy-free and paleo recipe because it is a definite win.
I’ve been writing a lot about food lately and not very much about running. I’ll explain why in another post but I have been slowly running again. Not very fast, and not very far, but I’m moving in a forward direction.
Speaking of forward directions, our running group hosted a Couch to 5k style running program and the kick-off meeting was last night.
Photos by Brian Drendel
We had a huge turnout! It was so refreshing to see so many people from the community come out to take the first steps in training to run a 5k. For many this will be their first 5k. The program lasts 9 weeks with 3 weekly group runs using the walk-run approach. You can spot me above calling out the t-shirt raffle winners. I’m excited to volunteer this year, meet new people and hopefully inspire them to stick with the program and make running a lifelong activity.
Have you ever tried a Couch To 5k or Run to Walk program? Were you successful? Any advice or tips that I can give to these new runners next week?