Coconut Chocolate Granola Bars


What would you do if you had a few extra hours to yourself per week?

Someone asked me this recently, and I didn’t have to think very hard before answering: “I’d read more, watch my favorite ’90s movies, probably go shopping for some professional clothes forĀ an upcoming conference, and bake. Definitely bake.”

This weekend, thanks to a much-needed housecleaning service mid-week, I found myself with a bit of extra time on my hands. And, true to my prediction of what I’d do in this situation, I decided I really wanted to bake. But I didn’t want to simply follow a recipe like I normally would.

For me, it’s the creative process that makes cooking (and especially baking) not just fun, but actually therapeutic. Still, because I often have a reason my finished product needs to turn out nice-looking or at least reasonably presentable, I’m usually a recipe-followin’ gal. The trial-and-error nature of free-form baking just isn’t worth the risk if I’m preparing dessert for company or bread for family breakfast. Give me a list of steps someone else has promised will lead to success and I’ll follow like a trusting puppy dog.

Sometimes, though, I get the chance to create my own recipe just for the joy of it. Art for art’s sake, let’s say. My canvas? Today, it was a mixing bowl, a baking pan, and a blend of go-to ingredients. The end result? Granola bars! To me, these DIY noshables are a great option for experimentation. They’re low-risk (’cause, hey, they’re just a snack) and generally forgiving, with their wide-open hodgepodge of various ingredients.

Making these Coconut Chocolate Granola Bars, I had a great time tinkering with the ratios of dry ingredients, binders, and mix-ins–and I’m happy to say they came out just right! These start with a flax egg to make them vegan (just kidding, it’s because I didn’t have any eggs). Then, wholesome additions like oats, whole wheat flour, and honey make their way into the mix, plus sweet treats chocolate chips and coconut. After a 30-minute stint in the oven, these bars emerge chewy and ready for snacking action. Our whole family loved them.

If you’re new to making your own recipes, I say start with granola bars. Or, if you’d like a recipe, start with this one! Tried and tested by yours truly, I can assure you these bars make a delicious homemade alternative to packaged snacks.

 


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Coconut Chocolate Granola Bars
Chewy, chocolatey, and coconut-y, these homemade granola bars are a yummy alternative to the packaged variety.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Passive Time 15 minutes
Servings
bars
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Passive Time 15 minutes
Servings
bars
Instructions
  1. Prepare the flax egg: In a small bowl, combine 1 Tbsp. flax seed meal and 3 Tbsp. water. Place in the refrigerator to firm up for about 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients: oats, flour, coconut, chocolate chips, and salt. Mix in coconut extract, vanilla, honey, almond milk, vegetable oil, and flax egg. Spread in prepared pan, pressing down firmly to smooth.
  4. Bake about 30 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes, then slice into 16 bars. Store covered at room temperature.
Recipe Notes

A Love Letter To Food Original Recipe.

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Lemon Raspberry Smoothie

When I think of smoothies, I don’t often consider lemon as a particularly tempting flavor. Lemon in cocktails, muffins, or chicken recipes? Yes, all the way. But lemon in a smoothie? Sounds a little odd. I would think the tangy taste would be a bit too overpowering for a snack as tame as a smoothie–or that putting lemon juice in with dairy would produce something curdled.

Then again, lemon yogurt was always my favorite growing up, and I think we can all agree that lemon sweets are some of the best around. (P.S. I just counted, and just on this blog I have 13 recipes with lemon as their primary flavor.)

So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the flavor of lemon–especially when paired with raspberry–in this easy smoothie turned out refreshing and delicious. The sunshiney tartness mixed with that pretty rosy color just stole my heart. And my mouth.

Plus, a lemon raspberry smoothie gave me an excuse to use the candied lemon slices I bought from Trader Joe’s, which I didn’t actually need, but were so cute and appealing I couldn’t resist. (Like so many other things at Trader Joe’s.) Now that the package is open, I guess I’ll have to go and make those other 13 lemon recipes and garnish the heck out of ’em.

Looking for more lemony goodness this winter season? Try some of my other recipes!

Lemon Honey Olive Oil Muffins

Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes

Lighter Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars

Sparkling Ginger Lemonade


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Lemon Raspberry Smoothie
This lemon raspberry smoothie with the prettiest pink color makes a refreshing, tangy snack.
Instructions
  1. Place raspberries, yogurt, honey, and among milk in a blender. Zest lemon directly into the blender, then juice the 1/2 lemon directly in as well, straining for seeds. Blend well and top with whipped cream, if desired.
Recipe Notes

A Love Letter to Food original recipe.

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Coconut Almond Muffins

The Monday after spring break has its ups and downs. In my case, having stayed home with my kids for the better part of ten days, I’d be lying if I said I weren’t a little grateful to have them headed back to school this morning. Like, if I hear one more “He hit me and I did NOTHING!” I might need to pack up and move to Aruba. On the other hand, I do treasure the concentrated time home with them doing fun activities like park play dates, library visits, and living room picnics.

And after almost a whole week or waking up without an alarm, it was a little hard to get out of bed this morning.

That’s partly why I made these Coconut Almond Muffins yesterday–to trick myself into the motivation needed to get up and go about regularly scheduled life. With the hearty texture of ground almonds and tropical sweetness of coconut, they’re a tasty treat that’s worth hauling myself into the kitchen for.

What I didn’t anticipate, though, was that my ten-year-old son (who took a sudden interest in cooking over spring break) would make me coffee, pour me a glass of water, and plate me two of these muffins–complete on a tray for breakfast in bed! Since our spring break was somewhat derailed by the bickering so common to school-aged kids, we’d had a long talk last night about service and kindness. Something must have sunk in.

I guess the only problem is that I didn’t actually have to get out of bed to eat them!

 


Print Recipe
Coconut Almond Muffins
A classic combination of coconut and almond flavors these lovely muffins!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
muffins
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
muffins
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease 12 muffin cups.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center and add melted butter, almond milk, almond extract, vanilla extract, and eggs. Stir until just combined.
  3. Coarsely grind the almonds: pulse almonds in a small food processor or zap a few times with an immersion blender until broken into small pieces. Mix almonds and coconut into batter.
  4. Divide batter between 12 muffin cups and bake in preheated oven 14-18 minutes. Let cool and store in an airtight container.
Recipe Notes

Adapted from Bake or Break.

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Strawberry Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: when it comes to your diet, there’s no such thing as a “detox.” Your liver and kidneys serve as your body’s built-in detoxification system, and there’s not much you can do to make them function better.

That being said, on this day after Thanksgiving, we could probably all use a “detox” in the sense of something light and healthy to get back on track after the inevitable holiday indulgence. A smoothie is my snack of choice after mashed potatoes, gravy, pumpkin pie…and pizza. (No, my family Thanksgiving tradition doesn’t involve pizza. It’s just that when you eat dinner at 3:00 PM, you get pretty hungry by about 9:00.) Though I thoroughly enjoyed every bite of all those foods, the key to health is balance, so I’m leaning toward the skinny side of the food spectrum today.

This Strawberry Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie is inspired by the Chunky Strawberry Bowl at Jamba Juice. Strawberries, banana, peanut butter, and oats may sound like an odd combination, but from the first time I tried the Jamba Juice version, I was hooked. There’s something almost comfort food-like about the sweetness of the fruit blended with wholesome oats and stick-to-your-ribs peanut butter. I’ve been recreating it at home for awhile now.

When it comes to making your own smoothie instead of going to Jamba Juice, there are a couple of distinct advantages: 1.) you won’t pay a whopping $7.15 for it, and 2.) it doesn’t have to set you back 570 calories when all you want is a snack. Plus, on Black Friday, you don’t have to leave your house. That’s my kind of detox. šŸ™‚

Wishing you a delightful remainder of your Thanksgiving weekend!

 


Print Recipe
Strawberry Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie
Fruity and filling, this smoothie is a healthy snack choice!
Course Beverage, snack
Servings
smoothies
Course Beverage, snack
Servings
smoothies
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Recipe Notes

A Love Letter to Food Original Recipe.

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Lemon Honey Olive Oil Muffins

Lemon Honey Olive Oil Muffins

You know the phrase, “If you want something done right, do it yourself”? Well, you may not think this phrase applies to the humble muffin, but I’m here to tell you it does.

Lemon Honey Olive Oil Muffins

As a muffinomaniac, I am constantly scouring the internet for new muffin varieties to try, but sometimes, alas, I just can’t find exactly the recipe I want for the ingredients I have on hand.

Lemon Honey Olive Oil Muffins

Thankfully, muffins are the perfect drawing board for recipe experimentation, even for anyone new to the process. If you can’t find a recipe for exactly what you want, you can always take the DIY route. Muffins areĀ like a bake-able paint-by-numbers kit: hard to screw up and with a bit of room for creativity. All you have to do is find a good basic recipe (like this one from King Arthur Flour or this one from Mark Bittman) and tweak it to your liking, or to fit whatever items in your kitchen need using up. You might even use a flavor guide likeĀ The Flavor BibleĀ for inspiration on ingredient combinations. That’s how I ended up with these Lemon Honey Olive Oil Muffins–which, by the way, are no basic muffin.

Lemon Honey Olive Oil Muffins

PoppingĀ with lemony tartness both in the batter and in a glaze on top, these little gems also have anĀ undercurrent ofĀ the distinctive, mellower flavor of olive oil. They were just what I was hoping for when I decided to roll up my sleeves and figure out a recipe thatĀ used honey, lemon, olive oil, and whole wheat flour. Knowing they were awaiting me for breakfastĀ even motivated me to get out of bed in the morning during this week of my kids’ return to school after Christmas break. (How did I get so used to sleeping in after only two weeks?)

Lemon Honey Olive Oil Muffins

So tell me, what kind of muffins would you make if you were to create your own recipe? Or what other types of foods do you find easy to experiment with? I’m always looking for new ideas!

Lemon Honey Olive Oil Muffins

Lemon Honey Olive Oil Muffins

Print Recipe
Lemon Honey Olive Oil Muffins
These lemony muffins get their sweetness from honey and their moist texture from olive oil.
Course breakfast
Servings
muffins
Course breakfast
Servings
muffins
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray 10 cups of a muffin tin with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the honey, olive oil, eggs, sour cream, vanilla, almond milk, and lemon juice until smooth.
  3. Add all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, salt, baking powder, and lemon zest and mix until just combined.
  4. Spoon into greased muffin cups and bake 3 minutes at 425, then reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake an additional 15-17 minutes.
  5. Cool at least 10 minutes in the pan. Meanwhile, make the glaze by whisking together the remaining lemon juice and powder sugar. Remove muffins from tin and drizzle with the glaze. Store in an airtight container.
Recipe Notes

A Love Letter to Food Original Recipe.

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