Healthy granola bars

I’ve been searching and trying recipes for a couple months now for a healthy crunchy granola bar recipe that both me and the boys enjoy. I spend so much money at the store on a small box of granola bars and it’s very hard to find ones that aren’t loaded with unhealthy sugars and extra additives. I’ve found a few different store options, but they are expensive and last about a day in my house. I’m always bringing bars with us to the park and like to have them for school snacks too. After trying a few different recipes, I finally found one yesterday from Well Plated that was delicious, easy, healthy, and had that crunch I’d been looking for. They were a hit by all in the house and I anticipate making another batch this week. I’ll probably experiment with adding different seeds and nuts the next round and maybe even some dried fruit.

healthy granola bars

Tips

When I first took these out of the oven, I thought they were going to be a bust. The recipe tells you to cut them immediately out of the oven but leave them on the parchment paper until completely cooled. When I first made my cut, they started to crumble a bit and I thought, “Oh man, this is going to end up just being granola.” But after that I let them be. Once cooled off completely they firmed up and stuck together making them easy to pull apart into individual bars. I recommend using honey for all homemade granola bar recipes. I love to use maple syrup and agave as sweeteners in recipes, but honey is much more binding and helps the granola bars stay together.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup chopped nuts (I used peanuts, but next time I think I will try almonds)
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds (I think for fall I’m going to try pumpkin seeds this week)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (unsweetened is key to keep these healthy!)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325. Mix together oats, nuts, seeds, and coconut flakes on a rimmed, ungreased pan and bake for about 10 minutes.
  2. Heat honey and peanut butter together in a medium saucepan over medium heat until smoothly combined. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, cinnamon and salt.
  3. Add oat mix to the honey peanut butter mix.
  4. You can add chocolate chips but let the mixture cool first or they will melt.
  5. Turn down oven to 300.
  6. Line a 8 or 9 inch baking dish with parchment paper so that two sides of the paper overhang the ends. You want to be able to lift up the entire sheet once cooked and cooled with the edges.
  7. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan and press down with a spatula.
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes. 20 minutes will make them crunchier, 15 more chewy. With the bars still on the pan use a knife to cut them into the desired size bars. Leave them alone afterwards until completely cooled. Once cooled lift up the entire thing with the parchment paper and place on a cutting board. Cut them again on your lines and pull them apart.
  9. These will store for up to 1 week at room temperature or 2 weeks in the fridge. They get extra crunchy when you put them in the fridge!

Super easy protein waffles

These waffles have been a go to of mine for years now. I love them, my boys love them, they are super healthy, super easy, and only involve 4 ingredients…all huge wins for this mom! I love to make a batch on a Sunday and have them for go to grab breakfasts for the week, perfect for school mornings. To reheat them I usually just pop them in the toaster for a minute and they taste like they did on day one coming off the waffle iron. My son goes back and forth between having maple syrup and whip cream on it for his topping. As you can see, he tends to go a little overboard when I give him the freedom to do it on his own ;-). Feel free to experiment with adding extras in, like cinnamon, or pumpkin pie spice seasoning etc. to give them a little extra flavor.

Protein waffles

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups cottage cheese
  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Throw all ingredients in a blender, or a bowl if you only have an immersion blender.
  2. Blend till smoothed.
  3. Use 1/2 cup batter per waffle. Throw on waffle iron and enjoy!

Blender hack

I used to have a Vitamix which was my all-time favorite kitchen tool. But my ex amongst other things destroyed it. I miss it so much. I haven’t wanted to spend the money on another blender yet, will probably get something relatively inexpensive like a Ninja. If you don’t have a blender but have an immersion blender you can also blend it in a bowl. It’s not quite as simple as throwing it all in a blender, but it works!

Enjoy 🙂

Protein balls and healthy veggie dip

No Bake Protein Balls

These are an absolute favorite in my house. They are so delicious that I really have a hard time believing they are healthy because they taste so much like a treat. These are so easy to make, don’t involve using the oven and are full or nutrient dense ingredients. You can change these up a lot by adding in different things, like nuts, coconut, chocolate chips etc. I will say that if you are trying to lose weight or working on a big fitness goal, I would not recommend having these as an everyday snack. Although they are filled with feel good ingredients, due to the peanut butter, honey and chocolate chips these do tend to be a little higher in fat and sugar then some other healthy snacks. When I’m looking at adding “sweetness” into a recipe, I always try and use pure honey, maple syrup or agave. I always try to avoid white sugar. Natural sugars are always better for you, and a tiny drop of pure maple syrup goes a long way! My biggest struggle when making these, is limiting myself to only one. 😉 Enjoy!

healthy protein balls

Ingredients

  • 1 cup old fashion oats
  • 2/3 cup toasted shredded coconut (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter (be careful with your peanut butter selection. Look for one with no sugar and no salt. You also want a creamy one, if not these won’t stick together very well.)
  • 1/2 ground flaxseed (flaxseed is a great source of protein)
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (omit if you are limiting sugar intake)
  • 1/3 cup honey or agave
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Stir all ingredients into a large mixing bowl until thoroughly combined. If it doesn’t look like its sticking together well, you can add in more peanut butter.
  2. Cover the bowl and chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours or until chilled. This helps it stick together.
  3. Roll into small 1 inch or smaller balls.
  4. Enjoy immediately! These can be stored in a sealed container for up to one week in the fridge or in the freezer up to 3 months.

Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip

Who doesn’t love a good ranch dip! But most ranch dips are made with sour cream and loaded with unhealthy fats. I love Greek yogurt! I use it for a healthy replacement in lots of recipes and it’s a perfect substitute for sour cream in dips. The mom I started meal prepping for this week was very interested in having a healthy dip and chopped veggies on hand for quick healthy snacking. I found this recipe from Well Plated. I was very excited to try this recipe out and very pleased with how it turned out! I will be experimenting with this one a bit and adding it to my weekly list. It was so easy, and I almost always have these items on hand. My oldest is not a dip person at all and I’m hoping that will change. His favorite veggie of choice is raw spinach with nothing on it. I find it a little boring, but I can’t complain that he wants to eat raw spinach! 😉

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Fresh chopped chives for garnish
  • sliced up veggies of choice for dipping

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, stir together all the ingredients.
  2. Garnish with fresh chives and serve.
  3. Can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Finding peace through outdoor fitness in New England

My youngest was up before the rest of the house the other morning (pretty much always is) and I stepped outside with my coffee, quickly realizing it was cooler outside the house than in. We’ve been in the middle of what seems like a forever heatwave here, and although I’m very well accustomed to hot, humid weather from living in FL, I am not used to not having a cool house to seek comfort in. It’s been so uncomfortable in the house, which has made it difficult to do my inside workouts. 

I asked my toddler if he wanted to go for a run, and he shouted, “YES!”. It made me chuckle because he is not a fan of sitting in the stroller, he’d much rather be running himself, so I knew he wasn’t quite realizing what that meant for him. So, I made him some breakfast to go, laced up the running sneakers, grabbed my all-time favorite baby purchase ever, my BOB stroller and took off for a run. 

Running with my boy

I had forgotten how much I loved running, how mentally it does something different to me than my other workouts. I used to run with my oldest all the time when he was little. I even created a free mommy meet up walk/run group that met twice a week. Running with my oldest became one of my favorite times of the day. But with my second, well everything just became so much more difficult. Something about running that morning, despite the sticky weather, was extremely freeing. Listening to good music, moving my body, being in the fresh air, it almost brought tears to my eyes. It’s amazing when you’re going through some hard times how a simple rush of adrenaline can make all your emotions come pouring out. Pushing that stroller along was so liberating, and as I ran faster and faster, I began to feel stronger and more like myself than I have in weeks. 

The past two years have been such a roller coaster. I’ve stayed somewhat consistent with my fitness routine, but not as nearly as strict as I would have liked. I’ve realized through so much reflection these past 5 months, that I haven’t put my own happiness, my own health first in so long. When your mom, that alone makes that so much more difficult, but when you’re married to someone who is suffering from illness, and not taking care of himself, you spend so much time and energy wanting to get them help. 

Today, I’m recommitting to making my fitness, and wellness journey a number one. It’s time that I start putting myself first. It’s amazing how much stronger internally I feel when I’m pushing my body to do hard things. As much as I miss my home, my friends, and my normal life, I’m choosing to get back to my roots and make some goals to do the things I once loved so much when I lived in New England…. running hills, biking, hiking, and my all-time old favorite, skiing. I am looking forward to pushing my body in new ways over the course of the next year and am certain mentally it will make me stronger too. 

Finding Strength through Fitness

This morning I had to be prepared to do something really hard. Something that I never imagined I would ever have to do. I can’t talk about it quite yet, but what I can talk about is what I did this morning to help me mentally prepare. I (attempted) to get up this morning before the kids and took 30 minutes to workout. My 25 minute Tabata workout may have been interrupted 10 times, but somehow it still reminded me that I’m stronger than I think.   

For the past 7 years, my life has felt like one constant roller coaster. Beginning with giving birth to a 3lb baby, to shortly after losing my dad, followed by years of marriage problems, abuse, multiple separations, another 3 lb baby, ending up in the ICU after giving birth, and now divorce. The only thing that has stayed somewhat consistent in my life through it all has been my fitness journey. It has been by no means perfect. There have been weeks, sometimes more I’ve gone without working out, but for the most part I’ve chosen to prioritize my physical and mental health. The reason why? It keeps me sane. It helps me find inner strength when every other aspect in my life seems to be spiraling out of control. It makes me a better version of myself, which makes me a better mom. 

I’ve loved helping other moms on their wellness journey. I had a coaching biz for three years and it brought me so much joy. I miss it. I feel the need to help other moms realize that it’s ok to take time to focus on themselves. It’s so hard being a mom when you’re constantly taking care of everyone else to find time for YOU. Your mental and physical health are so important. You are most likely the rock of your family, and a happy healthy mom is a happier team. 

There came a time in my life a couple of years ago when I no longer felt like I could be an inspiration for other moms. I was spending so much time focusing on trying to fix my marriage, helping my spouse, that without even realizing it, I began to lose myself along the way. Looking back, I realize I gave up going after some major life goals to focus on someone else. And now it’s time to change all that. I’m not sure where a fitness business fits into my new journey yet. What I do know is that wellness and helping others is something I’m extremely passionate about. 

So for now, you’ll find me committing to pressing play 30 minutes a day, 4-6 days a week.  Sometimes it will be with kids crawling all over me, or fighting in the background, in my current home gym..aka, my moms office/guest room. 

And I’ll be sure to keep you posted on my plans.

AB