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Replica PAMELA’S Chocolate Coconut Whenever Bars (SAVE $4.65 a box!)

These bars were one of the first Gluten-Free goodies that I bought for my daughter that tasted good!  REALLY good!!  And they came from a box, albeit and expensive box!  At about $5.75 for a box of 5 bars, there are a little too pricey for my everyday grocery budget.

 I immediately starting looking for someone who had tried to make a replica of these, and then I found CassidyCraveableCreations.  She did a Copy Cat Lemon Blueberry version, however, her household is also dairy, soy and grain free.  I took the “nuts and bolts” of her recipe and made it to suit our needs and made it into the Chocolate Coconut instead…what can I say…I LOVE chocolate!

Replica Pamela's Chocolate Coconut Whenever Bars!

Gluten-Free Replica Pamela’s Chocolate Coconut Whenever Bars!

After pricing out my ingredients, I was shocked to see that I was able to make each bar for only $.32!!!  That’s a savings of $.93 a bar or $4.65 for a box!  On top of that, this recipe will make approximately 30 bars, so freeze them and take them out as you wish (they are even delicious right out of the freezer).  These are soft, chewy and packed full of flavor.  The oats and chia seeds add lots of nutritional value too.

Ingredients:   Yields 20-30 bars

1 cup Gluten Free flour blend
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 1/2 cups rolled oats (certified gluten free)
1/2 cup brown sugar substitute (I used Splenda)
1/4 cup agave or honey
1/4 cup butter, melted
6 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp chia seeds (optional)
1 egg
1 Tbsp vanilla
3/4 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut, shredded

Note: Each bar contains approximately 30 grams of carbs.  These can easily be made into cookies and halfed in sized for a lower carb treat, or simply cut each bar in half!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place parchment paper and/or grease one or two cookie sheets, depending on the size of your bars (2 sheets is a safe bet).  Mix flours, baking soda, salt and xanthan gum  in large mixing bowl.  In another bowl beat together the brown sugar, butter, agave, vanilla, egg and milk.  Add chia seeds and stir.  In large mixing bowl with paddle attachment, combine the liquid ingredients to the dry.  Mix until incorporated.

imageDough will be thick and sticky.  Add the oats, chocolate and coconut.  Mix again until combined.

imageThe dough will be sticky, so you can use slightly wet hands, or dust them in some tapioca flour.  Scoop your desired amount (I used about 2 large tablespoons per bar) and shape bars in your hands.  These will not change size much in oven, so you can place them close together.  After you have arranged them, put in oven for 10-12 minutes or until they turn a very light golden brown.

before going into oven...

before going into oven…

after they came out of oven.

after they came out of oven…YUM!!

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These delicious bars are great for a quick snack, a tasty breakfast, or a perfect compliment to your lunch box.  Stayed tuned for more replica “whenever bar” recipes!

So good!!

So good!!

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SO EASY, Almond-Cranberry Chocolate Bark. Only 3 Ingredients!!

I use almonds and dried cranberries a lot for a couple reasons.  First, they are fairly inexpensive (I get my from Sam’s Club and double up when they go on sale!), and second, they work great with both sweet and savory dishes.  Anything from salads, to bread pudding. This incredibly simple Chocolate Bark is no exception. It takes minutes, but will be a big hit with any crowd!  Feel free to sub any nut or dried fruit to suit your tastes.

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In a microwave safe bowl, put as much chocolate as you want (I used the equivalent of a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips).  Microwave for 30-45 second increments and stir well each time until all chips are melted and it looks glossy like this.

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Next add the nuts and dried fruit (I added approximately 1 heaping cup of each).  Stir until everything is coated.

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Spread mixture out on a cookie sheet that has been lined with a piece of wax or parchment paper.  Place in frig (or freezer, to speed up process) until set.  Anywhere from 15-30 minutes.

before chocolate bark has set

before chocolate bark has set

after chocolate bark has set

after chocolate bark has set

Break up into desired sizes and enjoy!!  This treat doesn’t last long in our house seeing as I justify it with being “somewhat” healthy…I mean it does have almonds and fruit in it! 😉

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Almond-Cranberry Chocolate Bark

Ingredients

1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips (or chocolate of your choice)
1 heaping cup whole almonds
1 heaping cup dried cranberries

What variations have you tried?  Let me know!

 

Chili-Dusted Sweet Potato Chips (Baked)

Can't eat just o  e!

Can’t eat just one!

This recipe is super easy (even easier if you have one of those handy slicers).  It’s a great compliment to a ton of dishes or just to have around for a healthy snack.  I had this handful of sweet potatoes that were a few days away from a date with the garbage and if you have read my Budget Tips, you’ll know that wasting food is a big no-no in our house!  I just wasn’t feeling the usual style of cooking them…you know, stab ’em a few times, throw them in the oven, etc.

Instead I opted to thinly slice them (skin-on), and go the “chip” route. I suppose I was craving that salty crunch.  The chili powder was a last second add in and is the perfect compliment to the natural sweetness of the chip (these chips are far from spicy so go ahead and add some more heat if you like)!  These did not last long at all…I suggest doubling or tripling the recipe for a larger crowd, ours consisted of two small people and 2 big people.

Ingredients:

3 to 4 sweet potatoes, sliced thinly with skin on
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper or grease liberally.  Slice sweet potatoes about 1/8″ thick.  In large bowl toss the chips with the oil and seasonings.  Try to spread chips out in a single layer for best results.

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Bake for 25-30 minutes.  My oven tends to cook the bottom rack faster, so you may want to rotate the baking sheets midway through.  Let cool completely and enjoy!!

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If you like this recipe, you should try my Baked Sweet Potato Fries w/ Spicy Ketchup

HOLIDAY Gift Ideas, Quick, Easy and HOMEMADE! ~Fantastic Granola & Peppermint Bark~

I have officially given up on store bought gifts for those wonderful people who I entrust with the safety of my two beautiful daughters.  I mean really, how many coffee cups, candies, socks, or Starbucks gift cards can one person get (actually, scratch that, I would never turn down a gift card for coffee 😉 )  Not to mention finding thoughtful gifts for co-workers, friends and family members.

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I guess if I’m being totally honest, it’s hard for me to spend money on something that, well, they may just re-gift to distant Aunt Sally.  If nothing else, at least they will know that some thought and love went into their gift.  And chances are, they will LOVE the delectible gift even more than a free cup of coffee!

A few ideas that I will be gifting this year…My Fantastic Gluten-Free Granola Recipe, (seriously some of the best stuff I have ever had) and a sweet treat of Peppermint Bark for those chocolate lovers…guilty!

Gluten-Free Almond & Cranberry Granola

Ingredients:   Yields approx 15-20 servings

4 1/2 cups Gluten-Free certified Rolled Oats 

3/4 cup ground Flax seed or ground GF rolled oats

1 1/4 cup Almonds (slivered, chopped or whole…your preference)

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup shredded coconut (I use the unsweetened, but use what you like)

2 Tbsp packed brown sugar

1/2 cup agave or honey

1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 Tbsp Pure Vanilla

1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Spray lightly with cooking spray.  Combine oats, flax seed, almonds, sunflower seeds and coconut in a large mixing bowl and stir well.  In a microwave safe bowl, combine the brown sugar, agave, oil, cinnamon and vanilla.  Heat for 30 seconds at a time then stir well.  Do this until all ingredients are dissolved, about 1-2 minutes total.

Dry Granola Ingredients

Dry Granola Ingredients

Mix glaze into dry ingredients until evenly coated.  Spread granola evenly on both sheets.  Bake for 20 minutes total, turning after 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and let it cool completely.  Before storing in airtight container, add dried cranberries.  This delicious granola can be enjoyed morning, noon or night.  Mix with plain or fruit yogurt, milk, on ice cream, fresh fruit…the possibilities are endless!  Get creative: use other nuts, dried fruit or sweetener.

Use a classic glass container to highlight the contents and dress up with some holiday ribbon and details.  Voila!

Note: Each 1/2 cup of granola contains approximately 30 grams of carbs. 

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Fabulous Gluten Free Granola

Fabulous Gluten Free Granola

Peppermint Bark

Ingredients:

1 bag white chocolate chips, chunks or large bar

1 bag dark chocolate chips, chunks or large bar (milk chocolate, semi-sweet or any other variety will work)

Handful of candy canes, or 1/2 bag of mint candies, crushed

If you don’t want to deal with double boilers, and if I don’t have to then I won’t, simply place all white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and heat for about 30-45 seconds at a time, stirring well each time.  Depending on the white chocolate you use, you may want to add a tablespoon or two of canola oil to make it more silky and smooth.  On a sheet pan that’s been lined with parchment paper, spread melted white chocolate in a thin layer across the sheet.  Allow to cool for about 15-20 minutes or to speed up process, place in frig for 5-10 minutes.  Melt the chocolate using the same steps.  Oil should not be necessary with the chocolate.  Spread chocolate on top of the white chocolate in the same thin layer.  Simply sprinkle on the crushed peppermint candy and pat down lightly with the back of a spoon or spatula.  Allow to cool completely.  I place the sheet in the frig until firm.  Break bark into pieces and add your decorative touch.  Place in a pretty box, or a see-through container.  For smaller portions, wrap in the pretty holiday baggies and tie with string.  It’s a guaranteed hit!

Note: this is not the most Diabetic Friendly recipe, but I believe all things in moderation.  I allow my daughter to have a small piece after dinner.  Carbs will vary with size of piece and chocolate used.

Merry Christmas!!

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Mouth-watering Peppermint Bark!

Mouth-watering Peppermint Bark!

EASY ‘Gluten-Free’ Chewy Chocolate, Almond & Cranberry Granola Bars

Super yummy and chewy Gluten Free granola bars

Super yummy and chewy Gluten Free granola bars

My girls love these!  These super chewy and wholesome granola bars are something you can feel good about packing in your kid’s lunchbox.  Did I mention they are super quick and easy to make…you only need 1 bowl!  I stumbled upon this recipe years ago from ThreeManyCooks on a newspaper insert.  I tweaked it to make it Gluten-Free and reduced the sugar but the results are just as tasty!  I also add flax seed to mine, which gives you that additional boost in fiber.  You can get as creative as you want with the add-ins…I do use chocolate chips, because, let’s face it…when a kid sees chocolate they just assume “treat” and not “this is how I fool you into eating good stuff”! 

Chewy Chocolate, Almond & Cranberry Granola Bars

Ingredients:  Yields approx. 12-14 bars

2 cups rolled oats (certified gluten free…I use Bob’s Red Mill)

1/4 cup rolled oats (that have been finely ground in the food processor)

1/4 cup flax seed meal

1 cup slivered almonds

1/2 cup chocolate chips or chunks

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 can (7 oz.) sweetened condensed milk

3 Tbsp agave syrup

Each bar (1/12 of recipe) equals approx. 38 grams of carbs.  I usually cut them in half again for my daughters making them 19 grams each. 

Note: If you want to omit the flax seed, use 1/2 cup of finely ground rolled oats.  Get creative!  Use walnuts, dried cherries, apricots or blueberries.  Take out the chocolate and add coconut flakes…or, heck, just leave the chocolate!

imagePreheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease a 9″ square pan liberally, or for even easier removal, line with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray.

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and pat into the pan.  I will tear a piece of parchment paper and use that to press the granola mix evenly and firmly into the pan.  Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until edges are golden brown.  Let pan cool completely.  You can pop it in the freezer (once it’s cooled!) to make it easier to cut.  These will last about a week in an air tight container on the counter, or, my prefered method is to freeze them.  They actually taste great right out of the freezer, but will thaw by lunch time for you or the kids.

Quick & Easy Gluten Free Granola Bars

Quick & Easy Gluten Free Granola Bars

Moist Gluten-Free Chocolate Scratch Cake & Cupcakes! My lifesaver…

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Mouth-watering Gluten-Free Chocolate Scratch Cake

In the month of September I had 9 birthdays in my classroom (I’m a teacher at a childcare center).  That equates to A LOT of cupcakes!  What’s bittersweet is that I have my own 4 year-old in my class who happens to have Celiac and Type 1 Diabetes.  I say bittersweet because I am so blessed to be able to stay on top of her Diabetes, not to mention I get to see that beautiful face everyday…ALL day…Every.  Single.  Day…wait where was I…?

When she dips low I am there with my fistful of jelly beans and if she is running high for whatever reason, I can administer a quick correction without skipping a beat.  After lunch I meticulously count up her nicely labeled carbs from her packed lunch and poke her with the appropriate amount of insulin.  She has come to accept that she can’t have certain foods and that she requires a shot before or after every meal and before bedtime, but to see her face when her friends are handing out that sugary, Gluten-filled treat is almost more than I can bare!  To avoid this I usually bring in a “special” Gluten-Free treat for her to take her mind off of the rainbow colored frosting or the cute ring that adorns what seems like all store bought cupcakes now-a-days.  Sometimes I am successful, but there are the other occasions when no matter how tasty the alternative, it’s still not a CUPCAKE!  Honestly, I almost cried one time when a classmate offered her one.  She shook her head no and told her she couldn’t have it.  Her eyes started to well up with tears and she looked longingly as her friend moved on to the next classmate who eagerly accepted.  In that one moment I knew that nothing else would do…I had to make Gluten-Free Diabetic cupcakes that she too could enjoy with the rest of her friends!…..TA-DA!

Gluten-Free Chocolate Scratch Cupcakes

Gluten-Free Chocolate Scratch Cupcakes

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The Lifesaver…Elena’s Gluten-Free Cupcake!!

This recipe has been more than just my Lifesaver, it’s also what my husband requested for his birthday cake.  When asked what he wanted, his response…”chocolate & chocolate”!  Done and done.  Now I will tell you that the frosting in the picture is a Chocolate Buttercream that I made from scratch thanks to the Barefoot Contessa, http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/chocolate-buttercream-frosting-recipe/index.html.  Was my husband worth it…absolutely!   Will I make it again…unlikely!  It looked like a chocolate bomb went off in my kitchen, and dropping butter in a mixer 1 tablespoon at a time, and there are 24 tablespoons in the recipe (yes…that many)!…not exactly my quick and easy kind of approach.  For what it’s worth though…it was divine 🙂

I also “literally” whipped up this Whipped Cream Frosting in no time and it added almost nothing to the total carb count!  It was light, delicious and just sweet enough!  http://www.joyofbaking.com/WhippedCreamFrosting.html

**Oh, and to the other parents of a Gluten-Free child that have to deal with endless birthday/social events at school that involve sugary, Glutenous snacks…Make a dozen of these, place them in the freezer until firm, top with icing of your choice, place in freezer again so icing can set, then wrap them individually and place in a container or Ziploc bag.  If school allows, leave them at school in a freezer to be taken out (one at a time) the morning of “said” event or simply put one in your child’s backpack or lunchbox.  By the time the party rolls around it should be defrosted.  Crisis averted and no long faces!

Moist Gluten-Free Chocolate Scratch Cake/Cupcakes

Ingredients:   Yields 2 dozen (24) cupcakes

3 cups Gluten-Free Flour Mix  (1 1/2 c brown rice flour, 1 cup tapioca starch, 1/2 cup potato starch)

1 cup Cocoa unsweetened

1 cup sugar

1 cup sugar substitute (or the equivalent) I used Splenda

1 tsp salt

4 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum

1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp oil

2 Tbsp white vinegar

2 eggs

1 1/2 cup water

1/2 cup applesauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In medium sized bowl combine all dry ingredients and whisk together.  Add in all wet ingredients and blend well for a few minutes.  Pour into a greased 13″x9″ pan or two 8″ cake pans or muffin pans.  The cakes take about 20-25 minutes while the cupcakes take 14-18 minutes.  Insert toothpick and when it comes out clean…Done!!

Note: If you are not diabetic or trying to watch your sugar intake, by all means use 2 cups sugar instead of the sugar substitute.  

Each (un-iced) cupcake is approx 26 grams of carbohydrates.  

Gluten-Free Chocolate cupcakes w/ Whipped Cream Frosting!

Gluten-Free Chocolate cupcakes w/ Whipped Cream Frosting!

Crock pot Apple-Cranberry (Steel Cut Oats) Oatmeal

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Slow Cooker Apple-Cranberry Oatmeal!

This breakfast is a Game-Changer for me!  Imagine this…your alarm goes off, you struggle to get out of bed, knowing that you have to get breakfast together for yourself, or possibly even a few kids and a husband…Well, I say hit the snooze button!!  That’s right, because breakfast is ready!  I have for you an easy, time-saving and delicious recipe that cooks while you sleep and leaves the house smelling fantastic!  I don’t know about you, but that saves me a good 15-20 minutes in the morning which eases my usual AM hustle.  Another time-saving tip: Double your recipe and place individual sized portions in Tupperware containers and freeze for a quick breakfast later in the week.  Pop in the microwave for 1-2 minutes and a yummy, filling breakfast is served!

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Thanks to “brandysue” from Allrecipes.com I found this recipe…tweaked it to make it my own and ended up with this Fantastic Oatmeal

Slow Cooker Apple-Cranberry Oatmeal

Ingredients:   Yields about 5 cups of Oatmeal

1 cup Steel Cut Oats (Gluten-Free Certified)

3 1/2 cups milk

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1 med-large apple, diced (I like the tartness of Granny Smith)

2 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp cinnamon

2 Tbsp butter

3/4 tsp salt

Slivered almonds (or nuts of your choice) as topping, optional

1/2 cup serving is 26 grams of carbohydrates.  Hint: to further lower the carb count, use 1/2  part milk, 1/2  part water, reduce the cranberries or omit and use another sweetener in place of honey (i.e. Splenda brown sugar blend)

Steel Cut Oats

Steel Cut Oats

Two important notes: 1) make sure your oats are certified Gluten-Free (not all are) and, 2) make sure they are “Steel Cut Oats” and not the “Rolled” or “Instant” kind!  Otherwise you will wake up to a Crock pot of mush 😦

Put all ingredients together

Put all ingredients together

Grease your Crock pot to prevent sticking.  Add all ingredients together in Crock pot and stir.  Cover and place on low for 5-7 hours (depending on slow cooker).  Stir before serving and top with nuts and a drizzle of cream or milk, YUM!  There are so many directions you can take this…get creative.  Use pumpkin puree, vanilla flavoring, mashed bananas, coconut milk…the variations are endless.  Hopefully this will give you a good start!

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Please share your variations or ideas for the rest of us! 

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