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Rise and Shine On the Go

Hello everyone! I hope everyone had a great week. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it out the Farmer’s Market this weekend, so no interesting produce to work with for a recipe. Back at the end of the summer, I started a 200 hour yoga teacher training program, and this weekend is training number 3 of 7. I got started in yoga a few years ago when I started running. As I progressed in my distance with running, my left knee started bothering me more and more until it became unbearable. I iced it, tried doing warm-ups, and even got fitted for running shoes and nothing worked. I ended up going to the doctor who took x-rays which revealed that nothing was really wrong other than my kneecap would shift around when I moved. His solution, yoga. I needed to build strength in my quads and flexibility in my hamstrings. One groupon later, I was hooked. I have always admired the teachers at the studios I’ve been to and love the practice so I finally decided to take the plunge, put in the work, and deepen my practice to eventually become a certified teacher.

Each studio which offers the 200 hour teacher training operates on different schedules, the one that I go through, Spark Yoga in Arlington offers the training one weekend per month for seven months along with several assignments outside of class time and logging classes regularly as well.  Our training is literally all weekend long and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s like a retreat. I love all of the students that are in the training with me and all of the teachers we have. I decided we needed some major snackage for one of these weekends and while looking through Back to Basics, I found a recipe for Homemade Granola Bars.

Ina states that she prefers to make her own homemade granola bars because store-bought ones have a plethora of artificial ingredients, many of which are difficult to pronounce. This resonates with me because I actually prefer to make my own homemade granola versus buying store-bought. First of all – granola is EXPENSIVE. It’s mainly just oats, sweetener, nuts and fruit. Why is it like $7-$10 for a bag of it? I can purchase a whole bag of almonds at Whole Foods for less. Second, I control what goes in it. That means, using coconut oil as the fat versus butter or dried blueberries instead of raisins. I’ve also added egg whites to it to add extra protein. Third, and lastly, it’s easy. It’s essentially mixing ingredients together in a bowl and baking them.

Beginning stages of some awesome granola bars

Beginning stages of some awesome granola bars

This granola bar recipe is very similar. It is oats, nuts, fruit, some fat and some sweetener which are baked in a pan and allowed to set and cool into bars. I went rouge a little on the recipe and for the fruit I only used dried apricots and dried cherries versus the dates and cranberries that Ian suggests. I do believe that a recipe is more or less a suggestion of ingredients. One should cook to taste and not be afraid to experiment with subbing out similar ingredients. You never know what you might come up with. Could be gross it could be delish. One way to find out. The apricots and cherries end up being delish, you can ask my yoga friends as they enjoyed them yesterday for sustenance during one of our breaks!

Post bakeage

Post bakeage

I encourage you to give this recipe a go. Try it on a Sunday evening, cut them up and wrap in plastic wrap and you can have them for breakfast or snacks throughout the week or send them in  your kids’ lunchboxes.

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Print Recipe
Homemade Granola Bars
From Back to Basics, by Ina Garten page 242
Course Breakfast
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Passive Time 3 hours
Servings
bars
Ingredients
Course Breakfast
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Passive Time 3 hours
Servings
bars
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8 x 12-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper.
  2. Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the wheat germ.
  3. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees.
  4. Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the dried fruit and mix well.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours to set before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.
Recipe Notes

You can sub out any dried fruit you want for this recipe. Also, wheat germ can easily be found in the isle of your grocery store with the cereal/breakfast items. It's typically sold in a glass jar near the oatmeal.

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Pumpkin Spice Up Your Life

Alright – I know…it’s not an Ina Garten recipe like I said I’d be doing way back when this first started. However, today is the Autumnal Equinox, which means it is officially Fall! Also – these muffins turned out amazing. I know it seems daunting with all the steps and parts, but trust me, it’s not that bad.

Mixing up the batter with this Jimmy Kimmel spatula from Williams-Sonoma

Mixing up the batter with this Jimmy Kimmel spatula from Williams Sonoma

I adapted this recipe from King Arthur Flour and I tried to make the process a little bit easier by just measuring out the muffin with a regular tablespoon. The original recipe called for a heaping tablespoon at one point and level for another. That’s too much to think about when you are assembling muffins – so just go with the tablespoon and it will all work out. Also, instead of using a tablespoon to get the cream cheese filling in there, I instructed to just put it in a zip-top bag and snip the corner off of one end. Then you can easily pipe the filling right into the center of each one.

Streusel Everywhere

Streusel Everywhere

Anyway, lastly I added cinnamon to the streusel topping for the same reason I added it to Ina’s plum crunch a few weeks ago. IT’S NECESSARY. The addition of the pepitas adds color and some extra flavor to the topping. Pepita is a Spanish term commonly used for pumpkin seeds. They are green and are inside the white flat pumpkin seeds we are used to seeing in America. You can find them in the bulk section of pretty much any grocery store that has one. If you’re in the mood this weekend, I say give these a go.

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If you’re in the mood this weekend, I say give these a go. They are a great dessert but would be even better on a crisp Autumn morning with a dark cup of coffee along side it.

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Print Recipe
Cream-Cheese Filled Pumpkin Muffins
Get ready for Fall with these spiced pumpkin muffins with a streusel topping and a cream cheese filling that are perfect as a morning treat with some coffee. Adapted from King Arthur Flour.
Course Dessert
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
muffins
Ingredients
Streusel Topping
Cream Cheese Filling
Pumpkin Muffins
Course Dessert
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
muffins
Ingredients
Streusel Topping
Cream Cheese Filling
Pumpkin Muffins
Instructions
For the Streusel
  1. Cut up the butter into small chunks. Mix all ingredients in a bowl until it is crumbly and looks kind of like sand.
For the Cream Cheese Filling
  1. Beat all ingredients in a bowl until thoroughly combined. It is important to have the cream cheese at room temperature otherwise it won't incorporate well at all. Place into a zip-top bag and place in the refrigerator.
For the Muffins
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Mix everything except the flour into a large bowl, until thoroughly combined. Slowly add in the 1 and 1/2 cups of flour mixing until it is just combined. (Don't over-mix or the muffins will be tough!).
Assembly
  1. Line a 12 count muffin tin with paper liners and lightly spray them with non-stick cooking spray. Scoop in 2 tablespoons of the pumpkin batter into each muffin tin. Be sure to spread it out with a spoon to make sure it covers the entire bottom of each tin.
  2. Snip a tiny corner off of the zip-top bag with the cream cheese filling in it. Pipe about 1 tablespoon (eyeball it) into the center of each tin right on top of the pumpkin. You can always go back and add a little bit more if you were modest at adding it at first.
  3. Scoop 2 more tablespoons of the pumpkin batter on top of each muffin lightly spreading it around so it encompasses the cream cheese. Top each muffin with the streusel topping, covering them liberally.
  4. Bake for about 18-20 minutes until puffed and a toothpick comes out clean when poked down through the side (not the center because of the cream cheese). Allow to cool before enjoying!
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