Testing a Super Food

I don’t know about you but I’ve been hearing about chia seeds a lot over the past couple years.  They’re always on super food lists in magazines or in healthy food bloggers’ smoothies or oatmeal concoctions.  They are supposed to have numerous health benefits like all the other seeds and crazy whole grains that are popular among the Whole Foods crowd.

I’m always game to try a new health food as long as it’s not too crazy, and while my initial reaction to idea of chia seeds reverts to a particularly catchy commercial jingle, I figured that all of this hype had to be for a reason.  I have heard that they don’t really add much flavor beyond maybe a slight nuttiness when added food, so how bad could they be?

In my travels on the internet I found a no-bake granola bar recipe that seemed like the perfect venue to add some chia seeds.  I took the basic recipe made a few tweaks to make it a little more exciting.  Not only did the granola bars turn out great, since they were no-bake, it was also minimal effort!  Besides the miniscule black dots in the bars you don’t even notice the chia seeds.  They’re working for me so far, maybe I’ll throw the leftover seeds in my next protein shake…

No-Bake Granola Bars

Yields about 20 squares depending on size, Adapted quite a bit from Lauren’s Latest

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2/3-3/4 cup honey (depending on if you need more binding liquid)
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 cups instant oats (not old fashioned rolled)
  • 2 cups puffed rice cereal (Rice Krispies)
  • 1/3 cup black chia seeds
  • 3/4 dried cranberries
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 10 oz bag white chocolate chips

Method

  1. Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment for easy removal.
  2. Melt butter, honey, and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat (I started with 2/3 cup of honey and added a dash more later when I needed more liquid).  Let it bubble for about 2 minutes before removing it from the heat and adding the vanilla.
  3. Add rice cereal, oats, and chia seeds to the wet mixture.  Mix well to combine.
  4. Add dried cranberries, almonds, and half of the white chocolate.  The chocolate will melt so you want to save some to put on top of the bars in the pan.
  5. Once the mixture is uniform, press it into the lined pan and sprinkle on more white chocolate chips (I didn’t end up using the whole bag, but pretty close).
  6. Allow to cool, slice, and enjoy!

Keeping It Cool

I have a little bit of an internal conflict going on right now.  It’s summer time right now, so when it gets hot, who wants to turn on the oven, right?  You’re not looking for extra heat in the kitchen.  And frankly, why bake something sweet when you can just hit the ice cream stand down the road?

I love no bake dessert options, but sometimes it makes me uneasy that something so good could be so easy.  I spend the rest of the year slaving over baked goods with multiple steps and several ingredients, and all of sudden I can combine 3-4 ingredients, throw them in the fridge for an hour, and I have an irresistible dessert.  It makes my typical effort seem completely unnecessary.

These are the stupid things that stress me out…

Anyway, here’s to less thinking, fewer ingredients, and a cool solution for a great summer treat:

No Bake Peanut Butter Bars

yields 16-20 bars depending on th size you slice, from Bakerlady

Ingredients

  • 1 cup melted butter (2 sticks)
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup + 4 Tbs Peanut Butter (smooth or chunky)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips or one bag (12 oz) which is probably closer to 2 cups

Method

  1. Line a 9 x 13 baking pan with parchment.
  2. Combine melted butter, crumbs, sugar, and 1 cup of peanut butter in a bowl.  Mix until the dough is a uniform sandy mixture.
  3. Press mixture evenly into the parchment lined pan.  Spread out with an offset spatula if you have one.
  4. Melt the chocolate chips with the 4 Tbs left of peanut butter.  I typically microwave it for 30 sec at a time until mostly melted then I stir until every chip is melted.
  5. Spread the melted chocolate and peanut butter on top of the peanut butter and crumb mixture.  Again, smooth with an offset spatula.
  6. Allow to cool, slice, and enjoy! (if you cool in a fridge, allow the pan to warm up slightly before trying to slice, otherwise it will be difficult to cut, and likely break into pieces)