Tag Archives: Bars

Popcorn Snack Bars

Today without a doubt felt like the longest day of class I have experienced in a long, long time.

It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, but I think I’ve just been a little more tired and run down than usual from being out of my normal routine all weekend.  We even watched a movie (The Sea Inside) during my first class, which I really liked, but it didn’t help move the day along any faster.

In fact, the only thing that kept me from passing out on my plinth from exhaustion was probably these popcorn snack bars.  Since I knew we were watching a movie, I wanted to bring in some theater treats that would be delish and hopefully leaning towards healthy for some of my friends to enjoy.

Orville Redenbacher to the rescue!

Popcorn Snack Bars Printable Recipe Card

  • 8 C popped popcorn (preferably the plain, healthy, non-butter-flavored kind, if you can)
  • 2 C old-fashioned oats
  • 1 C almonds (or any nut)
  • 1 C raisins (or any dried fruit)
  • 3/4 C honey
  • 3/4 C brown sugar
  • 1/4 t salt

First, pop the popcorn.  You can use regular bags if you don’t have a fancy-smancy Whirly-Pop that you received as a wedding gift from your awesome older sister and her hubs (thanks, Erin and Bruce!).  I used about 1/2 C unpopped corn in 2 T of vegetable oil to pop this batch.

While it’s off popping (not popping off), combine the honey, salt, and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Stir until all the sugar is dissolved, then remove from the heat.  Next time I make this recipe, I’m going to try using straight honey with no added sugar.  I’ll let you know how that goes.

In a gigantic bowl, combine the popcorn, oats, fruit, and nuts.  Make sure to pick out all the unpopped or partially popped corn so none of your friends or family break their teeth (but if they do, I know a dentist-to-be…).  Pour the honey syrup over the top, and stir it all up.  Use a giant spoon (and let’s be honest, it’s going to get all over your hands), to make sure everything gets covered in the sweet stuff.

Grease a 9″x13″ pan (I used spray canola oil), and dump the popcorn mixture right in.  Use your hands to press it down firmly (you may have to get your hands the slightest bit oily to do this without sticking).  If you are crazy like me, you can press some white (or regular) chocolate chips leftover from your zucchini brownies into the top of half this mixture.  Yum.

Refrigerate for an hour or two before cutting.  That’ll make it easier to slice ‘n’ dice–but the bars themselves don’t have to be served cold.

These are kind of like a fiber-filled and nutritious version of a rice krispy treat.  Even without the marshmallow, they still have that admirable sticky and pull-apart texture of a rice krispy treat.

The honey flavor is definitely the best part of these bars.  With the slight crunch of popcorn, the chewy and honey-soaked oats make these totally hearty.

And delicious.

Definitely delicious.

Also, check out our CSA box number eight!  I’m super excited for the content of this week’s box–looks like I get to have some fun with flavor and get away from salads for a little while. 

Driving home from picking out the box was amazing–the dill and garlic was so aromatic even from the back seat that I know I’ll be dreaming up soups for at least a week.

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Filed under Desserts, Snacks

Fig and Walnut Bars

I’m watching The Reader as I write this.  If you haven’t seen this movie yet (or read the book), I strongly suggest that you do so, even though it is a bit, ahem–uncomfortable at times.

Yesterday I went to a rehab hospital with my class and met several patients with different life-altering diagnoses such as spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, strokes, and other neurological disorders.  What really struck me is that every patient that we were introduced to were working at their therapy with positive, if not downright upbeat, attitudes.

These are patients with fairly new injuries that had a significant effect on their physical and mental functioning.  Even though the hospital was a really great one, I’m sure they’d rather be home or in their jobs like they were a few months ago than struggling to do basic tasks that only recently were so easy they were automatic.  I just can’t imagine the immense willpower it must take every day to pick oneself out of the deep sea of “why mes” and “what ifs” and just start focusing on needs to be done.

So kudos to the people who can do that–you are amazing and inspiring,

I brought some leftover fig and walnut bars for my friends and I to snack on while we were driving to and from the hospital.  They were definitely a welcome bite, since we were starving.

Fig and Walnut Bars (adapted from this recipe)

for the filling:

  • 8 oz dried figs, stems removed and cut into quarters
  • 1 T Lyle’s golden syrup (or honey)
  • 2 T water
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t ground ginger

for the crust:

  • 1 C whole-wheat flour
  • 1 C old-fashioned oats
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 6 T apple butter (or applesauce)
  • 1 flax egg (1 T ground flaxseed in 3 T warm water)
  • 2 T Lyle’s golden syrup (or honey)
  • 1 C toasted walnuts, for the top

To make the filling, combine all the ingredients (figs, syrup, water, lemon juice, and spices) into a food processor and combine until roughly smooth.  If a dash more water is necessary for it to form a paste, add it.

Set aside.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray a square 9″ pan with canola oil.

In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients, leaving out the toasted walnuts (to toast them, simply place them in the hot oven on a metal pan for five-eight minutes until browned).  Stir until a thick dough is formed.  You may need to add a bit more applesauce or water if it is too thick–it should be like a drop cookie dough.

Spread about three-quarters of the dough into the bottom of the pan and press it even.  Layer the fig filling on top (it should be a thin but even layer), and drop spoonfuls of the remaining oatmeal dough on top of the fig layer.  Spread the dough thinly and press the toasted walnuts into the mixture.

Bake on the middle rack for about 20 minutes, until the dough is browned.  It’s a bit difficult to tell with all the walnuts and layers, but it should be relatively firm to the touch.  Allow it to cool completely before slicing.

These are amazing–the fig center is sweet enough to make it taste like a dessert, even though the ingredients say otherwise.  With whole walnuts on top and a soft oatmeal “crust”, there are enough textures and flavors to make this a seriously satisfying snack.

A fig newton on (healthy) steroids.

I cut them into bars first, and then in half again into bites–mini snacks are just that much more appealing, don’t you think?

I’ve got a lot of school work to do this weekend, but never fear: the spring break countdown has finally begun!  On Friday, Fritz and I are headed to my parents’ house for an entire week, and I can. not. wait!

Kinda weird that I have to bring my baby tomato plants on a 6 1/2 hour drive, but a you gotta do what you gotta do.

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Healthy Ginger Bars

Now please don’t get me wrong.  When I say a dessert is “healthy”, I usually mean compared to other desserts.  So I wouldn’t suggest eating more than one or two of these at a time, even though they are only 70 calories each…and even though Fritz and I have finished more than half of them in a 24 hour time period.  It’s kind of a “do what I say and not what I do”-type situation.  And just so that you are aware, these bars are really, really, really delicious.  Probably one of my favorite recipes I’ve made in a while.  They are sweet (but not too sweet), buttery (but not too buttery), and have the perfect amount of ginger zing to ’em.  I’m just gonna say it–you’ll probably end up finishing them all off way too fast, too.  But don’t say you haven’t been warned.

I found this recipe in Woman’s Day magazine, and discovered that I actually had all of the ingredients on hand.  I definitely inherited my love of ginger from my father (hi Dad!).  I can easily eat large pieces of it, and always try to give it to people who have upset stomachs and get sad when they hate it.  My family always finds ourselves wandering in Chinatown during their semi-annual NYC visits, and there is a candy store that sells various flavors of candied ginger, and we buy it by the pound.  I happened to have a small bag of fruit-flavored crystallized ginger (plum? fig? I can’t remember, and the fruit is by far overpowered by the ginger taste) from the last time that fit the bill for this recipe perfectly.

And for your information, ginger has long been renowned for its gastointestinal distress-alleviating effects (that’s why we drink ginger ale when our bellies hurt).  It’s an anti-inflammatory, and helps with nausea, even in pregnancy and motion sickness.  One study even showed that it was more effective than Dramamine (Jordi!), and some studies show it may help prevent colorectal and ovarian cancer.  So yeah, that’s some good stuff.  Plus it’s delicious!  So if you want to try it for yourself, here’s the recipe:

Healthy Ginger Bars (From Woman’s Day magazine)

  • 1/2 stick (1/4 C) butter
  • 3/4 C brown sugar (we had run out of brown sugar, so I used white with a T molasses for taste)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 3/4 C whole-wheat flour
  • 1/4 C whole-ground flax-seed
  • 2 t ground ginger
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/8-1/4 C chopped crystallized ginger (the original recipe called for 1/2 C, but I thought that might be a bit much.  I used 1/8 C)

 

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a 9′ x 9′ pan with foil.  Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Pour into mixing bowl, and add sugar, egg and vanilla.

Whisk in the flour, flaxseed, baking powder, salt and ground ginger.  But first you may have to actually grind the ginger.   A while ago I bought a ginger root, sliced it thinly, and dried it on a cookie sheet out in the sun.  I stored it in a glass canning jar for an occasion such as this one.  Hello coffee grinder!

Chop the crystallized ginger into small pieces and stir into the batter.

 

Spread evenly into the prepared pan-there is no need to grease or oil over the foil.

Bake for 18-24 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.  I went for the low side of the time range, and they were incredibly moist; a brownie-type texture.  If you want them to be crisper and bar-like, I’d go for the full 24.  Either would be delicious.  Cut into four rows and six columns (or four columns and six rows?) for the 70-calorie serving sizes.  Or go a lot bigger for some decadence. 

 

Go bake them now.  You can thank me later.

Ironically, I had woken up yesterday morning at 6:30 with an upset stomach, so I got out of bed early to read and drink tea on the couch before I started baking (I finished Kite Runner, and cried the entire time).  Fritz woke up about an hour later and got scared that I wasn’t in bed (awwww…).  He came out to find me, and decided to nap for a little longer on the couch.  Henry (who is cuddly only during sleeping-time hours), came out to show a little more love.  It was such a cute snuggle-fest!

 

That image, plus some ginger bars, took care of my upset stomach right away.

That is, until the cake pops adventure began, and I ate about 30 pounds of chocolate cake, 12 pounds of chocolate frosting, and 16 pounds of candy melts.  I never want sugar again.

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