a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Healthy & Low Fat Oatmeal Bars and More . . .

Ear of oats. Field and sky in the background. Vector illustration.
continuing from Tuesday's post---

This recipe was recently given to me by a friend. These chewy bars are nutritious, filling and low-fat. And they can be adapted easily to your likes and dislikes. They freeze well and are handy to have on hand for healthy snacking. The ingredients list looks long but it goes together quickly and simply and there is a good chance you already have everything in your pantry. 

Fruity Oatmeal Bars

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
One 8-ounce container vanilla or plain low-fat yogurt
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
2 T vegetable oil
2 T skim milk
2 tsp vanilla

1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt (optional)

3 cups old fashioned or quick oats, uncooked
1 cup diced dried mixed fruit, raisins or dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or other nuts

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. 
2. In large bowl combine first seven ingredients and mix well.
3. In another bowl, thoroughly combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
4. Stir in the oats, fruit and nuts.
5. Spread mixture in a 9x13 pan that has been lightly prepared with cooking spray/ or oil.  
6. Bake 28-32 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool completely on wire rack. 

Cut into bars. Store tightly covered or freeze.

For more of our favorite oatmeal goody recipes, check out last Tuesday's post and 

Yummy Hearty Breakfast Cookies  http://thecreativecheapskate.blogspot.com/2011/09/hearty-breakfast-cookies-healthy-send.html

No-Bake Chocolate/Peanut Butter/Oatmeal cookies http://thecreativecheapskate.blogspot.com/2011/09/eggs-are-2-dozen-making-treats-wo-them.html

'til we eat again,
          Simply, Gail

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Make Healthy/Yummy No-Bake Granola and more . . . in Minutes

Ear of oats. Field and sky in the background. Vector illustration.rolled oats

When you hear Granola do you automatically think "healthy?" 

Think again.

While there are a variety of commercial granola in the stores, many are loaded with fats and high fructose corn syrup. Health-food stores sell many different types of "natural" granola, usually much healthier
and . . . usually quite expensive.

Years ago I made it from a-then-favorite-recipe but it was not the healthiest----plus you had to bake it, (and stir it every 15 minutes!)  for an hour.

We have a new favorite (which is Dave's very favorite!!!).  While it is not "guilt-free" the fats and sweeteners do not top the list of ingredients.  Additionally it is quick and easy and, for this time of year, not needing to turn on the oven is a huge plus.  Today's forecast is 106 degrees!

No-Bake Granola

1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup butter
2 Tablespoons honey
1/3 cup brown sugar (packed)
cinnamon to taste

1/2 cup chopped nuts, as desired.  (I usually add a variety and more than called for)
1/3 cup dried cranberries (Again, I usually add more)

In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Add the oats, stirring constantly until the oats just start to brown and crisp, about 5 minutes.  This is the only tricky part of the recipe---watch carefully as they can burn quickly! Remove from heat and spread out on a cookie sheet*  to cool.

In the same skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir int he honey and brown sugar. Cook, stirring constantly for a couple of minutes, until bubbly.  Stir in the nuts and cranberries. Return the oats to the pan. Cook and stir for another 5 minutes or so. Mixture will be sticky and moist. Pour it all back onto the cookie sheet, spread it out and allow to cool.  It will dry and become crispy as it cools. Break it up as needed and store in an airtight container.

*Note: I use a sheet of parchment paper to line the cookie sheet. This makes it easy to lift up each side of the paper and "funnel" the granola back to the pan, and later to the storage container.

Sometimes I add other dried fruits.
Sometimes I leave the nuts out completely because we have a grandson who is allergic to them.
Sometimes I add coconut along with the nuts and fruit,  
Sometimes I add dried banana pieces at the end of the cooking time.
Sometimes we top it with fresh banana slices or frozen blueberries. 
Always, you can make it to suit yourself and your family!

but, There is more to oats than breakfast cereal!
Even. . .
I frequently make smoothies for a quick breakfast-on-the-go or healthy snack. As with most everything you make yourself, the ingredients can be as varied as your imagination, what your pantry holds, or your individual likes, needs, and/or dislikes. No matter the flavor or combination I also add about 1/3 cup oatmeal (per two servings) because oats are high in protein, vitamins B1, B2, and E.
You can't taste them but you can "feel" them a little bit; kinda like strawberry seeds.

Old-fashioned Oatmeal Pancakes
Mix up a batch of this batter and keep it in the frig----at the ready for a quick stick-to-your-ribs breakfast.
This is a favorite of even those who do not care for regular pancakes. If there are left-overs we even like them plain to snack on.

2 cups regular or quick rolled oats
4 Tablespoons butter or margarine, melted and cooled
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp each baking powder and baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups buttermilk*
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

"Old Fashioned" Method:
In a large bowl combine the oats and buttermilk, stirring until well-blended. Cover and refrigerate overnight.  In the morning, add all other ingredients and stir well. Spoon batter, about 1/3 cup per pancake, onto griddle and spread out a little. Cook, turning over once, until golden.

"New Fashioned" Method:
In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the remaining ingredients, stirring until well blended. Proceed as above.

Batter will be thick. If you wish, you may add a little more milk.
Refrigerate remaining batter and use within a four or five days.
*Instead of commercial buttermilk you can substitute by combining 2/3 cups powdered milk, 2 cups warm water and 2 teaspoons vinegar.

Again, oats are a great and cheap source of protein and can be added in (even "snuck" in) with many other ingredients in a variety of ways.  I'll continue with oats on Friday.  

'til we eat again,

            Simply, Gail

P.S. I have NO idea why parts of the blog are highlighted. I can't figure out what I did to cause it and I can't find how to undo it.