I’m always looking for new granola bars recipes to try since it’s one of mine and my 3 kid’s favorite snacks. I saw a version of this bar recipe on The Whole Kitchen by my friend Jenn which was adapted from a talented Cookbook Author (who I also know) Camilla’s Enlightened Cooking. These Homemade, All-Natural Granola Bars were a huge hit with the kids. I was so excited to share this recipe for a healthy homemade holiday food gift option. These make a great breakfast, afternoon snack or pre-workout offering. I even break them up and stir them into nonfat Greek Yogurt for a wonderful high protein breakfast. You can see me making these on Monday on NBC 13 “Daytime Alabama” at 11:30 CST on my food television segment on featuring healthy homemade food gift ideas.
Here is a healthy, simple salad recipe which has a few of my favorite ingredients: basil, mint, dried cranberries, almonds and Israeli couscous. Israeli couscous is a small, round semolina pasta which is very versatile, and kids love it. It works great in this combination served over romaine lettuce leaves drizzled with balsamic vinegar, fresh lemon juice and olive oil. Feel free to substitute dried cherries for the cranberries, pine nuts or walnuts for the almonds and any of your favorite lettuces or spinach for the romaine. Here’s to a healthy fresh start to the New Year!
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
2 cups fat-free, low sodium chicken broth
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
11/2 cups Israeli couscous (or any small pasta)
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup dried cherries or cranberries
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1. Bring broth and 2 tablespoons lemon juice to a boil; pour over couscous; bring back to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes until still firm to the bite.
2. In a large bowl, toss the cooked couscous with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, garlic, zest and pepper; let cool.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil.
4. Toss romaine lettuce with fresh herbs, dried cherries, and almonds, tossing gently to combine. Top with couscous and drizzle with balsamic dressing.
Some of you may know that my background and love is really in healthy and light cooking, but I know with the holidays, it’s hard to focus on that. Even in my profession of being a Recipe Developer, I deviate from my healthy schedule, especially when working on holiday recipes. Usually, most magazines work six months in advance so I am preparing heavy holiday foods in the summer (during bathing suit season), and am grilling light summery food in the winter (luckily, I live in the south). As far as healthy gift ideas, I thought I would share one of my (and my kid’s) favorites-dried fruit mixed with a touch of ground cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. We went threw our jar in less than one day, so I hope this will be as popular as it was at our house.
Dried Fruit Mix
Prep: 10 minutes
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dried apples
3/4 cup pitted prunes
3/4 cup dried aprictots
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1. Layer all ingredients in a 1-quart jar in the order given; tightly seal. Makes 1 gift jar.