Homemade Coconut Larabars

Lately I’ve been trying to eat healthy and I’m trying to avoid any processed food. It’s actually not that hard but when it comes to having a little sweet treat there’s always added sugar and things I can’t pronounce. When I first tasted Larabars I loved them but at $1.69 each I knew I had to recreate them myself. These Homemade Coconut Larabars are the perfect treat after a good workout or a hike in the woods….or not!

Homemade Coconut Larabars | A Sweet Baker

The whole process of making these Homemade Coconut Larabars is pretty easy.  All you need is a good food processor.   Add in one ingredient at a time and then pour it out onto some parchment paper and you’ve got yourself a pretty tasty snack.

I added in mixed nuts with raisins but you can add in whatever nuts you like.  Next time I’m going to use pecans because they’re my favorite nut.  Even some all-natural peanut butter would be pretty good too.

Homemade Coconut Larabars | A Sweet Baker

Homemade Coconut Larabars | A Sweet Baker

After I took my pics for these I cut them in half again, layered them between parchment paper, sealed them in a container and put them in the freezer.  That way they’re out of sight of my kiddies (who would have them gone in no time) and I actually think they’ll taste pretty yummy straight out of the freezer!

Homemade Coconut Larabars | A Sweet Baker

Homemade Coconut Larabars

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Protein packed energy bars that will satisfy your sweet-treat craving any time of the day!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup chopped dates
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup trail mix (my mix included peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews and raisins)
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted

Instructions

Line an 8X8 baking dish with parchment paper leaving sides hang over; set aside.
In a small bowl, add dates and fill with hot water. Let sit for 10-15 minutes until dates soften up.
Once dates are soft, drain water and pour dates into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
Add in shredded coconut and pulse again.
Add in mixed nuts and pulse until mixture all comes together and is finely chopped.
Add in coconut oil and pulse again until you get the desired consistency.
Pour mixture into prepared pan and flatten with a spatula.
Refrigerate mixture for 30 minutes.
Remove pan from fridge and remove mixture by lifting both sides of the parchment paper.
Using a sharp knife, cut into 8 bars or 16 squares.
Enjoy!

Notes

Total time includes refrigeration time.

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Homemade Strawberry Nutri Grain Bars

It’s that time of year again when I’m starting to run out of homemade snack ideas.  Even though I just had a break from baking treats/snacks, I feel like a need some new ideas and inspiration.

I want my kids to have a little treat in their lunch everyday but I also want it to be somewhat healthy. That’s when I thought about making these Homemade Strawberry Nutri Grain Bars.  My kids like the store-bought version but I don’t tend to buy them often.  So I knew these would be a hit if they found them in their lunch bags.

Homemade Strawberry Nutri Grain Bars | A Sweet Baker

When the kids got home from school they wanted to have another one of these bars for a snack.  Yes! They were a hit! These bars are something I can make again for their lunches, especially since I can change up the fruit inside to whatever I have on hand.

Next time I make these I’m definitely making a double batch since this recipe only makes 8 bars.  That doesn’t last long in my house!  I know these wouldn’t go to waste with three growing kids who love to eat!

Homemade Strawberry Nutri Grain Bars | A Sweet Baker

This week I’m going to make it my mission to come up with some more healthy snack ideas so that I can send my kids to school with tasty, nutritious snacks and avoid the store-bought treats.  Everyone, I’m sure, gets stuck in a rut with it comes to their kids lunches so I hope I can give you some inspiration in the coming weeks!

Homemade Strawberry Nutri Grain Bars | A Sweet Baker

Homemade Strawberry Nutri Grain Bars

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 18 minutes

Total Time: 48 minutes

Yield: 8 bars

A healthier, homemade version of Strawberry Nutri Grain Bars. Perfect for school lunches.

Ingredients

    For the Strawberry Filling:
  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. water
  • For the Dough:
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup oats
  • 1/8 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. corn starch
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 6 Tbsp.butter, room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp. plain yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

For the Strawberry Filling:
In a small saucepan, combine the strawberries, lemon and sugar. Using a potato masher, mash the strawberries until desired consistency. If you want a smoother consistency you can puree them if you wish.
Bring strawberries and sugar to a boil. In a small cup, whisk together the cornstarch and water and add to the strawberry mixture. Continue to boil for 2-3 minutes and then let cool completely while you make the dough.
For the Dough:
In a medium size bowl, combine flour, oats, baking soda, corn starch, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
In stand mixer with a paddle attachment, combine butter, yogurt, honey, egg yolks and vanilla. Mix until well combined and then slowly add the dry ingredients until all ingredients are incorporated.
Remove dough from bowl and divide into two balls.
Working on a piece of parchment paper sprinkled with whole wheat flour, roll out one ball of dough into a rectangle.
Using a pizza cutter, cut out two pieces, 4"X4.5" each.
Gather up dough and roll out again to get two more pieces. Repeat for the other ball of dough.
Once you have 8 pieces of dough, place 1 Tbsp. of Strawberry filling down the middle.
Fold one side over to other, leaving about 1/4" uncovered. Press down each end to seal. Fold over the 1/4 inch you left uncovered to seal up the bar. Place the bar seam-side down on a prepared cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and place in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Remove from fridge and bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from oven and let cool for about 15 minutes. Place in an airtight container to allow the warm air to keep them moist.
Enjoy!
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Recipe slightly adapted from Half Baked Harvest

Sour Cream Lemon Bars #GayLeaFoods

Today, I bring you Sour Cream Lemon Bars.  A little burst of sunshine right before the first day of Spring.

Lemon Bars are a dessert that reminds me of my family and growing up.  My mom always had her go-to desserts that never failed. Her Homemade Cheesecake always was a bit hit in our house, along with her Lemon Bars, Mandarin Orange Cake and her Butterscotch Marshmallow Squares at Christmastime.

Sour Cream Lemon Bars | A Sweet Baker

I just spent a whole week away with my family at March Break and I really got a chance to see how we all interact and how we deal with each other spending a week sharing one room.  For the most part it was a successful trip but one week in close quarters was long enough!

One main goal of this trip for my husband and myself was to teach our children about being grateful and appreciative for what we have.  As we travelled to our resort my children got to see first-hand how other people live and how much they can live without and still be happy.  We passed houses that were made out of cinder blocks with no windows and some houses that were as big as our whole kitchen.  They were amazed at the conditions of the houses and buildings and wanted to help.

We brought with us some toiletries and about a dozen pairs of gently used shoes that we were able to give out to a family who had twin boys about the same age as our sons.  I was surprised at how eager my kids were to hand out their own stuff to those in need. Every time we went out to eat my kids would want to personally give the tip to the waiter/waitress and say thank you.  When you think your time and effort to teach your children positive values are going unseen, it takes moments like these for you to see that your hard work as a parent is paying off.

Sour Cream Lemon Bars | A Sweet Baker

Without family, however, I don’t think we would all be the people we are today.  They shape our upbringing, teach us valuable lessons, how to deal with conflict, but most importantly, they teach us to love unconditionally.

Another family that I’d like to talk about this week is the Gay Lea Foods Family.  I’ve been honoured to be a Gay Lea Ambassador over the past year and I am proud to feature their products in my baking. They are a family of farmers who are dedicated to providing the best products to their customers.

Gay Lea Sour Cream | A Sweet Baker

Gay Lea’s story began back in 1958 as a small group of Ontario farmers who came together with a common vision – to create a dairy co-operative.  They felt they could build a better future for themselves and their communities by supporting one another, by working collaboratively and living according to their co-operative principles.  Even though, over the years, things have changed and tastes have evolved they haven’t changed their values.  After all, their values were born on the farm.

Sour Cream Lemon Bars with Gay Lea Butter | A Sweet Baker

It takes a whole family of farmers, workers at the production and distribution facilities and every other Gay Lea employee a commitment, passion and collaboration to provide a product that takes no short-cuts on quality.  Gay Lea is proud of its family and are proud to share their story.  They know that today’s customers want real products they can trust – and Gay Lea definitely delivers on that.

Sour Cream Lemon Bars | A Sweet Baker

Sour Cream Lemon Bars

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 16 bars

If you're looking for a bar that has an amazing buttery, brown sugar crust and filled with lemony goodness then these bars are IT!

Ingredients

    For the Crust and Topping:
  • 1/2 cup Gay Lea salted butter, melted and then cooled to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • For the Filling:
  • 1 cup Gay Lea Gold sour cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line an 8X8 baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
In a small bowl, mix together the salt, brown sugar, flour, baking and baking soda.
Reserve 3/4 cup of the mixture for the topping.
Pour crust mixture into the prepared baking pan and press down with the back of a fork or spoon and set aside.
In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, add the sour cream, sugar, flour, egg, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice. Whisk on medium for 2-3 minutes or until creamy and smooth.
Pour the filling over the prepared crust.
Sprinkle the reserved topping evenly over the filling.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Cut into bars and enjoy!
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Recipe adapted from Crunchy Creamy Sweet

Gay Lea Milk | A Sweet Baker

“Disclosure: I am part of the Gay Lea Blogger Campaign with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.”

Gluten Free Mint Nanaimo Bars {Guest Post – The Inspired Home}

Hi everyone!  I am so happy to have Holly and Andrea here from The Inspired Home to help me out this week.  If you’re looking for DIY ideas,  all things Kids, recipe inspiration, decor ideas or great reviews then you should swing by The Inspired Home for sure!

Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day I thought these Gluten Free Mint Nanaimo Bars would be the perfect dessert to help celebrate!

So take it away Holly!

Gluten Free Mint Nanaimo Bars - The Inspired Home

One of the other favourite holiday treats mentioned  by my nearest and dearest (other than Scottish Shortbread) was Mint Nanaimo Bars. I admit, I did start to drool slightly when these were mentioned. The textured bottom with coconut melts into your mouth, followed by the sinfully delicious creamy sweet filling, then the big finish – a crisp crackle of sweet chocolate on top. It was difficult not to eat all of these before we sent them on to family and friends.

I didn’t realize that the original recipe for Nanaimo Bars actually comes from Nanaimo, British Columbia. With the name, I suppose it makes perfect sense that this delightful treat is Canadian-made! I also love the fact that is no bake, so literally, you throw those terrific layers together and that’s the end of it. I find the layering works best when you freeze it in between putting each layer together.

This may not have been the healthiest holiday recipe I made recently but I was determined to give it a kick of nutrition, so I naturally dyed the custard using spinach and used gluten-free products too. My husband didn’t know the difference and hoovered them up. I didn’t tell him either. PS. If you see my sister enjoying her homemade Mint Nanaimo Bars, don’t tell her they are healthy and gluten-free!

Gluten Free Mint Nanimo Bars | The Inspired Home

Gluten Free Mint Nanaimo Bars {Guest Post – The Inspired Home}

Prep Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 12 squares

A deliciously healthier twist on the Nanaimo Bar - dyed using organic spinach and using gluten-free ingredients. Egg-free option available.

Ingredients

    Bottom Layer:
  • 1/2 cup salted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 5 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups gluten-free graham wafer crumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds (I buzzed mine quickly in the food processor)
  • 1 cup coconut
  • Second Layer:
  • 1/2 cup salted butter
  • 2 tbsp & 2 tsp whipping cream
  • 1 package GoBio organic, gluten-free custard powder
  • 1 1/4 cups icing sugar
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract or food-grade Essential Oil (2 drops)
  • 3 cups of spinach, juiced
  • Third Layer
  • 5 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz each)
  • 2 tbsp salted butter

Instructions

Bottom Layer:
Melt first 3 ingredients on top of double boiler (if you don't have one, use a metal or glass bowl on top of a saucepan). Prepare crumbs, coconut, nuts in a metal or ceramic bowl (not plastic). Add egg (or egg substitute) and stir to cook or thicken. Remove from heat and combine cocoa into the dry mixture and press into an ungreased 8x8" pan (glass works the best). Put in freezer.
Second Layer:
Juice 3 cups of spinach into a glass measuring cup. Cream everything else (except peppermint extract) together carefully, beating with KitchenAid mixer or hand-mixer until light. Add spinach juice & peppermint extract and beat for another 1-2 minutes. Add second layer to pan & spread out to equal thickness with a spatula. Return to freezer.
Third Layer:
Melt all squares of chocolate with butter over low heat, stirring occasionally. Once cool but still liquid, pour over second layer and freeze or chill in the refrigerator.
Notes
To my egg-free friends, egg substitute can be used in this recipe as it is cooked.
If you are planning to eat them later (good luck), they can be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months. When using, slightly thaw them and cut with warm knife (run under hot tap water).
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Just some of the things that caught my eye from The Inspired Home:

DIY Juice Cleanse

DIY Juice Cleanse | The Inspired Home

Toddler Meal Ideas

Toddler Meal Ideas | The Inspired Home

How To Treat A Cold Naturally

How To Treat A Cold Naturally | The Inspired Home

You can check out all of the other delicious recipes, DIY tips, kids ideas, decor inspiration and reviews from The Inspired Home here:

  The Inspired Home  ♥  @theinspiredhome   ♥  Pinterest   ♥   Instagram   ♥    Facebook

Thanks so much ladies!  I can’t thank you enough for helping me out while I enjoy my trip with my family!

Peppermint Rice Krispies with Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting

Rice Krispies is a classic recipe that most people like but with the holiday edition of the cereal out in stores right now, I wanted to do something a little different.  I found some peppermint marshmallows and whipped up these Peppermint Rice Krispies with Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting, because everything is better with frosting on top!

Peppermint Rice Krispies with Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting | A Sweet Baker

With just over a week left until Christmas, I can’t believe that all the treats and appetizers that I wanted to try this year won’t be happening.  I always have this big list in my head of things I want to make but never seem to have the time to do it all.  This recipe was doable because they’re quick and easy to make.  Perfect for any last minute baking!

Peppermint Rice Krispies with Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting | A Sweet Baker

Peppermint Rice Krispies with Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting | A Sweet Baker

I found the peppermint marshmallows in the US so if you’re a fellow Canadian and can’t find them, I would suggest adding some peppermint extract and a bit of red food coloring to white marshmallows get the same effect.  Although, I think with the festive Rice Krispies they would still look great without the red food coloring.  The green and red krispies would just stand out more!

My kids loved this version of Rice Krispies but my husband still prefers the classic vanilla ones.  I expected that but sometimes he just needs to step out of the box!

Peppermint Rice Krispie Squares with Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 hours

Yield: 15-20 squares

A festive, peppermint twist on the classic Rice Krispie square. Topped off with a Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting that turns these squares into a real treat!

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 pkg. Peppermint Marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup peppermint chips
  • 1 pkg. fat-free White Chocolate Jello instant pudding mix
  • 5 cups Holiday Rice Krispie cereal
  • For the Frosting:
  • 1 pkg. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. peppermint extract
  • 1 cup icing sugar

Instructions

Greases a 9 X 13 glass pan with butter and set aside.
In a large saucepan, melt butter on low heat. Add marshmallows until they're all melted then add peppermint chips and stir until melted. Remove from heat and add the white chocolate pudding mix. Mix well and then add Holiday Rice Krispies. Stir until combined and pour into prepared pan. Flatten evenly using the back of a spoon coated with butter.
For the Frosting:
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the cream cheese and butter. Add the peppermint extract and mix again. Slowly add the icing sugar until frosting is smooth. Spread evenly over entire pan of Peppermint Rice Krispies.
Cut into squares and enjoy!
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Rice Krispie recipe adapted from The Sweet Chick