Saturday, July 18, 2015

Super Powers Breakfast Bars

This summer, I acquired two pretty awesome things: a serious juicer (thanks, mom!) and a CSA share from my brother in law's organic farm. So I've been putting my fancy juicer to work on all the crazy amounts of veggies I get every week! I can't think of a more refreshing way to start a hot summer day than with a glass of fresh juice. My favorite blend so far is rhubarb, red cabbage, beet, and black grapes. But turmeric, orange, ginger, kale, carrot is pretty good too...

Anyway, I'm pretty into this whole juicing thing but this post isn't about that. It's about making your own granola bars because as much as I love juicing, a glass does not fuel me up until lunch time. I was looking for a good mid morning snack I could throw in my backpack and take to work... like a homemade granola bar! There are plenty of ways to make granola or breakfast bars, but I'm sort of particular. I don't like nuts or chunky seeds when they're mixed into things (it's a texture issue) and when it comes to granola bars, anything other than peanut butter is just a waste of time (mixed berries? pffft!). And definitely, absolutely, no dates or figs!

Ok, so despite all my rules, there is still a lot going on in these bars. They are decidedly oat based, but with a good dose of toasted millet and quinoa for added protein. And there actually are two kinds of seeds, just very tiny ones that sneak in there without messing up the texture: chia and ground flax. Both of which have lots of omega-3's and fiber. Chia seeds are also rich in calcium, protein, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese. All good stuff that will give you super powers.

Super Powers Breakfast Bars
makes 10 or 12 bars

2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1/2 cup uncooked millet
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/4 cup cane syrup*
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

*I was able to get cane syrup on a road trip to visit my husband's family in Mississippi. It's pretty hard to find up here in Washington, so if you can't get your hands on it, go ahead and just use all maple syrup. Traditional cane syrup is a true slow food and is absolutely delicious. My friend, Boo Gilder made this lovely book documenting a family from her home town making cane syrup the old fashioned way. Boo's photographs of the process are paired with an informal interview with the family's matriarch as she cooks the cane. It's a really great book for anyone interested in local food histories.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x13 baking dish with parchment paper.

Toast the oats, quinoa, and millet over medium-low heat in a dry skillet (preferably cast iron) for a few minutes, until everything starts to smell toasted. Combine the toasted oats, quinoa and millet in a large bowl with the raisins, chia seeds, flax sees, and salt.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together the peanut butter, cane syrup, maple syrup, coconut oil and brown sugar. Make sure that everything is melted, but don't bring it to a boil. Stir in the vanilla extract and remove from heat.

Pour the peanut butter mixture into the bowl with everything else and stir until all the dry stuff is nice and coated. Pour this mess into the baking dish and smash it down with your hands to make it fairly level in the pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, then cool before cutting into bars. They keep best in the fridge. Enjoy!

Lacey, the shop dog sitting in front of my press begging for a taste of these breakfast bars

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Tea Tree and Eucalyptus Soap

The inspiration for this soap came out of a very real need to help my husband fight back against athlete's foot. Or in his case, carpenter's foot. He builds custom tiny houses for a small operation here in town and his work boots can lock in a lot of heat and moisture (the ideal environment for fungal growth). With this record breaking summer we've been having, I took pity on his poor feet and concocted a batch of fungus-fighting soap with the power of tea tree oil and eucalyptus! And really, that's about it. Other than the basic soap ingredients, it's just a whole bunch of tea tree oil, eucalyptus essential oil, and dried eucalyptus leaves. The scent is invigorating and refreshing, and I find it helps me wake up in the morning. Oh yeah, and it's not just for feet! The tea tree and eucalyptus have antibacterial and deodorizing properties so it makes for a good all around warm weather soap.


1.5 pounds distilled water
236 grams lye
2 pounds olive oil (or one 33.8 ounce bottle)
12 ounces coconut oil
12 ounces palm oil
8 ounces vegetable shortening*
1 ounce dried eucalyptus leaves
4 teaspoons tea tree oil
4 teaspoons eucalyptus essential oil

*If you don't like using vegetable shortening you can leave it out and just increase the amounts of coconut and palm oils so that you have the same ratio of fats to water/lye. I like to use a small amount of shortening sometimes because it helps the soap go to trace faster. Using this amount of veg shortening doesn't make the bars slimy, which can happen with soap that contains a lot of shortening.

1. Measure out tea tree and eucalyptus oils and cover tightly so that they don't evaporate while you make the soap. Measure out dried eucalyptus and set aside as well. Prepare your soap mold(s) by lining with parchment paper if needed (this depends on what type of mold you are using).

2. Follow basic soapmaking instructions (here!) with the above listed ingredients.

3. At trace, stir in tea tree oil, eucalyptus essential oil and dried eucalyptus until well combined. Immediately pour soap into mold and wrap in towels or blankets.

Here's to happy summer feet!