Category: Eat Well. Heal the Planet.
Sunday, January 1
Happy New Year!
Today I’m combining the weekly menu with my annual New Years Resolution post because they are closely related. Let’s talk about the resolution first then get on to the weekly menus, shall we?
Every year I choose a resolution that helps our family to Eat Well and Heal the Planet. For 2017 my environmentally-friendly kitchen resolution is to, quite simply, cook more. And while the goal itself may seem simple, the reasoning behind it is more complex.
This will be my eighth year where my New Year’s resolution is focused on how my behavior in the kitchen impacts the environment. These past seven years have been awesome and the resolutions have truly helped me become more conscious than ever about how my food choices impact Mother Earth. It’s been a transformative process for me and I hope my journey has had a positive impact on others, too.
Last year our family’s food-environment resolution was to Waste Less Food. I started a compost bin, which is still going strong, and we’ve tried really hard to, well, waste less food! One of my biggest takeaways last year was that eating out was our family’s biggest source of food waste. Not only did more food get thrown away when eating out, but there was so much more garbage per person with takeout containers and the like. This is contributing factor #1 to this year’s resolution to cook more.
I don’t want to jump on the whole “2016 was the worst” bandwagon, but I will tell you that, for personal reasons, 2016 was at times quite challenging and I cooked less this year than I have in probably a decade. I was dealing with SI joint dysfunction for much of the year, and then I had a crazy car accident in November, just as the holidays got going. Plus, you know, life is busy. Work, kids, etc, etc, etc…we all know how it goes. As a result, this year found me in the kitchen far less than usual. Making dinner became a source of stress and something I thought I didn’t have time for. By the end of the year, my decreased levels of cooking have really had me down. The last two weeks I’ve been cooking a lot more. I visited our weekly farmer’s market for the first time. I’ve thought a lot about my relationship to food and what it means to me. This is contributing factor #2 to this year’s resolution…so let’s talk about the resolution itself!
I want to cook more! I want to feed my family better. I want to feed myself better. I want to care about my food again. I want to enjoy the cooking process. I want to be inspired by food rather than stressed by it. I want to go to my local farmer’s market and be inspired by the local, seasonal ingredients I find each week. And I want to help the environment – the best way I can do that in the kitchen is to simply COOK MORE.
So, that’s the goal! Less eating out. More cooking. More getting back to the love of food and savoring the time it takes to prepare it.
Are you with me? Are you already there? Share your tips if you are! And, in case you missed it, I wrote an article for Mom2.com in October where I shared my friends’ tips for cooking dinner every day, even when life gets crazy. There is some good stuff in there, I highly recommend you check it out!
And now my first menu of 2017! Note: we are still going to eat out, but I’m limiting it to once a week! I will continue to post menus every weekend and hope you all will continue to share yours in the comments! I am beyond grateful for the interaction we have here on the blog and your menus are a true inspiration week after week!
– Pesto Chicken Salad Sandwiches
– Green Salad Topped with Grilled Chicken
– Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos
– Eat out night
– Roasted Vegetable Egg Scrambles and Smoothies
Your turn! Please share your menu in the comments…simple, fancy, whatever! And if you have any thoughts about this year’s resolution, please share those as well! Happy New Year and Happy Cooking!
Monday, April 18
Earth Day is just around the corner! As cheesy as this may sound, every day is Earth Day in our house. I know, I know. CHEESE. But it’s true. For the last 6 years, my new year’s resolutions have all been centered around helping Mother Earth by making changes in how our family eats and cooks. As I look back on those years, I can see how much better we’ve gotten about a lot of things and I can also see how those resolutions have really gotten me (and my kids!) to be constantly thinking about how our actions are impacting the environment. The best part is that it’s all been easier to do than I thought it would be!
When I say that I am constantly thinking about how our food system impacts the environment I am not exaggerating. I think about environmental food issues all the time. I regularly read articles and reports about the environmental impact of the food industry and I love getting the chance to talk with food companies of all kinds to find out how they produce food, what they are doing about their carbon footprint and more. This year I’ve already talked with at least 3 different food companies regarding sustainability and have gained so much insight into how food companies think about sustainability and what they are doing about it.
One of those companies I’ve met with is General Mills. I visited their headquarters this past January, where I participated in a small Q&A session with the president of the cereal group as well as a one-on-one conversation with Catherine Gunsbury, director of sustainability and transparency at General Mills. My talk with Catherine was awesome and I got all kinds of great intel out of her. We also discovered that she and I are kindred spirits – we are both obsessed with not throwing food into the trash (obsessed). I spoke with Catherine on the phone again this week, at which point she filled me in on General Mills’ latest annual Global Responsibility Report. We talked about General Mills’ goal to sustainably source 100% of their top 10 ingredients by 2020 (and what that means) as well as General Mills’ commitment to achieve zero waste going to landfill at 100% of their global production facilities by 2025 (they are at about 6% now and making good progress). If you want to read more detail about what General Mills is up to in terms of sustainability and social responsibility, click here.
As I’ve spoken with many food companies over the years, both big and small, and really mulled over all the issues surrounding food and the environment, I’ve been encouraged to see that a lot of these companies really do care and are working hard to turn the ship that is our food system around. One of the other big things I keep coming back to is how powerful consumers are. If we as consumers demand better food (and packaging and production and everything else!), food companies will continue to deliver better food (and packaging and production and everything else!). Like I said, the food industry is a large ship and it will take a lot of work and time to turn it around, but I have faith we can all contribute to that process. It can feel daunting, but if we all keep on keeping on, we can make the world a better place and ensure our food sources will be sustainable for generations to come.
So, what are some of the things we can actually do in our daily lives to help that process along? To celebrate Earth Day this week, I’d love to share ten things our family has done in the kitchen over the years to have a positive impact on the environment. Some of these tactics are more involved than others, but none of them are difficult and all of them make a difference! And, before you let yourself feel overwhelmed by the list, I promise these are things our family does every day. I’m about the laziest cook you’ll ever meet and I’ve still been able to follow these steps! For me the key to success is to keep it simple and realistic and focus on working on a step-by-step basis.
1. Eat Less Meat.
My first official what-we-eat-and-how-we-eat-it-affects-the-environment resolution was to eat less meat. Per capita meat consumption has increased significantly over the last several decades. In fact, if we all switched to natural, pasture-raised meat, there wouldn’t be enough land to support our demand. The natural resources that go into producing a pound of meat versus pretty much any other food is significantly more. Reducing meat consumption across society would have a huge positive impact on the environment! So, how do we do that?
For our family we did not go vegetarian, we simply cut back on the amount of meat we ate week to week. I experimented with vegetarian recipes that incorporated beans because our family likes beans. I chose recipes that made it easier to spread out the meat I was using so I could use less meat overall in that meal, like salads with just 1 or 2 chicken breasts for the whole family. I thought cutting back on meat would be so hard, but it wasn’t, and I think that’s because we took a moderate approach that was realistic for our family.
(Pictured above: Sweet Potato Bacon Pizza, where very little meat is used…and dinner is still filling and beyond delicious!)
2. Cut Back on Paper Towels and Napkins.
I honestly thought cutting out paper towels would be impossible, but it was EASY. I swear. The trick is to buy a big stack of towels and to have them in a very accessible place in the kitchen. The only time I use paper towels now is to soak up grease. Click here to read more about our family’s system that’s made living without paper towels no big deal. Our family also only uses cloth napkins. They go in with the normal laundry and it hasn’t been any extra work. Quick tip: my favorite cloth napkins are the cocktail sized napkins – they are perfect for everyday use!
3. Use Less Plastic.
This was a multi-year goal for me and one I am still working on. Reducing plastic use is hard because it is everywhere, especially when it comes to food products. The good news is that all that plastic gives you ample opportunity to tackle the problem! Maybe start by eliminating one-time plastic use items, like throwaway food containers and baggies. Then slowly replace plastic storage containers with glass, and so on. And, don’t forget the classic bring your own bags to the grocery store! One step at a time is the way to go with this goal!
4. Recycle Even More!
I know most of us recycle a lot already. But I also know a lot of us don’t realize just how much we can recycle. For example, I learned just 3 months ago that the cereal bags inside the boxes for General Mills cereals are recyclable! Upon closer inspection I discovered that the bottom of the boxes told me that very fact, I just never bothered to look. Now I check all food packages much more carefully to see what packaging is recyclable! I also took the time to visit my waste management company’s website and reviewed their recycling list. Did you know you can recycle aluminum foil? The list goes on and on!
5. Waste Less Food.
This is my 2016 resolution and it’s a big one. It’s amazing, though, how simply being mindful of food waste has automatically decreased the amount of food our family throws away. For example, I am so much better about using leftovers now. I’ve also discovered that a lot of our food waste happens when we eat out, so I try to adjust our takeout orders accordingly. There are just so many ways to decrease food waste and paying just a little bit of attention is a simple way to make a big difference!
Composting is related to my food waste goal and something I just started doing this year. I’ve always been scared of composting (actually, terrified), but now that we’re composting it’s seriously no big deal. I have a bowl on my counter where I toss compostable items, which I dump each night in our compost bin we have out in the yard. Total added time to my daily routine? 1 minute. Easy peasy! And, if you’re lucky enough to live in a community that picks up compost with regular trash pick up, then composting is even easier. Be sure to research what your town has to offer!
7. Don’t Throw Food in the Trash Whenever Possible.
This is also related to numbers five and six, but I think it’s worth a specific call out. Did you know that when food decomposes in the landfill, it puts off significant amounts of greenhouse gases that would not be emitted if the food was composted naturally? Keep food out of the landfills by putting it in the disposal or compost pile. There are some items that can’t go in compost or down the sink, but that list is small. This is an easy way we can all make a difference!
8. Buy Food in Bulk.
Buy food in bulk to cut down on packaging and encourage cooking! But keep those food waste goals in mind…don’t buy more than you will use. And don’t forget to utilize your freezer! I’ve found that my freezer has been a great friend both in reducing food waste and allowing me to buy more foods in bulk.
9. Reusable Containers for Food Storage and Packing Lunches.
When I started cutting out plastic, I bought a bunch of glass food containers. I recycled a few of the old plastic items, but kept the good quality ones, which I use when I run out of glass. I’ve forced myself to stop using plastic wrap for covering food in the fridge, too. I’ve also switched to reusable lunch food bags for my kids’ lunches. Washing them every day takes a bit of time, but nothing crazy and it’s definitely worth saving all those plastic bags from going into the trash!
10. Join a CSA.
There’s nothing like joining a CSA to help you eat more locally and seasonally! Plus being connected to local farmers can teach you a lot and really connect you to your community. If a farm share is too expensive or simply too much food for your family, consider splitting it with a friend!
I hope this list isn’t daunting but instead encouraging! If you have any questions about any of these tips, let me know! And, as always, if you have your own tips or tricks for implementing any of the steps above, please share!
Today’s post is sponsored by General Mills.
Tuesday, February 23
Hey everybody. So, uh, I was on NBC Nightly News tonight. No biggie. Lester Holt and I are like this.
Okay, not really. And it is just plain crazy and fun that I was on NBC Nightly News! My cousin just texted and was like, “I just saw you on NBC News! That’s crazy! It blew my mind!!”
I didn’t want to say anything until it aired, because you never know if things will air with network news, but it did and the story is great. Tom Costello reported on the “natural” food label and how it is a non-verified term, i.e. companies can say something is natural and there is no checklist to follow for what that word means. In response to the public, the FDA is considering making natural a verified term. If you want to let the FDA know what you think, the open comment period is happening right now until May 10, 2016. Click here to make a comment (I did!). Right now the word natural is most often misleading and manipulative and, quite honestly, doesn’t mean a darn thing. I don’t even care that much how the FDA ultimately defines the term (although I certainly have opinions on the subject), I just want them to define it so everyone is on the same page. ANYWAY…here’s the news report if you want to see me in my kitchen with my cute kiddos!
Wednesday, January 6
Each year when it’s time to make a New Year’s resolution, I choose one that supports my overarching goal to “Eat Well. Heal the Planet.” So much of what we eat and how we eat it impacts the environment, which means there are lots of little things we can each do to make positive change. This year our family’s resolution is to reduce food waste and to begin composting in our home.
I am super excited about this year’s goal. And I am excited to share today’s blog post with you. I tried my best to be as concise as possible…there’s just so much to share!
I’ve been wanting to compost for years. In Menlo Park, you could put anything compostable into the green bins for trash pick up, which made composting easy to do. But, alas, San Diego (like most places) does not have that option, so if you want to compost you have to do it on your own. Bottom line: I moved to San Diego and I didn’t know how to compost on my own and I didn’t take the time to figure it out. Until now!
“Just Eat It” Director and film subject Grant Baldwin is shocked to find a swimming pool sized dumpster filled with discarded hummus. Credit: Peg Leg Films – Scene from Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story
In recent months I’ve been reading a lot about food waste and the numbers, quite frankly, are staggering. In the U.S., 40% of food raised and grown is wasted each year (one-third globally), and 95% of food waste in the U.S. ends up in landfills. The problem with food going to the landfill is that, unlike normal decomposition, the anaerobic conditions that breaks down food buried in the dump causes a release of methane gas, which contributes to greenhouse gases. So, we’re wasting energy up front producing food that isn’t used, we’re not turning that wasted food back into energy, and the wasted food is increasing CO2 emissions. In addition, the amount of water it takes to produce the food we throw away each year could meet the household water needs for 500 million people. (Information in this paragraph is taken from the documentary Just Eat It, which I will get to in a moment, as well as other sources, including the National Resources Defense Council and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.)
Waste occurs at all stages of the food production and consumption process, so it will take a combination of individual, collective and regulatory efforts to turn the tide. While looking at the problem on the whole may feel overwhelming, food waste is actually something each and every one of us can work on and contribute to every day. We can make a change and we can make it right now!
My 11-year-old Cate and I watched the new documentary Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story. If you haven’t seen it, WATCH IT! (You can rent the movie on iTunes for just 99 cents, and you can stream it for free in Canada.) The movie follows the experience of Grant and Jen, a couple who committed to eating only discarded food for 6 months. It’s fun to watch how their 6 months go, but the film also provides ample information about food waste, from farming to labeling to consumption and more. Cate told me afterward that she is grateful they made the movie, which I thought was pretty darn cute. Also, the whole time she was watching the documentary she kept exclaiming, “I can’t believe this!” (I told you the levels of food waste are astonishing!)
My compost collector from Full Circle (link below)
Okay, so back to this year’s resolution! Here’s what we’re going to be doing in the Maynard household starting now!
- Get a compost bin and use it! Your compost can be as simple as a pile in the backyard, but I’m choosing to use a tumbler, both to help keep critters at bay and to speed the composting process. My friend Elise Bauer loves this compost tumbler. I bought the dual-batch tumbler, so I can have one batch “cooking” while we’re adding compost to the other batch. As for collecting the food in the kitchen to compost, I am using this compost collector from Full Circle, which is ventilated to help reduce odor and flies. Full Circle sells compostable baggies, but you can also get similar bags at stores like Costco. Elise uses this super cute compost collector from World Market and loves it, if you want something with a little more style.
- Be more thoughtful about using leftovers and food. For whatever reason, whenever it’s time to clean out the fridge, we always have tons of food that has gone bad. I’m going to work hard to be more conscious of using the food we have so it doesn’t end up in the trash or compost bin.
- Be less picky at the grocery store when selecting produce and meat. Just because something isn’t perfectly pretty doesn’t mean it’s not good! Getting into this mindset is key to changing how much food is wasted. If consumers stop demanding perfect food and start demanding less food waste, then food producers will be able to sell food good food even if it is not beautiful.
If you’re new to composting like me, here are some resources to get you started:
When my compost tumbler arrives and we get started composting, I will check back in and let you know how it’s going! Until then, here are some to-dos for you:
- Consider making food waste a priority in your home, too! Whether that means you’re going to start composting or are simply going to be more mindful of what you throw away, it’s all going to help.
- Watch Just Eat It.
- If you are a composting veteran, share your tips with us newbies in the comments!
Oh, and if you’re a fan of John Oliver’s smarts, wit and salty language, his piece on food waste is also worth a watch.
Happy New Year! And Happy Composting!
Wednesday, October 28
It’s been about 6 months since I’ve given an update on my 2015 New Year’s resolution, so I thought it was time to check in! For those of you who don’t know, each year I choose a New Year’s resolution that is related to food or the kitchen that impacts the environment in a positive way. This year my goal was to stop using paper towels. So, how are we doing? I have had several friends and family members ask with a skeptical voice if we are really doing it and if it’s actually going well.
It’s going great! Honestly, it hasn’t been hard at all. The big stack of Ikea towels I bought have worked wonderfully, and my system of having the bin of towels accessible in the kitchen and then hooks close by (for hanging after use) works like a charm! (Click here to read more of the details.) Everyone in the family is participating and following the plan. The key to success has been accessibility. The towels are at everyone’s level and in the center of things. The hooks are nearby for the dirty towels. I don’t have any extra laundry, the towels just go in with everything else. I am really happy with how well it has worked out!
As for cleaning, I have mostly moved away from paper towels. I still use them to clean the toilet, along with bleach cleaner. I haven’t been able to switch over to a towel for that task, despite my aunt telling me it will be fine. She has a designated towel for the toilets, with a T in permanent marker in the corner and she says it works great with her environmentally-friendly soap. One day maybe I’ll take the plunge. (Not into the toilet, just into cleaning it differently.) Toilets aside, I no longer use paper towels for any of our cleaning. I purchased high quality microfiber towels and, not only am I not using paper towels, I use less soap. And it’s faster and easier! (I’ll share the towels I bought in a separate post down the road.)
There is one more thing that I still use paper towels for – draining bacon. I should be able to come up with another way to do this, but I really like patting the bacon dry with a paper towel. If anyone has suggestions for this, let me know!
So, have we completely given up paper towels? Not quite, but almost. We hardly ever use them, just for toilets and bacon. And my life is not any harder. In fact, cleaning is easier. I am so glad I finally pulled the trigger to make this goal a reality in our home!
If you’ve been trying to cut back on paper towels, let us know how it’s going and please share any tips that have been helpful with your implementation!
Tuesday, March 10
Remember my 2015 New Year’s Resolution to give up paper towels? The process is underway and so far so good! We are down to just 2 more rolls, which I will keep in the garage for “emergencies.” Besides that we are done with paper towels! Today I wanted to share some tips for how to stop using paper towels in the kitchen that have helped to make our family successful at this goal. It was surprisingly simple and easy!(Side note: I will share tips for giving up paper towels in regards to housecleaning in a later post.)
I’m just going to share what we did with some good old fashioned bullet points. Here we go!
- Buy a WHOLE BUNCH of cloth towels that are good at drying. I like lightweight cloth towels better than terry cloth. Flour sack towels are my favorite to use in the kitchen. In addition to the flour sack towels I already own (you can buy those pretty much anywhere these days, by the way), I also purchased the Tekla and Elly dish towels from Ikea, which were $0.79 – $1.00 per towel. (FYI: I like the fabric used for the Tekla towels a little better, they have a little hook for hanging and they’re cheaper.) I am also planning to buy a few of these Bird-E Towels on Etsy (thanks to reader Sara B. for that suggestion!).
- Store the towels all together in a VERY accessible spot in your kitchen. I bought a bin to keep all the towels in and we keep the bin in a drawer in the middle of our kitchen, one that all of the kids can easily reach.
- Get a small basket to set in the laundry area for soiled towels and cloth napkins. I bought a cute basket to set on our dryer and that’s where all the dirty (dry) towels and cloth napkins go.
- Hang hooks in the laundry or kitchen area. I found wall hooks that say “LAUNDRY” at World Market, but any hooks will do! After we’ve used one of the towels, if it’s too wet to throw into the laundry basket we hang it on a hook. Luckily for me my laundry area is right next to the kitchen, so the hooks hang above the washing machine. If your laundry room isn’t close to the kitchen, find a good spot in your kitchen to place the hooks. The key is that they need to be accessible!
- While we’re at it, get a basket for cloth napkins is stored in an accessible spot in the kitchen. We’ve had cloth napkins for a long time but we would were terrible and almost always just grabbed a paper towel because it was easier than walking across the room to the linen drawers. I took the cloth napkins OUT of the linen drawer and put them into a basket that hangs on the wall above the kitchen counter . As soon as I made that change we have only been using cloth napkins. It’s awesome! (Note: As you can see in the photo above, I haven’t actually hung the basket on the wall yet, but that’s the plan!)
The key to successfully getting rid of paper towels and paper napkins is making the cloth versions accessible and easy to grab. It’s so simple but it took me a while to figure it out! Now that we have our system in place, everyone is using cloth with no issues whatsoever. My kids know where everything is and what to do with dirty towels and napkins. Every time I see one of the towels hanging to dry above the washing machine it makes me so happy!
If you have any addition tips, thoughts or questions, please share! (Also, be sure to check out the comments on my original paper towel post. There are some great tips there, too!)
Friday, January 16
Happy Friday! I have just two quick things to share today!
First, I just heard about Food Forward on PBS. Has anyone seen it? I can’t wait to watch!
Second, my Babble post for the week! I shared a basic, easy recipe for Baked Yogurt Chicken and provided a roundup of 6 other savory yogurt recipes. Lots of yumminess to be had, my friends.
As usual, please share something! Whether it’s a link to your own blog, a link to something you’ve discovered or just a quick peek into your life, it’s all welcome!
Have a great weekend!
Tuesday, January 6
It’s January, which means it’s time to set a resolution! As you know, I like to choose a resolution each year that is related making a change in the kitchen that has a positive environmental impact.
A few weeks ago I went to a party at my neighbor’s house. I accidentally spilled a drink and immediately called out, “Where are the paper towels?” Kat then handed me a stack of cloth towels. Because, apparently, real-live cloth towels dry things, too. Who knew? Okay, I knew. But for some reason I kind of ignore that fact a lot.
I use too many paper towels, both for cleaning the house and for day-to-day use in the kitchen. That simple experience at Kat’s house made me realize how dumb it is that I so often default to the disposable solution when I need a towel, even after my efforts to reduce plastic, paper napkins and the like in past years. I was talking about this with Nate’s mom last week and she said that she only buys paper towels when we’re in town. Geesh. It is seriously time that I tackle this ridiculous addiction once and for all!
So, 2015 is the year! No more paper towels! We’ll use up the paper towels we have left and then, after that, I’m not allowing myself to buy any more. As my paper towel supply begins to dwindle, I will be stocking up on cloth towels of all kinds. If you have suggestions for towels you like, both for the kitchen and for cleaning in general, please share!
On a related note, I love our cloth napkins and we use them quite frequently, but I will admit to grabbing paper towels when I’m feeling too lazy to walk across the room to the napkin drawer. All of this is changing this year! Go Team! You Can Do It!
So, who’s with me? Let’s cut the paper towel cord together! I need the moral support. 😉
Friday, January 3
Happy New Year, everyone! I hope the start of your year has been a good one! We kicked off 2014 with a visit to Pasadena, where he had amazing grandstand seats for the Tournament of Roses Parade (big thanks to our friend Sherri!) and attended a far-too-stressful football game at the Rose Bowl (go Stanford no matter the result!).
Now that we’re a few days into the new year, I thought we could chat quickly about resolutions. I’m not a huge new year’s resolution person, but I must admit that since I started creating resolutions that link food to the environment, I actually really like setting a goal each year. It has helped a lot! It’s time to set my goal for 2014 and it’s the going to be the same one I’ve had for the last two years: Use Less Plastic.
The first year I made this goal it was very general and I didn’t make much progress. Last year I decided to get more specific and to also revisit the goal throughout the year. That definitely helped and we had a few successes. We’ve started making our own yogurt, eliminating all those little yogurt cups, and I make all of our granola bars, reducing all that one-time packaging trash we were producing every day. I stopped using plastic baggies completely in the kids’ lunches and we only use cloth napkins at home now. (Quick tip: Cocktail-sized cloth napkins are PERFECT for everyday use! I got mine at the Crate & Barrel outlet and love them.)
Since using less plastic is really important but also incredibly challenging, I’m sticking with the goal for another year. Step 1 for 2014 is to finally use the reusable grocery bags I have stuffed in a closet. It is ridiculous that I don’t bring my bags with me when I go shopping! Once I have that tackled, I’ll get another goal going and will keep you posted on my progress!
Just a few quick thoughts on plastic. First, this infographic is great food for thought in regards to plastic and the ocean, which is just one part of the plastic story. Second, if you haven’t watched the documentary Bag It yet, please do. It’s GREAT and you can now stream it on both Amazon and iTunes.
Source: One World, One Ocean
On a completely unrelated note, I am also making a resolution to get more organized with my housekeeping, you know, now that I have a house to actually keep! I think I’ll just make a monthly schedule and try to stick to that. I’ll keep you posted and share the schedule when it’s all put together, in case anyone else wants to join in on the “fun.”
What are your new year’s resolutions for 2014? Would love to hear them! Also, did you join in on the “Use Less Plastic” fun in 2013 or are you planning to for 2014? Please share your tips and tricks for reducing waste, especially plastic!
Tuesday, October 1
Since I first shared Catherine McCord’s chocolate chip granola bar recipe with you. I have made a lot of granola bars. We are going through them like water! I am loving it because they are cheaper than store-bought granola bars and I love that we aren’t throwing out a wrapper with every granola bar we eat, instead using our reusable Lunchskins pouches.
Catherine’s recipe is perfect just the way it is, but I still couldn’t stop myself from experimenting! The original recipe I shared is a nice combination of crispy and chewy. I actually think crispy is probably a good description, although it’s not crispy like a Nature Valley granola bar, so I hesitate describing it purely as crispy. ANYWAY…I wanted to see if I could make a chewier granola bar based on the recipe, and I did!
I think I prefer the chewier version myself, but every time I quiz Cate and Nate about which one they like better, they can’t decide. So, this new version is not an improvement over the previous version, it’s just different. If you’re looking for a chewier granola bar, then this version of the recipe is for you!Chewy Chocolate Chip Homemade Granola BarsPrep timeCook timeTotal timeI adapted this recipe from Catherine McCord's granola bar recipe, to make it more chewy and changed up ingredients just a smidge.Author: Jane MaynardRecipe type: SnackServes: 24Ingredients
- 4 cups rolled old-fashioned oats
- 1 cup brown crisped rice cereal (you can use regular crisped rice; I like brown because it’s a little healthier, I get it at Sprouts and Barbara’s Bakery is my favorite brand)
- ⅓ cup whole wheat flour
- ½ cup shredded or flaked unsweetened coconut
- Heaping ⅓ cup brown sugar
- 1 cup chocolate chips (regular or mini)
- Generous ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅔ cup coconut oil (you can also use canola oil as a substitute, but the best texture comes with coconut oil)
- ⅔ cup honey
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 325º F.
- Combine oats, crisped rice, flour, coconut, brown sugar, chocolate chips and salt. Mix well.
- Combine oil, honey and vanilla. Whisk well. Add to dry ingredients and mix well (stir a lot...and then stir some more!).
- Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Pour granola bar mixture onto the lined cookie sheet. Press mixture out into a large, uniform rectangle, about 9″ x 13″. If your hands are damp when you push the mixture into shape, it won’t stick to your hands as much.
- Bake for about 30 minutes until golden and dry to touch (watch out, it’s hot!). (I bake for 14 minutes, then rotate the pan, then bake for 14 minutes more.)
- If you use canola oil or your coconut oil was in liquid form, the bars may spread a bit during baking. As soon as you take them out of the oven, use a spatula to push all the edges back in, so you get your original rectangle.
- Cool on the baking sheet for 10-20 minutes until completely cooled. Slide granola bar along with parchment paper onto a large cutting board. Cut into bars using a long serrated knife - bars need to be completely cooled before you cut them.
- Makes 24 bars (8 rows, 3 columns). Bars will keep for several weeks in an airtight container.
- Tip: I use the parchment paper I cooked the granola bars on torn into smaller pieces to place between layers in the container I store the bars in.