Summer is drawing to a close yet again and school is back in session. There is a hint of fall in the air and pumpkin spice flavored items are available and cannot be ignored. Now is a great time to reset healthy eating habits for the changing season if things have gotten a little loose over the summer. I know I tend to get somewhat lackadaisical with my summer meal preparation due to enjoying outside recreation during the long sunlit evenings. It can be a little tough re-centering my mind around organized healthy meals and snacks to encourage a productive and healthy fall season. I ease my way into this process by focusing on some quick to prepare recipes that are packed with nutrition.
The recipes below for a homemade fruit smoothie and five-ingredient granola bars are convenient, once prepared, to take with you during a busy work or school day and their yield is typically large enough to provide options for several weekday snacks or meal accompaniments. I also like these two healthy snack options because they are readily available grocery store items that are often expensive in price, but you can easily prepare them at home in a short amount of time. I invite you to incorporate these simple items into your fall healthy eating routine!
Kale and Apple Smoothie
This recipe has become one of favorite smoothie recipes because I love the flavors of the kale and apple mixed together with the smooth vanilla yogurt and I am a fan of the finished product’s light green color. This recipe is also a great way to incorporate green vegetables into your eating if you or your family is typically not a big fan. Leafy greens like kale are loaded with micronutrients and fiber, but they are low calorie foods since they are non-starchy vegetables (only 25 calories/serving). The sweet apple and yogurt flavors help mask the flavor of the kale making this a sweet, healthy treat with a bonus green leafy vegetable! You can also choose to make smoothies with similar ingredients, but substitute frozen mixed fruit for the kale and apple to vary the flavors.
Recipe adapted from: http://www.cookincanuck.com/2014/10/kale-apple-green-smoothie-recipe-vegan/
Photo Credit: https://nadialim.com
Prep Time: 10 minutes Total time: 10 minutes
- 2/3 cup of unsweetened almond milk, unsweetened soy milk, or skim milk
- 1 ½ cups of (packed) chopped fresh kale (I usually use curly kale)
- 1 gala or pink lady apple cut into chunks (I use one of these options because I prefer their crisp and sweet flavor)
- 1 cup of light vanilla yogurt or light vanilla Greek yogurt
- Place all ingredients in a blender and place on mix or blend setting.
- Mix or blend all ingredients until smooth.
- Place smoothie in 8 ounce drinking glass or jar. This recipe should yield between 8-16 ounces of smoothie. If you would like to increase the recipe yield, simply double the ingredients. When I prepare smoothies at home, I like to prepare them in bulk and store the contents in 8 ounce jars with lids (the blue glass jars are my favorite) to use as grab and go options for meal or snack needs. I typically keep prepared smoothies for 2-3 days in the refrigerator.
Nutrition Information: (Approximate since I altered this recipe from the original) Serving size: 1 smoothie | Calories: 125 cal | Fat: 4.0g | Saturated fat: 0.1g | Carbohydrates: 22.3g | Sugar: 9.5g | Sodium: 181.3mg | Fiber: 6.0g | Protein: 4.2g | Cholesterol: 0mg
Healthy Five-Ingredient Granola Bars
What I like most about this recipe is that I usually always have the ingredients listed on hand to make these bars. Maybe I am just good at stocking my pantry!? What makes this recipe simple is the small amount of ingredients needed to prepare this recipe the “no bake needed” to prepare these bars cuts down the preparation effort and time. I also love how easy these bars are to prepare and they taste so much better than store brand options! You also know exactly what you are adding to these bars; there are no hidden ingredients or extra sources of sugar. The sweetness comes of dates, natural added sweetener like honey, and optional dried food if you desire. You can truly cater these bars to your likes and dietary restrictions. I typically added dried cherries and dark chocolate chips to mine because those are my taste preferences. Minimalist Baker is an excellent resource for plant based recipes that require minimal ingredients. I find myself referring to this blog often for recipe ideas and I am always pleased with their results!
Recipe courtesy of: https://minimalistbaker.com/healthy-5-ingredient-granola-bars/
- 1 heaping cup packed dates, pitted (deglet noor or medjool)*
- 1/4 cup of maple syrup or agave nectar (or honey if not vegan)
- 1/4 cup creamy salted natural peanut butter or almond butter
- 1 cup roasted unsalted almonds, loosely chopped (see instructions for roasting nuts)
- 1 1/2 cups (135 g) rolled oats (gluten-free for GF eaters)
- optional additions: chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts, banana chips, vanilla, etc.
- Process dates in a food processor until small bits remain (about 1 minute). It should form a ”dough” like consistency. (Mine rolled into a ball.)
- Optional step: Toast your oats (and almonds if raw) in a 350-degree F (176 C) oven for 10-15 minutes or until slightly golden brown. Otherwise, leave them raw – I prefer the toasted flavor.
- Place oats, almonds and dates in a large mixing bowl – set aside.
- Warm honey and peanut butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir and pour over oat mixture and then mix, breaking up the dates to disperse throughout.
- Once thoroughly mixed, transfer to an 8×8-inch baking dish or other small pan lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper so they lift out easily. (A loaf pan might work, but will yield thicker bars.)
- Press down firmly until uniformly flattened – I use something flat, like a drinking glass, to press down and really pack the bars, which helps them hold together better.
- Cover with parchment or plastic wrap, and let firm up in fridge or freezer for 15-20 minutes.
- Remove bars from pan and chop into 10 even bars (or 9 squares). Store in an airtight container for up to a few days. I kept mine in the freezer to keep them extra fresh, but it isn’t necessary.
*Although not ideal, if your dates don’t feel sticky and moist, you can soak them in water for 10 minutes then drain before processing. This will help them blend better and hold the bars together better. But ideally, you can find fresh, sticky moist dates.
Nutrition Information: Serving size: 1 bar Calories: 217 Fat: 8 g Saturated fat: 1 g Carbohydrates: 31 g Sugar: 19 g Fiber: 4 g Protein: 6 g
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