Homemade Fruit & Nut “KIND Bars”

Homemade Fruit & Nut Bars

Okay, let’s get this out of the way first:

I LOVE KIND BARS!

Like, I’m kind of obsessed.

They’re delicious, convenient, and made with whole foods. Plus, I love how the KIND company does all sorts of amazing things, like donating $10,000 every month to a Kind Cause.

But as much as I love them, KIND bars absolutely kill my bank account.

Especially since I have a habit of buying Every. Single. Flavor.

So, in an effort to save a little cash, I decided to make my own 😀

I went with a simple fruit & nut combination.

Loads of nuts & seeds (I even splurged on macadamia nuts!) + sweet-tart cranberries & raisins.

Puffed millet cereal acts as a binder & adds a lightness to the bars, and a dash of vanilla extract bumps up the flavor.

To make these bars, I had to buy something I’ve never used before: Brown Rice Syrup.

It’s a great binder – super sticky to hold the components together, but firms up nicely after baking / when cooled in the refrigerator so your bars don’t separate into a gooey mess later on.

So, what is brown rice syrup?

It’s a syrup made by enzymatically breaking down the starch in brown rice.

This produces a 100% glucose syrup that is roughly half as sweet as sugar.

This might sound great at first, since brown rice syrup contains no fructose (which can be tough on the liver in large doses), but it is still a highly refined food & is basically a hit of simple carbohydrates, so I recommend using it in moderation.

In this recipe, 1/2 cup of brown rice syrup is split amongst 24 bars, so each bar contains just 1 teaspoon of sweetener. This is a totally reasonable amount, akin to what you might swirl into a cup of hot tea, or drizzle on fresh Greek yogurt and berries.

So yes, these homemade bars count as “moderate use”. Yipee!

In case you’re curious, The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugars per day, and men no more than 9 teaspoons for optimal health.

Most of these added sugars come from processed packaged foods, so….

Take home message: Focus on whole foods & cook at home!

 

Homemade Fruit & Nut Bars in Tray

Anyways, long story short, you should probably make these.

You’ll save $$ & have a gigantic batch of 24 bars to last you all month!

Homemade Fruit & Nut "KIND Bars"
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
1 hr 15 mins
 
Servings: 24 bars
Ingredients
  • 1 ½ cups raw almonds, one half whole, one half roughly chopped
  • ¾ cup raw walnuts, one half whole, one half roughly chopped
  • ¾ cup raw macadamia nuts
  • ¾ cup roasted and salted pepitas
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons roasted and salted sunflower seeds
  • 3 tablespoons hemp hearts
  • ¾ cup puffed millet
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons seedless raisins
  • ½ cup brown rice syrup
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Plus:
  • 18x13 inch baking sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Oil for greasing I used refined coconut oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a bakers half sheet (18 x 13 inch rimmed baking sheewith parchment paper, then lightly grease it with an oil of your choice. Set aside while you assemble the nut mixture.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, pepitas, sunflower seeds, hemp hearts, millet, cranberries, and raisins. When evenly mixed, add in the brown rice syrup & vanilla and mix with your hands until well combined. If you don’t want the mixture to stick to your hands, lightly grease them with oil before mixing.
  3. When the mixture is uniform, transfer to your prepped baking sheet & spread evenly, using your hands to press the fruit and nut mixture into an even layer.
  4. Place in the oven & bake for roughly 15 minutes, or until the syrup is just golden. Cooking it longer will impart a caramelized flavor & the bars may become brittle. Experiment with cooking times to see what works best in your oven.
  5. Remove the tray from the oven & let cool on a cooling rack or on top of the stove (to encourage air circulation underneath the pan). When cool to the touch (roughly 30-40 minutes later), transfer the tray to the fridge to cool for another 20 minutes.
  6. Remove the tray from the refrigerator & lift the parchment paper with the fruit & nut bars out of the baking sheet and onto a large cutting board. Use a knife to cut the bars into your desired size and shape, then wrap individually in parchment paper or plastic wrap to prevent sticking. Store in the fridge and enjoy all week!

 

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Vegan Buddha Bowl

Vegan Buddha Bowl

This, right here, is a bowl of feel-good-food.

100 % whole foods. Vegan. Dairy & gluten free. Packed full of flavor.

Winning.

In case you haven’t tried one of these amazing concoctions yet, they’re lovingly known in the foodie world as Buddha Bowls. 

Buddha bowls are usually composed of the following:

  • a base of whole grains
  • roasted sweet potatoes and/or other tasty veggies
  • some type of greens
  • a delicious creamy dressing

The beauty of Buddha Bowls is their endless customization.

You can use whatever grain you love – quinoa, brown rice, barley, wheat berries, wild rice, millet…. seriously, anything!

Then you get to choose your absolute favorite hearty veggies and prepare them in your favorite way possible.

Load all these yummy components into a bowl and top with a delicious creamy dressing (often tofu or tahini based), and you have yourself a Buddha Bowl.

My vegan version of a Buddha Bowl is pretty freaking awesome.

It has sweet and savory notes from the roasted sweet potatoes and earthy mushrooms, a pop of garlic from the sautéed greens, and amazing herb-y freshness from the tofu dressing.

This meal-in-a-bowl is as satisfying as it is nourishing.

And as intimidating as they might look, Buddha Bowls are actually pretty easy to prepare.

There are a lot of steps to preparing the individual components, but once they’re done, you literally just throw everything into a bowl.

Plus, since you make all the components separately, you have awesome leftovers for later in the week.

You can add the sweet potatoes to salads, top the greens with fried eggs in the morning, and use that creamy dressing on wraps and pitas.

Yay for re-purposed ingredients!

Hope you enjoy this delicious recipe 😀

Vegan Buddha Bowl

 

Vegan Buddha Bowl
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 15 mins
 
Servings: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 lb frozen greens kale, spinach, collard, chard, or a blend
  • 11 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced 1 clove set aside
  • 8 oz sliced white button mushrooms
  • 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled & diced into ½ inch cubes
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, divided
  • kosher salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 8 oz silken tofu
  • ¾ cup tightly packed mixed fresh herbs I used a blend of basil, parsley, & chives
  • juice of 1 lemon, divided
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Prepare the quinoa:
  1. Heat a light drizzle of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the quinoa and sauté, stirring frequently, until toasted and slightly golden brown. About 5 minutes. Add the 2c water to the pan & bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook at a gentle simmer for about 15 minutes, until the quinoa is tender with little spirals visible on the grains, and the water is absorbed. Turn off the heat & let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove the lid & fluff with a fork. Set the quinoa aside.

Prepare the Sweet Potatoes:
  1. When the oven is preheated, spread the diced sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Season well with kosher salt & ground black pepper, and toss to coat evenly. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, until golden and tender. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Prepare the Greens:
  1. Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-heat. Add the 10 cloves of garlic (reserving 1 clove for the dressing), and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 5 minutes. Adjust the heat as needed to make sure the garlic does not burn, or else it will become extremely bitter. When the garlic is tender, increase the heat to medium and add the frozen greens. Sauté, stirring frequently, until cooked through, about 10 more minutes. Transfer the greens to a separate bowl & season with salt & the juice of ½ lemon. Wipe out the skillet with a dry paper towel and return to the stove.

Prepare the Mushrooms:
  1. In the same pan that you cooked the greens, add another two tablespoons of oil and return to medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the mushrooms & sauté, stirring only occasionally, until nicely golden brown on both sides, about 15 minutes. Season with salt & pepper, remove from pan, & set aside.

Prepare the Sauce:
  1. Add the tofu, fresh herbs, juice of ½ lemon, 1 clove of garlic, and white wine vinegar to a mini food processor or blender. Blend until smooth, adding more water as needed to reach a creamy texture. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Assemble your Buddha Bowl:
  1. When all the components are ready, it’s time to assemble your Buddha Bowl! Start with a base of quinoa in each serving bowl. Top with sautéed greens, mushrooms, and sweet potatoes, and top with a liberal dollop of creamy herbed dressing.

 

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Rosemary Manchego Red Potatoes

Rosemary Manchego Red Potatoes | ericajulson.com

I love baked potatoes.

They’re comfort food to me.

We ate them all the time growing up, usually topped simply with butter, salt, and pepper (and sometimes sour cream).

These days, I’m all about upgrading the humble baked potato.

There’s so much more than a simply baked russet! Red waxy potatoes are deliciously creamy when baked, as are potatoes of all colors of the rainbow.

This newest spin highlights the earthy flavor of the potato with fresh rosemary and creamy manchego cheese.

I love how red potatoes are a little smaller than russets. They’re the perfect portion 🙂

Their creamy texture & delicate skin makes them super easy to eat, & they pair perfectly with minimalist toppings.

So, manchego cheese is pretty awesome.

It’s a semi firm Spanish cheese which got its name because it was traditionally made from the milk of sheep who grazed on the plains of La Mancha.

Ooo the plains of La Mancha!

LocationLa_Mancha

Anyways, I love it because it has a yummy creamy mild taste & melts perfectly.

For these baked potatoes, I simply topped them with a pat of butter, wisps of manchego cheese, minced fresh rosemary, and a sprinkle of fresh cracked black pepper and flaky maldon sea salt.

The result: a simple side dish that tastes oh so gourmet.

Simple Rosemary Red Potatoes | ericajulson.com

Rosemary Manchego Red Potatoes
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 
Ingredients
  • As many small red potatoes as you’d like
  • A drizzle of olive or grapeseed oil if you’re cooking them in the oven
  • Pats of salted butter preferably grass fed
  • Shredded Manchego cheese, for sprinkling
  • Minced fresh rosemary, for sprinkling
  • Fresh cracked black pepper
  • Flaky Maldon sea salt
Instructions
  1. Cook the potatoes to your liking. The fast way is to prick them with a fork & cook them in the microwave using the “potato” setting. The longer way is to rub them with olive oil & bake in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for roughly 45 minutes, or until a knife can be inserted smoothly into the center with no resistance. The time will vary depending on the size of your potato.
  2. The microwave will produce soft potatoes, while the oven will give the potatoes a crispy flaky skin. I like both ways, it just depends what you’re in the mood for, and how much time you have!
  3. Once the potatoes are cooked, use a knife to cut an “X” shape into them & open them up. Use a fork to mash them flat on your plate. The potatoes should have a star-like shape.
  4. Once the potato is flattened, spread a pat of butter over the top of each & let it melt into all the crevices. Sprinkle with plenty of shredded Manchego cheese & fresh minced rosemary. Season well with fresh cracked black pepper & flaky Maldon sea salt. Enjoy immediately!

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