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 Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time1 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

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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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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 Time5 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time15 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

  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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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Pasta with No-Cook Tomato Sauce

Pasta with No-Cook Tomato Sauce

pasta with raw tomato sauce | ericajulson.com

When was the last time you enjoyed a garden fresh summer tomato?

Not the mealy, pale, flavorless grocery store tomatoes, but a juicy, vibrant, dribble down your chin, REAL tomato?

Cause that’s what this recipe is all about. TOMATO TOMATO TOMATO!

It uses 3 delectable types:

  • fresh tomatoes
  • sundried tomatoes
  • tomato paste

These 3 ingredients marry into a rich, tangy sauce that you’ll go gaga over.

And even better? There’s no cooking required! Yep, this entire pasta sauce is made in a blender. Perfect for hot summer nights.

Serve it with a simple side salad & maybe some herbed garlic bread, and you’ve got Italy right in your living room 😉 So get your butt to the farmers market for some fresh tomatoes & try this recipe!

pasta with no-cook tomato sauce | ericajulson.com

Pasta with No-Cook Tomato Sauce

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time20 mins
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb torchiette or other tubular or spiral pasta
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup oil-packed sun dried tomatoes, drained
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, tightly packed
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt & ground black pepper, to taste
  • Grated parmesan cheese or fresh ricotta, for serving

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  • Meanwhile, add the fresh tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, garlic, olive oil, and a liberal sprinkle of salt and pepper to a blender. Cover & blend for 1 minute, or until smooth. If sauce is too thick, add more olive oil to thin. Taste, and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.
  • When pasta is done cooking, drain, return to pot, and toss with pasta sauce. Serve immediately, with your choice of cheese on top.
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