Our family has developed a nice routine where we all do our work or schoolwork in the morning and then reconvene for lunch together. Without fail, the afternoon passes by quickly, perhaps because it is my favorite time of day, when we are all at home with nowhere else we need to be. The four of us don’t spend the whole afternoon together, but we are all here, moving in our own orbits, sometimes alone, sometimes together, often intersecting, and always with our house at the center.
At the center of the house of course, is the kitchen, and these days the kitchen has lots of sweets. Never in my kids’ lifetimes have they seen so many cakes, cookies, and treats. I don’t think we have had one day yet where we have not had something sweet to eat, even if it meant raiding the depths of the pantry to find substitutions that could maybe, possibly, perhaps work because we weren’t yet ready for our next grocery run.
Since we are quickly approaching a point where our time in quarantine will be measured in months and not weeks, it has thus become apparent in our house that a never-ending supply of sweets is as much of a lifeline as internet bandwidth sufficient to sustain everyone’s personal devices. Ray and I are both the unfortunate combination of emotional eater and chronic worrier, so basically we have been living our entire lives preparing for the time when our sugar-stress response is considered moderately acceptable for the state of affairs in which we are living. That moment is clearly now.
Rice crispy treats have a comforting familiarity to them, but these are made a little extra special with toasted coconut, a drizzle of chocolate, and a sprinkling of sea salt on top. And rum. Rum, because we’re 7 weeks into the quarantine and if ever a time called for putting rum in your rice crispy treats, this Friends, is it. Bourbon also works very well, if your system tolerates it. If not, many rums are considered gluten free. It is worth noting that in the case of rum, the type of rum matters. Flavored rums may contain additives and coloring that contain gluten, so use what works for you or the person you are preparing for.
Another note, regular Rice Krispies that come in the blue box we all know so well, are not gluten free as you would expect. I like using crispy brown rice cereal like this one that I often find in a big bag at WalMart, but traditional Rice Krispies also work and can be found in a gluten free version on Amazon, or perhaps at your local grocery store. Definitely get CRISPY rice cereal of some variety, not PUFFED rice cereal.
At some point, life will return to kind-of normal and we’ll have to become reasonable eaters again. Until then, be safe, be well, and enjoy the sweets.Print
Spiked Toasted Coconut Crispy Bars
Crispy brown rice bars with toasted coconut and rum, topped with a drizzle of dark chocolate and a sprinkle of salt.
- Yield: 18 bars 1x
3 T. coconut oil*
3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
10 oz. mini marshmallows
4 cups brown rice cereal
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 T. Bourbon or rum
1/2 cup dairy free mini dark chocolate chips
1 tsp. kosher salt or Fleur del sel
1. Toast coconut in a dry non-stick skillet, stirring often. Once the pan begins to heat up, the coconut will brown quickly, so don’t get distracted by something else – stay focused on the coconut! When the coconut is nicely browned, remove from heat and set aside.
2. Melt coconut oil in a large non-stick pot (mine is 6 quarts). Add 4 cups of marshmallows and heat over low, stirring often.
3. Meanwhile, preheat the broiler and spread remaining marshmallows (about 1 1/2 cups) on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Broil marshmallows until they are puffy and browned. Much like the coconut, this happens quickly, so watch them closely! Once they are toasted, remove marshmallows from the oven and add them to the pot with the coconut oil and melting marshmallows. A wide spatula works well to scrape them off of the parchment into the pot.
4. When all of the marshmallows are melted, remove from heat. Mix in the rum and vanilla. Then add in the toasted coconut and rice cereal, stirring well.
5. Spoon the rice mixture into an 8-inch square pan, lined with parchment paper. Spread it out evenly to cool.
6. Once the bars are cool, heat chocolate chips in the microwave in 30 second increments until melted. Drizzle chocolate over top of the bars. Immediately sprinkle the melted chocolate with salt. Chill in the refrigerator to help firm up the chocolate.
7. Cut into 9 squares and then cut each square in half to make 18 triangles.
* Any kind of coconut oil will work, but extra virgin coconut oil will have a more pronounced coconut taste
Keywords: rice krispie treats, toasted coconut, rum & coconut dessert, chocolate covered rice crispy treats
Easter morning is always a little bit hectic. You have the baskets and maybe an egg hunt and church and somewhere in there you try to squeeze in some brunch. As with any holiday, having a dish ready to be popped in the oven is the way to go. Having it be healthy, but still taste like a treat is even better! Baked oatmeal is best if assembled the night before and with this one, everything comes together fairly quickly. Don’t let the long ingredient list scare you. The hardest part of assembly is shredding the carrots, which is a task easily delegated to one of your kids so you can finish the rest of your holiday preparations, which you and I both know, will probably still be unfinished as of Saturday night. Or maybe that’s just me. Either way, give the baked oatmeal a try, it will be one less thing to worry about on Sunday morning.
Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal got two thumbs up from my somewhat-picky husband. He was a little disgruntled to hear that the glaze was tofu-based, but it didn’t stop him from eating an extra spoonful.
…And he’s even more disgruntled now that I have told the internet that he ate anything tofu-based.
Who doesn’t have a soft spot for carrot cake? I don’t delude myself into thinking it’s healthy because it has carrots. I’ve baked enough carrot cakes to know that the carrots are not included for nutritional value. The reason I love it is because it has so many different textures and flavors going on. Carrot cake is kind of the pastry equivalent of a circus. Colors, textures, flavors, all mixed up together. Minus, thankfully, the clowns. It’s delightful, don’t you think?
Maybe it sounds strange to turn a pastry circus into a breakfast food but it makes complete sense if you think about it. Raisins, nuts, and coconut are pretty routine oatmeal additions. Pineapple is not far off. That only leaves you with the carrots and carrots are sweet so they are practically like fruit. Are you buying it? Even if you’re not, just give it a try.
I like topping mine with more pineapple and toasted coconut and a drizzle of the dairy free cream cheese glaze. Dairy free cream cheese is soy-based so if you don’t tolerate soy, then just spoon a little extra maple syrup on top; it will still be delicious.
- 2 eggs
- 3 cups of almond milk
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 T. maple syrup
- 2 T. olive oil
- 3 cups gluten free rolled oats
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup diced pineapple
- 1/2 cup non-dairy cream cheese, softened (such as Tofutti)
- 4 T. pure maple syrup
- 3 tsp. vanilla
- 2-3 pinches of salt
- 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- 2. Beat eggs, milk, baking powder, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, olive oil, and maple syrup with a whisk until well blended.
- 3. Add in oatmeal, carrot, coconut, nuts, raisins, and pineapple.
- 4. Pour in a 2 1/2 to 3 quart baking dish coated with cooking spray.
- 5. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
- 6. Bake for 45-55 minutes until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
- 7. Serve with extra pineapple, toasted coconut, and dairy free cream cheese glaze.
- 1. Whisk together all ingredients in a bowl.
- 2. Cover and let sit 4 hours or overnight so flavors can meld.
- 3. Drizzle on top of cooked baked oatmeal.
- A 9X13 inch pan works well for one recipe, but you could also use a square pan or a deep dish pie pan as I did in the photographs. Keep in mind that you may need to add 10 minutes or so on to the baking time if using a smaller pan since the mixture will be thicker. Check it periodically after 50 minutes and cover with foil if the top is getting too brown. If using a smaller pan, it will be FULL, so refrigerating the mixture overnight in another bowl is a good idea, then it can be transferred to the smaller pan once some of the liquid has been absorbed overnight.
The first time I tasted green curry, my mind was blown. Believe it or not, I had no idea that curry sauce existed that didn’t contain the curry spice blend. The spice curry is actually a blend of other spices including turmeric, cumin, and coriander, among other things. But Thai green curry has an entirely different flavor profile that includes really bright ingredients like lemongrass, galangal (a relative of ginger), cilantro, chilies, and lime leaves. I love food and I love learning about food, but Asian food knowledge is not particularly in my wheelhouse. As much as I enjoy different varieties of Asian food, I don’t eat it often. This is entirely due to the fact that many of those cuisines use ingredients and sauces that often contain shellfish, to which I am highly allergic. The sensitivity of my allergy is such that even using the same cooking utensil for my boring old chicken after using it for a batch of shrimp can create a problem, so I have come to avoid certain restaurants because the risk of cross-contamination is so great.
Pumpkin is a tricky ingredient. By the time November rolls around, we are conditioned to think that everything we eat needs the pumpkin spice treatment. We get used to the sweet and warm spiced flavors that often accompany pumpkin, so adding it to your smoothie or coffee sounds like a good plan, but have you ever eaten a spoonful of plain pureed pumpkin? It’s really not so awesome. However, if you don’t sugar it up first, pumpkin is super healthy. Pumpkins are low in calories and high in fiber, antioxidants, and minerals, so it is well worth your time to seek out savory pumpkin recipes that don’t require lots of additional sugar to make it palatable.
I’ve always been a girl that loves sprinkles. Get me a vanilla ice cream cone with rainbow sprinkles and I was good to go. I spent my high school years working at our local Dairy Queen and we had a giant plastic container full of rainbow sprinkles. It was pretty great, if you like your sugar to come in several artificial colors.
I consider granola to be a more grown up substitute for rainbow sprinkles and while I put it on ice cream (No I’m not kidding. No, it doesn’t make ice cream healthy. Yes, it is very tasty.), I get much more mileage out of my granola than I ever could with my beloved rainbow sprinkles. A pretty firm exception here is sprinkles on top of cookies and cupcakes. Granola is not a good substitute there! A little bit tossed on top of my oatmeal or layered with fruit and yogurt are my favorite, but recently I even put some on top of my mom’s leftover sweet potatoes from Thanksgiving which was also delicious.
To say that I am a creature of habit would be to grossly understate my proclivity for following the same routine every day, whenever possible. It probably sounds boring, but I find comfort in routine and it allows me to feel like I am in control of my day. Sometimes having control over my day means figuring out how to deal with something I don’t seem to have any control over. Case in point, every day, around 3:00, I find myself looking for candy. Chocolate, to be specific. Preferably dark chocolate. With something else mixed in to give it some texture. Every day is the same, and every day I end up raiding the blasted candy bowl sitting on our reception desk. At best, I get a mini Krackel bar and at worst it’s the last piece of rock hard caramel that is only left in there because other people with apparently more discerning tastes wisely decided to invest their calories elsewhere.
It was with this exact scenario fresh in my mind that I started experimenting with a snack mix of some sort. Dark chocolate was key. If I was eating chocolate, I may as well add some things to give it texture, so in went the oats and chia. The roasted almonds make it all just a tad bit salty and the dried cherries give it some extra sweetness. I pack 2 T. of it in a little container and it is just enough to fulfill my chocolate fix in the afternoon and help me to avoid the dreaded office candy bowl.