Chewy Peanut Protein Pick-Me-Up Bars

I was having a clean-out-the-pantry moment a few weeks ago. We have a glorified closet that I like to call our pantry. It’s quite deep, and sometimes things get lost back there, not often, but it happens. In this purging moment, I found some brown rice crisp cereal, a bag of unopened flax seeds, and a jar of peanut butter. How the peanut butter escaped us, is beyond me! But out of these few ingredients, came these protein bars. Jonty and I have coined them as Chewy Peanut Protein Pick-Me-Up bars. And they are true to their name! | Chewy Peanut Protein Pick-Me-Up Bars

Truth be told, the real reason I was “cleaning” was because I wanted to make some post-climbing and mid-training snacks, and I really didn’t want to have to leave the house for ingredients. Thank goodness for long-lost jars of nut-butter! We’ve been entering local bouldering competitions over the last few weeks and it’s great to have bite-sized snacks to munch on when we feel the need for a little boost of energy. I don’t like buying protein bars because (1) they’re often super expensive, and (2) I can usually make something equally tasty!

These bars are perfect for our needs. They don’t require baking (just a stove-top, for bringing a few ingredients to the boil) and they keep really well in the freezer. We absolutely love the flavour of them, and they pack a great energy-boosting punch! | Chewy Peanut Protein Pick-Me-Up Bars

The perks of these Chewy Peanut Protein Pick-Me-Up bars:

  • Boost of energy: Oats make up the bulk of these bars, providing lots of fibre and slow-burning carbs for when your energy is running low.
  • Lots of seeds: Chia, pumpkin, sunflower and flax seeds pack in a great boost of protein, fibre and a whole host of vitamins and minerals.
  • No refined sugar: Only pure maple syrup and dried cranberries in these bad boys.
  • No baking required: Total bonus, when the oven is being used for other important things.
  • Easy, portable snacks: Cut them into bars or roll them into balls. | Chewy Peanut Protein Pick-Me-Up Bars

I’ve made these several times this season, and they don’t disappoint! They’re great to keep in the freezer, for those times when you need a quick afternoon snack, or fuel for a great climbing session.

Chewy Peanut Protein Pick-Me-Up Bars
Recipe type: Snacks
These bars are based on the general protein bar format from the Power Hungry cookbook.,
  • 180 g (1½ cups) large-flake oats
  • 40 g (1 cup) crispy brown rice cereal (likethis)
  • 55 g (2/3 cup, lightly packed) unflavoured protein powder
  • 40 g (1/4 cup) chia seeds
  • 40 g (1/4 cup) pumpkin seeds
  • 40 g (1/4 cup) sunflower seeds
  • 40 g (1/4 cup) flax seeds
  • 15 g (1/4 cup) unsweetened large-flake coconut
  • 70 g (1/2 cup) dried, unsweetened cranberries
  • 155 g (1/2 cup) pure maple syrup
  • 120 g (1/2 cup) smooth, unsalted, natural peanut butter
  • 3 tbsp milk (dairy or non-dairy)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, cereal, protein powder, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds and dried cranberries.
  2. In a small sauce pan over medium heat, whisk together the maple syrup, peanut butter and milk. Whisk occasionally until the mixture just starts to boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
  3. Pour the peanut mixture over the oats mixture and mix very well until everything is completely combined.
  4. Transfer the mixture into a parchment-lined 9x9-inch square pan and use the back of a spatula to spread out the mixture and flatten until it is smooth on top.
  5. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until firm and set. Cut into squares.
These bars freeze very well and do not require any thawing before eating.

The bars are quite sticky at room temperature, so it is best to keep them in the fridge or freezer. If they will be at room temperature for a long period of time, individually wrap them in parchment or waxed paper.

Enjoy the Chewy Peanut Protein Pick-Me-Up Bars! | Chewy Peanut Protein Pick-Me-Up Bars


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Pomegranate and Coconut Overnight Oats

I know I’m late to this party, but until a month ago, I had never tried overnight oats. Oh, I heard people raving about them – how quick they are to prep the night before, how easy it is to switch up the flavours. But I was firmly planted in my green-smoothie-breakfast. That was, until the motor died on our Blendtec, and we were without its pulverizing force while waiting for a replacement to come in the mail. FYI, when this company says it offers an unlimited 7-year warranty, they really mean it! | Pomegranate and Coconut Overnight Oats

I need something in my tummy in the mornings, and we had a bag of Rogers Steel-cut Porridge Oats in our pantry that have been staring me down for quite some time. Finally, I decided to bite the bullet and try this overnight-oat thing – and you know what? I’m officially on board!

This recipe is nourishing, full of fibre, and loaded with heart-healthy and antioxidant-promoting ingredients. It’s really a powerhouse of a breakfast and can easily be modified, depending on what’s in your cupboards. I’ve been eating this often during the week and it totally hits the spot. It should go without saying, but if you’re gluten-free, make sure you choose a certified gluten-free oat blend. If you’re vegan, use a non-dairy milk. Otherwise, the sky’s the limit 🙂

In case you haven’t heard me lamenting over the very wet, very grey autumn we’ve had on the west coast, I’ll say it again: this autumn feels gloomier than most. It’s a good thing that one day of blue sky (which we had the on Monday this week), can generally elevate my spirit for a few days 🙂 | Pomegranate and Coconut Overnight Oats

Another way I get through these dreary months is by filling our fridge with tonnes of citrus fruit. How can a person feel glum, after biting into a ripe orange, or tasting the juicy crunch of a little pomegranate aril! I think that’s why this version of Pomegranate and Coconut overnight oats is hitting the spot for me at the moment. If I’m feeling decadent, I’ll throw in some chopped walnuts, for a bit of extra crunch, too. And, with a good cup of coffee, it’s perfect. | Pomegranate and Coconut Overnight Oats

So if your breakfast is needing a change-up, or you’ve never tried this type of oatmeal before, give this Pomegranate and Coconut Overnight Oats recipe a try. Hopefully it boosts your morning, like it does mine 🙂

Pomegranate and Coconut Overnight Oats
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
No cooking required, and five minutes of preparation the night before, will make sure you have a very tasty and filling breakfast in the morning.
  • ½ cup large-flake oats (I used the Roger's Steel Cut Oat Porridge blend)
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate arils
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened large-flake coconut
  • 1 tbsp walnut pieces, broken up into small pieces (optional)
  • 1 tsp pure maple syrup
  • ½ cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)
  1. In a 250 mL glass mason jar (with a lid), combine the oats, chia seeds, ground cinnamon, pomegranate arils, large-flake coconut and walnuts (if using). Put the lid on, and shake the jar to combine the ingredients.
  2. Pour in ½ cup of milk of your choice, and 1 tsp of maple syrup. Stir the contents to combine completely.
  3. Place the lid onto the jar and keep in the fridge for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
  4. In the morning, enjoy cold or at room temperature.
This recipe is enough for 1 person. Modify the quantities to feed more hungry tummies.
If you like your oatmeal dense, use 1 to 2 tbsp less milk., If you like your oats with a lot of extra liquid, either add more the night before, or top with additional milk when serving.

Enjoy! | Pomegranate and Coconut Overnight Oats

Mini Apple-Blackberry Pies

This is the first week that it is really starting to feel like autumn! The leaves are just starting to change, and the markets are filling up with the local Okanogan apples. When I see the fruit bins overflowing with Honeycrisp and Ambrosia apples, I can’t help but load up my shopping cart. Even after eating them during the week, in salads or on their own, we often have a surplus by the end of the week. And since the weekends are synonymous with baking, we use them up making plenty of tasty treats involving apples, cinnamon and butter. | Mini apple-blackberry pies

We had a few end-of-season blackberries still kicking around and I was craving pie, but not a big pie of the usual size. I wanted something portable, that we could easily enjoy after a climbing day. So I decided to bake these single-serving Apple-Blackberry Pies, in a standard muffin tin. They tasted fantastic, a perfect autumn treat! And besides, who doesn’t love to have their own little bite-sized pie to themselves? | Mini apple-blackberry pies

I’ve made these mini pies a few times now, and they really are a perfect little sweet treat. And I’m convinced that most desserts feel more individual and taste better when they’re bite-sized. Another bonus is that they freeze really well, so bake up a batch to save for those rainy Vancouver days you know are coming! | Mini apple-blackberry pies

Tips for making Mini Apple-Blackberry Pies:

  • Butter the muffin tins really well. I’m serious. Make sure you butter the tops of the pan too. Nothing will anger a wife quicker than having a pie stick to the pan. True story.
  • Make sure to cut up the apples into very small chunks (think thumbnail sized), if you don’t want to pre-cook the apples first. These mini pies don’t take as long to bake as a full-sized pie, so cutting the apples into bite-sized pieces will ensure they soften before the baking time finishes.
  • If you make a full double-crusted mini-pie, make sure to cut a big hole in the top pastry, to release the steam and avoid too much overflow.

The deal with making these mini pies is pretty easy. Roll out the pastry and cut out 6 circles. I used a 10-cm / 4-inch crumpet ring, but I’ve seen suggestions of using the lid of a yogurt container, too. Gently press the pastry into the well-greased muffin tin, fill with the fruit filling, then use any remaining pastry dough to make a top crust, if you’d like. Brush the tops with milk, and sprinkle with a coarse sugar, then pop them into the oven. In less than 45 minutes, you will thank yourself for creating such cute, delicious treats 🙂 | Mini apple-blackberry pies

I think these Apple-Blackberry Pies are best enjoyed after a hard climbing day, with a good cup of coffee. Hubby fully agrees 😉

Mini Apple-Blackberry Pies
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Inspired by Dessert for Two
For the pastry
  • 150 g all-purpose flour
  • 112 g (1/2 cup) unsalted butte
  • 8 g (1/2 tbsp) granulated sugar
  • 8 g (1/2 tbsp) apple-cider vinegar
  • 3 - 4 tbsp ice-cold wate
For the filling
  • 245 g (~1 large) cored and diced apple (we like Ambrosia)
  • 60 g (~3/4 cup) blackberries, fresh or frozen
  • 10 g (2 tsp) lemon juice or apple-cider vinegar
  • 15 g (1 tbsp) brown sugar
  • 15 g (~1.5 tbsp) flour or cornstarch
Making the pastry dough:
  1. In a food processor, pulse together the flour, butter, sugar and apple-cider vinegar.
  2. Add the water, 1 tbsp at a time and pulse until the dough just starts to clump together.
  3. Remove from the food processor, wrap tightly in plastic or place in a container with a tight-fitting lid. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, up to a few days.
  4. Let sit at room temperature about 15 minutes before you plan on rolling it out, to soften it up a bit.
Making the filling:
  1. Core a large apple and dice into small pieces. Place into a bowl, along with the blackberries.
  2. Add the lemon juice or apple-cider vinegar, brown sugar and flour and toss very gently to combine.
  3. Set aside while you are preparing your muffin tins.
Making the mini pies:
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F and place a baking tray in the oven, to catch any over-flow.
  2. Grease 6 muffin cups very well, ensuring both the cup and the top edge of the pan are greased.
  3. Lightly flour your counter-top and roll out the pastry dough into a rectangle, about 5-mm thick. Cut out 6 circles, each about 12 cm (4.5 inches) in diameter. Gently press each pastry circle into a prepared muffin cup.
  4. Spoon the apple-blackberry filling into the prepared pastry cups. The filling will shrink down as it cooks, so don't worry if the cups look quite full. Really pile it in!
  5. If you are doing a top crust (there is enough pastry dough), roll out the remaining pastry and cut into your desired shape - either strips for a lattice, or circles for full coverage. Regardless of the shape, make sure you have enough holes in your top crust to let out the steam.
  6. Pinch together the edges to seal. Brush the tops with a bit of milk and sprinkle with a coarse sugar.
  7. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes, then rotate and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and the filling starts to bubble
  8. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a rack for 5 minutes. Then gently remove the mini pies from the muffin holders and cool completely on the rack.
  9. While the pies are still hot, use a knife to loosen around the edge of the muffin cups, so that any overflowed filling will not stick to the pan while the pies are cooling.
The pastry recipe will make enough for 1 9-inch single-crust pie, or 6 double-crust mini pies.
These pies freeze very well.

Enjoy! | Mini apple-blackberry pies| Orange-Pecan Scones for Two

Orange-Pecan Scones for Two

Do you know what panic-stress looks like? It looks like checking in for your flight, 20 hours before you fly to another country, and putting in your passport information, only to realize that your passport expired one month ago!!!

Wait, what?! No, that can’t be right – I’m super organized!

Yup, panic-stress.

I quickly googled how fast you could get a passport reissued (by the end of the following business day), then started filling in a renewal form, all while talking to Jonty on the phone, getting him to talk me down from my panic-stress ledge. I may also have run into our lunch room, frantically asking my colleagues for their personal details in order to put them on the passport application form, as a “yes, I know this person”.

Yup, panic-stress. | Orange-pecan scones for two

I also had to get another passport photo taken. After the guy snapped my picture, he said “Should be ready in 10 to 15 minutes”. I countered with “Umm, my passport expired last month… And I’m supposed to fly out tomorrow… And I need to get down to the passport office… AND…!” The photos were ready 2 minutes later. Thank you, wonderful man from London Drugs. 🙂

So that lovely, dewy glow from the sweat of panic I’m sporting on my passport photo will be there for the next 10 years as a reminder of the day!

At the passport office, the guy I dealt with was so patient, and so accommodating. I also may have told him that I would bake him cookies as a thank-you (panic-stress causes you to say weird things), and he gave me a crooked, but kind, smile.

At 8 am this morning, 15 hours after my panic-stress started, my new passport was handed to me – phew! After phoning Jonty to tell him the good news, I immediately put a reminder in my calendar, for 10 years (minus a few months), to get my darned passport renewed! | Orange-pecan scones for two

Do you know what would be a good cure for panic-stress? A cup of coffee and these Orange-Pecan scones. The recipe makes two good-sized scones, and they go perfectly with a great cup of coffee and a friend. Actually, if these are required to relieve you of your panic-stress, feel free to eat both for yourself. I won’t tell 🙂 | Orange-pecan scones for two

These scones are a great way to use up any of the wonderful winter citrus you may have lying around your kitchen. If nuts are not your thing, just leave them out, or add raisins or chocolate. The dough is really easy to mix up, and they bake in about 10 minutes. By the time your coffee has brewed, your warm scones will be ready to eat! | Orange-pecan scones for two

Panic-stress or not, these will be a great mid-morning treat 🙂 | Orange-pecan scones for two

Orange-Pecan Scones for Two
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 2 scones
  • Serving size: 1 scone
  • Calories: 210
  • Fat: 10.2 g
  • Saturated fat: 4.3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 26.9 g
  • Sugar: 6.3 g
  • Sodium: 101.3 mg
  • Fiber: 1.8 g
  • Protein: 3.8 g
  • Cholesterol: 17.1 mg
Recipe type: Breakfast, Snacks
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) flour (AP, whole-wheat pastry, or spelt flour)
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 8 g (2 tsp) brown sugar
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp orange zest (~1/3 orange)
  • 1 tbsp cold butter, cubed
  • 2 to 2½ tbsp milk
  • 35 g (1 tbsp) chopped pecans
  • 25 g (~1/3 small) orange, chopped
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 450F and line a small tray with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon and orange zest.
  3. Add the chopped butter and incorporate into the flour mixture with your fingertips or pastry cutter.
  4. Add the chopped pecans and orange pieces and mix gently to combine.
  5. Add in the milk, one tbsp at a time, until the dough is no longer dry.
  6. Divide the dough into two equal portions and drop each onto the parchment-lined baking tray. Sprinkle with raw sugar, if desired.
  7. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown.
Have a toaster oven? Use the same temperature, but start checking the scones around the 8-minute mark.
Vegan options: substitute the butter for 1 tbsp solid coconut oil, and use the same quantity of a non-dairy milk.

Enjoy! | Orange-pecan scones for two

One-Pot Summer Vegetable Coconut Curry

The bit of rain we had last weekend brought with it cooler temperatures for the few days following. It was only a few degrees cooler in our apartment, yet we felt chilled and craving a warm meal. It’s amazing how quickly the body adapts to a 26°C home, making 22°C feel cool!

Variations of this curry pass through our dinner rotation every few weeks – it’s a great way to use up a surplus of summer produce you may have lingering in your fridge. | One-pot summer vegetable coconut curry

This particular variation was heavy on the peppers and basil, but I know many gardens probably have a surplus of zucchini and summer squash at the moment, so feel free to use whatever you have on hand. We keep chopping until the pot of vegetables looks fairly full (great direction, hey?), then add our spices and liquid.

We add soba noodles directly into the simmering coconut broth, to minimize the number of pots we have to wash at the end of the meal. Throw in a protein and you have dinner ready in less than 30 minutes! | One-pot summer vegetable coconut curry

If you add buckwheat soba noodles, this meal is gluten-free and, if you’re vegetarian or vegan, feel free to replace the prawns with tofu or more veggies! It really is a good recipe/non-recipe for whatever you have on hand. | One-pot summer vegetable coconut curry

One-pot Summer Vegetable Coconut Curry
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 4
  • Serving size: 1 bowl
  • Calories: 486
  • Fat: 31.8 g
  • Saturated fat: 21.8 g
  • Carbohydrates: 35.8 g
  • Sugar: 6.7 g
  • Sodium: 730.7 mg
  • Fiber: 4.2 g
  • Protein: 22.3 g
  • Cholesterol: 110.3 mg
Recipe type: Dinner
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
For the base
  • ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 medium peppers, diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
  • ¼ medium red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 4 or 5 crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 350 g prawns, peeled and deveined
  • 100 g buckwheat soba noodles
  • Handful of fresh basil, roughly torn
For the curry sauce
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 can (496-mL) coconut milk
  • 2 cups water
  1. Saute the onion, garlic and jalapeno in peanut oil over medium heat until the onions become soft and translucent. Add the peppers, cabbage and zucchini and saute for a few minutes more.
  2. Add the curry powder, chili flakes and peanut butter and stir to coat the vegetables. Add in the coconut milk and water and stir to combine. Let the curry simmer for 5 or 10 minutes, to let the flavour develop.
  3. Add the soba noodles directly to the pot and gently push them under the liquid. Add more water, if the sauce looks a bit dry, so that the noodles are submerged completely. Stir the noodles as they soften, separating them as best you can, in order to avoid them clumping together.
  4. Partially cover the pot with a lid and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the noodles still have a slight bite. Stir in the prawns and let them cook for 2 minutes. Take the pot off the heat and add the basil.
  5. Ladle the curry into bowls and garnish with additional basil.

Enjoy! | One-pot summer vegetable coconut curry