Easy Homemade Granola Nut Bars

Recipes

This week has been a lazy one filled with late mornings, take-out dinners and lots of free time. Not having to work has been a blessing and a curse when it comes to sticking to my New Year’s resolutions. It’s a blessing because I don’t feel the need to take smoke breaks or have a drink after a long work day, but a curse in that I find myself with a lot of free time and the desire to go out instead of staying home. In an effort to spend less money eating out, I finally went grocery shopping today. I sat down and planned out meals for the week that I can prep on Sunday and set a guideline for dinners and extras that will be needed in between. Meal prepping is part of my New Year’s Resolution #4: Become more self-sustainable when it comes to food (you can read a full post about that particular resolution here).

Shopping went fairly smooth with list in hand, and I actually decided to wait to buy my vegetables and herbs until tomorrow when I can hopefully find everything I need at my local farmer’s market (rain and farmers willing). Things only went slightly awry when I realized I had forgotten to include any sort of snacks or in between foods for my husband and I to take to work – things like granola bars, nuts, crackers, etc. Thankfully, I remembered (because I cleaned out my pantry recently) that I had a bag of raw almonds and a bag of raw peanuts at home. This lead me to the idea of making homemade granola nut bars. I’d never done it before, but how difficult could it really be? All you need is some of your favorite healthy ingredients, some oats, and something to make it all stick together. I hit the bulk section of my local grocery store and picked up some more items to throw into the mix. I love this section of the grocery store because it feels like you can get the exact amount of everything you need without all the extra packaging. You could even bring your own bags to cut down on waste. The prices can look a little daunting – the cashews were marked at $11.99 a pound – but considering you only need about 1/2 cup of each ingredient for this recipe doesn’t make the cost too bad. What I ended up with was a bag of raw cashews and a bag of dried cranberries (I got about 3/4 lb of each and still had enough leftover to make this recipe a couple more times). I knew I had a pretty exciting thing going so I headed home to start on my creation.

Many of the recipes I looked up online had way too much sugar for my taste, others used vanilla and that’s not really my thing either. I wanted these to be as natural and close to the flavor of the ingredients as possible. Eventually, I was able to come up with my own mixture, which I think worked out pretty well and was easy to do. My husband enjoys the dark chocolate drizzle over the top (which took me a thousand tries to get just right) and I love the tart snap of the cranberries mixed with the assortment of raw nuts. It should also be mentioned that this recipe could work with any multitude of ingredients. I would just be aware with chocolate or marshmallows (if you’re more into sugar) to add them when the mixture is closer to room temperature so your ingredients don’t melt all over the place. Let me know what I should try as my next combination and if you’re taking any steps to live life more frugally or sustainably when it comes to food!


Easy Granola Nut Bars

2 1/2 c. Oats, old-fashioned

1/2 c. Almonds, chopped

1/2 c. Cashews chopped

1/4 c. Pumpkin seeds, sprouted

1/4 c. Peanuts

1/4 c. Dried cranberries

1/4 c. Honey

1/4 c. Brown sugar

1/4 c. Butter, unsalted

1/4 tsp. Kosher salt

1/2 c. Dark chocolate bar, broken into pieces

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF and place oats, almonds and cashews on a baking sheet. Once oven is preheated, bake them for 9 minutes or until lightly toasted.
  2. Line a 9” square (or round if you don’t have square) baking pan with parchment or foil.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine honey, brown sugar and butter. Stir over medium-low heat until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved.
  4. Add the oat/nut mixture, honey/sugar mixture and the rest of the remaining ingredients to a large bowl and stir until well combined.
  5. Once the ingredients are combined, press the mixture into the prepared 9” pan with a spatula making sure there are no large air bubbles in the mixture. This was the most challenging part for me – I thought I pressed enough, but will press twice as much next time to really make sure the ingredients are firmly stuck together.
  6. Place the pan with the mixture in the freezer to set – about 20 minutes or so depending on how thick your mixture is and how well you pressed.
  7. To make the drizzle, melt the dark chocolate in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between until melted. Be very careful not to overheat, if you have tiny pieces of chocolate left I suggest heating at 10 second intervals and stirring until completely melted.
  8. Remove 9” pan from freezer and cut granola/nut mixture into desired shapes/sizes.
  9. Drizzle melted chocolate over the top of your pieces and let rest until chocolate sets/hardens.
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NY19 Resolution #4: Sustainability Through Food

2019 Resolutions

When I was about 10 years old, my parents decided to escape suburban life and move to the country. We lived on several acres, had loads of animals (eventually) and my mom always had a huge garden. She would plant gobs of tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, squash, berries, fruit trees and pretty much anything else you can think of. In the winter, she’d continue to garden by swapping out the beds with crops that could withstand the cold like lettuce, kale and garlic (to name a few). My siblings and I loved to sit in the garden and eat fruits and veggies right off the vine. The gardens were a great way for my parents to feed four kids and save a little bit of money, all while creating special memories.

Last year, armed with a shovel and a bit of nostalgia, I attempted a garden of my own. My backyard already had two decently sized raised planter beds that I filled with tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, squash, zucchini and a couple different types of peppers. The tomatoes went crazy as did the zucchini and the squash, the peppers didn’t do as good, but I was able to get a couple of items from each plant. It was so nice to be able to reach for organic homegrown vegetables and not have to pay outrageous prices. All it took was the starting money to buy the fertilizer and the plants plus a little elbow grease. This year, I want to make the garden even better and make the process cheaper too. I’m going to use the same two beds as last year, but this year I’m also going to dig up a planter bed on my side yard that I grew dahlias and daisies in last year. To save money, I am going to start my plants from seeds earlier in the year instead of buying plants. This will take a bit more work, but I think in the long run will be much more satisfying. Who knows, maybe I can grow extra plants and give them away!

This resolution is about becoming more sustainable overall when it comes to food in general. Not only do I hope to grow more of my own food, I hope to make more of it as well. I’ve already been learning to make my own breads, the next thing I’d like to start learning is sauces, pasta, and other items I can make ahead of time instead of purchasing from the store. I’d also like to get back into meal prepping lunches and breakfasts and being better at making dinners at home rather than ordering in. Lastly, I need to get better about physically going to the store to get my groceries instead of ordering online for pickup and delivery. Every once in a great while would be fine to use it, but the amount of money I waste on having things delivered is really adding up. This resolution shouldn’t be too challenging overall, and I’m excited to see what I can learn and accomplish while working through it.

Do you follow any of these rules regularly? How do you live a more sustainable life through your food?

MelissaRose

NY19 Resolution #3: Sustainability // No New Things

2019 Resolutions

We live in a world that is driven by hardcore consumerism. Every holiday and event presents its own opportunity to purchase something new, whether it be a gift, a card, an outfit, a pair of shoes – pretty much anything as long as you’re able to find justification. It seems a little crazy to me that we are all so ready to spend crazy amounts of money at any time on things we don’t need or on things that we give to others that they don’t really need. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love gift-giving as much as the next person and I guess what this epiphany is for me isn’t necessarily about not spending money but about being more thoughtful about what I’m spending my money on.

Throughout 2018 I made a conscious effort to quit spending money on fast-fashion, and can actually proudly say that I did not spend a single dime on clothing from Forever 21, H&M or Target. I did buy some jeans from Levi’s and a couple things from Nordstrom but that’s another story about my fashion needs altogether. But this year I am upping the ante – no purchasing anything brand new, and this is everything – no clothing, home items, kitchen accessories, bathroom decor, etc. Pretty much anything that isn’t a COMPLETE necessity, I am not going to purchase brand new. This does leave open a loop-hole – notice I say “I’m not purchasing anything brand new” not “I’m not purchasing anything at all”. The second-hand market is absolutely incredible. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I encourage you to check out my Videos tab and take a look at some of the things I’ve been able to score in 2018 alone.

So this year I’m going full thrift, and there’s a couple of reasons why. #1: Money – you can save a TON of money by buying things second hand. Sure, you may not find it exactly when you need it, but if you keep a running list of items you need and check the stores each time you go, you’re bound to find it eventually. This can range from clothing items, dish ware, kitchen appliances, blankets, decor and more. I have found some of my favorite clothing items, my most treasured home decor items and some of the COOLEST things at my local thrift store. And thrift stores aren’t the only place open for business – there are garage sales, online second hand (such as Poshmark, Faceboook Marketplace and Craigslist), flea markets, closet swaps, estate sales and so many other unique opportunities to purchase other peoples no longer loved items. Reason #2: The planet – tons of items we no longer love make their way to our landfills every day. The garbage piles up higher and higher while we continue to purchase new things, only to end up adding those to the mountain of possessions we used to treasure. This kind of consumerism needs to stop. There is absolutely no reason or excuse for it, and with all of the items already circulating from purchase to dumping, it seems a waste to not pass on our used items to other people who might find great joy in them. Let’s end this cycle of buying cheap and tossing quickly to help save our planet from being swallowed up by waves and waves of garbage.

This challenge for me is very exciting. I love thrifting and find great joy in the hunt for things that I need. I’ve even purchased gifts from the thrift store that would have been better than anything I could have afforded brand new, and felt great pride in being able to give something that was not only useable and of great value but was not something that was going to fall apart in a month or end up in the garbage. Being sustainable in this aspect is something that is very important to me, and I anticipate this will be a large part of my blog as well as my YouTube channel simply because it is something that I am passionate about and would love to educate and inspire others to do the same.

Today is the last day of 2018, and I am looking forward to starting all of my resolutions tomorrow. We are having some people over for a fancy New Years Eve party with drinks, games and food which should be an excellent time. I am excited to ring in the New Year with close friends and celebrate all of the strides I am going to take in 2019 to better my life and the lives of others. If you’re enjoying what you’re seeing or know of someone who might enjoy it, please share this page with them. I’m always looking for like-minded people to connect with and to help keep myself encouraged as well as to inspire change in others. I hope you all have a safe and Happy New Year – Cheers to 2019!

MelissaRose

New Year’s Resolutions 2019

2019 Resolutions

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2018 is coming to a close, and for the first time in several years, I’ve decided to tackle some New Year’s resolutions. I haven’t had many resolutions in the past, I think because I didn’t feel like they were important enough to save for the beginning of a New Year. But this year, I’ve decided to tackle some pretty tough and important items to me, and to hopefully, blog about it along the way.