Paleo Bars

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Greg seems to be the world’s best at sticking to a low-carb diet.  He has more willpower than anyone else I know. I can usually stick to a low-carb plan better than any other but I just can’t shake craving something sweet occasionally.

These are a sure-fire way to satisfy that sweet tooth.  These Paleo Bars are full good things, with just a little chocolate on the top.  You can leave the chocolate off if you prefer, or use dark chocolate instead of semi-sweet chocolate.

It’s best to use virgin coconut oil, which can be found in many grocery stores.  Also, eat local raw honey, if possible.  Because local raw honey has not been processed it still contains pollen, enzymes, antioxidants, and many other beneficial compounds that make it nutritious.  Research has shown that local honey, obtained as close as possible to where you live, may help build immunity to some seasonal allergies.  Honey, raw or processed, should never be given to a child under the age of 12 months old.

I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with these Paleo Bars, they are healthy and delicious, even if you are not following a low-carb diet.

Paleo Bars
 
Author:
 
Recipe from the Very Vera show from Augusta, Ga.
Ingredients
  • 2 c. almonds
  • ½ c. flax meal
  • ½ c. shredded coconut, unsweetened
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ c. coconut oil
  • ½ c. almond butter
  • 9 - 10 large Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • ½ to ¾ c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Place nuts, flax meal, coconut, and salt in food processor. Pulse until you have sizes ranging from the size of sand to the size of a pea.
  2. In a small saucepan melt the coconut oil over low heat. Add the dates, almond butter, vanilla and almond extracts, and honey. Stirring occasionally keep over heat until ingredients are combined and warm.
  3. Add the coconut oil mixture to the food processor and pulse until it all comes together.
  4. Press the mixture into an 8 x 8-inch pan (I lined mine with wax paper). Use the bottom on a glass is you need to in order to press in down tight so that they bars will be solid.
  5. Melt chocolate chips and spread over the bars. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or until the bars cool and chocolate sets.
  6. Remove from refrigerator and cut into small squares.

 

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Balsamic Strawberries

Balsamic Strawberries

 

It’s that wonderful time of year again.  Local strawberries are in season.  While making a mad dash to the store earlier this week, I passed by the strawberries on my way to the back of the store.  That sweet smell hit me as I was walking pass.  That smell that you only get this time of year, when you find locally grown strawberries at the market.  I stopped in my tracks, noticed the strawberries were grown in South Carolina…that’s local enough..and picked up 2 quarts!

They are so heavenly!  Even as a child I loved strawberry season.  Pa, my grandfather, always had them in his garden.  I can see it, as plain as if it were yesterday.  His garden was behind the house.  He would pick me a handful of strawberries and I would be standing on the edge of the garden (probably because he didn’t want me stepping on the plants), eating them as fast as he could pick them.   Simple memories that just happened, no play dates and no planning.  Sometimes we forget, as parents, that things don’t have to be elaborate to make childhood special for our kids.

We have snacked on almost a whole quart plain.  I dressed up the other quart with a little sugar and balsamic vinegar. It may sound strange, but it’s really quite tasty!  We topped vanilla ice cream with this wonderful mixture and then I had leftover balsamic strawberries on yogurt with a little granola the next morning.  Mmm…so good!  I think I’ll be making another “mad dash” to the store for more strawberries soon!

Balsamic Strawberries
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
  • 1 (16-oz.) container fresh strawberries, quartered
  • ¼ c. sugar
  • 4 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • Vanilla ice cream
Instructions
  1. Combine the strawberries, sugar, and balsamic vinegar in a medium bowl. Let stand for 1 to 2 hours at room temperature, stirring occasionally.
  2. To serve, spoon strawberry mixture over vanilla ice cream. Serve immediately.

 

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Blueberry-Lemon Iced Tea

Blueberry Lemon Iced Tea

 

Is it just me or does it seem that the weather is getting hot fast.  There have been a few days, while working in the yard, that I could have sworn it was July already.  I would be happy with mid 70’s to 80 degree temperatures all year-long.  Who am I kidding though, I live in Georgia…it’s going to get hot!

I enjoy flavored teas, especially during the warm months.  This delicious tea is not only refreshing but the health benefits are amazing.  Blueberries are considered a super food.  They are rich in antioxidants, high in Vitamin B2, C, and E, minerals, and fibers.  They have been shown to lower cholesterol, improve heart conditions, improve sight, and prevent cancer.

If you want to try something different, follow the recipe through the step of straining and squeezing the juice through a strainer.  Add the juice to 4 cups of prepared Country Time Lemonade.  Serve over ice.

Blueberry-Lemon Iced Tea
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
  • 1 (16-oz.) package frozen blueberries
  • ½ c. fresh lemon juice
  • 4 c. water
  • 3 family-size tea bags
  • ¾ c. sugar, or to taste, or sugar substitute to taste
Instructions
  1. Bring 1 (16-oz.) package frozen blueberries and ½ cup fresh lemon juice to a boil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and pour through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl, using back of a spoon to squeeze out juice. Discard solids. Wipe saucepan clean.
  2. Bring 4 cups water to a boil in the same saucepan; add 3 family-size tea bags, and let stand 5 minutes. Remove and discard tea bags. Stir in ¾ c. sugar and blueberry juice mixture. Pour into a pitcher; cover and chill for 1 hours. Serve over ice.
  3. Makes: 5 cups

 

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Almond & Coconut Granola

almond and coconut granola

It’s no secret that I love yogurt with fresh fruit and granola.  I’m pretty picky when it comes to granola though.  It must be homemade.  I promise you, if you ever make homemade granola you’ll never buy it again!   I have tried more granola recipes over the years,and thrown out more granola, than I care to share with anyone.  I do have two recipes on NJSD that I really enjoy though.  My original Granola recipe is a long-time favorite and Nutty Olive Oil Granola is one that I’ve made on and off for about a year now.  The original Granola recipe is the first granola recipe that I ever made and really liked.  I was hooked from the start with it.  Then, when I finally found the Nutty Olive Oil Granola recipe I fell in love with the flavor that the olive oil lends.  Last week I decided to combine parts of each recipe and add some unsweeted flaked coconut, because as you can see with the mango atop the granola, I was in a tropical state of mind.

I liked the combo.  I will definitely still be making my old recipes but this gives me another option.  Options are nice when I live on this stuff throughout the summer months.

Almond & Coconut Granola
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
  • 5 c. old-fashioned oats
  • 1 c. sliced almonds
  • ½ c. packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ⅓ c. good honey, preferably local
  • ½ c. unsalted butter
  • ½ c. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ c. unsweetened, flaked coconut
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place sliced almonds on a sheet pan, in a single layer, and toast in the oven, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 10 minutes. Watch closely, they burn quickly.
  2. Place the coconut on a sheet pan, in a single layer, and toast in the oven at the same time you toast the almonds, for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Remove almonds and coconut from oven and set aside to cool.
  4. In a large bowl combine the oats, cinnamon, sugar, and salt. Stir to combine.
  5. In a saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter. Add honey, olive oil, and vanilla and stir. Pour mixture over the oat mixture and coat the oats well with the honey mixture.
  6. Spray a large sheet pan with non-stick cooking spray. Pour oat mixture onto pan and spread out. Bake in a 350° for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and cool completely.
  8. Add almonds and coconut to the cooled granola and toss to combine.
  9. Store in an airtight container.

 

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Died and Gone to Pimento Cheese Heaven

Died-and-gone-to-pimento-cheese-heaven

 

This delicious pimento cheese is in honor of The Masters Tournament!  The Masters is held the first full week of April at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia.  Greg and I were both born and raised in the Atlanta area.  We moved away from family, friends, and everything we had ever known when Wes was 5 and Savannah was 2 years old to Augusta.  We lived there for 6 years and made many wonderful memories.  We still keep in touch with great friends there.  While living in Augusta we had the opportunity to attend the Masters almost every year, and have been able to go back a few times since leaving Augusta, including the Par 3 this week.

The Augusta National is a sight to behold.  My dad was a huge golf fan and I can’t help but think of him when I’m out there.  I know it’s a place he would have loved going.  Here are just a few of the photos that we were able to take on Wednesday.  You can tell that we are Bubba fans by looking at these pictures.  We lived in the same area of Florida that Bubba was from.  In fact, Wes went to high school where Bubba did and Savannah attended the elementary school that he went to.

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This is the second pimento cheese recipe that I have on  NJSD.  The first recipe was among the first recipes I ever posted.  Still a delicious pimento cheese, and probably more like the Augusta National pimento cheese, (if you make it with cheddar), than this recipe.  However, when stumbled across this recipe on food.com and saw the ingredient list I tried it right away.  The main reason was 1/2 cup mayonnaise.  I really don’t care for a strong mayonnaise taste.  After I made it the first time I knew that I had found my Masters week recipe.  The Augusta National is famous for their egg salad sandwiches and pimento cheese sandwiches, which you can get for $1.50 each.  I really think this pimento cheese is better than my old pimento cheese recipe and even the Augusta National recipe!  I love the addition of garlic powder and onion powder and the four cheeses are a great combination.  The cream cheese and the Monterey Jack cheese give this salad it’s creaminess.   The Cheddar adds that great sharp flavor and then you get that extra little oomph with the extra sharp Cheddar.

So even if I’m at home Sunday, watching the finish on the television instead of the golf course.  I’ll be enjoying my afternoon, watching to see who wins the green jacket, and snacking on this delicious pimento cheese!

 

Died and Gone to Pimento Cheese Heaven
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
  • 6 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • ½ c. Vermont extra-sharp White Cheddar cheese, grated
  • ¾ c. sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 c. Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • ½ c. mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 4 oz. diced pimientos, drained
  • ½ tsp. onion powder
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • pinch of cayenne pepper or dash of hot sauce
  • fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. With an electric mixer, cream the cream cheese.
  2. Add the other cheeses, mayonnaise, vinegar, pimientos, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, and black pepper and beat until creamy and combined.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for about a hour before serving.
Notes
Great on sandwiches, with corn chips, crackers or celery and carrots.

 

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