PB + J Granola Bars

Photo 2014-08-15, 2 37 32 AMI can’t believe its already back to school time next week!Summer is over and both teachers and kids alike need a little boost to get through that first week. What better way to start the week then with a classic kid approved combination of peanut butter and jam. I don’t know about you, but I had so much chia jam leftover from last week that just needed to be used. In fact, that’s actually how a lot of my recipes come to be. I hate throwing out perfectly good ingredients, so sometimes you have to throw a few things together and cross your fingers.I bet you thats actually how jam became…jam!

Peanut butter and jelly is one of the best food matches of all time. It brings most people back to the good ol’ days when peanut butter was still allowed in schools and at camps. Although most kids can’t have this delicious combination during the day, it can still be enjoyed as an after school snack.  Not only will your child be able to enjoy these after school, adults will also love these as an energizing breakfast/snack/dessert. They are packed with fiber rich oats, protein packed peanut butter, and loads of omega 3s and vitamins from the chia jam! I really have been enjoying them before a work out to give me a boost of energy and a good balance of carbs, fat, and protein.

If you aren’t a big fan of peanut butter, feel free to swap out the peanut butter for any other nut butter. I am sure my Maple Cinnamon Almond Butter would taste ammmmazzzing! As always, these granola bars are gluten free (so long as you use certified gluten free oats), dairy free and refined sugar free! For you vegans, feel free to use only maple syrup instead of honey! These take only about 5 minutes to prepare and use ingredients most of us have lying around. If you haven’t made my chia jam, store bought jam will be fine. Keep an eye out for sugar content and absolutely do NOT buy sugar free jam. I like to buy jams that are sweetened with natural fruit juice. These can be found at most health food stores. Bon appetit!
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• 1/4 cup honey (I use raw organic)
• 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
• 1 cup all natural creamy peanut butter
• 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
• 1/4 cup coconut oil
• 2 1/2 cups certified gluten free rolled oats
• 1/2 tsp sea or pink himalayan salt
• 1/3 cup ground flaxseeds (optional)
• 3/4 cup strawberry vanilla chia jam


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9 inch baking dish with parchment. In a medium sized bowl, combine oats, salt and flaxseed.
2. In a small saucepan on medium heat whisk coconut oil, peanut butter, vanilla honey and maple syrup until combined. Pour over oats and stir until evenly distributed.
3. Press half of the batter into the prepared baking dish.
4. Spread the chia jam evenly across the pressed batter.
5. Press the remaining batter over the jam. (some may squeeze out, it’s fine!)
6. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the surface is golden. Allow to cool for several minutes. Once cool, slice into bars. Store in an airtight container for 2 weeks! (If they even last that long…)
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Stone Fruit and Strawberry Vanilla Chia Jam

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Jam is one of my favourite toppings to spread on toast, scoop on oatmeal, or mix into coconut yogurt. You can swirl it into homemade breads, cakes and muffins for a really intense fruit flavour that is so comforting and most importantly, delicious. Jams always remind me of the inside of a pie and often, they have just as much sugar as one. I am sure that many of you may think that jam might be a great way to get a serving of fruit and vitamins, but sorry folks… I’m here to break the bad news. Although jam is made primarily of fruit it is also made primarily of sugar. LOTS of sugar. And for those of thinking that you have made an even better choice by buying sugar-free jam or reduced sugar jam you are simply getting a chemical replacement with aspartame, sucralose etc… Not so yummy and not so healthy. Have no fear, I have two amazing and super simple jam combinations to satisfy any enthusiast of this delicious spread.

Homemade jam is a super simple way to use fresh fruit that is over ripe or about ready to get thrown in the trash. It also requires very little effort, time and materials and you are left with something truly special. Place it in a beautiful jar and you have a thoughtful home-made gift that is really impressive. I have provided you with some of my favourite fruit combinations but feel free to mix and match your own. It is great to use fruit that is in season to ensure that you have the best flavour and sweetness without having to add too many ingredients.

I have used two different natural sweeteners for each kind of jam. For the Stone Fruit Variety I used a few drops of liquid stevia. The fruit was very ripe and in season which made it perfectly sweet on its own. For my taste, it needed only a small amount of added sweetness. For the strawberry jam, I added brown rice syrup to sweeten. This was my first time using brown rice syrup. On its own, I was not too excited about the flavour, but mixed into the jam it gave a really light sweetness that I loved! If you don’t have these sweeteners around, feel free to use maple syrup, honey or agave nectar. Remember that fresh jams will last about one week, in an airtight container that is stored in a fridge! Bon appetit!
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Stone Fruit Jam Ingredients:

• 7 apricots (chopped)
• 5 plums (chopped)
• 3 peaches (chopped)
• 4-5 drops liquid stevia (or sweetener of choice)
• 1/4 cup chia seeds

Strawberry Vanilla Ingredients:

• 3 cups strawberries (chopped)
• 2 tbsp brown rice syrup (or sweetener of choice)
• 1/4 cup chia seeds
• 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or scraped vanilla bean pod


1. Chop fruit and place in a medium sauce pan on medium heat. * you may remove the skin of the stone fruit if you like a smoother jam, I like to leave mine on!

2. Allow fruit to heat up for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally. The fruit should begin to burst.

3. Add sweetener and chia seeds and allow to thicken for at least 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. Cook for a longer period of time for a thicker, more syrupy jam.

4. Pour into jar or desired container and allow to cool. Seal and keep refrigerated for up to 7 days.
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Bolognese with Spaghetti Squash

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I have only been blogging for a few months now and it has been a great learning experience. I really went into this with more confidence in my passion for cooking then in my writing. Both finding my voice and determining what exactly I want to share with my readers has been a truly interesting experience. I really don’t know if readers want to know more about me personally, less about nutritional information etc…What is so great about a blog however, is that the writing is truly reflective of a moment in time for the writer, reader etc… Today for example, I feel like showing a side that most bloggers don’t. A truly honest side that will show insecurities, mistakes and a general confession of my ‘go with the flow’ attitude. So here it goes…

To start off…I am an amateur photographer. I still have barely any idea of what I am doing with my amazing Canon Rebel. I highly recommend this camera because without any knowledge of this device I have been able to capture some pretty sumptuous looking pictures. All I know about taking great pictures is to ALWAYS use natural lighting. Most of my pictures are taken right on the windowsill. The bolognese pictures came out so horrible because I was rushing against the sun that was setting very quickly. It was already a rainy day to begin with so odds were not in my favour. In turn, my so called “food styling” was non-existent and I ended up with some pretty drab looking pictures (notice the dark/yellowish hue). But lets face it. If I wasn’t photographing this food for my blog, that would be what a home-cooked dish looked like in most homes, including my own. And that truly is why I decided to do this post. It is to encourage you to make more time to make home-cooked meals! So many people look at photographs taken in recipe books, magazines and blogs and think that they are too difficult. I always hear people say “I could never make that, I am the worst cook!” They also might think that if they make a dish and it looks slightly different in the picture that they have failed. I’m here to tell you that is simply not true.

I beg you to try to reach out of your comfort zone and try attacking a recipe you never thought possible. They don’t have to be my recipes, and they definitely don’t need to be gluten, dairy or refined sugar free. However by simply making more meals yourselves (and with loved ones) you will be more conscious of ingredients, flavours and what’s in season. Even if you are making shepherds pie, the home cooked version will always be healthier because it isn’t laced with loads of preservatives, chemicals and other gross stuff. So although my pictures don’t look as appetizing as they normally would, I am only human. I am just like you, doing the best I can. And now, on to the bolognese…

Ok, so I am sure many of you are surprised to see bolognese on here. Many of my recipes are friendly to vegans because my recipes do not contain dairy. Although I do not eat meat on a daily basis, I do still enjoy good quality meat from time to time. (Vegan readers, just skip this recipe for now and check back later!) Especially in the winter, there is nothing more comforting then diving into a bowl of brown rice spaghetti and meat sauce. By substituting the pasta with spaghetti squash, the dish has now become a summer staple. I know many clean eaters have different opinions on eating meat. But if you truly enjoy it, then there is no harm in having anything in moderation. Especially if you are getting organic, grass fed beef that has a lower fat content. That is just my philosophy, and many people will agree or disagree.

I love food too much to say NO forever to something I really enjoy. This blog is really all about that. I take foods that I truly love and adapt them to make them more wholesome and cleaner without compromising on flavour. So here is my favourite recipe for clean bolognese, I hope you enjoy!

Ps. Another error I made while making this bolognese is cutting the carrots in medallions instead of finely chopping it. By the time I got them in the pot and looked at how odd they looked in there, it was too late. But, they did taste delicious anyway.
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• 1 spaghetti squash
• 1 lb organic, grass fed lean ground beef
• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 2 carrots (chopped fine)
• 2 yellow onions (chopped)
• 3 cloves garlic (minced)
• 1 tsp dried oregano
• 1 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
• 1/2 tsp himalayan salt
• 1 tsp ground pepper
• 1 can San Marzano tomatoes
• 3 tbsp tomato paste
• 1 cup dry red wine (don’t cheap out here, make sure you would drink it with a meal)
• 3-5 drops stevia (optional)
• fresh basil (for serving)


1. Preheat oven to 350. Slice spaghetti squash in half, remove seeds and place on sheet pan and bake for one hour. I also bake the seeds on the pan and eat them later on! Pull strings out using a fork and set aside.
2. Heat olive oil in a large pot on medium heat. Cook onions, garlic and carrots until the onions are translucent and no longer firm.
3.Add oregano, chilli flakes, salt, pepper and beef. Cook beef until it is no longer pink.
4. Add tomatoes and tomato paste. Break down the tomatoes using the back of a wooden spoon. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for at least 35-40 minutes.
5. Add red wine and simmer for another 10 minutes. Add stevia (or other sweetener) if you would like the sauce to be more sweet.
6. Simmer on low for another 10-20 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and the moisture has mostly cooked out.
7. Pour sauce over spaghetti squash and top with fresh basil.
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