Trail Mix Superfood Granola Bars (Gluten-Free)

Pack these superfood granola bars on your outdoor adventures whether you’re road tripping, hiking, or having a picnic with friends.

The season of outdoor adventures and fun in the sun is upon us! I wanted to make a nutrient-dense energy bar that’s easy to pack on hikes, road trips or picnics. If you’ve ever read the ingredients on store-bought granola or protein bars, you’ve probably noticed a list as long as your arm of words that are difficult to pronounce. Huge red flag for me! These granola bars contain only plant-based, wholesome ingredients in their purest form. Also, in the interest of convenience, they don’t require baking (asides from the quinoa which I lightly toasted for ten minutes). 

Trail Mix Granola Bars

Superfoods:

Maca
  • may reduce anxiety and depression
  • reportedly improves sexual function and increases libido
  • may enhance memory and learning
Cinnamon
  • anti-inflammatory
  • anti-fungal, anti-bacterial
  • regulates blood sugar levels
  • can improve cholesterol levels
Flax Seeds
  • source of lignans which can fight estrogen-related cancers
  • high in heart-healthy omega 3s
Hemp seeds
  • high in fiber
  • high in protein (contains all 9 essential amino acids)
  • source of magnesium, iron, zinc, and potassium
Quinoa
  • gluten-free grain
  • high in fiber
  • high in protein (contains all 9 essential amino acids)
  • source of magnesium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, & vitamin E

Trail Mix Granola Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup almonds, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup oats, ground
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds, ground
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds
  • 1/2 cup dried dates, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp Finlandia Health maca
  • 1 tsp Finlandia Health cinnamon
  • 1 cup nut butter
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup vegan dark chocolate

Instructions:

  1. Lightly toast quinoa in the oven at 350deg C for 10 minutes until golden (careful not to burn).
  2. Once quinoa is toasted, combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix very well (or use a food processor if you prefer).
  3. Pack bar batter down into a parchment lined baking dish. Tip: I used the flat surface of a measuring cup (1 cup) to flatten the bars well.
  4. Melt chocolate on low heat on the stove top.
  5. Drizzle chocolate over bars and freeze until firm.
  6. Cut into squares and serve.
  7. Store in fridge.

Trail Mix Granola Bars

Thanks to Finlandia Pharmacy & Natural Health for sponsoring this post. Check out their website and extensive herbal dispensary at their storefront in Vancouver, BC.

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Trail Mix Superfood Granola Bars

Cinnamon Cashew Blender Muffins (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Low-Glycemic)

Simple, healthy muffins you can make in a blender! They’re free of dairy, refined sugars, oil and gluten.

I consider muffins a pseudo-health food because while they’re often disguised as nutritious, in reality, they can be packed with saturated or trans fats, sugar and sodium. Some other misleading “healthy” snacks that come to mind are store-bought granola (often loaded with sugar and hydrogenated oils!) and protein bars (some contain high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils resembling a candy bar!). The power of making our own meals and snacks is in knowing exactly what we are putting into our bodies. Rolled oats and cinnamon can help balance blood sugar and manage cholesterol levels, while cashews are a great source of heart-healthy fats and antioxidants. To sweeten these muffins I used apple sauce and a small amount of maple syrup (which I talked about in a past dessert recipe).

Cinnamon cashew blender muffins

Now, if baking doesn’t seem to fit in your busy schedule (I hear you!), you’re going to love these muffins because a blender does all the work! So toss everything in, relax while they bake, and have healthy snacks prepared for the whole week.

Cinnamon Cashew Blender Muffins (Low-Glycemic, Gluten-Free)

Ingredients:
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1/8 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups water
  • cinnamon to sprinkle on top
  • optional: very ripe banana, berries
Cinnamon Cashew Blender Muffins (Low-Glycemic, Gluten-Free)
How to:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 deg F.
  2. Combine all ingredients into a blender (if adding berries, stir in after blending). Since my blender isn’t high-powered, I blend a couple ingredients at a time.
  3. Fill muffin liners to the brim with batter. Note: healthy, oil-free muffins like these often stick to the liners. Some tricks are to use silicon liners instead of paper, and to place a cookie sheet with water in it on the rack below the one with your muffins. PS. I would love to hear your tricks!
  4. Sprinkle with cinnamon and swirl into the batter.
  5. Cook in oven for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Let muffins cool before removing from liners.

Cinnamon Cashew Blender Muffins (Low-Glycemic, Gluten-Free)

PCOS Powers:
  • rolled oats have a low glycemic load and are high in fiber, may help maintain blood sugar levels, and contain tryptophan which boosts serotonin levels for better sleep and a stable mood
  • raw cashews may help lower blood pressure, “bad” cholesterol, and improve insulin and androgen levels in women with PCOS (as a tree nut)
  • cinnamon may help balance glucose levels, lower cholesterol and decrease triglycerides in blood
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Cinnamon cashew blender muffins (gluten-free, vegan, low-glycemic)

What tricks do you have for making non-stick, healthy muffins?

Cocoa Black Bean Brownies (Heart-Healthy)

A rich, moist dessert with few of the typical brownie ingredients.

Did you know that cardiovascular disease is the greatest threat to the lives of women and men in the world?  Women with PCOS commonly experience metabolic syndrome which increases the risk of developing heart disease.  Metabolic syndrome is a combination of conditions including elevated triglycerides, high “bad” cholesterol, low “good” cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, and increased belly fat.

Fortunately, each day most of us can help decrease our risk of developing heart disease. Nutritional intake is important with some evidence suggesting to decrease saturated fats and other evidence to decrease trans fats. Decreasing salt intake is also recommended while increasing phytonutrient, fiber-rich foods, like fruits and vegetables. Secondly, regular exercise can reduce body weight, blood pressure, “bad ” cholesterol and increase insulin sensitivity. In addition, sleep deprivation has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease and related conditions. Finally, quitting smoking is the single greatest change one can make to improve their heart and overall health.

Now you may be wondering where brownies fit into this heart-healthy lifestyle I speak of. Surprisingly, these delicious, fudgy treats are primarily made from black beans and unsweetened cocoa powder! Carry on to find out how these two ingredients can make a crowd-pleasing dessert that can support a healthy heart. PS. The trick is to not reveal the ingredients until AFTER your loved ones have tried the brownies. I promise they will be shocked. I would love to hear what you do to protect your heart!

Vegan Gluten-Free Black Bean Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dried black beans (must pre-soak and boil)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (>75% real cocoa)

How to:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Blend all ingredients, except chocolate chips, in a food processor until completely smooth.
  3. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  4. Pour into an 8×8 pan pre-greased with olive oil.
  5. Cook for 15-20 minutes being careful not to overcook as this could dry them out.
  6. Let brownies cool before cutting. I popped these in the freezer to firm up even more.

Vegan Gluten-Free Black Bean Brownies

PCOS Powers:

  • black beans = high in protein, fiber, potassium, magnesium, folate, vitamin B6 and phytonutrients which help lower blood pressure, manage blood sugar levels and prevent cardiovascular disease, contains several flavonoids including quercetin which is anti-inflammatory and may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis
  • unsweetened cocoa powder = supports the cardiovascular system by enhancing vascular function and decreasing platelet reactivity, may help improve cholesterol levels, been shown to improve cognitive function, insulin resistance and blood pressure

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Heart-healthy Black Bean Brownies - Low-glycemic, Vegan, Gluten-free