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Experimenting in the Kitchen

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The other week my husband was presenting at a conference and came home with a lovely goody bag full of locally produced products like flavored olive oil, handmade chocolates and roasted coffee beans. There was a publication in the box called Wholesome that caught my eye. Most area towns and regions produce these magazines which feature local businesses and have ads for local companies. This issue contained some recipes and as I needed a diversion from other issues, I set to work in my kitchen. I’ve been trying to find recipes that contain a lot of fiber as we can never have too much fiber in this house and find it to be challenging to get everyone to eat cooked oatmeal. The recipes in Wholsome were for ‘bars’ that contained tons of oatmeal and other good things like chia seeds. Of course I didn’t have chia seeds but I’m foolishly fearless in the kitchen so I didn’t let that stop me.

[frame align=”left”]magazine cover[/frame]

I find it is usually prudent to be a little leary of magazine recipes if you don’t know who the author or original baker is. I have found certain places to be really stellar with their recipes and others not so much. I generally like to read reviews whenever possible and have found them to be very accurate. Mass produced local magazines such as this one may have bought the magazine content from some other place then added some local ‘features’ which means all bets are off with regards to the recipes. But, winter is long and annoying, so I thought what the heck and baked up a bunch of bars.

[frame align=”left”]pages in magazine[/frame]

As usual, I didn’t have all ingredients listed, so this isn’t a totally accurate representation of the recipes, but I think I was close enough to determine which are going to be worthy of adding to the recipe book and which ones can be lost to antiquity.

I first made Baked Banana Bars. I had forgotten (once again) how much I dislike baked bananas (except in banana bread). Luckily, I have boys who like baked bananas and almost ate the contents of the 9 x 9 pan before I could put the bars in a tupperware container. The dense little bars had two cups of oatmeal, peanut butter, honey, cinnamon and vanilla. It called for walnuts, but they weren’t in the cupboard, so I substituted regular peanuts and it was just fine. These can be added to the rotation of snack food in this house. The amount of oatmeal in these bars made me feel like I was successful in getting lots of fiber into my children. There were no nutrition facts listed with the recipes, so the ‘lots of fiber’ excitement of my part could just be wishful thinking.

Then I tackled the Peanut Cranberry Bars. These contained peanut butter, peanuts, sunflower seeds, raisins, dried cranberries, honey and oatmeal. Mine did not look like the photo at all. Mine were chunkier and fell apart easily. Also, they were super peanut buttery and the chunks of dried fruit freaked out my ultra fussy eaters- no surprise there. I mostly made these for my husband to take to work for lunch. We’ll see how that goes . . .

And last I made the Ginger Mango Bars. I read and reread this recipe about 10 times looking for the mango in the ingredient list. There wasn’t any. The orange-y-ness comes from dried apricots chopped up in the food processor. The Ginger Missing Mango Bars had apricots, cashews, unsweetened coconut, ground ginger, chia seesds and flax seeds. My version contained ‘sweetened’ coconut, peanuts instead of the cashews, ground flax rather that the seeds and no chia. I did like these better than the banana bars but found them to be very crumbly. How they stayed in bar shape for the magazine photo can only be attributed to the cleverness of a food stylist. In the end I crumbled the bars up and set them in the fridge meanwhile I plan to conjure up some sort of orange cashew chicken and coconut rice recipe. The Ginger Missing Mango Bars will somehow garnish my Asian supper later in the week (which I think will be fabulous).

[frame align=”left”]three bars labeled[/frame]

In the end, I’m glad I made all the bars. Only the Baked Banana Bars required baking which I liked and I always enjoy trying new things in the kitchen. If anyone would like a copy of the recipes, send me an email or drop me a Facebook note. I’d be happy to share-