The Healthiest Blueberry Oat Bars + DIY Project: Organizing Your Spice Cabinet

I love cooking with herbs and spices, so I have a lot.  Having so many different spices means they came from different stores, in different bags, containers, etc.  It can become an unorganized mess, so this weekend, I decided to tackle the spice cabinet!  With the New Year freshly among us, one can be inspired to de-cluttler their every day life, and I personally find it makes a huge difference in my motivation, productivity, and overall happiness.  Sounds a little crazy when we’re merely talking about the spice cabinet, but I think most of us keep it quite messy and it becomes such a nuisance when you are cooking and looking for that one needed spice.

The nice thing is, this was a very inexpensive project, and is so satisfying when you are done.  It did take me a little bit of time because I was very meticulous about writing as neatly as possible, and I have a ton of spices as you now know.  All you need are small spice jars, a fine tip sharpie marker, and 1 inch transparent mailing seals.  The spice jars I used are commonly found at Ikea but I found the exact same ones at the dollar store, 3 for $1.00.  Total score.

The process is simple:

  1. Clean out the cabinet completely.
  2. Carefully fill each jar with your spices and herbs.
  3. Using a fine tip sharpie marker, write the name of the spice/herb on each mailing seal, then carefully peel off.
  4. The 1″ mailing seals fit perfectly on the groove of these dollar store (or Ikea) jars.  Stick them onto the groove of the jar and press down lightly.
  5. Place the jars in the cabinet, and if you want to be even more organized, do so in an alphabetical manner.
  6. Enjoy the organization and overall neatness of your spice cabinet.  Force the husband to maintain it.

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Organizing Spice Cabinet

Now, onto the healthiest blueberry oat bars I’ve ever made! These are really delicious, but not very sweet, aside from the natural sweetness of the blueberries and small amount of maple syrup.  You can always use more natural sweetener but I would encourage you to try them as the recipe calls for.  Let’s kick that sweet tooth this year, shall we?!

These blueberry oat bars are vegan, with no refined sugars, no refined flours, no added fat, and have a gluten free option by simply using gluten free oats.

The original recipe was adapted from Fat Free Vegan, which is a super vegan blog.  Susan lost 100 pounds from adopting a vegan diet.  How incredible is that?  Plants for the win.

Vegan Blueberry Oat Bars

Blueberry Oat Bars Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with enough water to form a smooth paste (a little less than 2 tablespoons)
  • 3 cups oats (regular, not instant) + more from sprinkling
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces unsweetened applesauce
  • 6 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease an 8×8 inch baking dish.  I used a smaller rounded dish, but if you have it, definitely use the 8×8, all the measurements of ingredients will fit perfectly.
  • In a small saucepan, combine the blueberries, 1/4 cup maple syrup, and juice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. When it boils, stir in the vanilla and the cornstarch mixture. Continue to stir as the mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat and set aside.

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  • Put 1 1/2 cups of the oats into a blender and grind it to a fine powder. Pour it into a medium-sized mixing bowl and add the remaining 1 1/2 cups oats, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Stir in the apple sauce, remaining 6 tbsps of maple syrup, 6 tbsps of water, and 1 tsp of vanilla, and mix well.
  • Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing well to cover the bottom of the pan. Spoon the blueberry filling over the batter, and cover the blueberries with the remaining batter.  Add a sprinkle of oats overtop.

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  • Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. Allow to cool before cutting into bars.
  • Enjoy!

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Peanut Snowballs (vegan, refined sugar-free)

Vegan Peanut Snowballs

I am finally done with all my gift preparations.  The only thing left to do today is bake some vegan oatmeal cookies for Santa with my little guy.  Easy!

Yesterday I posted my DIY Christmas gift which was a homemade nutty granola.  I’m sure you have all noticed so many lovely DIY gift ideas on here, some of my favourites include Poppy’s DIY soaps and bath salts, Vegan Richa’s cookie mix in a jar, and Georgia Kate’s peanut snowballs.  I decided the peanut snowballs would be the perfect addition to my holiday basket which I am making as Secret Santa.  They were simple to make, and so delicious!  I love that they are refined sugar-free and vegan.  I made very slight adjustments to the original recipe, as seen below.  

Once again, you still have time to make these, and you can refrigerate them until the big day in 48 hours!  They have an irresistible hard chocolate outer shell and they’re packed with peanuts and other healthful ingredients.  I’m trying to resist them so I can actually gift them!

Peanut Snowballs

Makes 15 balls

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 2 tablespoons raw peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon brown rice syrup
  • 6 dried dates
  • 1/2 cup of skinned roasted peanuts
  • 200 grams dark chocolate
  • 1 cup of shredded coconut
  • Pinch of sea salt

Directions:

  • In a food processor, whiz the almonds, peanut butter, brown rice syrup, dates and peanuts along with 3 tablespoons of water.  You will end up with a soft dough mixture that is easy to mold.

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  • With wet hands, roll the mixture into balls, approx. 2 cm wide.  Lay them onto a plate lined with parchment paper and leave them in the fridge to cool and set for 20 minutes.

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  • Heat a small amount of water in a pot. Then place a metal bowl which is bigger than the pot on top. Place the chocolate into the bowl and stir until melted, then remove the bowl from the heat.

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  • Set up your station: a bowl of shredded coconut, a parchment paper lined plate (with some coconut sprinkled onto it to prevent the chocolate from sticking), the bowl of melted chocolate, and pull out your snowballs from the fridge.

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  • Use a spoon to roll the snowballs in the chocolate and then cover with coconut. The final touch – sprinkle some freshly ground sea salt over them. Then refrigerate until the chocolate has hardened (about one hour).
  • To gift them, place in a bell jar, add some ribbon and a tag to your jar, and you have yourself irresistable and cute peanut snowballs for Christmas!  You can refrigerate any leftovers for up to two weeks.

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Merry Christmas to you all once again! And thank you Georgia for sharing such a lovely recipe!

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Homemade Christmas Gift: Organic Granola

Homemade Vegan Granola

How is everyone handling the Christmas hustle and bustle?  Did you wish for a white Christmas, because you will have it! It’s been snowing relentlessly in Montreal. Everything is covered in a white blanket. The last couple of weeks have been a little nuts for me, trying to wrap up work so I can take time off. It feels so great to have all this time to spend with family and friends now. I have spent the last few days wrapping up last minute gifts and details for our Christmas dinner.  Today I spent the afternoon making homemade granola as gifts for our family.  Tomorrow, I will also be making homemade vegan chocolate snowballs (keep an eye out for that post) and cookies with Sonny to leave for Santa.  I love the idea of giving homemade gifts, as I find they are so well received.  I wish I wasn’t so late in starting, I would have loved to make more!  I’ve been seeing so many amazing DIY Christmas gifts on here!

So, if you are still looking for simple last minute homemade gift ideas, I highly recommend this granola.  Not only is it super delicious, it is healthy, vegan, and looks oh so cute in a bell jar.  Oh, and it clumps into nice and crispy big clusters, which is a must for me when it comes to granola!

Homemade Organic Granola

Adapted from Oh She Glows

Makes approx. 6 cups

If possible, buy organic ingredients.

Ingredients:

Dry:

  • 2 1/2 cups extra thick rolled oats
  • 1 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup raw walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup raw sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Wet:

  • 4 tablespoons brown rice syrup
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons raw peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

Extras:

  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • handful of pepita seeds

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 300°F. In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the wet ingredients. Stir well. Bring to a boil and then simmer on low for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • In a very large mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients and mix well.
  • Add the wet mixture while warm over the dry mixture and stir well.  Stir everything until well combined.  It is thick and a little difficult, but keep stirring to combine all ingredients.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Spread granola onto the lined baking sheet and bake in the oven for 45 minutes.  Stir the granola every 15 minutes to ensure even baking.

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  • Allow to cool for 15 minutes.  As the granola cools, it will stiffen up.  Break it apart into large chunks then place into a large bowl and stir in the raisins, cranberries, and pepita seeds.

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  • Place in a jar, add ribbon and a label, and voila, you have yourself a super cute, delicious tasting, healthy granola Christmas gift!

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  • If you have leftovers, you can keep it in the fridge for up to a month in an airtight container.

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Have a very Merry Christmas, everyone!  Enjoy the time you have with your family and friends and try to squeeze in some rest and relaxation.

Sophia xo