Tag Archives: tropical

Tasty Tropical Breakfast Bars (vegan and gluten-free)

Okay, I’ll admit it: I’m obsessed with making breakfast bars. They’re just so dang simple and quick to make, they’re delicious, and they’re a fabulously healthy treat to have hanging around for those times when you need to a meal-on-the-go, be it around breakfast time or anytime, really. And they save you a lot of money too since they’re way less expensive than store-bought breakfast bars. Thanks to the addition of almond butter (which is one of the greatest super foods around – almonds lower bad cholesterol and they’re packed with protein and calcium), dried fruits, nuts, and crunchy granola, these bars really do deliver a nice boost of energy and nutrition, so they’re fantastic as sports bars, too. If ‘almond butter’ sounds bizarre to you, don’t worry – it’s just super finely ground toasted almonds; it has about the same smoothness and texture as peanut butter.

I decided to chef up a breakfast bar with a totally different consistency and flavor than the last energy bar recipe I posted – this one is denser, not-so-sticky, has a nice crunch, travels really well and features the delicious flavors of the tropics: pineapple, mango, ginger, coconut and cashews. Yum! In honor of my neighbor friend Jamie who is experiencing her first week of college (and her first taste of homesickness), I created this gluten-free, vegan Tasty Tropical Breakfast/Energy Bar recipe.  I know she’ll love them, especially in contrast to nasty dorm food, and I bet you will, too. According to Jamie’s mom, who taste-tested these bars for me: “Wow, these could be sold in stores!” Pretty nice endorsement! 🙂 John also loves, loves, loves these bars, so much so that he has requested that they become his breakfast staple every day of the week.

Special thanks to Rhonda for convincing me to try brown rice syrup as the sweetener and binding agent for these bars – it works like a charm and it’s really healthy, too! Hurray! Brown rice syrup is a far better sweetener than table sugar, and even honey, since it’s a complex carbohydrate and has a lower glycemic index than refined sugar. It also tastes delicious, especially in these bars, since they add a caramely hint. Give them a try – I know you’ll like them!

Tasty Tropical Breakfast/Sports Bars

Servings: 25 bars
Prep time: 25 minutes
Chill/set time: at least 3 hours

1.5 cups dried tropical fruits, finely chopped (I recommend a combination of pineapple, mango and a little bit of unsweetened coconut)
1  cup roasted unsalted cashews, chopped
4 cups granola clusters cereal (I used Trader Joe’s “Just the Clusters with ginger, almond and cashew granola”)
a handful of crystallized ginger, chopped (optional)
3/4 cup almond butter
1/3 maple syrup
1/3 cup brown rice syrup

Heat oven to 350. Lightly spray a 9″ square baking pan with olive oil.

Blend together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Then, in a saucepan over medium high heat, stir together the almond butter, maple syrup and brown rice syrup, stirring constantly. When it begins to bubble, stir it as fast as you can and when it thickens, remove from heat and dump it in the bowl with the dry ingredients. Immediately mix it thoroughly. Scoop into your prepared pan. Press it down firmly with the back of a spatula – really put your weight into it to squish it down.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until the edges become golden. Remove from oven and once again, press it down firmly with the back of a spatula.  Refrigerate it for at least 3 hours to allow it to fully firm up before you cut it. Once ready, turn it over onto a cutting board and with a sharp knife, chop into 24 bars. Enjoy!

This is what it looks like when you pop your breakfast bar concoction out of the pan. If you press it really well, yours will come out perfectly!

Teriyaki Pineapple Quinoa: a tropical vacation for the taste buds

Hi everyone! Sorry for the lapse in posting – the carnivore and I took a last-minute mini-vacation to Maui to kitesurf the huge waves and stand-up paddleboard with the humpback whales, which was amazing! With so much exercise, we worked up huge appetites every day and it was challenging to keep John away from animal-based foods. But luckily the tropics provided some great inspiration for a delicious new vegan dish that is incredibly flavorful, packed with protein, filling and utterly satisfying to Mr. Meatlover: Teriyaki Pineapple Quinoa. I tell ya, it’s like biting into a Hawaiian sunset! This recipe is simply bursting with flavor. Mmm, the vibrant, slightly sweet, sunshiny flavor of pineapple, tangy teriyaki, savory red peppers and green onions blend together with supergrain quinoa to produce a fantastic and unique dish that’s great for lunch or as a side-dish.

The secret ingredient is grilled pineapple. I like to marinate mine in teriyaki sauce overnight since it infuses into the flesh of the fruit so well, but when I leave my brain on the beach and forget to marinate, well, it still works great if you just drizzle it on the pineapple slices right there on the grill.

For some reason, anything involving a grill seems to make most carnivores grunt with delight (you’re picturing a caveman right now, aren’t you?)  And lucky for us, the grill makes the pineapple even more delicious by caramelizing the sugars in the fruit to produce a most luscious flavor. And with 20 grams of protein in just one cup of quinoa, this dish will provide you with plenty of fuel to recharge your muscles. I just made this dish again last night to see if my carnivore likes it as much at home as he did in Maui, and he did! “Anything with pineapple is awesome,” he said. Wow, the lure of pineapple even got him to eat quinoa, which I was scared he’d label a “hippie food,” but it looks like this recipe is truly a keeper with Captain Carnivore…and also with me!

Teriyaki Pineapple Quinoa

Serves: two as a meal, or 6 as a side-dish

From fridge to table: about 25 minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa
6 oz (3/4 cup) pineapple juice (canned is fine)
1 1/4 cup water
2 tbsp soy
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped finely
2 clove garlic, chopped
1 jalepeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2 green onion (aka scallions), chopped, including white part
1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts or chopped cashews
1/4-1/2 cup of a thin teriyaki sauce for drizzling on the pineapple or for marinating

1 pineapple, skinned and cored, and sliced into 1/2″ thick slabs, drizzled with or marinated in teriyaki, then grilled. Then chop it up up to make 1 cup of diced grilled pineapple. (If fresh pineapples aren’t available where you are, you can grill up canned pineapple and it’s quite good).

Cook the quinoa first (and while doing that, you can also grill pineapple to save time – see below). In a medium saucepan, mix together quinoa, pineapple juice, water and soy sauce and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to simmer (on my range, that’s about a 2 on the dial) cover and cook until all the liquid is absorbed, which takes about 15-17 minutes. Remove from heat and keep covered for 5 minutes. Then fluff with a fork and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat up the grill to medium-high. Place the marinated pineapple on the grill, or if you haven’t marinated it, just drizzle some teriyaki sauce on both sides of each slab. Grill for a few minutes until nice grill lines appear on the fruit and it’s getting slightly charred around the edges, then flip it and grill for a few minutes on the other side. It should look like this:

(Oh man, can’t you just taste the tangy, sweet grilled pineapple? I want some right now!)

Once you grill it, steal a slice while no one is looking – it is divine. It’s got a deep, lush, powerfully wonderful flavor. Chop up enough to make 1 cup and save the rest to have as a side dish for another meal – it’s so insanely good! Or just hide it in the back of the fridge so you can have it all to yourself when no one is looking. 🙂

In a fry pan, heat a little bit of olive oil – about 1 tbsp does the trick – over medium heat. Toss in the red pepper, jalepeno and garlic and saute for a few minutes until the red pepper turns orange. Add the nuts and scallion and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the cooked quinoa, basil and chopped grilled pineapple. Stir well and cook for 2 minutes more to blend flavors, then serve while hot. Take a bite and close your eyes as you are transported to a tropical beach where you’re listening to the waves lap the white sand beach, feel a warm, ginger-scented breeze on your face and watch whales frolic as the sun sets on another perfect day in paradise.