Peanut Pretzel Bars

Now that school is back in session, I’m back to grocery shopping by myself and it feels like such a luxury.  Among all of the many activities that I love doing with my children, grocery shopping is not one of them.  Because shopping with them is bit tricky, I try hard to stay organized with my list and I make the outings as quick as I can.  I celebrated my first grocery shopping trip sans-children by meandering slowly through the aisles while basking in the quietness of it all.  The snack aisle is my weakness, and there were these peanut pretzel bars that caught my eye.  I slipped the box into my cart and managed to wait until I got into the car to break into one.  It was the perfect balance of sweet and salty, and peanut butter along with dark chocolate is always a winning combination.  Within two days I had my own version- a crispy, chewy no-bake bar filled with peanuts, pretzels, oats, and  brown rice crisps.  It’s bound together with peanut butter and brown rice syrup, and finished off with a quick dip in melted dark chocolate.  For the longest time I’d resisted brown rice syrup, not wanting to buy yet another variety of sweetener, and instead sticking with the more common honey or maple syrup.  My curiosity got the best of me and I finally tried brown rice syrup.  And it really does make a better snacking bar.  It lends to a perfect chewy texture, has a much more mild flavor than the more pronounced honey and maple syrup, and is completely worth the extra storage space in the pantry.  Hope you enjoy.  xo

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Lentil Bulgar Salad

With the fall season peeking around the corner,  I find myself still enjoying the abundance of summer’s bounty while beginning to feel ready to settle into the comfort foods of autumn.  This lentil bulgar salad is perfect to help ease the transition from late summer to early fall.   There are cool crisp cucumbers with fresh parsley and scallions, balanced with some hearty bulgar wheat and earthy french green lentils.  Bulgar wheat is my secret weapon grain for a bulking up a last minute salad since it requires little to no cooking, and I always make sure to have a bag stocked in my pantry.   Walnuts add a bit of crunch and some chopped olives and crumbled feta add a salty flair.  It makes a great packable lunch and keeps well in the refrigerator for several days.  It’s difficult to make brown food look appealing, but I hope you’ll trust me on this one- it’s truly a delicious salad.  xo

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Frozen Pineapple Pops with Dark Chocolate and Coconut

We were walking the streets of Hong Kong, heading towards a restaurant for lunch, when the kids noticed a little cart selling adorable pineapple pops.  They begged me to stop.  It was unbearably hot and the thought of a cool treat was tempting, but I knew even one pineapple pop would take away their appetites for lunch. (Apparently I was not being much fun that day.)  We reluctantly moved on and I promised we would make our own version once we returned home.  So here they are- the frozen pineapple pops we never had in Hong Kong.  I realize this is an idea rather than a recipe, but sometimes inspiration is best when kept simple.  Finding a perfectly ripe and sweet pineapple is key, so search out the best you can find.  My kids loved these best after being frozen for 4-5 hours when the pineapple is firm yet still soft enough to bite.

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