Apple Raisin Oatmeal Bars

Sometimes you just want to bake something quick and easy, without fancy ingredients and that everyone will enjoy.  So I guess that's where my Apple Raisin Oatmeal Bars came from.

With a toddler at home and trying to juggle work, school and maintaining a household, I haven't had much time to play in the kitchen.  But these bars were the perfect thing to satisfy my baking desire and my cravings for a little treat.  Plus they are school friendly and made with delicious, whole ingredients.

Soft and chewy apple pie inspired oatmeal bars are perfect for lunches, after school snacks
 or a quick breakfast bite!

Apple Raisin Oatmeal Bars 
2 1/2 cups Rolled Oats
1/4 cup Gluten-Free flour (your fave gf blend will do)
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp Baking powder
1/2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 - 1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice or All Spice
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
3/4 cup Apple Butter (or you could use apple sauce too)
1/2 cup Soy Milk (or your fave non-dairy milk)
 1 Flax Egg (or Chia Egg)
1/4 cup Maple Syrup
1/4 cup Hemp Hearts
1/2 cup Raisins

Preheat your oven to 350F degrees.  Line a 9 x 9 baking pan with parchment paper and set aside while you mix your ingredients.  In a small bowl make your flax/chia egg.  Don't know what I am talking about?  Click here for my post on egg alternatives.

In a large bowl, combine oatmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and spices (essentially all the dry ingredients) and mix thoroughly.  Then add in your vanilla, apple butter, milk, flax egg and maple syrup  and mix until combined.  Then add in your raisins and stir until just combined.

Pour your batter into your lined pan and pop in the oven for 20-30 minutes.  Mine took about 26 minutes to bake so just keep your eye on them and just make sure they are just baked enough so that the centre  is cooked.

Once cool, cut into bars and enjoy!  These bars kept well in an air tight container on the counter, but they also freeze quite nicely.

The whole family really enjoyed these bars.  They weren't too sweet, but perfect as a little treat in lunches or to enjoy with my morning coffee


February Phone Detox

It's a new day, a new week and a new month...the perfect day to start a new healthy habit.  And for the first time for me it doesn't involve exercise or food.   It's all about my phone.

So back in the Fall I got this fancy new phone.  You know the one you can do everything with? You know... Email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, BBM, You Tube and Candy Crush?  All those amazing things we can do from the palm of our hand.  Who wouldn't be excited?!

I knew I had a bit of a phone addiction, but it didn't really hit home until yesterday.  I was in the kitchen making dinner when my 6 year old (yes, 6.year.old.) asked when she can get her own phone!  Yup, a phone...for my kid.  Oh my god...what have I done?!  Immediately, my heart sank and I realized that I was full on dependent on that little rectangle of technology. 

  • Was that all my kids were learning from me?  
  • What kind of example am I?  
  • Have I turned into one of those phone obsessed parents that I would roll my eyes at?  
  • What was I doing?
After trying to explain to my daughter that phones aren't all fun and games and that she didn't actually need one I vowed to detox from my phone.  It was taking over my life and rather than helping me accomplish more, it was just a giant time suck that was not only affecting me but my family.  Now yes, I realize that a cell phone has it's place in today's society.  So I wasn't going to go crazy and throw my phone away.  But I was certainly going to make a big change.

So starting today, I have decided to drastically reduce my technology time.  What does that mean?  Well, it means I won't be playing on my phone while having my coffee and breakfast in the morning. I will also be techno-free from the hours of 4-8pm throughout the week and from 8 am to 8pm on weekends.  Essentially any time I am with my kids. 

Yes, I admit I have a problem.  I am not the perfect mother and yes there have been many times where I have been sitting beside my daughter while she plays on her tablet and I am on my phone.  But that's all changing today.  Not only for me, but also the rest of the family.

Some of you may think I am totally crazy, while others may wonder what took me so long.  But either way, I can only see good things coming from this phone detox.  I'm guessing I will have a lot more time to do all those things I always said I didn't have time for.

Have you ditched your phone or gone unplugged?  How did it go?  Any tips or tricks to unplugging?  Wanna join me?


Festive Mexican-Style Dip

'Tis the season of entertaining and holiday parties.  Now I love a great festive get-together, but sometimes the last minute invites combined with my super busy schedule can leave little time for creating a delicious dish  to please friends and family.

But don't fret...I found the perfect solution for your party needs.  After a quick search through Ricardo's holiday recipes I found this little gem - Mexican-Style Dip!
So this recipe is quite possibly the easiest thing I have ever whipped up.  All you need is a container of guacamole, a container of bruschetta, cucumber and some cilantro.  I also added some sour cream, but that's totally optional.

Are you ready for the instructions?  Better write this down because it's tricky!

Festive Mexican-Style Dip
  1.  Spread guacamole in the bottom of your dish.
  2. Then spread the sour cream on top of the guacamole.
  3. Finally top it of with your bruschetta.
  4. Add diced cucumber and cilantro.
  5. Serve with tortilla chips.
Yup, that's it.  Now, in Ricardo's recipe he makes individual servings in adorable little glasses, but if you don't have time to get fancy, a cute serving dish with do the trick.

I served this dip at our family Christmas party on the weekend and it was a hit!  It's flavourful, light and refreshing and it will definitely have your guests asking for the recipe.
Don't let all the holiday parties or surprise guests stress you out.  Just remember this simple, tasty recipe and your friends & family will be impressed by your culinary skills. Now whether you want share our little secret is up to you!

Disclaimer: I was compensated for this post by Ricardo Cuisine, but as always the views and opinions are my own.


How I Became Vegetarian

Wow, I can't believe I just said that out loud.  Up until now I had just not been eating meat, but I think it's safe to say:

 I. am.Vegetarian.

So how the heck did that happen? Well, it's been a culmination of factors....so let's go back to the beginning.  As a kid I was never a big meat eater.  I would have a bit, but I much preferred fruits and vegetables.  I remember my mom saying that when she was pregnant with me all she wanted was fresh fruits and veggies.  So who knows, maybe it's genetic.
Then time passes....a whole lotta time.  Fast forward a whole lot of crappy food, illnesses and life struggles and that brings us up to a couple years ago.  We had Netflix and a whole whack of awesome documentaries.  I watched so many on so many different topics, but I was really drawn to food and health related films like Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, Supersize Me, Farmegeddon and Vegucated to name a few.

That's when I really started questioning my meat eating habit.  What were the health consequences? How was this impacting the planet? How could I love animals and eat them? 
So I would decrease my meat intake or avoid it all together for short periods of time.  But I always got sucked back in by those delicious tastes and smells.  Trying to avoid meat while still cooking and preparing it for 3 other people was torture.  We would do meatless Monday and I would sneak tofu into my family's favourite dishes to decrease our meat consumption.  But who was I kidding,  I was still a carnivore, even if it was just 6 days a week instead of 7.

OK, so let's fast forward a little more to September 16, 2015.  I was super excited to see Cowspiracy was now on Netflix.  So I cuddled on the couch with the dogs and watched and learned.  I was surprised, shocked, angered and dumbfounded by what was revealed in this film.  In no uncertain terms, eating meat was destroying the planet.  But I think what the last straw was for me was when the film maker went to visit a backyard farm and witness a duck being slaughtered.  This little duck was happy, healthy  and having a wonderful life in this man's yard.  That was until it was his turn on the chopping block.  I couldn't watch...I knew this poor duck's fate and couldn't bare to see it.  This coming from a girl who used to ask for roast duck for her birthday dinner.  After that graphic scene there was a brief moment with the film maker showing how disturbed he was witnessing that duck's slaughter and he said something along the lines of "If I can't kill it myself then I shouldn't eat it."

And that truly stuck with me. I am not a killer. There's no way I could do it so I think it's completely unfair for me to have someone else do my dirty work.  Not too mention what animal farming is doing our environment and our health.  I saw no other option than to stop eating meat.
Every time I see a piece of meat in the store or on someone's plate, all I can see is that cute little animal looking back at me.  A duck is no different than a chicken, pig or a dog.  I couldn't possible think of eating one of our beloved pets so how could I eat any other animal? They are all living beings with feeling and souls and should be treated with love and respect. 

You may think I'm some wacko or weirdo and that's fine. I'm not hurting anyone by not eating meat. 

In fact, I might just be saving them.


Aurorae Aqua Sport & Swim Towel Review

You know, I had never given a whole lot of thought about towels before...that is until I received the Aurorae Aqua Microfiber Sport & Swim Towel to review.
I knew when it arrived in the mail that it was something special.  The towel I received is a gorgeous blue and the first thing I noticed was how soft and plush it was.  The towel feels so thick and luxurious, but it's surprisingly lightweight.

My kids immediately wanted to try it out so off to the tub we went.  The Aurorae Aqua Sport & Swim Towel was amazing at bath time.  It was able to dry off both wriggling girls in just a few seconds and the microfiber was amazing at soaking up all the water from their long locks in no time.  And yes, this is very important when you're dealing with a cranky toddler!

Of course after seeing it in action I had to try it out myself.  I was impressed by how soft and absorbent the towel is, especially compared to my thick and heavy cotton towels.  The Aurorae Aqua & Sport towel also dried my hair way faster then any of my own towels!  That's a big deal in the morning when you're trying to get everyone to school and work on time.

I have also used the towel as a blanket while watching the stars and snuggling on the couch and the girls love wrapping themselves up in it like a giant burrito.  It's a great size and it dries super fast!  This is definitely our new go-to beach, pool and camping towel! 

 But don't just take my word for it, get one for yourself! 

 Disclaimer: I was provided this product  free of charge from Aurorae for the purposes of this review.  As always, the opinions expressed are my own.
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