Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Oaty Crumble Bars (vegan + gluten free!)

Autumn is truly here and I just love the orange, yellow and auburn trees, it makes Stockholm very stunning this time of year. I also very much appreciate the bounty all around, especially the precious presents from my mom's garden that made their way across the Atlantic!

But at the same time comes the cold and I'm afraid I'm not very good at dealing with it. Activities slow down, one moves less, eats more, gets ready for hibernation and being trapped in layers of clothing. So many say that I should embrace the dreadful winter but I am not sure how?

One way I gladly (or reluctantly?) deal with the cold is by eating delicious food, especially carbohydrates!

Did you know that carbohydrates that you don't burn (via physical activity) turn into stored fat in your body? Well I didn't really understand that until I got to my food-science courses at university. And I also saw it happen to my own body as I aged. A plant-based diet is interesting because it's composed predominantly of carbohydrates. There are legumes (beans, lentils, peas), which are high in protein, but they're also carbohydrates so that means you're getting both carbohydrates and proteins when you eat, for example, beans! So when you get served beans and rice, eat more of the beans and less of the rice if you don't want that rice to turn into fat in your body! This advice is mostly for people who are not very physically active, or are moderately so. If you're working out intensely every day, then you need to consume more carbohydrates. But for the rest of us, lets be careful with carbs! Know your limits -- a palm size portion of rice/pasta/bread per meal does the trick.

Carbs = ENERGY!
This is not to scare you away from carbohydrates, just shed a little light. Carbohydrates are important to the body as they provide energy. Moreover, they are essential after a workout to burn calories along with a little bit of protein. If you ate only protein and no carbs, your body would start burning muscles instead. So take no extreme measures!

I used to think that just because a food was "healthy" that I could eat as much as I wanted. Well, I'm afraid I learned the hard way that that's not true. Portion control is important, no matter what! And all this hype about coconut oil? Well at the end of the day, it's fat and fat that is not burned, like carbohydrates, turn into stored fat in your body.

Wheat Wheat Wheat
That said, I'm sharing a recipe from My New Roots made with oats. Oats are high in protein, B-vitamins and provide fiber among other things. The white wheat that is in most baked goods is stripped of nutrition and I think we eat way too much wheat than we should! Think about it, wheat bread for breakfast, maybe bulgur salad or pasta for lunch, maybe a burger for dinner? That's a lot of wheat. It's always better to eat a varied diet so you get different kinds of nutrients from different foods. I gladly embrace using alternative flours and grains so that my diet doesn't consist mainly of wheat!

I really liked how these crumble bars came out because they provide a crunchy top, chewy crust and subtle sweetness. I cut down on a lot of sweetener that was in the original recipe and used extra apple sauce instead. (Note: fruit is also sugar at the end of the day but it's natural sugar, which the body digests better!) This recipe really hits the spot in terms of providing a sweet snack for tea or fika or even as the sweet ending for breakfast. It utilizes mostly fruits and oats, which are all good things to incorporate into your diet, so I like it, and hope that you will too!


Berry Oat Crumble Bars
Makes 10 - 12 pieces
Adapted from My New Roots

1 cup / 2 dl oat* flour (grind rolled oats in the processor)
1/4 cup / 1/2 dl rolled oats*
1/2 tsp / tsk baking powder
1/8 tsp / tsk salt
1 tbs / msk coconut sugar
1/4 cup / 1/2 dl unsweetened applesauce
1/2 tbs / msk melted coconut oil
1/2 tsp / tsk vanilla extract

1/3 cup / 1 dl frozen blueberries
1/3 cup / 1 dl frozen raspberries
1/3 cup / 1 dl frozen strawberries, chopped
1/3 cup / 1 dl apple, peeled and chopped
1/2 tbs / msk coconut sugar
1 tsp / tsk potato starch
A pinch of salt

1/4 cup / 1/2 dl rice flour
1/2 cup / 1 dl rolled oats*
1 tbs / msk melted coconut oil
1 tbs / msk coconut sugar
1 tbs / msk applesauce
1/3 cup / 1 dl chopped toasted hazelnuts
1/8 tsp / tsk salt

*Use certified gluten-free oats if gluten-intolerant

1. Preheat the oven to 190C or 375F. In a bowl, mix oat flour, oats, baking powder, salt coconut sugar, applesauce, and coconut oil until it forms into a dough. Spread evenly with your fingers into a tart pan or an 8 x 8 inch square pan. 
2. Mix the frozen berries, apple, coconut sugar, potato starch and salt together. Pour onto the unbaked crust. 
3. In a separate bowl, mix the rice flour, rolled oats, coconut oil, sugar, applesauce, hazelnuts and salt until crumbly. Spread evenly over the fruit mixture. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden on top. Cool before cutting. Store the rest in an air-tight container in the fridge. Enjoy! 

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