Protein Bars and No Flour Muffins

Do you need an idea for something to put in your school lunches this week? Or maybe a healthy snack option to curb your preschooler’s hunger? Or a quick bit of dessert for supper? These are very quick, simple recipes that even young cooks could make. We enjoy both of these!

Protein Bars πŸ₯₯🍯

3 1/2 c oatmeal

1 c unsweetened coconut

1/2 c flax meal

1/3 c chia seeds

1 c peanut butter

1/2 c melted coconut oil

2/3 c honey

Stir together wet ingredients and pour over the dry ingredients in mixing bowl. Stir well to combine and press into a 9×13 pan. Refrigerate. These firm up nicely when you store them in the fridge.

These bars are very tasty and chuck full of good ingredients! I use Smuckers Natural Peanut Butter because it doesn’t contain extra sugar or hydrogenated oils. You can use either refined or virgin coconut oil. I grind up both my flax seed and chia seeds and keep them fresh in a jar in the freezer. A Juice Plus Doctor’s wife told me that chia seeds go right through you if you don’t grind them up first, so I like to make sure I get their super health benefits! (and just a hint, likely your picky eaters won’t notice them if they’re ground up!)

Banana Muffins 🍌🍌

1 c peanut butter

3 eggs

1/4 c honey

1 tsp vanilla

2 ripe bananas, mashed

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 c chocolate chips

Whisk together first five ingredients then add the rest and blend gently. Pour into lined muffin tins. Bake at 350 for 20 to 23 minutes. They will sink down a bit as they cool. Makes one dozen. (Used with permission from Simple Foods cookbook)

You would not guess these muffins have no flour in them! Using sugar free or dark chocolate chips is a healthier option. This recipe is also a great way to use up those forsaken bananas sitting in the fruit bowl!

Josie LOVES these muffins!! πŸ˜‹

Where’s More Ketchup?!

I want to tell you how fun it is to organize kitchen spaces and what I have found to work for me. It may not be feasible for everyone but hopefully it will give you some ideas to inspire your own organization!

Now, I know we’re not all blessed with pantries. I never had one till we moved to this house and so having one feels luxurious! I know the frustration of conglomerated heaps of bags and cans and boxes! I would try to categorize somewhat, but that too can be difficult if you don’t have much space. One major thing that helps me is to utilize baskets in my pantry! You can use baskets/bins anywhere you have some room to store groceries. It’s ok if you need to store some things in a bedroom closet or another unusual place! Big totes would be especially helpful in that case. Find what works for you and your house.

These baskets help to keep items in their proper place rather than congregating all over the shelves. It still bothers me that they’re not all the same color but when I was buying them, I was unsure how many I would need and then later I could not find this aqua color. But I remind myself the baskets still work, even though it doesn’t look as nice as having them all identical!πŸ€ͺ I found these at Walmart, but have seen them at Target also. Decide what you would like to put together in each basket and then label it. Yes, add labels! I know you know what’s in there, but when others in your household are looking for something, it helps to be able to say, “it’s in the drink basket” etc. Plus I think it looks nice too. I had chalk labels but I saw it was not practical because the writing rubbed off too easy. So I put practical above pretty and went with plain white labels. They stick well and the writing stands out heaps better and doesn’t get brushed off. ( but as you can see, I’m still using some on my pantry containers…. I still like the looks on there and just put up with the rubbing off! )😜 And just a side note here on labeling, masking tape also works beautifully to label jars and containers! I keep a roll in my kitchen just to label foods. It sticks well, but peels off easily without sticky residue left behind, and you can write on it with a permanent marker. Especially freezer items or jars of pizza sauce, salsa, and ketchup that someone may have a hard time deciphering which is which. I give credit to my mother- in-law for that tip on masking tape when I was newly married.πŸ˜‰

Now back to my pantry. I don’t store an excessive amount of extras like say cream of mushroom soup. Some people like to buy that by the case. Well, in that case, you might want to store most of that elsewhere and only keep a half dozen or so in your pantry to save on space. I personally don’t like to use a lot of that because it has MSG and other additives. So that’s why I can store my boughten canned items in two baskets. I also keep my can opener right there by the cans.

My most problematic area is the floor space of my pantry. It’s all too easy to plop bags of stuff in there and shut the door. I try to only allow that if it’s temporary. Like, if I’m going to be using a lot of it in the next few days, or if I simply don’t have the time to put things in their designated spots as soon as I get home with groceries. But the next day or as soon as I can, I try to put things away respectably. I’ve learned that large baskets help so much to control the chaotic prone atmosphere. I keep extra things in the baskets like flour, sugars, oatmeal etc. I like how I can fill up my flour or oatmeal containers, and if it’s the last I have of it, it gives me time to buy more before I’m completely out.

Also, having some margin is a must! How fun is it to pull off the cracker container and three others come crashing down in the process?! If I have to pull off the pretzel container and reach behind the chip container to pull out the crackers, and thus knocking another one over with my elbow, there will definitely be an occurrence of loud sighs from this Mama! You can’t expect things to stay neat if there’s absolutely no extra room. Allow a little extra space so everyone and everything can breathe a bit better!πŸ˜… And then when your family is eating supper and someone yells, “where’s more ketchup?!” you can calmly reply, “in the middle basket on the third shelf”.

Another area I want to tell you about is my container cabinet. I struggled a long while to keep it easily accessible, yet neat. I looked on Pinterest for ideas, but most of those did not work for me. Then, in one of my organizing streaks, I had this extra basket and was looking how I could use it. Its a bit taller so I turned it on it’s side and stacked my lids in it. So far it’s been a hit with me! I could finally keep them easy to reach without the others going whooshing down on the shelf as soon as I pulled out one lid! This also helped so that I could better stack my containers in each other, rather than storing the lids on the containers.

The turquoise basket I keep for my disposable containers like cool whip and yogurt. It keeps them together and when I need one, I pull out the basket to retrieve the item, then shove it back in. Works like a drawer. There’s no lids or containers sailing to the floor to get attention! (so I imagine their thoughts πŸ˜‚) My rule is, once this basket is full, I pitch any extra containers because I don’t like clutter! But when I start getting a little low, then I save them again. I do not appreciate towering stacks of cool whip and yogurt and cottage cheese containers! But if you do, then by all means keep your stacks!

We do not use the toaster a whole lot so it doesn’t merit sitting on my counter. But neither do I want a big “awgishick” (for those who don’t know PA Dutch, a big hassle) when I do want to use it. I use my blender a lot more, so it sits up front. When I want the toaster, there’s room to push the blender to the side, pull the toaster up front, on the tea towel, and get it out. It’s on the towel so it slides better, plus it catches those crumbs that make cabinets cleaning so necessary at times! Occasionally, give that tea towel a good shake and be rid of those crumbs in a jiff!

Whenever I get done straightening up a closet or cabinets, there’s such a huge sigh of relief and feeling of accomplishment! Now, head to Walmart and buy a few baskets for yourself!