Cranberry Almond Protein Bars

You asked for protein bars.  Repeatedly.  And of all the things that I have on my interminable recipe request list – these were the easiest to keep pushing to the back of the queue.  Repeatedly.  I freely admit that I have procrastinated on protein bars because they scared me.  I mean, where do you even start with making a protein bar?

Typically, it turns out the fear was far greater than the reality.  The lovely Lori sent me a note with an idea of where I might start – and after a short dabble in the kitchen – Protein Bars 1.0 were born.

I dumped the dough in a storage container and took it to the office.  All day long people were wandering into my office to cut chunks off of “The Blob”.  The flavor was a *HUGE* hit.  The problem was the consistency.  Like peanut butter, almond butter gets oily and separates when left to its own devices.  My bars suffered the same fate.  If “The Blob” was kept in the ‘fridge it was fine, but 30 minutes after removing it from the big chill, oiliness ensued.  Blast.

Back in the Marmalade HQ kitchen I tweaked the recipe here and there, tweaked the method here and there, and voila!  Protein Bars 2.0 were exactly what I’d had in mind.  Thanks for pushing me over the edge, Lori!

Carrie Brown  |  Cranberry Almond Protein Bars

I’ll warn you now – they are a bit of a process.  10 minutes to make, but 12 hours to get them from dough to transportable bar.  I’ll keep working on more bars, but I freely admit I am pretty darn pleased with how these turned out.

Here.  Have some Cranberry Almond Protein Bars.

 

4.5 from 4 reviews
Cranberry Almond Protein Bars
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup / 4 fl oz. almond butter, creamy unsalted
  • ¼ tsp almond extract
  • ⅓ cup / 3 fl oz. COLD water
  • 11 oz. / 310g vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1 TBSP chia seeds
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp guar gum
  • 1½ oz. / 40g flaked almonds
  • 2 oz. / 55g dried cranberries, finely chopped
Instructions
  1. In a bowl, using a hand mixer or blender, mix the almond butter, almond extract and cold water together until completely mixed. This takes several minutes.
  2. In another bowl, add the whey powder, salt, guar gum, and chia seeds and mix well.
  3. Crush the flaked almonds in your hands and add them to the dry ingredients.
  4. Add the finely chopped dried cranberries and rub them through the dry ingredients with your fingers to separate them.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the almond butter mixture and stir until it has formed a dry dough.
  6. Turn the dough on to a surface and knead the last of the dry ingredients in until you have a smooth, shiny dough. It will be slightly sticky.
  7. Wrap the dough in plastic and leave to rest for an hour.
  8. Roll the dough out to ¼ inch thick and cut into bars.
  9. You will need to use a sharp knife to slide under each bar to get them off the surface you rolled them out on.
  10. Carefully move each bar to a flat plate or board.
  11. Leave the bars to dry for 12 hours. Every 30 minutes or so, using a sharp knife to pick them up, turn each bar over. This helps the bars to dry evenly.
  12. After 12 hours the bars will have firmed up considerably and formed a 'crust', making them easy to pick up with your fingers.
  13. Wrap each bar in parchment paper or store in an air-tight container with parchment paper between the layers.

Carrie Brown | Cranberry Almond Protein Bars

 

 

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Sarah - Maybe to help the process of drying along you could dehydrate them slowly in a warm oven? Like the lowest heat setting possible for a couple hours? So then they arent really baked per se, more dried & dehydrated. I do this to make my own chicken jerky treats for the dogs with boiled chicken cut into strips. LOL :-)

Sarah - Oh & they sound divine! I need some guar gum I guess to make them…or do you think xantham gum would work as well? I think I have some of that from some bread I’ve made before.

carrie - Sarah – good thought, but I think this could end up a big mess with the almond butter :-( You could almost certainly use xanthan gum instead, although it is usually used for hot applications it should still work here.

Sarah - True, I didn’t even think of the almond butter melting, it’d have to be more of a ground almond mixture probably to prevent that. Hmmmm….I must try this recipe & think on it some more.

Becky - Ok, I’m working on these right now! Can’t wait to see how they turn out! :) I was hoping that since Jonathan likes Quest bars (and because of him, my husband and I are now in love with them) that your bars would be like theirs. It looks like they may be similar. Yay! We’re spending a small fortune on Quest bars :) We’ve probably eaten 4 dozen since October last year when we saw Jonathan recommended them.

Nancy - Are these chewy or crunchy? Looks like chewy from the ingredients but just asking. I tried Jonathan’s chocolate peanut butter protein fudge. It didn’t get very solid in the fridge so have to tweak.

carrie - Chewy, Nancy! Yes, our beloved Jonathan is no chef ;-)

Nancy - I sort of suspicioned that Carrie :) Boy can that man wax poetic about egg whites and raw vegetables!

BUT, some yummy fudge that was actually good for you would be great and I have yet to try a recipe from you that let me down. So add that to your LONG list of recipes to create.

Janknitz - Hi Carrie,

I made these last night. I put them in my dehydrator at a low temperature setting and they were just right, texturewise, this morning. And instead of parchment paper, which never stays wrapped, I wrapped them in non-stick foil and then put them in a canning jar which I vacuum sealed. That should keep them nice and fresh.

I do have a few questions about the recipe. 1 tsp salt seems like a lot, but I may just be sensitive to salt lately.

It needs “something”–not sure what yet. I was thinking of adding some cinnamon and ginger to my next batch, or maybe some cocoa powder.

Anyway, thanks for the recipe.

Nancy - Okay, back again. I made the bars this morning, came home from work and they are delicious. Exactly that sort of chewy satisfying mouth feel one often longs for in a snack. Mine look exactly like the ones you have in the photo.

For grins I did a quick calculation and determined each bar has about 13gm of protein.

carrie - So glad you loved them Nancy! The protein content will depend on which protein powder is used and how many bars are made, so your figure won’t be true for all.

carrie - Good call on the dehydrator, Janknitz! On the salt – this counteracts the bitterness of the whey powder, but if you use a different whey protein to me then you may need more or less or none. Alter to taste for next time!

carrie - I’ll add fudge to the list, Nancy!

carrie - Hi Becky – yes they were fashinoned after Quest bars as that’s what I eat :-)

carrie - The almond butter is the glue, Sarah. Someone else dried them in a dehydrator to good effect. Do you have one?

Carole - These look great thanks very much! One quick query…could you swap the almond butter for peanut butter? Or would this not work aswel?

Sarah - I don’t have a dehydrator but have been seriously considering getting 1 for a year or so now….
I made them last night though & they were amazing! I loved the amount of salt & how they aren’t too sweet at all! I put them on a metal rack I have & left them to dry overnight & they were perfect! No dehydrator or turning necessary. :-)
I had to put them in the freezer so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat too many! They were pretty easy to make too, other than mixing, which was a really sticky affair. Lol
Had a bar for breakfast along with my green smoothie & it really made my morning, thanks so much for this awesome recipe! I will definitely be making again!

Liz - Hi Carrie
I notice a lot of your recipes contain whey powder.
I am trying to avoid dairy.
With what can I replace this? can I use vanilla extract- liquid- or do you need a powder constituent in the recipe? Could I use ground almond?
What role does it play? Binding? or is it the powder state that is essential?
(I am in the UK)
Thanks for all your experimenting and delicious recipes!
Liz

carrie - Hi Liz – if you remove the whey protein powder they won’t be protein bars. We use whey powder a lot because it is the best form of protein, however, you can sub out for another protein powder if you can’t have whey – pea protein, rice protein – we don’t receommed soy protein though. I cannot vouch for the taste or the quantity, but it’s worth giving it a go if a protein bar is waht you were after. Hope that helps!

carrie - Sarah – great call on the matel rack! They are a bit sticky getting them together, but hope you felt they were worth it :-)

carrie - Hi Carole – you could use peanut butter instead, just not sure how good it would taste with cranberries and vanilla.

Marie-Helene - Mmmm. These look good. I would suggest trying to replace almond butter with almond flour (powder) and adding some coconut oil. And possibly baking them. I have done similar ones in past and I’m sure they would be divine… :)

Liz - Thanks Carrie
Oh dear how daft am I! asking if I can remove the protein from protein bars!(ha ha) It was more the whey aspect I focussed upon therefore missing the protein aspect and thinking the nuts would be the protein! Oh well maybe there is hope for me as I try to ‘keep up with the program at the back!’ (favourite phrase my husband frequently says to me!!!

Pip - Hi Carrie. The only dried cranberries I can find here (Australia) have sugar added. Have you any suggestions for alternatives?

carrie - Pip – unsweetened cranberries are very hard to find. I used sweetened.

carrie - Liz, you made me smile :-)

Stacey Laitinen - Carrie, I just wanted to do why you don’t use almond meal instead of flakes… would it absorb some of the oil? Just curious…Thanks! Love your recipes!

carrie - Hi Stacey – good thinking, but almond meal does not absorb like say flour would. The almond pieces were there to add crunch to the proceedings. Also, adding almond meal would make the dough impossibly dry. Hope that helps. Thanks for the recipe love!!

Meghan - Hey Carrie,
I KNOW calories do not matter but do you have the nutrition facts for this recipe or any of your recipes?

carrie - Meghan – No :-) We don’t focus on the minutiae. We just focus on eating as many SANE foods as possible. Everything else takes care of itself. Also, for this particular recipe, the data would vary depending on what protein powder you use. Most recipes have so many variables that the nutrition data would not be accurate and I do not want to mis-lead.

Susan - This are drying right now on my cooling rack. I had a nibble already though because I am known for eat cookies right out of the oven…no willpower to wait!

They are very tasty and I have to believe the cost per bar is significantly less than any protein bar out there…even with the 1 1/3 cups whey powder!

Keep up with great work! Looking forward to variations of this…would love chocolate/peanut butter combo.

Susan

carrie - Hi Susan – so glad you loved the protein bars! I will have more varities as soon as I can get to it. Choc / PB is a great idea!

Emily - Have to say, I made these with other fruit and they were really, really good. I know you don’t count the nutrients, but mine ended up with more carbs than protein, even if you take out the dried fruit. They were also not cheap to make, at over $5.00NZ ($4.50US)each for 8 bars. But they were good, and not too high in carbs to make it really naughty! It may well be that protein powder in the US has higher ratio of protein than here – so many things are different, it’s surprising.
Many thanks for all the great recipes – please keep them coming!

carrie - Emily – the differenbces in some of what you think are the “same” ingredients can be staggering! a differebt brand of protein powder would make a huge difference to the composition. YOu are right we don’t count nutirents – we just don’t eat starches and sugars. Carbs are not bad, starches are. Thanks for the recipe love!

Susannah - These are delicious! I just made my second batch and am having a hard time limiting myself to just one bar at a time! I made some substitutions based on what I had in the kitchen, peanut butter in place of almond butter and ON chocolate whey protein instead of vanilla. I didn’t add the almond extract, cranberries or flaked almonds beacuase i didnt have any and decreased the salt because my pb was salted. Such a winner, thanks for all that you do!

carrie - Thwy sound awesome, Susannah!

Matt Barnes - Hi Carrie! I tried a version of your recipe and used vanilla Plant Fusion vegan protein and Plum Amazings for the cranberries because I didn’t have access to unsweetened cranberries. It was super dry and I had to add like 5 or 6 tablespoons of water to it. Is there a formula to use vegan protein instead? Thanks for your help!

danielle - another great recipe Carrie!! Thank you again! I used peanut butter because that is what I had and didn’t add the salt, but did everything else and it was fantastic!! 3 year old approved!

carrie - Danielle, I love your three-year-old!! :-)

Matilda - As you would be aware from Twitter I made these today.
Ok so I didn’t have 1/2 cup of almond butter (only about 1/6th of a cup), but I made up the rest with sunbutter (worked fine btw).
I also didn’t have flaked almonds, so I used pepitas and did the trick.
I also used my dehydrator to dry them out (2 hours, 1 hour each side).
They are now in a container ready to go when I need a snack.

Louisa - Carrie, I did a back of the envelope calculation on the protein and came to about 13.5 g/bar. I’ve noticed that a lot of protein servings come up short of 30g. Is there any reason for that? Even my whey powder would need 1-1/2 servings to get over 30g. Given the science, I’m surprised that isn’t the target for a serving. So I’m left to wonder why.

carrie - Hi Louisa – the protein content will vary depending on what protein powder you use. If you are eating just a protein bar and want to hit 30g in one sitting then cut the bars accordingly. However, we would never recommend just having a protein bar as a meal. You would typically eat it as a snack or as a dessert after a meal. If having it as part of a meal you would need to add the protein in the bar to whatever you ate as a protein in your meal. Hope that helps! Plus, remember that hitting the 30g MAXIMISES muscle synthesis, but nothing bad happens if you don’t reach that at every meal. Quest bars don’t have 30g protein in either.

Lori - Wow. These are sticky! But – they taste good. I didn’t include the cranberries. I don’t have any in the house and since it is snowing again – didn’t want to run to the store. I don’t know if it was because of that or the way I rolled the dough, but I only got seven bars. They are sitting and drying out now – can’t wait until they are done.

They aren’t tough to make, once you figure out how to work with the stickiness.

Sally Capehorn - I have made these twice, very nice both times. The 1st time I made as instructed with the turning over of the bars continually. On the 2nd occasion I didn’t have time to roll out and left the mixture in a large mixing bowl in the fridge until the following evening. When I removed it was a large hard lump, I had used double quantity, whoops I thought I’m in trouble! Anyway after several attempts to roll I gave in and had the bright idea to slice with a sharp knife. It worked a treat without the many hours of turning over. Worked for me so thought I would share.

Apricot Cardamom Muffins

Much of the time, the ideas for my *SANE concoctions are really rather random.  I might be rambling through the produce section and spy some staggeringly sexy looking vegetable, or I’ll affectionately remember something I used to love eating when I was young and use that as a starting point for a SANE version.  Every once in a while I have a plan.

There was absolutely nothing random about these muffins.  They were inspired by a donut.  A very particular donut.  A very special donut.  I made them in honor of the world’s best donut – the Apricot Cardamom Donut – which can be found in abundance, languishing in a deep fat fryer over at Dynamo Donuts, in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District.

Apricot Cardamom Donut

My first rendezvous with this glorious donut-of-all-donuts came after a chance encounter with a stranger at Lennox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, long before Mr. Bailor came charging into my life with all this talk of eating more and exercising less, smarter.  I was still living in it-doesn’t-matter-what-I-do-I-can’t-lose-weight land.  Donuts were my friend.

Since that first taste of the exquisiteness that is Dynamo’s Apricot Cardamom Donut, I have been entirely unable to go anywhere near San Francisco without swinging by to eat one.  Or, let’s face it – several.  On New Years Day 2012 – on my drive back to Seattle from a 2-week photo shoot to Southern California – I detoured 83 miles off the I-5 and paid road tolls in order to drive through San Francisco expressly to stop and eat Apricot Cardamom Donuts at Dynamo.  And last April, those brilliant folks at Dynamo made a batch of them just for me when they found out I was leaving for the long haul back to Seattle the next day.  Yeah.  I am *really* fond of these donuts.

With a San Francisco drive-by pending, memories of donut awesomeness were careering around my brain as I was starting to pack.  Then it occurred to me that all I had to do was create a SANE version.  Ding!  Ding!  Ding!  So in honor of the finest donut ever to pass my lips, I give you Apricot Cardamom Muffins. 

Carrie Brown  |  Apricot Cardamom Muffins

The smell wafting around the Marmalade HQ kitchen while these were baking was fragrantly delicious beyond description.  I almost could not wait to pull them out of the oven.  And when they were out, I was in Apricot Cardamom heaven.  Not to mention that everyone at the office let out a chorus of “Mmmmmmmmm’s!!” when they tried them.  These might just be my favorite thing I’ve made yet.

I took some into the studio for Jonathan to munch on while we were podcasting.  His reaction was epic.  Arms waving wildly, he exclaimed, “These muffins are the **bleep** BOMB!!”  I think he liked them.  I have never seen Bailor get so excited about food.  Honestly, I didn’t think Bailor could get that excited about food.  He said, “I feel like I could be sitting in a Parisian café sipping coffee and eating fantastic cake”.  He is so cute when he gets excited.

Carrie Brown | Apricot Cardamom Muffins

If you tried the Cinnamon Raisin Muffins, these are quite different.  They are more like cake than the rugged, nuttiness of the Cinnamon Raisin ones.  And given that I am perpetually confused over American names for food, I wondered if I should call these Apricot Cardamom Cupcakes instead.  Which got me thinking about whether I even understood what the difference was between the two.  I didn’t.  A short search on the internet set me straight though, and made me feel better; because it turns out no one knows.  I found a hundred different – often heated – debates on the difference between the two.  Blimey, the things people get upset about.  In the end I decided to go with my favorite cupcake v. muffin difference quote:

“Nothing,” the pastry chef said, explaining that when it comes to breakfast, Americans have a Puritanical inhibition. “Muffins are just an excuse to eat cake for breakfast”. 

Carrie Brown  |  Apricot Cardamom Muffins

Call them a muffin or call them a cupcake – eat these babies for breakfast and have yourself a seriously *SANE and delicious start to your day.

 

4.7 from 3 reviews
Apricot Cardamom Muffins
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
Ingredients
  • Coconut oil spray
  • 2 oz / 55g sunflower seeds
  • ½ oz / 15g chia seeds
  • 4½ oz / 125g almond flour / ground almonds (NOT meal)
  • 1 oz / 28g vanilla whey protein powder
  • 3 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 2 oz / 55g xylitol
  • 4 oz / 110g dried apricots, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup / 6 fl oz. cold water
Instructions
  1. Spray 12 silicone muffin cups with coconut oil spray and place in muffin pan.
  2. Grind the sunflower and chia seeds in a coffee grinder until very fine. (If you use a Vitamix be very careful you do not end up with sunflower butter!)
  3. Tip ground seeds into a mixing bowl and add the almond flour, whey powder, cardamom, baking powder, salt, and xylitol and mix thoroughly.
  4. Add the chopped apricots and rub through the dry ingredients with your fingers to separate the pieces.
  5. Whisk the eggs and cold water in a bowl and add to the dry ingredients, mixing quickly until completely combined.
  6. Carefully pour or spoon the mixture evenly into the muffin cups - they should be slightly under-filled.
  7. Place in center of oven at 300F for 35 minutes, until golden brown.
  8. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes until you can handle the silicone cups.
  9. Turn each cup top down in one hand, and using the other hand gently squeeze the sides of the cup all the way round until the sides release and the muffin pops out. Be gentle.
  10. Place each muffin on a cooling rack to cool.

Carrie Brown | Apricot Cardamom Muffins

 

 

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Chantel - These look fab but just wondered how many we are allowed to eat in one sitting and still not be naughty? I don’t think that one would be enough!! He he

Nancy - Hi Carrie, LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog, your recipes, and your great podcasts with Jonathan. I have been eating SANELY since 1-1-13 and couldn’t be happier. You’ve even convinced me to walk past my scale in the morning. Anyway I can get you to put me on your list of food tasters? I’ll pay the postage if you want to send me some of these amazing-looking muffins!

Thanks for all you do.

Nancy in Atlanta

Megan - Carrie,

Are the sunflower seeds with or without shells?

Susan - Carrie,
You have created a monster! Just kidding. I needed something to take up to the mountains on a XC ski trip…these are perfect. Just made them and they came out perfect and yes I ate one right away!

This recipe easily translates to other fruits/spices…can’t wait to experiment.

Keep up the SANE work!
-Susan

Lori Borenstein - I heard a great descritpion of the difference between almond meal and almond flour I want to share. Almond meal includes the skin of the almond. Almond flour is skinless (I guess that’s what makes it smoother). Also, I think they also blanch the almonds with the almond flour. Hope that helps some readers with the difference. King Arthur Flour makes an Almond Flour and Trader Joe’s sells Almond Meal.

Deborah - I am really looking forward to making these! You list the sunflower seeds, chia seeds, almond flour and xylitol by weight. I do not have a food scale. Do you have any idea how much of these you used by cup or tsp? I can probably figure out the apricots from the package. Sorry, for being a pain. The last few baked items like this I made did not turn out well. So, I don’t want to guess.

thanks :)

Deborah in Sammamish

Janknitz - Deborah, it’s highly worth considering getting an inexpensive baking scale. It makes measuring so much more accurate and easy (no measuring cups to wash!).

But in the absence of a scale, look for an app called Kitchen Pro from ForwardLeapSoftware.com. I’m not sure if there’s a pc version or not, but I have the iPhone app and it comes in handy. It will convert measurements, including weight, volume, temperature and length. What’s really great is you can take a weight measurement like 4 1/2 oz of ground almonds and convert it to a volume measurement for that particular ingredient (remember, different ingredients have different weights, even with the same volume).

I don’t recall if it was a free or paid app, but it’s a great app and very much worth whatever I paid for it.

carrie - Chantel – this is a very long and complex answer and there’s a whole post coming soon! THANK YOU for swinging by :-)

carrie - THANK YOU, THANK YOU, Nancy!! Nest step – toss the scale :-)

carrie - Megan – without shells.

carrie - Susan – it’s a happy, friendly, healthy monster :-) Hope you had a fabulous ski trip!!

carrie - Deborah – please, please, please grab yourself a scale :-) The reason I weigh is because you get consistent (great) results – which you never will if you go by volume. Right now I can’t help further as I am away from my kitchen :-(

carrie - THANKS, Janknitz!!

Lori Borenstein - OH no… I don’t have xylitol! Can I use Trader Joe’s Stevia powder instead? If so, what quantity?

carrie - Lori – in this case the xylitol is just to sweeten so you can sub out for stevia. Use whatever amount of stevia is equivalent to 2 oz regular sugar – I have no clue what that is, as I am not a stevia user. Hope that helps even a little!

Lori Borenstein - I haven’t used cardamom before and I love the light citrus-floral aroma/taste it brings. The only thing that would make it a “5 star” would be some sort of simple thin glaze like in the donut picture.

carrie - Except without sugar “glaze” is not simple ;-) However, I just rustled up a prototype glaze which was way more successfully than I thought it would be. Now I just have to refine it. You could keep me busy with requests, all on your own :-)

Cowgirl Rae - OOOH, I purchased some cardamom, now I’m afraid, it’s very different than anything I usually use. We REALLY like nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice. Cardamom is nothing like that. If I follow the recipe what is the level of cardamom flavor. Low, med or high?

I’m worried Hubs will not like it. What other recipes are suitable for cardamom? Sweet, savory?

carrie - Low, Cowgirl. It is very fragrant, almost perfumey spice. I love it. I have only used it for sweet dishes so far. I use it in ice cream ;-)

AmyCr - This sounds soo good. I would love a coffee cake recipe with Almond Flour!!

carrie - I’ll add it to the list, Amy!

Niamh Kane - Yummy! I’m looking forward to bringing these to a potluck dinner this weekend at least I know there will be something there I can eat:) Thanks Carrie!

carrie - Good call, Niamh!

Jill - Hey Carrie! New to SSoS (3 weeks)! I’m wondering if I can substitute powdered egg whites for whey protein powder in the recipe. Thanks for your insights and being real! You and Jonathan make my day!

carrie - Hi Jill – I cannot in good faith give you an answer because I haven’t trialed it. It is on my list of things to do. My guess is that the recipe will have to be altered to allow for extra sweetner. I am also not sure what all that extra protein will do to the structure. I really need to try them before giving you an answer….sorry! Thanks for the love – I sure appreciate you.

Janelle - I am new (as of last Friday) to SANE eating, and have been exploring recipes on your blog. I’m trying to introduce the rest of the family to this lifestyle, so I made these as a breakfast addition/treat. My 13-year-old daughter said to me, “Mom, if all your ‘diet’ food tastes like this, I’m IN!!” :-) I did make minor modifications, as apricots are not a favorite here. I made cardamom-cashew-coconut muffins (only about 1/4 cup of each, at most). They are FABULOUS, even if my youngest refuses to eat them because of the chia seeds (she says she won’t eat grass seeds…lol!). Thanks so much – this recipe introduced me to several new ingredients, and although it will be an occasional treat, this will be a regular staple here.

Tarragon Turkey with Leeks

I got home *really* late the other day.  Ha!  Did you notice how I said that like it was a rare occurrence?  Anyway, I needed dinner and I needed it now.  I had sleep to get to.  And a desperately fluffy cat that was giving me the stink eye for being gone for 16 hours and 17 minutes.  There’s no sneaking in the back door past Miss Daisy, you know.

I threw open the doors of the ‘fridge and peered inside.  Sometimes when I do that I feel like I’ve just stepped onto the set of “Chopped”, except my 5 things are in the ‘fridge, not a wicker picnic basket.  And no one is going to be judging me.  Except Daisy.  I can always count on Daisy to let me know what’s what.

I had roast smoked turkey slices (the thin deli-style meat), Greek yogurt, leeks and crimini mushrooms.  Of course I had leeks.  When does my ‘fridge ever not have leeks in it?  I figured I had about 15 minutes before my head would start to nod and my eyelids require match sticks.  My choices appeared to be:

  1. Eat the turkey and call it good.
  2. Down the yogurt and pretend it was cottage cheese or something less like dessert.  Or just eat it and revel in the fact that it was dessert.
  3. Ignore that I was hungry and go to bed.
  4. Cook something.

Here were the downsides to each of those options:

  1. Boring.  And cold.
  2. Boring.  And cold.  And for some inexplicable reason, yogurt makes me hungry, so that wouldn’t work.
  3. Never a good idea.  Going to bed hungry is not the path to a great sleep.
  4. Time and energy.

So I opted to do #4 using as little time and energy as possible.  This was the result.  Tarragon Turkey with Leeks.

Carrie Brown - Tarragon Turkey with Leeks

Yum.  Yum.  Yum.  Yum.  Yum.

Tarragon does something magical to turkey, you know.  If I had to name my herb of the year, it would be tarragon.  It totally transforms this 10-minute-dinner from deli-meat dish to terrific turkey taste-fest.

Carrie Brown - Tarragon Turkey with Leeks

Another 10 minutes later it was lights out.  Daisy approved. 

Carrie Brown | Daisy the Cat

As much as I love to cook, there’s a lot to be said for 10-minute-dinners that are this simple, fast and tasty.

And, if you’re single like me, there’s even better news. You have lunch or dinner for tomorrow already done. Score!

 

4.7 from 3 reviews
Tarragon Turkey with Leeks
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • 1 TBSP coconut oil
  • 2 large leeks, thinly sliced
  • 7 oz / 200g roast smoked turkey slices, cut into thin strips
  • 4 oz / 110g crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ cup / 4 fl oz. 2% or full-fat Greek Yogurt (DO NOT USE fat-free!)
  • 1 TBSP fresh tarragon, chopped
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 oz / 28g pine nuts
Instructions
  1. Heat the coconut oil in, add the sliced leeks and saute, stirring frequently, over medium heat for 5 minutes until leeks are softened.
  2. Stir in the thin strips of turkey and the sliced mushrooms and continue to saute until the mushrooms and turkey are warmed through - about 3 minutes.
  3. Gently stir in the chopped tarragon and yogurt.
  4. Turn the turkey mixture into a casserole dish.
  5. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese and pine nuts evenly over the top of the turkey.
  6. Place under a hot broiler (grill) until the pine nuts turn golden brown. Don't walk away - you'll end up with burnt nuts!

Carrie Brown - Tarragon Turkey with Leeks

 

 

 

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Ladyp1234 - Am eating this now – for breakfast! – and it is very tasty. Used cooked chicken, dried tarragon and pumpkin seeds cos didn’t have turkey, fresh tarragon or pine nuts. Have put other half to be side to grill for lunch. This is my first SANE meal after a few days of inSANEity brought on by a weekend away. Driven back to SANEity to stop the cravings, sleep and feel better again. I might keep falling off the wagon but I keep coming back!!! Thanks for the recipe…..

carrie - Congrats on keeping on coming back, Lady P! It’s true – you do feel so much better eating SANE!!

Lisa - Great tasting, quick and easy! Both husband & I liked it a lot. Would reheat well for lunches too.

carrie - Lisa – I love how well turkey and tarragon go together! I also love that this is so fast and tasty :-) I’ve even eaten it for breakfast :-)

Diane - Made a dish inspired by your recipe but I ran out of leeks (the horror) so I used onions, no tarragon so I just made a medley of sage, rosemary and thyme. No full fat Greek yogurt so I used sour cream. Guess what? It turned out pretty tasty even with my substitutions. It is waiting to be eaten for tomorrow’s lunch.

carrie - You RAN. OUT. OF. LEEKS??? Oh, the shame!! ;-) I hope you try it with leeks and tarragon when you can!! How was lunch?

Andrea M. - This was absolutely first rate! I made it with chicken because I didn’t have smoked turkey, and it was still delicious. Can’t wait to use the recipe for some of my turkey leftovers after Thanksgiving!

We Need To Talk

Being Valentine’s Day I thought it only fitting that we dive under the covers together, because I think it’s high time we got a little more intimate.  We’ve been hanging out for a while now – and we need to talk.

We need to talk about emotions.  And chicken.  Kentucky Fried Chicken to be precise.

It’s true.  I do *love* KFCLOVE it.  I suspect that I am not alone in this unrequited love.   I am also not too proud to declare that love far & wide.  I suspect that I am rather more alone in that endeavour – especially since I have this healthy-eating blog thing goin’ on, and a podcast listened to all over the world by hundreds of thousands of people where I extol the virtues of eating smarter.  I am not supposed to even mention the name KFC, let alone write about it – or heaven forbid – EAT IT.

But the truth is – even the sight of the bucket makes my heart beat just a little bit faster.  So before I receive an inbox full of flame mail about how I could possibly call myself the Queen of *SANEity and then write an entire post proclaiming the utter yumminess of Kentucky Fried Chicken, hear me out.

Just like you, I am human.  And just like you, I have emotions.  And sometimes, just like yours, those emotions are more powerful than anything else that’s going on.  I know this about you because Jonathan and I receive tons of pleas to talk about emotional eating.  It seems that emotional eating is sometimes all that is standing between us and *SANEity.  I want you to know – I get it.  Truly, deeply get it.  I also want you to know that emotions are like waves – we can’t stop them from coming, but we can choose which ones to surf.  And every once in a while I choose to surf the KFC wave – because sometimes we need to let our emotions have their moment in the spotlight in order to stop them incessantly demanding attention in increasingly unhealthy ways.

So what is it about Kentucky Fried Chicken that makes me drool?  Nothing.  Why does KFC have the ability to make me do inSANE things?  It doesn’t.  It’s absolutely nothing to do with the chicken.  It’s all about the emotions, Baby.

Carrie Brown  |  KFC

It all began several years ago – ok, a long time ago – before I was even a teenager.  Every other Saturday my family would make the hour-and-a-quarter long drive up to London to my grandparents house to spend the afternoon and have tea with them.  In those days the term “tea” in this context meant a meal consisting  of sandwiches or bread and butter with jam, maybe some cheese and cold meat, and then a piece of cake, all served with a pot of tea.  This was either the last meal of the day or a light meal served between lunch and dinner.  For our family it was the last meal of the day.

We usually left our grandparents around 8 pm to head home, and one {entirely} memorable night my father did something quite extraordinary & totally out of character.  Driving down the road he suddenly pulled over and stopped outside a Kentucky Fried Chicken store.  He turned to our mother and said “Let’s have chicken and chips.”  My brother and I sat in stunned silence in the back seat wondering what on earth our mother’s response would be, and if, in fact, the world would ever be the same again.  To our utter astonishment she simply agreed.  They left us in the car while they went into the store to get 4 boxes of chicken and chips.  {Bro – chime in anytime you want.}

To appreciate this tale, you have to understand the utter enormity of what was taking place.  We had a whole slug of unwritten codes of conduct in our family, some of which included:

1. You NEVER eat in public unless you are at a restaurant, sat at a table, using a knife and fork.

2. You NEVER have extra meals outside of the 3 structured, regular-as-clockwork meals that your mother prepares.

3. You NEVER eat fast food, junk food or pretty much anything that isn’t made from scratch by your mother.

4. You NEVER do anything random or unplanned, reckless or spontaneous.

5. You NEVER spend money on anything that is not a necessity (unless it is Christmas).

6. You NEVER do anything just because it is fun or enjoyable.

This was a family who only ate sweets (candy) for one week a year – from Christmas to New Year.  A family who only drank fizzy drinks (soda, pop) that same week; who only had crisps (chips), chocolate biscuits (cookies), and chocolate that same one week of the year.  The same family who ate ice cream maybe twice a year, never went to a fast food place, and had never eaten burgers or a hot-dog.  A family that had only two family vacations that I can remember in the 21 years I lived at home.  A family that almost exclusively only saw any other members of the family (outside of our paternal grandparents) at 21st birthday parties, weddings, and funerals.

Trust me.  This spontaneous pit stop at KFC was a huge deal.  HUGE.  It has remained imprinted on my mind, my heart, my soul…forever.  It was a defining moment.  We ate chicken and chips in the car.

Carrie Brown | KFC

Understand that when I confess to a run-in with a bucket of chicken, I am choosing to let my body live with a dash of inSANEity in order to take care of my emotions.  AND THAT’S OK.  Because sometimes that is the right thing to do to keep yourself in balance.  If you’ve been living SANE for a while, your body is likely very good at dealing with the odd moment of inSANEity, and it will not have any detrimental effect at all.  The {far} greater harm would be in beating yourself up mercilessly over 3 pieces of chicken with a small amount of wheat glued to it.

So don’t tell anyone, but last Thursday night (which is my Friday) I went to KFC on the way home and bought a bucket of chicken!!!!  And I ate it all!!!!  And it was AWESOME!!!!  And I didn’t die!!!!  And I didn’t put on 4 lbs overnight!!!!  In fact – nothing bad happened.  At all.  Fresh, hot, juicy chicken wrapped in that secret blend of 11 herbs & spices clinging to the semi-crispy, delicious tasty skin.  I am salivating just thinking about it.  And sometimes, as was the case at about 8 pm on that particular Thursday night, there was no apparent reason for it…I just had this random, spontaneous desire to eat KFC.  AND THAT’S OK.

And then, the next day I woke up and went on my merry SANE way.  And I won’t eat KFC again until the next KFC wave comes rolling in – which likely won’t be for 6 months, or maybe even a year.  Because I took care of my emotions and the cravings went on their way.  I think it may have been a {very} different story if I’d gone into battle with my emotions instead of just letting them have their moment.

Sometimes you have to lose the battle in order to win the war.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!!

 

 

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

N - I stumbled upon this via Urban Spoon and just love it! So much of what I love about food and write about is the emotional and social connection it creates between and within people. You write it so much better. :)

Natasha Reed - I love it when somebody just opens up the closet and airs their dirty, oh so dirty foody favorites.

I seriously have to ask….have you tried Ezell’s? Because really, Ezell’s is stinking awesome. Cheers to you on the chicken love. ;-)

cb - :-) It is what it is.

Ezell’s, no. But I will now! Stinking awesome sounds, well, stinking awesome right now.

Love your portrait work BTW.

cb - Why, thank you, N. I am not sure that it’s true that I write it so much better, but thank you anyway :-)

Lt. Sanders - I am an unabashed lover of KFC’s bucket of bird! Spread the original recipe love!

Patee - Nice job. It’s about time somebody like you told the truth. Way to go.

Yolando Carota - Hi, good day. Wonderful post. You have gained a new subscriber. Pleasee continue this great work and I look forward to more of your great blog posts.

Alisa - Great post! It’s one of my favorites too, although I dont get to eat it that much these days. You are right, there are a lot of happy memories with a bucket of KFC :)

Mario - Hey man, I own a website too and I almost never see spam comments on your posts. How do you manage to stop it all? Do you just manually moderate all of it?

cb - No, I have a really cool tool that automatically deletes all the spammers. Leaving yours up here so that maybe you & your fellow spammers will give up and go do something useful with your lives instead.

Angielski - Lol. Very nice article. You have to write more on the topic

Birdie Carew - Great article. Waiting for more.

Sunbreaks « Thursday Night Bites - [...] “Really?!?! Fine, eat your chicken, but why write about it?” Still, I clicked on the post and read it. I was totally blown away. The author, CB of Foodie Footnotes, completely captured what [...]

Cyndy Sponsler - Splendid, as a gentleman would say. Brilliant work on this writing. I sincerely adore it ;).

Nathan Miles - I am so glad I came accross this today. Absolutely awesome and so true and i love it. thanks

Jane - Spotted a link to this post over at Delicious. Thanks for posting it.

Chicken Love » Foodie Footnotes - [...] twin made me do it.  She said, “Have you tried Ezell’s?  Because really, Ezell’s is stinking [...]

Warts And All » Carrie Brown | Marmalade and Mileposts - [...] nature or human emotion.  Science doesn’t get that you can have an emotional attachment to Kentucky Fried Chicken so strong it can make you drive 30 miles just to get a bucket.  The science is simple – that [...]

Summer Pear Slaw » Carrie Brown | Marmalade and Mileposts - [...] and The Hubs were due to come over with a big bucket of bird in the early evening.  My contribution?  To bring some *SANEity to the proceedings.  Which, by [...]

Romy - Dear Carrie
Thanks for sharing this story.
Looking forward to more of your posts.
Romy

Nancy - I had pancakes for breakfast with my dad and I didn’t feel guilty for one second! :) :) :)

carrie - GO, Nancy!!

cowgirl rae - You rock Carrie! Thank your for sharing. Thank you for showing the world the humanness in the blog-o-sphere.

I’m astounded at the bitterness and judgmental attitudes others show, too bad some folks feel driven to only show what they think others want to see, AND, go so far as to hold those expectations over others.

Don’t they know it’s not a contest? there are no winners or losers?

Carry on!

tammy - love it… had a similar situation with cinnamon rolls yesterday.. smiling!

carrie - Love it, Tammy!!

carrie - Thanks, Cowgirl. I just have to be real – it’s who I am. Some people will criticize – I am OK with that!!!

Ann - Carrie, I LOVE this post! It shows that you are human, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate hearing about people who have emotional eating days because it makes me feel better about my own indulgences from time to time. I’m willing to bet that most of us have days like that, and I really like that you shared your KFC craving with us. It makes me not beat myself up as much when I emotional eat… which I did the night before last with Domino’s pizza and Valentine chocolates. Yesterday I hopped back on the sane wagon, but boy was eating pizza and chocolate fun!

carrie - Thanks, Ann! I have to be honest – it’s just who I am. Glad it helps!!

Asha - Thank you for your honesty. Sometimes we hold a perception that healthy food bloggers eat chia seeds and kale all day every day. When in fact, they don’t. We can use our misguided perceptions to berate ourselves (which, as you point out does far greater harm than the food we are eating). Okay I confess I ate 10 peanut butter reeses yesterday, and guilt tripped myself the entire evening. Sigh.

The whole notion of eating one’s emotions is something I am fascinated by and am exploring further. Would love to hear more posts like this. Nice one Carrie.

carrie - Hi Asha – thanks for chiming in! I do, for the most part, eat SANE – 95% of the time – but I don’t berate myself when I don’t because it’s just not helpful! I eat SANE because I feel so much better when I do, and I physically suffer when I don’t. There are different types of emotional eating and I will deifinitely be writing a lot more of this! It’s important.

Potty Dimley - CB: you are a wise woman. In the UK in the 1970s and 80s, KFC was exotic and memorable for all the reasons that you listed. To this day, it’s a rare and delicious treat.

When I got married the first time at an absurdly young age, we finished our make shift wedding with a night out with friends. On the way home, my new husband of less than 12 hours refused to let me eat KFC on the way home. There were tears, and thirty years later, I still swear that’s where it started to go horribly wrong….

carrie - Potty – love the story. KFC has a lot to answer for!! From one KFC lover to another…

Orange Cranberry Almond Cream

Can you even believe it’s February already?  Let alone careering into the middle of if.  I just don’t know where the time goes, but this year is scooting right along.  It seems like just yesterday that we were kicking this glorious New Year off with a bang and a blog post.

Later this week I am heading south on a shooting trip to California, and, if I’m honest, I hope to snag a little downtime.  Since I started creating *SANE recipes last April, and since the Bailornator and I launched the SSoS podcasts last July, life has got a little lot crazier around here.  I blame Bailor.  And my mortgage; but that’s another story.  It’s a life I love, despite it being a tad ridiculously hectic.

While I adore living in the Pacific Northwest, I admit I am pretty darn excited to feel the sand between my toes, the sun on my face, and the ocean breeze messing up the mop of blonde on my head.  I am almost giddy at the thought of hurtling down the I-5, sunroof thrown open with abandon, singing – although I am not sure how accurate that term is – at the top of my lungs, and smiling at all the truckers; I often think I should’ve been a trucker, you know, since driving for 12 hours straight is one of my very favorite things to do.

I’ve got a new set of beastie tires, fresh oil in the engine, emergency kits stowed, and copious quantities of beef jerky ready to set up camp on the passenger seat.  Ten days of driving and shooting awesomeness.  Yes! Please!

January only conceded a couple of shooting opportunities – New Years Day, and then a thin sliver of time somewhere in the middle when I ran away from the kitchen and the computer for half a day to catch my breath.  It may seem to you that I cannot get enough of whipping up scrumptious SANE concoctions.  You might imagine me spooning contentedly with my Vitamix every night, or waking up to find my kitchen scales slumbering quietly beside me.  You may well believe that I have a magical oven that bakes rainbows & unicorns into everything that I put in it.  You might think that mixing and slicing and kneading and chopping and peering excitedly through the glass door of the oven with baited breath never gets old to me.  And you would be right; on all counts except spooning with my Vitamix and waking up to my kitchen scales.  That’s taking things an incy-wincy bit too far, even for me.  However, as much as I love playing in the kitchen, there are just some times when I know that I need to step out of it for a while if I am going to give it my best when I am in it.

On the day I decided to run away, my lengthy to-do list yelled at me that I didn’t have time to, but I ran away anyway; because I knew I’d be way more effective afterwards if I did.  You know the saying, “Stop and smell the roses”?  Yeah.  Like that.  I highly recommend it as a strategy for getting things done.  And staying sane; the other kind of sane.

This, then, is where I live.  I don’t have to go very far to get inspired.  Love that.

{Love the images and want to see more? Click on them to go to the gallery}

Sometimes the simplest things are all we need to turn us right-way-up again.

Like a few hours doing something we love.

Like having a temporary media black-out.

Like sitting with a friend and chatting over a cuppa.

Like this dish of deliciousness.

Carrie Brown - Orange Cranberry Almond Cream

It’s so very simple, but these days I’d rather eat this than any number of complicated pastries or fancy desserts.

Creamy, crunchy, chewy; with a delicate hint of orange.  I ate it for breakfast.  Then I ate it for a snack.  Then I ate it for dessert.

Carrie Brown - Orange Cranberry Almond Cream

Life can be simple and awesome.  So can your food.

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Orange Cranberry Almond Cream
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup / 8 fl oz. non-fat cottage cheese
  • 1 cup / 8 fl oz. non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp guar gum
  • ½ tsp orange extract
  • 1½ oz. / 40g slivered, toasted almonds
  • 2 oz. / 55g dried cranberries
  • 1 oz. / 28g vanilla whey protein powder
Instructions
  1. In a bowl mix the cottage cheese and Greek yogurt together.
  2. Sprinkle the guar gum evenly over the surface and quickly stir into the yogurt mixture.
  3. Stir in the orange extract, almonds, dried cranberries and whey protein.
  4. Mix well and refrigerate for 15 minutes to thicken.
  5. Spoon into dishes.

Carrie Brown - Orange Cranberry Almond Cream

 

 

 

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

isangel - Love your photography!! Photography and travel are my hobbies and your photos are the same type (landscape/scenic)that are my favorite subjects. You live in a beautiful area.
Do also greatly enjoy all your posts and recipes. Have tried many of them and truly enjoyed them all.

carrie - Thank you so much, isangel!

Julie - Beautiful photos! We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful place. I am jealous of your road trip though. This looks delicious – where did you find unsweetened dried cranberries?

carrie - I didn’t – that was an over-zealous typo. Sorry about that :-( Thanks for the photo love!!

Julie - haha. I was impressed as I have been looking for them at TJ’s. :)
Excited to see what you come back with from your trip.

Isangel - You can easily make your own dried cranberries without sugar if you have a food dehydrator.

Sylvia - Gorgeous pics, Carrie! I can feel the serenity just looking at them. Love your recipes and am looking forward to trying this one. Now, off to the shops to get the ingredients…YUM!

carrie - Thank you, Sylvia!

carrie - Great idea, Isangel!

Sally - I love this recipe!! After a year of trying to find a quick, high protein, not egg based breakfast… I believe it’s here! Iv made it twice already, love it. One question, how long do you think this will keep in the fridge for?x

carrie - YAY, Sally! This makes me so happy :-)) I’d be happy to keep it in the ‘fridge for 4 – 5 days…only thing is the almonds might go soft. If that matters to you, make it up minus the almonds and throw in the almonds the morning that you eat each batch.

Lorrie - Love the Cranberry Almond Cream…I didn’t have orange extract, so I eliminated it and I used chia seeds instead of the guar gum! Since I have no clue what yours tasted like, I think mine turned out fine! :-) I divided them into little serving cups and they’re ready to grab and eat. Mmmm!

Enjoy your little trip.

carrie - Nice job, Lorrie! Try it with the orange extract next time and see what you think.

Diane - I tried this and I also did not have any orange extract so I peeled an orange and vitamixed it to oblivion added it and it was transformed into a wonderful sweet treat! I could not believed how great those ingredients all came together to such a decadent protein packed food. I have to say I am not a fan of plain greek nonfat yogurt. But now I have to go out and buy more just for this reason. Yum!

carrie - Love it, Diane!!! You are the bomb with oranges in a Vitamix!!

Ellen - I found some unsweetened dried cranberries at Whole Paycheck…..er, I mean Whole Foods, but they were a little “crunchy”. Everywhere else, including Trader Joe’s, has dried cranberries with sugar or dried cane extract added. Were these what you used? Thanks!

carrie - Ellen – I used Trader Joe’s. If you use ones with no sugar, soak them for an hour or two, drain and then use to get rid of the “crunchy”.

Leslie - Carrie – I know you posted this a while ago, but just wanted to let you know I’m totally addicted to this! The cottage cheese really helps to change the taste of the yogurt so it’s not like I’m eating the same thing all the time. I didn’t care for the lumpy texture from the cottage cheese, so stick blended until glossy and smooth. OMG, soooo good! Then I thought, wouldn’t this be great if it was chocolate? So I changed to choc. protein powder and added some cocoa and changed the extract to almond. Awesome. Not quite as awesome as the original, but then, I’m not you ;-) Thanks so much for all of the great and healthy recipes!

carrie - Leslie – love that you smashed the cottage cheese up! A lot of folks can’t get past cottage cheese texture. Love the choc idea too :-)

Danielle - I used this to top a couple of slices of low carb pumpkin bread this morning. Lovely seasonal parfait! Maybe I’ll take a picture next time. :-)