Thursday, September 21, 2017

Gluten Free Apricot Betty Bars, Gluten Free Apple Betty Bars, Or Any Fruit Oat Bars

Gluten Free Apricot Betty Bars

Gluten Free Apricot Betty Bars (no refined sugar)

These fruity oat bars are so good.  You must try them.  I’ve adapted a recipe for Apple Betty Bars and made them gluten free and used coconut sugar and some raw honey so they are also free of any refined sugars.

You’d never know it.  I know I keep saying that.  But really, I’m serious!

I made a quick apricot jam with just apricots and some agave nectar.

You don’t have to be limited by apricot jam only.  I also made a quick apple filling.

Gluten Free Apple Betty Bars

Gluten Free Apple Betty Bars (no refined sugar)

My 16 year old son is vegan right now.  So I also made a version of these using coconut oil instead of butter and that is also the reason I made the apricot jam with agave instead of honey (which is my preference).  They turned out beautiful.  Tasted great, too.  But the ones with butter—BETTER!  Everything is better with butter, I’m a believer. ; )

Apricot Betty Bars, gluten free, refined sugar free, vegan

Gluten Free Vegan Apricot Betty Bars (no refined sugar)

The vegan version is perfect for serving the day you make them.  The coconut oil makes them not stay as sturdy and they are pretty soft after the first day, so just don’t plan for leftovers.

The gluten free ones with butter are delicious for days after, so they are perfect for packaging up as grab and go treats.

Gluten Free Apricot Betty Bars, Gluten Free Apple Betty Bars or Any Fruit Bars, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

2 cups gluten free flour blend (xanthan gum included), Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 is great

1 ½ cups gluten free quick oats

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup coconut sugar

¼ cup pure maple syrup

1 cup butter or for vegan version use coconut oil, melted

1 cup Easy, Sugar Free Apricot Jam* or any fruit preserves/jam of your choice

Apple Filling**

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk together in a large bowl, the gluten free flour, oats, baking powder and salt. Add the coconut sugar and maple syrup and combine well. Stir in the melted butter or oil until mixture is all wet and combined. Press half the mixture (about 14 ounces) into a ¼ sheet pan (9x13 cake pan works, the short sides of the sheet pan are great, no need to butter or spray pan). Bake for 15 minutes.

*Easy, Sugar Free Apricot Jam, by Katrina, Baking and Boys! (Vegan, No Refined Sugar)

8 cups apricots, cut into pieces, pits removed

½ cup agave (raw honey is great, too, for non-vegan version)

¼ teaspoon almond extract (optional)

Add the apricots, agave and almond extract to a blender. Blend until pureed. Pour into a large saucepan and cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes until it thickens a bit. Pour into glass jars and seal. Store in the refrigerator (it is not sealed for shelf storage but will last a good couple weeks in the refrigerator). Makes about 4 ½ pints.

Spread one cup of the jam evenly over the partially baked bars. Scatter the remaining crumb batter evenly over the top of the jam. Bake for 25-35 minutes until nicely browned. Cool. When cooled, the bars should slide out of the pan nicely or you can cut them into pieces and remove each from the pan. Let them sit for a few minutes on a double paper towel to absorb an excess butter/oil (I have found this is sometimes not necessary, see what you think).

**Apple Filling

4 apples, peeled, cored and cut into cubes

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or to taste

¼ cup raw honey or agave for vegan

¼ cup water

Put all ingredients in a saucepan and cook for 20-30 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Mash or blend with an emersion blender, leaving some chunks of apple. Makes 1 ½ to 2 cups. Spread evenly over first layer of oat bars.

Gluten Free Apricot Betty Bars

These would be great with any jam or fruit filling.  I want to try raspberry or blackberry.  I love the hint of tart.  The apricots provide that, too.  What would be your favorite fruit filling?

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Healthy Butterfinger Brownies and Healthy Homemade Butterfingers Candy, Gluten Free and Refined Sugar Free

Healthy Butterfinger Brownies

Healthy Butterfingers?  Healthy Brownies?  What?  I know, hear me out—these, believe it or not, are made with no refined sugars and are gluten free.  The Butterfingers candy is even vegan.  Not that I really care about that, but my son who is vegan does and he admitted these taste great and just like the candy bars!  While deciding to start blogging again, I thought of an idea.  I collect cookbooks and love following along with favorite bloggers.  With my diet changes, I can’t just make every recipe I want anymore.  Well, I can make them, I have just chosen not to eat certain things.  It’s been kind of boring.  I’ve missed just indulging!  My new idea is to make something in a cookbook or from a blog that I think looks great and make the recipe as written once, then change it up to suit my needs another way and share it here. 

I recently got to purchase The Recipe Girl Cookbook from one of my longest known food blogger friends, Lori from Recipe Girl.  Looking through her cookbook, which you can still get on the link I left for Amazon, besides drooling at all the pictures, I was drawn to one that I remember from way-back-when that I made when she first came out with the recipe not long after I started blogging in 2008 for these Butterfinger Brownies.  I remembered that they were so good and decided I wanted to make them again.  I made her full recipe for Butterfinger Brownies as written in her book and found on her blog (linked).   Here’s the Recipe Girl’s Butterfinger Brownies.  


They are great and were eaten up by others around here.  But I decided to take the idea and make some I could eat, too.  I did a little homework on finding some Butterfingers that were made healthy, I knew I could find some from somewhere online as there are a lot of fantastic bloggers and recipes for candies made healthier out there.  I found these Healthier Homemade Butterfingers at Megan’s blog, Detoxinista. She mentions they can be made with either honey or maple syrup.  I tried them with both.  I definitely like them better with maple syrup and made them twice that way.  The honey ones didn’t set up the same.  Maybe I didn’t let the boiling honey come to the correct temperature, but the maple syrup Butterfingers taste GREAT!  They ARE healthier, but probably should still be eaten in moderation!

Healthy Butterfingers 8-2-17

I made just a few small changes in the way I made them so I will post that, but all inspiration and detailed instructions that I used came from Megan’s post, so definitely read it before just diving in to my simplified version.  Once you add the peanut butter to the boiled maple syrup, it begins hardening to that crispy Butterfinger goodness.  I realized I was adding natural peanut butter that I store in the fridge to that hot syrup and it would seize up quickly.  So I now warm the peanut butter so it is smooth and a little runny and it mixes a lot nicer and is easily spread into the pan.  Megan scores hers before chilling so they are easily cut into bars before dunking them in melted chocolate, but since I was just using mine for chopped up mix-ins, they didn’t need that.  I just spread the melted chocolate over the whole panful, then removed it from the pan and foil and broke it into pieces and chopped the pieces with a knife. 

Healthy Homemade Butterfingers (vegan, refined sugar free)

I tried a few different brownie recipes that I adapted, but ultimately chose one that I adapted from my favorite brownies.  These are made with coconut oil, coconut sugar, a little raw honey and a gluten free flour blend.  I’m telling you, I don’t think anyone would have a clue if you didn’t tell them.  I love how these brownies turned out, so I made them again and added the chopped Healthy Butterfingers.  Heavenly!  They are fudgy and have a perfect chocolate and peanut butter ratio.  I was actually going to put a chocolate-peanut butter drizzle on the brownies, but decided they didn’t need it.

Healthy Butterfinger Brownies

Healthy Gluten Free Butterfinger Brownies, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

½ cup coconut oil

½ cup cocoa powder

¾ cup coconut sugar

¼ cup maple syrup or honey (I liked the results with honey better but both worked)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

¼ cup gluten free flour blend

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

¾ cup, divided, *Healthy Homemade Butterfingers candy, chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8x8 inch baking pan with nonstick foil. Spray lightly with coconut oil or brush it on. Set aside. In a medium sized saucepan, melt the coconut oil and cocoa powder over medium-low heat. Remove it from the heat when just barely melted. Let sit for a few minutes. Add the coconut sugar and honey or maple syrup and the vanilla and whisk together. Whisk in the eggs and combine well. Stir in the salt and flour. Fold in ½ cup of the chopped Butterfingers. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Scatter the remaining ½ cup of Butterfingers over the top of the batter. Bake for 23-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Let brownies cool completely on wire rack. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until ready to cut and serve. Refrigeration not necessary, but gives them a great fudginess.

*Healthy Homemade Butterfingers, (vegan) by Katrina, Baking and Boys!, adapted from Detoxinista

1 cup Grade A or B pure maple syrup

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 cup natural peanut butter, warmed and stirred until smooth

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips (or chocolate of your choosing), melted

In a tall saucepan, combine the maple syrup and cream of tartar. Attach a candy thermometer to the saucepan. Set heat to medium. Let the mixture come to a boil, do not stir, this could take 5-10 minutes. Prepare a 9x9 inch square pan with nonstick foil. When the syrup has reached 300 degrees on the thermometer, remove from heat and add the warmed peanut butter and salt. Stir quickly to combine well. Spread mixture in the prepared pan. Spread the melted chocolate over the top of the Butterfinger mixture. Cool/harden in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Remove from pan/foil and break into desired sized pieces for sharing and snacking.


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Gluten Free Banana Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake Recipe, Vegan, too!

Gluten Free Refined Sugar Free Banana Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake (Vegan)

Hello?  Is anyone here?  I’m here!  My last post was exactly one year ago.  What in the world have I been doing?  Just being a busy mom of three teenagers and a ten year old.  That and I just felt like I needed a break.  Not sure why.  I have missed blogging terribly.  I started feeling like a part of who I am was missing.  I love baking and I love sharing it with others.  My health is great!  I cannot complain at all.  With my diet changes of going gluten free and refined sugar free (and my 15 year old deciding to be vegan!), I think I had just been in a rut on what to do, what to make, what to share and post here.  But I decided I really want to try again with this little part of me that was missing.  I’m not in it for hundreds of thousands of visitors.  I’m not going to be making videos.  My blog is WAY outdated.  But I don’t care.  I need to do it for me.  A lot of it is that I’ve just decided I need to keep documenting things I love somewhere else besides just scribbled in a notebook.



My idea the last couple months has been to take some of my favorite tried-and-true recipes, whether they be from here on my blog, or favorite blogs or cookbooks and make them gluten free, refined sugar free, and sometimes vegan and share them with you.  I’ve made a number of things already and am so happy with how they are turning out with simple changes like gluten free flours, unrefined sugars (coconut sugar, raw honey, agave, etc.).  I plan to share links to my favorite cookbooks, blogs and recipes as they were originally made, then post my changed results here.  Does that sound good?  I think so.  I’ve asked a few people and they think it’s a great idea.  So I’m here to try it!


Now, this cake—I first shared this cake not long after starting my blog in February 2008!  I saw it on a blog, who adapted it from Bon Appetit in a 2003 magazine article.  I adapted it enough that I’m leaving you the link to my post for this Absolutely Delicious Banana Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake.  I made this more times than I can count over the years.  Well, I’ve come up with a new, delicious favorite that everyone here loves, except it’s gluten free, vegan and refined sugar free.  The boys don’t care!  This is a good sign.  A lot of times, they won’t even try something when I tell them it’s gluten free.  This is gone so quickly every time I’ve made it recently, which is like three or four times. 

Gluten Free Refined Sugar Free Banana Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake (vegan) 7-12-17

I made this again yesterday for dinner as we were having the LDS sister missionaries over and one of them has celiacs.  They both went crazy over how good it was and we let them take the leftover cake home.  There wasn’t a lot left, maybe two pieces, but it’s because they had seconds while we were eating it!  Win.  I love when someone is happy with something I’ve made, especially when there are changes that most would think would make something taste strange.  This one is good!  Try it!  It is our go-to when we have overripe bananas.


Gluten Free Refined Sugar Free Banana Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake, vegan

Gluten Free Banana Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake (vegan), by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

*Streusel topping:

1/4 cup coconut sugar**

1/2 tablespoons agave nectar

1/4 cup pecans, chopped

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/3 cup Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips



1 1/2 cups gluten free flour blend (xanthan gum included)

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1/4 cup agave nectar

1/2 cup (4 ounces) coconut oil

1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flaxseed, 2 1/2 tablespoons water, let sit for 5 minutes)

1 1/3 cup mashed banana (about 4 small/medium or 3 large bananas)

3 tablespoons almond milk (or non-dairy milk of your choice)

1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (I use Bragg’s)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Make the streusel topping.  Combine the coconut sugar with the agave, mix together with a fork until it is all moist like brown sugar.  Add the pecans, cinnamon and chocolate chips.  Stir together, set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line an 8x8 inch square pan (9x9 also works fine!) with nonstick foil and spray lightly with a non-propellant cooking spray (I like coconut oil).  In a small bowl, make the flax egg, let it sit while you prepare the rest.  In another small bowl, combine the almond milk and vinegar, let sit.  In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, whisk together and set aside.  In a large bowl, add the coconut sugar, agave and coconut oil.  Whisk until well combined.  Whisk in the flax egg and almond milk mixture and the vanilla.  Stir in mashed banana (sometimes I pulse it in a food processor, sometimes I just mash them with a fork).  Fold in the dry ingredients.  Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly.  Evenly sprinkle the topping over the cake batter.  Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean or with just a few crumbs.  Let cool on a wire rack completely.  Remove pan using foil edges.  Carefully remove cake from the foil and put it on a serving plate.

*Note—The original Absolutely Delicious Banana Cake I linked above also has streusel in the middle.  I did make it that way once (photo above), but decided it’s not necessary.  Good, but not necessary.  So if you’d like you can double the topping able and put half of it on half the batter in the pan.  It’s all natural sugars, so no harm done!

**Make your own, all-natural brown sugar.  Combine coconut sugar with agave (use amounts posted above in the streusel for the correct consistency) until moist.  It’s perfect, in my opinion!


Coconut Sugar "Brown Sugar" (add a little agave or honey)


Make your own healthy, all-natural “brown sugar”.  Combine coconut sugar with a touch of agave, raw honey or molasses, mix with a fork until all moist.  Use about 1/2 cup coconut sugar and 1 tablespoon agave/honey/molasses.  I love it!

Coconut Sugar Cinnamon Chocolate Streusel

If I had some more overripe bananas right now, I’d make this again today.  Guess I’ll have to wait another couple days. 

You may be wondering what is going on with my family.  Quick update, Scott graduated school last year and is 19, has a girlfriend that he spends all his time with when he’s not working at Taco Bell.


Parker is almost 16, almost done with driver’s ed, aching for a job and will start his sophomore year of high school soon!  He’s currently having “fun” with hair colors.  He did purple and a pink for a while, but his hair is currently an orange color (MS awareness???).



Taylor is 13 and starts 8th grade soon.  He’s busy being a crazy 13 year old and doing his best trying not to drive me crazy.  He’s pretty funny and still likes lots of creative crafty things.



Sam is 10 and about to start 5th grade.  This is crazy!  When I started my blog, Scott was 10 and my baby was a baby!  Waaahhhh!  They aren’t supposed to grow up so fast!  Sam loves baseball and discovered this year that he loves being the catcher. 



Kevin and I celebrated our 20th Anniversary in June!  Twenty years—what????  Crazy.  He’s amazing and treats me like a queen.  I don’t deserve him.  He receives awards at UVU for being an outstanding educator.  He got to be in a spread in UVU’s magazine as Captain America.  He’s my hero.  He’s a great professor, just took over as department chair in the business school at UVU, he’s a wonderful dad and the best husband!  So there.



For our 20th, since we didn’t get to take a big trip or anything (he taught for the summer session of school), he surprised me with a bunch of my favorite concerts over the last month, including New Kids On The Block/Paula Abdul, David Archuleta, the Utah Symphony and GENTRI and we got to spend some time together in Salt Lake City.  I’m spoiled.  Love my life.  My health is good.  MS is 100% stable, nothing new.  Besides being tired more than I’d like, I’ve got this.  Glad to be back here and hopefully I’ll post again soon!