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Change it up

By Angie Sutton

www.mothersapronstrings.com

The heat of summer, the county fair, harvest, ball season and swimming lessons. Who isn't feeling a little worn out as we prepare to close out July and begin making our back-to-school list?

Routine and repetition are two things that steal our attention away from the many blessings in our lives each day. By changing things up a bit we force ourselves to notice new little details that can enrich our lives. Choosing the scenic route and slowing down allows us the opportunity tosee things that nature reveals, like a butterfly or the sunset. Something as simple as taking a few deep breaths and clearing your mind helps you focus on what has changed since the last time you really paid attention to your surroundings.

There are so many ways to savor the blessings that summer offers before it slips away. Make a “get to do” list with things like taking your child out for breakfast, surprising a co-worker with a bouquet of flowers, waving to someone you don't know as you pass by and running through the sprinkler. Make a commitment to yourself to do at least one of these things today.


Unassuming Nuts

Ingredients:

1 can chickpeas, drained
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

Directions:

1.Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly spray a 15 1/2- by 10 1/2-inch jelly-roll pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In jelly-roll pan, toss chickpeas with oil, coriander, cayenne pepper and salt, then with flour to coat.

3. Roast 27 minutes or until golden and crisp, stirring once. Cool on paper towels. Store cooled nuts in tightly sealed containers at room temperature up to two weeks.


Granola Bars in 5 Easy Steps

Ingredients:

2 c. old-fashioned oats
3/4 c. toasted wheat germ
3/4 c. chopped walnuts
3/4 c. dried cranberries
2 Tbsp. packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 large egg whites

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray 13- by- 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line pan with foil, with ends extending 2 inches over short sides of pan; spray foil.

2. In glass pie plate, spread oats; microwave on high, in 1-minute increments, 4 to 5 minutes or until fragrant and golden, stirring occasionally. Cool to room temperature.

3. In large bowl, combine oats, wheat germ, walnuts, cranberries, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Stir in honey, oil and egg whites until well mixed. Transfer to prepared pan. Using dampened hand, press into even layer.

4. Bake 32 to 35 minutes or until dark golden. Cool in pan on wire rack.

5. When cool, use foil to transfer to cutting board. Cut lengthwise into 6 strips, then cut each strip crosswise into thirds. Store in tightly sealed container at room temperature up to one week, or in freezer up to one month.


3-Ingredient Energy Cookies

Ingredients:

2 medium-sized ripe bananas
1 c. quick oats
1/4 c. finely chopped walnuts

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mash bananas in a bowl and stir in (uncooked) quick oats.

2. Fold in walnuts.

3. Drop tablespoon-sized scoops on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes.


30-Minute Flavorful Nuts

Ingredients:

1 large egg white
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. ground cumin
3/4 tsp. ground chipotle chile pepper
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 cans salted fancy mixed nuts (or your choice of nuts)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray two 15 1/2- by 10 1/2-inch jelly-roll pans with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In large bowl, with wire whisk, beat egg white until foamy. Add sugar, cumin, chipotle pepper and cinnamon. Beat until well combined. Add nuts to egg-white mixture. With a rubber spatula, stir until well coated.

3. Spread nut mixture evenly in prepared jelly-roll pans. Bake on two oven racks 20 to 25 minutes or until coating on nuts is golden-brown and dry, stirring once and rotating pans between upper and lower racks halfway through baking for even browning.

4. Cool nuts completely in pans on wire racks, at least 1 hour. With hands, break apart any large clusters of nuts when cool. Store cooled nuts in tightly sealed containers at room temperature up to two weeks.


Jam and Graham Cracker Cheesecake

Choose a low-fat version of the cream cheese and experiment with flavors of jam.

Ingredients:

4 oz. cream cheese
3 to 4 Tbsp. cherry jam or preserves
10 sheets of graham crackers, broken into squares

Directions:

1. Soften cream cheese to room temperature or microwave for 10 seconds until spreadable consistency.

2. Mix the softened cream cheese with jam.

3. Spread a teaspoonful of mixture on top of each graham cracker.

4. Chill for 30 minutes and serve.

Apron Strings Tip:

Fresh fruit is a no-brainer when it comes to healthful snacks. Shop for what's in season now and you'll enjoy flavors, plus nutritional variety, as your choices change throughout the year.

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