Saturday, January 5, 2013

Snacking Smarter in the New Year

Hello hello hello! Happy 2013 to all you folks! We made it past the Mayan calendar, and scarier still we made it through another holiday season! How are you holding up? Are we all sufficiently stuffed with holiday treats, stocking stuffers, and all the food our parents/in-laws/extended family could shove into our faces? I know I am, and my poor belly needs a break. Enter the infamous New Years Resolutions. One of the many updates to this 2013 I want is to get a healthy recipe out once a week, and this one is perfect for everyone (but especially moms, teachers, babysitters, or anyone that likes animal crackers!)

Those are horses and elephants :)

Yes indeed today in my kitchen I made Apple Cinnamon Animal 'Crackers' with Salted Date Caramel topping. These tasty treats could not be a more fantastic healthy after school snack if they tried. Or if you're like me and don't have little bambinos running around they make for a perfect in between meal snack to keep you away from store bought processed junk.

You can make them as animal 'crackers' or you can just make straight up apple chips if that is easier, or if locating smaller animal cookie cutters isn't on the agenda. The reason I like these so much isn't just because they taste like delicious heaven; it's because they are full of health benefits and thats my favorite thing. Let's take a look at the main ingredients here shall we....

Coconut Oil:   

Here they are as full apple crackers.... YUM

I dare you to find a snack from the cracker aisle at your local supermarket that has the health punch that these apple 'crackers' do. I mean you have apples that decrease the risk of diabetes, dates that are natures helper for intestinal disorders, cinnamon helping with blood sugar control, and coconut oil just being its awesome self and doing everything great for your body! Seriously check out those links. This stuff is good for you!

So do yourself a favor and remember that old saying "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" and make these and eat them all! :)

Apple Cinnamon Animal Crackers
feeds 3-4 as a snack

3-4 large apples (if Honeycrisp apples are still around use them!)
1-2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon

Salted Date Caramel:
12 pitted dates soaked for 3-4 hours
1/3 cup maple syrup
4 1/2 tablespoons water (use the water that was soaking the dates)
4 tablespoons melted coconut oil
pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. 

Slice your apples into nice large circles (do not core). Make sure they are thin, and as you go you can pop out the seeds. Next get out your mini animal cookie cutters and start cutting out apple animals. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and place your apple animals on it as you go. If you aren't making animals then sweet, you just cut out a step, put your apple circles on the cookie sheet. 

You want your apple slices to like like so

In a small bowl melt your 1-2 tablespoons or coconut oil. Dip a pastry brush in the oil and lightly brush the oil on both sides of your 'crackers.' One that is complete lightly dust your 'crackers' with the cinnamon. Place the cookie sheet into the oven and bake for 45 minutes. 

While the apples are baking get your caramel ready. Place all the ingredients into your blender and blend away! Make sure everything is really combined well so you have a good blended date caramel mixture. Yum! Set to the side, and wait for your apples to bake. 

After 45 minutes take out your cookie sheet and then drizzle your caramel over your 'crackers' and then put them back in the oven. If you are making animal crackers leave the apples in for 30 more minutes. If you are making full sized apples 'crackers' then leave them in the oven for 45 minutes. Once they are done remove from the oven and let them cool. Then serve your healthy treat to you and your loved ones. *Side note, I also baked the apple scraps from the animal crackers, and while they aren't pretty they are just as tasty so bake everything and eat up!

This was an elephant, lol!

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