Closer to Om: Energy Bars

Is it just me, or do these energy bars taste like an Eat-More chocolate bar (with a little added cranberry tang) to you too?

For those of you who’ve been following you’ll know I’m making a somewhat gallant attempt to step up to the plate and make some of my sister Mystee’s (aka Om Cooking) healthy recipes and post a few blogs about the whole experience. Last week was Raw Bircher Muesli. The results (according to the very particular tastes of two teenage daughters) were encouraging enough to keep going! Please feel free to stir it up a bit or mix yourself in by leaving comments here or on Facebook.


Better than an Eat-More!

This post is going to be short and sweet partly because I enlisted the help of my 15-year old daughter, Jemima, to warm up the peanut butter and rice syrup; mix in a few other ingredients and bring some giggles into the kitchen. I had, already, half of the ingredients (opted to use up the generic cocoa I had in the cupboard – shhh!) so quickly picked up the brown rice syrup (never knew this product existed) rice crisps (no Rice Krispies to be found in the house), cranberries and almonds (organic to pick up the slack!)

All went swimmingly but the mixture was a wee bit dry at the end. Mystee points out that you can add some almond milk if this is the case; since I didn’t have a stand-by stash of almonds pre-soaked and had run out of my last batch of homemade almond milk (why do I hear Ms. Anderson, my high school Home Ec teacher, scolding me in my head?) we let it slide and pressed the whole shebang into the pan and hoped for the best.

It would appear, we’ve hit on another winner! Jemima says they were “super easy” and both she had her older sister Sadie say that if we can switch the peanut butter for almond butter, they’ll both pack them in their lunches for school. Yay! I’m almost tempted to stop now while the going’s good. My kids still think it’s cool I’m trying to cook like their talented auntie Mystee and I haven’t yet turned them off of über healthy eating. Do I dare try another?

For those who want to try, the recipe is below. For those wondering, the recipes that Mystee is sending to me are all recipes that she has developed or expanded on over the years. Many are twists on old classics, an upgrading of sorts for optimal nutrition.
For the energy bars, Mystee says she’s chosen rice syrup as a sweetener because it’s caramel like in flavour but also low on the glycemic index so the body doesn’t react quite the same way as it would to cane sugar or the corn syrups found in a lot of bars. ( doesn’t create as high a spike in blood sugar)  The bar is loaded with complementary proteins found in the oats, nut butter, and nuts to provide a full spectrum of amino acids.
Good enough for me!


Energy Bars

3/4 cup organic smooth peanut butter or almond butter

3/4 cup brown rice syrup

1/2 cup organic cocoa or even raw cacao powder if you have access to it

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 cups quick organic oats

11/4 rice crisps

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup raw sliced almonds

and… an optional drizzle of melted dark chocolate for the top!

Mix the nut butter and rice syrup together in a saucepan over very low heat until just softened and combined. Remove from the heat and add cocoa powder and cinnamon. Add the rest of the ingredients, mixing well with your hands to combine. If the mixture is a little dry and crumbly add a touch of almond milk.

Press into a lightly oiled 9X11 in. pan. Drizzle with melted dark chocolate if desired. Refrigerate until set (about 1/2 hour) Cut into squares.

Closer to Om: Raw Bircher Muesli

So I started out a little “flat footed”. If you read my last post I explained an intention to tackle the recipes of my wildly creative and health conscious sister. (Mystee @OmCooking)

The first recipe of choice was her, raw bircher muesli. Truth be told, I was bamboozled by her comment: “This raw breakfast cereal goes together in minutes before bed and is ready to eat when you rise in the morning!” Bingo! I was familiar with this traditional Swiss breakfast and I could get it over with in “minutes!”

But, there was a hitch. One, that as I headed off to the local organic market, I hadn’t yet decided how to address. Was I going to go the regular Kendall in the kitchen, “speed and convenience is of the essence”, route, or “Mystee mode”? My first stop at the Big Carrot, here in Toronto, was at the bulk bins for oats and pumpkin seeds. It was when I turned the corner; heading straight for the cartons of Almond Breeze, when a truly organic wave of guilt rushed over me.

In Mystee’s recipe, in parenthesis next to 1 ½ cups of Almond milk it read: “(from previous recipe)”. I had my reasons for this challenge, to up my culinary game; to face the lingo of milk bags and soy lecithin granules and push ahead. That “previous recipe” was telling me the almonds I needed to buy, should I decide to actually press my own almond milk, had to soak for 12 hours. This meant I’d be throwing this “quick and easy” recipe together in the wee hours of the morning if we were going to have it for Sunday brunch.

Fresh almond milk

My fresh almond milk!

Text to Mystee: “ Do almonds really have to soak so long for the milk?”

Mystee:  “at least 8 hours”.

I’d be home with my groceries by four. Mixing muesli at midnight was something I could manage, even if it did sound like a really bad Swiss folk song.

The nut soak was only one of my challenges. My daughter’s drool over the mere thought
of bircher muesli from Confiserie Sprüngli in Zurich. Sliding this under their noses for a Sunday brunch wasn’t going to be an easy feat. There was also the realization at 11pm (well after supermarket closing hours) that I had not one banana left in the house. Thanks to the ubiquitous Starbucks and their banana basket at the till, I was (queue alphorn) blenders a blazing by 11:30. (what’s a half hour anyway?)

Bircher muesli classique at Confiserie Sprüngli, Zurich.

Bircher muesli classique at Confiserie Sprüngli, Zurich.

Aware of my nighttime shenanigans, my daughters awoke this morning eager to taste.

“It’s so good! A lot like Sprungli” says my youngest, Jemima. (keep in mind they haven’t been back to Switzerland in a year and a half) “…but the fresh berries make it different.”

Just as I’m thinking I’ll stir in slivered almonds next time (if there is a next time) instead of pumpkin seeds, my eldest, Sadie, calls up to me as I tap away at my computer:

“Mom, can I have this for breakfast tomorrow before school?”

Now that’s what I’m talking about…

Thanks big sis!

Bircher Muesli a la Om Cooking.

Bircher Muesli a la Om Cooking but made by me!

Recipe for Raw Bircher Muesli

This raw breakfast cereal goes together in minutes before bed and is ready to eat when you rise in the morning! The combinations of fruit and nuts are limitless.

1 cup gluten free rolled oats ( oats only contain gluten because they are tossed in flour to prevent them from sticking. Gluten free oats are readily available at most natural food stores)

11/2 cups almond milk (from previous recipe)

1/4 cup chia seeds

1 large ripe banana mashed

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/3 cup raw sunflower, pumpkin seeds, or almonds

fresh berries if in season or grated organic apple or chopped organic pear

a splash of maple syrup if you like it a little sweeter

Before bed combine oats, almond milk, chia seeds, mashed banana, and raw seeds or nuts in a tupperware container. Stir to combine and then place in the fridge.

Upon rising, stir in desired berries or fruit and sweeten if desired!


Recipe fresh squeezed nut milk

My (read Mystee’s) favourite nuts for making nut milk are raw almonds and hazelnuts. You will need a good blender and a nut milk bag which you can purchase for around $5 at your natural foods store.

Soy lecithin comes in granules and a liquid form. The granules are much easier to work with and more cost effective!

This basic recipe can be enjoyed by the glass, in a smoothie recipe that follows, or in the muesli recipe that comes a little later!

1 cup raw almonds or hazelnuts

4 cups water

1 pitted soft date

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 tsp. soy lecithin ( to emulsify)

Soak the nuts in 2 cups of water for 12 hours. Drain and rinse well with fresh water.

In a blender combine the soaked nuts with 2 of the 4 cups of water to start and the rest of the ingredients. Blend on high for up to 2 minutes until the mixture is homogenous. Add the remaining 2 cups of water and blend again for 30 seconds.

Place your nut milk bag over a large bowl. Pour the nut milk mixture into the bag. Gather the bag around the opening with your hands and squeeze gently until all of the liquid has been extracted into the bowl beneath. There is very little nutrition left in the pulp but you can save it to mix into oatmeal or even to feed to the dogs! If you have a dehydrator there are lots of options once the pulp is dehydrated and ground into flour.

Pour the milk into a pitcher and store in the fridge for about 4 days.

Closer to Om

A recent post by my sister on her “Om Cooking” FB page, sums it up:

“My mom makes the best cheesecake, the baked kind that fills a gigantic spring form pan, the kind that you keep slivering away at until you have eaten the whole thing! This is my raw variation. Cashews and macadamia nuts kissed with lemon and vanilla, cultured with acidophilus on an almond crust with fresh organic strawberry balsamic coulis and fresh berries!”

mystee cc

Mystee’s not so cheesy cheesecake

She’s posted a photo of the cake, so perfect in its presentation it could sit in the window of a Patisserie on Rue de Seine in Paris.

Mystee is the daughter who inherited the cooking gene… and then some. She has taken a course at The Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC and studied with Matthew Kenney at his raw cooking school in Santa Monica. She’s taken numerous workshops (that sound, to me, to be straight from the pages of Harry Potter) on elixir craft and fermentation and spent over 25 years healthily honing meals for her own family while gaining a loyal following in the Rocky Mountain community of Banff —the epicentre of all things healthy and wholesome.

Mention “raw” to me and I’m more likely to be thinking about a file on my camera than something I’m about to ingest. Of course, as the mother of two, (who lived as a hausfrau in Switzerland for ten years where kids still leave school for a hot lunch every day) I do, of course, cook but it would be fair to say that it’s not the kitchen that inspires my creativity and I can be rather impatient when it comes to following a recipe. My ideal dinner leans more toward a bubbling pot of Gruyere cheese with a dry Chenin blanc and perhaps a closing grappa to settle the tummy. If this all comes with a table of good friends and family, even better. I’m not prepared to totally give this up, but I admit, I need to up my nutritional game.

raw pizzas

Raw Greek Pizza from Om Cooking.

In six months I turn 50. There’s been talk, (that hasn’t entirely omitted the idea of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro), about what to do for this monumental birthday. But on the phone recently with Mystee, the truth comes out.

“I just want to be on solid ground for my 50th birthday. To reach professional goals that will help to secure the future, for the girls and me, but I also want to make some changes that will keep me feeling half my age, for the next fifty years”.

Our father recently turned 89 and has the vigour of someone in his thirties. He’s frequently spotted, by bemused locals, gliding on his rollerblades or rising a couple of hundred metres in elevation over Banff Town, on his mountain bike, to take in the view. Yes, we’ve been graced with good genes and I figure if I’m going to be living in this body for another half century, I had better be looking after it.

So, instead of bracing myself for my sister’s next culinary Facebook post, I’ve decided to gather my strength and face it head on. Shortly after our conversation, I send her an email:

“Here’s the deal Myst. I want to be inspired to make meals that are healthy, for myself and for the girls. If you could send me some recipes, meals, snacks and drinks, I’m going to make one each week and write about it — even if the result isn’t pretty. Kind of an “If I can do this, anyone can, Julie and Julia, scenario.

So, this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to stare down the unrefined, the whole and the raw and turn them into something my teenage daughters will eat. Stay tuned and wish me luck but feel free to mock and/or encourage me as you see fit. I can’t do this on my own!


Fondue. So easy, so simple. so good....

Fondue. So easy, so simple. so good….