Monday morning workout woes & a TJ’s recipe recreation

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Happy Monday, everyone! Hope your week is off to a great start — can you believe that it’ll be Christmas Eve one week from today?! Craziness!

After a weekend full of sugar and a rest day, I was ready to hit the gym this morning. I came out strong and got in 3.8 miles in my 30-minute HIIT treadmill workout, and then I headed into the cardio room to do a quick full-body circuit.

All of the sudden, I had nothing left. Don’t you hate when that happens?! Somehow I managed to squeeze in three rounds of my 50-40-30-20-10 circuit (be on the lookout for it later this week!) although I was about to peter out at any time. Luckily, someone joined me for my last round of burpees, which is probably the only reason I got through them. Whew! Hopefully, tomorrow will be better!

On a happier note, I spent last evening recreating Trader Joe’s Sweet, Savory, and Tart Trail Mix Granola Bars as a little Christmas gift for my mother-in-law who just loves them! She buys multiple boxes at a time, and last time I was home, I snapped a picture of the ingredients and challenged myself to recreate them. My first attempt was pretty successful if I may say so myself!

Sweet, Savory, & Tart Granola Bars

Sweet, Savory, & Tart Granola Bars
Serves about 16

  • 3/4 c. brown rice syrup
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. raw sugar
  • 1/4 c. natural peanut butter
  • 2 c. oats (I used old fashioned.)
  • 1/2 c. dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 . sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 c. raisins
  • 1/4 c. dried cranberries
  • 1/2 c. sliced almonds, peanuts, and cashews
  • 1/2 c. crispy rice
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper for easy removal.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine brown rice syrup, honey, vanilla, salt, raw sugar, and peanut butter and melt on medium-low heat.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients except the chocolate chips.
  4. Once the wet ingredients are melted together, slowly pour them over dry. Mix until everything is well combined. Once it feels cool enough, add the chocolate chips.
  5. Pour into pan and press down until spread evenly.
  6. Place in oven and bake for about 15 minutes, until edges are slightly brown.
  7. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack or fridge. Once cool, cut into squares and enjoy!

How to “level up” this recipe:

  • Feel free to swap in whatever “trail mix” ingredients you like — chia seeds, flax seeds, macadamian nuts, toasted quinoa, etc. 
  • To cut down on the sugars, take out the raw sugar and/or the dark chocolate chips. Personally, I don’t think these bars need them; they’re already pretty sweet!

How to “level down” this recipe:

  • For a lighter bar, use 1 1/2 c. oats and a full cup of crispy rice.
  • Use M & Ms instead of chocolate chips (or in addition to!).
  • Feel free to swap out whatever you don’t like.
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