Magical Cranberry Nut Bars with Chocolate Chips and Coconut

IMG_9444Merry new year to you, my friends! I’ve had a long hiatus from blogging, and I’ve missed you. It’s been a challenging year in some ways. I’ve not had much in the way of work-life balance, but I’m getting there slowly but surely. This time of year is always such a good time for reflection and re-evaluating what’s working and what’s not. Some people like to set resolutions and that’s not so much my thing. Resolutions in my mind are all about the “I’ll try to do (blank) this year.” Frankly, I don’t want to try. I simply want to do. So, 2015 is to be the year of the doing of the things. 🙂

This time of year is also an excellent time for baking and eating. So, while you reflect and resolve to do the things, let’s eat Magical Cranberry Nut Bars, shall we?

Yes, excellent.IMG_9439What you need:

1 bag of fresh cranberries

1 cup of gluten-free oats

1 cup of cashews, raw

1/2 cup of almonds, raw

1/2 cup of maple syrup

1 Tbsp coconut oil

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

2 Tbsp shredded coconut (fine or course shreds, whatever speaks to you)IMG_9430Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Begin by using your food processor (or Vita-mix) to grind the nuts, oats, and maple syrup into a thick paste.

In a separate bowl, combine the coconut oil, cranberries, chocolate chips, and coconut shreds and mix.

Spoon your the base layer (the nut and oat paste) into either little bite-sized muffin tins or line a loaf pan with parchment and pour it in there, evening out the base layer as you pour. I made enough to make both a few little muffins and a loaf, and I highly recommend that, because you will be very sad when you finish off the little muffin tin bites or the loaf, and oh-so-happy when you discover you still have another loaf or muffin pan full of them to eat!IMG_9434Spoon on the cranberry, chocolate, coconut mixture on top of the base layer and start the baking! The muffin sized treats cook in about 20-30 minutes, so watch them closely. The loaf took about 45min to an hour to cook for me, but it all depends on how thick you layer the base.IMG_9445It’s finished when a fork comes out clean. Once that happens, let it cool, then begin the eating! These freeze very well, so if you’re deciding to not eat so many baked goods this year, put the majority of the bars or muffin bites in the freezer and take one for a treat at work each day. Then you will have done two things – 1) made delicious baked goods; and 2) avoided eating all the baked goods at once. It’s really a win-win. 🙂

Again, happy new year to you all! I hope this year is full of tastiness, laughter, love, and magic!

IMG_7121This is how winter looks in my neck of the woods. Lucky, lucky me.

Cherry, Cacao, and Basil (and greens!) Smoothie Goodness

IMG_9372Cherry Basil? Yes, Cherries+Basil+Cacao=delicious and I too was surprised that combination worked, but it certainly did. This smoothie is light, refreshing, and kind of complex (in a good way). That said, it’s still dang tasty if you omit the basil and just go with tried and true cherries and chocolate.

What you need:

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about 1 cup of cherries, pitted

2 cups vanilla almond milk (or other non-dairy milk, unsweetened)

2 cups of spinach

1 banana, preferably frozen and chopped

2-3 basil leaves (or no basil leaves if you don’t sway that way)

1 Tbsp chia seeds (totally optional)

1 scoop vanilla protein powder – I use Sunwarrior Vegan protein powder (again, totally optional, but nice)

1 Tbsp cacao nibs (I use Theo)

3-4 ice cubes

IMG_9366Sweet, sweet cherries – I prefer bings, but you could use any cherry. My guess would be that the darker varieties would probably be better, but why not give glorious Rainiers a try in this smoothie? A note on cherry pitting: DO NOT WEAR WHITE CLOTHING, or brand new clothing, or anything that you care deeply about in the event of cherry spatter. No matter how accomplished you are at pitting cherries, it can and will happen. I even watched a video on smooth ways to pit the cherries, and despite my efforts, my friends, it was not smooth.

What to do: Put everything in a blender and blend the heck out of it!

IMG_9374Now drink the lusciousness knowing that you got your fruits, your greens, your chocolate, and some protein. HOORAY!

Buckwheat Chocolate Gingerbread. Festive, Gluten-free, and Vegan!

P1040410It’s holiday time again, my friends. How that happened, I know not. There’s something about the passage of time that shocks me literally every second. For instance, it’s now 10:21am. WHERE DID THE REST OF THE MORNING GO? I went for a long, long walk, made pancakes, and did some work and *poof*, the time is gone. Sigh.

Anyway, the festive spirit often eludes me because of this whole vortex of time issue. So, gingerbread.  🙂P1040395This gingerbread is spicy, chocolatey, and because of the buckwheat, it’s makes you a veritable tower of jollyness.P1040407What you need:

1.5 cups finely ground buckwheat flur

0.5 cups gluten-free all purpose flour (such as Bob’s or Arrowhead Mills)

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1-2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

3 Tbsp chia seeds (mixed with 6 Tbsp warm H20 to form a gel. You could also use two eggs instead if you’re not going vegan)

1.5 cups almond milk or other non-dairy milk, unsweetened

0.5 cups grade B maple syrup

0.5 cups organic, unsweetened applesauce

3 Tbsp ground ginger

dash of nutmeg and cinnamon

1 85% dark chocolate bar, smashed to bits

2 Tbsp raw cacao, 1 Tbsp ground ginger, 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon (all reserved for sprinkling on top)P1040398You guys all know my thoughts on buckwheat. To briefly reiterate: I love it.

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Whisk together chia gel.P1040399

Add all dry ingredients to a bowl. Add all wet ingredients to a bowl. Combine wet into dry, mix, and add chocolate chunks.P1040400When well combined, pour into a pan of your choosing, just remember, the thicker the layer of batter, the longer it takes to bake. I use a 9×13 pyrex dish lined with parchment and it made some nice-sized little slices. Also, parchment paper is so nice because there’s very little pan washing to do. For those of you who don’t know me, I really, really don’t like washing pots and pans. I don’t mind other dishes, but there’s something about a pot or pan that just puts me off yet I like making the messes. I know, I’m a weirdo.

Bake for 30-45 minutes, until a fork comes out cleanP1040403Put together your magic cacao, ginger, cinnamon dustP1040405Sprinkle that delicious fairy dust and eat, eat, eat! 🙂P1040417P1040408P1040416

I’m Back! And With Chocolate Zucchini Bread (Gf, vegan, delicious!)

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Dear blogasphere, it has been waaaayyyy too long! I’ve been traveling, finishing up my degree (10 days to go!), leraning about the world of real estate, and getting  acquainted with my new clinic, and these last few months have flown. It’s been a trying summer in many ways, but a good one too.

So, now that life is finally settling a bit, I can get back to cooking and blogging. Hooray!

And with that, I present to you some lovely chocolate zucchini bread. Tasty, tasty, but not too sweet. And I won’t lie, it goes mighty nicely with a little vegan ice cream right on top. Or by itself. Really, whatever you do, as long as it involves eating zucchini bread, it won’t be a wrong decision. 🙂

What you need:

1 cup superfine brown rice flour

2/3 cup sweet sorghum flour

1/2 cup potato starch

3 Tbsp chia seeds (plus 6 tbsp water, all whisked into a gel)

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1/4 cup raw cacao

dash cinnamon

3/4 cup almond milk, unsweetened

11/2 cup grated zucchini

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IMG_9069What to do:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

Mix chia gel and let sit for about 10 minutes. While that’s setting, sift together dry ingredients in one bowl and mix together wet ingredients, including chia gel, in a separate bowl.

Pour wet into dry and mix thoroughly and mix in zucchini shreds, then transfer to a greased bread pan.IMG_9071Bake for about 45 minutes, maybe more, until the a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. IMG_9072IMG_9074

Almond Chia Chocolate Cookies! (Gluten-free and vegan!)

P1030021_2   Today is not going super well. 3 finals are due today, for all of which I’m way behind in terms of preparation (one of which I thought I had till Sunday to finish), yesterday I just announced I’m changing jobs…it’s been kind of a tough week. And thankfully it’s almost over! 🙂 So, while I’m re-listening to lectures, I decided to do a little baking.  Because why not. And it’s better than sitting here stressing while I have to be tied to my computer anyway.

P1030025_2These cookies are really less sweet treat, and more power snack. They’re tasty and the almond meal gives them a nice almost cakey texture, but they’re not very sweet. If you’re looking for  a sweeter cookie, I might send you back to my Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chunk Cookies instead. That said, if you’re looking for something that you can grab before running out the door to workout or something, these might be the winners.

What you need:

1 cup almond flour

1.5 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour mix (I used Bob’s, though King Arthur is my favorite)

1/2 cup gluten-free oats

1.5 tsp baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

6 Tbsp chia seeds (2 of which will be whisked together with 6 Tbsp water to form a gel and set a aside)

1/2 cup almond milk

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

pinch salt

pinch cinnamon

1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks

P1030016_2First, whisk together your chia gel and set aside for a few minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix together all dry ingredients in one bowl. In separate bowl, combine all wet ingredients (including chia gel and melted coconut oil). Add wet to dry ingredients, and mix. Add chocolate chunks and remaining chia seeds.P1030018_2Place parchment paper over cookie sheet, and spoon dough (it’s very thin dough) onto parchment. Place it all in the oven, and bake for about 10-12 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.P1030024_2Build a leaning tower of cookies and eat them up!!!

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Epic Granola Bars! (Vegan and GF!)

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Ever have one of those weeks where you just feel like you’re under water? Mine’s been kind of like that this week. Just more to do than I think can humanly be done. Fortunately for me, I’ve got a lovely trip to Mexico coming up on Sunday, and a couple of days off to catch up (and breathe, and maybe stop treading water). Traveling gf style can be tricky. More and more airports have gluten-free goodies, but they often cost upwards of $3 or $4 for a granola bar, and I’ll be honest, as a student that seems like a lot of money for little snack bar. So, these tasty little friends came to be. P1020953_2 They’re extremely customizable, so just use what you’ve got on hand. This combination of fig, date, oats, almonds, chocolate, coconut shreds, chia seeds, and maple syrup is sooooo good though. Lovely and chewy with just the right amount of sweetness, I find myself wanting to high-five these bars, but as it turns out, granola bars don’t really give a solid high-five back. It’s much more satisfying to eat them.P1020952_2   To make these, you need:

1. 5 cups gluten-free oats

1 cup puffed rice cereal

1 cup raw almonds

1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

3-4 squares of dark, dark chocolate, chopped into small bits

1/4 cup chia seeds

1/2 cup maple syrup

6 dried figs, chopped

5 dates, chopped and pitted

a dash of nutmeg

a dash of cinnamon

1/8 cup waterP1020956_2Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together in a big bowl. I know, that sounds like such a complex step. One of the many reasons homemade granola in any form is the best.P1020958_2If you have an 8 x 8 inch dish, use that, but if not, I found that two bread pans worked out just fine. Either way, line the pan (or pans) with parchment paper, and press the mixture into the bottom of the pan. Don’t be afraid here. Press really hard! The better pressed it is, the better your bars will stick together. Now bake for 30-40 minutes, until the tops is golden brown.P1020961_2Remove the parchment and granola from the pan, and let cool completely before cutting into bars.P1020967_2Take them anywhere, eat, and enjoy!

Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chunk Cookies (Vegan and Gluten-free!) Say what?!

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Oatmeal, raisins, dark chocolate. There, that’s my post. It’s all you really need to know, and maybe all anybody really needs to know when it comes to cookies AND life.

Okay, that’s probably not true. Except the cookie part.

Anyway, today’s been one of those exceptionally grey Seattle days, a little bit drizzly, and absolutely no discernable patches of clear sky anywhere. I’ve been holed up working on school, and cookies suddenly seemed absolutely necessary. In times of such necessity, it’s best to just make the cookies.

These little delights are super easy, and through a combination of gluten-free all purpose flour, almond meal, and oatmeal, have the best texture; a little chewy on the inside, a little crispy on the outside, with lots of raisins and big dark chocolate chunks. I won’t lie, it’s taking most of my willpower not to eat about 10.

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Let’s make cookies! What you need:

1 cup gluten-free all purpose flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)

1.5 cups gluten-free oatmeal

1/2 cup almond meal

4 Tbsp chia seeds (2 combined into 6 Tbsp of rice or almond milk to form a gel, and 2 folded into batter)

1/3 cup coconut oil, melted

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup coconut sugar

3/4 of a broken dark chocolate bar

1/2 cup raisins

3 Tbsp maple syrup

9 Tbsp rice, almond, or other non-dairy milk (6 for chia gel, the rest added to wet ingredients)

1 tsp vanilla extract

pinch each of salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. While chocolate bar is still wrapped, smash it to pieces with the bottom of jar. Very satisfying and keeping it wrapped prevents chocolate from flying everywhere. You can also use chocolate chips, I just didn’t have any.

In a mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients. A note here about almond meal…you can buy pre-mealed almonds at Trader Joe’s or, if you have whole almonds, pulse them in a food processor or magic bullet until a crumbly flour is formed. Don’t go too far or you’ll make almond butter, which isn’t a bad thing, but not what you’re going for here. The conversion is 1:1 almonds:almond meal (or flour). Whisk together 2 Tbsp chia seeds and 6 Tbsp rice milk, let sit a few minutes until a gel is formed.

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In a separate bowl, combine sugar, oil, chia gel, maple syrup, and vanilla. Whisk together and add wet to dry ingredients. Fold in chocolate and raisins. Spoon onto parchment paper lined baking sheets, and bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Eat and be happy!

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Coco Almond Power Buddies (Vegan and Gluten-free)

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Life has been busy of late, and I find that if I don’t make myself a big batch of food to get me through the week, I wear out pretty quickly.  Today, while getting ready for a long week of work and school I had a hankering (that’s right, I said a hankering) for something kinda chocolately, kinda coconutty, kinda sweet, and really energizing. Hence, power buddies were born. They don’t look like much, but they more than meet all the requirements and taste delicious with a subtle sweetness. I’d say they’re less cookie, and more new and improved energy bar. Or energy lump.

Makes about 20 buddies.

1 1/2 cups gluten-free rolled oats

1/4 cup gluten-free all purpose flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)

3/4 cup raw crunchy almond butter

4 Tbsp chia seeds (2 of which will be mixed with 6 Tbsp water to form a gel, the other 2 sprinkled in separately)

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup coconut sugar (or you could use maple syrup here, which would be absolutely delicious)

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 Tbsp cacao powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

With an electric mixer (or an extremely powerful wrist), mix coconut oil and sugar, and beat in chia gel, almond butter, and vanilla. Sift together all dry ingredients, and add dry to wet and continue stirring or beating on low speed.

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When completely mixed, spoon batter onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet, and bake for 10-15 min. Eat!

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