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.

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Coconut Cacao Goji Pops (Raw, Vegan, and Gf!) and an Ode to Mamas

IMG_9028It’s been warm, sunny, and gorgeous in the good ol’ PNW this week. Yesterday it was even muggy, which is VERY unusual and kind of uninspiring for most things. Except when it comes to popsicles. Mugginess really does inspire a good popsicle spree, and who doesn’t love popsicles? Especially SUPERFOOD popsicles. OOOOOOHHHH! AAAAHHHH! Buzzwords! Mainly these are just straight up delicious though.IMG_9022Ah, the magical goji berry. I love these little guys. Smoothies, granola, on yogurt, in baked goods…they kind of kick ass anywhere that you think “Oh, a berry might fit nicely there.” And apparently they’re full of all sorts of good-for-you properties too. Let’s get down to the popsicle spree though.

What you need:

1 can light coconut milk

3 Tbsp raw cacao powder

1/4 goji berries

1/4 cup cacao nibs

1/4 cup maple syrup

An extremely strong arm for some intense whisking

Popsicle mouldsIMG_9024Directions: Put everything into a bowl and whisk like you’re whisking for your life! Once everything’s combined, pour into popsicle moulds and be sure to leave about an inch of space at the top (freezing expands the liquid a bit).IMG_9027After a few hours or overnight, run the mould under warm water to loosen the popsicle, remove, and devour. 🙂IMG_9032Look at those beautiful goji berries!IMG_9033I loved this pop so much, I felt like it needed a self portrait.IMG_9034Noodles felt like he wanted this pop so much he tried to melt it with his laser beam eyes. (DON’T FEED CHOCOLATE TO DOGS!!! Just FYI)

And now:IMG_9035This is my beautiful momma and me when I was just a wee little thing. She’s the one who’s inspired most of my cooking and for that and so many other much more important reasons, I can’t thank her enough. I’m a lucky duck. Happy Mother’s Day to her and to all my many friends who are mommas or are soon-to-be-mommas! The world wouldn’t go round without you, ladies! Thanks for being you!

🙂

Buckwheat Chia Cacao Cookies. Gluten-free, vegan, and taaaaassstyyyy!

P1030124_2It seems like I’m always writing about how I really needed a cookie today, and what’s funny is that I don’t really eat very many cookies. But today, to sound like a broken record, I really needed a cookie. Actually, the craving started yesterday, so these little cookie friends were extra necessary and satisfying.  Buckwheat is the wizard of grains, and I find I  literally never get tired of it. Or of saying the word groat. It’s funny and to sound a little (or actually, maybe a lot) d-baggish, it’s got a great mouthfeel. Anyway, these cookies combine the magic of buckwheat, coconut, cacao nibs, and chia and flax seeds into delicious little nuggets of joy. It’s very, very tricky not to just tilt the plate and pour them all into my mouth, but that wouldn’t be very class of me, now would it? 🙂P1030123_2What you need:

*addendum* I think these are delicious as is, my boyfriend says they taste good, but “healthy.” 🙂 You might add some regular sweetened chocolate or a bit more maple syrup if you’re looking for a more traditional cookie. As you’ve probably noticed, I don’t care for super-sweet sweets. 🙂

1 cup buckwheat flour (grind it from your groats!)

1 cup superfine rice flour (I used brown)

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp chia seeds + 1 tbsp flax seeds whisked together with 6 Tbsp water to form a gel

2 tbsp melted coconut oil

1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used a homemade combo of hazelnut, cashew, and almond milk)

1/2 cup of maple syurp

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut shreds

1/4 cup chia seeds

1/2 cup cacao nibsP1030120_2P1030121_2First, preheat that oven to 350 degrees, then whisk together your flax and chia gel (it will set up in about 5-10 minutes). In the meantime, sift together all dry ingredients in one bowl, and in another combine all wet ingredients and your gel when ready. Mix those two together and add chia seeds, coconut, and nibs then stir all ingredients together until well mixed.P1030122_2Drop dough onto a shaking sheet lined with parchment (I used a heaping tablespoon of dough for each cookie). Bake for 10-15 minutes.P1030127_2When a knife comes out clean, your cookies are done. Feel free to admire your cookies.P1030128_2After admiring them briefly, eat one (or several) and enjoy!P1030124_2

Vanilla Cashew Apricot Bites. Dee. Licious.

P1030077_2This week has been fantastic. A whole week with only work, and no school. Hooray!!!! That said, it’s all ending tomorrow. But, I only have two terms left, and the end is in sight. Again, hooray!!!! Anyway, today was filled with time with friends, fresh air, SUNSHINE (it’s a miracle!), lots of good food, and one killer spin class, and it was a great reminder that unwinding and de-stressing is so incredibly worth it even when it seems like there’s not possibly enough time.

These little bites were inspired by some bites I read about in a magazine, I wish I could remember which, but I’ve been waiting to make them for a long time. They’re dense and flavorful, and a great pre or post workout snack and SUPER easy to make. Seriously and for reals.

P1030076_2To make them you need:

1 cup of soaked cashews (soaked for at least 2-3 hours, up to overnight)

3/4 dried, unsweetened, unsulphured apricots (soaked for at least 15 min, up to an hour)

1/3 cup dried unsweetened shredded coconut (ground into a flour if you prefer)

1.5 tsp vanilla extract

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P1030071_2First, drain apricots and cashews and place in food processor. Process until a thick paste is formed.

P1030073With paste, roll a spoonful at a time into a ball and roll in coconut to coat. If you prefer to grind the coconut into flour (I did a mixture of fine coconut flour and shreds), just place shreds in a food processor to grind to the desired fineness. After coating each bite, place them all in the freezer and freeze for 1-2 hours. Keep in an airtight container in the freezer or fridge. Eat, relax, and enjoy!!!P1030074_2YUM!

 

 

 

 

Mango Coco Kiwi Smoothie. Sunshine In a Cup!

P1030066March in Seattle means gray, windy, rainy, and often unpleasant. So for the past few mornings I’ve been mixing up this little sunshine smoothie not only because it tastes super good, but it makes me feel like I’m in some tropical climate, even if just for a few minutes. Come summer, I guarantee I’ll be posting more about how awesome the PNW is and how I’d never want to leave.

P1030061What you need:

about 3/4 cup of frozen mango chunks

1 sliced kiwi

1 Tbsp chia seeds

1 Tbsp sliced or whole almonds (preferably soaked in H20 overnight)

1 Tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut

1 cup coconut water

2 Tbsp light coconut milk

P1030060Put all ingredients in your blender (I used my magic bullet). Blend. Seriously, that’s it. 🙂

P1030067Drink and enjoy!!!!

 

 

 

 

Coconut Curry Soup. MmmMmm Good!

P1030013_2So you, may have noticed that I love coconut. So it probably won’t shock you that I love coconut soup too. It’s March in the PNW, which means cold and damp, and sometimes windy, and today walking home in the sideways rain, nothing in the world sounded better to me than a nice bowl of spicy, coconutty deliciousness.

Hence, I present to you coconut curry soup. And I won’t lie, it’s good. Real good.

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And the best thing about this soup you ask? Well, it’s fast. And the second best thing? It does wonders for a sore throat.  Just sayin’. It tastes a lot better than any medication I’ve tried.

To make it, you need:

1 Tbsp of coconut oil

2 cans of light coconut milk

3 cups of water or veggie broth

1 cup white mushrooms, sliced

1 carrot, diced finely

1 onion, diced

1 red pepper, diced

1 Tbsp tamari (or fish sauce if not going gf or vegan)

3 Tbsp red curry paste (I like mine pretty spicy, so start yours with less if you don’t think the spice is so nice)

1 Tbsp lemon grass

1/8 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

several leaves of basil (save until serving)

2 inces of fresh ginger, diced finely

4 cloves of garlic, diced

salt and pepper (or better yet, grains of paradise) to taste

P1030004In a pot, combine garlic, onion, ginger, and coconut oil. Sauteè over low heat until softened. Add carrot and mushrooms, and continue to sautee until carrots softened and mushrooms browned. Add red curry and lemongrass and cook for 1 more minute

P1020996Add coconut milk, water, red pepper, and cilantro. Bring to boil for 30 seconds, and reduce heat to low. It can definitely be served here, but it’s even tastier if you let it cook for an extra 10 minutes or so.

P1030011_2Pour into bowls, garnish with fresh basil, and drink down the spicy, coconutty, smooth-as-silk goodness! Also, don’t be afraid to add tofu, chicken, or whatever protein of choice is. Rice noodles would also be fantastic!

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!

Ice Cream Cake = Birthday Happiness (Vegan, Raw, Gluten-free!)

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Yesterday was my birthday, and while I may now be 32, some things haven’t changed since I started eating solid food. For example, my undying devotion to ice cream cake. It may be one of the most perfect foods. Somehow, even though I don’t really like cake, when you add ice cream and freeze the whole deal, it’s amazing! This year ice cream cake from the DQ wasn’t going to cut it though. My days of dairy and gluten and buckets of sugar are now days of yore. I took it as a challenge and came up with this insanely, stupidly delicious “cake.”

So, what  do these ingredients have in common? Well, they make a wicked tasty cake. Duh.

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Let’s go layer by layer, shall we? Layer one is a mixture of oats, almonds, dates, and maple syrup, all ground down to a granola bar consistency. Layer two (this one is the real surprise winner) is chocolate avocado mousse. What?! Avocado mousse?! YES. Totally amazing and weird. And finally, layer 3 (this is where I get lazy) is my favorite vegan ice cream from Molly Moon’s here in Seattle, vegan coconut chunk. Oh, I should also mention that between each layer is a very thin layer of coconut shreds. Mmmmmmmm….

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So, to make this baby, let’s also go layer by layer by layer.

Layer 1:

1 cup oats (gluten-free)

1 cup almonds

5 soaked dates, pitted (soaked at least 3 hours)

2-3 Tablespoons of maple syrup

Layer 2:

1 avocado, very ripe

4 Tbsp raw cacao powder

5 soaked dates, pitted (as above)

2 Tbsp maple syrup

Layer 3: 

Your favorite vegan ice cream, softened to an easily spreadable texture

To make, find either a cake pan or I just used a parchment-lined pyrex dish. Start by combining all ingredients for layer one in a food processor or magic bullet until you can easily mold the mixture into a ball and have it stick together. Press it into the bottom of the parchment-lined dish. Place in freezer and freeze for 1-2 hours, until hard.

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Sprinkle layer 1 with shredded coconut. Now, in a food processor or magic bullet, combine all ingredients for layer 2. Evenly spread across layer 1, sprinkle with coconut shreds, and freeze for 1-2 hours.

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For layer 3, taken softened ice cream and spread over layer 2 (make sure layer 2 is fully frozen!). Freeze for another 1-3 hours and serve! Keeps well in freezer, but I won’t lie, it nearly didn’t make it past day 2 in our house.  Enjoy! 🙂

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Almond Coconut Date Chia Seed Pudding. YES.

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I’m a snacker. An every 2 hours snacker. If I don’t eat every 2 hours (maybe a slight exaggeration, but not that far off), I can get “hangry” and weak, and that’s a bad feeling. To fend off hangriness and keep myself going strong, I’m on a lifelong quest to find and make a multitude of healthy, delicious, and easy snacks to keep me going throughout the day. And luckily for me, I just got my new bulk bag of chia seeds, which led to this tasty little dish.

Pudding can be a hard texture for me to like, but I love chia gel, especially when it’s combined with my go-to MVP players, coconut and almond. Dates add a delicate sweetness, and vanilla rounds things out. Even better, it’s just about this simplest recipe ever and takes all of 5 minutes to make plenty.

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What you need:

2 cups of almond milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup chia seeds

5 dates, chopped

1/2 cup of unsweetened, shredded coconut

handful of almonds

apple slices and cinnamon for garnish

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In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients (except garnish) and whisk. Let sit for about 5 minutes, until chia seeds have expanded and the gel is set. Spoon into bowls and garnish with apple and a dash of cinnamon. Eat and be happy, avoid hanger. Keeps in an airtight container in refrigerator for 3-4 days, though at my house, this doesn’t last long.

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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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