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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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!

Berry Pie, ‘Nuff Said. (gf, vegan, and processed sugar free)

IMG_9353Pie, my friends. Sweet, sweet pie. As the berry season cometh, so cometh delicious pie. I wanna be straight with you folks though, and this may sound like blasphemy to the pie purists of the world, but I don’t historically love traditional pie crust. So I made a different crust. Also, let’s be honest because we’re friends, regular crust from scratch is a huge pain in the ass and gluten-free and vegan crust is even more of one. Thankfully, the crust in this recipe is easy as, well, pie. 🙂IMG_9348Berry season (i.e. summer) in the northwest is the best. The berries are giant, sweet, and abundant. I literally spent 20 minutes just picking blackberries one block from my office yesterday and came home with 3 pints of juicy blackberries. One of my favorite memories is picking blackberries with my little brother and my folks at the beach. To this day, just taking a couple of minutes to slow down and pick a few blackberries brings the biggest smile to my face (pause for reverie about berries). Okay, resuming pie talk.IMG_9332So, crust. What you need:

2 cups of gluten-free oats

1.5 cups of almonds

2 heaping Tbsp coconut oil

1/4 -1/3 cup maple syrup

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Will the preheating is happening, grind your oats and almonds. I did it in my Vitamix. If you don’t have a power blender (or a magic bullet is awesome here!) just buy oat flour and almond meal.IMG_9333Here’s my oat and almond flour all ground up and mixed. Don’t grind your almonds too long or you’ll have almond butter, which is delicious, but not our goal here. 🙂

Add your coconut oil and maple syrup. Mix well and press into a pie tin.IMG_9338Bake for about 15 minutes.

While your crust is baking, prepare the filling (this part is shockingly unchallenging). What you need:

1 pint strawberries, rinsed and sliced

1 pint blueberries, rinsed

1 tablespoon lemon juice.

Mix them berries! After your 15 minutes of crust baking, fill that thar pie crust!IMG_9351Bake for another 45 minutes-ish until the crust is golden brown and berries are cooked, but not mushy. The outside of the strawberries ends up almost roasted and was so tasty that it led to a future recipe about roasted strawberry ice cream. Prepare yourselves.IMG_9354Now eat a slice of pie! Or the whole pie! (brief pause for pie reverie).IMG_9361Yum. 🙂

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

Raw Vegan Carrot Cake. That’s right, I said it, and I meant it! (Also gf!)

P1030080_2I’ve been following this blog for awhile, and some of the things the author comes up with look absolutely amazing! This carrot cake has been taunting me for some time, and I finally decided to try making it. Good news, it’s easy, it’s delicious, and aside from freezing time to let the first couple of layers set, it’s super fast to make (and eat).

P1030083_2A few modifications I made:

Subbed raisins for dates (mainly because I didn’t have any on hand)

Used a mix of almonds and cashews for the frosting

Used a mix of oat and buckwheat flour for the filling.

I also added a bit of maple syrup to the filling (about 2 Tbsp) and did not use the pineapple chunks (my belly decided pineapple is bad news a couple years ago).

What I would change:

Add more carrots! And I might consider shredding them, though it could be that my food processer is not primetime top choice quality, and I don’t have a high speed blender to make the frosting super smooth and creamy. All of that said, this ended up SOOOOO well. I highly recommend it! Here’s a link to the original recipe.

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P1030082_2playing pac-man with my cake…:)

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Nom!