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!

Lemon Blueberry Muffins. Springalicious, Gluten-free, and Vegan

IMG_9267 It’s been quite a while since I posted anything, though I’ve been whipping things up in the kitchen and just haven’t quite made it to the photo/blogging stage. I’m feeling re-energized now and despite the overwhelming grayness of the day, it feels like spring. So, tasty, lemony goodness in muffin form is what I present to you today.IMG_9271What you need:

2 cups of brown rice flour

2 Tbsp coconut flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

3 Tbsp chia seeds

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 Tbsp coconut oil

1 cup blueberries (or more if you’re feeling fruity)

3 Tbsp almond milk (add 1 Tbsp spoon at time if batter is too thick)

IMG_9263What to do:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix dry ingredients (chia seeds included here). Mix wet ingredients. Combine the two and add almond milk as needed to keep the dough from being too dry (it took me 2 Tbsp of almond milk). Add blueberries.IMG_9266Grease muffin tins or use muffin papers (muffin cups? I just realized I have no idea what those are officially called) and fill with muffin batter. Bake for about 30 minutes, until a knife or toothpick comes out cleanIMG_9274Please note in the background my new favsie mug. Tea and a muffin = perfect second breakfast.IMG_9272Eat and enjoy!IMG_9275

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!

 

 

 

 

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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