Date Brownies (Whole30 Approved)

Recipes

Date Brownies

Total Time: 15 min

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What You’ll Need
Food processor or blender
Spatula
Glass or metal pan (8×8 or something similar)
2 cups fresh medjool dates, pitted
1 cup raw almonds
1 cup raw cashews
1 tbsp vanilla extract
⅓  cup cacao powder (or unsweetened cocoa powder), can add more to taste
¼ cup maple syrup (optional)

Are you like me and crave something sweet after just about every meal? Guilty! I’m always grazing the pantry for something sweet and of course I’ve learned to not even have anything on hand because I can’t keep it in the house long. I’m all for a giant chocolate chip cookie or gelato once in awhile, but in between those splurges, I try to opt something a bit healthier.

This recipe is as EASY as it gets. There is no baking involved and if you really don’t want to, you don’t even have to measure anything. One of the most fun things about cooking for me is experimenting with ingredients and measurements- following a recipe to the tee (while sometimes necessary) is kind of boring IMO. In fact, I rarely measure. Only when I need to write up a recipe do I think through how much went into it. Woops! So if you ever find yourself wondering what a recipe would taste like if you just added ‘this’, or didn’t include ‘that’, DO IT. Why not? Especially when no baking is involved and you can only enhance a dish with, say…. chocolate chips 😉

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Directions

  1. Add dates, cashews and almonds to food processor. Blend until finely chopped. If it seems very nutty, add a couple more dates (pitted, of course).
  2. Add vanilla and maple syrup if you choose. Blend.
  3. Add cacao powder. This may need some assistance from a spatula to fold in the powder to the mix. Blend.
  4. Scoop ‘dough’ into pan and flatten. Sprinkle with cacao powder. Cut and serve!
  5. Store in an airtight container on the countertop (they’ll go fast!) or in the fridge for up to 5 days. You could try the freezer, too.

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Whole30, Vegan, Gluten Free, Dairy Free

 

Chocolate Nut Raw Bars

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No sugar. No baking. No cheating.

Satisfy your sweet tooth with these gooey healthy, raw bars that are essentially brownies. SO GOOD. My good friend who is vegan passed along this recipe and I am so thankful she did because I take them everywhere I go. As with all healthy treats, why not eat them at any time of day? Sometimes I grab one of these before a workout or breakfast as I’m running out the door, for a snack during the day, or an after dinner indulgence.

I’m not much for measuring, so make these your own like I did and use whatever you have available. You can’t go wrong!

Ingredients:
2 cups Medjool dates, pitted
1 cup raw almonds
3/4 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2 raw walnuts
3 Tbsp chia seeds
2 Tbsp group flax seed (optional)
2 Tbsp hemp seed (optional)
1/2 cup cacao nibs
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (to taste)

Directions:
In a food processor or high power blender, blend all nuts and oats until dusty. The nuts may begin to make a butter, and that’s totally normal. Pour in mixing bowl. Add your seeds to mixture, wholely. With your hands (because it’s fun), squish dates until they become a smooth, sticky ball (this should be very easy to do with fresh Medjool dates). Place ball in mixing bowl. Knead the dry ingredients with dates until evenly combined. Press ‘dough’ into an ungreased 8×8 pan. Set in fridge.

In a small pot, heat coconut oil over medium/low heat. Add cocoa powder and stir with a spatula. Add cocoa powder until texture thickens and will make a frosting-type top layer. It will thicken more when it cools. Add honey to taste (unsweetened cocoa powder is not sweet). Let sauce cool slightly, for about 30 seconds, then pour over the bars that were in the refrigerator. Spread evenly. Sprinkle cacao nibs for an extra crunch. Let bars cool in the fridge for at least 30 min before cutting. Store in an airtight refrigerated space.

Tip: Coconut oil will melt at room temp and when touching the bars. Keep cool!

Yields: About 16 barsdsc_0926

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Peanut Butter Energy Balls

Recipes

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Typically, a little bite of sweet is all I need to clench a craving. However, if that sweet is full of sugar, particularly processed, I eat way *way more than I need to and continue down an endless path of sugar cravings. These energy bites give me exactly what I crave and are the perfect on-the-go snack. Caution: may eat the whole batch at once. Notice: not healthy to consume the whole batch in one day 😉

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Very real capture of my kitchen….

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What you’ll need:

2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup natural peanut butter
3 Tbsp chia seeds
2 Tbsp flax seed (optional)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl. I use a large spoon to start, then finish by kneading with my hands. You may need to add more peanut butter or honey if it’s too dry, but make sure to fully mix first. Roll 1mix into 1 inch balls, and place in an airtight container.

Tip: Get creative! Coat balls in cinnamon or roll in coconut flakes. Swap cinnamon more pumpkin pie spice. Add nuts, dried fruit! Adding variety will make these tasty things more appetizing for a good, hearty snack. Or dessert 🙂

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Better-For-You Banana Bread

Recipes

I’m always on a mission to make traditional baked goods better for you so I can continue to indulge- guilt-free. Here’s a version of banana bread that will leave your taste buds and body feeling oh-so-happy.

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Ingredients:
1 cup coconut flour
2 ripe bananas
2 large eggs
1/3 cup almond butter
1 cup almond milk
1 tsp vanilla and/or almond extract
3 Tbsp honey
3/4 cup old fashioned oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
nuts, fruit, chocolate chips optional

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Directions:
Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together. Spray bread pan with olive oil or rub with butter. The mix will fill about 2-3 inches. Cook for about an hour or until golden brown. Enjoy!

Pro Tip:
Enjoy warm with almond butter as a spread 🙂

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Easy Chia Seed Pudding

Recipes

I’ll take chocolate in any form. And I love pudding! But there’s a bunch of junk in store bought pudding. Some of the ingredients I don’t know how to read, and the very first ingredient is sugar. Ah! So what’s the alternative? Easy homemade chocolate pudding with NO sugar and NO weird ingredients. Make in just minutes!

Easy Healthy Chia Seed Chocolate Pudding

Ingredients:
10 dates, pitted
2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup chia seeds
3 Tbsp cocoa powder, unsweetened
cinnamon
vanilla extract

Instructions:

In a medium bowl, soak chia seeds in milk. Let sit for at least 15 min, or until most of the milk is soaked up and chia seeds are goopy. Meanwhile, pit your dates (if you havent already) and mash them together. I prefer to use my hands and work on a cutting board, it’s quite messy (big fun for kids). With a spoon or spatula, gently fold dates into chia/milk goop. Add cocoa powder, cinnamon, vanilla extract. Stir until ingredients are mixed together well with a smooth-ish consistency. Add additional cocoa, cinnamon, vanilla (or honey) to taste. Depending on how malleable your dates are, it may seem a little clumpy. If you have a good blender, pour in pudding and blend for about :30-1min. Refrigerate for an hour- or if you just can’t wait, eat immediately! Store in the fridge, if there’s any left.

11 Purchases at Trader Joe’s You Won’t Be Mad About

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If you’re lucky enough to have a Trader Joe’s near you, then you probably know what I’m talking about when I say it’s the most fun place to shop. Grocery shopping is one of my favorite things to do in the first place, but there’s just something special about TJ’s and all their fancy treats. Living in downtown Chicago, I walk to get my groceries. This means I can only buy what I can carry. Trader Joe’s is the closest to me, so I do most of my shopping there. So much self-control not to buy the entire store! (Unless I bring my boyfriend, then a million more items are added to my *our* baskets. I have some go-to items that I always pick, but you know you can’t go there and NOT sample the treat of the day! So I usually buy whatever that is too…. Don’t you?

If I had to narrow down my list of top picks:

Just Mango Slices (dried, chewy mango with no added sugar)

 

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Creamy, no salt.

 

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It’s the same price for the individual packs. Perfect for work or on-the-go.

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I dare you not to eat the entire bag.

 

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Strawberry Austrailian Licorice

 

 

 

2 Buck Chuck- but who am I kidding, any wine will do.

 

 

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Thai Peanut Dressing (Hint: perfect for homemade pad thai)

 

 

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Baby Beets- ready to slice into a salad

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Great with the savory crackers!

 

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A slighhht waste of money since they’re gone in 2 seconds but still worth it.

Veggie and flax tortilla chips– for all chips and guac needs.

I’m not really sure there’s something I don’t like at this store. But as all groceries go, I try to stick to the perimeter of the store where the fresh and healthiest items are. Okay, and the free samples and wine. Trader Joe’s has great options for all food needs and also the coolest treats ever. Am I right?!

5 Swaps to a Healthier You

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Fortunately, there a million ways to get healthier and stay healthier. Some are harder than others, like putting down that ice cream. But most can be simple swaps that will go a long way in your healthy journey. Here are a few:

 

  1. Drink Water

This may be the most obvious swap of all, but it also makes the biggest difference. I make a point to stick to water and coffee, and an occasional sparkling water when I need some bubbly. Okay and an occasional* glass of wine. Sugar filled juices and teas are the easiest way to add additional calories and junk into your diet, and they come at a hefty unhealthy price. Stick to water only as your primary liquid, it is your friend. And makes a huge difference in your awareness, muscle performance, and overall wellbeing. I drink about 90oz of water per day, that’s about 5 plastic bottles worth. How much water do you drink a day?

 

  1. Get your Chef on

For those of you who say you aren’t good at cooking, or don’t know where to start in the kitchen, try cooking your favorite restaurant meals at home. Is your restaurant go-to chicken fingers and fries? Try panko-crusting chicken and baking it in the oven with sweet potato fries. Maybe you’re like me and can always go for the fish tacos? Think up those ingredients (tortilla, fish, aioli mayo, cabbage) and construct your own masterpiece. Cooking at home not only saves a huge penny in your bank account, but it’s also much healthier- and fun! Obviously (well, hopefully) you won’t have that greasy goodness dripping down your chin from a giant burger, but there’s something satisfying about building your own concoction in your kitchen. What? No time to chat over sangria and artichoke dip?

 

  1. Stove top

How did people live without a microwave? I try to heat all my food on the stove instead of the microwave when I’m home. Not only do I think it tastes better, but it also gets what was crisp, crisp and keeps more nutrients in the food. Overheating/cooking food removes nutrients your body needs.

 

  1. Take a Lap

No, not a nap. Take a lap- around the grocery store. I’m sure you’ve heard that the healthiest food at grocery is around the perimeter- cue the beer drinkers confirming their cooler along the perimeter is healthy. This is not just a coincidence at some stores- it’s really a thing. Try shopping only around the edges, getting fresh produces, fresh meats, dairy and deli products, skipping the very middle where the hostess snacks live.

 

  1. Oil Up

 

Swap butter for olive oil. Olive oil has more health benefits than butter, and is a more versatile ingredient. If butter is your thing, make sure it’s real butter and not margarine. As with both yummy ingredients, use them in moderation. Or if you want to get serious, try not using them at all. They are high in calories, which is okay, but neither are something your body needs. You can avoid them by steaming veggies, cooking meats in their own juices, and eating toast dry.

Brussels Sprouts & Sweet Potato Hash

Recipes

 

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This is great brunch with eggs on top! Also great for weekly lunches.

3 tbsp olive oil
3 cups chopped Brussels sprouts
3 medium sweet potatoes
1/4 sweet onion
1/4 cup water
spices (cumin, garlic salt, pepper)

Preheat oven to 400 degree
Dice 3 medium sweet potatoes (I heat them in the microwave for a couple minutes to soften)
In 13×9 baking pan, add potatoes
Sprinkle olive oil, salt and pepper, cook
While those cook, make Brussels sprouts on stove (same as about but cut into smaller pieces)
In separate pan, dice 1/4 onion and saute in olive oil
Once onions and Brussels are done, mix in with potatoes, sprinkle olive oil as needed
Let hash cook for an additional 15-20 min (about 35 min total)

Brussels Sprouts

Recipes

I.Love.Brussels.Sprouts.

These may be my favorite vegetable ever, and I eat them all the time. Growing up, they were the absolute worst, but I learned it’s all about how you make them (as it is with most things). Here is one of my favorite ways to make this delicious and filling veggie:

 

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1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups chopped Brussels sprouts
spices (cumin, garlic salt, pepper)
1/4 cup water

In a medium sized sauce pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil
Cut sprouts in quarters (hot dog style), about 2 cups
Add sprouts to pan, pour 1/4 cup water over and cover
Cook covered for 3-4 min over medium/high heat
Remove lid, stir
Add spices- pepper, garlic salt, cumin
Continue cooking for 2-3 min without lid
Brussels sprouts should be lightly browned, soft, but not mushy
Enjoy!