Date Brownies (Whole30 Approved)

Recipes

Date Brownies

Total Time: 15 min

unnamed (3)

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 😉

unnamed (6)

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.

unnamed (8)

Whole30, Vegan, Gluten Free, Dairy Free

 

Chocolate Nut Raw Bars

blog posts

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

dsc_0935

dsc_0941

dsc_0945

dsc_0952

Peanut Butter Energy Balls

Recipes

unnamed-2

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 😉

unnamed.jpg

unnamed-1

Very real capture of my kitchen….

unnamed (4).jpg

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 🙂

unnamed-3

 

Pumpkin Energy Balls

Recipes

Happy Fall! I’m taking this classic energy ball and spicing it up for the season. I use these energy balls for breakfast, pre-workout snack, mid-afternoon snack, late night snack, okay maybe I just eat them constantly throughout the day?! Although these are rather healthy and a great alternative to a sweet treat, definitely best in moderation (so keep them in the fridge and pop a couple each day throughout the week). Enjoy!

dsc_0726

dsc_0721

Ingredients:
3 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup pumpkin puree (I use Trader Joe’s organic canned pumpkin)
1 cup all natural peanut butter
1 cup (about 5) fresh Medjool dates, pitted
4 Tbsp chia seeds
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice

dsc_0718
Directions: 
In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except for the dates. Remove pits from dates if you haven’t already, and mush together with your hands. It may take some TLC depending on the softness of the dates. Once kneaded into a ball of “dough”, knead into the rest of the ingredients. Roll bites into a 1-inch ball (I use my hands for best results). Place in a separate container where you’re going to store them. Refrigerate for up to 10 days. Please let me know if they make it 10 whole days 😉

Yields: About 25

dsc_0716

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.

dsc_0609

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

dsc_0602

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 🙂

dsc_0610

No Sugar, No Flour Pumpkin Protein Muffins

Recipes

Happy First Day of Fall! I don’t know about you, but I’m having pumpkin fever. One of my favorite parts of baking is creating new recipes or modifying existing ones to make my favorite concoctions. I’m not great at following recipes, so it’s fun to experiment with what will actually cook in the oven.

Here’s my latest.

dsc_0638

Protein Pumpkin Muffins (No sugar, No flour, Gluten-Free)

What you’ll need:
2 cups old fashioned oats
2 large eggs
1/2 can pure pumpkin
1/4 cup almond milk
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1tsp almond extract
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup honey
cinnamon
pumpkin pie spice
1/3 cup raw pecans, chopped
1/2 cup Kashi Harvest cereal (totally optional!)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375. In a large mixing bowl, mix all ingredients together. Spray muffin pan with olive oil. Fill each cup full (they don’t really expand). Bake for about 15-20 minutes. Makes 9 muffins.

dsc_0639

3 Ingredient No Bake LaraBalls

Recipes

038

If you’re anything like me, you can’t turn down a delicious, chewy bar. I have such a fascination with protein and nut bars, and I’m always trying the latest and greatest, looking for the best ingredients with the smallest (preferably zero) processed ingredients. Also, the consistency of protein bars is oddly amazing to me, I could literally eat one every meal. But that would not only be weird for my body but also break my bank. Which brings me to my next point; bars are so expensive!! By no means am I degrading the value of a great bar that’s filling, convenient, and actually good for you. However, with such few ingredients (yay),  I could make a similar batch in my own kitchen. And that’s exactly what I set out to do.

Ingredients:
Plain (Cashew Cookie) Bar
16 oz Dates, pitted
1 cup cashews, raw
1 cup almonds, raw

Chocolate Brownie Bar
16 oz Dates, pitted
1 cup cashews, raw
1 cup almonds, raw
¼ cup unsweetened cacao powder
1 dash cinnamon
¼ unsweetened coconut flakes

Almond Oat Bar
16 oz Dates, pitted
1 cup cashews, raw
1 cup almonds, raw
½ cup old fashioned oats
1 tsp almond extract

Directions:
In a blender or food processor, blend nuts (you can do them together or separately), until creamy and powdery, pour into a medium-sized mixing bowl. With your hands or a food processor, mash pitted dates together until it becomes one big sticky lump (yes, sort of gross, sort of awesome). Knead dates and nuts together well. Add additional ingredients based on what bar you want (I prefer to blend the oats as well to become dusty). Roll into 1 inch sized balls. You can also roll them in additional ingredients such as cinnamon or coconut. Done! Store on the counter top or in the fridge in an airtight container.035

 

Overnight Oats

Recipes

008

Do I have an obsession with oats? Possibly. Can you be mad though? No. Oats are my favorite anytime snack because you can literally mix them with just about everything. You’ll definitely be seeing more recipes including oats because, yum.

As all my recipes go, there are a million variations to keep your breakfast and snacks exciting, so you can’t really mess them up.

Ingredients-
¾ cup old fashioned oats (important: steel cut oats won’t soak up milk)
1 cup almond milk (I use unsweetened vanilla)
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp nut butter (I use almond butter)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 medium banana

In a mason jar or Tupperware (whatever you’re going to eat it out of the next day), mix ingredients (in that order), stir, refrigerate… um, that’s all! There should be excess milk when you put it in the fridge, but the oats will soak it up overnight. In the morning (or just a couple hours later), you’ll find the consistency of regular oatmeal. Served cold. Yum! For a post-workout addition, I add a little vanilla protein powder for extra taste and recovery.

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

blog posts

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)

 

creamyalmondbutter.jpg

Creamy, no salt.

 

Trader-Joes-Trail-Mix.jpg

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

5386d43c93280c19591fbf929e736261

I dare you not to eat the entire bag.

 

licorice

Strawberry Austrailian Licorice

 

 

 

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

 

 

spicy-peanut-dressing1

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

 

 

beets1.jpg

Baby Beets- ready to slice into a salad

d4d5f1e80e1a4ca62076ce34eec92f71.jpg

Great with the savory crackers!

 

Trader-Joe-Gone-Bananas.jpg

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?!