Coconut Cashew Hangry Bars

Not sure how many Lara Bars we have purchased over the years, but more than enough to have given one to everyone at a soccer tournament!  Peanut Butter Cookie and Coconut Cream Pie are the top favorites in this house.

I decided that it was time to make them as it was getting challenging to find them on sale and it was just getting a bit expensive to purchase them regularly.  But I had to be sure I could make them for less than I was purchasing them.  Dates are pricey and I managed to find some at an acceptable price but I am still searching for a bulk source. (if you know any, please LMK :)   Also, I wanted to add other ingredients that provide more vitamins and minerals.

Proportions are not my expertise, but if I didn’t try I would never figure it out.  After a couple batches, I finally got the desired texture/substance ratio.  Then it was getting the add ins to the right measurements so it wouldn’t change the texture too much.  Let’s just say we had a lot of samples in the kitchen.

Now for why I was really excited about making these… Nutrient packed yumminess!!  The bars are high in calcium, iron, fiber, protein, carbohydrates and antioxidants, with NO FAKE INGREDIENTS  woot woot!!

These are a great source of energy for the body without the feeling of heaviness.  They provide enough nutrients and carbohydrates to the body that can easily be digested and will not make the body work overtime to digest during activity, unlike other snacks or sports bars (look closely at ingredients)

Please share your feedback, I would love to know if you made these and how they turned out.

unwrapped

Ingredients:

1 cup raw cashews
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup pepitas
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup goji berries
14-16 medium-large Medjool dates, be sure they are soft (I can not guarantee the result using soaked dates)
5 dried figs
2 tablespoons chia seeds
2 tablespoons hemp seeds
Optional – 3 Tablespoons cacao nibs or chocolate chips

hangry bar ingredients

Directions:

Line a glass baking dish with parchment paper (7″ x 11″)

Using a food processor, place everything except the shredded coconut (if you put it in sooner it produces a wet oily texture from the heat of the processor, I know from experience!) * see note below about the chocolate chips before adding

Mix processor until it starts to get crumbly, ( the dates and figs are broken down and not chunky) and you will see it begin to hold together, don’t let it get fully sticky where it starts to ball up.  You can check it and if you pinch some of the mix together and it sticks then its starting to hold.

hangry bar process coconut

Add the coconut (if using chocolate chips add those now) once it is blended, process until it begins to stick, you may need to scrape in between. It should form a more solid texture (sticks together on its own) and that is when it is done.

 

Once it is sticking together, scoop from processor and place in the line baking dish and begin to evenly flatten it out with a spatula or use a piece of parchment paper and press with your hands.

going in dish

Once it is all in the pan, place in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.  Cut them into bars or squares.  You can store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator.  These hold well for a couple hours out of the fridge as long as they are not sitting in a hot car :) or in direct sunlight.

NOTE: If you are using the chocolate chips, the mix will appear dark from some of the chocolate melting from the warmth of the food processor. You can also add them in with the coconut and they will be more chunky.  The cacao nibs will not give the same result so those can go in with everything at once. The kids preferred these plain (without chocolate chips) but they also liked the ones with the cacao nibs.

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DATES: are a whole food and rich in antioxidants (polyphenols) and are not going to reek havoc on your blood sugar or overall health like processed and granulated sugars will. This doesn’t mean to go buy a pound of dates and chow down,  but rather instead of reaching for the candy bar, cliff bar, protein bar, sports bar or can of soda, grab a date! Dates provide fiber for cholesterol levels and helps with digestion, potassium for your blood and heart, calcium for your bones and the use of other essential nutrients, zinc for hormone balance, aids in your immune system, is an anti-inflammatory and provides iron for your blood. They are high in sugar, but your digestion can process it easier and you won’t disrupt your body during physical activity.

DRIED FIGS: provide calcium, copper, potassium, manganese, iron, selenium and zinc. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Copper is required in the production of red blood cells. Iron is essential for red blood cell formation as well for cellular oxidation. (Source: USDA National Nutrient database). Figs contain both soluble fiber which slows digestion and blood sugar control and also helps lower blood cholesterol levels. Insoluble fiber improves bowel function. Calcium supports bone health and growth, according to the California Fig Advisory Board. Iron is an essential mineral needed to help transport oxygen in your blood.

RAW CASHEWS: according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database, cashews are high in calories.  1oz. serving size has 5.2 grams of protein, 12.4 grams of total fat, 8.6 grams of carbohydrates and 1.7 grams of sugar. Raw cashews also contain several minerals, including magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and potassium. Cashews are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Roughly 62% of the cashew’s fats are monounsaturated fat, 18% polyunsaturated fats and the rest a mix of saturated fats.

CHIA SEEDS: have maximum nutrients with minimal calories. They contain high levels of ALA omega-3 fatty acids (higher than salmon), are good source of fiber and antioxidants (which neutralize free radicals). These little beads are also high in calcium and manganese (good for bones and helps our body use other essential nutrients), provide plenty of phosphorus to maintain healthy bones and teeth.  And for those who are so caught up in the protein trend, they are a high protein source.

HULLED HEMP SEEDS: The hemp “seed” is actually an achene: a simple dry fruit with a hard shell, just like sunflower seeds. It is considered one of the most versatile and economical plants, with many uses from food to bio-fuel. They are an excellent source of Magnesium, zinc and protein and are low in sodium and cholesterol. These seeds are easily digestible, assist in cardiovascular health and general strengthening of the immune system.  Unlike soy which has super high amounts of phytic acid (that anti-nutrient that prevents us from absorbing minerals), hemp seed doesn’t contain phytic acid.  A rich source of phytonutrients, the disease-protective element of plants with benefits protecting your immunity, bloodstream, tissues, cells, skin and organs.

GOJI BERRIES: provide a source for Vitamin A which is a natural antioxidant and helps cells reproduce and Vitamin C, another antioxidant which also aids in maintenance of bones and teeth. Iron, which is essential to make blood cells. ¼ cup of goji berries contains 4 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber .

RAW PEPITAS: Pumpkin seeds are loaded with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, carbohydrates and essential fatty acids. The nutritive value of pumpkin seeds includes vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, iron, phosphorus, fat, carbohydrates and protein. For minerals, they include magnesium, manganese, zinc, potassium and copper, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Nutrient Data Database. Pumpkin seeds are loaded with essential fatty acids, EFA, omega-3 and omega-6. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower your risk of heart disease, cancer and arthritis, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

RAW SUNFLOWER SEEDS: provide essential fatty acids; these fatty acids are polyunsaturated and are the kind you want to eat, they allow your body to balance hormones, slow down food absorption and are building blocks for cell membranes. Additionally, sunflower seeds are also an excellent source of fiber, amino acids (especially tryptophan) which make up the building blocks of proteins, B and E Vitamins, phytosterols, copper, magnesium, and carbohydrates.

UNSWEETENED SHREDDED COCONUT: Well coconut is high in fat, period. I rarely use coconut but it really pulls the flavor together in these bars. So I recommend not using coconut too often. It does provide a significant amount of fiber.

CACAO NIBS: are rich in antioxidants, which lower free radicals, which are chemicals that can alter or damage the body. According to Good Cause Wellness, the beans provide some iron and calcium, but are particularly rich in magnesium.

sources:
http://nutritionfacts.org
http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/food-nutrition.html
http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/ac451e/ac451e0b.htm
http://www.livestrong.com/article/-nutrition-information/
http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome

Fluffy Mashed Potatoes (from The Vegan8)

Oh MY! These mashers are not just for the Holidays! But the holidays are upon us, so add this to your menu!

There was never much mash potato making in our kitchen, until I tried these. We are not a family who eats a ‘traditional’ Thanksgiving meal but there is a  love for mashed potatoes. Since these were so simple and flavorful, I have decided that this is definitely a recipe to be made whenever mashed potatoes are requested!

 

Brandi over at the Vegan 8 is genius with her minimal ingredient recipes and I love trying them out. We have had success with just about every recipe we have tried.  This dish is buttery and creamy and they do not have any of those ingredients in them!! Win Win!!

 

ingredients to add

Coconut milk, garlic and pepper

boiling the taters

 

Total time: about  30 minutes ~ Makes about 2 cups

I did not completely peel all of the potatoes and they mashed up wonderfully. Yukon golds provide a rich butter flavor to the recipe.  As a result, I would definitely suggest not using any other potato for this recipe. I followed Brandi’s recipe and did not add any additional flavoring. The result was devoured.  Maybe next time I will play around with some chives or thyme.

 

Click here for the recipe: Fluffy Buttermilk Vegan Mashed Potatoes

 

 

Simple Soup

 

A request from Ava has been a minestrone style soup.  After combining and tweaking a few different soup recipes, I came up with one that satisfied her request.

Warm days are still here, but we are starting to feel the cool fall air. It feels so refreshing from the ridiculous heat we have had. Soups have been on my menu list lately and they are one of the best ways to get in a variety of vegetables. They are also some of the easiest meals to make.

Most soups include oils and I do my best to avoid those. I often use a couple tablespoons of water or vegetable broth to saute garlic and onions for many dishes and it always has good results. That was how I planned to start with the soup.

The rest came together as I worked with the vegetables that were in the refrigerator.  Spices can be tricky for me, but I’ve stuck with the most basic ones as it provides great flavor without over killing it.

I used my food processor to slice the vegetables.  You could also us a mandolin or by hand, whatever works for you.

The best part about this soup, it’s all done in one pot!  Now who doesn’t love that?

 

Ingredients:

1/2 sweet onion, diced
3-4 minced garlic cloves
2 tablespoons water
2-3 carrots, sliced rounds (not too thin though)
1 medium zucchini sliced and then cut into 1/4’s
1 cup chopped green beans
1 cup kale, chopped
1 can chickpeas (or white beans) drained and rinsed
1 can fire roasted tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth (I used Kitchen Basics)
2 cups pasta noodles (I used the quinoa & brown rice fusilli pasta from TJ’s)
3 teaspoons oregano
3 teaspoons basil
1 generous tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon of maple syrup or other sweetener (optional)

shake of pepper flakes (optional)
salt & pepper to taste

other add in options: celery, and/or kidney beans.

Directions:

Using a large pot, turn on heat to get the pot hot.  Once hot, add the water, garlic and onions.  Stir well and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the green beans and carrots.  Continue to stir occasionally and cook for about another 4 minutes. The vegetables will start to brighten, be sure to not let them get too soft.

Next add the tomatoes, vegetable broth, zucchini, beans and spices (optional sweetener). Stir well.

Bring soup to a strong simmer by increasing the heat.  Reduce the heat to medium-low until it slightly simmers and add the pasta and stir well. Continue to cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.

Add the kale and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Turn off heat and prepare to serve.

 

 

Category: Main Dish | Tags: , , ,

Breakfast Muffins

These are a great back to school snack or sports snack.  Stock your freezer!

One of the first “treat” recipes I came across that the kids asked me to make after the first test was called Muffin Tops from Oh She Glows May have had something to with them liking to say the name ;)

There was a lot of researching cookbooks and recipes in the beginning of this journey. It was a great way to help start testing meals with the family.  Knowing I wasn’t even close to trying to come up with some of my own, I wanted to dabble in recipes to get some practice and ideas for the future.

Angela of  Oh She Glows  was the first food bloggers I came across and was quickly sucked into her recipes. Angela just made it all look easy. She was a real person. She not only shared her creativeness in the kitchen (that just made you drool when looking at the pictures), she shared who she was.  That is really what has kept me coming back to see what she is up to. I was inspired by her recipes.

I decided to update her recipe to fit our plant based lifestyle by omitting a few ingredients that I avoid.  Also after a couple tries, I found I didn’t need to use some of the other ingredients.  As well as discovering a few ways to slightly change ingredients.

You can use a muffin pan, but I found them to be fun (and the lazy in me finds it nice to just plop them on the baking sheet)  the way Angela’s recipe suggests to bake them.

To change things up, you can replace the banana with pureed pumpkin or diced apples (see Notes). They are so scrumptious.

This muffin recipe has no eggs, no added sugars, and it is soy free, oil free and dairy free!  You can also make it a nut-free option. AND always double the recipe so you can store them in the freezer!

 

before & after

 

Prep Time: 10 minutes~ Cook Time:20 minutes~ Makes: 12ish
Recipe inspired by : Oh She Glows – click here for recipe

Ingredients:

2 large ripe bananas, peeled
1/2 cup packed pitted Medjool dates (be sure they are soft, if not ,soak for about 30 min in warm water then drain)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon hemp seeds
1 tablespoon chia seeds
2 cups gluten-free, wheat-free rolled oats, divided (I use Bob’s, but it is packaged in a facility that packages nuts, if you have a nut sensitivity, try GF Harvest)
1/4 cups non-dairy dark chocolate chips (nuts or raisins are an optional addition or replacement)

IMG_2988

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Add the peeled bananas, pitted dates, cinnamon, and vanilla into a food processor.  Process until smooth.

Add in 1 cup of the rolled oats, hemp and chia seeds, and process for a few seconds, just long enough to roughly chop the oats and combine the mixture.

Take the remaining oats and pour them into a medium sized bowl and add the mixture from the processor to the bowl.  Add the chocolate chips and stir until mixed in.

Spoon dough onto the parchment paper. No need to press down on the muffin to flatten, they do not expand when cooking. These can be placed close together.  They will end up looking like mounds.

Bake for 18-20 minutes.

Immediately transfer onto a cooling rack to cool completely.  I always double the recipe and store in the freezer.  This kids just take out the muffin and eat them as is or pack them in their lunches.

Notes:

I have also made variations by replacing the bananas with 1 can of pumpkin while slightly increased the cinnamon and vanilla.  Along with adding pumpkin spice and turmeric.  Chocolate chips are optional, my family prefers to have them.

When I make it with apples, I will use 3/4 cup of applesauce. I slightly increase the vanilla and put 2 teaspoons of cinnamon.  Then about 1/4-1/3 cup diced and peeled apples. When replacing with the applesauce, I do not use the chocolate chips.

When adding the spices, I do it by taste.

 

 

 

Nut Butter Bombs

Clearly you know by now I like treats.  Dark chocolate and dates go hand in hand. That is why these naughty by nature treats are topping my favorite list!

Sinful, maybe.  Decedent, maybe.  Heavenly, maybe.  Down right freakin amazing, heck YAASS!

Most of all, these nut butter bombs are healthy and nutritious.  They are rich, gooey, sweet and salty (if you use it for a topping) and the ideal treat to keep stocked in your freezer for banishing those sweet tooth cravings. Not to mention, one of the easiest treats to make.

When it comes to treats, there has to be dark chocolate!   It is a requirement for whether a treat is made or not. Not always, but pretty darn close!

I don’t receive too many “no thank you’s” from the family or friends either.   When smooth, creamy nut butters and chocolate are combined, you feel like you can conquer anything!  Throw in a fiber rich, potassium filled, antioxidant power house date, and you’ve got a chocolate and caramel combo that just makes your eyes swoon and your mouth drool.

Hope you like these treats! These are:

Soft & Chewy
Fiber rich
Perfectly Sweet
Easy to make

Need I say more!

 

Ingredients:

•Dates (pitted)
•Almond Butter or nut butter of choice.  I do not use any with salt and oil and suggest to avoid any added ingredients.
•Optional toppings, chia seeds, hemp seeds, sea salt or cayenne.
•Dark chocolate of choice, I use Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Chips

 

 

Directions:

A plate to place the dates on. You can line with parchment paper.
Choose the amount of dates you want.
Slice down one side of the date.  If there are pits, be sure to remove them.
Spread in your choice of nut butter.  We prefer almond butter, but if you like peanuts, peanut butter tastes divine as well.

 


Place them in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
Next, melt dark chocolate or chocolate of choice.  I used a microwave setting and it works fine.
Pull out the dates from the freezer and begin pouring the melted chocolate over the nut butter filled dates. At this time if you want to sprinkle some chia seeds, hemp seeds, sea salt or cayenne, now is the time

 

The chocolate will start to harden.
Once they are all covered, place back in the freezer for another 10 minutes or so and then enjoy!

I stored these in a glass sealed container in the freezer.  I would guess about 4 days is good, but they never last long enough to find out :)

 

Support and Encourage

 

It doesn’t matter if you are playing sports, are a kid or parent, have a job, are a stay at home parent, or are at the grocery store.  Kindness is key to survival and supporting each other is one of the best things we can do to leave this world in tact for our children.

I can think of many situations over the years to share, but there is a reason why they are in the past and have given me something to learn from.

We are not perfect, we may not believe in the act or logic of others and find it difficult to support their choices, however there is no need to ignore or be disrespectful to them.  Obviously if they are murderers, pedophiles, etc., you will not find many supporting those actions… I think you get my point.

What I am talking about is life. As my children are growing and are now teenagers and our lives are ever evolving, I am so much more in tune with the behaviors of others and teaching our children how to react to those behaviors.  As most of what they have learned is that the behaviors of others are usually issues within that person.

Recently I had observed two different scenarios that involved each of my children.  My youngest is in 7th grade, my oldest is a freshman and they both play for their school volleyball teams.  They have many friends on their teams that they have been friends with since elementary school, as well as played sports with.  As parents, we know most of these families.

I was attending my 7th graders game.  All of the players played a great game.  They were high-fiving and cheering each other on.  It was great to see them support each other, even when mistakes were made.  As an adult, you would expect to see most parents cheering on all of the players. Well, there was one parent who only cheered for her own child. As I observed from behind, it was an act that really disappointed me, yet realizing that maybe not many people probably noticed.  Especially the kids. However, this flood of emotion came over me and I realized I was letting the actions of this person destroy my inner peace.

Long story short, I did let it effect my joy in supporting all those kids.  It was noticed by other parents.  I let it get to me, because my child is friends with this parent’s child.  Which made me even more sad that an adult would behave in such a way.  In the big scheme of things, it really isn’t that detrimental.  It is merely an example of who not to be.

On to the freshman.  She has performed very strongly in volleyball and was asked to train and play with the JV team. She was very concerned about her teammates feelings and wasn’t sure if she wanted to accept the request.  Her kind heart was making this a difficult decision but also teaching her to take experiences and learn from them.  As we both have learned, when asked in high school sports, you just DO and figure it out along the way.

I was so proud of her teammates and parents in the support and encouragement she received.  There will always be feelings of jealousy or insecurity throughout their lives but to see how that was pushed aside and shown how to lift each other up with encouragement was pretty impressive. Due to her coming up to the JV team, the players brought their game up and the coaches felt she would have more play time and be of better value staying with the freshman team. A decision that she was happy about.
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No one is perfect. There’s always going to be somebody better than you at something. Why not learn, absorb and celebrate our differences and encourage each other. #getoveryourself

Chickpea Scramble by Plant Based Jane

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In case you haven’t noticed, I LURVE chickpeas!  They are such a nutritionally versatile legume.

Chickpeas are anti-inflammatory and contain an abundance of non-heme iron—the safest form of iron. They are packed with nutrients, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and phytates. Chickpeas contain five times more the antioxidant content when sprouted.

Eat your legumes!

Jane of Plant Based Jane featured a Chickpea Scramble recipe that I knew I had to give a try.  I am very grateful to have connected with this inspiring bright sassy soul.  Jane is a delightful ray of sunshine. Her love of life and passion shine through every post.

There are many tofu scramble recipes to choose from.  However, in this house tofu is not well received because our bodies not only don’t agree with it, it’s to similar to the texture of eggs and it makes me gag. Therefore, replacing the tofu with chickpeas was brilliant!

Jane’s recipe features mushrooms and tomatoes.  Those are two ingredients that only two out of the four of us will eat.  Yeah, I know it sounds crazy that some of us do not like mushrooms and tomatoes.  Rather than making two different meals, those ingredients were left on the side.  Not only is the flavor just right, this recipe can be customized to your liking.

I made our scramble with diced zucchini, spinach, black beans and roasted potatoes.  Sprinkle nutritional yeast to add some zing! The additional ingredients vary depending on what is in the refrigerator.  This meal has been breakfast and dinner.  As a result of this recipe topping the charts in this house, the kids will take a tortilla and make a burrito for their school lunches!

Click on the link below and go visit Jane.  Not only does Jane offer some incredibly delicious meals to eat, you will be entertained by her wittiness.

Ingredients:  You can add all or just what you like :)

Chickpeas drained and rinsed
Black beans drained and rinsed
Sliced mushrooms
Spinach
Roasted potatoes
Sliced tomatoes
Diced zucchini
Turmeric
Chili powder
Onion powder
Nutritional yeast
Salt & pepper to taste

Click here for recipe 

 

 

Nutrition source: Nutrition Facts

Easy Chickpea Salad

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I have been squeezing lemons and limes on my salads lately for a quick and easy dressing on these warm summer days.  Lemons and limes not only bring out flavor, they provide some benefits to the body.  They are and excellent source of Vitamin C, potassium, fiber, are an antioxidant, and help aid in digestion.  All the more reason to squeeze freshness into your food.

This is a salad that I whipped up with some basic ingredients I have stocked in the kitchen.  If you follow me on Instagram, you know I am a huge fan of chickpeas.  Another incredible nutrition powerhouse that can go in just about any meal, just about :)  A few favorite things about this flavorful salad is that is was not only easy to make, but so refreshing to eat on a warm day. Also, oil free is a bonus!

Ingredients:

2 cans rinsed and drained chickpeas
2 garlic cloves, diced (I used a couple large ones)
1 small red onion, diced
the juice of 4 limes (freshly squeezed, no store container stuff)
1 jalapeño, diced and seeded to your level of heat
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1 avocado, chopped
desired amount of arugula or preferred greens

Directions:

Using a medium size bowl, add all ingredients (except avocado) and mix well.  Eat right away or chill in the refrigerator for a few hours (my preferred method).  When you are ready to eat, add the avocado and greens. I made it with arugula and dandelion greens and it was delicious.