Homemade Vegan and Grain-Free Almond Joy Bars

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This is the kind of recipe that should always be shared with loved ones. When I know I will be inviting a group of friends over or attending a potluck, I like to prepare the most decedent side dish or dessert I can come up with. The kind of thing I couldn’t consider making on any random day because I would single handedly finish it. Sometimes it’s dates stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in prosciutto. Other times it’s baked brie drizzled with fresh fruit preserves and slivered almonds. For this weekend’s ladies clothing swap, enter: the homemade Almond Joy Bar. This grain-free, dairy-free, no-bake dessert has six simple ingredients and is incredibly delicious! It was certainly a hit among the 20+ ladies surrounding the snack table in my kitchen on Sunday. Injoy!

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Ingredients:

   Crust:


1 cup almond meal

2 Tbls maple syrup

1 Tbls melted coconut oil

1/4 tsp pure almond extract

Pinch of salt

   Coconut Filling:


1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

2 Tbls maple syrup

2 Tbls. coconut oil

1 Tbls water

   Chocolate Topping:


1/4 cup raw cacao powder or cocoa powder

1/4 cup melted coconut oil

2 Tbls. maple syrup (at room temperature)

Instructions:

  1. Line a standard loaf pan with parchment paper and set it aside.
  2. To prepare the crust, combine almond meal, maple syrup, coconut oil, almond extract, and salt in a medium bowl, and stir well until dough is formed. Press it evenly into the bottom of the lined loaf pan, and set aside.
  3. To prepare the coconut filling, combine all of the filling ingredients in the mixing bowl and stir well. Spread the coconut mixture over the crust, then use a spatula to smooth the top. Set aside.
  4. To prepare the chocolate topping, combine all of the ingredients in the mixing bowl and use a whisk to create a silky smooth chocolate sauce. (If any of your ingredients are cold, this sauce will firm up. If that happens, simply place the bowl in a hot water bath briefly to liquify the ingredients again.) Pour the chocolate sauce over the top of the coconut layer and smooth the top with a spatula.
  5. Place the pan in the freezer to set until firm, about one to two hours.
  6. To serve, pull on the parchment paper to easily remove the solid bar from the pan, then slice into bars and plate directly from the freezer. These bars will soften fairly quickly at room temperature, so it’s important to keep them chilled until ready to serve. Injoy!

 

Summer Collard Wraps

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This time of year, my garden begins bursting with fresh, delicious greens and I know it’s time to start putting together my favorite summer snack… Collard wraps! This recipe utilizes lots of fresh veggies and is super simple to put together. Since myself, and many of the people I know practice a mostly gluten or grain-free diet, these wraps are a crowd pleaser no matter what the occasion. I make them for picnics and potlucks, for lunch at least twice a week and as a delicious and nutritious meal on the trail. They are best when eaten the same day, but can be kept in the fridge for a few days if need be. Injoy!

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Ingredients:

8 large collard leaves

1 ½ cups raw sunflower seed pate

Grated carrots

Sprouts

Sliced avocado

Cucumber (sliced in quarters length-wise, then in half)

**Other filling options you would include in a sandwich**

~Roaster turkey, cheese, salami, tomatoes, pickles, etc.

Instructions:

  1. Bring large pot of water to a boil and blanch each leaf for 30-60 seconds until just softened. Gently remove with tongs and set on a plate to cool.
  2. To assemble the wrap, place a collard leaf onto a large plate or cutting board. Place a spoonful or two of pate on one end, and add other filling options on top of the pate. Fold the sides over and roll tightly like a burrito.
  3. Refrigerate right away or slice and serve.

 

ABC Fudgesicles (Avocado, Banana, Cocoa/Coconut)

 

 

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With the warm summer weather in full swing, it is a great time to play with some fun, frozen, kitchen concoctions! These naturally sweetened fudgesicles are a hit amongst adults and kids alike. The creaminess of the avocado and banana combined with the sweet delicate coconut flavor works wonders in this delicious dessert.

In addition, it’s always great to find alternatives to the highly processed, super sugar laden dessert options found in the grocery store. Below are the ingredients lists from two popular brands of fudgesicles.

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Yikes!! High fructose corn syrup, aspartame, guar gum, carrageenan, artificial colors and flavors, plus loads of other difficult to pronounce chemicals… this is not the stuff you want to ingest or feed to your kids! Carrageenan for instance, is a gumming agent that is known to cause inflammation in the digestive tract, which is the root cause of ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease and certain types of cancer. In fact, drug investigators have actually used carrageenan in the past to cause inflammation in the tissues of laboratory animals in order to test the anti-inflammatory properties of new drugs. Steer clear of this harmful additive also found in most shelf stable milk alternatives, boxed almond milk, coconut etc. by making your own! The freshness and flavor can’t be beat! Injoy!

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Ingredients:

8 Medjool dates

½ cup water

1 medium avocado, pitted

2 small bananas (or 1 ½ large)

1 cup coconut milk (from a can)

5-7 Tbls raw cocoa powder

2 tsp. vanilla

pinch sea salt

 

Optional additions before blending:

½ cup fresh mint

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

 

Optional additions after blending

½ cup chopped walnuts

zest from ½ orange

dried coconut chips

 

Instructions:

1. Place the dates into your blender and cover with water. Pack the dates down so they are completely covered and let soak for 30 minutes.

2. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. Depending on your blender, you may need to add a little more water or coconut milk.

3. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze for at least 6 hours. Remove by running warm water over the molds to loosen fudgesicles.

 

** This recipe makes 8 fudgesicles, I used half of the quantities to make the 4 pops pictured. Another option is to serve the extra as pudding. It is delicious as a creamy unfrozen desert as well! Injoy!

Raw Sunflower Seed Pate

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As the weather warms up and picnic season is in full swing, it is a great time to seek out healthy snack options. This sunflower seed pate is a versatile recipe to keep around your kitchen and prepare often. It is delicious as a dip for celery, carrots, cucumber or chips and crackers, is a great spread for sandwiches and an awesome compliment to lettuce or collard wraps. The seeds add a good amount of healthy fats and protein to balance out the carbohydrates in the above meal and snack options, and it is a tasty treat that will keep in your refrigerator for 7-10 days. Injoy!

Ingredients:

2 cups raw sunflower seeds, soaked 6-8 hours

1 cup chopped celery

¼ cup finely chopped shallots

2-3 Tbls. freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tsp. fresh time, chopped fine

½-1 tsp. sea salt

½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Drain and rinse sunflower seeds through a fine mesh strainer
  2. Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until desired consistency. I like mine fairly smooth with just a few chunks

 

5 Tasty and Refreshing Workout Waters

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Staying properly hydrated is the number one thing you can do for your body on a daily basis. When it comes to the health of our organs and digestion, fat loss, energy levels, sleep patters, brain function, our detoxification systems and nutritional choices… daily water consumption affects it all. And our bodies are made up of substantial amounts of water: The brain and heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water. The skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79%, and even the bones are 31%. We need to drink plenty of water, plain and simple.

The problem is many people have a hard time getting in the ‘half your body weight in ounces’ recommendation. The #1 complaint I hear from clients is that they are bored with plain water. Skip the artificially flavored sugar packets and try these 5 refreshing, whole food based recipes to jazz up your water. I suggest investing in a water bottle that holds at least 32 ounces in order to track how much you’re drinking most efficiently. I really like my HydroFlask!

  1. ½ lime sliced thin, ½ lemon sliced thin, ½ cup packed fresh mint
  2. ½ cup chopped seedless watermelon, 3-5 sprigs fresh rosemary
  3. ½ cup chopped pineapple, ½ cup packed fresh mint
  4. ½ cup raspberries (fresh or frozen), 3-5 sprigs fresh thyme
  5. ½ cup blackberries (fresh or frozen), 3-5 sprigs of fresh sage

 

Also, get creative and come up with your own combination! Pretty much any fruit will work, aside from bananas. Use what’s in season in your garden or the farmers market. Mix with other fruits and berries and/or fresh herbs, add filtered water and voila! Injoy!

 

Mint Cocoa Green Smoothie

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Last spring, my neighbor planted mint in our shared vegetable bed. If you’ve ever tended a garden or had experience growing mint, you know that by the next season, the only thing you will find growing in that plot of dirt (and any plot of dirt in a 30 ft. radius) are very enthusiastic/ invasive mint shoots. This has been my introduction to spring. Lots of mint. So, the crisp, green herb has been making an appearance in several recipes I’ve been experimenting with recently. In addition to being added to water for a refreshing kick and sprinkled in generous amounts on fruit salad.

This smoothie is my play on the Thin Mint cookie. It’s packed full of green veggies, uses a good amount of those mint leaves and has the added fiber and antioxidants of raw cocoa. Injoy!

 

1 ½ cups water (coconut water also makes a great base)

1 scoop whey or pea protein (I like the Wow brand. Unsweetened or Vanilla)

1 frozen banana

1 cup raw spinach

½ cup raw kale

1 cup fresh mint leaves

10 raw almonds

2 Tbls. raw cocoa nibs

1 Tbls. chia seeds

2 dates

Blend all ingredients in bender until smooth. Add additional water for desired consistency. Injoy!

*If your kale is especially bitter, add an extra date or a small amount of honey to balance out a bit of sweetness. It should be tasty and appealing but not overly sugary.

 

Bacon Wrapped Zucchini

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This is my favorite new, incredibly versatile recipe. It makes a great side dish for a fresh salad dinner or lunch, is wonderful with eggs for breakfast and is a tasty snack all on it’s own, too! The seasoning is a delicious blend. I often experiment with adding turmeric, curry powder and cumin as well. Injoy!

 

Ingredients:

3 medium zucchinis

8 pieces of bacon

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp chili powder

1 Tbsp of oil

 

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375°F

2. Cut the bacon in half, widthwise and place the bacon on a rimmed baking sheet, lined with foil.

3. Bake for 10 minutes. Don’t make too crispy, as it will be hard to wrap around zucchini

4. Meanwhile, peel the skin of the zucchini (optional) and trim the ends.

5. Cut the zucchini into pieces that are 1” thick and 11⁄2” long (it should yield 16 pieces of zucchini).

6. Add the zucchini to a large bowl with the garlic powder, chili powder, and oil.

Stir to coat.

7. Remove the bacon from the oven and drain the renderings.

8. Wrap one piece of bacon around each piece of zucchini and secure with a tooth- pick.

9. Place each piece of zucchini on the baking sheet and return to the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the bacon is crispy and the zucchini is tender. Flip the zucchini halfway through so the bacon cooks evenly.

10. For crispier bacon, broil it for the last 3-5 minutes of baking (keep an eye on it).