Granola Bars

gluten-free ~ dairy free ~ refined sugar-free

Prep time: 5 minutes

Total time: 80 minutes

It’s that time of year ya’ll….Back. To. School. And if you are anything like me, you were not entirely prepared. Don’t get me wrong, I was prepared in the sense that I had all the school supplies, clothes and accessories ready to go and packed at the front door. And I was BEYOND ready for the kids to have some structure and activities that were not supplied by yours truly. But I was definitely not ready for the early mornings, hurried breakfasts, frantic lunch packing or meal planning that I had let drift off to never, never land during the summer. Add in a lazy Labor Day weekend where I throughly enjoyed my last days of afternoon drinking and grilling out, and by Monday it was a four-alarm “holy shit” kind of day.

So..I do what I do best. Got in my kitchen, put on some jams, enjoyed my greens and got down to the business of fueling my kids to learn! To conserve time, which i obviously had let fly by…I wanted to make a couple of items that could pull double duty, and either be a snack or a quick on the go breakfast. So, I decided to make granola bars to start.

These bars are super easy to make and are SO versatile! You can literally change-up the ingredients without a second thought and they are always on point.

I put some variations below that we have tried and jam on, but please post a comment below with your variations. Enjoy! nom nom

2 cups quick cooking oats; I use Trader Joe’s brand

1 cup of almond butter or any seed/nut butter

1/2 cup of nuts or seeds; I love pumpkin seeds or slivered almonds but almost any nut or seed will work in these!

1/4-1/2 cup mini chocolate chips; I use Enjoy Life mini dark chocolate chips

1/4 cup unsweetened dried fruit: I alternate between cranberries and blueberries

1/4 cup of honey; extra if your bars are crumbly

  1. Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir until all the ingredients are combined. If your mixture still seems crumbly add 1/2 TBS of honey at a time until your mixture sticks together.
  2. Line an 8×8 pan with parchment and press the mixture into the pan. Make sure to press all the way into the corners so your bars are even when you cut them.
  3. Place the bars in the freezer and let chill for 50 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from freezer and lift parchment out. Cut the square in half and then cut lengthwise six times for a total of 12 bars.
  5. Wrap each bar in plastic and place back in the freezer for another 20 minutes.
  6. Keep the bars in the fridge or freezer and enjoy!

 

Bar Variations:

  • Slivered almonds, dried cranberries, cacao nibs
  • Pumpkin seeds, dried blueberries, mini dark chocolate chips
  • Pistachios, cranberries, blueberries and unsweetened coconut

Raspberry Chocolate Tart

gluten free / vegan / paleo friendly

This dessert took me 12 MINUTES to make and required NO baking!!  Ok, now that I have your attention……let’s get excited about the summer desserts’ that are coming our way!!! Here in Wisconsin we are all in avid anticipation of the strawberries that will be arriving any day now. A few of my favorite recipes I can’t wait to share with you are strawberry scones, strawberry rhubarb pie and strawberry bread. Follow that up with blueberry and peach season where we will discover the beautiful and simple nuances of the fruit with just a buttery pie crust holding it together. And how amazing a simple muffin can be when it’s jammed full of Michigan blueberries. And last but certainly not least are raspberries! They have a longer season than most berries, ranging from mid July to October in places like Michigan. So you can look forward to raspberry sorbet, jams and my personal favorite, anything chocolate with raspberries! And so we come full circle, to the whole point of this post. The Raspberry Chocolate Tart. I cannot take credit for this particular recipe as I found it via the blog bakerita. so…kudos to her because this tart is phenomenal!! It is not only ridiculously rich and satisfying but it is also…..gluten free, vegan and paleo friendly!!! It is also the PERFECT summer dessert. Easy to make, requires no oven and will impress even the toughest dessert critic! Enjoy!! nom nom

For the crust

  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 TBS pure maple syrup or agave nectar
  • pinch of coarse sea salt

For the filling

  • 1/2 cup canned full fat coconut milk
  • 6oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup raspberry preserves (100% fruit)
  • 1 pint of raspberries

 

  1. Lightly grease a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom with coconut oil
  2. In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the crust and stir together. Press evenly into the prepared tart pan; set aside
  3. Place finely chopped chocolate in a large bowl. In a small saucepan, bring coconut milk just to a boil. Pout hot coconut milk over chocolate and let stand 1 minute, then stir until smooth and creamy. Stir in raspberry preserves. Pour the filling into the prepared crust.
  4. Garnish the top with raspberries
  5. Place tart in the refrigerator to set and cool completely, about 1-2 hours. Slice and serve.
  6. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.

 

 

Chocolate Truffle Balls

gluten free / vegan / dairy free / refined sugar free

 

Chocolate truffles. These two words in my book are synonymous with decadence, elegance and an almost orgasmic level of bliss. And yes…I said orgasmic. Why do I say this? Simply put, a good truffle… say one from a patisserie in Paris; can quite literally transport you to a place of satisfying happiness and contentment. Quite like…you guessed it! An orgasm!!!!

But it gets better, especially for all you non-bakers or cooks. If you don’t know how to cook, make chocolate truffles. Truffles are the simplest of candy to make. They are traditionally made with cream, chocolate and something a lot of us do not have, time. So imagine my glee when I was given this recipe by my Arbonne wellness coach.  I know….I know…there are those of you who are now thinking “Crap, these things are going to be healthy and taste like fucking wet sand.” And you will now want to close your browser window and forgot you ever visited this blog. But stay with me!!! Because I promise, THESE ARE THE BOMB! I have served these at holiday parties and given them to clients or guests at wellness fairs and they think these are truffles from a candy store. 9 times out of 10 they are incredulous when I tell them what is in them. They are full of vegan protein powder courtesy of Arbonne’s nutrition line, almond butter for a compliment of healthy fat and are then rolled in heart healthy melted dark chocolate. And if you want to make them fancy there are any number of toppings you can roll them in, I made a few suggestions below. These pair exceptionally well with a cup of hot tea in winter or a bowl of fresh fruit on a hot summer day. Either way, I promise you will be left feeling happy and satisfied. Enjoy!! nom nom

Makes 16-20 / Prep time: 10 minutes / Total Time: 2 hrs 10 min

4 scoops of Arbonne chocolate or vanilla protein powder; I prefer the chocolate but vanilla is great too!

2 TBS almond butter, room temperature

1/3-1/2 cup almond milk or preferred milk; start with a 1/3 cup and add more if needed. You want the mixture to be moist and form a ball without cracking.

1 dark chocolate bar or chips; I use either Lily’s Vegan Dark Chocolate orEnjoy Life’s Vegan Chocolate. If being vegan is not a must for you then Valrona or Guittard are good brands!

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. In a bowl, combine protein powder, almond butter and almond milk. Mix until all the ingredients are throughly incorporated.
  3. Roll into balls that are slightly bigger than the circumference of a quarter.
  4.  Place on baking sheet and freeze for at least 1 hour
  5. Remove from freezer. Melt the chocolate on the stove using a double boiler or in the microwave until completely melted.
  6. Using a spoon, drop the balls into the chocolate and roll until they are covered in chocolate. Place back on the baking sheet and freeze for another hour.
  7. Keep in the fridge and try not to eat them all yourself!

Optional Toppings:

  • unsweetened coconut flakes
  • chopped nuts; pistachios work great!
  • chopped dried cranberries
  • crushed pretzels
  • sea salt

After you roll the truffle in chocolate, immediately roll in desired topping and place on baking sheet to freeze.

 

 

Protein Brownie Bars

gluten free / dairy free / refined sugar free / vegan

As you already know I am a self proclaimed baked goods junkie. It is a rare occurence for me not to go to bed with a sweet in hand. Ok, fine…truth? I NEVER go to bed without a sweet in hand. Unless I am on my death bed with an illness, and even then….it’s not a guarantee. But even this baked goods junkie knows that to eat dessert every night is no bueno for my mind or body. Granted I no longer bake with refined sugar which is the worst of the worst but no mater what sugar I do use, it is still…..you guessed it, SUGAR! If there are some of you who don’t know much about refined sugar and its ramifications not only to our health but to our society as a whole OR you just like learning new things I highly recommend watching the documentary Fed Up! (link is for full length documentary). The film focuses on the causes of obesity in the US and the alarming rise in childhood obesity. It presents evidence showing that the large quantities of sugar in processed foods are an overlooked root of the problem, and points to the monied lobbying power of “Big Sugar” in blocking attempts to enact policies to address the issue.[2][3][4][5]

My first successful breakup with refined sugar occured in January 2015. The year before, I had given birth to my second child and for that year I had struggled with not only my weight, but my energy was non existent and my mind was dull and foggy, at best. I was als0 having a multitude of digestive issues, headaches and bizarre skin breakouts. Around this same time the health and wellness company I own my business through launched a brand new 30 Day Healthy Living Program. I had just come off an unsuccessful attempt to do the Whole 30 program. Don’t get me wrong, I lost weight but I was unhappy during the process; I wanted to be able to eat garbanzo beans!!! Is that asking to much?! And after I finished the 30 days the weight came back almost immediately. My hubby was as always supportive but also hated it and dubbed the program the “dirty dishes diet.” I was reluctant at first to try Arbonne’s program but I already loved their nutritional products and I knew I needed to try it so that I could make honest recommendations to my clients. The focus of the program was to change the way we look at food and to bring our bodies back to a more balanced alkaline state. We achieve this through focusing on eating whole, consumable foods and eliminating the top ten highly allergenic and acidic foods.

For those of you who just want the goods I will cease aand desisit with the lecture. But if you want more information or have questions please leave a comment and I would be happy to talk further. You can also click on the 30 Day link above for a quick video or email me.

One of the reasons I loved this program was because I didn’t have to deprive myself. Yes, I had to eliminate certain foods/ingredients but in return I was given a huge list of foods or ingredients I could use as replacemements. That’s where these brownie bars enter the picture. They were a replacement for my beautiful sugary goods that I had sworn off for the next 30 days. With the program, I was given a full menu plan with recipes and shopping lists already completed for me.  And as a busy mom of two that was key!! I was also given a huge support group via a secret FB group. This group was comprised of hundreds of men and women just like me; people looking to change their habits for the long term and stop the dieting wheel for good. It was a place to ask questions, offer support and encouragement, and recipe swap. This was one of the first treat recipes I tried on the program, and I have been hooked ever since. These bars are great for a midday snack because they are more like a protein bar than a brownie but with a cup of tea I think they make a great bedtime treat. They are packed with protein and are super filling. The icing on the cake??? My kids LOVE them. They constantly ask for “brownies” and I have no problem obliging them. Enjoy! nom nom

Side note: I have been told by a few people who sampled my bars and then made them using a different protein that they don’t taste as good. Not sure why that it is, but if this is the first recipe of mine you have tried, and you use a different protein AND they are bad…. I don’t want you to think I suck 😉

 

4 scoops of Arbonne Chocolate Protein Powder

3 cups of GF rolled oats; I like Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Rolled Oats or Trader Joe’s GF Rolled Oats

1  plus cup vanilla almond milk; I do an overflowing 1 cup but 1 and 1/4 cup would be a good place to start. You want the mixture to be moist not dry.

1/2 cup almond butter

Dash of cinnamon

Sea salt; I prefer fleur de sel (optional)

1/3 cup- 1/2 cup of chopped nuts (optional)

  1. Put first 5 ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Stir until the ingredients are throughly incorporated and the mixture is moist.
  2. Press evenly into an 8×8 pan. Sprinkle sea salt and chopped nuts over the top and press lightly into the misture.
  3. Place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours to set. Cut into 2×2 squares. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Though I guarantee they wont last that long!!!!