Tag Archives: bars

Chocolate Chia Brownie Bites

Chocolate Chia Brownie BitesI. Love. Dates. Probably a little bit too much, but I suppose it’s better than going through bags full of Sour Patch Kids and gummy bears (childhood favorites) every day. Some people try to convince me that they don’t like dates, but I never believe them. Who doesn’t like creamy, caramelly, sometimes even butterscotchy morsels of goodness? Nobody. Unless they’re crazy. And even if, by some great anomaly, they don’t like dates in their naked form, then they’ll surely appreciate them when they’re morphed into rich, chocolatey brownies.

Chocolate Chia Brownie BItesWith powerhouse ingredients like dates, chia seeds, cocoa powder, lucuma powder, and coconut, these brownies are more than just dessert. I like to eat a couple of these before climbing, a workout, or a run. The natural sugars in the dates provide a quick burst of energy that’s ready to use right away, while the chia seeds, full of fiber and protein, give these bites a bit of staying power. The ancient Incan civilization, it is said, used chia seeds as one of its main sources of energy. Cacao powder is notoriously high in antioxidants, and lucuma, which comes from Peru (and is, apparently, more popular in ice cream form than chocolate or vanilla) provides us with plentiful beta carotene, and a rich maple flavor.

Trust me when I say that these bites will beat out any store bought energy bar, every time, at a fraction of the cost. You’ll want to eat the whole batch in one sitting (though they’re quite filling, so I doubt you’ll be able to).

Chocolate Chia Brownie BitesChocolate Chia Brownie Bites

Ingredients

•2 cups packed pitted dates*
•1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened shredded coconut
•1/4 cup chia seeds*
•1/4 cup raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder)*
•1/4 cup lucuma powder*
•1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
•2 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
•cocoa powder for dusting (optional)*

Place dates, coconut, chia seeds, cocoa powder, lucuma powder, and optional (though recommended) vanilla extract in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the ingredients come together in a ball, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Pulse in chocolate chips if desired.

Remove mixture from food processor a tablespoon at a time and roll into balls. Place onto parchment paper and dust with cocoa powder if desired. Alternatively, you can press the mixture into a parchment-lined pan, then cut into bars or squares.

Notes: Any moist variety of date will work here. I used a combination or Medjool, Barhi (my absolute favorite – they literally taste like butterscotch), and Deeglet Noor. Nuts.com has a large selection of dates with great descriptions for each. My chia seeds and cacao powder also come from Nuts.com. If you don’t have lucuma powder, you may use an additional 1/4 cup of cocoa powder in its place. I use Nativas Naturals lucuma powder, which can be found here. Other ideas for rolling your bites in: shredded coconut, hemp seeds, cacao nibs, and sesame seeds would all complement the brownie bites well.

Chocolate Chia Brownie BitesAre dates a regular part of your diet (please say yes!)? What are your favorite power foods?

Double Chocolate Mocha Oat Squares

double chocolate mocha oat squaresToday I want to talk about snacks. We’ve talked about snacks before, but not all snacks are created equal. The best kinds of snacks (in my opinion) contain chocolate. Double doses of chocolate (or even triple, if you like). What makes chocolate taste better? Coffee. Just a little bit, to deepen the flavor. And vanilla, because I like it (don’t you?). Sea salt, too, because what goes better with chocolate than sea salt?

double chocolate mocha oat squaresThis is one of those recipes that I created as I went. I had no clear end in sight when I walked into the kitchen, outside of the fact that I needed a new snack. And that a portable snack would be most ideal. Apparently, I was in the mood for chocolate, because that’s the first item I grabbed off the shelf, shortly followed by oats, another staple ingredient, and freshly made sunflower seed butter (which has also seen a lot of use around here lately).

double chocolate mocha oat squaresThese bars are dense and chewy, full of wonderful texture, and completely satisfying. Melty chocolate complements crunchy sunflower seeds and chewy rolled oats. A hint of coffee gives these bars a complex flavor and makes them a bit more mysterious than your average granola bar. They’re great for a pre-workout energy boost, quick breakfast (chocolate for breakfast, yes please!), or even drizzled with extra chocolate as a dessert for your Superbowl party this weekend!

double chocolate mocha oat squaresDouble Chocolate Mocha Oat Squares

Makes 16 bars

Ingredients

•1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
•1/4 cup brewed coffee*
•1/2 cup unsweetened, unsalted sunflower seed butter*
•1/3 cup turbinado sugar
•1 teaspoon vanilla extract
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•1 cup rolled oats
•1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
•2 tablespoons cocoa powder
•1/4 cup chocolate chunks
•2 tablespoons sunflower seeds, optional

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line with parchment or lightly grease an 8 inch square baking dish.

In a small bowl, mix together the ground flaxseed and coffee. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the sunflower seed butter, turbinado sugar, and vanilla extract. Stir with a wooden spoon until homogenous, then pour in the flaxseed mixture and stir until completely incorporated.

Pour in the salt, rolled oats, flour, and cocoa powder, and mix until well incorporated, using your hands if necessary. The dough will be slightly crumbly. Mix in the chocolate chunks.

Transfer the dough to the prepared baking dish and press down firmly, creating a 3/4 inch thick layer of dough. Sprinkle sunflower seeds on top and press into the dough.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, until edges are just golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Notes: To give these bars a triple dose of chocolate, use my chocolate sunflower seed butter. If you do not wish to use coffee, an equal amount of a coffee substitute (such as Teeccino or Dandy Blend), or non-dairy milk may be used. If you use non-dairy milk, the bars won’t have the mocha flavor, but will work just the same.

double chocolate mocha oat squaresWhat are your favorite chocolate snacks? Do any of them do double duty as a dessert (or breakfast)? Does anyone of other great ideas for Superbowl snacks?

double chocolate mocha oat squares

Protein Packed Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Muffins

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Whenever Justin and I go on trips, homemade snacks are a must. The more portable, the better. If I don’t know where my next meal is coming from, I get very stressed and it’s quite difficult for me to enjoy myself. As such, I generally bring a selection of homemade bars, granola, dried fruits, nuts, and some sturdy veggies, like carrots, to keep us going. I decided to change up the routine this time and go with a muffin. They’re portable, come in their own bite sized portions, and are small enough to throw in my purse on the go. I had some apples in the fridge that had seen better days, so into the batter they went. Nobody will be able to tell the difference once they’re baked into these enticing muffins. A big tub of cooked quinoa sat in the fridge, as well, just threatening to go off before I returned, so into the batter it went, too. The quinoa provided great texture and kept the muffins from drying out. As an added bonus, our muffins now have a nice dose of protein to help you through long days spent on your feet. A handful of nuts for texture, and a healthy dose of cinnamon for good measure round out this satisfying snack.

IMG_6624Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Muffins 

Makes 12 Muffins

Wet Ingredients
•2 tablespoons flaxseed
•1/4 cup water
•1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk or other non-dairy milk
•1/4 cup coconut sugar
•2 tablespoons melted coconut oil*
•2 tablespoons creamy cashew butter*
•1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses

Dry Ingredients
•2/3 cup whole spelt or whole wheat pastry flour
•1/4 cup almond meal
•1/4 cup brown rice flour
•2 teaspoons baking powder
•1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•1/3 cup cooked quinoa*
•2/3 cup diced apples (I used gala)
•1/4 cup chopped nuts (I used hazelnuts)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease or or line with paper muffin liners a standard 12 cup muffin tin.

1. Mix together the ground flaxseed and water in a small bowl. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the wet ingredients.

2. In a medium bow, combine almond milk, coconut sugar, coconut oil, cashew butter, and molasses. Stir to combine, then pour in flaxseed mixture and stir until completely incorporated.

3. In  large bowl, stir together spelt flour, almond meal, rice flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and stir until just incorporated.

5. Fold in the quinoa, apples, and hazelnuts until evenly distributed through the batter.

6. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the batter into each muffin liner. The liners should be almost full, as the batter does not rise much.

7. Bake muffins for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in the muffin tin for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes: In place of coconut oil, sunflower oil or another neutral oil may be used. I prefer coconut oil for it’s heat resistant properties. Any creamy nut butter may be used in place of cashew butter, however; the flavor of stronger nut butters, such as peanut butter, may come through in the final product. If you do not have cooked quinoa on hand, an equal amount of quick oats may be substituted.

IMG_6630What are your favorite snacks to bring along on trips? Any other creative uses of quinoa?

Chewy Gingerbread Bars

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We are big fans of bars here, as they are easy to make, and convenient to grab on the run. Work and school make it difficult to have “real” lunches sometimes, and bars usually do the trick, or at least work well at holding us over until we can eat something more substantial. I haven’t yet come up with one bar recipe that I make every time, but I have quite a few that always produce satisfying results. This recipe uses a combination of whole wheat and brown rice flour, as well as rolled oats and millet puffs for texture. A bit of candied ginger adds an extra treat, and makes these bars quite seasonally appropriate. I’ve used ground ginger and cinnamon here to produce a gingerbread-like flavor, but any number of other spice mixtures would work nicely.

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Gingerbread Bars

Ingredients

•2 tablespoons ground flaxseed plus 4 tablespoons water

•2/3 cup white whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour
•1/3 cup brown rice flour
•1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
•1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
•1 teaspoon baking powder
•1/8 teaspoon sea salt

•1/2 large or 1 small banana, mashed (about 1/4 cup) (applesauce or another fruit puree would work equally as well)
•2 tablespoons melted coconut oil, or other neutral oil
•1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses (or regular molasses, for a subtler flavor)
•1 teaspoon vanilla extract
•1/3 cup turbinado sugar

•1/3 cup rolled oats
•1/3 cup puffed millet
•2 tablespoons chopped candied ginger
•2 tablespoons raw unsalted sunflower seeds

Lightly grease or line with parchment paper an 8-inch square baking dish. Preheat oven to 350°F.

1. In a small bowl, mix together ground flax and water. Set aside while you prepare the other ingredients.

2. In a large bowl, combine whole wheat flour, brown rice flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, and salt.

3. In a medium bowl, mix together banana, sunflower oil, molasses, vanilla, sugar, and flax mixture. Pour over flour mixture and stir until just combined.

4. Fold in oats, puffed millet, candied ginger, and sunflower seeds until evenly dispersed.

5. Spread dough into an even layer in prepared baking dish. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until edges are just golden.

Cool in baking dish for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Can be stored in an airtight container, unrefrigerated, for up to a week.

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Do you have a tried and true bar recipe? Do you even like bars? What are your favorite kinds, whether store-bought, or homemade? Any other favorite snacks that are convenient during a busy day? If I don’t have any bars on hand, I usually turn to pears and apples, and I generally keep a stash of dates with me wherever I go, for whenever cravings hit.

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Seeded Maple Cinnamon Bars

IMG_5788Some foods just evoke a certain season for me, and almost any sweet with a hint of cinnamon immediately makes me think of fall. I had been craving something sweet, but not cloyingly so, with just a hint of cinnamon for warmth, and perhaps a bit of crunch. That is where these little gems began. I threw these bars together with ingredients I nearly always keep in my pantry, so they’re perfect to make in a pinch. This isn’t so much a recipe as it is a guideline; I can imagine all sorts of mix ins that would work just as wonderfully. I chose poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and raisins this go round, but any combination of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit would be equally as delicious. Next time, I’m thinking of adding crystallized ginger, to up the spice just a bit. If you’ve ever had a hermit cookie, the texture and taste here are quite similar.

IMG_5811Seeded Maple Cinnamon Bars

Ingredients

•1/4 cup maple syrup (coconut nectar, agave nectar, or other liquid sweetener will work if you don’t have maple syrup on hand)
•2 tablespoons coconut sugar (sucanat or turbinado sugar will work, too)
•1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses (or regular molasses, for a milder taste)
•1 tablespoon ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tablespoons warm water
•2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
•2 tablespoons almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
•1 teaspoon vanilla extract

•1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
•1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons almond meal
•1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
•1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
•1/2 cup rolled oats
•1/4 cup poppy seeds
•1/4 cup sesame seeds
•1/4 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

1. In a small bowl mix together maple syrup, coconut sugar, molasses, flaxseed mixture, oil,     almond milk, and vanilla until combined.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the rest of the ingredients.

3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and stir until just combined.

4. Scoop dough onto parchment lined baking sheet and form into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick all the way around.

5. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to brown.

6. Let cool on baking sheet for at least 30 minutes before slicing into bars.

The bars can be stored in an airtight container, unrefrigerated, for up to a week, and though I haven’t tried it, I’m sure you could make a batch now to freeze and save for the holidays. If anyone tries this with success, let me know.

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