Fabulous Vanilla Fig Bars

Happy Monday!

Another snack bar creation, nothing short of delicious. ūüôā A yummy mix of only 4 ingredients: figs, cashews, vanilla, and a few dates come together in a yummy and unique flavor.

The figs are full of fiber and contain some calcium.  In addition, they bring an excellent flavor to the bar.

Cashews are a fairly mild nut, so they add a creamy and soft note to this snack.

Then the ground vanilla is responsible for the wonderful flavor of these bars. Ground vanilla is stronger than vanilla extract. If you choose to use vanilla extract, I suggest doubling the amount and then  to taste.

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Fabulous Vanilla Fig Bars

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil for pan preparation
  • 3/4 cup dried figs
  • 1/4 cup dried dates
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla (more to taste)

Soak figs and dates in water for about 5 to 10 minutes. Prepare granola bar pan with coconut oil. If you do not have a granola bar pan, a cookie sheet and parchment paper will work.  Put cashews and ground vanilla into blender and grind until finely chopped. Drain figs and dates, pat dry. Add to vanilla and cashew mixture in blender. Blend until paste forms. You may have to use a spoon or spatula to wipe the sides.

Remove mixture from blender and arrange on granola bar pan or parchment paper. Put into freezer for about 10 to 15 minutes to set.

Enjoy ūüôā

Peanut Butter Goodness Granola Bars

Granola bars are perfect for solving that on-the-go hunger. These Peanut Butter Goodness Granola Bars are super easy to make and are a lot less expensive than buying granola bars. AND they’re also nutritious!

What’s great is that they’re super customizable. I used Peanut Butter Co’s White Chocolate Wonder peanut butter for the first batch, and Whole Food’s freshly ground peanut butter for the second batch. Both are super tasty!

These granola bars are only comprised of a few ingredients. Dates, pumpkin seeds, almonds, oats, nut butter, and your choice of honey or maple syrup for sweetener.

Dates act as the base for the granola bar. Once you grind them into a paste, it’ll act as a binder for all the other ingredients.¬†¬†Nutritionally, they’re a great source of carbohydrates, iron and dietary fiber.

Almonds. I always try to eat my nuts raw! And even better, sprouted. A friend of mine worked on a study that found it’s possible that nuts can lose a good portion of their vital nutrients when they are roasted or cooked in some way! Don’t get me wrong, they’re still healthy for you either way, but you can unlock most of their nutritious power when they’re raw or sprouted. Almonds ¬†are a great source of vitamin E, magnesium, and protein. They’re also a good source of “healthy fats.”

Pumpkin seeds are some of my favorite seeds! Tasty, a great source of zinc, magnesium, healthy fats. These little green seeds pack a nutritious punch.

Nut butter is taking the world of nutrition by storm. Every day you have a new nut butter, whether it’s a twist on the original peanut butter, to then creating a variety of almond butter, pecan, cashew, hazelnut butter. Then you have your butters. They’re all tasty and have a different array of nutrients. I personally like raw almond butter ( Trader Joe’s ! ) and different varieties of peanut butter. ¬†One of the most important things when picking out a nut butter, is to make sure that there are no partially-hydrogenated oils. These are trans fats. Trans fats lower your HDL (good cholesterol) and raise your LDL (bad cholesterol). Make sure you check your ingredient list! The peanut butters used in these bars are partially-hydrogenated oil-free. Peanut butter is a yummy source of protein and “healthy fats!”

Oats are a wonderful source of fiber. If you are gluten-free, make sure you get the gluten-free option! By nature oats do not contain gluten, but are often processed in factories that are contaminated with gluten, so you can’t know for sure unless it is certified gluten-free.

Honey and maple syrup are great sweeteners! Honey contains natural antibacterial properties. Maple syrup has shown to have a lower impact on your blood sugar than table sugar.

So, why not give this recipe a try!

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Peanut Butter Goodness Granola Bars

  • 1 cup dried dates
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter ( more to taste depending on the taste of the nut butter)
  • 1 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup (optional depending on if your nut butter is sweetened)
  • 1/2 tsp ground vanilla (optional)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

*Optional: toast oats in oven at 350F for 10 minutes.

Grind dates into a paste with a food processor or blender. Mix in nut butter. Sprinkle vanilla and cinnamon evenly over mixture. Mix. Add oats. Add honey or maple syrup for desired sweetness. Mix in pumpkin seeds and almonds.

Press into 8×8 pan. I used the¬†William Sonoma Snack Pan¬†to make uniform bars.

Put in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.

Enjoy ūüôā

Super-Green Swiss Chard Salad

High quantity, high quality, and absolutely nourishing!

Packed with antioxidants, this salad is a good way to pack in your greens. Leafy greens such as swiss chard are awesome because they are so low in calorie and high in antioxidants. You can truly eat as much as you want! I also added some beet greens as well. More often than not, people toss the green and just use the beet. But the beet greens are absolutely edible!

Along with the greens, I added some raw beet. It adds a great taste, crunch and color!¬†Along with adding taste to the salad,¬†it’s full of betalains (a great antioxidant). Betalains may help protect against¬†certain oxidative stressors¬†in the body (anti-aging).

I always love carrots in my salad, great for vitamin A and C!

Avocado adds great taste and texture, along with some healthy fats to give your skin and hair a healthy glow!

Pumpkin seeds add a nice crunch as well as some nourishing zinc and a little protein.

I topped off the salad with a mixture of balsamic vinaigrette, Udo’s oil, and a little bit of apple cider vinegar. As well as some salt and pepper.

( I love Udo’s Oil because it is such a great mixture of healthy omega-3,6, and 9;s! )

* As a side note, check out the ANDI Guide –>¬†ANDI Guide

Its a pretty straight forward guide that “rates” produce based on its nutrient density.

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Super-Green Swiss Chard Salad

  • 3 1-foot long swiss chard leaves
  • 3 beet-green stems (with leaves)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 small beet
  • 1/4 avocado

Dressing:

  • 1 tbsp Udo’s Oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinaigrette reduction (balsamic vinaigrette would work too)
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Chop the swiss chard leaves into bite sized pieces. Break the leaves off of the beet-green stems. Add to bowl. Chop carrot into 1/4 inch slices. Julianne the beet, or slice into small slivers. Slice avocado into 1/4 inch pieces. Add carrot, beet, and avocado into bowl. Add dressing. Cut with fork and knife until all components are well incorporated. Salt and Pepper to taste.

Enjoy! ūüôā

Power-Up Pumpkin and Goji Oatmeal

I love breakfast! Being one of the most important meals of the day, there is no excuse to skimp. This oatmeal is tasty and can be made fairly quickly for those without a lot of morning time.

Tasty and nourishing is what is key.

I made mine with a blend of gluten-free rolled oats and steel cut oat groats. Full of nourishing fiber to keep you fuller longer!.

Sweetened with a tad maple syrup, full of antioxidants compared to regular sugar and is a low-glycemic sweetener ! Mixed with some unsweetened vanilla almond milk to give a little extra flavor.

I spiced it up with cinnamon, which is good for the metabolism, and tasty nutmeg. Topped with pumpkin seeds which are full of nourishing zinc (great for the skin!), and goji berries-teeming with antioxidants, and a few hemp seeds, which are an awesome source of omega-3’s.

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Pumpkin and Goji Oatmeal

  • 1/2 cup gluten free rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup steel cut oat groats
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (plus more for cooling the oatmeal)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 1/2 small banana
  • 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tbsp goji berries
  • 1 tbsp hemp seeds

Mix rolled oats and steel cut oat groats together. Add vanilla almond milk. Microwave for 3 minutes. Make sure to watch to microwave to make sure the oatmeal doesn’t over flow.

Add maple syrup, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir until combined. Add extra almond milk until desired consistency.

Slice banana into small “banana coins” and add to oatmeal. Add pumpkin seeds, goji berries, and hemp seeds.

Enjoy!

Homemade Cinnamon Maple Granola

Nothing beats homemade granola! Not only is it super easy to make, it is super customizable. When you make it yourself, you know exactly what is going into it! ( can’t always say the same for the store bought brands. )

So why would this granola make a tasty and healthy snack?

Well, the oats are already packed with fiber (they’re 100% whole grain!) , I added pumpkin seeds which contain nourishing zinc. Walnuts are full of omega-3’s. Figs, which are full of fiber and also contain calcium. Dates, for their sweetness and their surprising source of¬†iron.

Coconut oil has the wonderful vitamins A and C, along with calcium and iron. I sweetened the granola with Madava Farm’s Crown Maple Syrup. Crown Maple Syrup is truly something special,¬†along with its wonderful taste, its simply bursting with vitamins and minerals compared to other sweeteners. Maple syrup is full of antioxidants and is a low-glycemic sweetener!¬†( check it out!¬†https://www.crownmaple.com/about-crown-maple/maple-nutrition )

As far as spices go, I added cinnamon which is wonderful for the metabolism. nutmeg , and a hint of allspice.

So, here’s the recipe!

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Cinnamon Maple Granola

  • 2 1/2 cups Gluten Free Rolled Oats
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 4 dried figs
  • 3 dried dates
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp ground vanilla
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 dash of allspice

Set oven to 250F. Dice figs and dates.

in a large bowl, mix rolled oats and coconut oil until fully covered. Add maple syrup. Then add pumpkin seeds, dates, walnuts, and figs. Then mix in the maple syrup. Add the ground vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Only a very small amount of allspice is needed, for it is a very strong spice.

Once everything is coated, spread evenly onto a nonstick baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Stir. Then bake for another 20 minutes.

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Enjoy! ūüôā

Healthy “Butter” Popcorn

Grocery stores are now stocked with plenty of healthy popcorns popped with coconut oil, kale, chia, what have you.. Most of them are healthy and quite tasty! But also pretty expensive… Well, popcorn doesn’t have to be expensive to be healthy! Its super easy to make your own, and make it however you’d like. You just have to be equipped with the right tools.

This popcorn I made with coconut oil, Udo’s oil, nutritional yeast, and a little salt and pepper.

This popcorn is vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free ! The Udo’s oil gives it a nice buttery taste and the nutritional yeast gives it a yummy cheesy taste. (think cheesy as in Smart-Food popcorn, not American cheese).

Popcorn itself is an awesome snack for its low-calorie, high fiber, and a whole-grain! Being so healthy by itself, lends a great opportunity to make it “super-healthy” with what you top it with.

Udo’s oil is full of healthy omega-3, 6, and 9’s ! Awesome fats that are good for your skin, full of anti-inflammatory properties, as well as great antioxidants.

Nutritional yeast is popular especially with vegans, for it gives a nice “cheesy” flavor to things. Whats awesome out this food is that it is a complete protein! Its a good source of fiber, as well as B-vitamins. Sometimes it is fortified with B-12 which is important for those who live a dairy and meat-free life.

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So here’s the recipe:

DIY Healthy Popcorn

  • 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1 tbsp Udo’s Oil
  • 3 shakes of Bragg’s Nutritional Yeast
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Put coconut oil and kernels into a sauce pan and cover. Turn to medium heat. Shake pan every few minutes to prevent popcorn from burning.

Pop until popcorn “pops” are 1 to 2 seconds apart. Then remove from heat.

Dress with Udo’s oil, nutritional yeast, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

You can adjust the ratios to fit your tastebuds.

Enjoy ūüôā

*DO NOT pop with Udo’s oil. Udo’s oil is not heat stable and is only to be used for dressing purposes.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Since it’s been so rainy and stormy these past few days, I decided to brighten things up with some tasty oatmeal raisin cookies! So I adapted this Oatmeal Raisin Cookie recipe from the “Essentials of Healthful Cooking” cookbook by Williams-Sonoma, but¬†I did make a few of my own additions and substitutions. I will bold the substitutions when I post the recipe below.

I personally love oatmeal raisin cookies, and they hold some healthy properties as well! Oats are known for their fiber and are hold a higher amount of protein than other grains. They are also a good source of riboflavin, thiamin, and vitamin E. I added pumpkin seeds as well as walnuts to some of my cookies for an extra crunch and flavor! Walnuts are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids that fuel a healthy heart and a healthy brain. I added pumpkin seeds simply because I love the taste! But they do offer some of the additional nutrients of vitamin E and zinc.

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So, here’s the recipe!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

  • 2 1/2 cups of quick cooking rolled oats ( I¬†used gluten-free¬†)
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (I used gluten-free)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • ¬†2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter (at room temp.)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/3 cup apple butter
  • 1 tsp ground vanilla
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds (sprouted)
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set the oven racks in the upper 1/3 of the oven and the lower 1/3 of the oven. Set the oven to 325F ( when swapping maple syrup for brown sugar, you usually lower the oven temperature by about 25 F).

In a bowl, mix the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt until well incorporated. In a separate bowl mix butter and coconut oil until well blended. Then mix in maple syrup and stir for about 1-2 minutes. Then incorporate the egg white, apple butter, vanilla. Then mix your dry ingredients with the wet ingredients. Right before a sticky dough forms, mix in the raisins, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts.

On parchment paper, drop dough about the size of a tablespoon, 2 inches apart. If you would like flatter cookies, gently press down on each drop of dough.

Bake cookies for about 7 minutes, then rotate 180 degrees, switch positions between the racks, and bake for an additional 7 minutes.

There you have it! Enjoy your cookies. ūüôā

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*Recipe adapted from Essentials of Healthful Cooking by Williams-Sonoma

Creamy Vegan Ice Cream

Hi Everyone!

With it being summertime, I wanted to share with you a dairy-free creamy creation that is sure to top any almond milk or coconut milk “ice cream” you may have. Sometimes it’s hard to find a yummy dairy free substitute for ice cream without the grocery list of fillers and artificial additives. Well, I have a solution that is only 5 ingredients. AND it is super creamy.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Vegan Ice Cream.

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It’s made with avocado, coconut, cacao, cacao nibs, and a hint of maple syrup. ¬†I know avocado might sound a little weird, but with the cacao powder you can’t even taste it!

So, not only is this ice cream healthy, filler-free, and dairy-free, it’s a super tasty and guilt-free snack!

Avocado~ A great source of¬†biotin (hello pretty hair and nails!) as well as monounsaturated fats that help keep skin moisturized. Even though avocados are higher in fat,¬†they’re a “good” fat that can help slow the release of glucose into your system, therefore requiring less insulin ( a fat storage hormone).

Cacao~ talk about antioxidants! A pure form of chocolate and a healthy choice too! Cacao is also a good source of Magnesium, known as the “mineral of beauty” in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Coconut~¬†Coconut itself has been in debate lately about it’s saturated fat content. There have been studies that show that the saturated fat particular to coconuts is digested more like a carbohydrate than saturated fat that is found in some animal-based food products. Besides that, coconut’s are still full of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, and Lauric Acid! (What’s pretty cool about Lauric acid is that is has been shown to have strong antibacterial properties, some studies even show that it is stronger than Benzoyl Peroxide! ( one ingredient typically found in face washes)

Maple Syrup~ One of my favorite sweeteners. Not only does it have a range of minerals and antioxidants, it also contains oligosaccharides ( promote healthy gut bacteria!) But, what is really awesome about maple syrup is how it has been shown to act differently in the body as opposed to regular table sugar. Maple syrup contains natural phenols which in some studies has shown to help regulate blood sugar. ( say no to that blood sugar spike ! )  (:

So, here’s the recipe!

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Vegan Ice Cream

  • 1 Avocado
  • 1/4 Cup Coconut Manna ( or flesh of 1 young coconut)
  • 4 Tablespoons of Cacao Powder
  • 2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
  • 1/8 Cup Cacao Nibs ( or more as you please)

Warm the coconut manna just until it has turned to liquid. Then add the avocado, coconut manna, cacao powder and maple syrup to a blender. Blend for about 1 minute, scrap the sides, then blend for about 1 minute. Scoop into bowl, add the cacao nibs, and then freeze for about 1 hour. Feel free to add your own variations such as nuts, vanilla, or fruit!

Enjoy! (:

( Background on ingredients from Dr. Libby’s “Beauty From the Inside Out” and “Sweet Food Story”)

Kale and Beet Soup

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So, as my first recipe post, I’d like to share with you one of my favorites! This is my Kale and Beet Soup. So, what makes this healthy and heartwarming? Well, let me give you a little insight to why this is so nourishing. In¬†this recipe we have:

  • Kale~ a recently “found superfood” is an excellent source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E. These powerhouse vitamins help promote new cell growth and have a hand at anti-aging ( yay! ). It is also loaded with Calcium and Magnesium great for those who don’t drink a lot of milk. Kale is highly Alkaline which is important, especially to those who regularly consume the “Standard American Diet” of heavy processed foods.
  • Carrots~ contain a wonderful amount of beta-carotene (Vitamin A!) Carrots also contain Silica (a trace mineral) that is known to strengthen the body’s connective tissues and vital for healthy skin.
  • Beets~ the deep purple juices of the beet root are wonderful at helping widen blood vessels and lower blood pressure. The¬†Nitrates¬†in the beet are to thank for this!
  • Tomatoes~ containing a lovely amount of the carotenoid,¬†lycopene.¬†Along with a good amount of Vitamin C
  • Turmeric~ the¬†curcumin¬†that makes this spice yellow has been found to be helpful in reducing the amount of plaque that builds up in the brain. It has also been shown to reduce the amount of inflammation inside the body, particularly in the gastrointestinal¬†tract.
  • Garlic~ Another protector of the gastrointestinal tract. Garlic has been shown to have a mild effect of lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. Garlic has also been shown to have properties for fighting off infections.
  • Pink Himalayan Salt~ Pretty in pink, this salt contains 84 different minerals. What is great is that most brands, this includes Iodine.¬†Iodine is important in the function of the thyroid, which can directly influence the metabolism and immunity.

( *Found in Dr.Libby Weaver’s book “Beauty From the Inside Out” and “The World of Healing Plants” by Dr. Andrew Weil.)

So, to make this delicious soup, you start with:

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 handfuls of kale
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 small or 1 medium beet
  • 1/3 cup of favorite tomato sauce
  • 1 cup of vegetable stock
  • 1 dash of garlic powder
  • 1 dash of turmeric
  • 1 pinch of Pink Himalayan salt

First, set oven to 400 F and cut up carrots and beet into 1 inch pieces. Place in oven for about 20 minutes or until soft.

Then in a sauce pan, put in vegetable stock with kale and bring to a simmer around medium heat. Place top on pan to wilt the kale. Once it is wilted, add the beet and carrot along with the tomato sauce. Add spices and salt to taste.

This soup can be adjusted to fit your needs! I added a little Parmesan cheese on top, but that can easily be omitted if you are following a diary-free or vegan diet. Lentils or chicken can be added for some additional protein to the soup. But this soup is easy and tasty! So very comforting, especially after a long day!