That Time of Year Again…

Even though it’s only the beginning of September, stores everywhere seem to be putting out Halloween decorations. Not only that, but the arrival of the Pumpkin Spice is among us. I’m not complaining!

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Thanks to Whole Foods, I was able to pick up some Pumpkin Spice tea from The Republic of Tea. It. is. delicious! Easily will kick that Pumpkin Spice Latte to the curb. Add a little bit of coconut or soy milk, and you’re in business.

Not only does it taste  better, but it’s also better for you. Guilt Free! 🙂

With tea like this, you can keep sipping and keep brewing without any artificial sweeteners or flavoring. The base of the Pumpkin Spice is black tea, which has a small amount of caffeine, but also is full of antioxidants.

Even though the black tea has caffeine in it, I find that it doesn’t give me those “coffee jitters” that haunt some people.

I am a huge fan of The Republic of Tea, so stay tuned for more flavors!

If you want to check them out follow this link! –> The Republic of Tea

Happy Sipping 🙂

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Maple Almond Granola Bar

So, since I’ve been on a granola bar kick lately, I decided these would make a great addition to the recipe list. 🙂

Another accidental experimentation, these are one of the best bars yet! Filled with almond butter goodness, mixed with sweet dates and hearty oats, these granola bars are great for any time of the day. A dash of cinnamon makes them complete.

Almonds are a great nut! They are packed with vitamin E, healthy oils, and a decent amount of protein to keep hunger at bay. Unfortunately, people still shy away from nuts due to their high calorie count. However, I’ve read that at times the calorie count on the label for nuts is higher than what the body may actually use. This is due to the way that calories are measured. ( check it out here –> On Food Labels, Calorie Miscounts )

Pumpkin seeds are one of my favorite seeds (if you haven’t noticed them in half of my recipes already). These little seeds are packed with zinc ( healthy skin! ) and add a little crunch to the bar.

The dates are what keep the granola bar together. Not only do they add a nice amount of sweetness, they are a great source of carbohydrates and fiber.

Ceylon cinnamon is one of my favorite “species” of cinnamon. It’s harder to find and a tad more expensive, but I personally think it tastes better. In the ways of health benefits- Ceylon has a lower amount of coumarin which is a blood thinner. “Regular cinnamon” such as the Saigon and Cassia tend to have higher amounts of coumarin which may be harder on the liver and kidneys if consumed highly in daily amounts.

Oats are always a favorite of mine. 100% whole grain, high in fiber, and a solid source of protein and carbohydrates. Oats the soluble fiber in oats can be a key player in lowering cholesterol. As well as keep you full and satisfied. 🙂

Maple Syrup is by far my favorite sweetener. Brewed from the almighty maple tree, this syrup contains vitamins and minerals that no other sweetener can boast about. It has even been shown that maple syrup does not spike blood sugar and insulin levels as much as regular table sugar.

So enough of me blabbing away, here’s the recipe!

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Maple Almond Granola Bar

  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 cup dates
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cup whole rolled oats ( gluten-free if you so choose)
  • 1/4 cup Justin’s almond butter
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup raw almonds
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp ground vanilla
  • 1 tsp Ceylon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Set oven to 350F. Spread oats evenly onto cookie sheet and toast for 5 minutes.

Combine dates and water in bowl and soak for 5-10 minutes. (Until soft)

Use coconut oil to grease a granola bar pan. If you do not have a granola bar pan, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Drain dates and press with paper towel to remove excess moisture. Put into blender or food processor. Grind until paste forms. Scrape down sides. Add almond butter. Mix until just combined. Add ground vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Mix until combined. Scrape the rest out into a bowl.

In the bowl. Add the date and almond butter mixture with toasted oats. Combine with maple syrup and pumpkin seeds. *Add almonds.

*(optional) Break up almonds slightly with mortar and pestle.

Once everything is mixed, add to the granola bar pan. Or shape desired amount onto cookie sheet with parchment paper. Put into freezer for about 15 minutes until set.

Enjoy 🙂

Fabulous Vanilla Fig Bars

Happy Monday!

Another snack bar creation, nothing short of delicious. 🙂 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 🙂

Mocha Lovers Snack Bar

Hi there! Happy Friday! Nothing beats celebrating a Friday with coffee and chocolate, eh?

Sometimes the best creations come about with experimentation. These Mocha Snack bars may look very similar to the brownie bars, but don’t be fooled! These are for the coffee-lovers. If you’re not a coffee-lover, then you soon may be. A delicious mix of coffee and chocolate is super satisfying and has no yucky preservatives or weird artificial colors.

Super quick and super easy to make, these bars will be fabulous for on the go.

Made with nourishing dates, almonds, pecans, fine espresso, cocoa, chocolate chips, these bars are simply delicious!

I would usually make it with cacao powder (for it retains more nutrients than cocoa powder) but alas, I have run out ): . So coco powder will do just fine for now.

*To make vegan: use dairy-free chocolate

*These do contain caffeine if using caffeinated coffee.

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So let’s just get to the recipe ! 🙂

Mocha Lovers Snack Bar

  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 cup dates
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup raw almonds
  • 1/4 cup raw pecans (can substitute for walnuts)
  • 2 tbsp Illy espresso powder
  • 1 tbsp coco powder (or cacao)
  • 1 pinch of ground vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

For chocolate topping

  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 heaping tbsp coconut oil

For the Mocha Lovers Snack Bar: Coat snack bar tray with coconut oil. If you do not have a snack bar tray, you can use a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Soak dates in water for about 5-10 minutes. While soaking, grind almonds and pecans in blender until fine. Pat dry the dates and grind in blender with almonds and pecans. You may have to use a rubber spatula to scrap sides. Until just about mixed, add the espresso powder, coco powder, and vanilla. Grind and manually mix until fully incorporated. Manually mix in chocolate chips

For the chocolate topping: Warm coconut oil and chocolate chips over low-medium heat in a saucepan. Stir constantly to avoid burning. Once melted, carefully drizzle over snack bars.

Put snack bars in freezer to set.

Enjoy! 🙂

*Note: the chocolate covering is great to use on anything chocolate covered. It even makes a great “magic shell” for ice cream!

Why Morning Runs Are SO Worth the Wake Up.

Sometimes it can be hard to get out of a warm bed- especially before the sun comes up.

A few years ago, before I started running, it would have been impossible to drag me out of bed. The warm blankets kept me as one of their own. Around the time I started college, a lot of things changed in my life. Divorce, difficult roommates, a bigger workload then I had anticipated. The stress seemed to be piling up, I lived with three other people in one room. It was hard to have time to myself.

The only way I was able to be alone was to wake up early. I probably drove my roommates insane.

I’d bound out of bed around 6 a.m. and bolt out the door as quiet as I could. The campus would be almost silent. The stop lights still blinking yellow. I’d pick up the pace up so I’d be able to see the sunrise over Horsebarn Hill.

The silence was comforting, only me and the cool air.

Running became a valuable tool in stress relief. As I accomplished more miles, the stress seemed to be forgotten. As I would find the sunrises in the early morning, my days seemed to start off gracefully. Putting those two things together, and life became a lot more manageable.

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I’m lucky enough to go to a school big enough to put in a decent run and have a beautiful view. Every morning is different-warm and muggy, or cold and windy- but every run is treasured.

For me, when I took out the competition of how fast and how far, it became more of a comforting challenge.

Don’t get me wrong, it was incredibly rewarding to find I can go farther and faster without feeling tired. But I also didn’t beat myself up if I wasn’t able to run as fast as the day before.

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If you wish to start running (or any exercise really), begin with a positive attitude. You don’t need to go fast, or accomplish 3 miles -or even one mile- the first go. Look at it as an adventure. Treat yourself kindly and with hard work you will be happy that you started.

🙂

Healthy Brownie Bars

Hi There!

I apologize for being away for awhile. But here’s a new recipe! It’s adapted from Leite’s Culinaria . If you’ve ever had Larabars, then you will love this! They’re easily customizable, healthy, and perfect for on the go.

With only a few simple ingredients, you’ll be able to whip these up in no time.

They contain dates, almonds, walnuts, cacao powder (or coco powder), and your favorite chocolate chips.

I love dates for their sweetness and health benefits! They had nutrition while keeping this treat sweet! The almonds and walnuts add healthy fats and nutrients. Try your best to get raw nuts, and even better if they’re sprouted! I use cacao powder for this recipe because of the increased nutritional value and personal taste over coco powder. If you only have coco powder, that will work just fine. 🙂

This can easily be made into a dairy-free recipe depending on which chocolate chips you choose to use.

If you so choose, you can add a pinch of salt to bring out the flavor, although I don’t think it is necessary.

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Healthy Brownie Bars

  • 1 cup packed dates
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts
  • 3 heaping Tbsp of cacao powder
  • 2/3 cup chocolate chips
  • pinch of salt (optional)

Soak dates in water for about 5 minutes, or until soft. Meanwhile, process almonds and walnuts in a food processor, blender, or magic bullet. Drain water and add dates. You may have to manually mix ingredients in blender to make sure everything is fully mixed. Add the cacao powder, mix. Transfer into a bowl and mix in desired amount of chocolate chips. Add pinch of salt if desired.

If you do not have a granola bar pan, put parchment paper onto a cookie sheet. Organize brownie bar mixture into desired size and shape. Put into freezer to set for about 20 minutes.

Enjoy 🙂

Coffee Time!

Once you’ve had truly good coffee, anything less than is just hard to swallow.

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So far, my favorite is the Illy brand dark roast. This coffee is so good you will forevermore say no to coffee creamer and dreaded cookie flavored sugar “shots.” This coffee and bold, bare, and beautiful.

Coffee itself has also been shown to contain a good amount of antioxidants and the caffeine has the potential to raise metabolism and (maybe) protect the brain. These studies are still ongoing, but the important thing is that these potential benefits are not outweighed by dumping artificial ingredients into your morning brew.

Sorry to say, but a lot of these flavored creamers and sugar “shots” that coffee chains use contain a high amount of artificial ingredients, and usually a huge dose of sugar. A good dose of sugar without any buffers like fiber can spike your blood  sugar, later leaving to an even bigger crash and spiking your insulin ( fat storing hormone). Mix that with artificial ingredients and that leaves another problem. Most artificial ingredients our bodies don’t know how to process. So they are either excreted or stored in our fat cells. It also leaves the possibility of aggravating the body if you have an intolerance or your body doesn’t know how to process that substance.

Don’t be afraid to try something new! Good coffee can help you ditch those added sugars and artificial ingredients.

Illy offers an array of roasts and grinds so you can find your favorite!

Enjoy 🙂