Raw Cocoa Bars

Thank you for all of the sweet comments in reply to my last few posts! In case you missed them:

Beautiful Changes
Pregnancy: Some of the Details
Gender Reveal: It’s a…

We are so excited to know that we are having a boy and are dreaming about what he will look like, what his personality will be like, and what his interests will be! I’m also having a really good time starting to think about how I want to decorate the baby room.

I have baby on my mind all the time….but one must still eat and function on a day-to-day basis. 🙂

Yesterday I was a busy girl in the kitchen. Along with baking GF bread, and prepping fruits and veggies, I also put together a super tasty, fudgy, chocolaty bar. This bar is refined sugar-free, raw, and perfectly healthy! It’s great as a snack or even a dessert.

raw cocoa bars.jpg

There are only four ingredients involved in this bar:

  1. Dates
  2. Almonds
  3. Walnuts
  4. Raw cacao powder (or unsweetened cocoa powder such as Hershey’s)

raw cocoa bars raw cocoa bars raw cocoa bars

They are so easy and so delicious. I ate three yesterday and wanted to keep going back. What I love about making my own bars is that I can make them in whatever sizes I wish. I like to make them in a variety of sizes because you never know when you might need just a mini pick-me-up or a more substantial one!

Raw Cocoa Bars
  • ½ cup unsalted almonds (I used raw)
  • ¼ cup unsalted walnuts
  • 1 cup dates (pits removed)
  • 3 Tbsp. raw cacao powder (or unsweetened cocoa powder such as Hershey's)
  1. In food processor, add almonds and walnuts and process until they resemble wet sand texture; pour into small bowl and set aside.
  2. Add dates to food processor. Process until mixture begins to form a ball, and pieces are small.
  3. Add nut mixture and cacao powder into food processor with the dates. Process until combined; about 1 minute.
  4. Form combined mixture into bars or balls using your hands and store in air-tight container in the fridge for up to two weeks (they last longer but they start to get hard).

There you have it! You don’t have to get the oven going, they are easy, AND they are healthy. There’s no reason not to make these cute lil’ guys!

Happy Monday my friends!

Continue Reading Raw Cocoa Bars

Spaghetti Cauli-fredo

I wish I could take credit for the recipe you are about to see, because in my opinion it is sheer genius.

I am not one to usually order any dish with alfredo sauce because in general, I feel like absolute crud after I eat it. This isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy the taste of alfredo sauce because I most certainly do. So when I ran across this recipe for healthy, lighter alfredo sauce, I knew I had to give it a go.

This recipe comes from Pinch of Yum and uses steamed cauliflower as the base of the sauce. You’re initial reaction may be, “blah, that is going to taste absolutely disgusting like cooked cauliflower,” but no, no, no. It doesn’t.

When I took my first bite of the sauce I was 100% blown away at how much it actually tasted like real alfredo sauce.


I followed the recipe except I cut it in half. Here is Pinch of Yum’s cauli-fredo recipe:

Author: Pinch of Yum
Serves: makes about 5 cups
  • 8 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 5-6 cups cauliflower florets
  • 6-7 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon pepper (more to taste)
  • ½ cup milk (more to taste)
  1. Garlic: Saute the minced garlic with the butter in a large nonstick skillet over low heat. Cook for several minutes or until the garlic is soft and fragrant but not browned (browned or burnt garlic will taste bitter). Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Cauliflower: Bring the water or vegetable broth to a boil in a large pot. Add the cauliflower and cook, covered, for 7-10 minutes or until cauliflower is fork tender. Do not drain.
  3. Puree: Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cauliflower pieces to the blender. Add 1 cup vegetable broth or cooking liquid, sauteed garlic/butter, salt, pepper, and milk. Blend or puree for several minutes until the sauce is very smooth, adding more broth or milk depending on how thick you want the sauce. You may have to do this in batches depending on the size of your blender. Serve hot! If the sauce starts to look dry, add a few drops of water, milk, or olive oil.
I like to add a little bit of olive oil for the flavor and to help keep the sauce really smooth. Several other readers have mentioned that they really liked the addition of Parmesan cheese as well.
To check out her website: Pinch of Yum
I whipped up a batch of brown rice spaghetti, seamed broccoli and one chicken sausage. I added the cauli-fredo sauce to the pasta, broccoli, and chicken, gave it a good stir and plated it up. I added a touch more salt and pepper, then finished it with parmesan cheese. *Note—you don’t need to use all of the sauce. I halved her recipe and I used half of that sauce for Dana and my portions.
The sauce is creamy and garlicky. I ate a little too much I think because I was feeling pretty full the rest of the evening because it was just SO good. It’s a rich dish and a really truly delicious dish.
Still skeptical? Don’t be. Be adventurous and try it out for yourself! 
Continue Reading Spaghetti Cauli-fredo

Hearty Goulash (Gluten-Free)

Growing up my mom used to make us goulash. I remember macaroni noodles with ground beef and tomatoes. Talk about the perfect meal for four growing teenagers! Go mom!

It has been years since I’ve had this dish, and I thought it sounded delicious. Plus it’s something new and different for me to get thrown into the mix.

So, I got crackin’ in the kitchen. This was actually an incredibly easy meal to prepare. And just a forewarning, this is by no means an authentic Hungarian Goulash recipe. It’s Melanie throwing a bunch of things into a pot and hoping that it turns out well with the right seasonings kind of a recipe.

I have to say, my experimenting, tasting (always taste!), and seasoning turned out to be a success. I present to you:

goulash  goulash  goulash


Dana and I really enjoyed this dish. Another un-authentic touch was that I added grated parmesan cheese on top. Everything’s better with cheese am I right?

Hearty Goulash (Gluten-Free)
4.0 from 1 reviews
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 cup gluten-free pasta (dry)--I used brown rice and quinoa spirals
  • ½ lb ground beef
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • ½ tsp. dried sage
  • ½ tsp. dried mustard
  • 2 pinches of crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ tsp. chili powder
  • ¼-1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 5.5 fl oz can tomato juice
  • 1 tsp. worchestershire sauce
  • ½ Tbsp. butter
  • ½ cup peas
  1. Cook pasta as directed on package to al dente. Drain; set aside.
  2. In a medium pot, brown and chop ground beef into small pieces.
  3. Add onions and celery and let cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add salt and pepper, dried sage, dried mustard, red pepper flakes, chili powder, garlic powder, tomatoes, tomato juice, and worchestershire. Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Add butter and peas. Stir and allow peas to get warm; about 5 minutes.
  6. Turn off heat and gently stir in pasta.
  7. Taste test goulash for seasonings. Add additional seasonings if desired.
  8. Serve hot!

Add this to your rotating dinner menu. It is satisfying, healthy, serves a crowd, and is delicious!

Continue Reading Hearty Goulash (Gluten-Free)

Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

Happy Cinco de Mayo and happy birthday to my papa!!! I love you love you love you!

mom and dad

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I have a an Italian pizza recipe for you. Hahahaha. Kidding obviously that isn’t very Cinco de  Mayo–y.

On Friday I made a gluten-free pizza that turned out pretty darn well. There are some changes I would absolutely make to it to make it better next time, and I am going to offer you those suggestions today. With that, you will have to experiment with baking times.

The crust was just a little too thick for my liking, so what I would do next time is halve the recipe and make a thinner crust. This would account for less cooking time.

gluten-free pizza crust

I used an all-purpose gluten-free flour for the crust. I found this humungous bag at Costco.

gluten free flour

It’s made up of rice flour, ground flaxseed, quinoa flour, buckwheat flour, amaranth flour, tapioca flour, arrowroot flour, and xantham gum. I’ve also used just plain old almond flour or almond meal in pizza crusts and they turn out great.

gluten free flour


What made me really excited about this pizza was that I could actually pick the piece of pizza up with my hand without having it fall apart. Most of my other gluten-free pizza crust attempts involve a fork because the pieces aren’t strong enough to pick up. I considered this a success for sure and I think that even if I made the crust much thinner, it would still hold up.

gluten-free pizza crust gluten-free pizza crust


gluten free pizza crust


Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

What I did and what I think you should try versions.

1. What I did (the crust was thicker than I would have liked and not as crispy as I like).


  • 2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tsp. olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Grab a large baking pan and either coat it with non-stick cooking spray or use a non-stick baking mat.
  2. Mix together all ingredients and place dough onto baking mat on the counter (not inside of the pan at this point). Cover the top of the dough with a piece of parchment paper. Use a rolling-pin to roll out the dough as flat as possible so that it still fits on the mat. Then, place mat onto baking pan. If you don’t have a mat you could do this by placing parchment paper on the bottom and the top of the dough and then transferring the dough to the pan once rolled.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove crust from oven, use fork to poke holes in the crust but do not puncture all the way through. Add toppings as you wish. I added marinara sauce, cheese, and loads of veggies.
  5. Place back in oven and bake for 25 more minutes or until cheese is melted and toppings looked cooked.
  6. ENJOY!

What I think you should do especially if you like thinner crust….

  • Halve the crust recipe and make a thinner crust
  • Keep an eye on your pizza while it bakes because baking times will be less than I mentioned
  • Let me know how it turns out and how long you baked it

So much for a super guided recipe, right? Think of it as a fun experiment! If you enjoy a thicker, not so crispy crust, you would probably enjoy the recipe I provided. But personally, I enjoy thinner and crispier!

Happy day my friends!


Continue Reading Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

Baked Beef Tacos

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Give me tacos and I will be one happy girl. Last night was taco night.

baked beef tacos.jpg

To make things more exciting (as if tacos need more excitement), I baked the tacos so that the cheese melted into the beans, beef, and onions before adding the cool toppings.

baked beef tacos  baked beef tacos

I then added toppings: lettuce, olives, tomatoes, and salsa. I totally forgot to make guacamole but it really didn’t even matter. So much flavor and goodness in these crunchy gems.

baked beef tacos baked beef tacos baked beef tacos

Baked Beef Tacos

(Make as many as you wish with as many toppings as you wish—this is why specific measurements are not given. These are supposed to be super easy!).

What you will need:

  • hard corn tortilla shells (heads up: look for ones without hydrogenated oils—I made that mistake and am kicking myself about it)
  • refried beans
  • cooked ground beef seasoned with taco seasoning*
  • white onion, diced
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • tomato, diced
  • lettuce, chopped
  • green or black olives, chopped
  • salsa
  • guacamole (optional)

*I use Rachael Ray’s homemade taco seasoning recipe which is one part each of chili powder, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder and a quarter of the amount of crushed red pepper (although I used cayenne instead of crushed red pepper).

To make:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Find a oven-safe dish that will fit your taco shells so that they can stand up (you can make as many tacos as you wish).
  2. Use a spoon to spread refried beans along the bottom of the shell and on one or two sides.
  3. Next, layer on the ground beef, onions, and cheese.
  4. Make sure all shells are standing up (preferably) in your dish.
  5. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  6. Top with remaining topping ingredients. ENJOY!

Dana and I both were crazy about these babies! Baking the tacos was a fun little change-up to standard tacos. I lovvvvvvveee melty cheese! Love love love.

Once again, taco night never fails.

What did YOU have for dinner last night?

Continue Reading Baked Beef Tacos

Healthy Snacking with Blue Diamond

Remember this box of snacking goodness I received a few weeks ago from the wonderful folks at Blue Diamond? If you don’t, here’s another glimpse…

blue diamond snacks

That’s a lot of delicious loot, right? Blue Diamond asked me how I get my good going now that the weather is finally starting to warm up.

The summer is crazy. We all know that. Especially those of us who live in the Northern climates who only get to enjoy warm weather for 3-4 months. We pack everything we can into those 3-4 months. Camping trips, hiking, bike rides, vacations, weddings, and of course, shopping for new summer clothes. There is so much fun to be had!

The days can be busy (in a good way busy), and so I always make sure to have plenty of snacks with me wherever I go. I stash snacks in my car and in my purse because you never know when hunger will strike and no one wants to encounter hangry Melanie. This is where Blue Diamond snacks come in to play so perfectly. They offer so many fun flavors of almonds and their snack chips are a household staple for us!

Here are some snacks that I like to have on hand…

Trail mix with roasted salted Blue Diamond almonds. In this mix I threw together the almonds, a dried fruit combo that I had of craisins, blueberries, cherries, and raisins, and Corn Bran cereal. Use whatever you have on hand and make your own trail mix to go. It’s a fun little snack to have around. Kids love it too!

blue diamond snacks blue diamond snacks trail mix

One of my all-time favorite Blue Diamond almond flavors: Salt n’ Vinegar. I stash these in my car and they are perfect while out running errands. They don’t need any accompaniments if you ask me. They are so good by themselves! Mmmmm!

blue diamond snacks

A true snack staple in our house is Almond Nut Thins. These crunchy snack crackers are gluten-free too! These would be great for a picnic out with friends or family. Grab a box and top it with your favorite spread: hummus, laughing cow and muffuletta olive spread, cheese, cottage cheese, guacamole, salsa. Get creative!

blue diamond snacks blue diamond snacks

Don’t leave the house without throwing some Blue Diamond almonds into your purse or car. They are the absolute perfect snack for your super fun and jam-packed summer!

Disclosure: I was given free Blue Diamond products to sample and review but all opinions expressed on the products are solely my own.

If you could only choose ONE flavor of Blue Diamond to eat ever again, which would you choose?

I would have to say salt ‘n vinegar or roasted salted! Black pepper rosemary is really good too though!

Continue Reading Healthy Snacking with Blue Diamond

Lemon Butter Chicken with Artichokes and Capers

Hello, hello my friends!

Today I am giving a major shout-out to my dear dear friend Caroline over at Trendy Trainer. Because of her, I was able to cook up an insanely delicious meal for Dana and myself on Saturday. The best part about the whole thing? It was SO darn easy! Not only that, it is totally clean! Yes yes yes!

So let’s get right to it.

Let me introduce you to Lemon Butter Chicken with Artichokes and Capers.

lemon butter chicken artichoke and caper

Chicken, lemon juice, butter, onions, capers, artichokes, and some seasoning. Simple ingredients making an exceptional dish.

Here is the link to Caroline’s recipe: Lemon and Artichoke Chicken

I used butter (the recipe said either coconut oil or grass-fed butter) and I used onion (other options were shallots or leeks). The only changes I made to the recipe were I seasoned the chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder before baking it. Other than that, I followed the recipe and couldn’t have been happier with the results!

lemon butter chicken artichoke and caper lemon butter chicken artichoke and caper


It’s slightly salty from the capers, the chicken is perfectly tender from the the lemon and butter, and the artichokes, oh the artichokes….need I say more?

Put this on the menu plan for the week. It is so easy and you and your family will love it!

Thanks Caroline for this simple, clean, and healthy dinner! Muah!!

Continue Reading Lemon Butter Chicken with Artichokes and Capers

Some Good Eats: BBQ Beef, Tacos, Tilapia

This post was meant to go up yesterday but sleep trumped the blog, SO here you get it today!

Even though I’m a day late with this, I’m still going to link up with Jenn’s WIAW. This of course is my version of WIAW, called What I’ve Been Eating Lately. This is an overview of some of my eats over the last week or so.

Let’s get started.

We celebrated Dana’s birthday with his parents and had one of my all-time favorite meals. Tacos. Ever since I was a little girl, when my mom would always ask me what I wanted for my birthday meal, I’d say 90% of the time my response would be tacos. Although it wasn’t my birthday this time around, Dana chose very wisely.

Before tacos though we noshed on some appetizers…

veggies and cheese and hummus

And then came the tacos…


So good! I was disappointed in myself for loading up on so many crackers and cheese. I wasn’t able to enjoy too much of the tacos before being completely stuffed.


I prepared a semi-homemade meal made witg Annie’s gluten-free mac n’ cheese, sautéed broccoli, peas, salt and pepper, and one chicken, apple, and gouda sausage.

annie's mac n cheese

Fairlife, a lactose-free, protein-rich milk company, sent me some samples of chocolate milk, 2% milk, and skim milk. They also sent their core power protein drinks which I told them I would give to Dana and my brother to use as post-long run refuel.

I wasn’t actually planning on drinking the milk (I was going to give it all to Dana), but once I tried the chocolate milk, my plans changed. I couldn’t get enough of this stuff! Just like any chocolate milk, you still have to be careful with the sugar content, but I enjoy a half a cup here and there and it’s a great treat!

To read more about Fairlife: www.fairlife.com

fairlife chocolate milk


A quick and simple lunch: black bean and cheese quesadilla with salsa and avocado. Is that not a perfect bite taken out of there? Didn’t even try. 😉


Dinner at mom and dads: tilapia, red beans and rice, and asparagus. I always forget how much I enjoy tilapia until my mom makes it for me. Then I remember. Num.

tilapia beans and rise

Eggs with spinach, mushrooms, red bell pepper, cheese, avocado and salsa. On the side, a super old hard (from the freezer) Udi’s gluten-free bun with jam. At least the eggs were good.


Amy’s organic split-pea soup. I really enjoy split-pea soup but never make it. I should really get on that, right Hannah?

amy's organic soup split pea soup

split pea soup

Goodie plates: hard-boiled egg with mustard, pickle, veggies and cottage cheese.

snack plate veggies egg pickle

And another Pinterest win. BBQ pulled beef with coleslaw courtesy of MyBakingAddiction.com. I followed the beef recipe to a T but not the coleslaw.

bbq beef and coleslaw

There you have it. Another look into some of my eats lately.

What have YOU been eating lately?

Continue Reading Some Good Eats: BBQ Beef, Tacos, Tilapia

White Bean, Avocado, & Caramelized Onion Quesadilla

I felt like a bit of a genius in the kitchen last night. I pulled together quite the outrageous quesadilla and you’re going to hear about it.

It was a White Bean, Avocado, & Caramelized Onion Quesadilla and it rocked my socks off.

white bean, avocado, and caramelized onion quesadilla.jpg

First, I pureed together one can of white beans (rinsed and drained), one avocado, one chipotle in adobo pepper, a sprinkle of cumin, and a squeeze of lime juice.

Next, I caramelized one small onion.

Then, I spread the prepared bean dip all over a brown rice tortilla (about 3 tablespoons or so). I then topped it with the caramelized onions, cheddar cheese, organic spinach, and banana peppers.

white bean avocado quesadilla

I warmed up the saute pan on the stove, folded over the quesadilla and got to cooking. It probably cooked for 4-5 minutes on each side, just long enough for the toppings to get hot and for the outside of the tortilla to get a little crispy.

Next, remove the quesadilla from the pan and place on plate. Use a pizza cutter or a knife to cut into three triangles.

white bean avocado quesadilla

Take some photos….

white bean avocado quesadilla white bean avocado quesadilla

And my favorite step, devour that bad boy.

white bean avocado quesadilla

So easy, kind of random, and so delicious. A fun meatless Monday meal!

 Side note: Spell check was all over this post. Apparently it doesn’t recognize quesadilla, caramelized, adobo, or pureed. Who knew?!

Continue Reading White Bean, Avocado, & Caramelized Onion Quesadilla

Corned Beef and Cabbage Soup

I just have to share a super Pinterest find that I made last night.

Yesterday, I mentioned how I don’t usually get into St. Patty’s Day but how I’d like to get into it more some day. Then I shared a photo of Skinny Girl’s corned beef and cabbage soup and said that I would like to make that soup some day. Well, all of this some day talk turned into yesterday. I was going to make that soup. I hit up the store for the ingredients and got to work in the kitchen.

Check out the recipe: Skinny Girl’s Corned Beef and Cabbage Soup

The only changes I made:

  • red bell pepper instead of yellow
  • one leek and one onion versus two leeks
  • I left the skin on the potato versus peeling it
  • I used 3/4 of a head of cabbage versus the whole thing

corned beef and cabbage soup


corned beef and cabbage soup

corned beef and cabbage soup corned beef and cabbage soup corned beef and cabbage soup

I love this soup! Such a comforting, delicious and healthy dish! Serve it with some whole grain bread and call it a meal!

Thank you Skinny Girl for yet again creating a delicious and healthy recipe for the world to enjoy.

Have you had any “wins” with Pinterest recipes lately?

Continue Reading Corned Beef and Cabbage Soup