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. :smile:

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
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Ingredients
  • 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)
Instructions
  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!

Mother’s Day, Spring Rolls, & Smores Cookies

Happy Mama’s Day! I realize I am a day late but every day should be mother’s day anyway, right? :smile:

I hope you all had a great weekend! Mine was great as always. Here is my quick little recap for you all to enjoy.

Breakfast at Jensen’s Cafe. I got the usual: eggs, potatoes, pancakes (with their AMAZING caramel syrup) and fruit. I left feeling slightly stuffed. Dana and I had a few errands to run and it felt great to walk after this big meal.

breakfast at Jensen's Cafe Saturday involved a lot of house work, yard work, and relaxation in the evening.

Oh, not to mention this dinner. Homemade spring rolls with peanut sauce and shrimp. I added quinoa to the rolls and instead of putting peanut sauce inside of the roll I just used it as a dip instead. NUM!

spring rolls and shrimp

spring rolls and shrimp

 

On Sunday I met my mama for our annual Race for the Cure tradition.

race for the cure 2014

For you locals, Julie Nelson and Jerrid Sebesta from Kare 11 were at the race start. Local celebs!

race for the cure 2014

 

Mom and I after finishing the walk. We love our mother-daughter tradition! I love her so much.

mom and melanie race for the cure 2014

We spend the afternoon out at my parent’s new house. It backs up to a lake and has the most gorgeous view. We all enjoyed kicking back and hanging out while celebrating mama’s day!

I made these cookies which were a huge hit: Four Ingredient Smores Cookies

Dana and I hit up the grocery stores on the way home, finished a few more things around the house, and then crashed.

Another great mother’s day weekend to go down in the books!

How was your weekend? 

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie

This ugly-looking smoothie deserves some major recognition. I’ve mentioned my favorite smoothie over and over, but I’ve never dedicated an entire to post to it. Considering I eat this smoothie at least 4-5 times a week, it’s time to give it some credit.

I’m talking about my chocolate peanut butter smoothie that I eat for breakfast. It tastes like a peanut butter chocolate shake except it’s wayyyyyy healthier.

chocolate peanut butter smoothie.jpg

 

It’s smooth, creamy, sweet, chocolatey, and knocks my socks off.

chocolate peanut butter smoothie

I’m not one to measure ingredients when I’m making smoothies, but I will do my best to share what I think are the approximate measurements for each ingredient. Feel free to play around with it though!

chocolate peanut butter smoothie

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 medium frozen banana
  • 1/4 cup frozen blueberries
  • 2 handfuls frozen kale (approximately 1 cup?)
  • 1 heaping spoonful of raw cacao powder
  • 1 heaping spoonful of peanut butter
  • 1 heaping spoonful of ground flaxseed
  • almond milk (as much as you need to cover the ingredients

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients into the blender in the order listed above. I use the personal-size cups in my Ninja Ultima Blender and it is perfect.
  2. Blend until smoothie.
  3. Enjoy right away!

It’s as easy as that! I always feel good about getting some fruits and veggies in right away in the morning! It’s a great way to start the day.

QOTD: What are your current go-to breakfasts?

An Incredible Easter Weekend

This weekend flew by way too fast. No, wayyyyyyyy too fast.

We had two Easter celebrations: Saturday with Dana’s family and Sunday with my family. We ate very well all weekend enjoyed so much great company and lots of laughs.

Saturday

I brought this fabulous pear salad that turned out just as good this time as it did last time I made it.

pear salad

We had ham, cheesy vegetables, roasted potatoes…

Easter ham and cheesy vegetables

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And refreshing key lime pie. Everything was excellent!

 

key lime pie

 

Then we cozied ourselves on the couch and all hung out together as it rained outside.

moose

Easter celebration #1 = success.

Sunday

On Sunday we headed to church with my family. I love Easter service. It is so bright and uplifting!

dana and melanie

Then we headed back to mom and dad’s for Easter goodies….

Easter basket

And another absolutely amazing meal: ham, asparagus with cheese, cheesy potatoes, deviled eggs, pickles, olives, and fruit salad.

Easter 2014

And for dessert I made homemade lemon bars with ZERO refined sugar (minus the frozen yogurt alongside the bar).

I made the crust from this recipe:  crust

The gooey lemon bar part from this recipe: bar

lemon bars

 

They turned out so delicious! I didn’t miss the white sugar AT ALL!

We spent quite a bit of time outside yesterday because it was in the 70′s! It felt amazing to have the sun on my skin. Yay for spring!

Easter celebration #2 = success.

It was quite the weekend. I slept for a solid 10 hours last night. All of that eating and sitting around sure does wear a girl out. :wink: I hope you all had a great weekend full of relaxation, celebration, and family and friends.

Happy Easter!

xoxo

Currently I’m…

It’s time for a little update on “currently I’m…” Here we go!

Currently I’m…

Enjoying hot water with lemon. I always think of Caroline now when I drink it! :smile: It’s such a comforting way to start the day.

water with lemon

Onto season three of Pretty Little Liars. This show just keeps getting better and better!

pretty-little-liars-8

 

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Loving these oatmeal raisin cookie bites. Go make these! They taste like oatmeal raisin cookies but they are grain free and freaking amazing! Recipe: “Fauxtmeal” Raisin Cookie Bites.

oatmeal raisin cookie bites

 

Dreaming of eating another one of these egg sandwiches. Gluten-free waffle, pepperjack cheese, mustard and a fried egg. Ummm yea.

 

egg sandwich

 

Reminiscing about my amazing weekend with these ladies.

 

blends do chicago

 

Looking forward to a quiet weekend! It’s time to FINALLY take the Christmas lights down. Yikes!

 

Now it’s your turn. Currently I’m…

Favorite Food in London, Bruges, and Paris

I really want to begin my vacation recap posts, but am still slightly overwhelmed by the thought of it. So, I am going to ease my way into it by covering one of my most favorite topics…food.

Figure-friendly foods were not on my agenda for this trip. I was looking for macaroons, crepes, baguette, cheese, and hot chocolate, and that is exactly what I found.

Below are photos or some of my food highlights from the trip from London to Bruges to Paris.

London

The hot chocolate. It’s soooo much better in Europe (or maybe it’s just better on vacation?).

hot chocolate

Chicken Tikka Masala. OMG. I’ve had Indian food in the past but was never blown away by it, but this totally changed my mind. I couldn’t get enough of it! It was one of my favorite meals of the entire vacation. I can’t wait to find it at home now!

chicken tikka masala indian food tikka masala, naan

Butterbean burger at Happenstance. This picture does not do the burger justice. Have you ever thought of taking butterbeans and making them into a burger? I certainly have not but it is a brilliant idea. I devoured this burger. butterbean burger

Fish and chips. We had to; we were in London after all. Dana and I split a filet and we both really enjoyed our meal!

IMG_0288

Bruges

French Onion Soup (called onion soup in Europe). You all know I adore this stuff. I also had French onion soup on the plane ride out to London as well as two other times on the trip. Four times total. I love my onion soup!

french onion soup

Paris

This meal was actually from a day trip to Fontainebleau. We traveled out to go see a beautiful palace only to find out it was closed for construction when we got there. Not to mention, it was raining and cold. We found a cute little steakhouse and settled in for a burger and onion rings aka the best onion rings I’ve ever had.

IMG_0355 burger

Back to Paris…

Our favorite bread shop was called Coquelicot because look at it….

coquelicot bread paris

It’s perfection. It’s exactly how I would picture a Parisian bread shop. They make their bread and pastries in-house and everything is always so fresh and the place is always packed. Many days, we would buy a loaf of baguette for lunch along with some cheese and apples. I really looked forward to this lunch.

bread and cheese for lunches in paris

Crepes with nutella and banana. Need I say more?

nutella crepe

Crescents. Nearly every day. So buttery and flaky!

crescent rolls

Macaroons. I channeled my inner Blair Waldorf while eating these.

macaroons

This chocolate mousse. It tasted like the filling of a French silk pie. I was in heaven eating this. Ahhhhh so good.

chocolate mousse

More Indian food. We were actually planning on having Chinese food this night but the restaurant we walked to was closed so we had to find something else. I was once again so impressed with my meal. It was a rice and vegetable dish.

indian food vegetable rice

Check out the ambiance…

indian restaurant paris

In Paris, the boys had a couple of crocque monsiers. Ham and cheese sandwiches with an egg on top.

croque monsieurs

Oh yes, more baguette.

french baguette

And more onion soup. Don’t mind if I do!

french onion soup

My favorites: Indian food in London, the onion soup on our last night in Paris, the chocolate mousse, and the nutella crepe.

Needless to say we ate very well on vacation.

If you were in London or France, what food would be on your “must eat” list?

I’m linking up with Katie for Friday Favorites too! Thanks, Katie!

My Valentine’s Day Menu Inspiration

This year, Dana and I have decided to stay in for Valentine’s Day. Come to think of it, that is what we usually do. I prefer to make dinner especially when I know the restaurants will be swamped. I prefer the quiet comfort of home. Don’t get me wrong though because I enjoy going out to eat too!

Check out Valentine’s Day from last year: Valentine’s Day 2013. Last year we had grilled chicken with artichoke salsa and it was TASTY!

I have a tantalizing menu planned for tomorrow evening but I still have some final decisions to make. Maybe you all could help me decide?

Menu Inspiration

I know for sure that I am making some version of a gluten-free baked coconut shrimp. Skinny Taste’s photo is my inspiration! Num!!

coconut shrimp

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I know for sure I will be making clean and simple steamed artichokes. We bought four at Costco and they look fab! I hope they taste as good as they look.

artichoke

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I haven’t decided whether or not to make potatoes or cilantro lime brown rice. I realize the rice goes well with the shrimp, but I thought it might be fun to have the whole dinner be finger food friendly in which case I would go with the potatoes.

I could do baked potato wedges…

potato wedges

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Or these oven-baked parmesan french fries (OMG!)!

potato fries

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Or cilantro-lime brown rice which is always good.

cilantro lime rice

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Dessert

Since I decided to steer clear of refined sugars for a little while, I searched for a couple of dessert recipes that would fit my needs.

The first one is a no-bake chocolate banana almond square that is sweetened using dates, bananas and honey.

valentine dessert

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The second one is a clean eating brownie that is sweetened using maple syrup.

valentine dessert 2

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I need your votes! 

Potatoes or rice?

Chocolate almond square or brownie?

Or maybe you have an even better recipe I should try? Let me know!

___________________

New Grocery Store Gift Card WINNER!

I only heard from one of my winners (Congrats, Laura!) from the grocery store gift card giveaway but never heard from winner #2, so I am selecting a new winner.

So…..Congrats to Laura and TANYA!! Please send me your addresses and I will get your $20 (originally I said $10 but it’s actually $20—whoop whoop!) in gift cards mailed to you asap!

Thanks!

Weekly Eats: Fruit and Veggie Love

Happy Hump Day!

I’m getting in on the WIAW action today and am linking up with Jenn! As always, I am recapping some of my eats from the whole week and looking back, I packed in lotsa fruits and veggies. Love it!

This colorful salad: mixed dark greens, broccoli, zucchini, pinto beans, shredded cheddar, red bell pepper, sliced almonds, and cottage cheese. SO GOOD! One of the best salads I’ve made in a while.

salad

Red, yellow, and orange bell peppers have been my go-to veggie this week. They are so crunchy and sweet and amazing.

Banana and peanut butter wrap in a brown rice tortilla with a sprinkle of cinnamon and drizzle of honey. Always a winner.

peanut butter banana wrap

Organic cottage cheese with blackberries and sliced almonds.  cottage cheese

Lots of smoothies as always.

smoothies

Gluten-free sweet potato pizza crust!

sweet potato pizza crust

Asian chicken slaw!

asian chicken slaw

My go-to fruit this week: Driscoll’s raspberries.

raspberries

My contribution to a work potluck: turkey bacon wrapped pineapple with a sprinkle of brown sugar on top!

bacon-wrapped pineapple

My potluck plate: roasted red pepper soup, pb and j, tuna noodle salad, red velvet cookie, and strawberries. We had a Valentine’s red and pink themed potluck! So many delicious treats. We don’t mess around with food at our work meetings.

work potluck

The sugar intake has gotten out of hand once again so I am planning to stay clear of refined sugar for two weeks starting now!

Have a happy day!

wiawloveyourveggiesmonthbutton2

Food Network’s Cupcake Wars & Asian Chicken Slaw

It’s time for Treat Yourself Tuesday hosted by the one and only Becky!

1. I’ve had one too many sweet treats this past week, and it all started last Thursday. I mentioned last Friday briefly that I went to a pastry shop called “Cupcake” to celebrate a co-worker’s retirement. The shop splits is split up into two areas: the Cupcake side and the restaurant side which is called “The Mason Jar.”

When we arrived to celebrate, my co-worker (and friend) Mary, had bought a bunch of cupcakes for each table to enjoy.  tyt cupcake

My table had the brilliant idea to split all of them into sevenths so that we could all get a taste of all of them!

tyt cupcake

There was lemon, raspberry, mocha, vanilla, peanut butter, german chocolate, red velvet, and some type of marshmallow one. After we tasted all of these, we actually got to try a few more still! Talk about sugar-load, but seriously how much fun to sit around eating cupcakes with your girlfriends?!

tyt cupcake

As we mowed chatted over our cupcakes, the owner and winner of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, Kevin VanDeraa came by our table and greeted us! He was incredibly humble and just wanted to see how we were enjoying our time at Cupcake. Very cool!

tyt cupcake Kevin VanDeraa

I didn’t love every single cupcake I tried but I did enjoy a lot of them! I especially liked the lemon-filled one which is definitely not like me. The peanut butter one was pretty awesome too (duh, right?)!

I think that Cupcake would be a perfect place to go for a date or to meet up with friends and I will more than likely be making my way back there at some point. The cupcakes range from about $2.75-$4.25 a piece (don’t quote me on that).

2. I’ve been treating myself to caramel coffee at home as well as lots of veggie and fruit loaded smoothies!

coffee and smoothie

3. On Sunday morning, I treated myself to a relaxing morning: reading the newspaper (and my new favorite section!), looking through weekly ads, watching Olympics and sipping on my café con crema!

newspaper relax

4. On Sunday I made an amazing dish I found on Pinterest for Asian Chicken Slaw. Link: Asian Chicken Slaw. I cut down on the peanut butter, omitted the basil, and only used 3/4 head of cabbage, but other than that I followed the recipe and holy cow…so good! Make this.

asian cabbage slaw asian cabbage slaw

5. The Valentine’s decor is finally up! I totally forgot about it until yesterday when I was organizing some crap gift bags in the basement and stumbled upon them! They make the house look so much more fun and festive! They may have to stay up past Valentine’s Day.
Side note: when you get married you get loads of gift bags. Keep all of them and you will never have to buy a gift bag again! Win!

valentine's day decor

 

I am really starting to feel the lovey in the air. How about you?

Questions of the day:

  • Any good Pinterest recipe finds lately that you’ve tried?
  • If you were to order any flavor of cupcake, what would you choose?

Treat-Yourself-Tuesday-Badge

Friday Favorites: Run, Eat, Live

Happy Friday! Today’s date is kind of neat: 2/7/14 because 2 x 7 = 14. #nerd

I’m linking up with my darling Katie for another episode of Friday Favorites! Heeeeeere we go.

1. Eggs. I go through ups and downs with eggs but always remember the considerable nutritional value of the golden beauts SO, I am bringing them back baby.

eggs

2. Van’s Cinnamon Heaven gluten-free cereal. I was looking for a gluten-free cereal that actually had some fiber, and this is my answer. Five grams of fiber per serving. It’s not an every night snack (the box was nearly $5), but it’s a treat from time to time.

van's cinnamon heaven

3. Moose. Moose earns a spot on Friday favorites because poor dog, he is just cooped up inside so often and he must be going crazy. Sure he drives me loco sometimes when he whines, but I know he’s bored so it’s okay. Dana takes him on some runs during the week but ideally he should be getting out every day of course.

moose

4. I registered for a 7k next month. I haven’t really been running due to some health stuff these past few months, and the last actual race I was a part of was on Thanksgiving, so running and getting back into some shorter races will feel GREAT!

Let’s hope the weather will be like how it was two years ago: in the 60′s! I ran in a tank top!

get lucky 2012

5. Cupcakes at Cupcake in Eagan. We were celebrating a retirement party for a co-worker of mine and she so graciously bought a bunch of the cupcakes for all of us.My table decided to split them all so I got to try a ton of different flavors.

My favorite was no surprise the peanut butter chocolate, but what did surprise me is I truly enjoyed a lemon cupcake. Lemon is not always on my radar and I definitely wouldn’t have gotten it for myself so I’m glad that Mary did, and I had a chance to try it! Some time I may have to go back and get a caramel cupcake. Those sounded really good, too!

cupcakes

6. This quote: “We may run, walk, stumble, drive, or fly, but let us never lose sight of the reason for the journey, or miss a chance to see a rainbow on the way.” -Gloria Gaither

inspirational quote

I actually saw a rainbow yesterday morning on the way to meet a girlfriend for coffee. I do believe in symbolism and so seeing the rainbow was an amazing way to start my day.

Have a great weekend my friends!

Thanks again, Katie for hosting!

Friday Favorites