Maple-Nut Chocolate Chip Blondies

FullSizeRenderIf you haven’t noticed, I’ve been in a baking kick for the last few months. Something about the colder months makes a warm baked good even more tasty (and I don’t think anyone will ever complain about the scent of freshly baked cookies/muffins/bars etc. filling up the house). My latest recipe is a combination of a few of my favorite things: maple syrup, nuts, and chocolate chips! I made these in bar-form, but if you’d prefer a cookie, you can simply use a cookie sheet instead of an 8×8″ baking pan. You can also swap gluten-free flour for the wheat flour if you’re following a gluten-free diet.

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour + 1 cup regular white baking flour (or, use 2 cups of brown rice flour or gluten-free baking flour if you’re on a gluten-free diet)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp. dark molasses
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup earth balance vegan buttery spread (melt in the microwave)
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 + 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips (I found them at trader joe’s)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans and/or walnuts
  • 1/4 cup gluten free or regular oats
  • cinnamon (to be sprinkled on top)

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF
  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and oats
  • In a smaller bowl, combine the maple syrup, molasses, earth balance spread, apple sauce, almond milk, and vanilla extract
  • Mix the contents of the smaller bowl into the larger bowl, mixing well until uniform in consistency
  • Add the chocolate chips and nuts into the mixture
  • Spray an 8×8″ baking tin or cookie sheet with nonstick spray, spoon the batter into the pan or scoop the batter to create cookie shapes if you’re making the cookie version
  • Top with sprinkled ground cinnamon and bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes
  • Remove from oven, allow to cool, cut (if you’re making bars) and enjoy!

-Jess

 

Feed Your Soul!

I’m finally done with another semester of being a nutrition student, yay! This semester was probably my toughest one yet because of the amount of courses I decided to take, along with yoga teacher training, balancing a job, and trying to fit in time for my own yoga practice. One thing that definitely helped me this semester was fitting in time to de-stress. Yoga helped, as did some other activities, such as baking, spending time outdoors, and curling up with a good book. If you find yourself overwhelmed, I recommend doing some activities that take your mind off whatever is stressing you out. During my finals week, I realized how important it is to do things that feed your soul instead of focusing either exclusively on work/obligations or doing things that provide a sense of fleeting fun.

Although technically the following recipe isn’t a “baked good”, it still kept me occupied in the kitchen and turned out to be a really healthy, filling little treat. Coming up with cheaper alternatives to my favorite packaged snack foods is now an official hobby, so I present to you, my raw balls. Okay, get your mind out of the gutter. These delicious balls are made of (mostly) all raw ingredients and are chock full of healthy, plant-based fats and fiber. They also make a great present if you haven’t bought your holiday gifts yet.

 

Raw Vegan Ballsphoto-48

Chocolate Chip Variation

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups medjool dates (make sure you take the pit out of them!)
  • 3/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (Trader Joe’s sells a vegan version)

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine pitted dates, nuts, and vanilla extract. Transfer to a food processor and process/pulse for a minute or two. The mixture should be easily moldable with your hands. If the mixture is too sticky, add a few more nuts by the tablespoon, and continue to use the food processor. If the mixture has too many nuts and won’t mold together with your hands, try adding a few more pitted dates. Transfer back into the large bowl and add chocolate chips. Mold into ball shapes with your hands and refrigerate. Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Cherry Variation

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups pitted medjool dates
  • 3/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of cocoa powder

Directions:

Combine pitted dates, nuts, dried cherries, and cocoa powder together and transfer to a food processor. Process until blended for about a minute of two. If the consistency is too dry and the mixture won’t mold with your hands, try adding a few more dates. If it’s too sticky, add a few more nuts by the tablespoon. Transfer to a bowl and then using your hands, mold the mixture into ball shapes and refrigerate. Enjoy!

-Jess

In Summer: Frozen-Inspired Treats

one of my frozen-inspired treats (recipe below)

one of my frozen-inspired treats (recipe below)

 

Here in New York, the weather is getting warmer, which means it’s time to think of healthy frozen treats to cool down with! In addition to summer approaching, I was inspired to create some frozen recipes because I recently saw the movie “Frozen” and I am totally obsessed! I love everything about the movie and I can personally relate to Princess Anna’s character, so this movie particularly resonated with me. If you haven’t seen “Frozen”, you should, as it differs from most Disney movies and doesn’t really stick to the princess + prince charming = true love forever equation that’s typical of fairytales but I won’t give too much away in case you haven’t seen it.

 

Getting back to my frozen treats, there’s nothing greater than indulging in a cold dessert on a hot summer day, but ice cream, frozen yogurt, and gelato can be high in calories and make you feel tired if you’ve had too much. Instead, today I made 2 different “ice creams” using a few very simple ingredients. The base for both of these recipes is just a few frozen bananas and almond or coconut milk. Both recipes are vegan, gluten-free, and won’t make you feel guilty or weighed down afterwards.

 

Peanut butter-Banana-Chip Dream Cream (serves 2)

photo 3-2

 

Ingredients

  • 1.5 frozen bananas (freeze for at least 5 hours). Peel before freezing, and you may also want to cut into smaller pieces and place into a zip lock bag.
  • ¼ cup almond milk (I used an unsweetened vanilla variety)
  • 1 tbsp. natural peanut butter (I used a creamy, salted variety)
  • 1-2 tbsp. dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Place cut frozen bananas in a blender, add ¼ cup almond milk, 1 tbsp. natural peanut butter, and chocolate chips, and blend on high. If the mixture becomes too liquid-y, simply place in the freezer for a few minutes, or you can freeze the entire mixture for about an hour in a non-stick container and then re-blend to create an ice cream texture.
  • Serve in a glass or bowl and top with a few chocolate chips. Enjoy!

 

 

Cashew Coconut Banana Cream (serves 2)

photo 2-4

 

Ingredients

  • 1.5 frozen bananas (frozen for at least 5 hours). Peel before freezing, and you may want to cut into smaller pieces (like in the previous recipe
  • ¼ cup almond milk (I used an unsweetened vanilla variety)
  • a handful of raw, unsalted cashews
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ cup coconut flakes

Directions

  • Place cut frozen bananas in a blender, add ¼ cup almond milk, a handful of raw cashews, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, and coconut flakes. Blend on high. If mixture is too liquid-y, use the same method as in the previous recipe, and either freeze for a few minutes, or freeze for an extended period of time in a nonstick bowl and re-blend to get an ice cream consistency.
  • Serve in a glass or bowl and top with additional coconut flakes. Enjoy!

 

Stay cool!

 

-Jess

My Favorite “Energy” Bars

Several varieties of Larabars

Several varieties of Larabars

In a few posts back, I wrote about how I don’t like to depend on pre-packaged foods and how the best diet is one that is based on fresh produce. I’m a big fan of eating whole foods, and I’ve found that I feel better when I don’t eat food that has processed forms of protein (whey protein, soy protein isolate, etc.) especially when it comes to energy bars. Energy bars, or any kind of packaged “bar”-type foods have become increasingly popular in the last decade or so, with good reason. Many of us are so busy that these packaged bars provide a quick solution to hunger. I used to be a huge fan of Luna Bars, but I realized they were so sweet that I was tempted to eat many of them in a sitting (which I often did!). That was a red flag to me, along with the fact that a lot of the ingredients don’t agree with my stomach (more than one Luna Bar in a sitting results in stomach pains for me) and are highly processed.

For the past few years, my go-to “energy” bars have been Larabars. I love these little rectangles of goodness because the ingredients are so simple and healthy. Each bar contains dates, and usually nuts like almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews, etc. Some of the varieties also contain additional dried fruit, like dried blueberries, dried apples, dried cherries, etc. and spices, like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves. A few of the flavors also contain chocolate chips (the ones Larabar uses appear to be vegan). What I love about these bars are that not only are they really simple and healthy, they’re much more satisfying than a processed food bar. The fat content is higher in Larabars (compared to other bars) due to the nuts, which makes it a little more filling and satisfying than a lower-fat bar. These bars are also gluten-free, which makes them appropriate for anyone with Celiac Disease or a gluten intolerance.

Because they are so easy to make, if you wish to make your own version of Larabars, simply use a food processor to blend together dates (pits removed), nuts, and any other dried fruit of your liking. I haven’t yet created my own fruit and nut bar, so if you try this on your own, you might have to experiment with the ratio of fruits:nuts. If you haven’t tried Larabars, they’re available in most health food stores. I usually buy mine at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, or Fairway (a northeast supermarket chain) and you can also order them online. Feel free to share your favorite flavor Larabar by leaving a reply.

 

Note- This post, and any other post based on a particular product, is not a paid endorsement. I truly love Larabars and bought all of the above varieties for $1.49 each.

 

-Jess