Coconut Balls

It seems that you guys joined the BOY as big fans of yesterday’s Indian-Spiced Chicken Burgers

Thanks for all of the comment love! 

Reading your comments is one AWESOME way to end the day!

 

The day started off with a run around the track.  I must admit that there was nothing speedy about today’s workout.  Sore doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel (thanks Jenna!), and I had the most painful cramps that I’ve felt in decades.  Yuck!  Getting to the track was a victory in itself. This morning’s run looked like this…

5 minute warm up

10 minute jog

10 minute faster jog

10 minute back to jog

2 minute cool down

 

I believe that workouts like this are supposed to be a run/fast run combination (in case you are looking to try it out).  I determined my pace by heart rate/feeling and adjusted for the above mentioned fatigue and cramps.  It must have been a worthwhile workout because I was sweating when I was done and 12 hours later, I am even more sore : )

 

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Although I have been really limiting my dairy, I have been wanting to try this new Chobani flavor.  It’s one small serving and topped with KIND granola makes the perfect post run snack. 

 

Speaking of snacks…I have an awesome new no bake energy bar recipe for you!

 

Confession: My first attempt at this recipe came from a cookbook and was a totally disaster!

 

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I don’t blame the cookbook, I blame the super soft apricots that tasted sweet like candy, but just didn’t stand up to the food processor in energy bars.  So I had to trash version one and start from scratch on my own version.

 

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I was inspired by this dried coconut that we picked up at Costco yesterday.  This brand makes the most amazing dried mango EVER, and so the BOY and I were excited to try this stuff too.

 

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For the nuts, I chose a blend of almonds and walnuts because I had both in the house, and because I love the flavor combination that they create with the dates.

 

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You do have to be patient because it takes a few minutes to break everything down and blend it together.

 

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If you are having trouble getting everything to stick together, you can stream in some liquid.  I chose fresh squeezed orange juice, but agave or honey would work too.  The last step is to simply roll the dough into balls and coat them in more coconut.

 

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Please excuse the poor lighting on these pictures.  It was a dark and stormy day!

 

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But don’t let that deter you from making them!  I know that when it comes to coconut, you either love it or hate it.  Well not me!  I used to hate the stuff, but slowly it is growing on me, and these Coconut Balls are soft, chewy, sweet, and delicious!

 

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Do you like coconut?

What is your favorite coconut recipe?

 

 

Coconut Balls

 

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups dried, pitted dates

1/2 cup dried coconut chunks

1 cup almonds

1/2 cup walnuts

1-2 tbsp fresh squeeze orange juice

1/2 cup organic unsweetened shredded coconut

 

Directions

Place dates and coconuts in your food processor and blend until combined.

Add nuts and blend for another few minutes until everything begins to get combined.  Drizzle in 1-2 tbsp of fresh orange juice (or agave and honey) as needed to help everything blend together.

For the dough into balls and roll in shredded coconut.

Store in the fridge to snack on throughout the week!

PB&J Finale Take 2

So this recipe almost didn’t happen.  Which would have been so sad because how can I end Peanut Butter Month without a peanut butter recipe?!

 

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To Start…

I found the perfect 4th recipe for a Vegetarian Peanut Soup.  But after looking through our meal plans for the week, I just didn’t think we needed another meal.  Not that I won’t be making this recipe soon, it just will have to wait until next month.  I knew that I didn’t want to make another super sweet dessert.  Since Thanksgiving, we’ve had more than enough sweets in the house, and I knew we didn’t need another one.  In the spirit of healthy holiday eating, I was inspired by this recipe on Nutrionella to make a peanut butter themed energy bar (with homemade peanut butter of course).

 

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Take One…

I threw the ingredients into the food processor, pressed start, and an eruption occurred.  The mixture was way to thick and my food processor started dancing like it was standing on coals.  Checking back in with the recipe, it appeared that I used 2x as many nuts as I was supposed to. 

 

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I made a few attempts to make things work, but my processor started to sound like ‘the little engine that could…so sad.  Then, I discovered that I had used dates with pits.  Yikes! Note to self (and fellow bloggers)…never put dates with pits in your food processor.  Nothing good will come of it!

 

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I pulled everything out and started looking through the mush…there were definitely pits.  What to do???  The answer seemed obvious.  Start over!

 

Take Two…

When you don’t have enough dates left to remake bars you already messed up once, prunes sub in just fine!  I de-pitted my dates, threw in some prunes and ran the food processor.

 

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Once they formed into a big ball, I added the correct amount of nuts.  Much better!  Everything looked fantastic, so I added in a few more peanuts and dried cranberries to drive home that Peanut Butter and Jelly taste.

 

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The last step was easy as I pushed the bars into the pan and sprinkled in a few more cherries.

 

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And of course had a taste test…it was pure PB&J love!  They bars taste just like everyone’s favorite sandwich!

 

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Funny end to Take One…

I de-pitted the original dough, threw it back into the food processor with some extra dried fruit, gave the processor a break by drizzling in some agave and then threw the ball of dough into the bottom of a round tuperware and put it in the fridge before starting dinner.

 

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When the BOY came home, he devoured dinner and went in search of dessert.  He asked what the bars were and when I said Peanut Butter and Jelly bars, he dug right in!  Surprisingly, he liked them!  Why is this a surprise, because there is just healthy ingredients like dried fruits and nuts which is not is usually snacking MO.  ‘But there’s Jelly’ he said to me after his first bite.  Not quite BOY, but I won’t tell him if you don’t!

 

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Other Peanut Butter Month Recipes…

Reece’s Brownies with Peanut Butter Frosting

Peanut Butter M&M Blondies

Double Chip Peanut Butter Cookies with Pretzels

 

 

What is the best PB recipe you made/ate this month?

 

The End…

Why the foggy brain and messy kitchen? I blame my relaxing massage earlier in the day.  BTW, if you live in my area, I highly recommend this place.  I had one of the best massages of my life!  My ITband has never gotten such TLC and I felt so amazing that I slept for nearly 11 hours last night.  I am so refreshed and ready to head into the fun holiday season.

 

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The Recipe…

 

PB&J Energy Bars

Inspired by Ella Bars on Nutrionella

 

Ingredients

8 ounces of PITTED dates

1/2 cup peanut butter (I used homemade)

1/4 cup oats

1/4 cup almonds

1/4 cup walnuts or cashews

1/2 + 1/4 cup dried cherries

1/2 cup peanuts

 

Directions

Place dates in food processor and blend until combined.  A big ball will start to form.

Add in the peanut butter, nuts, and oats.  Blend well.

Add in 1/2 cup cherries and peanuts and pulse until coarsely chopped.

Place dough into a baking pan covered with parchment paper and press evenly into the bottom of the pan using your hands.

Sprinkle with the last 1/4 cup of cherries and place in fridge for about 2 hours.

 

Note: You can also shape the dough into balls or cut them with a cookie cutter.  These freeze well!

Fig, Date, Nut Energy Bars

So I can’t believe how much I liked these Date Bars.  They have the perfect texture, and they are sweet and filling.  I have been talking about them non-stop and have shared the recipe with everyone that I know will listen. 

Have you tried them yet?  What do you think?

 

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Well, I was so inspired by these bars that I went out and got more ingredients to make a double batch.  And this time, I added a few things.

 

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Like dried figs!!! 

 

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I may have processed my dried fruit a little too long, and I have to admit that just the dried fruit tasted fantastic all on it’s own.

 

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But even better with the addition of nuts and coconut!!!

 

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With a a drizzle of agave to pull everything together…

 

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These incredible bars are complete and full of protein, healthy fats, and energy.   They come together quickly, which is perfect as the temperatures are back up in the no bake zone!

 

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The bars need about 2 hours in the fridge.  I suggest finding something to do to keep yourself busy because you will want to be sneaking bites.  One suggestion…checking out some of my favorite recipes!

 

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When they are set, these bars have the same great texture of the plain date bars…

 

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But the added fig flavor, which I LOVE!

 

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Can you say…new favorite energy bars?!

 

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I thought that the date bars were good, but this version turned out even better!

 

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I shared a few bars with my coworkers today who were all super impressed and excited to make their own batch!  No joke…you need to try these!  I will definitely be packing up a batch to bring to class starting Thursday.  I know that I will need the energy to make it through the weekend!

 

 

What is your favorite homemade energy snack?

It would be great to get a collection going, so please share your links!

 

 

 

Fig, Date, Nut Energy Bars

Makes 12 bars

 

1 cup dried figs, roughly chopped

1 cup dates, pitted and roughly chopped

1 cup raw cashews

1 cup raw almonds

1/4 cup coconut

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp cinnamon

Agave, maple syrup, or honey (optional)

 

Place the figs and dates in your food processor just until combined.

Add in nuts, coconut, salt, and cinnamon.  Pulse until everything is combined and a sticky dough is created.  If the bars remain dry, then stream in 1-2 tsp of agave, maple syrup, or honey if desired to help the bars stick together.

Remove the dough and press into an 8×8 inch square pan lined with parchment paper.

Refrigerate for ~2 hours until set.  Cut into bars and store in the fridge.  They won’t last long!

 

Note: Get creative with this forgiving recipe.  You can add quinoa, dried fruit, chocolate, flax etc.  If the mixture is try, then add in some oil or syrup to help everything stick together.

 

Also, I haven’t tried it yet, but I have a feeling these bars will freeze well.  Enjoy!

Leftover Goodies

Even with all of my baking this holiday season, I ended up with some leftover goodies.  The BOY, despite claiming to be on a pre-vaca diet, has taken care of the extra M&M’s.  The bigger questions…what to do with loads of nuts and two open containers of Oreos??? 

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Apparently, the BOY opened the regular, didn’t like them, and switched to mint. 

My solutions for the leftovers…

 

Mint Oreo Fudge

Pour 1 package of Nestle Dark Chocolate and Mint chips and 1 can of sweetened condensed milk into a saucepan.  Melt over medium to low heat, stirring often.

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Once smooth, stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla and crushed Oreos (I used a mixture of mint and regular ~20 total).

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Spread mixture onto baking pan sprayed with cooking spray and store in the refrigerator until set, about 1 hour.

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Cut into small squares and serve.  Store in airtight container in fridge.

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Homemade KIND Bars

And for the nuts, I tried out Mama Pea’s Homemade KIND bars from her book.  I had a lot of leftover nuts, including sliced almonds.  I added in a few chopped figs as well because they are so good.

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The bars are easy to make loaded with nuts and dried fruit.

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I was a little nervous about how thin they looked, but baked them anyways.

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The sad thing is that I think I tried to cut them too early (Mama Pea warns against this).

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Instead of a solid bar, I got a mishmash of gooey fruits and nuts.

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I tried to push them back together with no luck, but ended up with a container of KIND bar chunks.

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Just as tasty, but harder to control your portions.

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With fewer ingredients crowding my counters, I am hoping to continue moving along on my kitchen clean up this week.

I still have some more almonds, pistachios, peanuts, and pecans left. 

 

Any suggestions on what to do with them???

Almond Butter Love

Are you loving Almond Butter?

Are you making AB & J sandwiches?  Or AB & B (banana) sandwiches?

If not, you are missing out!

I tend to be the ‘grind your own AB’ person at Whole Foods, but I know many companies also sell it jarred.  If you haven’t tried it yet…buy some today!

I attempted one time to make my own Maple Cinnamon Almond Butter and it was AMAZING!  Some of the best I’ve ever tasted.  So when I had some left over raw almonds, I knew I wanted to turn them into another fun almond butter.  This time, I went for the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Almond Butter from The Edible Perspectives.

Want to make your own almond butter?  It is super easy…just pour yourself a glass of wine and let your food processor do the work!

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I used ~2 cups of toasted almonds in the processor and got this basic almond butter.

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This tastes fabulous on its own, but even better with some extras.  I added the sugar, salt, vanilla, and almond extract.  I didn’t add oil for this smooth consistency, but I had some safflower oil on hand in case I needed it.

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The author mentioned that adding chocolate chips immediately would cause the chips to melt…which got me thinking…chocolate almond butter…yum! 

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I pulled out a few spoonfuls of AB and added some dark chocolate chips. They melted quickly creating the most amazing dark chocolate almond butter EVER!!!

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I put the remaining mixture in the fridge for ~30 minutes before stirring in some mini chocolate chips.  I was happy to find a leftover jar from my Door County goodies.  I don’t know how all of these bloggers get these beautiful looking AB pictures.  This stuff is sticky and tough to fit into a jar.

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But it tastes GREAT!!!

The AB is not too sweet and goes well with toast, bananas, graham crackers, oats and whatever else you can think of!

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My jar of homemade almond butter (and the dark chocolate AB that didn’t last long before it was eaten) found a home in the pantry with some of my other nut butters.

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With both of these tasty new flavors, what’s not to love???

All in a Day’s Work (Without going to work)

I have gotten so much done today…it feels amazing!  The upstairs is looking so much better and the second bedroom will be ready for company tomorrow night.  Look who even helped out with the dishes.

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I am waiting for the BOY to come home from work to eat dinner.  I made a hodgepodge dinner with my remaining spinach, Chard, and bok choy…along with whole grain couscous and grilled chicken. Quite the combination!

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Meanwhile, I have spent my post-cleaning time in the kitchen.  Remember the yellow cake with chocolate chips the BOY requested for this weekend.  Well, I frosted the cake AND added sprinkles…because really, what is a cake without sprinkles???

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Initially, I had trouble finding the frosting in the pantry, which is where I KNOW that I put it.  I found it hiding out behind my canned pumpkin in the fridge with a few scoops missing.  This is what happens…when I am away for one night…the BOY eats frosting for dinner?!

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My cake turned out cute…beautiful frosting has never really been my strength, but I am sure it will taste great!  It was tempting to try some frosting, but because of the HFCS I decided against it.  See my June Eat Clean Pledge HERE.  I didn’t even lick off my very frosted fingers.

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I also made my first ever batch of homemade almond butter.  I found Ashley’s recipe for Maple Roasted Cinnamon Almond Butter on her blog Edible Perspectives months ago.  Apparently she has updated it since then because my version was slightly different.  I love grinding my own almonds at the WF and knew I had to try it at home.

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My mom supplied the almonds.  I doubled the recipe and began with 2 cups.  I added 3 T maple syrup and baked for 15 minutes, stirring often as recommended.

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I let the almonds cool for 10 minutes before adding them to the food processor.  I can not tell you how loud the noise was initially.  I see now that Ashley recommends only cooling for 5 minutes.

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I poured myself a glass of wine and waited patiently!  Check out my new wine glass.  I stole borrowed it from the Flying Saucer in Memphis to help me with portion control.

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I stirred occasionally and watched the butter become smoother. After 10 minutes, I added a dash of kosher salt, cinnamon and  more syrup.  5 more minutes in the food processor and then I streamed in Safflower oil (that’s what I had in the kitchen) to make a smooth butter.

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All I can say is OMG!!!  This almond butter (which is still warm from the food processor) is absolutely positively UNBELIEVEABLE!  You have to try this!  I have been licking the spatula, bowl, and blade all evening.

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After a busy and productive day, the BOY surprised me with flowers.  They’re from Honduras!  He has a client who brings them to the office and then I benefit when he brings them home.

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Although we don’t often keep flowers around for this reason…

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Luckily, they are hiding safely now!  Well, it’s been a busy day and I am heading off to bed!  Good Night!

A Busy Monday Morning

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I can’t believe that yesterday we were outside at the White Sox game and this morning I woke up to this…YUCK!

 

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I thought it was supposed to be spring time!  I was up early this morning and headed straight into the kitchen.  I enjoyed a bowl of overnight oats (made with chopped apple) and an Awake Tea.

 

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I quickly got started on my Passover ‘baking’.  Last year was the first year that I attempted to make some Kosher for Passover goodies that didn’t come out of a box.  It was a challenge baking without flour, yeast, etc, but I found some new recipes to add to my book.  This year, I searched for even more recipes.  Since I was in charge of dessert for tonight’s seder at my parents, I had a lot of kitchen time ahead of me.  I started the simplest recipe, a Date and Almond Truffle that I found in Cooking Light.

 

I bought dates and blanched slivered almonds from the bulk bins at Whole Foods.  I put all the ingredients in my 7 cup food processor and pulsed for about 30 seconds.

 

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I scrapped the sides and pulsed for another minute before everything started to mix well and form a thicker mixture.

 

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I formed the dough into balls and rolled them into the coconut.  I decided to try toast my coconut, but left it in for too long.  The color was a little darker, but it still tasted good.  As someone who doesn’t love coconut, I was surprised at how good it tasted…it reminded me of Samoa girl scout cookies.  Yum!  These are so good that I will definitely make them again!  And I won’t be waiting until next Passover.

 

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I finished my first of many desserts and I am off to the gym.  With two weeks before my cruise, I have a session scheduled with my trainer (she’ll be happy that I have some homemade treats to share).  Then it is back to the kitchen for some Fudge Cake and Macaroon Fruit Compote. 

 

Stay tuned for more Passover recipes to come…