No-Bake Muesli Energy Bars with Almond Butter

no bake granola bars with pumpkin seeds

It’s a gorgeous day here – blue skies, breezy, warm but not hot, and no humidity. I’ve gone for a bike ride, bought strawberries at the farmers market, picked up my books from the library, walked about, and now I’m blogging and eating maca chocolate. In other words, utter perfection. Let all summer days be like this, says I!

I’m almost finished my program at the Canadian School for Natural Nutrition, and admittedly that’s why you haven’t seen many blog posts in recent months. But this beautiful day just sang to me and said, Emily, steal away a few moments and write something on the blog. So here I am.no bake granola bars with pumpkin seeds 3

This part of July is where summer really kicks into a higher gear. The farmers’ market is starting to show its colours – spring rhubarb is still available, but the strawberries are there, and soon I’ll see peaches, tomatoes, corn, and zucchinis overflowing on the tables. My own little farm here (I use the term ‘farm’ extremely loosely) has thus far produced 2 blueberries, 4 raspberries, and some purple podded peas. A tiny harvest, but a satisfying one. I can see the raspberries slowly turning from that light pinkish colour to the deeper red, so soon I’ll return to that glorious time when there are raspberries to eat every day when I come home from work.

It’s a nice time to be alive, isn’t it?

no bake granola bars with pumpkin seeds 2

To keep your energy up through the biking, walking, jam-making, hammock-reading, blueberry-picking, running, mowing, weeding, harvesting, swimming, kombucha-drinking, or whatever you have on the go this summer, whip up some of these energy bars (finally, I’m getting to the recipe!). They’re simple, offer protein, fibre, and healthy fat, and you can make them either as energy balls/bites or just press them into the pan and make granola bars. They’re best right from the fridge (structural integrity relies on the coldness of the coconut oil), but if you don’t mind eating them more as a melted crumble, tote them to the beach! Why not?

And of course, they require no oven, so the only breeze and warmth you feel will be that of the summer sun, wafting through your open windows.

Happy July!

No-Bake Muesli Energy Bites with Almond Butter

Recipe Notes: option for gluten-free (use gluten-free oats), option for plant-based (maple syrup instead of honey), dairy-free, egg-free, wheat-free

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups muesli (basically oats with a bit of dried fruit added – plain rolled oats are fine too)
  • 1/2 shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries or raisins
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons raw honey or maple syrup
  • 1/4 coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt or himalayan pink salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • optional: sprinkle of ground cinnamon

Instructions: 

  1. Whirl the muesli, coconut, seeds of choice, chocolate chips, and dried fruit of choice in your food processor until you’ve turned it into very small bits, or almost flour. The dried fruit will remain in larger pieces – this is totally fine. The chocolate might also stay in bigger chunks – also totally fine, and in fact, quite delicious.
  2. Dump this mix into a large bowl.
  3. In a small sauce pan and over very low heat, gently whisk together almond butter, raw honey, coconut oil, pink salt, and vanilla extract until smooth and a bit pourable.
  4. Pour over the dry mix and stir until all dry parts are well coated and mixture holds its shape when squeezed into a ball.
  5. Roll into balls or press into an 8×8 pan and store in an airtight container in the fridge. For best shape, eat right from the fridge or keep cool.

© Eat Well, Live Vibrantly


Clean, 6 Ingredient, Melt-In-Your-Mouth Mint Smoothies

clean mint smoothiesMy first idea was to call this Clean Eating Peppermint Cocoa Butter Fudge. It’s a very accurate name but it doesn’t really trip off the tongue. Then I remembered at the market there is this chocolatier that sells these wonderful chocolate and mint confections called Mint Smoothies. Now me, I enjoy a good mint smoothie every now and again. They contain both chocolate and mint and once you tell me those two key pieces of information, you can stop talking. My decision is already made.

So I thought, I should call them Mint Smoothies instead. But as I’m terrible with short titles for things and always want to include more descriptive words and then even more descriptive words, the title came out to be long and convoluted anyways.

clean mint smoothies

I just reallllly wanted to make it clear that these mint bites of deliciousness are made with clean, healthy ingredients. No refined sugar, questionable hydrogenated fats, or mint flavouring that doesn’t even really contain mint but may or may not contain ethanol. You can make these chocolates with just a few basic ingredients: coconut oil, cocoa butter, coconut milk, raw honey, cocoa powder, and mint oil.

And, if have any cutesy little muffin tin or silicone cups, now is the time to use them. My sense is that silicone would best, because these mint smoothies are fudgey and they might stick to the lining of your muffin tin – unless you use paper liners, of course. The only problem with paper liners is that after you consume your mint smoothies, you have a whackload of paper liners to throw out and you might not feel good about that.

Point being, mold these chocolates in something that’s easy for you to clean. A big square pan might also do the trick. Then you could actually cut these into squares and make them even MORE like the mint smoothies purchasable from your chocolate store of choice.

Stay minty!

clean mint smoothies

Clean, 6 Ingredient, Melt-in-your-Mouth Mint Smoothies

  • Author: Backyard Owl (but inspired very much by this recipe for Peppermint Fudge from Dr. Josh Axe)
  • Recipe notes: gluten-free, soy-free, naturally-sweetened, nut-free. Make this vegan by substituting maple syrup for the honey.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup cocoa butter (or your closest estimate)
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk or creamy unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • 2 teaspoons organic peppermint flavouring
  • 1/3 cup cocoa or raw cacao powder

Instructions:

  1. Over a double boiler (water simmering in a saucepan with a heat-proof bowl on top), melt the coconut oil, cocoa butter, and raw honey.
  2. Once melted, stir in the coconut or non-dairy milk and whisk well to incorporate.
  3. Once fully mixed, add the peppermint flavouring and the cocoa powder and again, whisk that mix up until it becomes fully blended, smooth, and shiny or glossy looking.
  4. Pour into your prepared muffin tins with liners or silicone pan or whavever you want to use and let cool.
  5. Once cool, transfer your smoothies (still in the pan) to the fridge or freezer. The smoothies are ready after about 1-2 hours.
  6. Store them in the freezer for firmer smoothies, or in the fridge for more fudgy ones.

© Eat Well, Live Vibrantly


Raw Macaroon Brownies with Dark Chocolate Ganache

raw macaroon brownies with dark chocolate ganache It’s Valentine’s Day weekend! Or wait, is it wrong to refer to an entire weekend by the holiday that only takes up one of its days? Probably. But, bear with me. Commercial though it may now be, Valentine’s Day is also an opportunity to celebrate the people that you love. At my office, we did a “Secret Cupid” card exchange, so that everyone got a special surprise card. I also made heart-shaped sugar cookies.

Today, you could do something special for a loved one: a massage, a friendly note, a bar of chocolate, a favour or some act of service. If you have pets, perhaps an extra special walk, or, a little bit of additional quality time. Or, a heart shaped toy stuffed with catnip (I swear to you, my cat just managed to type that with his paws. He is clever like that).

raw macaroon brownies with dark chocolate ganache Or you could scrap all of that and just make raw brownies. I mean, yes, you could also make regular brownies. But aren’t raw brownies so much more interesting? So much healtihier? So much more du jour? Yes, of course they are. They are another example of the fun and actually kind of endless number of things you can make by grinding up nuts and dates and then squishing them into a pan. So fiendishly clever!

These brownies are a combination of pecans, almonds, dates, cocoa powder, shredded coconut, coconut oil (are you sensing a theme?), a little plant-based protein powder, and sea salt. Simple! And, they contain magnesium, and protein, and fibre, and medium chain triglycerides, and the whole healthy schmozzle (at least when compared to traditional brownies, which contain refined sugar, and bleached flour, and a bunch of other ack-worthy ingredients). The brownie base is then covered with a luxurious chocolate ganache, made with melted dark chocolate and rich coconut milk. It’s kind of my new favourite thing.

So, Happy Valentine’s Day to you all! I hope you feel loving and well-loved. Today is a wonderful day to celebrate love in all of its forms.

raw macaroon brownies with dark chocolate ganache

Raw Macaroon Brownies with Dark Chocolate Ganache

  • Author: Backyard Owl
  • Recipe Notes: dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, soy-free

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds (or raw almond flour)
  • 1 cup medjool dates (about 10-12 large dates)
  • 1/3 cup cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 2 tablespoons of your favourite plant-based protein powder
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, soft or melted
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • Optional: 2 teaspoons maca powder
GANACHE FROSTING
  • 1/2 cup full-fat organic coconut milk (from the can)
  • 2/3 cup (or so) dairy-free dark chocolate, chopped (it isn’t necessary that this be exact)

Instructions:

  1. In a food processor, grind pecans into a fine meal (and almonds, if grinding whole almonds – otherwise, stir in ground almonds in step 3).
  2. Add dates, and process until the dates are small pieces and the whole mix looks moist.
  3. Scrape into a large mixing bowl and add in ground almonds (if not already done in step 1).
  4. Stir in cocoa powder, sea salt, maca powder (if using), protein powder, and shredded coconut.
  5. Pour in coconut oil and mix well. This is really best done with your hands – squishing the dough until it comes together in a moist ball.
  6. Press the dough into your preferred brownie pan or tray.
  7. FOR THE ICING: over a double boiler (heat-proof bowl sitting atop a saucepan with boiling water), melt chocolate. When fully melted, whisk in coconut milk and keep whisking until the resulting mix is smooth, glossy, and totally chocolatey
  8. Pour/smooth on your brownie base and store in the fridge until firm and ready to slice.

Enjoy!

© Backyard Owl 2016


Love Your Heart: Easy No-Bake Energy Bites with Chia, Dark Chocolate, and Coconut Oil – v, gf

chia energy bites with coconut oilAh, the delicious and nutritious “energy bite”: a bunch of nuts, grains, healthy fats, and super foods smushed up together and rolled into a ball for snackable ease and delight. Throw in some dark chocolate chips (I always do) and you have yourself something magical.

Energy bites are very hot these days. Google “energy bites” (or “energy balls,” if you can can make it past the inevitable snicker) and you’ll find hundreds of different varieties: carrot, blueberry and lemon, coconut, coffee, pecan, hemp, oatmeal raisin, and so on.

My recipe is quite simple and packed with nuts for protein, coconut oil for healthy saturated fats, chia seeds for calcium, fibre, omega 3s, and more protein, and of course dark chocolate for general awesomeness (plus iron and antioxidants).

chia energy bites with coconut oil and dark chocolateI’ve tried making my own cookie dough protein bars before, and damn, they were delicious. These chia energy bites are kind of a mashup of that cookie dough protein bar recipe with some tweaks – namely, the addition of ground chia seeds.

The chia seed has rather a fascinating history. Back in the day, chia was one of the Aztecs’ most important crops. They used chia for its slow-release and sustained energy, and cultivated it for its many food and healing properties.

Nowawadays, we know that chia has a whole host of benefits including:

  • high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids
  • source of complete protein
  • impressive amounts of key vitamins and minerals, including calcium, zinc, iron, selenium, manganese, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, folate, and niacin
  • phytonutrients and antioxidants
  • fibre
  • no gluten/few allergens

If you find this interesting, consider perusing the book Chia: The Complete Guide to the Ultimate Superfood by Wayne Coates. Yes, it’s an entire book devoted to the chia seed, but, when you see the benefits below, suddenly this doesn’t seem so odd.

chia energy bites.3

In his book, Dr. Coates suggests that chia is beneficial for:

  • weight loss
  • energy and endurance
  • digestive health
  • lowering cholesterol
  • fighting inflammation
  • supporting your immune system, nervous system, & mental health
  • improving your skin

That’s not bad for one little seed.

So what’s your next step? Eat more chia.

Is it that simple? Yes.

Start with these chia energy bites and you’ll be on your way.

Easy No-Bake Energy Bites with Chia, Dark Chocolate, & Coconut Oil 

  • Author: Backyard Owl
  • Recipes Notes: vegan, gluten-free (if using certified gluten-free oats), soy-free, naturally-sweetened, source of protein, fibre, and healthy fats

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons nut butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 8 medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 3/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup ground chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
  • pinch of sea salt or Himalayan pink salt

Instructions:

  1. Under a broiler, lightly toast coconut, watching closely to make sure it doesn’t burn (because it will, in like, 2 minutes. Just saying).
  2. In a food processor, whir together oats, cashews, and coconut until finely ground. Add dates and process until a moist paste forms.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together peanut butter, melted coconut oil, and espresso powder, if using.
  4. Add ground oat mix, and stir until fully combined.
  5. Stir in sea salt, chia seeds, and dark chocolate chips.
  6. With your hands, really smash the dough together. Then, form into 1 inch round balls.
  7. Store in the fridge but eat at room temperature.

Recommended Reading: Chia: The Complete Guide to the Ultimate Superfood by Wayne Coates.

© Backyard Owl


No-Bake Seedy Granola Bars with Brown Rice Syrup and Almond Butter (v, gf)

no bake seedy granola bars with pumpkin seeds, raisins, and dark chocolateI’ve talked about granola bars before on the blog – my Twice Baked Oat and Raisin Granola Bars with Dark Chocolate – so perhaps it will come as a surprise that I’ve venturing into granola bar territory again. Why this enduring granola bar fascination?

Well, to my mind, the granola bar is among the ultimate in portable snacks.

Portable, customizable snacks.

Portable, customizable, healthy snacks.

Okay, last one: portable, customizable, healthy, and easy to make snacks. To wit:

no bake seedy granola bars with pumpkin seeds, raisins, and dark chocolate.2Portable: in a bag, in brown paper, in tupperware, or in any other snack conveyance, granola bars can go with you on any adventure you desire. They work as a post-gym snack, a travel snack, a just-in-case snack, a work snack, a quick lunch with some fruit or a green smoothie, and so on.

Customizable: I see every recipe as a template, just waiting to be tailored to individual taste preferences. So below, where I suggest pumpkin seeds, use walnuts, if you prefer. Or double the fruit and leave out the seeds. Or, if you don’t like chocolate in your recipes (gasp!), substitute more nuts or seeds, or more dried fruit. Go modification crazy! Just try to avoid radically changing the total quantity of stuff that needs to be coated with the brown rice syrup/almond butter caramel. That’s where you’ll run into trouble.

no bake seedy granola bars with pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate and raisinsHealthy: healthy options come in a variety of forms. Sometimes an apple is best, or a green smoothie; other times, you need something with a bit of protein, some complex carbs, and some tasty dark chocolate. So that’s what I mean about granola bars being healthy – they contain complex carbs, and some healthy fats, protein, and fibre, and those are the keys to making a snack that will power you through.

These particular bars also use golden, caramelly brown rice syrup, which is one of the few sweeteners that I can trust to keep my blood sugar level – no spikes, no drops. They are also full of: pumpkin seeds (zinc), sesame seeds (calcium), raisins (antioxidants), and shredded coconut (healthy medium chain fatty acids). It’s all so good!

Easy to Make: the whole point of the homemade granola bar is that you throw a bunch of stuff in a bowl, stir it around, squish it in a pan, and then either bake it or call it a day. I’m not sure what could be easier than that except, of course, the aforementioned piece of fresh fruit.

So let’s get to the recipe!

Let's also pay homage for a moment to brown rice syrup. Caramelly and not-to-sweet, brown rice syrup is one of the few sweeteners out there that I can count on to keep my blood sugar level - no spikes, no drops.  And don't be worried by the quantity of almond butter. I know, one cup is a lot. But this recipe makes serious granola bars, of which only a small amount is required for snacking sustenance

No-Bake Seedy Granola Bars with Brown Rice Syrup and Almond Butter

  • Author: Backyard Owl
  • Recipe Notes: vegan, gluten-free, naturally-sweetened, soy-free, nut-free option

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown rice syrup
  • 1 cup almond butter (the more liquidy, the better; also note you can use any nut/seed butter)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon pink salt
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 3 cups puffed quinoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup unsweetened SHREDDED COCONUT
  • 1/2 cup SESAME SEEDS
  • 1/4 cup PUMPKIN SEEDS
  • 1/2 cup RAISINS
  • 3/4 cup CHOCOLATE CHIPS (vegan dark chocolate chips)

Instructions:

  1. Lightly grease a 9×13 glass pan with coconut oil.
  2. Measure together brown rice syrup, almond butter, pink salt, and vanilla, and warm gently in a pan over low heat, just until a bit more pourable.
  3. In a (very!) large bowl, stir together oats, puffed quinoa, cinnamon, coconut, seeds, fruit, and dark chocolate chips.
  4. Pour almond butter caramel over oat/seed/fruit mix and stir well, until everything is coated with the brown rice syrup/nut butter mix. You might need to use hands for this, friends. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.
  5. Scoop the mixture into the greased 9×13 pan.
  6. Press the mix firmly (as firmly as you can) into the pan. Cut into bars now or as you go. Keep in the fridge, but serve at room temperature.

© 2014 Backyard Owl