Breakfast Power Protein Bars

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Last winter around this time I was nursing an infant, and therefore, sleeping sporadically through the night.  Isabelle was waking up multiple times throughout the night, Jack was up once or twice a night to use the potty… and when they had both started sleeping a little more soundly – my husband got pneumonia (and tore his Achilles), the kids were both on antibiotics for their own never-ending colds, and I was plain old exhausted.  Exhausted.  The sleep deprivation combined with a bit of stress made we want to snack at all hours of the day and night. Can someone say, “comfort food”?!

I reached a breaking point where I just couldn’t keep eating chocolate at all hours.  Don’t get me wrong, I could eat chocolate at every meal – but it was getting too much.   And while I love snacking on nuts, it just wasn’t satisfying enough during this time in my life.  I needed something that was both satisfying and filling.  Therefore, when I saw this recipe in Gwyneth Paltrow’s book It’s All Good, I knew I had to try them.  They turned out to be amazing during those months!  Even now, I’ve been making these pretty regularly.  We keep them in the fridge for up to 10 days, although they typically get eaten long before 10 days have passed!  They’re perfect for a mid morning snack, an on-the-go lunch, or something to nibble at until dinner is ready.  Plus, my husband and kids love them too!!  Okay, maybe Jack doesn’t like them that much (my sweet little picky eater) – but Isabelle rips them out of my hands!

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INGREDIENTS:

Not going to lie, I had to go to the store and especially buy some of this stuff. But it was SO. WORTH. IT! Seriously, coconut flour?? Shredded coconuts?? Almond extract (which I now loooove)

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews
  • 1 1/2 cups dates (take out the pit and give them a rough chop)
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (the recipe actually calls for almond butter, but I’ve never made them with almond butter. PB all the way!)
  • 1/2 cup high quality maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate (66%)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a food processor, grind the cashews until they look like sand.  Add the dates, peanut butter, maple syrup, coconut flour, shredded coconut, and almond extract.  Pulse it until you have a sticky ball of dough.  Similar to the picture below.
  2. Line an 8×8 inch baking dish with parchment paper.  Press the “dough mixture”into the dish.  Once all spread out, it should be about an inch thick.  The dough mixture will be very sticky, so it often helps to put a little water on your hands to help spread it out into the pan.  Refrigerate for at least 6 hours, until firm.
  3. Once 6 hours have passed, and you’re about ready to make the chocolate mixture take out your double boiler.  If you don’t have a double boiler, put a little water in a pot and place a heat proof bowl on top of it.  Bring the water to a simmer, and add the chocolate and coconut oil.  Stir until the chocolate has almost entirely melted and remove from heat.  Take the dish out of the refrigerator and pour the melted chocolate mixture all over the cold dough.  Place the dish back into the refrigerator 1-2 hours until it’s set.
  4. Use the parchment paper to lift the entire bar out of the dish.  Cut the bar into rectangles.  Sometimes, if I have enough time (ahem, nap times), I tie the bars up individually in parchment paper.  Lastly, put them in a ziplock or airtight container and store in the fridge.

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I took this picture after letting it sit in the fridge for about 2 hours.

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Cheers!

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(Almost) Guilt Free Oatmeal Pancakes

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We love pancakes over here.  Sometimes for breakfast, often for dinner, and maybe lunch too.  Made from scratch or out of a box or bag – they’re practically foolproof.  Especially with a thick(ish) slab of butter and a drizzle of warm maple syrup, who can resist? I definitely can’t, yet I always have a tinge of regret because pancakes have SUGAR, which isn’t something I always want to have at breakfast or dinner.  These pancakes are amazing because they only have 1 tablespoon of sugar and oatmeal! I don’t feel guilty eating them or serving them to my family – everybody wins!  Make them this weekend, and you won’t regret it either 🙂

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Recipe adapted from pancakes, crepes, waffles & french toast by Hannah Miles

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup oats + a small sprinkle of sugar if desired
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (almond or 2% are what I’ve used and work fine)
  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. First, you must make the oat mixture.  Put the oats (with a super light dusting of sugar – about a quarter tablespoon, if desired) on a pan over medium heat to toast the oats.  About 3 minutes, and remove from heat.  Allow to cool and put the oats in one cup of milk.  Allow the oats to soak 20 minutes.
  2. To make the batter, put the flour, baking powder, egg, salt, sugar, and milk-soaked oats mixture in a large mixing bowl and whisk until combined.
  3. Add the melted butter, and whisk until fully mixed.
  4. Slowly whisk the remaining half cup of milk, making sure the batter does not become too thin.  If the batter does get too thin, simply stop adding milk.
  5. To cook the pancakes, put a little butter on a large pan over medium heat so that it lightly coats the pan.  Then pour about a quarter to a third cup of batter for each pancake.  Cook until the underside of the pancake is golden brown and some bubbles start to form on the top – about 3 minutes.  Flip with a spatula until the other side cooks – another 3 minutes.   Keep an eye on them!

We don’t have a warmer drawer, so I put the oven at 200 degrees and stack the pancakes in there to keep warm until they’re all done and ready to serve!

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I love adding fresh berries – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries to my pancakes. Its a fresh and delicious way to add extra fiber and a little sweetness 😉

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cheers!

 

Rice Krispie Heart Treats (for Valentines Day)

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Guess what? I had never made rice krispie treats before.  Lame, right? They’re so easy and a huge crowd pleaser.  I’ve been considering signing up my oldest for soccer, and can’t help but reminisce about my own soccer days.  Soccer was always so much fun: practice during the week, games on the weekends, sometimes weekend long tournaments.  I looooved soccer weekends! After games, the mom’s rotated bringing snacks and we’d always have orange slices, capri suns or gatorade, and so often  we’d have RICE KRISPIE TREATS! These were always the best – and I’m not talking the store bought kind.  I’m talking the mom melted the marshmallows and added the rice krispies, cut them out into little squares – real, homemade rice krispie treats.  Does anyone else remember this?!

With three out of four kids in soccer at the same time, my mom would make these so often during soccer season.  As I stood over the stove with my little ones watching the marshmallows slowly melt and taking in that sweet sticky smell, I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic for those old days.

However, these rice krispie treats took a different turn as we used a heart cookie cutter to punch out hearts – for valentine’s day, of course. You welcome :

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 10oz bag of marshmallows
  • 6 cups of Rice Krispies
  • 8 oz white chocolate
  • your choice of sprinkles!

INSTRUCTIONS

Rice Krispie Treats:

  1. In a pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat.  Add milk and marshmallows. Allow the marshmallows to melt over low heat.  You don’t want the pan to get too hot, because you don’t want burnt marshmallows! Let them melt slow and easy.
  2. While they melt, prepare a 9×13 inch baking dish with parchment paper along the bottom.
  3. Once the marshmallows are melted, remove from heat and mix in the rice krispies.
  4. Pour the marshmallow/rice krispie mix into the prepared baking dish and spread out in an even layer.
  5. Put them into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to cool and set.
  6. Use a cookie cutter to cut out “hearts” from the rice krispie treats – much like you would do when making sugar cookies!

Chocolate “Sauce”:

  1. If you don’t have a double boiler, put a little water in a pot and place a heat proof bowl on top of it.  Bring the water to a simmer, and add the white chocolate.  Allow to melt.
  2. Once melted, remove the bowl from the heat.
  3. With the help of a spoon pour white chocolate over the rice krispie treats however you like, and finish off with some sprinkles!

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This little one having her first taste of a rice krispie treat!

Cheers!

My Favorite Healthy (and super easy) 3 Ingredient Green Juice

 

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Happy New Year! Is anyone else super excited for a clean slate!? I can’t quite remember the last time I was so happy for a New Year.  At the end of 2016, I was so ready for the New Year, that I overindulged like mad.

I’ll try and justify myself by telling you that for a big part of the holiday we were all fighting some cold or other so we stayed inside a lot and ate, slept, ate more, watched movies, and did a lot of reading.  Honestly, it was actually quite nice to fully enjoy cookies, cakes, spaghetti, steak, lasagna, an endless flow of chocolates, bacon, sausage and eggs. Of course, the only downside is that I’ve now begun 2017 with a few extra pounds, which don’t feel so good!!

In an attempt to counteract these extra pounds, I’ve been juicing a bit. Last year I did not use our juicer at all, not once! However, after pulling it out of the garage and putting it back on the kitchen counter, I realize that I forgot how much I like having fresh, alkalizing, and nutritious green juice to get my digestion, mind, and body to feel alive and alert again.  Moreover, I love how drinking 100% makes me crave more fruits and vegetables in my diet.  Also, the broccoli, apple, lemon combination does wonders for your immunity from to all the vitamin C they provide! Cheers to 2017 and more fresh fruits and veggies! Oh, and maybe a trip to New England, I lived in Boston years ago and haven’t been back in 5 years… 😉

INGREDIENTS:

4 heaping cups of broccoli (stem included)

1 1/2 – 2 green apples

1 lemon

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Put all the ingredients through the juicer, stir, and enjoy!

*Makes about a cup and a half.

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Cheers!

Homemade Holiday Hot Chocolate

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“Mommy, are we going to have hot chocolate on Christmas Eve?” – my four year old has been asking all week.  At first I curiously would ask him “Christmas Eve?” wondering where he ever got the idea of hot chocolate on Christmas Eve.  But, I like it.  I love it, actually.  I told him: “Yes! Of course, hot chocolate on Christmas Eve sounds like a great idea.”  So here we are, perfecting our hot chocolate for Christmas Eve…

When I was little, we would often visit family in Argentina and it always blew my mind when I’d order hot chocolate at a restaurant or cafe and the waiter would serve me a tall glass with hot milk on tea plate, with a wrapped chocolate bar, and usually a teeny tiny sugar cookie. I would marvel with delight at that little chocolate bar, and unwrap it to dunk into the milk and stir until a perfectly smooth, delicious, chocolatey milk  formed.  It was the coolest thing to my little girl self, and a treat I only got in Argentina.  They call it “un submarino” in case you ever find yourself in Argentina craving hot chocolate, and want to order one 🙂

When Jack asked for hot chocolate earlier this week, I couldn’t help but think of those times in Argentina, ordering a true hot chocolate – made of real chocolate and milk, not Nesquik or Swiss Miss sugar laden stuff. Not that there’s anything wrong with Nesquik, I have a huge tub of it in our pantry! But, sometimes, if you have an extra 10 minutes it’s nice to make the real thing.  This is my Argentine inspired holiday hot chocolate: img_1710

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INGREDIENTS:

Whipped Cream

  1. 16 oz heavy whipping cream
  2. 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Hot Chocolate

  1. 5  oz 66% chocolate (depending on how rich you want your hot chocolate) + extra for garnish
  2. 4 cups (1 quart) of 2% milk
  3. 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  4. 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  5. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

  1. First, I like to make the whipped cream. Pour the heavy whipping cream into the mixer with the whisk attachment, add the sugar, and whisk on medium setting.  Keep an eye on it as you don’t want to over whisk your cream!
  2. Next, either use a double boiler or create one buy setting a glass bowl over a pot filled with simmering water. Add the chocolate and let heat until melted.  Be sure to stir the chocolate as it begins to melt, and take off the heat once melted, so as not to burn the chocolate.
  3. In a saucepan, over medium heat, pour the milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla extract.  Once heated to desired temperature (I like mine pretty hot, but the kids like their’s warm) add the melted chocolate and whisk whisk whisk until a smooth, creamy, hot chocolate forms!
  4. Divide into mugs, add cream, and garnish with chocolate shavings if you like 🙂

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cheers!

The Only Cookie Recipe You Need this Holiday Season

img_1102These Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Spice Cookies were love at first sight! I first fell in love with them when I saw them on Displaced Housewife’s Instagram post, before I even saw the recipe or tasted them.  She created these cookies, and they are incredible.  They could be one of my most favorite cookie I’ve ever made to date.  Yeah, they’re that good.  I’ve given them to family, neighbors, friends, more family, people on the airplane.  My kids have devoured them – I almost let them eat them for breakfast.  ALMOST.  I figured they had pumpkin in them, but then I came to my senses and peeled them a banana.

I have this thing with pumpkin.  I love everything pumpkin EXCEPT Pumpkin Pie.  It’s just a too much pumpkin, not enough spice, not enough dough, weird textured pie.  I’ll reluctantly eat it smothered with ice cream and drenched with whipped cream, but that doesn’t count, does it?   Alas, maybe next year I’ll figure out a Pumpkin Pie recipe I can eat like a normal person, with a little dollop of whipped cream and nothing else.  I suppose it bothers me that I don’t like pumpkin pie because I like pumpkin everything (else) pumpkin: pumpkin bread, pumpkin gelato, pumpkin scones, pumpkin cookies… and hope you enjoy these pumpkin cookies like I have!

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I’ve made these cookies using both sunflower oil, as the recipe calls for, and grape seed oil and they were equally good.  I could not taste a difference.

I also made them with semi sweet chocolate chips and milk chocolate chips and I think the pumpkin tastes much better with the semi sweet chocolate chips – but you decide

Cheers!

And a Good October it Was!

img_2743So long, October! That was fast. Pumpkin patch, train rides, Halloween decorating, pumpkin scones, sweater weather – and flip flop weather, who am I kidding? This is California after all!

In the midst of all this Halloween/October excitement, we celebrated two kiddos turning 4 and 1 a couple of weekends ago.  It’s hard to believe, yet true. It makes me want to stop and reflect on the beauty of this life we’re given. I hope that like children, we always find joy in all things, love deeply, and continue to develop, grow and learn about ourselves and this enormously small world. Stay curious, and courageous.

Speaking of birthdays, we also celebrated my “little” sister’s birthday this past weekend.  By little, I mean, she’s like, oh, say: 5’10 and a cool college kid!  Not your typical “little”. We had a blast driving our whole family in a rental van up to Napa for some wine tasting, lunch, and general day trip.  V. Sattui has a great area with picnic tables and a BBQ with ribs and mozzarella tomato paninis that were amazing over a few bottles of their wine! Afterwards, the wine at Turnbull did not disappoint! Either did their gardens, I got so much inspiration for our yard we’ve been landscaping over the last couple of months 🙂

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Both of the kids cakes came from Icing on the Cake – one of my favorite bakeries since I was a kid!
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He did not want to be anything BUT a GARBAGE TRUCK for Halloween!! Hence… we scrambled at the last minute… he LOVED IT!
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RAIN COATS!! Hope we get to wear these a lot this winter 😉

cheers!