Almond Joy Bars

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably chowing down on banana coconut muffins twice a day like they’re going out of style.   I’m guessing you’re in need of a new treat.

You probably want almond meal meets chocolate chips meets toasted coconut.

You probably want something that tastes like a candy bar since us health nuts are all so the candy bar eating type.

Okay, maybe we’re not the candy bar eating type (unless we’re talking peanut M&M’s). We’re the type that take the idea of a candy bar and make it into something socially acceptable for breakfast. Almond Joy oats.  Pay Day oats. Reese’s peanut butter cup baked oatmeal.  Whole wheat Twix muffins.   I rest my case.

Ummmmmm is it Halloween yet?

No, not yet.

Till then, there’s these.

Almond Joy Bars (gluten-free)

-makes 16 small bars, adapted from Daily Garnish’s Morning Mueseli Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1/3 cup almonds, chopped
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut, toasted
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 5 dates, finely chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp canned coconut milk (or regular milk)
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray an 8 x 8 non-stick baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  3. Place coconut on a microwave-safe plate and heat for about 1 minute and 30 seconds (stirring every 30 seconds), until golden.
  4. In a large bowl, combine almond meal, oats, cocoa powder baking soda, salt, cinnamon, almonds, coconut, chocolate chips and dates.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together egg, coconut milk, maple syrup, vanilla and almond extract.
  6. Pour wet mixture into dry and stir to combine.
  7. Press  down mixture very firmly into baking dish so the bars don’t crumble after cooking.  You can line the dish with parchment paper if you have it.
  8. Bake for 12 minutes.  Allow them to cool completely before cutting.

Sweetened with a bit of maple syrup, dates and chocolate chips, these could be breakfast or dessert.  Or both.  Or dinner, because chocolate for dinner is all the noise right now.

My favorite thing about these bars (besides the awesome taste of course) is the soft center, just like the real candy bar version.

In workout news….

I did three rounds of this workout from pinterest with some tricep dips added in.  I definitely broke a sweat even though it was pretty short.  This quickie is great if you’re in one of those “the last thing I want to do is workout” moods but you want something fast and effective.

* * *

3 rounds of:

50 jumping jacks

5 pushups

20 crunches

20 mountain climbers

30 second plank

7 burpees

* * *

Then the roommates and I finished off a row and half of almond joy bars and that was that.

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Banana Coconut Muffins (gluten-free)

Lately when I wake up in the morning for work I’m faced with a serious choice.

Like do I take the time to sit down at the table and eat my eggy oatmeal with hot sauce or use that time to tame my lion’s mane that we call hair?

Do I slap on a band-aid, embrace the blisters and sport the cute cheetah flats?

Do I take the time to dump pumpkin, soymilk, maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg into my not-yet-brewed-coffee when I’m already ten minutes late?

Um… yes to the first, second and third question.

The bottom line is that even if I wake up an hour early, I’m never ready on time. This morning I ate my oatmeal in the car in between red lights.  There may or may not have been Frank’s on the dash.  And my chin.

The bottom line is that if I don’t have mini greek quiches or pumpkin pancakes all cooked and ready to go when I wake up, breakfast is a scramble. And if it’s not eggs, I don’t want to scramble. So here is a mildly fabulous muffin recipe that you and me can grab and go for breakfast.

These muffins are super moist, packed with nutrition, low in added sugar and DELICIOUS.  Each muffin has about 165 calories and nearly 5 grams of protein.  You can get almond meal for $3.99 at Trader Joe’s and you can make oat flour by simply blending oats in the magic bullet or food processor.

Cheers to gluten-free goodness.  And getting to work slightly on time.

Banana Coconut Muffins

-serves 12, adapted from this banana bread

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil (or butter), melted
  • 1 tbsp applesauce
  • 1 cup mashed, overripe bananas
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, toasted
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Topping:

  • 1/2-1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Spray a muffin tin liberally with cooking spray.
  3. Toast coconut by microwaving it on a plate for 1.5 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds to prevent burning.
  4. In a large bowl, stir together maple syrup, eggs, melted coconut oil, banana and vanilla.
  5. Add in dry ingredients (including toasted coconut) and stir until just combined.
  6. Pour batter into muffin tins and top with a sprinkling of brown sugar and coconut.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a fork comes out clean!

Banana and coconut are a seriously underrated combination by the way.

While we’re on the subject of delicious, does anyone remember that one guy from NSYNC that wasn’t really anyone’s favorite?  The one on the left?  The roommates and I are on a quest to find out his name.

Pizza Night

Dinner tonight was courtesy of Dewey’s pizza.  I always loved Dewey’s salad, but I wasn’t always obsessed with the pizza.

Until tonight.

Half buffalo for him and half caprese for me.  The crust had an amazing light fluffiness while maintaining that perfectly crispy bite. I really enjoyed the pizza tonight.

I also got a Greek salad that was waaaay bigger than it looks in the picture.  It was by far the best $7.95 salad I’ve ever laid mouth on.  Complete with cloves of roasted garlic, kalamatas, feta, cucumbers, sun-dried tomatoes and a homemade greek vinaigrette   You know how I feel about Greek food…

I finished off the entree-sized salad along with two pieces of pizza and maybe some chocolate chips and strawberries when I got home.  Maybe.

It doesn’t get much better than whipping out the phone at the dinner table for a blurry iPhone picture, huh?

I came home to find a package I had been anxiously waiting for… the do-it-yourself granola I won from Lauren’s giveaway! I’m super excited out this because it’s the first giveaway I’ve won.  I’m the kind of person that never wins anything. The granola is filled with awesome ingredients like organic oats, almonds and coconut.  All you have to do is add a bit of honey and bake it.  There will be several apple granola crisps in the near future.  Thanks, Lauren!

source

Nice.

Hope you all have a fab weekend!

Pesto Sweet Potato Chickpeatza + Life Before Hummusapien

Today I’d like to tell you a story.

Once upon a time, I ate quite differently than I do now.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a “healthy” eater.  Growing up, we ate dinner as a family of five at a set time and those dinners usually included an entree, salad, some kind of bread and a fruit salad.  I looked forward to eating dinner with my family at night and to this day I think that family meal time is immensely important.

I remember begging my mom to ditch the healthy, seedy all-natural blah blah blah wheat bread she packed my sandwiches on for those soft super-market breads with dough conditioners and high fructose corn syrup.  I asked her to get me the “normal” peanut butter, ya know, the super smooth kind made with partially hydrogenated oil to keep the natural oils from settling at the top.  I didn’t want the kind that was freshly ground at the store and contained only peanuts.  Waaaay too healthy for my 12-year-old taste buds.

I remember telling my mom I wanted a bagel for breakfast and her telling me that there was no nutrition in a bagel.  I sighed, told her I didn’t care, and ate half a bagel with cream cheese.  But she was right.  I really didn’t need to fuel my body with 350 calories of fiber-less white flour.

I always thought my mom raised us with the perfect ideals of “healthiness.”  She bought real food.   Now keep in mind, we ate plenty of cookies, but these cookies didn’t have artificial colors and trans fat.  They had less than 10 ingredients and I could pronounce every one.  It was a cookie made with flour, butter, sugar and baking soda. It was what a cookie should be.

I remember my mom calling Sweet-N-Low “chemicals” because that’s what it was.  I didn’t understand it at the time, but she was just trying to teach me to eat real food.  Looking back on it now, I couldn’t be more thankful.  She didn’t deprive us.  We came home from school greeted at the door with the scent of homemade brownies and chicken paprikash.  We happily ate her delicious food as a family, discussed how our days went, and indulged in a brownie.  She rarely made us anything from a box.  There was never anything fake.  It wasn’t always organic whole wheat and it wasn’t always low-fat, but it was home-cooked with love and real ingredients.  Nothing tastes better than that.

As I grew older, my interest in food and nutrition grew exponentially.  I decided I wanted to study dietetics in school and spend the rest of my life counseling people on embracing a healthy lifestyle.  I still had never tried almond milk, chia seeds, coconut flour and almond butter.  I ate well, but I didn’t go out of my comfort zone.  I put splenda and cream in my coffee.  I had a completely different definition of “healthy.”

Then I went to Israel and met a girl who was vegan.  I was fascinated by her diet and her ridiculous consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.  I was in the holy land surrounded my amazing produce, fresh juice stands at every corner and vegetarian restaurants galore.  I always ate meat growing up and I never considered for a second being a vegetarian. In fact the thought was completely foreign to me.  As a fun little healthy challenge for myself, I decided to try being vegetarian.  I remember reading Skinny Bitch when I was in Hilton Head with my friends and looking up from my book saying confidently, “I mean I understand the point, but I’d still never be a vegetarian.”  Little did I know, that couldn’t have been farther from the truth.

And then something dramatic happened my sophomore year of college. I discovered food blogs that literally changed my life.

Peas and Thank You. Oh She Glows.  Happy Herbivore.  I discovered not only these amazingly inspiring plant-based cooking blogs, but a giant network of people united by a genuine passion for healthy and delicious cuisine.  I had never been so inspired by anything in my entire life.  I woke up every morning looking forward to reading five different blogs.  I know for a fact that I would have never been able to learn about the incredible versatility of food if I hadn’t discovered these blogs.  I had never cooked tofu in my entire life.  It was a mushy, weird white thing that my dad ordered at Chinese restaurants.  Then before I even knew it, I was eating tofu twice a week and it was beyond delicious. Months later, my roommates were doing the same.  It was a magnificent chain reaction of inspiration.  Infectious inspiration.

I fell in love with my new plant-based  lifestyle.  Forks Over Knives and In Defense of Food were my anthem. I was exploring  new foods that I never even knew existed.  I figured out how to cook tofu and tempeh in ways that made me come home from class craving them.  I discovered how much I loved reading about recipes and found myself staring at my phone during class just to find a recipe for that night’s dinner.   I couldn’t wait to get off work so I could go home and experiment in the kitchen.

I started drinking green smoothies with frozen bananas, chia seeds, spinach, almond butter and almond milk regularly.  I learned to make pizza crust out of chickpea flour.  I used flaxseed and water instead of eggs in baking.  I was slowly learning about these incredible alternatives that I couldn’t believe I had lived my whole life without.  Farmer’s markets, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s became my second home.

Then, after the realization that nearly every one of the 1,000 + pictures on my phone were of food, I started my own blog. I needed to channel my passion and enthusiasm.  To this day, Hummusapien is by far my biggest accomplishment.  I  have finally found an effective way to personify my love of writing, humor, food, nutrition and delicious recipes.  As silly as it sounds, I felt as if I were destined to inspire everyone around me to embrace whole foods, cooking, and a healthy lifestyle.

It was never about eating or not eating meat or dairy or eating exclusively organic or any other controversial ethical issue.  It was, and has always been about showcasing my passion for the versatility of food and exploring a world of once foreign ingredients that come together to create culinary magic.

Now I’m the one pointing out to my mom that though her bread is organic, the first ingredient is unbleached wheat flour (ahem, white flour).  I’m the one buying Ezekiel bread that has to be frozen because it has no preservatives and topping it with the most natural of natural peanut butters. Ohhhhh the irony.

In honor of foreign ingredients that kick butt, let’s talk about chickpea flour.

It’s just dried, ground chickpeas that we conveinely call flour because it looks like flour.  There’s no wheat; in fact it’s gluten-free just like almond flour and coconut flour.

To answer the question I know will be asked, no, it really isn’t a fancy expensive flour. I got mine at Whole Foods for under three dollars.  You can’t use it as a direct substitute for regular flour because it does have a but of a beany (though delicious) taste.  Playing with the ratios is a challenge, but a fun one.  The best part is that you’re really just eating chickpeas, which means tons of healthy protein and fiber.  It’s a win win situation.

I love using chickpea flour as a base for pizza.  It doesn’t taste like pizza crust but it has a wonderful texture and is also a fabulous way to eat pizza that’s not void of fiber.  It’s just so darn versatile!

Pesto Sweet Potato Chickpeatza

-serves one

Ingredients: 

Directions:

  1. Preheat broiler to high.
  2. Spread pesto onto crust followed by the cheese.
  3. Broil, watching closely to avoid burning, until the cheese is slightly browned.
  4. Remove from oven and top with sweet potatoes and green onions.

Crust:

  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 tbsp cornmeal (optional)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir well to combine.
  2.  Pour batter into a medium-sized pan sprayed liberally with cooking spray over medium heat.
  3. Cook for about five minutes and then carefully flip and cook for a couple minutes more.  It should be lightly browned on both sides!

Check out these recipes for more chickpea flour inspiration:

Real food tastes so.darn.good.

Crispy Tofu Fingers

Sweet baby cheezus these are tasty.

Suuuuuper tasty.

I was in a serious pickle trying to name these.

Tofu cutlets?

Tofu nuggets?

Tofu fingers?

Tofingers?

Toes and fingers with tofu?

All I know is that they’re chock full of healthified crispy deliciousness and you should probably buy some ‘fu and make them ASAP.

Try them with chicken if you’re feel carnivorous.

Crispy Tofu Fingers

-serves 2-3

Pinned Image

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of tofu, drained
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup egg whites (or a couple eggs whisked together)
  • Whole wheat Italian bread crumbs (recipe below)

Whole Wheat Italian Bread Crumbs:

  • 2 slices of whole grain bread, toasted
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • pepper to taste

First, let’s clarify how to drain tofu in order to achieve that fabulous chewiness. Draining tofu helps to remove the moisture that makes tofu mushy.  The more water drained, the more flavor and chewiness.

1)  Drain the water out of the pack of tofu.  Wrap the tofu in a layer of paper towels/dish cloth and place on a plate.

You will probably have to change out the paper towels two or three times (maybe every 30 minutes to an hour) to get out as much water as possible.

2) Put another plate upside down on top of the tofu. Place a few heavy objects on top of the plate. I used a heavy pot with tomatoes inside.

Directions:

  1. Drain and press tofu (see above for tutorial).
  2. Make bread crumbs: Toast bread.  Place toasted bread in food processor/blender along with garlic powder, salt, basil, oregano, and paprika.  Blend until the mixture resembles bread crumbs.
  3. Set up your dredging assembly line.  Place whole wheat flour, egg whites and bread crumbs in three separate large bowls.
  4. Slice tofu into 1/4-1/2 inch slices.
  5. Heat a large skillet with a tbsp of oil over medium heat.
  6. Dredge tofu in flour, then egg whites, then bread crumbs. Make sure to really press on those bread crumbs on both sides!
  7. Once pan is hot, add tofu slices.  Cook a few minutes on each side, until brown and crispy.
  8. Add more oil between batches to ensure even crispiness.

Dip in pesto or my favorite Trader Joe’s organic ketchup.

If you think you don’t like tofu, I really think these may make you a believer. But I’m sure these would be awesome with shrimp or chicken as well.

I love love love these tofingers with spicy sweet potato fries.  I discovered that it’s actually possible to make crispy ones, which is rather-earth shattering.

More on that later this week!