No-Bake Chocolate Chip-Date Balls

If you’re still looking for some new lunchbox ideas, I got you! Check out these Chocolate Chip Date Energy Balls!  These bite-sized treats are loved by everyone in my household (especially my 3-year old) and are my personal fav go-to snacks that gives me a much needed energy burst with a healthy dose of fat, protein and carbs!  They also make a great addition to lunch boxes-adding that sweet element kids love without a ton of refined sugar.  My typical energy ball recipe is consists mainly of honey, unsweetened coconut, oats and ground flaxseed but with this recipe, I swapped out the honey for medjool dates and I’m hooked! Medjool dates have a soft, sticky, chewy texture and caramel-like taste, making them the perfect binding agent and naturally sweet addition to homemade granola bars or balls.  Give these a try! I can’t wait to hear what you think!

You’ll need:

  • 8 medjool dates, pits removed
  • 1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup finely ground flax seed
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup nut butter (or use sunflower seed butter as an alternative)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Heat 1 cup water in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 1 minute, until hot.
  2. Add dates to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Set aside for 5-10 minutes.  This softens the dates and makes them easier to puree.
  3. Remove dates from water and place in a small food processor.
  4. Add to the food processor about 1 Tablespoon of the water the dates soaked in.
  5. Pulse until smooth, scraping down sides as necessary. Add additional water to thin the consistency of the paste, if desired.  Set aside
  6. Combine oats, flax seed, coconut flakes and chocolate chips in a medium sized bowl.
  7. Add date paste, vanilla extract and nut butter to the dry mixture.
  8. Stir to combine all of the ingredients.
  9. Refrigerate dough for about 30 minutes (not necessary but makes them easier to roll).
  10. Form dough into tablespoon-size balls.
  11. Refrigerate balls in an air tight container.

Lunchbox Packing: Less is More!

I’m still in disbelief that the school year is starting next week!  I totally don’t feel prepared.  In fact, I haven’t purchased anything from the school supply list yet but confident it will all come together by the first day of school.  I’m working on a blog post that includes a bunch of lunchbox tips and ways to help make sure your child eats the foods in their lunchbox with minimal waste!

I’ll be sharing some of my tips in separate IG posts and the one I’m sharing today is all about focusing on variety and balance instead of volume.  When packing lunch for a child, it’s easy to overdo it on portions especially when the thought may be that the more you pack, the more they will eat-but it’s quite the opposite.  Kids have small stomachs and really do not need large portions.  While each child is unique with appetites that vary, one thing I’ve learned from personal experience is that the less I pack, the more my son eats.   Part of it may be that too much food may just be overwhelming or unappetizing.  But I’ve also found that if I give too much of a certain food that he really likes, that’s all he will eat.  So I provide smaller portions and focus on a colorful variety of foods instead of volume and it’s worked wonders for me.  Also, results in less food waste!  I also find that packing lunch in a bento box (versus separate containers) helps to keep portions small and neatly packed.

What do you usually pack for your child’s lunch?  I would love to hear it! Let me know in the comments below.

Strawberry-Banana Yogurt Muffins

Happy Friday! How is your day going?  Well it’s about to get a whole lot better with these little gems.  I’m a big fan of baking muffins, mainly because they are so easy to make and portable!  Perfect for little kid hands and adult hands alike.  Once you have a good basic recipe down, the mix-ins (like these strawberries) just elevate the flavor & nutrition!  BONUS: these muffins freeze really well and are a great addition to lunch boxes!  and with the school year in full swing, we could all use some good lunchbox ideas, am I right?!

In addition to bananas and berries, these muffins are packed with other wholesome ingredients like applesauce, greek yogurt and oats!  I made this recipe gluten-free (I recently started following a gluten-free diet for health reasons, I’ll explain in another post soon), but you can totally make them regular using all-purpose flour and basic oat flour.  If you can’t find gluten-free oat flour, simply make it by placing a few cups of gluten-free rolled oats in a high speed blender and blending until you achieve a fine, flour-like consistency and then measure out accordingly.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour (I use the brand Cup4Cup)**
  • 3/4 cup gluten-free oat flour (see note above for details on how to make it)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of ground cinnamon 
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large overripe bananas (the darker, the better!), cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup
  • 1 (5.3 ounce) container plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, chopped

**this also works with whole wheat flour, but the consistency of the muffin will be a bit more dense.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a muffin tin with liners; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, add the bananas and mash well (I use a potato masher or hand-held electric mixer).  Add in the applesauce, egg, maple syrup and yogurt and whisk to combine.
  3. Add in both types of flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  Stir until evenly moistened.  Fold in strawberries.  Spoon batter into prepared muffin liners.
  4. Bake 20-25 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Remove from pan; cool completely

Sweet Potato Banana Muffins

Some things are perfect on their own, but even better together- like sweet potatoes & bananas.  If you ask me (and my 3 year old), sweet potato & banana are one of the best veggie-fruit combinations for muffins.  I love sweet potatoes for countless reasons including the fact that they are super versatile and loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber and health-promoting phytonutrients.  And since they are low glycemic and high in fiber, they help to keep a steady handle on blood glucose and prevent spikes in blood sugar.  So adding them to baked good or even smoothies gives a mega boost of nutrition and helps to keep you feeling full and satisfied.

These muffins are super moist and aside from bananas packed with other yummy ingredients like greek yogurt and applesauce.   They also freeze really well and make the perfect addition to a lunchbox! Oh and best part, it only requires 1 bowl making cleanup a breeze!

Fun fact: While Americans often use the names sweet potatoes and yams interchangeably, they are not related.  Yams are native to Africa and Asia and are drier and starchier than sweet potatoes.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour**
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sweet potato, cubed, peeled and steamed
  • 2 medium ripe bananas (the darker, the better!), cut into quarters
  • 2 tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup
  • 1 (5.3 ounce) container plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened applesauce

** for the flour, I combined 3/4 cup cup4cup gluten free all purpose flour + 3/4 cup spelt flour.  But you can use any unbleached all-purpose flour and 100% whole wheat flour.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a muffin tin with liners; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, add the sweet potato and banana, mash well (I use a potato mashed, but the back of a fork works too).  Add in the applesauce, eggs and yogurt and whisk to combine.
  3. Add in both types of flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and cloves.  Stir until evenly moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin liners.
  4. Bake 20-25 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Remove from pan; cool completely

Baked Cinnamon Apples with Oats, Flax and Golden Raisins

Have you ever tried baked apples?  Well they are one of my favorite healthy treats for a number of reasons:

  • they are super easy to make
  • taste delicious-naturally
  • total #momwin as they are healthy, delicious and kids love them
  • packed with fiber (one medium apple w/skin has a little over 4 grams of dietary fiber) plus I love adding oats and flax which add a healthy dose of protein and fiber too!
  • kids can help in the kitchen with mixing the stuffing and filing them before baking
  • makes a great naturally sweetened food vehicle for healthy add-ins like oats, ground flaxseed, dried fruit, nuts, etc.
  • baking apples brings out their natural sweetens..no need for added sugar – not even the natural stuff like honey or maple syrup
  • super satisfying….
  • OK let me stop here, but you get my obsession with them now.
  • perfect as dessert, snack or breakfast!

BONUS: With apple-picking season approaching, this is a great way to use up that overflow of apples!  These BAKED CINNAMON APPLES w/ OATS, FLAX & GOLDEN RAISINS were our dessert last night and topped them off with some dairy-free coconut ice cream and a dash of cinnamon.  Since many apple varieties are naturally sweet, you don’t really need additional sweeteners like maple syrup or honey.  If you’d like to try these for breakfast, an alternative topping is unsweetened coconut yogurt with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon.  I can’t wait to hear what you think!

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium sweet, firm apples like Honeycrisp or Jonagold
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 3 tablespoons finely ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
  • 2/3 cup rolled oats (use gluten-free if you have an intolerance or allergy to gluten)
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon vegan buttery spread (or use unsalted butter if you prefer)
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce

Directions:

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray an 8×8″ glass baking dish with coconut or canola oil cooking spray.
  2. Halve the apples from stem to end and use a spoon to scoop out the core, seeds, and stem. Arrange the apple halves in the baking dish with the flesh facing up.  Lightly coat the flesh with lemon juice to help prevent browning.
  3. Melt the buttery spread in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Then add in the oats stir to coat with the buttery spread.  Continue sautéing oats until slightly brown, about 2 minutes.
  4. Remove pan from heat and stir in the applesauce, cinnamon, raisins and ground flaxseed, mixing well to combine.
  5. Divide the topping between the apples, lightly pressing it down onto the apples.
  6. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 20 minutes. Uncover the apples then bake another 25-30 minutes until the apples are soft and the topping has browned.
  7. To keep it dairy-free, serve with a small scoop of coconut or other dairy-free ice cream, eat it plain or with a drizzle of honey.  **The apples will keep for up to one week.  When ready to eat, simply reheat in a warm oven or in the microwave.

 

Raw Cookies n’ Cream Ice Cream Bars

My kids love cookies n’ cream and since I’m always looking for ways to health-ify their favorite treats, I created these raw, dairy-free cookies n’ cream ice cream bars.  These bars are so delicious and satisfying!  Best part = no ice cream maker or churning required 🙌 My entire family loved these bars and I can’t wait to hear what you think! Check out the super easy recipe below!

💚1/3 cup pure maple syrup,

💚1/3 cup coconut oil,

💚1.5 cups raw cashews, quick soaked**

💚1 teaspoon vanilla extract,

💚2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce

💚1/2 cup @ripplefoods pea milk (I used unsweetened vanilla) or coconut milk,

💚1/2 cup chocolate snack cookies,

💚for the Crust: 1.5 cups chocolate cookies-crushed into fine crumbs (I use my Vitamix to blend the cookies to crumbs before making the filling) + 1 tablespoon coconut oil (more if needed, see below)

**to do a quick soak, simply pour boiling water over the cashews and let them soak for 1.5 hours and drain). .

Directions:

1. Line an 8×8 brownie pan with parchment paper.

2. Add soaked cashews and all other ingredients to a blender except cookies and blend until smooth.

3. Now add in cookies and blend until cookies are blended well into the cashew mixture.

4. In a mixing bowl, combine the cookie crumbs + coconut oil and mix until oil is well incorporated. You can add a bit more coconut oil if needed to ensure crumbs stick together when pressed down.

5. Place crumbs into the liner tin and press firmly down until you form a single layer.

6. Pour cashew/cookie batter on top, smooth over to ensure the entire cookie layer is covered.

7. Freeze! And wait about 4-5 hours before eating. Enjoy!!

Grain-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recently, I went into a bakery and tried this paleo chocolate chip cookie that was seriously (and surprisingly) so delicious! I was determined to find a recipe that resembled it and I’ll honestly say that this one by King Arthur Flour is better! The only change I made with this recipe is using 1/4 cup coconut sugar (and I’ve also tried it with 2 tablespoons of coconut sugar and they came out obviously less sweet but still very good) .  My kids love these cookies and I love the they are super simple to make minus a bunch of butter + sugar.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar (or dark brown sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups almond flour, blanched or raw
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line it with parchment.
  2. Combine the brown sugar, baking soda, salt, and butter, and mix until smooth.
  3. Mix in the vanilla, egg, and almond flour, stirring to combine. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, then mix for 1 minute at medium speed.
  4. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  5. Scoop the dough one level tablespoon at a time onto the prepared baking sheet; a  tablespoon cookie scoop works well here.
  6. Gently flatten the cookies to about 3/8″ thick.
  7. Bake the cookies for 9 to 12 minutes, until golden brown.
  8. Remove the cookies from the oven. Allow them to cool on the pan for 2 minutes, then carefully transfer them to a rack to cool completely.

Recipe by: King Arthur Flour

https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/gluten-free-almond-flour-chocolate-chip-cookies-recipe

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