Want a pizza that is filling enough that you won’t overeat? Looking for one that is gluten free and free of additives? How about one more rich in fiber, protein, potassium, iron and not “empty” processed carbs? On top of all of that do you also want it to taste good and be able to make it in 15 minutes? This recipe has you covered.
Happy Autumn! While I waited until it was truly fall in late September to start enjoying fall foods, I am completely embracing and enjoying fall tastes with apples, winter squash, and of course pumpkin. I do have to say though, that while at Trader Joe’s last week, the amount of processed pumpkin foods on every end cap and stand in the store was scarier than anything I will encounter on Halloween.
Anyway, I am so excited to share this recipe! While I love my gluten free almond meal pumpkin muffins, the texture of these new ones really hit the spot with Sunday brunch this past week. I actually adapted it from a pumpkin cookie recipe and originally intended to put chocolate chips and nuts inside the batter but was distracted with other food prep. I am happy I forgot because the drizzled chocolate and crushed maple chia nuts on top add a little crunch to the light, fluffy and tender texture of this delicious pumpkin spice muffin.
I adapted this recipe right from my cashew cookie hemp energy bars because I wanted to make a nut free alternative for those with nut allergies! My brother is sadly allergic to tree nuts, but not peanuts, and in trying to find convenience energy bars for him, I had hardly any luck. These can give you a less sweet Reese’s like taste and are great for anyone who loves a PB + chocolate combo food (who doesn’t?). Like my cashew hemp and date/almond bars, these are a good, clean, snack to have in between meals or before a workout. I really like to make a batch of bars every week so we can easily add one to our lunch bag that we take to work.
For those of you who are still getting on your food prep game and might have a nut allergy, I was able to find several Clif Brand bars that per their website, are tree nut free (but not peanut free). Please note that while they do use more natural sources of sugar than most bars, these types of bars are best for physically active individuals due to their sugar content.
- Clif (original) Bars: Apricot, Chocolate Brownie, Coconut Chocolate Chip
- CLif Mojo: Peanut butter pretzel
- CLIF kid zbar protein: chocolate chip, chocolate mint
If you are concerned with any other allergies such as dairy, eggs, soy or wheat, use Clif’s allergen table to see what convenience snacks are safe for you. Now for the recipe!
Peanut Cocoa Energy Bars (Veg, DF, GF)
Makes 12 bars
Ingredients (use organic whenever possible):
1 1/2 Cups raw or dry roasted unsalted peanuts (I use whole foods 365 organic)
1 Cup raw pitted dates*
1/4 Cup hemp protein powder
1/2 tsp sea salt (omit if using salted peanuts)
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons raw cacao (or even cocoa powder if that’s all you have)
Optional: 1 tablespoon maca root powder
Optional: 1 tablespoon raw hemp hearts
*Both Medjool and Deglet Noor work. When using Deglet you may need to add a tsp of water for more moisture
-Add all ingredients to your food processor, dry first and liquid last.
-Pulse until all ingredients are pretty finely ground like in this picture, approximately 1-2 minutes.
If the mixture does not seem sticky enough add another 1/2 tablespoon of honey or even water.
-Next, pour whole mixture onto a large sheet of wax paper. Fold the paper over the mixture and begin to flatten our with your hands or a rolling pin. I roll mine out to about 1/2 inch thick. Once rolled out to desired thickness, flatten out the edges with hands.
-Cut the pieces evenly into 12 bars. You can obviously cut to larger or smaller if you want, but nutrition info below is for 12.
-Separate the bars and cut the large sheet of wax paper to wrap the bars. Throw one in your lunch bag or purse & store the rest in the fridge for up to 10 days.
Real Ingredients with Real Benefits:
Dates, in my opinion, are natures candy! They are a source of natural sugar which can be helpful to athletes before and during exercise when they need a quick absorbing energy source. They provide fiber and minerals like potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and even some calcium. Instead of packaged products, I use dates as fuel during long outdoor workouts and even races.
Peanuts are a good source of most B vitamins, especially niacin. They also provide vitamin E, minerals like copper and selenium, and the phytochemical resveretrol (you may have heard of this because it is in red wine) They are known for their heart healthy mono-unsaturated fats.
Hemp protein is an excellent alternative to dairy proteins like whey and casein. Manitoba Harvest is my favorite brand for both protein powder and hemp hearts; they highlight amino acid content here. Other than its protein content, hemp also provides both soluble (great for your heart) and insoluble (excellent for your gut) fiber, potassium, zinc, magnesium, calcium and lots of iron. In addition, hemp protein is a terrific vegan source of omega 3’s.
Maple Syrup is a source of added sugar but can have some benefits if it is 100% pure and is used in moderation. it actually provides teeny amounts of calcium, iron, mangnesium & zinc. One study in 2010 found Canadian Maple Syrup to contain over 26 antioxidant compounds (1)!
Cacao powder is different from cocoa powder in that it is not processed with alkali which can remove some antioxidants and nutrients. When using cacoa, you are getting minerals like iron, magnesium and calcium which help regulate metabolism and keep your blood system and bones healthy. You also get some fiber, and phytochemicals theobromine, phenylethylamine and anandamine which have been found to support brain health and promote well-being.
Maca root has small amounts of calcium, Vitamin C and iron as well as fiber, phytochemical antioxidants and plant sterols which are known to aid in reducing blood cholesterol levels. It is most sought due to claims to boost energy and endocrine function (particularly in females). Maca has been consumed in Peru for thousands of years for these reasons, but there is not a large body of conclusive scientific evidence for those claims. I tried Navitas Naturals brand mostly to see what the hype was about. I enjoy the taste and do feel it provides a small energy boost when I add it to my oatmeal and skip the morning coffee – but that is just my feedback, not a research study! Lot’s of studies related to endocrine function are linked to from a summaryhere and you can evaluate more research at examine.com.
1. J Agric Food Chem 2011 Jul 27;59(14):7708-16. Further investigation into maple syrup yields 3 new lignans, a new phenylpropanoid, and 26 other phytochemicals. Li L, Seeram NP.
Serving Size: 1 Bar
Servings Per Recipe: 12
Total Fat: 7 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 2 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 4 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrate: 17 g
Fiber: 4 g
Sugar: 10 g
Protein: 5.5 g
Sodium: 50 mg 5 %
Potassium: 220 mg 5%
Vitamin A: 2% Thiamin: 10 % Riboflavin: 5 %
Niacin: 3% Vitamin B6: 6 % Folate: 3 %
Vitamin C: 1% Pantothenic Acid: 5 %
Vitamin E: 3 % Calcium: 6 % Iron: 12%
Zinc: 15% Copper: 35 % Magnesium: 20 %
Phosphorus: 15 % Manganese: 20% Selenium: 6 %
Omega 3: 0.25 g (12%)
**Vitamins & minerals are listed as % daily value; you may need more than 100% each day if you’re an athlete, have a deficiency disease, or other medical concerns
I was inspired to make this mix by Nature’s Path Qia. Qia is simply hemp seeds, chia seeds and buckwheat groats. Despite its name, buckwheat is actually gluten free for any of you Celiac or gluten intolerant readers out there. I love Qia because its so easy to use and super filling with lots of nutrients, especially omega 3’s! However, I also found I loved adding some cacao powder or nibs to whatever I was eating it with (especially oats) and sprinkling some shredded coconut on top. So I decided to start making my own ready to use mix. Sorry Nature’s Path, I still love you.
Cacao Coconut Multi-Seed Mix (GF, V, DF)
The brands I like to use are pictured below, but as I do with cacao and buckwheat (not pictured), you can get all of these from the bulk section at Whole Foods, Wegmans etc.
5 Tablespoons Cacao Nibs
5 Tablespoons Hemp Hearts/Seeds
4 Tablespoons Chia Seeds
5 Tablespoons Buckwheat Groats
4 Tablespoons Unsweetened Coconut
Simply toss each ingredient into an old nut butter jar, pyrex or other container…
Shake well and store until use. I keep it right next to my nut butters since I think they pair together fantastically!
Now, what to do with the mix? I’ve been loving adding it to my oats in the morning, as you can see here:
But, the mix has also been perfect for travel with all the long weekend trips Tim and I have been taking this summer. Just put some in a small bag or glass container, and bring along a banana and some nut butter. Dip the banana in nut butter and then the mix and you’ve got a delicious, nutritious and filling raw breakfast on the go!
While I don’t consume dairy, if I still did I would for sure be adding this to yogurt & berries as another meal option. For dessert it’d be perfect on some fro-yo and I see myself adding to some banana ice cream in the very near future! Enjoy this protein, omega 3, mineral and fiber rich snack mix 🙂
Nutrition Information* (per 2 tablespoons):
Total Fat: 6 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrate: 8 g
Fiber: 5 g
Sugar: 1.5 g
Protein: 4 g
Sodium: 0 mg 0%
Thiamin: 8% Riboflavin: 8%
Vitamin B6: 4% Folate: 6%
Calcium: 6 % Iron: 10%
Zinc: 8% Magnesium: 8 %
Omega 3: 1.4 g (this meets estimated rec. daily value)
*Nutrition information for vitamins and minerals is incomplete as companies nutrition facts panels do not include all micronutrients. This mix likely contains much higher amounts of B vitamins and minerals.
Out of your weekend food prep rhythm because its summer? Add this soup to your list and get back on track! It doesn’t have to be freezing outside to enjoy soup! Even in the summer, soups are a great meal to prep ahead for the week so you have an easy lunch to bring to work, or dinner ready to go once you’re home after a long day. I used white beans and peas as a protein source and brown rice as a grain. The sweetness of the yellow bell pepper and tomatoes tone down the spice of habenero, and both flavors blend perfectly with some fresh rosemary! And since we eat with our eyes first it’s a good thing all of the ingredients look gorgeous together – all of these colors mean lots of different antioxidants too 🙂
Sweet & Spicy White Bean Summer Soup (GF, V, DF)
Ingredients (see below for beneficial properties of these ingredients):
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 – 1 habanero pepper, minced (amount depends on how much spice you like)
1 large red onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced (about 1- 1 1/2 cups)
3 C fresh beefsteak tomatoes, diced (or 1 can organic diced tomatoes)*
1 large yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 C dry organic brown rice (Trader Joe’s has a quick cook done in 10 min!)
1 C dry white cannellini beans prepped (or 2-2.5 Cups canned)*
1-1.25 Cups fresh or frozen peas
4 Cups (1 container) organic low-sodium vegetable broth (if you like broth-y soup add 2 C water)
-note: Trader Joe’s “organic low sodium hearty vegetable broth” is THE best pre-made broth you will find!
1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped (or 1/2 tablespoon dried)
3/4 teaspoon fresh oregano (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
fresh ground black pepper to taste
*Purchasing tip: If I do purchase canned, I buy beans at Trader Joe’s because they do not contain BPA. A risk of using canned foods is that the cans are lined with the carcinogenic chemical BPA. If you don’t live near a Trader Joe’s, click here for brands that are BPA free – recently, Muir Glen tomatoes also went BPA free.
-Wash the carrots and peppers and prep all of your ingredients as listed above.
-Place a large saucepan or stockpot over low-medium heat and add the oil. Spread w/ rubber spatula so that it coats the bottom of the pan.
-Add the garlic and habanero and stir for 1-2 minutes (do not let garlic turn brown)
-Add in your rosemary, oregano and pepper (I like to do this early so the flavor infuses better)
-Add the chopped onion, carrots, bell pepper and tomatoes (If using canned tomatoes, wait on those)
-Stir well and cover for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally
-Add the broth and bring to a boil
-Add your rice, and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. If you did not buy the quick cook brown rice like me, you’ll have to wait about 30 minutes – clean the mess in your kitchen from the prep and do some squats while you’re waiting 🙂
-If using canned tomatoes, add them now and stir the mixture
-Add your white beans and peas
-Add 2 C water if desired. I personally like soup more thick so I leave the extra liquid out. Let simmer another 5 minutes or so and then you’re done!
While not pictured, I have found I love this most with some diced avocado. It gives it even more of a fresh summer taste and adds even more color. With a side salad this is a perfect lunch at home or work!
Real Ingredients with Real Benefits:
Beans are a great source of potassium, thiamin, vitamin B6, iron, copper, magnesium & manganese. They also provide a little calcium. Phytochemicals include lutein, epicatechin, quercetin and proanthocyanidin – these benefit your eyes, reduce inflammation, and support the immune system.
Rice provides a good amount of Vitamin A, Riboflavin, Vitamin C, Riboflavin & Manganese. You can also get phytochemicals like quercetin (great for your immune system and lungs) & several carotenoids. Purchase organic rice as it is not as likely to be contaminated with inorganic arsenic.
Bell Peppers provide you with tons of Vitamin C (even more per serving than citrus when fresh), lots of Vitamin A and fiber as well as Vitamin E, B6 and potassium. Phytochemicals include the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin which are great for eye and cardiovascular health.
They’re finally becoming more known for it but peas are a good source of plant protein! Per 2/3 Cup serving you get 5 grams! As a reference, an egg contains 7 grams. Peas are also an excellent source of Vitamins K, C, A, B1, and folate. They contain the phytochemical coumestrol which has been found in research to reduce stomach cancer risk as well as other phytochemicals with anti-inflammatory properties.
Carrots and are most known for their role in eye health. This is because they have a high content of Vitamin A and other phytochemical carotenoids which not only support your eyes but also skin, hair and antioxidant systems. They are also high in Vitamins C & K and the mineral potassium.
Tomatoes pack in lots of Vitamins A, C, and the important fluid balance mineral Potassium. They are well known in terms of phytochemical content for their lycopene which is known for reducing risk of prostate cancer. This was one of the first phytochemicals that really made a name for itself. It is often forgotten that tomatoes also provide other carotenoids and flavonoids such as quercitin.
Garlic and onions are all part of the same family, providing the phytochemicals allicin, quercitin, and sulfides which are linked to improved immunity and respiratory health. Both onions & leeks provide Vitamin C. Onions are also a great source of vitamins B6 and folate while leeks contribute vitamins A & K in great amounts as well as the mineral manganese.
The heat level of habenero peppers directly relates to their high capsaicin content. Capsaicin has long been used for decreasing joint pain and inflammation topically but in the body may aid in appetite control, metabolism and intestinal inflammation. In addition they have been found in research to be anti-bacterial, and even anti-allergy due to nutrient content including vitamins A and C, some B vitamins and potassium – and yes its normal for them to clear your sinuses 🙂
Oregano actually contains manganese, iron and Vitamins A & K. It can also benefit your immune system as its phytochemicals thymol and carvacrol are anti-bacterial.
Rosemary contains carnosol which has been found in studies to be an anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory compound and carnosic acid that has neuro-protective (brain &nervous system protective) properties. Some studies show it can aid the GI tract too and as an oil, it has also been used for centuries to improve circulation! Per weight it has a high content of nutrients but since we consume small smounts of it, it provides a little folate, riboflavin, and vitamins A & C as well as the minerals iron, calcium and potassium.
Spinach and artichoke dip has become a very popular appetizer whether at restaurants, parties or just at home with family. While spinach and artichokes are healthy veggies, the average dip contains so much cheese and saturated fat though that you can hardly call it healthy. I’ve attempted several times in the past to make a healthier version and finally on Super Bowl Sunday, I got it right! This easy lightened up version has great flavor and a creamy texture without shocking amounts of fat and sodium. Continue reading