Coconut Cocoa Nib Bites

If you're looking for a quick and healthy snack, look no further. There are so many recipes out there for snack bites or energy balls or whatever you want to call them. These coconut cocoa nib bites are just one iteration, and a tasty one at that! I love the sweetness from the dates mixed with the bitter funk of the cocoa nibs and the chew from the coconut. Everything goes into the food processor and processed until it all comes together. Then just shape into balls and store in the fridge or freezer. Pop one out when you need a little snack. Sweet and hearty and something you can feel good about eating!

As with most recipes like this, these bites are endlessly versatile. You can use your favorite mix ins and flavorings. No almonds? Try peanuts. No dates? I think prunes would work quite well! No cocoa nibs, try some finely chopped chocolate.  Whatever sounds good to you can probably end up working out wonderfully!

 
 

Coconut Cocoa Nib Bites
Adapted from OH, Babycakes
Ingredients

  • 3 ounces coconut
  • 1/2 cup (2 1/4 ounces) raw almonds
  • Pinch salt
  • 8 medjool dates or 15-18 deglet noor dates (approximately 4 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2-4 tablespoons (1/2 ounce) cocoa nibs
  • 3/4 ounce sunflower seeds

Directions
In a food processor fitted with the S blade, blend the coconut, almonds, and salt into a fine meal. Add the dates and pulse for 30-45 seconds. Add the water; pulse until combined. 

Transfer the mixture to a small mixing bowl, stir in the sunflower seeds and cacao nibs. Form the mixture into small, bite sized balls. Freeze for 30 minutes on a cookie sheet, then transfer to an air tight container or bag and store in the freezer.

Date and Almond Breakfast Bars

Quick post this week. You may or may not have noticed my love for snack bars. Usually oat based, hearty, filling and on the healthier side. Well, here's another winner! These bars are soft, but not chewy, more of a sandy texture. They are slightly sweet, just enough for me, and a little salty (which I love!). The dates add a nice natural sweetness without being an overwhelming flavor. They bars bake up pretty firm and hold together unless it's really warm out, or they sit in a hot car for a while! Whoops!! 

I cut back slightly on the honey in these bars, just by 1 tablespoon. They may have been slightly firmer with that additional tablespoon, but I didn't mind them at all the way they turned out. While the title of this recipe is "breakfast bar" I really found them to be more of a homemade granola bar. But in the end it doesn't really matter what they are called. I just know I enjoyed them!

 
 

Date and Almond Breakfast Bars
Adapted from Donuts, Dresses and Dirt
Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup (90-100 grams) chopped dates
  • 1 1/4 cup (110 grams) old fashioned oats
  • 3 tablespoons (22 grams) whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup (20 grams) wheat germ
  • 1/3 cup (35 grams) chopped almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (65 grams) almond butter
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons (63 grams) honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions
Preheat oven to 350. Line a 8x8 inch pan with parchment paper and spray with oil. Set aside. 

Combine the dates, oats, flour, wheat germ, almonds, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the almond butter, olive oil, honey, and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry mixture, and stir together until evenly combined. Spread the batter into the prepared pan, pressing the mixture firmly onto the bottom, edges and corners.

Bake the bars for 30-35 minutes, until they are golden brown all over. Cool the bars completely in the pan on a cooling rack. When mostly cool, transfer to the fridge and let them chill for a few hours. This will make it easier to cut into neat bars.  Remove from fridge and cut into bars.

Big Cluster Cinnamon Almond Granola

I was talking to my grandma a few weeks ago about making granola and how much I love doing it. It's so much better and ridiculously cheaper than buying it, and it's not at all difficult to do. Plus, you can customize it to your exact specifications! My grandma is gluten intolerant, and so granola is a good option for her to have on hand for breakfast, or a snack, or whatever. After our conversation I decided to make her a batch to show her what homemade granola can be like. 

I chose this recipe because it was very simple. Since I don't know exactly how she likes her granola I decided to keep it basic and pretty classic. Oats, almonds and brown sugar, some cinnamon and vanilla, all kept nice and crunchy with a bit of oil. It turned out a beautiful, toasty granola that formed big, crunchy clusters. Super tasty, and perfect for anything you might imagine. 

I eat a ton of granola. Yogurt and some kind of fruit, topped with granola almost every morning. I never get tired of it. I also just snack on it out of hand throughout the day. It's a great quick snack that you can eat as much or as little of as you want. There are lots of other options though; top some sweetened fruit with it and bake until bubbly, top ice cream with a little extra crunch, throw it on a salad as an alternative to croutons. Just be creative, and I'm sure you'll come up with many more options that suit your life!

Big Cluster Cinnamon Almond Granola

Adapted from

The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee

by 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (30 grams) water
  • 3 cups (250 grams) old fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 ounces almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 1/2-3 tablespoons (35 grams) canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

Directions

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar and water. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture comes to a boil. Let cool. 

In a large bowl, combine the oats, almonds, cinnamon, and salt and mix well. 

Add the oil and vanilla extract to the brown sugar mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Pour over the oat mixture. Mix well with a large spoon or rubber spatula until thoroughly combined and uniform in texture. 

Transfer granola to a rimmed baking sheet and pat down into a thick, even layer. 

Bake for 75 minutes. Remove oven and use a large metal spatula to flip the granola, keeping it in as large of chunks as possible. Return the granola to the oven and bake for about 60 minutes more until completely dry and no longer at all soft when you take a bite. Let cool before serving. 

Store in a tightly sealed container at room temperature. 

Oat Bread with Dried Fruit and Almonds

Baking bread is one of my favorite things to do in the kitchen. I just love the whole process, kneading together a handful of individual ingredients and turning them into this live creature that rises and grows before your eyes. Tame it through shaping into loaves, and then into the oven for its final transformation where it becomes your desired creation. It is one of the most satisfying tasks in the kitchen.  Pulling out those final loaves, and seeing what you've been able to do with a few simple ingredients, some time and heat is simply amazing. 

These loaves are my most recent creation. I found the recipe online and for whatever reason it sounded so perfectly delicious that I had to give it a try. This whole wheat and oat sandwich loaf, slightly sweetened with honey and filled with roasted nuts and dried fruit called my name, I simply had to try it. It turned out a couple very large and beautiful loaves that have been perfect for a variety of sandwiches, a hearty snack and a healthy breakfast. 

One of my favorite quick and easy lunches in the past week has been a gourmet peanut butter sandwich with mashed banana and sliced strawberries. Add a drizzle of honey for a little extra sweetness and lunch is served, simple and delicious. It almost feels like eating dessert for lunch. I've also made a variety of other different sandwiches including an heirloom tomato BLT and a grilled vegetable and hummus sandwich with feta. So whatever type of sandwich is calling your name, this bread will get the job done. 

Oat Bread with Dried Fruit and Almonds

Adapted from 

A Shaggy Dough Story

Ingredients

  • 200g Dried Fruit (I used a mix of prunes and frozen cranberries instead of dried, just because I had them, and it turned out fine)
  • 161g Whole Wheat Flour
  • 130g Rolled Oats
  • 403g Water (I used the reserved water from soaking the fruit and made up the difference with fresh water)
  • 484g Bread Flour
  • 136g Milk
  • 48g Honey
  • 48g Vegetable Oil 
  • 19g Salt
  • 4g Instant Yeast 
  • 130g Toasted Almonds (or whatever you have, walnuts, pecans, etc)
  • Additional Rolled Oats for coating loaves

Directions

Put dried fruit in a heat-proof bowl, add enough boiling water to cover and let sit for about an hour. Drain, reserving water, and let cool.

Put whole wheat flour and rolled oats in the bowl of a mixer, add the reserved soaking liquid (adding fresh water to make up the difference) and stir to combine. Let sit for 30 minutes.

Add bread flour, milk, honey, oil, salt and yeast to the oat mixture. Using the dough hook of your mixer, blend on low speed until combined, then increase the speed to medium for about 7 minutes. Add the soaked, drained fruit and the pecans and mix on low speed until combined (it took a little bit of time to make sure they were fully incorporated).

Place the dough in a large bowl or container with oil that's been lightly coated with oil. Cover and let rest. After one hour, uncover the dough and fold, then cover and let rest for another hour.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into two rounds. Cover with plastic and let rest for 15 minutes. Lightly butter or oil two 9-inch loaf pans. Uncover and lightly flour your work surface, if needed. Degas each dough round and shape into a loaf. Place loaves seam side down in the prepared pans. Lightly mist each loaf with water and them cover with oats, if desired. Cover with plastic and proof for about 90 minutes.

Place a steam pan in the bottom of your oven and preheat to 450°. At baking time, uncover the loaf pans, place in the oven and immediately add about 1 cup of ice to the pan to create steam. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 400° and bake for another 30 minutes or until golden brown (cover them with foil if they start browning too soon). Remove from the oven, transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.

Sage and Rosemary Nut Mix

I'm a sucker for any type of snack or nut mix, I just love munching on things and this recipe is one of the best ways to do just that. It's super simple to put together, and is just a bit different than a lot of other mixes I've had, thanks in part to the sage. I hadn't worked a lot with sage until this fall, but I randomly planted a couple of sage plants in my backyard this summer, and then promptly ignored it until just a month or two ago. When I actually started to use the leaves in a couple of different things I realized that I love the soft warmth of this beautiful herb, and the distinctive flavor it lends to dishes. 

Tossing this sage together with a couple of cups of mixed nuts, olive oil and some rosemary leads to a deliciously savory mix that makes you step back and contemplate what you've just eaten. It's the perfect mix for any holiday party, from Thanksgiving to New Years, and beyond. This mix is definitely a winner. 

This recipe couldn't really be easier. Just mix everything together, spread on a cookie sheet and bake low and slow for a couple of hours. That's it! I think my favorite part of the whole mix was how crispy and crunchy the sage leaves became after they came out of the oven. They just melt in your mouth, salty and oily and delicious! I have to admit, not many of them actually made it into the final mix. I may have eaten a few to many before I reached that stage, that's the advantage of being the cook!

Sage and Rosemary Nut Mix

From 

Food and Wine

Ingredients

  • 4 cups mixed raw nuts, such as pecans, walnuts, almonds and cashews
  • 32 sage leaves, torn into large pieces
  • One 8-inch rosemary sprig, leaves stripped
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 200°. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the mixed nuts with the sage, rosemary and olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread the nuts in an even layer. Bake for 3 hours; the nuts should not be browned. Let the nuts cool on the baking sheet until they are crisp, then transfer them to a bowl and serve. Store in an airtight container.

Spicy Party Mix

If you know me at all then you know that I love munchies and finger food. I know I'm fighting a losing battle when confronted with a bowl of anything that just pops into my mouth too easily. This mix does just that. A bowl full of pretzels, nuts and chex covered with a sweet and spicy glaze. A little bit of heat, a little bit of sweet, and a whole lot of crunch creates a beautiful fusion of flavors and textures.

I think this is the perfect mix for the cool weather; the flavors are warm and comforting. Pull it out at Thanksgiving or Christmas and watch it disappear. If you're looking for something a little different to serve before or after dinner to satisfy your munching cravings, this is the mix for you. I found this recipe in the book The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz, an excellent book for anyone interested in food and Paris. The only thing I changed this time around was adding some Chex. He originally calls for two cups each of nuts and pretzels, but I love the airiness and crunch of Chex, so I decided to add some in, and I think it was a good addition. So go ahead, throw this mix together and be amazed. In the book, David Lebovitz writes, "it makes an excellent nibble." I couldn't have said it better myself.

Sweet and spicy and irresistible

You need some maple syrup, 

make sure it's the real stuff

Pour it into a bowl to start

Start adding some delicious flavors,

first up, cinnamon

A little bit of cocoa powder

And the chili powder

A little brown sugar and some butter

round out the yummy glaze

Grab your nut mixture, 

I chose almonds, cashews and peanuts

Mix it all up with the chex and pretzels and bake

Ready to party!

Spicy Party Mix
Adapted from The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz
Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups (275 grams) raw nuts - any combination of pecans, almonds, peanuts, cashews and hazelnuts
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) butter
  • 3 tablespoons (45 grams) dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder or smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened natural or Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 1/3 cups (100 grams) small pretzel twists
  • 1 1/3 cups corn Chex cereal

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, chili powder, maple syrup and cocoa. 

Stir the warm nuts into the spice mixture to coat them completely, then sprinkle on the salt. 

Mix in the pretzels and Chex, then spread the mixture on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the nuts are well glazed and browned. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Once cool, break up the clusters and serve.

(If you would rather leave out the chex and follow the original recipe, increase the nuts and pretzels to 2 cups each and omit the chex.)