Healthy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

It is hard to believe it was a year ago that we welcomed our baby boy to the world. It has been a crazy year adjusting to having two little ones in the house, long commutes, and finding time for ourselves. But one thing that doesn’t take any adjustment is my love for birthdays and celebrating.

Little man turns one

My husband isn’t a huge fan of birthday celebrations, but I think each year is a milestone of accomplishments, lessons learned, growth, and memories. So we ALWAYS celebrate in our house, I’m baking so it is my rules. And really who is going to turn down a special treat . . . no one in my house!

Of course, even when celebrating I want to make sure we are being good to ourselves. So not every special occasion includes a sugar bomb. Don’t get me wrong we LOVE sugar in all of its processed sparkly glory. If you follow me on Instagram you have probably noticed plenty of ice cream cones and crazy donuts 😃 But sometimes it is just about getting something a little sweet without all the bad stuff. Which is why I love this recipe!

Healthy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

healthy peanut butter chocolate chip cookie bars

Ingredients
1 (15oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup natural chunky peanut butter (you can sub creamy if you prefer)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1 Tbsp unsweetened almond milk
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips, reserve 1/4 cup for the top
sea salt to sprinkle on top
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 9″ tart pan or glass baking dish and set aside. (I prefer the tart pan because I think the triangles make it feel more special)
2. Put all ingredients except the chocolate chips and sea salt in a food processor.
3. Blend until smooth.
4. Stir in the chocolate chips.
5. Pour dough into prepared pan and spread out evenly.
6. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips and sea salt.
7. Bake 20-25 minutes until the edges are golden brown.
8. Let cool for at least 10 minutes.
9. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.
We enjoy these bars for special occasions or just because we have a massive sweet tooth at our house. Don’t worry though, we are celebrating little man’s birthday over the weekend with some real sugary cupcakes and frosting.

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Peanut Butter Banana Bread

As I’ve said before, I love quinoa. It is perfect for cold or warm dishes. You can toss it with veggies, fruits, nuts . . . really anything. It can be the base for a savory or sweet dish.

Quinoa flour, that was something new. I’ve been seeing more recipes that use alternative flours – coconut flour, oat flour, tapioca flour – and I was ready to branch out from my normal whole wheat and all purpose for something a little different. Family breakfast seemed like the perfect opportunity for a little experimentation because who wants to be the only taste tester.

Getting inspiration from Monique over at Ambitious Kitchen I settled on a Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread recipe for a first try.

This sweet bread made a perfect Valentine's Day breakfast.

This sweet bread made a perfect Valentine’s Day breakfast.

Note: After doing a little research online I found it is important to toast the quinoa flour to take out some of the quinoa flavor. Monique used the stove top method, but I preferred the oven method and just did the whole bag at once. For this method, spread the flour out on baking sheets covered in foil or parchment paper and bake at 215 degrees for 2 ½ to 3 hours. The flour will lose its quinoa smell and can then be kept in an air tight container in the fridge or freezer for 8 months.

Peanut Butter Banana Bread
Servings Prep Time
1loaf 15minutes
Cook Time
50minutes
Servings Prep Time
1loaf 15minutes
Cook Time
50minutes
Instructions
  1. 1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8x4 loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. 2. In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, and cinnamon. Set aside.
  3. 3. In a large bowl, combine the mashed bananas, agave, egg, peanut butter, and almond milk until creamy.
  4. 4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until well combined. Fold in the mini chocolate chips.
  5. 5. Pour into greased loaf pan and bake 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before turning out of the pan.

What will be on your table in 2016? (Food Life Project Day 6)

Every year new trends are forecasted – hair, fashion, make-up, entertainment, slang – and the one I look forward to each year is FOOD. What food will we see on every menu and grocery shelf this year?

According to Specialty Food News, this year will see a bigger focus on healthy, local, authentic, and fresh foods. 2016 might be my new favorite year!

on your table

Vegetables 

So vegetables are (hopefully) nothing new on your table, but this year you will start seeing vegetables in even more places. Think ice cream, yogurt, and teas.

Blue Hill

Photo: www.bluehillyogurt.com

Numi Savory Tea

Photo: www.numitea.com

Locally sourced foods

If you wanted locally sourced foods before you often had to go out of your way to seek it out. And it consisted of mostly produce. Over the past year locally sourced foods have been making an appearance at larger grocery chains and restaurants and 2016 could be the year for local foods. Go beyond produce for locally sourced meat and seafood.

Fungi

As people seek to get closer to their food foraging has made a comeback. There are clubs and meet-ups across the country focused on the skill where you can learn from experts, share tips and spots, and just meet up with others who share an interest in natural fungi hunting. The fungi trend feeds right into the vegetable and locally sourced trends and has the added bonus of umami, or “fifth taste”.

Healthy eats

Playing directly off the other trends for the year, we will see an increased focus on healthy eats especially in the snack aisle and on the kids menu. There is also a bigger push to standardize the definitions and labels used on “healthy foods” including the recent move by the FDA to define the use of the word Natural on labels. 

Latin flavors

Now that travel restrictions to Cuba are beginning to loosen and visits to South America have increased, especially with the summer Olympics being hosted by Rio, Latin flavors are showing up on plates. And I for one am very excited about it, especially because there is a trend towards authentic ethnic cuisines instead of the Americanized version of fantastic foods. I have a feeling Miami is going to have the spotlight in this trend.

Happy eating in 2016!

 

 

 

 

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A love affair with quinoa: Caprese quinoa bake recipe

It has been nearly 12 years since my love affair with quinoa started. I can still remember my food science class in college, learning about ancient grains and how we couldn’t figure out how to say quinoa (keen-wah).

Imagine trying to explain it to my friends who were mostly architecture majors. These were the kids puling all-nighters and living off of cheap pizza, Mountain Dew, Red Bull, and loud music. Actually, looking back on it they were probably the normal ones for college students. Not like the nutrition majors and athletes I sat in class with. But I digress.

The relationship has endured, with quinoa finding its way into hot, cold and room temperature dishes. Breakfast, snacks, and dinners have been known to feature the tiny grain. As an active person who isn’t much of a meat eater, this grain has been a big player in my healthy eating. For a grain, it is higher than average in protein, high in essential amino acids, full of vitamins and minerals, and even has some calcium in it.

Even though I wouldn’t be exaggerating to say I’ve made over 50 different quinoa dishes this one is my favorite.

Caprese quinoa bake

Caprese Quinoa Bake

Adapted from Tieghan at Half Baked Harvest

Serves 4-6 (great for lunch the next day!)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup of jarred pasta sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup almond milk
  • ½ cup baby spinach, chopped
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • ½ cup fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large bunch fresh basil, cut into ribbons
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

1. Heat tomato sauce and tomato paste over low heat in a large saucepan until the tomato paste has incorporated.

2. Once incorporated, stir in almond milk, parmesan, chopped spinach, salt and pepper.

3. Remove from the heat and stir in the quinoa. Fold in the shredded mozzarella and half of the tomatoes, and half of the chopped fresh basil.

4. Spray an 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish with non-stick spray and pour the quinoa mixture in. Top with fresh mozzarella rounds and the remaining tomatoes.

5. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes and then turn the broiler on and broil for 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese is golden and bubbly.

6. Remove from the oven and top with fresh basil ribbons. Let sit five minutes before serving.

Enoy!

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