2017: the tale of demanding, reincarnating bananas

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Happy New Year! Here’s hoping 2017 treats everyone a little better than last year – 2016 was a rough one for many. But as they say, onward and upward! Preferably with cake, which is where I come in.

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The dead bananas are calling! I had a plethora lurking around my kitchen this weekend and they put me on notice that they really wanted to reincarnate into something amazing… not banana bread again, if you please (my bananas can get a little demanding sometimes…). That being said, I had a hankering for banana cake (fundamentally different from banana bread, you see), so THIS happened!

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Happily so. Have you ever had sautéed dates? No? Get into the kitchen immediately and make them! I love dates anyway, but they are mindblowingly good when given a little bath in some olive oil and sea salt. I’ve always been a salt monster, so salty-sweet desserts are absolutely my jam, and these little powerhouses deliver. Besides that, they’re full of good nutrients (dates are high in vit A & K, plus potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium & zinc. woohoo!).

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This cake is actually full of good things – you have healthy fats from almond flour, hazelnuts, and coconut, and all the good stuff in dates. And besides that, most critically: it’s delicious, which is good for your soul.

Let’s see, what else? Jessie says hello (this is her way of chatting me up during breakfast, adorable cat)

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More drawings, of course! New year, same series! This is the Havens Mansion, built 1884 on S. Van Ness in SF.

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My first activity of 2017! Shocked? Nope.

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More beautiful sky!

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Show your new and improved 2017 self some love with some sautéed dates atop your cake, and revel in all the possibilities of a new year. Onward!

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Banana Date Skillet Cake with Coconut Frosting, Maple Hazelnuts, and Sautéed Dates

Pretty freaking amazing, if I do say so! Lightly sweet banana cake with jewel-like date pieces, coconut frosting and OMG sautéed dates, please make them immediately. Serve with a bit of ice cream or non-dairy biz if that’s your jam! Can’t miss either way. Refined sugar free, grain free, gluten free, dairy free, pretty much paleo. Yield: 1 8″ skillet cake, enough frosting to frost the top (cake is served straight out of the skillet); extra hazelnuts because you’ll definitely want extras… and the amount of dates is up to you (make extra!). Skillet cake adapted from Confessions of a Confectionista, here!

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For the cake:

  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3 eggs
  • heaping 1/8 c coconut oil, melted
  • 1.5 tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • heaping 1.25 c almond flour
  • 1.5 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 4 medjool dates, chopped

For the maple hazelnuts (make ahead, if desired):

  • 1 c roasted hazelnuts
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
  • pinch of sea salt
  • splash of vanilla

For the sautéed dates:

  • 1-2 tbsp good olive oil
  • 7-8 medjool dates, halved & pitted
  • pinch of sea salt

For the coconut frosting:

  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk, chilled upside-down overnight in the fridge
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

I usually make the hazelnuts ahead and store them in a jar until needed. Remove most of the skins from the hazelnuts by rubbing them together; it doesn’t matter if there are skins left, but I try to get rid of the majority. Heat an empty saute pan (not nonstick) over medium heat; once heated, add maple (it will bubble and fizz) and hazelnuts. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, stirring continuously until the maple has caramelized. The nuts will feel a little soft, which is fine. Spread parchment paper on a baking sheet, pour out the nuts and spread them out a bit. They will harden as they cool. Store in an airtight jar at room temp for as long as they last which is realistically about five minutes.

To make the cake: preheat the oven to 350, and grease an 8″ cast iron skillet with coconut oil. In a large bowl, mash the bananas, then add eggs, melted coconut oil, honey, and vanilla. In a smaller bowl, whisk together almond flour, flaxseed, cinnamon, baking powder and soda, and salt. Pour dry into wet, and use an electric mixer to beat until combined. Stir in the chopped dates, and pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a tester comes out clean and the top springs back when touched. The cake will brown because of the honey – if you feel it’s browning too fast, feel free to cover it with foil. Let cool completely before serving.

While the cake is cooling, make the sautéed dates! (good luck not eating them all straight out of the pan). In a small sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once the oil is warm, add the dates and sauté, stirring frequently, until they caramelize and are heated through, just about 2-3 minutes (the edges will start to get a little crispy). Watch them carefully, as they burn easily. When done, move them to a bowl to cool and sprinkle with sea salt (be sure to get all of the good oil out of the pan for drizzling!).

Also while the cake is cooling, make the coconut frosting. Open the can of coconut milk rightside up, and scrape out the cream that has solidified at the top, leaving the coconut water at the bottom (save it and use it later!). Scoop the cream out into a bowl, add vanilla and coconut sugar, and use an electric mixer to beat into the consistency of whipped cream. Use immediately, or chill for later use.

For serving: Frost the cake with the coconut whip (make sure to frost the cake once it’s completely cool! otherwise a melty mess will ensue); top with sautéed dates and maple hazelnuts. Indulge responsibly (i.e., have another piece)!

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Bring on the avalanche of holiday baking

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SO!

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Holiday baking because NO MORE FINALS, wheeeeee!!!!! I literally don’t know what to do with myself. I constantly have this feeling that there is something I need to be doing, or turning in, or preparing for… or wait. NO. I’m done!

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So brownies! Also because work potluck + holiday season called for dessert. But of course I had to put my own spin on them, so they are whole wheat and made with unrefined sugar (sucanat! It’s making a resurgence in my baked goods because there happened to be some left in the pantry… end of finals = dislike of expending extra effort on anything except maybe jazzercise…which also includes going to the store and swimming upstream though the holiday masses. No thanks, unless I’m out of something I absolutely can’t live without)

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These brownies are spectac! We already know I’m ludicrously picky about brownies but these totally make the cut. Dense, fudgy but with a crackly crust, chewy edges, chunks of chocolate… all things a brownie should be. And the port soaked dates are just fun and festive — I don’t NOT drink but I don’t drink either, as most of you know, but I will occasionally have a glass of good port if it’s on offer, and it is literally amazing in brownies.

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One final doodle to usher in your weekend. Happy Saturday!

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Fudgy Whole Wheat Brownies with Port Soaked Dates

Fudgy, dense, dark and deeply chocolatey. Because who doesn’t want a little death by chocolate now and then? The port soaked dates add a little extra je ne sais quoi. Whole wheat, {less} refined sugar… and good for your soul around this time of year. Adapted from the awesome blog Sis. Boom. [Blog!], here! Yield: 1 8 by 8 pan, so somewhere between 9 and 36 brownies, depending on how much death by chocolate you want.

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  • 3 tbsp good port
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1/2 c chopped dates
  • 5 tbsp salted butter, cut into smallish chunks
  • 6 oz extra dark chocolate, chopped (I used chips for ease; 73%)
  • slightly heaping 1/2 c sucanat (or coconut sugar)
  • 2 eggs, cold
  • scant 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/3 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 4 oz extra dark chocolate chips (again, 73%)

Preheat the oven to 325, and line an 8 by 8 pan with foil. Butter the foil (trust me. you think you can skip this, and be lazy like me, but don’t do it. consider yourself warned).

In a small saucepan, combine port and water and bring to just boiling, add dates, and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and the dates are soft (just a few minutes). Set aside. In a double boiler, melt butter and 6 oz of chocolate until the chocolate is just melted, then remove from heat and stir to fully incorporate (the butter should also be fully melted by the time you finish stirring).

Whisk in sugar until fully incorporated (the batter will look a little gritty and that’s okay), then each egg one at a time, stirring until the batter looks glossy. Stir in salt.

Transfer to a larger bowl if your double boiler is small like mine, then carefully whisk in the flour until just barely incorporated. Toss in 4 oz of dark chocolate chips + port soaked dates + any port left in the pan, and stir together. Scrape batter into prepared pan, and bake for 35 minutes. A tester should come out just barely clean and the top will be shiny.

Let cool for a few minutes in the pan, then grab the foil and lift the whole thing out onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Slice and serve! Keeps well over night on the counter back in the original pan, covered with foil.

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Matching socks are overrated.

Actually yes, I do eat something besides barz.

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Before you say anything, I am totes aware that the last billion recipes on here are bars. I knoooow. I’m working on that, obviously not very successfully… One day, in the hopefully not to distant future, I will get off my bar train and blog about something different. And you’ll be so shocked, I’ll have to come over there and pick you up off the floor. But until that day… Barz.

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So….. I wasn’t necessarily going to blog about these, but then I ate one and discovered how deep, dark, datey and delicious they were, and decided they were too good not to share. Besides, they’re much fudgier than a lot of my barz recently, so you know. Variety is the spice of life, right? Right. But dates and dessert and chocolate and tahini also make life spicy, so why not eat those too?

Also because spicy life = great life.

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And also because I wrote the last two sentences yesterday, and I ate a brownie last night and they only get better hanging out in your fridge, so there are really no reasons not to make them (unless of course there is no food processor readily accessible… sadly these aren’t one that you could hack, unless your by-hand mashing and blending abilities are on par with some kind of superhero. Even I, who avoids using appliances if at all possible, busted out the food processor on this one). SO! Brownies! That are phenomenally good for you and also delicious. Can’t beat that.

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Okay so further ALSO: it was a billion degrees here this past weekend, but I really needed brownies, so I stupidly ran the oven (no bake treats were just not going to cut it). I also stupidly decided that peeling an entire can of chickpeas was a good idea. I know I know, I sound like a crazy. But here’s why: I’d heard forever that peeling your chickpeas makes for smoothy smooth homemade hummus. And having been extremely put off and irritated by the grittiness of my previous batches of homemade hummus, I decided that standing in my million degree kitchen on my day off pinching the skin from each individual chickpea was a good idea. Um, just no. But I can happily report that my hummus is SPECTAC. And it has beets in it, so it’s pink…which obviously ups its superiority factor. Incidentally, I was also out of lemon juice and had to pinch hit with limes. Amazingly, it’s some of the best hummus I’ve had in awhile AND it is silky silky smooth. So unfortunately the peeling method does work. I might be convinced to do it again… maybe. Just not when it’s a thousand degrees out and all I want to do is lay on the air vent like my cat.

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And one further aside, that is completely unrelated. I (just for laughs) calculated my average fruit and veg intake on a standard work day (lunch varies; dinner varies but my overall veggie intake during the week is pretty standard each day). An article I saw sparked my curiosity — it was a pictorial essay of different combinations of fruit / veg that meet the official recommendations; and my first thought was, ‘wait. that’s IT?!’, which made me want to see what my intake looks like within the official guidelines. According to the government website calculator, I am supposed to eat 2 servings / cups of fruit per day, and 3 servings / cups of veg a day. At which point I calculated mine for the day (and it’s only 2 pm. I haven’t even had dinner yet, which will contain at least another cup of veggies, and then there are dates in my dessert)… and I’m at 3.5 servings / cups of fruit, and 4.5 servings / cups of veg. Sooooooo….. yeah. I’m basically a piece of produce. And plant-powered!

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And a bit of freehand, just cause!

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Tahini Date Brownies

Gluten free, vegan, refined sugar free and flour-free deliciousness! Whole food ingredients to show your bod how much you love it. Recipe makes one 8 by 8 pan. Inspired by Graceful Kitchen, here! In case you’re interested in this stuff, like I am, tahini is an excellent source of calcium, vitamins / minerals, and omega 3’s + unsaturated (good!) fat; dates are generally just fabulous for you (assorted vitamins / minerals / too many bennies to list); and dark chocolate + unsweetened cocoa powder = minerals, flavonoids, and antioxidants. In sum… eat whole-food brownies, absorb nutrients, be happy.

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  • 1 15 oz can of white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 c packed + pitted medjool dates*
  • 1/2 c tahini
  • scant 1/4 c pure maple syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • heaping 1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4 c extra dark chocolate chips
  • optional…. sort of: 1 – 2 squares of chili-spiced chocolate, for a bit of subtle heat

*If the dates get hard, a 15 minute soak in boiling or very hot water usually softens them enough so that they won’t murder the food processor… Also, the date soaking water can be used in smoothies! Mmm. Or to cook oatmeal… or anywhere you need a little liquid sweet.

Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease an 8 by 8 pan (or use parchment. These are sticky, so if you want more evenly sliced bars, I would recommend the parchment route. Otherwise, I didn’t have a problem getting them out sans paper).

In the food processor, combine drained beans, dates (soaked if necessary; drain before adding), tahini, maple, and vanilla. Process for a few seconds, to get the dates broken up. Add cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt, and process until the batter is nearly completely smooth. I left a few chunks of dates in mine, but I draw the line at chunks of beans, no thanks. Stir in chocolate chips and chopped chocolate, and spread the batter into the prepared pan (it’s thick, so just go for the rustic look). Bake for 29-32 minutes, until the top is mostly firm and a tester comes out clean. These are very fudgy (and they’re vegan), so if you want to underbake them for super-goop, go ahead! Mine were perfect and sufficiently fudgy at 30 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan before slicing. Store in the fridge (I cover the pan with foil till they’re mostly gone, then transfer them to a tupperware).

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Brownies, a fuzzy duckling butt, and a dead fridge

IMG_2240 I’m back I’m back I’m back! Whew. Finally. Except I feel like I said that in my last post… I just have NO TIME to cook or bake interesting things. But… it’s not forever, so I’ll just deal for now. But I miss my invisible internet friends! So today, I have brownies and some random things from life lately. That are sometimes food but mostly not… Because I’ve gotten back into my doodle habit! It took a looooong hiatus all though college but it’s back, and all I want to do is draw. Like this: IMG_2234 And this! IMG_2224 And this. IMG_2235 I also ate this weird tuna-beet-hybird the other day and it was actually delicious: Steamed beets sautéed in a little bit of olive oil with mushrooms, topped with tuna and avo and mustard all mashed up together. I know, I know, I describe it so deliciously… But seriously. Who knew beets and tuna could be friends?! IMG_2219 And then it was Easter! IMG_2226 IMG_2216 Which meant bacon and chocolate and more bacon and more chocolate and also a quesadilla that was PERFECTLY GOLDEN which I admired and promptly spastically threw on the floor. Inadvertently, natch. It was actually kind of comic and hilarious and I a little bit wish I had a picture…. but not really. There was also an incident that particular weekend involving a cake that stuck horribly and ended up gracing the compost…. but let’s not talk about that. Obviously not exactly a banner weekend for cooking shenanigans. IMG_2244 So now I have these brownies to share, because brownies are awesome! These aren’t overly sweet (they’re sweetened with dates and maple) and are gluten free. They’re on the fudgier end of the spectrum rather than cakey, so if you’re seeking the latter, you might want to toddle off to another recipe. IMG_2239 They’re also not as wickedly dark as I usually make my brownies, mostly because there was this solid chocolate bunny lying around and he said that he wanted to be in brownies… So now he is. Don’t worry, no bunnies were harmed in the making of dessert… IMG_2243 IMG_2242 Also…. SO FUN! Our fridge died on Wednesday morning. NO, fridge, that is NOT ACCEPTABLE. You do not just die with no warning. I have nut butters in you!!! So now I am sort of living out of a cooler? Until the part that died is ordered… it is really not spectacular fun. I don’t exactly recommend it… especially when you love love love produce, and all those fancy nut flours that need to live in the fridge. These brownies were an excuse to use up some of the perishable biz (as was the banana bread that happened right after these)… and also, an excuse to use some of the awesome organic-fed eggs from my neighbor! Wheee! Local at it’s best. IMG_2238 IMG_2246

Almond Flour Brownies 

Lightly sweet and appropriately chocolatey, these brownies are gluten free, grain free, and refined sugar free. The recipe is lightly adapted from Culinary Couture, here! Recipe yields a 8 by 8 pan (and it’s up to your discretion how large you want to cut them, I definitely won’t be judging). IMG_2247 IMG_2241

  • 1 c almond flour
  • 3 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 oz dark chocolate
  • 1/4 c coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 10 small deglet noor dates* (actually, I think medjool would be way better but I was using what I had)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 almond butter (mine was roasted + unsalted)
  • 1/4 c extra dark chocolate chips

*Soaked in boiling water for 10-15 minutes if they’re all craggy and hard, or if you just have a wimpy food processor Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease an 8 by 8 pan with coconut oil. In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, coconut flour, sea salt, baking powder, and cocoa powder. In a smaller bowl, melt chocolate and coconut oil together, either using a double boiler or the lazy microwave method (I may or may not have done that, ahem). In a food processor, whizz your maple syrup, soaked dates, vanilla, eggs, and almond butter. Process until mostly smooth (less than a minute is fine), then add chocolate-coconut oil and process until incorporated. Dump this very thick, goopy goodness into your dry ingredients, add chocolate chips, and use those biceps to stir it all together. The batter will be very thick, so enjoy the arm workout. Spread the batter into the prepared pan (I found that a spoon followed by damp hands did the trick nicely), and bake for 20-22 minutes. I took mine out at 22 but probably could have gone a little less. Let cool before slicing, and store in an airtight container. IMG_2242 IMG_2212

Welcome to the inside of my brain box: Part 1. Useless math facts

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Mo’ cookies! Because cookies.

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Also because imminent GRE equals some amount of stress-baking. Or maybe a lot of stress-cooking. Or maybe both… not that I’m admitting to anything here. Definitely not.

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Basically I just want to take this stupid thing and be done. Like, now. Not in five days but NOW so it can get out of my head and I can have my brain space back. Ommm. Five more days. Ommm….

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I’m to that lovely point where your brain simply cannot take in any more information, no matter how hard you study and try to cram it in there. So I did what I do best and made soup and cookies and vegan lentil enchiladas and went to yoga and jazzercise and and took a study break. And now I’m blogging. Because there is no more information that wants to go into my brain. I will be SUCH a happy camper this coming Monday at five pm when I land on College Ave. and face plant into a Zachary’s pizza [all my East Bay peeps, you know why this is such a fantastic idea]. Ahhhh. Post GRE pizza nirvana.

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But anyway. Until then I am trapped in my head with useless math facts. So cookies. Because the math involved in making 3/4 of a recipe of cookies is WAY more fun than weighted averages. And “real life” (ha) word problems. Also lovely, that this batch makes roughly 19 cookies, which is the exact number that I’m really good at cramming onto a cookie sheet. Why, you ask? I did this because a) I’m lazy and b) I had to study so I could only procrastinate by cookie baking for so long. Also I apparently developed an aversion to using more than one cookie sheet when I was living in Salem with Kira and we only had one, and rotating batches was too annoying. So maybe that’s where this comes from?! Ingrained behavior. And laziness. And studying. Let’s not forget that…

The wise mistress of the otherworldly cat realm who hangs around me says… ‘Sit in your favorite blanket and eat cookies and I will sit on you. Because it’s actually my blanket and you are actually my human’. And then she smiles at me, like the darling cute thing that she is:

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And I probably take her advice and eat cookies with her on my lap. Because life and studying are more more appealing when there are cookies and smiling cats.

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 Almond Butter Gingerbread Cookies

Gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free [date sweetened!], and vegan! These cookies are sweetened with dates and molasses—both nutrient-dense natural sweeteners. They’re full of healthy fats from the almond butter, and good fiber from coconut flour. Go ahead and indulge with glee! Yield: 19.

  • 1 c roasted, unsalted almond butter
  • 3 tbsp molasses
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed+6 tbsp water [2 flax eggs]
  • 3/4 c pitted dates, packed [soaked if needed]
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1/4 c coconut flour [sifted if lumpy]
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • scant 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • a twist or two of fresh black pepper
  • 1/4 c extra dark chocolate chips

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In the bowl of a food processor, process soaked dates with a bit of their soaking water (only about a tbsp or two) until a mostly smooth, slightly chunky paste forms. Set aside. In a small bowl, stir together 2 tbsp flax eggs and 6 tbsp water; let sit aside to gel.

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet (or two if you’re not like me) with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together almond butter, molasses, gelled flax egg, date paste, vanilla, and grated ginger until smooth and incorporated. In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk together coconut flour, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, sea salt, and pepper. Add dry into wet, toss in chocolate chips with reckless abandon, and stir until the dough is combined and all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Drop the dough by the tablespoonful onto the prepared cookie sheet (it’s sticky, so prepare to eat leftover sticky on your person). Cram all 19 cookies onto a sheet if you’re feeling adventurous. Pop them into the oven for at least 12 minutes—they will start to form a chewy crust on the outside, but we need the inside to be NOT mushy. I checked mine at 12, then baked them for another 4 minutes, checking at the two minute mark. They should be not too squishy on the top, with just a little give and a chewy crust on the outside.

Let them cool on the cookie sheet before removing them to a cooling rack—they’re soft when they’re warm! Let cool completely and store in an airtight container in the fridge for chewy-fudgy cookies, or on the counter in an airtight container for soft cookies.

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My sandwich is exploding kale

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Drool drool drool.

I had no idea these bars were going to be so spectacular!!! But they were. And thankfully for me and my sweets consumption they went on the plane to Oregon with m&v, those lucky ducks. I have serious problems when I go to Portland… I just want ALL THE FOOD. And I run into that reoccurring problem of most mortals in that only so much goodness will fit in my stomach. With whom do I register a complaint for this ridiculous design flaw?!

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But anyway. They needed plane snacks and any excuse to bake is fine by me so these happened.

And I am soooo glad they did.

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Sorry in advance for the next bajillion posts being sweets, don’t say I didn’t warn you… Jill (of the blog Halfway There and the tamales and flan madness) and I are having our bimonthlyish baking extravaganza later today sooooo there will be cake and ice cream and cookies. And quinoa pizza…just to, you know, round things out. Because why make just one thing?! How boring. But more on that later.

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Also tacos. And feet. And there was a pool behind me and what more could you want on a weekend? Sadly that was last weekend (of the light side/dark side bars) and there is currently no pool in sight for me. Harumph.

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Also KALE!!! Could there be any more kale in this sandwich?! I think not. KALE EXPLOSION! Love love love. I know it’s random but KALE!!! is AMAZING!! And it’s my blog. So I’m sharing.

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But for now. BARZ. M&V needed something that traveled well and wouldn’t be too crumbly so obviously dates. And nuts for sustenance whilst traveling (much better than that garbage you typically find in airports). And only five ingredients, all whole foods, all things that come from nature and are eaten while still resembling their natural state. Wheeee!

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Pecan Date Bars

Beyond simple to put together! Chewy, naturally sweet and delicious. Gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free, dairy free!  Might be paleo? Easily veganized. Healthy fats [pecans], a good source of vits/mins [dates], antioxidants [extra dk chocolate] + protein. Perfect travel (or anytime) snacks. Recipe adapted from Ellaphant Eats, here! Makes 9 giantish bars, or more if you cut them smaller… but… why?!

  • 1 c pitted medjool dates [soaked in hot water for about 10 minutes if they’re like rocks]
  • 2 c raw pecans
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 eggs*
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate, chopped or chips (mine was chips for hurried baking)

*or two flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flaxseed+6tbsp water) veganizes this nicely 

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Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease an 8 by 8 pan with your thing of choice (I like coconut oil).

In a food processor (what on earth would I do without these?!), process softened dates and pecans until a sticky, clumpy dough forms. The pecan pieces should be relatively small (just don’t over do it and end up with nut butter…). Pulse in vanilla and sea salt, followed by the eggs. Remove the blade and stir in 1/4 c chocolate chips. Scoop the batter out into the prepared pan, and flatten it out with a spatula or your fingers or whatever. Press the remaining chocolate chips into the top of the bars. Bake for just about 19-20 minutes, until the edges are browned. The center will still feel slightly soft, but a tester should come out clean. Let cool in the pan, then cut and store in a sealed container in the fridge.

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If life hands you lemons, you should obviously make lemon bars

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LEMON BARS!

With MEYER LEMONS!!

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Life doesn’t get much better than that.

Especially since we had a random little heat wave in the middle of last week. And of course, it hit Thursday and I immediately wanted cookies because apparently Thursday=cookies. But seeing as it was waaaayyy too hot for any normal person to want to even consider turning on the oven, I wisely opted for no bake, raw lemon bars. Because they took about thirty seconds to throw together and then all I had to do was shove them in the fridge for chill time until I ate them. Lazy lazy and very nearly instant cookie gratification. Wheee!!!

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Also, I love lemon desserts but I’m wildly picky. For instance, I find most lemon loaf cakes to be waaaayy too sweet—almost cloying and definitely icky. I love lemon scones and lemon curd—both of those are usually a good balance of not too sweet and just sweet enough. These bars totally fall into that category too—they’re not overly tart, but neither are they stupid-sweet.

Besides all that, they also happen to be raw, vegan, gluten free, and refined sugar free! Sooo…. breakfast, anyone??

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And really. Anything with Meyer lemons: sign me up. They are SO much more exciting than a regular lemon (although these bars would also be delicious with regular lemons, I’m sure). Lemons=spring! Perfect springy dessert/breakfast/feelgoodtreat/younameit/please eat it.

That being said, these take pretty much five minutes to make so you have nooooo excuses. Lemon bars!! With nearly instant gratification!! YAY! Do it.

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Raw Meyer Lemon-Coconut Bars

Recipe lightly adapted from Pure Ella, here! Raw, vegan, no bake, gluten free, and refined sugar free. They’re full of healthy fats and whole grains… AND they’re delicious. Recipe makes about 9 squares—I did mine in an 8 by 8 pan, but I think next time I’ll use something smaller so there’s a  better crust to icing ratio.

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For the crust:

  • 1/3 c almond flour
  • 1/2 c rolled oats
  • 1/2 c raw buckwheat groats
  • scant 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 3/4 c dates, pitted (and soaked if they’re hard)
  • 3/4 c unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • fresh zest of one meyer lemon

For the icing:

  • 1/4 c unrefined coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp coconut butter
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • fresh juice of 1/2 a meyer lemon

Line your preferred pan with a parchment paper and set aside.

In a food processor, whiz together almond flour, oats, buckwheat, salt, dates, coconut, maple, and lemon zest until thoroughly mixed and blended (you’ll need to scrape the sides a bit). Upend the processor over your prepared pan, and pat the crust down with your hands until it’s evenly distributed.

In a microwave-safe bowl (or on the stove), melt coconut oil and maple syrup together. Once everything is fully melted, stir in coconut oil and stir until that melts as well. Set aside until this cools off a little, then stir in the lemon juice. Pour all this goodness over your prepared crust, and carefully transfer to the fridge to chill for at least an hour before cutting and serving. Keep it stored in the refrigerator, assuming there’s any left to store…

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