I call these sinfully delicious bars “Smitten Bars,” 1) because I’m absolutely smitten with them, and 2) because I adapted them a smidge from the Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for Chocolate Chunk Granola Bars. They are so delicious (especially after being on Whole30 for a month) that you feel like you’re cheating… on something! These would be perfect to make for your kids… or yourself. They’re gluten-free, they can be nut-free (to take to schools with rules about nut allergies), and you can amend them to suit your own personal tastes and diets. It’s basically the perfect recipe.
You have cat to be kitten me right meow. These snacks are healthy? Tea towel from Maiden South. #shamelessplug #catsonbikes
– 1 1/2 heaping cups (100 grams) gluten-free rolled oats
– 1/4 cup (20 grams) rolled oats, finely ground, or 1/4 cup oat flour
– 3/4 cup (60 grams) dried unsweetened shredded coconut
– 1 tablespoon ground flax
– 1 tablespoon chia seeds
– 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
– 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
– 1 cup (about 140 grams) chopped dried fruit (I used unsweetened, unsulphured dried cherries from Trader Joe’s)
– 1 cup (170 grams) chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips
– 1/4 cup (65 grams) almond butter (use sunflower seed butter to be nut-free)
– 1/4 cup coconut oil, warmed until liquefied (may sub olive oil)
– 1/4 cup (about 85 grams) maple raw local honey (may sub maple/cane syrup)
– 8×8 inch square casserole dish or baking pan
– parchment paper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line casserole dish or baking pan with two sheets of parchment paper, cross-ways and extending up the sides, in order to form a non-stick “sling” for your bars to make them easy to remove from the pan.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients (oats, oat flour, coconut, cherries/dried fruit, chocolate, salt, cinnamon). In a smaller, separate bowl, whisk together the “wet” ingredients (almond butter, coconut oil, and honey). Pour wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir until combined.
Transfer the mixture into the prepared pan, spreading it out until flat, then using another square of parchment paper to protect your hand, use the heel of your palm to press the mixture as firmly as you can until you cannot press it any further.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees, until the tops are golden and the edges are light brown. Let the bars cool COMPLETELY before cutting into them. I recommend letting them cool to close to room temperature, then finish them off for a couple of hours in the fridge. Then use the parchment paper “sling” to transfer the bars to a cutting board. Using a sharp, serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, carefully cut the bars into desired sizes.
According to Smitten Kitchen, these bars will keep for about a week in an air-tight container at room temperature… but I highly doubt they’ll last that long that way because you’ll eat them all. So, I stick them a couple at a time in a snack-size freezer bag and pop them into the freezer. That way, I can pull them out two at a time so Wheat and I don’t overindulge. They only take about 30 minutes to an hour to fully defrost at room temperature, or overnight in the fridge. Perfect for packing in lunch boxes – for kids or working grown-ups. :)
What’s your favorite healthy snack? This has quickly moved to the top of my list, but I’m always on the look for more options!
Picking up where I left off: This week started out with a busy, but nice week – all at home! – and included one of my favorite Whole30 meals to date: Whole30 Hamburgers!
Said Whole30 Hamburgers garnered a lot of unfair criticism in our house. That is, before they got eaten. Wheat was extremely skeptical of my plan to perch a burger, topped with a fried egg, on top of a salad. He hemmed and hawed and attempted to get me to change the meal plan to hobo pockets instead. However, I eventually wore him down as I almost always do (he’s doing Whole30 with me, isn’t he? ;) and after a few bites, he declared that they were actually pretty darn delicious. I concur completely!
The ground beef we picked up from our favorite local butcher, Jones’ Meats, and after Wheat seasoned them with salt and pepper and grilled them, we placed them on top of salad greens, sliced pickling cucumbers, sliced tomatoes, sliced dill pickles, topped them with a fried egg each, and then drizzled sriracha all over the place. A 100 calorie pack of Wholly Guacamole on top of it all, for me. So good!
June 11th: for breakfast I inhaled a hard boiled egg with sriracha and 2 juliet tomatoes, along with my usual coffee + coconut oil. For lunch I had the other half of my hamburger that I couldn’t eat the night before on top of more salad greens, another pickle, and sriracha… all before I hit the road for Atlanta for one of my college besties’ wedding!!
I arrived in Atlanta around 4 and had picked up some roasted, salted cashews and almonds at a gas station pit stop on the way up for snacks. For dinner, my girlfriend Courtney, her husband Matt and I hit a taco joint for a quick dinner. I had tacos sans tortillas, which was weird. And a side of steamed kale. Not my favorite meal. Guacamole and salsa help, but it was still weird. No picture.
June 12th: started this day out with a verse from my devotional (Proverbs 15:23) that I liked so much I copied it down into my food journal:
“A person finds joy in giving an apt reply… and how good is a timely word!”
For breakfast, I had an apple the hotel offered at the front desk on my way to a hot yoga class with Courtney! We headed to Atlanta Hot Yoga in Buckhead for their 9:30 am Bickram class, based on my fabulous aunt-in-law’s stellar recommendation (check her fashion blog out at Undercover 411 if that’s yo thing). It was intense but amazing! A seriously great first hot yoga experience for me. We left with a yoga high and headed to another one of Aunt Vicki’s Buckhead recs: Cafe Jonah and the Magical Attic.
Here I had fresh pressed juice (hydration flavor – tasty and needed!), a green salad, a salad with mint, green tomatoes, honeydew melon, and cucumbers, smoked salmon with tomatoes and capers, and a side of fruit. I was starving, it was 100% Whole30 compliant and it was also completely refreshing and delicious! So glad we stopped in on Friday. I cleaned my plate and my bowl.
We shopped a bit at Lenox and headed back to Roswell to get ready for evening festivities. The three of us again left for dinner, this time headed to downtown Roswell (Canton Street) to piddle, eat, and have a couple drinks (not Whole30, I knowwwww) while we waited for the rehearsal activities to be done. We had an awesome dinner at Salt Factory. I started off with a salad topped with heart of palm, tomatoes, fresh radishes and herbs. And I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that I could not resist that goat cheese crostini. #sorrynotsorry
For my main course, I had the blood orange glazed salmon on top of mashed potatoes. I’m sure it was somehow not Whole30 compliant per se, but for the most part it checked all the boxes, so I’m going with it. Plus, it was DELICIOUS.
June 13th: It’s MK and David’s Wedding Day!
I started the day with the hotel’s buffet (which was really, really good by hotel buffet standards). I had lots of bacon, some scrambled eggs, and a mess o’ strawberries. After breakfast, Courtney and I went on a long (5.5 miles!) walk on a greenway nearby, and picked up cobb salads at Corner Bakery to eat by the pool with our friend Sara. They were pretty decent – lettuce topped with bacon, avocado, tomatoes and green onions with a vinaigrette dressing. We skipped the bleu cheese. After a while by the pool, we got dressed and headed to the chapel to see our friend get hitched!
Our friend Mary Katherine is from Atlanta, but has lived in Shanghai since we graduated from college. The groom is from LA, but they met in Shanghai. They’ve travelled all over the world, and their cocktail menu commemorated some of the more special spots.
I indulged in the Thailand Tonic, which was as tasty as the flowers were pretty.
It was the MOST gorgeous wedding. The ceremony was held at Roswell Presbyterian, which was beautiful and home for the Bride. The reception was held across the street at an historic home. It was simply stunning, just like the couple. The toasts were so sweet, so heartfelt, that we all teared up. Even the bartenders were crying! MK and David are such a special, sweet couple. I love you both very much! So happy I got to be a part of their day.
And while everyone was lookin’ pretty, I unleashed my inner nerd and was catching fire flies to show the gals what one looked like up close. Because I’m cool like that.
The food was just as amazing, and I’ll admit, I cheated a bit and indulged in a small serving of the ravioli… along with a ton of veggies, baked chicken, fried green tomatoes, pesto chicken skewers, and hummus on pita (only one little sliver!). Oh… and some late night pizza back at the hotel. That one, I am sorry about. I paid for it all day on Sunday! But not sorry about staying up late playing Heads Up in the hotel bar with some of my best friends. :)
June 14th: The next morning, MK and David treated everyone who could make it to a fantastic brunch at Public House in Roswell. I jumped back on the bandwagon with black coffee, an omelette with spinach, bacon, and sundried tomatoes topped with a side of guacamole, plus some fruit.
After lingering for far too many cups of coffee, we all finally said our goodbyes and hit the road. I miss them all so much already! Luckily, we have a couple more reunions already on the books for 2015 – and I’m already counting down the days until we reunite again! There really is nothing like time spent with college girlfriends.
I took the opportunity of being in a real city to make pit stops at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods for some items we can’t get back in Bainbridge. And once back in Bainbridge, Wheat and I reconvened over this very tasty, Whole30 approved meal.
Squoodles (squash noodles via Spiralizer) sauteed in ghee and minced garlic, along with sweet peppers and halved juliet tomatoes. (Steps: warm ghee; add garlic, then peppers and tomatoes, then shrimp, then squoodles, then serve.) Light, healthy, totally delicious, and no guilt whatsoever.
June 15th: Which brings me to Monday, Monday. I picked up some gluten-free rolled oats at Trader Joe’s, and following the directions, I made some oatmeal (water, pinch of salt, plus some pecans, cinnamon and blueberries). Not bad! A little bland, though. I want to puree some fruits and freeze them in ice cube trays to thaw and swirl into things like oatmeal and chia pudding in place of a sweetener. Not pictured: I also had a scrambled egg with guac. EDIT: I had a late night realization that although gluten-free, oats=grass/grain and are not Whole30 kosher. Oops. Guess I cheated again.
For lunch yesterday I had some vegan egg white salad I picked up at Trader Joe’s on the recommendation of my favorite yogi and yoga instructor and health nut and bestie, Ashley. It was pretty good! Upon closer inspection, it contains soy, so it wasn’t 100% Whole30 approved, though, so I probably won’t get it again. We were out of salad greens, so I had it was random veggie plate. The highlight was the pickled green beans from my sister, Anna Jo, and her husband, Marc!
And I’ll pick up next week after that!
Current thoughts on Whole30:
Well currently, Wheat is hangry. Mostly because I had late night pizza and he didn’t (he stayed behind in Bainbridge to attend another good friends’ wedding!). We are really missing some foods, but if the late night pizza did anything, it made me realize just what pizza does to me. I was bloated and ill all the next day, and yesterday morning I woke up with what felt like a hangover – foggy and not sleeping well at all. I feel so much better today after a full day of getting back on track, even though relatively speaking, let’s be real: it was the healthiest I’ve probably ever been at a wedding!
Anyone got any good Whole30 recipes or tips to share this week?