game, set, matcha coconut lime energy bites (vegan, no added sugar, gluten free, paleo)

As we’re learning, life in high school is busy…especially when you throw in sports. It usually makes for a long day and a late arrival home.

To brighten up my daughter’s long day and making snacking on the run easier, I whipped up these matcha coconut lime energy bites – a nod to her chosen sport this season and because matcha naturally boosts energy. It also helps with mental alertness, has antioxidant powers (hello bright green powder!), boosts the immune system and cardiovascular health and can fight infections – which gives it an A+ in my books.

 

 

This was my first time trying matcha after hearing of it several years ago on Kathy Patalsky’s blog, Healthy Happy Life. Yep, even thought I’m a tea drinker, it took me this long to try it since it’s more expensive than the tea I normally buy, but happily, I found that a little goes a looong way. And I’m excited to experiment and see what this does for my own energy.

If you’ve never tried matcha, it tastes like green tea because it is, um, green tea, but carries greater health benefits. If you want to learn more about its history, how it’s grown and it’s properties, click here.

Making these game, set, matcha energy bites is as easy as 1-2-3. Just thoroughly mix the ingredients in a food processor, form into bite-sized balls and coat in unsweetened shredded coconut since the batter is very sticky. You could coat them in matcha powder as I did here, but that amount of undiluted matcha powder carries a bitter overtone. So unless you don’t mind a little bitter with you no-added-sugar sweet, I’d stick with the unsweetened coconut.

Speaking of sweet…as with most of my recipes, these energy bites do not have any energy-sapping, immune suppressing added sugar! They also work for gluten-free and paleo diets since they are free from grains.

 

Print
Game, Set, Matcha Coconut Lime Energy Bites
Prep Time
15 mins
 

These coconut lime energy bites carry the subtle flavor of green tea and are perfect for hectic days when you're on the go and need a natural boost of energy.

Course: Snack
Servings: 9 energy bites
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 6 medjool dates
  • 3 T fresh lime juice
  • 1.5 tsp matcha powder
  • 1 scoop 100% pure stevia powder
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (plus more for coating)
  • 2 pinches salt
Instructions
  1. Pit the dates, then put all ingredients in a food processor or high speed blender and mix until thoroughly combined and the cashews have mostly been chopped into very fine pieces. Since the mixture is very sticky, keep your hands slightly wet with water to form the bite-size balls. Place additional coconut in a plastic bag, drop in each energy bite one at a time and shake to coat. For best results, refrigerate for at least one hour before eating.

    Can be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge for several days.

Recipe Notes

RECIPE NOTES

It's best to buy Medjool dates with the pits still in them as they tend to stay juicer than when the pits are removed. Make sure you are using 100% PURE stevia - read the ingredients closely! - as most stevia powders have added sweeteners and/or artificial ingredients.

 

 

 

(contains affiliate links which help fund this blog at no cost to you 🙂 )

  • Click here for my favorite food processor
  • Since this was my first time trying matcha, I purchased a small amount from Whole Foods. But you can find it cheaper here and in a larger quantity
  • Happily, Aldi has been carrying Medjool dates lately, but you can also find them here.
  • Pure stevia: It’s critical to use 100% pure stevia with no additives or fillers. I get mine at Trader Joe’s, but try the NOW BetterStevia™ Organic Zero Calorie Powdered Sweetener — 1 oz brand here. Even though it appears pricey, a little goes a looong way, and my container lasted me for several years! This link will save you $5 on your order…comment or message me if you want to know which products I stock up on to get the free shipping

snack to school week :: more spinach trees! (nut free, sugar free, vegan)

As I was dreaming up this week of recipes for you, I had several goals in mind: the recipes had to be quick and easy to prepare, offered healthier, more nutrient-dense alternatives to typical kid-geared snacks and had an element of fun to entice tiny palettes.

When it comes to fruits and sweeter veggies like carrots, this isn’t so hard. But greens like spinach are another matter.

Which is why I’m so excited to share this recipe with you! I’m mildly obsessed with it and cannot believe I hadn’t thought of it before. It’s ridiculously easy, free of nuts, can also be make seed-free and takes an already healthy condiment to a new level.

Meet the “More Spinach Trees” snack.

You have two options for mixing up the spinach hummus dip. Either you can finely chop the spinach and stir it into the hummus for a leafy look.

Or place the hummus and spinach in a food processor and give it a whirl until the spinach is thoroughly incorporated and turns the hummus a light green color. While I love homemade hummus (you can find my favorite recipe here), I usually buy mine because it’s a time saver for me.

To assemble as the More Spinach Trees, slice some cucumber, spread on the spinach hummus dip and add a pretzel rod trunk. If you’re sending this to school, you can package each element separately and let your child assemble on their own. While it’s healthiest to leave the pretzel rods out all together, keep them in if it encourages your child to try the spinach hummus dip.

While I find it hard to notice a difference in taste or even texture when I’ve added the spinach, suspicious children may still balk at trying this (one of mine did). If that’s the case, start out with smaller amount and gradually increase it over time as they adjust to the new color.

If you try this, I would love to hear your feedback! Did your children like it? Or not?

 

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More Spinach Trees!

A fun and easy way to boost the nutrients in an already healthy snack and sneak some extra greens into your child's diet...and your own too!

Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup regular hummus of your choice
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed spinach
  • cucumbers, sliced
  • pretzel rods
Instructions
  1. For the "leafy" spinach hummus dip, finely chop the spinach and stir it into the hummus. For the blended green hummus, add the hummus and spinach to a food processor and blend the spinach breaks down and turns the hummus to a light green color.

  2. To assemble the "trees," spread the hummus on each slice of cucumber and place on a tray. Add a pretzel rod "trunk."

Recipe Notes

For pickier eaters, you may need to start off with smaller quantity of spinach and gradually work your way up. The spinach doesn't noticeably affect the taste or texture of the hummus, but the different appearance can cause little ones to be suspicious. 😉

One of the best tips for helping children accept vegetables and new flavors is one I encountered in a vegetarian cookbook several years ago: chop the veggies into smaller child bite-sited pieces. I’ve found I like doing this for myself too! For this dip, finely chop the spinach if you’re going to stir it in vs. blending it.

 

(contains affiliate links)

  • Click here for my favorite food processor
  • I bought my pretzel rods at Trader Joe’s, but here’s a brand I like even better!
  • My go-to brand of hummus is made by Sabra which many grocery stores carry.

 

date caramel (vegan, gluten free, no added sugar)

One of the hardest things I ever did was take on a three-month sugar detox several years ago. It took me more than a year to work up the courage to see it through, but once I finished it, I knew I never wanted to go back to my sugar-seeking ways.

Except the thought of not enjoying desserts again, especially for special occasions, was a bit of downer. Thankfully, I’ve learned that kicking the added sugar habit does not mean you can never treat yo’self.

In fact, it’s the opposite with recipes like this date caramel!

This no-added sugar alternative to traditional caramel sauce has the extra benefit of plant-protein (from the almonds) and copper, magnesium, manganese, vitamin B6, niacin, pantothenic acid, and riboflavin found in the dates. So rich and creamy but without the empty calories and energy rush…or crash. I could happily eat an entire jar in one sitting.

The key to this recipe is buying Medjool dates with the pits still in them (you’ll remove the pits before blending, of course). You may need to adjust the salt content depending on whether you’re using salted or unsalted almond butter and your personal preference (I used salted).

 

(contains affiliate links)

  • Click here for my favorite food processor
  • I usually buy my almond butter from Trader Joe’s, but click here for another option.
  • Happily, Aldi has been carrying Medjool dates lately, but you can also find them here.

 

 

Print
Date Caramel
Prep Time
10 mins
 

Rich and creamy and loaded with nutrients and plant-protein, this date caramel easily comes together to satisfy your sweet tooth, but without giving you a sugar crash.

Course: Dessert, Snack
Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup almond butter
  • 6-8 Medjool dates
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp (scant) salt
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
Instructions
  1. Pit the dates and then add all ingredients to a food processor or high speed blender. Blend until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy, adjusting salt to taste. For a thinner sauce, add more almond milk.

Recipe Notes

Store in an airtight jar in the fridge.

5-ingredient walnut pesto over zucchini noodles (vegan, gluten free, paleo)

pesto

I am newer to the whole veggie noodle trend, mostly because I didn’t want to invest in a spiralizer unless I knew I would get frequent use out of it. For awhile, I made due by putting my dusty cheese grater to use to make zucchini noodle strips. And then I found this:

Only $5 at Whole Foods and I was sold. I was a little skeptical at first if it would really work, but it does! And not only does it turn out lovely long zucchini noodles, I get a few bonus rotini shapes too. The only downside is it’s hard to spiralize the entire veggie because you run the risk of nicking your fingers in to the bargain. A brief search on Amazon, however, located this one* that solves that problem and is still small enough to be tucked into a drawer.

While my traditional pasta sauce works well with these noodles, I think they were meant for this pesto recipe. You can serve it over slightly warmed noodles, or since the weather is heating up, eat it cold. This pesto is a snap to put together and it can even be frozen.

Five-ingredient walnut pestoIMG_4176
1.5 cups of basil
1/2 cups of walnuts
2 garlic cloves
1/8 tsp salt
dashes of freshly ground pepper
3/4 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and mix on high until everything is thoroughly combined. Spoon onto noodles of choice (I recommend zucchini!) and stir until noodles are coated. Personally, for my own bowl, I like to mix in the pasta by hand. Store any extras in an air-tight jar in the freezer.

*makes enough for two adult servings

*contains an affiliate link

5-ingredient key lime pie bites (vegan, sugar free)

One of the most frutrating things about changing your diet is relearning how to cook. The substitutes for the ingredients you used to rely on (sugar, white flour, eggs, dairy, meat etc.), don’t behave in the same way. In the first three months that I spent eating a plant-based diet, I was brought almost to tears several times because the kitchen suddenly felt like a foreign place.

Which makes the victory all the (sugar-free) sweeter when I hit on the right mix of ingredients the first time I make up a recipe. And judging by how quickly these little bites disappeared with our small group from church, I’d say these were a BIG hit.

If you have Lime Vitality Essential oil, I’d use that to give them a limey kick, but freshly squeezed lime juice will work too. They can be served naked or with a coconut coating. 

Last thing before I share the recipe…on Monday, I’m doing a clean eating challenge with a “Big Game” theme. It features a six day meal plan (including this recipe) of foods you might find at a “Big Game” party, but with a healthier twist. Comment if you’d like in on the challenge which I run through a private Facebook group (or you can request to join here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1359914420746043/)


Key Lime Pie Bites 
1⁄2 cup cashews
1 c date paste
3 drops of lime vitality essential oil or 1-2 tsp of lime juice
3⁄4 c large flake, unsweetened coconut
Shredded coconut (optional)

Put all ingredients except the shredded coconut in a blender or food processor and blend until the mixture is very smooth. Roll into bite-sized balls. If desired, roll in shredded coconut. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to one week.

oatmeal raisin cookie dough bites, vegan + sugar free


First up: The winner of the Oh She Glows Everyday cookbook by Angela Liddon was Quinn. Aaaand, I just got word that she received it today!

Now something for everyone…this recipe for oatmeal raisin cookie dough bites. I think it was actually one of Angela’s cookie recipes that I was trying a few years ago, when I discovered how toasted pecans have the same buttery butterscotch flavor as oatmeal raisin cookies (ORC). In a traditional ORC, it’s the brown sugar and butter that give it that homey flavor.
I love finding simple, easy and no-sugar ways to make tasty desserts and snacks and this one checks off each of those boxes. Plus it has been kid- and crowd-approved.

So without further ado, here you go:

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough Bites

2 c. pecans, toasted*
1 c. date paste
1 1/4 c. rolled oats, organic if possible
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 c. shredded, unsweetened coconut
1 c. raisins

Place pecans in a food processor  and blend until nuts are crumbly. Add remaining ingredients, except the raisins, and blend until well combined and the “dough” holds together when pressed between your fingers. Pour into a mixing bowl, add raisins and “knead” in with your hands (it’s easier than a spoon ;)). Form dough into balls that are about 1″ in diameter. Can be stored in an airtight container for several days.

Recipe Notes

This recipe can be cut in half for a smaller amount or for only 1-2 people. If you have a larger family or a crowd, I suggest keeping the ingredient amounts as is.

*See this post for a quick and easy way to toast nuts.

 

 

 

 

6-ingredient chocolate earth truffles (vegan, gluten free, sugar free, raw option)

chocolate earth trufflesAs promised yesterday, here is an Earth Day-inspired recipe that is simple to make and a way to satisfy the sweet tooth without any added sugar (unless you want to add a little).

I came across this recipe at the Whole Foods Market recipe site, but made it over so that it didn’t contain sugar. I always love when I find recipes that are easily sweetened by fruit…recipes that leave you feeling good about what you ate instead of weighed down and sluggish.

You might want to double this recipe if you have children or are bringing this to share because they don’t stay on the plate for very long.

If you’re curious why I recommend buying fair-trade cocoa powder, read this post.

CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the Chocolate Earth Truffles recipe

6-ingredient chocolate earth truffles

Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

Chill Time:  1 hour

Makes: 12-15

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup date paste
  • 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably fair trade
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup cacao nibs (or dairy free chocolate chips)
  • 1/3-1/2 cups unsweetened shredded or flaked coconut

Instructions

In a food processor, add peanut butter, date paste and cocoa powder and blend until all the ingredients are well combined.

Spoon mixture into a large bowl and add raisins and cacao nibs or chocolate chips. Stir until thoroughly combined.

Place mix in the fridge for about one hour to firm up.

Scoop out spoonfuls of truffle mix and form 1” balls.

Roll balls in shredded/flaked coconut.

Recipe Notes

Store in an air tight container in the fridge. Will keep for about 2-3 days if properly stored.

You also could roll the truffles in finely ground walnuts, pecans or almonds.

To make these raw, use raw peanut butter

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game day any day 7-layer dip

7layerdiptitleYou know you’re a mom of boys when…your middle son chooses the colors of his favorite football teams as his inspiration for his “Mastermind” pattern. And when they have holes in their knees from playing tackle football, tackle anything, inside and outside. And when you, a fair-weather football begin to consider Super Bowl Sunday almost on par with Valentine’s Day or the Fourth of July.

100_3937But onto the dip…

I’m breaking a perhaps unwritten food blogging rule and posting a recipe without showing the finished product. Three reasons. One: I keep forgetting to take purty pictures of the dip all assembled. Two: I’m making it tomorrow but am giving you time to grab these ingredients in case you want to assemble it before the big game on Sunday because it’s just that good. Three: Truthfully, the assembled dip isn’t all that photogenic.

Instead, for today, let’s let the ingredients do the talking…

7layerdipnumbered

  1. fat free refried beans
  2. red pepper hummus
  3. avocado
  4. salsa
  5. lettuce
  6. cilantro
  7. cucumber

Oh, and don’t forget the chips. 🙂 To amp up the nutrition, make some baked sweet potato rounds.

100_4013Feel free to make more for a large crowd as this will store well, covered, in the fridge for a few days. Score!

CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the Game Day Any Day 7-layer Dip recipe

game day any day 7-layer dip

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1-14.5 oz can fat free refried beans
  • 1-2 cups red pepper or plain hummus
  • 1-2 avocados, diced
  • 2-3 cups salsa
  • 3-4 cups diced romaine lettuce
  • ½ – 1 cup minced cilantro
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • optional: green onions, diced jalapeños, olives

Instructions

  1. Spread refried beans evenly on bottom of baking dish.
  2. Next spread the hummus evenly and evenly distributed the diced avocados over that.
  3. Pour on the salsa.
  4. If using jalapeños or olives add those next, then cover evenly with the lettuce.
  5. Finish by evenly distributing the cilantro and the cucumber.
  6. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Recipe Notes

This dip will store well in the fridge for a couple of days. Make sure to cover!

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throw back thursday go to snack // ants on a log

ants on a log
ants on a log = celery + peanut butter + raisins

Grow up in North America and peanut butter is almost synonymous with childhood. Except, perhaps, if you are severely allergic to it.

Perhaps it is not surprising then that one of the snack I fondly remember my mum making for us as children is the classically simple, “Ants on a Log.” The genius of combining these three ingredients harkens back to the 1950s (I couldn’t help looking up its history) and I am forever grateful.

Picture 003
my two youngest at the beach in 2013 (because it’s fun to look back at the little years)

As I shared here, my husband looked forward to coaching little league from the time our children were babies. Me? I looked forward to the day they were p.b. + celery ready so I could make them this snack.

And whether it’s because of its name or portability, it’s also one of my favorite foods to pack for a picnic.

017_15A
My two oldest when they were little circa summer 2006. Though they weren’t eating ants on a log here, we were enjoying a picnic in Stratford, ON

I recommend using organic celery since conventional celery is on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list and spreading it with all natural, no sugar added peanut butter (the raisins add a natural sweetness).

So tell me, what is your favorite snack from childhood? Do you still eat it today? What are your favorite plant-based foods to pack on a picnic?

100_0732

 

peanut butter banana milkshake (vegan, no added sugar)

pbmilkshakes Shakes and smoothies are such a “thing” these days.

(Almost) every time I see a shake or smoothie recipe posted on my favorite food blogs or on the pages of a magazine, I think, “I should try that.”

Yet, I rarely make it past this shake.100_2516It tastes rich and unwholesome but really is made from a few simple good-for-you ingredients with no dairy or sugar in sight and was inspired by this recipe over at Healthy. Happy. Life.

Enough said. With summer is in full swing and school starting in less that one month for us, I’m keeping this post short and sweet…

Print
peanut butter banana milkshake (dairy free, no added sugar)

Smooth and creamy, this shake is a perfect combination of salty and sweet.

Course: Beverage, Breakfast, Snack
Servings: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 banana, pre-sliced & frozen
  • 3 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • dashes cinnamon
  • 1/2-3/4 cup unsweetened, dairy-free milk
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender, starting with ½ cup of almond milk. Blend until smooth, adding more milk as needed to produce a thick but pourable shake.


Recipe Notes

I love using unsweetened almond milk for this, but suspect it would be yummy with unsweetened coconut milk too! For a peanut free version, try walnuts. To keep the recipe raw, use a raw nut butter.