chocolate peanut butter oatmeal thumbprint cookies

Saturdays are my favorite. Because not only are they… Saturdays… They're my cookie day. Every Saturday morning, I have my weekend breakfast, linger in my pajamas for as long as possible, and then out comes the chocolate (almost always), the flour, the (coconut) oil, my favorite spatula and pink mixing bowl as I make a mess the kitchen that even a three year old would be proud of. Usually, the fruits of my weekend labor are what I post on the blog the following week, so I take time to photograph, write, upload, and edit since it's hard for me to find time after the weekend. It's my weekend ritual and I love it.

My original plan for this recipe didn't have chocolate as the center. But when I realized I was out of the other ingredient (which shan't be named because I want to use it in the future!), I remembered the two- not one, but TWO- bars of dark chocolate I had stowed away in the freezer that my parents gave me for my birthday. Give me chocolate for my birthday, and I won't complain. What else could you need? 

These cookies taste like peanut butter cups but they have about a tenth of the amount of ingredients you'll find on that neon orange package, are vegan and gluten-free, and somewhat healthy. Until you eat half of the batch for lunch, that is. Thank god calories don't count on the weekends. 

chocolate peanut butter oatmeal thumbprint cookies (vegan & GF)

3 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
1/4 c. + 2 tbsp. peanut butter
3 tbsp. pure maple syrup/honey
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. quick cooking oats + more for rolling (optional)
3 tbsp. dark chocolate chunks
sea salt for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat oven to 350ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk coconut oil, peanut butter, sweetener, and vanilla. Add oats and mix until well combined. Scoop into balls and roll in oats if desired. Place on prepared cookie sheet and make an indent in the enter with your thumb. Place chocolate in each indent, distributing evenly. Bake for 7-10 minutes. Sprinkle with sea salt and let cool before transferring to a jar or container to store. Recipe yields 12 cookies.

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seed & date power bars

Typically, I thoroughly enjoy turning not-so-healthy desserts into healthy ones and do my best to make them taste like the real thing. But sometimes those escapades turn into chocolate cookies that are an odd shade of matte brown with a taste somewhat resembling play-doh. BLEHHH. It's really disheartening when I'm craving something rich, chocolatey, and satisfying and don't want to feel like a whale. But then there's other times where I actually CRAVE healthy food. I crave spinach and big bowls of roasted veggies allthetime and bananas pretty much every day. I crave things that taste like they've been birthed from the earth {sorry, too much?} and taste natural and wholesome. That's when I whip up batches of granola bars, energy bites, and things like that to have stored away in the freezer {if they make it that far} for when the craving strikes. 

I made some bars similar to these awhile ago, but it was one of those days where writing down measurements and snapping photos was just about the last thing I wanted to do. Of course, it's those days where my recipes always turn out the best, so I decided to remake them for the blog because they were just that good. This is one of those recipes that can be made from whatever you have around. I chose some oats, coconut, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and flax seeds. I threw in a dash of cinnamon for good measure and just a teensy bit of honey because the dates already bring a lot of natural sweetness. I bake these for a few minutes just to set them up, but you could just as easily leave them raw since there's nothing that requires cooking in the recipe. I have to say though, straight from the oven, they're pretty bomb. 

These bars are packed full of good-for-you ingredients that leave you satisfied without a drop in energy an hour later. They're jammed with tons of superfoods, healthy fats, protein, fiber, and antioxidants all needed for a healthy, happy body! The bars are so soft and chewy {I want to say like a candy bar, but let's be real here… Dates = candy bar? No.} and taste very sweet and caramely thanks to the dates. Of course, this recipe is so easily adaptable, you could sub in different kinds of nuts, sweeteners, seeds, grains, or dried fruit. No matter what you fill them with, you have a healthy, nourishing, and satisfying snack or quick brekkie.  

date & seed power bars {vegan & GF}

1 c. dates 
2 tbsp. softened coconut oil
1 tbsp. honey
1/4 c. desiccated coconut flakes
1/4 c. sunflower seeds
1/4 c. pumpkin seeds
3 tbsp. flax seeds
1 tbsp. poppyseeds
1 tbsp. sesame seeds
1/4 c. quick cooking oats
vanilla {optional}
cinnamon {optional}

Preheat oven to 350ºF and line an 8x8 in. pan with parchment paper. Chop dates until fine and add a little bit of hot water to soften if needed. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients and stir until evenly combined. Pour into prepared pan and press down firmly with the back of a spatula. Bake for 8-10 minutes and let cool before slicing into 8 even bars. 

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whole wheat cinnamon raisin quick bread

It's no secret, I'm a carb-nut. If it wasn't for my health, I'd probably eat bread for all three meals, seven days a week. There's so many BREADS. So many ways to EAT IT. It's fantastic and horrible all at the same time. My favorite is multigrain with peanut butter, honey, banana, and cinnamon. UGH, I die. 

This morning, I got a mad craving for some carbage and some cinnamon raisin swirl bread sounded like it would just about hit the spot. But I'll let you in on a secret- yeast bread scares the bujeejees out of me. There's too many opportunities for things to go wrong. Not to sound like a perfectionist or anything, but I hate when things go wrong. {not a perfectionist. Pshh shhhht.}

Once I decided there was no way on earth I was going to wait a million hours for some yeast to activate and dough to rise, I remembered this honey wholewheat cranberry nut bread and changed it up a little bit to satisfy my cinnamon raisin craving. That stuff is what my carb-loaded dreams are made of. Homemade bread made in one bowl, in a matter of about 60 minutes and it's vegan? Count me in. Gimme the bread. 

whole wheat cinnamon raisin quick bread {vegan}

3 c. wholewheat flour
1/2 c. oats
2 tsp. baking soda
2 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 2/3 c. non-dairy milk
1/3 c. pure honey
2 tbsp. canola oil
1/2 c. raisins

Preheat oven to 350ºF and grease and flour a bread pan. In a large bowl, whisk flour, oats, baking soda, and cinnamon. Add milk, honey, and oil. Stir until just combined. Gently fold in raisins and mix until evenly dispersed. Place dough in prepared pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Let cool completely before removing from pan and slicing. 

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no bake brownies with chocolate ganache

Oh man. I am coming at you today, full-force, fudgey brownies, chocolate smudges all over my face {and arms and legs}, yelling REALLYLOUD with all my chocolate-induced energy and jubilee. This is a good day, my dear friends. A good day indeed. 

We all know brownies are the lifeline for many. But when you live an emotional life *cough cough*, brownies probably shouldn't be on the menu every day if you still want to squeeze into those skinny jeans with out producing an impressive muffin top. HOWEVER. If we're eating raw brownies, then go at it. Eat them. They're amazing, satisfying, fudgey, and nourishing to your body. Chocolate for all!

At first, I was just planning on making plain raw brownies. But then I decided to take it to a whole new level with some chocolate ganache made from coconut oil, cocoa powder, and maple syrup. Whisk it up until it thickens and at this point, it's probably you've died and gone to heaven. I drizzled the ganache over my brownies and had a little left over, so I decided to just smear it on there afterwards instead of putting it a "container" "to save" "for another time". Let's face it. It'd be in the fridge for about two minutes and then I'd be eating it with a spoon. Or better yet my fingaahhhhs. 

It honestly irritates me when people are like "EWW, I can't eat healthy because all you can eat is sticks and twigs and kale." But those people are doing something wrong! They're thinking about what they can't eat instead of making do with what they can. I'm not saying I'm just "making do" with these brownies though. They're more than satisfying, filling, and give the kind of energy that actually sticks around unlike the crashes that sugary sweets provide. 

These brownies can be whipped up in a flash, especially if you have a good food processor unlike me who has an average blender and has to grind the ingredients separately. They don't require too many ingredients and will definitely satisfy your chocolate cravings like no other. The ganache is optional, but… not really. After drizzling/drenching the brownies with the ganache and chilling, the ganache firms up only slightly producing the fudgiest, most rich brownie of my dreams without even turning on the oven. Huzzah. 

no bake brownies with chocolate ganache {vegan & GF}

1/3 c. raw almonds
2 tbsp. flax seeds
1/4 c. oats
1/2 c. chopped dates, tightly packed
1 tbsp. coconut oil
3 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp. maple syrup/honey
2 tbsp. non-dairy milk

2 tbsp. melted coconut oil
1 1/2 tbsp. maple syrup
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

Place all brownie ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until evenly combined. If it seems to dry, you can add more milk and if it seems to wet, you can add more nuts or oats until it reaches the consistency you want. Press into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the ganache until smooth and slightly thickened. Drizzle over brownies. Slice into 6 bars or squares. Store covered in a freezer until serving.

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coconut, oatmeal, and cherry jam thumbprints

"You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have." -Maya Angelou

Something I've learned as of late is that creativity is not something that can be forced. It must come naturally. When we force ourselves into something, it becomes a chore, something we dread. When we learn to change our mindsets to enjoy the process of creating, there's something, I don't know what it is, that goes into our creation that makes it beautiful. WAIT. Eureka moment. That thing is love and passion. 

Good ideas don't necessarily come when you're expecting it. They come in the quiet of dark mornings with an equally dark mug of coffee. In the shower after a long, stressful day of your brain working overtime. On a walk, with your eyes glued to the beauty of your surroundings. They come when we are at peace, calm, and have a happy spirit about us. Nothing good comes from having a bad attitude, and that includes creativity. 

When we put our good ideas to work, with a happy attitude and a joyful heart, we create wonderful things. Keep a smile on your face through the process, accept your faults and failures, move on, and do whatever it is you do to the best of your abilities.

As you've probably gathered, the context for all this creative chat is about my blog. I've noticed that when I take a step back and stop forcing myself to bake, photograph, write, and post, the creativity just flows. It comes naturally when I let go of all the expectations I have of myself that are way too high. These cookies came out of the blue. Actually, I lied. I was scrolling through my blog feed, I found these cookies. I'd been having that itch to bake all day, not knowing really what it was I wanted to make. Until I saw those gorgeous photos and simple ingredients. DING DING DING. 

These cookies have a short ingredient list, are so simple, delicious, chewy, and lightly sweetened. The base of the cookies is amazing and I can just picture them going perfectly with a cup of coffee or tea.

coconut, oatmeal, and cherry jam thumbprints 

1/2 c. oats
1/3 c. desiccated coconut
4 tbsp. melted coconut oil
3 1/2 tbsp. maple syrup/honey
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. flour
dash of cinnamon
cherry jam (you can sub any other kind of jam if you'd like)
granola for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat oven to 350ºF and grease or line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add coconut and oats into a blender and pulse until a flour forms. Pour into a bowl and add coconut oil, sweetener, vanilla, cinnamon, and flour. Stir until combined. Roll dough into balls, gently pressing your thumb into the centers. Place a small spoonful of jam (about a tsp. per cookie) in each imprint; sprinkle with granola if desired. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool completely before transferring to a jar or container. Yields 9 small cookies. 

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banoffee breakfast parfaits

I've been thinking about my blog a lot lately the last couple of weeks, evaluating what I'm really doing. I felt as if what started as a fun hobby became a chore that I didn't want to do. I hate it, but I was whipping out lots of content, but was it good? Did I actually like it? Was I having fun putting it together? No. I was feeling in such a rut and I didn't know what direction I was heading. It crossed my mind to delete my blog, live life, and bake just for the fun of it like normal people do. But I've put 3 years of my time and creativity into this space and I would hate to undo all of my hard work. 

Although I won't be deleting my blog anytime soon, I'm feeling like it's a good idea to take a step back and blog only when I feel like it, when I'm really enjoying it. I need to get used to the feeling of baking for baking's sake, not whipping out the camera or writing things down every time I'm in the kitchen. My goal is to put more thought into my content, post only the really good recipes, the ones with the pictures I love, even if that means only posting every couple of weeks! So that's what I'm going to do. It feels good to have a plan and to take a step back. 

All of that aside, let's talk about breakfast. I'm a breakfast enthusiast {that's putting it mildly.} and really don't understand those people who just forget to have breakfast. LIKE WHAT? That's like forgetting to breathe. Every morning, it's a choice between oatmeal, smoothies, toast, or granola. Pretty much 97% of the time, I lean towards the classic granola and banana. And since I'm also a dessert nut and lover of date caramel, why not combine all of the above to form a hearty breakfast or dessert. Or dinner. 

My original plan was to make this recipe vegan by using whipped coconut cream in the layers. I read somewhere not to use light coconut milk and realized only after taking my can out of the fridge, that's what I had used. So basically I just had a refrigerated can of coconut milk. Fun. I decided to compromise by using greek yogurt instead {GASP.} Then there's some homemade granola which I almost always have laying around, a quick date caramel sauce, and sliced bananas. Layer it all up in cute little jars or glasses and HEYO. You just won the freaking adorable breakfast slash dessert award. Congrats. 

banoffee breakfast parfaits 

date caramel: 
1/2 c. chopped dates, soaked in hot water and drained
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. maple syrup
1/2 c. milk 

1-2 bananas, sliced
3/4 c. plain greek yogurt
3/4 c. granola 

To prepare the caramel, blend dates, vanilla, maple syrup, and milk until smooth. Pour into a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 5-10 minutes. Let cool. To prepare the parfaits, layer granola on the bottom of two jars. Layer with yogurt, banana slices, and caramel. Repeat until the jars are filled. If desired, top with lid and store jars in refrigerator for 3-5 days. 

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brownie batter granola

Some days just kind of suck. Some days are called "Mondays." Some days you have a bunch of science homework to catch up on and suddenly it's like your science books just grabbed a pair of shoes and waddled right out of your sight. Some days your brothers are so loud and your sister is screaming and you need to get work done, but your brain can't read more than two words before having to start over. Some days your house is filled with loud little hooligans that have really high pitched laughs. Some days it's pouring rain outside so you can't leave your house. Some days your brother finishes the tub of hummus you wanted to stress-eat. Some days you feel like you want to scream in the face of every human. 

But alas! There is hope. And that hope… Is chocolate. It never disappoints and never fails to lift your emotions a tad. 

Mondays always suck for me so it's no surprise most of my baking (and chocolate consumption.) occurs on Monday afternoons. It's my stress-reliever. When my brothers leave the house and I have a few minutes to gather my thoughts, in to the kitchen I go. Grab a bowl. Grab some jars from the cupboards. Produce something delicious. And then eat way too much of that said something delicious. (Chocolate granola fueled runs are the BEST. Endless energy, no joke.) It's really amazing what a yummy snack and a sweaty workout can do to a person's wellbeing. 

This granola is nothing short of amazing and I'm not just throwing around words when I say that it tastes like brownie batter. The dark brown sugar and touch of molasses aren't all up in your face, but add a really nice, dark sweetness. It's crunchy, crispy, and chunky, sure to satisfy any early morning chocolate cravings. Or chocolate cravings any time of day, really. 

brownie batter granola {GF & Vegan}

1 1/3 c. oats
1/4 c. wheatgerm
1/4 c. ground flax
6 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tbsp. dark brown sugar
1/4 c. canola oil
3 tbsp. molasses
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350ºF and grease or line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk oats, wheatgerm, flax, and cocoa powder. Add brown sugar, oil, molasses, and vanilla. Stir until evenly combined. Pour onto prepared baking sheet and spread in an even layer. Bake for 25-30 minutes stirring once throughout at about the 15 minute mark. Let cool completely before transferring to an airtight container or jar. 

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