Lemon Bars (grain / gluten / dairy / sugar free, paleo)

Soooooo… my awesome girl Noelle (yes, the same one who introduced me to the most amazing dessert ever), challenged me to create the best lemon bars of life.  I think the text went something like “if I know you at all, you won’t stop until you find it – I challenge you to create for me the best paleo lemon bars ever”.  And she does know me – it is crazy what you can learn about someone by the way they CrossFit. Because I texted back “challenge accepted” (duh), and immediately starting thinking, researching, preparing.  And now, behold. The best (paleo) lemon bars of life.
lemon bars (grain gluten dairy free, paleo)

INGREDIENTS: (crust)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1 cups unsweetened, finely shredded coconut
  • 1 egg white (save yolk for lemon filling)
  • Pinch sea salt
INGREDIENTS: (filling)
  • 3 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks (you are going to have one extra egg white – just save it, and throw it in your next batch of scrambled eggs)
  • 6 tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup almond flour
METHOD:
1.  Turn oven on to 350F.
2.  Melt coconut oil over low heat on the stove.  Add maple, coconut, almond flour, and sea salt.  Stir until combined.  Remove from heat.
3.  Add 1 egg white, and stir vigorously for 1 minute.  Crust dough will be very sticky.
4.  Line a 9×9 baking dish with parchment paper, and pour crust dough into dish.  Using hands, press dough down in dish until compact, and evenly spread throughout.
5.  Poke a few holes in the crust using a toothpick.  Maybe 10.  To prevent it from bubbling up when cooking.  This step is important.  Don’t skip it.
6.  Bake crust for 10 minutes, remove from oven.
7.  While crust is cooking, whisk the eggs plus the egg yolks in electric mixer until light and frothy.
8.  Add the rest of the filling ingredients, and whisk for 2 minutes.  Set your timer.  2 minutes, people.
9.  Pour the mixture over the crust, which you already baked for 10 minutes.
10.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until edges are slightly brown and center is set.
11.  Let it cool.  No really, don’t eat it yet.  Let it cool.  It is important for it to set.  Give it 30 minutes.
12.  Dust with coconut flour – looks just as beautiful as powdered sugar, and nobody will be able to tell the difference.  Promise.
13.  Cut, and consume.

 

*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
**Adapted from Green Kitchen Stories.
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Coconut Banana Meltaway Cookies

I was at a friend’s house a few weeks ago and she had these delicious banana coconut balls that she got from Whole Foods, I believe. They reminded me of the Coconut-Lemon Meltaways I have made before.  I checked out the ingredients on the package, and they were pretty much the same plus or minus a few things, so I wondered if I could replicate it using bananas instead of lemon. I liked the lemon ones a lot, but banana anything is always going to be my favorite. They turned out really well, and they made the house smell fantastic as they baked. I love their texture. They are light, fluffy, and perfectly moist.  I altered the original recipe and cut the sweetener in half, as bananas are plenty sweet and really don’t need a lot of added sweetener. I used raw honey, but these would be great with maple syrup, too. This was a tasty treat for the kiddos and they gave it their seal of approval.

coconut banana meltaway cookie

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 2 big pinches of salt
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3 tablespoons raw honey
  • 2 teaspoons 100% pure vanilla extract
  • 5 tablespoons melted coconut oil
 METHOD:
1. Pre-heat oven to 250F.
2. Mix dry ingredients together and pour in the bowl of your mixer.
3. Mix honey, vanilla and mashed bananas together in a separate bowl and slowly add to the dry ingredients with the mixer on.
4. Once the wet and dry ingredients are mixed together, slowly stream in the melted coconut oil. Your mixture will thicken once the oil is added.
5. Form your balls on parchment lined baking sheets. I yielded about 20, but could’ve made my balls much smaller to yield more. Let them bake until they start turning a golden shade,  about 45 minutes to an hour. Keep an eye on them, you don’t want them too brown though or they will be dry.
6. Enjoy!

 

*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
**Adapted from Addicted to Veggies.

Coconut + Oat Breakfast Cookie (with dates, chocolate chips, pecans, + sunflower seeds)

My whole house is sick.  And when my kids are sick they don’t eat like they normally do.  Baby boy didn’t really eat dinner last night, or breakfast today, so I set out to make something full of good stuff for him, but that I knew he would eat.  And my boy will eat chocolate.  So I whipped up some “cookies” for him this morning, and he ate them.  Success.  They aren’t sweet, except for the chopped dates and the chocolate.  And they are full of goodness.  Protein.  Good fats.  And more protein.  Also chocolate.  I hope you guys like them as much as we do.  Feel free to make them, and eat them, even if you aren’t sick.

coconut and oat breakfast cookie

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 cup finely shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped raw pecans
  • 1/2 cup raw, unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates
  • 1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate (I use an organic, 85% dark Theo Chocolate Bar)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon 100% pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
METHOD:
1.  Combine oats, almond flour, coconut, salt, cinnamon, and allspice in large bowl.
2.  Add dates, pecans, sunflower seeds, and chocolate.  Stir until combine, taking care to make sure dates are spread evenly throughout and not clumped together.
3.  In a separate bowl, combine eggs, coconut oil, and vanilla.
4.  Stir the wet ingredients into the dry.
5.  On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, press mixture into medium-sized cookie cutter, then press out mixture and remove cutter.  My cutter is about 2″ in diameter, and about 1″ in depth.  Repeat until all mixture is gone.  Mine made 20 cookies.
6.  Bake in 350 F oven for 12-15 minutes, or until golden.  Eat.  Enjoy.

 

*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.

Fruit and Nut Bars (similiar to Lara Bars)

Gonna keep this one short and sweet…. These bars are easy to make, delicious, customizable, and cheaper than the most similar type of store-bought bars – Lara Bars.  I just made 44 bars, and I am estimating they cost me between 45 and 50 cents each.  At Costco, where I usually buy Lara Bars, I pay $15 for 18 bars.  18 of these homemade bars would only cost me $9!  One thing that drives me crazy about buying Lara Bars is that at Costco I don’t get to pick my flavors, but at the grocery store where I can choose which ones I want, they run almost $2 per bar.  This is definitely going to be my new go-to recipe for bars.  I love that they are sweetened only with dates, and have lots of nutritious things in them.  Both my kids will eat these babies.  And as Evan and I try new flavor combinations, we will update you all!

INGREDIENTS:
(Apricot Bars)
  • 3/4 raw pecans
  • 3/4 cup raw almonds
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup dried, unsweetened apricots
  • 12 Medjool dates, pitted
INGREDIENTS:
(Coconut Cherry Bars)
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup raw pecans
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 16 Medjool dates
  • 1 cup dried, unsweetened cherries
  • 1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
METHOD:
1.  For both recipes, you are going to follow the same procedure.  Put nuts and sea salt into your food processor, and process until nuts are finely chopped (but with some variation in size still).  Pour into bowl and set aside.
2.  Process dried fruits (either dates / apricots or dates / cherries) until a paste forms in your food processor.  Mine ended up turning into a big, messy ball when it was finished.
3.  Add your fruit mix to your nut mix, and knead with your hands until well combined.  If you are making the coconut-cherry bars, go ahead and add the coconut to the mixing bowl, and knead until combined.  (The extra dates in the coconut bars where enough for me to get the mixture to stick together with the addition of coconut, but if you are struggling, add a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil).
4.  Roll the mixture out to desired thickness on coconut oil greased surface.  Cut to desired size.  Mine are about 1/4″ thick, and on the smaller size – but I did that intentionally because my nuggets don’t usually finish a whole Lara Bar anyways.
5.  Each recipe yields about 20 bars, depending on the size of your bars.  I store mine between layers of parchment, in the refrigerator.  They seem to hold together a bit better when chilled.

 

*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
**Adapted from Everyday Paleo.

Pecan + Cocoa Truffles (sweetened with dates)

This is the first product of my shiny new food processor! I have been waiting not-so- patiently for one for a really long time. Husband finally said, “Why don’t you just get one?” So I did. And it’s fabulous. It chopped these pecans and dates up so quickly and effortlessly I couldn’t even believe it.

This recipe feels like a very special treat. Dates are kind of magical, I think. They trick your head and your tastes buds into thinking you’re eating sugar, but it is a natural sweetener. I think my kids thought the same thing, they gobbled them up. You could totally play with this recipe and use different kinds of nuts in place of pecans, you could roll the finished product in toasted unsweetened coconut or raw coconut (I went with raw), or a dusting of cacao, or crushed nuts, or granola   Possibilities are endless. Whatever you do, promise you’ll come back and let me know how they were and what you tried!

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 cup dried pitted dates
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened powdered 100% cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons water, as needed
  • Optional: Unsweetened coconut (either plain or toasted) for coating the outside of the balls
METHOD:
1. Heat butter in a skillet over medium low heat and add pecans and honey to the skillet. Cook until lightly browned, being super careful not to burn the pecans, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Add pecans, dates, cacao, and vanilla to a food processor and pulse until the dates and pecans stick together, add water to help them blend and stick together.  A little trick we have found helps when blending dates:  soak them in hot water for about 10 minutes, then add them to your food processor.  You can use your soaking water to add to the truffle mixture as well.
3. Now you are ready to form into balls with your hands. I poured some unsweetened coconut flakes into a bowl and rolled some of mine around in the coconut and left some of them plain. You could also roll in cocoa powder, chopped nuts, or granola.
4. Enjoy this delicious sweet treat! Store in the refrigerator. We didn’t have any to store – they went so fast! Made about 18 balls.

 

*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
**Adapted from 100 Days of Real Food.

Granola

There is nothing quite like homemade granola.  It is easy to customize, easy to make, tastier than the store-bought stuff, and something you can feel good about feeding your family.  I love having control over what ingredients my family eats.  I hope you will try this – I’m pretty sure we eat this every single day.

INGREDIENTS:
  • 7 cups organic whole oats
  • 4 cups sliced almonds (or any combination of other nuts you like – cashews, pecans, peanuts… You could also sub dried fruit – apricots, raisins, cherries, blueberries, etc…)
  • 2 cups unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
METHOD:
1.  Combine oats, nuts, coconut, and seeds in a large mixing bowl.  Add spices.
2.  In a skillet over low to medium heat melt honey, butter, coconut oil, and vanilla until combined.
3.  Pour wet ingredients over dry, and stir until dry ingredients are evenly coated.
4.  Spread mixture out onto two cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.
5.  Bake at 250 for 75-90 minutes – stirring every 20 minutes.
6.  Remove from oven when granola is golden brown – allow to cool.  Transfer to air tight container and enjoy!
NOTE:  The recipe above makes nearly 16 cups of granola.  We go through this amount every 2 weeks, but recognize it is a substantial amount of granola.  If you want, feel free to cut the recipe in half.

 

*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
**Adapted from 100 Days of Real Food.

Coconut Macaroons

These little bite sized treats are so amazing.  So easy to make, and so delicious.  They are an absolute fav with both my kiddos.  This recipe makes quite a few (40+), so I keep some in the refrigerator and some in the freezer for when we run out.  We have a constant supply of macaroons around here.  A treat I feel good about serving to my kids?  Boom.

Oh, I almost forgot… I use the egg whites that are leftover after I make ice cream with the yolks.

INGREDIENTS: 
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 5 cups unsweetened, shredded coconut flakes
METHOD:
1.  Whip egg whites in mixer with whisk attachment until egg whites are white, fluffy, and slightly stiff.
2.  Add honey, salt, almond extract, and vanilla extract and whip for another minute or two.
3.  Combine with shredded coconut.
4.  Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
5.  Spoon tablespoon sized spoonfuls onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.  You can make them bigger if you’d like.  I usually get about 40 macaroons.  Also, I don’t press into tidy ball shapes, I just scoop coconut right onto tray without forming balls.  Either way is fine.
6.  Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.  Be sure to check frequently – they burn quick!  Enjoy!

 

*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.