Dark Chocolate Coconut Almond Clusters

I keep forgetting to share the great news I got a few weeks ago! I can jog again! Very little, but I can do it! My physical therapist put me on a “back to jogging” program that looks like this:
Week 1: Walk 5 minutes, Jog 5 minutes x 2, 3 days a week
Week 2: Walk 5 minutes, Jog 7.5 minutes x 2, 3 days a week
Week 3: Walk 5 minutes, Jog 10 minutes x 2, 3 days a week

And so on until you are able to jog again. I was very skeptical when he put me on this program because the last time I tried to jog I took about 3 steps and was in immense pain and stayed in pain for over a week. But low and behold, I started jogging and didn’t have any pain during or after! Woo hoo! I stayed on the 5 minute jog plan for about 3 weeks because I am trying to really ease back into things. The last thing I want to do is be back in that boot! This week I upped it to 7.5 minutes and it’s a good thing I’m on this program because otherwise I would have overdone it. Everything just feels so good!
And then about 2 weeks ago my doctor released me! He deemed me healed and said he doesn’t want to see me any more!

That was such great news!

And speaking of other random great things, this pesto hummus a thing? It must be a thing because it’s amazing. But if it isn’t a thing, it needs to be!! I made pesto and hummus over the weekend and somehow some pesto got in my hummus (I put it there) and it is MIND BLOWING. As if hummus needs to be any better. Ridiculous. While I was eating it today I was fantasizing about putting it on pizza dough and then topping it with a mountain of greens. If I have any left over at the end of the week that’s exactly what I’m going to do this weekend.

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Here is a picture of my small friend looking quite dreamy.

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Knock on wood, but I think her ear infection is finally all the way gone. But the tilted head is here to stay permanently.

OoooooK. Now this is why we’re really here. Dark chocolate + coconut + almonds = AWESOME SNACK!

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I know these sound really naughty but they totally aren’t! These are a great snack for any time of day and perfect for when you are craving chocolate. Believe it or not there is only one tiny square of dark chocolate in each of these clusters!

Each cluster contains 145 calories, 11 grams of fat, 3 grams of carbohydrate and 3 grams of protein.

And they are so easy to make! Just melt the chocolate and coconut oil together, stir in the coconut and almonds and that’s it! I use this dark chocolate but I’m sure other chocolate or chocolate chips would work just fine.

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Dark Chocolate Coconut Almond Clusters
Makes 1 cluster

1 square dark chocolate
1/2 teaspoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon shredded, unsweetened coconut
12 raw almonds, unsalted

In a small bowl, microwave 1 square of dark chocolate and the coconut oil until melted. Stir in the coconut and almonds. Pour into a muffin liner and place in the freezer until you are ready to eat it. To make a larger batch just multiply. 🙂

Have a great rest of the week!
Laura

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Protein Boosted Energy Bites

These energy bites are my new favorite! I know I saw that about everything I make so I guess it’s safe to say that whatever I’m eating right now is my favorite thing ever.

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To me, these taste almost exactly like a Lara Bar but with the added scoop of protein powder there’s just a little extra oomph! Once again, another perfect mid-morning snack or snack to take on adventures!

Speaking of adventures, I can not wait to hit the trails on my mountain bike! We got a little taste of warm-ish weather in Salt Lake (60˚F) so my brain went into full on spring mode. But then it snowed again. Sigh.

I went to REI last weekend and tried on these awesome “goggles”. Aren’t they beautiful?

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I really couldn’t see out of them.

And in other silliness, Lilly has a new shirt. She likes to lay on all of her feet at the same time. I find that really funny!

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Alright, here is that energy bite recipe. I think the hardest thing about this recipe is only eating 2-3 at a time. Here is the nutrition breakdown for anyone who likes that sort of thing.

Serving size: 1 ball
Calories: 97
Carbohydrate: 12 grams
Fat: 5 grams
Protein: 3 grams
Sugar: 7 grams

Protein Boosted Energy Bites
Makes 15 balls

3/4 cup cashews
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup dried medjool dates
1/4 cup vanilla protein powder
3 tablespoons peanut butter
3 tablespoons of your favorite non-dairy milk

In a food processor, process the cashews and protein powder for a couple seconds to form a crumb texture. Next, add the cherries, dates and peanut butter and process until everything is combined. Last, add in non-dairy milk until the mixture becomes sticky enough it can easily be formed into balls.
Form the mixture into 15 balls and store in the fridge or freezer. I recommend making a double batch and storing some in the freezer!

Have a great weekend!
Laura

Chocolate Peanut Butter Dip

This dip is so good! I made it for a cooking class at work several months ago and forgot to post it here. It was a huge hit though! It’s a great dip to serve at parties with cut up pieces of fruit (bananas and apples work best) as an alternative to traditional baked goods. This dip says, hey I’m healthy but I still know how to have fun!

In other news, I got a juicer a couple weeks ago! I have been mildly interested in juicers for some time but I really didn’t want another kitchen appliance and of course I hate spending money on that stuff too! But then I would see all these amazing looking juice recipes and hear so many stories about how incredible juicing is for your health. Finally what put me over the edge was this article about the orange juice we used to buy! My husband and I drank that juice every day so of course we were upset to learn that our “simply orange” juice was not simply juice!
I figured the only way to know what was really in my juice was to make my own!
I got the Breville Juice Fountain Plus which had really excellent reviews and is one of the less expensive juicers on the market. So far I have been really impressed with it and it’s easy to clean and doesn’t make a huge mess. It sounds like some juicers can be quite a nightmare in terms of cleaning and splattering all over the kitchen.
So far I have only made a couple different blends which I will post soon. Turns out, real orange juice tastes nothing like the “simply orange” juice I was drinking before. I had no idea.

Lilly the poog pulled a fast one on me yesterday. She gets a treat every time she goes to the bathroom. I know that’s ridiculous for a 10 year old dog to still get a treat every time, but I’ve always been scared to stop rewarding her for good behavior. So anyway, she gets treats for being a good girl, which by the way only happens twice a day and even then we have to force her to go! But yesterday she asked to go outside (rare moment!) and I wasn’t 100% watching her but I didn’t see her enter the grass. But moments later she was back at the door asking to come in. I asked her if she really went to the bathroom and she said yes. She lied to me! She totally didn’t go. But I gave her a treat anyway because she’s cute even when she’s lying to me. I’m such a sucker!

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Here is that dip recipe! I know this isn’t the best picture…it was taken at the work event. Just know that it is wonderfully creamy and decadent tasting and everyone will love it!

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Dip

3/4 cup smooth peanut butter (or almond butter)
1 cup vanilla almond milk (sweetened or unsweetened)
honey or maple syrup to taste (if using sweetened almond milk you might need any sweetener)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
dark chocolate chips to garnish (optional)

Add all ingredients, except chocolate chips to a food processor or blender and blend. Garnish with chocolate chips.

Have a great rest of the week and weekend!
Laura

Grilled Quesadillas with Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce

Quesadillas were a staple of my diet in my early 20’s. Sometimes I would run out of cheese so then I would just use butter instead. Yes, butter on a tortilla for dinner…ah to be 24!

Here is a much healthier version of a quesadilla with a really delicious nacho “cheese” sauce. I have made several vegan cheese sauce’s, and over time I have developed a love for them. The thing you have to get over though, is that they taste ABSOLUTELY NOTHING like real cheese. I actually think the only similarities are the yellow color and the nature in which they are used.
Important note: At first this sauce looks runny and not too appealing. But after heating it up for a few seconds in the microwave or stove top it gets really nice and thick, just like a proper nacho cheese sauce. It’s really good for veggie dipping too!

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I ate a version of this quesadilla all week and it was delish. Sometimes I would add tofu in to the mix and eat it like a burrito. It’s all good!

I don’t think I really need to explain the concept of a quesadilla or burrito. Obviously you take a tortilla and fill it with whatever goodness you want to eat. For these I used:
Ezekiel tortilla
black beans
sometimes tofu
cilantro
avocado
vegan chili cheese sauce (see below)

Place the tortilla in a pan over low heat. Add ingredients including sauce. Heat through and eat!

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Lilly is doing well and continues to be her usual sleepy, cute self.

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Her fingernails have gotten so long! Since she never walks she doesn’t wear them down. I have cut her nails myself since I got her and I don’t know how she does it-but she is SO STRONG! I swear, she could fight off 10 men at once if they tried to clip her nails. Ok that’s a slight exaggeration. Over the weekend my husband held her and I clipped her nails. Now we just need to do that every week for the next 6 weeks to get them to an appropriate length.

Ok, cheese sauce!

Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce
1 cup water
1 cup cashews
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1.5 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Place all ingredients in a blender or magic bullet and blend until smooth. Heat the sauce to make it thick. Store in the refrigerator.

I’m so excited the Winter Olympics start today! Have a great rest of the week and weekend!
Laura