Deep, Dark, Rich, Delicious…SLEEP!!

Holy moly. I just went through and updated my recipe index for the first time in a year! No exaggeration, a year. Of course I’ve only posted like 12 recipes in the past year so it wasn’t very much work to get it updated. I’ve pretty much been slacking on this blog ever since I got Rocco! I guess we know what that means…the little guy has been keeping me busy! Here is a photo of him, deep in thought on my husbands lap.

rocco

Guess what else! Our 2 year wedding anniversary is in 2 weeks! We decided we would get a cake every year for our anniversary because we both love cake, especially one with a good frosting! There is a bakery in Salt Lake called 1luv (www.1luvbakery.com) and everything she bakes is pure genius and totally worth every sweet, delicious bite. The other night we spent an hour on her website trying to decide which cheesecake or cake we wanted to get. We narrowed it down to about 10 choices and then decided we needed to start celebrating more holidays with cake and made a list of upcoming holidays and which cake we would get. This year flag day will be celebrated with an oreo cheesecake, hahaha!!

My post today though is actually NOT about cake, it’s about SLEEP!

I’ve been reading about “blackout sleep” for years and why its important. I’m not going to get into the science-y part too much, you can google that and read loads of articles.

Basically, it’s better for our brains, hormones and our sleep cycle to sleep in a pitch black room. I’m talking no light whatsoever, not even the light from your smoke alarm or alarm clock. Just those little bits of light can send signals to your brain so it thinks it’s really daylight and that it should be awake and ready for action. Why does that matter? When it’s daytime your brain makes cortisol-which is good in the daytime but not so good when you are sleeping. Too much cortisol production can lead to weight gain. But more importantly, sleeping in the pitch black allows for deeper, richer sleep so you wake up refreshed, your muscles recover faster and when you get really deep sleep you don’t need as much sleep. Bonus!

For the last two years I’ve made a small effort to black out our room. I purchased blackout curtains…and that’s about it I guess. Ok, I said it was a small effort!

But then a couple months ago I put my husband on the task of blacking out our room and boy did he! He put black tape over the light on the smoke alarm and completely blacked out our window by securing the edges down and placing rolled up towels over the top of the curtains so light can’t seep in (it also keeps our room cooler during the day!).

Now when we turn the lights out you can’t even see your own hand when it’s in front of your face.

The results? Let me just tell you. After the first night of “blackout sleep” I was sold. I woke up in the morning feeling like I had gotten the deepest, most delicious sleep of my life and I couldn’t wait to do it again!

Bottom line: This is a totally worthwhile project! Purchase some blackout curtains from target or Pottery Barn Kids if you want more stylish options and start blacking out your windows. Seal up any light leaks around the door and put black tape over any lights from electronics. Try it out and see how you feel!

Have a great weekend!

Laura

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Deep, Dark, Rich, Delicious…Protein Brownie Bites!

brownie pan

brownie frosting

I am SO EXCITED to share this recipe. I seriously haven’t been this excited about a recipe in a long time. It’s a totally healthy energy bar but it tastes like a brownie. So I didn’t know what to call them because if I call it a brownie it doesn’t sound healthy, but if I call it an energy bar it doesn’t sound tasty! Make them for yourself, you’ll see what I’m talking about!

The base is comprised of a mixture of healthy fats, proteins and carbohydrates which makes it a great “energy bar” to take on all your summer adventures. OR you can top it with a seemingly decadent frosting for a treat you can enjoy any time of day. Perfect for when you need that little sweet treat after dinner or in the afternoon (or breakfast or a morning snack…)!

A few words on the ingredients before I get to the recipe.

  1. Start with whole, raw, unsalted almonds and make your own almond flour if you have a food processor. This is a much less expensive way to make almond flour, plus you are guaranteed fresh almond flour this way. I’m always worried about the freshness of almond flour when I purchase it from the store because almonds can go rancid! I purchase my almonds from Costco in the baking aisle. They are raw, unsalted and inexpensive this way!rodelle
  2. Use a protein powder you like the taste of. This is not the time to use that protein powder that tastes like dirt and gives you gas that you’ve had in your pantry for the last 3 years. Seriously, throw that one out!
    1. I have used this Vital Whey Protein to make these and it works well. The flavor is very mild. I still like Vega Protein Smoothie and Vega Protein & Greens and continue to use Vega on a daily basis. If you are going to use a whey protein, from what I’ve read anyway, make sure you choose one that is non-denatured and from grass fed cows like the one I listed above.
  3. Splurge on a quality cocoa powder. I ran out of my usual Western Family cocoa powder and ended up buying this Rodelle Baking Cocoa from Whole Foods and WOW, it’s a serious game changer. I have also used the Ghiradelli baking cocoa and although it is excellent, it still isn’t as good as the Rodelle Cocoa.

Alright, let’s get to it!

Protein Brownie Bites

Base Ingredients

  • 2 cups almond meal (see notes above & below or use store bought)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 3/4 cup protein powder (chocolate or vanilla will work but I use chocolate)
  • 3/4 cup baking cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 6 dates, pitted and soaked for at least 15 minutes
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/8 cup almond milk + 1-2 tablespoons if needed
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil, melted

Frosting Ingredients (optional)

  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (unsweetened)

First, remove the pit from the dates and soak them in water for 15 minutes to several hours. Next, make your own almond meal by putting 2-3 cups of almonds in a food processor and blending until an almost flour-like consistency. Remove the almond meal from the food processor and set aside. Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper. Alternatively, these can also be rolled into balls, in which case, use any size pan you want.

Strain the dates, discard the water and place the dates in the food processor and pulse until they are chopped small. Next, add all the remaining ingredients to the food processor and turn it on. It will take a minute or so but before long the dough will “ball up” and that means it’s done! Scrape the sides as needed and if it is too dry and isn’t balling up add more milk 1 tablespoon at a time until it forms a dough ball.

Use a spatula to press the dough into the prepared 8×8 pan, try to get it evenly flat. Place the pan in the refrigerator while you make the frosting.

Frosting is optional. The base makes a rich and guilt-free energy bar or treat. The frosting is delicious and coverts them into more of a brownie. The frosting melts easily so if you are planning on taking these on a hot car ride or bike ride I suggest going without frosting.

To make the frosting, combine the melted coconut oil, honey and unsweetened cocoa powder in a small bowl and stir until smooth. After stirring for a minute the frosting will start to thicken. At that point, it’s ready to use! Evenly spread the frosting onto the brownies and place back in the refrigerator to set up for several minutes. Once the frosting has hardened, slice into squares and enjoy!

There you go. I hope you make these and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! I’ve been keeping a batch in my freezer and when I feel like having one I heat it up in the microwave for ~ 16 seconds which is just enough time to make it warm and gooey which totally hits the spot after dinner.dough

Here is what the dough should look like when it goes in the pan-pretty dense!

They can also be rolled into balls for a treat on the go! I think making bars is easier though-especially if you are going to frost them.

ball

And last, here are a couple of sleeping Rocco pics! Have a great week!

Laura

roccorocco j