Product Review: Clif Gluten Free Bars

Call me crazy (go ahead, most people do), but I feel my best physically and mentally when the food that I eat is properly sourced. For me, this means that in a perfect world, I would be eating organic 100% all of the time. And in this perfect world of mine, I would not be eating food that is packaged - as I would be eating fresh unprocessed food at all times (ha!).

Well, dear friends of mine, we live in an imperfect world (but that is kind of cool right? Because imperfections are beautiful...), and this means that I do infact eat foods that are packaged. But the beauty here is that I get to choose which products I buy and allow to pass through my lips.

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It goes without saying (except I'm about to say it), that any food I eat that comes from a package needs to be free of gluten, dairy, and sulfites. And I prefer organic... and of course non-GMO ingredients. I also like to stick to my  'Rule of 7.' Meaning, the product does not contain more than 7 ingredients. While our world (especially in the States) is becoming more and more aware of how ingredients are sourced and the damage that occurs as a result of processed foods, these natural products are still hard to come by.

World, meet Clif Bar

Wait... you may have already met. But, did know that Clif bars are all organic and they have bars that are gluten free? Not only that, Clif Bar was born out of an innovative business model guided by Five AspirationsSustaining our Business, Brands, People, Community and, the Planet.

That's a company that I can stand behind and feel good about consuming their products.

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I had the pleasure of trying out some samples and my favorites of the fruit & nut and fruit & seed line, happen to meet my 'Rule of 7.' These are gluten, dairy, and soy free.

Favorite #1) Cherry Pumpkin Seed

Holy goodness! I love this bar, it's not too sweet and with the superfood pumpkin seeds, they are the perfect snack. These contain just 6 ingredients: 

Organic Dates, Organic Pumpkin Seeds, Organic Cherries, Organic Apples, Sea Salt, Organic Rosemary Extract.

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Favorite #2) Dark Chocolate Almond Coconut

When the afternoon rolls around and you just want a handful of chocolate chips... (wait, is that just me?) Get your fix and then some with the Dark Chocolate Almond Coconut bar. Simply heavenly and with a perfect mixture of healthy fats, this bar curbs that sweet tooth square away (I don't even know if that expression makes sense but it did in my head). Six simple ingredients in these bad boys also: Organic Dates, Organic Almonds, Organic Unsweetened Dark Chocolate, Organic Coconut, Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, Sea Salt.

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Though they don't meet my 'Rule of 7' criteria, the Mojo Trail Mix Bars are also amazing. And they remind me of Chris Beard's song, All Night Long. Since they have a bit more ingredients including rice and soy, I save these for my long hikes. It is probably of no surprise that my favorite Mojo is the Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond.

Favorite #3) Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond

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I was talking with my sister about the Mojo Clif bars and how I was going to write this post and she also tried these bars -  and I couldn't have articulated it better myself:

"It's something more fun - it's not like other bars where you're like 'OK, I'm going to eat this bar to get my nutrients and protein in even thought's not that great - the Mojo bars are actually good they have a different texture and great taste. It's a bar I'm actually excited to eat." 

So there ya' have it folks, for your next trip, hike, or snack after coffee - pack along some Clif bars. For the gluten free bars, stick to the ones below:

And stay connected with Clif Bar @Clifbar and www.facebook.com/clifbar

-AEB

Homemade Mustang Bars

Umm... wow. Yum. Yum.Yum. For real. This is some serious goodness. I am typically a 'one is enough' gal but these had me reaching for another one immediately after my first one. And so it began...

I am calling these 'Homemade Mustang Bars' because I got the idea from Paleo Treats. Note, I have not actually had their 'Mustang Bars.' And call me crazy, but I'm not going to spend $45.00 for 10 bars. But they looked interesting, so I looked at the ingredient list and made my own (omitting the almond flour and adding macadamia nuts). Obviously, I have no idea the portions that they used to make theirs so I basically did mine based on experience and what I had on hand.

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Homemade Mustang Bars

1/3 cup pumpkin seeds, lightly salted
1/3 cup (crunchy) almond butter
1/3 cup raw walnuts, crumbled
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 cup raw macadamia nuts
1/4 cup raisins
2 tbls vanilla
3 tbls honey
1/3 cup coconut oil (melted) 

Method

Well, my food processor is still taking some time off so I mixed this together by hand. Simply add all of the ingredients in one by one in the order that it is listed above, mixing the melted (30 seconds will do) coconut oil and honey in last. 

Form bars and wrap in cellophane and store in the fridge. 

Yields ~ 8 bars  

Now, having had these, I will say I would definitely pay $4.50 for one bar. So, mad props to Paleo Treats

I need another word for YUM... 

Enjoy ;)

-AEB

Fig, Macadamia, and Cacao Balls

Well, my food processor may be broken ( ;((( ) but that will not stop me from experimenting with different homemade balls! Yes, I know, my sister has reminded me that the names of these tasty treats are not ideal. But I looked up synonyms to 'ball' or 'balls' and I assure you, there is no better word. Let me know if you find one...

I didn't have dates which is what I typically use for homemade bars/balls but had exactly 15 dried mission figs. And my mission was to make something simple and delicious.

Mission accomplished.

Fig, Macadamia, and Cacao Balls

15 dried mission figs
1/4 sunbutter
1/4 macadamia nuts
1 tbls raw cacao
Dash of cinnamon

Method:

Well, if you do have a food processor, throw all of the ingredients in and let it do its thing. If not... use a spoon and knife to chop all of the ingredients together.

Roll into desired shape. Wrap in cellophane and store in the refrigerator.

Yields ~ 5 small balls

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Enjoy ;)

-AEB

Carrot Pie Protein Balls

Yes!!! :) 

These really are like mini pies. Mini raw pies of goodness. And they are not too sweet, so you may want to adjust the recipe to your liking.

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Carrot Pie Protein Balls

1 cup whole rolled oats (certified gluten free)
3 medium sized carrots, finely shredded
1/2 cup almond butter
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup raw pecans, chopped
1 tbls 100% pure maple syrup
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
Dash of cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg

Method:

Shred the carrots in your food process, combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Roll into desired size balls and store in the refrigerator.

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Yes, totally love these ;) Perfect for a pre-work out energy boost. 

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Enjoy! ;)

-AEB

Better than Cookie Dough Protein Balls

Admittedly, I don't eat cookie dough anymore... BUT there was a time when I did. Yes, indeed. For lunch. Quite often. From Papa Murphy's. The whole thing. That would be after my cheesy bread-sticks from Domino's and my cigarette. Along side my Mountain Dew.

Yes, that is a true story. Ashley was the epitome of a junk food junkie.

But, for those of you that know me, you know that the days of (traditional) cookie dough, cheesy bread, cigarettes and soda have long since past ;) And while my goal for these, was a blast of awesome protein, what I got was a concoction that tastes IMHO BETTER than cookie dough AND is a blast of awesome protein. Yeah ;)

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Better than Cookie Dough Protein Balls

1 cup gluten free whole grain rolled oats
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
3/4 cup organic smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup raw pecans
1/4 cup dairy/soy free chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life)
3 tbls honey
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsl organic coconut sugar

Method:

Combine the oats, coconut, peanut butter, pecans and chocolate chips in your food processor and pulse until the pecans are chopped. Add in the honey, vanilla and coconut sugar. Pulse and blend. A dough will form.

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Form 2-bite-sized balls (I used my new handy little gadget to get the size) and store in the refrigerator. You could, of course, make bars/squares or whatever shape you desire ;)

Yields ~16 small balls

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Yum, yum, yum!!! Love these!

Enjoy ;)))

-AEB

Elana's Pantry Fig Newtons

I have had a fig obsession lately.

Fig jam, fig dressing, olive & fig tapenade. It's simply a fantastic fruit. Figs are an excellent source of calcium and like our good friend, prunes, fiber...So, proceed with caution ;)

I am a huge fan of Elana's Pantry and have had several of my recipe ideas originate from perusing her posts. Always so elegantly written and easy to follow, not to mention her story of taking on both Celiac Disease and Multiple Sclerosis is just downright inspiring.

This recipe was just too intricate and delicious sounding to change too much. I did however, make some substitutions. 

Elana's Pantry Fig Newtons

For the filling:

1 cup dried figs (I used store bought)
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
3 tbls water
1 tbls vanilla

For the dough:

2 1/2 cups almond meal (I used unblanched,
Dash of sea salt
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup 100% pure maple syrup
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1 tbls vanilla 

Method:

In large mixing bowl, combine the almond meal and salt. In a separate bowl, thoroughly combine the honey, syrup grapeseed oil and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until well incorporated and dough begins to form.

Chill the dough for about an hour in the refrigerator.

Prepare the filling in a food processor by blending the figs until smooth and then adding in the lemon juice, water and vanilla. Blend until a paste forms.

Remove the dough from the fridge and lay it out on wax paper. Form a long rectangle (about 1/4" think). Cut into fourths with a butter knife.

Take one of the fourths, place on parchment paper and cover one half with the fig paste (careful not to over-stuff). Using the parchment paper, gently fold over the other side and pinch the corners down softly with a butter knife or spoon.

Carefully transfer the cookie to a baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper.

Repeat for the three remaining pieces of dough.

Bake at 350° for about 18 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.

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Allow to cool about 15 minutes and then cut into smaller cookies about 1-1" in size. 

Yields ~ 20 fig newtons.

Store in the refrigerator for freshness.

I ended up with about 3/4 cup of the fig filling (not sure how that happened), so I think I'll make some homemade bars with it. 

Here is the original recipe by Elana.

Enjoy ;)

-AEB

Sesame Date Balls

When it comes making these balls, bars or whatever shape you want to mold them into, my goal is minimal ingredients. You start piling in all sorts of dried fruit, honey, nuts and chocolate chips and pretty soon you have the sugar and caloric equivalent to a fully loaded ganache chocolate cake.

These are heavenly and are made using just four ingredients, then dusted with coconut flakes if you choose.

Sesame Date Balls

~16 medjool dates, pits removed
2 tbls warm water
1/4 cup brown sesame seeds
1/3 cup smooth almond butter (I love Barney's)
~3 tbls  unsweetened organic shredded coconut (optional)

Method:

In your food processor, blend the dates, water, and sesame seeds. Once the ingredients are well incorporated (you may need to use a spatula to mix in some of the seeds), add in the almond butter and pulse until everything is blended.

Form balls (or whatever shape you desire ;)) and roll in some coconut.

I wrap in cellophane and store in the fridge.

 Yields ~ 7 balls.

Enjoy (while laying in bed on a lazy Sunday morning ;))

-AEB