Product Review: Windy City Organics brings a Rawesome Gust to the Palate

Raw.

Vegan.

Organic.

Superfood.

Living food. 

How does that sound?

This is what you get from Windy City Organics, the parent company of some of the most amazing raw food brands that I have come across: DastonySunBioticsRawGuru, and Rawmio. They also work very closely with Sprout Living, one of the leading manufacturers of raw, sprouted, vegan, and organic brown rice and superfood protein powders of the purest nature.

Based out of (you guessed it), Chicago, IL, Wind City Organics, is family owned and operated and is a dedicated raw organic food manufacturer.

Of course, as health conscious individuals, we want to eat fresh foods - never before packaged - straight out of a garden, as often as possible. But the simple fact is that we live in a modern world and not all of us have access to what we need to thrive in our own backyards. We live in a world where we are traveling by cars, planes, trains, buses, trams, subways - and countless other means of transportation. And when we aren't in a vehicle of sorts we are walking, biking, rolling or strolling into our next meeting - bluetooth in ear, coffee in hand, bags and/or babies in the other fighting crowds and desperately trying to keep our energy up. And we have what tucked away for a snack in between meals? What about those times that we are not in the hustle and bustle but we are on play time enjoying nature with a long hike or backpacking trip or taking it easy with a road trip? What's in our pack? An apple? A banana? Protein bars? And what else do we bring to sustain us between or in addition to meals that is nutrient dense?

The average protein bar consists of a long list of hard to decipher 'ingredients' like soy and/or whey protein isolate, dextrin, natural and artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, vegetable oils, gluten (wheat/barley/rye) and genetically modified corn syrup - and even the ingredients that are otherwise healthy like nuts, seeds and coconut are typically highly processed/heated, destroying the enzymes and any nutritional properties - leaving them nutrient void and you unsatisfied. These bars will likely lead to a host of residual effects such as gas, bloating, lethargy and will leave you with hunger pangs shortly after.

I strive to consume fresh foods, that do not come in a package for the majority of the time. This is generally doable for me. I go to the market and fill my cart with oodles of produce. I also incorporate healthy fats and proteins with wild game, raw aged cheese, farm-fresh eggs (thanks Mom!), gluten-free whole grains, and superfood like seeds, nuts, cacao, coconut and concentrated dried or dehydrated fruits like goji berries, cherries and dates.

Enter Windy City Organics, a one-stop-shop for just what I need to fuel my body holistically. Their products are not only packed with nutrient dense ingredients, but the list of ingredients is short and sweet (or even just one ingredient like Dastony's Stoneground Raw Almond Butter...OMG divine) and 100% organic raw unprocessed goodness.

I recently had the opportunity to try some of their products within the Sunbiotics, Dastony and Rawmio brands. All I can say, is that it was hands down the best raw chocolate and almonds that I have ever had. For real.

I started with the Sunbiotics Probiotic Chocolate bar and Chocolate Almonds (soaked & sprouted) whilst sitting outside in the sun reading.

Wow. There is simply nothing about these that I would change. The raw ingredients of cacao, coconut sugar, yacon root and vanilla bean made for such a supple and sweet combination that just melted in my mouth. And the crunch of the sprouted almonds coated with raw cacao was absolutely delectable. Shockingly, I was able to stop myself at half each and enjoy the rest the next day.

My next endeavor was the Rawmio - Organic Gourmet Sour Cherry and Almond Raw Chocolate Bark (naturally I chose the other chocolate bar next lol).

I enjoyed this bar after a hike on a beautiful warm and sunny day. I cannot even begin to describe to you how tasty this treat was after my hike. That day I was totally fueled by carbs and after the hike needed some fat and protein for an added boost. I had this bar, my vegan (SunWarrior) shake and some coconut water. 

And then.. allow me to introduce to you the finest quality almond butter that has ever crossed these lips. Would I lie to ya'll? Of course not. Dude... this almond butter has a decadent flavor so rich and smooth that one would think there is a list 10+ long of ingredients listed on the back. Nope. Simply100% Raw and Stone Ground Almonds.

I topped mine with some raw cacao nibs...whoa.

And lastly, I tried out Sunbiots' Cheesy Almonds over a nutrient dense salad. 

These almonds added such a pleasurable zest to my salad that I did a little happy dance! Yes, this is what fantastic foods do to me ;)

Suffice it to say, that I couldn't have been more pleased with the products from Windy City Organics and I will be leaning on them for much of my rawesome fuel from now on.

Bed of romaine, shredded carrot, chopped broccoli and cumber with tomato and raw caraway seed sauerkraut, Sunbiotics Cheesy Almonds, and a side of strawberries.

All of these products can be found online at the specific brand's website listed above, wholesale at Windy City Organics or at RawGuru.

-Ashley

For the Love of Blueberry

Ummm... magic.

I'm at my brother's right now and the entire house including my nephews, ages 4 and 6, are on a smoothie kick. I mean, so much so that the youngest comes downstairs in the morning with sleepy eyes still and a sweet smile on his face and asks: "Can I have a shake?" And the older one now wants his 'shake' for his afternoon snack.

Watching them help make the 'shake' with things like banana, kale, organic frozen fruit, and green juice simply makes my day.

And hearing them say things like... "I love kale" and "I love greens," is music to my ears.   

My sister-in-law makes new creations everyday and the other day it was... "O.M.G. You have to try this...omg. Yeah. This is good. Yeah. This is really good. Let's write this one down."

Love it when that happens ;)

For the Love of Blueberry

1 1/2 ripe (spotty) banana
1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries
1 large leaf of kale
1/2 an apple (we used Pink Lady)
3 ice cubes
1 scoop French Vanilla Vega One 
3/4 cup coconut water (we usedC2O)

Method:

Add all ingredients in the order listed. Pulse with your blender for a a good 10 times and then blend until smooth.

Yields 1 large smoothie or 2 small smoothies.

And yes, use spotty bananas! 

Bananas help overcome depression due high levels of tryptophan, which is converted into serotonin -- the happy-mood brain neurotransmitter.

Spotty bananas can also help to relieve constipation (whereas underripe bananas can actually cause constipation), lessen anxiety and alleviate depression. 

Wishing you all an easy breezy day filled spotty bananas, blueberries and love!

Enjoy ;)

-AEB

No-Bake Lemon Cardamom Coconut Macaroons

This recipe came to me quickly while putting together a menu for my family's Easter Brunch this year.

I am a sucker for a macaroons and I thought it would be a nice addition for a dessert on a spring holiday. And, I love desserts that are sweet yet not too heavy.

This one seriously took about 5 minutes. Wicked easy.

Lemon Cardamom Coconut Macaroons

2 cups unsweetened unsulphered shredded coconut flakes ( I like Let's Do Organic)
1/4 cup organic full fat unsweetened coconut milk (from a BPA-free can or carton, look for those without added ingredients)
1/2 cup organic unrefined coconut oil (melted)
1/4 cup organic hulled hemp seeds
3 T Raw honey*
Juice from 1/2 of a lemon
Dash of ground cardamom

Method:

Add all of ingredients except for the coconut oil into a glass bowl, then pour the oil in and stir vigorously until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.

Form macaroon shapes (or whatever shape your heart desires) and place on a glass dish or wax paper, cover and let cool and set in the refrigerator. This would take at least an hour.

Yields ~ 16 macaroons

Enjoy ;)

-AEB

Product Review: Go Raw Junk-Free Snacks

It never ceases to amaze me the amount of dangerous additives, preservatives, and chemicals that are added to otherwise safe and healthy food. For what? While the short and quick answer would be "longer shelf life," the reality is much more complicated. The reality, is that adding these things to food saves money by adding fillers and therefore making more at a lower cost. The reality, is that the chemicals that are put into packaged and processed foods are not only dangerous chemicals made in a lab - they proven to have an effect on mood and behavior leading to or contributing to a vast amount of behavioral disturbances such as hyperactivity, ADHD, tantrums, and even Autism.

These nutrient void "foods" are made to make your mouth water, your taste-buds crave more, and set you up for a sugar crash with urgent hunger pangs causing you to reach for more. 

"Research carried out by Dr. Neil Ward at Surrey University found that 89% of 357 diagnosed hyperactive children were adversely affected by artificial colours." (foodsmatter.com).

Be Aware of Food Additives 

We've all seen them on the back of packages and this list is no where near exhaustive but here are some of the scariest additives out there:

  • Artificial Colors: Azo & Coal Tar Dyes worst offenders (E102, 104, 107, 110, 120, 122, 123, 124, 127, 128, 132, 133, 150, 151, 152, 155). These colors and dyes have been known to trigger reactions in asthmatics as well as trigger or cause allergic reactions. Artificial colors are found in products such as beverages, condiments, and other processed foods.
     
  • Artificial Flavors:  An artificial flavor must be comprised of one of the nearly 700 FDA-allowed flavoring chemicals or food additives categorized as “generally recognized as safe,” or any of 2000 other chemicals not directly regulated by FDA but sanctioned for use by an industry group, the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association of the United States. Most of these chemicals exist as natural flavors or can be extracted from them (ewg.org).
     
  • Artificial Sweeteners (aspartame, sorbitol, mannitol, acesulfame, saccharin, saccharin, xyitol): Artificial sweeteners provide zero benefits, are void of nutrients, and cause or contribute to a vast amount of ailments and disease including but not limited to diabetes, tooth decay, weight-gain, bacteria overgrowth, and toxin build-up.
     
  • Carrageenan: A thickener and emulsifier derived from an indigestible seaweed causing inflammation and linked to cancer, ulcerative colitis, and other diseases such as diabetes. Ironically, this one is generally found in alternative milks (like almond milk), juices, and infant formula.
     
  • Flavor Enhancers such as Monosodium Glutamate - MSG (E621): "One of the scariest ingredients out there...Dr. Russell Blaylock, a board-certified neurosurgeon and author of Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills; explains that MSG is an excitotoxin, which means it overexcites your cells to the point of damage or death, causing brain damage to varying degrees and potentially even triggering or worsening learning disabilities: Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's Disease, Lou Gehrig's Disease, and more." (Found in Eat Raw Not Cooked by Stacy Stowers).
     
  • Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs): The term 'GMOs' is being tossed around the health community like a ball in a dog park these days- but the fact is, GMOs are scary. If you aren't already worried about them - you should be. Hate to put it so bluntly, but there simply must be an awareness of GMOs and how they can and will effect your body. 
    • In more than 60 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union, there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs. In the U.S., the government has approved GMOs based on studies conducted by the same corporations that created them and profit from their sale.
    • GMOs (or “genetically modified organisms”) are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering, or GE. This relatively new science creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacteria and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.
    • Virtually all commercial GMOs are engineered to withstand direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide. Despite biotech industry promises, none of the GMO traits currently on the market offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit. Meanwhile, a growing body of evidence connects GMOs with health problems, environmental damage and violation of farmers’ and consumers’ rights.
    • Unfortunately, even though polls consistently show that a significant majority of Americans want to know if the food they’re purchasing contains GMOs, the powerful biotech lobby has succeeded in keeping this information from the public. In the absence of mandatory labeling, the Non-GMO Project was created to give consumers the informed choice they deserve.(http://www.nongmoproject.org/)
  • High-Fructose Corn Syrup: This one has stirred quite a debate. As it's name entails, high-fructose is derived from corn - and it is... you guessed it, fructose. What's the big deal? Yes, it is higher on the glycemic index but what concerns me with HFCS the most, is that it is coming from an ingredient that is highly likely to be genetically modified (corn) and it is completely void of an nutrients. And yes, this too is made in a lab. Stick with 100% pure maple syrup, raw honey, coconut sugar, or dates to sweeten up your foods/beverages where you will be getting the benefit of minerals, enzymes, and vitamins while you get your sugar fix.
     
  • Natural Flavors: According to its website, the FDA does not have a definition for 'natural' as it appears on food labels, and its willing to let marketers use it so long as the food does not contain added colors or synthetic substances. Yet Natural flavors are still made from compounds that were made in a lab utilizing chemicals and synthetic materials! Comforting right?
    • Further ... the FDA says that natural flavor is one that's derived from a "spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable  juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof"...Basically a natural flavor is one that's derived from a plant or animal (including insects). An artificial flavor, on the other hand, does not come from a plant or animal source, and instead is generated from scratch (in a lab).
    • Sodium benzoate and benzoic acid (E210, 211): Food additive/preservatives linked to worsening hyperactivity, allergies and taxing organs such as the liver and kidneys.
    • Sodium Nitrates: Food additive (typically in cured meats as a preservative) linked to gastric cancer, kidney disease/stones/failure. This one may seem relatively harmless on a label but it's a biggie - we humans have a threshold with the amount of sodium that our body can handle. Surpassing that threshold is a serious danger zone. In infants and toddlers, high concentrations of nitrate can lead to a condition called "blue baby syndrome," which can be fatal. The United States Environmental Protection Agency notes that this happens with nitrates bind to red blood cells, blocking their ability to carry life-giving oxygen throughout the body. Nitrates are also associated with an increase risk in cancer and specifically brain tumors, leukemia and nose/throat tumors.
    • Sulfites/sulphites, Sulfur Dioxide : These two are different chemical compounds but are similar. Sulfites and sulfur dioxide are added to a slew of products to preserve their color and extend their shelf life. Sulfites are also used an alternative to bleaching (in things like white flours, spices, coconut and is also sprayed on shellfish and some fish right on the boat). Both of these additives have the ability to cause major allergic reactions. In fact, sulfites is amongst Canada's top 10 common allergens. Note: Sulfites are also found naturally occurring in fermented foods and beverages such as wine - though some wine makers add more to preserve it further, kombucha and fermented veggies many people can tolerate these naturally sulfites. These two additives are seriously everywhere so get accustomed to reading labels - but also know that if it is under a certain amount (10 ppm), they do not have to be on the label so severely sensitive individuals should also check with the maker/manufacturer. 

Before I go on, allow me to just give you some brief insight as to what I have experienced with some of these additives:

  • Artificial colors & dyes: Anaphylactic, itchy throat, dilated pupils, elevated heart rate
  • MSG: Joint pain, migraines, dizziness/vertigo, flushing, elevated heart rate, facial pressure and sensitive skin 
  • Sodium Nitrates and Sodium benzoate: Kidney stones 
  • Artificial Sweeteners: lethargy, joint pain, brain fog, digestive upset, headaches
  • Sulfites/sulfites, Sulfur Dioxide: Anaphylactic, itchy throat, dilated pupils, elevated heart rate, itchy/watery eyes, brain dog, confusion, depression, joint pain, anxiety

Keep in mind that just because something is derived from a plant or animal (like in 'natural flavors' doesn't mean that it's safe. For example, Citric Acid - a seemingly harmless preservative is often derived from mold. And, ever hear of castoreum? Tastes like vanilla right? Well, this 'natural flavor' is actually a secretion that comes from two castor sacs located under a beaver's tail, right next to a pair of anal glands. This evidently tastes and smells like vanilla and is classified as a 'natural' food additive because it comes from an animal source. Yup, beavers butt. 

I recommend these few simple guidlines:

  • 7 ingredients or less rule: Many folks will say 5  but some of my favorite go-to healthy products contain celtic or Himalayan sea salt or spices like ginger and cinnamon that put it over the 5 limit. 
  • If you can't pronounce it - chances are you don't want to it. For real. 
  • If you don't recognize the ingredient, chances are your body won't either. Our bodies do an awesome job of assimilating and breaking down real whole foods - and naturally begins to reject things that it does not recognize as food.

So, let's step away from the "what  you don't know won't hurt you" mentality and get educated. Knowledge is power my friends.

Product Review: Go Raw Junk-Free Snacks

This post took a bit of a detour - apparently I had some ranting to do before I praise one of my go-to organic food brands: Go Raw. I eat Go Raw products on a regular basis (their spicy pumpkin and sunflower seed mix is out of this world). All of their products are free of sugar, oil, flour, and 100% vegan. 

Their products use a delicate process of soaking, sprouting, and drying (under 105º fahrenheit), ensuring a nutrient dense and enzyme rich finished product. 

I had the pleasure of sampling a variety of Go Raw's new Sprouted Cookies. 

Go Raw's products are sourced from 100% organic ingredients. These cookies are made from a base of 3 simple ingredients: unsulphered coconut, sprouted sesame seeds, and dates that when combined, create a taste-bud experience unlike any other cookie. The good news? The cookie is actually good for you. Go Raw has come up with a variety of cookie flavors like Chocolate (yes please!), Lemon (heaven...), Carrot, Masala Chai, Ginger (OMG yum!) and Original. There was not one that did not like though my favorites are Chocolate, Lemon and Ginger. I may have had three of each in one bite for an epic combination....and by that, I mean that I did... 

For those that have nut allergies, Go Raw is a dedicated nut-free facility. 

Sesame, dates and coconut are nutritional powerhouses. 

Sesame Seeds:

Don't let their size fool you, these tiny seeds are loaded with goodness. Protein makes up 20% of the seed, offering 4.7 grams of protein per ounce. High in magnesium, sesame is an excellent way to get this nutrient in; which aids in digestion, sleep, blood sugar control, lowering anxiety and stress and is critical in preventing diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease. The phytosterol is the highest in sesame in comparison to any other nut or seed - this compound has been found to have anti-cancer properties. In addition, sesame contains a high amount of iron, which everyone needs but particularly those with anemia or prone to anemia. And, just a small handful of sesame contains more calcium than a glass of milk. The list goes on and on from healthy skin and hair to eye health - these babies are indeed a superfood. 

Coconut:

If you've been tapped into the health community, you already know that coconut is pretty much a miracle. You can read about the 101 uses for coconut by the lovely Wellness Moma here. Coconut can be used internallyand externally for a wide array of things, but I will tell you that as far as internally, it truly is a miracle food. It is high in lauric acid and Medium-Chain Fatty Acids (MCFA); which helps to boost the metabolism and aids in weight-loss. Yeah, it's 2015 and time to let go of the fallacy that saturated fat is bad. Here are a few of the other awesome benefits of regular use of coconut: helps to support thyroid function, has been shown to possibly prevent or reverse Alzheimers, controls insulin levels, boost hormone production, boost immune system, improve digestion and is a natural anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, antibacterial, antimicrobial and, antioxidant.

Dates:

I'm happy to go out on date with this marvelous fruit any day. A sweet product of the date palm, dates are packed with an impressive mineral, nutrient, and vitamin profile of: fiber, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, zinc, vitamins A, B6, K and folates and contains antioxidant flavonoids such as b-carotene. Here are just some of the benefits of consuming dates: digestive health, reduced stroke risk, brain health, heart health, reduced blood pressure, weigh-management, anemia prevention, respiratory health and decreased (colon) cancer risk. 

Eat real whole foods. Go simple. Go Raw.

- Michael Pollan

www.goraw.com

-Ashley

Staying Healthy on Road Trips - Bodhi Life Style

My world has taken some interesting turns as of late - you'll see a stream of posts about that. But for now, I'd like to share with you a recent road trip that I went on and my journey along the way (including what I ate and listened to - two of my favorite things in life).

I have departed from Philly. And, before I return to the splendor of Bar Harbor, ME, I am soaking up some much needed time with my brother and his family. Isn't it amazing what spending time with family can do for your soul? My heart is happy and spirit lifted just being in their loving home. And oh, there are simply no words to explain the joy that their three little ones bring to me! Their laugh. Their smile. Their excitement at the little things - like worms after the rainfall, flowers on a walk, and painting Easter eggs. Their tender loving care with the newest addition that is just five months old.  And hearing them say things like, "Aunt Ashley you are like a park with hair," when I wake up in the morning. The precious moments that I have had the opportunity to be part of in just a short amount of time is priceless.

So, anyway, I'll get on with this post about my drive and how I fueled my body, mind, and soul along the way.

I've done a few cross country moves in recent years - so I have a bit of a system when it comes to packing my car and prepping the items that I will need will I drive. I have not only learned that I need to have high-quality fresh food with my while I travel, but for a couple of days after I arrive also. If you have ever driven 12 hours by yourself - you know that grocery shopping is the last thing you want to do when you arrive - even for a foodie like myself. I have visions of myself collapsing in a pile of kale with dreams of eating watermelon and drinking coconut water.

You can't always be sure what you are going to be walking into - and there is always the possibility of having to spend the night in a hotel so I always prepare for each scenario. This means on a road trip, I also travel with a coffee bag equip with my french press, coffee, mug and travel mug and store it within reach in my car...

To gear up, the day prior to move, I filled 3 glass Voss water bottles with filtered water. The morning of, I put freshly cut up lemon and frozen cranberries in them for an added boost AND I am kind of addicted to eating the cranberries while I drive to give me something else to do...

I'll mention though, that before I got started, I made a french press full of coffee and filled two antioxidant rich travel mugs ;)

This trip was almost exactly 12 hours door-to-door, so I ate A LOT, but mostly snack style because I hate having that heavy tummy feeling while driving. So I dug in when I was hungry and kept on cruisin' - stopping to pee quite frequently as I was drinking fluids the entire time.

To start my day, I had some lemon water before I even headed out the door and then for breakfast, I had coconut water with my probiotic powder mixed in (I useVSL #3), 1/2 of a cantaloupe that I previously cut and 1/2 container of blueberries. And put on some tunes... Who can road trip without Tom Petty, STP, The Stones or Clapton?

To stay fueled and help me catch my second wind, I had my Vega One Shake (that I mixed with cold water before I left and stored in my cooler) and the rest of my coffee.

I <3 Coffee

And then... some pineapple!

I also <3 Pineapple

And, my tunes... Staying pumped with some Poison, Zeppelin, Lana Del Ray, and music from the Lincoln Lawyer.

The weather was on my side for this trip - giving me the sunshine almost all day and warming up to 70 degrees.

Seeing the country is one of my other favorite things in life. I discovered that West Virginia is a seriously gorgeous state. I had no idea that it was so mountainous.

Some contents in my cooler (again, this was to last a few days...):

  • Basil
  • Red butter lettuce 
  • Celery 
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Raw Chia Almond Butter (Barney's)
  • Spinach & Arugula Medley (Whole Foods)
  • Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice (Whole Foods)  
  • Additional VSL probiotics
  • Lemon 
  • Sliced green apple, celery, and cucumber 

And for the non-refrigerated items:

  • 1 whole cantaloupe 
  • 1 whole pineapple
  • Apples
  • Raw Honey
  • Vega One Vegan Protein Shake
  • Hemp Seeds
  • Chia Seeds 
  • Go Raw Sprouted Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds (Spicy Cilantro) 
  • Unsweetened Raw Coconut  
  • Raw Chocolate Covered Kale Chips (Alive & Radiant) 

Mellowing out to some Brett Dennon, Linsey Stirling, Ben Harper, and Barefoot Truth.

I got a little worn out at hour 8...

And then I stopped to stretch my legs.

And then, I caught my third wind, after my favorite snack of the day that I strategically planned to have before I arrived - knowing I would be a couple of hours out from my destination. Raw Chocolate Kale Chips with Raw Chia Almond Butter.  

#Yes 

#Purebliss 

#Heaven

Before I left that morning, my friend had me promise to let her know when I cracked open the crack (AKA chocolate kale chips). I held to my 6PM on the dot. 

Do you ever get into a zone where you can't quite form sentences or communicate but you feel a sense of peace and calm? A zone where you feel good. Like... really good. But answering the phone or talking in general is just not going to happen for you? 

This is how the latter part of my drive was. Rolling fields of green. Sun setting. Zen'd out listening to Xavier Rudd at an incredible decibel - and hyped up on Raw Cacao and Kale. 

Kentucky is also beautiful 

After unpacking a few essentials from the life contents in my car and giving hugs to my family, I had my last meal of the day - thankful I had all of that food with me and prepped. 

Cucumber, green apple, celery, avocado, basil, spinach & arugula and sprouted seeds

The next morning, I woke to these precious creatures - my dear nephews. 

Pure love

Thankful once again that I had food with me already in the house for the next morning. And, so very grateful to be welcomed into my brother's loving home. What a beautiful family he has. 

So, folks, this is how I do a long road trip. 

-Ashley 

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.

food is medicine.jpeg

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.

clif bars.jpeg

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.

cherry clif bar.png

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.

dark choc clif bar.png

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

dark choc mojo.png

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

Vega One Power Smoothie

I've been drinking Vega One as shake in the morning for a few months now and I have to tell you - it really has been one of those things that has changed my life. I love brekkie time, but I was beginning to be in a bit of a funk when it came to what to eat because what I was eating was not making me feel well. It wasn't giving me energy. I switched to an all fruit brekkie which made me feel amazing, but it wasn't sustaining me. I needed something more. I found Vega One and never looked back unless of course, I have my new favorite signature dish, The WAKE Bowl. Or... perhaps combine the two (AMAZINGNESS).

Vega One is 100% plant-based, dairy, gluten, and soy free. It has a complete protein blend and balanced amino acid profile made up of of sprouted whole grain brown rise, pea, hemp, and savi seed. Each serving provides 15 grams of protein as well as 3 servings of greens, vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, digestive enzymes and probiotics. Here is a complete list of ingredients.

Anyway, usually I have the shake with added chia seeds and almond milk, coconut water or water and then fruit along the side but I was super hungry and didn't feel like a salad for lunch so I threw all of this in the blender and viola! Vega Magic.
 

Vega One Power Smoothie

1 banana
1 avocado
2 handfuls of spinach
3 T coconut flakes (unsweetened)
1 T raw honey
1 serving Vega One (I used French Vanilla)
1 serving liquid chlorella (about 18 drops)
~ 2 cups water (I didn't measure so use your best judgement for consistency)
Few ice cubes (this makes the spinach blend better)

Method

Throw in the blender and blend silly ;)

Makes one large green awesome smoothie.

Enjoy ;)

-AEB

The WAKE Bowl

I have gone though countless breakfast phases - from eggs, potatoes and sausage (yes, really) to coconut flour waffles, to spinach pancakes. But, one thing has remained the same - and that is my love for breakfast and morning. I adore my mornings and the breakfast ritual. Especially on the weekends. I open the blinds, prepare my coffee in the french press, dance a round a bit, stretch and make breakfast (or what I like to call 'brekkie,' which I picked up in Australia). The tunes play as I enjoy my brekkie, read about what is happening in the World, and perhaps do some writing. My weekend mornings are quite ritualistic and if you're ever around me during this time, good luck getting me out of the house before noon.

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This recipe was born out of me having a couple of nights filled with some heavy food that my system isn't really use to eating and I was feeling like I needed something that was cleansing yet fulfilling and satisfying to my morning appetite.

I've continued to make this brekkie meal over and over - experimenting with different fruits, herbs and spices but the version below is by far my favorite.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am deeming this my signature dish. 

The WAKE Bowl

1 T chia seeds
1 C unsweetened almond milk (carrageenan free like Whole Food's 356 brand)
Small handful of spinach  (torn into small pieces)
1 Banana, sliced
Small handful of raspberries
Small handful of blueberries
Small handful of goji berries
Handful of cubed pineapple
Sprinkle of cardamom
1/8 t fresh ginger
1 leaf of fresh basil (torn into small pieces)
2 T Coconut meat/flakes
1 T hemp seeds

Method

Soak the chia seeds in the almond milk (in the fridge) for at least an hour or overnight (better tasting IMO and easier to digest). Add in all the other ingredients (I do in the order listed so that it looks pretty ;)), give it a stir and enjoy!

Yes this will WAKE you up!!!

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Enjoy ;) 

-AEB

Lavender Lemon Pancakes

Oh...and, this recipe also works for bread (see adaptations below). 

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There are some (like my sister) that think eating lavender is 'weird,' or they think it's 'like eating perfume.' I, am not one of those people. In fact, I would go far as to say that I love the taste of lavender. Plus, it's ridiculously good for you.

So, I made these pancakes the other night for a quick bite to eat the next day while at work. I'm pretty sure that I said out-loud "whoa, these are frickin' delicious!" Yeah...

Lavender Lemon Pancakes

1 egg, cage-free/organic
1/3 cup applesauce
1/2 cup white rice flour
Dash of cardamom
Pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup oat milk *
2 tbls fresh lemon juice
Pinch of dried lavender flowers
1 tsp baking powder

Method:

Coat a large skillet with some coconut oil (extra virgin/unrefined or your favorite oil) and heat on medium.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl whip the egg and applesauce together. Add in the rice flour, cardamom, sea salt and oat milk, stir well. Next, add in the lemon juice and lavender then the baking powder. Mix thoroughly until all ingredients are well incorporated.

Pour ~ 4 pancakes in the the skillet. Heat about 3-4 minutes on one side (or until tops begin to bubble). Flip, and heat on the other side for about 3 minutes or until they begin to brown.

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Seriously, YUM! I was not expecting this to be so good.

Now, to make this a bread:

4 egg whites, cage-free/organic (reserve yolks)
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup applesauce
1 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup oats (certified gluten free)
Heavy dash of cardamom
Dash of sea salt
1/2 cup oat milk *
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Dash of dried lavender flowers
2 tsp baking powder

Method:

Coat a bread loaf pan (I used glass) with extra virgin/unrefined coconut oil (or oil of your choice).

Whip the egg whites until they begin to froth but do not whip them so that they are white. Set aside.

Combine the egg yolks and applesauce. Add in the rice flour, oats, cardamom and salt. Mix well then add in the remaining ingredients and stir until all ingredients are well incorporated.

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes, cover with foil and bake for another 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake uncovered for another 10 minutes.

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A...maz...ing.

* If you have a significant allergy/intolerance to gluten, be sure to check the label on your oat milk and make sure it was made in a gluten-free facility as there is potential for gluten-cross contamination with oats.

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Enjoy!

-AEB

Spinach Bread Loaf

Well, I really wanted to get this recipe out sooner because I am kind of in love with it, alas, life had its way with me again. So, I apologize for the delay, only because this recipe should most certainly make its way into your life.  

You all know how much I love breads and pancakes, so I thought, why not combine my favorite bread recipe with my favorite pancake recipe?

I now present to you my newest favorite.... Spinach Bread Loaf. Oh yes. 

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Spinach Bread Loaf

1 cup apple sauce (unsweetened)
2 egg yolks, organic/cage-free (reserve the whites)
4 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp 100% pure maple syrup
1 cup brown rice
1 cup oats
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 cup spinach, chopped
Heavy dash of cardamom
Heavy dash of turmeric
Pinch of sea salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Method: 

Whip the egg whites until the begin to turn white (but not quite frothy), set aside.  

In a large bowl, thoroughly combine the egg yolks, apple sauce, vanilla and maple syrup. Add in the flours, spices and spinach and mix until all ingredients are incorporated. Lastly, add in the baking soda and apple cider vinegar and mix well.

Grease a bread loaf pan (I used grapeseed oil) and bake at 350° 25 minutes, turn down to 300° and bake another 15 minutes with foil over-top. 

Delicious! 

When the temperature drops enough for me to not feel insane for turning an oven on, I'll be making this again.  Yes, even on the coast in Northern Maine, it's HOT. I love it... I really do.

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Enjoy (for brekki, lunch, dinner or a snack! :))

-AEB

Banana & Pear Chai Spiced Bread

The idea of a chai spiced bread had been spinning around in my head for a few days before I made this. Then, the thought to put some pear in it came to me and I couldn't wait to try it out. Seriously... delicious. I may have said this before, I'm sure that I have (because I'm vain like that...), but this is likely my favorite bread to-date.

Banana & Pear Chai Spiced Bread

3 bananas (very ripe or previously frozen)
2 egg yolks (reserve the whites)
4 egg whites
1 tsp 100% pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups brown rice flour

Chai spice:

  • Dash of ginger
  • Dash of Cardamom
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Pinch of clove
  • Pinch of Nutmeg 

Pinch of sea salt1/4 tsp ground flax-seed (optional)
2 tbls grapeseed oil
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 pear, peeled & diced (I used Bartlett)

Method:

Whip the egg whites until the begin to turn white (but not quite frothy), set aside.

Thoroughly blend together the bananas, yolks, maple syrup and vanilla. Add in the flour, chai spice, sea salt, flax-seed and grapeseed oil, stir well.

Fold in your egg whites and thoroughly combine with the dough. Add in the baking powder and soda and top with the apple cider vinegar. Give it a good stir and then fold in the pear.

Bake at 350º for 30 minutes, cover with foil and then back another 15-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

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I will definitely be making this one again.

Enjoy ;)

-AEB

Whole Grain, Seed & Nut Bread (Vegan/Gluten-free)

I love experimenting. So, I figured that I would try another vegan bread. Yes bread with no yeast... or eggs. 

Whole Grain, Seed & Nut Bread (Vegan/Gluten-free)

1 cup apple sauce
1 tbls chia seeds (I used white, black would also work)
3/4 cup water
3 tbls ground flaxseed
1 tsp 100% pure maple syrup
1 + 1/4 cup whole grain brown rice flour
1 cup almond meal
Dash of sea salt
2 tbls grapeseed oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder

Method:

In a large bowl, combine the chia seeds with the apple sauce and let set for about 10 minutes.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the water and flaxseed and let set for about 10 minutes.

Both of these will start to thicken and 'gel.'

Add the maple syrup, brown rice flour, almond meal, sea salt and oil to the applesauce/chia seed mixture and stir well. A dough will begin to form.

Fold in the flaxseed mixture and grapeseed oil and then add in the apple cider vinegar, baking soda and baking powder. Stir until all ingredients are incorporated.

In a greased loaf pan (I used grapeseed oil), bake at 350° for 25 minutes. At 25 minutes, cover with foil and bake for about another 20 minutes.

Note, when making a gluten-free bread that is also egg-free AND yeast-free... any sort of 'rise' is success in my book :) 

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Delicious. This bread was super moist, dense and awesome. And pretty amazing with coconut oil and cinnamon spread on-top.... 

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Enjoy ;)

-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

Product Review: Artisana Butters

Artisana! I even love to say their name. I had the pleasure of trying out some samples from Artisana recently and... I am certain I will be finding room in my kitchen for more Artisana products. 

Now, for these heavenly lil' packets...

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Cashew Butter: The cashew butter is almost like a frosting. Not in sweetness but in the buttery, smooth texture. This could be used for various frosting or cream cheese replacements. Loved it.

Almond Butter: I eat quite a bit of almond butter and loved this one because it is simply raw almonds. Many other almond butters have other  ingredients such as salt and cane sugar. There are SO many uses for almond butter. I like to enjoy just by itself or with a banana or apple. Yum :)

Cacao Bliss: OK- not sure this needs much of description. Cacao Bliss is bliss. Seriously. Delicious.

Macadamia Butter: I LOVE this butter. So good. I have made my own macadamia butter in the past theirs has cashew butter in at as well (here is why) which makes it super creamy. I enjoyed this plain but macadamia butter can be used in various recipes to replace cheese (especially ricotta), cream cheese or frosting.

Pecan Butter: Well, I love pecans to begin with but this butter was fantastic. I like to enjoy this one by itself but could be added to so many different foods... Perfect...

My favorite? 

If I had to choose, I may choose the pecan and macadamia....together... A wonderful bit of mother nature. 

Perhaps the best attribute to Artisana products is that their ingredients are completely natural and simple. The butters have few ingredients and often just one. Purely simple and natural :)

Discover more about Artisana here.

Enjoy! 

-AEB

DAMY'S Strawberry Lemonade Two Bite Muffins (GF)

Another rock-star DAMY recipe. I tweaked the ingredients a bit but the credit still goes to her. Thank you kindly ;)

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DAMY'S Strawberry Lemonade Two Bite Muffins (GF)

2 cage-free organic eggs (separated)
2 tbls honey
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups almond meal
1 tbls fresh lemon juice
1 tbls lemon zest
2 cups finely diced fresh strawberries
Pinch of sea salt
2 tbls grapeseed oil
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbls apple cider vinegar

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Method

In a small bowl whisk together the egg whites until they begin to turn white but not frothy, set aside. In a large bowl combine the egg yolk, honey an vanilla. Add in the almond meal, lemon zest, lemon juice and strawberries. Mix well and then add in the salt and grapeseed oil. Once ingredients are well incorporated, add in the baking soda, apple cider vinegar and fold in the egg whites. Stir well until a nice dough forms. 

Grease tins with grapeseed oil and fill each tin about 3/4 full. Bake at 350° for about 25 minutes. 

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Yields ~ 10 small muffins 

Enjoy (with some tea while watching Grey's Anatomy... ;))

-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

Chevre Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates

OK, I know that I post some easy recipes but I'm telling you, this may be the easiest AND was a big hit at a dinner party.

So, I'll get right on with it...

Chevre Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates

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2 packages of Medjool dates, pitted (any kind of date would work)
2 packages of chevre goat cheese crumbles

This was for a large group so you could cut the amount down to suit your needs.

Method:

Slice the dates down the middle, stuff with the goat cheese crumbles (I used a very small spoon to do this) and serve ;) Store in the refrigerator if you make ahead of time.

I must admit, these were quite heavenly... 

Enjoy ;)  

-AEB

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

I love creating new recipes. And really love it when they turn out. And love it even more when it's muffins.

I've yet to meet someone that doesn't like muffins...If you are out there, please don't let me know. 

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Oh, and I am lovin' Bob Marley right now. Ya dig? ;)

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

2 eggs, separated
1/2 of a ripe banana
1 tbls honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup almond meal/flour
1/2 of a lemon (juice & flesh)
1/4 grapeseed oil
Pinch of sea salt
1 heaping tbls poppy seeds
1/2 tsp baking soda

Method:

Turn on Bob Marley.

Whip the egg whites until they start to 'froth' (not foam) in a small bowl and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, banana and vanilla. Add in the brown rice flour and almond meal. Mix until a dough begins to form, add in the lemon (juice and flesh - be sure to remove any seeds that may fall out) and grapeseed oil and give it a good stir, until the oil is mixed in thoroughly. Add in the remaining ingredients and fold in the egg whites.

Grease tins (I used grapeseed oil) and bake at 350° for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Yields ~ 12 small muffins 

Enjoy out the oven... maybe with coconut oil smothered on them... ;)

-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