No Bake Chocolate Dream Bars

No bake chocolate dream bars

This pic was taken yesterday and now the pan is nearly empty. They are THAT good. I’m also the ONLY one eating them. Which I have mixed feelings about. On one hand, I like having a tray full of chocolate dream bars to myself, but on the other, sharing helps out with portion control.

But first, a trip to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. I can’t help myself. The roses are in bloom and they are gorgeous.

Check out that sky, and all those blooms. Can you believe this garden oasis is in Brooklyn?

Both Bunky and Little Guy love to stop and smell the roses. It is pretty adorable (except for the bees swarming everywhere, which is really just an accident waiting to happen). I especially love Little Guy’s funny scrunched up nose face when he “sniffs.” It’s very dramatic and not properly captured here, but you get the idea:

Look close for the scrunch nose.

Look closely for the tell-tale scrunch nose.

And check out my girl, in total rose rapture.

bunky smells rose

I thought the pose looked familiar and then I did a search online and realized it looks just like THIS piece of art which I studied in college during my obsession with Pre-Raphaelites.

The Soul of the Rose by John Williams Waterhouse

The Soul of the Rose by John Williams Waterhouse

Pretty crazy, right? We all enjoyed smelling the roses and enjoying the rest of the garden, especially the Japanese garden which has a lake filled with koi fish. We had to restrain Little Guy from diving in.

garden family

japanese garden gazing

We’ve been venturing out more lately, as our family of four is way more portable now that Little Guy nearly 20 months. This past Saturday we went to Coney Island, braving both heat and crowds – and a complete dearth of gluten free food. More on that in an upcoming post, but now it’s time for these no bake beauties…

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Run, do not walk to this recipe, lightly adapted from a gem I spied on Pinterest. I love how recipes are like nesting dolls, my version was adapted from this one, this version was adapted from that one, and so forth. The big change in mine was using almond butter instead of PB. Can I tell you a secret? Please don’t hold it against me, but I’m finally realizing that I just don’t like peanut butter. I can’t even stand the smell. It’s strange, I used to love peanut butter, but once I got a taste of almond butter (specifically Justin’s brand) I officially dumped PB for AB and haven’t looked back since.

no bake choco bars

These No Bake Chocolate Dream Bars are filled with GF oats, coconut oil, coconut flakes, honey and of course, chocolate. Plus you don’t have to turn on your oven. How can you possibly go wrong?

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup almond butter (I used Justin’s Honey AB)
  • 1/2 cup honey (maple syrup for vegan)
  • 1/2 cup organic coconut oil
  • 2 cups GF oats
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, nut of choice, or no nuts (use rice cereal or pretzel pieces)
  • 1 1/4 cups dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Grease a 9×13 pan with coconut oil.
  2. Place the oats, coconut, pecans, and chocolate chips in a large bowl, and stir to combine.
  3. Heat the almond butter, honey and coconut oil together until the coconut oil is mostly melted. Don’t let the honey boil. (TIP: To prevent honey from sticking to your measuring cup, grease it with coconut oil and then it will slide right out.)
  4. Pour the heated almond butter mixture onto the oat mixture, and stir until the chocolate chips are melted.*
  5. Evenly spread the mixture in a greased 9×13 pan.
  6. Cover and refrigerate until hardened. Or put it in the freezer if you can’t wait like me.
  7. Cut into bars, enjoy, and refrigerate the leftovers for up to one week (if they last that long!)

* There may be a moment during the mixing process when you wonder, will the chocolate actually melt? And if you’re like me you might get worried and dump in more chocolate chips, but the answer is YES, the chocolate will melt, but more chips are never a bad thing, either.

I’m happy to have shared this post at the Gluten-Free Friday’s link up party hosted by Vegetarian Mamma. Click the link to find more great GF recipes!

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Strawberry Banana Split Balls

strawberry banana ball

Yes, more balls, I know. It’s getting out of hand. Will I ever get tired of making balls or making puns about balls? I don’t think so, but I may run out of ingredient combos. This one is stretching the bounds of imagination a bit. But it’s good. Really good.

Let me start by saying this is in no way meant to be a replacement for an actual banana split. Not at all. If you’re looking for a decadent ice cream extravaganza, you will probably be disappointed. However, if you’re looking for a super tasty raw ball that happens to be delicious and healthy, you’re in luck.

Now that it’s strawberry season (or so I will assume since strawberries are no longer a bazillion dollars and tasteless) I am buying a pint a day. Between me and the kids they go fast. Then the other day I got suckered into buying not only fresh strawberries, but the crazy expensive freeze dried ones, too. I was waiting in line at what Bunky calls The Pickle Market, because of the pickle samples she gorges on, and my hand – with a will completely of its own – reached over and snatched one of these suckers off the rack.

freeze dried strawberries

It ripped on one corner so I very understandably realized I’d have to buy it no matter the price. It turns out Little Guy loves freeze dried fruit, but I didn’t let him finish the bag because I had some new balls in mind…

strawberry banana ball no bits

Strawberry Banana Split Balls

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of dates cut in half, soaked in some water to soften up (drain before adding)
  • 1/3 cup pecans
  • 1/3 cup almonds
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup coconut flakes (mine were finely ground already, but any would work)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup freeze dried strawberries (you could use more but they are crazy $$)
  • handful of freeze dried bananas (leftover from my banana “bread” bars)*
  • 1/4 cup (or more!) mini chocolate chips, optional

* If you don’t have freeze dried banana, no worries. Use half of a ripe banana instead, and if the batter is too mushy, just add some more moisture sucking coconut flakes.

Directions:

1. While the dates are soaking, grind the nuts first. [I do this because I want them to be finely ground for the Little Guy, who doesn’t have all his teeth yet, but you can skip this step if you don’t mind a little more texture.] Then remove ground nuts to a bowl, set aside.

2. Put dates and just a bit of the soaking water into the food processor. Whirl away until a paste is formed. You can either add all the whole nuts now, or the ground ones. Pulse to combine. Then add the coconut, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pulse again.

This is what Little Guy was up to while I made these.

What Little Guy was up to while I made these. So cute.

3. Then add the freeze dried strawberries and banana. Add chocolate chips (please) if you’re not feeding these to a baby. Pulse to combine. Turn out the batter onto parchment and roll into balls or press into a bar. Freeze until firm.

Raw dough blob very gross looking.

Raw dough blob very gross looking.

I did a totally unnecessary thing, mainly out of boredom but also because balls are not very photogenic, and rolled a few in some extra strawberry bits. It looks kind of cool in the pics, and adds an extra strawberry burst, but you don’t need to do this. They taste pretty rad all on their own.

Random but important tip: When rolling the dough into balls, DO NOT wet your hands thinking that will help with the stickiness. If you do the balls become hideous looking and slimy. It’s okay that your hands will be covered in bits of dough. Lick it off or wash it later, but keep them dry for the rolling. I speak from experience and on the behalf of one sad soggy little ball that I had to throw out.

strawberry balls in parchment

I’m happy to have shared this post at the Gluten-Free Friday’s link up party hosted by Vegetarian Mamma. Click the link to find more great GF recipes!

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I’m also excited to share it on Raw Foods Thursdays on Gluten Free Cat. * Please note, that the recipes on this link-up will NOT all be gluten free, so be sure to read carefully.

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Vanilla Macaroon Raw Balls

vanilla coconut raw balls

Happy Passover to all you Jews out there. Or Pesach, as we say around here. Okay, not true, but if I was more religious maybe we would.

I have fond memories of the Passover Sedar from when I was a kid, my favorite parts being the food, namely charoset, the sweet apple, honey, walnut, and wine mash for spreading atop matzoh (or eating with a spoon like I always did), and macaroons. Not surprising given my sweet spot for sweets.

Though I’m quite non-practicing these days, I often feel nostalgic for my Jewish roots around holidays, so I thought about making some macaroons (these both look awesome) and was bummed to realize that we’re out of eggs. Since the idea of walking to the store with two kids on a blustery cold snowy (spring) day wasn’t very appealing, I had a very non religious revelation – raw macaroons!

vanilla macaroon ball close up

Since I’m on a raw bar/Lara bar kick lately, this seemed perfect. To make them more macaroon-y, I shaped them into balls and rolled some in extra shredded coconut, but you could also make the square from the Banana “Bread” bars and slice away.

My favorite part of this process today was the photographs, shockingly enough. Instead of Little Guy closing his finger in a drawer and Bunky pitching a fit, both kids happily chomped on the macaroons while I snapped pics. Pretty cool.

pink tower of balls

Vanilla Macaroon Raw Balls (or Bars)

Ingredients:

  • 1 full cup dates cut in half, soaked in some water to soften up (drain before adding)*
  • 1/3 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut (I used this finely shredded one, but any flake will work)
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • extra shredded coconut for rolling, if desired

Directions:

Grind the almonds and pecans in a food processor until the pieces are uniform in size and then set them aside in a bowl. Then process the dates, coconut, and vanilla. Put nut mixture back in and pulse everything together until the dough comes together.

Oh dear, I just wrote this sentence: You could totally play around with the nuts since I just used what I had in the house – until I realized how terrible that sounded. But I didn’t have the heart to delete it, ha. You know what I mean, though.

*If the mixture seems too dry – which can happen when you work with coconut, since it sucks up moisture like a sponge – add a few more dates, or even a teaspoon of coconut oil to soften things up.

Then pour out on a piece of parchment paper and either press into a square, or roll into balls. Use some extra shredded coconut flakes if you’d like to roll the balls around and make them look all pretty like these. Bunky and Little Guy prefer theirs plain, but I enjoy the extra coconut.

pink tower close up

Maybe all this holiday baking will reignite my non practicing Jewishness into something more substantial than just throwing around Yiddish words like Pesach and schmuck. Or not. I’ll keep you posted.

Either way, keep an eye out for another Passover inspired raw bar/ball recipe coming soon, this time I’ve got charoset as an inspiration… And don’t think I’ve forgotten about Easter. I mean, hello, chocolate?!

I’m happy to have shared this post at the Gluten-Free Friday’s link up party hosted by Vegetarian Mamma. Click the link to find more great GF recipes!

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It’s also posted on One Creative Weekend, hosted by One Creative Mommyand Simply Sugar and Gluten Free’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays. * Please note, that the recipes on these two link-ups will NOT all be gluten free, so be sure to read carefully.

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Chocolate Coconut Truffles

Chocolate Coconut Truffles

I used to think making chocolate was for professionals and grandmas in the know, but clearly I was wrong. Turns out anyone can “make” chocolate, especially if that means melting down previously made chocolate (i.e. chips, bar) and then reshaping it, maybe throwing a filling in the middle.

It was pretty easy, which was fortunate since I made them while holding Little Guy. You should see my left bicep. It’s huge. But more exciting to see are these homemade chocolate candies.

IMG_1963

The official name is Chocolate Coconut Truffles, coined by my fancy-pants husband. I thought about calling them Mini Mounds Bar knock-offs, but his sounds cooler. Also, these are way better for you than any over the counter artificial-flavor-jammed candy bar. The ingredients are few and simple. You may already have everything you need to make them. If so, get to it. You won’t regret it.

Don’t like coconut? Then fill it with something else. Jam, almond butter, dried cherries. My husband claimed not to like coconut in sweets, but then he tried these and well, he changed his mind. Maybe you will too. If not, you’re in good company. Bunky can’t stand anything coconut. (How is she my kid?) And she was not pleased when she spotted the last couple of these on the counter last night. Maybe I’ll make her some solid ones. The kid just doesn’t like fillings in chocolate. Seems unnatural, doesn’t it? Oh well. More for me.

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Chocolate Coconut Truffles

This recipe was adapted from Tasty Yummies very yummy looking Dark Chocolate Coconut Treats.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups coconut flakes or shredded, unsweetened
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil (for the filling) + 2 teaspoons divided (for the chocolate)
  • 2-3 tablespoons maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips, divided in half
At the last minute I switched from bar chocolate to chips, but either is fine.

At the last minute I switched from bar chocolate to chips, but either is fine.

Directions:

1. In a food processor, blend the coconut flakes until in tiny pieces. (If using shredded this may not be necessary.) Then add 1/3 cup of coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla. Whirl until combined. Set aside.

Note: The coconut filling will not be entirely smooth and the color will have a tan hue because of the maple syrup. But don’t be alarmed. It tastes awesome. And it’s not maple syrupy at all. Just a nice sweet flavor. I tried to give some to Little Guy, but he refused. His loss, though, my gain. Did I mention this candy is for me?

Looks like rice, but it's sweet coconut love.

Looks like rice, but it’s sweet coconut love.

2. Then take 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips and melt in 30 second intervals in the microwave. Check every 30 seconds and stir. Mine took under 90 seconds total. Then add 1 teaspoon of melted coconut oil. Stir to combine. Add a bit more coconut oil if the chocolate seems too thick.

Using a teaspoon scoop a bit of chocolate into each compartment. I used one of those flexible ice cube trays from Ikea in the shape of small flowers. You could also use mini cupcake wrappers if you don’t have a tray like this.

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I used my fingers to spread the chocolate around. Don’t judge. You could also use a paintbrush (just for baking) and paint it in. Then pop it in the freezer until the chocolate hardens, about 5-10 minutes.

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3. Using a teaspoon, scoop a small mound of coconut filling into the center of each chocolate filled mold.

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4. Melt the other 1/2 cup of chocolate chips in the microwave, 30 second intervals. Add another teaspoon of coconut oil to thin it out a bit. Then dollop chocolate on top.

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Looks messy, I know, but I was holding a baby the entire time. Then smooth it out with a spatula and stick it in the freezer for another 10 minutes.

Carefully pop them out of the molds, and then try not to eat all of them at once.

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This recipe makes 16 of those mini candies using my mold. I had a small bowl of leftover coconut puree and decided to do something different the next day…

patty stackI used a mini muffin tin and pressed a teaspoon (or so) of coconut puree into the bottom of each well, then froze it for about 20 minutes. I melted some chocolate down with a teaspoon of coconut oil, poured it on top, then froze again until hardened. It filled 11 out of 12 muffin tin molds. Using a butter knife, I popped each sucker out. They come out rather easily.

Too easily, perhaps. We ALL ate them. You read that correctly! Bunky couldn’t resist the lure (and aroma) of chocolate, so she tried one and, surprise, surprise, liked it.

bunky eating pattySo much for having these all to myself! But I have to admit, it makes me happy to share. Not to mention it keeps me from being a total pig.

I’m happy to have shared this post at the Gluten-Free Friday’s link up party hosted by Vegetarian Mamma. Click the link to find more great GF recipes!

gffbadgesmall_zpse392b4e3

It’s also posted on One Creative Weekend, hosted by One Creative Mommyand Simply Sugar and Gluten Free’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays, and Green Thickies’ Healthy Vegan Fridays. * Please note, that the recipes on these three link-ups will NOT all be gluten free, so be sure to read carefully.

OneCreativeWeekendslightly_indulgent_tuehealthy vegan fridays