Sticky Date & Toffee Oatmeal Squares

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Happy Wednesday lovelies!

Hooray we have made it half way through the work week! I think we all deserve a big pat on the back and possibly a little something sweet… who’s with me???

Okay, so if this is your first time visiting this site, you won’t know this about me yet… but I am pretty much obsessed with dates… (the fruit that is.) Now for tor those of you who are returning readers, although I have never actually specifically addressed this obsession, you have most likely already guessed this about me, seeing as how I tend to use dates in a lot of my baking. Doesn’t matter if they are fresh dates or dried dates, I can’t seem to get enough of them!

In the past I have been keeping this obsession kind of on the down-low because for some reason when you tell people that you like dates, they tend to look at you like you are the strangest person on earth and like they think you must be a grandmother in disguise. But I say enough with the hiding! I’m not ashamed to admit it anymore – I LOVE dates. They are delicious, and if you think otherwise or worse, if you haven’t ever tried a date…. you need to hustle to the grocery store right now and pick some up because once you have a taste and unlock the hidden potential of this chewy little fruit. Trust me – once you give them a try, you will be just as excited as I am.

Dates make for the most amazing, and unique addition to almost any baked good! Not only do I use them as a natural sweetener in almost all of my homemade granola & granola bar recipe’s, but I also love to throw them into muffins, scones, loaves, cookies… oh who am I kidding I love to put them in everything!  

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Dark Chocolate Mocha Granola

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Stop what you are doing right now, and prepare to be floored by the most amazing granola ever! Okay that may be a slight exaggeration and I don’t want to be making claims that I can’t back up seeing as how I really haven’t tried all of the granola’s of the world- but this granola is pretty damn delicious if I do say so myself!

Not only is this granola damn delicious, but it is also made with healthy, all-natural ingredients! That’s right I said healthy, all-natural and delicious… has your mind been officially blown? Probably not, because if you are reading this post I am sure you are already well aware that healthy can be ultra delicious, but for the few of you out there who are skeptical, let this be your first lesson in the deliciousness that is healthy eating!

So one morning I was thinking to myself… I could really use a mocha right about now… but the reasonable part of my brain was telling me that I should really curb my need to caffeine and eat a good healthy breakfast instead, and then the genius in me was like… put your hands together my friend... and thus the idea for this granola was born. So instead of filling myself up with a 400 calorie mocha from Starbucks (which is literally a meal in itself, so I could forget about having some actual food on top of that) I decided that chocolate and espresso infused granola was the perfect answer to my dilemma. Now ordinarily I would not refer to myself as a genius… but I really do think that in this instance the title is justified.

But I didn’t just want to make any old granola – I wanted to make a granola that at its core is super healthy, and made extra delicious with just the small additions of chocolate and espresso. I mean really… how can you really go wrong with dark chocolate and espresso?

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Dark Chocolate Mocha Granola

Things you need… 
2 oz dates
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 tbsp all-natural peanut butter
1 tbsp molasses
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp freshly ground espresso
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
2 tbsp dark chocolate cocoa powder
1/4 cup coconut
1 tbsp flax seeds
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/4 cup coarsely chopped almonds

How to make… 
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

Set dates into a bath of warm water and allow so stand for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine maple syrup, peanut butter, molasses and vanilla, stirring to combine. Add espresso powder and cocoa powder and mix until cocoa powder is completely combined.

Once dates are finished hydrating, put them in a food processor or blender and puree until pasty. Stir into wed ingredients until moistened. Add the rolled oats, coconut, flax seeds, and chia seeds. Stir until oats are fully coated. Stir in almonds until evenly distributed.

Spread mixture onto prepared baking pan to make an even layer. Bake for 20-25 minutes being sure to stir the granola 2-3 times every 7 minutes or so to encourage even baking/crisping.

The granola will still be a bit soft when you remove it from the oven, but it will get crunchy as it cools. Lift the parchment paper from the pan and set it on a large cooling rack and allow the granola to cool completely.

Once the granola is cooled, break it into smaller bite sized chunks and store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

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So there is the recipe for this incredibly delicious, healthy and just downright addicting granola! Seriously, please exercise caution when making this recipe, because once you try it… it’s almost impossible to stop eating those espresso and chocolate infused chunks of deliciousness. I am one of those people who just keeps eating “one more little chunk,” until I look down at the tray and oh look at that, I’ve gone and eaten the whole tray to myself -oops… I mean, this doesn’t happen to me :S

Before I sign off for today I want to leave you with just a few of my favourite ways to enjoy this tasty granola! There are so many ways to pair it with other delicious foods that make it even better (if that’s even possible.) Here are a couple of my favourite ways to it…

1. All by its gorgeous self!
(This granola really is a slam dunk all on its own)

2. Mix it up with some dried banana chips, a few pretzels (and possibly a few yogurt chips)
(This makes for an amazing homemade trail mix!)

3. Warmed up with some skim,  almond or coconut milk
(Nommmmm…. that’s why – oh and calcium muaha !!!)

4. Half a cup served over a helping of 2 % plain greek yogurt!
 (Feel free to check off your fibre, protein and caffein intake for the day in a single bowl with this one!)

5. I love to eat it with a little helping of peanut butter
(because… Well I really don’t think this needs explanation :p)

6.  Last but not least… lets get desserty!!
One of my favourite ways to eat this granola is atop of a little (large) dollop of freshly whipped cream
with a freshly sliced banana… seriously this is the ultimate in somewhat healthy desserts.

I’m sure there are about a million more ways to eat this amazing granola, that I haven’t tried, so please whip up a batch and share your ideas with me! I would love to hear them… and obviously try them!

Happy Baking!

KP xoxo

Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Cookie Granola

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Alright, so I think that I am granola obsessed – I mean considering three of my last posts have been about granola in some form or another… I think it is entirely fair to call a spade a spade and officially label me as obsessed.

Well, I hope the tales of my granola escapades haven’t begun to bore you just yet because today I am bringing you yet another granola recipe… ta daaaaa! Except – hold the phone – this time the granola isn’t in bar form… so if you want to get technical about it, this is really an entirely different subject matter…. well, sort of 😉

That’s right – this time I am serving you up with a recipe for some regular ol’ granola! Hang on – I think labeling this granola as “regular” is actually a bit of an insult because it is so incredibly delicioussss and wonderful that it can hardly be described as just “regular.” So scratch that regular description and exchange it for the following…. Today I am serving you up with a recipe for some good ol’ fashioned granola! There we go- so much better!

I mean really, just take a look at these golden brown clusters of crunchy, nutty, granola that has been packed with all kinds of yum to make it taste just like an oatmeal cookie! That’s right everybody – this granola tastes just like a warm, Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Cookie… seriously, need I say more to get you reaching for your mixing bowl? Well, what if I told you that even though this granola tastes like a delicious oatmeal cookie, it is secretly healthy? I bet now I have your undivided attention.Read More

Oaty Coconut Chocolate Chip Energy Bites

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We are officially on week two of absolutely gorgeous weather in Vancouver, and I can’t even try to hide my excitement about it! I am such a happy girl when the sun comes out in Vancouver! Pretty sure I have a mild case of SAD, but we will just bypass that conversation for now, and keep on rolllllling with the happy train because this weather is making me positively giddy!

Last week I was discussing with you how this weather seriously motivates me to get exercising more and makes me crave foods that are light and healthy. So given that the weather has remained beautiful, I am staying strong, and continuing on my path towards getting my body summer and beach ready! I cannot wait for beach weather! So here I am again, sharing yet another recipe for energizing granola bars of some sort!  Woot woot! I hope you find these recipes as fun as I do…

As the weather continues to get nicer and nicer, Cole and I are starting to day dream about all the fun outdoor activities we want to get out and do this Spring/Summer. So naturally, (because food is always on my mind) one of my primary concerns is what new and exciting recipes can I try out now, so that we have a bunch of great on the go snack ideas when we set out for our weekend/vacation adventures this summer.

First up, I just had to make a batch of these energy bites – because really, what could be more perfect (and adorable) for an on the trail hiking snack than a bite sized granola ball that was homemade with all natural, healthy, protein rich and yummy ingredients to give you that much needed energy boost to boot? I don’t think that question requires further explanation :p

This recipe turned out so great – meaning both Cole and I loved them!
Naturally Cole was just ecstatic about the combination of peanut butter and chocolate chips – basically anything with peanut butter and chocolate is enough to make him happy… (little did he know this was actually a healthy snack… muahaha!) I on the other hand was so happy with the subtle sweetness that was coming through from the coconut and maple syrup and the combination of just a hint of flavouring from my two best friends vanilla and cinnamon that made these granola bites seriously delicious and totally addicting… I petty much wanted to inhale them all immediately. Somehow I managed restrain myself, which ended up working out great, because it meant that Cole had the perfect snack item to pack along in his lunches this week. Yay homemade lunches!

So if you are looking for a new snack to try that is super easy to pack along with you and is also incredibly healthy and of course delicious – give the recipe below a try!

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Oaty Chocolate Chip Energy Bites

Makes: 12-16 energy bites (depending on size)
Prep time: 5 minutes (all in – not including set time)

Things you need… 
1 1/2 cups rolled oats (can substitute certified GF oats)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
2 tbsp flax seeds (or ground flax)
2 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp hemp hearts
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup almond or peanut butter
1/3 cup maple syrup (or honey)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon

How to make… 
In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, coconut, flax seeds, chia seeds, and hemp hearts  and mini chocolate chips until well mixed and all ingredients are evenly distributed; Set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, mix the almond butter, maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon and stir to combine. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredient mixture and stir to combine using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Mixture should be thick and a bit sticky.

Now for the fun part! Using your hands, roll the granola mixture into 1 inch bite sized balls and place on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Once you have rolled all of the balls, cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes to set. Remove from the fridge and store in an air tight container and enjoy for up to two weeks.

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Yay! You just made a super healthy snack for you and your family to enjoy! Give yourself a nice pat on the back 😀 Seriously – This is such a fun recipe to whip up with your kids on the weekend as part of your weekly lunch box prep!
Not only are these little energy bites such an amazing snack to pack along with your kids for their school days because they are so healthy, but I can guarantee they will have a blast mixing up the granola and getting their hands dirty as they roll out these little bite sized balls of energy bliss!

I am such a big believer that if you involve your kids in their daily meal prep you can not only teach them about the benefits of preparing and eating healthy snacks, but I also really believe they are more likely to actually enjoy eating something that they made with their own two hands. These energy bites are the perfect way to get into the habit of preparing food with your kids, because they are so easy to whip up, they take hardly any time at all, they are delicious, and you can customize them to suite your families taste buds and daily cravings each time you make them!

There are so many granola energy bite recipe variations to try and I hope this weekend you give this one a try and mix it up with your little ones at home! As always, I would love to hear how they turned out and how much fun you had during the process!!!

Happy Baking!

KP xoxo

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Energy Bars

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Alright, so it’s not officially Spring yet, but the gorgeous sunshine and clear blue skies that we have been experiencing in Vancouver have me seriously believing (and wishing) that it could be spring! I can feel it coming (insert happy dance here!) I am seriously ready for Spring weather, and I am also seriously ready for the days to keep getting longer and longer! I got super excited when I left for work at 5:45 yesterday because it was actually still light outside!! I know – It’s the simple things that make me happy… 🙂

Anyways, all this gorgeous sunshine has been motivating me to work out more and making me crave super healthy foods, which hey – I’m not complaining! I mean let’s face it people, if Spring is coming, that means Summer is coming too and I think we all know what that means… That’s right – it means that it’s time to start seriously thinking about bikinis and getting our butts in gear about working off those lingering winter pounds. I personally like to place the blame for my little winterly increase in pounds on Starbucks and their delicious holiday drinks  – Damn those Caramel Brulee Latte’s, why do they have to be so delicious?!

Ahhh yess, the time has come to get into beach body mode, and I would be totally lying if I said I am not super pumped about it! Believe it or not, I actually love working out – Have I began to irritate you yet with my enthusiasm for working out and eating healthy? Hopefully I haven’t – I really don’t mean to be annoying, but I strongly believe that exercising regularly makes a huge difference to the quality of your life and can be super enjoyable as long as you find fitness activities that are actually enjoyable to you. Read More

Almond Butter & Cranberry-Coconut Granola Bars

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My boyfriend is a hungry bear… and by hungry bear I mean like the hungriest Grizzly bear there is.

Okay, so this may be a slight exaggeration, but seriously there are days when it seems like his appetite can never be tamed. So in an effort to keep his tummy happy and to avoid him becoming too hangry to function, I am always looking for great homemade snacks that easy for me to store in my bag for emergency hangry situations when we are out and about on the weekends. That’s right – I carry around emergency snacks in my purse for my adult boyfriend should he desperately need it… is this weird? I personally don’t think it’s weird because not only does this mean that we save a ton of money on fast food, but it also means that we keep our snacks super healthy.

One of my favourite on-the-go snacks to whip up for Cole is a batch of homemade granola bars.
There are so many benefits to making your own granola bars as opposed to buying them from the store, and I could go on for hours, but in the interest of saving time, let me just list my top five reasons to go with homemade rather than store bought…Read More