Tag Archives: almond butter

Snacks Vegan

No-Bake Nut and Oat Granola Bars

Where did June go!? Is it me, or did it just fly by? We were so busy all month with our trip to Chicago, friends’ events and a recent visit to New Jersey. I feel like I’ve hardly had any time to pop-in and say hi to you guys.

No-Bake Nut and Oat Granola Bars Recipe

I thoroughly enjoyed being home for three days over 4th of July weekend. June’s schedule left me very little time for recipe development, so I was excited to have a few extra hours to spend in the kitchen. I have a backlog of recipes I’ve been meaning to try this summer.

No-Bake Nut and Oat Granola Bars Recipe

On Sunday we had exactly zero plans (yay!), so I spent the afternoon trying three new recipes. These No-Bake Nut and Oat Granola Bars were one of them. I am usually wary of no-bake recipes because the texture can often be pretty funky. But, these bars were GREAT! All you have to do is press the mixture into a baking dish, place the dish into the freezer for a couple hours, slice, and enjoy! Easy peasy. Freezing is key – otherwise if you try to slice them, they’ll just fall apart into a crumbly mess.

These No Bake Nut and Oat Granola Bars couldn't be easier! They're the perfect portable snack or breakfast when you're on the go! ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

I absolutely loved the flavor of these granola bars. They’re packed with fiber (oats and dried fruit!) and healthy fats (nuts and chia seeds!), making them a healthy and delicious mid-day snack. Plus, they’re gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and refined-sugar free! So you can definitely make them for your friend who has ALL the food allergies…you know who I am talking about ;-)!

These No Bake Nut and Oat Granola Bars couldn't be easier! They're the perfect portable snack or breakfast when you're on the go! ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

The recipe makes 10-12 bars. If you’re only making them for yourself, you can cut the recipe in half OR place half the sliced bars in the freezer until you’re ready to eat them.

 

No-Bake Nut and Oat Granola Bars
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Serves: 10-12
Ingredients
  • 1 cup dates
  • ¾ cup almonds, toasted
  • ¼ cup pecans, toasted
  • 1.5 cups gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1.5 Tablespoons chia seeds
  • pinch sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup raisins or dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup almond butter
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Line an 8x11 or 9x9 baking dish with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.
  2. In a small bowl, soak the dates in water for 15 minutes.
  3. Place the almonds and pecans in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until roughly chopped, about 15 seconds. Make sure not to process the nuts too fine - you still want chunks. Combine the almonds and pecans in a large bowl with the oats, chia seeds, salt, and cinnamon. Stir to combine. Stir in the raisins.
  4. Drain the dates, reserving a few Tablespoons of the water. Place the dates in the food processor with the almond butter and vanilla. Process until smooth, adding one Tablespoon of reserved water as needed. Add the date mixture to the nut and oat mixture. Stir well - you may need to use your hands to thoroughly combine.
  5. Spread the mixture into the greased baking dish, using the back of a rubber spatula to press the mixture completely flat. Cover and place the dish in the freezer for 1.5-2 hours until hard. Remove from the freezer and using a sharp knife, slice into 10-12 bars. Wrap individual bars in saran wrap. Store in fridge or freezer until ready to eat.
 

These No Bake Nut and Oat Granola Bars couldn't be easier! They're the perfect portable snack or breakfast when you're on the go! ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Gluten-Free Snacks

Nut Butter Protein Bites

When I tell people that I work out at 5AM every morning before work, they usually tell me that I’m nuts. While that may be partially true, I’ve found that it really works with my schedule and I love the feeling of having my workout completed before most people are even waking up!

I won’t lie, it definitely took me a few weeks to make it a habit and find the perfect routine. My biggest tip for anyone who is daring to join the 5AM Workout Club is to prepare everything the night before. For me this means laying out my gym clothes, headphones, watch, and water bottle. Heck, I even unlace my sneakers! That way I can just get up and GO and there is very little time for me to make an excuse to go back to bed. Trust me, the longer you spend trying to find your socks and sports bra in the wee hours of the morning, the more time there is to convince yourself that your bed looks way more inviting.

When I first started this routine I worked out on an empty stomach. I was never hungry as soon as I woke up, so I would just eat after my workout. I started experimenting with eating a little something before I got to the gym and I found it made a big difference – much more than I thought it would. Even half a banana or one of these delicious nut butter protein bites makes me feel a little bit better and provides me with enough energy to complete a great workout.

Nut Butter Protein Bites Recipe

I started experimenting with protein bites because I didn’t want to eat an entire bar before my workout. I’ve played around with the recipe a lot in order to get the right texture and taste. I think they’re perfect now!

Nut Butter Protein Bites Recipe - Little Chef Big Appetite

Every bite contains a solid dose of fiber, healthy fats, and protein! Even better? They’re gluten-free, so they are great for those of you who try to avoid gluten in your diets!

Nut Butter Protein Bites Recipe - Little Chef Big Appetite

I hope you love these little nut butter protein bites as much as I do. I’ve already finished this current batch, so I think the next time around I am going to experiment with different ingredients such as raisins, dried cranberries, and chocolate protein powder. Do you guys have any other yummy ideas?

 

Nut Butter Protein Bites
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Serves: 8-10 bites
Ingredients
  • ½ cup gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  • ⅛ cup vanilla protein powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ cup almond butter
  • ⅛ cup peanut butter
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1-2 teaspoons water (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the oats, chia seeds, protein powder, and cinnamon. In a smaller microwave-safe bowl, combine the almond butter, peanut butter, and honey. Microwave for 15-20 seconds or until the mixture can be easily stirred. Pour the nut butter mixture into the dry ingredients and stir well to combine. If you are finding the mixture difficult to stir, add one teaspoon of water and continue mixing. Repeat if necessary*.
  2. Roll the mixture into 8-10 bite-sized balls. Store in the fridge in a sealed container.
Notes
*Avoid adding too much water because this will give the bites a gummy texture
 

Desserts

Healthy Blondies

Recently, my friend from elementary school, Ben, reached out to me on Facebook after seeing my blog (Hi Ben!). I hadn’t heard from him in years, so when he asked me if I ever made my mom’s congo bars it brought back a flood of memories. I hadn’t thought about my mom’s beloved congo bars in ages. In fact, I couldn’t even recall that last time she made them.

But when i was growing up, my mom used to always make Congo Bars. By the way, if you’re sitting there scratching your head, wondering what the heck a congo bar is, then think of it like a blondie. In fact, I don’t even know if there is a discernible difference between a congo bar and a blondie. Is there?

Healthy Blondies Recipe - Little Chef Big Appetite

Whenever I had friends come over for playdates, study sessions, sleepovers, etc. there seemed to always be a batch of ooey-gooey melty congo bars.

Ben, in particular, loved my mom’s congo bars. In fact, he loved them so much that he made up a song and dance about them.  No joke. My mom loved this, of course, so just about every week she asked me if she should make a batch of congo bars just for Ben (my mom is one of the most thoughtful, generous women you will ever meet and if she knows you love one of her baked goods, she will make sure to always bake it for you).

Ben’s comment got me craaaaaaaaaaaaaving one of my mom’s congo bars. So, I set out a healthier version of my beloved childhood treat.

Healthy Blondies Recipe - Little Chef Big Appetite

In this version we’re using chickpeas.

Yup, chickpeas. No flour. These are gluten-free. In fact, they’re vegan, too (unintentionally, but hey now I am just pleasing loads of different diets!)

Healthy Blondies Recipe - Little Chef Big Appetite

And what goes better with chickpeas then peanut butter, am I right!?

*Crickets*

I’m kidding. I’ll admit we’re doing weird things with these blondies. It is completely strange combination, but it works, so just hang in there a little while longer, would’ya?

Healthy Blondies Recipe - Little Chef Big Appetite

You’re going to need a food processor or a very good blender. Everything gets thrown in and blended up all nice and smooth. You just let that food processor do alllllll the work.

Healthy Blondies Recipe - Little Chef Big Appetite

I may or may not have eaten 1/3 of the batter before it went into the pan. I mean, there was no egg in it, and it was calling to me….so what’s a girl to do – just let it sit there??

Healthy Blondies Recipe - Little Chef Big Appetite

See if you can exercise a little more self-restraint than me and get the batter into the pan sooner than I did. In the end you’ll have some pretty delicious congo bars / blondies / whatever the heck you want to call them.

You would never in one million years know these contain chickpeas…OR they’re gluten-free and vegan. Next time I may try adding an egg to the batter and see if they come out more “cakey” as opposed to fudgey. It’s all about experimenting.

 

Healthy Blondies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Ingredients
  • 1 15oz. can unsalted chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ⅓ cup natural unsalted peanut butter or almond butter* (See note below)
  • ¼ – ⅓ cup maple syrup (to taste)**
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 bar good quality dark-chocolate, chopped
  • ¼ cup chocolate chips for sprinkling (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 baking pan.
  2. Combine all ingredients besides the chocolate in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth (about 45 seconds). Gently fold in the chopped dark chocolate.
  3. Pour the mixture into the baking pan. Sprinkle the top with additional chocolate chips (optional). Bake for 25 minutes or until the edges begin to harden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The blondies will harden as they cool, so be careful not to overcook them. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Be careful not to cut them too soon, or you will just get blondie mess instead of nice squares!
Notes
*Peanut Butter will provide a noticeable peanut butter taste and almond butter will be mild and less detectable.

**You can substitute honey, but they will no longer be vegan.
 

Breakfast Gluten-Free Main Meal

My Favorite Protein Pancakes

I am a MAJOR breakfast advocate.

If you’re my friend (or my mom!) and you’ve told me that you tend to skip breakfast, I have most likely given you a “YOU NEED TO EAT BREAKFAST” speech. They’re not kidding when they say it is the most important meal of the day, people. Besides, if you eat a healthy breakfast, you are more likely to start your day on a healthy track and less likely to binge on unhealthy junk for lunch and dinner. It’s science. It’s proven. Believe me.

People often ask me what I often eat for breakfast. The answer is: it changes. But whatever it is, I always make sure it has a big dose of protein and fiber / whole grains to get me going. My weekday morning routine is quite hectic – I like to get to the gym by 5:30AM so that I can be out the door for work by no later than 7:30AM. So weekday breakfasts are most often  protein smoothies (my favorite recipe to come!) because I can make them at home in two minutes, but drink it in the car on my way to work:

photo (14)

If I have more time in the morning (i.e. the weekends) my go-to breakfast is making these protein pancakes. You may have seen various protein pancake recipes floating around the internet. Most often protein powder is in the mix, but the protein in these pancakes comes from eggs, egg whites, and rolled oats (Gluten-Free).

Protein Pancakes Recipe

I love these pancakes so much that on the weekends I typically jump right out of bed just so I can make them immediately. I eat mine with Almond Butter on top for an added dose of protein and healthy fats. (Dear lord, I really eat a lot of nut butter, don’t I?)

Protein Pancakes Recipe

As someone who must eat every 3 hours, I PROMISE you that these will keep you full for even longer than that.

I also love them so much that on certain weeknights when I don’t have time to make a “real” dinner I have breakfast for dinner and make these instead. It certainly pleases my taste buds!

My Favorite Protein Pancakes
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 whole egg*
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • a few good shakes of cinnamon (about ½ teaspoon)
  • ⅓ cup old fashioned rolled oats (quick cooking oats give a chewier consistency and steel cut won't work here)
  • ½ banana sliced into ⅛" slices
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Almond Butter for serving
Instructions
  1. Preheat a large non-stick skillet to medium heat. Spray with cooking spray.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the egg, egg whites, vanilla and cinnamon. Add the oats and banana slices and stir well to combine. The mixture’s consistency won’t look like it will form into pancakes, but I promise it will!
  3. Pour the mixture onto the skillet to form two separate pancakes. Cook the pancakes for 2-3 minutes on one side and then flip and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. Remove from the pan and serve with Almond Butter.
Notes
*Alternatively you can sub the 1 egg for 2 egg whites (making it 4 egg whites total)
 

 

Cookies Desserts Gluten-Free

Gluten-Free Almond Butter Cookies

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am obsessed with Peanut Butter. Now, we need not delve into the details of this obsession because it is safe to say you would be completely disgusted by the amount of Peanut Butter I can comsume in one sitting.

I like any kind of Peanut Butter. Natural, Crunchy, Smooth, and sadly even the kinds with High-Fructose Corn Syrup (yes, Skippy, I will always love you).

Gluten-Free Almond Butter Cookies Recipe - Little Chef Big Appetite

This past summer, I decided to branch out and try Almond Butter as a healthier alternative. Now I am just as obsessed with AB as I was with PB.

I eat with it everything. Bananas, toast, smoothies, pancakes, eeeeeevvvvvverrrrrryyyyyyything. But, I will only eat one kind. The “grind your own” from Whole Foods. It is delicious, perfect, and totally overpriced. But WHO CARES. It’s THAT good.

Gluten-Free Almond Butter Cookies Recipe - Little Chef Big Appetite

Now, I bring you Almond Butter cookies. They are Gluten-Free. No flour. Nada. Just a whole lot of Almond Butter goodness.

Gluten-Free Almond Butter Cookies Recipe - Little Chef Big Appetite

And plenty of dark chocolate chips for good measure.

Gluten-Free Almond Butter Cookies Recipe - Little Chef Big Appetite

Oh, and did I mention there is no butter or oil? Yeah, they’re low-fat, too.

BOOYAAAAAH!

Gluten-Free Almond Butter Cookies Recipe - Little Chef Big Appetite

Healthy, nutty, chewy, chocolatey, yummy.

You know you want to take a bite.

 

Gluten-Free Almond Butter Cookies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup almond butter (I prefer the fresh stuff from Whole Foods, but any will do)
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon agave nectar (honey or maple syrup are fine, too)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup slivered roasted almonds (optional)
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips (or a good bar of dark chocolate, chopped)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the almond butter and brown sugar. Add the egg, baking soda, agave, vanilla, and salt and mix well. Then add the almonds and dark chocolate.
  3. Using a Tablespoon, scoop out small scoops of dough and roll in your hands to form a ball. Place the balls on the baking sheet, making sure to allow at least 1 in. of space between the cookies (they spread a lot in the oven). Bake 9-10 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes. Then, using a spatula, transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.