Simple Peanut Butter Banana Energy Bites

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I like to spend a good amount of time in the kitchen - it's often my outlet to get refreshed and stay creative. Although I could spend hours perusing cookbooks and stalking food bloggers, I like to make things that are simple and allow room for a little improvisation. The easier, the better. After all, what's a recipe without a little wiggle room? 

A couple of weeks ago when I interviewed Carly for my latest Wholehearted Hero post, I asked if she'd consider sharing a recipe with us. She was thrilled to contribute and offered me a recipe for easy protein energy bites. I tried them a few nights ago and was so pleased with the result - they may become a new staple in my kitchen! They are easy to make and can be made with a variety of different mix-ins. The perfect mid morning or afternoon snack and only 133 calories per 2 bites!

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 banana, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (optional) 
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (optional) 
  • 1 Tbsp honey

Instructions: 

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl
  2. Using a fork, mash and stir until all ingredients are well blended (add more oats if texture is too sticky)
  3. Refrigerate for 30 minutes 
  4. Roll dough into 1 inch size balls 
  5. Store in airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks
  6. Enjoy!

Simple Fall Apple Crisp

Anyone else want to bake, smell and then eat all of the yummy fall goodness around this time of year? Each time a new season rolls around I'm convinced it's my favorite, and right now I'm in love with all things pumpkin, cinnamon and apple spice (I mean, who isn't?). When I work from home I almost always have some sort of fall scented candle burning, but this past week I decided to try a few things in the kitchen. Who needs a candle when you have an oven? 

Last week I baked Love & Lemons GF / vegan pumpkin oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and created my own version of a (refined) sugar free apple crisp. I documented the process on my Instagram stories and got so many requests for the recipe, I decided to post it here. 

Disclaimer: I'm not a nutritionist or an expert baker. I simply enjoy baking and thought I'd share this little experiment with you! I've been inspired by so many other bakers and used bits and pieces of things I've learned over the years to create this little recipe. Enjoy!

This recipe is a bit more crumbly and not as heavy than a typical crisp because it's gluten, dairy and (refined) sugar free. It's super easy to make and once you put this in your oven, it will make your whole home smell like fall. It tastes delicious by itself (might have had some for breakfast yesterday...) or even better with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream on top. 

Ingredients

  • 3-4 medium sized apples cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup pecan pieces or halves (you could also use another kind of nut, like almonds or walnuts) 
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds or almond meal 
  • 1/4 cup organic pure maple syrup (or honey) 
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (melted) 
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon + more for sprinkling on top of the apples 

Directions 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Mix dry ingredients together then add syrup and coconut oil. Mix till combined. 
  3. Place the apple pieces in the bottom of an 8 x 8 pan and generously sprinkle cinnamon over the top. Stir to evenly coat the apples. 
  4. Pour crisp ingredients on top of apples and layer evenly. 
  5. Bake for 38-40 minutes. 
  6. Let cool and then serve! 

Serves 5-6 people 

I'd love to hear your thoughts and see pictures of your own fall apple crisps!

Little Pockets Full of Space (And Cookies)

When I returned from my overseas adventure last June, transition and unexpected circumstances hit me pretty hard and I quickly realized that I needed to intentionally release, make space and get refreshed if I was going to avoid crashing and completely falling apart. After spending the first few days alone in my bedroom, I decided to embrace something familiar and hit the kitchen. Baking is nostalgic and also refreshing to me; it's become both a creative outlet and go-to coping mechanism when things feel hard or I just need a little extra time to myself. 

As a child I remember my mom nearly always had homemade cookie dough in the freezer in the event a guest were to come over announced, one of my siblings or I needed to bring treats to school or we were simply craving something sweet. One of my favorite places to be with my mom was the kitchen and I always admired the confidence with which she created and tried new things. I guess that's one of the things that just stuck with me and now I enjoy baking, concocting, testing and tasting in the kitchen myself.

So when life seemed overwhelming and I felt the need to do something useful yet mindless, I started to bake. I baked cookies and biscuits, cakes and tarts, experimented with new ingredients and then taste tested them all. And it was exactly what I needed.

There are times when I simply experiment with my own creative (or weird) ideas and other times I like to try something I found while perusing the feeds of my favorite food / baker bloggers. (If you need some inspiration, follow Joy the Baker (obsessed with her insta-stories lately), Izzy Hossack (author of Top with Cinnamon), Dana Eats and Broma Bakery). 

To me, part of living wholeheartedly is finding what refreshes you and then creating little pockets of space to do it. When I plan out my week during my Sunday night meetings, I'll typically reserve a spot or two in my schedule and block it off as if I have an appointment with myself. And then when stress arrives, I remember that I already put something in my pocket to pull out and enjoy, like a little surprise. 

What refreshes me may not refresh you and what I find inspiring may be pretty boring to you. And that’s ok. The process of finding refreshment requires self discovery and self awareness, both of which take time and are quickly stifled by comparison. 

I heard once that “comparison is the thief of joy”. And I think that’s true - when I start comparing my season, rhythms, pace or need for refreshment with someone else, I put unnecessary pressure on myself and forfeit my chance to find joy in the things I love doing.

Join me in devoting some time to what's most refreshing to you this week - ask yourself what makes you breath deep and exhale a sigh of relief. Is it writing? Baking? Playing basketball with some friends? Whatever it is for you, carve out some space and protect it, like a treasure in your pocket. Then resist the urge to look over your neighbor's shoulder while you let yourself sink in and just enjoy. And then when life feels overwhelming, you reach for something familiar - something you've practiced getting refreshed and refueled by so that it's mindless and simple and easy to pick back up again. 

How are you intentionally creating rhythms of refreshment in this season? As for me, I’m going to keep baking. And maybe I'll get around to posting a recipe or two up on my blog in the next few weeks. Stay tuned!