Energy bars

Recipes for homemade vegan energy bars/ granola bars have been circulating the blogosphere recently, and I finally got around to making my own.  I am very picky about energy bars- they are so packed with intense flavors and textures and at the same time can feel pretty homogenous.  I find some bars too fruity, some too nutty, some too sweet, and some not sweet enough.  Overall, though, I think the main problem is that I don’t find the ingredients fresh enough in taste.

I do want to briefly point out one glaring exception: Earnest Eats (  These bars are made locally in Solana Beach.  Our favorite is the almond trail mix bar:  almond butter, oats, dried apricots and cranberries, sunflower seeds, and walnuts.  Nutty but not too nutty (and without too many nut pieces), oat-y, sweet, and very fresh tasting.  Rachel is such a big fan that she signed up for an amazon subscription to these!  Each month we receive two packages of them.

Even at the discounted amazon price, however, these are not cheap- at least not nearly as cheap as making them yourself.  My next energy bar recipe will be to emulate the almond trail mix Earnest Eats bar (or Almond Eats, as I usually mistakenly refer to it).  In the mean time, several of my own bar creations:

Recipe #1: Cherry Molasses Energy Bars

1/2 cup dried bing cherries (mine came from Trader Joes)

1 1/3 cup rolled oats

1 cup nut butter ( I used half almond butter and half ground pecans)

1 heaping tbsp of coconut oil

1/2 cup molasses (this turned out to be very strong.  Start with 1/4 cup and add to taste)

1/4 cup ground flax seed

Instructions:  Mix it all together really well!  Then press into a pan, however thick you want your bars, and freeze.  Freezing helps the bars stick together and keeps them fresh until you want to cut one out and eat.  That’s it!

I froze recipes #1 and #2 side by side in a baking pan:

Is it just me, or is saran wrap not clingy AT ALL these days?

Cut into delicious bars:

That’s the molasses bar on the right.  In my opinion the molasses bar was the big winner.  Cherry, pecan, coconut, & molasses = yum.  The banana bar (recipe below) was good but because I used steel cut oats (I recommend rolled oats instead) they were a little too chewy.

Recipe #2: Banana peanut butter bars

1 banana, mashed

1 cup oats

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup ground flax seed

1 tsp cinnamon

Instructions:  you know what to do!  (see Recipe #1)

My bars from recipes #1 and #2 are almost gone, and I am going hiking tonight, so I decided to make my third batch!  The banana in recipe #2 made the bars a little gooey when out of the freezer for long, so I decided to make a peanut butter/oat/honey bar with banana.

Peanut butter honey energy bars:

1 cup oats

1/3 cup peanut butter (because I ran out- I recommend more for better texture)

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup ground flax seeds

maple syrup- drizzle in while mixing until desired texture is reached

My bars were slightly dry and crumbly since I was running out of peanut butter, but with a little extra maple syrup and getting firmly pressed into pan to freeze they came out perfectly: salty, sweet, nutty, oat-y, and a bit of pumpkin flavor.

I am soo excited to take these hiking tonight- I think they’ll taste even better halfway up a mountain!

I have been pleasantly surprised how easy and forgiving these bars are.  If they are too moist add more oats or flax- if to dry, add a banana or sweetener of your choice (honey, molasses, agave, etc).  For more texture add seeds or dried fruit.  Oats, peanut butter, and bananas are also inexpensive foods, and make a delicious bar with our without the more gourmet add-ins.  Verdict: totally sold!  More more ideas check out Gena’s raw and vegan dehydrated energy bars ( and Averie’s “no-bake vegan peanut butter chocolate chip protein” bars (

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“Cocogurt” and “coconana”

This post has been a long time in the writing… for some pretty stupid reasons.  My camera lens is still damaged from being dropped in the sand in Israel, and my cell phone is about to kick the bucket and having problems taking and sending pictures.  At long last I’ve recovered a few photos of my recent food ventures.

Recently, after a long walk in the sun, I wanted something refreshing- something like Israeli lemonana, but perhaps higher in electrolytes, and not requiring juicer clean-up.  I had just stockpiled some Thai coconuts to make cocogurt (recipe link and pictures below), so a twist on lemonana- “coco-nana”- seemed in order!

I started by hacking the top off one of the coconuts:

I have to say, I’m getting pretty good at this!  This was a cleaner cut than many I’ve made.  Unfortunately, the counter didn’t fare so well:

If I were using a decent camera, you’d be able to see the inch-long gash!

I poured the coconut water into the blender, then scooped out the coconut flesh and added it as well.

Next, a sprig of spearmint:

And lots of ice.

Then blend well…

… and enjoy!  I loved the milky bubbles that formed on top from the coconut meat.  Mighty refreshing on a hot day!

I used my other three coconuts to take a second stab at cocogurt- a vegan version of yogurt made by blending coconut meat and coconut water with probiotics and a bit of agave.  I followed Gena’s instructions (, subbing agave for stevia, and added extra probiotic (I used 3 coconuts and the contents of 4 probiotic capsules).

Here are the contents pre-blending:

Since my yogurt had been too runny last time, I tried baking it overnight at my oven’s lowest temp- 180 F.

In the morning it was thick and tasty.  Honestly, it reminded me of coconut flavored oatmeal- thick and creamy, but not tangy or yogurty tasting.  I’m still hoping to perfect coconut yogurt, however, and I’ll report on my next batch when I make it.

If you aren’t in the mood for cocogurt or coconana, there are many other uses for coconut juice, coconut meat, and even coconut shells.  If you’re lucky, you might even find yourself some coconut shell real estate!

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Israel: juicing capital of the world?

I am back from Israel and have so much to share!  My full album is posted on facebook, but I want to share some food highlights here.  In this post I’ll share one of my favorite discoveries in Israel: the ubiquitous juice stand!  I have always wished that there would be more juice bars in America.  Particularly in California, along the beach towns, it seems like it should be easier to get a quick cup of fruit or veggie juice.  The options, however, are limited: Whole Foods, Robeks, or even pricier gourmet juice bars downtown.  The 100 degree heat has inspired the Israelis, on the other hand, to have a juice stand seemingly on every block.  There was fresh juice in restaurants, cafes, coffee chains, and juice stands.

First of all, have you ever seen a papaya this big?  We saw piles of these huge fruits in another market:

These stands are the Israeli equivalent of your hotdog and soda vendor.  But so much more beautiful to look at:

Rachel and I decided to quit our careers in America and work in one:

These stands were heavy on fruit, but a number also had vegetable options.

Another great discovery was “lemonana.”  Lemonana is fresh squeezed lemon juice blended with fresh mint leaves, ice, and sugar.  When it’s 100 out and you’ve been exploring on foot all day, lemonana easily becomes an obsession.  Luckily, it’s also available at many restaurants, coffee shops, and sometimes even juice stands:

Rachel discovered iced schoko, an ice-blended chocolate milk:

The Shuk, or marketplace, was another food adventure.  Loud, crowded, and filled with cats and flies, but chock full of fresh food for great prices.

There was freshly baked bread:

I didn’t take pictures of all the wonderful produce and cheeses.  However, we bought fresh ingredients to recreate an amazing salad we shared in Tsfat that contained lettuce, pear, apple, cucumber, tomato, and Tsfat cheese.

The produce in the following picture cost an equivalent of 13 cents.  For the record, other food items cost a similar price to their US prices.  Produce is simply much cheaper in Israel, and much of the world.  In fact, we asked for one red pepper at one stand, and the man waved his hand and said that one was free.  This seemed less a favor and more an actual estimation of its price.

Here’s the recreated salad:

Much more to share, but for now I’ll sign off with a picture of us with a our new friend:

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Berry bake

Berry pie is one of my all-time favorite foods.  What to do if you’re on a health kick AND super lazy?  Make a delicious berry bake!

Start with some sliced apples and baked them for 10 minutes or so in a little water.  Then add tons of frozen berries.  On this occasion I used raspberries and blueberries from Trader Joes:

I mixed some agave into the fruit, sprinkled hemp protein powder on top, then baked until warm and juicy.  The hemp powder (simply ground hemp seeds) has a nutty, earthy taste.  I think it’s a perfect match for a berry bake, reminiscent of a flour crust.

A hot mess of berry, just my style:

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“cheesy” vegan quesadilla

The other day I had a craving for a cheddar cheese-avocado quesadilla.  This used to be a favorite in my household.  Since I eat mostly vegan foods at home, I wanted to create something just as finger-lickin good  without the cheese.  My inspiration came from an amazing new product I’ve been buying from People’s coop:

First ingredient?  I asked several people to try this blindly and while none were convinced that it was real cheese, no one guessed the first ingredient, either!  The first ingredient is oatmeal.  Luckily, even after knowing that, you won’t taste oatmeal.  This stuff is awesome and the closest taste to cheese I’ve found in the vegan world.

I started with a gently warmed sprouted grain tortilla spread with “We can’t say it’s cheese”:

Then I sauteed some zucchini and coated it ground flaxseed and Kal’s nutritional yeast (aka nooch, although after googling the definition of this word I’m hesitant to use it).  I’ve been making “fried zucchini” this way for a while- the flaxseed and nooch make a great “breading”!  I also sauteed some cherry tomatoes and added garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes:

Nothing in my kitchen is complete without avocado…

Yum!  The “cheese” is a soft spread so it seemed to “melt” right in with the cooked veggies.  I did not miss dairy cheese at all.

If you’re wondering whether it held together, of course it did not.  I’ve always overloaded tacos and burritos.  In my family if the tortilla closes, you’ve done something wrong!  A better plan would be to use two tortillas or eat the remaining veggies on the side.  I also feel like sprouted grain tortillas fall apart more easily than other kinds.  Regardless, this was a cheesy success!

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~kale chips~

Best. food. ever.  Kale chips are oily, crunchy, sweet spicy, salty… however you like them.  Nutritious, ready in minutes, and quite a conversation starter!  I usually make kale chips using avocado oil and salt, sometimes with the addition of red pepper flakes or cumin.

Last week I needed a dish for a vegetarian potluck (Rosh Chodesh women’s potluck– crossover post!) and thought I’d try a recipe I’ve been wanting to make- Averie’s cashew kale chips (

First, soak a cup of cashews for at least an hour.  Then blend the cashews with one red pepper, juice of half a lemon, a third cup nutritional yeast, 1 tsp salt, and a 1/2 tsp agave.  I added about an inch of jalapeno pepper to the recipe to give it a kick.

Wash one bunch of kale and tear into pieces a few inches long.  In a bowl, coat well with the cashew sauce.  Then spread the kale pieces carefully onto a baking pan (you’ll have several sheets of chips if you make the full recipe!).  The kale pieces cannot overlap or they will not get crispy when baked.

Bake at 380 for 10 minutes, checking frequently to prevent burning.  You want crisp chips but not charred!  More patient souls will bake at a lower temperature for a longer time, likely yielding better drying of the coating.

Some glamor shots:

In the bowl:

On the pan:

Back into the bowl!  Slightly sweet, spicy, and cheesy in their own special vegan way:


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This one’s a winner!

Sometimes I like concocting salads without the green leaves, and this one worked out well!

-half acorn squash, baked and cut into pieces

-fresh corn off the cob

-chopped asparagus and sweet peas- or whatever veggies you have on hand

-chopped green onions


olive oil (2 tbsp), apple cider vinegar (1 tbsp), agave (a good drizzle), hemp seeds (2 tbsp), nutritional yeast (2 tbsp), water (1-2 tbsp), curry (maybe 1 tsp), and a dash of salt and pepper.


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