What you see above is the first of two treats I intend to speak of today. However, it saddens me to report that I have eaten them all. The 8"x8" glass dish they lived in has been scrubbed in bubbles, and now sits on the shelf in the cupboard from which I pulled it two weeks ago. Two long and glorious weeks filled with tasty snacking on the above, I will admit. I drool just thinking about it.
I call them nut bars. Creative, I know. But that's really what they are. With a peanut butter base and almond accents, plus dried fruit and hints of coconut, they really are a tasty treat that gets bonus points for being healthy. Let's get back to the addition of coconut for a second. A number of the food blogs I follow use coconut oil in a variety of different dishes. So when I hit up Whole Foods a few weeks ago, I decided to bite the bullet and buy a jar. (It's not exactly cheap.)
The product within looks like glue, but it smells like a tropical vacation. If you don't like coconut, you might not like it—but I assure you it's all the flavor of coconut without the papery texture if it's the texture that makes you gag. It added a touch of sweetness to the bars above. And some saturated fat. Now, I'm no expert, but I do know that saturated fat isn't necessarily the greatest of things. But the saturated fat in this case is coming from a plant-based source, is non-hydrogenated and completely organic. From what I can deduce, that makes it a little better. According to WebMD, "coconut oil is better than butter and trans fats but not as good as liquid vegetable oils." But let's be honest—it's not like I'm slathering everything I eat in coconut oil. I'm a firm believer in the moderation rule.
Which is why I let myself enjoy the nut bars above. They worked excellent wonders on my hungry stomach in the early hours of the morning, keeping me full through my 6:00AM classes and 5:45AM clients until I could get myself back home for a true breakfast. (Note: I would usually consume one half of the bar you see above.)
Without further delay, I give you the recipe. It's not an original, I found it here (and she found it here). But I made a few tweaks, which you'll only find here:
Coconut Oil Nut Bars
1 cup almonds, chopped
1 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup peanut flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup dried berries
1/4 cup dried bananas
1) Preheat oven to 350F. Put the nuts on a cookie sheet and toast until they brown a bit. When done, you can turn the oven off as you won't need it again. Let then nuts cool on your counter before chopping them up to your liking.
2) Warm up the coconut oil and almond butter in the microwave for a few seconds. Stir, then add the honey and the vanilla. Throw in everything else and mix like you've never mixed before. Press into an 8"x8" dish, then place in your 'fridge for at least an hour before cutting into them.
You'll want to store these guys in the 'fridge, for sure. If you don't have coconut oil, don't despair. I think the recipe would work just fine without it. Feel free to sub unsweetened, shredded coconut if you still want that coconutty, I'm-on-vacation flavor. And when you run out of bars, save the leftover crumbs (or create your own crumbs before the bars run out). They make an excellent oatmeal topper:
I know it sounds gross and disgusting and everything in between, but it's actually quite tasty. I've been seeing a number of healthy living bloggers try this out, and since the hubs loves him some cottage cheese, I figured it wouldn't be a total bust if I ended up hating it as the CC wouldn't go to waste. Turns out, I loved it. It adds a bit of creaminess to a traditional bowl of oats, and some protein, too which is never a bad thing. Check it out:
Oh, shoot...almost forgot to tell you that I took another yoga class yesterday. One hour and fifteen minutes of Ashtanga-style yoga. A bit more intense than the Gentle Yoga, and I almost fell over balancing on my left foot. I can't, for the life of me, remember the name of the pose. My right leg was extended behind me, parallel to the ground. My chest was in line with my leg and my left hand was on a block by my foot. Right arm up toward the ceiling. I wobbled all over the place, but held it like a champ when I switched legs. Sigh, guess I'll work on that one.
Question: Do you cook with coconut oil? What cooking oils have you experimented with?