Magic Coconut Bars

 Everyone remembers the old-fashioned Magic Cookie Bars made with a graham cracker crust, butter, chocolate chips, pecans, flaked coconut and sweetened condensed milk…heavenly, caramelly, chocolatey yummi-ness…with a nice side of gluten gut bomb, a sugar rush and then the inevitable crash!

I occasionally make treats that are fruit-sweetened or completely unsweetened that I can enjoy as part of my grain-free “paleo-primal” lifestyle but every once in a while I like to make a full-on DESSERT.  Make no mistake here…this is a special occasion treat, great to make for a party or a crowd, definitely not one to make on a Saturday night when you are alone at home!  All in all as far as desserts go it’s really not too terrible, the entire thing only has 3 tablespoons of sweetener for sixteen servings (just about 1/2 teaspoon per serving)…again not bad if you are feeding a crowd, disastrous if you eat the entire thing by yourself.  It’s a bit labor intensive but SO worth it!

Magic Coconut Bars

Crust:

3/4 cup blanched almond flour

3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon coconut nectar, honey or maple syrup (optional)

1/4 cup coconut oil or butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 metal or glass dish with parchment paper so that it hangs over the sides for easy removal.  Combine all ingredients for the crust in a large bowl and press firmly into the prepared pan.  Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until golden brown.  Remove from oven and cool on wire rack while preparing the filling.

Magic Filling:

1 can full fat coconut milk (I use Native Forest)

2 Tablespoons coconut nectar, honey or maple syrup

1 Tablespoon vanilla

3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

3/4 cup chopped pecans

1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

In a saucepan over medium heat bring coconut milk, sweetener and vanilla to a low boil, reduce heat and simmer for approximately 45 minutes, stirring frequently until it’s reduced by half.  The coconut milk mixture should be very thick, you should have about 3/4 cup once reduced, remove from heat and cool slightly.  Pour 1/2 of the condensed coconut milk over the crust and spread to the edges. Layer half of the shredded coconut, half of the chocolate chips and half of the pecans on top of the coconut milk and lightly press down on the toppings.  Add a second layer with the remaining shredded coconut, chocolate chips and pecans.  Pour remaining 1/2 of condensed coconut milk over the top of the layers.  Top with flaked coconut.

Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool for one hour (I KNOW!) on a cooling rack.  Next, place the pan in the refrigerator and cool for 2 hours (I KNOW, I KNOW!) or in a pinch cool in the freezer for 1 hour.  Gently lift the parchment out of the pan and place bars on a cutting board or other flat surface.  Using a large knife cut into 16 squares.

Magic...

This is a lovely treat to make for Valentine’s Day!

This recipe is shared at:

Fight Back FridayFresh Bites Friday, Wellness Weekend, Allergy Friendly Lunchbox Love, Make Ahead Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Fat Tuesday

Proceed with Extreme Caution…Fudgy Brownies Ahead!

Oh my. Glad I start on the Whole 30 on Monday…these will be gone by then!

Fudgy Brownies with Chopped Macadamia Nuts

Megan Keatley at Health-Bent  posted a recipe earlier this year for Paleo Fudgy Brownies and I have been dying to make them!  It was a beautiful fall Colorado day and it just seemed like the perfect time to bake…these were so easy to make and they turned out so yummy!  I made a few adjustments to the recipe which I am posting here, visit Health-Bent (Paleo friendly recipes that don’t look or taste like dog food!) for the original recipe and be sure to take a look at their other mouth-watering recipes as well!

Fudgy Macadamia Nut Brownies

1/2 cup almond butter

1/2 cup sunbutter

1/2 cup canned coconut milk

2 pastured eggs

1 Tbsp vanilla

1/4 tsp. celtic sea salt

1/3 cup raw cacao

1/4 cup pitted medjool dates, packed

1/3 cup chocolate chips (70% or greater)

1/3 cup macadamia nuts, chopped and divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 11 x 7 Pyrex dish (an 8 x 8 would work also).  Place pitted dates in a small bowl and cover with very hot water and set aside for at least 10 minutes.  In a medium bowl whisk together almond butter, sunbutter, coconut milk, eggs and vanilla.  Drain dates and process in a food processor or high-speed blender until smooth, whisk into the wet mixture.  Mix in salt and cacao powder and stir until smooth.  Add chocolate chips and half of the chopped macadamia nuts, mix until incorporated.  Pour batter into the prepared dish and sprinkle remaining nuts on top of the batter.  Bake for 18 – 20 minutes, top will start to slightly crack around the edges when the brownies are done, cool completely on a wire rack before cutting.

Recipe tips:

  • I think these taste best after resting for several hours and even better out of the fridge!
  • You could substitute 1 cup of any nut butter for the almond/sun butter combo
  • 1/4 cup of any sweetener could be used in place of the dates (palm sugar works great!)
  • If you prefer dairy, sub 2 Tbsp. melted butter and 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. heavy cream for the coconut milk
  • To make the entire recipe sugar-free, use 1/4 cup cacao nibs in place of the chocolate chips, this will give the brownies a nice crunch but they won’t have the added sweetness from the sugar in the chocolate chips so you might want to add 1 ripe banana.

Cooling...notice the slight cracks around the edges...try to avoid digging directly into the pan with a spoon!

This recipe is shared at:

Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Fat Tuesday & Tasty Tuesday

Gluten-Free Wednesdays

Fight Back Fridays

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Butter Cups

I grew up eating Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups…I loved them, especially when they came out with the Reese’s Miniatures…those babies were so fun (and easy!) to eat.  I still crave peanut butter and chocolate…probably more often than I should but now I have found a lovely little alternative that satisfies my craving and nourishes my body all at the same time.  In this recipe I used almond butter and macadamia nuts but you could easily substitute any nut butter or nut that you like in their place.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Butter Cups

 Chocolate Macadamia Nut Butter Cups

24 whole raw macadamia nuts

6 Tbsp shredded coconut

6 Tbsp raw cacao powder

6 Tbsp coconut oil, melted

6 oz coconut butter or manna, softened

Pinch of Celtic sea salt

1/2 tsp vanilla or almond extract

1/4 – 1/2 tsp liquid stevia (optional)

2 Tbsp almond butter

24 mini cupcake liners

Line a mini muffin pan with the 24 cupcake liners.  In a medium bowl combine coconut, coconut oil, cacao powder, coconut butter, salt, vanilla and stevia (if using).  Stir ingredients until thoroughly combined.  Spoon the mixture into the paper liners evenly.  Using a small spoon place a 1/4 tsp dollop of almond butter on top of each candy, place the macadamia nut on top of the almond butter and press the nut lightly down into the cup.  Put the muffin pan into the refrigerator to chill the candies, about 30 minutes.  Keep refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Taste just like a Reese's to me...

This recipe is shared at:

Slightly Indulgent Tuesday & Tasty Tuesday

Gluten-Free Wednesdays & Wellness Weekend

Almond Joy Freezer Pie

Almond Joy Freezer Pie (shown using mini cheesecake pan)

This Almond Joy Freezer Pie has been my go to dessert this summer!  It’s cool, refreshing and decadent…not to mention SO easy to make!  I have literally had some form of this dessert in my freezer all summer long…I’ve made it in a pie plate, mini-cheesecake pans, a springform pan and a 9×9 brownie pan…they are all great but the individual tarts are my favorite.  It is so nice to always have a pretty dessert on hand for when you have company drop by or for that late night chocolate craving too!   This dessert is fruit sweetened, that’s right…no extra sweetener has been added to the recipe other than fruit…that makes this a superstar dessert in my book!  I chose to make this an Almond Joy Pie, you could easily turn it into a scrumptious Peanut Butter Cup Pie by substituting chopped peanuts for the almonds in the topping and adding 1/4 cup peanut butter and omitting the almond extract in the filling


For the crust:

3/4 cup almond flour

3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, lightly toasted

1/4 tsp. celtic sea salt

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted over low heat

1 Tbsp. coconut palm sugar (optional for a slightly sweeter crust)

2 tsp. organic vanilla

In a large bowl combine almond flour, toasted coconut and salt.  Whisk together coconut oil, palm sugar (if using) and vanilla.  Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and thoroughly combine.  Press mixture into desired dessert dish (9″ pie plate, mini cheesecake pans, springform pan or square 9×9 dish).  Bake at 350 F for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

For the filling:

5 small ripe bananas, peeled and broken into small pieces (about 14-16 ounces peeled)

1 cup organic coconut milk, canned

1/4 cup unsweetened cacao powder (or your favorite unsweetened cocoa powder)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

Combine all ingredients in blender or food processor and blend until very smooth, about 3 minutes on high-speed.  Check to make sure all the banana is pureed before filling the crust.  Pour filling into your cooled crust and sprinkle toppings (listed below) across the top of the filling.  Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

For the topping:

1/2 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1-2 oz. finely chopped or shaved dark chocolate (I use 70% or higher)

Set the dessert at room temperature about 20 minutes before serving, cut with a sharp knife, ENJOY!

This recipe is shared at:

Slightly Indulgent Tuesday , Tasty Tuesday & Traditional Tuesdays

Gluten-Free WednesdaysThis Chick Cooks & Foodie Wednesday

Pennywise Platter Thursday, Fresh Bites Friday

Wellness Weekend & Fight Back Friday


Grain Free Honey Graham Crackers

On the cooling rack...

Sometime life just calls for a treat!

What is better on a cool summer evening than graham crackers, chocolate and toasted marshmallows?  Yep, you guessed it homemade S’mores!  Well, almost anyways.  I’m in the process of perfecting my recipes and I believe that step one, the graham, is ready for a test drive…next up will be the marshmallows (coming soon!).

Waiting for a topping...but equally tasty plain!

This recipe is gluten-free, grain-free and refined sugar-free but definitely not TASTE-free!

Honey Graham Crackers

1 3/4 cup coconut flour

1/2 cup almond flour

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

1 Tbsp cinnamon

3/4 cup organic grass-fed butter, softened (or coconut oil**)

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup coconut palm sugar

2 Tbsp yacon syrup (optional)

1 Tbsp vanilla

3 pastured eggs, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Sift together all dry ingredients except coconut palm sugar.  In a stand mixer cream softened butter and coconut palm sugar, once thoroughly combined add honey, yacon syrup and vanilla.  Blend until creamy.  Add eggs one at a time until incorporated, add dry ingredients to wet in small batches until smooth dough forms.  The mixture may be a bit crumbly but it will hold together nicely when you roll it out.  Divide mixture between the two cookie sheets, place a piece of parchment or waxed paper on top of the dough and roll out to about 1/8″ thick.  Cut with a pizza cutter into your desired size cracker and them score with a fork.  Bake for 20-22 minutes, rotating the cookie sheet halfway through cooking time.  Remove from oven and cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes (no longer than this or they will get soggy on the bottom) then slide the parchment directly onto the cooling rack until the crackers are completely cool.  Break apart and top as desired!

**If using coconut oil make sure it is soft but still solid, in the summer you may need to put it in the fridge for a while.

All we need now is a campfire and toasted marshmallows...

I hope you enjoy these little golden treats as much as I do!

The topping possibilities are endless.   Here are some of my favorites…

chocolate and marshmallows

peanut butter and honey

almond butter and raspberry jam

sweetened ricotta cheese and walnuts

cream cheese

This post is shared at:

Slightly Indulgent Tuesday

Tasty Tuesday

Gluten-Free Wednesdays

Real Food Wednesdays

Fight Back Fridays

The Best Chocolate Sauce…Ever!

Chocolate Sauce over Coconut Ice Cream

Creamy, decadent, refined sugar-free, vegan (or can be anyways), pourable straight from the refrigerator and OH SO YUMMY!  Did I mention it is really easy to make too?

We enjoy this sauce drizzled over all kinds of desserts, ice cream, fruit and sometimes even pancakes or waffles!

Refrigerator Chocolate Sauce

1 cup pure maple syrup

1/2 cup almond oil

1/2 cup unsweetened cacao powder

1/4 tsp. celtic sea salt

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. pure almond extract

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth.  Store in the refrigerator for up to three months (if it lasts that long…ours never does!).

Sometimes I replace half of the maple syrup with agave, coconut nectar or honey (of course, honey would not be vegan), it makes the sauce a bit sweeter than using all maple syrup.  I use raw cacao powder as well but any unsweetened cocoa powder works fine…

Chocolate sauce drizzled straight from the fridge

This recipe is shared at:

Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays & Tasty Tuesdays

Gluten Free Wednesdays

Wellness Weekend @ Diet, Dessert and Dogs

Banana Muffins and Mini-Cakes

Banana Mini-Cakes with Chocolate Chips

Hello, my name is Andrea and I am a sugar addict.

It has taken me several years of intense struggle to finally admit that I have a real problem with sugar.  I stopped eating all kinds of refined sugars about 4 years ago (along with gluten and soy) but I have intermittently experimented with agave nectar, maple syrup, honey and more recently coconut sugar.  You see, I love dessert and really felt like I couldn’t live without it…so I adapted every recipe I craved into a “healthier” version using natural sugar substitutes.

However, as I am living a “cleaner” primal lifestyle these days, no gluten, soy, refined sugar or grains I find that even the “natural” sugars sometimes bother me.  And when I say bother what I really mean is that they tend to make me a wee bit of a crazy person!!!!  It’s like a drug to me as it is for many people.  My saving grace is that my will power (I like to use that term way better than saying my obsessive-compulsive tendency) doesn’t allow me to over-indulge in the desserts I make, I only experience the mental torture…

Whew, now that I’m past the denial stage…I will admit that I still like to enjoy sweet treats on occasion which has led me to seek out desserts and baked goods that are fruit or stevia sweetened.  I visit the blog What I Crave regularly and to my delight found a recipe for Date Sweetened Banana Bread.  I made this recipe into muffins and a few heart-shaped mini-cakes (with mini chocolate chips added).  These muffins have the perfect texture and sweetness, they are wonderful with a pat of homemade butter or a schmear of cream cheese.  I like to have them for breakfast or as an afternoon snack with a nice cup of coffee or tea.

Muffins and Mini-Cakes

Date Sweetened Banana Muffins

Makes 18-24 muffins

3 ripe bananas

1/2 cup medjool dates, pitted (5 – 6 dates)

5 eggs

1/2 cup butter or coconut oil, melted

1 /2 cup coconut flour

1/4 cup ground flax seeds

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of nutmeg

1/2 cup of pecans or walnuts, chopped

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Line muffin tins with paper liners
  2. To a blender add two peeled bananas, pitted dates, eggs, and melted butter or coconut oil.  Puree until smooth.
  3. Sift all dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.
  4. Add wet ingredients to the dry and stir until there are no lumps.
  5. Chop the remaining banana and add to batter along with the nuts and chocolate chips (if using).
  6. Divide evenly between the muffin cups (I use an ice cream scoop which is about 1/4 cup of batter).
  7.  Bake for 22 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Let cool completely on rack before serving.

Banana Muffins

Enjoy this wonderful recipe and check back often for more “sugar-free” treat recipes. 

 Remember…Life is too short to not have dessert!

This recipe is shared at:

Slightly Indulgent Tuesday,  Tasty Tuesday & Tempt My Tummy Tuesday

Gluten-Free Wednesdays

Cupcakes, Cupcakes, Cupcakes

Do you really need a special occasion to make a batch of cupcakes?  I think not, but…when I came upon this adorable cupcake display at Williams Sonoma last month I knew without a doubt that Easter dessert this year would be CUPCAKES!  At least this holiday occasion would give me the opportunity to make several different kinds and lots of them (the display holds 24-36)!!!  From all the wonderful flavors, fillings and frostings to choose from…here are the ones that made the cut…Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is of course a must, being Easter and all…humm, you have got to have something chocolate so I settled on a Chocolate Fudge Cupcake with a Whipped Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting…fruit? definitely, Raspberry filled Vanilla Cupcake with Dark Chocolate Ganache and a light and airy Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake Cupcake with Blueberries.  It was so much fun making and decorating these little treats but the real joy was sharing them with my family, especially since they were all grain-free, gluten-free and refined sugar-free!

The Final Four

My favorite was the Chocolate Fudge Cupcake with Whipped Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting, for several reasons…1) it’s peanut butter and chocolate, 2) well, it’s peanut butter and chocolate and 3) should I say it again?  it’s peanut butter and chocolate.  This recipe is adapted from one that my grandmother makes called Carol’s Fudge Muffins, I don’t know who Carol is but this woman is a genius, these muffins are rich and fudgy but still light enough to be a cupcake rather than a brownie…Mama always made them with pecans and no frosting but I chose to omit the pecans this time since I was going to use a peanut butter frosting…they are equally delicious both ways!  Now, since I’ve been eating a mostly primal diet I don’t eat peanuts or peanut butter and would normally substitute almond butter in the frosting recipe but for Easter…its just got to be peanut butter!

Chocolate Fudge Cupcake

2 ounces dark chocolate (I used Dagoba Chocodrops 70%)

1/2 cup butter, melted

3/4 cup + 2Tbsp. coconut palm sugar

1/2 cup quinoa flour

2 eggs

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 F and line 12 muffin cups with paper or foil liners.

In a large bowl mix together flour and sugar.  In a small saucepan melt butter and chocolate and whisk until smooth.  Add butter and chocolate to flour mixture and stir until smooth.  Add slightly beaten eggs, stir in – do not beat.  Add vanilla and chopped nuts (if using).  Divide evenly between muffin cups.  Bake 22-25 minutes.  Cool on wire rack.

Whipped Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz cream cheese, softened

2 Tbsp. agave, honey or palm sugar

1 Tbsp. vanilla

pinch of sea salt

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1 cup cold heavy whipped cream

Beat cream cheese, peanut butter, agave, vanilla and sea salt on medium speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  In a separate bowl beat heavy whip cream until stiff peaks form (for best results chill bowl and whisk in freezer before beating the whip cream).  Gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.  Frosting can be made one day ahead and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.  Be sure cupcakes are completely cooled before frosting.

Chocolate Fudge Cupcake with Whipped Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

Chunkey Monkey Cake

Chunkey Monkey Cake

I love dessert, I eat it everyday at around 3 o’clock in the afternoon, it’s the best part of my day.  Most days it’s just berries and whipped cream or yogurt, an apple with almond butter or a frozen smoothie, but several times a month I like to make something really decadent.  I am always on the lookout for gluten, grain, refined sugar and especially GUILT free healthy options for my special treat days.  Yesterday I came across a wonderful recipe for Carob-Banana Bars at The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen website, I could hardly wait to make these today…I have made a few alterations to the original recipe to include cacao powder rather than carob and added walnuts for some extra texture, it came out perfect!  I will try this recipe with carob powder sometime as I really do like the taste of carob…I was just out of it today and didn’t want to make an extra trip to the store since I had everything else.  My dad is coming over today so I am excited to see if he likes it…he loves dessert as much as I do so I’m sure he will!
A few recipe tips:
Make sure all ingredients are room temperature (even the eggs) otherwise they will cause the coconut oil to harden.
Use slightly over-ripe bananas for a sweeter cake.
If you choose to use the carob powder rather than the cacao powder the additional sweetener isn’t necessary, stevia can sometimes have a bitter taste so you may add the 1/4 cup palm sugar instead of the extra plain stevia listed in the recipe below.

 

Enjoy with a dollop of fresh whip cream

Chunkey Monkey Cake

 

2 cups blanched almond flour
1/2 cup cacao powder (or carob powder)
1/4 cup arrowroot powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 – 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
3 large ripe bananas, mashed (1 heaping cup)
2 large organic eggs
1/4 cup melted virgin coconut oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
24 drops chocolate liquid stevia + 10-20 drops plain stevia or 1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil an 8 x 8-inch glass baking dish with coconut oil.
Mix together the dry ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Use your fingers to break up any clumps in the almond flour. Then whisk the ingredients together. Set aside.
In a small bowl, add the bananas and mash with a fork. Measure the mashed bananas to make sure they are just over 1 cup. Add more banana if needed or remove some. Then add the remaining ingredients and stir together with the fork.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk together. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool before cutting into bars.  Serve with a dollop of fresh whipped cream or glass of ice-cold almond milk.  Enjoy!

Yep, Daddy liked it!

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