Category Archives: Snacks

Healthy Peanut Butter-Stuffed Chocolate Date Balls (Vegan; GF and Raw Option)

Don’t forget to enter the Cuppow giveaway via our Eat Clean Challenge at the end of this post!

Dreams do come true.

I know because yesterday I shook hands with a Disneyland Imagineer for the first time. A real, living, breathing, down-to-earth Imagineer!

Okay, so maybe the “real living breathing” part isn’t that impressive–even I’m capable of those–but an Imagineer. Ohmygosh. Somebody get me my paper bag because I take back what I just said and I suck at breathing right now.

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My brain gets crazy addled every time I talk to someone for whom I have the highest respect. Same thing happened when I ate popsicles once with Gail Carson Levine at my literary agent’s annual party, i.e. I died from sheer joy and shredded through about ten paper bags in a two-hour period.

As it happened, K the Imagineer was incredibly illuminating (hah appropriate, considering he is responsible for designing and producing the fixture lights in all the Disney parks around the world!) and really inspired me to keep pushing towards my dream of show writing or envisioning creative concepts for Disney. It was kind of an amazing and extremely humbling (in the best way) experience.

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Now here’s the problem. Of course, there has to be a problem. Continue reading

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The Best Date You Will Ever Have: Peanut Butter Larabars

Let’s talk dates for a moment here.

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First thing first: dates. Yes, I’m talking about the edible kind–although the strange, single-as-a-one-digit-number part of me is convinced that dating would be a lot more interesting if my dates really were edible. As in, “Have you met my date, Mister Hot Chocolate? Word on the street is that he can get pretty steamy.

Chances are, you have stumbled across copycat larabar recipes before now. I’m not introducing you to them because they’re new. I’m introducing you to them because they are awesomeand if you are like Me One Month Ago–sitting on your butt ogling at these larabar pictures but also totally doubting the sanity of my taste buds, because how in holy heck could anything with three ingredients actually taste awesomethis is why I’m introducing you to them. Because if you are reading this post and not making these bars pronto, you need to be converted. NOW.

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It’s a running joke among all my friends that I am the most horrendous baker/blogger in existence–75 chocolate chip cookies later, and I’ve eaten what: one cookie? Half of one cookie? Who does that? In my field (that’s English grad school, for those of you who are new to WG) and in my defense, you don’t get by without self-discipline. And I am pretty much a discipline Beast when I want to be, so unless I am on a total emotional spree that afternoon, whatever comes out of my kitchen usually escapes unscathed. (Note: This does not account for the generous portions of batter, ‘crumbs,’ or last-spoonfuls-of-nut-butter-in-a-jar that fill my tummy during each baking session. This is why I totally prefer to bake alone: I’ll pass on the spoon-licking judgment!) Continue reading

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Filed under Bars, Snacks

Crunchy Cookie Butter Espresso Granola

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If life milestones were potluck dishes, moving would be a crusty dry loaf of fruitcake. I’m sure somebody out there appreciates fruitcake, and likewise I’m sure somebody loves the nonstop hubbub of moving residences. That person is not me. Especially not Studying Me, which tolerates everything at a 50% lower threshold than Normal, Socialized Me.

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In case you missed it previously, here’s the rundown: Studying Me is extremely grateful to her parents, who basically magicked her entire store of belongings into her new apartment this weekend while she guiltily (I mean, really guiltily) shuffled her feet and finished speed-reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Studying Me also LOVES the new place, which has a kitchen that takes up 40% of the apartment and contains 75% of all my belongings. But Studying Me is currently typing this blog post on an unhappy stomach full of emoteating (read: emotionally-induced eating) because apparently she doesn’t cope well with stress, separation, and studying all in one fell swoop. So it’s been 12 whole hours and I’m short half a jar of peanut butter already.

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Three hours after leaving, my mom called and asked me how I was doing, and if I was making brownies already. I was not. I was too busy emoteating, writing this post, and wishing really hard for this granola to pop out of my screen a la Willy Wonka’s Television Chocolate Room to make the damn brownies. #yeahwhatjusthappened

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Studying Me and Normal Me both love this brand new, bold King of Crunchiness cookie butter and espresso-flavored granola I invented in my pre-move procrastination. It is insanely crunchy, coffee-y, cookie-y. It is also based on–and probably rivals–the Honey Bunches of Oats Copy-Better Recipe that all of you loved and repinned like mad last year. It’s the perfect breakfast-on-the-go food in a smokier, sexier, adult-ier kind of way. Not that I know anything about what being adult-ier entails, since I am currently sitting on the floor of my next-to-bare apartment floor and lolling next to my laptop with as much motivation to do anything as a tranquilized rhinoceros might have.

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You can use your imagination to figure out what that even means. Or you could put your time to better use and print this awesome recipe, make it, and send it to

Yours truly, and slightly deranged, but surely in her right mind taste buds,

Ala

P.S. If you’ve noticed an onslaught of “Start the New Year Right” and Skinny Recipes for 2014! collections on your news feed lately: Never fear, I’m ready to ruin that for all of you with some fabulously buttered-up sweets in my next few posts. Cheerios!

Crunchy Cookie Butter Espresso Granola
Ingredients:
  • 3 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup almonds or preferred nut, chopped
  • 1/3 cup black sesame seeds (optional)
  • 3/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/4 cup maple or pancake syrup
  • 1/4 cup cookie butter (homemade or store-bought)
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan (or whatever large size baking pan you have available–enough to fit 3 1/2 cups of oats in an even layer no more than two inches thick). Pour oats, chopped nuts, and black sesame seeds (if you have them) into prepared pan.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat brown sugar and brewed coffee until it just begins to boil. Turn off heat, then stir in oil, syrup, cookie butter, cocoa powder, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pour over oats mixture and stir until all of the oats are evenly coated. Pat oats evenly into bottom of pan so that the layer is no more than two inches thick. (This will help your granola achieve optimal crispiness!)
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 40-50 minutes (stirring every 15 minutes), or until toasted and a dark golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely in pan before crumbling. Store in an airtight container.

Tuesday Talent Show Link Party at Chef in Training! It is held weekly and has some amazing link ups!cast_party_button

Will Cook For Smiles

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Filed under Breakfast & Brunch, Snacks

Pumpkin Spiced Granola

Do you all know what it means to feel hurt by someone you thought you could trust?

It feels a little bit like you’re sinking, a little bit like you’re falling, and a little bit like somebody’s tied you up by the extremities and thrown you into the water, all at the same time.

This isn’t an angry post, or a vengeful post, or a gossip-y post. This post is just a little…disappointed.

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt this way about anything. The last time was in eighth grade when a guy I’d wanted to get in touch with because we used to be good friends hung up on me when I told him who was calling.

Something happened a while back that I didn’t think I’d have to deal with again. Past life, meet present life. I won’t go into the details, but believe you me–the feeling stinks. It’s times like these that I stop laughing at the cartoons of grown men crying for their mommies, and I curl up and cry for my mommy, too. There’s nothing like a phone call to that ever-loving maternal source to keep you feeling, well, worth something.

Cinnamon helps, too. Cinnamon always helps. I think it’s something about the warmth and feeling of nostalgic autumn days that it lends the kitchen when you’re around it.

Accomplishing things helps, too. I swam the 1.5k today in open water for the first time, then proceeded to get KO’d by food coma via some epic dim sum afterwards. Swimmers’ stomachs. Gotta love ‘em.

Flour Power: No matter how alone or down you feel, remember that the moment passes–but true friends are forever! Go look for a new activity or meet some new people in areas unrelated to your main interests; this will keep your identities from all blurring together, and prevent you from storing too many of your self-esteem eggs in one basket. I’m heading off to a campus activities fair tomorrow with a friend–my goal is to sign up for at least one new thing. (I’m also going to be an International Students Buddy this year!) Wish me luck!

Back in middle school, when the entire world consisted of longing for the time when I would finally grow old enough to get rid of my dorky roller backpack, it was easy to think that every little criticism or disappointment was the end of the world. Boom. Zombie apocalypse? Got nothing on my problems.

And then I “grew up,” and life didn’t consist of being shepherded along with the same 50 nerdy kids in AP classes every single day, and I had to figure out my priorities in life. I stressed, pushed myself, lost 20 pounds, gained 15 back, felt unhappy, felt extremely happy, had the best group of friends I could ever (and still could ever) ask for, and still thought myself the luckiest girl in the world. I graduated, moved, and while I found myself slightly outside of my depth, kept myself very energetic and happy–and for the most part, I’m very happy! Very happy.

It’s just a little bit of a sort of big downer when these things come back to get you. C’est la vie, I guess. You live, you cry, you learn.

It helps that I have a mom and dad who support the living daylights out of me, and tell me they would fly over right now if I need somebody. It’s been hard because lots of the friends I knew from last year have already moved on or graduated, and my other close ones are either from home and undergrad or too far away in LA for me to ask to come keep me company. I love these people so freakin’ much, though.

I’m not even angry. I’ve tried, and I can’t be. I’m just disappointed. But if I’ve lost some of my trust in some aspects of life, I’ve definitely gained an appreciation for a whole lot more.

So here’s to the  finer things in life, to things like people you can really count on, and to sticking to that strong moral fiber that keeps you from telling untruths to anyone else even though it’s been done to you–because even if I lose sleep over this tonight, I won’t lose sleep over it for the rest of my life when it really counts.

I could still use a pick-me-up. Hrm.

Now, about that cinnamon.

Funflour Fact #4: Did you know that, according to the World Food Programme,  there are more people in the world who go to bed hungry at night than there are people in the U.S., Canada, and European Union combined? (In light of serious statistics like these, it’s hard to dwell on personal problems quite as much.)

Pumpkin Spiced Granola
Inspired by recipe from Averie Cooks
 
Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup cookie butter (1 batch homemade, or store-bought)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups almonds (or any nut variety you prefer), chopped
  • 1/2 to 1 cup raisins, cranberries, or dried fruit mix; adjust to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium-sized bowl, combine pumpkin, cookie butter, honey, oil, vanilla, and cinnamon. Stir until smooth.
  2. Add oats and chopped nuts to pumpkin mixture. Stir in until completely coated, then transfer to a foil-lined and greased cookie sheet. Spread out granola in a thin layer and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring once or twice, until granola reaches desired crunchiness. (Your granola may take even longer to bake, depending on your oven circulation–watch it carefully! The moistness of the pumpkin keeps it from baking too quickly, but you don’t want your granola to burn, either. Averie notes that the granola is inherently dark, because of the pumpkin, so you’ll want to do a crispness test occasionally by poking a cluster of granola to see if it’s firmed up.)
  3. Remove granola from oven and stir in raisins or cranberries. Allow to cool–your granola should obtain a boosted crunch!–and serve with yogurt, milk, or a plain old comfort food in its own right. Enjoy!

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Snacks

Won’t Stop Snackin’ White Chocolate Snack Mix

Do you ever:

1) Need a snack for on the go?

2) Want to be known as that parent who packs the best school lunches, and whose child every other kid asks to swap snacks with?

3) Run out of time?

4) Crave a delicious dessert that takes less than 10 minutes, start to finish?

5) Care about somebody and want to show them? Seriously. Like, ever?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions…well then, my friend, this snack mix is for you!

“Can’t stop, won’t stop,” is one of my friend’s favorite mottoes–but once you try even the tiniest taste of this addicting snack mix, you’ll find that you not only can’t or won’t want to stop–you won’t want to be able to stop.

Your fingers will reach for a second, third, and fourth fistful before you know it.

All willpower will fly out the window like a plague of forgotten locusts that are trapped inside your house for I know not what reason.

It will be like setting an entire chocolate-ganache fudge-swirl ice cream cake in front of you and your dangerously-thin wallet, and telling you that anything you can finish in the first 3.257 minutes is free.

You will no longer want to stop eating this food of the gods. In fact, you will find yourself wondering as you chew thoughtfully whether or not you’ve died and gone to heaven. And that’s okay. In fact, it’s a perfectly normal response. It’s just your taste buds talking–so keep chewing.

You’ll suddenly realize how the name of this delicious snack came about, pause for a moment…then shrug your shoulders and throw back another handful as your mind goes blissfully blank.

And that’s good, because you can make as much of this as you want or need–say, a pound to lure away your nosy hubby and gleeful kids, and a pound for yourself–to keep everyone happy. It takes less than 10 minutes to assemble, so even if every single member of your household manages to make away with a substantial portion of your not-so-hard-earned treat, you will still have the resources to sneak into the kitchen on the pretense of doing an “intense cleaning” (that’ll keep others out of the way), lock the door for safe measure, whip up a batch, chow it all down, and be back out before anyone can say, “Clean?”

Am I starting to sound like a terrible influence? Good. The internet wouldn’t be the internet without some solid, community-based egging-on. So what are you waiting for? Less reading, more making! I do have a fantastic story about the amazing Disney Archives Exhibit I visited today with my friend, but that will have to wait until we officially celebrate with some intensely fudgy and souped-up brownies tomorrow.

In the meantime, happy eatings!

Won’t Stop Snackin’ White Chocolate Snack Mix

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups assorted cereal (I used Special K yogurt + fruit, and Fiber One honey clusters, but any variety of cereal will work)
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 6 oz. white chocolate chips (half a regular-sized package)
  • 3 tablespoons shortening
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine cereal, nuts, and dried cranberries. Feel free to add anything else you’d like to the mix–chocolate chips, sweetened coconut flakes, and M&M’s are all great ideas!
  2. Melting white chocolate on the stove: Place white chocolate chips and shortening in a small pot and heat over low flame. Stir occasionally until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove immediately from heat. Microwave method: In a microwave-safe bowl, place white chocolate chips and shortening. Heat at 20-second intervals on medium-low power (I use level 4 for my microwave), stirring in between each interval. Heat until white chocolate is melted and smooth when stirred. (Tip: Be careful not to overheat your white chocolate! Because white chocolate isn’t “real” chocolate, it will seize much more easily if you heat it for too long. Shorten the intervals to 10 seconds when your chocolate seems about finished melting; it should take about 2 minutes total, depending on your microwave power.)
  3. Stir vanilla and cinnamon into melted white chocolate. Pour mixture over dry ingredients and toss until completely coated. Transfer everything to wax or parchment paper and allow to cool before packaging, serving, or–better yet–snacking that won’t stop!

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