Homemade Larabars

Being back in classes has been a huge adjustment. I’m used to the usual three-month summer break between school years, but I just went nine months without being in school. While it’s really nice to have three hours in the middle of the day to do nothing, I’m also up way later than usual doing homework (so much homework…) and getting organized for the next day.

A few things that have been keeping me going and making my transition easier:

1. Candles. I have so many soy candles in my room and I am obsessed with them! I burn them all the time and they really help calm me down when I’m super stressed out. My current favorites? A coconut lime candle that I got from Mark, and a macadamia nut one from my mom!

2. TONS of water. I have been drinking about 12 eight-ounce glasses of water a day. I don’t drink coffee and I try to only drink tea when I really need it, so water is what wakes me up and keeps me energized! In the morning, I’ll usually squeeze half a lemon into my water bottle, and after lunch I’ll either put sliced cucumber or fresh mint in for a little extra flavor!

3. To-Do Lists. I am  the queen of making lists (in case you couldn’t tell from this post…). Especially to-do lists! I’ve been taking blank printing paper and writing out huge to-do lists with everything I need to get done during each week… so helpful!

4. Chocolate Strawberry Shakes. Technically, this is a smoothie (and how I start most of my mornings…) but it tastes so indulgent and decadent that I like to think of it as a shake! I’ve been including frozen banana slices, frozen strawberries, chocolate almond milk, and vegan protein powder in mine!

5. Homemade Larabars:

Since I’m back in classes at Drexel, I needed some really easy snacks (that I wouldn’t get bored with) to take with me to my classes. Last weekend, I made OhSheGlows’ Dark Chocolate Cherry Bites without the chocolate chips, as well as her chia crackers. Once I realized just how easy Larabar-type breakfast bars are to make, I was on a huge bar-making kick!

These keep me full for hours and on top of that, are SO delicious! I have two varieties for you… I would suggest making both 😉

Coconut Cream Pie Breakfast Bars

inspired by OhSheGlows’ Dark Chocolate Cherry Bites & Larabars

Ingredients:

  • 8 Pitted Medjool Dates
  • 1/2 C Unsweeted Shredded Coconut
  • 3/4 C Raw Almonds
  • 1/4 C Raw Cashews
  • 3 tsp (solid) Coconut Oil

In a food processor, process the almonds until completely chopped. You do not, however, want it to be an almond meal.

It is ok if a few larger chunks remain. Once chopped, add the cashews and the dates, and process until completely combined. Add the coconut oil and process until a dough starts to form, about 1 minute. Spoon the mixture between two pieces of wax paper and roll out until the top is smooth and the mixture is at your desired thickness- I usually let mine be about half an inch thick.

Cut to desired size (mine are about half the size of actual Larabars).

Gingersnap Breakfast Bars

Inspired by OhSheGlows’ Dark Chocolate Cherry Bites & Larabars

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 C Raw Almonds
  • 1/4 C Raw Pecans
  • 8 Pitted Medjool Dates
  • 1 heaping tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • tiny pinch of ground cloves

In a food processor, process the almonds and pecans until mostly chopped (again– do not let it become a floury meal). Add the dates and process until a dough forms. Finally, add in the spices and process for an additional 30 seconds.

Once again, spoon the mixture between two pieces of wax paper, roll out, and cut to desired thickness.

These bars give me lasting energy– enough to get through seven hours at the library 😉 Both varieties are pretty rich, but they’re a perfect pop of flavor to help wake me up early in the morning!  They’re so unbelievably easy to make and absolutely delicious!

Tomato Nut-“Cheese” Spread

Happy Thursday!

First of all, I’m sorry for being M.I.A the past few days… I’ve been having some trouble dealing with the combination of stresses going on in my life. A lot of it is my own fault to begin with, but this “quarter-life crisis” has knocked me for a loop. Let me preface this by saying that I am not putting this all out here to complain and get pity, but rather as a tool for myself to sort out all of my ideas and figure out where to go from here.

I have a lot going on right now. My grandfather (who lived with my family) recently passed away, and my family as a whole, but particularly my mother, have been struggling with this for a few weeks now. I’ve been staying at my parents house since I got back from London, keeping an eye on everyone and trying to alleviate some of the stress in the house. Unfortunately, this has resulted in me constantly worrying about my family– it’s really hard to watch my mom be sad. And I’m not saying that in a selfish way, I just think I need to remove myself a little bit from the situation, because my nature is to sort of absorb the emotions of others.

On top of this, Mark is (still) in Rome. For some reason, I’ve been having a really difficult time not having him around lately, more-so than usual. He is the one person who I feel comfortable and confident enough around to confide in completely, and not having the stress-relief of him being by my side makes everything I’m dealing with seem one-thousand times harder.

The biggest thing that I think has caused my “crisis” is that I’ve realized I’m unhappy with engineering. It’s completely terrifying to me that my plans for the future are about to change– and not just a little. This is a completely life-altering decision, and I’m not sure if I have the strength or the confidence in myself to make it. I haven’t even thought about telling my parents (you know, those people who just wasted tons of money on two years of engineering school) yet, because I don’t quite have a plan, and I want to be able to go to them knowing exactly what my new plan of action is for my career.

It’s also difficult to hear them be so proud of my accomplishments in engineering– it seems like almost every day, my dad has some new trivia about how low the unemployment rate for engineers just out of college is, or how much money I could make as a consultant.  I used to be excited about those things, but I truly believe that it is more important for me to do something that I absolutely love than it is for me to be be wealthy.

So that’s it. I’m bogged down with finishing my last week and a half at an internship for a career that I no longer want to pursue. I need to figure out what in the world I do want to do, and how to go about getting there. I need to figure out if I can stay at Drexel, if what I want to do will cost more money, if any of my credits will transfer, if I will still graduate on time…  I have a lot on my plate. And on top of it all, I’ve been terrible at getting myself to the gym– there goes any chance of some sort of stress relief. So yesterday, I completely lost it. I was just waaaaay too overwhelmed.

But today I’m feeling a little bit better, and ready to face the world just a little bit more. Oh, and to cook. 🙂

Tomato Nut-“Cheese” Spread

my first attempt at vegan nut-cheese… yummy spread on your “vehicle” of choice with some sliced avocado on top!

To Soak Almonds:

1 C Raw Almonds

2 C Water

For Nut Cheese:

Soaked Almonds

1/2 C Roasted Tomatoes

2 Cloves Garlic

1 Tbsp Lemon Juice

Soak the almonds overnight (at least eight hours!) and once soaked, skin them. This process is painstaking– I found it was easiest to just peel each one individually by hand. The skins do come right off, though.  Peel the garlic and toss all ingredients into a food processor.

Process until completely smooth and combined– this will take a little time.

Place a strainer over a dish or pot and line it with a cheesecloth.

Pour the almond mixture over the cheesecloth and refrigerate overnight or for at least ten hours.

Once set, remove the cheese from the cheesecloth and shape however you desire. To get mine into a “wedge” shape, I packed it into a lightly greased bowl and flipped it onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper.

Turn your oven to the lowest setting– I set mine to Warm. Place the baking sheet with the cheese on it into the oven and leave cracked. If you have a dehydrator, you can use that instead. You want to leave the cheese to dehydrate in the oven for around three hours, until it forms sort of a rind.

I would think it would take twice as long (at least) in a dehydrator.

This cheese was perfect for a first attempt. It has a definite “almond cheese” texture– it’s a little gritty, but perfect to spread onto a sandwich or wrap.

Look out for many more nut cheese recipes from my kitchen– I’m hooked!