No Bake Energy Bites

It’s January, which means that troves of people made the exact same New Year’s resolution; “I want to lose __ pounds this year!” No offense to those who make resolutions, but let’s be real for a second. How many people who make this resolution actually stick it out? Come January, everything and everyone is all about the diets and the “cleanses” and “detoxes.” After touting the “enjoy and indulge” messages of months prior, everyone seems to be on the same boat about losing the holiday weight gain. After a couple weeks (or even days), most people want to give up and give in.

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I personally know how hard it can be to stay on track, especially after the holidays, but seeing and hearing all this “diet” talk does the opposite of motivating. See, diets, “cleanses” and “detoxes” are all about restrictions. It’s all “Don’t eat this for x amount of time, don’t eat this kind of food after a certain time, don’t eat anything but this drink for the next week.” It’s too stressful to try and stick to all these guidelines, which are really just set ups for failures.

A healthy lifestyle is not about restricting. A common misconception people have about living healthy is that no one ever eats sweets; that it’s all fruits and veggies all day. Granted, it’s mostly that but a small part of it is about enjoying yourself and living your life stress free (at least about food). That’s the healthy part!

Anyway, these no bake energy bites are an awesome and relatively healthy snack that are as easy to make as they are delicious. All the ingredients in these babies are actually good for you! Oats are a great complex carb, which means they’ll keep you full a bit longer. The peanut butter and the coconut are both full of good fats, even though the coconut is slightly sweetened. Honey’s a natural sweetener that is okay in moderation. And chocolate is surprisingly good for you if you use the right kind! Dark chocolate is the “healthiest,” touting plenty of antioxidants; depending on how dark the chocolate is.

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One of the standout ingredients on the list is the ground flaxseed.  Not only is it a great source of dietary fiber, but it is laden with micronutrients (like Vitamin B), omega-3 fatty acids, and even more antioxidants. It’s a great addition to most baked goods and is awesome (and tasteless) in these energy bites.

When you finally get sick of hearing about all that diet talk and are ready to jump ship, remember that it’s a race rather than a sprint. A healthier lifestyle includes all of the things life throws at you, including these little bites of energy that’ll help you tackle the rest of the day!

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No Bake Energy Bites – adapted from Gimme Some Oven

Makes 20-25, depending on size

  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed or wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks
  • 1/3 cup honey, maple syrup, or a honey/agave combo
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Stir all of the ingredients in a bowl, making sure everything is thoroughly combined. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Remove mix from the refrigerator, portion and roll into equally sized balls about 1 to 1 1/2″ in diameter. Store in an airtight container in the fridge; they should keep for about a week (if they last that long!)

Lucy’s Tips:

  • I chopped up a small 72% dark chocolate bar from Trader Joe’s, in lieu of chocolate chips. Use whatever you have on hand!
  • I used a disher to scoop these out. Each ball came out about 1 1/2″ in diameter. 
  • This recipe is infinitely adaptable. You can use a variety of mix ins and nut butters; anything to suit your tastes!

Crunchy Peppermint Bark

I feel like Christmas pretty much snuck up on me this year. It’s weird because when I was a kid, we’d count down the days til Christmas, dreaming of the gifts and the good times with family. For some reason, that holiday spirit is diminished this year. Seemingly without any warning, Christmas is only a few days away. In a desperate attempt to get into the holiday spirit, I walked myself into my kitchen to create some of my own.

I always tell my sister that my holiday spirit lies in my tree. I decorate it every single year by myself, and am in charge of taking it back down. I leave the tree up for as long as possible, until after my birthday; hoping to grab on to every last bit of that good feeling. I put up my tree this year but it left somewhat of a lackluster feeling. Seeing as how that wasn’t enough, I wanted to make as many festive cookies as possible. Evidenced on this blog, I made sugar cookies, coconut macaroons, and gingerbread cookies; which included a very poor attempt at a gingerbread house. It certainly made me feel better about the holidays but it wasn’t enough.

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Between all the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, life got in the way. As much as I hate to be in a negative state of mind during a time where everyone should be happy, this is real life. When no one is in a holiday mood for whatever reason, it’s hard to bring it back up. Why am I telling you all this? Besides this being a way to get it all out, I also wanted to show that the holidays should be enjoyed; even when life gets in the way.

One of the last ways I wanted to spread some Christmas cheer was with some candy. I have never attempted to make my own candy, so I knew I wanted to do something I could handle. I saw this recipe for peppermint bark over at Shutterbean, from the lovely Tracy. Peppermint bark is one my favorite holiday candies. I always make it a point to get at least one square of the Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark from the drugstore during the holiday season. I was attracted to this recipe for three reasons: it looked easy to make, the ingredients weren’t completely unattainable, and it looked amazing!

I want to build a house on this

I want to build a house on this

Now, I’ve never really messed with chocolate because of its temperamental nature (har har) but I moved forward, with much success. If you can melt chocolate, you can make this. Tracy’s bark is unique because it has a cereal base. This way, it’s not super cloying. She uses crispy rice cereal but since I didn’t have any in the house, I subbed Rice Chex with great results. I also drizzled some 72% dark chocolate over the top for added an added chocolate dose. This bark is definitely a cross between the traditional peppermint bark and a marshmallow crispy rice treat, sans the mallows of course. The sweetness from the white chocolate contrasts the crunchy cereal and bits of candy cane. The drizzled dark chocolate is subtle, which doesn’t make the bark overwhelming. I packaged some of it up in some cute takeout boxes for gifts, and am keeping the rest for Christmas night.

I hope everyone remembers to share their holiday spirit because you never know who may need it. A small token of appreciation can make a big difference. Happy holidays!

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Crunchy Peppermint Bark – adapted from Shutterbean

Makes about 35 pieces, depending on size

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound (16 oz) white chocolate, chopped (use GOOD white chocolate chips)
  • about 3 cups of Rice Chex, slightly crushed
  • 6-7 candy canes, unwrapped
  • 1 small bar of dark chocolate (1.65 oz), melted (optional)
  • nonstick cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Spray a 10-by-15-inch rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray; line with a piece of waxed or parchment paper. Crush candies in a Ziploc bag—strain out the powder.
  2. Place white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth, 4 to 6 minutes. Alternately, you can melt in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave. Heat for three 30-40 second intervals on high power until melted. Remove from heat; stir in rice cereal.
  3. Transfer mixture to prepared pan; with a spatula, spread to edges of pan.
  4. Sprinkle with crushed candy; with a piece of waxed paper covering the entire surface, press in gently (paper prevents hands from sticking to candy and chocolate). Drizzle with melted dark chocolate. Chill until firm, 20 to 30 minutes (no longer, as candy will begin to soften).
  5. Break bark into 2-inch pieces. Store at room temperature in an airtight container, up to 1 week.

Lucy’s Tips:

  • Use the best white chocolate you can get your hands on. 
  • For the dark chocolate, I used a bar from a three pack of small bars from Trader Joe’s. 
  • Have leftover dark chocolate? Use a pair of plastic spoons to scoop it up. Garnish with sprinkles or mini chocolate chips and pop in the fridge to harden. Dip in warm milk or coffee for instant hot chocolate or an awesome caffe mocha.