Category Archives: Peanut Butter

Chocolate and Vanilla Protein Balls

We all know there are tons of different protein ball recipes out there (and plenty of ball jokes to go with them!), but these recipes I’ve got today are truly out of this world! Not only are they super tasty, but they’re also full of some really great stuff.

I found a recipe in a recent Oxygen magazine for Peanut Butter Protein Balls and I actually had all of the ingredients on hand, so I whipped up a batch. I made a few minor adjustments to the recipe and this is what I came up with.

Chocolately Peanut Butter Protein Balls (Makes approximately 15-18 balls)

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
  • 1 scoop cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup flax seed meal
  • splash of vanilla

1. Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.

2. Take a spoon and scoop out a small amount of dough. Roll it between your hands to form a ball.

3. Repeat step two until you have used up all of the dough.

4. Eat one of the balls because they are absolutely delicious!

5. Place balls into a sealed container and refrigerate until you plan to eat them.

The extra chocolate flavor from the cocoa powder really adds some extra oomph! And I cut the amount of honey by a little bit from the original recipe because my protein powder is sweetened with xylitol and I didn’t want them to be overly sweet.

After enjoying this recipe for a few weeks, I was thinking the other day how great it would be to make a vanilla version. I had already planned on making some cashew butter, so I decided that would be the best base for my vanilla balls.

Vanilla Protein Balls (Makes approximately 15-18 balls)

  • 1/2 cup cashew butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 scoops vanilla protein powder
  • 1/4 cup flax seed meal
  • splash of vanilla

1. Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.

2. Take a spoon and scoop out a small amount of dough. Roll it between your hands to form a ball.

3. Repeat step two until you have used up all of the dough.

4. Eat one of the balls because they are absolutely delicious!

5. Place balls into a sealed container and refrigerate until you plan to eat them.

This recipe is truly addictive. I just made these last night and have almost eaten half the batch! I was thinking that if I added some sprinkles, it would taste like Funfetti cake!! I’ll try that for the next batch and let you know 🙂

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies

You think I’m going to share a recipe for peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips, don’t you?

Sorry to disappoint you, but that’s not what I’ve got for you tonight.

Instead, I’ve got two separate recipes to share that you could combine for quite the sweet treat if you really wanted to.

First up, homemade peanut butter!

Honey Vanilla Peanut Butter (Makes 1 1/2 cups)

  • 2 cups unsalted, dry roasted peanuts
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • pinch of salt

1. Place peanuts in a food processor.

2. Turn on and let process for about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl if necessary.

3. Continue to let it process until it is smooth and creamy. This can take up to 5 minutes. It turned into a smooth texture, but clumped back up shortly afterwards, so I processed it for quite awhile.

4. Once smooth, add in the vanilla, honey and salt. Process again to incorporate.

5. Remove from bowl and store in air tight containers, such as half-pint mason jars.

I used this in my Triple Nut Crunch Granola Bars last night and they are my favorite batch I’ve made!

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Next up is a recipe I have not had since I stopped eating wheat. I’ve been dying for a good chocolate chip cookie for some time, but never felt that maple syrup was going to give me the same flavor as brown sugar does, so I put off making them. Recently, I’ve been reading more about palm sugar and coconut sugar. I’m still not completely sure of the difference, but some people say the names are used interchangeably for the same thing.

Leanne over at Healthful Pursuit just posted a video about it, so check out her explanation because it is way better than I could ever do!

I had an Amazon gift certificate, so I decided to finally buy some palm sugar with visions of chocolate chip cookies dancing in my head 🙂

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies (Makes 1 1/2 dozen cookies)

A wonderfully soft cookie with a nice blend of salt and sweet. 

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup palm sugar
  • 1 flax egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour
  • 1 1/4 cup chocolate chips

1. Combine 1 tbsp ground flax seed with 2 1/2 tbsp warm water. Set aside.

2. Beat butter with a mixer for a minute. Add the palm sugar and mix until incorporated.

3. Add the flax egg and vanilla. Mix again until combined.

4. Add the salt and baking powder. Then add 1/2 cup of the flour. Mix until combined.

5. Add another 1/2 cup flour and mix again. I added the last 1/2 cup a little at a time to make sure I got the consistency right.

6. Add the chocolate chips and stir with spatula or large spoon until incorporated.

7. Spoon cookies onto cookie sheet, and bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned on top.

I’m only slightly embarrassed to admit that I had three of these cookies, along with two bowls of Rice Chex for dinner last night 🙂

I would have to say chocolate chip cookies (especially these ones!!) are up at the top of my list of favorite cookies. What’s yours??

Buying in bulk

In thinking about my food purchases lately, I realized that I have been spending more than I originally had planned to spend on groceries for my honey and me. I attribute this to a lot of things, but the main one is that I buy healthy, whole, real foods, and a lot of organic ones at that. It can really add up!

In an effort to reduce my spending, I’ve done quite a bit of bulk shopping for foods lately. It’s amazing how much money you can save by doing this! Plus, there is an abundance of healthy food you can buy in bulk if you know where to look.

Here’s a list of items I’ve bought in the past month, where I bought them, and any savings I’ve had by doing it. If you’re not already buying in bulk, I highly recommend it!!

Local grocery store purchases

  • Organic Golden Flax Seed from the bulk bins– $2.29 per pound. Compare to Bob’s Red Mill- $3.99 per pound. The bulk bin is directly across from Bob’s Red Mill products, so it took me awhile to actually find out that I could buy them in bulk. I use flax seed in some way every day, so I definitely need to save on it in any way I can!
  • Organic Brown Rice from the bulk bins– $0.59 per pound! I love having brown rice on hand when I need to bulk up a meal, so this is a cheap way for me to buy it.
  • Fruit to freeze- last week at my store, Mangoes and Kiwi were on sale. I loaded up on them and chopped and froze them for smoothies.
  • Organic Baby Spinach- $5.99 for 16oz. If I’m eating a lot of salads this will only last me a week or so, but I have been using it mostly for smoothies lately so it has lasted maybe two weeks. I plan to stock up next time they have a sale and freeze the spinach in cubes like Amy suggested for kale.
Online purchases
  • Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil 32oz– buy one get one free- $40. This is top of the line coconut oil, that’s why it is so expensive. I probably would never spend that much on this stuff without this deal. However, the two times I’ve bought a 16oz jar at the grocery store, it has been nearly $1 per ounce…so this is actually much cheaper and a better deal since I’m getting 64oz for $40! Plus, coconut oil has so many excellent health benefits, to me it is worth it to buy.
  • Pamela’s Baking Mix– 12lbs (three 4lb bags) for $32.51 on Amazon with Subscribe and Save (Thanks Mindy for recommending it!). I bought one 4lb bag at Whole Foods this summer for $16, so this was a HUGE savings!

Costco: I love Costco. I am always surprised to find such healthy foods in bulk there. Especially when they are organic! My most recent finds are:

  • Organic Peanut Butter two-pack: $8.75 for 56oz. I was paying $3.99 or $4.99 for 16oz at my regular grocery store…never again! The great thing is, it tastes really good too!!!
  • Grass-fed ground beef: $4.66/lb. I can find organic ground beef at my grocery store for $4.99 and maybe sometimes $4.79, but it is not grass-fed. Plus, at Costco you have to buy 3 pounds at a time, so I can plan ahead with meals or just always keep one on hand for quick marinara sauce or chili.
  • Organic boneless, skinless chicken thighs: $3.99/lb. I can find these much cheaper in my grocery store, but they have the skin and bones. I don’t mind the skin and bones, so I might only pick them up at Costco if I want to use the meat for something other than just eating it straight off the plate (like for chili or chicken salad).
  • Organic quinoa: Under $10 for 4lbs! This bag probably lasted me nearly a year. A little bit of quinoa goes a long way!
  • Quaker Oats: $6.99 for 10lbs. TEN POUNDS! That is quite a steal. And to answer your question, no I do not buy gluten-free oats. I have found that I do not have any side effects or issues from eating regular Quaker oats, so I’m going to stick with them since they are so cheap.
  • Walnuts: $13 for 3lbs. I eat walnuts pretty much every day in some form or fashion, so I only buy them at Costco. They are $8.99/lb at my grocery store, so it is a huge savings. I’m excited for the fall though….our walnut tree in our yard produced this year!!
  • Kirkland brand Nut & Seed and Nut & Fruit Granola bars– even though I make my own granola bars a lot of the time, I find that my honey needs more than that each day, so I read all of the labels of the granola bars Costco offered and these were the healthiest. No weird oils, no high-fructose corn syrup, lower sugar, no soy, wheat-free, and seriously delicious. I plan on making my own version of the Nut & Seed one soon!
As you can probably tell, I shop at lots of different places in order to get the best deals on the healthy foods I like to buy. I’m glad that I have that option, but I also buy online when I know I can get things for cheaper that way.

I also plan to stock up at the Farmer’s Market tomorrow on certain items. One thing I will definitely be buying in bulk tomorrow is butternut squash! I made another batch of my Butternut Squash Pancakes yesterday and I know I will be making them more and more as the fall comes into full swing because they are just that good 🙂 I’m also going to look for sweet potatoes, white potatoes and carrots too!

Do you buy in bulk? What do you buy? Have you gotten a good deal on healthy food recently? From where?

My new favorite smoothie!

After my 3 mile run the other night, I wasn’t sure what to eat. I had vegetable soup waiting for me (I promise to post the recipe soon!), but I just wasn’t feeling it. As I snacked on chips and homemade salsa (heavy on the apple cider vinegar this time!), I was reading Tina’s blog and was immediately inspired by the smoothie she made. And by immediately, I mean I stopped reading mid-post and got up to make myself a similar one!

There were two reasons I decided to make this smoothie: 1) I had no fruit or spinach for my green smoothies, but I had PB and bananas, so it was destined to be, and 2) it was exactly what I wanted (even though I had never had it before!)

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

I had heard (and read about) other people making PB and banana smoothies, but I always turned my nose up at them. I thought that couldn’t possibly be a good combo because I’m not a fan of putting PB on bananas in general. Boy was I wrong!  With the ice and the cream, it comes out almost like a milkshake! I have now made this smoothie four times and plan to keep on making it! 

Makes about 16 oz

1/4 cup plain yogurt

1/2 cup raw cream

1 banana

1/4 cup peanut butter

1 tbsp cocoa powder (optional)

ice

Place all ingredients, except ice, in a blender and blend until smooth. Add in the ice a few cubes at a time until it reaches desired consistency. Pour into a glass, smile really big and enjoy 🙂

The surprising thing about this smoothie was how filling it was! I ended up just drinking this for dinner because it filled me up so much. I made it for breakfast the other morning and it kept me full until 10:30am! The only downside to this smoothie is the nutritional info. The spinach really kicks up the nutritional value of my green smoothies and I feel like I’m drinking a really healthy salad. However, the PB banana one is more like a filling dessert.

Have you ever made a PB banana smoothie? Do you like the PB and banana combo?

Fresh food

I don’t really have two recipes that I’m ready to share today, so I figured I’d just show you my yummy fresh food from the farmer’s market and a new grocery store near my work!

First up, the farmer’s market. It never disappoints!!

A bag of red potatoes to make Jenna’s potato salad, carrots, a squash that I don’t know the name of, small yellow squash, yellow zucchini and green zucchini, cherry tomatoes, two ears of corn (to grill for dinner tonight!), a bulb of garlic, a pound of ground beef for burgers tonight, and finally, a sprite. It is a sweet melon that has more of a crunchy texture than honeydew or cantaloupe. It is VERY different from the crenshaw melon I got last week but really good!

Onto the Food Co-Op. My first trip there was during lunch today with a group I’m working with for the year on a big campus-wide project (I’ll post more about it tomorrow). The Co-op just opened about a month ago and it is fabulous!! Bulk bins galore, organic local produce, brand name organic products that you’d find at Whole Foods, a small salad bar, local cheeses, to-go items from local restaurants. Do you know what the greatest thing was though? The peanut butter machine!!!! You just flip the switch and the whole peanuts get ground up into extremely fresh peanut butter 🙂 It’s not as creamy as packaged brands; it’s almost the consistency of Reese’s PB- YUM! Plus, I paid only $2 for nearly 2 cups- perfect for my granola bars! They also had an almond butter one, but that will have to wait until next time!

The goods: two cans of tomatoes with green chiles to make my salsa, a can of garbanzo beans to make Julie’s protein ball recipe, celery for the aforementioned potato salad, colby jack and ricotta cheese for upcoming recipes, broccoli, and of course the PB!!

I feel like I don’t really need to go to Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods since I have such great food options so close! Thank goodness for the farmer’s market being open on Tuesday mornings, otherwise I would not be able to get all of that great stuff!

Do you shop at a farmer’s market? Do you have a grocery store with local foods?

Peanut Butter Cookie

Stop what you’re doing! Now go get yourself one of these:

Seriously, these are super delicious! They taste just like a peanut butter cookie!!! The texture was chewy and a little smoother than some of the other ones I’ve had (Apple Pie, Blueberry Muffin, Cherry Pie and Cashew Cookie). But it still had a good crunch to it because of the peanut chunks. It was less date-y than the Cashew Cookie. It was sweet enough, but not too sweet, and the peanut butter flavor was perfect!

I picked this up while grocery shopping after work. I was actually hoping they sold the bars in my store because I hadn’t ever seen them there. Lucky for me they were 10 for $10!!! I only bought three (also got the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip and the Chocolate Chip Brownie), but plan to go back tomorrow to pick up some more while they’re on sale. I ate this on my way home because I was starving and wasn’t sure when I’d be eating dinner. It totally hit the spot!

When I first tried the Cashew Cookie, I was really disappointed and didn’t plan on trying other flavors. But in looking at other bars on the market, these were by far the healthiest out there, so I picked up Blueberry Muffin. Now with Peanut Butter Cookie on my side, there’s no stopping me when it comes to Larabars!!

Have you tried Larabar’s before? What’s your favorite flavor?

Triple Nut Crunch Granola Bars

As someone who loves granola bars but tries to eat natural and healthy foods, the options out there are not that great. Even the organic granola bars are loaded with all types of sugar. Also, since I became gluten-free, many of the granola bars out there have barley malt in them and are not an option. Thus, I came up with my own granola and granola bar recipe which I believe I am now addicted to! No seriously. I’ve eaten at least one bar every day since I first made these two weeks ago. Some days I eat two or even three!!! I think you’ll understand though once you try them 🙂

I looked around online for good recipes for both the granola itself and the granola bars, and I finally adapted a few of them to make my own. I’ll admit that for my first batch of bars, I used Bear Naked granola. Alas, it has barley malt in it and I could tell it affected me. PLUS, I figured that by now, I should know how to make my own granola. It’s such a cinch (say that five times fast!) and I’m so happy with my results.

First, start with the homemade granola (if you’re so inclined).

Homemade Granola- makes about 4 cups

  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 1/2 cups crispy rice cereal- I used Erewhon’s
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • dash of cinnamon (or not, totally up to you!)
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed

1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.

2. Spread mixture onto baking sheet.

3. Bake at 250 for 15 minutes, then toss granola, rotate pan and bake again for 15 minutes.

4. Repeat process two more times then allow to cool.

Homemade Triple Nut Crunch Granola Bars

  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 cups natural peanut butter (the kind you stir)
  • 1/2 cups chocolate chunks (optional)
  • 2 cups homemade granola
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix very well.

2. Press mixture into a 9×13 pan.

3. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving so it has a chance to harden together.

I recommend keeping them in the fridge, either in the pan or cut up into individual bars in plastic baggies.

I also recommend eating three at a time…okay, not really! But I bet you’ll want to!

Last week, I ate a bar for breakfast/pre-run snack and I have honestly never run faster! I’m not saying these bars were the only reason, but I definitely believe they had something to do with it. They are also a great afternoon snack to tide me over until I get home because of all the protein and healthy fats. Go make these as soon as you can and I know you won’t regret it!