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Homemade Spicy Chocolate Coconut Granola Bars

I cringe at the price and ingredients of granola and meal replacement bars at the supermarket….

$2-$4 (sometimes even more) for a bar that has weird sugar syrups, refined oils, soy lecithin, and/or a myriad of other undesirable additives?

YEAH RIGHT!

You can make your own bars at home and control the oils,  sweeteners and all of the ingredients for only a fraction of the cost. 

Check out my spicy chocolate coconut granola bars!

Oooohhhh Ahhhhhhh

These puppies are super easy to make and pack up very nicely in your gym bag or purse for some quick fuel on the go. Feel free to sub your favorite nuts and seeds and change the sweetener to your preference (coconut sugar, honey etc). I used garam masala and curry powder but if that’s a little too out there for your taste or you are making these for kids feel free to leave it out. 

Homemade Chocolate Spiced Granola Bars

Yields 12

Vegan - Gluten Free - Refined Sugar Free - Soy Free

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup Roughly Chopped Raw Pecans (or nut of choice)
  • 1/2 Cup Roughly Chopped Raw Cashews (or nut of choice)
  • 1 Cup Raw Pumpkin Seeds (or seed of choice)
  • 1 Cup Raw Shredded Coconut
  • 1 Cup Soaked and Sprouted Gluten Free Oats (or equal amount of seeds or nuts) * see notes
  • 2 Tbl Raw Cacao
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala (optional. I used Frontier brand)
  • 1/2 tsp Curry Powder (optional. I used Trader Joe's brand)
  • 1/2 tsp Fine Sea Salt
  • 3 Tbl Coconut Oil 
  • 2/3 Cup Pure Maple Syrup (or coconut syrup, or honey)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F
  2. Grease a 9x13 baking pan with the oil you are using for the granola bars and line with parchment paper.
  3. On a sheet pan place all of the nuts, seeds, and oats (if using) and toast on the middle rack for 8 minutes or until fragrant and lightly browned. (If you prefer a raw bar skip this step)
  4. Take the pan out of the oven and sprinkle the shredded coconut on top and return the sheet pan to the oven for 2-3 more minutes or until the coconut is lightly browned.
  5. Transfer the oat/nut/coconut mixture into a large bowl and set aside.
  6. Reduce the oven temp to 325F
  7. In a saucepan, combine the maple syrup and oil.
  8. Over medium high heat bring to a boil and then add the salt, spices, and cacao powder.
  9. Stir as soon as you add the spices and as soon as the mixture starts to bubble remove from the heat.
  10. Pour the syrup over the oat/nut mixture in the large bowl and stir until evenly coated.
  11. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and press down firmly with a piece of parchment paper over your hands or greased or wet hands.
  12. Bake for 25 minutes.
  13. Let cool for 1-2 hours in the pan on the counter.
  14. Once fully cooled remove from the pan and turn out onto a cutting board.
  15. Cut into bars.
  16. The size is up to you but I cut mine into 12 bars by cutting the whole tray down the middle length wise and then splitting those 2 pieces into 6 equal portions in the shape of granola bars.

Notes

  1. If you would like to make a raw bar simply omit toasting the nut and seeds. Combine the syrup mixture and stir into the nuts. Follow the rest of the recipe as is except dehydrate the bars in a warm oven (on the lowest setting) overnight or in a dehydrator for 12 hours or until dry and crispy. Allow to set up on the counter for one hour before slicing. Do not consume raw oats they contain phytic acid that requires them to be soaked first. Soak them overnight and then dehydrate in a low oven or dehydrator overnight to "sprout" them.

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Raw Nutella Power Pudding

Life can be hard. 

Pudding can make life better. 

Nutella Chocolate Pudding can make life waaaaay better. 

Why is this pudding so special? Because this is a raw/vegan nutritional powerhouse pudding posing as a decadent dessert. The base of this is chia seeds, flaxseed meal, and hazelnuts soaked in your choice of dairy free milk (coconut milk makes this incredibly rich and decadent while almond milk makes a lighter pudding so choose accordingly).

So we have Omega 3’s, fiber, & protein disguised as dessert! Pretty awesome combo if you ask me.

The chia/flax hazelnuts needs about an hour to soak up and bloom but you can assemble those ingredients the night before and blend it up the next day.

Crazy easy, super delicious, and deceivingly healthy.

Does it get any better? 

Nutella Chia Flax Power Pudding

Serves 2

Vegan - Raw - Sugar Free - Gluten Free - Grain Free - Paleo

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbl Chia Seeds
  • 2 Tbl Flaxseed Meal
  • 1 Cup Hazelnuts (skins removed if possible but not necessary see notes)
  • 1 Cup (+ 1/2 Cup Reserved) Coconut Milk or Dairy Free Milk of Choice
  • 3 Tbl Raw Cacao Powder
  • 1 1/2 Tbl Pure Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 tsp Fine Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Pure Vanilla Essence or Extract
  • 1/4 tsp Instant Espresso Powder (optional)

Optional Toppings

  • Cacao Nibs
  • Chopped Hazelnuts
  • Shaved Dark Chocolate
  • Scoop of Coconut Cream
  • Goji Berries
  • Shredded Coconut

Instructions

  1. Soak the chia seeds, flaxseed meal, and hazelnuts in one cup of dairy free milk for at least one hour but 4-6 hours will soften the hazelnuts so they blend easier.
  2. Use a spatula to scoop the bloomed chia/flax/hazelnut mixture into a high power blender. (It will be very sticky and will be formed to the size of the container)
  3. Add the salt, cacoa, maple syrup, espresso powder (if using) and 1/4 cup of reserved milk and blend until smooth.
  4. If the pudding is too thick add the remaining 1/4 cup of milk until the desired consistency is achieved.
  5. Taste for sweetness and add more maple syrup if you like.
  6. The pudding is ready to eat but it can be covered and kept in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Notes

  1. If you want the smoothest possible pudding you will want to use skinless Hazelnuts. The skins can be removed by a few methods: If you do not follow a raw diet you can roast the hazelnuts for 15 minutes in a 350 oven or roast slow in a warm oven for 12 hours or in a dehydrator following manufactures directions and then place in between two kitchen towels and rub them vigorously. The skins should come right off. If you soak the hazelnuts overnight and then rub in between two towels the skins should come off easily as well.

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All Natural Pre Workout Juice for Champions

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All Natural Pre Workout Juice for Champions

Beet juice words

There is a lot of hype out there in the bodybuilding/workout community advertising pre workout supplements. I would be lying if said I have never tried one…ok truth talk I have tried about all of them. I use to be somewhat of a gym rat and if a supplement helped my lifts and gave me energy I didn’t really pay attention to any of the additives, dyes, or crummy ingredients written in tiny print next to a warning label….whoops :/

Now a days I haven’t been in the gym in a few years due to a couple of back surgeries ( a story for another time) so I have had the luxury of looking at these supplements with an unbiased perspective and the view is not pretty.

Top selling pre-workout supplements such as USP Labs Jack3D, MusclePharm Assault, & MuscleTech NeuroCore contain the following chemically derived ingredients:

Sucralose: An artificial chlorinated artificial sweetener in line with aspartame and saccharin, with detrimental health effects to match(aka Splenda). Sucralose has been show to decrease gut health by 50% and despite its “diet” artificial sweeteners have been shown to: 

  • Stimulate your appetite
  • Increase carbohydrate cravings
  • Stimulate fat storage and weight gain

FD& C Red #40: 

  • A petrochemical. A highly processed, petroleum based chemical used to color foods to make them more visually appetizing.
  • It goes by several names including: Allura Red, Food Red 17, C.I. 16035, FD&C Red 40.
  • It is banned and/or being phased out in much of Europe due to concerns over health effects.

Acesulfame-K: is a potassium salt containing methylene chloride, a known carcinogen.

Reported side effects: Long term exposure to methylene chloride can cause nausea, headaches, mood problems, impairment of the liver and kidneys, problems with eyesight and possibly cancer. Acesulfame-K may contribute to hypoglycemia. 

Concerns: Of all artificial sweeteners, acesulfame-K has undergone the least scientific scrutiny. Early studies showed a potential link between the sweetener and development of multiple cancers in laboratory animals. 

When you take a step back and think about the long-term damage you are doing to your body for short-term gains in the gym it seems pretty insane. 

So whats the solution to still getting huge pumps, increased lifts, and long-lasting energy to tear the gym a new one?

BEETS!!!!

Natures Candy
Natures Candy

So why are beets the key to succesful workouts?

  • Beets are a great source of inorganic nitrates which friendly bacteria in the mouth convert to nitrate, and then through the body is converted to nitric oxide. Ever heard of it? If you are a gym rat you probably are very familiar with nitric oxide as a pre workout supplement that helps increase your lifts because of its positive effect on blood flow, muscle contraction, and neurotransmission. Basically bigger lifts and more energy. 
  • Beet juice has been shown to drop systolic blood pressure by 5-10mmHG depending on the dose. The more the better (1 cup is a good serving suggestion) but you will want to start small (about 1/4 cup) or else you could feel a bit light-headed if you are an athlete and your blood pressure tends to run on the low side. 
  • It is best to drink this a few hours (2.5 hours to be exact) before your workout for the peak levels to be reach while exercising but one hour before will still yield positive results.  

 Great article on the scientific benefits of beet juice and energy output

Other health benefits from Beet Juice:

• It is an amazing antioxidant and helps prevent the formation of cancerous tumors. 

• Beetroot juice detoxifies the liver and aids in healing diseases of the digestive system. 

• Good source of folic acid and helps in providing protection against birth defects.

• Beet juice lowers bad cholesterol level.

You can buy a beet root powder but I like to juice mine fresh along with turmeric ( a natural anti-inflammatory which will help decrease muscle soreness), ginger (for added heat to increase blood flow and beat muscles soreness), and carrots for some sweetness and to prevent muscle cramping. This juice is also an amazing pain killer for post workout as well so basically anytime anywhere you can drink this juice and feel amazing!

Bonus Add ons:

  • Maca Powder: A powerful adaptogen that increases oxygen, energy, and balances hormones
  • Scoop of favorite protein powder to balance the natural sugars and give your body more to work with for extended workouts.
  • 1 tbl of chia seeds to aid in fluid retention, halting absorptions of sugars, and for a boost of protein. 

Pre Workout Beet Juice Drink

Yields 3

Vegan- Alkaline - Gluten Free - Grain Free - Paleo

Ingredients

  1. 3 Organic Peeled Beets
  2. 4 Organic Peeled Carrots
  3. 2 Small (about 1'') Pieces Peeled Turmeric
  4. 1 Small Coin of Ginger
  5. Optional: Maple Syrup, or Honey to Taste but raw and pure is best

Instructions

  1. Juice all of the ingredients in a juicer and store in an airtight glass container.
  2. One serving is 4-8oz (1/2 -1 cup) but start small.

Notes

  1. Don't have a juicer? Chop all of the ingredients into very small pieces and add them to some warm water in a high power blender and puree then strain through cheesecloth.
  2. Feel Free to add in protein powder for extended workouts and maca powder to increase energy and oxygen levels.
  3. Excessive consumption of beet juice may cause your urine to turn pink. This is normal and nothing to be worried about.

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