Chocolate Chip Cherry Torte Bars

Cherry Chocolate Chip Bars

After running the Oregon Half Marathon two weeks ago, the watermelon at the end of the race tasted amazing. On top of that, they had a table full of snack-sized lara bars for everyone to take at will. I had several that I’d never tried before including: Sticky Bun and Chocolate Chip Cherry Torte Bars. Both were so good. I was expecting the sticky bun one to be too sweet, I mean really, it’s named like a cinnamon roll. It was surprisingly light and the cinnamon in it was perfect with the nuttiness. And the chocolate chips and cherries, yes please. I’ve been wanting to experiment with cherries in my date bars, so this pushed me over the edge. I had to make some up.

Cherry Chocolate Chip Bars

I’ve made these a couple times now and really like them. They are the perfect thing to wrap up in some parchment paper and deliver to friends. Like yesterday I took some to a friend for letting me throw a dresser in their large dumpster. (Thanks to an upcoming boy bedroom reveal and that it was simply falling apart). If you are going to make a double batch, make sure to make it in two batches so you don’t burn out your food processor. I might be saying this from experience. I had to dump some of mine out because I started to see smoke. No bueno. … 

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Smoothie Bowl Basics

Smoothie Bowl

Does anyone else have a growing pile of papers on their desk? I think it has something to do with school having started, feeling like I can’t cross off as many things on my list as I need to, and being a full-blown soccer mom for the next two months. Busy means happy for the kids though. They have a balance of school, down-time, homework, and extra activities – like most kids, they thrive on some routine. For me, all this means that I’m squeezing in food where I can. This is where knowing some smoothie bowl basics comes in handy.

This is simple people. If you are looking for something healthy, nutty, fruity, and filling = taaadaaa!! Here it is.

Here’s the super not complicated tricks to a smoothie bowl:
* make a smoothie
* pour it in a bowl
* top it with stuff
* eat it

When I make a smoothie, I like to make lots of it. I use some in that moment and pour the rest into cups that I stick in the freezer. These come in handy for my late night snacks, tomorrow’s breakfast, or maybe just 2nd breakfast. It makes a smoothie bowl even quicker if you have some prepared that you can just soften in the microwave (just make sure not to heat it, just soften).

I like to include fruit chunks in my bowl, mango and blueberries being my top choices. Banana slices will make their way there as well. I always keep frozen fruit on hand for this reason. Fresh peaches, pineapples, plums, nectarines, and kiwis would be great as well. Really, what fruit could make this go wrong? Is there any stinky ones? That would be gross. Don’t do those ones.

To give the crunch factor, I like to add sliced almonds and seeds.  I usually have sunflower and pumpkin seeds around, so that’s easy. For extra crunch, I like to add my granola or some grape nuts.

I often stop there, if it’s morning. But to be honest, if this is an evening snack there’s definitely going to be some mini chocolate chips thrown in there too.

I know I’ve talked about smoothie bowls before, but really, this is an underestimated meal/snack/get-in-my-belly-now food choice. So yah, here I am talking about it again. Cheers to green smoothies today and I hope you have a really good one!

Smoothie Bowl

And because I really believe in you and your amazingness…here’s a little reminder for the day:

magical person you are

(via my pinterest board quotes to live by)

Raspberry Nutella S’mores Repeat + Summer Vacation

raspberry smores

Anyone else having some fun family vacations mid-summer?

The past two weeks around here we were visiting both sides of the family in Idaho and then in Montana. We were constantly on the move which made the time pass quickly and we did more fun things than we can count.

One of the important things we’re trying to teach our kids is how to enjoy every moment of our adventures, not just the “got there” part. We reminded them that all the parts of our trip were going to be fun because we were together and we were going to enjoy every moment, including the long driving. It was very much part of the trip.

For me, the driving is some of my favorite time. Not the part where I’m fetching things for the kids and entertaining, but the part where Tyler and I get to talk with unlimited time. It’s amazing how we can just go on and on and on and on and on. A lot of our conversation was about Carrot Bowl (which always makes me excited) and I have some fun things in store for the future. Hopefully sooner than later and I can’t wait to share them with you.

I’m going to count some of our vacation adventures for you, because you probably want to know:

Made these Raspberry Nutella S’mores (an amazing sometimes food that you should not pass up…and consider yourself warned that you can never go back to regular s’mores)
Went to Yellowstone National Park
Hiked in the Tetons – Hidden Falls
Saw buffalo and moose
Took family pictures twice
Swam and dinnered at a lake
Went to a rodeo where I dressed a cow with my sister and SIL (seriously a blast and I would do it again in a heartbeat)
Celebrated the 4th of July
Swam at cool swimming pools
Drove for a long long time
Hiked in Montana
Rode a carousel
Saw the movie “How to Train Your Dragon 2″
Helped the kids launch water balloons at Grandpa
Joined the kids in a sleepover
Rode a tour train
Visited my grandparents
Had a family game of wiffle ball in the mountains (so picturesque)
Made Quick Vegan Nachos for the family
Had a family white elephant gift exchange to celebrate everyone’s birthdays
Played games
Visited all my siblings homes and visit
Celebrated my Mom’s birthday early
Went bowling
Did a garage sale scavenger hunt
Saw some beautiful country

Really it was an awesome vacation. The kids were sad to leave both places. But when we got home, it helped to get back into regular things by having the two older kids signed up for day camps. It gave me a routine and helped them stay busy as they were/are reprograming from our trips.

Here’s a couple shots from our trip. Enjoy your vacations this summer and stay safe! Where is the farthest you are going?

SONY DSC … 

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Fruit Flag

Fruit Flag

Independence has meant different things through my life. If my kids glean one thing from me, I hope it’s how to be independently strong, confident, and kind.

I loved cooking in the kitchen by myself when I was younger. It made me feel knowledgable – little did I know that you don’t cook fish chopped up into tiny little shredded pieces rather than a big chunk. My parents very graciously ate that meal. I redeemed myself by whipping up some awesome rhubarb crunch.

For almost four years I got up to play basketball at 6 am before school. This is when I was 11-14. I loved feeling the power to follow through on decisions and see myself get better through dedication. I felt independent in my hard work.

Fruit Flag

I remember at the end of high school I was really excited for college away from home (not unlike most of us – I just might have given my parents a good challenge). I was so looking forward to the independence that would come from being totally in charge of myself. I don’t even want to think about this with my children, watching them out the rearview mirror as I drive away like my mom did, not really being successful at holding in tears.

One time at school (go BYU Cougars!) I saw a girl in the middle of a path standing, crying silently, and not moving. In my independent desire for kindness, I went to her and hugged her. It sounds kinda weird, and kinda weird to be telling you this, but it was a moment. She was a stranger and I was a stranger, but for that moment she wasn’t alone. I honestly don’t remember what devastating news she had just received, she told me through muffled tears. We never learned each other’s names and never saw each other again, but for that simple moment, we declared our ability to independently come together to make each other stronger.

… 

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Coconut Strawberry Ice Cream \\ Vegan

Coconut Strawberry Banana Ice Cream - Vegan - via carrotbowl

I remember making ice cream in a wooden mixer that stood on the ground when I was a kid. It used rock salt packed around the mixer machine to help freeze the cream and took forever. It was so intriguing as a kid that we could actually make ice cream, however, it took so long that I don’t remember us making it often. I’m glad I have the memory of making it.

With this recipe, I’ll be making ice cream all the time. I didn’t use an ice cream maker, but you certainly could and I think I’ll try it next time. I simply mixed with beaters and froze. If we wanted to eat it after it turned rock hard, I stuck it in the microwave for a minute or two so I could scoop it out. This is too easy to pass up!

Yum…yum….yum.

I love how this homemade ice cream is creamy, versatile, and tastes so light! Although we occasionally eat animal products, ice cream is not typically one of them. If we happen to have a little, it sits heavy and just isn’t as satisfying as before – before we started eating more whole foods. It’s so sugary and so thick.

Thank you coconut milk for reinventing ice cream.

Coconut Strawberry Banana Ice Cream - Vegan - via carrotbowl

I recently went to a baby shower at the park where the host brought three homemade ice creams for the dessert. This is roughly her recipe inspiration. Thank you Cecily and your never-ending skills! (Next I’m going to make her Kamut Kitchiri). Cecily is one of those people that when I come away, I feel like I still have so much to learn from her. She home schools six children, raises chicken, has a Tubby Towel business (check out the adult sized ones!), is an amazing cook, has mad sewing skills, and is one of those silent servers who knows who and how and when to take care of other people, doing it all-out in a real way. … 

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Berry Banana Smoothie // Vegan

Berry Banana Milkshake

Sometimes a recipe with 3 or 4 ingredients is pretty amazing. This is one of those times. I was with some friends for a girls’ night out (who is up for another one soon?) and we started talking about blogging. One friend said she made this awesome smoothie and I should really post about it. Shout out to Kristin and a possible blog in the works! :) And she was right, this is awesome.

Lots of people love my peanut butter oatmeal smoothie and I know you’ll like this one too. It’s perfect for breakfast, an after school snack, or a healthy dessert. The kids definitely bought into this. Making smoothies is a super simple way to get your kids in the kitchen.

Speaking of buying, we recently got a vita-mix and I cannot tell you how amazing it is. It is my single most favorite kitchen tool. I thought my food processor was my favorite thing. Nope. Most days I rinse and reuse it 2 or 3 times. What I’m really telling you is that it’s worth every precious penny and I would buy it again in a heartbeat.

This said, my blending capabilities have grown. If you have a regular blender all smoothie recipes here will work, but they might need more liquid added to make it blend. It’s still totally worth the effort. I’ve done the mix, stop the blender, stir with spoon, mix again, stop, stir, mix, etc, etc with regular blenders to know what you go through. Now go, make yourself a mid-day smoothie and enjoy some sunshine (at least if you live in the Portland area)…. 

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