Cherry Chocolate Protein Bars

When I have a bit of down time in the evenings or on the weekend, I like to make batches of snacks that we can keep in the freezer for hunger-emergencies. These Cherry Chocolate Protein Bars are one of our current favourites.

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We’ve started our climbing strength-training phase again recently. This means a lot of finger-strength training on the hangboard as well as lots of general strength training at the fitness gym (core, pull-ups, squats, plyometric stuff) and general strength training in the van (lifting ceiling panels, hanging cabinets ;)).

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On the days that we hangboard train, we start at the climbing gym to warm up the fingers with 20 to 30 minutes of continuous climbing. We warm up each finger position we will be training afterwards (4-finger half-crimps down to 1-finger hangs) and use this time to work on our movement and general technique. Then, it’s a 25 minute trundle back home to finish up using our hangboard.

During our drive home, it’s often nice to have a little nibble of something to tie us over until all the training is done and we can sit down for dinner. Portable snacks like these cherry chocolate protein bars are often just what we’re looking for. They’re really tasty and give us a great boost of energy.

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There are a few great things about these cherry chocolate protein bars:

  • There is no need for an oven – just an hour or so in the fridge, to firm up.
  • They handle substitutions easily – add your favourite combination of nuts / seeds / dried fruit.
  • They freeze really well – making them a great snack to last you a few weeks.
  • There’s no added sugar, just the sweetness from the maple syrup and dates.
  • They just taste good!!

If you’re in the market for a great snack, give these bars a try. They’re vegan (if you swing that way), gluten-free (make sure to use gluten-free oats), kid-friendly (swap in almond butter, if you’re peanut-sensitive) and fitness friendly (a great source of good carbs and protein). There’s also no added sugar – just the natural sweetness from the dates and maple syrup.

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Hopefully you’ll find these bars as useful to have around the house as we do!

Cherry Chocolate Protein Bars
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Snacks
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Adapted from the Power Hungry cookbook.
Ingredients
  • 150 g (1 cup) pitted Medjool dates (about 10 big dates)
  • 1 cup of warm water, to soak the dates
  • 115 g (1 cup) large-flake oats
  • 60 g (1½ cup) crispy brown rice cereal
  • 30 g (1/4 cup) walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 30 g (1/4 cup) dried unsweetened cherries
  • 15 g (2 tbsp) ground flax seeds
  • 120 g (1/2 cup) natural peanut butter
  • 105 g (1/3 cup) pure maple syrup
  • 50 g (1/4 cup) dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Soak the pitted Medjool dates in 1 cup of warm water, until they have softened. This could take anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes, depending on how soft your dates are to start.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the oats, brown rice cereal, walnuts, dried cherries and flax seeds.
  3. Drain the Medjool dates and use a food processor or high-speed blender to process until they are finely chopped. Add them to the oat mixture.
  4. In a small sauce pan, combine the peanut butter and maple syrup and bring to a soft boil over medium-low heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
  5. Pour the peanut butter mixture over the oat mix and stir until all ingredients are completely combined. This may take quite a few stirs. Add in the chocolate chips and stir until they are incorporated.
  6. Line a 9x9-inch pan with parchment paper and spoon the mixture into the pan. Press the oat mixture firmly into the pan and smooth the top with the back of a spatula.
  7. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, until the bars have set and are firm to the touch.
  8. Use the parchment paper to lift the bars out of the pan and cut into bars.
Notes
These bars freeze very well. Cut the bars first, then wrap in saran wrap before placing them into a freezer bag.

Enjoy these Cherry Chocolate Protein Bars!

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Clumpy Gingerbread Granola

One of the gifts we received for Christmas was a 6 month subscription to the Raw Spice Bar company. We get 3 spice mixes sent to us every month, with recipe ideas for each. It’s been a fantastic gift! One of the packets that came in the post last month was a German Gingerbread spice mix (a mixture of ginger, coriander, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, black peppercorns, cloves, mace and star anise). There were a few different recipes that were suggested, but the one that really caught my eye was for a Gingerbread Granola.

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Jonty is taking a 5-week welding course, which has him tied up on Saturdays. So I’ve been spending that time keeping the apartment warm by making sure the oven in constant use, trying out new recipes. Some recipes have been pretty great, others have been meh. This was a really good one.

I tweaked the Raw Spice Bar’s version slightly, by adding more variety of nuts and seeds, and decreasing the amount of sugar originally called for. I don’t like granola super-sweet, and I think this ended up being the perfect balance between salty-and-sweet and slightly-spicy (I think due to the freshly ground dried ginger).

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Do you like your granola super chunky and crunchy and clumpy? I’m definitely in that camp. There’s something extremely satisfying about munching on a big nugget of granola. And when you get one of those pieces that is flecked with sea salt and gingerbread spices? Gah, so darned good!

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The key to making super clumpy granola is simply to resist the urge to stir it. That’s it, just leave it be, especially once it comes out of the oven. When the granola has cooled completely, you can gently break it up into large pieces.

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I tell you, this stuff is addictively good. When I was taking pictures, I couldn’t stop sneaking little edge pieces – you know, the ones that weren’t photo-worthy 😉

Jonty told me mid-week that we needed to get rid of the granola ASAP because he couldn’t stop eating it! Seriously good.

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This gingerbread granola kept my breakfast routine interesting for the week. My favourite was with a dollop of Greek yogurt and some fruit (the oranges are fantastic at this time of year!).

So if you like gingerbread spices and clumpy granola and food that will keep your body fueled, give this recipe a try. It should keep in an airtight container for a few weeks, if you can make it last that long. 😉

Easy Gingerbread Granola
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
This easy clumpy Gingerbread Granola is a healthy way to start your day, or munch on as a quick snack.
Ingredients
  • 315 g (3 cups) large flake oats
  • 100 g (1 cup) walnut pieces
  • 60 g (1/2 cup) cashew pieces
  • 75 g (1/2 cup) raw pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tbsp flax seeds
  • 1 pkg German Gingerbread Spice (see notes)
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 55 g (1/4 cup) coconut oil
  • 100 g (1/3 cup) maple syrup
  • 40 g (2 tbsp) molasses
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 325 F and line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (oats, nuts, seeds, Gingerbread spices and sea salt).
  3. In a small saucepan or microwave-safe bowl, heat together the coconut oil, maple syrup, molasses and vanilla extract.
  4. Pour the coconut oil mixture over the oat mixture and stir to thoroughly combine.
  5. Spread the granola mixture on the parchment-lined tray and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan every 10 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on the pan before breaking up into large pieces.
Notes
If you don't want to use the German Gingerbread Spice mix, make your own by combining the following dried spices: 1 tbsp ground ginger, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ground coriander, ¼ tsp allspice, ¼ tsp ground nutmeg and ¼ tsp ground cloves.

Enjoy this Clumpy Gingerbread Granola!

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Multi-Seeded Bread

I try to bake bread once a week, often on a Monday when I’m not in the office. There’s something really great about easing into the start of the week with a home smelling of freshly baked bread, I urge you to try it sometime, perhaps as a New Years goal? It doesn’t even have to be on a Monday! 🙂

I was all ready to go with the bread baking last week: the mixer was out, the oven was pre-heating and I started to weigh out the ingredients for my go-to marbled rye bread, when alas, I realized we didn’t have anymore yogurt!

We needed bread, and I didn’t want to run down to the store for more yoghurt. So I begrudgingly picked up my bread book, in a pouty attempt to find another loaf inspiration (yes, a somewhat first-world problem I admit).

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The bread gods must have sensed my pain, though, because the book magically opened to a recipe for a multi-seeded bread. And, aside from a few seed swaps, I had everything I needed! Phew!

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I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but all of the breads I make can either be made in one sitting, or can be split over a few days. While I often choose to make a loaf in the morning, you can easily mix up the dough the night before and leave it in the fridge (up to 4 days) until you’re ready to bake. It’s a great way to make bread, if you’ve got commitment issues 😉

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This particular loaf has all the health benefits of whole-grain rye flour, as well as enough seeds to make it taste interesting. I used a combination of pumpkin, sunflower, flax and poppy seeds. I think next time I make this I’ll try adding a few walnuts into the mix too.

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And then as soon as the multi-seed bread was cool enough to slice, I slathered it with homemade peanut butter and raspberry jam, and all was right in my world again!

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Multi-Seeded Bread
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
This gives a nice, soft sandwich loaf. It tastes great toasted or as it is! Recipe adapted slightly from Artisan Breads Everyday.
Ingredients
  • 325 g (~2.5 cups) unbleached bread flour
  • 45 g (~1/3 cup) rye flour
  • 15 g (~2 tbsp) pumpkin seeds
  • 15 g (~2 tbsp) sunflower seeds
  • 15 g (~1.5 tbsp) flax seeds
  • 15 g (~2 tbsp) poppy seeds
  • 2 tsp coarse kosher salt
  • 7 g (1¾ tsp) instant quick-rise yeast
  • 30 g (1.5 tbsp) pure maple syrup
  • 170 g (3/4 cup) lukewarm water
  • 85 g (1/4 cup + 2 tbsp) lukewarm milk (any kind, or more water)
Instructions
  1. Toast the seeds in a dry skillet or under the broiler, until they become fragrant. About 7 to 10 minutes.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all of the ingredients and mix with the dough hook attachment, until just combined (about 2 minutes). Stop mixing and let the dough sit for 5 minutes, to allow the flour to fully hydrate.
  3. On medium-low speed, knead the bread with the dough hook attachment for 3 or 4 minutes, until the dough starts to come together into a smooth ball. Add more flour, 1 tbsp at at time, only if the dough is very sticky. You want the dough to be soft and supple and slightly tacky (so the dough just sticks to your finger when you press into it).
  4. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and gently knead by hand for a few minutes. Add flour, only when necessary. You should have a nice soft, smooth ball of dough at the end.
  5. Place the dough in a lightly-greased, clean bowl. Cover with a cotton kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm, draft-free place until the ball has doubled in size, about 30 to 45 minutes.
  6. Prepare a 8x4-inch loaf pan by lining it with parchment paper. Take the dough out of the bowl and pat it into a rectangle shape. At the short end, tightly roll up the dough into a log shape, pinching the seams together. Gently place the dough, seam-side down, into the parchment-lined loaf pan. Let the dough rise at room temperature, until it just starts to dome over the edge of the pan (about 30 to 45 minutes).
  7. About 15 minutes before you plan on baking the bread, pre-heat the oven to 350 F. Bake the bread for 40 to 45 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the bake time. When cooked, the top should be a deep golden brown, and the bottom of the loaf should sound slightly hollow when tapped.
  8. Leave the bread to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out of the pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
Notes
This bread freezes very well. Once it has cooled completely, slice up the entire loaf before placing in a tightly-sealed freezer bag.

Enjoy the Multi-Seeded Bread!

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ClimbEatCycleRepeat.com | Crazy Carrot Smoothie

Sunday Smoothie: Week 5

Well, we’re officially at the end of January and, holy moly, the month seems to have gone by in a blink of the eye.

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I’ve loved doing the Green Smoothie Challenge for January but, if I’m honest, it really wasn’t much of a challenge! Once I got into the hang of preparing everything the night before (or freezing multiple days worth of fruit at the beginning of the week), I found it wasn’t time consuming or difficult. Also, all the smoothies tasted good and kept me full until lunch-time, so a win all around 🙂

These last two smoothies I’m going to share with you, hit the taste-bud mark for me.

The Green Nutter Smoothie

You can’t go a full month of smoothie drinking without adding a nut-butter to at least one smoothie! I added peanut butter to this one, because that’s what we had in the house, but almond butter would be great, too. There’s something very satisfying (and somehow decadent) about tasting the peanut butter. When Jonty was mixing one of them up for me in the morning, he said “Ohhhh, peanut butter!”, and I’m pretty sure he was slightly jealous he wasn’t drinking one, too 🙂

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The Crazy Carrot Smoothie

This was the only smoothie I made during the entire month that added veggies (other than the greens) to the mix.

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I wasn’t sure how it would taste but, as I’m learning, when you have sweet fruit in a smoothie (like pineapple and oranges), you can add almost any type of veggie you like and you will most-likely just taste the sweetness from the fruit. In the future, I would definitely be inclined to add more veggies to my daily smoothie!

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Hopefully you’ve enjoyed my Sunday Smoothie session in January, and perhaps been inspired to try incorporating some into your weekly routine!

Some of the benefits:

  • It’s an easy way to increase the amount of fruits and veggies in your diet.
  • One smoothie can keep you remarkably full for a few hours (I drink half a smoothie around 7:30 am, and finish the other half around 10:00 am). It’s always something I look forward to having.
  • Adding a spoonful of chia seeds or flax seeds can give your diet a boost of protein, fibre and good omega-3’s without much effort.
  • They just taste good 🙂

The Green Nutter Smoothie
 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 1 smoothie
  • Serving size: 1 smoothie
  • Calories: 260
  • Fat: 11.4 g
  • Saturated fat: 2.0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 36.9 g
  • Sugar: 16.4 g
  • Sodium: 70 mg
  • Fiber: 8.5 g
  • Protein: 8.3 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 70 g spinach
  • 1 medium banana, frozen
  • 1 tbsp nut butter (I used peanut butter here)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 cup water
Instructions
  1. Blend together the spinach, chia seeds and coconut water, until smooth.
  2. Add the frozen pineapple and the nut butter, and blend until completely smooth.
Notes
For a cold smoothie, ensure at least one fruit added is frozen.

Crazy Carrot Green Smoothie
 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 1 smoothie
  • Serving size: 1 smoothie
  • Calories: 198
  • Fat: 3.8 g
  • Saturated fat: 0.4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 41.5 g
  • Sugar: 27.1 g
  • Sodium: 112.1 mg
  • Fiber: 8.8 g
  • Protein: 5.3 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 70 g spinach
  • 160 g pineapple, frozen
  • 1 small mandarin orange
  • 1 tbsp flax seeds
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 cup water
Instructions
  1. Blend together the spinach, flax seeds and water until smooth.
  2. Add in the orange, carrot and pineapple, and blend until smooth.
Notes
For a cold smoothie, ensure at least one piece of fruit is frozen.

Enjoy!

ClimbEatCycleRepeat.com | Caring-carrot smoothie