We have all been there before. You look up at the clock and it’s 3:00 pm. Seriously, it’s only 3? I could’ve sworn it was at least 4:30! Your stomach begins to twist and turn and give you the hint that it needs some attention. You know you have an apple that you packed, but an apple just isn’t gonna cut it today. Nope, you need something to really sink your teeth into. You remember the plate of cookies that one of your coworkers brought in today as well as the leftover donuts from this morning’s meeting and your mouth begins to water. But then you think about your dinner plans and how “good” you have been today and you look back at the apple. You force yourself to eat the apple but you keep thinking all about the other goodies down the hall in the break room that you would much rather have. The battle in your mind ensues and all you want is a treat but you refuse to allow yourself even one bite….. Ten minutes and 4 or 5 cookies, a handful of chips, a donut and a few pieces of candy later, you sit there feeling guilty. Yep, you ruined it. You were doing so good and then you blew it completely.
Do you identify with any of this? I sure do. For the longest time, it was always about good foods and bad foods. I took pride in the times I made healthy choices and scolded myself for giving in to the foods that were low on the totem pole. There was no in between for me and it was either all good or nothing. But this came back to bite me because avoiding everything on my no-no list only ended in myself eating what I was trying to avoid and about ten times more than that. It took me so long to reconcile my differences with food and accept that there has to be a balance.
There is a reason my site is named what it is. My personal goal is to try to nourish and take care of my whole self through clean, healthy eating, yoga, exercise, meditation and more so that I can be the best version of me. I don’t identify with any sort of mainstream diet, I am not vegetarian even though I don’t really eat meat that often. I’m not paleo and I don’t promote any sort of supplement or powder that claims to be the answer to our nutrition goals. When it is all said and done, I do what I can to make the best choices I can, but at the end of the day, I am gonna “do me” as the saying goes. And I wish the same for you. Be good to your whole self, mind, body, spirit, etc., but make sure to “do you.”
Why do I bring this up? Because while it is very important to me to put good, nutritious, whole foods into my body, I wasted too much time in my life feeling guilty or shaming myself for “blowing it.” I worried for too long about calories and avoiding all foods that I deemed unhealthy. So now that I am unlearning these behaviors, I don’t want to waste anymore time. I don’t want to be that girl that refuses to allow herself to have any food deemed “unclean” only to end up feeling awful in the end because I go completely overboard. I don’t want to have the feeling of guilt to be connected to what I eat. EVER.
So as I continue on my journey, I just want you to know that it is not perfection that I seek. I try to make the best choices for me. I hope that you will do the same. Make the best choices for you, but if that means having your cake and eating it too, then so be it. Dig in!
Healthy options for snacks are always great to have around. Obviously if we have nothing but junk in our faces all day then it is harder to make healthy choices. I am always trying o create snack options that will fill me up and satisfy a bit of my sweet tooth. I love making no bake bars and bites if you haven’t noticed yet!
I wanted to try to make a granola bar without peanut butter or any kind of nut butter for that matter (Don’t worry, you can still add peanut butter to these if you want!). I have also had very little luck with baking granola bars in my own personal cooking journey. I wasn’t sure what I could use to bind it all together…until recently. The secret ingredient? Dates! If you run dates in the food processor you can create a paste that works perfectly as a binder for granola bars. I have a feeling you will be seeing this date paste in recipes to come as well. This recipe is a great base recipe and then you can explore and change it up as you wish. You don’t have to make these the same twice. So go ahead and grab your trail mix and get to it!
- 1 1/2 cups rolled oats regular or gluten free
- 13-15 pitted medjool dates
- 1 cup chopped nuts or seeds I used pecans, sliced almonds and walnuts
- 3/4 cup dried fruit I used raisins and cranberries
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 T cinnamon
- 2-3 T 100% pure maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 3 T natural peanut butter or nut butter optional. This recipe works perfectly without it!
Combine dates in food processor until a paste is formed.
Combine dates and oats in mixing bowl. Have patience, it just takes a bit of time!
Add in nuts/seeds, fruit, salt, vanilla, cinnamon and stir to combine evenly.
Press mixture into a pan lined with parchment paper. The mixture should be pressed about one inch thick and firmly to allow the bars to be cut without crumbling. Depending on the size of your pan, you may not fill it entirely. Make sure to really focus on the thickness of the bars.
Refrigerate for about 30 minutes before cutting and serving!
As I noted before, peanut butter is optional and really only if you want the flavor.
If you find that the mixture is not binding well, add a few more processed dates to it.