Peanut Butter Chocolate Oat Bars with Hemp & Cacao Nibs

Peanut Butter Chocolate Oat Bars with Hemp & Cacao Nibs

Home! It is a good place to be. Home baking — even better. Especially during cookie season! Just four days out of the house over Thanksgiving break refilled my creative energy… if only I had time to cook every idea that comes to mind!

We visited Roy, New Mexico for Thanksgiving, so instead of your traditional holiday dinner we cooked with a camp stove among friends (including some camping recipes that I’m definitely going to share here come summer: black bean and kale skillet enchiladas, an iteration of these chorizo and egg breakfast tacos, and plenty of cocoa). Not your traditional holiday, but it was perfect for me. A way to unplug, relax, and enjoy the beautiful dessert!

Besides, I have been craving a trip to New Mexico since last Christmas when I tried to convince Oliver to go on a last minute road trip to Santa Fe (instead we spent it at home doing not much of anything).

In anticipation of some upcoming trips, I had made these bars ahead of time, and they were the perfect mid-day snack while we were out climbing, and delicious enough to be a treat around the campfire.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Oat Bars with Hemp & Cacao Nibs
Peanut Butter Chocolate Oat Bars with Hemp & Cacao Nibs

After baking them, I sliced them up and kept them in the freezer, and then packed them into the cooler with the rest of our supplies.

Chocolate and peanut butter is a classic (the best!!) so when I went to make something akin to a snacking bar but more luxurious, it felt like the perfect fit. Something hearty and filling for long days outside, but something that still tastes basically like dessert (happy sweet tooth = happy me).

Adding in hemp hearts and cacao nibs also walks this line of snack gone dessert… hemp hearts make me think granola bar, cacao nibs feel more like a treat. What you get is a treat you feel good about — and a snack for those moments when you really want a treat (and I always want my snacks to feel like treats).

These bars also are a GREAT better-for-you option for holiday cookies. Like blondie meets oatmeal cookie meets peanut butter cup with more good stuff packed in. Which is why I’m sharing it with you now!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Oat Bars with Hemp & Cacao Nibs

Peanut Butter Chocolate Oat Bars with Hemp & Cacao Nibs

Published November 29, 2018 by
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Serves: 12   |    Active Time: 1 hour



Ingredients:

  • 1 cup smooth, unsalted peanut butter (stirred and at room temperature)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup honey (you can also try maple syrup)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped, plus 2 tablespoons for topping
  • 1/2 cup hemp hearts
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon of flake sea salt for topping
  • 1 cup semi sweet or bitter sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil

  • Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a 9x9 glass baking dish with parchment paper.
    2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter, egg, honey and vanilla. Stir until smooth. Add salt, oats, almond flour, peanuts, hemp hearts, and cacao nibs and fold to create a thick, sticky, crumbly batter.
    3. Press mixture into prepared baking dish in an even layer, and bake in middle rack of oven for 15 minutes.
    4. Allow base to cool completely before adding chocolate topping. While base cools, melt chocolate and coconut oil by placing bowl in a microwave-safe bowl, and heating at 30-second intervals, stirring between each round. (You can also melt the chocolate in a double boiler).
    5. Spread chocolate in an even layer over oat base. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons chopped peanuts and 1/2 teaspoon flake sea salt. Allow chocolate to set completely.
    6. Once chocolate is set, lift the bars from the dish (pull out the parchment paper with the bars to get them out more easily) and slice into 12 equal pieces.
    7. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge or freezer.

    Citrus Cumin Mojo Chicken with Peppers

     It’s like a trip back in time. Old roads, old cars, and old buildings. The walls of the Cuban houses in Viñales crumble but no one seems to notice. Or they do, but it’s all they know. It’s a part of this country, a part of life. The adobe on churches—which haven’t hosted a mass since the Cuban Revolution- has been chipping off for more then a decade, and they continue to go un-repaired. In town, the good roads have cobblestone laid down from before the war, and the big interstate is a two-lane paved road. The other roads are just dirt. Regardless, people smile and dance and enjoy life.

               When the sun shines in Viñales, Cuba it hits the crops of the local farms and the animals bathe in its warmth. The farmers that tend these small chunks of land still use classic horsepower (that is, horses and oxen) to turn the land and pull the hoes. Barns are full of drying tobacco, which is regulated through the government, along with anything else produced in the country. Wage is rations. 

                Despite the heavy regulations, there is plenty of tobacco enjoyed on the streets. In the evenings, especially during a feriado (holiday), the air is think with it: smokey, sweet, unmistakable. I don’t much enjoy it, but for how very Cuban it is. 

    Citrus Cumin Mojo Chicken with Peppers

                I’d like to tell you Cuban food was just as distinct: full of Caribbean flavor, fresh from the sea. I’d like to tell you that tables were covered in a cornucopia, as a continuation of the beautiful scene laid out above, but that isn’t always the case. Tourists may get that experience: I myself was treated to some mighty fine and generous meals, but it was hospitality and should not be mistaken for habit. Lunch was the hardest thing to track down— I remember lunching on personal sized pizzas, if you could even call it that (the cheese was off, the sauce not quite right, and they were served folded in half, like a plump taco). There was also a rather memorable ice cream cone, filled with the best scoop of chocolate ice cream I have had (fifteen years later and I haven’t found one that comes close). And here were two feasts, on one Christmas Eve and one on New Years Eve. But in between, we knew we were eating like tourists.

             I say all of this to explain that while Citrus Cumin Mojo Sauce is considered something of a Cuban classic, it’s is not a dish I experienced while in the country. Rather, it’s a marinade I started experimenting with years later. I say all of this to keep it real, and also to remember. It’s far to easy to day dream about beaches and pine coladas made with local rum; it’s far to easy to forget how things were as time moves on. 

               This marinade is bright and cheery, sunny and fresh. This recipe calls for chicken, but you could use the sauce with shrimp too. 

    Want more from the Caribbean? Try this 30-minute ropa vieja.


    Citrus Cumin Mojo Chicken with Peppers

    Published June 12, 2018 by
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    Serves: 4   |    Active Time: 45 minutes



    Ingredients:

  • 1 pound chicken breast cutlets
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil

  • For marinade:
  • Juice 1 orange
  • Juice 1 lime
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon high mineral sea salt

  • For serving:
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro
  • Optional: lime wedges

  • Directions:

    1. In a 8-ounce jar, combine orange juice, lime juice, garlic, cumin, oregano, oil, and salt. Place lid on jar and shake to combine.
    2. Place chicken in an air-tight container and pour marinade over chicken. Place in fridge and allow to marinate for 8-12 hours.
    3. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 450°F. Slice red onion and bell pepper into strips, and dice sweet potato into 1/2-inch cubes. Spread out on a baking sheet (optionally, line baking sheet with parchment or a Silpat. (affiliate link!)). Drizzle oil over veggies. Now, using tongs, pull each piece of chicken from the marinade, letting access drip off. Place chicken on sheet pan with veggies.
    4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, brushing extra marinade over chicken every 5 minutes or so, until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F and potatoes are cooked through. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve hot with a lime wedge.

    The Red River Gorge and How to Pack Paleo Snacks in Your Day Pack

    The Red River Gorge and How to Pack Paleo Snacks in Your Day Pack

    This morning I am writing you from our rental cabin in Stanton, Kentucky. You can hear the quite patter of rain on the rooftop over the gurgle of the coffee machine behind me. I am always the first awake, and I like it that way. Only one light is on, and beyond the rain and the coffee machine there is a sense of stillness all around our cabin. 

    The Red River Gorge sits just southwest of Lexington, and is surrounded by dense forests that are rainbow with fall foliage this week. This is only my second time here, but it's revered as one of the best places in the country for climbing and frequented by many climbers from around the world. The sandstone walls of the gorge are tall, and after decades of erosion they are covered in thousands of holes and pockets. It's as if they want to be climbed. 

    The Red River Gorge

    This area of Kentucky is so different from my own home. For one, it’s wet. Even when it’s “dry,” things are humid. The forests are thick, mossy walls of deciduous trees, which are painted all colors of fall right now. (I find myself uncontrollably taking photos of this rainbow forest).

    The Red River Gorge and How to Pack Paleo Snacks in Your Day Pack

    If you plan to stay outside all day here, you must plan ahead. Once we’re out of the house, we’re out of the house: our cabin is a ways from the closest town, at the far reaches of a ranch. Donkeys wander the grounds with the company of a single Shetland pony. Our rental minivan can barely handle our steep gravel driveway! In town there is a grocery store, but once you are in the Gorge you are essentially off the map. The road is dotted with signs of a few adventure companies and parking lots for climbers. There is a campground with a pizza shop where many climbers set up camp, and that’s it. We make sure our bags have enough to get us through an eight to ten hour climbing day.

    My climbing bag almost always looks the same: gear (climbing shoes, quick draws, a headlamp, etc.), extra clothing (a down coat, a rain coat, hat, gloves, warm pants), drinking water, sunscreen, and easy-to-pack food.

     Lunch on Thursday, which fueled me up my favorite climb of the whole trip, the left side of  Another Doug Reed Route .

    Lunch on Thursday, which fueled me up my favorite climb of the whole trip, the left side of Another Doug Reed Route.

    I try to include a source of protein for long-lasting fuel, something with carbs for quick energy, and snacks for in-between routes. This trip, Chomps sent me a box of their grass-fed jerky sticks to try, and they were the perfect protein to bring. They are lightweight--a lot lighter than a can of tuna, which I often pack- and stay good without refrigeration so you can pack them for a long trip (unlike hard boiled eggs or cheese). If you're looking for something Paleo-friendly, these are great because they are Certified Paleo, Certified Gluten-Free, and WHOLE30 Approved. I also have found Chomps to be super satisfying, which is important when we aren’t going to get home for dinner until 7 or 8pm.

    The Red River Gorge and How to Pack Paleo Snacks in Your Day Pack - Chomps

    What to Pack in Your Day Pack for a Healthy Lunch:

    • 1-2 food high in carbohydrates, for quick energy: apple, banana, grapefruit, dried fruit, or even a cooked sweet potato
    • 1 food with plenty of protein, for long-lasting energy: Chomps! They are 100% grass-fed too, so even though I normally shy away from things that can be called “meat sticks,” these are dang good. Find them on their website, Amazon, Trader Joe's, or at Target.
    • 1 veggie (optional – this can add weight to your pack but it’s nice to have): carrot or celery sticks are easiest for me
    • 1-2 other snacks: chocolate (this is especially good when you need some extra motivation), trail mix (this mocha trail mix is a total treat!), peanut butter packets, no-granola bars, or even grain-free cookies
     My favorite Chomps stick is the  cranberry  one—it has a dynamic flavor that is not at all sweet, and slightly spicy. This is probably because it doesn’t have any added sugar--there are real cranberries in there! Plus, the minute I unwrapped one of the sticks, my favorite puppy would stick by my side until it was gone. Definitely worth it. Also a sign these are really good. The puppy knows. (Pro tip: People also use these snack sticks on cheese boards (think  a better quality cured sausage —one with out fillers and preservatives) and in cooking, it you’re feeling creative. Get some ideas on their  Instagram feed !)

    My favorite Chomps stick is the cranberry one—it has a dynamic flavor that is not at all sweet, and slightly spicy. This is probably because it doesn’t have any added sugar--there are real cranberries in there! Plus, the minute I unwrapped one of the sticks, my favorite puppy would stick by my side until it was gone. Definitely worth it. Also a sign these are really good. The puppy knows. (Pro tip: People also use these snack sticks on cheese boards (think a better quality cured sausage—one with out fillers and preservatives) and in cooking, it you’re feeling creative. Get some ideas on their Instagram feed!)

    This last week was a learning experience of a new kind: I didn’t train for this trip as much as I would’ve liked to, so rather than setting my expectations high, I focused on the simple pleasure of being on vacation, unplugged and amongst the trees. When your goal is simply vacation, life feels pretty luxurious.

    By day four I was starting to get used to climbing on a rope and was able to get into a groove (at home, I tend to boulder, so my head wasn’t prepared for sport climbing like it should have been). Now that we’re heading home, my motivation is renewed and I’m psyched to get training on both ropes and boulders again! There is no replacement for a weeklong adventure for getting your spirits high and your workout routine rejuvenated, whether that means going with a group of friends on a bike tour, paddling down a river, or backpacking!

     Moonrise at dusk.

    Moonrise at dusk.

    Chomps sponsored this blog post, but the images, thoughts, and experiences are all my own! This post is a true reflection of my last week—snacks, adventures and all!