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sweet potato chips with black bean pineapple salsa

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This is easily one of the simplest light meals I’ve ever made, and considering it only takes 20 minutes start to finish, the results far outweigh the minimal effort involved. My kind of recipe. All that’s required is preheating an oven, mixing in a touch of coconut or olive oil and seasonings with the sliced sweet potatoes, and chopping fresh vegetables, which, as strange as it may sound, is probably one of my most favorite things to do – in a meditative sort of way. The hardest part, for me, is being patient for 20 minutes. Maybe I shouldn’t admit that, but it’s true… hence needing meditation.

But I didn’t discover the best part until today: the leftovers. This recipe is even better the second day, after the peppers, black beans and onions have marinated in the pineapple and tomato juices. The sweet potatoes will be softer rather than crispy, but they too have soaked up the glorious flavor, so really who cares. I just topped everything with Sriracha and packed it for my lunch tomorrow at work, but realistically speaking, it will probably be my breakfast. That darn patience thing again.

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Ingredients:

2 medium sweet potatoes, sliced 1/8” thick – try to make as uniform as possible for even cooking

2 T coconut oil

2 T garlic powder

1 T cayenne pepper

1 T black pepper

2 medium banana peppers, seeded and sliced into rings

3-4 small vine ripe tomatoes, diced

1/2 small red onion diced

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 avocado, sliced into chunks

1/2 can diced pineapple

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper

3. Combine potato slices with oil and seasonings (I used my hands in a big bowl), then spread evenly across baking sheets

4. Bake for 10 minutes, then flip potatoes, bake another 10-15 minutes until slightly browned and crispy

5. While potatoes are baking, combine all other ingredients in a large bowl

6. Top sweet potato chips with salsa mixture

Serve with cashew sour cream and cilantro

Makes enough for 2-3 people.

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chewy chocolaty peanut-buttery protein bars

010I’m really not sure why I’ve always been so intimidated by baking, but I have. And while I fully believe in conquering the things in life that hold us back, for some reason I haven’t felt the need to apply that notion to this area of my life yet. Maybe it’s because, well, not to down-play it or anything, but it’s just baking. Just baking?! I don’t think I really mean that. After all, what could be better than a fresh, buttery croissant right out of the oven… or a slice of indulgently rich chocolate cake… or heck, even a hot and gooey glazed donut? There clearly is something magical that happens when flour is mixed with some combination of sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract. The joy is most certainly not lost on me.

This does seem like something I need to tackle at some point. If for no other reason than to open up an entirely new world of food, which sounds quite motivating. I just haven’t ventured there yet. One step at a time I suppose. And while I’m openly sharing my apparent struggle over this issue, I may as well get to the heart of the matter. I think I carry the belief that baked goods, as delicious as they may be, just aren’t as healthy. I also know that I can’t resist breads, cookies, or sweets in general with much discipline (if there’s chocolate involved, it’s just over), so making them is almost like setting a diet trap for myself. But I think that’s being pretty small minded, not something I aspire to be. So rather than close myself off to an entire method of cooking, and basically an entire food group, maybe it’s time I prove myself wrong and find a way to make healthy versions.

Consider these no-bake protein bars my very first step into the world of baking – irony intended – but hey, I used flour; it’s a start. The hemp seeds were a bit of a splurge, but they are loaded with healthy fats, fiber, and protein, and give a nice nutty flavor and texture. Sunflower seeds would probably work just as well, and save a few bucks. The bars are really everything you could want… chewy, crunchy, salty-sweet, additive-free and packed with protein. Let’s just say, I made them last night, and I’m down to one. I’ll be sad to see it go.

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(Recipe adapted from oh she glows)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups whole grain oat flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)

1/2 cup Garden of Life RAW protein powder (or powder of your choosing, unflavored is best)

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp chocolate covered hemp seeds (or plain hemp seeds for vegan)

1/2 cup rice based cereal (I used Nature’s Path Sunrise Crunchy Vanilla and crushed up into pieces)

1/2 cup all natural peanut butter

1/2 cup agave syrup sweetener

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp salt

3 tbsp mini dark chocolate morsels (for vegan, use vegan brand chocolate)

1 tbsp coconut oil

Steps:

1. Use an 8 x 8 pan, lined with parchment paper

2. Mix together dry ingredients in a bowl:  flour, protein powder, 1/4 cup hemp seeds, cereal, and salt

3. Add in peanut butter, agave syrup, and vanilla, mix to combine – can splash in a little water or almond milk if too dry

4. Press down into pan then put in freezer

5. Melt chocolate chips with coconut oil in small sauce pan over low heat, careful not to burn

6. Cut frozen dough into bars, drizzle with melted chocolate and top with remaining hemp seeds

7. Place back in freezer to set, keep stored in freezer (bars soften as they get warmer)

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