Cocoa & Pumpkin Fruit & Nut Bars {Paleo}

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I am a snacker…especially at work.  This is because I get up so early (3am) that “normal meal times” sorta go out the window.   So I am always looking for a quick snack that is somewhat healthy.  But of course I often fail and go for whatever is easy and close.  The traditional granola bar frustrates me because it is usually loaded with tons of bad sugars and unwanted extras….or is super expensive!  So after seeing this fruit and nut bar recipe (compare to lara bars) on fitsugar.com I was inspired to make my own batch, make a few changes, and add some other flavors!  I like this recipe because it is super easy to modify with your preferred fruits, nuts, spices, etc.

Ingredients: {Yields approx. 12 Bars}

  • 2 Cups Nuts (I used 1 1/2 cup almonds/1/2 cup walnuts)
  • 18 Large pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit (I used 1/4 cup raisins & 1/4 cup apricots)
  • 2 tbsp  Spice(s) of choice!  (I split the batch and did one with pumpkin pie spice and the other raw cocoa)

*You can also add unsweetened coconut flakes to add more flavor, texture and thicken the bar OR if you have a sweet tooth you can add some dark chocolate chips.

Directions:  {So easy to make}

  • Combine fruit and nuts and process in food processor approx. 2 minutes until everything is finely chopped.
  • You may need to process fruits and nuts separately (depending on food processor size) and then combine by kneading together with your hand (which is what I did).
  • Place mixture between wax paper and roll out until 1/2 inch thick.  Try and roll into a rectangle which will help with cutting even bar shapes.  To keep the same shape you may need to cut off uneven sides and re-roll them in the center of the mixture.
  • Freeze rectangles for 1 hour to solidify mixture a little more, then cut, and wrap individually in plastic wrap!

*Keep them in the fridge.  Also be careful not to freeze longer than an hour in the wax paper or it will stick to the bars.  You can also use plastic wrap instead of wax paper.

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Quick Vanilla Peach Jam : {Shower Favor}

IMG_1690My friend Heather called me a few weeks ago and asked, “Hey friend, do you want to make jam?” Umm YES! I love jam (Apricot and Boysenberry are my fave FYI)…hopefully this doesn’t sound weird but I love it not only because it is delish, but because it is so pretty! Anyway, she wanted to make it as a favor for our friends Karla & Jason’s Baby-Q Shower that she was throwing. What a great idea! Party favors can be so boring…it’s nice to get one you can actually use. (For the record at our wedding we had a boring favor (a C.D.). Yes I got married when they still made C.D.’s). Heather found this recipe on Pinterest for a Peach Freezer Jam.

The Good News: It takes a lot less time to make than normal jam.

The Bad News (Sorta): It stays fresh in the fridge for only about 3 weeks. (But you can keep it in the freezer for a year).

We followed the recipe and only changed it slightly. That’s what I like most about the recipe; You can change it! Add different fruit, different juice flavors, combine fruits, etc. It’s just great to have a jam recipe that doesn’t take long to make! Thanks Recipe Girl!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened white grape
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • One 1.75-ounce package no-sugar-needed fruit pectin (or 3 tablespoons from a jar)
  • 5 to 6 medium peaches, peeled, diced and coarsely pureed in the food processor (3 cups of puree)
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Five 8-ounce freezer-safe glass jelly jars

Directions:

IMG_1467IMG_1463IMG_1468 IMG_1476Put peaches in a pot of boiling water until the skins loosen (about a minute). *NOTE: The longer you leave them in the water the less firm your peaches become and they could break down…..so keep an eye on them.IMG_1477IMG_1479Then transfer peaches to a bowl of ice water for 30 seconds.
IMG_1473IMG_1475Peel skin off the peaches (this is the fun part).
IMG_1484Chop peaches. IMG_1480Puree the peaches roughly. (You don’t want them completely smooth)
IMG_1486IMG_1490Bring grape juice and lemon juice to a boil. Then whisk in the pectin completely and let it boil for 1 minute.
IMG_1491Stir in 3 cups of peach puree, sugar, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. IMG_1495Bring back to a boil and keep at a rolling boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.IMG_1498Divide the hot mixture between the jars (ours made more than 5 for some reason and we used tupperware which worked great too), leaving 1/2-inch room at the top of each jar . Place the tops on the jars and let them sit at room temperature until they are completely cooled off (12 to 24 hours). Then refrigerate or freeze!IMG_1504IMG_1911Attach a label or instructions to the jars for a cute favor!

My “Labor Day” : {5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Going Into Labor}

As Labor Day approached I could have written about fun American themed parties, but I honestly didn’t really plan anything so it would be a lie- haha! Sometimes 3 day weekends/holidays aren’t always about cute Pinterest-y parties, but just about being with those you love and relaxing! As for me I am relaxing with my hubby and baby girl. The last few weeks every time I thought “Labor Day is approaching” all I kept thinking about was my “labor” experience when I had my first baby a little over 6 months ago. I am not going to go into all the details of it (yet), but I thought I would share the 5 things I wish I knew before my “Labor Day” that NO ONE told me….maybe it can help someone out someday.

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Going into Labor:

1. Water Breaking Lies: This was the biggest misconception by far! In all the movies/TV shows I have seen when someone’s water breaks it happens in one “splash” and then it is done. BUT in real life the fluid from your water breaking can come out for hours!….Yes hours! (6 in my case). Talk about embarrassing when you think it has officially broken, only to be standing in the hospital in your third change of clothes and it just keeps coming out as you check-in.

2. Eat Before (if you have time): Once you are checked into the hospital they don’t let you eat anything. So my advice is to grab something to eat on the way because the next opportunity to eat could be hours or in my case 2 days away! Now of course if the baby is crowning or your contractions are super close together then skip this. But if there is time….eat something! I literally would have had enough time to shower, get dolled up, and eat if I wasn’t so panicked.

3. Overpack: I googled “hospital packing lists” months prior to giving birth and then decided to compile my own because none of them had all the things I wanted. I had this idea in my mind of wanting a magical, peaceful birthing experience so I packed everything I would need for that (iPod speakers, magazines, massage lotion)….well the one thing I didn’t pack was more than 3 days worth of clothes for my husband! We ended up being in the hospital 5 days and I was not wanting my husband to leave so he had to wear the same clothes over and over! So overpack!

4. You wait for Doctors: For the entirety of your labor you will only see the doctor on rare occasions…mostly when it is time to push….but besides that, it is you and the nurses. So when I was ready to push it happened to be around 6am and my dr. wouldn’t be there until 7am. So they made me wait….literally with a baby like hanging out of me. She walked in, told me to push, and that was it….my baby was born. Seems like a pretty sweet gig for a dr. if you ask me.

5. “Your Birthing Plan” may get thrown out the window: Like I said above, I had this idea of what my birthing experience would be like: what I would wear, how I would handle contractions, what music would be playing, etc. I wanted to bring my baby into the world naturally, with no pain meds, and in a peaceful environment. What I never realized was that sometimes the baby has a different plan and medically sometimes things need to be done in the best interest of the baby (and mom). I wanted to be cute….FORGET THAT! I did not want an epidural….But it ended up saving me from having a C-Section. I thought I would be able to handle contractions….But I didn’t think I would need to be induced and Pitocin causes violent contractions. The list can go on and on.

There are so many things we don’t know and can’t expect when it comes to giving birth so just be informed, be as prepared as you can, and then be open to whatever is best for you and your baby.

Happy “Labor Day” to all the moms out there and good luck on your Labor Day!

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Ta-Ta Weekend : {Hello Week}

Weekend Wrap-Up:

Can we say DUTCH BABY?!  Yes folks I finally tried it!  My friends and family have been telling me to visit The Original Pancake House and taste this deliciousness…..so this weekend the whole Johnston clan did!  I need to learn how to make this…it tastes like a combo between a crepe and a pancake.  It is best with butter, powdered sugar, and lemon juice….this makes it taste basically like a light lemon bar.  We ordered a side of blueberry compote on the side for it too…so good!   The great thing is it is big enough to share and it is so light you don’t feel weighed down.

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I thrifted and found these candlestick holders for DIY Cake Plates Coming Soon! (These make great gifts for people).

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Dancing to One Direction on Just Dance + Our friends and their 6 children (yes 6!) = #BlessedIMG_0394IMG_0403IMG_0396IMG_0395

And of course we had a 6 month photo shoot! (Although she was mostly interested in my phone and her sticker)

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This Week:

 I want to sleep and plan DIY’s….I wish I could do both at the same time haha.  

Looking forward to {In The Blog}:  There will be a few recipes, a beauty tip, and a look into me being “uncool.”  Be sure to check them all out!

Looking forward to {In My Life}:  I love being intentional with gifts.  Don’t get me wrong, I love gift cards and giving them, but I also love to surprise people with gifts that take time.  So I have a few gifts I am working on right now that really excite me and I will feature them on the blog once they are given…sorry for the secrecy!