peanut butter power bites

Even a kitchen fail can produce beautiful results. I mean, just take a look at these…

IMG_6221

I am certainly no stranger when it comes to the occasional kitchen “mess up”. There are things, simple things, really…I just can never seem to get it right! My favorite example of this is brown rice – I don’t know what it is, but I have a tendency to either undercook/overcook the rice, or add slightly too much salt when preparing it. White rice, cous cous, or any other grain is no problem for me, but that darn brown rice and I just don’t get along!

But I digress. Back to today’s recipe.

I was making a batch of my homemade peanut butter and I accidentally over-processed the mixture. While still delicious, the end product was far too grainy and chunky to really be called spreadable. It was so thick I could barely get it out of the food processor, let alone into a Mason Jar for storing it! But I sucked it up and saved it anyways; I hate throwing out food, and I knew that if I gave it a day or two to roll around in my foodie brain, I’d eventually come up with something.

And boy oh boy did I; the end product is so wonderfully delicious {and nutritious!}. I was snooping around my pantry and my eyes danced over the rolled outs near the top shelf. So of course I thought of peanut butter cookies, but then I started pondering a no-bake, freezer-style version. Thin the peanut butter out with some honey and add in oats for binding, and you’ve got the perfect power snack! I was giddy with excitement, practically dancing into the kitchen to pull out my trust food processor yet again.

Y’all, the process doesn’t get much simpler than this. Everything goes into the bowl, a few quick pulses, and you’re there. I scooped them into greased mini muffin tins, popped them in the freezer, and fell in love. Truly. These are the perfect bites for between meals; great healthy snacking for outdoor activities, or a tasty little treat before bed. I even offered up a few suggestions for add-ins, should you feel so creative : ) These have become a staple in our house; I hope they will become the same for you!

IMG_6218

IMG_6220

~~~

Peanut Butter Power Bites

Perfect for snacking on the go, and just comprised of three ingredients, there’s no reason to not whip up a batch right now. You’ll be glad you did! 

Ingredients:

2 cups peanut butter {here’s my homemade version!}

1 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup honey

optional: dried fruit bits, chopped nuts, mini chocolate chips

To Prepare:

Place all ingredients {except the optional ingredients} into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until combined; it won’t take long!

Fold in the optional ingredients by hand.

To assemble:

1.  Bites can be rolled into balls and placed on a greased sheet tray.

2. Using a greased mini muffin tray, balls can be formed and molded into rounds.

3. Spread evenly into a greased 9″ x 9″ baking dish.

Freeze until solid, about 3-4 hours. Store tightly covered.

cinnamon-spiced apple chips

Not long ago, I was gifted from some friends a rather large bag of apples from a local orchard. They are in the process of planning their wedding, and are holding the reception at said location. They were in town visiting and working on wedding preparation and, in exchange for us hosting them, they returned from the reception site with armfuls of apple-y goodness for us. Needless to say, I was giddy with excitement.

But what is one to do with such a large amount of fresh apples? Honestly, my first thought was to make a pie or tart of sorts, but with the holidays right around the corner, I knew that my apple pie would be on constant rotation {I’ll be sharing it with you soon, I promise!}. So I pondered over it for a few days, hoping that inspiration would strike. And sure enough, it did!

A friend recently loaned me their food dehydrator to do some food preparations, and I knew that this would be the perfect vehicle. I ah-dore dried fruit, especially in the cooler months. The possibilities with dried fruits are endless! – stirred into oatmeal, baked into cookies, or tossed with greens for an easy and simple salad, it really doesn’t get much better. So I did a little research about the method and preparation, as this was a first time for me, and boy oh boy…is the end result amazing!

c/o improvisedlife.com

Here are the steps that I followed, with notes for both dehydrating and classic oven baking. Use whichever is easiest for you; it’s impossible to go wrong with these!

I had the thought to mix in a little bit of savory spices {chili powder, rosemary, etc.} on a few of the different layers, and it was a surefire success! 

~~~

Cinnamon-Spiced Apple Chips {recipe adapted from Tasty Yummies}

An ideal way to use up an overload of apples – can we say apple-picking, anyone?? – apple chips are a great way to ensure your produce lasts long enough for you to enjoy! 

Ingredients:

4-5 {minimum} ripe apples, whatever variety you like best*

1-2 tbsp. ground cinnamon

1 tbsp. granulated sugar, optional

*I find that firmer-fleshed apples work really well 

To Prepare:

Slice off the top {stem side} of the apple, and the slice the apples into thin rounds, maintaining a thickness of 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick. If you have a mandolin, this is a great way to utilize it! It will ensure even chips.

Remove the seeds and the entire core. The peel can be left on {this is what I like!} or removed, depending on your preference.

Toss the apples with the cinnamon and optional sugar, and arrange in a single layer in your dehydrator. Once arranged, set the temperature at 135 degrees. Allow the apples to go for 6-8 hours, or until they are dried out and as crispy as you prefer.

Don’t have a dehydrator? Use the oven! – simply preheat the oven to 200 degrees, and lay the apple slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 1 hr., flip them over, and allow them to bake until desired level of crispness is reached and they are no longer moist. You may need to flip several times during this last section of time.

To preserve the quality of your apple chips, store in an airtight container.

Slice off the top, stem side, of the apple and then slice the apple into thin rounds, somewhere between 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick. A mandoline slicer works best so they are all the same thickness. Remove the seeds or the whole core. Peel can be left on or taken off.

Toss the sliced apples with cinnamon and sugar (optional) and arrange in a single layer in your dehydrator or onto a parchment paper-lined baking pan.

Dehydrator: Turn the dehydrator to 135ºF. Allow the apples to dehydrate for 6 to 8 hours or until they are dried and as crisp as you want them to be.

Oven: Preheat the oven to 200ºF. Bake the apples slices for 1 hour, then flip them and allow to bake for another 1 to 2 hours until the chips are no longer moist. Flipping occasionally.

Store your apple chips in an airtight container to maintain crispness.

roasted asparagus

Sometimes the simplest of preparations result in the most delicious dishes, no?

IMG_3711

IMG_3712

I don’t know about y’all, but give me a plate of roasted vegetables, dressed simply with olive oil and herbs, over those “other” dishes – move aside, gratins, casseroles and all your friends…I’m looking at you.

The method of roasting vegetables, for some, may seem slightly boring or mundane. After all, you’re doing so little – what makes them shine, when standing on a table next to a bowl filled to the brim with steaming mashed potatoes, or crispy fried bits? That is just it, y’all! The expression, less is more, couldn’t hold more true with this discussion today.

Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables to use with this preparation. The earthy, rich flavor is highlighted when exposed to the high roasting temperature. And the best part is that you lose none of the nutrients! Think of this dish as asparagus, elevated. It makes for a beautiful presentation, piled high on a crisp white plate with some lemon wedges. It couldn’t be more simple, or more delicious.

IMG_3710

IMG_3715

~~~

Roasted Asparagus

Whether served alongside an entree, placed along the top of pizza, or tossed with pasta, roasted asparagus makes any dish shine. Super simple and quick to prepare, this comes together quickly. It packs a vitamin punch, too! 

Ingredients:

1 bunch of asparagus, cleaned and trimmed of woody edges

1 lemon, halved

extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

To Prepare:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, and spread the asparagus out in a single layer. Toss generously with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Place in the middle rack and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, and toss to roast the other side, another 10 to 15 minutes {make sure to keep a close eye!}.

IMG_3713

Place on a serving dish and squeeze the fresh lemon halves on while it’s still hot. For additional flavor, you can add a few shavings of Parmesan cheese.

Let’s Discuss: what are some creative ways you like to serve vegetables, particularly asparagus? 

summer popsicles

I have lots and lots of frozen fruit in my fridge from earlier this season, just waiting to be blended up and poured into adorable little molds.

IMG_3109

I promise y’all, it doesn’t get much simpler than this! If you’re looking for a way to use up {and healthfully, I might add!} and overload of summer produce, you have come to the right place.

For the past several summers, I’ve been a popsicle-making freak. Odd combinations of fruits and veggies are the least of my worries when it comes to these tasty treats – in fact, the fruit used will often mask any sort of veggie hint. So when you see cucumbers listed in the ingredients below, fear not! You know that I will never steer you wrong.

I promise. I mean, just look at these lovelies…how can you go wrong?!

IMG_3104

IMG_3105

IMG_3106

~~~

Summer Popsicles {makes 6 popsicles}

This is probably one of my favorite combinations to make – I love that the sweet berries are the star of this treat. The bright notes of cucumber simply amplify the taste of the berries, and provide just a teeny bit of flavor to make you question “what is that fresh taste in there as well?” Balanced out with a drizzle of honey, this dessert screams summer. And if you’re feeling a bit adventurous, or in the search of happy hour…place this popsicle in a bowl and let it sit with a shot {or two!} of good gin. It will be our little secret. 

Ingredients:

one 16 ounce bag of fresh strawberries {you can also use frozen}

1/2 of a large cucumber, cut into chunks

1/2 the juice of one fresh lime 2 tablespoons of honey

*special equipment: high powered blender, popsicle molds

To Prepare:

Place all the ingredients, except for the honey, into the barrel of your food processor. Process all ingredients until a very smooth, velvety consistency is reached.

Add in the honey {I used the above-mentioned 2 tablespoons, but depending on how sweet you like them, feel free to use more}, and puree for another minute or two, until all ingredients are incorporated.

Pour into popsicle molds of choice, and freeze until solid. Serve on a hot day with plenty of napkins – no one likes sticky wrists!

IMG_3110

IMG_3140

Let’s discuss: did you like popsicles when you were a kid? What about ice cream? Is there one or the other you are partial to?

rise & shine breakfast smoothie

I’m being perfectly honest in saying this, y’all – this is easily my favorite way to start off the workday. A cold smoothie, bursting with fresh fruit flavor provides the perfect wake up and refreshing zing to make your morning just that much better.

I can’t recall if I’ve mentioned this previously; if so, do forgive the rambling. Before we got married {almost two years ago!}, our registry gifts began arriving in boatloads. I was quite the happy bride-to-be, unwrapping kitchen gadgets I had only dreamed of. One of the things that I was most excited about was the prospect of a new blender…ours had seen better days, and had been relocated to the back of the closet because it.just.didn’t.work.

So imagine my happiness on the day when I opened a box containing a top of the line unit – ah!!! I had grandiose plans for this gem; everything from chilled soups to gorgeous purees. But alas – fast forward to this year, and I think we had used it maaaaaybe twice. Fail.

So this summer, when I was on our juicing kick {remember this and this?} I decided that we should be on a smoothie on as well! Being so stocked up on fresh fruit, the hubs and I couldn’t go through them fast enough. I told myself that using said blender for smoothies would be a good test run; after all, what’s the worst that could happen?

If you consider being more or less addicted to smoothies a bad thing, then I am in trouble. We have smoothies at least three times a week, more than making up for that sad time when that beautiful, shiny new blender sat cold and lonely in the cabinet. I’m just making up for lost time, no?

~~~

Rise & Shine Breakfast Smoothie {serves one, can easily be doubled or tripled, depending on the size of your blender}

Use this recipe and quantity simply as a guideline for what flavors and binding agents you like! I’ve outlined the ingredients I use most often in mine; the hubs, on the other hand, prefers slightly different combinations. I’ve outlined below what is good to swap for what – this is truly one recipe where you can’t go wrong! 

Ingredients:

1 large banana, about as ripe as you can handle it

5 large strawberries

1/2 to 1 cup plain, low-fat kefir*

*I am a HUGE fan of kefir; loaded with live-active cultures and a great digestive agent, it provides a protein punch for few calories and added sugar. I love the way it blends into a creamy consistency, and adds just the right amount of tang into my morning smoothie. The hubs, on the other hand, is more partial to using a flavored Greek yogurt – you’ll still reap the benefits of protein power, but the live-active cultures will not be as present as the kefir. 

To Prepare:

Place all ingredients in the pitcher of your mixer. Puree until nice and smooth, then enjoy!

If you like {and I do this regularly} – prep your smoothies the night before, and stash in the fridge for an easy breakfast to grab and go! I often put mine in the freezer when I wake up in the morning, because I like having it as thick and cold as I can.

Let’s Discuss: are there any breakfast smoothie combinations you’re fond of? 

perfectly perfect hard-boiled eggs

These have been a summer snack time staple – say that three times fast!

I don’t know about y’all, but I tend to get in a groove of sorts when it comes to my daily routine. For weeks at a time, I’ll hardly deviate from a certain breakfast {steel cut oats loaded with fresh fruit and granola is a particular favorite}, a mid-afternoon snack {fruit and cheese plate makes for a wonderful workday treat} or an after-dinner treat. There’s something quietly comforting, knowing exactly what to expect out of your lunchbox, when there are so many variables that can affect how you day goes.

That’s where this gorgeous little gem comes into play. I don’t know what took me so long to remind myself of these treats, but I tell you, I don’t know how the hubs and I have made it through so long without these! Formally reintroduced to us from my wonderful mother-in-law on our earlier summer trip to Tahoe, I was smacking my head because I hadn’t made these in so long. These were a daily staple in our hiking packs – perfectly contained in their “natural” tupperware {egg shell for the win!}, they make the perfect snack on the go. A perfect balance of protein and vitamins, these will keep you going without holding you back.

Ever since that wonderful trip, said eggs have become commonplace in our refrigerator. It’s safe to say that, come our weekly grocery trip, a dozen eggs will be bought solely for the purpose of hard-boiling. They’re just perfect; I don’t foresee us tiring of them anytime soon!

~~~

Perfectly Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs {adapted, minimally, from Martha Stewart}

Ingredients:

12 large eggs, room temperature

9 cups of water, room temperature

1/4 cup distilled white vinegar

*special ingredients – large sauce pan, slotted spoon and colander, large bowl full of ice 

To Prepare:

Place eggs in a large sauce pan. Cover them with water by 1 inch, and add in the vinegar, stirring to combine. Be careful and stir gently; you don’t want to crack the eggs.

Slowly bring water/vinegar mixture to a boil over medium heat. When the liquid has reached a boil, cover and remove from heat. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Transfer eggs to a colander; place under cool running water to stop the cooking. Eggs can be peeled and served immediately, or stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.

tzatziki

Is anyone else overwhelmed with the mass amounts of cucumbers cranking out of your garden?

IMG_3199

Let’s see a show of hands.

I will admit, I’ve had to great creative over the past weeks with the amount of produce being dropped off on my doorstep. After all, a girl and her hubby can only handle so many slices of cucumbers {sprinkled with a little coarse salt, obviously} as an afternoon snack. I’ve done everything from infusing water with these guys, to spiralizing them in salads, and layering them with soft cheese wedges.

And then I remembered that I had yet to make one of my favorite cucumber snacks – tzatziki dip! This wonderfully tangy appetizer is one of my favorites – in fact, a Greek restaurant right in our downtown area makes perhaps one of the best I’ve had. I’ll eat it by the spoonful, it’s that’s delicious.

With the idea set in mind, and friends coming over for a night of cocktails/games/cooking, I knew that this would be an excellent time to tweak my recipe. Oftentimes made with sour cream and whole fat yogurt, I wanted to lighten this up slightly so that it would still be delicious, but with healthier benefits. By swapping out the aforementioned yogurt with 0% Greek, the creamy consistency is not lost, nor is flavor. The tart bite of this yogurt pairs perfectly with the zangy lemon. Fresh, spicy garlic is added in for flavor, and dill acts as the balancing beam between the flavors. A little salt and pepper rounds it all out – you’re left with nothing but a bowl of dip so bursting with flavor {and protein! thanks to the Greek yogurt} you won’t miss a thing.

~~~

Tzatziki {makes about 3 cups}

This not only makes a wonderful dip to set out amongst other appetizers, but I absolutely love to spread it on veggie sandwiches, or use it as a topping on salads. To really ensure full flavor, make it a few hours before serving, to let the flavors truly marry together.  

Ingredients:

3 cups of Greek yogurt {I used Chobani 0%}

1 large cucumber, washed and dried well

juice of 1 fresh lemon

3 large clove garlic, minced

1-2 tbsp. dried dill, or to suit your taste

salt and pepper, to taste

To Prepare:

Using a box grater on the largest side, process the cucumber. I prefer to leave the skin on, as I like the crisp texture and vitamin boost it provides. If using a cucumber with seeds, grate only the fleshy outer area.

IMG_3203

Squeeze out any excess water and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the minced garlic, lemon juice, dill, and salt and pepper. Whisk in the Greek yogurt until combined. Fold in the grated cucumber using a spatula, making sure to fully incorporate.

IMG_3200 IMG_3202 IMG_3204

Serve alongside assorted veggies, pita bread, and crackers! Dip will last 4 days, tightly covered, in the refrigerator…though it never seems to last more than a day or so in our household ; )

IMG_3215

Let’s Discuss: what’s your favorite brand of Greek yogurt? Do you prefer cooking with a certain variety? 

 

fresh watermelon salad

Summertime is the season of salads, if you ask me.

With produce brimming aplenty from your own garden, CSA sign-up, local farmer’s market, or if {like me} you’re lucky enough to have a neighbor who shares their harvest, it can be somewhat challenging to figure out how to best utilize this bounty. I’ve gotten pretty creative in past seasons with pickling veggies, packing shredded squash into loaves of sweet and savory breads, and making jars and jars of sauces. But there still is the question – what do you do with the herbs?

I don’t know about y’all, but my once lowly mint plant has decided to grow without abandon as of late. In all honesty, I thought that this would be the one that didn’t make it. I have an “herb pot” garden that I tend to along the sunny side of our home, simply because with time management, it’s all I can afford. I’m certainly blessed in the basil and rosemary department, but the mint this year…eh…I wasn’t so sure. Little did I know that what would once be the epitome of Tiny Tim plants turn into a raging mint monster. No lie.

Now, us at the homestead can only make so much mint simple syrup and mojitos before completely burning out on this sweet green leaf. And rather than diminishing my love for this plant, I figured that there had to be some way that we could repurpose it. The light bulb hit, right then and there – salad! I was reminded of a barbecue we hosted a few summers ago, and I served up a sweet watermelon and mint salad. Going along those same lines, I set out to recreate it, but with a few different twists and turns.

As I mentioned, I wanted to avoid any overly sweet flavors in this particular dish. Using watermelon and mint, both very sweet on their own, would sure to be an overpowering combination. Keeping that in mind, a salt element would be an important, if not necessary, addition to this dish. I recalled a photo of watermelon and feta cheese paired together, and I knew that would be perfect. A bit of a kick from coarsely ground pepper would counterbalance the salt and sweet, and finally, on somewhat of a whim, I added in a few dashes of red wine vinegar, just to help cut through all the flavors.

This salad is the perfect example of summer, and sunshine, and warm weather, all mixed up in one pretty bowl. It’s the perfect dish to whip up for any dinner party or get-together, and I promise that your guests will be wowed, both on the levels of presentation and flavor!

~~~

Fresh Watermelon Salad 

Ingredients:

roughly 5-6 lbs. fresh watermelon, cubed into bite-sized pieces

1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, washed and left whole

4 to 6 ounces feta cheese, coarsely crumbled

red wine vinegar, to taste

pepper, to taste

 

To Prepare:

In a large bowl, mix together the cubed watermelon and feta cheese. Make sure to leave the feta as coarsely crumbled as possible; if stirred to aggressively, the cubes will disintegrate.

Fold in the whole mint leaves, making sure to evenly distribute.

photo1 photo2

Season to taste with pepper {I omit any added salt in this recipe, because feta cheese by itself has such a salty and delicious flavor}. Add in several hefty dashes of red wine vinegar, to help cut through the sweetness of the fruit and brighten up the bold notes of the cheese. Store in the refrigerator, tightly covered, until ready to serve.

photo3

Salad will keep, covered, for up to 4 days. 

whole wheat zucchini bread

It’s that time of year. Gardens are overflowing with zucchini, and those blessed with a green thumb are practically begging to give them away. Friends, strangers, and everyone in between hear the oh-so-familiar summer phrase – “Can I interest you in some produce from my garden?”

photo6

photo7

And trust me to be the girl jumping up and down, waving hands frantically – “I’ll take as many as you’d like! Lay ’em on me, good sir!”

…then I get home and, in my haze of veggie-loving excitement, realize that I have little means of storing said vegetables properly for the long-term, and carving out time in our insanely busy summer schedule is proving hard to get a lot of canning and other food-prep done.

So I’ve had to get creative, yall. Said zucchinis have found their way into many facets of our eating habits lately: diced up and stirred into marinara sauces, spiralized for “zoodles” at least 3 times, cut into sticks and eaten raw with dip, and probably the biggest stretch – I’ve put them in my juicer with apples and carrots. Sounds weird…yes. Delicious? You better believe it.

However, my favorite way by far to use up this tasty vegetable is to sneak it into treats! That’s where this bread comes in.

Slightly sweet with the additional of vanilla Greek yogurt and dried cranberries, this is breakfast bread you can really get into and not feel guilty about! The majority of the oil is replaced with said yogurt and unsweetened applesauce, and whole-wheat flour gives you a nutty, earthy taste. Cinnamon takes the flavor to a well-balanced place. The small amount of sugar helps highlight the natural sweetness of the zucchini, and the bread itself is so wonderfully moist. Sliced fresh from the oven, it’s tantalizing aroma will beg you to be enjoyed immediately!

photo14

~~~

Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread {adapted from Whole Foods Market}

Ingredients:

cooking spray

1-1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 egg

1/8 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 tbsp. vanilla Greek yogurt

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract {I used my homemade version!}

1 cup grated zucchini

1/2 cup dried cranberries, optional

To Prepare:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray an 8″ loaf pan with cooking spray, and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon.

photo1

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, oil, applesauce, yogurt, sugar and vanilla. Add flour mixture and stir until well combined. Fold in zucchini and cranberries, then transfer batter to prepared pan.

photo2 photo3 photo4 photo5

Bake until risen, and the color is a deep golden brown, about 60 minutes. A toothpick should come out clean when inserted.

photo8 photo9 photo10

Cool in pan on rack for 30 minutes, and the remove bread from pan. Leave it to finish cooling completely.

photo11

photo12

To store, wrap tightly in seran wrap. Bread can be left on the counter, tightly wrapped, for up to 2 days. After that, store in the refrigerator to preserve freshness. 

 

Let’s Discuss: How do you and your family feel about adding vegetables to baked goods? 

banana bites

With the excessive heat we’ve been experiencing lately, I’ve been finding my produce become riper almost overnight, especially my bananas. I’ve tried every trick in the book to keep them from turning, as well as freezing what seems like tons and tons for future breads, but a girl can only fit so many in her ancient side-by-side refrigerator. And since I practically refuse to throw food away, I’ve been sitting around scratching my head trying to think of ideas.

photo2

Then one night, while going through vacation photos from last summer, I stumbled upon a spread I had laid out during our beach trip to the Outer Banks – my banana bites! Duh, Alicia.

photo9

It was truly one of those moments where I wanted to slap myself on the forehand, comedy-style, because I was shocked that I had forgotten about them. Whether it was the above-mentioned beach trip, day hikes, or camping trips, these were a summer staple for us. So quick and so easy to throw together, and minimal time in the oven makes them a perfect go-to snack.

The highlight of these added beauties is that there is NO.ADDED.SUGAR.

That’s right, you heard me. Because why take away from something as simple and lovely as a banana, perfectly ripe and sweet? The combination I’ve outlined below throws in a few extra “goodies”, if you will, but regardless, they only complement the flavor of the fruit.

Whether you toss these in your lunch for a breakfast on the go, as a mid-afternoon snack, or for a late-night treat {the addition of chocolate chips give you that fix without the guilt!}, these truly hit the spot. Sometimes, I’ll even throw them in the freezer, for when the days are especially hot and I just need that extra-cold treat!

~~~

Banana Bites {recipe adapted from The Simple Veganista}

makes about 15-18 bites

Ingredients:

4 very ripe bananas, mashed but still chunky

2 cup oats, rolled or quick

1/2 to 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips* {I used Ghiradelli}

1/2 to 3/4 cup peanut butter*

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 generous tsp. vanilla extract

pinch salt

Optional Add-Ins

nuts of choice {I would suggest walnuts or cashews in here}

dried fruits {I would think a tropical version, using dried mangoes and coconut butter, would be divine!}

shredded coconut

peanut butter chips

almond extract {if you prefer that flavor over vanilla}

coconut butter, almond butter, etc. {to sub for the peanut butter, should you choose}

To Prepare:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium-sized bowl, mash bananas until incorporated {like I mentioned above, chunks are good here!}. Add in oats, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Gently fold in the peanut butter.

photo4

photo5

photo3

photo6

Fold in the chocolate chips {and any other additional add-ins} until mixed in well.

photo7

Lightly spray the parchment paper with cooking spray, to help with any residual sticking. Using a tablespoon, scoop mixture and place on cookie sheet. I left mine slightly rounded, but you can flatten slightly with the back of your spoon.

photo8

Baking in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until they appear set and the edges have collected themselves. Remove from oven, and let cool on a wire rack before storing.

photo1

Store leftovers loosely covered and eat within a few days. I would recommend transferring to the refrigerator if longer than that, or if you live in a hot/humid climate.

Notes: The riper the banana, the sweeter the final product. Coloring may vary slightly, due to the ripeness of the banana, the type of oat used {rolled vs. quick} and whether or not you mix in a nut butter or chocolate chips. 

*Depending on how chocolatey or peanut-buttery you like your bites, feel free to use additional, or less, of the amount listed. This particular recipe is easy to accommodate any palette!