At times I’m overwhelmed by how thankful I feel for so many things in my life. The sweet, selfless people I get to attempt to love well. The places I’m able to see that bring joy to my eyes, and soul. The chances I’ve been given to be creative, and embrace the fresh food at my finger tips. I shake my head in disbelief most days, unable to fathom how I have been granted the sweetest role of all, to be my husband’s wife. I love laughing at all of his silly jokes, cooking his food, riding my bike alongside his, listening to him talk about what is bringing him stoke, and help when life is giving him a hard time. I love knowing I can go to someone with all of my thoughts, worries, (bad) jokes, and dreams. I love the good days, but I also really love the hard days. I’d rather be sitting on a curb next to him with unwashed hair, chipped nails, and tattered old clothes than be without him for an hour to myself.
It’s because of his belief in me that I am here sharing pieces of my life and kitchen with you. It’s because of the restaurant I worked at for years that I was able to discover my love for serving others and bringing them food. It was because of the local farmers taking the time to share with me about their produce that I became enthralled with the farm to table movement years ago. It was because of our sweet landlady who gave us her garden bed back when we first lived in California that I learned of the labor, love, and devotion needed in order to grow and harvest my own produce. It was because of the incredible holistic doctors made available to me that I was able to be pushed to erradicate old foods from my diet that were harming my body. Where then, and only then, could I be lead to discover even more delicious items and combinations than I had ever dreamed. Every moment, every step, has been touched by someone else in their life giving to me. This is a major, underwhelming thank you, I don’t know how I could ever repay you.
All of this reflection, and the initiation of “getting back to my roots” I discussed with you earlier has put me in a state of intense happiness as of late. This is coming from a girl who has the disposition of a sunflower (no credit to be taken by me here, I was inherently born with an unreal bent towards positivity). Long gone are the days of me pouring over extravagant recipes I wasn’t craving, nor had the goods to create. Now present are the hours of me plucking the items catching my eye at the markets (while adhering to a newer, tighter budget), and staring each day at my given inventory for inspiration. What would I or Scott like to eat? What would be nice to have around? – are the questions I am now asking myself daily.
Last summer Scott fell in love with Perfect Bars. I enjoyed their vegan option a time or two, but when discovering my laundry list of food sensitivities (currently working on those) I had to nix the Perfect Bars, and eventually Scott did too. I have a tough time purchasing something I know I can make, even if I haven’t discovered the translatable recipe yet. So a few weeks back I let my mind wander with these long-lost bars to see what I could do. One bowl and four ingredients later, we have decided these are the best protein bars to boot (to us + a few friends). I recommend going the extra step to making the nut butter too, but provide links to my store bought favorites when this isn’t an option. I really hope you enjoy these as much as we do!
“PERFECT” CASHEW BUTTER PROTEIN BARS
Makes 10 bars, more or less depending on cut size.
2 cups homemade cashew butter (recipe below)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup brown rice syrup
1 cup vanilla plant protein powder (FAVORITE)
Combine the cashew butter, maple syrup, and brown rice syrup in a medium mixing bowl. Stir using a large, sturdy spoon. Add the protein powder and mix gently until it begins to come together, then put some oomph into it to get it fully combined and smooth (it will happen).
Press into a parchment lined 9×5 loaf pan. Place in the fridge to chill for 2 to 4 hours before removing and slicing. Store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to eat as-is, or add the below toppings if desired before storing.
Chocolate squiggle: 2 tablespoons raw cacao powder, 2 tablespoons liquid coconut oil, 1 tablespoons brown rice syrup. Whisk until smooth, place in a small baggy, cut a hole in the corner, and squiggle onto each individual bar. Top with crunchy cacao nibs and flakes of sea salt.
Homemade cashew butter: toast 2 cups of cashews on a parchment lined baking sheet in a 300F oven for 20 minutes. Remove, let cool, and add to a high speed blender (or food processor) with 1 cup of raw brazil nuts. Puree until smooth, pressing down with the tamper if using a high speed blender, or stopping to scrape down the sides of the food processor.
NOTES: If using store bought nut butter, I prefer the Maisie Jane’s Cashew Butter I find at Whole Foods. Or Pic’s Peanut Butter for you peanut lovers. I would assume your favorite seed butter, or another all natural nut butter (no other ingredients except for the actual nuts, please) would be fantastic as well.