My nickname has recently become “the nibbler” because I love to have a snack on hand during the day for a nibble here, a nibble there.
That’s why I included “A dish for snacks throughout the week” on the Creative Kitchen list because my waves of hunger come throughout the day. If I’m not prepared with a bite to munch, then my energy and mood drop pretty quickly.
A few tips to maintain energy balance instead of experiencing a rollercoaster of ups and downs:
1) Drink more water! Folks, I've been getting much better about this one and it has helped immensely with my energy levels and overall sense of well-being. Aim for half of your body weight in oz each day (i.e. if you way 150 pounds, aim for 75 oz of water each day).
2) Sleep! Rest. When you get little sleep, your cortisol rises which mimics the stress of the up and down energy roller coaster. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night. As always, find what works best for your body.
3) Eat fats. Yup, fat is healthy because it helps nourish skin, hair, and nails, absorbs fat-soluble vitamins like A, E, D and K, protects organs, and maintains a steady metabolism. But not all fats are created equal. Aim for unsaturated fats (found in olive oil, avocado, nuts & seeds) when incorporating fat into your day instead of trans-fats (aka: partially-hydrogenated oils) which are used to add flavor and extend shelf-life on certain products (some potato chips, frozen pizzas, and fast foods).
For snacks throughout the week to maintain a stable hunger level, I made some mocha granola bars from Oh She Glows Every Day by Angela Liddon.
I found this snack to be a little too much energy because it has coffee grounds in the mix, and caffeine can definitely contribute to the energy spikes and dips. I already drink a cup of coffee in the morning, but I don't like to consume caffeine after a certain point in the day (1 PM) so these weren't the best for me as a snack in the late afternoon, nor with coffee in the morning because then my heart was beating a little too fast for my liking.
Next time, I'll keep the chocolate and omit the coffee. Switch it up how you like!
*Special note: these bars are not cooked in the oven (which I started to do at first). The oven is used to toast the almonds and the bars are popped in the freezer to firm up! Easy peasy.
1/2 cup chopped raw almonds
3 heaping Tablespoons dark roast coffee beans
2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
1½ cups crispy rice cereal (I used puffed rice and it worked fine)
1/3 cup chocolate chips, or non-dairy chocolate chips for vegan
1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 heaping teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup brown rice syrup
1/3 cup smooth roasted almond butter (I used peanut butter instead)
1 Tablespoon virgin coconut oil
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325° F.** Line a 13"x9" pan with parchment paper so it hangs over the sides a little. **The oven is not used to cook the bars (which I did at first). It is just used to toast the almonds.
Spread the chopped almonds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 6 to 9 minutes, or until lightly golden in some spots. Transfer to a plate and let cool.
Grind the coffee beans in a coffee grinder until a fine powder forms.
In a large bowl, stir together the ground coffee, oats, cereal, chocolate chips, shredded coconut, and salt.
In a small pot, stir together the brown rice syrup, almond butter, and coconut oil until combined. Bring the mixture to a low simmer over low heat, stirring carefully so it doesn't burn or boil, then remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla.
Add the toasted almonds to the dry ingredients and stir. Immediately pour the brown rice syrup mixture over the dry ingredients and stir until the oats are fully coated in the syrup mixture. Make sure you don't have any dry patches. The chocolate chips will melt during this process to create a uniform chocolate flavor in the bars.* (*my chips didn't melt so make sure your liquid mixture is quite hot without burning or boiling).
Scoop the mixture into the prepared pan and spread it out evenly with lightly wet hands. Use your hands to spread it out evenly and then press it down firmly.
Use your fingertips to press the mixture in along the sides of the pan to create straight edges.
Place the pan in the freezer, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes, until the bars are firm enough to slice. With a pizza slicer or sharp knife, slice the block into 16 bars. (I got about 12 bars because I used a smaller pan and cut bigger slices).
Individually wrap the bars in plastic wrap or foil. They'll keep up to 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 4 weeks in the freezer. The bars will firm up when chilled, but you can let them sit at room temperature for 5 or 10 minutes for a softer texture if you'd like.