Coconut Peanut Butter Stuffed Date Truffles

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My love for chocolate, peanut butter, and dates inspired me to give this recipe a whirl, and all I can say is, “Wowza!” These are AMAZING. I am not even kidding; you need to have made these yesterday. Not only are they delicious, but they are an excellent choice for a treat. Dates are packed with nutrients: fiber, potassium, iron, B vitamins, and vitamins A and K, just to name a few. (See more on the health benefits of dates on Dr. Mercola’s site. )

Before I go any further and give you the directions for these date truffles, I do have to thank Sylvie, from Gourmande in the Kitchen, who is the master behind the original recipe. If you want her original recipe without my modifications, head on over and check out her creation (She has named these treats Chocolate Covered Coconut Dates). Plus, she has some other wonderful recipe inspirations as well! 🙂

Without further ado, here is your tasty treat! 🙂

Ingredients for the Stuffed Dates:
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (Note: If your batter seems a little runny after the stuffing ingredients are mixed, add 1-2 extra tablespoons of shredded coconut.)
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup, Grade B preferred
4 tablespoons organic, creamy peanut butter (You can also use sunflower seed butter or almond butter as well!)
Pinch of sea salt or pink Himalayan salt
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract (Trader Joe’s sells one that is both alcohol free.)
About 20 large, soft Medjool dates (I actually have found a great deal on dates at Costco!)

Ingredients for Chocolate Dip:
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 cup cocoa powder
4 tablespoons maple syrup, Grade B preferred
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt or pink Himalayan salt

Directions:
*In a large mixing bowl, combine the ingredients for the date “stuffing” (mixing by hand). You can also put all of the ingredients in a food processor for a smoother filling.
*Cut each date in half lengthwise one way, and take out the pit.
*Fill each date with the peanut butter stuffing.
*Chill the dates in the freezer. 20 minutes is a good amount of time.
*While the dates are chilling, make the chocolate dip. Place the melted coconut oil in a medium-sized bowl. Add in the remaining ingredients and mix with a whisk.
*Remove the dates from the freezer. Using a toothpick to hold each date, dip one at a time in the chocolate until fully covered. Place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet. If you desire, sprinkle the dates with chopped nuts, coconut, etc., right after dipping so that your sprinkles set with the chocolate. Place back in the freezer until the chocolate sets. Enjoy!! Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.

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*This recipe has been adapted from Gourmande in the Kitchen.

Protein Packed Peanut Butter Cups

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This past week, my precious sister was in town to visit for the Thanksgiving holiday, and boy, do I miss her sweet presence, as well as that of her family, now that she has traveled back home to her place. Amongst the many things that we enjoy doing together, one of them is eating chocolate, and we definitely made sure that we tried a few good treats from the kitchen while she was here. One favorite that came as a result of her stay here was these beautiful protein packed peanut butter cups! They are tasty, yet filled with an extra dose of healthy fats and protein. You can feel good about placing these on your holiday tray this Christmas. 🙂

Protein Packed Peanut Butter Cups
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons organic crunchy peanut butter
*2-3 tablespoons high quality protein powder ( I would suggest this protein powder)
1/2 teaspoon maple syrup (Grade B preferred)
2 ounces dark chocolate + 1 tablespoon coconut oil for melting

Directions:
Melt the the coconut oil, peanut butter, and maple syrup in a sauce pan on low. Stir frequently. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the protein powder. Fill approximately 10 mini muffin liners with the peanut butter mixture. Each liner should be half full. Place in the freezer to set for 10 minutes while you melt the chocolate topping. In a small sauce pan, melt together the chocolate and the coconut oil on low, stirring constantly, making sure not to burn. Remove the peanut butter cups from the freezer and pour chocolate on top of each cup. Place back in the freezer for 10 minutes. Remove and enjoy! 🙂 Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 🙂

*Thank you to my lovely sister for this great recipe. 🙂 It will be consumed often. 🙂

*Note about whey protein: Above all, I still recommend getting the majority of your protein from high quality grass-fed meat. This is still the most natural way to consume protein and the most easy for one’s body to recognize. If you are still wanting to supplement with a whey protein, then there is some information worth noting.

I do not recommend using several whey proteins on the market as many of them have been denatured, filled with artificial sweeteners, and are very hard on one’s gut. Dr. Axe gives a well written response to what to look for in whey proteins as well as the risks of using one that is not in its natural form:
“Unfortunately, not all whey protein is created equal. Most of the protein powders on the market today have undergone acid treatments, been injected with steroids and hormones like rBGH, contain artificial sweeteners and are denatured.

Consuming denatured protein powder is hard on your digestive tract and can lead to a condition called leaky gut, which can then cause inflammation and autoimmune issues.

 So, I urge you to stay away from all processed non-organic protein powders because they will likely do you more harm than good. 

Instead look for organic and Grassfed whey proteins. 


When buying whey protein, make sure you’re getting both “organic” and “grass-fed”. 

Along with these, here are 7 others important things you’ll want to consider:

Cold Processed, NOT heat processed
Only ORGANIC so it’s free of pesticides, hormones and heavy metals
Grass-fed, NOT grain-fed, which is important for healthy fat ratios of CLA
High Bio-Availability, so better option than rice or vegan protein powders
Sweetened naturally, No artificial sweeteners
Easy to Digest, No protein isolates which harm the digestive tract, concentrates are less processed.
Low Carb, No fructose or other processed sugars
…”

*To read more about Dr. Axe, you can find his website here.

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Ultimate Peanut Butter Cup and Caramel Cookie Bar

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This one is a hit. Seriously…My husband raved about them, and I am sure you will as well! Although not paleo, I have taken the original recipe from Hugs and Cookies and adapted it to make it gluten-free! Plus I switched out the Recess Peanut Butter Cups for a healthier version of the same thing. These bars will impress your “taste testers” and will “Wow” the socks off of any guests. 🙂 Enjoy this excellent recipe. 🙂

Ingredients:
2 ½ cups Pamela’s Gluten-Free Artisan Flour
2 teaspoons non-aluminum baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar (I buy a great organic one at Trader Joe’s!)
1 cup light brown sugar (I also buy mine at Trader Joe’s.)
3 cage-free eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup creamy organic peanut butter
1 cup Enjoy-Life Chocolate Chips (They are on sale right now!)
10 full size Justin’s Peanut Butter Cups

11 ounces caramel sauce (I love that this brand does not contain any carrageenan **Please note that the label on this product does say “gluten-free” but that it was made in the same facility that processes soy and wheat.

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350, and grease a 9×13 pan with butter or coconut oil. Beat the sugars and butter until mixed well. Add the vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time, making sure to beat well after each egg addition. Mix in peanut butter until smooth. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and stir gently with a spatula until combine. Add the Enjoy Life chips and stir gently. Press half cookie dough into pan and top with peanut butter cups.
If needed, warm the caramel sauce on low in a saucepan or double boiler until it will pour fairly easily. You do not want to burn your caramel! 🙂 Pour caramel over peanut butter cups. Drop remaining dough over the top of your bars and spread gently with your hands. It worked well for me to drop the dough in various spots over the top as to make the spreading easier.
Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely and chill. Cut into bars, and enjoy! 🙂

See more at: http://hugsandcookiesxoxo.com/2014/05/reeses-caramel-stuffed-cookie-bars.html#sthash.o5S6Uozg.dpuf

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