homemade sunflower butter bars

sunflower butter granola bars - 3 ways with chocolate, dried fruit, and seeds & nuts

sunflower butter granola bars - 3 ways with chocolate, dried fruit, and seeds & nuts

Y’all. Nothing takes it out of me more than traveling does. As much as I love adventuring and exploring new cities, I always need a day to recover – I definitely not alone on that one, right?? I was out in Cali this week because drum roll please…………I’m moving to Sacramento! I don’t think I ever once thought that I would end up in California, let alone Sacramento, but here I am! I guess that’s why you should never rely fully on your quote unquote “ten year plan” because that plan can change before you even realize and then bam you end up on the west coast.

While traveling is always an exciting experience – it’s easy to find yourself without any really good snacking options – especially if you are trying to stick to an overall healthy diet. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for treating yourself on vacations and travel excursions because trying new foods at local restaurants and shops is all the jazz, but it’s those in between times like hanging out at the airport or between day trips where you don’t have your fully stocked kitchen and usual go-to snackies that can totally derail you. I was quickly reminded of that challenge while browsing the newsstand shops at the airport where the so-called healthiest options included cheese, pretzels, and a yogurt parfait. Not bad options per se – I mean hey, they are better than a bag of candy that you promise you’ll just have a few bites of and then halfway through the flight you realize you’ve scarfed the whole thing down. What I really want from snacks is the ability to fill me up between meals without eating an extreme amount of food while also being something that is easy to transport – enter the granola bar.

sunflower butter granola bars - 3 ways with chocolate, dried fruit, and seeds & nuts

sunflower butter granola bars - 3 ways with chocolate, dried fruit, and seeds & nuts

sunflower butter granola bars - 3 ways with chocolate, dried fruit, and seeds & nuts

I’ve been on what seems like a never ending hunt for the perfect granola/protein bar – something that is full of protein and yummy ingredients but also doesn’t have the texture of chalk or a stale chewy bar and is full of sugar. It’s been real hard yo. I’ve found some good options, like RX Bars or Perfect Bars, but even there I’m not a complete fan of the texture of RX Bars (though my friends will preach to the high heavens about them!) nor the super long list of ingredients in Perfect Bars (I do always have one or two of the chocolate PB flavor in my fridge for emergency lack of food situations!). Due to these issues, I started thinking about the idea of making my own granola bars. I know, it seems like a simple solution but I never put any extra thought into creating my own bar until a few weeks ago. I knew what I wanted in a bar :: something nutty in flavor without being overwhelmingly peanut flavored, some texture and sweetness without the addition of extra sugar, and a bar that will actually keep me full between meals. And now here is the final result!

These Sun Butter Bars are my JAM and I’m excited to share the recipe with y’all after doing two different tests on them.

So why did I choose sunflower seed butter over a normal nut butter like peanut? Well if you’ve kept up with m Ayurvedic learning – peanuts are among the nuts that are to be avoided/limited for Pitta types – you could certainly substitute with peanut or almond butter if you prefer those, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by my newfound love of sunflower seed butter. It’s got a milder nuttier flavor that peanut butter and is almost slightly sweeter – I make my own by just blending up roasted and salted sunflower seeds in a food processor. I made three different versions of this bar ::

Chocolate and Coconut

Dried Fruit and Coconut

Ultimate Loaded Nut and Seed Bar

You can totally customize to include your favorite mix-ins or whatever you have on hand (I like to think of these guys as those garbage can cookies where you literally toss in everything you can find in the pantry and call it a day). I personally love anything with chocolate, and these bars feel more like a treat when I add (80 – 90% cacao) chocolate. My favorite blend so far has been one with chocolate chunks, dried apricots, and cranberries. Just make sure that there is enough sun butter coating to hold the bars together and that you let them rest up in the fridge to hold their shape. Happy bar making!

sunflower butter granola bars - 3 ways with chocolate, dried fruit, and seeds & nuts

sunflower butter granola bars
yields 6 large bars
time :: 10 minutes prep, rest overnight

ingredients ::

1/2 cup of sunflower butter (I make mine homemade)
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup of rolled oats
1/2 cup of toppings/mix-ins (dried fruit, coconut shreds, nuts, seeds, chocolate, etc.)

directions ::

  1. in a large bowl add the sun butter, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon. combine into a smooth mixture.
  2. add the oats and toppings of choice and combine until everything is coated in the sun butter mix and evenly combined.
  3. line a square 8×8″ pan with parchment paper and pour in the oat mix. press down into one even layer and add and press in additional toppings.
  4. place pan in the fridge overnight to set up. 
  5. remove un-cut bars from the pan and cut into even bar shapes. store in an airtight container (I keep mine in the fridge) – enjoy!

chai spice GF banana pancakes + on yoga practice

chai spice banana teff flour pancakes

banana teff flour pancakes with chai spice

As I’ve previously mentioned, what I really want to use This Brown Kitchen as is a place to serve all things wellness in my life. One of my focuses and intentions this year was to focus on being mindful of what is going on my life and to prioritize wellness. For the most part, I think I’ve done a pretty good job and have found so many ways to incorporate better decisions in regards to life and food into my everyday. An idea I’ve recently come across is Ayurveda. Now to be clear, I have known about Ayurveda and its principles for a long time as I did happen to grow up in an Indian household. What I’ve never done however is place emphasis on applying those principles into my day to day life. Last week, I started to. Of what I’ve learned about Ayurveda is that in a concise way of putting it, the idea is centered on addressing all aspects of well-being and healing for both the body and mind. 

As my birthday was this past weekend and spring is finally in bloom here in MPLS, I decided this would be the perfect time to revisit my intentions and refresh my goals for this next year of life. My first area of focus almost accidentally ended up being on my yoga practice – which just so happens to coincide with many of my wellness goals. While I’ve practiced yoga for a few years now, this is the firs time I’ve been so consistent about my practice and making efforts in class to really hone in on the movements and breathing that coincides with each pose. As much as I love a high intensity spin class, yoga has opened up an entirely different realm of wellness focused exercise that stretches me both mentally and physically. Whereas in a spin class the music is SO SO loud and the instructor is basically yelling the different adjustments at you so you’re not really focused on each movement and its effect for what it really is, yoga almost forces you to pay attention and listen to your body. Each day is different, and as one of my instructors mentioned, some days you have a good day in class, and some days you don’t. There are some evenings where you can go through your flow with minimal effort and others you’re pouring sweat after just one downward dog. Some nights my mind is running through all the to-do lists I have going on, and then the next day I am so present in my practice it’s weird. But – those days where you finally get into a pose that you’ve been struggling to reach for week and can hold another pose for just one breath longer are what all those other ups and downs are for. There are wins and losses each time you practice, but in the long run you notice the difference – it’s kind of like a metaphor for life as my instructor told us. 

chai spice banana teff flour pancakes

chai spice banana teff flour pancakes

So in the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing my full on wellness plan. I finally got around to reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, and in her search for leading a happier life she was very meticulous and structured about following what she preached with lists and graphs and tables. Not that I’m a total Type A, but I think some structure will at least provide some much needed guidelines to practicing what I preach, so to say. I’ll be sure to keep y’all updated.

Another way I’m trying to be structured about my wellness? Meal planning.

I’m one of those people who needs a meal plan, because if I don’t know what I’ll be eating through the week I will just grab whatever food is right in front of me, good, bad, or ugly as it may be. And one of the meals I have written out in my meal plan section of my #bulletjournal is this pancake recipe. While I’m pretty loyal to my faithful smoothies in the morning, I need to switch it up so as to not get bored and to give my system a break too. These guys are pretty simple and easy to whip up, plus I make a batch that’s enough for two breakfasts so I can eat one hot of the pan, and wrap the other one up in my tupperware to take to work to eat the next morning. You could easily add in some of your favorites like blueberries or chocolate or seeds right into the batter, I like mine with some homemade fruit syrup (literally just frozen fruit, lemon juice, and water in a pot – boiled until thick), and you should definitely make a batch over the weekend to eat in bed, brunch style. (:

chai spice banana teff flour pancakes chai spice banana teff flour pancakes

banana teff chai spice pancakes

prep time :: 10 minutes
cook time :: 10 minutes
yields :: 4 medium sized pancakes

ingredients ::
1 ripe banana
1 egg
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/4 cup almond milk
1 tablespoon water
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
1/4 cup teff flour
1/8 cup coconut flour
1 tablespoon chai spice

directions ::

  1. in a mixing bowl, mash the banana, removing large lumps, then combine in the other wet ingredients until well mixed.
  2. add in the dry ingredients and combine. batter should be thick.
  3. heat a non-stick pan up to a medium heat and add about a 1/4 – 1/2 cup of batter to the pan, cooking for about 2 – 3 minutes on each side until cooked through.
  4. serve warm with your favorite toppings.