superfood chocolate quinoa bark

superfood chocolate quinoa bark | this brown kitchen

superfood chocolate quinoa bark | this brown kitchen

Y’all I’m so excited for this recipe because it’s part of a super fun snack swap with Kaitlyn from Fit Freedom Lifestyle. While living in Minneapolis, I met Kaitlyn through the power of Instagram and y’all, she is seriously such a gem. I am constantly inspired by her and John’s dedication to sharing health focused content that is totally real and can actually be applied to any lifestyle. Plus – I’m obsessed with her workout page – this HIIT workout and this leg series have been saving me when I just need to workout at home. As a part of our little snack swap, Kaitlyn whipped up a super yummy Paleo Banana Bread (which I made last week and it is seriously scrumptious and perfect for the fall season – I’ll share the link once live), while I made up this quinoa bark which is officially my new favorite evening snack when my ever-present sweet tooth always seems to pop up.

But before I get to the actual recipe, let’s chat about September. Ohhhhh September – there’s a part of me that always considers September 1 the official start to the fall season. I know that isn’t true, it’s not officially fall until September 22nd, but I like to get ahead when it comes to celebrating. I could wax poetic on the season, there’s just something so cozy and snuggly about breaking out the fall boots and flannel shirts and I LIVE FOR IT. Maybe it’s because I grew up in Texas where we don’t really have a fall season – which was reinstated as a fact after moving to Minnesota last year where fall is in fact an actual season – that I am so fond of the sound of crunchy leaves and scarves and misty mornings. Before I become extremely basic by listing out all of the things I love about fall, let’s talk about what’s actually going on. It’s 99 degrees today in Sacramento and I’m plugging in travel and meetings on my calendar through the end of the year. These next few weeks are going to be filled with so many flights, explorations, meetings, and celebrations. I get to head back to the midwest this next weekend for KBrenn’s wedding (literally so excited for this celebration because I also get to be reunited with Imani and we are going to be obnoxious tourists for five hours in Chicago the day after wedding!!), then I’m back to my home away from home, MPLS, twice in October, and then come November I return to Texas for a month and a half. I’m exhausted just typing that out.

superfood chocolate quinoa bark | this brown kitchen  superfood chocolate quinoa bark | this brown kitchen

superfood chocolate quinoa bark | this brown kitchen

People keep saying it’s good to be busy, and I don’t disagree. There’s something nice about having things going on and events to look forward to, but it can definitely be hard to keep up with routines and goals when there’s always something going on. I’m trying though! Just send up some prayers that I don’t get sick with all of these flights and time changes (:

Now on to why you’re really here – this quinoa bark. Y’ALL. I think I have found my new favorite snack of all time. So this is the thing about me: I don’t really snack during the day. I’m pretty good about getting in my breakfast, a hearty lunch bowl of some kind, and tossing together something for dinner, but it’s that post-dinner evening pre-bedtime zone where my snack monster comes out. I need something sweet after dinner, and then I want something salty, and then back to sweet, and the cycle goes on. Luckily this bark has a little bit of that salty-sweet thing going on so I knock out both birds with one stone. And if you’re wondering how the whole quinoa thing works out here – quinoa is actually a seed, so you can toast it up like any other seeds and eat it as is. Toasting it actually brings out its naturally nutty flavor, and couple with the richness of maple syrup you could eat the base of this bark on its own no problem. But, because I’m a chocoholic I obvi had to find a way to work chocolate into this scenario. Use some really high quality dark chocolate – 80% cocoa and higher, and top with all of your favorite ingredients. I went with a superfood theme here to go with the powerhouse that quinoa is, using the dark chocolate, goji berries, dried blueberries and cranberries, etc. You could sub in your favorite nuts and seeds, or even get crazy during the Halloween season and toss on some of your favorite sweets if you’re not feeling the superfood vibe. 

Give this bark a whirl, I promise you’ll be hooked – and tell me your favorite topping combos!

superfood chocolate quinoa bark | this brown kitchen

superfood chocolate quinoa bark | this brown kitchen  superfood chocolate quinoa bark | this brown kitchen

superfood chocolate quinoa bark | this brown kitchen

superfood chocolate quinoa bark

yield – about 10 servings
time – 20 minutes prep, 30 minutes cook

ingredients ::

for the bark – 
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and dried
3 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
pinch of fine salt

for the toppings –
10oz dark chocolate, 80% cocoa or higher
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
toppings of choice: coconut shreds, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, etc.

  1. preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. in a large mixing bowl, add the maple syrup, honey, coconut oil, and salt. microwave in ten second increments until ingredients are all melted. add the quinoa to the syrup and stir to combine, coating all of the quinoa.
  3. spoon the quinoa mixture onto the baking sheet and spread into a layer about 1/2 inch thick and place into the oven (the quinoa will spread a little while baking). bake for about 30 – 35 minutes until the quinoa has started to turn golden brown. remove from the oven (the quinoa layer will still be soft) and place tray into the freezer to cool for five minutes, letting the layer harden.
  4. while the quinoa is cooling, add the chocolate and coconut oil into a microwaveable bowl and melt in 30 second increments. 
  5. remove the quinoa from the freezer. spread the chocolate onto the quinoa into an even layer and add toppings of choice.
  6. place tray into fridge for at least 10 – 15 minutes until the chocolate has hardened.
  7. with a knife, chop the bark into large chunks and store in an airtight container. enjoy!

lemon almond loaf + honey rhubarb sauce

a lemon almond flour loaf with a mint and rhubarb sauce - the perfect way to welcome warm weather! (and it's gluten and refined sugar free!)

the makings of a yummy lemon almond loaf

Be honest with me – if someone talks about healthy eating all the time, do you assume that they eat kale and hemp seeds all the time? Would you think that they rarely, if ever, indulge in things like a slice of cake with sprinkles? I believe that for a long time, if someone preached to the high heavens of being a healthy person, an assumption was made that they were missing out on the great foods in the world like a really chewy and doughy piece of sourdough or some hefty scoops of chocolate chunk ice cream. Times are changing though, and I love seeing more and more people sharing a different message of balance.

To be honest, finding the right balance between filling your day with leafy greens and playing TREAT YO SELF when someone walks into the office with a bag of Bruegger’s was a fine line that I didn’t always teeter on well. There were times where everyday of the week was a treat yourself day and then that just becomes a lifestyle. What I’ve discovered over the last year or so is that it is 100% possible to eat everything you want and not deprive yourself of those special treats. I’m one of those firm believers that food brings people together and so many of our major life events revolve around food, so you totally deserve to indulge (I mean come on, what would your birthday be without a whole cake to yourself or Thanksgiving without a second batch of garlicky sour cream potatoes??). So what does that mean for your everyday? I think that depends on you, your life, and how that makes you feel. I think our bodies are really good and actually wired to tell us what we need to be our best selves – and yes, sometimes our brains get in the way of what we should eat versus what we want to eat and that’s fine too. Our bodies kind of guide us to what we need to eat to satisfy what we’re currently missing in our diets (mindbodygreen had an interesting article that covers some of those cravings – like when we are stressed we can face adrenal fatigue and your body starts to crave salt to act as a fortification). At a certain point, you need to really trust your gut (almost literally!) to figure out what makes you feel good, and I think it takes time to be in tune with yourself about those things.

a lemon almond flour loaf with a mint and rhubarb sauce - the perfect way to welcome warm weather! (and it's gluten and refined sugar free!)

a lemon almond flour loaf with a mint and rhubarb sauce - the perfect way to welcome warm weather! (and it's gluten and refined sugar free!)

a lemon almond flour loaf with a mint and rhubarb sauce - the perfect way to welcome warm weather! (and it's gluten and refined sugar free!)

Something that I’ve come to love about Ayurvedic philosophies is how it emphasizes balance and how the main goal when it comes to eating is to adjust those balances within ourselves. So does that mean Ayurveda says to eat dessert everyday because #balance? Well no, not exactly. Instead, it says that if you are going to eat dessert, like ice cream let’s say, you can do certain things to make sure your body digests it properly and that you balance it out. Since most desserts can be exceedingly sweet, try to combine some spices in there to even out the foods, eat dessert earlier in the day so that your body has time to digest before going to sleep at night, make it as easy as possible for your body to adjust to your sugar intake!

So that’s where this loaf comes in – as a reminder that you can treat yourself too. This almond loaf is a gluten and refined sugar free version of my favorite flavor of muffins and cakes (LEMON!!!) and is topped with a jammy rhubarb sauce that is flavored with honey, lemon, and mint. I added a heaping helping of ginger into the loaf to help balance out the sweet and lemon helps to add some acidity in there as well. You could easily add some blueberries in here for an extra fruity punch and you could certainly swap out rhubarb if you don’t like rhubarb or are making this out of season. I’ve been loving a slice of this loaf (cake??) for my mid afternoon snack or as I’m running out the door. Snack on, friends!

lemon almond loaf with honey rhubarb sauce

for the loaf (adapted from Dolly & Oatmeal) ::

1 1/4 cups almond flour
1/4 cup arrowroot powder
1 tsp baking powder
large pinch of salt
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp ginger powder
1/4 cup and 1/8 cup coconut sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

for the rhubarb sauce ::

3 tablespoons of honey
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
1/4 cup of water
1 large sprig of mint, in tact
1 cup and an additional 1/4 cup of rhubarb, sliced

  1. preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a loaf pan with parchment paper, set aside.
  2. in a large mixing bowl, add the almond flour, arrowroot powder, baking powder, salt, lemon zest, ginger powder, and the 1/4 cup of coconut sugar. combine and then add in the egg yolks – mixture will be thick.
  3. in a stand mixer or with an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they start to get fluffy – add in the vanilla extract and keep beating, little by little start adding in the 1/8 cup of coconut sugar and beat until the egg whites form loose peaks. in four parts, slowly fold the egg white mixture into the flour mixture, being careful not to completely deflate the egg whites. fold mixture together until smooth and then pour into lined loaf pan.
  4. bake for 32 – 35 minutes until the outside is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. let cool.
  5. in a stove top pot add the honey, lemon juice, coconut sugar, water, and mint sprig. stir to combine and bring to a light simmer. add the 1 cup of rhubarb into the mixture and let the mix simmer for about 10 – 15 minutes until the rhubarb has started to break down and the sauce is thick. take off the heat and remove the mint spring. if you want additional texture, add the extra 1/4 cup of rhubarb and stir in to the sauce.
  6. serve loaf by the slice, topped with the rhubarb sauce, mint leaves, lemon zest, and powdered sugar if desired. enjoy!

brown rice breakfast bowls

brown rice breakfast bowls with all of your favorite toppings

Hello, friends!

How was your weekend? The weather has FINALLY started warming up here in the mpls – meaning I can walk outside without having to wear a jacket. Seriously something so small as one layer being taken off is so freeing. 

brown rice breakfast bowls with all of your favorite toppings

brown rice breakfast bowls with all of your favorite toppings  brown rice breakfast bowls with all of your favorite toppings

Something that I started this past week is what I’m calling #40daysofwellness. I’m 9 days in and with 31 more days to go I’m feeling so good. One of my new year’s resolutions (YES! Did you already forget about your intentions for 2017??) was to prioritize wellness this year, and while there have been some week’s that I’ve been better about it than others, I think I’ve done pretty well so far. Giving myself this challenge was a way to kind of check in with the intention I set – reminding myself to make better food choices – like do you really need to eat a handful of candy that’s sitting out at the office?), exercising more – trying to either get to the gym or go to yoga 3 or 4 times a week, and getting better with my sleep schedule – yup, I’ve been in bed before 10pm almost every night and the mornings have definitely gotten easier as a result. Are you doing anything to prioritize wellness?

brown rice breakfast bowls with all of your favorite toppings

brown rice breakfast bowls with all of your favorite toppings

Another big focus area of mine has been to be better about breakfast. I’ve packed my breakfast to take to the office for the past two months – and for someone who went through years of skipping breakfast entirely I think that’s pretty good. I’ve done everything from granola in a tub, chia pudding with fruits and almond butter, green smoothies in mason jars, and green or peppermint tea. It’s definitely been a wonderful way to start the day. And because I’m also someone who tires of routine easily, I’ve had to experiment with different options. This week, I tried a brown rice breakfast bowl. It’s like oatmeal, just with brown rice which I personally think is texturally better and more filling. Toss it in a pot with some delicious milks and warm spices, and top with all your faves. It’s really one of those non-recipe recipes. Do with it as you please and make it your own! Here’s to another wonderful week and be sure to share your fave on-the-go breakfasts with me (I need all the inspiration I can get!)!

brown rice porridge
  1. 1 cup long grain brown rice
  2. 2 - 2 1/4 cup water
  3. 1 13 oz can coconut milk
  4. 1/2 cup almond milk
  5. 1 heaping tsp vanilla
  6. 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  7. 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  8. 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  9. 1/4 tsp salt
  1. rinse the rice and add to a stove top pot. add the water and milks to the pot and turn the heat up to a medium.
  2. stir in the vanilla and spices and bring the rice up to a boil - turn the heat down to a medium low and cover the pot - let cook for 60 - 70 minutes stirring occasionally until it reaches a thick oatmeal-like consistency.
  3. if the rice is thickening too quickly, add an additional 1/4 cup of water. cook until the rice is soft but still holds its shape. turn off the heat.
  4. if storing overnight, let rice cool to room temp before storing in fridge, reheating when needed. if serving now, add the warm rice to a serving bowl and add desired toppings. enjoy!
this brown kitchen

jammy nut butter thumb print cookies

These nut butter jammy cookies are gluten free and vegan sweet treats!

Happy week of Valentine’s, y’all!

We celebrated on Friday night with the perfect Galentine’s bash – a night of chocolates, popcorn, so many salty snacks (specifically those rye chips because those are my JAM!), a cheese and cracker spread, many wine bottles, coffee, and night of great conversation to celebrate female friendship. Make sure you tell your lady friends how much you appreciate them this week!

Another way to celebrate Valentine’s? COOKIES. I made so many cookies this last week it was kinda crazy, but I also ate a couple salads so that basically cancels all those cookies out, right? 

Jammy Nut Butter Cookies  jammy nut butter thumbprint cookies

these jammy nut butter thumbprint cookies are the perfect sweet treats

When it comes to cookies I definitely play favorites. Don’t give me anything with nuts or raisins in it, the dough should preferably be chocolate or the cookie should contain chocolate – M&Ms, white chocolate, mini chocolate chips, etc. I also might have a slight obsession with Linzer cookies. I typically think of Linzer cookies as holiday treats, so a simpler rest of the year cookie is a thumbprint cookie with a big dab of jam. When it comes to jam, I have high standards. I really believe that jam should bring out the flavors of the season and that you should be able to taste the fruit. Honestly, you should be able to eat jam straight off of a spoon – that’s how good it should be. Luckily MPLS has great local vendors (can’t wait for the summer farmer’s market to come back!) and the best jam happens to be here in town too.

I used three different flavors from Serious Jam to top off my cookies and you couldn’t go wrong with any of them. The cookie base is nutty and earthy, so slightly sweet and warm jam flavors go best with them. The Salted Strawberry Jam was perfect, the Apple Brandy Butter was divine, but the Orange Curry Cranberry Butter was the bee’s knees. All the ingredients that Heidi uses in her jams are local (like local apples in that apple brandy jam!!) and in season which is why the strawberry jam literally tastes like taking a bite out of a fresh strawberry. Use all the flavors –  you can’t go wrong. Be forewarned, these cookies are NOT super sweet. So if you want a little extra sweetness add a smidge extra of the maple syrup and coconut sugar. I think the jam adds enough sweetness, so just add a little extra jam if you do want something a little sweeter. 

These nut butter cookies are a delicious sweet treat!

jammy nut butter thumbprint cookies
  1. 1/8 cup almond butter
  2. 1/8 cup peanut butter
  3. 1 tbsp ghee
  4. 1/2 tsp vanilla
  5. 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  6. 1/4 tsp ginger
  7. 1/8 cup maple syrup
  8. 1/2 tbsp molasses
  9. 1/4 tsp baking soda
  10. 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  11. 1/4 cup coconut flour
  12. 1 tsp coconut sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Add the nut butters, ghee, vanilla, spices, maple syrup, and molasses to a large bowl and mix together to combine until smooth.
  3. Add the dry ingredients and combine until dough comes together, it should be smooth and come together into small dough balls.
  4. Form little dough balls of about 1 tbsp of dough and place on a lined cookie sheet. Using the end of a wooden spoon, press down on the dough balls to create an indent. Bake in oven for about 6 minutes.
  5. Take cookies out of oven and let cool, add a teaspoon and a half of jam to the cookies. Enjoy!
this brown kitchen