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Playing Jazz in the Kitchen and a Recipe for Fall Spice Bars

Tunes pump out of the little bluetooth speaker that sits above our kitchen sink nightly.  Dance parties are common and T slays with his moves.  But dancing is not the only way we get creative in the kitchen.

One of the things I love most about our plant based household is the opportunity to be creative.  When it comes to plant foods, the palate is never ending and supremely colorful.  Once I got past the initial shock and awe of bucking conventionality in favor of a new way of nourishing myself and my family, things got fun.  Well, first challenging, then less challenging, and then fun.

Most humans are emotional eaters to some degree.  Tastes and smells can stimulate the heart as well as the taste buds.  The saying “eat to live, don’t live to eat” rings true in a way, but it is hard to deny that eating is one of life’s greatest pleasures.  Call me cray but I do think it is possible for food to nourish both body and soul simultaneously.

I strictly follow recipes less often than I riff on them.  If my cooking were music, it would be less like classical and more like jazz.  Did you know that while there are approximately 20,000 different types of edible plants in the world, the average American diet only contains about 20 of them?  That’s like using just a few notes to write a song instead of the whole piano!  Interestingly, the #1 predictor of a healthy gut is the variety of plants in one’s diet.  Seems like humans and plant foods were meant to be.

Anyway, the other day when I got home from work I was overtaken by the familiar urge to play a little jazz in the kitchen.  As you may have read in last week’s post, I’ve been embracing fall in all its sweet and spicy glory.  Before I knew it, ingredients were whirling in the food processor.  As I stopped to taste what I had created, I was immediately transported back to childhood and my mother’s spice cake (she is an excellent baker and I fully blame her for my sweet tooth…Hi Mom!).  A dash of allspice and a riff on a frosting recipe later, these bars were born:

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These babies are rich but also nutrient dense.  See, you can have your cake bar and eat it too!  Now back to our scheduled dance party.  Hit it T!…5, 6, 7, 8…..

Fall Spice Bars

Base:

1 cup medjool dates, pitted

1/3 cup + 1/4 cup raisins

1 cup raw walnuts

1/2 cup raw nut butter of choice (I used a combo of almond, cashew, walnut, and hemp seeds so pretty sure any would do…)

1/2 cup gelatinized maca powder (an adaptogen that is said to increase energy and libido…hey now…) *oat flour works great if you don’t want to use/don’t have maca

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

a sprinkle (1/8 – 1/4ish teaspoon)  of nutmeg

a sprinkle (1/8 – 1/4ish teaspoon) of allspice

Pinch of salt (if it isn’t in your nut butter already)

Frosting:

2/3 cup coconut butter

6-7 tablespoons unsweetened soy milk (or other plant milk)

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2-4 scoops (sweetness equivalent to 2-4 teaspoons sugar) pure stevia powder (or other sweetener of choice)

1 tablespoon date sugar (or other sweetener of choice)

Pinch of salt

To Make:

-Blend dates, walnuts, and 1/3 cup of the raisins until combined.

-Add remaining base ingredients except the remaining 1/4 cup of raisins until combined.  Taste and adjust spice as needed.

-Pulse in remaining 1/4 cup of raisins to keep some of their raisiny texture.

-Press batter into an 8×8 square baking dish lined with parchment paper.

-Soften coconut butter by placing jar in warm water and giving it a good stir.

-Using a hand mixer or blender, combine all frosting ingredients except soy milk.

-Add soy milk 1 tablespoon at a time until frosting is creamy and spreadable.

-Spread frosting over bars and place in fridge for at least an hour to set.

-Slice and enjoy!  (Store any remaining bars in fridge.)

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A second picture!  How’s that for an encore?