Chocolate-Pistachio Energy Balls

TKB - chocolate-pistachio energy balls

They’re vegan, gluten-free and addictive. If you’re the kind of person who can’t stop eating stuff that falls in the sweet, salty and delicious category…consider this your warning.

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of cacao balls – I’ve previously posted these coconut-heavy energy bites, and this crunchy version with brown rice crisps, sunflower seeds and cacao nibs. And while I love both of those recipes, I have to admit – these are my new favorite. If you make anything this week, let it be this! I pretty much always have some sort of quick bite similar to this in the fridge or freezer. This type of thing saves us when it comes to returning from school and work and feeling ravenous. If we need to head out for a soccer game, or spontaneously decide to ride to the beach, we never regret bringing a little food with us. They feel like a treat, but pack a good nutrient punch.

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Kale-Quinoa Greek Salad

TKB - Kale-Quinoa Salad

The older I get, the more certain things change. Specifically, the food I have packed for the day makes a huge difference in the way I feel by the end of it, the presence or absence of sunshine can have a remarkable effect on my disposition, and I place an increasing value on experience, versus material anything. I’m not exactly ready to move to a studio apartment with my family of four, but if I had to pick between a trip versus a new couch, the exploration will prevail almost every time.

I’m not sure if the shift in eating relating so directly to the way I feel is a result of getting older, or if I’m more aware, or if my body has just acclimated to getting nutritious food the majority of the time and revolts when fed crap. Maybe all three. After all, I fondly remember several years of high school in which nachos were pretty frequent in my lunch rotation. Those round, yellow chips and the “cheese” I’m not so sure was really such a thing somehow got me through track practice. At any rate, I’d really pay for such a food choice these days. I’m always trying to hit the sweet spot of delicious and nourishing. Bonus points for something that keeps a couple of days and packs well for lunch. This salad gets bonus points.

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Vegan Crispy Cacao Bites

TKB - crispy cacao bites - five

I’m a lover of experience and memories over things, pretty much always. This is evident in the way I gift my family, particularly for birthdays. Planning a surprise getaway brings me almost as much joy as the trip itself. For Aidan’s 11th (today!), we planned a short trip – just one overnight and two days of skiing and snowboarding up at Crystal Mountain. It’s a 2.5 hour drive, and lift tickets were included with our stay. This allowed us to be sneaky behind the scenes and plan for one of his best friends to join us.

I try to keep things economical by making and packing as much of our food as possible, and aiming to get a room with a kitchen. For this trip, it meant making minestrone soup and sandwiches before we left for our trip to have for dinner last night, and bringing the goods to make french toast this morning. I also packed these crispy bites, and put 2 – 3 in individual snack size bags. I froze them, then sent everyone out with a bag to stuff in their jacket pocket for a little energy while out on the slopes. The crew loved them, so I thought I’d give you all the recipe, too!

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Apple Cinnamon Pecan Oatmeal

The Kitchen Beet - Apple Oatmeal

For as long as I can remember, oatmeal has been part of my breakfast rotation. The weekday oatmeal is generally topped with hastily chopped bananas, a handful of raw nuts, dried fruit and maybe a spoonful of peanut butter. It certainly serves its purpose, but weekend oatmeal is a little more luxurious, with adequate time to saute fresh fruit and nuts in cinnamon and maple syrup. My mornings come before the sun rises, and the early hours of weekend are particularly serene – leaf blowers not yet roaring to life, children still snuggled in layers of blankets and perhaps one of the few opportunities to take time for myself throughout the week. A version of this recipe was first published in the fall 2014 issue of Chickpea Magazine, and I paired it with an essay titled, a morning date with  you. One of my favorite excerpts: “Self-care is intentionally putting yourself first. Far from being selfish, it encourages you to carve out time to care of your health.” A year later, the sentiment still rings true. Perhaps during the next few weeks you can find a day to make this for yourself before dawn, before anyone or anything needs you, and just be.

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Sweet and Spicy Poblano-Corn Chowder

The Kitchen Beet - Poblano Corn Chowder

I mentioned in the last post that I have lots of recipes in the queue, and one of my frequent issues is not having the photos to go with. I would be so much more productive if someone could just follow me around and take pictures (and, um, clean up after me) while I rip through the kitchen like a tornado on a mission. Soup is cooking! Start chopping kale and shredding carrots! Put the pistachio-honey crumble on the bars and get them in the oven! Let’s go! In fairness, my husband is remarkably loving and generous when it comes to cleaning up my kitchen messes. I apparently just need a photographer to really be productive with getting recipes out to you, ha! Since I don’t have that, I’m thankful I had the time and light to take pictures while preparing a meal for The Thirty-Two Project yesterday. This sweet and spicy poblano-corn chowder is one of my all-time favorite summer soups.

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