Creamy Vegan Lemon Bars

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These lemon bars are the brain child of craving lemon bars the second spring hit, being gifted a huge bag of Brandless Oats & Honey Granola while trying to avoid eating granola (due to my lack of self-control when it comes to this crack snack), and the response to an Instagram poll where lemon bars won in a landslide.

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These lemon bars are vegan. No, I don't follow a vegan diet, I tried and gained what felt like 5 lbs. in 5 days due to eating pasta and carbs in replacement for protein and dairy. However, I've found that cooking and baking while trying to modify for various diets is a challenge and a fun experiment. It also doesn't hurt to watch your intake of added sugar, animal products and excess dairy. Due to the granola, these bars are not gluten-free, but the are vegan, dairy-free, egg-free, and free of processed sugar. 

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Quick plug for Brandless before we move on. This recipe is not sponsored by Brandless, but I have to brag on them. The granola, the parchment paper and the knife (yes the knife) that I used in parts of this recipe are all from Brandless. It's my new obsession. They are a fair-trade, non-GMO, mostly organic, no added sugar food and household item company where everything is $3. And for each purchase made on Brandless, a meal is donated to Feeding America. 

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Creamy Vegan Lemon Bars
yields 16 bars

Ingredients:
1 cup raw cashews* soaked
1 cup coconut cream (the hardened portion at the top of a can of full-fat coconut milk)
zest of 2 lemons
juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup agave
2 cups plain granola, I used Brandless Oats & Honey, but any kind of honey, almond, or vanilla flavor will work. 
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1-2 Tbsp. powdered sugar (optional)

Directions:
Place your cashews in a bowl and cover with very hot water. Let soak for 1 hour. Line an 8x8 square pan with parchment paper, letting the edges hang over the sides and set aside. 

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In a blender or food processor, pulse the granola until it is the texture of fine crumbs. In a small bowl, mix melted coconut oil and granola crumbs.  Press mixture into prepared pan. Using the bottom of a measuring cup or drinking glass, make sure crust is pressed firmly into pan. Bake for 10 minutes until edges are slightly golden. 

Reduce the oven to 350 degrees. 

In a high powdered blender, add soaked cashews, coconut cream, juice and zest of lemons and agave. Blend together until smooth and creamy. Taste and make sure flavor is where you want it. I added a bit more lemon zest after tasting. You want the lemon flavor to be bright and it to be slightly sweet.

Spread filling mixture over the baked crust. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes until the edges are firm and the center slightly jiggly (LOL jiggly). Let rest for 10 minutes. Chill for at least 4 hours in the fridge or overnight. 

Using the parchment paper to assist you, pull the lemon bars out of the pan. Cut evenly into 16 squares. Lightly sift powdered sugar over the top. Fine served at room temperature, but store in the fridge for optimal freshness!

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Annie

Bites of My Life

We are having the most amazing, un-typical August weather here in OKC. Tons of rain has brought cooler temps but no one is complaining. Nothing crazy it's still in the 80s, but the mornings and evenings are gorgeous and the afternoons made for perfect impromptu back to back pool days this weekend. Despite September on the horizon, I'm holding on to summer. Lots of watermelon consumed, pool time, bike rides and meals eaten outside. 

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-Recipe post for Lemon Turmeric Energy Bites for the perfect pre or post workout treat...
-...or paired with an apple and almond butter for breakfast.
-Meal prepped all the ingredients to have cobb salads for dinner. Hard boiled egg, roasted sweet potato, avocado, red onion, cherry tomatoes, and bacon! Drizzled with red wine vinegar, salt and pepper!
-Crushing on chia pudding recently. Working on perfecting my recipe before posting it. 
-The most random lunch combination consisting of some of my favorite things. Plantain chips and salsa, pickled okra and watermelon.
-Lunch, snack, drink and reading material all picked up at one of my favorite grocery stores.
-Free beer, free food and free hats and we are suddenly the biggest OKC Dodgers fans.
-A piece of D.C. landed in my mailbox this week! TY TY RJ!
-My girl just being her normal cute, now one month old self!
-Homemade watermelon moscow mules. Just added Whole Foods watermelon juice and chunks of watermelon to my standard mule recipe.
-Post pool day cobb salad. I'm having a cobb salad moment.
-Early morning lattes outside in the most amazing August weather. 

Stay tuned for bites next week for a full bachelorette weekend recap. I'm Miami bound for Labor Day for Claire's bach weekend!

Annie

Lemon Turmeric Energy Bites

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If there is an event that involves me, then you know there will be treats. I had so much fun hosting a private Beyond 500 class for friends and followers last Sunday. I wanted to bring something sweet to reward everyone for the hard workout, but I didn't want to blow all the work we would be doing in the class. Energy bites (not energy balls, I refuse) were the perfect post-workout treat. 

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Lemon Turmeric Energy Bites
yields 20 bites

Ingredients:
1 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
6 oz pitted dates
1 Tbsp. chia seeds
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. vanilla extract
zest and juice of 1 lemon

Directions:
Put all ingredients into your food processor and process until everything comes together, about 3-5 minutes. Stopping and scraping down the sides every minute or so. You want to make sure the nuts, seeds and dates are finely processed and it comes together like a dough.  

Using a tablespoon size cookie scoop, portion out the dough and roll to form balls. Store in the fridge for up to a week. Each bite is only 85 calories. 

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With protein from the cashews and chia seeds, natural sugars from the dates, and an energy boost from the lemon and turmeric, they make for the perfect pre-or post-workout snack. 

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Annie

Bites of My Life

Last week was active, literally and figuratively. I always feel like my week gets off to a nice slow start then ends up going 100 mph by the end of the week. I have a feeling this week will be no different. A concert, roadtrip to Tulsa, multiple fitness classes, soccer game, lunches, dinners, and getting prepped for the week, I'm exhausted from the weekend and currently enjoying a nice slow Monday from the comfort of my living room. 

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-I've been doing my best to stay committed to eating Whole30 during the work week. That means Lunch Boards on repeat. 
-I somehow made my Perfect CCCs even more perfect, did you see the updates in last week's post?
-Elle's favorite nap spot is in Aunt Annie's arms. 
-Lake Street Dive at The Jones had me playing marketing manager by day, roadie by night. Please notice my walkie talkie making me look concert offish. 
-Learn acro yoga got checked off the bucket list this weekend while celebrating StudioHop launching in Tulsa! If you are in the Tulsa area, my code 'AnnieHop20' still works to get $20 off your first month!
-Lemon Turmeric Energy Bites for a healthy sweet treat. Recipe coming tomorrow!
-Post-workout snacks after a sweaty Sunday at Beyond 500. 
-#TeamTakeaBite went beyond. Thanks for having us Beyond Studios!
-Embarrassed at how quickly we demolished this fruit and charcuterie board, even with the large meal we had following. Sunday Supper at mom and dads is the best way to end the week.

Annie

Lemon Loaf

About two weeks ago an old co-worker/work bff sent me a food video of a riff on Starbuck's Lemon Loaf, with the message "I love their lemon loaf, but I don't think I could handle buying all of those ingredients and doing a million steps..." I easily took this as a challenge to recreate the recipe in a more approachable manor.

Side note really quick. The word "approachable" keeps following me around. I've really honed in on realizing my style of cooking and baking is "approachable." I work to create recipes that any one can make and enjoy. I hope you agree. 

When my friend plotted the idea in me for this lemon loaf I was more than happy to follow through. I love a good banana or pumpkin bread, but this lemon version is just what my spring taste buds were craving.

If you are planning an Easter brunch for this weekend or have any spring baking to-do's, add this to your list. It is friends and family taste tested approved! I love leaving my bake goods out on the counter, to come back to find only a plate of crumbs. This is the best compliment in my opinion.

Lemon Loaf
yields 8-9 pieces, 1-9x5 loaf

Ingredients:
3 eggs
8 oz sour cream or greek yogurt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. lemon zest (about 3 lemons)
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Icing:
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. lemon juice (1 large lemon)
1 Tbsp. of butter, very soft

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x5 loaf pan and set aside. 

In an electric mixer, cream eggs, sour cream (or greek yogurt) and sugar. Mix in oil. Add vanilla extract, lemon zest and lemon juice. Scrape down the sides then add flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and mix until fully combined. Pour into your prepared pan and bake for 40-50 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire wrack for at least 15 minutes. Remove from pan and place back on wire rack until completely cool (or for the impatient like myself, throw it in the freezer for a bit). While cooling, make your icing.

You want really soft butter, but not fully melted. Whisk soft butter, powdered sugar and lemon juice until the consistency of thick glue. Pour over the top of your cool loaf and let it drip down the sides. Garnish with lemon zest. Once the icing is set, slice into pieces!

Similar to Starbucks-yes? Better than Starbucks-yes. Make/bake and you will see. Happy Spring!

Take a lick?

Annie