Seriously delish snackage, coming riiiiiiight up. But first, a story.
One of the things I’ve learned over the past year or two is the importance of knowing what restores you when life gets crazy. I’ve always been the type that feels fairly capable of doing what I set my mind to, and believe that while having a positive mindset doesn’t necessarily guarantee those goals will be reached, it certainly helps propel us along the path. We all know that life isn’t 100% within our control, and even types like me who thrive on routine and control know that if it was, things would be kinda boring.
It’s easy when curveballs get thrown our way to go into reaction, play the victim, catastrophize, and ruminate in negativity. However, through the goal setting and personal development work I’ve done, it’s become really clear that choosing to do so is exactly that – a choice. We can’t control the curveballs, but we can control how we respond. We can spiral into negativity and dwell on how things aren’t going our way, or we can decide to see the challenge as a game, an opportunity to evaluate options, and then tactfully decide on the next best move.
Recently some of the wonderful friends on my team at work lost their jobs. To say it was a tough day for everyone would be an understatement, especially since we’re all super tight and these are some of the most dedicated, hard-working, caring, compassionate and hilarious women I know. Even though the decision didn’t directly affect me, by the time I got in the car to drive home that night it was as though my heart had sunk all the way to my toes.
A few weeks have passed for the news to sink in, and I’m sure that if the same thing had happened to other people I know, they’d still be dwelling in feelings of unfairness, frustration, rejection, uncertainty and worry. But you know what? The situation that’s actually played out has amazed me, and makes me even more proud to have these friends in my life.
Not only are they seeking out new adventures, but they’re embracing the opportunity to discover what it is they truly want, love and care about. What they’ve always wanted to do but just haven’t had the time until now. They’re considering whether what they’ve been up to is really where they belong, or if perhaps they’d like to switch paths entirely. That takes an impressive level of self-awareness, courage and bravery to have that perspective. As an onlooker, I’m beyond inspired.
I mentioned that our team is super tight, and I know we will be for a long time regardless of where we work. One of the things we all have in common (aside from a love for açai bowls and robust collections of activewear) is a passion for being outside. The opportunities for hiking amongst stunning scenery, inhaling fresh mountain air and climbing to places with National Geographic-worthy lookout points was a major factor in my decision to move west. And so, on Friday, we did a morning hike up one of the routes I climb frequently here on Vancouver’s North Shore, Quarry Rock. It’s in an area called Deep Cove and the whole little village is beautiful. The hike isn’t a strenuous one, nor is it very long, but the view at the top is beautiful. Islands in the distance. Kayakers and paddleboarders in the water. Beaches, parks and sunshine. That’s my kind of mini mind-body-soul restorative retreat.
So what the heck does all of this have to do with Cherry Cashew Cacao Nib Bars? Healthy hiking fuel, that’s what.
With a big summer bucket list of mountains to climb, I’ve been making all sorts of healthy portable snacks and buying a few more to try. I’ll tell you more about them soon after I’ve had a chance to test everything out, but in the meantime, my Cherry Cashew Cacao Nib Bars certainly passed the test. In fact, not only are they Angela-approved (meaning that they’re made of clean, nutrient-dense whole food ingredients), but they’re also dad-approved and coworker-approved as of last week.
Cherry Cashew Cacao Nib Bars
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 50 mins
Ingredients (16 squares/bars)
- 7 Medjool dates (140g), pitted and chopped into very small pieces
- 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
- 1 cup gluten-free crispy brown rice cereal
- 3/4 cup flaked coconut
- 1/2 cup raw cashews
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/3 cup dried cherries
- 1/4 cup hemp seeds
- 1/4 cup cacao nibs
- 1 tsp chia seeds
- pinch of sea salt
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line an oven-safe baking dish with parchment paper, leaving a bit hanging over the edges to use as handles when lifting the bars out.
In a small saucepan, boil the maple syrup and dates. Once boiling, stir in the vanilla and coconut oil until the oil is completely melted and incorporated. Mash the date bits as mush as you can in the process, then remove the saucepan from the heat. (This should take about 5 mins total.)
Combine all remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Use a spatula to scrape the liquid mixture out of the saucepan and into the bowl, tossing the dry ingredients to coat as evenly as possible.
Pour the contents of the bowl into the lined baking dish, using the back of a flipper or other utensil to push everything down firmly into a single, even layer.
Bake for 45 minutes, then remove from the oven. It will likely look as though the loaf has risen a little bit, and this is ok.
Use the parchment paper ‘handles’ to lift the baked layer out of the dish and allow it to cool COMPLETELY (very important!) before slicing with a sharp knife into bars or squares.
Store in an air-tight container or wrap individually and freeze if making big batches.
So tell me… if you’ve been doing summer hikes, what are some of the snacks you’ve been packing?
Also, in case you missed it, don’t forget to enter my Sibu skincare giveaway. It closes on Friday, so get your entries in ASAP!