I know they're not much to look at, but trust me, they are gooood!

The inspiration for this recipe came from a blog called: Chocolate-Covered Katie and her “Fudge Babies” recipe. She has created many different flavors, so check out her ideas too! I have made several different varieties, and this one is my favorite- I love just about anything with almond extract...
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If you leave out the chocolate and replace the figs with more dates, you can use this “base” for any flavoring you want. You could make a citrus variety using lemon, orange, or lime zest. Adding in shredded unsweetened coconut is a really nice addition. Replace the figs with dried cherries to make a chocolate covered cherry variety. Oh, the possibilities...

You can double this recipe and spread it into the bottom of a 13X9 cake pan, allow them to harden up a bit in the fridge and cut into squares to make an "energy bar." 

And of course, make sure your dates and figs don't have any added sugar in them- check the labels!

CHOCOLATE, ALMOND & FIG BITES
1 cup raw almonds
1 cup raw walnuts
6 medium-sized dates ("pitted baking dates")
8-10 dried black mission figs
1 Tbs solid coconut oil
10 drops liquid stevia*
½ tsp almond extract
½ tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2 Tbs cocoa powder

1. In a food processor, grind the nuts until they are a course texture- pieces the size of coffee grounds to rice is what I shoot for. Roughly chop the dates and figs to make it a little easier on the food processor. Add them to the food processor and whirl them around until they are ground along with the nuts.
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2. To the mixture add the coconut oil, stevia, extracts, and salt. Process until well combined. Taste the mixture at this point to see if you need any more sweetener or salt. The mixture should be moist and able form a ball, like the picture below. If your mixture is not moist enough, a little honey, agave, more coconut oil, or a wee-bit of water might do the trick. 

3. Add the cocoa powder and give everything one last whirl in the food processor. That’s it! Form them into balls, and store them in an airtight container. They do best stored in the fridge. 
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*I used liquid stevia, but use whatever healthy sweetener you have on hand. If you are using powdered stevia, it will be about two packets-worth. Just keep tasting and adding more until you get it right. 
 
 
Long name, I know...but I just had to give credit to all the ingredients! Everything about this salad is wonderful- tastes fantastic (this might just be my new favorite lunch), is exceptionally quick to whip up, and contains only powerhouse ingredients.
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To really jazz it up, eat it on top of a bed of lettuce and add some tomato wedges! 
This makes two good-sized and filling lunch servings. Omit the tuna and you have a nice side dish for dinner!

WHITE BEAN, TUNA, FETA, ALMOND, LEMON & PARSLEY SALAD
1 can great northern beans, drained and rinsed 1*
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup sliced or slivered almonds
¼ cup finely diced red onion
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese 2*
1 can tuna fish, drained and flaked
1-2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1-2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp dried oregano or dill….or both!

Simple: combine everything in a bowl and mix gently until combined.  Enjoy!

1* My favorite brand of beans, by far, is Eden Foods. You may also substitute garbanzo beans in this recipe, but if you haven’t had great northerns, I urge you to try them.

2* If you don’t like feta cheese, you could substitute some finely diced cheddar- that would be good too!


 
 
Peeled Snacks Dried Fruit
http://www.peeledsnacks.com

From the company website: "Our goal at Peeled Snacks is simple: to make you feel good about snacking. By using the highest quality organic and natural ingredients, we bring you the freshest pieces of dried fruit with NO added sugar. Our snacks provide a natural source of vitamins, minerals, and a full serving of fruit. So make snacking a satisfying part of life with a yummy treat that you know is good for you."

This is not yet available at many “regular” grocery stores, especially in my area. If you eat dried fruit regularly you certainly should consider buying a case online. And if you “like” Peeled Snacks facebook page, they periodically offer discount codes. They also have a lot of giveaways, so you may even be able to snag some for free!
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As a dried fruit connoisseur, I can tell you that this one is a real winner.  I have tried all of their fruit except for the dates and figs. Dried fruit is especially great for camping, hiking, biking, and car trips and is a great treat for kids. They have individual fruits as well as some fruit mixes available. 

     “Fruit Picks”
     go-Mango-man-go (great, most pieces pleasantly chewy with that great mango tang)
     pine-4-Pineapple (naturally sweet, true pineapple flavor)
     Banan-a-peel (awesome real banana taste, great and unexpected chewy texture) 
     Cherry-go-round (big, plump, juicy cherries with just the right amount of natural sweetness)
     Apple-2-the-core (soft and pliable, typical of a soft dried apple)
     Apricot-a-lot (good, not as soft as “typical” sugared dried apricots)
     raisin expectations (good, sweet, raisiny)

What’s not to like? Organic, gluten-free (but packaged in a facility that also packages wheat items), and the only ingredient is the fruit that is in it- no added sugars , fruit juices, or chemicals of any kind.  Remember that dried fruit, although healthy is still somewhat high in sugar, so be mindful.  
 
 
If you haven't tried quinoa yet, you should! This recipe is great as a main dish for lunch, or as a side dish with grilled chicken breast or any type of fish. You could also punch it up with some fresh grated garlic...I like to use a micro-plane grater for that- it grates garlic very finely, and then you could add it right to the dressing mixture and stir it in... 1/2 clove ought to do it for this recipe. I used red quinoa here, but you can use any kind. 
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Mmm... This one is so refreshing! 

CILANTRO-LIME QUINOA SALAD
2/3 cup uncooked quinoa
1 tsp sea salt
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 large tomato, chopped
1 red, orange or yellow bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 cup chopped fresh spinach

1/4 - 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbs fresh squeezed lime juice
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper

1. Some people like to rinse their quinoa before cooking- sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. This is best done with a mesh strainer or else one with very small holes. Bring 1 1/3 cups of water to a boil. Add in quinoa and one teaspoon salt. Bring back to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Make sure there is no water left in the bottom of the pot when it is done...if there is, pour the quinoa through a strainer. Set aside and let the quinoa cool for at least 15 minutes. 

2. In a large bowl combine lime juice, olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper and whisk to combine. 

3. To the bowl with the dressing, add the beans, chopped veggies, and cilantro. When the quinoa has cooled slightly (I like it to cool about 15 minutes) add it to the bowl also. Use a spatula to fold all the ingredients together until well combined. 
Serve warm, cold, or room temperature. Enjoy!