Salted Caramel Chocolate Swirl Cookie Bars

Salted Caramel Chocolate Swirl Cookie Bars | Life Healthfully LivedWhew!  Yes that is a long name, but I had to get everything in there so you can understand just how awesome these things are.  I was really shocked when I came up with this recipe.  I had been experimenting with making caramel out of dates and after the caramel pieces that I had planned didn’t turn out as I had hoped, I thought about making a no-bake cookie bar.

These aren’t totally no bake, you do have to cook the cookie base, but that takes less than 15 minutes.  The rest you just stir together, pour, and swirl!  Which makes this perfect if you realize at the last second you said you would bring a dessert to that Christmas party you’re going to.Salted Caramel Chocolate Swirl Cookie Bars | Life Healthfully Lived

I have a few other Christmas-y recipes and posts coming your way next week before the big day, so be on the lookout for those.  I plan to spend the majority of my weekend in the kitchen.  The only time that I will be out and about is to go see the new Star Wars movie with my husband.  I have been getting a countdown for about two weeks now, so I think the man is excited.  To be honest, I am too.  While I might not be as passionate about Star Wars as he is, I really do enjoy the movies.

So if you’re going to see the movie this weekend, enjoy!  Then come home and make some hot chocolate and eat these salted caramel chocolate swirl cookie bars!  If the empire, hot chocolate, and cookie bars don’t put you in the Christmas spirit… you may have already crossed over into the dark side.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Swirl Cookie BarsSalted Caramel Chocolate Swirl Cookie Bars | Life Healthfully Lived

Cookie Base- slightly adapted from this recipe by Plated with Style

  • 3/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup solid coconut oil (if your oil is liquid-y, put it in the freezer for a few minutes)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  In a blender or food processor, pulse all of the ingredients together until you have one dough ball.
  2. Grease an 8 x 8 pan with a little more coconut oil.  Don’t skip this step or you will end up with crumbled mess.
  3. Take the dough ball and press it onto the bottom and a little up the sides of the pan.  You can use a cup if you’re having a hard time rolling the dough out. Make sure you have a fairly even layer.
  4. Bake for about 9 minutes or until it is golden brown.  Remove from oven and let it cool before you pour the rest of the layers in.

Salted Caramel

  • 10 Medjool dates, pitted and soaked in hot water for at least 20 minutes (preferably overnight if you remember)
  • 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 6 tbsp liquid coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp almond butter (could use cashew or peanut butter)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (a touch more if your nut butter isn’t salted)
  1. While the cookie layer is baking, make the caramel and chocolate layers.
  2. Make sure that your dates have been either soaking overnight or in boiling hot water.  You want to be able to remove the skins easily.
  3. Once your dates are done soaking, slip the skins off.  Most of them will slide right off, a few might give you a little fight.  As long as you get most of the skin off you should be just fine.
  4. Put the dates and the coconut oil into a blender and blend until you have a smooth and creamy paste.  You may have to scrape down the sides a few times before everything comes together.
  5. In a bowl, combine the date paste and the rest of the ingredients.  Mix until everything comes together.

Chocolate SwirlSalted Caramel Chocolate Swirl Cookie Bars | Life Healthfully Lived

  • 4 oz dark chocolate (I used 100% chocolate)
  • 2 tbsp liquid coconut oil
  • 1-2 tbsp maple syrup (if you used 100% chocolate like I did)
  1. In a medium bowl, grate the dark chocolate so you have little shreds.
  2. Add the coconut oil and maple syrup and stir.
  3. In the microwave or a double boiler, melt the chocolate until it is all melted and smooth.

Putting It All Together

  1. Once the cookie layer has cooled, pour in the salted caramel and smooth evenly over everything.
  2. Pour in the chocolate swirl over the top.  Using a chopstick, toothpick, or butter knife, swirl the chocolate throughout the caramel layer.
  3. Place the pan in the freezer for at least 30 minutes so the caramel and chocolate harden.
  4. To serve, Run a butter knife under hot water for a little bit and slice the bars, wiping the knife clean each time.

Ok, I know you’re panicking at this point because this does NOT look like a simple recipe.  Trust me, this comes together a lot faster than it seems.  I finished making this in about 30 to 40-ish minutes.  And  once you taste these bars, you’ll forget about this super long list.Salted Caramel Chocolate Swirl Cookie Bars | Life Healthfully Lived

Have a great weekend friends and may the force be with you!

Spinach Artichoke Lasagna

TodaySpinach Artichoke Lasagna | Life Healthfully Lived is my last day of being 27 years old.  27 has been good to me, but I’m excited to see what 28 has in store.  It’s weird to think that I only have two more years of being in my 20’s.  I can remember the day I turned 20 and thinking, “Finally! I’m not a teenager anymore.  I’m an adult and I’m important.”

While I’m important at any age, I was far from being an adult.  20 is barely not a teenager and I had so much I still needed to learn.  In all honesty, I still have a lot to learn and I think that is true for any age.  Except maybe 100.  Once you hit 100, you can pretty much do whatever you want and your excuse is I made it this long I think I’m gonna be just fine. Spinach Artichoke Lasagna | Life Healthfully Lived

I decided to make you a delicious dinner for my birthday, which now that I’m typing it out sounds backwards.  You should be making me a delicious dinner for my birthday.  Jeez, you’re lazy!  Making me do all the work on my birthday!

You know how delicious spinach artichoke dip is?  That was my inspiration for this lasagna.  Instead of cheese, I used bechamel sauce and artichokes along with a layer of spinach to create a creamy and delicious filling.  This meal can come together really fast if you use a jar of tomato sauce and a box of lasagna noodles.  But if you want to make everything from scratch like I did, I promise you won’t regret the time you put in. Spinach Artichoke Lasagna | Life Healthfully Lived

This is also one of those meals that is even better the next day and makes really great leftovers for lunches throughout the week.

See?  I’m feeding you even beyond dinner.  28 is making me a giver!

Spinach Artichoke LasagnaSpinach Artichoke Lasagna | Life Healthfully Lived

  • 1 batch of my tomato sauce or a jar of your favorite store brand
  • 1 box of gluten free lasagna noodles (I made these from Against All Grains)
  • 3-4 cups spinach leaves
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup raw cashews
  • 1 tsp Italian seasonings
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp celery salt
  • 4 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. If you are making the tomato sauce and noodles get those ready and set aside.  If you’re using boxed noodles make sure they are cooked and ready to go.
  2. To make the bechamel sauce: In a blender or food processor, grind the cashews, Italian seasonings, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp celery salt into a fine powder.  Set aside.
  3. Heat a little olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add in 2 tablespoons of the cashew powder and stir to make a paste.  Cook until the cashew powder turns golden brown.
  4. Whisk in the can of coconut milk and keep whisking to combine the paste and milk.  Whisk in the nutritional yeast and salt and pepper.  Keep cooking and whisking the milk until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Taste and adjust the salt and pepper to your preference.
  5. Pour the sauce into a blender and add in the drained artichoke hearts.  Pulse a few times to break up the artichokes, but don’t make it completely smooth.
  6. Now it’s time to build the lasagna.  Preheat the oven to 350 and get out a 9 x 13 casserole dish.  Put a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom, then a layer of noodles, a layer of artichoke sauce, a layer of spinach, and a layer of tomato sauce.  Keep going until you run out of noodles and make sure you end on tomato sauce.
  7. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling.  Remove from oven and uncover.  Let the lasagna cool for 10 minutes before you slice and serve. Spinach Artichoke Lasagna | Life Healthfully Lived

You can make this lasagna ahead of time and then just pop it in the oven at dinner time.  I hope you have a Happy Halloween and a great weekend!

Apple-Banana Muffins

IApple-Banana Muffins | Life Healthfully Lived like to eat, eat, eat, eeples and baneenees.

If you have no clue what I am talking about, you need to spend more time in pre-school.

Last week I went to the apple orchard with my dad and came home with a whole peck of apples.  I’ve already made a huge batch of my squash apple butter, eaten as many raw as I can, and a tart is in the works.

I also wanted to try making a bread with my apples and I had a few over-ripe bananas sitting on my counter so I thought an apple/banana combo was in order.  Two baked goods in a row on the blog… Lucky you!Apple-Banana Muffins | Life Healthfully Lived

While my baking is getting better, I still run into a few problems now and then.  When I made my first batch of my bread concoction, the flavor and texture were right but it did not hold together very well.  My second time around I tweaked a few things and decided to make them into muffins instead of one loaf.

Success!

I ended up with a yummy fall inspired muffin that also happens to be gluten free, dairy free, egg free, and refined sugar-free.  Pretty impressive if I do say so myself!

Apple-Banana MuffinApple-Banana Muffins | Life Healthfully Lived

  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 3 tbsp date sugar or coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 2 large ripe bananas (the riper they are the sweeter the muffin will be)
  • 1 tbsp molasses or maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp macadamia nut butter or almond butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large apple, shredded (more subtle apple flavor) or small diced
  • 16-18 whole pecans, optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and line a muffin tin with paper liners
  2. Combine all of the wet ingredients and mix well until you have a smooth batter.
  3. Combine all of the dry ingredients into a large bowl and whisk together.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir to combine.  The batter will be a little stiff, that is ok.
  4. Add in the shredded or diced apple and stir to mix everything together
  5. Spoon a little over a tablespoon of the batter into each muffin well and press down just a little.  Press one pecan onto the top of each muffin.
  6. Bake the muffins for 20 to 25 minutes, until the top is slightly brown and batter is set.
  7. Let the muffins cool in the muffin tin for 5 minutes and then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

These are kind of like fall in a muffin wrapper and that isn’t a bad thing. You could also try making this into two mini loaves if you really wanted bread.Apple-Banana Muffins | Life Healthfully Lived

Anyone have fun plans for this weekend?  Adam and I are planning on just hanging around our neighborhood and relaxing.  Oh and if you’re keeping count, only 8 more days until my birthday.  Delicious food presents welcome…

Happy weekend friends!