Summertime Chicago, no place like it. Lucky for you all, I have chosen to narrow down the highlights of summertime in this beautiful city to a top three (four, if you include choosing to forget the previous 9ish months leading up to summer as a highlight - also, do we need to comment on how MySpace permanently ruined my life by leading me to believe that everything in my life needs to be ranked? We should probably further analyze this at a later point in time).
My top three is as follows:
Walking literally everywhere - Lake Michigan running path for the absolute win
Everyone being in the best mood ever, all the time
The Season of Being Real Social
Number 2 and 3 are obviously related as everyone basically crams a year’s worth of activities into a three month window until we all hibernate and say See Ya Until Next Summer. But seriously, I love being surrounded by friends--preferably on a rooftop with a killer view of the city. I’ve noticed as I get older, I have a better appreciation for these moments, embracing each one, as I know this season of life (and the year) doesn’t last forever. I’ve been practicing the art of gratitude lately which has basically turned me into that sappy friend who gets hit with nostalgia approximately 5 days a week. Whatever.
Anyway. I recently attended a dinner gathering at a [great] friend’s place, and I was (self)assigned the task of bringing dessert (and a bottle of buttery chardonnay, of course). I spent the week leading up to dinner searching the internet for the perfect dessert - I had two requirements: it had to be equal parts healthy & delicious and be a crowd pleaser. Lucky for me, I stumbled upon a recent recipe by Minimalist Baker - the No-Bake Vanilla Cake Bites.
I know I say this about all of my favorite recipes - but, YOU GUYS. These are SO darn good and literally take ten minutes to make. Even better, the whole crew loved them, and being made of nothing but the "good stuff", that was a win. An added bonus: they’re LOW CAL!! I messed around with the portions -- used less dates and walnuts -- but honestly, I don’t think these can be messed up. They’re rich, moist (sorry, not sorry), and SO GOOD!
If you’ve been following us at all over the last year or so, you already know how much we love our Vital Proteins. We could go on for hours regarding our love for the duo that is collagen + protein, (and lucky for you we already have) and our affinity for adding it to literally every one of our favorite recipes. It was an absolute no brainer to add in 2 scoops of my Vital Proteins Marine Collagen for an added protein and collagen boost.
1 1/4 cups packed pitted medjool dates (I used 1 cup)
1 1/4 cups raw walnuts (I used 1 cup)
1 cup almond flour
1/3 cup coconut flour (I used Trader Joe’s Gluten Free flour blend)
Pinch sea salt
2 tsp vanilla extract*
Finely shredded unsweetened coconut (optional)
Add pitted dates to a food processor and mix until small bits remain or a ball forms. Remove from food processor and set aside.
To the food processor, add the walnuts, almond flour, coconut flour, and sea salt. Blend until a semi-fine meal is achieved. Add dates back in (in bite-sized pieces) as well as the vanilla extract. Pulse until a loose dough forms. Be careful not to over-blend. You're looking for a pliable dough, not a purée.
Scoop out 2-Tablespoon amounts using a spoon and roll into balls with hands or release lever on scoop and place directly on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat until all dough is used up.
Roll in finely shredded coconut or leave as is. Store in refrigerator or freezer. Will keep in the refrigerator up to 1 week or in the freezer up to 1 month. You could also press the "dough" into a loaf or 8x8-inch cake pan and slice into bars.
(This recipe was made by Minimalist Baker - check out her site for other amazing foodspo!)
Let us know your favorite go-to recipes for summer cookouts!