Clean Vegan Chocolate Cranberry Protein Bars – Gluten & Dairy-Free!

I am constantly on a mission to get enough protein and, often times, enough calories – especially on days I work out. You have to get the right fuel to get the best results! However, it’s very challenging to find a natural nutrition bar that’s gluten- and dairy-free and also has a high protein ratio. It seems that either it’s whey protein, low quality soy protein isolate, or it’s a straight up “nutrition bar” with next to no protein at all! I’ve seen many a bar that contains something like 9 grams of protein with 45 carbs and 350 calories. That’s a little too steep for me, especially considering most of the GFDF/Vegan options cost upwards of $2.50 per bar which adds up quickly!

In order to obtain a high enough protein ratio, this recipe requires you to use a clean plant-based protein powder, so be sure to choose an all-natural kind that tastes good! In addition to being high in protein, these bars are also packed full of antioxidants thanks to the addition of dried cranberries and organic raw cacao powder, a superfood! The recipe also has no added sugar (besides that in the cranberries). Woohoo!


Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Chocolate Cranberry Protein Bars

• 2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
• 2 cups unsweetened coconut or other non-dairy milk, divided
• 6 scoops best-quality plant-based protein powder (I used vanilla flavored)
• 1/2 cup shredded coconut
• 1/4 cup organic raw cacao powder
• 5 tablespoons creamy almond butter
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 3 tablespoon golden flaxseed meal soaked in 1/2 cup water
• 1/4 cup organic whole dried cranberries, chopped

1. In a large bowl, mix 1 cup nut milk with the rolled oats. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until there’s no extra milk in the bottom of the bowl.
2.  Add in protein powder, shredded coconut, and cacao powder. Mix thoroughly, using a fork to blend out any lumps that form.
3. Add almond butter, stirring until thoroughly coated.
4. Add in 1 cup nut milk plus flaxseed/water mixture, combining all ingredients until wet. Mix in cranberries until evenly distributed.
6. Line a 13×9 pan with foil or parchment. Pour in protein bar “dough” evenly into the pan. Cover with saran wrap and press into the pan until level. Place in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes. Once chilled slice into 14 bars, wrapping each one with saran wrap for an easy grab-and-go snack to take with you throughout your week!

Since macros are such an important factor in any nutrition bar, I’ve broken this recipe out for you: 180 calories, 8g fat, 14g carbs, 3g fiber, 3g sugar, 15g protein. Please note this will change based on the macros of your protein powder and other ingredients used!

Do you incorporate protein bars into your daily intake? What do you normally look for in a protein bar?

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Chocolate Protein Pudding

I normally try to eat a fair amount of protein, following the 30/40/30 macro ratio of fat, carbs, and protein, respectively, though sometimes I find it hard to stomach that much protein without feeling sick. However this week I started CrossFit and boy am I craving it! I’ve felt really weak when I don’t eat enough and it’s definitely been protein that’s kept me going. Tonight after dinner I wanted something sweet for dessert, but still needed to meet my protein allotment for the day. This deliciousness was the outcome:



Yum! You can use the plant-based protein powder of your choice, but if you use one that’s chocolate flavored you may want to use half the amount of raw cacao powder or just nix it all together. I used Pure Matters Vanilla Pea Protein, which I was going to link to but apparently the company went out of business at the beginning of this past May. How sad!

This recipe is
• Gluten-free
• Dairy-free
• Nut free*
• Soy-free*
• Vegan*

*Depending on your choice of ingredients

Gluten-free Dairy-free Chocolate Protein Pudding
serves 1

• 1/2 – 1 scoop plant-based protein powder
• 1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
• 3 tablespoons coconut, almond, hemp, or other non-dairy milk (I used coconut)
• 1 tablespoon non-dairy plain or vanilla yogurt (you can also use regular yogurt if you can tolerate it!)
• 1/2 tablespoon raw local honey or agave nectar
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
• 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, mixing well. Add your choice of toppings. I used unsweetened shredded coconut and fresh organic blueberries!

What’s your favorite plant-based protein powder? Let me know in the comments below!

Healthy Gluten-Free Tuna Veggie Burgers with Goat Yogurt Sauce

You know those days where you’re in between grocery trips and you don’t want to make anything but you want to hole up at home and you don’t trust the delivery places to disclose all their ingredients? Yea, me too. Tonight was one of those nights. The fridge was almost empty save for some assorted vegetables and the only protein I had was in my cupboard, canned. Low and behold: the tuna veggie burger.

This recipe was quick and easy to make and turned out quite deliciously. You can serve the burger on a gluten-free bun with all the usual burger fixings or go for a low-carb version on a plate, like I did, topped with avocado and yogurt sauce. Yes, I know, “yogurt isn’t dairy-free!” but hear me out: I love yogurt. When I became lactose intolerant I was eating 2 servings of nonfat greek yogurt per day (protein!) and I’ve missed it immensely every day since. However, recently I discovered goat yogurt which, like goat cheese, I can tolerate with minimal gastrointestinal upset. I’ve tried a few brands, but my favorite is Capretta for its thicker texture and slightly sour greek yogurt taste, not to mention the 15 grams of protein per cup! So use the goat yogurt if you can. If not, no worries – the burgers will be delicious either way.

This recipe is:
• Gluten-free
• Soy-free
• Nut-free
• Refined sugar-free
• Dairy-free without the yogurt sauce

photo (2)

photo (1)

Healthy Gluten-Free Tuna Veggie Burgers with Goat Yogurt Sauce
makes 6 servings

• 1/4 cup minced onion
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 large zucchini squash, shredded, about 1 1/2 cups
• 3 medium carrots, shredded, about 1 1/2 cups
• 1 can white tuna, in water, drained and flaked
• 1 cup gluten-free bread crumbs, or ~2 pieces slightly stale gluten-free bread torn into small pieces
• 1 egg, lightly beaten
• 3 tablespoons golden flaxseed meal
• 1/4 teaspoon each black pepper, sea salt, cumin, cayenne pepper and turmeric
• 2+ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

1. Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, cooking the onion and garlic for about one minute.
2. Increase heat to medium high. Add in the shredded zucchini and carrots and saute until barely tender. Be careful not to overcook – you don’t want the veggies getting too mushy.
3. Remove from heat and let cool. Meanwhile combine the tuna, gluten-free bread crumbs, egg, flaxseed meal, and spices in a large bowl.
4. Drain any excess moisture from the vegetables and add them into the tuna mixture, stirring until thoroughly combined.
5. Shape into six 4″ patties.
6. In the same skillet you used for the veggies, heat 1-2 tsp olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Carefully transfer the veggie patties into the pan, cooking two at a time for about 3 minutes per side until lightly browned, adding more olive oil as needed.
7. Remove from heat and serve with avocado slices and yogurt sauce, below.

Goat Yogurt Sauce

• 1/2 cup Capretta plain nonfat goat yogurt
• 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
• 1/2 teaspoon cumin
• 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Serve each patty topped with a generous tablespoon and enjoy!

How do you feel about “beefless” burgers? Let me know in the comments below!

Lemon Garlic Chicken with Spring Vegetables

After doing a lot of reading on the topic and hearing some opinions, I decided to try organic free-range chicken. After all, any antibiotics, growth hormones, or animal byproducts that chicken consumes are also being consumed by you. It is pricey, yes, but Trader Joe’s had a deal for 2 breasts and 4 legs at $2.99/pound so I figured I’d give it a shot.

I wanted to let the flavors of the meat come through with a simple preparation. I decided on lemon and garlic mixed with olive oil and stuffed it under the skin of the chicken while it cooked to lock in moisture and add a good amount of flavor. The result was delicious, and I will definitely be buying organic chicken in the future as I felt the meat itself had a much better texture and flavor than the “regular” stuff, though the free-range part my have to take a backseat until my wallet gets fatter (sorry chickens!). I paired the chicken with Martha Stewart’s Sauteed Spring Vegetables, an eternal favorite especially when made with veggies straight from the famers market (recipe here). I also added a sweet potato baked at 350° for 45 minutes.

This recipe is:
• Gluten-free
• Dairy-free
• Soy-free
• Refined sugar-free
• Nut-free



Lemon Garlic Chicken

• 2 lbs organic free-range chicken, skin on
• 6 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
• 1 lemon, thinly sliced, about 1/8″
• juice of 2 small lemons
• salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350°F with the rack in the center. Combine all ingredients (except chicken) in a bowl, mixing until well-combined.
2. Place chicken in a 13×9 roasting pan or other large baking dish. Gently find the open end of the chicken skin. Using a small spatula (or your fingers… no metal here) gently rub garlic mixture under the skin and onto the meat. Repeat on all pieces, evenly distributing all of the garlic mix amongst the chicken until there is none left.
3. Place the lemon slices under the chicken skin, taking care to keep the skin in tact.
4. Place the chicken in the oven and cook for 15-25 minutes, until juices run clear when sliced. The cook time will depend on the size of the pieces, so you may need to remove the smaller ones (legs) first and leave the larger ones (breasts) to cook a bit longer.
5. Remove the skin and serve with lemon slices on top.

Have you tried organic and/or free-range chicken before? What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!