Protein Energy Bars

Speaking again as someone in recovery from anorexia, for me there are few worse bodily sensations than that of low blood sugar. If I haven’t eaten anything for a couple of hours, it’ll hit me out of nowhere: suddenly I’m shaking and lightheaded and famished. Naturally, my regular bouts of hypoglycemia were concerning not just to me, but to my dietitian as well. Since I eat off of a meal plan (it’s flexible and I choose what I eat, but the meal plan dictates how much of what macronutrients I need to consume throughout the day), my dietitian changed it to be protein heavy in order to stave off the hunger and blood sugar crashes.

Ever since starting my recovery, I’ve been a big fan of energy bars. Luna Bars, Clif Bars, Mojo Bars, you name it, I’ve eaten it and probably enjoyed it. I had experimented with making my own in the past, but without success, so since then I have leaned on the bar-making professionals for my high protein snacking needs. My dietitian, however, changed the game when she gave me this recipe.

These bars (also good eaten rolled up into balls) are sweet like a dessert but filled with ingredients that are effective at stabilizing one’s energy levels and blood sugar. I eat these both as a treat and as a tool for keeping my body feeling good throughout the day. While it should be obvious that they aren’t a diet food, I’d hope that the ingredients list makes it equally as obvious they are absolutely a health food, and should be enjoyed as such.

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World’s Best Oatmeal Raisin Cookie

 

I just recently decided to quit my job. I didn’t come to this conclusion easily; it was only after some soul-searching that I realized I had gotten all that I could out of my employment, and it was time to move on. I wanted to leave on a sweet note, however, and couldn’t think of anything sweeter than my number one go-to cookie recipe. I’m not good at saying goodbye, so I let the baking do the talking for me, and gifted my bosses with farewell cookies.

These oatmeal cookies have been my favorite cookie recipe since middle school, and that’s saying something, as I’ve tried a lot of cookie recipes since then. They are the best with chocolate chips, but it’s no loss to make them with raisins either, if that’s your thing. Cookie preferences are highly personal, but these match my cookie ideal to a T. They are soft and chewy in the middle, with a nice crunch along their golden outside. These aren’t your puffy, cake-like cookies; they are lean and gooey and meant to be shoveled in your mouth one after the other.

A little secret? These cookies are even better frozen than they are straight out of the oven. Everyone in my family prefers to eat them pulled out of a ziplock baggie in the freezer.

So needless to say, these bad boys are dangerous. One is never enough. I’ve watched many a friend fall prey to these guys. Bake at your own risk.

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Sprinkles’ Strawberry Cupcakes

When I made the decision to move from LA to San Francisco, it was not without some serious regrets. Most of all, it was leaving my friends behind that got to me. I also knew I’d miss the beaches, the movie premieres, and the lingering Hollywood dream I’d been harboring.

I also knew I’d really, really miss Sprinkles Cupcakes. The progenitor of the cupcake bakery mania, Sprinkles began as a Beverly Hills gourmet cupcake business and has since spread out to locations around the country, carrying with it a whiff of Madagascar bourbon vanilla extract and winning over hungry hearts. I think the cupcake craze is more than a little silly, but I’m the first person to say Sprinkles is very serious business: without a doubt, they have the best cupcakes I’ve ever tasted (that chocolate chip peanut butter cupcake–it has no competition in this world).

San Francisco has no Sprinkles. Nor does Sacramento, my current city. It’s a lonely existence.

Fortunately for us Sprinkles addicts spread out across creation, there’s always the option of making knock-off Sprinkles at home. With fresh strawberries stuffing up my refrigerator, it made perfect sense to make strawberry cupcakes to start the week with. What better recipe to use than the one for the Sprinkles cake batter?

This Wayne Thiebaud-like are the summer dessert: moist, dense, but with a crisp, light, and very, very sweet flavor. With their cream cheese frosting, they remind me of the tart strawberry cupcakes at the bakery I worked at in high school. But it’s not just memory lane that makes them dear to me. This recipe has won over thousands of fans at Sprinkles. I’m just one of many strawberry cupcake devotees, paying honor to her cupcake idol.

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Four Ingredient Coconut Macaroons


I spend a lot of time looking at food blogs, oohing and aahing over recipes that I could never even dream up, let alone successfully make. Sometimes, the cooking creations I see are so amazing that I experience the same feeling that I would were I to watch the Victoria’s Secret runway show: not jealousy, but simply amusement at how far from reality it all is.

However, the truth is that just like how I can be a sexy lady without strutting down a catwalk wearing a pair of angel wings that weighs almost as much as a model’s underfed, lingerie-clad body does, I can whip up something scrumptious that requires absolutely no kitchen magic.

And that’s what coconut macaroons are for. All the necessary ingredients are already in the house, they only take a couple minutes to throw together, they can look as sloppy or neat as you allow them to be, and they still taste great. For extra flash, dip them in melted chocolate. Just because they’re a beginner’s dessert doesn’t make them any less delicious.

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Caramel Oats Bar


I spent two months at a treatment center for anorexia nervosa. A huge part of my treatment was exposure therapy, meaning meal upon meal upon meal. The daily routine was breakfast-snack-lunch-snack-dinner-snack. At the height of it, my snacks were all averaging 500 calories, and the meals were even larger. Of course, I needed it. I was dangerously underweight and completely unwilling to feed myself.

In treatment, I had two choices: eat my meal plan, or drink Ensure Pluses. While many of my peers chose the caloric supplement drinks, the foodie in me balked at the idea of skipping actual food to slurp down some grainy, protein-heavy mystery concoction. If I was gonna gain weight, I was gonna gain weight on something that tasted good. After all, having subsisted off of sweet potatoes and mustard for so long, I did miss real food. A lot.

The cook would try to bake a treat every day so that those who were feeling extra daring could have something fresh and homemade to eat at snack time. There was no nutritional information for them, no calorie counts to guide us. We simply had to eat what the staff deemed was an appropriate amount. It was terrifying. I was nearly done with the program before I had built up the courage to eat one of her special-made snacks.

I had picked her caramel oat bars. They were gooey, salty, crunchy, and chewy, all in one. Even though they are simple, they pack a lot of punch. All that sweetness, topped off with a hearty dash of sea salt, makes them all too easy to devour. When it was time for me to advance out of the intensive level of treatment, I asked the cook for the recipe.

And in case it isn’t obvious, I’ll spell it out: it says a lot when an anorexic loves eating something.

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Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bonbons (Vegan)

Vegan dessert. Prior to becoming a vegetarian, the very idea struck fear in my heart. What is dessert without dairy? In high school, a well-intentioned vegan friend of mine had subjected me to a slough of rather tasteless, artless vegan desserts, and it has taken years to undo the damage.

When I suffered a five week stint as a vegan, the only thing that was an actual challenge, besides eating meals out, was finding vegan sweets that could compare to their dairy-stuffed counterparts. Even living in Los Angeles, a veritable haven for vegans and their desserts, I felt at a great disadvantage in the world outside my own apartment. That month I had to form an even tighter bond with my oven and stovetop. The very first vegan dessert that I made and loved was a very simple, easy, chewy, gooey chocolate chip cookie. Now longer a vegan, I still make this cookie recipe, not just because it is tasty in its own right but because, lacking eggs, I don’t have to worry about salmonella poisoning as I shovel the raw dough in my mouth.

These chocolate-dipped bonbons are dreamed up for all the other raw cookie dough lovers out there. They’re small, but the chocolate coating gives them a richness that makes eating just one a fully satisfying experience. While the original recipe for the dough calls for water to be added to the wet ingredients, I prefer substituting coffee for a more intense flavor. I also add coconut oil (solid at room temperature) to the tempered chocolate to give this bonbons a summery twist.

While the following recipe uses my vegan cookie dough, this treat could easily (though less sanitarily) be made with any eggy, buttery cookie dough. Animal-lover that I am, I like to make things cruelty-free where easily possible, but I’d fault no one for preferring the deliciousness of real animal fat.

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Very Blueberry Low-Fat Muffins

For a very long time, if a muffin didn’t have chocolate in it, then I considered it a waste of my time. While it was hard to go wrong with a muffin top no matter the ingredients, the puffy little cakes struck me as uninspired, pedestrian. If I was going to a cafe for breakfast, I was going to go big: chocolate croissant, brownie, cinnamon roll, not some lumpy, fruity, frequently stale ball of dough.

I can’t pinpoint when exactly the tides changed. I know that when I was trying to eat a little healthier, I went from one extreme to the other, switching out my chocolate chip cappuccino muffins for raisin bran. For a while I force-fed myself the things, but over time there was a shift in me. Now I want my muffins stuffed full of berries, be they raspberries or strawberries or cranberries or, best of all, blueberries.

This recipe makes fluffy, light, and not-too-sweet muffins that go well with a creamy latte or a hot cup of chai. Not only are they low in fat, but they’re low in calories, too (approximately), meaning you could easily eat two or three in a sitting without it being a diet buster. Calories aside, I won’t extol the health virtues of this muffin, since you’d have to be living under a nutritional rock to be unaware of all the benefits of blueberries. The most important thing, after all, is the flavor. (In the end, a food can be the healthiest thing in the world and not be worth eating because of a foul taste. I’m looking at you, natto.) Even my younger sister, who is an extraordinarily picky eater, was happy to get her nosh on with these muffins. If you like a subtle sweetness and a burst of fruit flavor, these muffins are more than worth a shot.

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