Wednesday, August 28, 2013

No Bake Sticky Coco-Peach Jam Bars

Have you ever really stopped to think about what you sincerely want out of life?  Besides, no bake coco-peach jam bars, that is?  (ha!) Well, when you really, really, try to answer that honestly, you realize its a hard question to answer!  We live in a society where what we truly want for happiness is not what we're told is important.  We are told success, money, looking fabulous, and being popular are the most important things.  But is that really what any of us truly want?

I am a non-stop, go until I fall asleep kind of lady and it often results in the things most important to me being neglected.  As I've mentioned, I have a wonderful husband and a feisty, yet super sweet, 2 year old son.  Sometimes, I get so caught up in my work, business goals, and making no bake jam bars (hey!) that my goals to love, cherish, and enjoy them are often overlooked.  Wow, as I type that it makes me feel crappy.  But hey, honest self reflection is the only real way to recognize discomfort and make lasting positive change, right?  Right!  

So I started thinking really hard about what was the most important to me...truly important, that is.  I started to visualize myself being blissfully happy, and took careful note of how that looked.  Turns out, I'm not giving myself the room and permission to be in that happy life (bummer!).  I saw myself relaxing in a clean (eek!) house, playing with my son and being totally in the moment with him, talking with my husband and not arguing over stupid things (say whaaaaa???), and finally, not working every moment of everyday!!  

I am constantly striving to be a better mother, wife, and person...but along the way, my type-A goals and ambitions get in my way.  I mean, really, in the long run does it matter that I stayed an extra hour at the office?  Will it make me "happy" in the end?  Truthfully, not really.  I meet my goals of being a professional, hard working, ethical employee before I pour in the extra hours!  My work is done, and done well.  I come in on time, I'm respectful, I usually iron my shirt...I am successful!  As a woman, I get so caught up in climbing the ladder, breaking through glass ceilings, and making a "name" for myself, that I forget I would prefer to be called "a caring and loving wife, mother, friend, daughter, and overall person".   None of that is accomplished by putting the TV on so I can distract my son and get some work done.  None of that is accomplished by bringing my work frustrations home and taking them out on my family.  The list goes on and on. 

So, in that vein, I am promising myself I will take notice of my actions, take responsibility of them, and do my best to put what is truly important to me first.  Which today, is sticky no bake coco-peach jam bars!  (My kiddo helped...don't worry, I'm not already faltering!)

I am NOT promising that I won't eat an entire pan of these jam bars.   They are healthy, not overly sweet, and the perfect breakfast, snack, or desert.  Peaches are everywhere in my house right now!  A last ditch effort to hold onto summer, maybe?  Naw, it's eleventy billion degrees outside (Arizona), we'll have "summer" well into September...but at least these don't require me to turn on the oven!!  

These tasty bars are tart, yet subtly sweet, and packed with super foods and super nutrition!  I am mildly obsessed with cacao nibs these days, but they can be a little bitter if you aren't expecting them.  Feel free to substitute your fav vegan chocolate chips for them in this recipe! 

Now, after such a heavy post, who doesn't need a little sugah!  These bars are best right out of the fridge.  They start to soften after 10-15 minutes, and can fall apart/crumble.  If that's your jam, its a-ok.  Serve them with some banana soft serve and make a crumble-blizzard-esque desert.    Enjoy!

No Bake Sticky Coco-Peach Jam Bars
*Makes 9 bars, depending on how you cut them.  Best right out of the fridge! These are delicate...definitely a good addition to any soft serve if you want a homemade blizzard!


For the crust:
15 medjool dates, soaked in water for 1-2 hours if hard, pitted
3/4 cup raw, unsalted cashews
2 tbsp almond butter
1/8 cup cacao nibs
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut + 2-3 tbsp for sprinkling (optional)

For the sticky jam:
4 large, ripe peaches, pitted and roughly chopped
1/8 cup pure maple syrup
1/8 cup coconut cream
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp organic cane sugar (or coconut sugar for a milder, less sweet flavor)
pinch of salt

1. Prepare the jam.  In a medium sauce pan, combine the peaches, maple syrup, sugar, cinnamon and pinch of salt.  Cook over medium heat, stirring often, for about 15 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened and is bubbly.  Slowly add in the coconut cream, cooking for 1 additional minute.  Remove from heat and allow to cool. 

2. Prepare the crust.  In a food processor, combine the dates, cashews, almond butter, cinnamon, and cocoa nibs.  Pulse and process until a sticky, crumbly mixture forms.  If your mixture is dry, add a little more almond butter or a water, 1 tbsp at a time.  Add in the shredded coconut, and pulse briefly until just mixed in.  You just want to incorporate the coconut, not process it. 

3.  Press the crust mixture into an 8x8 glass or ceramic baking dish lined with parchment paper.   Press down well to ensure the mixture really sticks together.  Pour the cooled jam over the crust and spread to even with the back of a spoon. 

4.  Sprinkle the top with a few pinches of shredded coconut if desired.  Place in the freezer for 30-45 minutes to set. 

5.  Cut with a sharp knife.  Store in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.  Enjoy!

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