sugar free

Dessert, Snack, Gluten Free, Fall, Spring, Summer, Winter



I remember being anxious to be out in the "real world," but I really liked school. Not because I was a particular genius but I like assignments and tasks, and with school comes homework - something you start and complete. I loved binders and new folders and mechanical pencils and fine ballpoint pens. I made sure the dividers were labeled by subject so I didn't loose track of anything. I did my state report on Colorado with a more than adequate amount of decoupaging of magazine pages for visual effect and my mom and I built a California mission out of clay complete with plastic Indian men glued down in the courtyards for scale. Even when school was more about writing papers than crafts, I read and took notes the best I could. Diligently, if not the most comprehensive or pertinent come essay time. I've been out of school for years now and a similar pleasure comes from making lists of things to do for the week or what I want to cook, necessitating another list of what I need at the store, organized by section, mind you. I know, I roll my eyes at me too.

Hugh and I booked our big trip for the year. I mentioned it was in the cards but now we actually have tickets! I have already reverted into school mode with lists and researching hotels and figuring out the best neighborhoods to stay in and compiling must-visit bakeries, coffee shops and restaurants. I LOVE it. I adore travel, but the anticipation of it and having something to look forward to makes it twice as wonderful. I keep squeezing Hugh in gratitude for hoarding airline miles for years because I am giddy-happy. The rough plan is to do France, Belgium and The Netherlands. Not too much moving around because I like to just be in cities, not always hustling in and out of them. Each of us have visited Paris, but I'm over the moon to be there together. We'll train up to Antwerp and Amsterdam and be open ended enough to see and do what we want in between.

I've got a few months before I start packing the ziplocks, but these date sweetened peanut butter bites would make a fabulous travel snack. The texture and taste remind me of a slightly less sweet Lara bar. These "cookies" are made with ingredients you likely have in your pantry, take all of about 10 minutes from start to finish and can calm a sweet tooth without sitting too heavy. A few have asked about go-to snacks, or food for trips so I'm happy to hand this idea over. 


PEANUT BUTTER BITES // Makes about 16 small cookies

Recipe adapted from La Mesa

Because I know someone will be curious, I have not tried these with any other nut butter, but I suppose they're pretty versatile. If I had cocoa nibs on hand they would be incredible here. I wouldn't turn them down, but a peanut butter cookie is not my first choice. Peanut butter and chocolate however, makes more sense to my mouth. The sharp chocolate cuts through that unmistakable peanut richness and all is right. If you have cocoa nibs or want to add some finely chopped chocolate, I would guess a 1/4 cup will do and pulse it in with everything else.

1 cup almonds

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup pitted dates

heaping 1/2 cup peanut butter

two pinches of salt (if your pb isn't salted)


In a food processor, pulse the almonds until a coarse meal forms. Add the vanilla, cinnamon, dates, peanut butter, and salt if using. Pulse everything together until they are generally uniform in color and texture. The mixture should stick together when pressed between your fingers. If it seems dry, add another Tbsp. of peanut butter. 

Roll dough into scant tablespoon size balls. Press them down with a fork to make a cross hatch. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover and keep chilled in the fridge. 

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