Chocolate Cherry Protein Smoothie

This is my new favorite smoothie.  As in I have it twice a week (at least).  Sometimes  I make a double batch and freeze one.  Then I grab it out of the freezer on the way to the gym and, after a workout and shower, it’s just thawed enough to stir and drink.  Which is pretty much having your cake smoothie and eating drinking it too.  Or something like that.

It’s going to be a bummer when our Costco stops carrying frozen organic cherries, as they make this smoothie possible.  Cherries make the smoothie seems indulgent and give a nice, rich flavor.

Chocolate Cherry Protein Smoothie

Chocolate Cherry Protein Smoothie

  • 1 cup frozen cherries
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I like Sun Warrior Vanilla Rice Protein)
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • few ice cubes


Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.  Add more non-dairy milk (or water) as needed to get the desired consistency.


  • freeze leftover coffee into ice cubes and use in place of water ice cubes to give a slight coffee flavor
  • freeze chocolate coconut water (I used the Zico brand) and use in place of water ice cubes
  • use chocolate almond milk for even more chocolate flavor

Chocolate Cherry Almond Bars (grain free)

Chocolate Cherry Almond Bars | the lively kitchen

I have this thing with bars.  Which sounds like I’m about to admit a drinking problem, so I better clarify. (although I do have a tea drinking problem lately….)

I have this thing with energy bars. As in I can’t go grocery shopping without picking up at least one.  As in I’m quite territorial about my ‘bars basket’ in the pantry and my husband knows to ask which ones he can have since I’ve (ridiculously) over-reacted more than once when he innocently grabbed a bar I was saving for a special day. As in I consider them ‘treats.’  Pretty much – don’t get between me and my bars.

This homemade bar recipe has become a new favorite in our house.  It makes 12 which means I don’t have to hoard them.  They are also grain free, kid friendly and pretty customizable.  Plus, the husband just grabs one from the fridge on the way to work, leaving my precious ‘bars basket’ in the pantry alone.  {insert mischievous grin}

Chocolate Cherry Coconut Bars | The Lively Kitchen

Chocolate Cherry Almond Bars


  • 1 cup almond flour or almond meal (I use Trader Joe’s Almond Meal)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup buckwheat (optional)
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup diced dried cherries


  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper.
  2. Combine almond meal and salt in a food process, pulse twice.
  3. Pulse in coconut oil, water, honey and vanilla
  4. Pulse in coconut, sunflower seeds, almonds, buckwheat, pumpkin seeds, chocolate chips and diced cherries just until combined.
  5. With wet hands, press mixture into the prepared pan.
  6. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
  7. Let cool completely before cutting with a sharp knife.  I use the parchment paper to lift the baked bars out of the pan, place the whole pan worth on a cutting board and then cut them with a large butcher knife.
  8. Store bars in fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Repeater Recipes – Chocolate Avocado Pudding

This is a recipe in my Repeater Recipe series, a series of posts where I feature previously posted recipes that show up often in our meal rotation. It’s also a good chance to introduce some ‘classic’ recipes to my new readers.

First Appearance on the Blog: August 23, 2010

I had forgotten about this recipe until a few weeks ago when, stocking up on avocados (one perk of Super Bowl Week grocery specials), I got home and then wondered just what I was going to do with 6 ripe avocados. One can only eat so much guacamole. If one is me, than that one can eat a LOT of guacamole, but still, some variety is nice. I also had several ripe bananas and somehow, out of the dusty corners of my mind, I remembered this pudding.

I ate it twice last week and am planning on it again this week. It’s always a good time for pudding. This pudding has an incredibly creamy texture. It’s not ultra rich or decadent, so if you are going for a sinful tasting dessert, this isn’t your recipe. But, if you are looking for an everyday treat that is slightly sweet and has just enough chocolate flavor to satisfy a craving, this is a good one. My kids love it as a dip for fruit and graham crackers.

Chocolate Avocado Banana Pudding

Creamy and fresh – a great mid-afternoon snack. It doesn’t taste like a decadent dessert, but is great for a everyday snack. It’s also a great dip for graham crackers and bananas.

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 3T rounded cocoa powder
  • 2-3 Tbs coconut or any other non-dairy milk (as needed)
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1-2T honey or 1 packet stevia or sweetener of choice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. Combine all in blender or food processor
  2. Process and scrape bowl a few times until thoroughly combined and fluffy.

Blender PB & B Cookies

I’ve had my vita-mix for almost a year and a half now and it is easily our most used appliance.  It mostly does smoothies, but occasionally I let her how her power over other foods.  Like dry oatmeal.  In order to make oat flour. In order to make cookies.  With peanut butter, ripe bananas and chocolate chips.  Need I say more?

Actually, this recipe could be made with a less powerful blender, as all of the ingredients are pretty soft and easy to blend, so if you don’t have a vitamix (we call ours The Precious), don’t fret.

Peanut Butter & Banana Blender Cookies

This cookies are wheat free, vegan and have only 1/3 cup of added sugar.  They are also tender, delicious and freeze well. Win win.  Could be made gluten free if you use gluten-free oats.


  • 2 1/4 cups quick oats
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 ripe medium bananas
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Place 1 1/4 cups of quick oats in a blender or food process and blend/process until a fine flour is formed.
  3. Place oat flour in a bowl, along with 1 cup of quick oats, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Mix.  No need to rinse out the blender yet.
  4. Place bananas, coconut oil, peanut butter, and vanilla in the blender and blend until smooth and uniform.
  5. Add banana mixture to the oat mixture and stir until combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.
  6. Drop batter by spoonfuls onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  Batter doesn’t spread much, so they can be placed pretty close together.
  7. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until bottoms are starting to brown.

Double Chocolate Protein Bites

So, where do you get your protein?

Gotta love that question.  I get it often.  First, I think that a well-balanced vegetarian diet offers enough protein for the average lifestyle.  I don’t eat soy products, so I get my protein from beans, legumes, greens, grains, eggs and nuts/seeds. Second, I think we’ve been brainwashed by the meat industry lead to believe that we need more protein than we really do.

In fact, I was just perusing a Taste of Home magazine at the library, a publication that is all about traditional American homestyle cooking (not exactly Vegetarian Times), and came across this little blurb:

No Meat, No Matter

So you want to go meatless a day or two a week but are concerned about getting enough protein?  In truch, your bigger challenge might be giving up steak or pork chops for a day.  Turns out that most Americans already consume more protein than necessary – almost twice as much as the USDA’s daily recommendation of about 50 to 60 grams.

Taste of Home April/May 2011

So – for a regular lifestyle, I think getting enough protein is quite easy with a balanced vegetarian diet, even without soy products.

However…. (you knew that was coming)….

I’ve been enjoying having time to work out and have joined a new gym that offers a huge array of group fitness classes.  I’ve been going almost daily and doing a decent amount of weight lifting, both in Bodypump classes and in the free weight section.  Therefore, I’m trying to up my protein intake, as my little muscles need some protein nourishment in order to grow.

I’ve made a couple of batches of these protein bites.  The recipe is wonderfully adaptable, as you can see by my ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ list of ingredients.  You can omit ingredients, add other ingredients (like dried fruit or nuts) and/or tailor the flavors to meet your liking.

Double Chocolate Protein Bites

  • 1/2 c. raw buckwheat groats, soaked overnight and dehydrated (or oven-toasted – see method here)
  • 1/2 c. protein powder – I’ve been using a vanilla unsweetened rice protein powder
  • 1/2 c. ground flax seed
  • 1/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 1/2 c peanut butter (or almond butter)
  • 1/4 c oats (uncooked)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/4 c agave nectar
  • 1/2 c. – 3/4 c. water
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp shredded coconut (raw, unsweetened is best)
  • 1/2 c chocolate chips
1.  Mix all ingredients together, adding more water Tbsp by Tbsp as needed to make a cohesive dough.
2.  Shape into balls and refrigerate.
3.  Watch out for little hands that pilfer your protein snacks…..
4. On second thought, let them.  How can you resist this little face?  Even if he is the reason you had to retrieve a toy from a toilet….
Make sure to use a protein powder that you like in this recipe.  My husband does not like the rice protein powder that I use, so he doesn’t like these.

Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

My friend Kerri reminded me about these cupcakes.  They aren’t exactly green juice, but they aren’t a bad treat.  I’d like to call them muffins, but, to me, the term ‘muffin’ has a healthier connotation.  These are healthier than your average cupcake with the zucchini, whole wheat flour and dark chocolate chips (okay, maybe that last one is a little bit of a stretch, but I’ll take any chance to feel good about dark chocolate), but they are more of a dessert than an everyday breakfast muffin.

Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes


  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) block-style cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini, patted dry
  • 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts


Preheat oven to 350°. Grease muffin tins (recipe makes about 18 muffins/cupcakes)

Place sugars, cream cheese, butter and coconut oil in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 5 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through cinnamon) in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk.

Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in zucchini, 2/3 cup chocolate chips, and nuts. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted comes out clean.


Overnight Smoothie – Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip

If you read the healthy food blogs, you’ve more than likely read about Overnight Oats.  They’ve been done in approximately 7432 ways.  Approximately.

However, on the new to me blog, Healthful Pursuit, I stumbled across her recipe for Overnight Smoothies and smacked myself for not thinking of it myself.  It’s genius.  I modified her Sleepy Chocolate Cookie Dough Smoothie recipe into the following recipe for an Overnight Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Smoothie.  It is so creamy and delicious.  It is also quite filling.  I had it for breakfast this morning and, even after my first spin class in 2 weeks which left me in a pile of sweat, I’m still full.  I actually had more than fit into my glass and I froze the leftovers into popsicle molds.  You better believe I’ll be having a smoothie pop this afternoon….

Overnight Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Smoothie.


  • 1 c non dairy milk + 0.5 c for freezing (I used Silk Plain Coconut milk which is one of my most favorite things lately) 
  • 1/3 c plain oats (uncooked)
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 Tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1 banana, frozen
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa nibs (or could use chocolate chips)


  1. Combine 1 c non-dairy milk, oats, chia seeds, peanut butter, cocoa powder and vanilla and stir well to combine.  I put mine in a jar and shook it up.
  2. Let sit in the fridge overnight.
  3. Freeze 1/2 cup of non-dairy milk in an ice cube tray or small plastic container.
  4. The next morning, pour the contents of the jar/container into a blender, along with the frozen non-dairy milk, frozen banana and cocoa nibs/chocolate chips.  Blend to smooth, adding more milk if needed.
  5. Enjoy!

Banana Bliss x 2

A quick snack yesterday that made me really happy:

Bananas + Chocolate Coconut Butter

And today, in the frozen version:

Banana Soft Serve mixed with Chocolate Coconut Butter

My little guy enjoyed this two.  I had to make two batches since he ate almost the whole first batch before I could get a bite.  I love that it’s a food I can serve him guilt free – bananas, coconut and a bit of dark chocolate – all great stuff!  And, yes, he is wearing a Barbie Band-aid.  It’s all the rage in the 2 year old boy scene.

Chocolate Coconut Butter

I made this chocolate-coconut butter (not raw since I used a regular chocolate bar, not raw cacoa).  It’s chilling in the fridge and will be used atop steel cut oats and banana flax crepes.

Chocolate and Coconut? Bliss…….

Want to see something that doesn’t combine as well as chocolate and cocount?  How about my son after his big sister talked him into dressing up like a fairy?  He’s going to kill me for this someday:

Pssst, I used my stove….

to make some yummy Steel Cut Oats this week for breakfast. It is finally feeling like fall in Texas. Well, not really fall, but less like summer.  Texans who have never lived elsewhere think this is fall, but as someone who has lived in places that have 4 distinct seasons, I would call this weather pseudo-fall.

I made some cooked oatmeal this week to celebrate the nice, less-hot weather.

Apple Cinnamon with Walnuts – I like to cook some of the apples with the oatmeal and then top it with raw apples.  Nice texture variation.


Banana Chocolate Chip with Walnuts –(the ripe banana is cooked into the oatmeal as it simmers, giving it a really rich taste)


Apple Cinnamon with Pecan Butter – next to my daughter’s plain oatmeal (she likes a small sprinkle of cinnamon but nothing else, thank you very much)

Pumpkin Oatmeal with Sliced Almonds – stirred in about 1/2 c canned pumpkin and some cinnamon and a small sprinkle of sugar – like fall in a bowl

I soak my oats the night before and then finish them up on the stovetop for about 10 minutes.  How do you top your oats?