Saturday, March 15, 2014

Travel Snacks: Roasted Peanut and Dark Chocolate Energy Squares (Vegan, Gluten Free) + A Giveaway!

I'm antsy. I get that way sometimes. 

It usually goes something like this: I'm going through life as everyone does; showing up to work on time, try to be a decent employee and attempt to be a better human being. I cook dinner some nights, some nights I'm lazy and order yellow curry or just eat a mishmash of what I find in my refrigerator. I shower most days: shampoo, soap, conditioner, face scrub (sometimes I get a little crazy and wash my face before I condition my hair). I complain about a new zit, wonder why my hair does nothing, but lay flat and stick straight, tell myself to exercise more- I really should try out that yoga studio down the street, ask myself when was the last time I bought an article of clothing that wasn't a V neck t-shirt from Target. I wipe down the counters in the kitchen, sweep the floor, clean the bathroom...and then somewhere in the middle of scrubbing the toilet this thought pops in my head: "I have got to get out of here." 

This thought isn't necessarily born out of boredom or out of discontentment with my life, I just truly like variety. I like to be kept on my toes. I like to explore new places and get away. In the last ten years I have barely stayed in one place for longer than a year. I have been fortunate that life has afforded me those opportunities, always providing employment and shelter. Austin has been my home now since last August and that itch to get out is getting stronger and stronger everyday. Again, I'm not miserable with my life by any means, there's just so much to see out there, why just stay here forever?

Moving is not on the table for me right now so that means I get to do the next best thing: Sunday morning I am headed to Puerto Rico for a week with one of my favorite friends. I cannot tell you how excited I am to have a solid week of Alisha time, warm weather, exploration and the ocean- oh, the ocean how I have missed you! The paddle-boarding, free diving and kayaking cannot begin soon enough!

Whenever I travel I like to be prepared. I like to have books to read, podcasts downloaded and food packed. If I leave for a trip unprepared with snacks I find myself wandering the airport on a layover, pacing back and forth, my stomach telling me just to pick something anything 'cause it's starving! -while my brain is saying, well now wait a second, how will that seemingly "healthy" cup of frozen yogurt make us feel later?

For this trip, I will be leaving my house around 8:30am and arriving in San Juan around 7pm. That's a long time for me to fight off my stomach's pleas for unhealthy airport food (plus, it's just so stupidly expensive!).

Here's what I'll be bringing with me:
-My Nalgene water bottle always comes with me. It is so, so important to stay hydrated while traveling, especially on airplanes because that stuffy, recirculated air will do nothing, but dehydrate you. Just be sure that your water bottle is empty when going through the security lines and refill it at a water fountain afterwards.
-Two organic apples. I always bring apples with me when I travel. They're easy to pack and full of fiber- which is very beneficial since the last thing you want to be on your vacation is constipated, making sure you're consuming plenty of water and fiber will help prevent that.
-A few homemade energy squares. I don't always make the same kind every time, but I love bringing these with me. These squares are filling, easy to pack, don't make a mess and are full of nutritional goodness! Check out the recipe I made for this trip at the end of this post.
-Crackers. This one is a new addition to the list, but the last couple times I've flown I've felt nauseous and found myself wishing I had some crackers to help settle my stomach. I found this great brand called Mariner at Whole Foods. I bought they're Olive Oil and Sea Salt crackers. Their non-GMO ingredients are so simple: unbleached wheat flour, olive oil, a little sugar and sea salt. Perfect.
-I'm also bringing a simple trail mix I made for Alisha and I to share throughout the week or when we're hiking through the rain forest. I like making my own trail mix. It takes seconds and gives me control over what is in it. I can chose which nuts I want raw or toasted or salted. I can also make sure the dried fruits aren't loaded with added sugars, preservatives or other unnecessary additives. For this trip the trail mix is made up of dry roasted peanuts, raw pecans, raw almonds, raw shelled sunflower seeds and raisins.
-Lastly, I've packed some store bought energy bars. There are many kinds out there, many of which I avoid because as healthy as they advertise themselves to be, it's just not the case. However, I've found two brands that only use ingredients I'd use when making my own bars that also don't break the bank. One is an Austin-based company called Thunderbird Energetica. The other is called Pure Organic (scroll to the bottom of the post for more information and for a give-away). I'm bringing these for Alisha and I to share as a snack, a quick breakfast or as travel food on the way back if we don't end up eating them before then.

Roasted Peanut and Dark Chocolate Energy Squares

  • 1 cup pitted dates (approximately 10)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 cup raw shelled sunflower seeds
  • 1 tablespoon flax seeds
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons non-dairy dark chocolate chunks
Makes 8 squares.
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor. Blend until the ingredients begin to stick together. You may want to turn off the food processor and test the mixture to make sure it sticks together. If you want the fruit and nuts in smaller chunks continue to blend until you've achieved the desired consistency. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Press the fruit/ nut mixture firmly and evenly into the pan. Place in the fridge to set for at least half an hour (or in the freezer for at least ten minutes) before cutting into squares. Store the squares, wrapped in parchment paper, in the fridge or freezer until ready to eat or travel. 

-If you have a gluten intolerance or allergy be sure to use certified gluten free oats or just omit them altogether.
-This recipe if very flexible, if you don't like peanuts or sunflower seeds substitute pecans, walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts, etc. 
-If you want the chocolate fully incorporated into the bars blend them with the other ingredients straight away. If you want more of a chocolate chip effect, blend them in after the other ingredients are partially or entirely blended. 

Now, on to the giveaway. This is the second giveaway I'll be sharing on the blog. This first was for some of my vanilla extract last summer... so it's been awhile. Anyway, I am very excited to be giving away some Pure Organic Bars. The company has not paid me or asked me to do this (although if they'd like to, I'll take their money!), I just really like these bars. They are as close to perfect as I've found when it comes to prepackaged energy bars that cost less than two dollars each. There are lots of great flavors like Apple Cinnamon, Wild Blueberry, Chocolate Brownie and Cherry Cashew. They are made up almost entirely of organic fruits and nuts- very similar to the ones I make at home. All you need to do to enter the giveaway is leave a comment on this post. That's it. Pretty simple. I'll be picking a winner at random after I come back from Puerto Rico. 

Phew, this felt like a really long post. I've done enough talking. I want to hear from you guys.
What travel snacks do you like?
What do you do to keep yourself occupied on a plane?
Are you a window, aisle or middle seat (do those people even exist?) person?

Have a fabulous week!

P.S.- For those who don't know, I am now on Instagram! So if you want behind the scene pictures of the blog and my life follow me --> loveofleaves


  1. How nice you're going to Pourto Rico. Sounds amazing. I can't wait to heat about it
    I always bring some healthy snacks when traveling as well. Because as you said - there just aren't any healthy snacks at airports. These bars look just perfect.

    1. Thanks Josefine! I was glad I brought them with me, although they didn't last as long as I hoped- they tasted too good!

  2. I think it's good to change up your routine/life, just to keep it exciting, even if you are content and have no reason to complain. Good to step back and get a little perspective.

    I haven't traveled in SO LONG that I can't even say what I'd take with me when traveling (darn law school). Probably crispy roasted chickpeas, and hopefully, if they're in season, some berries.

    Your energy squares sound delicious!

    1. I 100% agree. Getting perspective is always a good thing. Ooo! Roasted chickpeas! Good one!

  3. Mmmmmm... I'm excited to try your newest recipe, Joy! Your energy squares look delish! Enjoy your vacation, good choice on the travel snacks, and we'll all look forward to hearing from you again soon :-)

    1. Thanks Alana! I will definitely be making them again soon!

  4. Super jealous of your ocean time! Thanks for the recipe! On trips, we like to bring water, tangerines, almonds, and some kind of cracker. We also found these delish organic gummy bears in the bulk section that would be fun to munch on. And when I'm on a plane now a days, I'm QUITE occupied. ;) I don't care about aisle, middle or window seats any more. I just look for the grandmotherly type instead of the grouchy business man types. They seem to be the only ones that wouldn't appreciate my kiddos.

    1. Haha good point about the seat mates! Tangerines are a great idea! And I'm definitely going to keep an eye out for those gummy bears they sound really good!

  5. Have a great trip! These bars look so good. Definitely going to try out the cracker idea when I next fly because I always get plane sick!

    1. Yeah, i don't know what my deal is lately with getting sick, but it usually results in my ordering ginger ale on the plane to go with my crackers which is definitely not healthy, but one of the only things that helps.

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