Vegan, Gluten-Free Chocolate Almond Butter Caramel Bars

This incredible vegan almond butter caramel bars with a yummy, crunchy chocolate cookie base with walnuts in the middle. These bars are naturally sweetened, gluten-free, and dairy free. An awesome, guilt-free snack!!


For the cookie base:

1 ¼ cup packed super fine blanched almond flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)

¼ cup raw cacao powder

3 tablespoons melted and cooled unrefined coconut oil

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup (I used Trader Joes)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon salt

For the almond butter layer or caramel layer:

  • 3/4 cup almond butter 
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup unrefined coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • ¾ cup chopped walnuts

For the chocolate topping:

  • 3/4 cup chocolate bars (I used chocolate bars with 75 to 80% cacao.)
  • 1/2 tablespoon unrefined coconut oil


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8″ x 8″ square pan with parchment paper. 
  2. In a medium bowl add almond flour, cacao powder, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and salt. Mix together with a fork until it forms a nice and thick crumb texture. Add to the pan and if needed, use your fingers to evenly press down mixture into the pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Allow the crust to cool for 10 minutes before adding caramel.
  3. Sprinkle the crust evenly with the walnuts.
  4. To make the almond butter caramel layer: In a small pot, add the almond butter, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla extract and sea salt and place over low to medium heat for approximately 2 minutes until caramel starts to just slightly bubble, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and pour caramel over the walnuts and crust.
  5. Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or until the almond butter mixture is completely hardened. 
  6. After 30 minutes, make the chocolate layer: Melt chocolate squares and coconut oil either in a small pot on the stove using low heat or microwave in 20 second intervals, stirring constantly until chocolate is completely melted.
  7. Pour the chocolate over the caramel layer; tilt the pan side-to-side so the chocolate is evenly distributed. Place in the fridge for at least 1 hour until chocolate is hardened and bars are completely cooled.
  8. Remove bars from the pan and cut into 16 bars (so they look like twix bars). Note: I cut the entire pan of bars in half, then cut those in half and so on so the bars are even.
  9. Bars should be kept covered in the fridge until ready to serve.

Let me know your thoughts below!



#vegan #recipes #glutenfree #dairyfree #healthysnacks

I was nominated for a Blogger Recognition Award

How cool is it to be nominated for a Blogger Recognition Award! I was so surprised that I was nominated.  Much gratitude to michelleonyourside to nominate me. As I read the nomination I realized how much time and effort was put into it. I really appreciate the time michelleonyourside puts into her blog. If you have a few minutes please stop by and enjoy! She helps you make sense out of healthcare.

The Rules

-Thanks to the blogger that nominated you.
-Write a post to show your award.
-Give a brief story of how your blog started.
-Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
-Select 15 other bloggers you want to give this award to.
-Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated them and provide the link to the post you created.

My Why

I was a business analyst at a major aerospace corporation several years ago, then a stay-at-home mom for over 14 years.  When I got divorced, I worked temporary jobs then landed an Assistant Property Manager position. When I was laid off,  I had time to reflect.  I also had digestive issues (acid reflux).  I took several medications; however, none of them helped my reflux.  I looked into taking a holistic approach.  That is when I enrolled in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition where I learned about several dietary theories and applied some of them to my life. After graduating from IIN, I became a Certified Holistic Health Coach. I created my blog to share with others what I learned and my goal is that the content on my blog would help others and make a difference in their lives.

My Advise to the New Blogger

First, blog about what you love. When you blog about what you love, your content will come more easily.

Second, I learned that when you first began blogging, it is important to be consistent.  When I first started my blog, I was very inconsistent and life got in the way.  There were periods of time that I didn’t have time to blog.  Earlier this year, I took a stand, and decided to commit to blogging at least once a week.  However, I found that I wasn’t getting any followers.  So, I started blogging every day. It takes time to get started, so be patient and have fun.

Blogger Recognition Nominations

Forever Green Mom – Kim is one of my all-time favorite bloggers.  I’ve followed her blog for years and I met her before Facebook was big.  We were both members of the same Yahoo group. Her blog covers health/wellness, going green, home/garden, recipes, and family.

The Wacky Spoon – I love receiving her emails. Her blog is about fresh and flavorful meals made at home.  She embraces the farm-to-table movement.  She shares her passion with all of us.

Leslie Nichole – Leslie has a lifestyle blog where she shares self care, recipes, and lifestyle tips.

Ellen Travelling Kitchen – Ellen Travelling Kitchen is a travel and food blog.  She has awesome recipes on the blog.

Little Vintage Nest – This is one of my favorite blogs. I love her posts about home decor.

Spiritual Life Designs – Life Coach Dawn Brierley’s blog is about inspiring others to design a life their way.

Natalia Nowell – Natalia is a just a gal on a mission to living her best life by helping others with posts about handling stress, self-improvement, and self-care.

Ladies Make Money – They help guide ladies on how to monetize their blog, suggestions on how to make money, and they have other monetary tips.

All the Frugal Ladies – This blog has a ton of resourceful information ranging from tips on living a frugal lifestyle to tips on finance, business, career, and education.

I Love Vegan – This blog is your go-to for vegan recipes.

Passionately Raw –  If you’re a raw foodie, you will love this blog.  It is all about raw…juicing, detoxing, etc.

Heart of a Baker – I love this vegan and travel blog.  She has tons of yummy vegan recipes and tips for eating vegan while traveling!

My Sweet Keto – My Sweet Keto was started by a couple. Their blog has useful information on living a keto lifestyle: nutrition, fitness, and wellbeing. And they share keto and low-carb desserts!

Notamodel – This is one of the most popular lifestyle blogs. Love Marina’s blog! Your go-to for fashion tips! You don’t need to be a model to look good! She also has tips for starting your own blog that gets attention.

Over 50 Feeling 40 – Fashion tips for women over 50 feeling fabulous!

Thanks again Michelle!

Have a great day!








Protein Powders: Which one is for you?

I am going through some articles I wrote and posted on one of my other blogs back in 2011 and I came across this one about protein powders.

Since one of my health goals is to gain weight and increase muscle mass, I have been researching protein powders.  While it is recommended that we receive our protein from whole foods, I decided to research supplementing my diet with a protein powder. With the various types of protein powders on the market, how do we know which one is right for us? I found that it depends on the type of diet we eat i.e. vegan, vegetarian, carnivore looking to supplement to your meals, whether for body building, or whether it is for weight loss.

Protein powders offer several health benefits besides building muscle.  Protein powders repair and build muscle, aid in burning fat, boost postworkout muscle repair, improve general health, and is provides a protein option for Vegetarian and Vegans.

This is what I’ve discovered.  There are several types of protein powders ie whey, casein, soy, brown rice, and hemp.

Whey – Whey is a milk protein which repairs muscles right away and is instantly absorbed. When it comes to building lean muscle, research shows that whey protein is the way to go. Being the most popular protein powder on the market, whey provides an ideal array and proportion of amino acids to assist with muscle recovery and growth, as well as enhancing fat loss. Derived from milk, whey is considered the fastest-digesting “complete” protein, meaning that it contains all the essential building blocks of muscle (amino acids), including high amounts of the all-important group of branched chain amino acids (BCAA). BCAAs become depleted after exercise and are needed for the maintenance of muscle tissue. It is recommended to consume whey immediately after working out to repair muscle damage. This is critical because the muscles feel like a sponge.

Casein – Casein is another milk protein although it absorbs slower than whey.  Casein has a lower biological value (BV) than whey therefore a lower percentage of protein is absorbed. An advantage of casein provides a slower and prolonged release of amino acids over time. This slow release is important for reducing muscle damage, which can occur for up to 48 hours postworkout. For women looking to maintain lean muscle tissue, casein may be more beneficial before bed because the slow absorption will supply the body with protein through the night when the body enters a catabolic state (breakdown of protein tissue for energy). This slow release can also help you to feel fuller longer, thereby supporting weight-loss efforts by helping you take in fewer calories.

Soy – Soy is a popular vegetarian protein source, soy protein is something to consider for boosting overall health. Sports research shows that soy results in inferior strength gains when compared to whey, the differences are minimal for a healthy woman. At the end of the day, an elite athlete may need the slight edge of whey due to heavy training, but for the average active gal, soy protein powder provide the biggest bang for your “health” buck.

Note: research and check that soy is not genetically modified.

Rice – While much of rice seed is carbohydrate, it does contain some protein, which is extracted without the use of chemicals during processing to make brown rice protein powder. As with all plant proteins, quinoa is an exception, rice protein is incomplete. It lacks one of the essential amino acids, lysine, which helps manage triglycerides, a form of body fat and is necessary for hormone production and bone growth.

Hemp – Hemp is perfect for vegans or those who want to avoid foods of an animal origin. Hemp protein offers inflammation-fighting power of essential fatty acids. The omega-3s in hemp aid in muscle recovery after workouts or training. Whole hempseeds contain a small percentage of a highly digestible protein, however, the amino acid profile is not complete, but eating a variety of plant proteins throughout the day which include a mix of beans, legumes and grains may provide your body with all the essential aminos you need.

Note: don’t over do it on the protein.  Look at your weight then look at the amount of protein that should be in your diet.  There are several websites that provide protein calculators.  Be sure to drink lots of water.  If you are in the minority and need to gain weight, I would eat frequent meals throughout the day to increase calories and supplement with smoothies or shakes and add whey protein for a quality source of protein.

One other note, whey protein shakes are often used at the end of workouts by many bodybuilders and weight lifters because they are easily digested and absorbed in the body. This leads to faster recoveries and more muscle mass..

Note: I recommend checking labels to verify whether the protein powder and ingredients contain GMOs.  Check sugar content and type of sugar.  I recommend avoiding artificial sweeteners.  Also, check with your physician if you are taking any type of medication.

I’ve researched several protein powders on the market from protein powders available at GNC and gyms to multi-level marketing companies (Isagenix, Juice Plus, Arbonne, Chris Powell’s line, Herbalife, Shakelogy, and USANA)  to the Vitamin Shoppe. My favorite protein powder is a vegan protein such as Sunwarrior, BlendFresh, and David Wolfe’s Vegan Blend. Raw Meal and Vega are ok.  I felt that they were a little grainy.  USANA is my recommendation for whey protein because they use non-GMO ingredients.  Arbonne has a great vegan protein powder – it is non-GMO. Juice Plus is good for soy.  They use non-GMO soy in their protein powders. The others have questionable ingredients.

Pure Burger Review

Everyone loves burgers!  Have you tried this tasty, healthy alternative?  If not, you need to swing by the Pure Burger in Carlsbad, California.

Pure Burger’s ingredients are pure, organic, and fresh. Choose from grass fed beef, chicken, veggie/cheese burger, or vegan burger.  Add your own toppings i.e. lettuce, tomato,  pickle, onion, avocado, etc.  Top your burger off with a sauce.  I love their balsamic mustard sauce.

Pure Burger’s meat is fresh, not frozen, and ground each morning.  Their beef is grass-fed and free-range. Their chicken is natural.

Their French fries are gluten free, cut fresh, and cooked in non-GMO rice bran oil. Tip: order their fully loaded fries!  My kids and I shared an order.

Pure Burger Vegan

I ordered a vegan, gluten-free burger made with assorted vegetables and brown rice.