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H and I don’t really like to dine out on Valentine’s Day. In our past experiences, dining out on that evening have always felt rushed as they try to move diners through in order to accommodate all of the reservations for that evening. Food in a typically awesome restaurant can be mediocre. So we started to just dine in a few years back.

For this past Valentine’s Day, H surprised me with a little treat from Urban Pl8. You see, it was special because we had just dined there a few nights prior with our children. Because dinner was a little rushed as S got more and more restless after he quickly devoured his grilled cheese on pita bread (which was really awesome), we didn’t have much time for dessert. I eyed their dessert menu and marveled at the idea of a paleo chocolate pudding. We then rushed home without ordering any desserts.

So on Valentine’s Day this past year, I was touched that H took time during his lunch hour in traffic to pick the dessert up all the way on the other side of town so that he can surprise me later. I was nearly in tears. Sounds dramatic, but I really was. At that point, I had been really good about trying to curb my sweet tooth. So this was truly a treat!

I have been thinking about making a similar pudding at home since. Since S has his egg allergy, a pudding like this will be great for him to enjoy as a treat, too. Since I love the combination of coffee and chocolate, I decided to make my own version of this pudding. Don’t be turned off by the idea of avocado in a dessert. It has a nice texture and you really can’t taste its flavor after you mix it with honey, cocoa powder, and coffee.

By the way, be careful with the caffeine and children. S was up until 1am after he had just a few spoonfuls (4 to be exact) of this pudding. I didn’t think he would be that affected by just a few spoonfuls. After that incident, I always omit the coffee in his chocolate pudding. Lesson learned.

Chocolate Coffee Avocado Pudding

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 avocados

4 tablespoons cocoa powder

2 teaspoons instant coffee granules

2 tablespoons coconut milk (or milk of your choice)

4 tablespoons honey

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

blueberries for garnish (optional)

Directions:

1. Measure all ingredients into a large bowl. Carefully mix with a hand blender or hand mixer until smooth in consistency (You can also use a blender or food processor).

2. Chill for at least one hour.

3. Garnish with a few blueberries before serving.

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Some mornings can be overwhelming with two little ones, especially when we have to get out of the door by a certain time for something like preschool. One little tantrum or a missing sock can turn into a dragged-out fiasco. It’s difficult to be on time these days, but I try my best.

I have to keep breakfast simple because mornings are just hectic. I confess, if we are in a hurry, I will sometimes give my kids Larabars. It makes me feel better knowing that they are healthy and made with minimal ingredients. S loves them. I am honestly amazed at how a two year-old can eat two of these bars at one sitting and ask for more (I usually don’t give him more than two). But at $1.50 a bar, it can really add up at the rate S eats them.

With a great recipe I found from Oh She Glows, I can now make my own Larabars. The simplicity of the ingredients couldn’t have made it any easier to make a big batch of these energy bars. There are also endless possibilities of different variations (ie. walnuts, cashews, peanuts, raisins, dried cherries…etc.). I have found that Costco has the best price for dates. To make it even easier, I usually buy Trader Joe’s “Just Almond Meal” instead of grounding up my own nuts. It results in a finer texture than my food processor can allow.

E thinks these bars are chocolate bars. I am loving the fact that my kids actually love something that’s somewhat healthy and natural. H, on the other hand, has no sweet tooth, and won’t touch anything remotely “healthy.” It’s too bad because these bars are too good to be shared!

Cranberry Chocolate Chip “Larabar”

(adapted from Oh She Glows)

Makes 10 bars

Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 cups almond meal or raw almonds

3/4 cup tightly packed dates

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 tablespoons chocolate chips

Directions:

*Note: If using raw almonds, process that first instead of dates.

1. Soak dates in a bowl of water for 30 minutes. Drain and dry well.

2. Add dates and cranberries in a food processor and process until the dates are broken down into tiny pieces.

3. Add almond meal into the mixture in the food processor and process until the mixture are well-combined.

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4. Add vanilla and chocolate chips. Process until they are well-incorporated.

5. Line a loaf pan with a piece of plastic wrap large enough so that removing the content will be easier later. Pack the mixture from the food processor into the lined-loaf pan. Using the back of a silicone spatula, wooden spoon, or your hand, pack the mixture really well. The harder you pack it down, the better the bars will stay together and not fall apart.

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6. Freeze for 15 minutes. Remove and cut into 10 bars with a sharp knife. Wrap in individual plastic wraps and store in refrigerator.

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