Better Bites

My experiments in healthy eating, cooking, and living

Archive for the category “Raw”

Cucumber & Chickpea Salad, as Well as a Thousand Beautiful Things

chickpea salad

My life has been moving at a quicker pace lately. It almost seems as if time is actually slipping through my fingers as summer comes to an end. In the past few weeks I’ve been savoring every moment of the end of this season. From visiting Maine and spending time on a white sandy beach, to making ginger flavored peach pie (and eating most of it for breakfast!), to finally tasting the first tomato from my garden, every day and experience has really been a joy and I feel happier than I have in a very long time.

After returning home midafternoon from a wonderful family vacation in Maine, my stomach started grumbling and I knew I had to create something out of the lack of items I had in the pantry. That is how this cool and spicy cucumber and chickpea salad came about. For a simple salad, it was very flavorful. Find the recipe below.

Peach pie

Ginger peach pie.

Peach pie 2

A slice of the pie with blueberry compote.


My very first home grown tomato.

OOB maine 1

Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Cucumber and Chickpea Salad: 

*Serves 2


1 can of chickpeas, rinsed

1 medium sized cucumber, peeled and diced

1 jalapeno, seeds removed and diced

1/2 cup of sungold tomatoes, rinsed and quartered

1 tbsp of minced fresh cilantro or 1 tsp of dried cilantro

1/2 lemon, juiced

1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp of garlic powder

salt and pepper to taste

Optional: add diced avocado (If I had some I would have)


After prepping the ingredients, combine all of the them in a bowl. Refrigerate the salad for 20 to 30 minutes if you’d like the flavors to combine more. Serve atop a bed of kale, or another leafy green, add it to a wrap, or enjoy this salad on its own.


Spicy Jalapeno Gazpacho Topped With Grilled Corn and Culinary Firsts

Gazpacho 2

Since becoming a vegetarian in February and later trying to eat an entirely plant-based diet, I have cooked, prepared, and tried many new foods. Eating a plant-based diet has helped me to become more creative in the kitchen and to avoid making and remaking the same recipes over and over again.

One of my latest firsts was making gazpacho. I’ve never made a chilled soup before, let alone eaten one. That is where my new(ish) food processor came in handy. After first tasting my spicy gazpacho creation, I was addicted. I gobbled up the whole bowl and vowed to make more in the near future. The flavor from the jalapeno was slightly spicy, but the cucumber helped balance the heat of the hot pepper. The lime added just the right amount of sweetness to the soup and the spices and garlic kicked it up a notch (as Emeril Lagasse would say). I also enjoyed the added texture of the corn with the smooth soup. Do you have a favorite summer soup?

Making gazpacho was a culinary first that paid off. The grilled corn was another foodie first of mine. If you missed the how to and recipe for grilled corn and chili-spiced snap pea salad, you can find it here.

Grilled Corn

“Grilled” corn without the grill.

Spicy Jalapeno Gazpacho Topped with Grilled Corn:

*Makes two small to medium bowls of soup or one large bowl

“Grilled” Corn Ingredients:

1 cob of corn, remove the husk

1 tsp of olive oil

1/2 tsp of dried cilantro and chili powder

A dash of salt and pepper

Guacamole Ingredients:

1/2 an avocado, diced

1 clove of garlic, minced

1/2 a lime, juiced

1/4 tsp of salt, pepper, and garlic powder

Optional: diced tomatoes, jalapeno, onion (I just kept mine simple using an avocado, garlic, lime juice, and several spices)

Gazpacho Ingredients:

2 1/2 – 3 cups of diced tomato

1 medium cucumber, diced

1 jalapeno, diced (or 2 for more heat)

2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

1 – 2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp of black pepper, sea salt, and garlic powder

1 tsp of dried cilantro or 3 tsp of freshly chopped cilantro

1 lime, juiced


The “grilled” corn was inspired by Shannon’s genius recipe for grilled corn made without a grill, which can be found on her blog Move Eat Create (click here for a link to her how to post and recipe for corn and yellow pepper relish). I followed her cooking instructions, just changed up the spices a little bit. If you have a grill obviously you can just use that!

To make the “grilled” corn without a grill, first remove the corn husk and turn the broiler on. Then, gently rinse the corn and pat it dry. Add the olive oil and spices to the corn cob and make sure they are distributed evenly. Put the corn cob on a broiler safe baking pan and put it about 5 inches away from the heat. Let it cook for about 5 minutes and then turn it 1/4 of the way. Do this until all sides of the corn have been “grilled.”  Set the corn aside to cool. When it is cool you can slice it off the cob and set it aside until the gazpacho is ready.

To make the guacamole, just halve the avocado and dice it small. Add the avocado to a bowl with the other ingredients and mash with a fork. Put it in the refrigerator to let the flavors combine.

To make the gazpacho, combine all of the ingredients in a food processor. Turn onto the highest speed and process until the mixture is smooth. Add additional spices to taste before serving (if needed). Chill for about 10-2o minutes before serving, if your ingredients were not chilled before adding them to the food processor.

When serving, add the gazpacho to a bowl. Then top the gazpacho with the grilled corn and top the grilled corn with the guacamole or avocado slices. All three recipes are very simple to make, yet they are still entirely delicious (especially when served together). Enjoy!

Gazpacho 1

A Recipe for a Slightly Deceiving Taco Salad & Recipes for Chili Spiced Sweet Potato Fries and Cilantro Lime Dressing

Tortilla salad

I know. There are no tacos in this salad. It’s not much more than a recipe for a wannabe taco salad. However, the flavors found in this salad are reminiscent of flavors in a taco. Flavors such as: cilantro, lime, crispy corn chips/taco shells, avocado, lettuce, and tomatoes. Those were always some of the repeat ingredients that appeared on taco night at my family’s house. Growing up, I had so much fun loading up my tortilla shells with as many toppings that would fit. This time, I was able to load up a salad instead. I also made chili spiced sweet potato home fries to serve alongside the salad. Each small piece of potato packed some heat and added a spicy flavor compared to the more mild taste of the taco salad.

Taco Salad & Cilantro Lime Dressing:

*Serves 4


1 lime, juiced (for dressing)

1 tbsp of finely chopped cilantro (for dressing)

1/4 tsp of salt, pepper, and garlic powder (for dressing)

1 clove of garlic, diced (for dressing)

1/4 cup of olive oil (for dressing)

1-2 heads of washed lettuce

*Top salad with cilantro-lime chickpea salad found in the recipe for chickpea wraps

Tortilla chips (to top the salad with)


1- In a bowl, combine the lime juice, cilantro, seasonings, and garlic. Whisk it all together. Then slowly begin adding the olive oil as you whisk the dressing. Toss the salad in the dressing once the dressing is combined. Then top the salad with the cilantro-lime chickpea salad and tortilla chips.

Sweet potato fries

Chili Spiced Sweet Potato Fries:

*Serves 2


1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced

1 tbsp of olive oil

1 large garlic clove, sliced

1/8 tsp of chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, and garlic powder


1- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Then peel the and dice the sweet potato. Coat it in olive oil and add the spices. Mix with your hands to ensure each piece has spices on it. Then stick the pan in the oven for about 30 minutes. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Calling All Coconut Lovers: Homemade Almond Joy Bars

Almond Joy

Have you ever been the one to search through a box of assorted chocolates for that one dark chocolate coconut cluster? I admit to being that person. I’ve hunted through a chocolate box, like Katniss hunting her prey. I have my favorites, as I’m sure you have yours.

My love affair with coconut didn’t start with coconut clusters. Long before eating my first cluster, I had an Almond Joy candy bar. On Halloween, I would go house to house to search through bowls of candy for this chocolate covered coconut treat. In the summer when I heard the song “its a small world” blaring through the neighborhood, I would order a toasted almond ice cream bar from the  ice cream truck. The flavor resembled that of an Almond Joy. I was in heaven.

Recently, I found a recipe for vegan almond joy bars that were both raw and vegan, as well as gluten-free. I seized the opportunity to make them for Easter dinner at my grandma’s when I realized I had most of the ingredients. The bottom of the bar had the slight flavor of almond butter, which was masked by rich dark chocolate. The topping was flaky, with both a fresh coconut flavor and the flavor of amaretto. Read on for the recipe.

almond joy bars 2

Ingredients for homemade almond joy bars: 

*Recipe from the Rawmazing  blog

*Makes about 16 (depending on the size you cut the bars)

For the crust: 

1/4 cup virgin coconut oil, melted

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

a sprinkle of sea salt

3/4 cups of freshly ground almond butter

1/3 of a cup of coconut sugar (though other types may work too)

1/3 of a cup of cocoa powder

For the topping: 

2/3 cup of coconut butter/spread, softened (though I’m sure other varieties would work too like butter or Earth Balance spread)

1 teaspoon of almond extract (I used 2 teaspoons, but I thought I could have cut it down a little bit, since the almond flavor was strong) *feel free to swap out for vanilla extract if you dislike the taste of almond flavoring

3 tbsp of agave nectar

2 cups of dry, unsweetened coconut flakes

top with slivered almonds and cacao nibs


1- To make the crust, start by melting the coconut oil. I melted it in the microwave for about a minute. When the coconut oil is melted, add it to a bowl with the vanilla extract and pinch of salt. Stir well before adding the coconut sugar, cocoa powder, and almond butter. Mix well. Then evenly spread the mixture into an 8 x 8 glass baking pan lined with parchment paper. Chill while you make the topping (for 10-20 minutes to let the mixture set).

2- To make the topping, mix the softened coconut butter (I softened mine in the microwave) with the almond extract and the agave nectar. Then mix in the coconut flakes. Make sure not to add this to the crust, until it is mostly set.

3- Evenly spread the mixture on top of the crust. Put it back in the fridge until you are ready to serve. Then slice and throw on some almond slices and cacao nibs. Just make sure NOT to put these on a hot surface as they melt easily. It is best if they are taken out of the fridge a few minutes before consumption.

What was your favorite candy growing up? Have you tried to recreate any of your favorites in your own kitchen?


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