Vineyards & Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies!!!

Wow, this weekend sure was beautiful and the weather made it hard not to be in a good mood. I love this time of year and when we are blessed with a sunny weekend I try to make the most of it and spend as much time outside as I can.

On Saturday I had to drive out to Charlottesville, VA for a work thing at UVA and decided that since I was making the 2 hour drive I might as well make a day of it. I was really hoping for good weather as I wanted to be outside as much as possible.  The day was gorgeous and I took full advantage. My sweet hubby and playful pup made the trip with me and I promised we would have fun after my work thing.

Danny and I love to explore new areas and we thought it would be a perfect day to go to a vineyard. I googled “dog friendly vineyards in Charlottesville” and Keswick Vineyards popped up. Keswick Vineyards looked beautiful in the pictures so I thought we would give it a try. And let me tell you that this was one of the prettiest vineyards I have ever been to and VERY dog friendly. They let Ripken sit in the tasting room while we had a tasting and then we walked down to a field over-looking the vineyard and let Rip run around off leash.

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We laid out a blanket and had a nice little picnic while we soaked up the sun, enjoyed some wine and took in the beautiful landscape.

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It was a great day to be at a vineyard and we will definitely be making more trips with Rip! This was Ripken’s first road-trip and I was so proud of him, he did such a good job in the car. Slept the whole way home.

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Sunday I wanted to be as productive as I could be since we spent the whole day Saturday frolicking at a vineyard and be sure to get a good workout in. Because it was Sunday of The Masters, my husband wanted to do nothing more than watch The Masters and I can’t blame him because he spent all day Saturday outside with me. So we compromised and although it was a gorgeous day to be outside for a run, we decided to run on the treadmill and watch golf. I ran 6 miles, did some strength training circuits and the Sunkissed Abs routine by Tone It Up, while Danny ran 11 miles. Yes he is insane to run 11 miles on a treadmill, but when sports are on tv he could run forever!!

I spent the rest of the day running errands, cleaning, going to church, visiting with friends, paying our taxes :(, had dinner with my in-laws and of coursed watched the playoffs of the masters. I have to say that Aussie sure is cute, which made it very enjoyable to watch!

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After our busy day I was craving something sweet and chocolaty. I really try to stay away from processed foods as much as I can. Yes I do break down and have it occasionally, but I always feel better when I know what is in my food. So I made these delicious healthy protein cookies. I make these probably once every two weeks because they are so good and easy to grab when I am craving something sweet. They are gluten free and filled with mostly good things for you. Trust me, even my husband likes these. He will gobble up 4 cookies before you know it. I modified and added a few ingredients to this Tone It Up recipe.

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Ingredients

  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed 
  • 1 cup gluten free rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat organic coconut flakes ( found mine at whole foods)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla protein powder
  • 1 Tbsp organic brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp almond flour or gluten free flour by  Bob’s Red Mill 
  • 1/2 Cup 60% or higher Cacao Chips ( I use Ghirardelli or Sunspire)
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • 1 Tsp  baking powder
  • 1 egg white

Directions

Set oven to 350F.

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Grind oats, coconut flakes, baking powder, protein powder and salt in your vitamix or food processor. You want the rolled oats to form a flour texture and be fully blended with other ingredients. In a separate bowl mash together the bananas and then add all other ingredients to the bowl. Stir together until smooth. Pour flour mixture from your blender into a bowl and combine with wet mixture. Stir together, adding chocolate chips. My friend, Julie, told me about Cacao Chips by Sunspire, which are way better for you than any other chocolate chip. Now they are the only ones I cook with.

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Place a dollop of the dough on a foiled lined baking sheet and bake for 6 minutes. Take out at 6 minutes and sprinkle a little salt on each cookie. Place back in the oven for another 8 minutes. Makes 12 cookies.

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I am all about balance and you always need something sweet in your life! Enjoy this special treat guilt free because they are actually good for you … filled with protein  whole grains (gluten free), healthy fats, and antioxidants (from the chocolate) :).

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