Cheat Day [cheet dey] – noun: The one day of the week where diet minded fitness freaks throw caution to the wind and indulge only on the most tantalizing, ridiculously calorie dense foods known to man. Often associated with the term, “carb hangover,” which occurs the morning after a particularly fruitful cheat day. Synonyms: Free Day, Fun Day, Fat Day

Monday, May 30, 2011

Almond Butter Monster Cookie Bars

So when you give yourself only one day a week to cheat, you begin to realize that the traditional food groups fade away, and three main categories of food begin to form.  And they are...

Healthy Foods (ie, the crap I eat on a day to day basis.)  Here you have the protein powders, oatmeal, the lean meats and cheeses, tofu noodles, sweet potatoes, Greek yogurt- things like this.  Great food- but you won't see me touch anything from this group with a 9 foot pole on cheat day.

Not-Worth it Foods (ie, unhealthy food that is so not cheat day worthy.)  Here, you have everything that isn't healthy, that certainly isn't worth cheating on when you only have one day a week.  This is where I used to live my life- crappy convenience food that is bad for me but not necessarily delicious.  You have your meals in a box (hamburger helper), disgusting fast food (Arby's) and your desserts that taste like cardboard (hello, snack cakes!)  I'm not trying to get down on these foods, but there are undoubtedly more delicious alternatives to all of these not-so-healthy things that I would most certainly choose first.  Which brings us to the...

Cheat Day Foods (ie, the stuff dreams are made of.)  This is obviously my most favoritest group of food.  From bacon to icing to wine to cupcakes to Alfredo sauce to fried everything to wine to chocolate to wine- this group contains all of the foods that I have an emotional connection to.  When life gets me down, a good pint of Starbucks Ice Cream is always there to pick me right back up again.

Today, we are blurring boundaries, baby!  I so often forget that there are foods that I eat on a day to day basis that are healthy...gulp.... that I actually enjoy.  And I enjoyed them before being on a diet.  So why do I avoid them on cheat day?  You aren't going to see me go out and order a delicious, cream and butter and cheese filled egg dish on Cheat Day because I have eggs every day for breakfast.  I'm never going to snack on a full fat, creamy Greek yogurt because I can have the non-fat stuff every day!  And thus I've created the 4th good group: "Unhealthy, totally Cheat Day worthy foods that have a healthy alternative that I eat on a regular basis causing me to forget about aforementioned food."  How about UTCDWFTHAHATIEOARBCMTFAAF for short. Ok, that's not short.  Let's go with "Unhealthy, Health Foods" instead.

So here is my very first Unhealthy Health food creation!  Every day I wake up and eat my healthy, balanced breakfast.  I have egg whites and non fat yogurt and fruit and.... oatmeal.  I love oatmeal.  It's amazing.  That's why I eat it every day for breakfast, lunch and again for dinner if the husband isn't around.

So I'm turning my daily oatmeal with almond butter into a delicious, butter and chocolate filled cookie bar recipe.  Here.  We.  Go.

Almond Cookie Bars
For some reason, I think I was a little "off" while making this recipe.  So I'll walk your through how the recipe started off for me.

Step One: Drop egg on floor

Step Two: Spill chocolate chips as you are getting them out of the drawer.  Feed these to husband.  Shhhh!  the inside of my drawer is clean!  Promise...

Step Three: Drop lamp, break bulb, and replace bulb.

Ok- now are we ready to start the recipe?  Mayhaps I should break the oven door first?  Run out of butter?

Shudder- Oh god- I take that back.  Let's not even speak of such a thing.  I solemnly swear to continue buying butter every time I make a recipe so that I have a never ending supply in my fridge at all times.  Irish butter, salted sweet cream, all of it!  I heart you.

Sorry- moving on! 

Combine 3 eggs, brown sugar and white sugar in a bowl.  Next, add your salt, vanilla, almond butter and a stick of softened butter.

I used Trader Joe's almond butter.  This stuff makes my life complete.

Once combined, add about 2 cups of chocolate chips, 4 ounces of almond slivers, and your baking powder.  At this point, you will be thinking, "there is no way on this planet that all of the oatmeal that's coming next is going to fit."  I thought this too.

But I was wrong!  It did!  Grab 4 1/2 cups quick cooking oats (ie, the stuff in the big tub, not the packets) and slooooooowly pour it in as your mixer chugs along.  If you are doing this by hand, bless you.  You won't need to work out your upper body for a few days.  Or weeks.  Well, I guess all that depends on how many almond bars you have at the end of this recipe.

So take your incredibly thick batter, which at this point has probably crept up the sides of your mixer which is practically smoking, and pour it into an ungreased jelly roll pan.

And by pour, I mean grab hand fulls of it and plop it in the pan.

Spray your hands with Pam and pat it down.

Bake at 350 for 15-18 min and that's it!  You have delicious almond bars!

So you should probably wait for these to cool down a little bit before you cut into them.  I'm notoriously bad at this.  Because baked goods are yummy, and I am impatient.  However, I was luckily running extremely late when these came out of the oven, and had to take a shower, so I had some forced wait time in there. Hence why these don't look like a meltly mess.  Yay me!  

Maybe this success will teach me patience.  Probably not.  But maybe!

So verdict?  AWESOME!  Gooey, sweet, almondy, moist awesomeness.  These are a great, vaguely more adult alternative to traditional monster cookies.  Plus since there is oatmeal and natural almond butter in them, you can totally convince yourself you are being healthier.  Note how I said healthier.  It's all relative.  Like eating a piece of cake is healthier than eating the whole damn thing.  And yet, somehow, I can sleep better at night knowing that I snacked off of this healthier alternative, when I'm still technically on cheat day probation.  Whoops!!

Ok- Recipe time!

Almond Butter Monster Cookie Bars
Recipe Adapted From:

3 eggs
1 1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
12 ounces natural almond butter
1 stick butter
1.5 - 2 cups chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet.  Something bitter-sweet with a high percentage of cacao would be best)
4 ounce bag slivered almonds
2 tsp baking powder
4 1/2 cup quick cooking oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine eggs and sugars (in a stand mixer if you have one.)
Add salt, vanilla, almond butter and butter and blend until smooth
Mix in the chocolate chips, almond slivers and baking powder.
Slowly add in the quick oats until fully incorporated.
Pour mixture into jelly roll pan and pat down.  Bake in oven for 15 - 18 minutes.  Do not over cook- bars should be just browning around edges.  Cool before serving. 

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