Cabin Fever Recipes (a.k.a. The Crunchiest Post Ever)

 Winter, you're pretty, but please go away! (A.Gross; February 2014)

Winter, you're pretty, but please go away! (A.Gross; February 2014)

I get a few good-natured digs from friends and family who think I'm a little "crunchy." You know the type - certain Portlandia sketches, this crunchy mama spoof, and pretty much any food-related post on Stuff White People Like are a little too accurate. "Rabbit food" often describes what we cook and eat. When I was first called "crunchy granola" (hi, Christina!), I didn't know quite how to feel about the term, but I've learned to tone it down a bit and, ultimately, embrace it. 

So, why this reflection? I'm going to sound like every other annoying New Englander when I write this, but it's been a rough winter. I just want it to go away. I tried and still try to be Zen about it ("Spring's just around the corner, Al!!"), but this has been a lame season. The local vegetable options are becoming slightly boring. Sorry, roots. I also have zero interest in baking again after the holidays, especially after the dozens of cookies that I decided to make as part of a Simply Smiles fundraiser. (I don't regret it - I won a trip! Thank you! But, I'll need to rethink the best mode of incentivizing in the future...) 

But, as with most things, you don't get anywhere by complaining. You're a total bummer to be around, so that's enough of my complaints. Exercise and food are two easy ways to beat the winter blues, and, even if you're on a health kick, you can still have satisfying, nourishing, mood-boosting snacks. Without further hesitation, here are two tasty recipes: No-bake Apple Butter Bites and Chocolate Alternative Squares - perhaps the crunchiest recipes ever posted on SWYF. (Think homemade Larabars and Mounds bars!) You may not have every ingredient on hand, but the next time you venture out into the world and reach for less healthful items, consider these recipes. Get crunchy!

(Oh, and if it's possible to reach a penultimate level of crunchiness, I should add that as I write this, I'm rockin' out to Pete Seeger [Is that possible? OK, maybe a toe-tap or two.] and eating hummus with carrots for lunch. You're welcome.)

Chocolate Alternative Squares (I was first turned onto these by my friend and former neighbor Kristin Hamilton. They're like glorious, little coconut-y brownies that are actually good for you!)


  Chocolate Alternative Squares . Don't knock 'em 'til you've tried them! (A.Gross; February 2014)

Chocolate Alternative Squares. Don't knock 'em 'til you've tried them! (A.Gross; February 2014)

  • 1 cup dates (pits removed, of course!)
  • 1 cup nuts or seeds (any combination works)
  • 1/4 cup cacao or cocoa
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • coconut oil, melted


  1. In a food processor, combine the dates, nuts/seeds and coconut flakes until finely ground.
  2. Drizzle in coconut oil until the mixture just begins to hold together. This is usually 1-2 Tbl of oil.
  3. Press the mixture into an 8" pan, cover and refrigerate or freeze for 1-2 hours.
  4. When ready to eat, cut into bite-sized squares. Store in your refrigerator or freezer for a longer shelf-life.

  No-bake Apple Butter Bites.  Taste like fruit and nut truffles!

No-bake Apple Butter Bites. Taste like fruit and nut truffles!

No-bake Apple Butter Bites (adapted from Delicious Living)


  • 2 cups almonds, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds and/or sesame seed
  • 1 cup oats (to make oat flour, which is just ground oats!)
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseeds (you can grind whole flaxseeds yourself...and save money)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, or to taste
  • pinch of coarse sea salt
  • 2 Tbl honey, agave or maple syrup
  • 2/3 cup apple butter


  1. Place nuts and/or seeds and oats in a food processor until roughly ground.
  2. Add flaxseeds, cinnamon and salt; pulse to mix.
  3. Pulse in honey or other liquid sweetener until the mixture just holds together.
  4. Remove 1/3 cup of the mixture and set aside in a bowl.
  5. Stir in apple butter to remaining, larger amount of the mixture.
  6. Roll into walnut-size balls and roll in reserved oat-nut mixture. Place on a lined baking sheet.
  7. Refrigerate 1-2 hours. Serve chilled.