My two dear friends since childhood, Trisha and Jayna (they are sisters, or "seesters" as Trisha likes to say) decided they were going to make this recipe for "Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars" after their April trip to Aruba.
Trisha just had a beautiful baby girl named Sophia. Jayna, a hygienist, was 8 months pregnant with a girl. Here is a photo of Trisha and Jayna. These girls are stunning. When I look at this picture, I see many things. I see a bond between 2 sisters. I see their inner beauty radiating outward. I see happiness. I see friendship. I see love. I see the past and the present, and I get excited about the future.
Take a moment to read through the recent comments on this screen capture of Jayna's Facebook wall. You will read that I declared it my mission to transform this refined sugary dessert into a healthy, low-sugar, but equally delicious version for the girls. You will also notice the bond between Trisha and Jayna. I honestly wish all "seesters" could share such a powerful bond. Even though I am not their sister, they always made me feel like I was. I was not popular in high school, but they always included me and made me feel amazing, regardless of my popularity status. This is pretty remarkable, considering most teenage girls wouldn't risk demoting their own popularity status by associating with someone unpopular ... and yet these girls did ... which goes to show you just how genuine and caring they truly are. My fondest high school memories are of the times I spent with Trisha and Jayna. We would sit for hours and talk about anything and everything.... and we did!
When one person is missing the whole world seems empty
On April 9, 2013, our world turned upside down. Shortly after arriving at the airport in Aruba, Trisha, Sophia and Jayna piled into one car, and their husbands and brother piled into another car. En route to the hotel, Trisha, Sophia and Jayna's car was struck by a drunk driver. Jayna and her unborn daughter, Lauren were killed instantly.
It is so sad that Jayna's life ended so early in such a tragic way. It is hard to accept that this sweet and beautiful girl will no longer be with us. She had a loving family, wonderful friends, a devoted husband, a baby on the way, and a brilliant career. No one was prepared for this tragedy and it can be difficult to understand how life works sometimes.
One day, a son asked his father, "Why is it always the best people who die?"
The father answered, "Son, if you are in a meadow, which flowers do you pick? The worst ones or the best?"
I feel as though someone has ripped open my chest and torn out a chunk of my heart...but this person purposely left just enough heart tissue to ensure I remain alive in agony. I can't even begin to fathom the pain that Jayna's family is experiencing.
Although there is a giant hole in my heart, Jayna will live forever in my heart and in my memories. She positively touched my life and so many other people's lives during her short time on earth and will be forever missed.
Is there a lesson here? The answer is yes. Jayna's life and death should have an immense impact on the way we all look at life. Life is a gift. Do your best to always be positive and make other people feel good. You never know when it will be the last time you see or speak to someone.
I thank Jayna and Trisha for showing the sisters of the world how to be "seesters". Let your loved ones know they are special.
Jayna's Heavenly Squares
I wrote this recipe with tears streaming down my cheeks. I confess I stared at the ingredients in my pantry for 4 days, unsure if I should even bother making this recipe anymore. But then I wondered, "what if there's internet, peanut butter and ovens in heaven?" Besides, I said I'd make them, and gosh darn it, I will stick to my word. It only makes sense to call this recipe "Jayna's Heavenly Squares".
This recipe is comprised of so many emotional layers. Each bite tells a different story. I thought my anger would make me hate this recipe, but I confess that making it was cathartic, and biting into the delicious square gave me a new perspective. I felt like Jayna was smiling from heaven, knowing that I would be there to make these for Trisha. The squares are a metaphor: Jayna is the peanut butter center that ensures Trisha and I stick together.
This recipe is virtually sugar free, high in protein, dairy free and gluten free! It is also half the fat and calories of the original version. And did I mention it is low carb? My version has 13.7 grams of net carbs, but their version has 50 grams of net carbs and nearly 40 grams of sugar!
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and spray a 13 x 9" baking pan with non-stick cooking spray (Pam).
Layer 1: Combine the following into a large bowl. Mix by hand until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
- 2 cups of gluten free quick-cooking oats
- 3 scoops of Gaspari Nutrition's Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Protein Powder
- 1 and 1/2 cups Quinoa Flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp Himalayan Salt
- 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
- 1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 1/2 cup melted coconut butter (heat in the microwave)
- 1/2 cup chopped unsalted peanuts
Reserve 1 and 1/2 cups of this mixture for the layer 3 topping.
- Stir 1 egg and 1 cup of egg whites into the remaining crumb mixture and press it into the 13 x 9 pan. Bake for 15 minutes
Layer 2: Combine the following into a large bowl and mix by hand:
- 5 TBSP of crunchy all-natural peanut butter
- 8 TBSP of chocolate PB2 (USA). Get it in Canada here PB2 Powdered CHOCOLATE Peanut Butter
- 1/2 tsp Himalayan Salt
- 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
Spread over the partially baked crust
Layer 3: Add the following to the remaining crumbs mixture:
- 1/4 cup raw cacao nibs.
- optional: add 1 tsp of chocolate flavoured stevia powder for added sweetness
Sprinkle the crumbs mixture over the chocolate peanut butter layer.
Bake an additional 15 minutes. Cool and cut into 20 bars.
This recipe yields 20 bars.
1 bar is: calories: 200, fat: 9.9g, saturated fat: 4.5g, cholesterol: 17.3mg, sodium: 269.2mg, carb: 18.6g, fiber: 4.9g, NET CARBS: 13.7 g,sugars: 2.6g, protein: 10.7g
Compare this to the original version:
1/20th of the recipe is: 407 calories, fat: 20.2 g, saturated fat: 9.6g, cholesterol: 43.3mg, sodium: 172.8mg, carb: 53.2g, fiber: 3.1g, NET CARBS: 50.1g, sugars: 38.9g, protein: 7.7g
- is perfect to use when baking.
- It’s made by grinding whole grain quinoa into a fine powder
- You use quinoa flour instead of wheat flour in cakes and cookie recipes (exception: yeast breads).
- It’s gluten-free
- is free of saturated fat and cholesterol.
- Unlike cow’s milk, it is safe for those who are lactose intolerant or who have gluten or casein allergies.
- is freshly made from whole coconut flesh (not just the oil) and puree’d into a fiberous, densely nutritious & creamy spread.
- You can use it as a dairy butter substitute in recipes.
- It hardens when you place it in the fridge/freezer (use it to make fudge)
- cacao beans are the source for all cocoa and chocolate products.
- Unlike processed dark chocolate, the antioxidants are preserved in raw cacao, which is why they have more antioxidant flavonoids than blueberries, red wine and green tea.
- They are also high in fiber.
- Cacao contains magnesium, theobromine (natural stimulant) and anandamide (endorphin), which stimulate your metabolism.
- PB2 has the same consistency and taste as full fat peanut butter, minus the guilt!
- PB2 has nearly 85% less fat calories than conventional peanut butter!
- PB2 is made with high quality peanuts that are slow-roasted and pressed to remove the oil.
- PB2 is all natural with no artificial flavours, sweeteners, or preservatives.
- PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter is mixed with water to create a traditional peanut butter mixture.
- PB2 can be used as a substitute for peanut butter in recipes.
- Ingredients: Roasted Peanuts, salt, and sugar.
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