FD Crack Bars and Cooking for a Cause


IMG_4259I recently volunteered to cook for a cookbook fundraiser to support an amazing program called First Descents, a non-profit that sends cancer survivors and fighters to outdoor adventures such as surfing and rock climbing. The goal of the program is to empower and inspire participants through physical challenges and educate them on the healing powers of food as a way to nurture both mind and body. The nutrition program is focused on using whole foods as well as local and organic when available.

The week leading up to the cookbook photo shoot volunteers were given a list of various delicious recipes to choose from. “FD Crack Bars” peaked my interest simply because I eat some form of an energy bar on a daily basis due to its convenience quality when on the go. And I certainly could not ignore the fact the name of the recipe suggests the bars are highly addictive once consumed. Let me tell you, these had me hooked at first bite. While I freely admit I don’t often allow the words “raw” or “vegetarian” to enter into my food vocabulary, these bars have crushed the idea that raw, vegan, etc. cannot be healthy and delicious for you all at the same time. Filled with dried fruit, nuts, seeds, coconut, and chocolate these are the perfect way to fend off the mid-afternoon slump. The dates provide sustained energy while the nuts and seeds are key sources of protein, vitamins, and minerals. And I almost forgot to mention the best part: No baking skills required. Simply prepare the mixture in a food processor, press into a pan, and refrigerate.

I had a fantastic time learning more about First Descents from the fundraiser project sponsor who is a cancer survivor and graduate of the program the day of the photo shoot in San Francisco. I also had a chance to get out my camera and play around with the food styling props on hand (thank you, Numnums!) all the while eating the yummy dishes prepared by the other volunteers who came that day. This fundraiser was a perfect example of how food brings people together and fosters creativity all the while supporting such a fantastic cause.

If you are interested in purchasing Volume 2 of the First Descents cookbook it will be available in mid-March through the groups website. In the meantime, make these bars!

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FD Crack Bars and Cooking for a Cause
Recipe type: Snack
Prep time: 
Total time: 
You can wrap the bars individually and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months.
  • 1 cup Medjool dates
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • ¼ cup cashews, raw
  • ¼ cup almonds, raw
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds, raw
  • ¼ cup pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or orange extract
  • ¼ dark chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup coconut, shredded
  1. In a food processor, process the dates and raisins with coconut oil until it forms a ball.
  2. Process the nuts, seeds, extract, chocolate, and coconut.
  3. With the food processor running, add the dried fruit, one portion at a time to nut mixture.
  4. Continue to process until the mixture sticks together. You can add small amounts of water or coconut oil to achieve this.
  5. Press into an 8x8 pan lined with parchment.
  6. Refrigerate 15-30 minutes.
  7. Cut bars into any size that suits your needs.




Banana Carrot Coconut Bread



The chaos that is my household on weekday mornings can be tempered even for just a few minutes if I can get my family to sit down and eat a proper breakfast together. That precious time gives us all a moment to connect and look forward to the the day ahead. I am most successful at the breakfast routine if I am prepared ahead of time or else the inevitable is sure to happen (before I’ve had the chance to drink my morning cup of coffee, mind you): Mom becomes a short order cook. I decided it was time to simplify our mornings and come up with ideas to start the day off with something that would appease everyone and would be infinitely more exciting to eat than the usual bowl of cereal.

Baked goods are very popular in my household. My 20-month old scans the counters looking for a treat each morning and if I am not quick enough to stash it away, he hones right in on it and just like that his bowl of mushy Cheerios are quickly shoved aside. I can’t say that I don’t blame him. The kid knows good food when he sees it. And really, what kid, or adult for that matter doesn’t like a little something sweet to start off their day?

This Banana Carrot Coconut bread has all of the characteristics of a breakfast treat but is filling and healthy which is always a plus in my book. Your kids will never know that they are eating fruits, veggies, and whole wheat because they will be so focused on how good it tastes.

Be sure to use very ripe bananas for this recipe (those black spots are a good thing!) to really bring out the sweetness of the fruit. And please do not shy away from using whole-milk plain Greek yogurt. The non-fat or 2% will not yield the same flavor or texture. I baked this bread in a regular loaf pan and then prepped another batch which I baked into four mini loaf pans. I found the minis are great for a quick snack on-the- go or for freezing. Be sure to wrap each one individually in plastic wrap then foil. The bread will keep for 2-3 days or up to 2 weeks if frozen.



Banana Carrot Coconut Bread
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 medium ripe bananas, mashed
  • ⅔ cup whole-milk plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup packed shredded carrot (from 2 large)
  • ¾ cup shredded unsweetened coconut flakes
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Liberally coat loaf pan or mini loaf pans, depending on which you are using, with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter and sugar until no lumps remain. Whisk the eggs, vanilla, banana, and yogurt. Stir in the carrot and coconut, Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. Be careful not to over mix.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, 60 to 70 minutes. Cool the bread in the pan for 30 minutes. Turn the loaf on a wire rack and let cool completely.