When Everyone Brings Something to the Table...

....it's a potluck!

Aloha friends. I've been teaching a spring nutrition course the past couple of months, and the time has flown by.  The course is similar to an intro nutrition course that I've taught before, except that I only have 40 students compared to 600 in previous years. It can be challenging to engage 600 students, but with a smaller class it was a whole different ball game! It has been a lot of fun to have 'hot topic' discussions about current trends in nutrition and to debunk nutrition-related myths. Based on what a few students have shared with me, I think they found this course to be really interesting and useful for their every day lives.  

During one of our class discussions, students had the opportunity to argue for or against either being vegetarian, vegan, or being inclusive of meat in the diet. The goal was to get students to understand that following either type of diet can be healthy, as long as the individual is making appropriate food choices to meet their nutritional needs. An extension of that came as part of a class assignment -- pretend you are throwing a dinner party and adapt a recipe to make it either vegetarian or vegan friendly. Students had to think about the nutrient considerations they were making when choosing substitute ingredients, but also non-nutritional aspects (e.g., texture, taste, etc).

I encouraged students to test out their recipe at home and to bring what they made to our last class for a potluck. I was a bit worried that no one would participate, but let me tell you, my students brought it! Chili, samosas, pasta and chickpea salads, stuffed pasta shells, lentil tacos, muffins, tofu spaghetti, peanut butter blondies, etc.  Check out the video below, I would call that a successful potluck!


A video posted by DomesticPhD (@domesticphd) on

As for me, of course I decided to participate as well. I decided to make a treat for dessert and made two types of squares -- coconut hemp squares and chocolate almond butter squares. I was a bit worried because I had to be out of the house all day and I wasn't sure how the squares would hold up until the evening class, but a cooler with ice solved that problem.

Coconut hemp squares on the left (they turned out a bit sticky and as you can see they are sort of toppling into each other) and chocolate almond butter squares on the right.

Coconut hemp squares on the left (they turned out a bit sticky and as you can see they are sort of toppling into each other) and chocolate almond butter squares on the right.

I found both recipes on the Manitoba Harvest website (http://manitobaharvest.com/recipes.html). These were super easy to make and between both batches there were a bunch of leftovers. I froze the leftovers in containers, and now I can pull out a sweet treat whenever I need. Check out the recipes below:

Coconut Hemp Squares



  • 1 1/2 cup medium unsweetened coconut, toasted
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 1 cup Hemp Hearts
  • 1/3 cup organic maple syrup
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1/5 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)


  1. Pre heat oven to 325F.
  2. Spread the coconut on a baking pan and bake for 5-10 mins or until thoroughly browned and toasted.
  3. While coconut is toasting, mix the other ingredients in a bowl. 
  4. Add the toasted coconut. Mix well.
  5. Press the mixutre into a wax paper lined 8 x 8 baking pan and freeze/refrigerate for at least 3 hours (can do this over night too).
  6. Once its set lift from pan and cut into 16 squares.

Source: http://manitobaharvest.com/recipes/10171/Hemp-Hearts-%26-Coconut-Bars.html

Chocolate Almond Butter Squares


  • 1 cup all-natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (plus more for greasing the dish)
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup Hemp Hearts
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 1/4 cups dark chocolate chips (use Enjoy Life chips if making dairy-free)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Add the peanut butter, coconut oil and honey to a pot and melt over low heat, stirring often.
  2. Once the mixture is well combined, add in the chocolate chips and stir until they are melted.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients.
  4. Spoon the mixture into a 9x13 dish that has been greased with coconut oil.
  5. Place the dish in the fridge. Once it has set, cut into bars and serve. Make sure you store them in the fridge or freezer so the chocolate doesn’t melt. 

Note: I swapped out the peanut butter for almond butter and I also added in dried cherries.

Source: http://manitobaharvest.com/recipes/10417/Choco-PB-Hemp-Bars.html


xoxo Michelle

At least no one has to see the dirty kitchen right!?

At least no one has to see the dirty kitchen right!?