BOO!!!  HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYBODY!!!  :)

Have you ever caught yourself dreaming of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and Snickerz morphed into one?  Or was I totally alone on that?  I sure hope not…

ANYWAYS, whether you’ve dreamt of it or not, IT. JUST. HAPPENED!
And it’s secretly guilt-free too, shhh  ;)

These healthy homemade Snickerz Candy Cups are like Snickerz candy bars but in the shape of Reese’s — they’re sweet, they’re satisfying, they’re chocolatey, they’re peanut buttery, they’re caramelly.
They’re the bomb.  They taste so good it’s hard to believe they’re actually good for you.

Healthy Snickerz Candy Cups recipe (refined sugar free) - Healthy Dessert Recipes at Desserts with Benefits

So last week, Annie from Naturally Sweet Recipes was so incredibly thoughtful and invited me to join the Behind the Scenes Tour — an online “tour” where bloggers share with their readers what it’s like to be, well, a blogger.  Being a blogger by trade sounds like a totally weird concept, I get it.

When people ask what I do for a living, there’s usually a little pause and then I admit say, “I’m a food blogger!  I run a healthy dessert recipe website.”

And then there’s another pause, because something along the lines of, “Ummm… I meant your job, not your hobby, stupid,” is being thought in their heads.  Then they actually say, “Oh, how cool!”  But I know that’s not what they really wanted to say.  They want to ask, “How is that a job?” or say, “Sounds really easy,” and “How can you possibly make a living doing that?”

Yeah, I thought the same thing when I first started blogging.  I didn’t even know blogging was a career until I read that one of my favorite bloggers (Angela from Oh She Glows) announced that she had quit her job to become a full-time blogger.

A full-time food blogger??

WOW.  That life must be awesome.  You just get to eat all day.  In your pajamas.  Right?

Healthy Snickerz Candy Cups recipe (refined sugar free) - Healthy Dessert Recipes at Desserts with Benefits

Well, yeah I admit it, that’s totally true, but that’s only like 10% of it.  Yes, I basically do eat all day and I get to work in mah PJ’s…  but behind the scenes, behind this computer screen, some fo-realz-shiz goes on!

My story is a little different than other food bloggers, though, as I’m currently finishing my last year in university right now (woop woop!), so I have 18 credits to worry about on top of the blog.  To be honest, when I first started blogging back in April 2011, I never thought that it could have turned into a career.  I’m so blessed to have had my blog featured by sites like the Huffington Post, Shape Magazine and Daily Burn, and I’m so excited that I’ve been able to work with major brands.  Now, as fun as it is, it’s serious too.  Contracts are involved, you need a lawyer, blah blah blah.  I’ll shut up now  ;)

So, as part of the Behind the Scenes Tour, I’ll answer a few questions for ya:

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Question #1:  What are you working on?

EEK!  I’m so excited to finally announce that I’m PUBLISHING A COOKBOOK!!  :D
After receiving countless requests by readers to sell a cookbook, I finally got on it.  About time right?  The cookbook is called DIY Protein Bars — a collection of 48 (YES! FORTY. EIGHT.) easy, healthy, homemade, no-bake treats that taste like dessert, but just happen to be packed with protein.

DIY Protein Bars Cookbook – Jessica Stier of Desserts with Benefits

DIY Protein Bars Cookbook Cover

Table of Contents:

-About the Author
-About the Cookbook
-Pantry Staples
-Essential Kitchen Tools
-Getting Started
-Original Protein Bar Flavors
-Fruity Protein Bar Flavors
-“Baked” Protein Bar Flavors
-Fancy Pants Protein Bar Flavors
-Candy Bar Protein Bar Flavors
-The Ultimate Protein Bar Flavor (hint hint, it has chocolate…  lots of it)
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Why protein bars?

Protein is essential for muscle growth, repair and maintenance, and it is also necessary for maintaining blood pressure, fluid balance and electrolyte levels within the body.  After an intense workout, they’re the best reward for sweating like an animal, dealing with your exhausted muscles, and trying to control those damn uncontrollable jelly legs.  These protein bars are really perfect as snacks at any time throughout the day.

Over the last year or two, my protein bar recipes have become some of the most popular recipes on Desserts with Benefits.
My favorites?  Definitely the Red Velvet Fudge and Nutella Fudge Protein Bars.
Which ones do you like?  I’ve got plenty, like Snickerz, Matcha Green Tea Fudge, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Brownie!
*drools*

The cookbook will have options for everyone — the recipes are (or can easily be made) gluten-free, refined sugar-free, soy-free, dairy-free and vegan…  but you’d never know it.  These recipes might be “free” of some stuff, but they sure aren’t free of flavor  :)

They’re so tasty and addicting you’ll never buy storebought again.  Every recipe in the cookbook is all-natural too — no artificial sweeteners, no synthetic food dyes, no artificial food flavorings, no hydrogenated oils and no preservatives whatsoever.  That list right there is unheard of when it comes to storebought protein bars.

Oh, and there will be pictures.  A ton of pictures.  Because, personally, I need my cookbooks to be full-color and show me what the final product is supposed to look like inside and out…  otherwise I’ll be totally clueless as to what I’m making is supposed to look like.  The book will also include nutrition labels for each recipe so you can see how many calories, grams of fat, carbs, fiber, protein, etc. are in each serving.

To sum it all up?  They’re DIY protein bars that taste like candy bars without all the excess calories, fat and sugar, and absolutely none of the artificial ingredients and preservatives.
They’re a total godsend for the health conscious dessert lovers out there (aka, YOU)

More information to come soon  :)

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Question #2:  How does your work differ from others of its genre?

I’m currently majoring in Nutritional Sciences and I have a serious passion for all natural, wholesome food.  This allows me to make truly healthy desserts that are beneficial to the human body.  Desserts shouldn’t be considered cheat meals and they shouldn’t make anyone feel guilty.  In my opinion, dessert is just as important as breakfast (and lunch and dinner and snacks)!  It’s just as much of a necessity as water and oxygen.  Period.

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Question #3:  Why do you do what you do?

When I was asked to join this tour, I sat back in my chair to think and looked around my apartment.  I realized, WOW, my entire life literally revolves around food.  I blog about healthy dessert recipes, I’m majoring in Nutrition, and my apartment screams “FOOD!” and “HEALTH!” in every direction.

My pantry, fridge and freezer are always on the verge of exploding with freshly made desserts.

I have food-related paintings/art hung all around my apartment (painting, along with baking, is a huge stress-reliever for me)

Healthy Snickerz Candy Cups recipe (refined sugar free) - Healthy Dessert Recipes at Desserts with Benefits  Healthy Snickerz Candy Cups recipe (refined sugar free) - Healthy Dessert Recipes at Desserts with Benefits

Healthy Snickerz Candy Cups recipe (refined sugar free) - Healthy Dessert Recipes at Desserts with Benefits  Healthy Snickerz Candy Cups recipe (refined sugar free) - Healthy Dessert Recipes at Desserts with Benefits

I’ve installed a pull-up bar one of my doorways and I have free weights in the corner next to my yoga mat.

Healthy Snickerz Candy Cups recipe (refined sugar free) - Healthy Dessert Recipes at Desserts with Benefits  Healthy Snickerz Candy Cups recipe (refined sugar free) - Healthy Dessert Recipes at Desserts with Benefits

Point is, I’m really passionate about healthy food and I want to share that passion with others.  When I adopted a healthy lifestyle, my life got so much better.  I experienced a lot of health problems back in middle school and high school (from my very poor diet and sedentary lifestyle) and every single ailment is gone now.  Not 75% or even 95% gone, 100% GONE.  Maybe sometime in the future I’ll feel comfortable sharing my health journey with you guys on the blog?  Not sure yet.  Anyways, along with sharing my passion for healthy desserts, I want to share the health and the wealth of what it’s like to eat nutritious desserts on a regular basis!  :)

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Question #4:  How does your writing/creating process work?  What exactly goes into publishing a recipe post (like this one)?

Well, a lot!

  • First, you gotta develop a recipe.  For me, that’s the easy part.  I pretty much dream about food at every waking hour (and every sleeping hour).  I have a 29-page Word document of recipe ideas, fully developed recipes that I need to try, and unsuccessful recipes that I’ve made and need to revise.  Oh, and a Recipes to Try Pinterest board and a Recipe Wishlist.  If I could bake 24/7 I totally would.  Because eating beats sleep  ;)
  • Second, you gotta make the recipe.  And sometimes remaking and remaking the recipe if it’s a total flop.  Like my nine-trial Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cake.
  • Third, you gotta photograph the recipe.  Photography isn’t my strong suit.  Partially because I barely know how to work my camera (I hate reading manuals) and partially because I suck at food styling!  I’m trying to get better though.  I’m always on the lookout for photography props, like cute little spoons/forks/plates/bowls/cups/mugs/placemats, but I keep having to tell myself:  food props don’t make pictures better, skill does!  So I need to work harder on my photography skills  :)
    Oh yeah, and if you take horrible photos (like I do), you’ll also need to edit them.  I like to add text to some of my images now (like the 2nd picture in this post) to make them more interesting and to add some oomph.  I also now add a copyright symbol/watermark since a lot of people steal my photos  :(

Anyways, here’s a picture of my photography set up for this particular recipe:

Healthy Snickerz Candy Cups recipe (refined sugar free) - Healthy Dessert Recipes at Desserts with Benefits

And here’s a picture of my GIANT food prop collection:

Healthy Snickerz Candy Cups recipe (refined sugar free) - Healthy Dessert Recipes at Desserts with Benefits

  • Fourth, you gotta write the post.  Just like writing an essay, sometimes the words flow freely and sometimes you get writer’s block.  On days where I feel like I can write for hours, I try to write as many posts as possible.  On days where I get writer’s block, I bake/cook as much as possible and leave the writing for later.  This step also includes proofreading, linking to specific ingredients so it’s easier for readers to find, making sure the comments are enabled (I’ve accidentally shut mine off like, 5x), search engine optimize, tag, categorize, etc.
  • Fifth, you gotta publish the post.  Publicize it, promote it, share it on (the 80 billion) social media platforms.  This takes quite a bit of time to do — there’s Facebook, there’s TwitterPinterestInstagram…  oh, and Google Plus and Tumblr, too.  I feel like I’m missing one but whatever.  This step also includes social media management (responding to comments, questions and messages on each individual platform) and interacting with mah fellow food bloggers!

There’s really much more that goes into blogging, but I’ll spare you the details since it involves technology and coding and super boring stuff that makes me want to throw my laptop across the room you will have absolutely zero interest in.  We’re all about da food!

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I hope my answers to the Behind The Scenes Tour questions were fun to read through.  If not, I guess the takeaway point here is that I’m publishing a suuuper awesome cookbook and I am so excited for it to come out.  I hope you like/love/ADORE it!

Speaking of liking/loving/ADORING…  these Healthy Snickerz Candy Cups.  They’re incredibly rich and smooth with the occasional crunch from the peanuts.

It’s 100% addictive stuff.  Literally ate four in a row…  hehehe

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