Berry Bars

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It’s Friday. Thank goodness. Let’s not talk about how to fold our fitted sheets + our financial stability today, okay? Deal!

Instead, let’s hydrate with a frozen something. Anything, preferably with Cointreau.

Sometimes, when I’m sipping down my third cocktail before noon has even arrived (which only happens if I’m somewhere paradisiacal like Curaçao), I get these brilliant ideas that I know I could sell at the Dragon’s Den for millions of dollars. Like that one time I thought about putting fig spread on top of baked brie. Patent material! Or that other time I made myself some Berry Bar with what was left in the pantry. Mama mia!

Pretty sure I’m a genius. Well at least when I’m feeling reckless + tanning in Curaçao, my precise emotional + physical coordinates by the time you get to this sentence.

Next stop: Juice cleanse. Just kidding! I don’t want to follow any anything that bans these Berry Bars from the menu.

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Crust Ingredients:

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon filtered water
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Filling Ingredients:

  • 2 cups mixed berries (thaw completely if using frozen)
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 vanilla bean, scrapped
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice


  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup gluten free oats
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract

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Step 1: Combine the filling ingredients in the food processor + blitz till well mixed. Transfer to a glass jar + let set in the fridge for at least 2 hours before topping the crust. The chia will swell up + give it that jam-like texture.

Step 2: For the crust, preheat the oven to 350 F + line an 8″ x 8″ baking dish with parchment paper, to prevent sticking. Combine all of the crust ingredients in a food processor + process until the dough sticks together. Press the dough into the bottom of the baking sheet + bake for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven + allow to cool completely. Don’t turn off the oven.

Step 3: Prepare the crumbly topping by combining the pecans + coconut + oats + maple syrup + coconut oil + salt + almond extract in a food processor. Process until a crumbly texture is achieved.

Step 4: Arrange the bars by spreading the filling over the crust, then spreading the crumbly topping over the raspberry layer. Return to the oven for 15 minutes at 350F, or until the topping is lightly golden.

Step 5: Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars + serving.

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You guys, you gotta make these Berry Bars this weekend. You know you want to. Nom nom. And invite a friend over. Food tastes twice as good in good company. Which reminds me, I need to get myself an ice crusher when I get home, these Banana Colada is freaking-licious! I see World Cup-themed cocktail party in my horizon.

I’m off.

If you wanna follow my Curaçao adventure on Instagram (oh look, Belgium chocolates!) follow me @mayicarles.

Photography Credits

Marcela Macias


Raw Fudgy Bites

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What happened here was a little naughty. I turned a perfectly decent brownie recipe into a show-stopping-standing-ovation-worthy choco-sensation. Ladies + gents… well more like gent’ (Hi baby, I made you Raw Fudgy Bites for dessert!), feast your eyes +  weekend appetites with this soooo-good-it-should-be-illegal Raw Fudgy Bites recipe.  

This batch makes 32 squares, enough to keep me sane + happy as I finish writing the copy for Life is Messy Kitchen… well, more like “as I begin writing the copy for Life is Messy Kitchen“. I did Select All + Delete the entire rough draft this Monday. I went psycho killer crazy writer’s meltdown on the project – those where you suddenly accept that perhaps you weren’t meant to abolish world hunger or find a cure for cancer. Tough.

You see, when I sat down to manifest Life is Messy Kitchen, I had big audacious dreams of making Martha Stewart so proud, even though she doesn’t even know I exist, yet. But this Sunday, as I was Googling How To Stop Eating Pizza In 3 Simple Steps, I had a revelation, “I can create The Next Buzz Healthy Cookbook that promises to fix your landfill of issues in one fell swoop, or I can let you see behind The Wonderful Wizard of Oz curtain where sometimes I anesthetize my feelings with Chunky Monkey ice cream, but mostly where I’m trying my very best to be Mayi + re-set my intentions around food with a sense of humor.” I mean, cuz what’s the point in fitting inside your skinny jeans (Wait… do people still wear skinny jeans? No, right? I didn’t think so), if you’re a grumpy Grinch, right?

So how about we cut the crap + drop the #filters + embrace a more humanistic + comic approach to eating + feeling f*ucking A-MA-ZING? Who’s in on this messy adventure? I’m recruiting!

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Now, it’s chocolate time baby! Because chocolate does’t ask stupid questions, chocolate always understand.


  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond butter
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup (honey works too!)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin coconut oil
  • 1 cup old fashioned gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (shredded coconuts works too!)
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Step 1: Melt together in a medium sauce pan the almond butter + maple syrup + coconut oil over medium-low heat until velvety smooth.

Step 2: Remove from heat + add oats + coconut + cacao powder + vanilla. Stir until well combined.

Step 3: Pour into a parchment lined loaf pan + pop into the fridge for an hour.

Step 4: Cut into squares + store in the fridge in an airtight container until ready to plate. Or don’t even bother with plating, I just pop em’ into my mouth (wink)!

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So, where was I? (Looked at my chocolaty sticky fingers). Oh right… Raw Fudgy Bites. It’s time to rock n’ much chocolate monsters!

Photography Credit

Marcela Macias


The Perfect Carrot Pancake Stack

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Today I’ve found a way to turn a traditionally unhealthy breakfast into a clean eat-me-any-time-of-day dessert. I’ll take a standing ovation now. Thank you very much!

I mean, it’s a totally unfair battle. Breakfast + dessert are so much cooler than lunch + dinner. C’mon! Right? And don’t even get me started on the topic of pancakes. Pancakes are celebratory in the Larrinaga-Carles HQ. They remind me of mom’s buttermilk towers heavenly coated with my favorite aunties syrup. No one like Jemima.

Of course when my metabolism hit the twenty-somethings rockbottom + I gained the freshman none-of-your-business, I quickly banned pancakes from my diet + marked them as “devil food”. Sad times my pancake-less 20’s.

Up until I married David, duh! My man loves his Viking-style Sunday brunches. At the beginning thou, everything came out of a store-bought carton box, but that quickly felt lame + unromantic, so I moved to Mission Enchant Hubby with The Perfect Pancake Tower. The competition with myself was ON! It still is.

That’s how today’s perfect Carrot Pancake Stack came to be. The challenge: I wanted to create a bikini-friendly (for me) + surf-friendly (for him) recipe that wasn’t bloating + McFattening + sleep-inducing. 

Now we all know what happens when you take out gluten + butter + sugar + eggs out of a pancake recipe, don’t ya’? It freaking stops being a pancake recipe + turns into expired cat food. That’s why I’m a G-E-N-I-U-S. I do say so myself because I actually ate this stack of deliciousness this morning while watching April’s CreativeLIVE workshop + it’s true. Try it before you rule me off as obnoxiously pretentious.

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  • 4 heaped teaspoons buckwheat flour (not leveled off, it’s okay to overfill it)
  • 1 heaped tablespoon almond flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon psyllium (this recipe can’t do without)
  • 1/2 mashed banana
  • 4 heaped teaspoons finely grated carrot
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 heaped teaspoons unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • Coconut oil, for cooking


  • Unsweetened almond butter (I used the “creamy” kind)
  • Unsweetened coconut flakes
  • Blueberries
  • Pure maple syrup

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Step 1: In a medium sized mixing bowl combine all the dry ingredients then stir through the mashed banana + grated carrot. Make a well in the center + pour in half of the almond milk + mix through. Slowly add more of the almond milk until you have a good pancake batter consistency. You want it to be a bit wetter than a cake batter, but not as runny as crepe batter. If you add all of the almond milk + need more liquid, simply add a little filtered water.

Step 2: Heat a frying pan to a medium heat + brush coconut oil to prevent sticking. Spoon the batter into the frying pan to create three small pancakes. Allow them to cook until little bubbles form on the top of the pancakes, then flip over to cook through.

Step 3: To serve, stack pancakes with layers on almond butter. Finish with a sprinkle of coconut + blueberries + drizzle maple syrup.

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You really haaaave to try this. You must. And when you do please snap a pic + tag me @mayicarles on Instagram so I can regram.

Photography Credit

Marcela Macias


Raw Carrot Cupcakes with Orange Maple Creamy Frosting


I grew up around food. I can remember waking up to the smell of freshly baked bread as a kid + the sound of the blender cranking ginger roots + carrots.

I grew up around food. At school, our lunch box didn’t look like the other kiddos. Instead of Doritos + fruit rollups + Cool Aid, Dad woke up extra early to pack ours with bow-tie pasta with sun-dried tomato + pine nuts, drizzled with pesto. My brother Coco + my little sister Laura + I were the envy of the cafeteria. 

I grew up around food. Sunday’s are always at Abuelinis house. You arrive early with a ferocious appetite + diets stayed out the door, unless you wanna piss grandma. You leave full with a happy belly + paper napkins scribbled with notes on how to recreate the finger-licking dishes at home; thou we’ve quickly learned that Abuelita Nani never gives out her recipes, at least not accurately. On purpose. Our only luck has been literally following her around the kitchen with a video camera. So far we’ve only been able to immortalize granny’s Sweet Corn Soufflé + Egg Nog + Johnny Marzetti.

I love food. To eat it + to make it. I day-dream of recipes. Well, I night-dream of recipes too. I’m constantly thinking of different combinations of flavors + healthier substitutions. I get so much joy writing + sharing my love for food + the recipes that have been rattling around in my head + it’s stories with you, right here + in my book Life is Messy Kitchen (that you’ll get to see early Fall).

Today, I prepared for you a ridiculously healthy Easter treat, because it’s not a celebration without cake. And I gotta say, I nailed it with this decadent Raw Carrot Cupcakes with Orange Maple Creamy Frosting recipe. You won’t even miss the high processed + sugar high version that will surely give you an Easter coma.

You will need to start this recipe the day before to give the cakes time to firm up a little in the fridge + to chill the coconut milk for the cream. For the cream you need to make sure the coconut milk you use is a natural one, no nasty additives +  additives whatsoever, just coconut + water is all it should say on the ingredients list.




  • 2 medium carrots, ends trimmed + peeled + coarsely grated
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped but not pulverized
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 15 medjool dates, pitted
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted if solid
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Zest from 1/2 orange (zest the whole orange as you need the rest for the cream)
  • Pinch of fine sea salt




  • 1 tin (approximately 1 cup) natural coconut milk (just coconut + water is all it should say on the ingredients list)
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • Zest from 1/2 orange (leave some for garnishing)
  • Pinch of fine sea salt





  • Orange zest
  • Cinnamon
  • Chopped walnuts



Day 1

Place the tin of coconut milk into the fridge + leave overnight. Place all the cake ingredients into a food processor + blend on high until everything is finely chopped but still chunky for that carrot cake texture we love. Line a six-hole 1/3 cup capacity muffin tin with cute baking cups. Divide the mixture between each hole. Press down firmly to pack it down. Cover + refrigerate overnight.


Day 2

Step 1: To make the cream, open the tin of coconut milk carefully + scoop off the thick cream that’s settled on the top + place it into a bowl, leaving behind the thin watery liquid at the bottom (this is delicious to add to baked oatmeal or smoothies so don’t throw it away!). Use a whisk or electric beater to beat the cream until thick + fluffy. Add in the maple + orange zest + whisk to combine.

Step 2: Serve cakes topped with a dollop of Orange Maple Creamy Frosting, immediately.

Step 3: Un-iced cakes will store happily in the fridge (covered) for 4-5 days.


Happy weekend + Happy Easter, my friends!  I hope there’s love + family + Raw Carrot Cupcakes with Orange Maple Creamy Frosting + so much bunny-shaped chocolates in your horizon.

Photography Credits

Marcela Macias


Salad in a Jar – 3 Ways


This week was like a Lord of the Rings chase scene.

It started Wednesday morning as I was sipping freshly squeezed Mandarin Juice typing up a Life is Messy Bootcamp challenge. All the sudden the earth starts shaking. Well, more like my little cactus plant + the overhead lamp start dancing. I’m freaking out in my high-density plastic lounge chair on the 21-floor. Hubby is at the hospital getting stitched up from a surf wound. I’ve got inbox decluttering on my to-do list. It’s Armageddon from here. I’m sure.

The earthquake was 5.9. Phew! I thought there for a second I was hallucinating being on the Disney Cruise. Not there, just yet.

Now I’m just playing sexy nurse as hubby’s 10 stitches make a speedy recovery. Of course the magical Sponge Bob Square Pants Band-Aids + the five movie rentals (Iron Man III + Thor II + Man of Steel + Star Trek II + The Great Gatsby) + your Get Well Soon vibes are helping. A lot. Thank you!

Typically, on more stressful than usual weeks like this one, I would be surviving on Nutella Banana Crepes + Pepperoni Pizza. Or running + screaming. This week’s cardiopulmonary resuscitation was different. My fight + flight survival instincts called for Salad in a Jar. Go figure! Maybe cuz Mason Jars have a way of making everything feel better. Perhaps it’s a Kung Fu Panda reflect. I think my cookbook in the making Life is Messy Kitchen is playing Yedi mind tricks on me.

Regardless, I’m gonna start asking for trouble if it’ll lead me to these three chef’s favorites:

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Lunch Break Salad


  • Layer 6: Arugula
  • Layer 5: Pecans, chopped
  • Layer 4: Dried figs, chopped
  • Layer 3: Broccoli florets
  • Layer 2: Mushrooms, sliced
  • Layer 1: Avocado Dressing

Avocado Dressing:

  • 1 avocado, mashed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • sea salt to taste

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Picnic Salad


  • Layer 8: Feta cheese to top, crumbled
  • Layer 7: Watercress leaves
  • Layer 6: Red currants
  • Layer 5: Strawberries, sliced
  • Layer 4: Edamame beans
  • Layer 3: Asparagus spears, chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • Layer 2: Lentils, cooked + cooled
  • Layer 1: Maple Dressing

Maple Dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • sea salt to taste

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Rainbow Fruit Salad


  • Layer 8: 1/4 cup of flax seeds, to garnish
  • Layer 7: Red – Watermelon, diced in cubes + seeds removed
  • Layer 6: Orange – Orange, peeled + sliced
  • Layer 5: Yellow – Pineapple, peeled + diced in cubes
  • Layer 4: Green – Kiwi, peeled + sliced
  • Layer 3: Blue – Blueberries
  • Layer 2: Violet – Seedless grapes, sliped in half
  • Layer 1: Cashew Dressing

Cashew Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup cashews, soaked for 4 hours
  • 2 pitted dates
  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • water, as needed

What ya’ think?

We all have our go-to meals when the waters get stormy. What’s on your survival menu captain? Let’s swap comfy-rescue bites with each other, in the comments below.

Photography Credit

Marcela Macias

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