Dr. Michelle Cali, ND 

I hear you. Making healthy choices all the time is hard. But it is OKAY to crave, indulge and enjoy sweet treats. Deciding when, what and, most of all, why are the keys to preventing you from sliding down that slippery slope from healthy to unhealthy – from craving to addiction.

Recent literature on nutrition has demonized sugar – with good reason. We are in a time where sugar consumption is at an all-time high and the consequences are devastating from a global perspective. Diabetes, obesity, heart disease can be direct consequences and the issues related to obesity stretch to most chronic diseases that lead to North America’s top causes of death. But you don’t need to hear another lecture. This information is everywhere.

Instead, I want to talk about balance. What is more important than food itself is the enjoyment of it. Food is a huge part of our lives. We connect with it emotionally and although many would say this is a bad thing, I think it can be a wonderful thing. You recall your mom cooking in the kitchen growing up, your first dinner date with your love, your wedding, the first bite you gave your baby…these are important events that bring you happiness and they all revolve around food. The problem arises when we depend on food to make us happy rather than enjoying the food in happy moments.

If you feel you are on a pattern of over-indulgence then some reassessment may be in order. Add consciousness into eating. Consider the 3 W’s:

  • When – give yourself a limit. Ie. 2-3 small treats per week. Then when you indulge you are choosing a moment that is particularly meaningful instead of having treats all the time without truly enjoying them.
  • What – although you can choose just about anything, there are things you can feel good about and others you can feel sick from (or even worse, guilt over). So finding something that is a treat but also contains some good nutrition can be a healthy balance.
  • Why – when you are indulging, realize why you are so you can understand your patterns. Is it stress? In the presence of a certain person? Feeling down? Understanding will help you break negative patterns.

So if you are itching to reach for a sweet try these Peanut Butter Crunch Cookie Bars. It is a recipe that is one of my family’s favourite indulgences that also happens to be vegan, gluten-free and contains nutritious ingredients. It was adapted by a recipe from one of my favourite vegan bloggers and the creator of Oh She Glows, Angela Liddon. Unfortunately, her recipe seems to be off the site now so I couldn’t compare….but this is my own version which has evolved over the many many times making them.

We love these bars and I hope you do too!

Click the arrows on the photo to see how to make

Peanut Butter Crunch Cookie Bars

Ingredients (approx 14-16 squares)

  • 1/2 cup unsalted raw cashews
  • 2/3 cup rolled oats (I have great success with Bob’s Red Mill Quick Cooking Steel Cut Oats)
  • 1/4 cup brown teff flour (or any GF flour you desire)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 3T organic crunchy peanut butter (just peanuts)
  • 3T pure maple syrup (add gradually until desired consistency is achieved – you may need more)
  • 1T water
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup non-dairy dark chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life mini chips)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
  • 1 cup Nature’s Path GF rice crisp cereal


  1. In a food processor, process the cashews and oats until it becomes flour consistency.
  2. Add in the flour and salt and pulse until combined.
  3. Add in vanilla, water, peanut butter and maple syrup gradually until a sticky dough consistency is achieved. Stop to stir as necessary. The type of flour you use will alter the consistency so you may have to adjust it a bit. Note: If dough is too dry, add a bit more maple syrup. If too wet, add a bit more flour.
  4. Place dough into a large bowl. Combine in chocolate chips and peanuts. Now add the rice crisp cereal (you can add more if you want more crunch but too much may make it too crumbly).
  5. Wet hands and press the mix in a flat bottomed 9” cake pan/pie pan.
  6. Store in freezer for >1.5 hrs. Cut into squares. Serve frozen.
  • Note: I only serve these straight from the freezer because when they are room temperature they fall apart and the crunchy rice crisps become soggy and chewy.

Optimized-TKP_029Dr. Michelle Cali is a licensed and registered Naturopathic Doctor and graduate of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. In addition, she holds an Honours Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Waterloo.

Dr. Cali maintains a private practice in Guelph, Ontario. She is truly passionate about helping her patients develop and achieve their health goals. She implements patient-centred care utilizing a variety of treatment modalities including: clinical nutrition and diet counseling; acupuncture and Traditional Chinese medicine; herbal medicine; homeopathy; and lifestyle counseling. She has also received additional training in Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture, Natural Fertility and Applied Kinesiology. Her practice includes particular focus on women’s health, pediatrics and digestive health.

Her mission to inspire and reinvent wellbeing was reinforced by her trip to Kenya and the naturopathic work she completed with the organization, Foundation for Integrative Medicine in Africa (FIMAfrica).

Dr. Cali also enjoys engaging her local community through specialized talks and outreach. In addition, also maintains the role as National Scientific Advisor for the professional nutraceutical company, Cyto-Matrix.

She has a personal interest in plant-based foods and continually expands her vegan culinary skills in her kitchen. She frequently shares her cooking journeys with her patients to show them accessible ways to prepare hearty, healthy and delicious whole food dishes. She encourages clean eating while maintaining the importance of passionate eating.

Michelle is registered with the Board of Directors of Drugless Therapy – Naturopathy (BDDT-N) and is an active member of the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND), Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors (OAND) and Association of Perinatal Naturopathic Doctors (APND).

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