Friday, April 25, 2014

A Dream Come True: Ireland Sister Trip! (Plus Date-Sweetened Chocolate Chip Cookies)

It still seems surreal.

My sister and I have been dreaming of backpacking Ireland for 14 years and it finally happened! 

This trip couldn't have gone better. We never got lost and it only drizzled once for about five minutes. We landed in Dublin early Thursday morning and with heavy backpacks on our backs bussed to four different locations and stayed at three different B&Bs before Sunday. A lot of walking, eating, talking and laughing took place and we kept saying that we couldn't believe our dream was actually coming true.

I wasn't sure how trying to eat mostly plant-based would go, but overall it was never a problem. We even brought some snacks with us (oatmeal, granola bars and homemade, Date-Sweetened Chocolate Chip Cookies - recipe at the end of this post!), but I didn't need them most days. The Irish really know how to cook and Ruth and I fell in love with their Brown Bread and ate it every chance we could. Tea also became a big staple in our diet.

Lunch on our first day in Cashel

Ross Castle in Killarney

Killarney was both Ruth and my favorite city. We got up early after a deep, jet-lagged sleep and ate a big Irish breakfast before walking 45 minutes to Ross Castle. It was a perfect day and we kept on having to remove layers of clothing because we were getting too hot. After checking out the Castle we walked another 30 minutes or so into the city center of Killarney where I had my favorite meal of the entire trip.

We ate a place called Dyne and started our meal with some french-pressed coffee. We each got salads with a side of brown bread. My salad had chickpeas, roasted veggies and tahini dressing and it was fantastic. We stayed and talked for a couple of hours and enjoyed another cup of coffee with one of my Date-Sweetened Chocolate Chip Cookies. A perfect lunch.

Another one of our favorite parts of the trip was going to the Milk Market in Limerick. After showering and eating some breakfast we walking into town to scope out the huge tent full of different vendors. We were in heaven! Fresh bread and scones, coffee shops, produce out the wazoo and much more. We made sure we saw all of our options before deciding on some olive bread and oranges. Yes, a weird combination, but it was delicious!

I love the way people in Ireland do life. They never seem to be rushed and take their time at meals to savor their food and enjoy the company around them. It only took Ruth and I a day or so to get into this mindset.

The second half of our trip was actually spent with Ruth's 14-year pen pal and her family. Yes, 14 years of writing letters and they finally got to meet in person. And...they have the same name! "Irish Ruth" met up with us in Galway and we spent the evening in the city before sharing a room at another B&B. The next morning, after another filling Irish breakfast, we drove to the Cliffs of Moher.

We couldn't have asked for a more perfect day! There wasn't a cloud in the sky and we no longer had to walk around with our backpacks because "Irish Ruth" generously offered to drive us to the Cliffs. I couldn't stop taking pictures. 

After soaking up the Cliffs, we drove back to Navan (a city near Dublin) where Ruth's family lives for the last few days of our trip.  We ate delicious home-cooked food, shopped around Dublin and had some awesome girl time with Ruth and her sister.

Lunch in Dublin at Bewleys

It was bittersweet to leave such a beautiful country and the people we met, but Ruth and I couldn't help but be thankful that our dream finally came true and that everything went so well. We hope it wont be too long before we go back!

Now for some cookies.

I made these cookies specifically for this trip and they turned out so well. I love the ingredients and they make the perfect snack or healthy dessert. I was worried I didn't bring enough after Ruth and I put a dent in my stash just on the plane ride over!

Date-Sweetened Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup rolled oats (processed into flour)
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flaxseed + 3 tablespoons water)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/3 cup dairy-free chocolate chips, chopped

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Whisk together 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons of water and set aside.
  3. In a food processor, process your oats until you get flour. Pour the oat flour into a bowl and whisk in the salt, cornstarch and baking soda.
  4. Chop up your dates and place them in the food processor. Process them until they begin to break down into a sticky dough. Add in the coconut oil, flax egg and vanilla extract and process until as smooth as possible.
  5. Add in the dry ingredients and pulse to combine. I used my processor's dough blade for this part, but you don't have to. Remove the dough into a bowl (or just remove the processor blade) and add in the chopped chocolate chips and mix well to combine.
  6. Form the dough into balls and slightly flatten them before placing them on your baking dish.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes. They will still be somewhat soft right after you remove them from the oven, but they will harden as they cool. Place them in the fridge after they've mostly cooled to help them set.
  8. Store them in an airtight container for a few days or in the fridge for longer!

Eat Consciously,



  1. So glad you were able to enjoy a great trip together! Your pictures look awesome :)

    1. Thanks Sydni! It was such a great time and I still can't believe it actually happened!


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