Vanilla Bean Carmelitas

What’s a carmelita? Did I just make that word up? Spell check seems to think that it should capitalized, and well, spell check is probably right. But I refuse to obey the rules. That’s why all you paleo purists hate me. I color outside the lines. I make recipes that are naughty and you hate me for it. Love me, but hate me.

Anywho. I’m not gonna lie. These taste effing delicious. And this was my first experience with vanilla beans. It’s much more exciting than just looking at them in vanilla bean ice cream. These little beans are in a pods and you push them out with a knife. It kinda looks like black sand. Not that I’ve ever seen black sand, but I imagine it to look like vanilla beans. But these little black specs smell like heaven. I am refusing to wash my hands now because they smell like vanilla bean ice cream and I have a firm belief that men will ask me on a date if I smell like this daily. Who cares if I look like sh*t, I smell like a birthday cake for god sakes! Who the eff doesn’t want birthday cake?! Weirdos, that’s who.

Speaking of weirdos, I partook in a CrossFit competition over the weekend. I actually paid money to put myself through pain for an entire day, competing against others who were putting themselves through just as much pain. Now that’s weird. Suffering in numbers seems to bring happiness I guess, because I sure did have a balls ton of fun. I freaking love CrossFit events. There are so many cool people, terrible CrossFit outfits, and good food. I packed a baked sweet potato with sunbutter and it was probably the best thing I’ve ever tasted after doing a workout that made me taste blood. Gotta love those.

This event was awesome though. It’s special to me because my good friend Robby from Alpine CrossFit puts together the event, so I couldn’t say no to him, especially after doing it last year. You can read all about my experience last year right here. I talk sh*t about people a lot in that post. I apologize for my childish behavior. I was 23 back then, still had so much to learn.

Anyways, the competition was awesome. I almost reached my 1 rep max on snatch of 145lbs, but only got 140lbs. Someday I’ll break that mind barrier and get underneath the damn bar. I even screamed at the bar like an effing psycho and still didn’t get it. Self humiliation for nothing. Shame. Then, to top the day off, I did one of the hardest workouts I’ve probably ever done. It’s way up there with things that make me want to cry. Along with cellulite, acne, and the occasional idiot I date. After I finished the workout, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I couldn’t cheer the other competitors on because I couldn’t speak, or stand, or sit, or open my eyes, or breathe. Really, I couldn’t do anything but let out a childish whimper while my friend Jaelyn poured water on my head. She’s wonderful.


Vanilla Bean Carmelitas



For the crust

For the topping

  • 12 dates, soaked in water for 30 minutes, pits removed
  • 5 tablespoons canned coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 vanilla bean pod, cut in half lengthwise, seeds scraped out with a knife
  • 1 cup roasted, unsalted cashews
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place dates in a bowl of water to soak and soften. Just enough water so it covers the dates.
  3. While your dates soak, mix together your crust ingredients in a large bowl. Then place your crust ingredients in a glass 8×8 baking dish and press down until you get an even surface throughout.
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until your crust has a crust to it and is cooked through inside.
  5. While the crust is baking, add your caramel ingredients to a food processor to become, well, caramel. Add your soaked and pitted dates (without the water) in a food processor and pulse until dates have broken down (less than a minute).
  6. Then add your coconut milk tablespoon by tablespoon to the dates while the food processor is still running. Then add your water as well.
  7. Now add your vanilla extract, cinnamon, vanilla beans, and pinch of salt and mix together. The longer you let the food processor do it’s magic, the more creamy the caramel will become.
  8. Once the caramel is done in the food processor, use a spoon to scoop it out and place in a bowl.
  9. Now add your cashews to the food processor and pulse down until you have smaller chunks. Then add your shredded coconut, honey, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt and pulse down once more.
  10. Once everything has begun to combine, use a spoon to scoop out of the food processor, place in the bowl with your caramel and mix together.
  11. When your crust is done cooking, remove from oven and place your dark chocolate chips on top.
  12. Then use a spoon to scoop out your caramel mixture and place on top of your chocolate covered crust.
  13. Place back in the oven and bake for 4-6 minutes until everything is warm. Be sure not to burn the topping. It could happen, I just know it.
  14. Cut and serve!


My bars look extra tall because I made this batch in a bread loaf pan. If you want extra tall guys, you could do that too. It just became too intense to consume.

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Pumpkin Magic Bars


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Oh, Hi! I’m Juli.

I’m a food hoarder. And a really bad dancer. If you don’t know me well, you will probably not understand my humor. Therefore, I apologize ahead of time. Thanks for listening to my ramblings of my ever-changing life and trusting my kitchen mishaps. Your trust in me is appreciated.


69 thoughts on “Vanilla Bean Carmelitas”

  1. Can’t wait to try these babies when I’m back from my short family trip. And I think you look cool doing all these Cross fit things you do .

  2. Just when I thought I gave up sweets… I made the caramel cheesecake bars for my birthday a few weeks ago, it was sheer heaven! Now I need an excuse to make these 🙂

  3. I am going to try something with this…. you had a fig recipe up the other day. I was never a huge fan of ‘dating,’ but I love me some figs. I will put in a note if it’s good… if it’s not I will put in a note as well…. maybe something simple like paleono or paleonogo (I really like saying both out loud when I get upset that they don’t have paleoworthy ingredients at the store… instead of cursing). Stay tuned for fig findings. Thanks so much!

  4. Rachel – you can get them in the spice aisle at most stores…. if you look online or go to wholesale food places you can get reallllly good deals on fantastic vanilla beans. They can be pricey depending on the country of origin. After you scrape them out, don’t discard the pods…. there are TONS of little beans that are left in there. If you are using liquids to cook, you can drop them in the liquids and whisk around or let them sit for a little. Then just strain them out and it will pull all sorts of goodness from the pods.

  5. YEA! What Rachel said ^ where do you get the vanilla bean pods? Also, you look totally BA in that pic! Look at all of your muscles!!!

    1. no muscles lol i wish! and i found my vanilla beans on sale at whole foods in the spice aisle!! they are in little test tubes. well, that’s what they look like at least

  6. PS – you should start a photo area for people to post pictures of their “gluten face”… not sure that’s what your rugby friend was alluding to in his guest blog, but it’s kinda what I envisioned!!!!!!… Hope my attempt at humor makes sense.

    I am sure 145lbs is in the near future – keep up the good work.

  7. Yeah, go ahead and post this recipe when I’ve still got a whole week left of Whole30. *sigh* It looks delicious, but I’m sure you know that…

    BTW, I have seen black sand, and you’re right – the seeds from a vanilla bean does resemble it. Only the sand isn’t so sticky.

  8. Legit, why can’t we look cute whilst lifting? My husband took a picture of me doing overhead squats a few weeks ago and in every picture I’m sucking wind and it looks like I’m trying to blow smoke rings. Or do some really uncool version of the duck face. *shame*

  9. Holy crap, those look incredible! I’ll have to save this for a special occasion where I share it with others, because I may just eat that whole pan if I made it for myself! I guess I could be one of those people pissed at you for posting naughty recipes… 😉

    1. No I’m not Tiff. I ate a little yesterday while making this recipe but I instantly felt like sh*t so I got them out of the house immediately. I just want people who do eat nuts to still have those fun dessert choices

      1. Boo, that sucks. Sorry to hear that. I’m trying to stay away from them too. Mostly because I can’t stop eating them, though, not because they make me feel bad. I meant to come visit CF Broadway when I was in CO, but I couldn’t get away. Damn family wedding….

      2. How do you feel like shit? I’m planning on cutting out nuts from my diet soon because I think it’s what’s contributing to my daily bloating and the fat on my bod that won’t seem to budge. Thoughts? How do nuts affect you? (*giggle*)

      3. I will straight up die if I eat almonds or cashews…do you think sunbutter will be a good substitute for almond butter in this recipe?

  10. This looks so good!…You totally look like a BA in this pic! I have always wanted to try but I have no coordination and would tip over so I stick to yoga so if I tip over its ok because I don’t have a gicantor( my new fav word) weight in my hands.

  11. I was at the competition this weekend and the Gauntlet WOD was brutal (just watching everyone complete it was a little painful), but everyone did an amazing job. I can never imagine making it through something like that. Every time I watch people compete it is so motivating to watch someone be so determine and keep going during a WOD like that! Awesome Job! Plus, I cannot wait to try these they look amazing.

  12. You kill me with all your amazing sweet treats! These look phenomenal!!! Can’t wait to try them when I’m done doing the 21 day Sugar Detox.
    p.s. Your competition pics rock! So inspiring!

  13. Who cares what the haters think, say or do. I effing love you, your blog and your recipes! Thank you for all the laughs and amazing recipes!

  14. The best thing about this post is that the photo of you crushing it makes me want to lift harder and eat healthier….so although you dislike that photo, its what is going to get me through the “stupid cake extravaganza going away party” for a co-worker at my office today. NO CAKE for me if I want to snatch 140lbs and be as cool as Juli!

  15. Hey Juli! Just read your post from last year, lol….I also did a local competition over the weekend. It was great to be with people “like me!” again! I totally relate in your opinion regarding CrossFit and body image! Though, lately I’m getting a tad annoyed regarding shopping. I’m 5’10” and everything is short on me….now my back is ripped up so every shirt is small….and my legs are not shrinking by any means. But, I hit a Deadlift PR on Sat in the comp of 265 so I’d rather do that than have clothes that fit lol! This recipe looks ridic. Unfortunately I’d eat the whole pan so I must wait for an occasion to share. 🙂

  16. JULI!

    I’ve been meaning to tell you this for a long time. The PaleOMG headband is THE ONLY thing that keeps my hair from going in my mouth and down my throat during my 5×5 squat workout every Monday. Has that ever happened to you? I must thank you for this! Seriously, nothing else has worked and you have saved my volume squat day.

    ALSO, I play tennis matches about 4 or 5 times a week. This amazing headband is the only headband I have ever worn (been playing tennis for years) that ACTUALLY stays in place even though I’m running around, jumping, twisting, changing directions, and fighting the wind.

    OMG THANK YOU! we must spread the good word.

  17. I figured out my greatest wish for the app. That it includes a prolific gallery of “bad crossfit outfits” with JB commentary. Fashion Police style. Or just a blog post. I’ll take anything, I just think this would be freaking hilarious. PS THESE LOOK AMAZEBALLS.

  18. I agree with previous poster, what was the WOD that “dun broked ya?” Ok, I don’t talk like that…but it seemed fun at the time. Regret.

  19. I am eating these as we speak- mine didn’t turn out as cute. Oh well. They wont last long enough for it to matter because they’re the freaking bomb.

    Question for the ladies:

    I’ve been eating clean and crossfitting like a mad woman this past year, and now my clothes don’t fit. I’m sucking it up, drying my tears going to buy some new jeans and shirts because I have to wear real clothes that aren’t spandex to work.

    WHERE DO I GO? I really don’t feel like being miserable at the mall when things don’t fit over my shoulders and hammies. I can see it now.


    1. The only jeans I’ve been able to find that fit are at Old Navy. Other than that, I wear spandex and CF shirts. So I suck for giving advice on clothes obviously

      1. Have you tried American Eagle Jeggings? They are the bomb. Extremely stretchy BUT still look like jeans. I love them so much I get them shipped to Australia!

    2. What about the jeans do you find don’t fit correctly? I ALWAYS have a hard time finding jeans that fit. My newest pair are from NY&CO and they are amazing! I was totally shocked that they worked for me.

      Was it the competition the work out that left you speechless, or something else?

      Thanks for the delicious recipes!

  20. These carmelitas made a DELICIOUS afternoon snack! I love coming home to Juli’s paleo treats :).

  21. that face is priceless!! i can’t wait to snatch more then 45lbs. i know i can do that with one arm and my lame coach seems to think just the bar is good. lame. I’ve been crossfitting for a while now! I’m adding more weight next time.

    Also I’m making this asap.

  22. I’m excited for your cookbook Juli! Congrats! these look delish just like the rest of your recipes. I’m pretty new to paleo and your blog helped get me going with it! Oh, and Levi’s curve ID jeans are good for crossfit booty’s. I had to upgrade to “bold curve”…juli I think you’d prolly be “supreme curve.” haha. I’m jealous actually, my goal is to get to supreme curve. Round asses rule.

  23. Wow. I am officially a celebrity because my name has been dropped TWICE on PaleOMG in a year 🙂
    Juli you are incredible and such an inspiration to so many athletes out there. Really means a lot to have you at our events as you kick the snot out of everyone. You could at least bake them something to make up for it geez 🙂
    Good luck this weekend and see you at the Open!!
    p.s. I need a dude’s PaleOMG headband!

  24. Damn! You Snatch 140#, good job! I’m only at 75# and the bar falls forward. Did you practice lifts separately from Crossfit to get that number? I’m impressed.

    This dessert looks good. I’ll be saving it for when I’m done with the Paleo 30 day challenge.

  25. JB, you’ve done it again. I am now halfway through the 21DSD and these show up in my feed! I do love you though as these will be the first thing I make once it’s over!!

  26. omg that looks soo fantastic!! i just spent my evening making your tex mex hash and chocolate energy bite balls!! cant wait to try this too!! i am just getting into your blog and you are freakin hilarious! love reading your posts!!!

  27. Holy crap. 145 lbs. snatch?? I was psyched when I hit 235 for my deadlift and 185 for my squat. Put 145 over my head? Hmmmm, we’ll see. The dessert looks scrumptious. Might make it this Friday!

  28. Dear Juli: I was having a really rough day until reading that part about vanilla bean hands. Now the day sparkles with hilarity. Thanks for the pick-me up.

  29. love your blog, juli! just found it a few days ago when i started paleo. been a vegan for 5 years so this is all new to me. i’ve never learned how to cook meat before! i am really pumped to try your recipes and will be making this cake for a birthday party on labor day. i know if i just made it for myself it would be gone in an hour. i have the worst control with sweets!!!

  30. Made it, loved it. You super rock! I had to use peanut butter in place of almond butter but I’m sure that’s only a minor change. Thanks for posting!

  31. Ok so I made this recipe this weekend, TWICE!!! First one with chocolate chips and second one without. Both were awesome. But what’s even better was when I ate it with the sweet potato ice cream. Freaking AWESOME!!! I plan on eating this all week with my morning coffee.

  32. i made these carmelitas last night. we have a labor day party today and am serving it as the dessert. however, i’m gonna have some for breakfast cuz it just looks and smells too damn good! my mom was like “you know, if you like it too much, i am serving another cake so you can just eat it all yourself.”

    one change i made was to use macadamia nuts in place of cashews. total sex.

  33. I seem to get hung up on Step 12. Instead of spooning the caramel mixture on to the crust, I spoon it into my mouth. That shiz is GOOD!

  34. So many of the recipes use dates. Is there an alternative? Or am I going to have to learn to like them? I can’t stand the taste of them! I really want to try some of these recipes.

  35. Making this tonight for my anniversary! Question- is there a speficic reason you use canned coconut milk as opposed to a refrigerated carton? Can it be interchangeable in this recipe?

    1. some recipes it can be but most of the time, if i say canned coconut milk, that’s what’s needed. for this recipe, carton would be just fine

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