If you aren’t from Louisville, KY and have never visited for Derby, then you may not quite understand the hype around it.

However, it can be such a fun, exciting time around this city I call home!


I was born and raised here, so my recollection of Derby goes back to childhood.

While we were not the family that went to the track, we certainly had our fun watching the race on television while my parents listened on the radio to the commentators.

We weren’t betting people, but each of us still chose a horse, and the person who picked the right one had bragging rights for that year!


Ahhhh, yes, Derby can be an exciting time indeed. The best part about Derby to me is the fun with family and friends and doing something I never do—placing bets.

Now let me be clear, I am talking no more than $1 to $20! I am not a gambler!

I am one of those people who hates losing money. I don’t like paying cover charges, unnecessary fees, etc. It just doesn’t make sense to me and I call bull. Just saying.


There are so many ways to celebrate Derby! Some people have cook-outs or picnics or parties at home, others get dressed up and go to Churchill Downs, some go to the infield not at all dressed up—you name it!

Derby is an almost-72-hour-long event. With Oaks, Derby, and going out to eat post-Derby, the weekend can feel pretty long.

So it’s a good idea to pace yourself and stay hydrated and nourished.


Anyway, back to the heart of this post, which is about food and entertaining. I thought that while most people like to have a big horse racing party, I am always a sucker for a good brunch! So I decided to go that route this year!

A few friends will be stopping by pre-Derby to chill and get ready. Which made me think of how exhausting Derby day can be! It starts so early with getting ready, finding parking, walking to the Churchill Downs.

And then there’s the constant walking around throughout the day if you are not in seats, or in Millionaire’s Row, which I usually am…..not! Lol.

I landed on a simple get-ready, pre-Derby brunch: coffee, orange juice, and energy bars!

This will get the day going, and there’s even room to add some champagne for mimosas if anyone is ready to start the ball rolling!

These energy bars are delicious, allergy friendly, vegan, and have some protein to make all the walking a little easier.

My 9 Ingredients*:

1. Sun Butter

2. Rolled Oats

3. Dates

4. Trader Joe's Super Seed

5. Vegan Mini Chocolate Chips


7. Coffee

8. Orange Juice

9. Champagne (optional)

*I didn't even need 10!


Now I know I am super late to the game, but I recently tried Sun Butter for the first time (insert gasp)!

I know, I know!

I am not a fan of snacking on sunflower seeds, so I thought I would hate sun butter and thus, never tried it. Well, we have been on the almond butter kick for a long time and we no longer eat peanut butter, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Ummm….it’s crazy delicious! Why didn’t anybody tell me?!

To me, it’s even better than peanut butter! The flavor is so good and salty, and my stomach doesn’t hurt like it would with peanut butter! Yay!

Anyway, I decided to try these in the energy bars, and well, that was smart, because they taste awesome!


Okay, I won’t tease you any more, the recipe is below. The amount the recipe makes will depend on the size you cut the bars. Enjoy!


Sun Butter Energy Bars

servings: 12 to 18


  • 1 cup soft medjool dates (about 8)*
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup vegan mini chocolate chips, divided (such as Enjoy Life brand)
  • ½ cup creamy sun butter
  • 3 tablespoons Trader Joe’s Super Seed**
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Place a piece of parchment paper into an 8- by 8-inch square pan so the sides stick up or overhang (for easy removal of the bars when finished).
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, add the dates and blend until they are minced; they will form a ball if they are moist enough. If not, add water 1 tablespoon at a time to soften, but the dates shouldn’t need more than 2 tablespoons total.
  3. Add the oats, ¼ cup of the chocolate chips, the sun butter, Super Seed, and vanilla extract to the food processor, then pulse until all ingredients are well-blended and stick together when squeezed in your hand (see picture in the blog post).
  4. Spread the mixture evenly into the prepared pan using your fingers or the back of a spoon.
  5. Meanwhile, melt the remaining ¾ cup chocolate chips in a double boiler. Once melted, pour over the bar mixture and spread evenly to coat.
  6. Place the bars in the freezer for 20 minutes to allow the chocolate to set. Once set, you can pull them out of the pan using the part of the parchment paper hanging over the side. The bars can be cut into 1¼-inch bars, or 1¾-inch bars, as pictured in the post above. Store them in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days (you can make them ahead of time)!


    *If your dates are not soft, you may be able to add a little warm water when blending, as directed. Or you may try subbing out the water for maple syrup; I did not test it with maple syrup, so results may vary.
    **If you cannot get the TJ’s Super Seed blend, you can swap out for 1½ tablespoons ground flax plus 1½ tablespoons chia seeds; I did not test with this swap, so results may vary.
: @bluebirdandblackberries

: @bluebirdandblackberries

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