Chocolate Chip and Coconut Almond Meal Cookies

Chocolate Chip and Coconut Almond Meal Cookies

I have been making almond milk for my one year old for the past couple of months.  We are dairy free in our household  for many reasons (ok, except for the occasional Andy’s treat), one being that almond milk has a TON more calcium than cow milk.  I love the fact that you can not only make your own homemade almond milk which is FAR better than even the healthiest store bought kind, but you can also use the pulp that is left to make your own almond flour (or you might see it labeled as almond meal in the store).  And it’s all so easy!  But the downside is that if you have an almost toddler  who drinks as much milk as mine (I say almost because she is ALMOST walking on her own and to me that is when she will no longer be a baby *tear*), you are making it ALL. THE. TIME.  And it leaves you with almond flour coming out your ears!!!  Thankfully, there are so many awesome recipes these days using almond flour.  Many vegan and gluten-free recipes use almond flour so hopefully it won’t be any problem using all this stuff up!

I’ve baked with almond flour before and had amazing results.  These Blueberry Almond Meal Muffins are still one of my favorite muffin recipes.  When I came across this recipe for almond meal cookies with chocolate chips and coconut, I had to try them and they turned out so good.  When I say so good I mean the kind of good that I can probably never make them again because my husband and I ate them in like, two days.  All of them.  Eeek.

Chocolate Chip Coconut Almond Meal Cookies

They reminded me of a cross between a super soft, thick graham cracker cookie and an almond joy.  I mean…kind of delicious.  The ingredients are nutritious and if you can limit yourself to just one or two then you’ve got a perfectly suitable (and in my opinion better) substitution for a run of the mill chocolate chip cookie.  So if you’ve never used almond flour before, I definitely recommend starting with this recipe!

Enjoy!

Original recipe here.

P.S. Mine didn’t turn out nearly as pretty as theirs!

Chocolate Chip and Coconut Almond Meal Cookies
 
Ingredients
  • 1¼ c. Almond Meal
  • ½ t. Baking Powder
  • ¼ t. Salt
  • ½ c. Shredded, Unsweetened Coconut
  • ⅓ c. Sucanat or Coconut Sugar (I used Sucanat and processed mine in my Vitamix dry attachment until it was finely ground)
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 3 T. Coconut Oil, melted
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ c. Bittersweet/Dark Chocolate Chips (I would chop them next time for finer pieces..the big chips made it a bit difficult for the cookies to hold together)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and coconut. In a small bowl whisk together egg, coconut oil and vanilla. Stir wet ingredients into dry until thoroughly incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips. Shape dough into 1½-inch balls, place on baking sheets and press down slightly with the palm of your hand.
  3. Bake until edges begin to brown, 7-10 minutes (mine took 8), rotating pans and switching racks halfway through. Let cool completely on wire racks and store in an air-tight container.
Notes
Makes about 18 cookies.

 

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Pumpkin Spice Dessert Dip

Pumpkin Spice Dessert Dip

Have you heard of dessert hummus?  Sounds kind of gross, right?  When you think of hummus you typically think savory, spicy, chickpea goodness served with veggies, crisp chips and deliciously soft, warm pita bread.  You usually don’t think of dessert.  But this recipe will forever change the way you view hummus!  Because chickpeas have a fairly neutral flavor, they are a great base for MANY things (brownies, fudge, etc).  Kind of like avocado…remember this awesome Chocolate Avocado Pudding made with avocados?!  Yeah, it was awesome.  But back to the hummus…in a word, this stuff ROCKS.  You would never know it was made with BEANS and you definitely don’t have to tell people.  I absolutely love that it is healthy and a perfect holiday treat.  I served it with graham crackers, gluten-free cinnamon crisp cookies and tart fuji apples.  I actually liked the apples best for dipping!  That is when I was actually using something to dip it with and not just eating it with a spoon.  Kind of addictive.  But in a good way!  Try this for your next holiday party just don’t mention the beans! 😉

Pumpkin Spice Dessert Dip with Pecans

 

 

Pumpkin Spice Dessert Dip and Apples

Enjoy!

Pumpkin Spice Dip
 
Ingredients
  • 3 c. Chickpeas (2, 15 oz. cans), drained and rinsed
  • 2 c. Pumpkin Puree (I like organic because it has the best taste)
  • ½ c. Almond Butter
  • ¼ c. Olive Oil
  • ½ c. Agave (or honey, maple syrup, etc)
  • 4 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 3 t. Cinnamon
  • ¼ t. Ground Ginger
  • ⅛ t. Nutmeg
  • ⅛ t. Ground Cloves
  • ½ t. Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
Instructions
  1. Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve with cookies, apples, pumpkin or apple bread, etc.
Notes
Makes 6 cups.

 

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No-Bake Energy Bars

No-Bake Energy Bars Chocolate

Sometimes I think I like my healthy recipes better than my totally unhealthy ones…for instance, these No-Bake Energy Bars.  One word-AMAZING.  Easy and delicious, sweet but not too sweet, chewy and just yummy.  Wholesome ingredients like oats and flaxseed and a little indulgence from the dark chocolate chips. Perfect pick me up in the afternoon when energy is at an all-time low.  Now if I could only eat just one…

No-Bake Energy Bars

Enjoy!

No-Bake Energy Bars
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ c. Organic Peanut Butter (I used crunchy)
  • ¾ c. Agave (or honey)
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 c. Oats
  • 2 c. Dessicated Coconut Flakes (the unsweetened kind)
  • 1 c. Ground Flaxseed (I used flaxseed meal)
  • ⅓ c. Coconut Oil, melted
  • ½ c. Organic Dark Chocolate Chips
Instructions
  1. Line a 9x13 pan with foil and lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine peanut butter, agave and vanilla until smooth. Add oats, coconut flakes and ground flaxseed and combine thoroughly. Stir in coconut oil. Stir in dark chocolate chips. Press evenly into bottom of pan. Refrigerate for at least 30-45 minutes until bars are firm. Invert onto a cutting board, peel away foil and cut into squares. Store in refrigerator.

 

 

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Coconut Mango Chia Seed Pudding

Coconut Mango Chia Seed Pudding 1

So, who isn’t thinking about losing weight and looking hot in a two-piece right now?!  I for sure am thinking about it more and more as the weather warms up and summer gets closer.  And since I don’t have quite as much time to exercise right now (who knew babies could be so demanding?!) I am watching my diet like a hawk and definitely limiting my sugar intake.  Which led me to this recipe for Coconut Mango Chia Seed Pudding.  Did you know you could make pudding with chia seeds??  I love it!  Once this mixture sets overnight, the chia seeds plump up and thicken and you’ve got cold, creamy, good-for-you pudding!  I made mine with lite coconut milk but you could use almond milk if you’d like and even use a different fruit besides mango.  Very versatile!  And DELICIOUS.  Great guilt-free treat!

Enjoy!

Coconut Mango Chia Seed Pudding 2

Recipe Source:  Skinny Taste

Coconut Mango Chia Seed Pudding
 
Ingredients
  • 2 c. Lite Coconut Milk
  • ¼ c. Chia Seeds
  • ¼ c. Unsweetened, Shredded Coconut
  • 1T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 T. Agave (or honey/sweetener of choice)
  • 1 Ripe Mango, chopped
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Cover and let sit in refrigerator for 5-6 hours or overnight. Serve chilled.
Notes
Serves 2.

 

 

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Gluten-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Power Bars

Gluten-Free Chocolate PEanut Butter Protein Power Bars

I’ve mentioned in a previous post that Jeremy has been wanting me to come up with a homemade protein bar similar to a Cliff Bar or Larabar but of course cheaper and healthier.  I tried one that I actually REALLY liked and could hardly keep my hands out of (you CAN get too much of a good thing) but he wasn’t really a fan so I moved onto this recipe from The Balanced Platter shared by my cupcake partner in crime, Robyn over at Gluten Free Crazy.   And I can safely say we have a winner with this one!  Jeremy loves it, I love it and everyone is getting crazy amounts of protein!  It’s very chocolatey, very peanut buttery and soooooo yummy.  They’re very rich so I cut them into small squares and keep them in the freezer, although they’d probably be fine in the refrigerator also.  Great pick me up and healthy dessert option!

Gluten-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Power Bar

Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bars
 
Ingredients
  • 16 Medjool Dates
  • 1 c. Raw, Organic Almonds
  • 1 c. Sunflower Seeds
  • ½ c. Cooked Quinoa (I had accidentally mixed my dry quinoa and couscous together so it was a mix of both which I really liked!)
  • ½ c. Thick Rolled Oats
  • ¼ c. Chia Seeds
  • 1¼ c. Chunky, Organic Peanut Butter (or smooth)
  • ¾ c. Agave
  • 1½ Scoops Chocolate Protein Powder
  • ¼ c. Unsweetened Cocoa
  • 4 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
Instructions
  1. Line a 9x9 pan with foil, letting it hang over the edges creating "handles".
  2. In a food processor, chop the dates into very small pieces. Add the almonds and sunflower seeds and process until a meal has formed. Place in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the quinoa, oats and chia seeds to the food processor and process until a meal forms again. Add to the bowl of the electric mixer. Add the peanut butter, agave, protein powder, cocoa and vanilla to the bowl of the electric mixer and beat everything on low speed until it is well-blended and starts to clump together. Form into a ball and press evenly into the bottom of the 9x9 pan. Freeze for 1-2 hours until firm, lift out of the pan and place upside down on a cutting board. Peel away foil, turn bars over and cut into 1½" squares. Store in freezer.
Notes
Makes 20 bars.

 

 

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Chocolate Fudge Tart

Chocolate Fudge Tart 2

Chocolate Fudge Tart 1

If I told you this scrumptious looking Chocolate Fudge Tart was gluten free, dairy free, has ZERO refined sugar and is no-bake, would you believe me?  Well, it’s totally true!  I used this recipe from Deliciously Organic and modified it just a bit to my liking.  What resulted was one of the richest, most delicious things I’ve ever had.  If you like super dark chocolate and fudge, this is the recipe for you. And if you don’t like super dark chocolate and fudge…what’s wrong with you?!?!!

Just kidding.

Chocolate Fudge Tart 3

Chocolate Fudge Tart 4

I love that the crust uses almond meal…it’s absolutely delicious in the recipe.  Little confession though…I had to use half almond meal and half oat flour (which I just made by processing organic rolled oats in my processor) because I ran out of almond meal.  It was still delicious and I might just make it that way from now on.  As with all “healthy” treats, this one still has calories and sugar, just not the refined, overly processed junk.  So use moderation but definitely feel free to indulge without guilt!  Make it for someone you love this Valentine’s Day!

Chocolate Fudge Tart 5

Chocolate Fudge Tart
 
Ingredients
Crust
  • 2½ c. Almond Meal (or half almond meal and half oat flour)
  • ½ c. plus 1 T. Hershey Special Dark Cocoa Powder
  • ¾ t. Sea Salt (I use pink Himalayan
  • ⅓ c. Agave (or maple syrup, honey)
  • ⅓ c. Coconut Oil, melted
Fudge Filling
  • 3 c. Hershey Special Dark Cocoa Powder
  • 1 t. Sea Salt (I use pink Himalayan)
  • 2 c. Agave (or maple syrup, honey)
  • ⅓ c. Coconut Oil, melted
Instructions
  1. Lightly oil or spray a 9-inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray.
For the Crust
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the almond meal, cocoa powder and sea salt. Stir in the agave and coconut oil until large clumps form. Press into the bottom and up the sides of springform pan.
For the Chocolate Fudge Filling
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and salt. With a large wooden spoon, stir in the agave and coconut oil. Mixture will get VERY thick. Pour into the crust and gently spread into an even layer. Freeze or refrigerate for about two hours, until firm. Cut into slices and serve immediately. (I actually froze mine overnight so it was a bit too firm when I took it out of the freezer. I had to let it sit and soften for about 30-45 minutes, just fyi.)
Notes
Serves16

 

 

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Vegan, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free No-Bake Cookies

Healthy No-Bake Cookies

Today I have given a little makeover to one of my all-time favorite recipes–No-Bake Cookies!  My mom’s recipe is seriously THE BEST.  Yes, I do think that about many of her recipes.  Because it’s true!  I’ve had lots of other no-bake cookies and people have no idea there is an exact time they need to boil otherwise you get dry, crumbly, icky no-bakes.  Such a shame.  Luckily my mom’s recipe uses the perfect ingredients and method and they are no-fail every time.

Like I said, I gave them a makeover…a healthy makeover.  I was curious if altering the recipe with alternative ingredients would yield the same delicious cookie I grew up loving and eating way too many of in one sitting.  Off to experiment land I went!  I wanted them to be dairy-free because we don’t drink cow’s milk or eat cow products in our household unless it’s organic butter or Greek yogurt, so I used almond milk and coconut oil.  I knew it could be tricky because coconut oil will only firm up according to the temperature in your house so these cookies needed a little help in that department.  You must keep them in the refrigerator or freezer after they are done or you’ll have a sticky mess!  But we LOVE them cold, straight from the freezer.

Other changes I made were using a reduced amount of sucanat in place of the refined sugar.  It gave the cookies an amazingly rich, dark chocolatey, fudge taste.  I also used organic peanut butter and thick-rolled organic oats.  Very small changes but they make a world of difference in the nutritional content of the finished product.  Don’t get me wrong, you can’t eat five of these at once because they’re “healthy” or replace your daily fruit servings with a bunch of cookies!  They still have sugar after all, just not refined, processed sugar.  Which is a GOOD thing.  These are still meant to be an indulgence, but one you can feel pretty good about.  Jeremy and I both love them so much…maybe better than the original!  Just don’t tell my mom!

Enjoy!

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Vegan, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free No-Bake Cookies
 
Ingredients
  • 3 c. Sucanat
  • ⅔ c. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1 c. Unsweetened, Regular Almond Milk
  • ¾ c. Organic Coconut Oil
  • 4 c. Thick-Cut, Rolled Oats
  • 2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 c. Organic Peanut Butter (I use one that is only peanuts and sea salt)
Instructions
  1. Line two large baking sheets with foil.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine sucanat, almond milk, cocoa and coconut oil over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly and bring to a rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute and 15 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and vanilla. Quickly stir in oats and drop by large spoonfuls onto the baking sheets. Let cool for 5-10 minutes and then place the pans in freezer for about 10 minutes to firm the cookies completely. Store in an air-tight container in the freezer or refrigerator (we like ours really cold from the freezer).
Notes
Makes 30 cookies.

 

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Peanut Butter Fudge Granola Bites

Peanut Butter Fudge and Granola Bites

There was a time in my life when if you had told I could blend peanut butter and beans in a blender and get DESSERT out of the concoction, I’d have said you are CRAZY.  But oh my how true it is.  From brownies to cupcakes, beans are an absolute awesome way to make sweet stuff with less fat and tons more fiber!  And you don’t have to compromise taste and texture to get the health benefits, which is nice.

When I came up with this recipe I was amazed how much it tasted like peanut butter fudge!  So addictive and good.  The short list of ingredients and simple instructions make it a win-win for a healthy, quick dessert!  We love these things and I know you will too.  Just trying to help you stick to those New Year’s resolutions!

Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Fudge Granola Bites
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ c. (14 oz.) Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 c. Organic Peanut Butter (I used one that is only organic peanuts)
  • ⅔ c. Agave (could also use honey)
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • ½ c. Low-Sugar Granola (I used one that is sweetened only with organic apple juice. Try to find one that does not use refined sugar.)
Instructions
  1. Lightly spray a 9x9 pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a food processor, process all ingredients except the granola until completely blended and smooth. Pour into the pan and spread evenly. Cover with foil and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
  3. Cut fudge into 1½" squares. Working quickly, shape into balls and roll in granola. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.
Notes
Makes 20 bites.

 

 

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Peanut Butter and Banana Quinoa Cookies

Peanut Butter and Banana Quinoa Cookies

Woo hoo it’s the first recipe of the new year!!!  I’m so excited.  How about you?  I know you’ve just been waiting on the edge of your seat to see what the first super-indulgent, sugar-laden, fattening recipe would be, right??  Well, the wait is over!  And I really hope you’re not too disappointed because…it’s a HEALTHY recipe!  Yay!!!  Oh, am I the only one saying yay?? Surely not.  I know there had to have been some of you feeling like I was after Christmas…in need of a major refined sugar and fat break.  And I know someone out there made a resolution to eat healthier and drop some weight.  Well, this recipe fits the healthy-yet-incredibly-yummy bill to a “t”!

Peanut Butter and Banana Quinoa Cookies 2

I was soooo pleased with how these came out.  I took great liberty with this recipe and tweaked it to my liking.  It’s got tons of protein from the quinoa, no refined sugar and whole grains.  It’s seriously amazing.  I’ve actually been eating these for breakfast.  They’re quite filling and not too sweet.  Hope you love them as much as I do and they help you stick to that new healthy living resolution!

Enjoy!

Peanut Butter and Banana Quinoa Cookies
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c. Thick-Cut Oats
  • 1 c. White Whole Wheat Flour
  • ¼ t. Baking Powder
  • ¼ t. Sea Salt (I prefer pink himalayan)
  • ¼ c. Sucanant (or just use more honey)
  • ½ c. All-Natural, Organic Peanut Butter (I use one that has no salt, oil, etc)
  • 1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 Ripe Banana, mashed
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ⅓ c. Honey
  • 2 c. Cooked Quinoa
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the white whole wheat flour, oats, baking powder, salt and sucanant. In a medium bowl, stir together the peanut butter, egg, banana, vanilla and honey until smooth.
  3. Add the peanut butter mixture and quinoa to the dry ingredients. Stir together until everything is thoroughly combined. Drop by large spoonfuls onto the baking sheets and bake for 15 minutes, rotating pans and switching racks halfway through. Let cool on pans for 2 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Store in an air-tight container.
Notes
Makes 20 cookies.

 

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2013 Baking Resolutions

The Baked Brownie
The Baked Brownie. One of my favorite recipes to date!

Happy New Year everyone!  Hope you all had a fabulous New Year’s Eve and are, ahem, recovering from whatever merriment you may have participated in!  I had a laid back, quiet evening in with my hubby and have to say it was very, very nice.  Sometimes you just need to relax and rest!

Last year I made a few baking resolutions for myself and have to confess I am not too proud of how (un)successful I was with them.  Let’s review, shall we?

1.  Bake more international desserts.  Ummm, yeah.  Massive failure on this one.  Early in the year I actually attempted to make Brazo de Mercedes, a delicious Filipino dessert and a favorite dessert of mine, period.   It’s an airy, spongy, meringue-like cake spread with a lemon custard and rolled up.   It’s divine.   And I was doing ok until I got to the rolling part…one crack led to another and before I knew it, custard was oozing everywhere.  And that was the beginning and end of the international dessert experiments.

2.  Bake more classic desserts.  This one I actually accomplished…sort of.  I didn’t do nearly as many as I wanted but I did manage to bake a delicious Coconut Cake, a Hummingbird Cake and a Fresh Orange Italian Cream Cake.  I really love cakes so I’m going to try and do a few more classics this year and probably a few not-so-classics.

Orange-Italian-Cream-Cake-Slice
Fresh Orange Italian Cream Cake

3.  Bake more challenging desserts.  Hah. Hah. HAH.  I have no patience and in fact have quite a collection of one-pan, easy, no-bake desserts on my blog so that should tell you everything you need to know about that particular resolution.

4.  Bake more healthy desserts.  I’m pleased to say this resolution is one that I did accomplish.  Probably because we eat fairly healthy in our household so making these desserts meant we could actually eat them and didn’t have to send them away to my husband’s office to be devoured.  I managed to make them quite regularly for the blog and as a matter of fact the first recipe of the new year later this week will indeed be HEALTHY.  Yay!

ChocolateChip-Quinoa-Trail-Mix-Balls
Chocolate Chip Quinoa Trail Mix Balls

So what are my baking resolutions for this year???  I only have one.

1.  Make what I ENJOY baking. 

What a concept, right?!  I have realized that the resolutions from last year that I succeeded in are actually things that I truly enjoy making and eating.  Too often I think I have to push my limits and do things that require extreme skill and time.  Or I get consumed with trying to figure out what recipe will get “pinned” the most on Pinterest or trying to figure out what other people want to bake at the time, what’s trendy, what holiday it is…you get the point.  And I’ll still keep all those things in mind but I won’t let it dictate what I put on Desserted Planet.  I’ll do things that I genuinely enjoy and get pleasure from making.  I’m pretty excited about it!

So what are your resolutions, baking or otherwise?  I’d really love to hear them!

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Dark Chocolate Chunk Toffee Bars

As mentioned in my post yesterday, I have a great healthy recipe to share with you guys this morning!  I was REALLY needing a healthy sweet treat for our house and this recipe from Oh She Glows seemed perfect.  I did make a few changes just because I didn’t have the exact things she used but they still turned out perfect, in my opinion.  They do indeed taste a little toffee-like although I think I’d omit the cinnamon next time to let the toffee flavor come through more.  These are totally wholesome, whole-grain, low-sugar (NOT refined sugar) and like a chewy granola bar.  I definitely thought they were better after they had sat overnight, so give them a little time to come to their full potential!  Hope you like them as much as we do!

Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Chunk Toffee Bars
 
Ingredients
  • 2 c. Thick Cut Oats
  • ¼ c. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 2 T. Chia Seeds
  • 1 t. Ground Cinnamon (or omit completely)
  • ½ t. Sea Salt (I use pink Himalayan)
  • 1 c. Almonds, chopped and toasted
  • ½ c. Agave
  • 2 T. Butter (I used whipped organic)
  • ¼ c. Sucanat
  • ⅓ c. Almond Butter (I use homemade so the only ingredient is almonds)
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 T. Dark Chocolate Chunks or Chips (I prefer Ghirardelli 60% Bittersweet)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8x8 pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together oats, flour, chia seeds, cinnamon, salt and almonds.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together the agave, butter, sucanat, almond butter and vanilla, Microwave on high for 45 seconds and stir until smooth.
  4. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture. Add the egg and stir until everything is combined. Scoop into the pan and spread out the mixture.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack and cut into squares.
Notes
Makes 16 squares.

 

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Healthy Sweet Treats

As of right now, I’m in recovery stage from Thanksgiving eatings.  Is anybody else with me?  Lots of fruits, veggies, lean meat and trying desperately to stay away from sweets…at least for the moment.  But doesn’t it just seem like you are inundated from Thanksgiving to Christmas (ok, more like Easter) with candy and sweet stuff EVERYWHERE?!  At the office, church, cookie exchanges, holiday parties, special holiday treats from local bakeries and ice cream shops…I mean, you’ve only got one month to stuff your face with all these limited time, seasonal treats!!!!   No wonder people gain on average 10 pounds from November to December.  Sheesh.

I’ve found the best defense is to have a plan of action!  I think ahead about what I REALLY want to indulge in and what I can live without.  It seems that we think since something is laying out on the kitchen table in the breakroom at work, we might as well eat it, even if it’s really not that good.  Save your calories for the things that are AMAZING, not just o.k.  I also like to keep fruits and healthy baked treats on hand at our house.  That way we already have something to grab in case the sweet tooth kicks in or we want to go out and get that limited-time dark chocolate candy cane shake.  Tomorrow morning I’m going to share a recipe for healthy Dark Chocolate Chunk Toffee Bars but for now I thought I’d share some of my favorite healthy treats I’ve done over the past few months. These are all great options and totally delicious.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Quinoa Trail Mix Bars

Grain-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Java Mocha Protein Balls

Lightened Up Gluten-Free Brownies

No-Bake Almond Butter Rice Crisp Treats

No-Bake Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites

Strawberry Almond Butter Soup

Whole Grain Strawberry Newtons

 

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Spiced Pear Butter

I am officially obsessed, OBSESSED, with this recipe for pear (or apple!) butter.  It was insanely easy and produced the most delicious pear butter I have ever had.  Fortunately, my grandparents have a pear tree in their backyard and were generous enough to share their bounty with me!  The only downside is that now that I know how awesome this stuff is, I can’t get my hand on any more free pears!  They seem to have gotten to their peak and are no more.  I am so, so sad about this.  I’m still thinking about just hitting up a local apple orchard because I’d REALLY love to make apple butter from this recipe.  We shall see.

Thus far, I’ve been spreading this yumminess on my bagels in the morning.  Or eating with a spoon from the jar.  I’m not proud of that but I can’t help myself.  You could put it on waffles, pancakes, crepes…so many possibilities.  The spices in it are perfection and the texture is so buttery smooth.  I love that I was able to throw everything in the crockpot overnight and it was practically done!  It does take a little time to peel and core all the pears (about 45 minutes) but it is so worth it.  I also used Sucanat which is a great alternative to processed, refined sugar…much better for your body.  Also used pink himalayan sea salt instead of overly processed table salt that’s been stripped of all nutrients.  I wondered how it would work with the alternative sugar and honestly, I couldn’t tell a difference in texture and taste-wise, I thought it was better!

Take advantage of the pears and apples at the height of the season and make this stuff!  So, so good!

Spiced Pear Butter
 
Ingredients
  • 6 lbs (about 25 large) Pears or Apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • 2½ c. Sucanat (or use brown sugar)
  • 4 t. Ground Cinnamon
  • ½ t. Ground Cloves
  • ½ t. Allspice
  • ½ t. Fine Sea Salt (I used pink himalayan)
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a slow cooker and stir to combine.
  2. Cover and cook on high for one hour.
  3. Reduce heat to low and cook for 10 hours, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thickened and dark brown.
  4. Uncover and continue cooking on low for one hour. Place mixture in blender and blend until completely smooth.  Let cool completely.
  5. Spoon the mixture into sterile containers and refrigerate or freeze.
Notes
Makes 2 pints.

 

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Quinoa Coconut Macaroons

I made macaroons for the first time not once, but TWICE a couple of weeks ago.   And that’s macaroons, not macarons (which I love dearly).  There is sometimes confusion as to which is which, so this article might help clear things up for you if you are not sure on the differences.  Not saying you don’t know because I am certain my blog readers are dessert aficianados and semi-experts on all things sweet, but just in case…

Ok.  Back to the macaroons.  With two o’s.

The first version of macaroon I made was the healthified Quinoa Coconut Macaroon.  Totally yummy.  Could eat all of them in one sitting.  They are decidedly not like a regular macaroon but they are delicious nonetheless.  Jeremy even liked them and he despises coconut (so sad).  I like that they have protein from the quinoa.  Isn’t it amazing what you can put quinoa in?!  Of course, I had to add a bit of pure vanilla and almond extract.  Makes all the difference, in my opinion.

Later this week I’ll have a little blog post about my sister’s baby shower and the fun, themed dessert table I got to do which included the typical macaroons, along with the recipe!

Enjoy!

Quinoa Coconut Macaroons
 
Ingredients
  • 6 T. Egg Whites (I used 3 large eggs for this)
  • ¼ c. Light Agave (or honey)
  • 1½ c. Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • 1 c. Cooked Quinoa (I used quinoa cooked in light, organic coconut milk for even more coconut flavor)
  • 1 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ½ t. Pure Almond Extract
  • Pinch of Salt
Instructions
  1. Combine the egg whites and agave in a small saucepan. Over very low heat, whisk the eggs and agave until creamy and warm. Heating the eggs will temper them which will create a nice, crispy cookie exterior. Test with your finger--if they are warm to the touch, they are tempered.
  2. Put the quinoa, coconut and salt in a large bowl and mix in the egg and agave mixture. Stir in vanilla and almond extracts. Chill in the fridge for at least two hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Using a small ice cream scoop or melon baller, scoop the mixture onto the baking sheet. I actually used a 2 Tablespoon measuring spoon and pressed the mixture VERY firmly against the side of the bowl as I scooped it out and then knocked it against the pan quickly and firmly to get the mixture out. If it starts to fall apart a bit, press it together with your fingers otherwise it will not stick together while baking.
  5. Bake in the center of the oven for 15 minutes until the cookies are nice and golden brown. Let them cool for at least 10 minutes or until completely cool. Store in an air-tight container.
Notes
Makes 16 cookies.

 

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Gluten-Free Oat and Almond Protein Pancakes

It’s the middle of summer.  It’s freaking hot.  Like hotter than it has ever been in my 31 years of life.  Sweating, sticky and smelly are pretty accurate descriptive words of just about everyone around me, including MYSELF.  Who knew it was possible to gross yourself out SO much?!?  But it totally is.

Naturally, people are wearing less clothes.  And thinking about their figure a little more.  Ok, not all people are thinking about their figure but I know I am!  Can’t you tell by all the low-calorie, fat-free, sugarless, uber-healthy recipes that I post?!  Oh.  Maybe not.   Ok, usually my recipes are sinful and totally NOT healthy but I like to think of them as treats and hope that other people think of them the same way (am I delusional or what?!).    However, I have posted a few nutritious cookie, cake and brownie recipes and hope to keep that list growing.  And these pancakes most definitely qualify as good-for-you food!   We are totally addicted to these things in our house.  I have made them once a week, every week for probably the last month or two.  They are an absolutely fabulous gluten-free option and are perfect for breakfast or a snack.  I have even thrown some cocoa powder in them for a chocolate version that was quite delicious!

Of course you could always throw in some chocolate chips but I like the cocoa powder because it gives it that chocolate factor without all the added fat and sugar.  Feel free to use this recipe as a base and and throw in things like nuts, dried fruit (unsweetened is best) or whatever you happen to be craving at the time!  It is so, so good.

Enjoy!

See original recipe here.

Gluten-Free Oat and Almond Protein Pancakes
 
Ingredients
Dry Ingredients
  • 3 c. Gluten-Free Oat Flour (I just process thick cut oats in my processor until I get three cups of oat flour)
  • ½ t. Aluminum-Free Baking Soda
  • 1 t. Aluminum-Free Baking Powder
  • 1 t. Ground Cinnamon (feel free to add more if you really like cinnamon...I probably do more like 1¼ t.)
  • ½ t. Fine Ground Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
Wet Ingredients
  • 3 c. Water
  • 1 c. Creamy, Unsalted, Raw Almond Butter
  • ¼ c. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 4 t. Fresh Lemon Juice
  • ½ c. Light Amber Agave (or honey, sucanat, etc)
Add-Ins
  • 6 T. Chia Seeds
  • ¾ c. Thick-Rolled Oats
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients. In a blender, mix the wet ingredients until smooth and it has a milk consistency. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until thoroughly combined. Fold in add-ins. The chia seeds will make the mixture VERY thick as it sits (almost the texture of a drop cookie) so if you'd like it thinner, don't add as many or just thin it out 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach the consistency you want. Warm a griddle to medium (I do 325 degrees) and coat with a bit of coconut oil. Scoop batter with a large spoon onto your griddle. Cook for four minutes on each side, until the sides and tops start to look dry. Top with maple agave and fresh blueberries (my personal favorite way to eat them!) and enjoy!
Notes
Makes 20-22 medium sized pancakes.

 

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Lightened Up Gluten-Free Brownies

Not so long ago I made my first batch of gluten-free brownies.  While good, they relied heavily (as in it’s the main ingredient) on an absurd amount of almond butter.  Not that I’m complaining..I love almond butter and could (and do!) eat it by the spoonful and as an ingredient in many baked goods.  However, it made for one calorie-laden gluten-free brownie.  So since I had also been experimenting with chickpeas in my baking lately (like these awesome Grain-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chips Cookies) and wondered if I could use them for some of the almond butter in this recipe.

The results?  Fabulous.  The chickpeas produced a slightly softer, cake-like brownie with the same richness as the original recipe.  And I love that it cut back on the fat and calories while injecting a good amount of fiber.  I took these to a dinner and people preferred these over the totally NOT healthy frosted sugar cookies I brought and were asking for the recipe!  Yep, a keeper.

Enjoy!

Lightened Up Gluten-Free Brownies
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c. Organic Almond Butter (no salt, oil, sugar etc added)
  • 1 c. (15 oz. can) Chickpeas processed in a food processor until smooth with ¼ c. unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 Eggs
  • ¾ c. Honey
  • 1½ T. Vanilla
  • 1 T. Instant Coffee Granules dissolved in 2 T. Hot Water
  • ½ c. Cocoa Powder
  • 1 t. Aluminum-Free Baking Soda
  • ½ t. Pink Himalayan Sea Salt (or whatever you have)
  • 3 T. Dark Chocolate Chips or English Walnuts, etc (try to find chocolate chips that are not made with refined sugar, etc)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the almond butter and chickpea/almond milk mixture on medium speed until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then honey, vanilla and coffee. Beat in cocoa powder, salt and baking soda. Spread batter into the baking pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips, nuts, etc.
  3. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Notes
Makes 24 brownies.

 

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Baking with Zucchini

Hi friends!  To follow up my majorly delicious (and healthy!) zucchini bread recipe, I thought I’d share even MORE recipes for baking with zucchini!  Just in case your garden overfloweth like so many people I know.  If you see more than you can bake at the moment, not a problem!  Just freeze your grated zucchini and thaw it out at a later time.  And I’ve included a mix of healthy and not-so-healthy recipes so there are options for everyone!

Chocolate-Cinnamon Swirled Zucchini Bread

Chocolate-Cinnamon Swirled Zucchini Bread by Bittersweet Blog

Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache

Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache by the Repressed Pastry Chef

Vegan, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Zucchini Muffins

Vegan, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Zucchini Muffins by Florida Coastal Cooking

Spiced Zucchini Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Spiced Zucchini Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting by My Baking Addiction

Zucchini Cookie Sandwiches

Zucchini Cookie Sandwiches by The Hall Family Blog

Zucchini Pineapple Cupcakes with Orange Sour Cream Frosting

Zucchini Pineapple Cupcakes with Orange Sour Cream Frosting by Brown Eyed Baker

Whole Wheat Zucchini Nut Muffins

Whole Wheat Zucchini Nut Muffins by Eating Clean Recipes

Zucchini Cookies with Chocolate Chips and Dried Cranberries

Zucchini Cookies with Chocolate Chips and Dried Cranberries by Two Peas and Their Pod

 

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Vegan, Whole-Grain, Pumpkin Zucchini Chia Bread

Whose garden is already being overrun with TONS of zucchini??  I would raise my hand but guess whose zucchini plants didn’t take this year–yeah, mine.  But I must be the only one because I am being blessed by everyone else’s overabundance from their gardens and have already started grating and freezing loads of zucchini.  I did want to use some of it right away though so decided on, what else, zucchini bread.  I love zucchini bread, always have.  I know that people get tired of it but I could eat it all day (uhh, which is NOT good, just fyi).  My favorite is a variation with lots of spices and pieces of black walnuts throughout, just like my grandma always made it.

Coincidentally, my friend Joelle had just posted this recipe and I decided to use it as a base for a healthy version.  If I’m going to use something as nutritious as zucchini in my baking, I have real issues with adding in refined sugar, unhealthy oils and unecessary fats (exception:  this recipe).  Seems kind of pointless, to be honest.  So I went for the extreme opposite and made this as healthy as I possibly could.  And what resulted was the best pumpkin zucchini bread I have ever had.  I really am not joking.  It was so moist and dense and had the perfect flavor.  I really had to pace myself with this stuff because let me tell you I could have eaten it all in a couple of days.

I had read that chia seeds could be used as a substitute for butter in baking which was interesting to me so I went ahead and used them along with some canned organic pumpkin (a million times better than the stuff at Wal-mart) and I really think that it worked even better than oil or butter in the recipe.  Very exciting!  Definitely look forward to experimenting more in the future.

Enjoy!

1.5 from 2 reviews
Vegan, Whole Grain Pumpkin Zucchini Chia Bread
 
Ingredients
  • 2.5 c. White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 t. Aluminum-Free Baking Powder
  • 1 t. Aluminum-Free Baking Soda
  • 1 t. Sea Salt (I prefer pink himalayan)
  • 1 T. Ground Cinnamon
  • ½ t. Allspice
  • ¼ t. Nutmeg
  • ¼ t. Ground Ginger
  • ¼ c. Almond Milk
  • 1 c. Honey (or Agave)
  • 1 c. Pumpkin Puree
  • 6 T. Chia Seeds, soaked in ½ c. Water
  • 3 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 c. Shredded Zucchini, wrung with paper towels to rid excess liquid
  • ⅓ c. Black Walnuts, chopped
Instructions
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x5 loaf pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and ginger.
  3. In a medium bowl combine almond milk, honey, pumpkin puree, chia seeds that have been soaked in water and vanilla. Stir until smooth. Add to dry ingredients and gently fold in until everything is just combined. Add zucchini and walnuts and mix until evenly distributed throughout batter. Pour into loaf pan and bake for 45-55 minutes checking periodically to see if a tester comes out clean. Cool completely.
Notes
Serves 12

 

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Grain-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Healthy baking has come a looooong way.  Especially in my kitchen.  I remember back when I did most of my “healthy” baking and it consisted of mass amounts of whole wheat flour, Splenda (God forbid) and tons of egg whites.  Thankfully, I now know what healthy really means….REAL ingredients that are not artificial, preservative laden bombs.  And most of those recipes honestly, well, they weren’t that great. Let’s just leave it at that.

But the healthy recipes I’m finding nowadays are a whole other story.  They are chocked full of nutritious and real ingredients.  And I have yet to come across one I did not LOVE.  Seriously.  Such is the case with these cookies.  I found the original recipe on the Texanerin Baking blog and only tinkered with it a bit.  Ok, that’s a lie.  The first time I made it I messed with the recipe ALOT and while I managed to create what could be considered the most amazingly delicious healthy peanut butter and chocolate chip fudge EVER, they didn’t quite bake up like a cookie.  Not to say they weren’t good..just not very cookie like.  So I tried the recipe again and stuck as close to the original as possible with only a few minor changes.  And they. Were. Awesome.

Don’t let the beans throw you off…it’s amazing how great they work for gluten-free baking and meld seamlessly with the other ingredients. The first time I used beans for these Chocolate Cupcakes with Tart Cherry Frosting, I was highly skeptical, but the recipe turned out awesome and honestly it was one of the best chocolate cakes.  In my opinion at least.  So give beans a try in your baked goods!  They add loads of protein and fiber which our bodies need!

Enjoy!

Grain-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ c. (15 oz. can) Chickpeas, drained, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
  • ½ c., plus 2 T. All-Natural Peanut Butter (no oil, salt, sugar, etc)
  • ¼ c., plus 2 T. Honey
  • 1 t. Baking Powder (I use aluminum-free)
  • ⅛ t. Salt (I use Pink Himalayan Sea Salt)
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ⅓ c. Chocolate Chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line one large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor, blend together all the ingredients, except for the chocolate chips, until very smooth. Scrape the sides and top to get the small pieces of chickpeas and process again until smooth. Scrape into a medium size bowl and stir in the chocolate chips. The mixture will be very thick and sticky. Drop by large spoonfuls onto the baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes and let cool completely on a wire rack.
Notes
Makes 14, 1½" cookies. Note: They are best to eat on the first day and are the most like a traditional cookie. The next day they are still yummy but the texture changes just a bit and they seem more like cookie dough.

 

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Banana, Oat & Quinoa Bars

Lately I’ve been doing more healthy baking and noticing that I feel like I’m using the same ingredients over and over again for a lot of the new recipes I’m trying.  You’d think that everything would taste the same using the same ingredients repeatedly, but it’s truly amazing the different variations you can get just with a few simple ingredient swaps.  For instance, I’ve done Cinnamon Apple Pecan Oatmeal Bars which have really similar ingredients to these and I’m discovering the quinoa can be used in lots of healthy dessert recipes, yet somehow these Banana, Oat & Quinoa Bars are still unlike anything I’ve made.

They remind me of a cross between banana bread and oatmeal bars and are very homey and good.  The original recipe called them 4-Ingredient Banana Oat Bars but of course they had more ingredients than that after I was done with them so the name changed a bit.  They could also be considered gluten-free (although there is debate whether oats are truly gluten-free, so please use your own judgement) and have very little added sweetener, which is nice.  All in all a great recipe and one that I’ll make over and over again.

Enjoy!

Banana, Oat & Quinoa Bars
 
Ingredients
  • 3 Large, Very Ripe Bananas, Mashed
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ c. Raw Honey or Agave
  • 2 c. Rolled Oats (I used 1 c. thick-cut oats and 1 c. rye oats)
  • ½ t. Cinnamon
  • ¼ t. Nutmeg
  • ½ t. Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
  • 1 c. Cooked Quinoa (or just use another cup of oats)
  • ½ c. Pitted, Chopped Dried Dates
  • ¼ c. Chopped Nuts (optional--I omitted just because)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9x9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. Place the mashed bananas, vanilla and honey in a large bowl and stir until combined.
  3. In another large bowl whisk together the oats, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Add to the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Stir in the quinoa, dates and nuts (if using).
  4. Pour the mixture into the pan and bake for 30 minutes. Cool completely and cut into squares. Store in an air-tight container.
Notes
Makes 12 bars.

 

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