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.
Have you heard about chia seeds yet? They are an awesome super food that have so many health benefits, it’s truly unbelievable. From lowering blood pressure and bad cholesterol to helping surpress appetite, I am sold on these little seeds of goodness. Do a quick Google search and you’ll find all kinds of information on them.
The first time I ever saw them was in a water bottle that the cashier was drinking out of at my local health food store. They looks like hundreds of little bubbles in her water. She explained what they were and all the benefits and I was intrigued but didn’t purchase any until recently. I love to put them in my oatmeal and my juicing concoction I make in the morning. I’ve also had them baked into thin, crisp bars (recipe courtesy of my friend Joelle…I’ll be blogging it soon!) and can now add jam to my list of uses for chia seeds! The seeds actually absorb water like crazy so instead of using pectin to make the gel-like consistency of jam, these seeds do all the work! It’s totally amazing and so, so tasty. I just used honey to taste to sweeten this jam, so even though I list an exact measurement, feel free to use however much tastes good to you.
I made three different kinds, Strawberry, Strawberry Pineapple and Peach. I think I like the Strawberry Pineapple the best. Because I made three different kinds, I went ahead and froze two of them, so we’ll see how those hold up after they’re thawed out. So far I’ve enjoyed it by the spoonful, on whole-grain sprouted bagels and plan to make some whole wheat waffles to try the spread on. I am so excited about this stuff…healthy and good for you. Enjoy!
1 c. Fresh Strawberries (or fruit of your choice), finely chopped and slightly mashed (you can also pulse the fruit in your food processor, which I'm going to try next time)
¼ c. Water (I would use a little less if you have a significant amount of juice from your fruit)
2 T. Chia Seeds
3 T. Raw Honey (or agave, stevia or other natural sweetener)
Warm fruit and water in a bowl in the microwave for 1 minutes. Stir in chia seeds and honey and let set on the counter until cooled. Place a jar or other air-tight container and let gel overnight. Top whole grain bread, bagels, pancakes, waffles, etc with the jam...or just eat by the spoonful. 🙂
This was my first time making anything sweet with quinoa and can I just say, I am forever changed! Knowing that I can incorporate something into my desserts that is so nutritious and protein packed, is revolutionary. Not kidding. I was definitely skeptical how this would work, but once you mix all these ingredients together, you don’t even know the quinoa is there…all you know is that these balls are DELICIOUS.
I found this recipe on the eat, live, run blog. I used her original recipe but once I had everything mixed up, it was VERY loose and absolutely not sticking together. I might have done something wrong…who knows? But I still thought the mixture tasted AMAZING and decided to just add some more stuff and hope it would come together. The recipe was originally gluten-free but to get it to stick together I had to throw in some white whole wheat flour (which is the only one I had on hand). You could use another type of gluten-free flour though if you have issues with gluten.
In the end, the balls stuck together nicely and tasted sooooo yummy. They seriously remind me of an oatmeal cookie and are definitely my new favorite healthy sweet treat…well, after my No-Bake Almond Butter Rice Krisp Treats. Those things can’t be beat.
1 c. White Whole Wheat Flour (or whole wheat pastry, almond flour, etc)
½ c. Shredded, Unsweetened Coconut
⅓ c., plus 2 T. Raw Sunflower Seeds
⅔ c. Dried, Unsweetened Dark Tart Cherries
⅔ c., plus 2 T. Agave
¼ c. Organic, All-Natural Peanut Butter (no added salt, oil)
1 t. Sea Salt (I use pink himalayan)
2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
¼ c. Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips
In a large bowl, stir together the oats and next five ingredients. In a small pot on the stove, bring the agave to a simmer over medium/low. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter, salt and vanilla. Pour over oat mixture and mix well until combined. Let cool. Add mini chocolate chips into mixture. Form into 1" balls with your hands. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.
A little over a month ago I posted this recipe for some scrumptious no-bake peanut butter bites. Since that time I have tinkered with the recipe just a bit and Jeremy and I now have a new favorite healthy sweet treat. We both agree that these taste just like no-bake cookies except, of course, without the butter, refined sugar and all the other not so good for you stuff. These are so delicious and so easy, all made in one big bowl. We love them and think you will too!
No-Bake Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites, Take Two
1 c. All-Natural, Organic Peanut Butter
⅔ c. Raw Honey
1½ T. Pure Vanilla Extract
1½ t. Fine Sea Salt (recommend pink himalayan)
2 c. Thick Rolled Oats
¼ c. Wheat Germ
½ c. White Whole Wheat Flour
¼ c. Cocoa
¼ c. All-Natural Chocolate Protein Powder (or just use more cocoa)
In a large bowl stir together peanut butter, honey, vanilla and salt until smooth. Add oats, wheat germ, white whole wheat flour, cocoa and chocolate protein powder (if using) and stir until thoroughly mixed together. Form into 1" balls and store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container.
I can confidently say that after making this healthy version of carrot cake, I will never, ever make the regular, sugary, fat-laden version EVER again. I can’t even believe I’m saying that! I just couldn’t believe how good this cake was not to mention it’s full of fruits, veggies and whole grains. I made it for a dinner party and it was a huge hit!
The only thing I was a little unsure of was how the cream cheese frosting would turn out. I wanted something pretty close to the real thing so I read up on ways to make my own powdered sugar out of Sugar in the Raw and much to my surprise it worked! All you need is a coffee grinder, food processor or blender, throw the sugar in and give it a good whirl and voila! Homemade powdered sugar! Ok, so it’s not quite as fine as the real stuff but close enough!
This cake was totally delicious, moist and guilt-free! I promise you will L.O.V.E. this cake and never want the “real thing” again!
1 c. Sugar in Raw, processed to powdered sugar consistency in coffee grinder (or food processor/blender)
2 t. Pure Vanilla
⅓ c. Black Walnuts (or toasted pecans)
For the Carrot Cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray.
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a medium bowl beat together eggs, oil, applesauce, sugar and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients until fully incorporated. Stir in carrots and pineapple. Fold in black walnuts.
Pour batter into a prepared pan and bake in oven for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely on a wire rack.
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
Beat Neufchatel in an electric mixer until smooth. Add processed sugar and beat until granules have fully dissolved (there should only be a few). Beat in vanilla.
To Assemble Cake
Trim edges off of cake and cut in half. Spread half of frosting on cake and place other cake half on top. Spread with remaining frosting and sprinkle with black walnuts.
The healthy recipes just keep getting better and better! This week I’ve got a fabulous, super-quick recipe for no-bake energy bites…that taste like a cross between peanut butter cookie dough and no-bake cookies. Can you say YUM?? They are full of good stuff that won’t send you on a sugar-high but instead provide a source of natural, tasty energy. All you need is one bowl and handful of ingredients–get busy!
½ c. All-Natural, Smooth Peanut Butter (or any nut butter you prefer)
⅓ c. Honey
2 t. Pure Vanilla
¾ t. Fine Sea Salt
1 c. Rolled Oats
½ c. Wheat Germ
½ c. White Whole Wheat Flour
Oats, Peanut Halves, etc for topping
In a large bowl stir together peanut butter, honey, vanilla and salt until smooth. Add oats, wheat germ and white whole wheat flour and stir until thoroughly mixed together. Form into 1" balls and roll in oats or top with peanut half. Store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container.
Ladies and gentleman, I may have discovered my most absolutely, favorite, healthy dessert recipe to date! To say these “rice krispie” bars are good is an understatement…they are amazing. Quite truthfully, if given the choice between these bars and oh say a cupcake, I’d choose the bars! Yes, that’s how good they are!
I found this recipe over at ohsheglows.com and just the words “no-bake” and “almond butter” drew me in immediately. I think one thing that made a difference for my bars was the particular kind of brown rice cereal that I bought at our local health food store. It’s made by Enjoy Life Foods and it was so crunchy and delicious in these. I was a little skeptical about the bars holding together without any marshmallow like a typical rice krispie treat but the almond butter and honey works perfectly as a binder. I did leave them in the fridge, just to be on the safe side and I actually liked them cold the best.
½ c. Almond Butter (or any all-natural nut butter you prefer)
½ c. Honey
1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
1 T. Unsalted Butter
½ t. Fine Sea Salt
3.5 c. Brown Rice Crisp Cereal
⅛-1/4 c. Dark or Bittersweet Chocolate Chips, melted (for drizzle)
Prepare an 8x8 baking dish by spraying it with cooking spray.
In a large pot over low-medium heat, add the honey, butter, almond butter and salt. Stir well until combined and heated through. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Stir in the brown rice crisp cereal until thoroughly coated.
Scoop into pan and spread evenly. Place in freezer to set for about 15 minutes.
Remove pan from freezer and drizzle with the melted chocolate. Place in freezer to harden the chocolate, about 5 minutes. Slice into squares and serve or store in fridge until ready to serve.
I have to say that this whole new world of baking without flour is really quite exciting to me. I never knew that there were so many options! I wanted to do another gluten-free recipe and also wanted some kind of muffin and was so excited when I stumbled upon this recipe from So Good and Tasty for Cherry Almond Meal Muffins. I only modified it a bit by subbing blueberries for the cherries and throwing in some applesauce and additional spices and extracts. And wow, this muffin is delicious! I absolutely love the taste of texture from the almond meal and can honestly say I think I like it better than flour! Jeremy also loved them which was the real test to me..he could hardly wait for them to cool off before trying one! We ate them warmed up for just a few seconds with a teensy bit of unsalted butter and a drizzle of honey (not needed but oh so good)…mmmmmm!
¼ c. Unsweetened Applesauce (I used all-natural, chunky applesauce)
1 c. Fresh Blueberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a regular size muffin tin with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
In a separate, large bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add in the honey, oil, vanilla and applesauce and stir to combine.
Add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients, stirring just until combined. Carefully fold in the blueberries.
Pour batter into the muffin tin, filling to the top if you want a nice muffin dome. Bake for 25 minutes or until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in muffin tins for about 5 minutes then remove and place on wire rack until completely cool.
A friend and I had been chatting about how much we love to cook and, like myself, she is into very healthy and nutritious cooking (I said COOKING..not BAKING). We’d often find ourselves at an event where we both brought homemade dishes and we’d be asking each other for the recipes at the end of the night, so we decided what better way to share our love of cooking and yummy recipes than start a gourmet cooking club?? So, our first official cooking club get together was this past January and it was SO fun! The food was all delicious and it gave me the opportunity to try out a new healthy dessert recipe–Spicy Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies!
My inspiration for these cookies was based off of one of my FAVORITE “healthy” indulgences from Trader Joe’s…cayenne covered dried mango dipped in dark, bittersweet chocolate. It is one of the best things to ever cross my lips and sadly, since we have no Trader Joe’s here in Springfield, MO, I’m not sure I’ll ever get it again! But I loved the combination so much I thought I’d try it in these cookies. Now the cookies themselves were absolutely WONDERFUL. They were soooo soft and tender and the heat from the red pepper combined with the bittersweet chocolate was out of this world! The only thing I didn’t like about this recipe was…the mango! It was such a bummer, but it just didn’t work for this cookie, in my opinion. So, I’d omit it for sure in the future and went ahead and wrote the recipe without it. But I’m not too upset about it–I still discovered an amazing, nutritious cookie recipe!
½ c. Dark Chocolate Chips (I used Ghirardelli 60% Bittersweet)
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda salt and pepper. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, molasses and pumpkin on medium-high speed until light and fluffy about 5-7 minutes. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Wrap dough in a large piece of plastic wrap, place in an air-tight container and refrigerate overnight (I refrigerated mine for about 24 hours).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
gently form dough into 1½-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Bake for 16 minutes, rotating pans once and switching racks halfway through. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
I’m sure you’re wondering what the heck are cupcakes doing on the “healthy recipe day”, right?? Believe it or not I have found a recipe for healthy cupcakes! Well, they are at least INFINITELY better for you than the regular ones. After adding up some of the nutrition facts on these, I don’t even want to think about the amounts of sugar, fat and calories in regular cupcakes. Gulp! Not good, not good at all. Which is why they are a TREAT and should be eaten in moderation.
But I digress….let’s back to these fabulous, nutrition-packed little cakes, shall we?
What if I told you that the flour in these was replaced with a black beans?? Say whaaaaat?? Yep, black beans…you know the things that go in your burritos, soup and make a mean chip dip? Yes, those! Now I’ve seen many recipes lately for brownies made with black beans, all with mixed reviews, so I was very intrigued by this cake and I have to admit that the pictures of it looked so good, I just had to try it. As I mixed up the batter and was filling my muffin cups, my curiosity got the best of me and I tried a little taste…umm, it was good!! Tasted just like regular cake batter. Ok, I was hopeful at this point. Things started looking even better as they baked..they smelled amazing and were actually rising, even though they never quite formed a “dome” like regular cupcakes.
Once I had them cooled off, I couldn’t resist trying one, despite what the original poster of the recipe said about letting them set overnight to lose any “black bean” taste. To my delight the cake was super moist and had no bean taste at all!! I loved them. And I was totally shocked! This is seriously revolutionary for me people..I see many experiments in the future!
As for the frosting, I really wasn’t sure how to make a “healthy” frosting, especially since I didn’t want to use powdered sugar. I did some research online and found some recipes that used cream cheese with honey or butter and vegan shortening, but I really wanted something as healthy as possible. I finally decided on Neufchatel cheese (which I’ve recently discovered and LOVE..way better than cream cheese and less fat!) with some honey. I threw in a little almond milk which I think I’d omit because it made the frosting less sturdy and more like a super thick yogurt. For natural pink color and super delicious flavor, I threw some freeze-dried cherries in my food processor until they were a fine powder. The cherries were actually quite expensive so feel free to buy a less costly berry…or you can omit the powder all-together but I’m not sure how the consistency will be if you do. I was pleased with the end result (as in, I was eating it with a spoon…oooops), but will probably keep working on frostings and experimenting to get a thick, creamy more “normal” frosting.
Anywho, that’s the story of my first healthy cupcake. In my mind it was a total success and I couldn’t be happier. Guess I gotta stock up on black beans now!
1, 15 oz. Can Unseasoned Black Beans, drained and rinsed (shake off ALL excess water)
3 Large Eggs, 4 Egg Whites
1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
½ t. Sea Salt
4 T. Unsalted Butter
2 T. Unsweetened Applesauce (or pumpkin...I was out, otherwise I would have used it)
½ c. Honey
6 T. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 t. Baking Powder
½ t. Baking Soda
Tart Cherry Frosting
12 oz. Organic, Neufchatel Cheese
½ c. Honey
2 T. Almond Milk (optional--don't recommend)
1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
½ c. Ground, Freeze-Dried Tart Cherries
Dried, Naturally Sweet Tart Cherries (for topping)
For the Chocolate Cupcakes
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two, regular-size muffin tins with cupcake liners (only need 16).
Place beans, the 3 eggs, salt and vanilla in a blender and blend on high until beans are completely liquified. In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, applesauce (or pumpkin) and honey on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (I beat for about 10 minutes..never really got "fluffy" but wasn't total liquid either). Add the egg whites one at a time. Pour in the bean mixture and mix thoroughly. Gradually add the cocoa powder mixture and beat on high for one minute, until smooth. Place three tablespoons of batter into each lined muffin tin. Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes at clean. Cool completely.
For the Tart Cherry Frosting
Cream the Neufchatel in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in the honey. Beat in vanilla, almond milk (if using) and ground, freeze-dried cherries. Let sit in refrigerator for a couple of hours to stiffen up.
Top each cupcake with a heaping spoonful of frosting and smooth with an off-set spatula. Top with a dried cherry.
Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until a few minutes before serving.
In case you haven’t noticed by now, Fridays have become the designated “healthy recipe” day. And today I have a recipe for a sweet dessert soup to share with you! I’ll never forget the first time I had a fruit “soup” was on the one and only cruise I took to the Bahamas after I graduated high school. They served it with dinner one night and I fell in LOVE. It was sweet and creamy and so refreshing! Just like this delicious recipe! Jeremy seemed really confused by the name and I asked a couple of times why it was called soup…but I honestly don’t know! It’s blended in a blender but it doesn’t have ice so it’s not really a smoothie..so what else would you call it?! Other than amazingly delicious! We enjoyed this for dessert a couple of nights in a row and it is sooo much healthier for you than your typical after dinner fare. It’s got fruit, protein and calcium..almost a meal in itself!
2 T. Agave, or to taste depending on the sweetness of your strawberries
Chopped strawberries and almonds, for garnish
Remove green stems off strawberries, rinse well, pat dry and slice.
In a blender, add the almond milk, strawberries, almond extract and almond butter. Starting on lowest speed, blend until it comes together. Turn up the speed gradually and blend until completely smooth.
Taste test and add your desired sweetener. Blend again to combine. If your blender does not puree the seeds, you can pour the soup through a fine strainer. (or just leave the seeds, which is what I did--I don't mind them)
With blender cover on, place blender in the fridge and chill until very cold, a few hours or overnight. Alternatively, you could chill in a container in the freezer to speed things up. Keeps for a few days in the refrigerator.
I spied these dark chocolatey little bites of protein on Pinterest (where else?) the other day and knew right away I’d like them. (See original recipe here.) These are full of good fats and protein from the almonds, wheat germ, flax seed and protein powder and are lightly sweetened with dates and agave. Oh and how could I forget the ground coffee. Yes, it gets mixed right in with everything else for one powerhouse of a snack! Forget the Snickers when you are feeling that afternoon slump…eat a couple of these for some REAL energy and nutrition.
P.S. This recipe makes ALOT and my food processor wasn’t quite big enough so I had to split it into two batches. Just FYI.
3 Scoops Plant-Based Chocolate Protein Powder (I prefer Garden of Life Chocolate Protein and Greens)
2 T. Pure Vanilla
1 c. Dates, finely chopped
¼ c. Agave
½-3/4 c. Warm Water
Chopped Bittersweet Chocolate (Prefer Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Chunks), Cocoa Powder or Coffee Beans (for rolling/decor)
Place all the ingredients excluding the agave and water into your food processor. Blend until smooth.
Add the agave and then slowly add the water, pulsing as the consistency thickens like dough. Form dough into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap. Place in an air-tight container and refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight. Remove from fridge, form into 1-inch balls and roll in chopped bittersweet chocolate, cocoa powder or garnish with a coffee bean.
Ok, I am so so so excited about this recipe for (healthy) homemade strawberry newtons! I had done a little research to see if there was anything that would make a good substitute for butter in cookies and let me tell you, the results were grim. So I went ahead and made this recipe that I had found online that was already altered to be healthy but still included butter. However, instead of using the butter I substituted a half cup pumpkin and 2 T. safflower oil. These cookies didn’t turn out horrible and were actually pretty good, but in all honestly they were more like a whole wheat pie crust with strawberry filling and nothing like a thick, cakey fig newton. Bummer.
So I decided the best place to start was with an unhealthy, regular ‘ole homemade newton recipe and I’d modify however I saw fit. I found this one from Serious Eats and went with it, although I was a little skeptical of a couple of things, such as putting the cookies hot out of the oven into an air-tight container in order to “age”. But I was proved wrong–these are phenomenal! I did leave half the butter in but replaced the other half with pumpkin…and I can’t believe it worked! These are low on sugar and full of whole grains, great for both adults and kids!
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer cream together the butter, sugar, honey, baking soda, vanilla and cinnamon on medium speed until thoroughly mixed, about 5-7 minutes (it will still look runny and not fluffy, but that's ok!). Scrape down the sides with a spatula and continue mixing. With the mixer still running add the egg and mix thoroughly; add the egg white, one at each time, mixing throughly after each addition. Beat on high for two minutes. Turn the mixer on low and add the flour. Drizzle in the orange juice and continue mixing until thoroughly combined and dough is homogenous.
Prepare a large sheet of plastic wrap and use a rubber spatula to transfer the dough from the bowl to the center of the plastic. Wrap the dough with the plastic, place in an air-tight container and let firm up in the fridge for at least four hours or overnight (I left mine in for about 9 hours).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Dust your counter generously with flour and gently (press LIGHTLY) start to roll dough out into a large rectangle, about 12x16. Halfway through rolling, dust the surface of your dough generously with flour, flip and continue rolling. With a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 4 strips, about 3½ inches wide. Spoon 3-4 tablespoons of the strawberry jam down the middle of the dough, fold the edges over the filling and pinch to seal (make sure you seal them completely). Brush off any excess flour with a pastry brush. Place the dough strips on a the cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.
As soon as the cookies are removed from the oven, use a sharp knife to trim each bar into several 1"long cookies. While the cookies are still warm, transfer them to an air-tight plastic container. If you need to stack the cookies, use parchment paper or foil between the layers. Seal the container tightly. This is done to slightly steam the cookies and give them the cake like texture..and it WORKS. Don't skip this step.
-Makes 25 cookies.
-TIP: If you are worried about condensation after sealing the warm cookies (like I was), every 10 minutes or so wipe off the lid and inside edge of the container to prevent moisture.
Believe it or not, there are some people on diets this time of year. Yes, DIETS, preparing/starving themselves for the two month long eat-o-rama that begins around mid-November and doesn’t stop until somewhere around the new year. I myself believe in moderation and balance and try to get plenty of exercise and eat an overall healthy diet (I definitely do NOT believe in starvation and “diet” trends). And I am most certainly planning on indulging during the holidays but in moderation.
So, for those more health-conscious readers out there like myself, I thought I would provide you with some healthy dessert options for you to bring to those family get-togethers. Some are most definitely more healthy than others; there are low-fat, low-calorie, high-protein, low-sugar, etc. Options! That’s what I’m all about. 🙂 I’ll definitely be testing a couple (the Date Bars and Honey-Almond Cake are calling my name!) to see if they are worthy of the upcoming family festivities. I’ll post my results!