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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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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Strawberry Chia Jam

Strawberry Pineapple, Peach and Strawberry Chia Jam

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.

Gorgeous Strawberries

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!

Original recipe by Tosca Reno 

No-Sugar Strawberry Chia Jam
 
Ingredients
  • 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)
Instructions
  1. 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. 🙂
Notes
Makes 1 cup.

Strawberry Chia Jam on Whole Grain Sprouted Bagel

 

 

 

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Chocolate Chip Quinoa Trail Mix Balls

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.

Chocolate Chip Quinoa Trail Mix Balls
 
Ingredients
  • 2 c. Thick Rolled Oats, dry
  • 1 c. Cooked Quinoa
  • 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
Instructions
  1. 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.
Notes
Makes 50, 1" balls.

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No-Bake Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites, Take Two

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
 
Ingredients
  • 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)
Instructions
  1. 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.
Notes
Makes 50, 1" balls.

 

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Whole Grain, Low-Fat Carrot Cake

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!

Whole Grain, Low-Fat Carrot Cake
 
Ingredients
Carrot Cake
  • 2 c. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 2 t. Baking Soda
  • 2 t. Baking Powder
  • ½ t. Fine sea Salt
  • 3 t. Ground Cinnamon
  • ¼ t. Nutmeg
  • 2 Large Eggs, 3 Egg Whites
  • ½ c. Safflower Oil
  • ¾ c. Unsweetened Applesauce
  • 1½ c. Sugar in the Raw
  • 4 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 3 c. Grated Carrots, squeezed dry
  • 8 oz. Crushed Pineapple, drained
  • ½ c. Chopped Black Walnuts (or toasted pecans)
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 12 oz. Organic Neufchatel Cheese
  • 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)
Instructions
For the Carrot Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  1. 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
  1. 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.
Notes
Serves 16.

 

 

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No-Bake Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites

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!

Recipe adapted from fooddoodles.com

No-Bake Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites
 
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  1. 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.
Notes
Makes 2 dozen.

 

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No-Bake Almond Butter Rice Crisp Treats

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.

Do yourself a favor and try these immediately!

No-Bake Almond Butter Rice Krisp Treats
 
Ingredients
  • 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)
Instructions
  1. Prepare an 8x8 baking dish by spraying it with cooking spray.
  2. 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.
  3. Scoop into pan and spread evenly. Place in freezer to set for about 15 minutes.
  4. 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.

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Blueberry Almond Meal Muffins

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!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Blueberry Almond Meal Muffins
 
Ingredients
  • 2 c. Almond Meal
  • ½ t. Baking Soda
  • ½ t. Sea Salt
  • ¼ t. Cinnamon
  • 2 Eggs
  • ¼ c. Honey
  • ¼ c. Olive or Safflower Oil
  • 1 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ c. Unsweetened Applesauce (I used all-natural, chunky applesauce)
  • 1 c. Fresh Blueberries
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a regular size muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
  3. In a separate, large bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add in the honey, oil, vanilla and applesauce and stir to combine.
  4. Add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients, stirring just until combined. Carefully fold in the blueberries.
  5. 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.
Notes
Makes 8 muffins.

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Spicy Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

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!

Recipe adapted from injennieskitchen.com

Spicy Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies
 
Ingredients
  • 2 c. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • ½ t. Baking Soda
  • ½ t. Sea Salt
  • 1 t. Cayenne or Ground Red Pepper
  • ¼ c. (1/2 stick) Unsalted Butter, softened
  • ¼ c. Pure Pumpkin Puree
  • ¾ c. Sugar in the Raw
  • 1 T. Molasses
  • 2 Large Eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ½ c. Dark Chocolate Chips (I used Ghirardelli 60% Bittersweet)
Instructions
  1. 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).
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. 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.
Notes
Makes about 25 cookies.

 

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Chocolate Cupcakes with Tart Cherry Frosting

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!

Recipe adapted from healthyindulgences.net

Chocolate Cupcakes with Tart Cherry Frosting
 
Ingredients
Chocolate Cupcakes
  • 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)
Instructions
For the Chocolate Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two, regular-size muffin tins with cupcake liners (only need 16).
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  1. 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.
  2. Top each cupcake with a heaping spoonful of frosting and smooth with an off-set spatula. Top with a dried cherry.
  3. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until a few minutes before serving.
Notes
Makes 16 cupcakes.

 

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Strawberry Almond Butter Soup

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!

Enjoy!

Strawberry Almond Butter Soup
 
Ingredients
  • 1.5 lbs Strawberries (4 cups sliced)
  • ¼ c. Plain, Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 2 T. Natural Almond Butter
  • ½ t. Almond Extract
  • 2 T. Agave, or to taste depending on the sweetness of your strawberries
  • Chopped strawberries and almonds, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Remove green stems off strawberries, rinse well, pat dry and slice.
  2. 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.
  3. 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)
  4. 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.
Notes
Makes about 3 cups.

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Java Mocha Protein Balls

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.

Enjoy!

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.

Java Mocha Protein Balls
 
Ingredients
  • ⅓ c. Ground Coffee
  • 4-5 T. Cocoa Powder
  • 2 c. Raw Almonds
  • ¼ c. Ground Flax Seed
  • ¼ c. Wheat Germ
  • 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)
Instructions
  1. Place all the ingredients excluding the agave and water into your food processor. Blend until smooth.
  2. 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.
Notes
Makes 50.

 

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Whole Grain Strawberry Newtons

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!

Enjoy!

Whole Grain Strawberry Newtons
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ c. White Whole Wheat Flour
  • ¼ t. Fine Sea Salt
  • ½ Stick Unsalted, All-Natural Butter, softened
  • ¼ c. Pumpkin
  • ¼ c. Sugar in the Raw
  • 2 T. Honey
  • ¼ t. Baking Soda
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla
  • ⅛ t. Cinnamon
  • 1 Large Egg plus 2 Egg Whites, room temperature
  • 1 T. Orange Juice
  • 1 c. All Fruit, No Added Sugar Strawberry Jam
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
Notes
-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.

 

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