Friday, November 30, 2012

Healthy Gingerbread Cake

Christmas is the time for gingerbread, is it not?

It's also the time that most people find themselves overindulging.  After all, it's hard no to.  What with the endless tables of unhealthy foods found at most holiday parties.

While gingerbread sounds great as the weather gets cooler, the overindulgence does not.  So, in an attempt to get into the healthy holiday spirit, I've created a much healthier Gingerbread Cake... and it tastes just like the real thing!

Surprise surprise, it also has a secret ingredient.


It keeps the cake super moist and you can't taste it at all.  Not one bit, I tell you.  Not.  One.  Bit.

Instead, all you do taste is a gigantic blast of delicious gingerbread flavor.  Goodness, it's so good.  Like, exceeding my expectations good.  Want to eat the whole cake good.  Can't believe it's not full of fat good.  So good the cauliflower will be forgotten, and the only thought crossing your mind will be "I want more".

Yes, that good.

Healthy Gingerbread Cake
(makes 8 slices)
  • 1 tsp date paste
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup frozen cauliflower, thawed
  • 3 tbsp molasses
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp (6 tbsp) flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp ground flax
Preheat oven to 350F.  Combine first 7 ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.  In another bowl combine remaining ingredients, and miz well.  Pour wet into dry and mix again until all incorporated.  Pour batter into a greased loaf pan and bake in preheated oven for 14 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool before slicing and serving.

If you need a healthy dessert for the holidays look no further.  This cake is moist, spicy, delicious, and has a secret vegetable hidden in it!

Overindulgence?  Forget it!

Revisited Recipe of the Day:

Coconut Ginger Cookies

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Chocolate Banana Hazelnut Butter

Who likes nutella?

I like nutella.  A lot.

Unfortunately, it's not exactly good for me.  At all.  Especially because I'm not a nutella on toast kind of girl.  Nope, I like my nutella pure... and on a spoon.

Because of it's far from healthful qualities I try to limit my nutella cumsumption to very rarely.  Sometimes, though, I crave a little bit of chocolate hazelnut action.  In comes homemade nut butter.

I've had my eye on this recipe for a while, and decided to finally make it a little while ago.  I was rather disappointed with the result though, because it did not taste like nutella.  Nor did it taste better in my opinion.  It wasn't that it was bad, it was just that it wasn't what I was looking for.

But, I did not give up.  Soon afterwards, I whipped up another batch of chocolate hazelnut butter, this time adding a twist of my own.  Banana.  I loved the sweetness it added, and although the resulting spread still didn't taste just like nutella, I loved how it did taste, and would not hesistate to make it again.

Chocolate Banana Hazelnut Butter

  • 1 1/3 cup hazelnuts, roasted with skins removed (see notes on roasting here)
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 large banana
  • 1/3 cup milk (I used almond)
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar (or more, taste to check)
Place hazelnuts in food processor (A vitamix should work too) and blend until they turn into a smooth butter.  This may take some time, and look like it will never happen, but just keep blending and you'll get there eventually.  Once smooth, add in add in banana and milk and process again until smooth.  Add in remainging ingredients and mix one more time until desired consistency is reached.  Transfer butter to a jar and store in fridge.  Your chocolate hazelnut butter may seem thin and drippy at first (which isn't necessarily a bad thing), but it will firm up once it's been in the fridge for a while.

If you've ever looked at the nutirition label on a jat of nutella, you probably know that there isn't much good to be found.  In just 2 tbsp or 37 grams, of the famed chocoalte hazelnut spread there are 200 calories, 11 grams fat, 32 grams carbs, and 21 grams sugar.  Yuck.

Not in this recipe though.  Here's the nutrition label for this one:

A very similar serving size, and yet there's less sugar, less fat, fewer carbs, fewer calories and more protein.  Oh yeah, and it also tastes reeeeaaaalllllly good.  How's that for a great deal?

(By that way, those nutrition facts are for 7 servings)

Revisited Recipe of the Day: 

Nutella Pudding

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Butternut Squash Tofu Curry

I hate bland food.

It's just so... ugh.  If I'm gonna eat something I want it to have flavor.  And lots of it.  I want to be able to remeber what it tasted like the next day so I can fantasize about how delicious it was.  

And bland foods?  Well, usually I forget what they tasted like mere hours after eating them.  Not o.k. in my book. 

So, you can imagine my annoyance (fine, fury) when the dinner I was halfway through making was just that.  Bland and forgettable.  Big uh-oh.  It was time to change something, and fast.

In a panicked frenzy, I dug through my pantry, looking for something, anything, to impart some flavor into the dish.  Eventually, after a couple minutes of total mayhem, I found something I thought might do the trick.  A jar of Trader Joes Thai Green Curry Simmer Sauce.

I had never tried the sauce before, and didn't even recall buying it... but I was pretty desperate.  That's what a bland food does to ya.

After quickly reading through the ingredients - coconut milk, ginger, cilantro - I decided "what the heck" and dumped the whole jar into what I was making.

This could have easily been a huge mistake (I don't advise throwing random sauces into all of your bland foods), but, meraculously, it wasn't.  Not.  One.  Bit.

Instead, my boring dish was transformed into a flavor packed pot of spicy deliciousness.  Thank you Trader Joes.

Butternut Squash Tofu Curry

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium butternut squash, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 package extra firm tofu
  • 1 12 oz jar Trader Joes Thai Green Curry Simmer Sauce or something similar
  • 1 package frozen spinach or 12 oz fresh spinach
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and saute until soft.  Lower heat and add squash, tofu, and simmer sauce to pan.  Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring often.  Mix in spinach and cook 5 more minutes or until, if using frozen, the spinach has thawed.  Turn off heat.  Serve curry over rice, greens, or on it's own if you think you can handle the spice!  This also makes great leftovers.

For the record, I've already purchased another Trader Joes simmaer sauce just so I can be prepared for the next bland food crisis.  This ones Masala, and, let me just say, I can't wait to use it.  Bland food, watch out!

Revisited Recipe of the Day:

BBQ Tofu

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Molasses Granola

Oh boy, just a day past Thanksgiving and I'm already all geared up for December flavors.  But can you blame me when gingerbread, pepperment, and egg nog taste so darn delcious?

Lately, I've been throwing either mollasses, pepperment extract, or a whole bunch of cozy spices into just about every dessert/snack/breakfast I make.  There have been a lot of yummy dishes coming out of my kitchen, and I'm so excited to share them all with you.

I've decided to kick off the party with a breakfast recipe, 'cause, you know, breakfast is the first meal of the day.  Also, it feels like it's been foreeeever since my last breakfast post (and that definitely needs to change)

So, without further ado, let me introduce you to Molasses (a.k.a. Gingerbread) Granola!

In all honesty, I've never been a huge fan of granola.  This is mostly because pretty much every brand sold in stores has some sort of nut in it.  I don't like nuts in my granola.  In my mind, that meant that granola wasn't something I would ever buy, and therefore I would never eat it.  And that was that.  It was settled.

But then, one day while clicking through recipes online, I stumbled upon a recipe for nut-free granola and decided to give it a try.  This Molasses Granola is just a modified version of that first granola recipe.  I upped the spice level, adding in molasses to sweeten, and BAM, yummy holiday breakfast in under 5 steps.

The great thing about this granola is that it's super customizable.  The recipe below is very basic, and you can add in whatever you like to make it your own.  Nuts, seeds, dried fruit.  The choice is yours.  Just be sure to have it match with the gingerbread theme.  I think dried cranberries could potentially be very tasty.

Another nice thing about this breakfast, especially for those of us watching our weight, is that it's fat free and uses a pretty small amount of sweetener compared to many other granola recipes.  In other words, the granola you see above and below is actually healthy as supposed to many other brands that just pretend to be.

And, if you can believe it, on top of all that other awesome stuff, this granola also manages to taste really, really good.  It's like a spicy hug first thing in the morning :)

Super Easy Molasses Granola
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tbsp mollasses
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • optional: any add-ins you like: dried fruit, nuts, seeds*
Preheat oven to 350F.  Place oats in a large bowl.  Combine applesauce, mollasses, cinnamon, ginger, and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Remove from heat and stir until well combined.  Pour wet ingredients over oats and mix.  It may seem a bit dry at first, but just keep mixing and try to coat everything as best you can.  Scoop combined mixture onto a baking sheet and spread into an even layer.  Bake for 20 minutes, flipping pan halfway through.  Then turn oven off, but leave granola inside, with the oven door cracked open slighty.  Let granola cool completely in oven, then transfer to an airtight container.

*If you add a large amount of add-ins you may have to adjust the liquid level slightly.  Just add more water.

So what will you do with your Molasses Granola (providing you make a batch, but c'mon it takes like 5 minutes of hands-on time so how could you not)

Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
  • Add a couple handfuls of your favorite nuts to the recipe above and have your granola with milk for breakfast
  • Layer the basic granola recipe with greek yogurt and pomegranite seeds to make a beautiful and delicious fall themed parfait
  • Sprinkle the granola (with any add-ins you like) over your morning bowl of oatmeal because you can never have too many oats
  • Add dried cranberries to the mix and keep it in a bowl on your counter so you can grab a handful whenever you need a quick sweet and tart snack
Now you come up with some of your own ideas.  Believe me, there are so many more!

Revisited Recipe of the Day:

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Maple Sweet Potatoes with Bacon and Cranberries (My Second Recipe ReDux)

Sometimes I forget how great a good challenge is.

It makes you think, it makes you try, and it makes you cook extremely delicious things.

This months Recipe ReDux theme was "Vintage Side Dishes" - either favorite family sides, or a "healthified" version of an old recipe. Honestly, I found it to be a pretty tricky theme to come up with a recipe for.

This probably had to do with that fact that I don't really have any old favorites when it comes to side dishes.  Instead, I prefer to try something new whenever possible.  But, of course, trying something new wasn't exactly the point, unless it was the new version of an older recipe.

With no ideas and the 21st of the month (reveal day) approaching fast, I turned to others, in hopes that they would have a recipe to share that I could temporarily "borrow".  It was my Mom who came to my rescue in the end, recalling that growing up, Potatoes Roasted in Pork Fat were served often.

It wasn't the perfect starting point, but it was something, and I got to "healthifing" it right away.

That was when the second challenge started.  It turned out that making the above dish healthy (or at least healthier) was not easy in the slightest.  In fact, it was very hard.

My goal was the replace each ingredient in the original recipe with a better-for-you ingredient... and have the end result still taste good.  The first switch was subbing sweet potatoes for white potatoes.  That was an easy choice, as I adore sweet potatoes.  Then came the hard part.  What on earth was I supposed to replace pork fat with?

I thought long and hard about what to use.  Long and hard, I tell you. And in the end I came up with... olive oil.  It's sounds boring, yes, but I also added maple syrup.  And bacon.  Bacon istantly makes this dish awesome, right?  Just in case it doesn't, I added dried cranberries too.

All together, it made for one fantastic "Vintage Side Dish" that I am so happy to share today.  I don't know about you all, but I'd prefer it over potatoes and pork fat any day!

Maple Sweet Potatoes with Bacon and Cranberries
  • 3 pieces bacon
  • 4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes/pieces
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 375F.  Cook bacon on stovetop over medium heat until some fat has been released, but becon is not yet crispy, about 4 minutes.  Chop bacon into small pieces.  Add chopped bacon, sweet potatoes, and dried cranberries to a deep baking dish.  Drizzle maple syrup and olive oil over top, and toss to coat everything.  Roast 30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender, taking out halfway through to mix.  Serve warm, or cover and refridgerate until serving time.  If doing the latter, reheat before serving.  Store leftovers in fridge.

Now that you know how to make this delicious side dish, I've but one more thing to say.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope your holiday celebrations tommorow are filled with family gatherings, fun times with friends, and of course, tons of delicious food!

Revisited Recipe of the Day:

Isreali Couscous with Brussel Sprouts and Cranberries

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Crazy Ingredient Brownies

So you've seen the title "Crazy Ingredient Brownies", and now, you're racking your brain, trying to come up with whatever wacky stuff could be hidden in this:

Beans are not the culprit, that's your first clue.  I'm not sure beans would even qualify as a crazy ingredient these days, when healthy desserts left and right are being made from them.  Truffles, cookies, brownies.  You name it.

But not these brownies.  These brownies have some other weirder ingredients hidden inside.

I'm lousy at keeping secrets, so I'm just gonna go ahead and tell you the slightly less strange ingredient out of the two in this recipe.


Crazy?  Maybe, but it makes for a yummy brownie!

And now,  I shalle reveal what I think is the bizarrest ingreident in these brownies.  It's actually something I've been experimenting with a lot lately, and I've seen a couple (sweet) recipes floating around that use it.  Can you guess what it is yet?


That's right, that white and somewhat bland veggie is hiding in these delicious chocolate treats.  All the more reason to try them, right?'

Crazy Ingredient Brownies
(makes 8 brownies)
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp spelt flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp instant coffe
  • pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ground flax
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 3/4 cup frozen cauliflower, thawed
  • 1/4 cup quick oats
  • 1/4 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F.  Whisk together all ingredients through salt (cocoa, sugar, flour, bakign powder and soda, and salt) in medium bowl.  In a small bowl, combine flax and water, and set aside.  Place cauliflower and quick oats in food processor and process until broken down into small chunks.  Add blueberries to food processor and process until blueberries are well broken down.  Add in flax mixture and vanilla, and process one more time until all combined.  Add wet ingredients to dry and mix as best you can.  Gentily mix in milk, and then stir to combine.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Scoop batter into greased loaf pan and bake 30 minutes.  Once done, remove from oven and let cool for a couple minutes.  Then flip brownies onto cloth, and out of pan.  Let cool a couple more minutes on cloth, before slicing.  Refridgerate until serving time, with the side that was face-up in the oven, down.

Everyone deserves a brownie.  Make yourself some craaaaaazy ones, and then indulge without the guilt.

Because, honestly, isn't it everyones lifelong dream to eat a fruit and veggie in a chocolate dessert?

Revisited Recipe of the Day:


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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Mousse Pie

Your future Thanksgiving dessert is staring at you.  Or rather, you're staring at it.

Even if you think you've already decided what dessert to make for Thanksgiving, please please please consider making this pie instead.  You will not regret it.

Just look at it.  So rich, so creamy, so decadent.  It just screams "make me!", doesn't it?  And you should always listen to a pie.  Pie does not lie.  That's a fact.

What this (talking) pie fails to mention, however, is it's extreme healthful-ness.

Don't laugh!  I swear it's true!  That incredibly delicious looking pie you see in the pictures is actually healthy.  I find it a bit incredible myself, and I'm the one who made it.   But, nutrition facts don't lie either, and the ones for this recipe are amazing.  One slice of this decadent tasting pie has 5 grams of fiber, 8 grams of protein, and under 200 calories!  Is that incredible or what?  And you cannot taste anything but delicious-ness!

Now, if that doesn't convinve you to at least give this recipe a try, I don't know what will.

Pumpkin Chocolate Mousse Pie
(serves 8)

For Pumpkin Layer:
  • 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup spelt flour (others should work too, but I haven't tried it)
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup pumpkin puree (1 15-oz can)
  • 1 scant cup milk
  • 1 flax "egg" (1 tbsp ground flaxseeds mixed with 3 tbsp water, and allowed to sit for a couple minutes)(a real egg would probably work too)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp date paste (or more sweetener of choice)*
For Chocolate Mousse Layer:
  • 12.3 oz tofu (1 package Mori-nu silken firm)
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet if possible)
Directions for Pumpkin Layer:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  
  2. Mix together spices, salt, baking powder, flour, and sugar in a large bowl.  
  3. In another bowl, stir together pumpkin, milk, flax egg, vanilla, and date paste.  
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix well to combine.  
  5. Pour into greased 10 inch round pan and bake for 35 minutes.
Directions for Chocolate Mousse Layer:
  1. Melt chocolate chips, either in microwave or on stovetop, until smooth and creamy.
  2. Combine all ingredients, including melted chocolate chips, in bowl of food processor and blend until smooth.
Finishing Steps: 
  1. Once pumpkin layer is done baking, let cool for a couple minutes.
  2. Then, scoop chocolate mousse over pumpkin and spread evenly.
  3. Chill pie in fridge for at least 6 hours, then slice and serve.
  4. Store any leftovers in the fridge.
* dates soaked in water overnight and then blended until they form a thick paste

I can honestly say that this pie is one of the best desserts I've made.  Ever.  If, for some completely crazy reason, you can't make this for Thanksgiving, you have to make it another time.  This pie must enter your life, and soon.  It's as simple as that.

Revisited Recipe of the Day:

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Sweet Potato Apple Mash

Warning:  Highly Addictive Thanksgiving Side Dish Below

Made 10x more addictive by the fact that it's super duper easy.

Four ingredients easy.  Three steps easy.  One pan only easy.

So easy, whipping up a second batch shoudn't be a problem at all.  Which is good, because with the addictive-ness level so high, you may need to do just that... before your Thanksgiving guests even arrive!

In case you didn't quite catch on yet, this Sweet Potato Apple Mash is downright simple, but also completely delicious.

If you're hosting Thanksgiving at your house this year, and want a stress-free side dish to prepare, this could be exactly what you're looking for.  Just be sure to double the recipe if you're serving a large crowd.  Being able to make more during dinner doesn't necessarily mean you want to :)

Sweet Potato Apple Mash - greatly inspired by this recipe
  • 4 large sweet potatoes
  • 3 medium apples (just use your favorite type)
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • Spices: cinnamon, ginger, salt, and pepper all to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut sweet potatoes and apples into cubes.  Place in a deep baking dish and toss with olive oil (you don't have to measure it, just make sure everything in coated).  Spread out potatoes and apples in dish evenly, in only one layer if possible.  Roast for approximately 35 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool a bit.  Sprinkle with spices.  Then take a potato masher, or whatever other tool you have on hand that may work, and mash the mixture until it reaches desired consistancy.  I like to mash it until it's mostly broken down, but still has a bit of texture to it.  Serve immidiatley, or refridgerate until serving time.

What to do with your super addicting Sweet Potato Apple Mash:
  • Make a gigantic batch and serve it as a (healthier) side dish on your Thanksgiving table.
  • Spread it on a pizza (just an idea: this stuff, spinach, caramalized onions, and mozzarella.  Yummmm!)
  • Make a sandwich (something along the lines of this, maybe?)
  • Eat it by the spoonful when the midnight munchies strike
  • Put it on toast for breakfast
And those are just a couple of my ideas.  Seriously, this stuff is worth making.  On a weeknight or for Thankgiving.  Or both!  Yeah, that could work...

Revisited Recipe of the Day:

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