Sunday, December 30, 2012

10 Healthy Desserts to Inspire a Healthy and Happy 2013

Who doesn't like dessert?

I imagine a rather small amount of people would answer yes to that question.  But, tell me, what about this one:

Who doesn't eat dessert often?

I'm willing to bet that the number of people answering yes has gone way up.  

Many people rarely indulge in dessert because they fear it will ruin their diet, make them feel guily, and/or cause them to overeat and get a stomachache.  But that's not always the case.  Sure, a bakery dessert can make those things happen, but there are also much healthier options that don't sacrifice taste in the slightest, and won't ruin your healthy eating goals.

Today, in honor of the upcoming new year, and any healthy eating resolutions you may have set for yourself, I'll be sharing 10 healthy dessert recipes.  These desserts are good for you and good tasting.  It's my hope that they will help lead you to the happiest and healthiest 2013 possible.  Because no one should ever miss out on dessert.

Double Decker Chocolate Cake - This is the ultimate doesn't seem healthy dessert.  It looks, tastes, and feels incredibly indulgent, and yet it's just the opposite.  The full nutrition facts are listed on the post, but for now I'll telll you that per slice there are under 200 calories and 8 grams protein.

Gingerbread Cake - perhaps the season for gingerbread has passed, but it's never too late for healthy desserts... especially when they contain a secret ingredient.  Don't worry, you can't taste it at all!

Cookie Butter Cups - Unlike Reese's, these Chocolate Cookie Butter Cups are made entirely from ingredients you can pronounce.  Plus, the filling is simply to die for.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Yogurt Filling - Pumpkin's great any time of the year, and it's even better when formed into a cute little whoopie pie.  Pair it with some creamy high protein filling and you've got yourself a fat-free winner!

Crazy Ingredient Brownies - Oh look, more secret ingredients!  These little guys have 2 strange foods hidden inside.  Despite that though, everything comes together to form a deliciously fudgy brownie that would be perfect to serve to anyone, healthy eaters and junk food addicts alike.

Peach Blueberry Crumble - This is meant to be breakfast, but it's so darn tasty it could easily pass for dessert.  The sweetness of the peaches matches beautifully with slight tartness of the berries and the crunch of the oatmeal topping.  I bet it could be made with frozen fruit too, for a delicious treat any time of the year.

Apple Greek Yogurt Cheesecake - Cheesecake fans you're in luck!  This healthier take on cheesecake is made with greek yogurt and apples for a high protein substitute for the classic dessert.  It won't leave you with a tummyache either.

Cinnamon Sugar Muffins - These muffins taste like cinnamon rolls!  They're much healthier, however, with no added fat and only 1/2 cup sugar in the whole recipe.  They're also vegan, so you can share them with anyone, despite their food preferences.

Protein Vanilla Milkshake - Why yes, a milkshake can be healthy.  This one's made from cottage cheese, almond milk, and banana, and frozen overnight for the perfect creamy texture.  Oh, and it's under 200 calories for the whole thing!

Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Treats - This recipe switches out the butter in a classic rice crispy recipe for, in my opinion, something even better.  Peanut butter!  It also skips the marshmallow so it's a vegan treat.

That's all for now.

Please give at least one of these recipes a try.  They're all amazing and will jumpstart the new year in the best way possible.  Remember, a you eating one of the above desserts is a happy and healthy you.

Happy New Year everyone!
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Friday, December 28, 2012

Chocolate Banana Pancake Squares

I have a confession to make... I suck at making pancakes.

It's not that I don't try, because I do.  I try really hard every single time I want to make pancakes.

But guess what?  Every single time I try to make pancakes, they turn into an ugly scramble with underbaked centers and outsides burnt to a crisp.  There's something wrong with me.

I've been trying to find a solution for a while now, and the best I've got is having a friend make them for me.  I'm a failure.

Well, used to be a failure.

I've just recently come up with a genius way to overcome my awful pancake making skills.  It's called Pancake Sqaures.  Basically, all you do is pour pancake batter into a pan and bake, instead of fry it.  It works like a charm, and I end up with a final product that I don't want to chuck in the trash can.

This particulare recipe I'm sharing today happens to be for Chocolate Banana Pancake Squares.  Because everyone knows chocolate for breakfast is the best thing ever, espeically when it's actually good for you.

I first saw this recipe on The Healthy Foodie, and instantly knew I wanted to make it.  Of course, I also knew that there was no way my pancakes would come out looking nearly as gorgeous as hers. So I improvised, and it worked great.

I now have a delicious (and breakfast worthy) Pancake Square recipe that I can't wait to share with you.

Chocolate Banana Pancake Bites - inspired by this recipe

  • 1/2 banana, mashed
  • 1/2 cup water or milk
  • 1/2 cup egg whites
  • 1/2 cup spelt flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp instant coffee granules
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup, or more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375F.  Combine all ingredients for squares in a small bowl and mix well until no clumps remain.  Pour batter into a greased 8x8 square pan.  Bake for 20 minutes or until it's firm and a toothpick comes out clean. 
Meanwhile, mix together all ingredients for frosting.  When pancake batter is done baking, cut into sqaures and spread frosting over top.  Store in microwave or fridge.

Oh, and the frosting on these guys!

It's the perfect mix of tangy and chocolaty and just the slightest bit sweet.  If you spread it on the squares and then put them in the microwave for a bit, the frosting get's absorbed into the pancake a bit and turns in to this awesome yumminess.  You just have to try it!

C'mon, just make 'em!  Especially if you're a pancake murderer like me.

Revisited Recipe of the Day:

Chocolate Banana Hazelnut Butter

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

P28 Bread Review

It's time to Mix it Up.

(see what I did there?)

Classic french toast made with P28 bread and topped with maple syrup
Today, instead of my usual recipe, I'm going to be reviewing some products that was very kindly sent to me so I could try them out.  Those products are P28 Bread and Bagels.  You can read more about the products by clicking on the link, but for now I'll just tell you that they're very high protein breads to help you reach all your fitness goals in a tasty way.

To review them, I've decided to split up this post into 3 parts.  The good, the bad, and the other things worth mentioning.  There will also be random pictures all the over the place with captions that will (hopefully) help you figure out what the heck is pictured.

A protein pizza.  Half a P28 bagel toasted and topped with cottage cheese and salsa, with a side of lettuce.
Alright, let's get started.  First...

The Good:
  • The Protein Content - This may seem obvious, but it's totally a plus.  I often struggle with getting enough protein into my diet and these bread/bagels have been really helpful.  Two pieces of bread or one bagel contains 28 grams protein (hence the name, P28).  You can just grab one slice of bread, spread it will cottage cheese, and BAM 20 grams protein.  It's pretty cool.
  • The Taste - I didn't mind the taste at all, and If you like whole wheat bread I don't think you will either.  Sure, it's not the best bread or bagel I've even tasted in my whole entire life but when you consider the nutrition you're getting, I think it tastes pretty darn amazing.
  • The Texture - I've never had any other brands of high protein baked goods, but for some reason I have this feeling that texture could be an issue.  It's not with P28.  The texture of both the bread and bagel is very nice and spongy, much like the "normal" product.  One thing that may be worth mentioning is that it you freeze the bread (which I did) and then reheat it in the microwave it get's really spongy, and sort of floppy.  If you lightly toast it, it firms up fine though.
  • The Versitility - Much like regular bread, P28 can be used for a variety of things, not just sandwiches.  It doesn't taste funny or anything if you have it with eggs, as french toast, or as a mini pizza with cottage cheese and salsa (my favorite).
I made the Pumpkin Cranberry Bread Pudding recipe on this blog with P28 bread.  It worked great! 
And now...

The Bad:
  • The Size -  Each slice of bread is big (the bagels are just normal so this isn't a problem with them).  I guess this could be considered a good thing, but when trying the bread I ran into a couple problems because of the size.  When I eat sandwiches, I prefer to have them with very thin bread, unless they're really substancial.  When you make a sandwich with P28  bread slices, there'a a lot of bread.  Some people don't mind this, but personally, I do.
  • The Taste -  Yes, taste is also in the "good" catagory.  This is because I liked the taste, but some others didn't.  If your not used to healthy foods, you may be one of the people who does not.  It does have a bit of that "healthy" taste that can be undesirable for some.  Another possible problem is that the bread has a bit of a fermented taste.  My guess is this comes from the protein source in it, but I'm not sure.  Again, though, I didn't find this as a problem and am only quoting another taste tester.
One slice of bread.  Half eaten plain, and the other half toasted (see how black it is?) and topped with applesauce. Celery stalk on the side (sorry for bad picture).
The Other Things Worth Mentioning:
  • Freezing - As mentioned earlier, these products freeze very well.  Which is good because the folks at P28 were really generous and sent me way more bread than I could ever finish before it went stale or got moldy.  To reheat a frozen slice of bread or bagel, just pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds - 1 minute.  After that, it's as good as fresh, and very fluffy.  Perfect to dip into soup!
  • Toasting - It may just be my toaster acting up, but for some reason whenever I put a slice of bread or half bagel in my toaster it seems to brown really fast.  As in, I set it for level 2 of heat and it came out completely black (you can see this in some of the pictures).  I'm not sure why this happened, but it didn't make the bread taste burnt so it's not much of a problem for me.  If you want your toast to look pretty, though, you should be aware.
  • Usage - Because I didn't like to use the products I revieved to make sandwiches, I found a whole bunch of other ways to use them.  Most of these are featured in pictures throughout this whole post, but I though I'd list a couple here too.  First, my favorite way to have P28, a mini pizza.  Spread half a bagel, or one slice of bread with cottage cheese (or another type), and salsa.  Greens on top are optional.  You can also make french toast with the bread, dip some of the just reheated (and therefore super spongy) bread/bagel into a bowl of soup, or spread peanut butter on top.  Another idea is simply throwing a bagel with cream cheese into a plasic bag and turning it into a super easy lunch on the go.  I did this when I went apple picking and it made a great meal along with a juicy apple!
Another protein pizza.  This one is made with a bread slice and also topped with cottage cheese and salsa.
Overall, I think all the P28 products are really great.  At least, for my lifestyle.  If you're someone who eats healthy and mostly vegetarian, and wants to add some protein to your everday diet, then I definitely reccommend P28.  However, if you're someone who's just getting started eating healthy, or maybe someone who doesn't need to worry about their protein intake, than maybe P28 isn't the right match for you.  It's a bit different than the usual, and some people don't like that.

But... you never know.  I could be wrong!  Go by your instinct and the facts/opinions I've given you in this post, and YOU decided whether or not it's a product you'd like to try.

Oh, and one more thing.  I hope everyone who celebrated had a wonderful Christmas!

*I was sent bread and bagels to review by the P28 company, but all opinions are not affected and are entirely my own.

Revisited Recipe of the Day:

 5 Minute Bread Pudding (could probably be made with P28)

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Chocolate Peppermint Truffles


Better yet, healthy truffles.

Truffles made from a base of dried figs, chickpeas, and extra dark cocoa powder, and rolled in minty crushed starlight candy.

Truffles that don't taste like they're made from beans.

Truffles that will absolutely... blow... you... away.

These incredible Chocolate Peppermint Truffles are like nothing you've ever eaten before.

They're rich and chocolaty with a perfect texture, and a crunchy coating of peppermint.  So satisfying they'll taste as guilt inducing as Godiva.

And yet, they're nowhere close.

Each and every one of these delightful little truffles will do your body no harm.  Like mentioned before, they're made mainly from dried figs, beans, and extra dark cocoa powder.  But it's getter better, or better for you at least.  In the entire batch of truffles, there is only one tablespoon of honey (and no other sweetner).  And, these truffle are super easy.  Just blend and roll.

So why not indulge in a healthier way this Christmas?  I certainly will be!

Chocolate Peppermint Truffles - adapted from this recipe

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (of from a can, drain and rinse very well)
  • 130 grams dried figs
  • 5 tbsp extra dark cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • starlight mints, for crushing (about 8 should be enough)
Combine chickpeas and figs in food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.  Add in cocoa powder, vanilla, honey, and egg whites, and process again until thoroughly combined.  Scoop mixture into a plastic bag and refridgerate for at least 20 minutes.  Form into approximately 1 tsp balls.  Place mints in a small bag and crush them into a fine dust with a hammer or similar tool.  Just before serving truffles, roll them in peppermints.  Leftovers will keep in fridge for 1 week, and can also be frozen to last longer.

Feel free to leave the mints off of these truffles too.  They still taste yummy and it makes the whole process even faster.

However, I gotta say, smashing the candies into dust is strangely statisfying and would probably be a great stress reliever.  So, you know, if the stress of the holidays is getting to you, I recommend you don't skip the mints :)

Happy holidays everyone!

Revisited Recipe of the Day:

Double Decker Chocolate Cake

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Friday, December 21, 2012

My Favorite KItchen Appliance + Brownie Mix Cookies (Recipe Redux)

Can you believe Christmas is in 4 days?

I can't.  I swear time has never moved as fast as it has this year.

If you're like me, and feel like Thanksgiving was just yesterday, you're probably scrambling to bake your cookies, buy your gifts, and just plain get into the holiday spirit.  It may seem like a tough job, but don't worry, I've got you covered.

Freaking out about last minute gifts?

This months Recipe Redux theme is your favorite kitchen gadget/appliance.  The idea is that hearing about what other people love will inspire gifts for all of your foodie friends.  (Be sure to check out the link-ups at the bottom of this post for more gift ideas!)

Well, my favorite kitchen appliance is hands down my food processor.  I absolutely adore it, and use it all the time.  In fact, it's probably featured in nearly half of the recipes on this blog.  I have a Cuisnart and it's 10+ years old, but still works like I got it months ago.  Like I said before, I LOVE it.  It's perfect for dips, secret ingredient recipes, nut butters, and a ton of other stuff.  I am never at a loss for uses for my Cuisnart!  I know it's a bit of a pricey gift, but it is worth it.  I can say that without a doubt.

I mean, c'mon, it makes yummy food!  That's got to be worth something!

And speaking of yummy food, here's how you solve your cookie baking (or lack of cookie baking) dilemma.

You make cookies... in your food processor (you can also make them without a food processor).  This delicious recipe for Brownie Mix Cookies only uses 3 ingredients and 10 minutes of your time.

It's perfect for bringing to a party too, because it makes a big batch without a lot of effort or anyone being able to tell you didn't put a lot of effort in.  And did I mention the result tastes simply fantastic?  'Cause it does.  A brownie and a cookie all mashed into one, or four if you consider the amount you'll actually eat.  Good thing these cookies are like 10x healthier than most Christmas cookies, right?  I think I forgot to mention that too.

Brownie Mix Cookies
(makes roughly 45 cookies)

  • 1 flax "egg" (1 tbsp ground flax mixed with 3 tbsp water)
  • 1 bag of your favorite brownie mix (I used Triple Chocolate Ghirardelli)
  • 1/2 cup 2% plain greek yogurt (I haven't tried fat-free, but it may work)
Preheat oven to 375F.  Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend until no dry clumps remain and mixture is smooth.  Alternately, if you don't have a food processor, you can mix very well by hand.  The dough may look thin, but that's ok.  Scoop dough by heaping tsp onto greased baking sheets.  It will spread out to form a cookie shape, try to not let any of the dough balls spread into each other.  Bake in preheated oven for 7 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cookies cool for at least 3 minutes before removing from pan.  Store in an airtight container.

As for getting into the holiday spirit, here are some things I reccommend:
  1. Bundling into multiple hats, jackets, and gloves even when the weather doesn't require it
  2. Humming along to Christmas carols for hours on end and annoying everyone around you
  3. Purchasing any and all things that have reindeers, candy canes, and/or the colors red and green on them
  4. Eating lots of cookies (brownie ones perhaps)
  5. Eating more cookies
  6. Buying Christmas wrapping paper
  7. And, last but not least, taking a second to take a look around you, and appreciate everything you're lucky enough to have!

Revisited Recipe of the Day:

Crazy Ingredient Brownies

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Chocolate Peppermint Milkshake

I have mixed feelings about artificial sweeteners.

I like them in that they aknowledge that people should be conscious about how much white sugar they consume, but I don't like that they're, well, artificial.

When it comes to foods, I like to eat natural foods as much as possible.  Sure, the occasional candy bar with tounge-twisting ingredients makes an appearance, but most of the time the foods that enter by body are nice and real.

Artificial sweeteners... they're not real.  In fact, they're the exact opposite.  Fake.  It's right there in the name.  I don't feel completely comfortable putting something fake into my body.  I've also found that fake things taste fake.  With some artificially sweetened things that I've tried, the ending result doesn't taste right.  There's just something a bit off.

But, all of that aside, I'm always up for a challenge, especially when it involves creating recipes or trying new things.  So, when I was sent a couple samples of Sweet'N Low as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemakers Program with Sweet'N Low, I didn't hesitate to get started creating a delicious drink creation.

I know that although I may not eat Sweet'N Low often, there are many others who do, so I was sure to create a wonderful recipe.  I definitely accomplished my goal.  The shake I created is creamy and chocolaty, with just a hint of peppermint for some holiday cheer.

It's also super healthy and packed with protein, even though there's no protein powder used.  Another great thing about this milkshake is that you can't tell it's not sweetened with sugar.  Like I mentioned earlier, sometimes atrificially sweetened food/drinks come with a funny taste.  Not this one!  You can't tell there's something different about it at all, which is perfect for all you with really sensitive tastebuds (like me).

Overall, though the milkshake I created is definitely yummy and I wouldn't hesitate to sip it up, it doesn't change my feelings about artificial sweeteners.  I still don't think I will be comsuming them often, simply because I don't like to think of something fake going into by body.  However, I do now know that adding Sweet'N Low to a recipe does not make it taste weird, so I can understand a bit more why some people prefer artificial sweeteners.

Thanks Foodbuzz and Sweet'N Low for the great experience!

Chocolate Peppermint Milkshake
(serves 1)

  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese (if you'd like it to be vegan, tofu will also work)
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 banana, frozen and cut into chunks
  • 1-2 packets Sweet' N Low sweetener
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  Pour into a glass and serve immediately.  That's all!  Enjoy :)

Revisited Recipe of the Day:

Protein Vanilla Milkshake

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Vegan Sweet Potato Chili

Vegan food can taste good.  This dish is complete proof of that.

Occasionally, when I'm trying a vegan dish, I feel like I'm missing something.  Like the meat or cheese or cream wasn't entirely replaced.  With this Sweet Potato Chili, no one will get that feeling.
Why?  Because I didn't make it vegan on purpose.

This dish wasn't meant to be meat free.  Or dairy free.  Or both.  Nope, it was meant to be chili, and that's all.  It wasn't until looking oven the ingredients afterwards that I realized that the dinner I had created was, in fact, vegan.

And that means that it's pretty impossible to tell it's vegan.  No one noticed while preparing it, no one noticed while eating it, and no one would have noticed if I hadn't bothered to write down everything in it.

That proves this this dish is not missing anything.  There will be no wishes for meat, or even dairy while enjoying this chili.  All you'll be able to think about is how delicious it tastes.  And isn't that the way it should always be?

Vegan Sweet Potato Chili
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 28-ounce can tomatoes, liquid included
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes 
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bag frozen corn (10-12 ounces)
In a large pot, saute onions with 1-2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Once onions become translucent, lower heat to medium low.  Add red pepper and garlic, and saute until softened. Add spices and cook for another 2 minutes.  Add in canned tomatoes and break up any clumps.  Mix in vegetable broth and potatoes.  Lower heat and simmer for 40 minutes, until potatoes are cooked through, but not mushy.  Add in black beans and corn and cook another 10 minutes, or until warmed through.  Ladle into serving bowls and serve warm.  If desired, you can serve with greek yogurt (though it would no longer be vegan).

Though I can't completely relate, I know that sometimes when you follow a vegan lifestyle, feeding large groups can be an issue.  You don't want to serve something that your guests won't enjoy, but at the same time, you want something you feel comfotable eating too.  This Sweet Potato Chili is the answer.

Meat eaters and vegetarians alike will love the taste, so you and your guests will both get to enjoy an awesome meal.

The same goes for if you're feeding a vegan friend.  With this recipe, you won't feel cheated and everyone at the table will get to enjoy some tasty food.

So enjoy, and let the vegan goodness make an appearance on your table!

Revisted Recipe of the Day:

Roasted Balsamic Sweet Potatoes and Tofu

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