Sunday, October 7, 2012

Almond Joy Cups


Yes, I know it has been a long time.  I have been busy, so give me a break!  Even though I have not been posting, I still have been busy creating.  There is a pile of recipes in my kitchen waiting to make the cut, so I am going to try to make up for the last couple of months. 

This past weekend it finally felt like fall.  I traveled with a group of friends to Des Moines for The Color Run.


We had an amazing time, but it was freezing!  Luckily there was a lot of dancing and thousands of other people to huddle up next to while we were waiting. 


I love the fall, but sometimes it is hard to let go of summer.  One way I keep a little piece of summer alive is through coconut.  To me, coconut is summer.  I first made these chocolatey coconut and almond cups in July when I was trying to find a way to use up the rest of some chocolate cat cookies I bought from Trader Joe's.  The kids and I ate them all that same day as we sat outside in the sun.  Since then I have made them several times, including this weekend.

Just because I needed a little taste of summer.

Almond Joy Cups

1/2 c almond butter
1/2 c coconut butter (or Earth Balance)
1 c chocolate cookie crumbs, finely processed (I used Trader Joe's chocolate cat cookies)
1 T nutritional yeast
1 T sucanat (or other granulated sweetener)
1 t vanilla
1/2 t coconut extract

1/2 c dark chocolate chips
2 T almond milk
1/4 t coconut extract

toppings: almonds and unsweetened coconut

Over medium low heat, melt the coconut butter and almond butter.  Then add the processed cookie crumbs, nutritional yeast, sucanat, vanilla and coconut extract.  Stir over low heat for several minutes before spooning the mixture into paper liners.  (I usually make about 9 of them.  You can make more or less depending on how thick you would like them.)  Put in the freezer to chill for about 10 minutes.

Melt the chocolate chips and almond milk over medium heat until melted.  Stir in the coconut extract.  Spoon over chilled cups and then top with chopped almonds and coconut. 

I prefer to keep these cups in the freezer.  I thaw them for just a couple of minutes before eating.






I'll be back soon.  I promise.



Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Silken tofu chocolate chip cookies

 

I frequently have silken tofu on hand for various recipes, but I often struggle to find ways to finish the entire carton before it expires.  I've used my leftovers for frosting and smoothies in the past, but wanted to try to use it to make cookies.  After an unsuccessful search for a recipe that had the ingredients I wanted to use, I decided to try my own.  I wasn't sure if I could pull off a chocolate chip cookie recipe starting from nothing, but after four attempts I came up with a keeper!  

Silken tofu chocolate chip cookies
1/3 c Earth Balance
6 oz silken tofu
3/4 cup sucanat (or other granulated sweetener)
1 t vanilla
1 c whole wheat flour
1 c oats
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t sea salt
3/4 c chocolate chips

Mix the first four ingredients for a couple minutes until smooth.  Then add the following four ingredients and mix just until combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Drop onto a sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

These are super soft from the tofu and have just the right amount of sweetness.  The kids love them and I don't feel guilty letting them eat a few.  :)



Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Peanut Butter Cereal Bars



I have now been on summer vacation for one week and have had an abundance of time to be productive.  A nice thought, but this hasn't exactly been a reality.  When the kids lie down for their naps, I would ideally like to plan out what items I could realistically check off my to-do list.  As my list has continued to grow by the day, I have not felt guilty at all choosing to just sit outside, listening to music, writing a bit and relaxing even more.  Seriously, no guilt. 

Since doing not much of anything has consumed so much of my time, I haven't made anything new for awhile.  This afternoon I decided to make a treat for the kids after discovering a neglected box of Koala Crisp cereal that got pushed in the back of the cupboard and needed to be used up.  This is what I came up with. 

Peanut Butter Cereal Bars
3/4 cup brown rice syrup
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 T nutritional yeast
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups Koala Crisp cereal
2 T almond milk
1/2 cup chocolate chips


Heat the brown rice syrup and peanut butter over medium/low heat until smooth.  Add the nutritional yeast and vanilla and continue to stir for a few more minutes.  Pour the mixture over the cereal and stir until incorporated.  Press into a 8x8 inch lightly sprayed pan. 


 Melt the almond milk and chocolate chips until smooth.  Drizzle over the bars. 


When the kids woke up, they were surprised to have a snack other than the fruit, carrots and yogurt they've eaten every day for the last week.  (I also haven't found the desire to go to the grocery store lately.) 

I think they are very similar to the store purchased Koala Crispy Rice Bars, but better because they have peanut butter!




Thursday, May 17, 2012

Buffalo Sweet Potato Fries



I ran 11 miles this afternoon.  Afterward I managed to stand just long enough to make dinner; then I crashed and have been lounging ever since.  My legs aren't really giving me a choice at this point. 

While training for an upcoming 20K, I've discovered how the running conditions on a particular day can make a significant difference in my endurance.  For me, one factor I try to control is eating just the right foods the day of a run (or the day before if I run in the morning).  The same goes for afterward.  I try to be careful to eat enough nutritionally dense foods to fuel my body, but not to overeat, which is incredibly easy to do after burning 1,300 calories. 

These baked fries are a perfect choice for after a long run.  They are loaded with fiber and also have enough carbs to help my body to recover.  (Two of my obsessions are buffalo sauce and parmesan cheese, so that's also a plus.)  I usually eat a black bean burger or some sort of protein as well. 

Here's what I did:
I used one (really) large sweet potato.  The thinner the cut, the quicker they cook and the crispier they get.  


In a bowl add 1-2 T of oil (I used sunflower) and enough wing sauce to coat the potatoes.  I like mine spicy, so I let them marinate for awhile before baking them.  I also added a bit of salt and garlic powder.


Spray a foil lined sheet and bake at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Sprinkle with the fresh grated parmesan and bake for another 5-10 minutes.


I love what the spice does for the sweet potatoes.  My husband isn't a big sweet potato fan, but likes these.  It's also worth mentioning that they pair really well with avocado.

It's late so I'm going to attempt to crawl to my bed. :)


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Blackberry Mango Smoothies

There are few fruits I dislike, but if I had to make a list, blackberries would be right up there.  I have tried to love them, but I just don't think we're meant to be.  I eat red raspberries by the pint and am willing to spend an embarrassing amount of money on them.  I think my problem with blackberries is that I expect them to be as delicious as raspberries, but the texture isn't the same and I don't think they're nearly as sweet. (That and they sort of resemble creepy little bugs.)  I've reminded John to avoid purchasing this particular type of berry, but when they are on sale all his mind thinks about is the killer deal he is getting. 

When we do end up with blackberries, I have found that freezing them for smoothies brings out their best qualities.  When combined with other ingredients in a smoothie, the blackberries add just the right amount of tartness and a rich, appealing color.  I also have discovered they pair well with mango.  (I live for ripe mangoes!)



I'm telling you, this smoothie is a keeper.  The kids and I were practically licking the blender clean...when this happens, you know you've found a winner.

Ingredients:
3/4 cup frozen blackberries
1 mango
2 oz silken tofu
1/2 cup oats
1 T chia seeds
1/2 cup almond milk
swirl of raw coconut nectar (or agave)


Just throw all of the ingredients into a blender and mix until smooth. 

If you would prefer not to get chia seeds stuck in your teeth, let them soak in the almond milk for 20 minutes or so and they will gel up a bit.  I personally like the texture that chia seeds give.  (Plus, it gives me a good reason to floss!)


The kids love picnicking on the deck.  This time of year it is pretty spectacular out there first thing in the morning.  It is completely tranquil (third grade word of the week).   

It often takes awhile in the morning before we all have pants on.

 Here is our river view.  I have always been jealous of people who live near the ocean, but if I can't have that, this will do!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Cookie dough balls



 
The dough ball.  

So simple, yet so much depth.  

These are the perfect indulgence to have on hand for the times I need a little fuel before a workout or a little something sweet after dinner.  Perhaps my favorite thing about dough balls is that it really isn't necessary to follow a recipe.  In fact, after you try this recipe, I dare you to try your own.  Once you get a feel for the amount of dry and wet ingredients needed for a doughy consistency, it's a lot of fun to experiment.

The following recipe includes some of my favorite ingredients.  I wrote it down just for you people.  :)

1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup raw almonds
1 T nutritional yeast
2 t sucanat
1 T cocoa
1 t vanilla
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup pecans
2 T dark chocolate chips

 
Process the almonds, oats and nutritional yeast just until well ground.  
(If you do it too long, it will start bringing out the oil from the nuts.)
 
Add cocoa, sucanat, and vanilla and process once again.
  
Next add the coconut and maple syrup and process until a dough ball starts to form.   If it isn't sticking together well, add a bit more syrup.
 
Before the dough ball is completely formed, add pecans and chocolate chips.
Continue to process until one large dough ball forms.  Chill it in the freezer for just a few minutes before rolling into individual balls.  

These can be stored in the freezer or fridge.   I keep mine in the freezer and when I'm ready for one they thaw in a matter of minutes. 

Other ingredients I've tried...
Dry: various flours, cashews, pecans, pepitas, wheat ger, graham crackers
Wet: agave, honey, coconut syrup, brown rice syrup
Other add-ins:  butterscotch chips, nut butter, dried apricots, dates, cranberries, almond extract, chia seeds


Lately Harper has been very helpful.  While I was making these, she dumped spilled some Cheerios and immediately grabbed a towel (actually more like five towels) from the drawer to help crush wipe them up!

I'd love to hear other ideas for dough balls!  Start experimenting!  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Doughnuts

 
I have never been a doughnut person.  In general, I am not a fan of anything overly sweet in the morning.  Or even more so, anything that has been bathed in grease.  These healthier doughnuts have made me reconsider this popular breakfast choice.  The fact that they are baked and not loaded with sugar and enriched flour makes a huge difference.  No gut rot.  I even ate two of them immediately preceding Combat and had an amazing workout!

I tweaked this recipe from Jessica Seinfeld's cookbook, Deceptively Delicious.  Instead of powdered sugar, I made a simple chocolate glaze and finished them off with sprinkles.  Let's face it, who can resist sprinkles?

Here's what has led me to have second thoughts about doughnuts...
Baked Doughnuts
(from Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious)
1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar (I used sucanat)
1/2 c. canned pumpkin puree (I used 1 cup of pumpkin)
1/2 c. sweet potato puree  (I omitted this)
1/2 c. low fat buttermilk  (I used almond milk)
1 large egg white (I used one flax egg)
1 T. trans-fat free soft tub margarine spread, melted (I used Earth Balance)
1 t. vanilla extract
1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 c. confectioners' sugar (I used chocolate glaze and sprinkles instead)

Preheat oven to 350. Coat a doughnut mold with cooking spray. In a large bowl beat together the sugar, pumpkin and sweet potato purees, milk, egg white (or substitute), margarine (or substitute), and vanilla. Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon, and mix until completely incorporated. Pour the batter into a gallon-sized plastic bag and cut the bottom tip off of one side of the bag. Squeeze the batter through, into the doughnut mold. Bake until the tops are lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted, 20 to 25 minutes. Turn the doughnuts out onto a rack to cool. When cool, dust with confectioners' sugar. (See below for glaze recipe.) Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days, or freeze for us to 1 month.

Okay, here is what I came up with for a glaze.  I thought it was the perfect consistency for dipping.  I also love using dark cocoa; it has an intense, rich flavor. 

1/4 cup organic sugar
2 T coconut oil
1 T almond milk
1 T dark cocoa
1 t vanilla

Bring the first four ingredients to a boil and stir for several minutes until bubbly.  Remove from heat, add the vanilla and stir until it cools just a bit.  Dip the doughnuts in the glaze and immediately add sprinkles.