Pomegranate Sorbet

Pomegranate is one of those super fruits you often hear about, but rarely see (or notice, maybe) in your local grocery store, which is too bad because from what I’ve been reading lately, the health benefits are out of this world. It’s loaded with vitamins and minerals, fights various cancers, heart disease, lymphomas, and much more. Plus, it’s an anti-oxidant powerhouse. We’re talking the Chuck Norris of super foods.

Before this recipe, I had never really had pomegranate aside from the occasional store-bought juice or restaurant salad dressing.

So when I crossed paths with this little pink fruit, I was intrigued. What could I do with it?

My impulse buying side didn’t really case. I’d find something, and sure enough I did. Fruit + ice cream maker + nondairy milk base = healthy dessert perfection.

Ingredients

1/3 cup nondairy milk (I use almond, unsweetened)

3 T organic vanilla yogurt (coconut yo tastes great with this recipe)

1/2 T stevia

splash of vanilla

juice of 1 pomegranate

Directions

-In a small mixer or blender, place all ingredients except the fruit, which you can squeeze into the blender to prevent too many seeds from falling in.

-Blend ’til smooth and well mixed. Prepare in ice cream maker as directed. Spoon out and let the sorbet firm up in the freezer for a few minutes. Top with remaining seeds if you like.

If you’re thinking food dye made that lovely purple color, think again. That’s all-natural coloring. Mother Nature’s dessert presentation skills at their finest, coaxing us with vibrantly tempting colors, I suppose.

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Healthy Frozen S’mores!

A really neat idea was pitched in the “Let’s Do Lunch” section of Parenting‘s September issue. For picky eaters, parents might approve of “PB & Banana S’mores: “Stack graham crackers with peanut butter and banana slices.”

This sounded delicious and fun. So I tried it. But I only had frozen banana slices left. So I made this recipe a little more “a la mode.” No, there’s no ice cream. I’ll explain.

You’ve probably seen or read my postings on the deliciousness of frozen banana ice cream. By freezing bananas in little slices, you get the consistency of ice cream and all the sweetness with out undesirable sugar additives.

So then I decided I wanted my peanut butter chilled, too.

And then I thought it would be tasty to do a layer of chocolate fro-yo (simply mix 1/2 t cocoa powder with a pinch of stevia and vanilla to 1 T or more plain organic yogurt).

And then I added a little dark chocolate.

I couldn’t help myself.

And if you’re worried about finding a healthy alternative to graham crackers, consider making your own with this recipe or buying my health market favorite, Back to Nature Grahams.

Enjoy!

Cake Cups + Filling Ideas

This is more of a great idea (or two) than it is a new recipe.

Cake cups!

Like cupcakes, but reversed.

In a cake cup, you add in something you love. For me, it was my healthified fro-yo fix, which you can make simply by taking your favorite yogurt and freezing it for about an hour. Garnish with some sweet fresh berries and voila! A dessert that does a body good.

To make, simply follow any one of my single-serving cupcake recipes. But instead of filling the muffin tin slot as you normally would, gently press the dough up the sides of the slot. Bake for about 5-6 minutes (less time is needed because the dough is spread more thinly). Let cool and add in your favorite filling.

I’ll copy and paste the sweet-pink strawberry dough recipe I used below, but get creative!

I also did something similar with my super-moist chocolate blueberry cupcake recipe, but I made the cups smaller by dividing into two, scraped out the sides, and filled with a one-part peanut butter and one-part cream cheese frosting filling.

Yes, I was proud of this secondary cake cup, too. It tasted just like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, only cakier!

And in case you’re wondering, no you can not taste the blueberry, but you will be amazed at how moist the fruit puree makes the cake.

Strawberry Dough Ingredients

3 T flour ( I used spelt)

a pinch of baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla

1 heaping T milk

1 T stevia

.5 t vegan butter

1/5 egg (mixed, or flax egg)

.5 t maple syrup or agave

1 t strawberry preserves

1 medium to large strawberry (ripe, pureed or well smashed)

Directions

-Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet and set aside.

-Combine all dry ingredients in a small bowl; push to one side. On the other side, mix all wet ingredients. Combine wet and dry thoroughly. It’s okay if there are some chunks of fruit in the batter, but too many or too large of a chunk will bake into a gummy texture you won’t like.

-To form cookies, roll into small balls. If you’d like, however, to make doughnuts, you can simply shape a doughnut round by using a specialized pan, or doing as I do, which is using the rim of a muffin tin slot to shape an O. You could also use a cookie cutter that’s shaped like an O, but if you do this make sure the dough is thick enough–consider layering two or three Os.

-Bake for about 6-7 minutes.

Chocolate Blueberry Dough Ingredients

2.6 T whole-wheat flour

2 t cocoa powder

pinch of baking powder, baking soda, (scant) salt, and vanilla

1.5 t stevia

1 T and 1 t vanilla yogurt

1.5 t applesauce or coconut oil

1 T and 1 t almond milk

1 T and 1 t blueberries

Directions

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a cookie sheet or prepare with a cupcake liner.

-Puree blueberries or mash with a fork. Then mix in vanilla, oil, and milk. Set aside.

-In a small bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Transfer these to the wet ingredients, mixing in slowly. Be sure not to overmix.

-Spoon batter into cupcake tin and bake for about 11-13 minutes.

These toppings could be really fun. You could go more muffin like, as I did, with fresh coconut cream and blueberries. Or you could add icing because, essentially, this muffin could pass as a cupcake, too!

Let the sweetness last as long as you can :)

Ricotta-Stuffed Salmon Roll

Doctors recommend that we eat salmon at least twice a week. My favorite health benefit of salmon, and there are many, is knowing that the omega-3 nutrients can help keep a brain sharp. It’s a little expensive, yes. But in my opinion, health and well-being are always worth splurging on.

I usually eat my salmon atop a bed of fresh pasta and veggies. This is pretty routine for me. Routines are nice some nights, but I’m always looking for something new.

I came across this idea while pinning.

It’s perfect.

Ingredients

-4 oz. salmon (a long, thin slice will work best)

-2 T ricotta

-1 T flowering kale, chopped

-Italian seasonings of choice

Directions

-Set oven to broil. Lightly grease a broil-safe pan. Set aside.

-Mix ricotta, kale, and seasonings in a small bowl. Place on the thicker end of the filet. Slowly roll and pin together with oven-safe skewers.

-Broil for about 4-5 minutes or until the salmon has cooked fully. A little pink color is good, but know that the insides of the roll will need more time than the outsides.

Serve warm, possibly atop a bed of pasta if you want to follow suit.

Lemon-Blueberry Muffin Cookies

I’m always looking for something new, especially when it comes to baking.

These muffin cookies may not be out of this world in terms of being innovative or different, but they’re a fun, fresh breakfast twist on the regular old chocolate chipper. I’d save the recipe and use it again for a brunch party or even a breakfast-for-dinner kind of night.

And if you don’t like blueberries or lemon, you can always mix up the flavor combinations a bit. You could sub lemon for freshly-squeezed orange juice and pair with dried cranberries or almonds? Or maybe pear juice and crushed blackberries? Yum!

Ingredients

6 T white whole wheat flour

1 t stevia

dash of cinnamon, salt

1 flax egg (1 t flax mixed with 2-3 t water)

1 T Greek yogurt of choice (I used lemon-flavored yo)

squeeze of lemon juice

2 T nondairy milk

splash of vanilla

Directions

-Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie tin (or muffin tin if you would like 1 big or 2 medium-sized muffins). Set aside.

-In a medium-sized bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Push dry to one side of the bowl and combine the remaining wet ingredients on the other side. Blend the two together.

-At this point, you can either fold the blueberries in now. I like to place mine right on top–to look sort of like traditional chocolate-chip cookies.

-Bake for about 10 minutes or until firm. Serve warm for breakfast or dessert.

Banana-Berry Smoothie Pies

Need a frozen treat fix?

This recipe can satisfy so many sweet cravings. It starts with a super sweet bottom crust, moves up to a sugary-blueberry filling in the middle, and is topped with a little banana froyo.

So if you want ice cream, pie, frozen fruit, whatever, really. This dessert delivers.

Makes four mini treats.

Ingredients

Layer one: 5-6 dates, 2 t rolled oats, 1 t applesauce

Layer two: 30-35 blueberries, 1 t stevia or honey

Layer three: frozen banana slices (about 1/3-1/2 of a banana), optional: dash of stevia and vanilla

Directions

-In a good food processor, pulse dates and oats. Add in applesauce. Pulse once more. Press into a mini muffin tin (or all into one large muffin slot). Set in freezer ’til next layer is ready.

-Blend ingredients for layer two. Spoon onto the top of layer one. Return to freezer.

-Blend layer three ingredients until smooth, ice-cream-like texture forms. Use this layer as the topping.

-Freeze until solid. Serve as soon as you pull out of the freezer because they will melt after a few minutes of exposure to room temperature.

So healthy? All fruit? You could easily get an ice cream fix for breakfast with this recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Toasty Breakfast Egg Pizza

You know I love creative meals. Here’s another fun meal idea: Breakfast Egg Pizza!

It started as a wrap, but what gets me about breakfast wraps and burritos is that they’re gone in what feels like seconds. Yes, I realize most people need a few minutes to finish a wrap; I do, too. But you can’t help but always want more.

I like to savor food, all its flavors, to really experience it. I’ve heard some call this mindful eating, and I love that idea.

And I love this egg ‘za, too. It seems bigger in appearance, and it’s quite a spread. A nice big meal with lots of complimentary ingredients, all layed out and toasted to perfection. And by cutting it into slices, you have to stop and enjoy each slice all the more. 

Ingredients

1 whole-grain, low-sodium FlatOut wrap

1 T organic salsa

3 egg whites scrambled with 1 T nondairy milk (sprinkled with cumin and onion powder)

1-2 T nondairy cheese shreds

a handful of your favorite veggies

fresh cilantro and red pepper flakes to garnish

Directions

-Preheat broilers to high. Lightly grease a cookie sheet and place wrap flat on sheet. Spread salsa thinly over the wrap. Set aside.

-Prepare scrambled eggs as you normally would. When nice and fluffy, transfer to wrap, spreading out evenly.

-Add veggies, and then cheese. Broil for about 3-5 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and edges are crisped.

-Garnish as you like and serve warm.

Sweet & Salty Pretzel Crunch Bars

There are some pairs that are just perfect.

Gin and tonic.

Birds and the bees.

Pen and paper (+ creative inspiration).

And if you’re lucky, a perfect pair of jeans. 🙂

Of course, there are plenty of perfect food pairings, too. The one I can’t resist? Ever? Sweet and salty. There was a point in my life when I thought Nature’s Valley Sweet-and-Salty Peanut Butter Granola Bars were going to be the end of me. I inhaled them!

That’s an exaggeration, I know. There’s nothing bad about them, especially in moderation, as the Greeks would advise. But if you’re like me, sweet and salty is hard to do in moderation. But what makes this flavorful pairing so hard to resist also makes it highly desirable.

Desire away, dearests! I’ve adapted this Sweet & Salty Pretzel Crunch Bar recipe from Chocolate-Covered Katie’s Pretzel Bars. It’s perfect for one, and I think this version is made even sweeter with a honey and peanut-butter honey substitution, too.

Makes 3 bars.

Ingredients

1/4 cup brown rice crispies (smashed up a bit)

2 T spelt or white-whole wheat flour

5-6 mini pretzel twists, crushed

scantest dash of stevia

1/4 t vanilla

1 T organic raw honey

1 T peanut butter (I used an organic-honey version from my local health market)

Directions

Combine dry ingredients. Mash up well.

Then add in honey, peanut butter and vanilla. Press into dry ’til sticky and well mixed.

Press into bars or other desired shape. You can either freeze for a colder bar or melt a few dark chocolate chips over the top. Spread the melted chips evenly and let cool for a nice crunchy coating. Top with one pretzel or more crushed ones.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I did. I’m planning on making them for a potluck very soon. I know my writing center tutors will gobble them up.

Zucchini Pizzas

As I continued to eat my way through the infant-sized zucchini I’d picked up at the Des Moines Farmers Market in late July, I remembered coming across a grilled zucchini pizza recipe from Kalyn’s Kitchen.

But my apartment, like so many others, isn’t exactly conducive to grilling, and I wasn’t fortunate enough to have a George Foreman at my disposal. So once again, just like with my Grilled Corn Without the Grill recipe from July, I improvised with broiling.

The little za’s were a huge success! They tasted great. And I felt great knowing that I incorporated more healthy veggies into my lunch simply by swapping out traditional pizza dough crust with squash.

You’ll notice, too, that my zucchini rounds were pretty big, but I think using a smaller zucchini would make for adorable appetizers. Make them for your friends with gluten allergies (or gluten-free diets) and I promise they’ll love them.

Or if you’re trying to incorporate more veggies into your kids’ diets, let them make the zucchini za’s with you! They’ll be smiling bigger than this very happy zucchini face.

Ingredients

-3 large or 9 small zucchini rounds (about5-6 mm thick)

-1-2 T olive oil

-1/3 cup marinara sauce

-1/3 cup cheese

-1 t Italian seasonings

Toppings of choice

Directions

-Set broilers to high. Lightly grease a broil safe pan. Set aside.

-Coat each side of the zucchini rounds lightly with oil. Place on broiling sheet and broil on each side for about 3 minutes. Remove from oven once they’ve crisped up quite a bit.

-Spread sauce on each round. Top with cheese, seasonings, and desired toppings. Broil for another 3-5 minutes or until cheese starts to bubble and melt. Serve warm.

Mini-Pancake Appetizers

Throwing a brunch party anytime soon? This weekend?

If so, I hope you remember my Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes.

They were so good that I decided they needed to be shared.

I mean, dress-up-and-go-to-a-party-kind of shared…

Sort of 🙂

They’ve become appetizers for a breakfast party.

Just follow the same recipe (posted below), but make the pancakes much smaller– about the size of a silver dollar. Stack on top of one another and spear with a fancy toothpick and whatever fresh fruit you have on hand.

You know with me, that fresh fruit is always going to be blueberries.

Try bringing these to brunch for an easy, fun twist on breakfast.

Ingredients (10-12 small or two large pancakes, 1 serving)

Dry

  • 1 T coconut flour
  • 3 T whole wheat flour
  • 1 T oats
  • 1 tcornmeal
  • 1/2 t gluten-free baking powder
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 t ground nutmeg
  • pinch sea salt

Wet

  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup water
  •  1 t powdered stevia
  • 2 Tunsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/4 t pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 banana, mashed
  • Drizzle with Maple Cream

Directions

-Warm a flat skillet on medium-low.

-In one bowl, combine all dry ingredients. In another small bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Make sure banana is well mashed, unless of course you like to sink your teeth into a banana chunk every once in a while. If so, leave a few lumps. For thicker pancakes, omit 1 T water.

-Combine the two bowls of ingredients together. Blend well, but be careful not to overmix. For easy pouring (or pancake formation, really), you can transfer the batter to a small measuring cup with a pouring spout.

-Spritz the warmed pan with cooking oil. Pour pancakes into 4- or 6-inch rounds. Let the pancakes cook all the way through on one side before flipping. You’ll know they’re ready once you start to see bubbles forming on top, and when you can slide your spatula underneath without the cake falling apart. They should be golden brown in color. Each side takes about 3-5 minutes at a stable heat, but watch yours carefully.

-As each pancake finishes, remove the pancake and place on plate. I like to keep mine warm, so I’ll place another plate on top of the bottom plate. Don’t do this when they’re stacked, though, otherwise they’ll get smashed and you won’t have a fluffy stack to cut into later.