Healthier Thin Mint Cookies

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While in the process of going through EVERYTHING I own for my big move down to Texas, I also had to go through a lot of separation. I let go of bags and bags of clothes, books, and surprisingly some food stuffs I’d never used up. With the food, though, I was able to eat my way through a lot of the dried goods I’d accumulated during my two years in this apartment. One of which was a bag of pitted dates. So yummy, and bought with equally yummy intentions for a dessert I had in mind in the spring.CC Pics 009

But that idea passed. The dessert went unmade, and then I remembered a Thin Mint Brownie recipe from the Fabulous Chocolate-Covered Katie, whose cookbook comes out soon, I hope (Katie?).

Well these tasty treats are really good. Just ask the friends I made them for, for a summer picnic in July. And you could ask the other group of friends who tried them, too, at a fireworks show. They were happy to indulge, and I only felt bad when they looked at my little thin mint cookies and then looked at the big, sugary-frosted store-bought ones they bought with a twinge of remorse.

Okay, I didn’t feel too bad about giving friends a healthier alternative they liked just as much. I didn’t want anyone to feel embarrassed about the cookies they brought though. CC Pics 010

To share this positive embarrassment/ healthy kindness with your own friends, check out the recipe I’ve adapted from CCK’s version for a slightly chewier, cholate-ey-er cookie recipe.

Ingredients

1/2 cup walnuts

1 and 1/2 cups pitted dates

1 t vanilla extract

1.5 T cocoa powder

A few drops pure peppermint extractCC Pics 033

scant pinch of salt

1 t stevia

Directions

-Combine all ingredients in your food processor. Blend ’til a dough forms.

-Roll into bite-sized balls and flatten between your palms for a flat cookie.

-If you wanted a small pan of brownies, simply press the dough into a small pan and slice.

-Serve cold or even frozen if that’s how you like your thin mint cookies (I do!). Enjoy.

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Skinny Monkey Cookies

I made you a big breakfast cookie recipe this morning.

Why?

With all the healthful ingredients in this recipe, you don’t have to feel bad about eating the whole recipe. I mean, this is a low-calorie, nutritious recipe, so indulge yourself a bit! Make a batch of little cookies (8-10) or one or two giant cookies.

I have a feeling you’re going to like this one–even my picky little sister did–and I bet it will keep your sweet tooth satiated for the rest of the day.

Ingredients

1 banana, somewhat ripe

1/3 cup + 1 T rolled oats

1 T whole-wheat flour

1 T + 1 t cocoa powder

dash of cinnamon

scantest pinch of salt

1.5 heaping T applesauce

splash of vanilla

Optional: 1 T nut butter

Directions

-Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet and set aside.

-In a small bowl, mash up banana. If the banana is still too ripe to mash easily, you can ripen it quickly by popping it in the microwave for 15-20 seconds.

-Once banana is well mashed, start working on dry ingredients in another, slightly larger bowl. Mix well. Then add in mashed banana, applesauce, vanilla, and nut butter. Again, mix all ingredients well, trying to make sure that most of the chunks of banana are no longer visible.

-Bake for about 9-10 minutes. Per usual, the longer you bake, the crispier they’ll be.

I think these taste so good super soft, but then again, I’m not a crispy-cookie kind of gal. You’ll just have to try it out and see for yourself!

DIY VitaTop Muffins (and Cookies!)

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VitaTop muffins are oh so good, but hardly cheap. Why can’t we just make our own for less?SAM_4876

We can!

This recipe posted by Healthy is Always Better is pretty good, especially if you have a good food processor that can easily flour rolled oats. (I mention this because mine is not the best.) The more “floured-down” the oats, the better the dough.

Oh, and if you’re confused about the cookie-muffin tops pictured above, well, I made them small enough to double as cookies, which I then made into ice cream sammies (pictured at the bottom of this post). Mmm.Mmm.Mmm!SAM_4875

Makes 1 muffin or 2 medium-sized muffin tops.

Ingredients

2.3 T oats

.5 t or less of egg white

2 t unsweetened applesauce

pinch of vanilla

2 t vanilla yogurt (Greek may work as well)SAM_4866

tiny pinch of cream of tartar (or .33 t vinegar)

pinch of baking powder, baking soda, and salt

1.3 T hot water

1.5 t stevia

Optional: Chocolate chips

DirectionsSAM_4863

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use a cupcake liner or lightly grease a muffin tin. Set aside.

-In a food processor, mix all ingredients except chocolate chips. Blend until dough is smooth and well mixed. Remove and mix in chips.

-Scoop dough into tin and bake for about 10 minutes. Remove and place a few chocolate chips on top for aesthetics :).

-Place back in oven for another 2-3 minutes, or until you can insert a toothpick and it comes out clean.

-Cool muffins (or muffin tops, or muffin ice cream sammies!) and enjoy.

Chocolate-Covered Pomegranate Clusters

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This past Valentine’s Day was spent making…SAM_4978

Wait for it! You’ll never guess what.

Making desserts, of course!

You know me too well by now. I recommend, however, getting to know this incredibly easy recipe for chocolate-covered pomegranate candies. Normally melting chocolate and waiting for it to harden is a cooking task I avoid. I don’t like the mess and the fast-moving pace of melted chocolate, but this one is so easy. It’s almost too good to be true. SAM_4989

Ingredients

1 cup pomegranate arils

6 oz. dark chocolate

Directions

Lay a dry paper towel across a ceramic plate (light-colored plastic ones may stain due to the dark color of the pomegranate juice). Spread arils across this and let them “dry off” for an hour or so.SAM_4987

Once they’re dry enough–and let them be as dry as possible because moisture causes chocolate to seize, leading to ugly candies, uglier messes–start working on the chocolate.

To prepare the chocolate, you can try a double-broiler technique. I’m always in a hurry, though, so what I did was break the chocolate into smaller pieces.

Microwave on high for about 45 seconds. Stir. Microwave another 15-20 seconds. You’ll know the chocolate is melted enough when there are a few chunks left that can be stirred out. This is a good consistency to achieve since chocolate that melts entirely in the microwave may start to burn.

Now you have to move fast! In the chocolate bowl, gently fold in arils until mostly covered. Take a spoon and begin scooping them out in clusters and transferring to a wax-paper-covered cookie sheet. When all the arils have been scooped out. I recommend transferring them to the freezer for about fifteen minutes.

I like them served chilled, but gnosh on this dripping-in-chocolate delicious fruit candy however you please.

 

Indoors Cookie S’mores

It’s March, and by my standards, still a bit too chilly. But what about March has me excited? The prospect of summer to come and getting back outdoors.

A favorite outdoor treat of mine is the good old-fashioned s’more. Does anyone really dislike the s’more? If so, I’d like to meet them and hear the reasons why.

If you follow this blog, you know I’ve tried s’mores 101 different ways: frozen, baked, as whoopie pies, etc. But here’s just one more for the adventurous sweet tooth who’s not quite ready to make one while camping, but would love to enjoy a “healthified” version while wondering the great indoors.

Ingredients

1 graham cracker sheet (I like Back to Nature’s version)

1 mini bar of Hershey’s chocolate (dark chocolate preferred)

3 T white-whole wheat or spelt flour

1/2 T stevia

dash of cinnamon and baking soda

optional: dash of salt and brown sugar (I omitted and thought they tasted just fine)

2 T nondairy milk

1 t coconut oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Break graham cracker sheet into two pieces and place on cookie sheet. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine all dry ingredients, then mix in milk and oil ’til well blended. If you have the time, refrigerate for a few minutes.

Place a dollop of the cookie batter on each graham cracker. You may have enough leftover for one good-sized sugar cookie, too. Bake for about 6-7 minutes or until the cookie dough is baked to your liking.

I can tell you that I let mine underbake a bit. I like this better because it then tastes gooey-er, like a traditional s’more, and since there aren’t any eggs required you don’t have to worry about food poisoning.

Also, you may want to bake your chocolate in the oven, or press into warm cookies as they come out. Again, either way works, it’s just a matter of personal preference. I’ve tried both and enjoyed both results.

Instant Deep-Dish Oatmeal Cookie

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A lot of you say you read my recipes but never actually try them because it looks like they take too long to make. I often get told, “Yes, that sounds healthy and delicious, but why would I want to make just one? I’d make a whole batch instead… I don’t like getting all those ingredients for one little treat… Too much work… I’m tired…”SAM_4890

I’m not going to say those are excuses in my book, but I will give you a no-excuses recipe I think you’ll like. But first, a few reasons:

1. Do it for your bank account! Single servings save you money.

2. Do it because few leftovers are ever as good as their original selves.

3. Do it to save resources. How much of the materials and ingredients used to make multiple-serving recipes just end up stale and in the trash?SAM_4483

4. Do it for portion control. The one Americans understand the least.

5. Do it because it’s fun! I love to experiment with cooking/ baking, and single-serving recipes let me try lots of new types of cuisine. Some fail. Some are delicious.

On to the super simple deep-dish cookie…

Ready for this?

IngredientsSAM_4493

1 packet of oatmeal

1-2 T almond milk (or regular milk or yogurt)

optional: dash of baking powder, vanilla

and whatever mix-ins you like (I like cinnamon + peanut butter, and chocolate chips on top)

Directions

Empty out the oatmeal into a microwave-safe dish. Mix in milk or other substitute (you should add in about half of whatever the oatmeal directions specify so it’s not runny.SAM_4888

Mix well, but again, make sure it stays firm and wet, not soupy. If you’re not feeling too lazy, you can add in the dash of baking powder and vanilla. Top with whatever mix-ins you like. Microwave as directed. If not completely firmed up like a cookie, press sides together with the side of a spoon and microwave a tad longer or pop it into the broiler for a crispier finish.

It’s essentially like some of my baked oatmeal recipes and it’s delicious.

So, no excuses! Try it. I dare your lazy bones… 😉

Deux Dark-Chocolate-Stuffed Crescents

In the spirit of all things faux-French, I had a rich and chocolate-y strike of insight…

Take new beloved pastry dough recipe. Fill with my favorite ingredient: dark chocolate.

If you remember my Healthified Pop Tarts recipe, you remember how impressed I was with the consistency and melt-in-your-mouth goodness of the dough.

I contemplated a chocolate-stuffed pop tart, but where’s the challenge in that? It would have been practically the same. So if you want a chocolate-filled pop tart, simply follow the recipe below and fill as you please.

But if you want to take a culinary trip abroad (well, sort of), try the same recipe with the following modifications:

1. Roll out dough and form into two triangles.

2. Use a pizza cutter to remove rough edges.

3. Place chocolate of choice on top of the triangles, keeping the chips a half inch or so from the sides.

4. Roll into crescents and lose yourself in some French folk music while you bake.

Recipe For Pastry Dough:

  • 1 T + 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 t baking stevia
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 t plain Chobani Greek Yogurt
  • 1.5 t vegan butter, diced at refrigerator temp.
  • 1.5  T non-dairy milk
Directions:
  1. In a mixer combine flours, Stevia, and salt.
  2. Slowly add in milk and Chobani
  3. Beat in butter until thick. (You may have to add more flour if your butter is warm)
  4. Roll up dough and wrap it with plastic wrap.
  5. Place in refrigerator until ready to use.
  6. After all the fillings are prepared take the dough out of the refrigerator and roll out into a thin crust. Cut into 2x2in squares. Before you stack the dough make sure to sprinkle with flour to prevent sticking.
  7. Lay a sheet of wax paper onto a baking sheet and spray with Pam. Lay twelve of the dough sheets onto the pan. Add the fillings on top.
  8. Take the tips of the fork and press down the edges. Working with this dough is kind of like working with clay. The score marks will help the sides stick.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 7-8 minutes. Remove when the pastries are golden brown.

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 :)

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.