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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Healthier Banana Split

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Happy Monday! The day that follows the best day of the week, in my opinion, Sunday, when we recognize the importance of relaxation. No work is to be had on Sunday. I wish I could say I was better about obeying that commandment, but I’m not.CC Pics 035

What I am good at doing on Sundays is caring for myself however I see fit. Usually, this means some time spent talking to my higher power in church or alone, watching 60 minutes, relaxing before the week to come, and spoiling myself with something really delicious for dinner and dessert.

People like the cute “Sundaes on Sunday” idea. Me, too. But I like mine wholesome and nutritious. I’m not saying that’s for everyone, but let me send a little divinely delicious inspiration your way.

You’ve probably heard by now that frozen banana chunks are so sweet and smooth it’s like biting into ice cream. If you follow this blog, you’ve read about my successful experimentation with this and with freezing yogurt for homemade froyo. Both have major yum factor.

So I started putting them together.

With some fresh strawberries, of course–and in another instance, dark chocolate chips–and just made an all frozen, holistic banana split I like quite well.

IngredientsCC Pics 037

1 banana

2-3 T chopped strawberries

1/4 cup yogurt of choice ( I like vanilla coconut)

optional: chocolate chips, nuts, etc.

Directions

Slice the banana to your likely. For a split classic, I split mine down the middle and then in halves to fit in my dish. You might also chop or chunk them and layer your yogurt on top.

Next comes the yogurt. Top or drop as you like on your banana split slices or chunks.

Last is the berries. Sprinkle as desired.

 

Appetizer Idea: Shortcake Bites

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With this post, the challenge to think of as many creative ways as possible to use wonton/ eggroll wrappers…CC Pics 008

Continues.

It started with those zesty Mini Fajita Bowls. It may have spiraled out of control. But just maybe. Because now we’re moving into desserts.

The things my brain comes up with. I’m not clever, but I’ve got an unusual resourcefulness (I’m also quite cheap or “thrifty”) and an unwavering interest in trying new culinary creations.

I like this one. The wonton wrapper forms the base of shortcake and gives it an interesting contrast in flavor. I still can’t quite explain it. Not quite a slight of saltiness, but something along those lines.

And of course, who doesn’t love some fresh chopped strawberries and a little whipped cream?CC Pics 004

No, I don’t do Cool Whip. Those sugars and preservatives aren’t kosher with me (or my stomach), but in small does my tummy can handle this wonderful product called “Tru Whip.” I love it. Pick it up in your health food section or store next time you’re ready to call it quites on a recipe that calls for Cool Whip and offers no alternatives.

Sweet with a little cream and crunch. Perfect.

1 serving (Of course, you can make many more if you have company.)

Ingredients

1 egg roll wrapper

2 T diced strawberries

1-2 T Tru WhipCC Pics 007

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a mini-muffin tin. Set aside.

Using a cookie cutter you like, cut as many shapes out of the egg roll wrapper as you can. I got four with a a small flower cutter, but a slightly larger one would have been perfect. Circles and other shapes would work great, too.

Tuck wrapper gently into each tin slot. Bake until crispy and golden brown, only about 3-5 minutes. Watch carefully. Remove and let cool.

Once cool, spoon even amounts of strawberries into each and finish off with a pretty dollop of Tru Whip. Enjoy the sweet crunch!

Cool Cantaloupe Pops

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There’s a bad apple in every bunch. And there’s often a lot of bad bunches of produce. It’s especially true these days. It can be so hard to find a bunch, bushel, or bag of fruit that’s not bad. As someone who eats an exorbitant amount of fresh produce on the regular, I know this to be true. I sometimes wonder if producers know that American markets know nothing about picking ripe, fresh produce. I’m no expert, by any means, but for all the time I’ve spent picking out produce, I’ve come to question this.CC Pics 024

The positive is that I’ve also learned a few how-to’s along the way. Sometimes when I’ve had one too many bad picks–pale, tasteless grapefruit and old, flavorless spaghetti squash being the biggest repeat offenders–I look online for tips. Other times, I look to whoever is standing close to me and looks like they know what they’re doing.

So when I was standing at Hy-Vee contemplating cantaloupe, I asked the woman to my right, who was also thumbing through, thumping, and smelling every melon in the bin. And let me tell you, she knew what she was doing. In an all-business tone, she let me know that a nice golden rind is going to be the freshest, juiciest, most flavorful pick. She was also frustrated that we couldn’t smell them. I knew about the smelling-for-sweetness trick, but what she told me next surprised me: If they wash them well, you can’t smell them for ripeness; the smell gets scrubbed off.CC Pics 025

Did I pick a winner?

You bet. It was good. Plus I let it sit on my warm kitchen countertop in my anti-AC apartment for a few days to ripen up a bit more. Oh, my sweetness! It was…

And then I turned 1/4 of that Candy Cantaloupe into this: Pops! You know I’m a popsicle fiend, especially during these hot summer days. So while I resist faux coolant, I find a pleasurable defense in popsicles. And these ones are good! I know I say that often, but seriously, the cantaloupe, a little stevia for sweetness, and a little yo for smoothness makes this recipe better than any Dreamsicle I’ve had. Cross my heart and have my cantaloupe if I’d steer you wrong. Try it!

Makes 4 medium-sized popsicles or six small ones.CC Pics 026

Ingredients

1 cup cantaloupe chunks

spritz of lemon

splash of vanilla

1 T stevia

1/2 cup plain, non-fat yogurt (dairy-free coconut is the best!)

Directions

Cover of Pops! by Krystina Castella whom I interviewed for a summer 2011 feature in the Kansas City Star. Click the image to link to that story.

Cover of Pops! by Krystina Castella whom I interviewed for a summer 2011 feature in the Kansas City Star. Click the image to link to that story.

So easy. Place your fruit and all other ingredients in blender. Blend ’til smooth.

If you like, drop a few more thin slices of cantaloupe (or other pretty fruit, like orange slices without the rind) down the sides of your pop molds and then distribute your blended concoction evenly between the molds. Freeze for 3-4 hours or until solid.

Strawberry-Lemonade Pops

photo (13)

Cover of

Cover of Pops!: Icy Treats for Everyone

Ever since I interviewed Pops! author Krystina Castella in 2011 for the Kansas City Star, I’ve begun to associate the coming of summer with the coming of fruity, sweet popsicles. I’m sort of anti-AC, so a cold sweet pop on a sticky hot day tastes like heaven.

Plus, after you chat with a pro-popsicle innovator about how much thought can go into one simple pop, you gain a new appreciation for these simple sweets. I look forward to blending, pouring, and freezing new flavors to try and it’s made all the easier when you know exactly what makes for a tasty, easy-to-remove, attractive looking popsicle. If you’re interested, read my 2011 story by clicking here.

Castella is actually a college professor with a background in structural design. At the time, she was teaching and writing the book–when I talked to at least–and so she put a lot of thought into what makes for a beautiful structure, form that follows flavor, and entertaining on a purpose. Very smart and savvy, that one.

These pops, they aren’t particularly smart or savvy.

But they are good. And easy to make. Everybody loves strawberry lemonade in the summer, myself included, so I put it in pop form.

Makes 4 medium-sized popsicles or six small ones.photo (10)

Ingredients

1/2 grapefruit, sliced up

10 medium-sized strawberries, sliced

a few lemon slices

splash of vanilla

1 T steviaphoto (11)

8 oz. VitaminWater Zero – Lemonade

Directions

So easy. Place your grapefruit and almost all the strawberries in the blender. Blend ’til smooth. Squeeze a few lemon slices over the top, and then add in vanilla extract, stevia, and VZ0 Lemonade. Blend again until perfectly smooth.

Drop a few slices down the sides of your pop molds and then distribute your blended concoction evenly between the molds. Freeze for 3-4 hours or until solid.

Strawberry-Grapefruit Popsicles

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Sparkling citrus makes me think of summertime, and strawberries make it a little sweeter.SAM_5891

So I fed my Vitamin-C fettish with this little pop and I’m so glad I did. The recipe is below and so easy. A foolproof, must-try treat.

And here’s what I’m thinking as a follow-up recipe: Champagne-Grapefruit Pops. Sounds perfect for brunch or a girls get together. (This thought is largely attributable to the DVD playing in the background–SATC.)

Ingredients

1 large grapefruitSAM_5886

3-4 medium strawberries, slices

1/4 cup plain yogurt (coconut-based is my fav)

1 T stevi

splash of vanilla extract

Directions

-Slice grapefruit and place in blender with all the other ingredients in top, but only using half of tstrawberry slices.

-Once blended down to liquid form, pour a little into each pop mold, just enough to cover the base. Drop in a few strawberry slices, add more of the liquid, slices, and so on and so forth until the moulds are full. Place the sticks in and freeze for 3-4 hours.SAM_5894

-Directly prior to serving, remove from freEr and let sit at room temperature for about five minutes or run under warm water for 10 seconds or so.

-Eat fast and enjoy liberally! Nothing bad about these healthy, sweet pops.

Easy, Fast Apple Pie Snacks

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You know me. I love fun food. If it’s even a tad creative, then I have to try it.SAM_5304

This one had been sitting on my Pinterest.com CC To-Do List board for quite some time. And once the semester had ended–my tortilla overload still under way–I decided to adapt the recipe I’d found online from Better Cookiesreplacing regular dough with, you guessd it, whole-wheat tortillas.

Ain’t nothing punnier, or truer than what I’m about to write: This quick and easy snack is now the apple of my eye. I’m not kidding. I say at this at the risk of not sounding very “American,” but the truth is that I kind of hate apple pie. Hold your fire. Be sympathetic. But I like my apples cool and crisp, not baked and spicy.SAM_5306

Not sure why I enjoyed this recipe so much, not yet at least. It could be that I left the apples a bit thicker in terms of slicing. It could be that I wasn’t overloaded with apple mush, like most apple pies. Or it could just be that it was so easy to make and kind of fun. How can you go wrong?

Ingredients
1/2 an apple
1 whole-wheat tortillaSAM_5286
1 t cinnamon
dash of stevia or 1 T honey

Directions
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Set aside.SAM_5298 -Prepare apple by slicing lengthwise. You can make your slices as thin as you like for more, or thicker for fewer. Know too that if you go thicker, your apple pie snacks will come out less warm and gooey like apple pie, more crisp and fresh (just how I wanted mine).
-Next, prep apples in seasonings. If you’re using the cinnamon-stevia blend, mix those two together and toss apple slices in those until coated. If you’re going the honey route, then still toss slices in cinnamon and then drizzle honey over the top.
-Cut tortilla into strips. Roll one or more strips around each apple slice. Tuck ends of strip on bottom side or into the side of the wrap so they don’t unfurl.
-Transfer to prepared cookie sheet. Sprinkle a little more seasoning or honey if desired and bake for about 8-10 minutes or until golden brown and somewhat soft.
-Serve warm, right out of the oven, and with my healthified cream cheese dip, if you like.SAM_5306

Enjoy!

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.

Key Lime Cake with Whipped Yogurt Frosting

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I’ve written about how I’m not crazy about cake mixes. They usually have hydrogenated oils, but sometimes I get lucky and find one that doesn’t.SAM_4933

Or if I’m really lucky, one that uses whole, unrefined sugars and flours. But that’s rare.

But people like those cake mixes so much! It’s hard to please a crowd with unrefined tastebuds.

So here’s a compromise I made for a very special someone’s birthday. He likes key lime pie, a lot. Now he likes key lime cake, too.

IngredientsSAM_4921

1 box of angel food cake

1 large lime or two small

1 container of key-lime-flavored yogurt

1/3 cup healthy whipped topping (try a soy type or Troo Whip)

DirectionsSAM_4931

-Prepare the angel food cake as directed, but add in some fresh lime zest and a little squeeze of juice at the end. The cake should still taste light and fluffy with just a hint of lime flavor, most of which comes from the topping

-Let cake cool, of course. But once it cools completely, you can begin making the whipped yogurt topping. It’s as simple as mixign the yogurt and whipped topping together, drizzling all over the cake, serving chilled, and if you like, sprinkling with fresh zest or coconut shreds.

Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.