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.

 

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.

 

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.

“Nutz Over Chocolate” Copycat Candies

Luna bars are pretty good. They claim to be the very best nutrition bar for women, and they’re certainly not bad considering they’re packed with vitamins and minerals.

But what if you could just make your own? And do so using a lot less sugar.

The thought came to me when I was perched up in the engineering complex quad, munching on a promotional Luna bar, “Nutz Over Chocolate,” to be exact.

I thought to myself, “I can make this. Easy!” With Chocolate-Covered Katie’s copycat recipe as a guide, I went to work. Changed a few ingredients around. Scaled back to a single serving.

And then decided that a candy ball was more fun than a regular bar.

I’m not going to hold anything back. I’m just going to say it: This recipe is SO MUCH BETTER than the Luna bar I had for lunch today. So much.

Thank goodness for pleasant surprises.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup rice crispies (brown rice works great!)
  • 1 t coconut flour
  • dash of pure vanilla extract
  • 1 T all-natural, salt-free peanut butter
  • 1 t sticky sweetener, such as agave or brown rice syrup (I used agave)
  • optional: 1-2 t protein powder
  • dark chocolate chips

Directions

-Preheat oven to 330 degrees. Lightly grease a baking dish. I used a cake balls tray for this candy-like version, but you can use a regular ramekin.

-In small bowl, toss crispies and flour together. Place nut butter, sweetener, and vanilla on top. Microwave for a few seconds (7-9) just to warm up the mix.

-Mix well. Smash the crispies for a tighter crisp, and to keep all ingredients stuck together better.

-Press into your dish. Evenly distribute chocolate chips on top. I used two per candy.

-Bake for only 2-3 minutes. This is just long enough to let some of the ingredients fuse and melt the chocolate on top.

-Remove from oven. Smear the chocolate around for a bottom coating. Let cool in the freezer. Pop out and serve.

Chocolate Zucchini Cakes

 

Zucchini bread is a fall-time favorite.

But chocolate zucchini bread? That I had never heard of before.

Hearing chocolate and zucchini together didn’t exactly trigger a tickling in my tastebuds. Not one bit actually.

But hey, I’ve tried chocolate cauliflower cake, and pumpkin-based chocolate brownies. Why not take on this experimental recipe from Allrecipes.com?

I didn’t love this one as much as the two aforementioned chocolate oddities, but it was still pretty tasty! If you’re a big fan of zucchini bread, I think you’d probably like this sweet little z-bread for one.

Makes one big serving

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 T stevia
  • 1.5 T cocoa powder
  • pinch of baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon
  • 1/2 egg (mixed)
  • 2 T coconut or canola oil (or applesauce)
  • 1/4 cup + 1 T grated zucchini
  • Mix-in Suggestion: 2 T chopped walnuts

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour a small ramekin or loaf pan. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together all dry ingredients (not zucchini). Add the eggs and oil, mix well. Fold in the nuts and zucchini until they are evenly distributed. Pour into the prepared baking dish.
  3. Bake for about 15 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
  4. Cool cake completely before frosting or decorating as you like.

I simply garnished mine with some zucchini slices for presentation (and then chocolate chips for taste), but I encourage you to have some fun with this.

 

Frozen Hot Chocolate

There’s a chill in the air. You know what that means for evening athletic events? Hot chocolate.

This recipe for frozen hot chocolate, from Chocolate-Covered Katie, is great for folks like me, who love the richness of hot chocolate, but aren’t a fan of the traditional, piping hot drink.

Unless it’s really, really cold. We’re talking c-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-cold!

If I’m going to drink chocolate, I want it to be more like an ice cream treat. Behold the perfect compromise.

CCK’s Fro-Co

(Frozen hot chocolate)
Makes 1 reeeaally big serving

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk of choice (at least 1/3 cup as lite or full-fat canned coconut milk if you want a truly-rich treat)
  • 2 T cocoa powder
  • scant dash of salt (do not omit)
  • 1/2 t stevia or 1 T agave or maple syrup
  • Optional: for an even richer flavor, try adding a little melted chocolate

Directions

-Whisk all ingredients together on the stove. Alternatively, you can microwave the mix for 30 seconds; stir, then microwave another 30 seconds.

-Let cool completely.

-Pour into an ice-cube tray. If you don’t have one, pour into as many small containers as you can find. Freeze.

-Once frozen, pop the mixture into a blender and place on the frappe option, if you have one. Important: Do not add ice, lest you dilute the flavor (a lot!).

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Gingerbread Brownie

English is a living, breathing language. This claim enables me to make up words. No, my words are not made up at random. They are always purposeful and more descriptive of a state or condition than any other currently existing words.

Today’s word is a verb in past tense: “Cookied Out.” As in, I have had so many cookies lately that I am effectively cookied out.

If you find yourself in this state of mind, know that you are not alone. I too find myself cookied out sometimes. In July, I find this inconceivable. As the holiday season gradually encroaches, I quickly remember. December is still a ways away. It’s too early to experience this condition already.

But I never lose my sweet tooth. Oh, no. I just seek a new sweet instead.

I’m not yet brownied out, and this delicious treat (inspired by a similar recipe from Healthful Pursuit) is fixing my dessert conundrum quite well.

Try it! If you like the strong sweetness of blackstrap molasses, you’re sure to love it.

Ingredients

4 T whole wheat flour

1 T cocoa powder

dash of cinnamon, ginger, and baking powder

1 T stevia

1 T blackstrap molasses

flax egg (1/2 t flax +1/2 water, mixed)

2 T nondairy milk

optional: Pumpkin spice Hershey’s kiss to melt and swirl around on top

Directions

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a ramekin. Set aside.

-In a small bowl, combine all dry ingredients; then blend in wet.

-Transfer to ramekin and bake for about 12-14 minutes. Or microwave on high for a minute and a half.

-Let cool slightly.

I recommend serving warm. And if you’d like to have an easy pumpkin-spice icing like the one I had, just nab that kind of Hershey’s kiss, unwrap, and rub in a circle until the entire kiss has melted and a frosting forms.

Chocolate Cupcake for One

It’s been a long week…

On a Thursday night when you’re beyond exhausted from working, nothing tastes better that warm chocolate-y cupcake.

This recipe makes one VERY BIG chocolate cupcake(or a lot of little ones if you use a mini-muffin pan). It will bring you happiness. Guaranteed.

In case you’re wondering, yes, it will melt in your mouth…

And if you swirl dark-chocolate chips on top of it right after you pull it out of the oven, well, it will bring you more happiness.

Ingredients

1 T cocoa powder

2 T + 2 t spelt flour

pinch of baking soda, baking powder, and salt

1.5 T stevia

1.5 T organic vanilla yogurt

1 T applesauce

1 T non-dairy milk (I used almond)

Directions

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a muffin tin. Set aside.

-Combine dry in a small bowl. Push to one side. On the other side, mix the wet ingredients. Blend the two together.

-Pour into greased tin and bake for about 12-14 minutes.

Serve warm with melted chocolate, like I did, or maybe some fresh berries and cream for a chocolate-spin on traditional shortcake.

Frosty Banana-Cream Pie Cup

Like banana cream pie? Like chocolate pie crust? Like fitting into your skinny jeans, too?

Eating well doesn’t have to be a sacrifice. Take this healthy dessert, for example. A little healthy banana, medium-chain fatty acids from coconut (yes, those are good fats), digestive benefits of pitted dates, and a little cocoa powder for antioxidant power.

It shouts, “You can have it all!”

So try it. If you like banana and coconut and pie, you’ll love it.

Ingredients

Chocolate base

  • 1 T milled flax seed
  • 3 T rolled oats
  • 2 T raisins soaked in 2 T water for 40 minutes or 2 pitted dates
  • 1 T cocoa powder
  • 1/4 t pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Banana cream

  • 1 banana
  • 2 T full fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 t pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Directions

In a small bowl, mix the flax, oats, salt, and cocoa powder.

-In food processor, process softened raisins or dates. Mix in with dry base mix. Add in vanilla and press ’til wet. Remove and press into the bottom of your custard cup to form a chocolate crust. Set aside.

-Clean the food processor or use a clean blender to mix the four cream ingredients. Blend ’til smooth–it should be liquidly.

-Neatly pour cream mixture over the top of the crust. Chill in the fridge for 3-4 hours. For faster chilling or for a thicker, more ice-cream-like texture, freeze for an hour or so.

-Garnish as you like. I topped mine with Soyatoo whipped cream and some chocolate chips, but walnuts, banana slices, or shredded coconut flakes would also be very tasty mix-ins.

Note: the outer edges of the banana cream may start to turn in color. This is normal. The banana is just ripening. It will still taste fabulous!

Single-Serving Cocoa Crispies

I really love Chocolate-Covered Katie’s Chocolate Rice Crispy Treat recipe, but once again, I found myself wanting one or two, not a dozen. So here’s what I came up with for my fellow live-alone culinaires (and by the way, this is a pretty generous portion, you could cut in half):

Ingredients

1/2 cup crispies of choice (I really like puffed wheat!)

3 T nut butter (or 1.5 T nut butter, 1 T applesauce, and .5 t vegan butter)

2 t cocoa powder

1.3 T maple syrup or agave nectar

very small dash of vanilla.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Directions

-Mix all ingredients except crispies. Melt in microwave for about 15 seconds. Continue to mix ’til nice chocolatey paste forms.

-Mix in crispies. It might take a while to blend well, but it will! I promise. And the end result is totally worth it. If the concoction isn’t fluid enough, consider adding in a bit more applesauce, butter, or nut butter.

-Press into a small dish and refrigerate ’til firm. You can also freeze for faster results, but don’t forget about them. They may also taste great baked, but I haven’t tried that yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m considering topping mine with a little ice cream. Sound good? What do you think?