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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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.

Margarita Cupcake

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It’s been said, sang, and probably screamed more than once.

“It’s 5’o’clock somewhere.”

Whether you’re throwing the ultimate happy hour at your home or a Tex-Mex fiesta, a margarita is sure to set a carefree tropical vibe.

Now, you know I’m not a big drinker, but I have a sweet tooth that eclipses the need for any sweet in liquid form. That’s why I love this marg cupcake. It’s adorable. It can be made with alcohol. And it’s the perfect way to play up the aforementioned party themes.

Or if you just need a margarita cupcake because it’s been a long day at work, the following recipe is perfect for wasting away again and searching for your long lost salt shaker…

Oh, but that’s not salt along the edge of the cupcake. It’s shredded coconut. A similar effect though, right?

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp spelt flour (30g) (or ww pastry)
  • 1 T stevia
  • dash of baking powder
  • 1 T freshly squeezed lime juice mixed with 1 T nondairy milk
  • splash of vanilla extract
  • 1 T organic vanilla yogurt
  • 1 more t nondairy milk
  • optional: lime zest to taste
  • optional: replace 1 t milk with 1 T tequila

Directions

Preheat oven to 330 degrees. Lightly grease a muffin tin or a single silicone cup. Set aside. (Note: You can microwave for 1-1.5 minutes for a quicker muffin, but it will probably turn out less moist.)

Mix dry ingredients; then blend in wet ’til combined, but don’t overmix.

Bake for about 13-15 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Top with your favorite frosting, shredded coconut, a stevia crust, or whatever other toppings you fancy.

Gluten-Free Ginger-Spice Muffies

I love fall baked goods, especially spice cakes, and Healthful Pursuit has lots of them. Many of hers are gluten- or grain-free.

I’m not paleo, and I definitely don’t have a gluten allergy. But there’s something about a sweet coconut flour that can’t be beat. I’ve noticed that the finish on coconut-flour cakes and cookies is never as smooth as spelt or regular wheat flour, but it’s so sweet. You have to try this one for breakfast one morning, a cold morning when you need a little spicy warmth.

Ingredients

1/4 cup spelt or coconut flour (coconut is sweeter)

1 t cinnamon

1-2 t ginger

dash of nutmeg, cloves, and baking powder

1 flax egg (1 t ground flax + 2 t water)

1 T organic yogurt

2.5 T applesauce

splash of vanilla extract and almond extract

Directions

-Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly greases a cookie sheet. Set aside.

-In a small bowl, combine all dry ingredients; then blend in wet ingredients. Combine ’til well blended.

-Form into one muffie (dome-shaped) or two smaller ones. Note: If you make just one, it will be fairly large. Nothing wrong with that though, right?

-Bake for about 15-17 minutes or until a little springy. Remove from oven and serve warm with a little sweet yogurt drizzle, pumpkin pie spice, or coconut flakes.