Chocolate Avocado Pudding

It seems like one of the latest food makeovers is chocolate avocado pudding. I keep seeing it everyone I go online when I’m searching for recipes. Avocados have TONS of health benefits¬†and they just happened to be on sale at Aldi’s this week for $0.68 each – basically a steal. I went early Sunday morning before the crowds, so I had a nice selection of ripe and unripe to choose from. I wasn’t sure how the pudding would turn out, but if it was tasty, we’d have a nice stockpile of avocados to choose from ūüôā

I couldn’t find a recipe that was quite what I wanted, but made my own after looking at a few. The results – a.m.a.z.i.n.g. It doesn’t taste a thing like avocado (if you can say avocado really has a taste). Just like straight-up whole milk, dark chocolate pudding. It was so rich and creamy! Since there isn’t added sugar, I didn’t feel bad letting Eli lick the bowl with me. He was begging for more when we finished up.

2015-03-30 12.52.57

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

2015-03-30 12.57.16Ingredients

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup dates or dried fruit puree (I used sunsweet lighter bake)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup water (based on your desired consistency)
  • Slivered almonds, crushed peanuts, or fresh berries for toppings

Directions

  1. Peel avocados and remove pits. Place in food processor.
  2. Add remaining ingredients to food processor, except water. Process until smooth (about 2 minutes)
  3. Add water to thin to desired consistency. Remember it will thicken a bit when chilled.
  4. Pour into a large glass bowl for storage or individual serving bowls. Chill for at least an hour.
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Banana Oatmeal Cookies

banana choc chip cookies (4)These cookies are a.m.a.z.i.n.g.

banana choc chip cookiesThey are basically an oatmeal banana bread baked into cookie form. The original recipe is from Two Peas and Their Pod, who also just welcomed a new little man into their life. I made the first batch last night, following the original recipe except for adding 1 cup of chopped walnuts as well. They turned out delicious and I have eaten more than I’ll ever admit (I’m telling myself that Eli needs them for healthy breast milk).

However, once they cooled off and sat in the storage container they got super soft. The texture reminded me of banana bread, not a cookie. I decided to make a few changes to the recipe. First I wanted to make them healthier – so healthy they could pass as a breakfast cookie. Second, I wanted to see if I could improve the texture for storage purposes. The original recipe’s texture is still great, just not something that should be kept in the pantry for more than a day or two to since mold could start growing pretty quickly (yes, they are that moist).

The modified recipe was a success! The cookies are a little darker and the center was much more crumbly, but not too dry. The taste is great. The whole wheat flour adds some nuttiness and the coconut oil adds just a hint of coconut. I think it is safe to say that these will please anyone looking for a tasty treat while also being healthy enough to eat at breakfast.

 

banana coconut choc chip cookies2Banana Bread Breakfast Cookies
adapted from two peas and their pod

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil (room temp)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 large ripe banana (or 1 1/2 small bananas), mashed
  • 2 cups old fashion rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips or raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (not necessary, but helpful)
  2. In a small bowl, combined flour, salt, and baking soda. Mix well and sent aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the coconut oil and sugars by beating well on high. Add vanilla and egg and mix well. Lastly, add mashed banana and beat well.
  4. Add flour mixture to the banana mixture and mix well with a wooden spoon or spatula until just combined. Stir in oats and mix well. Add remaining ingredients and stir until well-distributed.
  5. Spray two large spoons with cooking spray and use them to scoop out 1.5 tbsp size drops of dough. Place about 1-2″ apart on the prepared baking sheets.
  6. Bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned.
  7. Let cookies cool for 2-3 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely before storing. Store in an air-tight container or freeze for later.

Black Bean Brownies to Die For

blackbean brownies

These owey-gooey brownies are possibly the most delicious thing I have ever tasted. They are rich, fudgey, and moist. And what is even better – they are made with black beans so you can actually say they are healthy. I don’ think it gets any better than this (and I swear this isn’t only coming from a pregnant woman!). J took them to work and didn’t tell anyone that they were made with black beans. they were gone in an hour and everyone was raving about them all day. The people he works at aren’t your typical “health nuts” and would probably haven’t given them a shot if they knew they contained black beans. Let’s just say their lunches occasionally consist of a bag of doritos, little Debbie snack, and a mountain dew. You get the idea.

If you have dietary restrictions, these may be the recipe you’ve been waiting for. They are gluten-free dairy-free, egg-free, and vegan. Usually when I see that list I run and hide and think there is absolutely NO WAY they could taste like a real brownie – but they do!

Black Bean Brownies
Recipe slightly modified from Chocolate Covered Kate

blackbean brownies2

Ingredients

  • 1 15-oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
    (be sure they are gluten-free if you need)
  • 1/2 cup honey
    (use maple syrup or agave if you are vegan)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup add-is: chocolate chips, caramel pieces, nuts, etc… whatever you are in the mood for.

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a 9″ x 9″ pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Combine all the ingredients except the add-ins into a food processor and blend until completely smooth (about 2 minutes).
  3. Stir in the other add-ins. Pour into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes*. Let cool completely. Enjoy!

*the original recipe says only 15-18 minutes. I did 18 minutes but the toothpick was still coming out with moist batter. I thought maybe it had to cool and would firm up, but after 20 minutes of cooling they were still the consistency of under-cooked cookies. I put them back in for 5 or 10 more minutes (I can’t remember….sorry!) and then they firmed up perfectly. I think the difference is when you use oil vs coconut oil. The coconut oil is solid at room temp and makes items more dense. If you choose to use coconut oil, then you can expect them to finish closer to 15 minutes, where canola oil users can expect them to finish closer to 25 minutes.

Christmas Candy

This is a month too late, but better late then never, right? This year was the year of candy. I bet I had at least 20 pounds of candy in my freezer at one point. I spent 2 days making candy with a friend and then with my family.

Conversions can be tricky when dealing with candy making. Here are a few tips:

  • Peanut Butter: 8 oz = ¬†1 cup
  • Butter: 1 stick = 1/2 cup
  • Chocolate: 1 pound = 4 cups
  • Granulated sugar: 1/2 pound = 1 cup
  • Powdered Sugar: 1/4 pound = 1 cup

Here are some of the recipes we used:

Tiger Bark¬†by Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures

Ingredients

  • 1 pound white chocolate, cut into pieces or use white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup Peanut Butter
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate
  • 4 teaspoons half-and-half cream (I don‚Äôt use this I just melt the choc. by itself)

Directions

  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, white chocolate and peanut butter on medium for 2-3 minutes or until melted; mix well.
  2. Pour onto a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray and spread into a thin layer.
  3. In another microwave-safe bowl, heat dark chocolate and cream on high for about 30 seconds or more or until chips are soft; stir until smooth.
  4. Pour and swirl over peanut butter layer. Freeze for 5 minutes or until set. Break into small pieces. Yield: about 1-1/2 pounds.

 

Chocolate-Caramel Pecan Clusters by Martha Stewart

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 12 soft caramel candy cubes
  • 1.5 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, broken into 12 pieces (ideally 70% coca)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange pecans in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet; toast in oven until fragrant, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven (leave oven on). If desired, set aside 36 pecans on baking sheet and then finely chop the remaining pecans for a decorative topping.
  2. When pecans are cool enough to handle, make 12 clusters by arranging 2 pecans vertically, side by side, below 1 pecan placed horizontally. Gently flatten each caramel; place 1 on top of each cluster. Bake clusters 5 minutes. Remove from oven (leave oven on).
  3. Place 1 piece of chocolate on top of each cluster. Return to oven; bake until chocolate begins to melt, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from oven.With the back of a spoon, gently spread chocolate over caramel without completely covering it.
  4. Sprinkle clusters with reserved chopped pecans. Refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes. Bring to room temperature before serving.

 

Peanut Butter Balls by twotwenty-one.com

Ingredients

  • 2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup butter (softened)
  • 3.75 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 cup crushed crisp rice cereal (use a food processor)
  • 1 pound dark chocolate

Directions

  1. Line a baking sheet with foil, wax paper, or parchment paper. Mix peanut butter and butter together in a stand mixer. Add powdered sugar and crushed cereal. Once combied, roll mixture into balls.
  2. Melt chocolate. Drop balls into chocolate and remove with a toothpick. Place on prepared pan and let cool.

 

Homemade Mounds Bars by Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures

Ingredients

  • Two 14-oz bags of coconut (unsweetened is ideal but hard to find)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 pound powdered sugar
  • 1 pound dark chocolate
  • 2 tsp butter,

Directions

  1. In a stand mixer, add coconut, milk, 1/2 cup butter, and powdered sugar. Mix well.
  2. Spread mixture onto a cookie sheet lined with wax or parchment paper. Refrigerate for 2 hour (or put in the garage if you live in WI).
  3. Melt 1/2 pound of chocolate and 1 tsp butter. If doing this in the microwave stir every 30 sec to prevent burning. Spread over chilled coconut mixture. Chill until chocolate is set.
  4. Flip bars over and peel off parchment paper. Melt remaining chocolate and butter and spread over the coconut later. Chill. Once firm, cut into squares. They may be easier to cut at room temp since frozen chocolate can be tough.

 

Chocolate Angel Food Candy by taste of home

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp butter or cooking spray
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup (I only had light and it worked fine)
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 1 pound dark chocolate
  • 1 tsp shortening

Directions

  1. Line ¬†9″ baking an with foil and grease with butter or spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, combined sugar, corn syrup, and vinegar. Cook and stir over medium heat until the thermometer reads 300F (hard crack stage).
  3. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. Immediately pour into the pan. Do not spread candy. It will foam up very high and may spill over a bit.
  4. Cool . Use foil to life candy out f pan. Gently peel back foil and break candy into pieces. Make 2 piles – large candy pieces and remaining crumbs/small pieces.
  5. Prepare 2 cookie sheets with parchment or wax paper. Melt chocolate with 1 tsp butter. Dip large pieces in chocolate  and then set onto the prepared pan. Let cool completely.
  6. Stir the remaining crumbs/small pieces into the remaining chocolate. Pour mixture onto the other cookie sheet. You can pour it as one large piece that you will cut up later or scoop it out into cluster-size pieces.

 

Peppermint Patties by Blue-eyed Bakers
*our patties didn’t turn out all that great. I am not sure what went wrong. I did use some granulated sugar, which made them gritty – bad idea. I also must have added too much corn syrup because the mixture was very sticky. I was wondering if I could add some oat flour to the picture when it was too sticky or to cut the sweetness. If I do this in the future, I’ll post an update.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate
  • 1/4 cup peppermint candies, crushed

Directions

  1. Beat 2 1/4 cups of confectioners sugar together with corn syrup, water, peppermint extract and butter until just combined in a large stand mixer with paddle.  The mixture will be very crumbly.
  2. Dust a work surface with remaining 1/4 cup of confectioners sugar.  Empty contents of bowl onto work surface and knead until smooth (this will take a few minutes).  Shape dough into a log, about 2 inches by 8 inches long.  Wrap tightly in parchment paper and freeze until very firm, about 20 minutes.
  3. Remove dough and slice into rounds using a sharp knife.  Place rounds onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and freeze again until firm, for at least 15 minutes.
  4. While dough is chilling, melt chocolate in a microwave safe bowl in 30 second intervals.  Cool slightly.  Chocolate should be warm but not so hot that you cannot put your finger into it.
  5. Cover another baking sheet with parchment paper.  Remove patties from freezer one at a time and submerge into melted chocolate. You can use a toothpick or large spoon to help with this.  Coat quickly and allow excess chocolate to drip off.  Place on parchment paper lined pan and sprinkle with crushed candies.  Repeat, covering all patties with chocolate and candy.
  6. Let patties stand until chocolate is set, about 1 hour.  Store in fridge, between wax paper in an airtight container.  Bring to room temperature before serving.

 

Trail Mix Bark 
adapted from Bite-Sized Party Bark by Happy Hour Projects

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp chopped peanuts
  • 2 tbsp raisins
  • 2 tbsp craisins
  • 2 tbsp chopped walnuts
  • 2 tbsp shredded coconut (preferably unsweetened)
  • 1/2 pound white chocolate

Directions

  1. Line a cookie sheet with wax or parchment paper.
  2. Mix all of the ingredients except the chocolate together.
  3. Melt the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Stir in the ingredient mixtures from step 2.
  4. Scoop out the mixture into clusters using a large metal spoon that has been sprayed with cooking spray (to prevent sticking). Let cool.

 

Kale Brownies

image (1)

When I heard kale was in our CSA last week, I wasn’t sure what to think. It has a less than appetizing flavor raw and an odd texture when cooked. I had tried kale chips before, which are super tasty, but not ideal when making a bunch of kale at once (they are easy to burn and need to be eaten fresh out of the oven). Last year I pinned a recipe for kale brownies, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to try this recipe. The original recipe was a little heavier (and more unhealthy) than I wanted to make. I search around some more and noticed that really all people seemed to do was add blended/pureed kale to their standard brownie recipes.

I’ve posted before about a delicious No Pudge Brownie recipe that is fat-free and relatively low-sugar. These brownies are great, and not just as a “healthy” brownie recipe. When I worked at the hospital, we made these for a local rural county fair a few years ago. We walked around and asked people if they wanted to try one. We didn’t say we were dietitians or that the brownies were healthy – we just asked if they wanted to try a brownie. They were a hit! People were shocked to find out they were actually quite healthy.

Fast forward to the kale – I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to try kale brownies. The result was actually pretty good. I could smell the kale, which wasn’t really that great, but they seemed to taste good! I noticed that when they sat at room temperature the smell of kale was extra strong. The solution? Freeze them. This solved the problem completely and made for a super tasty cold treat. Next time I make them I am going to cut them up into bite-size pieces and freeze them as “Brownie Bites.”

Kale Brownies

Ingredients

  • image (2)3/4 cup¬†sugar
  • 3/4¬†cup¬†flour (half white, half whole wheat)
  • 1/2¬†cup¬†cocoa
  • 2¬†egg whites
  • 2¬†teaspoons¬†cornstarch
  • 1/4¬†teaspoon¬†baking soda
  • 1/4¬†teaspoon¬†salt
  • 2/3¬†cup¬†non-fat plain yogurt (no added sugar or artificial sweetener)
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 large bunch of kale

image (3)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350¬įF.¬†Spray an 8√ó8 pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Wash kale and remove woody stems. Tear or chop up the kale and place in a food processor. Pulse kale into small pieces. Puree kale.
  3. Add plain yogurt to the kale mixture and push kale down so none of the kale is stuck on the sides. Puree until smooth.
  4. image (4)Add egg whites and vanilla. Puree until smooth.
  5. image (5)Mix all dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Be sure to mix so all ingredients are evenly distributed.  Add dry mixture to food processor and pulse until evenly distributed.
  6. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
  7. Remove and let cool in pan for 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and finish cooling on a drying rack.

Avocado meets Chocolate

That’s right – avocado and chocolate, together at last. When I saw this recipe on Two Peas and Their Pod I thought of the overly ripe avocado sitting in the refrigerator and new I had to make these. I had been keeping the avocado to put in my hair as a conditioning treatment, but this seemed like a much better use of those monounsaturated, heart-healthy fats. These vegan-friendly cookies are fudgy heaven and taste nothing like avocado. I would describe them as a mix between a fudge brownie and a soft cookie. ¬†The best part of all? They are actually good for…so good for you that I give you permission to have them for breakfast ūüėČ

I modified the original recipe, so I can’t really say how the original would turn out. My modifications included:

  • I used whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour, which increased the baking time. This increased the fiber and lets you count your cookie as a whole grain ūüôā
  • I used 1/2 cup avocado instead of 1/4 avocado and 1/4 coconut oil. I am not 100% sold on this coconut oil craze and I didn’t have any on hand. I think the entire avocado makes it healthier since it is loaded with monounsaturated fats.
  • I cut the sugar in half
  • I omitting the chocolate chips (I didn’t have any on-hand).

Below is the recipe I made.

Avocado Chocolate Cookies

image (2)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup mashed, ripe avocado
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup almond milk

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray 2 baking sheets with non-stick spray, or cover with parchment paper.
  2. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa to a medium bowl. Mix well.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the avocado and sugar until smooth (no gritty pieces!). Add the vanilla extract and beat well.
  4. While beating on low, add 1/2 the flour mixture. Once mixed well, add the milk and the remaining flour mixture (beating on low the entire time). Mix until the flour disappears.
  5. Using a tablespoon, form balls and place on the prepared pans. Flatten the balls slightly. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until set on the edges.
  6. Let the cookie cool on the pan for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Let cool completely.

I found that these taste better the next day. By all means, try them fresh out of the oven, but wait to make your final judgement until the next day. Enjoy!

 

Homemade Girl Scout Samoas

These are not healthy. At all. But this recipe is one of those things that when you see it you can’t NOT do something about it. ¬†The recipe is by Just a Taste, which I found on pinterest. Oh, how I love pinterest – I am pretty sure I’d be a much better med student if it didn’t¬†exist…but my belly, husband, and blog would not be nearly as happy. Save this for a rainy day and enjoy in¬†moderation.

Homemade Samoas Girl Scout Cookies

Nutella Fudge

I made this with my friends Megan and Steph last December and it was amazing! Very rich and easy to make. The sea salt adds a special something, so be sure not to leave it out! I first found this at Two Peas and Their Pod, but it directs you to Tasty Kitchen for the recipe.

Nutella Fudge
Recipe from Tasty Kitchen

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (we used Mexican vanilla extract and I highly recommend it)
  • 8 oz high-quality bittersweet (60%) chocolate chips
  • 1 cup Nutella at room temp.
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Sea salt

Directions

  1. Spray an 8′ x 8″ baking pan. Line with parchment paper, leaving overlap on each side.
  2. Set-up a double boiler*. Keep the water just simmering.
  3. Add the chocolate chips and stir until almost melted. Stir continuously to prevent burning.
  4. Add the milk, vanilla, nutella, and butter, stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth.
  5. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and spread smooth with a spatula. Sprinkle with sea salt and refrigerate until firm (about 2 hours).
  6. Once the fudge is firm, try to lift out the parchment paper and fudge. STOP if you notice and resistance ‚Äď run a knife under hot water and then run it along the edges of the pan to loosen the fudge. Once it is lifted out, peel off the parchment paper and cut the fudge into 3/4: squares. Store in the¬†refrigerator.

*To make a double boiler, take a large pan and fill the bottom with a few inches of water. Bring to a simmer. Place a glass or ceramic bowl on top ‚Äď it should be slightly bigger than the pan so it won‚Äôt fall in, but not too big that it could roll off. This allows you to melt chocolate or heat milk without it burning ‚Äď you should never melt chocolate directly in a pan. The water in the pan should NEVER touch the bottom of the bowl ‚Äď if it does you either used too much water or too small of a pan.

Nutella Fudge

I made this with my friends Megan and Steph last December and it was amazing! Very rich and easy to make. The sea salt adds a special something, so be sure not to leave it out! I first found this at Two Peas and Their Pod, but it directs you to Tasty Kitchen for the recipe.

Nutella Fudge
Recipe from Tasty Kitchen

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (we used Mexican vanilla extract and I highly recommend it)
  • 8 oz high-quality bittersweet (60%) chocolate chips
  • 1 cup Nutella at room temp.
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Sea salt

Directions

  1. Spray an 8′ x 8″ baking pan. Line with parchment paper, leaving overlap on each side.
  2. Set-up a double boiler*. Keep the water just simmering.
  3. Add the chocolate chips and stir until almost melted. Stir continuously to prevent burning.
  4. Add the milk, vanilla, nutella, and butter, stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth.
  5. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and spread smooth with a spatula. Sprinkle with sea salt and refrigerate until firm (about 2 hours).
  6. Once the fudge is firm, try to lift out the parchment paper and fudge. STOP if you notice and resistance ‚Äď run a knife under hot water and then run it along the edges of the pan to loosen the fudge. Once it is lifted out, peel off the parchment paper and cut the fudge into 3/4: squares. Store in the¬†refrigerator.

*To make a double boiler, take a large pan and fill the bottom with a few inches of water. Bring to a simmer. Place a glass or ceramic bowl on top ‚Äď it should be slightly bigger than the pan so it won‚Äôt fall in, but not too big that it could roll off. This allows you to melt chocolate or heat milk without it burning ‚Äď you should never melt chocolate directly in a pan. The water in the pan should NEVER touch the bottom of the bowl ‚Äď if it does you either used too much water or too small of a pan.