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 🙂

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.

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.

Sunday Food Prep

sunday food prep

Sundays are busy days at our house. J  cleans (could I be any luckier?!) while I cook up a storm in the kitchen. During rotations I just don’t have time to cook during the week. And if I do have time, I really don’t want to slave away in the kitchen after a 10-12 hour day. Here is an example of what we eat for the week:

Back Left – Salads

  • Fresh lettuce washed and chopped, ready to eat
  • Celery sticks, washed and trimmed
  • Cucumbers and Tomatoes, washed and diced, ready for salads

Front Left – snacks

Center – Breakfast and Lunch

  • Roasted mixed vegetables with wheat pasta and balsamic vinegar. Roasted veggies are so easy – just throw them in a large pan, toss with olive oil and spices, and roast at 425F for 30 minutes stirring every 10 minutes or so to prevent burning.
  • Egg Bakes – the easiest way to get a vegetable serving in before 7am

Back Right – Dinner

  • Crock pot chili, half for this week and for the freezer for a week when I don’t want to cook 😉

Front Right – Dessert

  • Black bean brownies, because pregnant women love chocolate and desserts…and since I’m a dietitian I will feel less guilty if I know they are full of nutritious black beans.

 

 

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.

Peanut Butter Bean Bars

The second I saw these blondies I had to make them. Then I reminded myself that all thing in moderation and I decided to wait a few weeks. Well worth the wait. These dense, delicious treats taste nothing like beans and completely like peanut butter cookies. This is the perfect way to sneak in extra fiber and nutrition while also cutting out unnecessary starch. You’re family will never guess these are grain-free.

peanutbutterbeanbars3

Delicious Peanut Butter Bean Bars
Adapted from Ambitious Kitchen’s Flour-less Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies

Ingredients

  • 1 (15oz) can garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas), drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 ts baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup chopped nuts*
    the original recipe called for chocolate chips but I wanted something less sweet. You can use anything here, or omit this all together. 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a small square baking pan (8″ x 8″) with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a food processor, chop the nuts if they are not yet chopped. Remove and set aside.
  3. Spray the food processor with cooking spray (lightly). Add the remaining ingredients to the food processor and process on high  until the batter is smooth (this took about 5 minutes).
  4. Add nuts and fold in with a spatula.
  5. Spread mixture into the baking pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned and pull from the sides.
  6. Cool in the pan completely. Cut into 12 squares. Enjoy!

Note: if you want to make edible cookie dough or cookie dough dip, stop after step 4. The dough is completely safe to eat at this point. Perfect for pregnant moms-to-be who miss their raw cookie dough 🙂

Sweet Veggies

I realized it has been a while since I’ve posted some tasty treat recipes. With the CSA, my mind usually gravitates towards savory dishes unless there is something inherently sweet included (melon, berries). There are so many delicious dessert recipes that are made with vegetables that are really the best of both worlds – sweet and healthy (and usually chocolate).

Zucchini

Summer squash

Cabbage

Kale

Avocado

Rhubarb

Carrots

Beans

Winter Squash/Sweet Potatoes

 

Frozen Yogurt Fruit Bars

When I first saw these frozen yogurt trail mix bars over at The Lean Green Bean, I knew I had to make them. J and I love, love, LOVE frozen treats. I wanted to finish that sentence with “in the summer”  but realized that we really just love them all the time. I whipped a quick batch together during my 3 hour CSA food prep marathon last Tuesday. We got a pint of fresh raspberries in the CSA and I knew I had to act quick, or else they would be gone before I got around to making the bars.

We didn’t have any granola on hand, so I first had to throw that together. I used this simple recipe as a guide and just crumbled some of the bars for granola. I also didn’t use Greek yogurt because I had non-fat on hand. These turned out really good, but I’m sure they weren’t as good as the real thing – fat free dairy gets very icy in the freezer, where yogurt with a little “junk in the trunk” will be nice and creamy.

100_1580Frozen Yogurt Fruit Bars
Recipe adapted from The Lean Green Bean

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fat free, plain yogurt
  • 1 cup fat free vanilla yogurt
  • 1 pint fresh raspberries
  • 1 cup granola*

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, mix the two yogurts together. Add raspberries and 1/2 the granola.
  2. Prepare a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Pour mixture on the foil and spread to be 1″ thick. Top with remaining granola.
  3. Place pan in the freezer. After an hour or two, remove from freezer and check how frozen the bars are. Our freezer wasn’t super cold, so they were still a little soft. I used this as an opportunity to score them, making it easier to cut later.
  4. Return to the freezer until solid. Cut into bars and place bars into a freezer container. Store in the freezer.

Kitchen Sink Granola
Adapted from this recipe

Ingredients

  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 ½ cup oatmeal
  • 1 cup sliced almonds

Directions

  1. Place honey, molasses, and peanut butter in a pan and slowly heat. Stir constantly. Bring to a light boil and reduce heat, continuing to stir.
  2. Add almond extract and cinnamon; stir well. Add oats and almonds; stir well and remove from heat.
  3. Firmly press into a lightly greased baking pan and let cool. To make them crunchier, bake for 20 minutes at 350F.

Lemon Walnut Cake with Berries [gluten-free]

Flourless Walnut Cake with Lemon Frosting and Fresh Berries
Adapted from Simply Recipe’s Flourless almond cake

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs, separated into 4 yolks and 4 whites
  • 1/2 tsp pure lemon extract
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup white sugar, divided into 1/4 cup and 1/4 cup
  • 1 1/2 cup ground walnut flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder (freshness counts!)
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Fresh berries

    Frosting:
  • 1 8-ounce package of neufchatel cheese
  • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pure lemon extract
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Directions

  1. Separate the eggs directly from the refrigerator; they separate better then cold. You need the egg whites to be room temperature when you use them later, so separate them first, place the egg yolks in a medium bowl and the whites in a large bowl. 
  2. Preheat over to 350F. Place a round of parchment paper on the bottom of a 9″ cake pan. Spray with cooking spray and set aside.
    **Using a springform pan can help make removing the cake from the pan much easier. I did not and my cake wouldn’t come out in one piece 😦
  3. walnut cake2Add lemon extract and 1/4 cup to the egg yolks. Beat well until smooth.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk flour, cinnamon, and baking powder. Add to the egg yolk bowl and beat until smooth. Your mixture will be thick (see picture).
  5. With clean beaters that are room temperature, begin beating the egg whites on low speed. Slowly increase the speed to medium until you see bubbles. At this point, add a pinch of salt and the vinegar. Continue to beat, but now on high. The egg whites with now appear white instead of clear and will start looking thicker. As they increase in volume, sprinkle 1/4 cup of sugar to help stabilize. Continue to beat until “soft peaks” form. These are when you stop the beaters and lift them out the egg white mixture will peak up and then fold back on itself. I tried to take pictures, but this is a much better resource.
    walnut cake - egg whiteswalnut cake - egg whites 3walnut cake - egg whites 6

 
walnut cake - egg whites 9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Fold the beaten egg whites into the almond mixture, one large spoonful at a time. After a few spoonfuls you will notice the egg whites are “lifting” the dense batter you started with.
  2. Carefully pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes. Let cool. To help remove the cake from the pan, use a knife around the edges.
    walnut cake - baked
  3. To make the frosting, beat neufchatel cheese, powdered sugar, lemon extract, and lemon juice. If the batch makes more than what you need, you can store the extra in the refrigerator.
  4. When the cake is cool, frost with lemon frosting and top with fresh berries.

walnut cake - mini (3)

Unfortunately, my cake crumbled to pieces when I tried to remove it. My solution? Press the nice, light cake into cupcake paper, add lemon cream, and top with berries You could eat it like this, but I wanted to see if I could get it to form together, so I baked it at 350F for 15 minutes. It worked well, but the cake is fine, so be sure to eat it with a fork, even though it is a cupcake.

Looking for some other ideas to use up your summer berries? Check these out:

White balsamic custard tart

Strawberry shortcake shooters

Roasted Summer Fruit Pizza

Summer Berry Tartlets

ROY pops

Two of my nieces were over and wanted to make something from my “Tasty Treats” pinterest board.  Since they are too young for Jack Daniels’ whisky caramels or chocolate Guiness treats (brownies, cheesecake?!) we opted for a summer favorite – Popsicles! I had fresh strawberries on hand from our CSA, peaches were on sale at the store, and a can of pineapple is less than a dollar – how can we go wrong? This was time involved, but the kids loved them. They wanted to make them for our weekly family night, and were so proud to give everyone their tasty treat. Lilly started calling them ROY pops since they were 1/2 the rainbow. Since it was a last minute project, they were a little make shift – plastic cups for the mold and plastic spoons for the stick. If you plan to do these, I would recommend just buying a few Popsicle molds.

IMG_0250

Ingredients

  • 1 pound strawberries
  • 3 ripe peaches
  • 1 cup plain non-fat yogurt (no added sugar or fake sugar – just the good old plain sour yogurt)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 can chunked pineapple (as you can see in the picture the pineapple layer was smaller than the others, so you might want to use 2 cans)

Directions

  1. Puree the strawberries in a food processor until smooth. Scoop into the molds so they are 1/3 full. Place the molds in the freezer for 1 hour.
  2. While you wait, puree the peaches (including the skin). Add in yogurt and honey and mix well. Place this in the freezer while you wait for the molds to harden up a bit. This gives the layer a head start 🙂
  3. After the first hour, remove the molds and your peach mixture from the freezer. Add peach mixture to fill the container another 1/3.  Return to the freezer for 30 minutes.
  4. While you wait, puree the pineapple (including the juice) and place it in the freezer to start cooling.
  5. After 30 minutes, remove the molds and pineapple from the freezer. Add pineapple to top off the popsicles. Freeze for at least 4 hours.