Category Archives: Healthy Options

No-Bake Protein Granola Bites

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As I slowly attempt to get into Ironman Shape (or rather good enough shape to begin the training plan for my Ironman next year), I wanted to make some healthy snacks that I can easily refuel with after training. I’ve made a lot of date bars in the past, but I was ready for something a bit more….oatey 😀

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 1 cup crispy rice cereal (like Rice Krispies)
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup vanilla protein powder
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips (or chopped-up m&ms)
  • 3/4 cup honey or agave nectar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

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DIRECTIONS

Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl, mixing gently so the crispy rice cereal doesn’t get crushed. Mix until well-combined.

Using a cookie scoop (or roll small amounts in your hands), drop rounded tablespoonful-sized portions onto a parchment or wax paper lined cooking sheet. I used my cookie scoop and then rolled the scooped portion out between my palms. Let the granola balls firm up in the fridge for 1-2 hours.

Once hardened, place in a large tupperware-type container or ziploc bags to freeze or refrigerate. They will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to a week or for a few months in the freezer.

They taste AWESOME! I love the crispy texture that the cereal adds, and that they are so protein packed 😀

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Almond Butter Cups

Peanut butter cups….a gift from the heavens above. Unfortunately, some people are allergic to peanuts! One of these poor souls is one of my best friends, Robert. He is able to eat almond butter, so I decided to make him a close substitute, Almond Butter Cups! They taste great, and are actually healthier than traditional PB Cups. They also are insanely easy to make 😀

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, softened
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped and melted

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Set time: 25 minutes

Yield: 12 Almond Cups

Combine the first four ingredients, and mix until fully combined. Press this mixture into the bottom of a mini-cupcake tray, filing each cup 1/2 full. Don’t worry about spraying the tins, the oil from the almond butter will allow the cups to pop out once they are set. Place the trays in the fridge for about 5 minutes, Remove, and pour the melted chocolate over the top of the almond mixture, filling each cup to the top. Sprinkle a bit of sea salt onto the top of each cup, then place back in the freezer for another 20 minutes. Once set, use a sharp knife to pop the cups out of the cupcake tray. Let the cups sit out for about 5 minutes before serving, to allow the chocolate to soften slightly.

 

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Skinny Salted Caramel Banana Pudding (dairy-free)

Banana pudding is such a perfect summer dessert. It doesn’t require any time in oven, it takes minimal prep time, and it isn’t too heavy! Especially this version. I lighted it up by swapping out the heavy cream for lite Cool Whip, and mixed the almond milk with the pudding. I also increased the ratio of bananas to pudding and wafers. These little changes make a big difference, and leave you feeling great!

Pudding Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups almond milk
  • 1 package vanilla pudding (4 oz)
  • 4 large bananas, sliced
  • 1 container cool whip
  • 3 cups Nilla Wafers, crushed

Salted Caramel Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 6 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Combine the chilled almond milk with the pudding, and whisk until fully combined. Let the pudding chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

While the pudding chills, prepare the salted caramel sauce. Pour the sugar into a large, heavy-bottomed pot, and whisk until completely melted. The sugar will clump in the beginning, but don’t worry…it will melt completely with time. Allow the sugar to cook until it turns a beautiful amber color, and has a nutty aroma. I don’t have a candy thermometer, so I go completely by visual cues. At this point, remove the mixture from the heat. Whisk in the butter, then the cream. The mixture will bubble up, so be careful during this stage (I burned my finger!). The last step is to stir in the salt. Let the caramel cool to room temperature.You can store leftover caramel in a mason jar (I had about 3/4 cup left over). It will last in your fridge for about two weeks.

One the caramel is cool and the pudding has set, layer the pudding. I like to use mason jars, but a giant trifle container or stemless wineglass would work great too. Begin with a layer of pudding, followed by crushed wafers, banana slices, caramel sauce, and cool whip. Repeat until the jars are full, or you run out of ingredients 😀

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(Raw) Carrot Cake Truffles

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There aren’t many thing in life I love more than dessert… so when I can put a healthy twist on one of my favorite desserts, I am one happy girl! I discovered how versatile dates can be when I made lemon date bars last month, and I’ve been dreaming up new flavor combinations ever since. These taste just like a carrot cake cake pop, but without all the cream cheese and sugar! In fact, they’re VEGAN! I have to say, I’m pretty impressed with how they turned out.

Carrot Cake Truffles:

  • 12 oz. pitted dates
  • 1 cup almonds
  • The zest of one small orange
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
  • 2 medium carrots, finely grated
  • 1/4 cup crushed pineapple
  • additional shredded coconut and almond meal for coating

Inspiration: A Tasty Love Story

Servings: 25

Nutrition per serving:

carrot cake truffle nutrition

Add everything besides the carrots in a food processor and blend until you have a well mixed dough. Add the carrots and pulse until the carrots are mixed into the dough, but still has some texture.

Refrigerate for 1 hour, then gently use your palms to shape 3/4 inch balls. Roll the balls in whatever topping you prefer, I tested out grated coconut and almond meal. I liked the coconut coating best!

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I thought the truffles tasted wonderful. They definitely taste healthier than my normal treats, but I like that these can satisfy my sweet tooth AND leave me feeling great!

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Banana Chips

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Bananas, such a wonderful fruit. They are delicious, a great snack, fun to bake with, and are cheap! I am always looking for new recipes for bananas, and when a cupcake recipe of mine called for banana chips, I decided to make my own. It’s actually incredibly easy, they just take a while to cook down. They make a tasty snack, or garnish.

Ingredients:

  • 2 bananas
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. water
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Slice the bananas very thin (about 1/8″).  Place slices on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper. Mix together the lemon juice, water, and salt, and brush over the banana slices. This coating will give the banana slices a crisp, “chip” texture.

Bake at 250 for approximately 1 1/2 hours, flipping the banana chips over halfway through. The long baking time is necessary, because at this temperature, the oven will act more as a dehydrator than an oven. Baking times will vary depending on how thick you slice your bananas, and how crispy you prefer your banana chips to be. Keep an eye on them, and remove them from the oven when they are crisp.

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Browned Butter Sweet Potato Cupcakes with a Toasted Marshmallow Meringue

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After a lengthy conversation with my director of flavor, Stan, I realized that it’s time to test out some new flavors. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for a classic chocolate cupcake. But sometimes you need to mix it up a little, and today that meant throwing some sweet potatoes into my cupcake batter 😀 I know that it sounds a bit out there, but the natural sweetness of the sweet potatoes is complimented wonderfully by the nuttiness of the browned butter, and the medley of spices included in this recipe. The toasted marshmallow topping lightens up the cupcake, and adds a playful touch. Another great thing about this recipe…it’s almost healthy! Each cupcake is only 161 calories. Just trust me, you need to try this recipe!

Sweet Potato Cupcake Batter:

  • 1/2 cup browned butter, cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cooked, mashed sweet potatoes
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature

Marshmallow Meringue:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 egg white

Yield: 24 cupcakes

Calories: 161 per cupcake

Fat: 4.4 grams Carbs: 28.5 g Fiber: 0.6 g Protein: 2.6 grams

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 muffin cups with cupcake liners. Beat butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until fluffy. Add room-temperature eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to blend into the butter mixture before adding the next. Blend in vanilla extract and sweet potatoes. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in a bowl. Add half the flour to the sweet potato mixture, stirring just until incorporated. Blend in the milk and the remaining flour mixture. Fill prepared cupcake tins 2/3 full, and bake in preheated oven until tops spring back when touched lightly with a finger and a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes. Cool on rack.

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In a double boiler, whisk together the egg whites and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved and the egg whites are warm to the touch, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat, and continue to beat until the egg whites form stiff, shiny peaks (about 5 minutes). Let the meringue cool fully before spooning over the top of the cooled cupcakes. Place cupcakes in broiler for 1-2 minutes, until the tops are just toasted. If desired, add a small dollop of meringue and sprinkle candied walnuts on top. I added the nuts last minute, because I thought the cupcake needed a textural component. I HIGHLY recommend adding nuts to the top of the cupcakes, or into the batter 😀

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Cheesecake Swirled (Black Bean) Brownies

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I have been feeling relatively adventurous in my kitchen lately, and decided it was time to expand my baking repertoire. These cheesecake swirled black bean brownies are a wonderful balance between a healthy treat and indulgence. And I SWEAR, the black beans are undetectable. The ingredients include:

Brownie Base:

  • 3 cups black beans
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder — dutch or regular
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2/3 cup agave syrup
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut or vegetable oil
  • 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Cheesecake Swirl:

  • 2 (8 oz.) Packages of cream cheese (softened)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

Yield: 28 medium sized brownies

Calories: 230 per piece

Protein: 7 grams

Directions:

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine all ingredients except chips in a good food processor, and blend until completely smooth. Stir in the chips, then pour into a greased, foiled, 9×13 pan.

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In a large bowl, combine all the fillings for the cheesecake swirl. Mix on a medium speed with a hand mixer, until all ingredients are incorporated. The mixture should be relatively thick. Pour this over the brownie batter, and gently drag a knife up and down the pan. Once done creating the swirl marks, place brownies in oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes, then let cool before cutting. For more precise cuts, use unflavored dental floss!

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The brownies were EXCELLENT!! The beans give the brownie a wonderfully thick, fudgy texture…which is just how I like my brownies! The cheesecake also helps jazz them up, and no one had a clue what the “secret indredient” was! I will definitely be baking with black beans in the future 😀