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December 31, 2011

Popular Posts of 2011 (and some personal favorites!)

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I can't believe I've had this blog for a little over eight months already!  It's been a huge joy to make and post recipes for you all, and I can't wait for what 2012 may hold (although I have a pretty good idea already...)

When I was younger, I never really had a hobby.  I had a small taste when it came to playing instruments and I dipped my feet into the sports realm, but nothing really stuck.  It wasn't until last year where I finally found my hobby:
baking and cooking up sweet and healthy confections!

It's funny how much a simple hobby can inspire you in your everyday life.  Baking, and this blog, inspired me to give a little more effort in college and try a little harder in living a healthy, active lifestyle.  I am motivated to get that A in nutrition, chemistry and other classes.  I am motivated to go to the gym and reward myself with secretly healthy foods.

Since the majority of us make new years resolutions to live a healthier lifestyle, I hope these ten most popular recipes of mine will help you get that foot in the door!

Okay, so those were my ten most popular recipes, but here are a few recipes that I feel should be on that list!  These are listed in the order of my personal favorites, hehe  :)

I'm definitely looking forward to an indulgent, yet healthy new year!

December 30, 2011

Chocolate Almond Rum Brownies

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I've gotta say, I'm pretty picky when it comes to brownies.  I'm obsessed with the paper-thin crinkly layer that forms in the oven.  I adore the sugary, fudgey inside that spew the true essence of chocolate.  These brownies are definitely sweet and fudgey, but they lack that paper-thin crinkly surface feature.  Nonetheless, they are as chocolatey as one could ever dream!

and did I mention, they're also alcohol-y?  ;D  The rum liqueur definitely added some elegance to the final product.  This isn't any old brownie from the bakery!

^^ to make up for the missing crinkle layer, I just shaved some chocolate on top.

You'd be surprised about what chocolate can compensate for....

Chocolate Almond Rum Brownies:  [high fiber/protein, GF, vegan]
(fills 2 brownie pans)
    160g (1 cup) Brown Rice Flour
    156g (1+1/2 cups) Soy Protein Powder
    96g (1 cup) Old Fashioned Rolled Oats, blended to a flour (GF if you like)
    144 (1+1/2 cups) Old Fashioned Rolled Oats, left whole
    80g (1 cup) Regular Cocoa Powder
    3/4 cup Granulated Erythritol
    13g (2 tbs) Ground Flaxseed
    1 tbs Baking Powder
    2 tsp Instant Coffee
    2 tsp Baking Soda
    1/2 tsp Salt
Wet I:
    255g (3/5 package) Firm Tofu, drained and pressed
    1 cup Almond Rum Liqueur (I used Guavaberry)
    984g (4 cups) Unsweetened Applesauce
    4 tsp Vanilla Extract
    2 tsp Chocolate Extract
    1 tsp Butter Extract
    1/2 tsp Almond Extract
    1 tbs Apple Cider Vinegar
Wet II:
    4oz 100% Cacao Unsweetened Chocolate
    4oz 64% Cacao Chocolate
    56g (1/4 cup) Grapeseed Oil (or any other neutral oil)
    168g (1/2 cup) Agave Nectar

*NOTE:  this is a high altitude recipe (for about 3,000 feet), so if you live at sea level don't attempt this recipe without making some adjustments!

1.  Spray your baking tins (I used a cake pan as I was expecting a cake, but it turned out like brownies!) with PAM and preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
2.  In a very large mixing bowl, add all the dry ingredients and stir until mixture is homogeneous
3.  In a blender, add the tofu, rum, applesauce, extracts and apple cider vinegar.  Pour into a large mixing bowl
4.  In a microwave safe bowl, add the chocolate and melt at 30-second intervals, stirring in between each one until melted.  Add the oil and agave and stir until mixture is even.  Add this to the rest of the wet ingredients in the large mixing bowl and stir until even
5.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix/fold until all the dry is incorporated.  The mixture should be very thick, like a paste.  Scoop and spread the mixture into the baking pans as well as you can, bake for 80 minutes or until a knife comes out clean
6.  When brownies are done baking, flip pan over onto a plate and leave it like that overnight

Brownies are best eaten a day after baking!  The chocolate flavor intensifies and the strength of the liqueur is reduced.

Pure deliciousness.

December 23, 2011

Chocolate Fudge Brownie Oatmeal

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I've always heard about how healthy oatmeal is and how it can lower your cholesterol, keep you fuller for longer, etc etc etc, but for the life of me I could not get over my first experience with it:  I bought the instant stuff, Quakers I think, and even all the sugar and flavorings didn't help the blandness of the oatmeal.  I ended up adding even more sugar to the bowl and a bunch of unhealthy add-ins which kinda defeated the purpose of a healthy bowl of oatmeal, right?

Well, last month, I decided I was going to have a bowl of oatmeal every day...  I had to make it taste good if that was my goal!  It's been quite some time since my horrible "oatmeal experience," and since then I've learned that the instant stuff isn't oatmeal at all, it's more like 80% filler and 20% broken oat pieces.

My journey began with some old-fashioned, plain oats in a bowl with some milk, microwaved for two minutes.
It smelled pretty...  boring.

I added cinnamon, tasted it, and added some more along with some stevia.  It tasted a little better, but after a few bites I had to struggle to eat my way through the entire bowl.  Nothing I added helped--nutmeg, stevia, extracts--it was torture.  I just wanted a simple microwave oatmeal that I could make every morning.  And that's when I (naturally) started thinking of chocolate!

Not only is this oatmeal sugar-free, but it's 100% healthy, balanced and filling.

Chocolate Fudge Brownie Oatmeal:  [sugar free, low fat, high fiber/protein, GF, vegan]
(serves one)

   1/2 cup Old Fashioned Rolled Oats (GF if you like)
   2 tbs Dark Cocoa Powder (unsweetened)
   3-4 packets Truvia (or dry sweetener of choice)
   1 cup Milk of choice (skim milk, almond milk, soymilk, etc)
   15 drops Stevia Extract (to taste, optional)
   1 scoop Chocolate Protein Powder

1)  Put the oats, cocoa and erythritol into a large, microwave safe bowl.  Pour enough milk (I usually use 3/4 cup) over the mixture and stir until you make a thick sludge (note:  I like to cook the oatmeal into a cookie sort of thing for texture)
2)  Microwave for 2 minutes and 10-30 seconds (I have to stop the microwave after 1 minute and 30 seconds because the oatmeal tends to boil over and I don't feel like cleaning up chocolate sludge all over the microwave!)... add another 20-30 seconds if you like soft oatmeal, or 40-50 seconds longer if you like porridge
3)  Mix the rest of the milk (about 1/4 cup) with the stevia and protein powder (the more the creamier!) in a glass with a spoon, stirring and pressing on the clumps until dissolved.  Pour over the oatmeal and stir until all is incorporated

Did I mention that this oatmeal "challenge" is the easiest challenge ever??  It's basically like a chocolate dessert for breakfast!

December 16, 2011

Homemade Peppermint Mocha

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My friend (an employee at Starbucks) got me hooked on Starbucks' Peppermint Mochas.  They taste like hot chocolate rather than coffee, and the peppermint is just so refreshing.  It's starting to get cold here in Arizona, and sometimes, green tea just doesn't cut it when it comes to warming up on your way to class.

Okay, that's a lie.  I just like chocolate and coffee   ;)

But every time I stood in that infamously long Starbucks line, I was in a bit of a dilemma:  should I get a fat- and sugar-laden peppermint mocha that will give me a sugar-rush and sugar-crash, or, get a Splenda-laden peppermint mocha?

I chose the Splenda-laden option (aka, "skinny" peppermint mocha) to save myself from the 500 calories, 18g of fat and and 68g of sugar.  Oh yeah, did I mention I order ventis?  170 calories, 2g of fat and 18g of sugar sounded a lot better to me...  until my friend told me that a skinny venti peppermint mocha has 12 pumps of syrup.  I think a packet or two of Splenda may be okay on occasion, but 12 pumps in one drink is kinda over the top, don't you think?  And um, did I also mention that I was ordering these for about two weeks straight?  Hey, I was having finals!

And who knows what kind of effect(s) 168 pumps of Splenda-syrup did to my body.  That's why I made this DIY coffee creamer.  First of all, it's Splenda-free, second, it tastes exactly the same as the Starbucks version, and third, I don't have to wait in a long line with pushy, impatient, red-eyed students in dire need of caffeine!

Homemade Peppermint Mocha:
(makes one venti serving)

    3 tbs Dried Nonfat Milk Powder
    2 tbs Dark Cocoa Powder (unsweetened)
    3-6 packets Truvia (or sweetener of choice)
    2 cups HOT Coffee
    10 drops Peppermint Flavor
    15-18 drops Stevia Extract (I use 18 drops, or you can use more Truvia)

1.  In a large mug, stir together the milk powder, cocoa powder and truvia.
2.  Pour a few tablespoons of hot coffee into the mug and stir with a fork until all is mixed.  Add the rest of the coffee and whisk together.
3.  Add peppermint flavor and stevia extract (see notes)

1.  When making this recipe, keep in mind that I have a major sweet tooth and adore peppermint.  I find that the Starbucks' Peppermint Mochas are not pepperminty enough for me, but my friend finds them to be too pepperminty for her.  Everyone has a different taste.  If you like the Starbucks Peppermint mochas the way they are, put 5 drops of peppermint flavor in at first and adjust to your taste, same goes with the stevia.
2.  If you have a heat-safe blender, feel free to add 1/8 tsp xanthan gum (for added thickness/creaminess) to the dry ingredients and then blend in the coffee if you want to skip the whisking or if you are putting the drink in a thermos.

Now that my first semester is officially over, I can finally reunite with my family from across the country and relax with my Peppermint Mocha in hand.  Haven't had that in a long while...

December 8, 2011

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting

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You know, it's about time I made a chocolate cake!  But not just any chocolate cake, a healthy chocolate cake that is moist and decadent just like storebought mixes.

And of course, it isn't chocolate cake until you've frosted it.  But almost every frosting recipe I came across was laden with butter and powdered sugar, so I made my own recipe.  I opted for a cream cheese frosting that is secretly high in protein and low in fat.  Just keep in mind that I like frostings that the Pillsbury brand makes--you know, those tubs of tasty "stuff" that tend to be way too sweet and much to rich.  That's why I love this homemade frosting!  The taste and texture is practically identical.

Can you see how moist the cake is?

And would you believe me if I told you this is healthy enough for breakfast?

  It's got oats, just like a morning bowl of oatmeal.
  It's got tofu, a good source of protein.
  It's got protein powder, like you had a protein smoothie for breakfast.
  It's got applesauce, like you had some fruit...
  and the list goes on.

Although, most people can't handle such decadence in the morning, but I can.  When I was younger I used to eat chocolate bars on my way to school, so I'm used to it, I guess.  I mean, it's chocolate cake for breakfast!  Yes.  Please?  Thank you!

When I told my friend I had chocolate cake for breakfast, she thought I was insane, but that's because she doesn't have a sweet tooth like me us.   ;)

Chocolate Cake:  [high fiber/protein, GF]
(makes one 9" cake)

      80g (1/2 cup) Brown Rice Flour
       48g (1/2 cup) Old Fashioned Rolled Oats, blended to a flour (GF if you like)
       40g (1/2 cup) Dark Cocoa Powder (unsweetened)
       60g (3/4 cup) Whey Protein Concentrate
       72g (3/4 cup) Old Fashioned Rolled Oats, left whole
       72g (6 tbs) Sucanat
       6g (1 tbs) Ground Flaxseed
       1 tsp Instant Coffee
       1/2 tbs Baking Powder
       1 tsp Baking Soda
       1/4 tsp Salt

   Wet I:
       128g (1.5/5 servings) Firm Tofu, drained and pressed
       1/2 cup Skim Milk
       246g (1 cup) Unsweetened Applesauce
       1/2 tbs Vanilla Paste
       1 tsp Chocolate Extract
       1 tsp Hazelnut Extract (or more vanilla)
       1/2 tsp Butter Extract
       1/4 tsp Almond Extract
       2+1/2 tsp Stevia Extract
       1/2 tbs Apple Cider Vinegar

   Wet II:
       2oz 100% Cacao Unsweetened Chocolate
       2oz 60% Cacao Chocolate
       28g (2 tbs) Grapeseed Oil (or any other neutral oil)
       84g (1/4 cup) Honey

*NOTE:  this is a high altitude recipe (for about 2,500 feet), so if you live at sea level don't attempt this recipe without making some adjustments to the liquid and baking soda level!

1)  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and spray your cake pan with PAM
2)  Whisk all the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl
3)  Puree the tofu with the milk, and pour into a medium mixing bowl.  Add the applesauce, vanilla paste and extracts (exclude the vinegar for now)
4)  Melt the chocolate in the microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring in between each one, until all is melted.  Add the oil and honey and stir until smooth and glossy.  Add this (every last drop) to the medium mixing bowl and whisk until incorporated
5)  Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and fold until mixed.  Vigorously beat the batter with your whisk for about 20 seconds so that all the clumps break apart.  Pour into the cake pan and flatten with your spatula.  Bake for 40ish minutes, or until a cake-tester/toothpick comes out clean and the top of the cake bounces back when you poke it (sorry I don't have an exact time, other people were baking cookies at the same time as me and the oven door was opening/closing for a bit).  Cover the cake with a towel until mostly cooled, then cover with some tin foil and leave at room temp over night.

The next day, make the frosting!

Chocolate Frosting:
       4oz Fat Free Cream Cheese
       28g (2 tbs) Coconut Oil, soft
       1 tsp Vanilla Extract
       2 tbs Skim Milk
       10g (2 tbs) Dark Cocoa Powder (unsweetened)
       64g (2 scoops) Chocolate Protein Powder
       180g (1+1/2 cups) Powdered Erythritol
       pinch of Salt

1)  Put all of the ingredients into a medium/large mixing bowl and beat with a hand mixer on high until fluffy.  Make sure to taste it to see if you like it.  If it's not sweet enough, add some more erythritol.  If it's not chocolatey enough, add more cocoa powder or protein powder.
2)  Pour on top of the center of the cake and slowly spread out to the sides.  It will slowly run down the sides if you push it too much, so be careful when spreading.  When the cake is completely covered, quickly put it in the fridge for 5-10 minutes to firm up... your cake is now ready, so slice and enjoy!

For those of you at sea level, I promise you, I will bake this again and post the sea-level-altitude recipe for you.
You just can't miss out on this chocolatey goodness.

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