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July 31, 2012

"Nutella" Chocolate Candy Cups

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As IF  I had my fill of healthy Nutella!  That's just not possible.  I could eat the stuff straight up.

Wait, I did... and if you remember, I perhaps... may have... just possibly ate it off a knife.  Oh my, chocolate makes you do craaazzyy things sometimes.

So I made these candy cups in attempt to consume my Nutella in a safer manner.  Because a thick, sweet chocolate shell totally means this is safe...

(not)



I made my homemade Nutella as soon as I ran out (obviously), and serving them in a chocolate casing just sounded natural to me.  Each cup is sweet, creamy and absolutely delicious.  Yum!


"Nutella" Chocolate Candy Cups:  [no bake, sugar free, GF, vegan*]
(makes 8 cups)
    3.5oz Sugar Free Milk Chocolate*, melted
    1/3 cup Homemade Nutella

Directions:
1.  Spoon about ~2 tsp of melted chocolate into this mold or muffin liners and spread to make a chocolate base and chocolate "walls."  Freeze for 30 minutes to an hour, or until chocolate is completely firm.
2.  Spoon ~1 tbs of the Nutella into each well, or until it comes close to the tops of the chocolate "walls," and flatten the surface by tapping the mold or liner on the counter a few times.
3.  Spoon ~1 tsp of melted chocolate onto the Nutella and spread until it touches the tops of the chocolate "walls."  Refrigerate for at least 3 hours (the longer the better though, I know it's tough to wait!).  Pop each cup onto a nice plate and serve (best when served chilled)

*I've seen vegan milk chocolate at Whole Foods, health foods stores and online, but you may use any chocolate you like.


Feel free to stir in some chopped hazelnuts into the "Nutella" and fill the chocolate cups with that!


Mmmm, enjoy  :)

July 28, 2012

Lemony Peach Blondies with Peach Frosting

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There are certain things in life that seem to capture memorable moments just perfectly.  These blondies?  They capture summer, warm weather, happiness and comfort in each square.  Every bite is as sweet as can be, with a calming peach flavor and refreshing hint of lemon.

Chewy, ultimately rich and undeniably decadent.



While you can reminisce the summer at any time, wouldn't you like to taste summer all year around?  Well now you can, because these blondies are made with canned peaches!  Just as flavorful and just as nutritious as fresh peaches themselves, but without the wait for summer fruit to come along.

This is a must-make recipe if you're looking for sweet indulgence without the butter, sugar, excess calories and guilt!


Lemony Peach Blondies with Peach Frosting:  [sugar free, eggless, GF, vegan]
(makes 9 blondies)

   Blondies:
      two 15oz cans Sliced Peaches (in 100% juice)
      96g (1/2 cup) Granulated Erythritol (or dry sweetener of choice)
      42g (3 tbs) Grapeseed Oil (or any other neutral oil)
      2 tsp Lemon Zest
      3/4 tsp Stevia Extract*

      160g (1 cup) Brown Rice Flour
      120g (1 cup) Oat Flour (GF if you like)
      1 tsp Xanthan Gum
      scant 1/4 tsp Salt

   Frosting:
      180g (1+1/2 cups) Powdered Erythritol
      1/4 cup + 2-3 tbs Peach Puree, reserved from puree made for blondies

*I used 1 tsp and these were very sweet.  Perfect for me, but probably too much for most people.  If you like mildly sweet desserts, omit the stevia but definitely keep the frosting!

Directions:
1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a 9" brownie pan with parchment paper both ways and set aside (or spray with cooking spray)
2.  Drain the canned peaches as best you can (just shake the strainer, do not rinse) and puree in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Measure 1+1/4 cups of the puree and pour into a large mixing bowl.  Reserve the extra puree!
3.  Whisk the erythritol, oil, lemon zest and stevia into the peach puree.
4.  In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the brown rice flour, oat flour, xanthan gum and salt.  Dump into the wet ingredients and fold together (batter should be thick, doughy and sticky).
5.  Scoop batter into the prepared brownie pan and spread to the edges**.  Bake for ~30 minutes, or until the edges have browned and surface is firm (my blondies formed a weird bubble layer in the oven which deflated when cooling, it was not detectable when eating though, so no need to worry if you see the same thing!)
6.  Let blondies cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then remove to cool onto a wire cooling rack (they will be bendable as of now but will firm up when completely cool)
7.  For the frosting, add the erythritol to a bowl, top with the peach puree and stir.  Start with 1/4 cup and add more puree as needed.  Spread onto the cooled blondies, refrigerate for 10 minutes to firm the frosting, then slice!  Store covered in the fridge for up to 3 days.

**I am super OCD/anal and it took me a solid 5 minutes to spread the batter out perfectly flat.  But these blondies were so good, despite the hassle, that I would certainly make them again!

Note:  Okay, confession time.  I used canned peaches because, well, I'm scared of fresh peaches.  They're fuzzy, they have a giant pit in the center, and I had a bad experience with one as a child (aka, I bit into a rotten one) which I will never forget!  If you want to utilize the fresh peaches that are in season as of now, I would recommend using very ripe peaches and make sure to peel them.  When pureeing the peaches, look for a nice and silky texture with the viscosity of a smoothie, not super thick like a milkshake.




These blondies look and taste so incredibly unhealthy, it's hard to believe they are only 200 calories each.  Not to mention, each square contains 3g of fiber, 4g of complete protein, and only 7g of natural sugar from the peaches.  



Enjoy!

July 26, 2012

Pink Berry Cherry Almond Oatmeal Cookie/Muffin Tops

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After finishing the last of those Blue Blueberry Oatmeal Cookie/Pancake/Muffin Tops, I was dying to bake them again, and soon.  Even though they didn't turn out like cookies like I had hoped, I found myself craving that chewy, muffin-y texture the following days.  Jenny D commented on the post saying she made the muffin tops using cherry jam instead of blueberry, and after reading that I knew I had to give that flavor a try.




And they were absolutely delicious!  Thanks Jenny  :)  I kept the basic recipe the same but swapped a few ingredients.  Instead of blueberry fruit spread I used cherry fruit spread, and since I love cherry and almond together I added a little almond extract.  I omitted the stevia because I was pretty sure they would be sweet enough on their own, however, they were just mildly sweet... similar to a slice of bread with some jam spread on it.  If you want sweet muffin tops add 1/4 teaspoon of stevia extract.

I also replaced the oil with raw almond butter, since doing so creates a complete protein (a protein that contains all the essential amino acids for muscle growth and maintenance within the body) from the combination of almonds + oats.  Since these muffin tops are a complete protein, they are the perfect snack for vegans, those allergic to soy, and those who don't consume animal products.



As you can see in the recipe below, I used both cherry and blackberry fruit spread.  I wanted to use only cherry but ran out at the 171g mark, so I used blackberry spread for the rest.  If you use all cherry fruit spread, expect brighter reddish-pink muffin tops, and if you use all blackberry, expect a dark purple color similar to the Blueberry version.  No matter what color though, these will be both beautiful and delicious!


Pink Berry Cherry Almond Oatmeal Cookie/Muffin Tops:  [eggless, sugar free, high fiber, GF, vegan]
adapted from the blueberry version     (makes 11 giant muffin tops)

    1/2 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
    26g (1/4 cup) Ground Flaxseed

    171g (1/2 cup + 1 tbs) Cherry Fruit Spread* (100% fruit)
    114g (1/4 cup + 2 tbs) Blackberry Fruit Spread* (100% fruit)
    96g (6 tbs) Raw Almond Butter
    1/2 tsp Almond Extract

    144g (1.5 cups) Old Fashioned Rolled Oats, blended to a coarse flour (GF if you like)
    96g (1 cup) Old Fashioned Rolled Oats, left whole
    96g (1/2 cup) Granulated Erythritol (or dry sweetener of choice)
    1/4 tsp Baking Soda
    1/4 tsp Salt

*Like I explained above, I wanted to use all cherry jam but ran out at the 171g mark so I had to use blackberry for the rest.  If using all cherry fruit spread measure 1 cup and remove 1 tbs (even though I'm sure you can keep the extra tablespoon in without changing the texture too much) and expect brighter red/pink cookies.

Directions:
1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
2.  In a small microwave-safe bowl, microwave the almond milk for 25 seconds, or until very warm.  Stir in the flax and set aside to gel up.
3.  In a large mixing bowl, stir together the almond butter, fruit spreads and almond extract, set aside.
4.  In a medium-sized mixing bowl, stir together the oat flour, oats, erythritol, baking soda and salt.
5.  Add the flax gel mixture to the almond butter/fruit spread mixture and stir.  Fold in the dry ingredients.
6.  Drop spoonfuls of the batter onto the prepared cookie sheet (I put six muffin tops on each pan and baked one pan at a time) and bake for ~18 minutes, or until the surfaces are no longer shiny and the edges have browned slightly.
7.  Transfer to a wire cooling rack and let cool completely (they are very soft straight out of the oven but will gain the muffin texture once cooled)

Store at room temp for a max of 2 days in a tightly sealed container, or for longer in the fridge.




Surprisingly, these muffin tops were unbelievably filling... probably due to the healthy fats, high fiber and protein content and lack of added sugar.  These are the perfect treats to enjoy with some coffee for breakfast.  One or two of these and you'll be good to go!

July 24, 2012

Raw Almond Butter

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I feel so guilty knowing that I ever bought nut butter from the store.  I never knew how much cheaper it is to make it at home... quite honestly, I didn't know it was possible until a few months ago.  Plus, it's super easy, incredibly convenient, and oh so fresh and healthy!

So let's calculate how much cha-ching! we save by making almond butter at home:

One 3lb bag of raw almonds costed me $10.99 at Costco (YAY for food in bulk!), with the capability of making me ~5.5 cups of raw almond butter.  That's only $1.99 per cup!

Compare that to Artisana's raw almond butter (the brand I used to buy ~1x a month), which costs $11.99 for a 16oz jar, or $5.99 per cup!



So after making this almond butter and trying to count how many jars of almond butter I've gone through (and extra dollars I've spent) over the years, I want to slap myself.  Hard.

But you don't have to slap yourself for wasting any money, because now you can make almond butter at home too  :)


Raw Almond Butter:
(makes about 1.5 cups)
   3 cups Raw, unsalted Almonds

Directions:
1.  Add the almonds to a food processor and pulse to chop.
2.  Blend the chopped almonds for about 10-15 minutes, scraping the sides when necessary.
3.  Add salt or stevia/sweetener to taste (I didn't, but it all depends on taste) and scoop/pour into a pretty sealable jar.  Store tightly sealed in the fridge.

Note:  I used a 4-cup processor (yes it's small and anal retentive, but it works!) that recommends running for a max of 60 seconds, so it took me a little longer than it would a person with a normal sized processor.  However, the process is actually kinda fun so I didn't mind the extra 5 minutes or so.  While you process, note that a ball of nut butter will form, which I hear is totally normal so don't worry if that happens to you, just split it up while you scrape down the sides of the processor.  After processing a few more times the ball will disappear.  When it looks nice and buttery, just run it a couple minutes longer to make sure it'll stay like that after refrigeration.




Enjoy!

July 20, 2012

Peanut Butter Fudge Protein Bars

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Seeing how much I love peanut butter, there's no questioning why I loved those Peanut Butter Crunch Bars by PureFit.  Although they weren't as sweet as my tastebuds would've liked, they were packed with peanut flavor, 18g of protein and only 220 calories.

I usually reserve bars for emergency snacks only, since they aren't the most nutritious snack out there, but they are always great to have on hand since they are satisfying and filling.  I also find that bars prevent me from making bad food choices.  On one hand, I could go to the McDonald's drive thru, but on the other hand, I could whip out a delicious, chewy peanut butter bar...  I choose the peanut butter option.

But since I reserved bars for emergencies, I made excuses to be in emergencies.  For example, I would take way too much time getting ready in the morning just so I would "run late" and have a legitimate excuse to grab a couple bars on my dash out the door  ;)


But now that I'm avoiding added sugars (to the best of my ability), I have since then cut out storebought bars.  The main reason I've cut out bars though, is because I am now allergic to just about every ingredient they usually contain (like whey, casein, soy, egg white, etc).  Don't worry though, you won't be able to tell these bars are hypoallergenic, and not to mention healthy!  They taste way too sweet to be sugar free, way too fudgy to be vegan, and way too peanut buttery to be considered a diet food.  You'll definitely enjoy (maybe fall in love with?) these 6-ingredient protein bars!


Peanut Butter Fudge Protein Bars:  [no bake, sugar free, high protein, GF, vegan]
(makes 10 bars)
    128g (1/2 cup) Natural Peanut Butter (no sugar/salt/oil added)
    1 cup + 2 tbs Unsweetened Almond Milk
    10 packets Truvia* (or sweetener of choice)
    40 drops Stevia Extract*
    1/8 tsp Salt
    96g (1 cup) Old Fashioned Rolled Oats, blended to a flour (GF if you like)
    168g (8 scoops) Unflavored Brown Rice Protein Powder** (I used SunWarrior)

*If you don't have stevia, add 6-8 more packets of Truvia/sweetener of choice, or to taste.
**8 scoops = 1+1/4 cups packed.  Do not use whey protein powder in this recipe, it will be gooey and will not solidify unless you freeze it.

Directions:
1.  Line an 8" brownie pan with wax paper or parchment paper both ways and set aside.
2.  In a medium-sized stand mixer bowl, add the peanut butter and almond milk and stir (don't use a whisk attachment.  If you feel like getting an arm workout, skip the stand mixer and use a spoon and your arm!).
3.  While the mixer is stirring, add the Truvia, stevia and salt.  Still mixing, add the oat flour.  Once the oat flour has fully mixed in, add the protein powder.  Mix until all the protein powder is incorporated.
4.  Take the bowl off the stand mixer and fold the mixture with a rubber spatula to form a giant PB dough ball.  Dump into the prepared pan and flatten with the spatula (or if you're fancy, a pastry roller).  Cover and refrigerate overnight.
5.  The next day, slice into bars and store in the fridge.  If you are the on-the-go type, wrap each bar in parchment paper and tape to close, that way you can easily grab them out of the fridge.

I was never a fan of the crunch in the PureFit bars, but if you like it then add some chopped peanuts to the mix!  Feel free to add dried fruit or mini chocolate chips as well.



Since these bars were inspired by PureFit's Peanut Butter Crunch Bars, iiiiit's...

NUTRITION LABEL SHOWDOWN TIME!!

PureFit's label is on the left, Chockohlawtay's label is on the right:

     

While both bars are a healthy snack option (definitely better than a drive-thru), my bars are:
  • lower calorie, lower sodium and lower carb
  • sugar free and cholesterol free
  • high fiber and high protein
  • rich in calcium and iron
I should call these nutrition powerhouse bars!  You must make these soon, and since they are 50 gazillion times healthier than storebought bars, you don't need to make up any lame excuses like I did  ;)

July 17, 2012

Chocolate Quinoa Crackers

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Are you a chocolate lover?  If you are, I love you then you're at the right place  ;)

Skip the Wheat Thins, the Ritz, the Saltines and all the other crackers out there and make chocolate crackers instead.  These crackers are a five-ingredient wonder (technically seven ingredients, but no one counts water and salt!), they are sweet but not overly so, and obviously, they're full of chocolatey goodness!




Chocolate Quinoa Crackers:  [sugar free, high fiber, GF, vegan]
adapted from Edible Perspective's Real Food Crackers
(makes forty 1.5" crackers)

    46g (3 tbs + 1 tsp) Neutral Oil (make sure it's safe at high temps!)
    1/2 cup Water (have a few extra tablespoons handy if needed)
    136g (1 cup) Quinoa Flour
    96g (1/2 cup) Granulated Erythritol (or dry sweetener of choice)
    40g (1/2 cup) Regular Cocoa Powder (unsweetened)
    1 tsp Baking Powder
    1/4 tsp Salt

Directions:
1.  Tape down a large square of parchment paper onto your counter (I used packing tape around all four sides), then tape parchment paper around a rolling pin, set aside.  Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2.  Measure the oil and water in different bowls and set aside.
3.  In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the quinoa flour, erythritol, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.  Drizzle the oil over the mixture and rub in with your fingers until it looks a little like sand (it should smell strongly of quinoa right now, but once the water is added and the crackers are baked they will be allll chocolatey)
4.  Slowly add in the water, still mixing using your fingers.  Add enough water to form a ball (should not be too moist and should not be too dry where pieces crumble off).  Pat the dough into a ball and place on the taped down parchment paper.
5.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Roll the dough out carefully, making sure that it doesn't tear.  If it does, add a little bit more water, re-pat into a ball and roll out again.  Roll out to about 1/8" thickness.  Slice using a pizza cutter.  Transfer squares individually onto the prepared pan--about 1-2" apart--and poke holes into them using a toothpick or fork.  Bake for 10-11 minutes (they will be soft out of the oven but will become crunchy once cooled), and cool on a wire drying rack.


Next time I make these I'm going to add 1/4 teaspoon of stevia... since I know these are being made again very soon!


Mmmm, 100-calorie, crunchy, chocolatey goodness.  Yet another reason to make these again.

CHOMP

Totally delicious with peanut butter and jelly, but still great on its own.  Enjoy!

July 14, 2012

Buttery Chickpea Flax Blondies

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Have you tried the Michael Phelps diet?

Because I'm starting to think I'm on it... decadent desserts are taking over my life!
Not like that's a bad thing, of course, I sort of welcome it.

;)

Kinda like how I welcomed these blondies into my mouth kitchen.



Lately, all I've wanted are some darn good, buttery, sugary blondies.  Except I don't want the butter, the sugar and the guilt that go along with one, or in my case, three (oh, I can never stop at one).  I set out to healthify a blondie recipe, but after two failed attempts I cheated and took my black bean brownie recipe and swapped a couple ingredients.  I used chickpeas instead of black beans and oat flour instead of cocoa powder and quinoa flour.  The result?  Aaahmazing!  These blondies satisfied my cravings in every way possible, they were absolutely delicious.

Chewy, sweet, buttery and... healthy?  Oh yes.  It's like a nutrition bomb hiding in a sinful-looking and sinful-tasting package.



Buttery Chickpea Flax Blondies:  [eggless, low fat/sugar, high fiber, GF, vegan]
(makes 9 blondies)

   1/3 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
   20g (3 tbs) Ground Flaxseed

   96g (1 cup) Old Fashioned Rolled Oats (GF if you like)
   1+1/2 tsp Baking Powder
   1/2 tsp Baking Soda
   1/4 tsp Salt

   138g (1/2 cup + 1 tbs) Unsweetened Applesauce
   one 15.5oz can Garbanzo Beans, drained and rinsed well
   14g (1 tbs) Walnut Oil (or any other neutral oil)
   1 tsp Butter Extract (not optional!)
   144g (3/4 cup) Granulated Erythritol
   7g (1 tsp) Molasses
   1/2 tsp Vanilla Paste (or extract)

Directions:
1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a 9" brownie pan with parchment paper both ways, set aside.
2.  In a small bowl, heat the almond milk for 30 seconds, until hot.  Stir in the flax and set aside to gel up.
3.  In a blender or food processor, add the oats and blend to a coarse flour.  Pour this into a separate small bowl and stir in the baking powder, baking soda and salt.
4.  In a blender or food processor, add the applesauce, beans, oil, butter extract and flax gel mixture and puree until beans are completely liquified.
5.  In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the erythritol, molasses and vanilla paste until it looks like brown sugar.  Pour in the blended wet mixture and stir until sugar dissolves.  Fold in the oat flour mixture.  Pour/scoop batter into the prepared pan and spread to the edges (I tapped the pan on the counter to get the batter to the corners and flatten the surface).  Bake for 50 minutes, or until the center is firm when tapped.
6.  Let cool in the pan for about an hour, then transfer to a wire cooling rack and wrap with plastic wrap (be careful, the blondies are very soft and flimsy right now).  Leave covered at room temp overnight and slice the next day.

Note:  While these blondies are surprisingly sweet, I would suggest adding 1/2 teaspoon of stevia extract if you want them extremely sweet.  Totally doing that next time.  My sweet tooth overrides my willpower sometimes...  Also, feel free to add chocolate chips or nuts.  I didn't add those because I wanted to taste these plain to see if they were good enough.  They are  :)



I called these "Flax Blondies" because I could detect the flax a tiny bit.  I'm not a fan of flax but it's so nutritious I try to sneak it in everything possible.  Kind of like spinach, but less gross and not green.

^^ Can you believe it??

Now I don't feel bad about eating three in a row one bit.
In fact, according to the label, I'm proud of myself for indulging healthfully  :)

July 12, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Brownie Protein Bars

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I used to have this bad habit of never planning ahead.  Especially when it came to food.  My hunger would always catch me off guard and at the worst time, so I often made bad food choices.  You know what I'm talking about!  When the hunger strikes, that fatty, sugary chocolate chip muffin at the checkout counter looks better and better by the second.

Your eyes say "yes yes yes," while your body says "no no NO!"

Impulse (and my greedy little eyes) usually always won me over, and my body just said "tsk tsk tsk."

And while I felt happy and satisfied for a full twenty minutes, I felt gross and unhealthy for the entire day.  Finally, I became sick of that guilty feeling and started planning ahead.  One of the biggest steps in my transition to healthy eating.  Took me long enough!  About one hundred muffins and my entire high school career later...


I started prepping for the day by always making sure I had a snack on hand for when I was hungry.  Since I was in school, bars were the easiest foods to carry around.  They aren't bulky like a sandwich, bruisable like an apple, and perishable like yogurt.  I started buying those horrifically processed protein bars thinking they were healthy.  I saw "high protein" and "sugar free" and grabbed a couple right there.  No, I didn't check labels and ingredients back then, and I really regret doing so.  Months later, I found out these bars were comprised of unhealthy fats (partially hydrogenated oils and trans fats), sugar alcohols (which cause bloating and gas), and over a dozen ingredients that I had never heard of.

I turned to the all-natural Clif Builders bars.  I was a girl obsessed, especially for the chocolate mint flavor mmmm.  But, they were expensive (my campus food store sold them for $2.89 a piece) and contained quite a bit of sugar.  I then turned to PureFit Bars and Simply Bars for a while, but then my food allergies struck.  A protein bar sans my allergens (wheat, gluten, dairy, soy, egg, casein, walnuts, cashews, etc etc etc) is nearly impossible to come by.  I have found only one, the Organic Food Bar protein version, however they are also pricey and I go through them way too fast.

I gave up bars for a few months straight and I went through withdrawal really missed them.  I really hated bringing apples around with me.  People were probably wondering why my purse had a strange protrusion...  plus, apples aren't filling to me!  I have a fast metabolism, so an apple is like air.  I began getting that "oh no, I have no healthy food!" freakout moments again.  It was time to make some protein bars myself.  I needed something that would keep me full for longer than two seconds (shame on you, apples) that was also healthy, tasty, and packed with nutrients, healthy fats, fiber and protein.


When I finally found a protein powder that I wasn't allergic to, and also dissolved like whey, I was thrilled.  Although it is slightly more expensive than whey, it is totally worth it.  I mean, it's chocolate flavored and my body is okay with it, so of course it's worth a few extra bucks!  I decided to calculate the cost per bar since my budget is becoming more and more important to me now that I need to buy more expensive foods due to my dietary restrictions.  So here's the recipe cost breakdown:

     Peanut Butter = $1.12
     Almond Milk = $0.39
     Truvia = $1.02
     Dark Cocoa Powder = $0.36
     Oats* = $0.63

     Total Recipe Cost = $10.02
     Cost per Bar = $1.25

     ^^ Wow!  So much cheaper than all of the bars I've bought throughout the years!
     *Note that I used Bob's Red Mill certified gluten free oats which are much more expensive than regular oats.  If not using GF oats your recipe's total price will be much lower.

So, what about the taste?  What about the texture?

    Taste?  Excellent.  Although they are not as sweet as those super processed ones I used to buy, they are sweet enough to satisfy those cravings at any time of day!

    Texture?  Amazing.  Almost brownie-like, it tasted as if it were baked!  These are fudgy, even straight out of the fridge.  At room temperature, they are much softer and even more fudgy, but for some reason I prefer them on the cold side.  All to your preference, though.


At only seven ingredients and $1.25 a bar, I can tell these are going to be my new staple bars.
These are the perfect snack, sans the guilty aftertaste.  Enjoy!


Chocolate PB Fudge Brownie Protein Bars:  [no bake, sugar free, high fiber/protein, GF, vegan]
(makes 8 bars)
   16 packets Truvia (or sweetener of choice)
   15g (3 tbs) Dark Cocoa Powder (unsweetened)
   scant 1/4 tsp Salt
   96g (1 cup) Old Fashioned Rolled Oats, blended to a flour (GF if you like)
   168g (8 scoops) Chocolate Brown Rice Protein Powder (I used SunWarrior*)
   128g (1/2 cup) Natural Peanut Butter
   1 cup + 2 tbs Unsweetened Almond Milk

*UPDATE: Other protein powders will work here, just note that SunWarrior protein scoops are almost half the size of scoops in other protein powders.  For example, one scoop of SunWarrior = 21g, while one scoop in most brands is 32g.
8 scoops of the SunWarrior powder came out to 1+1/4 cups packed.  My friend made these bars using chocolate soy protein powder with good results (thanks S!).  My other friend used whey but got a completely different texture and needed a few more scoops... the end result tasted good but was gooey and she needed to freeze it to solidify it... I wouldn't recommend using whey unless you want to do some testing in your own kitchen.

Directions: (see ** below)
1.  Line an 9" brownie pan (or 8" if you want thicker bars) with parchment paper or foil, set aside.
2.  In a small bowl, stir together the truvia, cocoa and salt, set aside.
3.  Put the oat flour into another small bowl, set aside.
4.  Measure out the protein powder and set aside.
5.  In a largest mixing bowl, add the peanut butter and almond milk and whisk.  Stir in the truvia/cocoa mix, then stir in the oat flour.
6.  Add about half of the protein powder and stir.  Add the rest of the protein powder and mix in using your hands (it will look like there is too much protein powder but it will mix in!)
7.  When the dough can form a ball, knead it until it's even throughout and then flatten it into the prepared brownie pan.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  Slice the next day and keep bars covered in the refrigerator.


**Just a fair warning, your arms will kill when you are stirring and kneading the dough.  You will probably curse my name.  HOWEVER, an arm workout like this deserves these optional add-ins (especially #6, wink wink):
    1.  1-2 tbs Liquid Sweetener (such as honey or agave, just make sure the dough doesn't get too sticky)
    2.  1-2 tbs more of Natural Peanut Butter
    3.  1-2 tbs Coconut Oil, soft
    4.  Peanuts, chopped
    5.  Dried Fruit (no sugar added)
    6.  Mini Dark Chocolate Chips.  Duh.

If hand mixing isn't your thing you can use a stand mixer (much easier on the arms, hehe), but since the dough comes together faster reserve the 2 tbs of almond milk on the side only if you need it.

^^  Does that look like a fudge brownie or what?  Totally worth that arm workout, yes?

These bars were inspired by PowerBars' Reduced Sugar Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars, so I thought I would do a little showdown regarding the ingredients, nutrition label and price.

1)  Ingredients:

          PowerBar, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Reduced Sugar:
                Triscource Protein Blend (Whey Protein Isolate, Calcium Caseinate, Soy Protein Isolate), Maltitol Syrup*, Chocolate Flavored Coating (Fractionated Palm Kernel Oil, Maltitol*, Cocoa, Polydextrose, Sodium Caseinate, Soy Lecithin, Monoglycerides, Vanilla Extract, Sucralose**), Glycerine, Peanuts and Peanut Butter, Partially Defatted Peanut Flour, Peanut Oil, Salt, Soy Lecithin, Calcium Phosphate, Ascorbic Acid, Water, Almond Butter, Magnesium Oxide, Alpha Tocopherol Acetate, Sucralose, Natural Flavor, Biotin, Zinc Gluconate, Ferrous Fumurate, Niacinamide, Copper Gluconate, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine, Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Thiamin Mononitrate, Folic Acid, Cyanocobalamin.
               *Artificially produced sweetener, causes bloating, gas and abdominal pain
               **Another artificial manmade sweetener

          Chockohlawtay, Chocolate PB Fudge Brownie:
                Almond Milk (Filtered Water, Almonds, Calcium Carbonate, Sea Salt, Locust Bean Gum, Sunflower Lecithin, Gellan Gum, Natural Flavor, D-Alpha-Tocopherol, Zinc Gluconate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Riboflavin, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D2), Chocolate Brown Rice Protein Powder (Whole Brown Rice Protein, Cocoa, Natural Flavor, Stevia, Xanthan Gum, Pectin), Peanut Butter, Oats, Truvia (Erythritol, Rebiana, Natural Flavors), Cocoa, Salt.

2)  Nutrition:
          PowerBar's nutrition label is on the left, Chockohlawtay's nutrition label is on the right:

  

     Chockohlawtay's version has:
  • Fewer calories
  • Less saturated fat
  • NO cholesterol
  • Less sodium
  • Fewer carbohydrates
  • More fiber
  • More calcium
3)  Price:

PowerBar's cost per bar:  $2.01 (giving PowerBar the benefit of the doubt, I used the lowest price I could find (off Amazon.com, which offers the cheapest prices ever)

Chockohlawtay's cost per bar:  $1.25

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Final Verdict?  Okay, we all know that I'm bias in this competition, but I totally win all three categories, yes?  The ingredients I use are 100% natural, tasty and healthy, my nutrition label beats the storebought bar in nearly every aspect, and, it's cheaper!  Win win win.

July 10, 2012

Frozen Yogurt-Covered Blueberries [two ways]

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Okay.  I really tried to avoid getting obsessed with Pinterest.  At first I was like, how on earth can someone spends hours looking at pictures?  And then, I fell into their trap made my own Pinterest account.  I would spend a few minutes here and there looking at the Food & Drink section, and sometimes the Fitness section.  I didn't get what all the hype was about, but now, I'm hooked.

I'm not even the type of person who likes to spend hours online on sites, such as Facebook, but Pinterest is like a whole different story.  Is anyone else obsessed?!?


ANYWAYS, I saw this recipe on Pinterest about a thousand times, no joke, and had to try it myself.  The original recipe used Dannon's honey yogurt, but I didn't want any added sugar in my version so I used plain, nonfat Greek yogurt and added my own sugar-free/calorie-free sweetener.  They were amazing!  The only problem was that I left the blueberries in the freezer for too long and my freezer feels like it's 5x colder than a normal human being's freezer (I should probably raise the temperature setting.....), so I had to refrigerate them for a whole day until they were edible, aka, not like balls of ice.


Frozen Yogurt-Covered Blueberries:  [fat free, sugar free]
(slightly adapted from Pinterest)
    1/2 cup Plain, Nonfat Greek Yogurt
    40 drops Stevia Extract*
    ~1/3 cup Blueberries, fresh (rinsed, dried and picked over)

*This is optional, I only used it because my blueberries weren't sweet at all.  Alternatively, you can use 1-2 teaspoons of honey or agave

Directions:
1.  Line a cookie sheet with a silpat and reserve space in your freezer for the pan, set aside.
2.  In a small bowl, add the yogurt and stir in the stevia, honey/agave if you choose.
3.  Poke a blueberry with a toothpick, dip in the yogurt, and push the berry off the toothpick with another toothpick.  Do this with all of the blueberries, and put the pan in the freezer for 1-2 hours, or until frozen.  Put the blueberries into a sandwich bag and store in the fridge or freezer.


While these were great, I preferred some more flavor.  Like I said in the recipe note above, my blueberries weren't very sweet and didn't provide as much flavor as I had hoped.

Soooo, I added some of my favorite "treat" to the yogurt mix.  Can you guess what I used?

It may sound gross, but I added lemon-flavored fish oil to the yogurt!  Before Barlean's, I absolutely hated fish oil.  The pills were too big and had a terrible aftertaste for hours after swallowing them.  Barlean's isn't fishy at all and the blueberry-lemon combo was great.


It tasted more like lemon sherbet than a healthy snack!


Lemony Yogurt-Covered Blueberries:  [sugar free, low fat]
    1/2 cup Plain, Nonfat Greek Yogurt
    1 tbs Barlean's Omega Swirl Fish Oil, lemon flavor (you can find this at Whole Foods too)
    ~1/3 cup Blueberries, fresh (rinsed, dried and picked over)

Directions:
1.  Line a cookie sheet with a silpat and reserve space in your freezer for the pan, set aside.
2.  In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt and fish oil.
3.  Poke a blueberry with a toothpick, dip in the yogurt, and push the berry off the toothpick with another toothpick.  Do this with all of the blueberries, and put the pan in the freezer for 1-2 hours, or until frozen.  Put the blueberries into a sandwich bag and store in the fridge or freezer.

July 6, 2012

Key Lime Pie [revisited]

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Last October I made a very different Key Lime Pie, if it should even be called that.  I used strange and not so typical pie ingredients (like cream cheese and coconut butter), and looking back now, I used far too many.  Despite its crazy appearance and "graham cracker crust" (note the quotes), it had an amazing taste from what I recall, and I loved it.

Now that key limes have finally hit the local grocery stores, I needed to make the pie again... only this time, for real.  I wanted it to look, taste and feel like real key lime pie.  I wanted people to think I bought it from a bakery or really fancy restaurant.  And finally, I wanted to use a smaller number of ingredients while also making a nutritionally balanced dish (check out the nutrition label below!).  Luckily, I struck gold on my first attempt (which never happens... yes, it was shocking for me too).  Everyone who tried the pie gave it two thumbs up, either because their mouths were full of pie or they were digging into another bite!  Enjoy :)


Key Lime Pie:  [low fat/sugar, high protein, GF]
(makes one 9" pie)

   Graham Cracker Crust:
      1+1/2 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs (for GF, use these crackers)
      1 tbs Granulated Erythritol (or dry sweetener of choice)
      scant 1/4 tsp Salt
      63g (4.5 tbs) Coconut Oil, very soft
      1/4 tsp Butter Extract

   Filling:
      1 cup Key Lime Juice, fresh
      192g (1 cup) Granulated Erythritol (or dry sweetener of choice)
      one 32g scoop Vanilla Protein Powder
      1/4 cup Plain, Nonfat Greek Yogurt
      1/2 tsp Stevia Extract (3/4 tsp if you want it really sweet)
      one 12oz can Evaporated Fat Free Milk
      one packet Knox Unflavored Gelatin

   Topping: (optional, makes pie very limey)
      4oz Plain, Nonfat Greek Yogurt
      1/2 tsp Stevia Extract
      1 tsp Key Lime Zest

Directions (for the crust):
1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and spray a pie pan with cooking spray, set aside.
2.  In a medium bowl, stir together the crumbs and salt.  In another small bowl, stir together the coconut oil and butter extract.  Pour all of the coconut oil mixture into the crumb mixture and mix using the back of the spoon to press the oil into the crumbs.
3.  Pour about 3/4 of the mixture into the prepared pie pan and flatten for the base.  Sprinkle the rest of the mixture around the edges of the pan and press it against the wall to form raised edges (I wrapped my fingers in saran wrap to be a little cleaner).  Bake for 10 minutes, or until fragrant and firm.  Let cool while you make the filling.

Directions (for the filling):
1.  In a small pot over medium heat, combine the key lime juice and erythritol.  Stir occasionally.  When it starts bubbling turn the heat down a notch (in between medium and medium-low).  Still stirring occasionally, wait for the mixture to turn a light amber color and thicken (it should look like syrup), about 30-50 minutes (it takes some time, just be patient!).  This should come out to 3/4 cup + 2 tbs of concentrated sweetened key lime juice.  Take the pot off the heat, now you must work quickly, as this mixture will start crystallizing.
2.  In a large, heat-safe bowl, whisk together the protein powder, yogurt and stevia.  Slowly pour in the concentrated key lime juice while whisking and whisk for about a minute.
3.  Pour the evaporated milk into the pot used for the concentrated key lime juice (no need to wash the pot) and sprinkle with the gelatin.  Let this sit for about 5 minutes, then put the pot over medium heat, whisking until the gelatin dissolves.  Alternate whisking the gelatin mixture and the key lime mixture.  Once the gelatin has dissolved, pour the evaporated milk mixture into the key lime mixture while whisking.  Whisk for another minute.
4.  Pour the mixture the prepared graham cracker crust and let cool on the counter for 1-2 hours (my pie had some bubbles on the surface from the whisking, which I left, but they remained after the pie had firmed up.  I would recommend skimming them off the surface with a spoon, but you can leave it if making the greek yogurt topping).  Refrigerate for 2-3 hours, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, making sure the plastic doesn't touch the surface.  Slice and serve the next day, keep leftovers covered and refrigerated.

Directions (for the topping):
1.  Stir all the ingredients in a small bowl and spoon about 1-2 tablespoons over each slice.

^^ key lime graveyard

(label made using these graham crackers, does not include topping)

Yes, only 200 calories for a slice of authentic, rich, tart key lime pie.  No, you're not dreaming.

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