My father's coworkers are demanding asking for more desserts. Those little tips and comments here and there throughout the day finally made their way to me. Of course, the first thing I thought was peanut butter, but after these, these and these, I figured they might want something new. Okay, probably not... since no one can tire from PB, but I had some fresh homemade walnut butter on hand and thought krispy treats would be a great way to use it.
These krispy treats are both crunchy and chewy with a fresh blueberry flavor and a warming maple icing drizzle. It's hard to believe that these are all-natural and good for you!
I've been on a nut butter craze lately, and I've bought almost every type of nut possible within the last couple of weeks. From walnuts to almonds, peanuts to cashews, and pecans to pistachios. I even bought some raw peanuts, marcona almonds and brazil nuts.
Some nuts can be expensive, so it's best to find the best deals possible. I've found that buying crumbled nuts rather than whole nuts are cheaper, and buying certain nuts (like peanuts) in the shell cost less than out of the shell. And of course, buying in bulk saves money too. That's why I bought a 3lb bag of walnuts from Costco. Oh, those silly impulse buys.
BUT, that 3lb bag saved me tons of money in the end. I used to buy Artisana walnut butter (also contains cashews) which costs $11.99 per 8oz jar. That's twelve bucks for one cup of nut butter. The 3lb bag of walnuts I got from Costco has the capability of making me six cups (or 48oz) of walnut butter. One cup of this homemade walnut butter costs only $2.99!!
That's $11.99 vs $2.99 people. I can't believe I ever paid such a steep price for a tiny jar of nut butter. Making walnut butter at home saves nine dollars. C'mon, that's money we could be spending on important stuff. Like chocolate.
I'm really surprised that I've never gotten sick with Salmonella. I used to eat raw cookie dough by the tub.
The 36oz tubs. From Costco. Yeahhh.
So I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss grabbing a movie, a spoon and the cookie dough tub then plopping myself on the couch... ehem... so I solved that problem by making cookie-dough-meets-protein-bar.
If you were sick of my gazillion blondies before, you sure aren't now. Know why? Because these ones have chocolate.
Oh yes. Chocolate.
You know, I never thought I'd say this but there is a time and place for chocolate... which happens to be now and here... but personally, I don't think chocolate would match very well in some of my previous fruit-flavored blondies. I couldn't imagine chocolate tasting very good in my Peach Blondies, nor could I see it pair well in my Blueberry Muffin Blondies, Strawberry Blondies or Raspberry-Lemon Blondies.
But Cherry Blondies? Yeah, chocolate will fit right in!
You had it coming! Like I said in my Blueberry Muffin Blondies' post, I'm obsessed with these chewy, dense and fruity squares. I feel the need to bake them with every fruit I can get my hands on. I even made a giant list of the flavors I wanted to try. Embarrassing enough, I've thought of 3 more flavor combinations since that post...
But onto this recipe. I took my original blondie recipe (the Peach Blondies) and swapped a few ingredients to make these super pink and filled with healthy ingredients. Since food coloring isn't my first choice (even though the kind I have is natural), I opted to use an even better ingredient: beets.
Even though saying (or typing?) the word makes me gag, and tasting them makes me want to hurl, I really wanted these blondies to be pink pink PINK! And I didn't have much luck getting a bright pink color from strawberries only in my Strawberry Sponge Cake, so I forced myself to use the dreaded ingredient.
My older sister is completing her summer internship next week, and then in a short three days she will be returning to school to complete her final, senior year in university. Congrats V! Since she is so busy and lives an hour away, she can only visit every few weeks or so. And even though she isn't a sweet tooth (I guess it's not the dominant gene in my family), I know she can't resist a couple of desserts:
Two, White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies
Since Tiramisu is a daunting task for a healthy baker, I chose to make the cookies instead. Plus, she can bring cookies home or to work without any spilling or Ladyfingers turning soggy. So why is "white chocolate" in quotations? Well, I used cacao butter in the recipe to provide the chocolate flavor instead of real white chocolate for two reasons:
One, my sister doesn't like how sweet white chocolate is
Two, I wanted to taste-test the cookies before giving them to her to see if they were good enough...
And I can't find white chocolate that I'm not allergic to. Every brand I find contains either dairy or soy, or both. But that didn't get me down, I successfully healthified her favorite cookies without making them taste healthy at all!
These cookies are chewy, buttery and sweet just like regular shortbread cookies, except these have wholesome ingredients and nutritional benefits.
120g (1/2 cup + 2 tbs) Granulated Erythritol (or dry sweetener of choice)
90g (1/2 cup + 1 tbs) Brown Rice Flour
34g (1/4 cup) Quinoa Flour
1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt
*Use food grade cacao butter. I have seen people use cacao butter and coconut oil interchangeably but I have not tried that. If you use coconut oil, add chopped white chocolate to the batter (please use all natural white chocolate)
**You can probably omit this if you don't like sweet cookies. As a reference this is equal to 5-7 tbs of sugar. You can increase sweetness by adding white chocolate chips or spreading icing on top of the cookies.
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
2. In a small bowl, stir together the almond milk and flax and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, stir together the melted cacao butter, macadamia butter, vanilla paste, butter extract and stevia.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the erythritol, rice flour, quinoa flour, xanthan gum, baking powder+soda and salt.
5. Heat almond milk/flax mixture for 25 seconds, or until warm, then pour over the cacao/macadamia mixture (it should look similar to pudding; feel free to add 1 tsp of vanilla paste/extract here)
6. Add the dry to wet while stirring (the dough should look moist/crumbly, but able to compress into a ball if you tried; feel free to fold in some chopped macadamias)
7. Use a cookie scoop to scoop the dough. Drop on prepared cookie sheet about 2-3" apart. Flatten the cookies with a piece of wax/parchment paper and press the cracks that form on the edges together. Bake for ~12 minutes, or until edges begin to brown. Transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool.
Store in an airtight container at room temp for max 3 days. Although these keep for a few days, they have the best texture the day of baking.
Oh, and if you like dough ball cookies feel free to skip the annoying cookie-flattening step:
I honestly like these so much better. They're adorable! Most importantly, my sister loved the cookies in both forms. Also important, she didn't notice the three missing cookies that I ate before she arrived ;)
I definitely think macadamia nuts are an acquired taste... especially when they're raw. Personally, I think they are actually somewhat bitter, but have a sweet and buttery aftertaste. I wasn't a fan of them when I snacked on a few straight from the tub, so I thought making a nut butter out of it would be a good idea (sorry macs, I'll stick with the almonds). That way I can spread it on... anything really.
So why did I buy a bunch of macadamias? I was walking down the grocery store nut aisle and I stopped to see what these giant, white, marble-like things were. They ended up being macadamia nuts, but I honestly didn't know what they were at first. I guess I'm just used to seeing roasted, chopped macadamias in cookies rather than in their whole form in a clear tub. They were so odd, they weren't that expensive, so in the shopping cart they went.
After I bought the nuts, I thought I could do a little cost comparison with the macadamia butter I used to buy from Artisana and my homemade version, just like how I did with my almond butter.
An 8oz jar of Artisana's Raw Macadamia Butter (which also contains cashews) costs $13.99.
8oz of of homemade Raw Macadamia Butter costs $11.98 (or $17.98 for 12oz, how much the recipe makes).
It's only a $2.01 difference, but homemade nut butter is fresh, more nutritious and much more satisfying to eat. Plus, for those of you like me (aka, allergic to cashews), then this will save you $2.01 and an allergic reaction! :)
Raw Macadamia Butter: (makes 1.5 cups)
3 cups Raw Macadamia Nuts (you can always use roasted as well)
1. Pulse macadamias in a food processor until crumb-like.
2. Grind the nuts, scraping down the sides of the processor when necessary (I did this at 1-minute intervals since I have a small food processor). Macadamias turn into butter prettyquickly, unlike almonds!. Feel free to add salt or stevia to taste, I left mine plain.
3. Scoop the nut butter into a pretty jar that seals tightly. Seal tightly and refrigerate to store.
These sweet and salty, crunchy and chewy squares were inspired by Ben & Jerry's Chubby Hubby ice cream. You know, chocolate, peanut butter and pretzels all swirled into vanilla ice cream? Yeahhh, probably not the healthiest stuff on the planet, but most definitely addicting, yes?
That's why I made this fudge. It has all the flavors of the ice cream, sans the chubby and guilty repercussions.
That's why I called it "Oxymoron Chubby Hubby Fudge."
I really should call it "Muscle Head Hubby Fudge" though, since one square has around 11g of protein!
Made with whole grain pretzels, natural peanut butter and protein powder, and without refined sugars, heavily processed grains and butter, these are the ultimate snack for the chocolate, peanut butter and pretzel-lovers out there.
While fudge is satisfying by itself, the added crunch from the pretzels will satisfy the snack-monster in you. Sometimes you just need something crunchy... and chewy and sweet and salty and healthy all at the same time. Or maybe that's just me. Am I the only one who is constantly ravenous??
Can your inner snack-monster resist these?
I don't think so.
Don't be afraid of the seemingly long ingredient list, this fudge is only 5 ingredients!
**I put a bunch of pretzels in a freezer bag and whacked it with my measuring cup just until the pieces broke. Crumbs are inevitable, but try and get it nice and chunky like this:
Directions: 1. Line a 9" brownie pan (or 8" pan if you want thicker fudge) with parchment paper both ways and set aside. 2. For the PB-Pretzel Base- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, stir together the agave and peanut butter with a rubber spatula. Stir in the protein powder and fold together when it gets thick. When all the protein powder is mixed in, fold in the chopped pretzels. Scoop mixture into the prepared pan and flatten with the rubber spatula, a pastry roller, or wrap your fingers in plastic wrap and press it manually. Refrigerate while you make the next layer. 3. For the PB Fudge Filling- In a medium-sized mixing bowl (I used the same bowl used for the base), stir together the agave and peanut butter. Stir in the protein powder, then fold. Scoop mixture over the base layer and flatten. Refrigerate while you prepare the toppings. 4. For the Toppings- Put the chocolate in a small microwave-safe bowl and microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring between each one, until melted. Drizzle about half of the chocolate over the PB Fudge Filling, sprinkle with the chopped pretzels and carefully press them into the fudge, then drizzle with the rest of the chocolate. Freeze for ~1 hour then slice.
If serving later, refrigerate for 3+ hours, and serve chilled unless you want to lick your peanut buttery fingers (wait, now that I say it, it doesn't sound that bad). If you have any leftover (hah!), refrigerate them covered.
Those peach blondies went faaaast, so to cope with the withdrawal I remade them but instead, a blueberry version! I don't know what it is about these fruity squares of goodness, I just can't get them off my mind. Seriously, I want to make blondies out of every fruit possible. I had to make a list of all the flavors I wanted to bake and slowly cross out one by one so my oven doesn't explode my kitchen doesn't burst with copious trays of desserts. Want to see my list? Well here it is (be warned, my flavor combinations get a little funky near the bottom):
Watermelon Blondies with Watermelon Frosting (to make use of my impulse buy: watermelon extract!)
Hummingbird Blondies with Pineapple Frosting
Avocado Blondies with Chocolate Frosting (weird, but it worked here. I'd totally hide some spinach in these)
If you totally love or hate one of my ideas pleeeeaase let me know. Sometimes I get a little crazy when I love something (Exhibit A. Exhibit B). I really want to utilize the fresh fruits in the grocery store since it's summer and these blondies capture the essence of summer in every bite. They are nice and light and totally refreshing. If you have any blondie flavor ideas, feel free to add them to my long list :)
Delicious muffin texture with cupcake sweetness.
Blueberry Muffin Blondies with Blueberry Frosting: [sugar free, low fat, high fiber, GF, vegan] (makes 9 blondies) Blondies:
160g (1 cup) Brown Rice Flour
120g (1 cup) Oat Flour (GF if you like)
1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
1+1/2 cups Fresh Blueberry Puree
96g (1/2 cup) Granulated Erythritol (or dry sweetener of choice)
14g (1 tbs) Coconut Oil, soft (or any other neutral oil)
1 tbs Lemon Zest
3/4 tsp Stevia Extract
40 drops Natural Blue Food Coloring*
*I used India Tree's natural food coloring, but honestly, I don't think it provided any color in the blondies or the frosting. I think I needed to use a much larger amount to achieve color (like ~1 teaspoon). Feel free to use more or omit it completely.
**I blended one 2oz bag of freeze-dried blueberries in a food processor, 9 tsp was about half the bag.
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheight and line an 8" brownie pan with parchment paper both ways (or spray with cooking spray), set aside.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the brown rice flour, oat flour, xanthan gum and salt, set aside.
3. Rinse the blueberries and puree them in a blender. Measure 1+1/2 cups and pour into a large mixing bowl. Whisk in the erythritol, oil, lemon zest, stevia and food coloring.
4. Dump the dry ingredients over the wet and fold the batter until thoroughly mixed.
5. Scoop into the prepared brownie pan and spread to the edges, making sure the surface is flat (it takes a bit of time to make it perfectly flat but if you don't you won't have very uniform blondies). Bake for ~55 minutes, or until the edges pull away from the sides and the surface is firm.
6. Let blondies cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
7. For the frosting, measure 1/4 cup of the blueberry puree and stir in the food coloring. Stir in the erythritol. Stir in the blueberry powder 1-2 tsp at a time (frosting should be very thick). Spread onto the cooled blondies, refrigerate for 10 minutes to firm up the frosting, slice and serve.
So, I may be the only one to actually calculate this (hah, yeah right) but you can eat 1/3 of the entire pan for only 510 calories and 9g of fat... plus, you get 12g of fiber and 12g of protein!
You know how when you're reading a book and you come across a particular word that sticks in your mind, and not much later you hear it in a completely different scenario? That's kind of what happened to me recently with protein bars. Ever since I made my first protein bars at home, I've noticed how many people buy them from the store. I feel like I see it everywhere, someone buying one from a vending machine, a muscle head chowing down on one on his way out the gym, a bar sitting on someone's desk waiting to be eaten, someone in front of me at the checkout line buying bars in every flavor possible, etc etc etc. I'm not going to lie, I did that myself... especially with Luna bars. My goodness those things they are addicting.
But one other thing I'll admit is that I used to be obsessed with Lenny&Larry's Muscle Brownies (just like how I was obsessed with Chocolate Muscle Milk). But why buy those expensive, sugary, processed products when you can make a healthy version at home? A healthy version that tastes even better than anything inside a plastic wrapper can provide.
128g (1/2 cup) Raw Almond Butter
1 cup + 2 tbs Unsweetened Almond Milk
10 packets Truvia* (or sweetener of choice)
1/2 tsp Stevia Extract*
1/2 tsp Butter Extract (optional, but it's really great in here!)
20g (1/4 cup) Regular Cocoa Powder (unsweetened)
1/4 tsp Salt
144g (1.5 cups) Old Fashioned Rolled Oats (GF if you like)
168g (8 scoops) Chocolate Brown Rice Protein Powder** (I used SunWarrior)
1/3 cup Mini Dark Chocolate Chips (I used EnjoyLife)
*If you don't have Truvia you can use 1 tsp of stevia instead of 1/2 tsp. If you don't have stevia, add 6-8 more packets of Truvia, 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.
1. Line a 9" brownie pan with parchment paper both ways and set aside (or 8" pan for thicker brownies).
2. Using a stand mixer, add the almond butter and milk to a large bowl and mix on low (don't use a whisk attachment).
3. Add the sweetener, stevia and butter extract.
4. Add the cocoa powder and salt.
5. Process the oats in a blender or food processor (I blended them to a coarse flour for texture), then add to the mixer. Add the protein powder (mixture should look like cookie dough and firm/thick like play-doh)
6. When mixture is even, fold in the chocolate chips. Scoop into the prepared pan and flatten with the spatula (I used a pastry roller). Refrigerate covered overnight and slice the next day. Store covered and in the fridge.
Feel free to add 1/4 teaspoon of instant coffee to the mix if you want a strong chocolate flavor... or add it because you simply like caffeine ;)