Monday, March 10, 2014

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting (whole wheat & no refined sugar!)





My mom dropped by and saw these cooling on the stove. She magnanimously offered to taste test and couldn't believe when I told her that these are whole wheat and sweetened with dates. She said they might be her favorite cupcakes ever, regardless of being healthy.


My family couldn't believe these have no refined sugar and are 100% whole wheat. They're not as cloyingly sweet as boxed cupcakes, so feel free to add some powdered sugar to the icing if you want. But we loved them as is: sweetened with fruit and real maple syrup, with a sprinkling of chocolate chips on top.

It's a dessert you can feel good about giving your kids.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Roast Banana with Honey, Yogurt, and Almonds


I'm going to make a confession: I don't like bananas. I have tried and tried but just can't do it. I made banana pudding for my husband once (it's one of his favorite desserts) and gagged the entire time.


Needless to say, I don't use bananas in recipes often. However, I don't want to pass along my aversion to my daughter, so I tried to think of a way to make bananas for her (other than tossing her a whole piece of fruit in the peel).


This recipe is easy, nutritious, and she absolutely loved it. And its hands-off approach is perfect for banana-phobes like me. The banana gets caramely, soft, and perfect: it's great for a hearty dessert or a fun, quick breakfast for kids and grown-ups alike.

If you're vegan, this recipe is easily changed - just sub maple syrup for honey and your favorite vegan yogurt for dairy yogurt.

Monday, February 24, 2014

How to Eat Well on a Budget


When I talk to people about how we eat, sometimes I hear this response: "Oh, that sounds nice, but we can't afford to grocery shop that way."

The more I thought about it and talked with my husband about it, the less I was convinced that this is an appropriate criticism. In fact, I'm pretty sure that unless you're a big couponer, eating processed foods is actually as much if not more expensive than a simpler, whole-foods diet.


However, it does take some creativity to make our dollars stretch and still eat the way we want to. I used to love couponing and would revel in days when I'd come back from the supermarket with a dozen boxes of pop tarts or cereal for less than .25 each. So, I quickly learned an important lesson in making the switch from a processed to a whole foods diet...


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Cherry and Almond Overnight Oats


What are overnight oats?
1. Overnight oats are awesome. They take just a few minutes to assemble and are ready with zero fuss in the morning. You can even make them a couple of days at a time.
2. Overnight oats are really healthy. This oatmeal is soaked in milk and yogurt, which break down ---- and makes the oats more digestible.
3. Overnight oats are totally customizable. There's a flavor (or ten) for everyone. Get your kids to make their own if they're old enough to measure and pour - it's a great way to get kids involved in the kitchen.
4. If you're out the door early in the morning, these are totally ready when you are and they're portable.

Why Full Fat?
I'm a big believer in full-fat dairy products and use whole milk and whole milk yogurt in this recipe. Adding some fat to your oatmeal helps prevent a big carb sugar spike and keep you feeling full much longer. That said, this recipe will still work with reduced fat dairy or alternative milk and yogurt products.
What are all of the add ins? Chia, Hemp, and Flax
Chia, hemp hearts (shelled hemp seeds), and ground flax seeds might be new to you. They've all had their moment in the trendy food limelight and should be easily found at grocery stores (but are always cheaper in bulk food bins). You can omit some or all of them if you don't have them on hand or prefer to just add a bit of one and not the others.
Chia, hemp, and flax all add some great nutrition: omega-3s, healthy fat, fiber, and protein. They take a healthy oatmeal breakfast and make it even better.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Asian Vegetable Slaw



A few weeks ago, a funny looking vegetable started showing up at our farmers' market. I tentatively asked, "This is kohlrabi, right?" Being able to identify a plant that looks more like a squishy alien from Toy Story than a vegetable is about all I knew how to do with it. I bought a bunch, tossed it in the fridge, and then kind of forgot about it.

If you're unsure about what it looks like, kohlrabi is in the upper left of this picture.
The leaves can be used just like other sturdy greens (like kale and collards). 
A couple of weeks later, I remembered the little green alien vegetables hiding in my fridge and decided to do something with them. (They held up shockingly well - even the leaves were still crisp). We sautéed, grated, and chopped until I discovered my favorite way to eat kohlrabi: raw. Kohlrabi has a very mild, slightly peppery/sweet taste - kind of like a cross between a radish, an apple, and a cabbage - that makes it perfect for slaw.


This slaw is colorful and delicious. My daughter especially loved the sweetness from the apples and carrots and the crispy roasted peanuts on top.

It'd be great as a side or topped with some avocado and tofu or grilled shrimp for a great grain-free main dish. I added a couple of grated broccoli stems to the vegetable mixture for some color and just to keep them from going to waste. The recipe doesn't reflect that addition, but feel free to toss them in if you have some.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Red Velvet Cookies (no food coloring added)


If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you might have noticed that I have a bit of an obsession with natural food coloring: red velvet pancakesred, white, and blue popsiclesSt. Patrick's Day pancakes in green, soft sugar cookies with pink icing - and that's just a few.

I love using fruits and vegetables to make my food pretty (instead of petroleum dyes that have been increasingly linked to all kinds of problems).


But here's the catch: I want my food to taste really good, so I'm not going to sacrifice flavor for color. Ever.

Along those lines, let me say that kale juice is a great colorant but makes icing that tastes like the bottom of a shoe.


But beets, on the other hand, are awesome. Their earthy sweetness is the perfect partner to chocolate, making these healthier red velvet cookies delicious AND beautiful. My husband ate a couple and said in happy surprise that they taste absolutely nothing like beets. If you add pumpkin purée to desserts, this isn't really that different.

These cookies are beautiful with a soft, almost cakey inside and a slightly crispy/chewy exterior that reminds me of a brownie.


A little bit of chemistry helps a lot when cooking for color. You want to keep the acidity high for brightness, which means baking powder (chemically balanced) instead of baking soda (alkaline) and lots of lemon juice (or vinegar) for increased acidity.


This recipe includes two options for a sweet topping: cream cheese icing and glaze. You can do half and half, which is what I did, or just one. I suppose you could leave the beet out of the glaze and frosting entirely, but I'm smitten with the gorgeous pink color.

Both the icing and glaze dry nicely, but the icing stays slightly soft to the touch when dry.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats


I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of feedback the first overnight oats recipe I posted got. It generated a buzz of questions ("Do you eat this cold?" "Seriously - do you really eat this cold?" "Cold oats? for breakfast?" and the like) but has gotten a ton of great reviews, too. 

This recipe might be my favorite overnight oats flavor yet - it's wholesome, simple, and filled with apple cinnamon goodness.

I've tried it with fresh cut apple and apple that soaked with the oats overnight - both ways are great (and neither is mushy).



What are overnight oats?
1. Overnight oats are easy to make. They take just a few minutes to assemble and are ready with zero fuss in the morning. You can even make them a couple of days at a time.
2. Overnight oats are really healthy.
3. Overnight oats are totally customizable. There's a flavor (or ten) for everyone. Get your kids to make their own if they're old enough to measure and pour - it's a great way to get kids involved in the kitchen.
4. If you're out the door early in the morning, these are ready when you are and they're portable.

Why Full Fat?
I'm a big believer in full-fat dairy products and use whole milk and whole milk yogurt in this recipe. Adding some fat to your oatmeal helps prevent a big carb sugar spike and will keep you feeling full much longer. That said, this recipe will still work with reduced fat dairy or alternative milk and yogurt products.

What are all of the add ins? Chia, Hemp, and Flax
Chia, hemp hearts (shelled hemp seeds), and ground flax seeds might be new to you. They've all had their moment in the trendy food limelight and should be available at most grocery stores (but are always cheaper in bulk food bins). You can omit some or all of them if you don't have them on hand or prefer to just add a bit of one and not the others.

Chia, hemp, and ground flax all add some great nutrition: omega-3s, healthy fat, fiber, and protein. They take a healthy oatmeal breakfast and make it even better.