Toasted Coconut Mocha Frappuccino

The other day I wanted something sweet but not bad for me and couldn’t come up with anything in the house. Somehow the idea of a mocha frappuccino made with coconut milk came to mind. So I googled it and found this recipe by Minimalist Baker. 

I messed it up the first day but ended up with a delicious iced mocha latte by accident. The Minimalist Baker recipe calls for freezing the coconut milk, but I wanted the frappuccino now so I hadn’t taken the time to freeze the coconut milk and thought I could get by with skipping that step and just adding regular ice cubes. If you are impatient like me, you could try this, but it does not integrate and you will end up with a very cold iced mocha latte, once you separate out the chunks, which also tastes great!

As I was enjoying my accidental iced latte, I went ahead and froze the rest of the canned coconut milk in ice cube trays as described in the Minimalist Baker recipe. The next day, I was very excited to try making the frappuccino with my coconut milk ice cubes and it worked! continue…

Too Good to Miss Chocolate Mousse

I want everyone I know to know about this yummy recipe! My first exposure to avocado chocolate mousse was back in January at a restaurant called Duo on Maui for my 35th birthday dinner (we were also there for our babymoon – I am 32 weeks pregnant today!). I picked Duo because it was right next to the resort we stayed at and had a health-conscious menu. continue…

Healthy Flourless Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffin Recipe

zucchini and chocolate

We got these gigantic zucchini given to us from a local garden so it was definitely time to make this recipe! This recipe is adapted from Make the Best of Everything. I made a substitution for the sweetener, using stevia of course!

I also added Lily’s Dark Chocolate Chips, which are sweetened with stevia and erythritol. The Lily’s brand of chocolate tastes great, but I believe the erythritol is upsetting to my stomach so I have to limit how much I have in a day to a small (tiny) handful of chocolate chips.

I like the stevia-sweetened chocolate I make better for this reason, but they don’t do well as chocolate chips in recipes like pancakes and these muffins, so it’s nice to have the chips on hand for baking (they are cheaper at Whole Foods than what I have found on Amazon). continue…

How To Make Your Own Chocolates…with Stevia!

Chocolate. My friend. My best friend.

I like to eat chocolate pretty much everyday. One way or another, I find it. Or it finds me in the impulse buy section at the cash register at the grocery store.

In college, I almost ALWAYS had a small bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips in the freezer from which I would take a generous handful or two on a daily basis. One time my diet-conscious roommate asked me if I put them in the freezer so I wouldn’t eat too much at once. That might have originally been my strategy, but making chocolate ice cold in Florida only made it that much more enticing.

Chocolate makes me happy. Except when it makes me feel sluggish because I over-indulged. It’s a slippery slope. continue…

Healthy Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe

I like to get one pumpkin spice latte a year at Starbucks (or maybe two…or more. It depends on the year, I guess!). I don’t love that they don’t offer almond milk and that they use sugary pumpkin spice flavored syrup. I do love how their version tastes though!

Like many, I am a fall fanatic. As much as I love the Christmas season, I almost don’t want fall to end. Because fall means Christmas is still right around the corner. So I am trying to savor every morsel of this fall as it passes.

Which means pumpkin spice lattes! As many as I can stand – which is a lot. I have found that trying out different versions of the pumpkin spice latte is just as, if not more exciting than running out to Starbucks for their version.

My recipe is not perfect. Like almost everything we make in our kitchen, it is ever-evolving as we continue to find new ways to improve it. But since we are suddenly smack dab in the middle of this glorious fall season, I figured I better share it before drinking pumpkin flavored drinks is no longer in fashion for a whole nother year. continue…

Coconut Flour Pancakes

Pancakes. What’s not to love? Mostly the carbs. Until now.

I previously posted a similar recipe with the instructions for making waffles. Since then, we have experimented more with the pancake version. These pancakes are so good! Once you get the technique down, you won’t miss the other versions of pancakes out there. And you will feel so good about the ingredients – I know I do!

This recipe has been slightly modified since I posted the waffle recipe.

Serves: 2 (makes 4 pancakes)

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Put skillet on medium heat (I use two skillets for two people – one pancake at a time per skillet).
  2. Separate eggs (reserve the yolks).
  3. Whip egg whites and cream of tartar in a mixing bowl until stiff peaks form.
  4. Add remaining ingredients (including yolks) to the mixing bowl and combine by hand. Be careful not to over mix (you want to minimize the loss of all those air bubbles you created in the egg whites).
  5. Spoon a dollop of the mixture onto the skillet and spread it to the desired thickness using the back of the spoon. Flip when the cooked side is to the desired color by checking with the spatula from time to time (there won’t be bubbles on the top to tell you doneness like with regular pancakes). Hopefully, the face up side is still wet. If you find the face up side is solid by the time the cooked side gets to the desired color, increase the temperature of the skillet.
Topping options:
  • Blueberry compote: thaw frozen blueberries or mixed berries in microwave for about 40 seconds. Add a small amount of stevia. Macerate a bit. Serve.

I made these this morning. They are always a nice weekend treat when there is more time to play in the kitchen. Even though I messed up the mixing process a little bit, I was able to recover and they turned out great.

Today I realized that I am able to bounce back from cooking experiments gone wrong better than I have in the past. If you mess these up, don’t be too hard on yourself. Give it another try. But you probably won’t!

Recipes like this sometimes seem out of reach to make on a regular basis because they have ingredients that aren’t standard staples. Or techniques that are different than what most people grew up with. How weird is it to make a pancake that doesn’t produce little bubbles indicating that it’s time to flip?

I’m always excited when I find a recipe like this that tastes as good as, if not better than, something that is traditionally considered an indulgent treat. If you try them, please let me know what you thought!

A Healthy Smoothie for Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookie Fanatics

Do you LOVE Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies and wish you could make a healthy smoothie that tastes just as yummy? You can!

I make a healthy peanut butter banana-based smoothie almost every afternoon when I’m home. It’s like the highlight of my afternoon.

In Tara Stiles’ book Make Your Own Rules Diet, she shares her version of a Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookie smoothie. Today, I share mine. continue…

Meal Planning: Breakfast Protein Smoothies

My favorite smoothie is my peanut butter banana smoothie and its yummy variations (my latest favorite will be posted tomorrow!).

My fiancé likes to drink protein smoothies for breakfast on days he goes to work. I don’t think it is necessarily for the taste. This is more of a utilitarian smoothie. I tried to do protein smoothies a while back when he got into them, but I couldn’t add enough peanut butter or bananas to mask the taste of the protein powder. We even tried to make a green smoothie with protein powder and almond milk once – I would warn you to not try this! You might be scarred for life!

The protein smoothie isn’t all that bad, and we have tried to add other ingredients to make it more palatable. I share this smoothie recipe not because I am particularly excited about this specific drink (can you tell?) but because I am so excited about the system I came up with for preparing the smoothies ahead of time so I could easily make them in the mornings without having to pull out 10 different things from the cabinet.

I came up with this idea after my idea of preparing green smoothie ingredients ahead of time and storing them in baggies in the freezer. As you will see, the ingredients for this particular smoothie are mostly dry, allowing them to be stored in an airtight container in the cabinet, simplifying the smoothie making process.

One day I was making a protein smoothie and figured I would try to see if the dry ingredients would fit into one of the cute little spice jars we are using for our labeled spice collection. They did! continue…

Green Smoothies: Simplified

Green smoothies are awesome. That’s a fact. They actually don’t even take all that much time to prepare, but sometimes in the morning pulling ten different items out of the fridge, freezer, and pantry isn’t the most appealing thing to do. Not to mention that time may not allow for such things.

I got the idea to pre-prep green smoothie ingredients in baggies and store them in the freezer in passing from another blog (I can’t remember who now!) several years ago. A few weeks ago, I finally decided to try it out.

I started with just two. I wanted to make sure that all the ingredients froze okay. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it worked! Even the avocado froze beautifully (while perfectly retaining its green hue).

A few weekends ago I decided to go for it and prepared five baggies of green smoothie ingredients for the week. I would have done ten, but I ran out of baggies. continue…

A Take on Eggless Egg Nog

I LOVE egg nog. Anything holiday, really. Ok, it’s more the idea of egg nog than the actual thick dairy beverage that I love, when I think about it. When egg nog is out at the grocery stores, it’s holiday time!

So, the holidays are over. But that doesn’t mean the delicious flavor profile of egg nog has to be packed away with the Christmas tree for 11 more months.

In Make Your Own Rules Diet by Tara Stiles, there is a recipe called Eggless Egg Nog. I was really excited about this one, and it lived up to my expectations. I made some modifications to the original recipe (substituted stevia for maple syrup and decreased the amounts on the spices). If you like egg nog, you might want to give this smoothie a try!

Modified Recipe

Today I was feeling inspired to have some kind of refreshing banana-based smoothie around noon. I have been putting raw sunflower seeds in my green smoothies and really love the mild hint of flavor they add. I decided to decrease the amount of cashews in Tara Stiles’ version, and added in some sunflower seeds. It was yummy!

Here is my new take on the Eggless Egg Nog (note: I don’t get too concerned with exact ingredient amounts when making smoothies – it’s fun to throw whatever you feel like in the mix and see what happens! You can usually fix it if something is off – the biggest thing I would warn against is not adding too much stevia; less is more when it comes to stevia):

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • About a quarter cup of raw sunflower seeds
  • About a quarter cup of raw cashews
  • 1 banana
  • Almond milk (add last – enough to cover all ingredients and almost all of the ice cubes)
  • Cinnamon (about a quarter teaspoon)
  • Nutmeg (about a quarter teaspoon)
  • Vanilla (about a half teaspoon)
  • stevia (about a half scoop if you are using Kal Pure Stevia Extract Powder)
  • 4 ice cubes
  • water

Directions

Add chia seeds, sunflower seeds, and cashews to your mixer (I use a NutriBullet). Add enough water to cover the ingredients, and blend until smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients, blend until smooth.

This smoothie is so easy to make. You don’t need to add the sunflower seeds. If you don’t have any on hand, add more cashews. And if you don’t have cashews, use peanut butter. Get creative! I had been making peanut butter banana smoothies for about a year before discovering that cashews could also be used in banana smoothies to give them a whole new personality. Add a few traditional egg nog spices, and you’ve got yourself a holiday treat to enjoy all year long (if you are anything like me and pretty much celebrate Christmas year round).

If you try this smoothie, or have other smoothie tips, please share your thoughts!

What are the health benefits of chia seeds?

I have been putting chia seeds in my green smoothies and peanut butter banana smoothies for quite a while now, without really knowing their specific health benefits. I knew they were good for me, but if you asked me why I was putting them in my smoothies, I couldn’t have provided you a specific reason.

So I decided to investigate for myself, beyond simply reading the package label. continue…

Review of Make Your Own Rules Diet by Tara Stiles & Giveaway

Yoga, meditation, and healthy eating are the foundation of complete mind and body well-being.  Make Your Own Rules Diet by Tara Stiles focuses on these three areas as essential for living a fulfilled and joyful life. I was lucky to unexpectedly meet Tara Stiles at her book signing after taking her Free Flow Lets Go yoga class sponsored by Goyogaco and W Hotels in Scottsdale, AZ. It was cool to get a hug from her, and then to read in her book how much she values the joy of hugging! At first, I thought Make Your Own Rules Diet would be primarily about recipes and healthy eating. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it is so much more, offering motivation to cultivate daily at home yoga and meditation practices, and a glimpse into Tara’s history with food – the healthy and the unhealthy.

Create Space & Sensitize

The first part of the book spends time convincing us of the importance of getting back to the necessity of feeling. We are so programmed to put what everyone else thinks and what advertising tells us we should want before how we feel. It is too easy to get caught up in doing the things we think we are supposed to do because everyone else is, and to ignore all the signals our bodies send us about what is right and what is not. Tara Stiles sends a gentle yet powerful wake-up call that there is a better way through her latest book. She calls us to create space in our lives, remembering to breathe and allow our power to know whether something is on the path to our greatest life or not to shine above everything else. continue…

The Easiest Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe Ever!

I love peanut butter. Don’t you? If so, you probably also love peanut butter cookies, but their excessive empty calories? Not so much. I was introduced to this fabulous healthy peanut butter cookie recipe by a friend. I slightly modified the original 2 ingredient recipe by adding a sweetener. Still, a cookie recipe with only three ingredients? Certainly worth a try! continue…

Waffles Can Be Your Best Friend Again!

It can be frustrating living in the land of gluten and carbs. I want to enjoy the comfort of flour based foods, but I also want my pants to fit. Who doesn’t want these things? This is why we are constantly trying new recipes that use “alternative” flours (why can’t we just replace all the white flour in the world with almond, hazelnut, and coconut flour, I would like to know?!).

I shied away from making this one for a few weeks. A recipe with more than four ingredients intimidates me, especially anything more complex than the chocolate chip cookie recipe on the back of the Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie bag.

When I finally came around and gave it a try, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the most complex step was remembering to add in the cream of tartar to the egg whites and waiting out the egg white stiff peaks to form.

We recently acquired a nice waffle iron, and this recipe makes the best waffles. I would even go so far as to say they are better than Eggos!

I haven’t tried the pancake version yet. Since we have the waffle iron we will probably stick to waffles, because what is more fun than waffles with the little syrup holders built right in? This recipe makes exactly enough to fill one waffle machine, so it is perfect for serving two. We added a sprinkling of frozen blueberries last time, which made them even more awesome! continue…

Weekly Meal Planning Progress & Cauliflower Taco Shells

Last week my healthy weekly meal plan came crashing down on Wednesday evening. Overcome by work-related tasks, I succumbed to the ease of ordering quesadilla explosion salads at Chili’s after a long afternoon of task-mastering at the Starbucks conveniently located in the same plaza as Chili’s.

After that, I lost my low-carb cooking momentum, and proceeded to order in pizza on Thursday, Chinese on Friday, and calzones on Saturday. Ugh.

What Didn’t Work

I recognize that I had a choice. I was the one who chose to order in when I could have chosen to make the zucchini lasagna, shrimp cauliflower stir fry, or almond flour pizza. However, I believe that the short term consequences to my physical health aside, I made the right choice for my mental sanity. So that’s something. continue…

How to Use Evernote to Plan Weekly Meals & A Healthier Bread Recipe

It’s Sunday. The day of planning meals for the rest of the week. I know some people do Meal Planning Mondays. I have tried that in the past, but by Monday night the last thing I want to do is spend hours cooking. So Sundays it is.

Using Evernote to Plan Meals

A few weeks ago I got back into working on a menu plan in Evernote that works for me. This has been a work in progress for over a year. My goal is to have meals thought out a season (three months) at a time. Right now, I am working on getting down one week at a time.

We are always experimenting with making everyday meals that we like into their healthier (which usually means lower carb) versions. Cauliflower is the low carb secret weapon. I love mashed cauliflower, and last week made a shrimp cauliflower fried rice that was really good. Couldn’t even taste the cauliflower.

My goal is to have about 10 healthy recipes that we like and are relatively easy to make to rotate throughout a month. While I am still figuring out what those recipes are, I have decided to think and plan smaller until I have a better grip on what I am doing.

My fiancé, Michael, and I have a shared Evernote notebook called “Culinary – Food” that contains tons of recipes and a note entitled “Menu”. Click here for a sample of the menu I have created in Evernote for the current week. Below I describe in more detail my rationale for organizing my weekly menu this way by column.

continue…

The Perfect Afternoon Snack

It’s 2 p.m. You’re feeling the urge to eat something sweet, even though you aren’t really hungry if you think about it. Still, a snack would be nice. What to do?

My answer is very likely to whip up a Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie. After doing the prep work ahead of time (which isn’t much), I can make one of these in about five minutes. It is so good, it’s worth the extra effort to make it happen rather than reaching for something less nutritious. continue…

How to Make Healthy Snickerdoodles

I wanted to share a recipe I have grown to love after several experiments gone awry over the past year. This is the first truly healthy and easy cookie recipe that I have found that actually tastes good and satisfies the cookie craving.

This recipe is adapted from a Low Carb Snickerdoodles recipe posted on Food.com. The original recipe uses Splenda and brown sugar. In my quest to not consume artificial sweeteners or caloric sugar and still enjoy sweet things, I originally attempted to make this recipe using stevia.

After several (in my opinion) failed experiments with using stevia as the sweetener, I was happy to find Just Like Sugar as a better tasting sugar substitute for baking (also available at Whole Foods and through Amazon). The problem with using stevia was that it overtook the flavor of the whole cookie, it was way too sweet, and the tiny volume that I could use for the whole cookie recipe made the final volume of cookie dough too small. continue…