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My Favorite Easy To Make Desserts

While we don’t eat dessert every day, my three year olds are asking for it more often, and though I used to get away with just serving some fresh fruit, I now get the death stare when I try to pass fruit off as a “yummy” dessert.  They’ve wised up now.  They know the game.  I do have some ready made “go-to’s” like Granola Bites (of course) and Pro Bugs Frozen Kefir Pops, but I have been trying to make some homemade desserts where I can control the sugar and nutrition.  Here are a few healthy ones that I have tried.  They are all quick and easy to make, and all of them are absolutely delicious, for kids and adults!

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1. Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bites – These are OUT OF THIS WORLD!  When I saw this recipe, I literally made it the same day and we ate them all, the same day.  I used dark chocolate and added chia seeds to the peanut butter mixture.  If you have a nut allergy, use sun flower butter. Thank you Yummy Mummy for sharing this amazing recipe!

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2. Chocolate Avocado Pudding – I know, I know, it’s a tough one to imagine.  But trust me when I tell you that no one will even suspect the avocado! Try it with berries on top, or some homemade whip cream!  Delicious.  I followed this recipe and used agave as a sweetner.

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3. Stove Top Apple Crisp – A super easy dessert that you can make in a few minutes, I made it with apples and pears, sauteed them in coconut oil, and topped with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream.  We all loved it, check out the recipe.

What are some of your favorite, easy desserts?

 

 

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Our Valentine’s Day Party Plans

Now that I have kids, I actually like Valentine’s Day.  It’s a welcome change after the busy Christmas season and often dreary January.  It’s easy, cute and the perfect reminder to express love and gratitude to those who matter most (and to show our kids those valuable lessons).   I started a tradition with two of my dearest friends (also moms to twins) where we schedule a themed play date to celebrate these holidays, and the 2013 Valentine’s Day party is already on the calendar.  It allows our kids to celebrate important days with friends and gives the Mamas a chance to socialize and take great pics!  We typically do some crafts, eat snacks and sweet treats, all in the spirit of the holiday.  This Valentine Day, I’m in charge of snacks, and here’s what I plan on making:

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1. Roasted Beet Hummus with Whole Wheat Pita Bread (recipe here)

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2. Homemade Strawberry Lemonade (recipe here)

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3. Fruit Kabobs with Yogurt for dipping –  Arrange strawberries (halved) & blueberries & bananas (or any fruit) on a straw or popsicle stick, and serve with a a bowl of strawberry yogurt for dipping.

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4. Raspberry Swirl Cupcakes w/ Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe here)

Simple, but so yummy. Stay tuned for pics from party!

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PB Chocolate Chip Cookies, so easy (and delicious), my 3yr olds did most of the work!

IMG_0577Winter has arrived in the North East, and along with the frigid temperature and short, gloomy days, comes severe cabin fever.  There are only so many arts and crafts, puzzles, dress up and lego’s any  three year old can do until the wheels come of the bus.  Since they are entering a stage where they want to do everything themselves (a.k.a. “i do myself mommy, i’m a big girl”), I’ve been trying to break up the monotony with a little baking.  One of our first projects were these peanut butter, chocolate chip cookies, which much to my surprise, were absolutely delicious and only lasted  24 hours.  I chose these because they only have a few ingredients, didn’t have flour (flour + toddlers = massive mess), and were pretty healthy (low in sugar, whole grain oats and fruit).  And for those that follow a gluten free diet, these are gluten free!

The entire “project” took less than 20 minutes, I sat them down, gave them each a bowl and a wooden spoon, and allowed them to help me mash the banans, measure and mix ingredients.  They were elated!  And then after dinner, we all had healthy, homemade cookies for dessert.  It really doesn’t get better than that!  Here’s the recipe.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup applesauce or 2 over-ripe bananas, mashed (I used the bananas)
  • 1/2 cup nut butter of choice (I used unsweetened peanut butter, you can use any nut butter or even sunflower butter for those with nut allergies)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 tblspn maple syrup or agave
  • pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mash the applesauce or bananas with the nut butter, then add all other ingredients and mix until well-combined. Shape into small cookies (I used a teaspoon) and bake for around 12-14 minutes.  Keep them refrigerated because they can get a little soft in a warm temperature.

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Before they went into the oven.

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…and after….yummy!!!

*adapted from http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2012/01/11/oatmeal-raisin-breakfast-cookies/

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Balls

Still trying to find a healthy lunchbox treat to add to your little one’s lunches?  This is the perfect recipe!  Not only are they easy to make but are packed with fiber and protein, they also have added nutrients from chia seeds.  It also helps that they taste great too!! So add one of these to the lunchbox and sneak one for yourself too!!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Balls

1 1/2 cups oats
2 Tbsp chia seeds
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 c honey

Preparation:

1. In a medium bowl, combine the oats, chia seeds, and almonds.

2. In a small bowl, combine the chocolate chips, honey and peanut butter. Microwave on low, stirring after each 10 second interval, until melted and mix well to combine.

3. Add the melted mixture to the oat mixture and mix well. Form into balls and refrigerate until chilled. (I had to sort of squish them in my fist to get the mixture to stick together.)

4. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Source:

http://www.alittlenosh.net

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Watermelon Frozen Yogurt

Looking for a refreshing yet healthy treat to cool off on Labor Day?  Here is a delicious alternative to ice cream that is sure to be a favorite!  It takes little time to prepare and you can make it with or without an ice cream maker!

Watermelon Frozen Yogurt

1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar or agave nectar
4 cups diced seedless watermelon, (about 3 pounds with the rind)
1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
1 tablespoon lime juice

Preparation:

1. Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring, over high heat until the sugar is dissolved. Transfer to a glass measuring cup and let cool slightly.

2. Puree watermelon in a food processor or blender, in 2 batches, pulsing until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl. Whisk in the cooled sugar syrup, yogurt and lime juice until combined. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into another large bowl, whisking to release all juice.

3. Discard pulp. Pour the extracted juices into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions. (Alternatively, pour into a shallow metal pan and freeze until solid, about 6 hours or overnight.

4. Remove from freezer to defrost slightly, 5 minutes. Break into small chunks and process in a food processor, in batches, until smooth and creamy.) Serve immediately or transfer to a storage container and freeze for up to 2 hours.

Source:

Eating Well

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Lavender Scented Strawberries With Honey Cream

Looking for a refreshing dessert for tonight? The subtle flavors of this dish are sure to make it a favorite!

Lavender Scented Strawberries With Honey Cream

1/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried lavender
1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 large egg yolks
1 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
1 (6-ounce) container 2% Greek-style plain yogurt
2 cups quartered strawberries

Preparation:

1. Bring first 3 ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan; cook 1 minute or until sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Strain syrup through a sieve into a small bowl; discard solids. Chill.

2. Sprinkle gelatin over 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl. Let stand 1 minute or until gelatin dissolves.

3. Combine honey, cornstarch, salt, and egg yolks in a medium bowl; stir well with a whisk.

4. Heat milk over medium-high heat in a small heavy saucepan to 180° or until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil). Gradually add hot milk to egg mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Return milk mixture to pan. Cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly (about 2 minutes), stirring constantly. Remove from heat; add gelatin mixture, stirring well. Pour milk mixture into a bowl; stir occasionally until cool but not set (about 20 minutes). Stir in yogurt. Spoon 1/4 cup yogurt mixture into each of 8 dessert glasses or bowls. Cover and chill at least 2 hours.

5. Top each serving with 1/4 cup strawberries, and drizzle with 2 teaspoons syrup.

Source:

Cooking Light

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4th of July Fruit “Cake”

Happy 4th of July everyone!!!

I thoroughly enjoy holidays because I love making new themed dishes, especially desserts.  This year for the 4th, I really wanted to find a healthier option to the traditional stars and stripes cake.  Last week, Eat Better America posted a recipe for a Red, White, and Blue Fruit “Cake” that is not only easy to make but tastes great!  You will never even notice that there is no cake in this dessert!!

1 package (8 oz) fat-free cream cheese, softened
1 container (6 oz) Yoplait® Greek Fat Free honey-vanilla or plain yogurt
1/3 cup sugar
3 (8-inch) round slices seedless watermelon, rind removed (each 1 inch thick)
3 cups blue and red berries (choose from blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries)

Preparation:
1. In medium bowl, beat cream cheese, yogurt and sugar with electric mixer on medium speed about 30 seconds or until smooth.
2. Just before serving, place 1 watermelon round on serving platter; top with one-third of the cream cheese mixture. Place half of the berries on top of cream cheese. Gently place second watermelon round over berries.Repeat layers of cream cheese mixture, berries (saving a few for the top) and watermelon round. Spread remaining cream cheese mixture on top, and garnish with remaining berries.

Source:

Eat Better America

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Stars and Stripes Berry Poundcake

One of my favorite things to make over Memorial Day is my stars and stripes poundcake.  I also love to make themed food for holidays so this is the perfect dish that is easy to make and travels well!!  If the idea of cake turns you off, I also found a similar idea using only berries and bananas.

Stars and Stripes Poundcake

2 12 oz. containers Cool Whip
2 pt Blueberries
2 pk Frozen pound cake ( I make my own poundcake for the recipe, see below)
2 pt Strawberries or raspberries (will require an additional pt of raspberries)

Poundcake

2 tsp all-purpose flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. unsalted butter, softened
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup. low-fat sour cream or Greek yogurt

Preparation:

1. Slice one pint of the strawberries and halve the other pint.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour one 8 x 4 inch loaf pan with cooking spray/flour.

3. Cream butter and sugar in a mixer bowl until fluffy. Add egg whites and egg, beating well. Beat in almond and vanilla extract and sour cream. Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.

4. Add to the butter/egg mixture and beat well. Pour batter into loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes.  Put poundcake in fridge or freezer for at least 1 hour.

5. Cut the pound cake into 10 slices and line the bottom of a casserole dish with the slices.

6. Spread Cool Whip evenly over top. Top with sliced strawberries and 1/2 the blueberies.

7. Layer slices of second pound cake and spread remaining Cool Whip. Place strawberry halves and remaining blueberries on cake as a flag so that the blueberries created the star square and the strawberries form the stripes.

Fruit Flags

29 Large Strawberries

30 Blackberries

7 Bananas

Lemon Juice

Toothpicks (optional)

Preparation:

1. Hull and halve 29 large strawberries and set them aside.
2. Arrange 30 large blackberries, as shown, in the upper left corner of a serving tray or cutting board (it should be at least 8 by 13 inches).
3. Cut 58 banana slices, 3/4-inch-thick, into a bowl. Sprinkle on lemon juice and toss the slices gently with a rubber spatula to keep them from browning.
4. Assemble the banana slices in rows as shown and top each slice with a strawberry half secure with toothpick if desired.

Adapted From:

http://www.familyfun.com

 

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Rhubarb- The Vegetable That You May Not Know

This week is all about fruits and veggies that are in season, so today we are talking about rhubarb.  Growing up, both my parents and grandparents had rhubarb overflowing from their gardens, so it comes as no surprise that one of my favorite comfort foods since I was a child has been my grandmother’s rhubarb crunch.  Whenever I mention rhubarb to people, most have heard of it but have never tried it or honestly have no idea what I am talking about.  Unfortunately rhubarb is not readily available in all super markets.  The best place to find it is at your local farmer’s market, however larger markets may carry it as well!

Rhubarb is a vegetable, however most consider it to be a fruit.  It is similar to cranberries in that rhubarb is extremely tart which is why you should not eat it raw and requires a bit of sugar, honey or juice to help take the acidity out.  Rhubarb is an excellent substitute for cranberries in recipes since the tartness of both are quite similar.  In the fall, I love making stuffed baked apples and have used rhubarb in them in place of the cranberries and they were amazing!  The great thing about rhubarb is that it will keep in the fridge for up to 3 weeks(if trimmed) and can be frozen also.  It is an excellent source of fiber, Vitamin’s C and K, Calcium, and Potassium.

Rhubarb is easy to prepare, all you need to do is cut off and discard and leaves. Rinse and trim from base and tip. You may peel or cut with the skin intact. Remember to cook only in non-aluminum pots only due to the acidic nature of rhubarb.

**Important, never eat the leaves of rhubarb raw or cooked as they are extremely toxic, so if you are cooking rhubarb around children or pets, remember to dispose right away to avoid them taking the leaves.

Here is the original recipe for my grandmother’s rhubarb crunch.  You can substitute the sugar for the sauce with agave nectar and sugar if you desire.

Rhubarb Crunch

4 cups chopped rhubarb

1 1/4 cups flour

1 cup oats

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar

1/2 cup melted butter

Sauce:

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup cold water

1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Chop rhubarb and set aside.  Mix together the flour, oats, cinnamon, brown sugar and melted butter.

2. Press one-half of crumb mixture into a buttered 7″x11″ or 8.5″x11″ baking dish.

3. Sauce: Whisk sugar, cornstarch and water together in a glass bowl.  Microwave until thick, clear, and bubbly, approximately 3-5 minutes.  Remove from microwave and whisk in vanilla.  Add chopped rhubarb atop pressed-in crumb mixture in the baking dish.  Pour sugar sauce evenly over rhubarb.

4. Top with remaining crumb mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees until edges are bubbling and crumb topping is browned, about 30-40 minutes.

Source:

http://www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov/month/rhubarb.html

 

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Nutella Egg Nests

Happy Easter Everyone!! What holiday is complete without dessert?!? We found a recipe that is easy to make and won’t hold you up in the kitchen so you will have more time to spend with your family !

Nutella Egg Nests

Ingredients:

2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 large egg white
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups sweetened coconut
1 cup Nutella
M&M Speck-tacular Eggs (or other Easter candy)

Preparation:

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat mat.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the sweetened condensed milk, egg white, vanilla extract, and salt. Stir until combined. Add in the coconut and mix well.

3. With a spoon, scoop up about 3 Tablespoons of the dough and place the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Form the cookies into the shape of a bird nest. Press down the center with your thumb.

4. Bake cookies for 17 to 20 minutes, or until slightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and press your thumb down in the center of the nests again. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes or until they are firm and set. Remove with a spatula onto a cooling rack. Cool completely.

5. Place about a tablespoon of Nutella in the center of each nest. Place 3 egg candies in the center of the nest. Finish decorating the nests and serve.

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