‘Nana Nut Muffins

I tend to go feast or famine with bananas – I’m either angry because I’m craving one so badly and have none left or I’m wincing at the overflowing collection of browning ones in the fridge. Last week was the latter.

After the success of the Paleo Pumpkin Muffins I made recently, I had the confidence to try another paleo recipe. These Banana Nut Muffins from Paleo Grubs (found via Pinterest, of course) were the perfect way to use up those mushy bananas because they call for FOUR overripe ones. Warning, though: they also call for four eggs, which my mom wasn’t thrilled to discover I had used without adding them to the grocery list. Oops. Bakers gotta bake, right?

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The Brennan Fam could probably use some new pans. Don’t judge.

These were pretty easy and only required one bowl, just like the last ones. I used organic, smooth peanut butter instead of almond butter because 1) almond butter is pretty expensive and I’m cheap and 2) peanut butter is my main food group.

Even with – or maybe especially with – my substitution, these muffins were yummy! They’re super light which makes them the perfect breakfast on the go. I heated them in the microwave, slathered some extra peanut butter on there, and was out the door.

These aren’t nearly as dense as you’re probably used to with a “regular” muffin, but as long as you know that going in you’re golden!

Another warning: I forgot about the whole paleo-food-has-no-preservatives thing and kept them in a plastic container instead of the fridge. They lasted well for the first two or so days but when I went to grab one post holiday they were goners. I was so upset – but I guess you know you’ve made something good when you pout about wasting it.

Have any other must-try, natural recipes for me? Let me know in the comments!

Colorfully Yours,

Haley

Paleo Pumpkin Muffins

Let me start off by clarifying that I do not follow a paleo diet. I love food too much. Food makes me happy. If that’s wrong, then I don’t want to be right.IMG_6469

That being said, if food can be made to taste good while being comprised of all natural, readily available ingredients, then I’m all in. That’s why when I came across this recipe for Paleo Pumpkin Muffins from Empowered Sustenance on Pinterest, I was in – pumpkin PLUS minimal ingredients, minimal steps, and minimal dishes to clean up? Yes please.

This recipe only required one bowl and a few measuring tools. The cleanup took me five minutes. Also, there was no need for an electric mixer, a whisk, or anything remotely involved – just one simple spoon to stir all the ingredients together! Now that’s my kind of recipe.

I’ll tell you which ingredients I used when the recipe gave an option: coconut oil instead of butter or lard, pumpkin puree instead of other veggies, raw honey instead of maple syrup, and pumpkin pie spice instead of cinnamon.

I baked the muffins until the tops were golden brown, just as the recipe instructed. When I cut into one, it looked as if it was slightly underdone but I didn’t want to dry them out so I left them as is. I’m glad I did, because by the next morning they were a great consistency.

IMG_7040The taste of the muffins is definitely more subdued than I’m used to, but the good thing is that I don’t think anyone on earth has a more intense sweet tooth than me. My mom, for example, loves desserts and thought these were perfectly sweet. For me, they may not make the perfect bedtime snack for my cravings, but they do make the perfect breakfast! They filled me up while keeping me feeling light and ready to start my day. I would absolutely make them again!

The moral of this post? Don’t knock paleo treats ’til you try ’em. The cavemen weren’t totally stupid. 😉

 

 

 

Skinny Pumpkin Bread

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Earlier this fall, my mom warned me to stock up on canned pumpkin because of an expected shortage this year. Knowing how many cans of it I went through last year, I rushed over to the grocery store and bought eight cans. Several weeks later, I had yet to open one. As weird as it sounds, I was starting to feel guilty!

Granted, last fall I was at the height of my baking obsession. I made at least one sweet treat each week. I was Betty Crocker on steroids – and on a diet. I couldn’t get enough of the slimmed down dessert recipes that flooded my Pinterest. And since it was fall, I had a pumpkin field day. Or should I say patch day? Ha.

Fast forward to the present. It’s not that I don’t like baking anymore. I absolutely do. But my life is about fifty times busier this year than it was last year, and my down time tends to be spent under my electric blanket rather than in front of the oven.

As the cans of pumpkin peeking out from the pantry began to haunt me, I knew it was time to turn to trusty ol’ Pinterest and get myself back in the game. I came across this recipe for Skinny Pumpkin Bread from Living Well Spending LessI’ll admit that I was quite skeptical at first. I was anticipating a bland bread, but since I clearly had plenty of pumpkin to go around, I figured I’d go for it.

I’m simultaneously glad and full of regret that I tried this recipe. Why glad? Because it was absolutely delicious. Why regret? Because it was absolutely delicious. Yup, I ate an ungodly amount of it in one sitting. But hey, at least it’s “skinny,” right?

I halved the recipe to make two loaves instead of four. When the bread first came out, I thought I had overcooked it – the outside looked a little dry. But when I cut into it it was just right – just slightly gooey and perfectly moist. For the second loaf, I sprinkled some chocolate chunks on top of the batter before baking it. You can’t be skinny all the time, ok?!

My friend Elizabeth and I downed this pumpkin bread like it was our last meal. I brought the rest to my friend Kate because I could not be trusted with the full batch in my possession.

My mouth is watering as I write this. If you decide to make it, tag @haleyslifeincolor in your photo so I can salivate some more!

Because admit it, you wouldn’t dare bake something without Instagramming it.

Spilling the Beans

I’ve been slacking so hard on the baking front the past few months.

I think this had to do with three things:

  1. Winter finally ending and no longer being cooped up in the house.
  2. I had been baking constantly for months, so I think I burnt myself out.
  3. My parents came home from Florida… so why work in the kitchen when I don’t have to? 😉

Anyway, the colder weather has already started to set in and and my snowbird parents have already ditched me for their winter home. Which is why the other night I FINALLY got around to baking up some guilt-free goodness again.

black bean avocado browniesOf course, living alone (albeit temporarily) means that the grocery selection in my pantry is not exactly brimming with choices. I didn’t have many fresh ingredients except for a pretty mushy avocado, but I wasn’t about to let that go to waste. I got to Pinteresting and found a recipe for Black Bean and Avocado Brownies. Don’t judge a recipe by its ingredients. Well, do, but be open minded about it.

I had a can of black beans laying around from the last cycle of my healthy baking addiction, so I decided to go for it. The picture on the Ambitious Kitchen blog looked fudgy and sinful. Sold.

The brownies were shockingly simple to make. I’m used to these healthy recipes requiring 43 different steps and a plethora of kitchen tools. This one, though, required a blender and a pan. Count me in.

When the oven timer went off and I stuck a knife in the center, the knife came out relatively clean as the instructions had said. However, as I cut into them, the consistency seemed a little off, reminiscent of the last time I made avocado brownies and failed miserably. A bit dejected, I decided to follow the Ambitious Kitchen’s suggestion of letting the brownies fully cool before enjoying them.

Patience is a virtue, my friends.

Holy addictive goodness. After the brownies had cooled down to room temperature, they were deliciously gooey and rich. I’m normally the type that needs to heat every single dessert until it gets melty, but these were perfect while cool.

I’m actually too ashamed to admit how many of these bad boys I ate in one sitting. I’ll take that to my grave. But at least I can tell myself they’re relatively healthy, right?

Give these a try, but make sure you cut them into squares and hide 75% of them from yourself instead of just digging right in with your butter knife like I did.

Let me know how they turn out! Thank you to Monique from Ambitious Kitchen for the recipe!

Happy baking!

Nice Cream Sandwiches

I have the easiest treat for you guys to try as the summer winds down!

Recently, my brain pulled a memory out of thin air and I recalled my grandmother making guilt-free “ice cream” sandwiches years ago. All she did was put Cool Whip in between chocolate graham crackers and then freeze the sandwiches for a few hours. If I recall correctly, the recipe (if you can even call it that) was originally from Weight Watchers.

Since my peanut butter addiction is past the point of no return, I really had no choice but to put my own PB spin on the sandwiches. I put some peanut butter in a bowl with a few heaping scoops of Cool Whip and mixed it together with a spoon.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t track down the chocolate variety of graham crackers at the grocery store I went to. But as you probably know by now, I need my chocolate fix. I started by adding chocolate chips to the edges of the sandwiches, but then my mom came up with a brilliant idea.

She suggested I mix a dollop of hot fudge (not hot at the moment, obviously) with the Cool Whip to make chocolate ‘ice cream.’ It was so yummy, I could’ve eaten it with a spoon…and sort of did. Mother knows best!

I also made some plain ol’ sandwiches with just Cool Whip for the play-it-safers.

Last night I ate the peanut butter chocolate chip, and it hit the spot if I do say so myself. The peanut butter flavor was very light and the whole thing tasted perfectly refreshing for a summer night. I can’t wait to treat myself to another one tonight!

You could definitely play around and mix just about anything into the Cool Whip. You could even layer it with some sliced fruit if you’re into that super healthy thing. I’ll stick to my chocolate chips, though.

Even though the directions are self-explanatory, I’ll write them out for those of you that are just skimming this post. Even though that’s rude, guys.

  1. Make sure your Cool Whip isn’t totally soft. I bought mine frozen and then let it defrost in the refrigerator for about an hour. It was soft enough to be malleable but firm enough to prevent a major mess!
  2. Place a few heaping spoonfuls of Cool Whip in a small bowl. Add your ingredient(s) of choice – I used about a teaspoon of peanut butter.
  3. Scoop a dollop (or two…or three) of Cool Whip onto your first graham cracker square, then cover it with the second square.
  4. I placed chocolate chips around the sides of a few sandwiches.
  5. Individually wrap the sandwiches in saran wrap or sandwich bags for easy access.
  6. Freeze your ‘ice cream’ sandwiches for a few hours.
  7. Hoard them all for yourself.

I scream for ice cream Cool Whip!

Chocolate Avocado Cookies

Yes, you read that right.

I tried coming up with an annoying avocado pun to title this post, but I decided that putting chocolate and avocado in the same sentence was attention-grabbing enough. 20130929-134247-500x522

I love avocados, but they sure don’t make it easy. You wait and wait for them to ripen while you salivate whenever you see them on your counter, but then you somehow miss that tiny window of avocado perfection and are left with a mushy, unappetizing blob.

That’s where this recipe from The Smoothie Lover comes in. You get to use those overly ripe avocados you spent a pretty penny on. (I’m still bitter about the time in college when I paid $3 for one avocado at Whole Foods and never got to eat it.)

I know chocolate and avocado sounds like sort of an icky mix, but I would never steer you wrong when it comes to desserts. My sweet tooth and I do not mess around.

Avocado can be used as a healthy alternative to butter in many recipes, but I tend to get nervous unless I’ve heard that it came out well from the recipe poster. This one was the perfect opportunity to try it out!

These cookies were sinfully good. If you don’t like rich tasting chocolate, though, step away from the oven. These are super rich – I made sure to have a glass of almond milk handy as I indulged. IMG_7365

Another thing to note is that the cookies are very sticky. The outside looks sort of glossy as you can tell from my photo, and it will stick to your fingers like Dorito dust. But it’s worth every paper towel you use in the process.

I’ll admit that I made these quite a while ago, but I can assure you that the taste is vivid in my mind. In fact, I’m sitting here questioning why I haven’t made them again. I used regular ol’ chocolate chips in this recipe instead of the dark chocolate chunks. I also switched out the coconut sugar for a blend of half regular sugar, half Stevia.

These cookies are totally acceptable to make for your picky family – no one will even be able to tell they contain avocado. And they certainly won’t believe they’re healthy.

Avocadon’t eat them all in one sitting! 😉

From Chunky Monkey to Fit Chimp

As much as I try to acquire a taste for yogurt, it hasn’t seemed to happen yet. It’s such a convenient and healthy snack, but something about the taste and the consistency just doesn’t work for me. I love frozen yogurt, of course – anything with unnecessary sugar added to it usually agrees with my tastebuds. IMG_0019

The other night I was craving a sweet treat for dessert without cheating too much. I could’ve gone for some Ben & Jerry’s, but instead I scoured the cabinet for some add-ins to make the lonely Greek yogurt in my fridge more palatable. I decided to put my own spin on the iconic Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor “Chunky Monkey.” With that I present to you…

Fit Chimp Yogurt 

– one individual container of plain Greek yogurt (I used Chobani)

– one heaping teaspoon of peanut butter (I used Teddy’s)

– one teaspoon of honey

– a few almonds

– more than a few chocolate chips 😉

– 1/4 of a banana

– I mixed in a sprinkle of Stevia because my sweet tooth is off the charts

Mix it all together and you’ll forget you’re eating yogurt! I didn’t have the patience to wait, but I’m sure this would taste delicious frozen as well.

This treat is definitely not monkeying around.