Monthly Archives: December 2016

Lighter Carrot Sheet Cake

Carrot cake is my absolute favorite cake.  OK, I’ll go so far as to say it’s my favorite dessert (next to a good NY cheesecake).  There is something about the delicate carrot flavor, hint of cinnamon, crunch of the walnuts and that delectable cream cheese frosting..ahh I digress.  So I made this lightened up version as I have to be cautious of my sugar intake (yes dietitians also can have sugar issues but I promise you this one is hereditary), and I also didn’t want anything too sweet for my little ones or family on Christmas day.  Thankfully everyone else enjoyed it as much as I did making it.  This carrot cake is kinda AHHHHmazing.  I’m not a fan or raisins or crushed pineapple in carrot cake so didn’t include them in this recipe.  I did replace most of the oil with unsweetened applesauce and cut the sugar.  It was just the right amount of sweetness and balance with the frosting.  The cake itself was ever so moist and delicious.  The only timely process was shredding those carrots which I suggest doing by hand vs a blender-but try it your way 🙂  Give this a try and I promise you will not want to go back to super sweet carrot cake again!

Ingredients:

3 cups raw finely shredded carrots, not packed and drained well of excess water

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 whole eggs, whisked

3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup canola oil

Cream cheese frosting

3 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup butter softened

8 oz light cream cheese

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, applesauce, sugar and vanilla extract.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. 
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix to combine.
  5. Fold in carrots.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
  7. To Make Frosting: In a blender whisk butter, then add in cream cheese, powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat from low to high speed until the mixture is smooth and creamy. 
  8. Frost the cooled cake and sprinkle with walnuts.

Apple, Cranberry Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins

If you’re following my posts, you may know that I love baking muffins.  Truly, I’m always looking for a good variety of quick on-the-go breakfast options and these oatmeal muffins fit the bill. I recently made a quite delicious blueberry oatmeal muffin which included flour but wanted to make another flourless version.  These muffins were meant to be bars but I wanted to create individual portion sizes and a muffin tin worked perfectly!  Get creative with mix-ins. I added chopped Granny smith apple, dried cranberries and cinnamon.  The flavor is just right without being overly sweet.  I also added crispy brown rice cereal but it didn’t create the layer of texture I was hoping for (really due to the addition of milk here), but you can leave it out and add about an additional 1/2 cup of oats or until the mixture is thick.  These are gluten-free, heart healthy and low in sugar!

Ingredients:

3 cups quick cooking or rolled oats

 

1 cup brown rice cereal

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 overly ripe bananas, mashed well

1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup milk or dairy alternative

1/4 cup agave nectar

1 egg + 1 egg white, whisked

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Place muffin liners in a muffin tin. Set aside.
  3. Combine oats, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine agave, banana, milk, vanilla, egg and egg white
  5. Add liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients, mix until moist.  Do not overmix!
  6. Fold in chopped apple and cranberries.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.

Leek, Apple and Cornbread Stuffing

Who says stuffing is only for Thanksgiving?! I love to recreate  a Thanksgiving meal all year round-at least a healthier version.  Stuffing is always a MUST! and I just love this combination of apples and leeks.  You can make this totally vegetarian by using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.  I do go the extra step and make fresh, homemade cornbread that is low in sugar and includes yogurt! I’ll post that recipe separately.  If you buy a store-brand cornbread, just be sure to read the nutrition facts as some are super high in fat and sugar.

As I write this post, my mouth is watering thinking of the delicious flavors in this stuffing.  You must try it a protein such as turkey, chicken or tofu, along with a salad.

Ingredients:

2 whole leeks, white part only, roots trimmed and cut into rings

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 Granny smith apple peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Leaves from 2 fresh thyme sprigs, chopped
1-8×8 cornbread, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock (or low-sodium vegetable stock)                                          salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Fill a large bowl with water and add the leeks, swish around with your hands to get the sand out from in between the layers.
  3. In a large saute pan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon each of butter and olive oil. Add the leeks, celery and apples.
  4. Sprinkle with the thyme, salt and pepper and cook for about 6-8 minutes, turning every now and then, until softened.
  5. In a large bowl combine the leeks, apples, celery, cornbread, and chicken stock and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Bake  uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until golden.

Strawberry Banana Gelatin with Chia Seeds

I decided to make my Strawberry Banana Gelatin with chia seeds last night and once again, the kids loved it! You can get creative with your own fun mix-ins!  I’ve always loved jello as a kid, but knowing what I know now about its ingredients, I stay away and wanted to create a healthier naturally sweetened version for my kids. This gelatin is super easy to make and seriously delish! Get creative and add in your child’s favorite fruits! With a dollop of light whipped topping, this dish is still way lower sugar than regular jello! Great way to get your kids to meet their recommended fruit intake! 😋

Ingredients:

2T (or 2-.25oz packs) of unflavored gelatin

1.5 cups organic apple juice boiled

1/2cup organic apple juice cold

1 banana sliced

6 large strawberries chopped

2T chia seeds

Directions

  1. in a large mixing bowl, pour in the cold 1/2c of apple juice.
  2. Sprinkle the gelatine over it. Let it set for a couple of minutes while you boil the other 1.5 cups of apple juice.
  3. After its boiled pour over the Apple juice gelatine mixture in the bowl.
  4. Whisk well, couple of minutes.
  5. Now take your fruits and place them in a glass baking dish, I used an 8×8 but any dish around that size will work and if it’s a larger size dish, you may just get thinner pieces.
  6. Pour the apple juice over the fruit.
  7. Add in chia seeds of using. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Enjoy!!

Food Art for Kids!

Struggling to get your kids to try some fruits and veggies?  Well try presenting it in a fun and interesting way!  Recently, I was totally inspired to get more creative with meals for my little guys.  Here are a few ways I’ve taken their typical breakfast or snacks and recreated them to be more appealing and attractive (which also results in better eating for most kids as well!).  So I hope this inspires some of you to get a bit more creative with meals for your kids! My kids really loved these especially the rainbow and grape christmas tree!

Creamy Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with White Beans

There is nothing like warm soup on a chilly day.  Butternut squash is one of my favorite vegetables.  I know it might be intimidating to some with that thick hard outer layer but trust me, it’s super easy to make and can be used in everything from salads to rice and pasta dishes and of course, soup!  I had a craving for some creamy butternut squash soup but also wanted to add in some protein, so I chose some cannellini beans.  Oh and my secret ingredient :::drumroll:: pumpkin pie spice!  The flavors work so well with this soup!!  But you can totally just use nutmeg or a combo I suggest below.  My 4 year old loves any type of beans so I knew this would be a hit with him! I was thrilled to see watch him take the first, then second, then third spoon of this soup…until he finished it all! Now this recipe uses roasted butternut squash and although you will find many recipes out there suggesting you fully peel the squash and cut the flesh into cubes, it isn’t necessery for this soup.  Here is the full recipe! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 (~3 pound) butternut squash
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped                                                                                                                                              1 bay leaf
5 cups low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or use 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 t ginger and 1/4 t nutmeg)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste                                                                                         15 oz container of no-salt-added cannellini beans, rinsed well and drained                                                                                      Plain Greek yogurt for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, but if it’s too long to cut that way, simply cut it in 4 quarters.
  3. Place the squash flesh-side up on the baking sheet and either spray with olive oil cooking spray or drizzle a little olive oil on each just to coat them.
  4. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until fork tender.  Set aside and allow to cool.
  5. Peel the skin off and then cut flesh into small chunks and places in a bowl.  Set aside.
  6. Now, heat 1 tablespoon unsalted butter in a dutch oven over medium heat and when bubbly, add the onions and garlic.  Allow to brown but not burn! about 6-8 minutes.
  7. Add the bay leaf and sautee about 1-2 minutes.
  8. Now pour in the broth and squash.
  9. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 30 minutes.
  10. Pour in the beans and continue to heat an additional 15 minutes.  Sprinkle in pumpkin pie spice.
  11. Using a ladle, scoop out some of the soup into a blender and blend on high speed and work in batches until entire soup is rich and creamy.
  12. Garnish with a bit of yogurt or just have it on its own!
  13. Season with salt and pepper to taste.