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Raw Double Chocolate Brownie Bites

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I joined The Secret Recipe Club at the end of May, which was too late to participate in June, so I was super eager to finally get my assignment for July.  In this club, each month the participating bloggers make a recipe from another participant’s blog.  The blog is assigned secretly and at random, so no one else knows who’s making something from their blog that month.  I found the whole idea really fun and exciting!  (Don’t judge me.)

I was assigned to make a recipe from Ginger Lemon Girl’s blog, and my first reaction was a mixture of both trepidation and anticipation.  Carrie follows a gluten-free diet, and since I don’t have any dietary restrictions, I wasn’t sure if the recipes would appeal to me, but I knew I could adapt them if necessary and was ready for the challenge.  Once I started browsing her archives, I quickly realized that her recipes were good, wholesome foods that anyone could enjoy, and some of them were naturally gluten-free because no flour was involved.  Like this one!

When I came across Carrie’s recipe for Raw Chocolate Brownie Bites, I immediately thought of my love for Fudge Babies, and knew it was the one I’d have to make.

I made the recipe as it was written the first time (pictured above) and really liked it (maybe that’s an understatement, seeing as how I ate half the batch the first day!), though adding as much agave nectar to sweeten them as I liked (2 T) made them too soft for me. I wanted them chewier and a little sweeter (i.e. more dates!). I also wanted more of the chocolate dough so that it would completely cover the bottom of a loaf pan. The first batch, spreading it to the thickness I wanted, filled only 2/3 of the bottom of the pan. So I took Carrie’s rockin’ recipe and tweaked it a bit, and couldn’t help adding some mini chocolate chips to make them doubly chocolatey!  The chocolate chips only add 16 calories per Brownie Bite and don’t change the points, so I really recommend you put them over the top to make these bites, well, over the top. :)

For those unfamiliar with raw desserts, they are a lot like Larabars, but better (at least I think these are).  If you’ve never had those either, now’s your chance to see what all the fuss is about.  This isn’t like eating a candy bar or any sort of processed sweet, because it’s all-natural, raw, and much healthier (not to mention allergy-friendly), but they are very good!  I bet even your kids will love them.  Give them a try and see if you don’t agree.

Raw Double Chocolate Brownie Bites

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 cup pitted dates
1 1/3 cups raw nuts (I used 2/3 cups each almonds & pecans)
¼ cup cocoa powder
½ teaspoon Fleur de Sel or kosher salt
~or ¼ teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

Soak the dates in a bowl of hot tap water for five minutes; drain well. (Skip the soaking step if you are using Medjool dates.) In a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, grind the nuts until very fine. Add the drained dates, cocoa powder, and salt. Process for a minute or two, until nuts are very fine and the mixture sticks together quite easily, if it’s not already coming together in the bowl. With the food processor running, add the vanilla through the feed tube and continue processing until the mixture starts to form a ball. Just run it for another 10-30 seconds and if it doesn’t form a ball, check the consistency and see if it will stick together when pinched. If not, add a teaspoon of water and continue processing, adding more water if necessary (it shouldn’t be) until the mixture is sticky. Pat the chocolate dough into a loaf pan. It is OK if oil separates a little and forms a layer on top; it will soak back down into the brownie dough while it sits in the refrigerator.   Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top and pat them down into the surface so that they will stick. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-3 hours. Cut into 18 squares (6 rows x 3 rows) and enjoy cold.

Makes 18 Brownie Bites

Per Brownie Bite: 107 calories; 7 g fat; 1.1 g saturated fat; 1.6 g polyunsaturated fat; 3.8 g monounsaturated fat; 0 g cholesterol;  33.2 mg sodium; 151 mg potassium; 12 g carbohydrates; 2.4 g fiber; 2.1 g protein; Vitamin B-6 2%; Vitamin E 8%; Calcium 2.2%; Copper 10%; Iron 4%; Magnesium 8.4%; Manganese 21.3%; Phosphorous 5.6%; Riboflavin 3.6%; Thiamin 3.3%; Zinc 3.6%      3 Points Plus

Recipe source: adapted from Ginger Lemon Girl



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Healthy Blueberry Muffins

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Did I scare you off with the word healthy?  For those who are still reading, I have a nice treat in store for you!  I whipped these babies up because I had some seriously overripe bananas begging to be used and also scored three pints of blueberries for $1.50 each at Aldi (love Aldi!).  These are healthy in every sense of the word: whole wheat, all-natural, sugar-free, and low fat.  Each muffin comes in at just 3 Points Plus.  And yes, they are quite delicious!  Maybe not delicious in the same way that a white, sugar-sweetened blueberry muffin with streusel topping is delicious, but delicious in a way that makes you happy not only in your mouth but in your overall sense of well-being.

I calculated the nutritional information for the recipe using both Truvia and sugar (since most people probably don’t have Truvia sitting around in their home), and either way the muffins come to 3 Points Plus.    If you like baking sugar-free, I encourage you to try Truvia because in my experience it acts like sugar in baking, unlike many substitutes.  (I’ve used it before in my Chocolate Chip Banana Bread and Apple Cake Mabel, both with excellent results.) It is all natural, coming from the stevia plant, so you don’t have to be scared of any side-effects.  There are none!  It is the only all-natural calorie-free sweetener out there (stevia, not Truvia.  There are many sweeteners made from stevia and Truvia is just one of them.)

I often complain to other bloggers when they fail to describe how their recipes taste because that is what I care about most when reading a recipe on a blog, so I’d better include my review too, lest those bloggers I’ve ticked off with my whining come back to haunt me. ;)  The banana flavor doesn’t come through at all on the first day, it just naturally sweetens the muffins and makes them moist without a lot of added fat. Somehow the banana flavor develops overnight because I could faintly taste it when eating the leftovers, which were just as good.  I also couldn’t detect the mace so I wouldn’t say it’s essential.  I just threw it in on a whim.  I thought the sweetness level was just right–not too sweet and not under-sweet.  The texture is very moist, tender, and the whole grain makes them a little more hearty than I’m used to, but they seem more wholesome for it, which I like.  The only thing I’d change next time is adding 1/2 cup more blueberries to make the muffins larger without changing the calories much (plus the blueberries add a lot of sweetness), and perhaps sprinkling a little sugar over the top of each before baking to make them prettier.  What I liked most was eating them warm so that the blueberries burst in my mouth and hot juice squirted out.  Oh, so delicious.

Healthy Blueberry Muffins

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

3 medium over-ripe bananas
½ cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons Truvia, or 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon mace (optional)
1 ¼ cups white whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup fresh blueberries (please try 1 1/2 cups!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line 12 muffin cups with paper; set aside.   Get out your overripe bananas and peel them into a large bowl.

When I said I had overripe bananas, I meant really overripe.  There’s no reason why you can’t use black bananas in baking.  The older they are, the better they are for baking because they get sweeter and have more banana flavor (in this case, that doesn’t affect the flavor of the muffins but it’s great for banana bread).  You’ll only need three unless you’re doubling the recipe.  I happened to make this recipe twice because I put too much liquid and not enough flour in it the first time, so I was glad to have just the right amount of bananas to make another batch and perfect the recipe.

As you can see, the insides are nice and golden and very soft.

Mash ’em up.

Stir in the buttermilk, oil, Truvia (or sugar), vanilla, salt, and mace.

Add flour, baking soda, and baking powder, and stir until moistened but lumpy.

It doesn’t need to be any more mixed than this because you’ll be stirring it more when you add the blueberries.  The more you mix muffin batter, the tougher the muffins will be.

Stir in the blueberries.

Using an icecream scoop, divide the batter between prepared muffin cups. (I didn’t take any more pictures for some reason so just imagine one of the finished batter, and one of the filled muffin tin before baking. Thanks. :))  Bake 15-20 minutes, until done. Cool on wire rack for a few minutes before serving. Cool leftovers completely and store in a Ziploc bag or airtight container.

Makes 12 muffins.

Per muffin: 100 calories; 2.8 g fat; 17 g carbohydrates; 2.3 g fiber; 2.4 g protein; 3 Points Plus

Made with ½ cup sugar in place of Truvia: 133 calories; 2.8 g fat; 25 g carbohydrates; 2.3 g fiber; 2.4 g protein; 3 Points Plus

Recipe by Veronica Miller

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