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Tag Archives: Sugar-Free

Kumquat & Coconut Cookies {Grain & Sugar-Free}

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Whew, two recipe contests in the same week!  I don’t know what’s come over me.  It must be all that state fair competitive spirit leaking over into my everyday baking life!  This one is for Baker Bettie’s Cookie Wars, in which she charged us with a mission to invent a cookie using at least two of the following ingredients:

  • Avocado
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Basil
  • Beer
  • Coffee
  • Cranberries
  • Cream Cheese
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Dried Chilies
  • Dr. Pepper
  • Fennel Bulb
  • Garlic
  • Goat Cheese
  • Grapefruit
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Hazelnut
  • Honey
  • Kumquat
  • Maple Syrup
  • Marshmallows
  • Mint
  • Passion Fruit
  • Peach
  • Poppy Seeds
  • Rosemary
  • Sour Cherries
  • Sweet Potato
  • Tomato

I’m really curious to see how many people are daring and creative enough to use tomato, vinegar (wait, I’ve done that and it’s fabulous! lol), beer, rosemary, etc.  I’m thinking there are going to be a few savory cookies in the mix!

But me, well, you know my affinity for sweets, so that’s what I went for.  I didn’t intend to make a wholesome cookie, it kinda just happened in the evolution of my creative process.  Here’s how it went.

My first inclination was to create a yogurt and honey spice cookie, which I knew would be a cake-like cookie because of the honey, and since I don’t like cakey cookies unless they’re part of a whoopie pie, I figured I’d also make a yogurt and honey filing for them.

Then I remembered the bag of coconut flour in my refrigerator that I won from Nutmeg Nanny’s giveaway several months ago, and thought it would work well here since the honey and yogurt would add a lot of liquid that usually isn’t in cookies, and you need more wet ingredients in any coconut flour recipe–it’s very thirsty and absorbs lots of moisture.  (I know this from a previous failure.)

I scanned the list again, trying to see if any other ingredients would pair well with the flavor of coconut and pondered over the kumquats.  I’d never had them but had seen them at the grocery store from time to time and always assumed they were miniature oranges.  I remember asking Dennis, “What is the point of these?  It would take forever to peel enough of these to make them worth eating!”  But I Googled kumquats anyway, to see if they might work for me in my cookies.

I found out that the skin is the part that is sweet and delicious, and the inside is very sour.  Most people eat them whole to savor the contrast of sweet and sour.  (I tried this after buying them, and whoo-ey, even the sweet peel wasn’t enough for me to dig the sour explosion on the inside.  But the flavor is very good-very similar to an orange.)  I also found a recipe for kumquat chocolate chip cookies that described the kumquat peels as being great after baking because they get chewy like pieces of candy.  OK, I was sold.  I had to find me some kumquats.

Find them I did, and then I went to work.  I’m pretty happy with my creation!  These cookies have an exotic flavor profile, with a semi-tropical feel.  The honey wasn’t quite enough to balance the sour yogurt and and kumquats (yes, I totally tasted the raw dough. I always do. :) ), but the stevia made them nicely sweet like any good cookie should be.  I love the kumquat flavor, it is a perfect match with the coconut.  I added the spices because a recipe I have from my friend, Marina, called “Cream Cheese Cookies” uses them, but I honestly can’t say they really pronounce themselves on the palate.  They sort of just add a layer of mystery in the background to the overall exotic flavor.

The texture is soft and moist and very tender, which isn’t my usual choice for a cookie (I’m in the crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside camp), but these are so unique that it doesn’t strike me as “wrong.”  These cookies are supposed to be different, and it’s actually a nice texture…not unlike shortbread.  The one downside is that coconut flour makes them a bit grainy and while they’re not a dry cookie, the flour makes you thirsty after eating one.

All in all, these aren’t the typical American cookie, but I think they’d be perfect with tea.  In fact, I think I’m going to enjoy a few with a hot cup right now…

Kumquat & Coconut Cookies

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

½ cup unsalted butter, melted
½ cup raw, local honey
½ cup Greek yogurt (I used nonfat)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup coconut flour
5 packets NuNaturals stevia powder
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon mace
¼ teaspoon salt
½ lb. kumquats
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Whisk the butter and honey together in a small bowl until combined, then whisk in the yogurt until combined, then the eggs and vanilla. Doing it in this way emulsifies the butter so that it doesn’t harden and get clotted when you add the cold yogurt and eggs.

In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk the coconut flour to get any clumps out, then whisk in the coriander, ginger, mace, and salt. Add the honey & yogurt mixture, and stir with a spoon until mixed. The dough will be thick and will get thicker upon standing. Set aside.

Pick off the small stems from the kumquats, then roughly chop them, removing seeds as you go. I don’t have a great knife, so I sliced each kumquat into four slices, then quartered each slice, otherwise I just would have gone nuts chopping like I do with nuts. Add the chopped kumquats into the cookie dough along with the coconut and mix well with your clean hands.

Scoop the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets with a tablespoon-sized cookie scoop. You can place them fairly close together as they will not spread. Flatten each ball with the palm of your hand, and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly golden brown around the edges.

Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.

Notes: coconut oil can be substituted for the butter to make these dairy-free. If you are using a different brand or form of stevia, add it in to taste. There is no gluten to toughen the cookies, so you can mix and re-mix to your heart’s content as you add ingredients to get the right balance to suit your tastes.

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Skinny Dark Hot Cocoa


Hot cocoa?  Hot chocolate?  I’ve always said hot chocolate, no matter if it’s made with real chocolate or cocoa powder or a mix.  I also have always said pop, not soda or soda pop.  Potato, potahto I guess.  What about you?

Anyway, remember how Dennis and I weren’t planning on having sugar on Valentine’s Day?  Well, it would be just be unAmerican not to have any chocolate on the day when the rest of the country is eating 58 million pounds of it.  (I know, right?)  So, inspired by Faith’s delicious Skinny Caramel Hot Cocoa, I made this plain version for our Valentine’s Day dinner dessert, only changing the basic recipe a smidge to deepen the chocolate flavor (had to make up for our lack of chocolate candy, you know).  We like our chocolate dark in this house.

This hot cocoa is so sweet, so chocolatey and delicious, creamy even, that you wouldn’t guess that it’s fat and sugar free.  That it’s actually healthy.  Protein and calcium-rich milk?  Check.  The antioxidant power of cocoa powder?  Check.  Totally natural with no chemical sweeteners?  You got it.

I’m usually semi-opposed to healthifying sweet treats because, in my opinion, they’re called treats because they are meant to be enjoyed.  Mostly what cutting out fat and sugar does is make them less enjoyable (although I hope to prove my own theory wrong because I’m going to be experimenting soon, given that we’ve nixed sugar in our house!).  But when you can do it with such a satisfying result, I’m all for feeling great about drinking something that tastes so sinful.

*A note about stevia: I’m a huge advocate of using stevia to sweeten things, versus chemical sweeteners and even real sugar.  This is the ONLY completely natural sweetener out there that is also calorie free.  It is taken from the leaves of a plant and it is tremendously sweet so you need much less of it than sugar.  I was blessed to win a bunch of NuNaturals products through a giveaway from Renee of My Kitchen Adventures (thank you so much Renee!), and hope to do a review soon with comparisons to other sugar substitutes.  NuNaturals products are by far the best I’ve tried and I highly recommend them.

Since I’m not counting calories on the 17 Day Diet, I didn’t calculate them for this cocoa when we drank it, but just going from the labels on the milk and the cocoa (the only things that have calories in the recipe), I can tell you that there is 120 calories, 1 g fat,  22 g carbohydrates, and 2 grams fiber. Not to shabby, and I think you’ll agree that this hot cocoa is totally worth every healthy & delicious calorie.

Skinny Dark Hot Cocoa

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon Dutch process cocoa powder
2 packets NuNaturals NuStevia
Pinch fleur de sel or kosher salt
1 ¼ cups nonfat milk
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Whisk together the cocoa powders, stevia powder, and salt in a small saucepan. Add half the milk and whisk vigorously until the cocoa powder is dissolved. Turn the heat to medium, and whisk in the remaining milk. Heat until the hot cocoa starts to steam (do not boil), and pour into a mug.  Enjoy!

For a caramel hot cocoa: stir in ¼ teaspoon caramel extract along with the vanilla at the end.

Serves 1

Recipe source: adapted from An Edible Mosaic

Yummy either way!

P.S. Happy leap day!  I know this is crazy, but this is the first year I’ve actually been aware that it’s a leap year.  How did I miss the other seven I lived through?  Queen Oblivious here! I know I’m getting random here but did anyone else used to watch the show Quantum Leap?  I honestly can’t remember a thing about it except I think I liked it (I was pretty young so maybe it was too mature for me), and I always associated the name with leap year.  Did it even have anything to do with a leap year?  OK, seriously, I’ll shut up now.

Sugar-Free Banana Bread two ways

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My Secret Recipe Club assignment this month was The Ginger Snap Girl, and after scouring her blog to pick a recipe to make, I’m a little smitten.  Gloria and I have so much in common!  We’re both in our thirties, married about the same amount of time, no children except the animal variety, we both have day jobs, and we both LOVE to bake!  It was so hard not to leave comments on the many gorgeous recipes she has shared, but I was afraid I would spoil the surprise of who had her blog this month, so I kept mum.

There were so many recipes of hers that I wanted to make.  Pretty much every single one, in fact.  I mean, hello, the large majority are baked goods so of course I wanted to make them all!  I was reminded of my mother’s love for Boston Cream Pie when I saw Gloria’s recipe, though hers is a million times prettier than anything my mother ever purchased.  Then there was the glorious eggplant parmesan, a recipe that I’ve always wanted to try.  I thought about making her ginger snaps since she’s the “gingersnap girl,” but I decided against it because I don’t like ginger snaps (the only thing I’ve found that we don’t have in common-forgive me, Gloria!).  I still might make them for my Dad, though, who almost always had a bag of them stowed away when we were growing up.

The recipe I chose actually ended up choosing me.  I had a bunch of screaming bananas (you know, the kind that are so black they start screaming at you to use them) on the same day that I wanted to bake something sugar-free for the visiting diabetic preacher during our church’s gospel meeting.  I had bookmarked Gloria’s banana bread because, as many of you know, I’m on the hunt for a recipe that will beat my baking nemesis’ banana bread at the state fair next year.  I decided I’d try turning it sugar-free for Connie.  (Yes, the preacher’s a man and his name is Connie.  And his wife?  Bobby.  No joke!)

So of course I had to try it, because I’m not going to hand over a loaf of bread that tastes vile or might make our guest preacher violently ill.  I figured he’d forgive me for whacking off a hunk of his loaf for the sake of his health.  (My Grandpa always said, “I’m saving your life,” when he found our stash of candy and ate the whole thing.  So I guess I got this habit from him! haha)  I have had really good results using Truvia, an all-natural sugarless sweetener, in baking and again, I’m quite pleased with the results.  The loaf rose well, had a good texture, was perfectly sweet, but turned out just a tad dry, most likely because of the sweetener substitution.  I imagine the brown sugar lends moisture to the loaf that the Truvia didn’t.

While Connie loved the slightly dry bread, I decided to try making another loaf, this time upping the sour cream to 1/2 cup and using the NuNaturals MoreFiber Stevia Baking Blend that I recently got in a giveaway from My Kitchen Adventures.  This banana bread was the definite winner.  So unbelievably moist and soft and absolutely NO weird taste/aftertaste.  It was just like sugar-sweetened banana bread, but with a the softest texture in a bread I’ve ever experienced.  I think the baking blend was responsible for the texture since it says that it will help the texture of your baked goods, and I have to say I’m very, very pleased with this product.  Truvia works very well, but the NuNaturals baking blend works even better (so far).

Thanks, Ginger Snap Girl, for giving me a wonderful recipe to share with brother Connie.  Next, I will be trying the recipe as written.  If it’s this good without real sugar, just think how amazing it will be with brown sugar.  I feel a blue ribbon coming on. :)

Sugar Free Banana Bread

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

2 cups flour
½ cup Truvia or NuNaturals More Fiber Stevia Baking Blend
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 large bananas, mashed (a heaping cup)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
½ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
7 drops NuNaturals Vanilla Stevia (optional)

Optional add-ins
½ cup chopped nuts
2 tablespoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom only of a large loaf pan; set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk flour, sweetener, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients, save the add-ins, until fully combined. Stir in the dry ingredients with a spoon or spatula until just combined. Batter will be thick. Spread into prepared pan and bake for 50 – 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

For banana-nut bread, stir in nuts when the batter is barely stirred together, then continue stirring until just combined. Bake as directed.

For cinnamon-swirl bread, spread half the mixed batter into prepared pan, then sprinkle liberally with cinnamon, avoiding the edges. Spread remaining batter on top, then use a folding motion to swirl the batter. I did this by facing the pan horizontally in front of me, taking my fork and plunking it down on the far left side from me, then pulling it toward me and upward in a circular motion, then repeating it 2-3 more times, moving down the pan to the right. Smooth the batter on top and bake as directed.

Recipe source: adapted from The Ginger Snap Girl

Be sure to check out the other member’s recipes! Click on Mr. Linky below to view all of them.



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



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

Blueberry Lemon Trifle

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We have several diabetics in our church group, with whom we joined last Saturday for a barbecue in the countryside.  To accommodate their sugar abstinence, I brought two sugar-free desserts: rugelach & blueberry lemon trifle.  Both desserts were enjoyed by diabetics & non-diabetics alike, but this is the one I will continue making for myself (Den can fend for himself–the trifle is mine!) because it’s low in calories and it tastes FABULOUS!

If you prefer to make this with full-fat and full-sugar (oooooh, I bet that would be even better!), follow the suggestions in parentheses.


Blueberry Lemon Trifle

1 sugar-free angel food cake (or 1 pound cake)
1 lemon, juiced
1 1/2 cups skim milk (or whole milk)
1 (8-oz) tub fat-free sour cream (or regular sour cream)
1 (8-oz) tub sugar-free cool-whip, divided (or regular Cool Whip/real whipped cream)
2 packages fat-free/sugar-free instant lemon pudding (or regular instant lemon pudding)
3 pints blueberries, rinsed & dried

Cut the cake into cubes and lay them out on a cookie sheet, then sprinkle the lemon juice evenly over them (I actually dipped my clean fingers into the juice & dabbed the juice on–you could use a pastry brush too) & carefully toss.  Don’t mash the cake–keep it as pretty as possible. This won’t be as difficult with pound cake b/c it’s not as delicate so you don’t have to be as careful.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk the milk, sour cream & half of the cool whip until smooth, then beat in the pudding mixes until it starts to thicken.

Set a few blueberries aside for garnish.  Put 1/3 of the cake cubes in the bottom of a trifle bowl, sprinkle on 1/3 of the blueberries (1 pint), then spread 1/3 of the pudding mixture over it.  Repeat two more times, then spread the remaining Cool Whip over the top & garnish with the reserved blueberries.  Chill until ready to serve–can be made up to two days in advance–or just sit it down on the table and dig in.

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