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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Protein Bites

I have one child who will eat almost anything and another who eats… almost nothing. Not in the sense that he doesn’t want to eat, but in the sense that the number of foods he’ll eat is very small. He has five foods he’d eat all day long. I’m working on a post to talk about that but in the mean time, I’m posting about a great success I had!!

I try to cram as many nutrients in him as I can, which is very difficult. This week I decided to turn his favorite flavor (chocolate chip cookies) in to a low-sugar, high protein and healthy fats treat I feel good about sending to school with him. I almost cried when he took a bite and said, “Wow! These are so good!” And he was right! These are good! Plus they are easy to make and store. I keep them in the freezer and pull a few out in the morning for his school snacks. These would be AMAZING with walnuts but walnuts are not one of the foods he’s willing to eat. Let me know if you try adding them!

One key to making these as nutrient-dense as possible is to buy quality ingredients. This recipe calls for both protein powder and collagen peptides. I use this protein powder (click here for link) as a good compromise with me and my son. He’s willing to eat it and I mostly approve of the ingredients. I also like Great Lakes Collagen Peptides (click here for link).

The healthy fats (and awesome flavor) comes from coconut butter. If you haven’t tasted coconut butter, you’re missing out. I use it on pancakes bread or just on a spoon. It’s that good.

For the chocolate chips I use Enjoy Life Brand (click here for link). Yes they have sugar, but the ingredients are minimal and all pronounceable. Plus with one 1/4 cup in the entire recipe, each protein ball has very little added sugar.

Hopefully your family loves these as much as we do.


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5 Ingredient Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding

We do dessert every Sunday night because it just makes life better. A few weeks ago I made some grain-free, refined sugar-free, dairy-free cookies. They were DELICIOUS, but I wanted something more. I didn’t have much time so I decided to whip up some extremely easy, creamy, sweet chocolate peanut butter pudding. Dipping the cookies in the pudding was basically heaven!

It all starts with coconut cream. Coconut cream is the solid portion of canned coconut milk. Getting it is super simple. Just stick a can of full-fat coconut milk in the fridge for a few hours (I usually stick mine in the night before). I really like to use the Thai Kitchen brand. I prefer the taste and consistency to other coconut milks. Then using a spoon, gently scoop the solid cream into a bowl. You’ll be left with a clear liquid. Save this for smoothies or to thin out your pudding a bit.

Coconut cream is so stable, you can add it the honey, cocoa powder and vanilla all at the same time.

Whip this up with a hand mixer and then add in the peanut butter. I call it good there. But this pudding is extremely thick. So thick this could even double for a frosting. If you like a thinner pudding, just keep whipping in the liquid from the coconut milk until you’re satisfied.

I highly recommend this with a cookie… or three…


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Gluten-Free Brownie Pudding Cake

When I was a kid, my mom would make brownie pudding cake on cold, wet days. It was so comforting topped with a big scoop of whipped cream that melted into the gooey chocolate. It really doesn’t get more comforting than that. One bowl of that and every problem would disappear. It was basically unicorn tears topped with whipped unicorn tears. Tears of joy that is. There’s no room for sadness here. Best. Thing. Ever.

A few weeks ago we got one of those miserable spring snow storms. Snow in winter is expected, but snow when I’ve spent the last week in skirts and flip flops? Not cool. I needed some warm gooey comfort. But I didn’t want the next day sugar/gluten hangover I get. So I set out to make a grain-free, low sugar version. I was so pleased with the results, the unicorns and I cried together.

This brownie pudding cake is super rich and dark. If you don’t like it that dark, up the sugar and down the cocoa powder. But I can’t image finding comfort from chocolate that isn’t dark chocolate. That’s just me though…

The reason this is so good is that it’s a moist rich cake with a gooey, smooth inside. I topped it with whipped coconut cream that melted into the warm cake just like the version from my childhood. It was so nostalgic I felt like putting on my rainbow bright leg warmers.

This cake comes together in three layers that all come together to make a gooey bowl of joy.

The cake layer:

The topping layer:

The boiling water which makes a crispy top and a gooey middle:

You can’t look at this without smiling.

 

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The Best Pumpkin Dish You’ll Make This Fall

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Excited doesn’t really cover how I feel about this recipe. I made it on a Sunday and literally dreamed about it the night before. Yes, I am that big of a loser and yes, it did live up to my dream.

I used to make a pumpkin dump cake that made my heart happy. It was creamy and warm on the bottom with a crunchy, sweet top. I LOVED it! The problem was, it was loaded with both white and brown sugar and was topped with a cake mix…. which you had to add even more sugar to. I thought about cheating and just making the darn thing (Yes, it would have been worth it), but before I sold my soul I decided to try to make a healthier version.

I’m SO glad I did. The pumpkin layer is warm, creamy, sweet and bursting with fall flavors. The topping contrasts nicely with the creamy base and the flavors work perfectly together. This is a perfect dessert for a cold night. Though since this dessert is so good I almost cried, I’ll probably make it for my birthday… in April.

So if you believe all men (and women) are entitled to the pursuit of happiness, make this… now. No really. Go do it.

A few tips first (sorry for the false alarm. Hopefully you aren’t running to grab your slow cooker).

Make sure you grease your slow cooker. If you don’t, instead of talking about how much you love me, you’ll be cursing me to the depths of Hades. Grease that sucker!

Yes, this has a lot of ingredients, but it truly is a dump cake. Two bowls and a slow cooker. That’s it. You don’t even have to beat the pumpkin layer in stages. I really did just throw everything in a bowl and beat it.

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Make sure you distribute the topping evenly when you sprinkle it over the pumpkin. This is basically going to cook up like a cake layer, so you want it as even as you can get it. Though since it is a dump cake, you really can’t ruin it. This just makes it better.

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The same goes for the butter. This provides a lot of the liquid for the cake layer, so you’ll want it even. But again, you can’t ruin this. The moisture from the pumpkin and the steaming affect of the slow cooker will get any spots you miss.

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As far as the pecans go, they are totally optional. If you hate pecans or they kill you if you eat them, you should leave them out. I love the flavor of pecans with pumpkin and fall spices so I left them in. You can even substitute them with another nut if you like. Not peanuts though. I like peanuts as much as the next squirrel, but that just sounds wrong.

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Lastly, this is a dish that is amazing on its own, but is even better topped with something cold and creamy. While ice cream would be amazing, we decided to go with something a little healthier and use coconut cream. Don’t worry. If you can hold a hand mixer, you can make coconut cream. Click here for instructions from The Pioneer Woman. We sweeten ours with honey.

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Okay. Now you are armed with what you need so go and make it. Now. It’s not a false alarm this time…

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Sip On This Instead of Water

Does anyone else get tired of drinking water? It sounds strange since water has no flavor, but sometimes I get tired of it. If you have the same problem, keep reading for nine fun non-water drinks you can enjoy at any point in your day without having to feel guilt or regret.

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Better than the 70’s: Healthy Peanut Butter Fruit Dip

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I clearly remember New Year’s Eve growing up. We’d get together with my BFF’s family (no, seriously. We’re in our 30’s now and we still talk multiple times weekly). The adults would do horribly boring things (like chat about things other than Barbies and tutus) and the kids would run around all night. A few weeks before, we’d order a bunch of those super junky toys from Oriental Trading. We would play with those toys all night, or until they broke 20 minutes later. The most memorable toy was an ice cream cone with a trigger. When you pulled it, the ice cream part shot off the cone part. Yep. My childhood rocked.

We always had a ton of awesome food too. I’m sure there were cookies and meat trays, but the thing I remember the most was my mom’s fruit dip. I know that seems strange for an 8-year-old to have a hankering for fruit dipped in a sugary substance over a chocolaty brownie, but it was just so good! It was straight from the 70’s complete with a tub of cool whip, cream cheese and a crap-load of sugar. Nothing says “Happy New Year” like a sugar coma.

I was thinking about said dip and my ice cream cone shooter the other day and became sad that I can no longer live in ignorance about the unhealthy reality of my beloved fruit dip. That’s when I went on a mission to create a new fruit dip. A fruit dip that would put the 70’s fruit dip to shame and wouldn’t give you diabetes.

I wanted it to be easy, so I decided to keep the ingredients to a minimum. Instead of the cool whip portion, I used a full-fat Greek yogurt. It helped the dip have the same creamy consistency without all the artificial ingredients. I found this fabulous Greek yogurt at Sprouts. Make sure you pick one without a lot of added junk.

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Instead of cream cheese, I used peanut butter. I mainly did this because peanut butter is just awesome, and has the ability to make things feel sweet without adding sugar. Since we nixed our artificial sweetener by removing the cool whip, we needed a little flavor. The peanut-butter made it PERFECT!

To bump up the flavor, I just added in a little vanilla and cinnamon. The dip isn’t overly sweet, but since fruit has natural sweeteners, the combination of fruit and dip gave this the perfect sweetness. If you want a little more sweetness though for a special occasion like a New Year’s Eve party complete with awesomely-cheap toys, feel free to add a little honey.

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So now not only do you have a fruit dip free of sugars and artificial ingredients, but one packed with protein and healthy fats. It’s good enough to have for breakfast!

Hopefully this dip will help my children make as many awesome memories as I had as a kid. But I need to find the ice cream shooter to ensure that.

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Salted Caramel Cookie Dough Brownies

Back in the day (the day of processed sugars), I used to have a reputation for baking. People asked me to make cookies and cupcakes for events and whenever people came for dinner, they were always most excited for dessert. So when I gave up sugar, I was scared to lose that reputation. I still love to make (and eat) yummy treats. I just have to do it with healthier ingredients and eat it in moderation (meaning i can’t have an entire pan of brownies myself. Sad day.)

Last Sunday we had friends over for dinner for the first time. I was confident I could make a healthy dinner anyone would like because who doesn’t like meat and potatoes? But the dessert had me a little scared. So I decided to combine three different recipes to make one amazing dessert. Everyone was impressed and I still get to experience the joy of watching people eat my treats.

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I started out with the Coconut Flour Brownies From Empowered Sustenance.   I added 1/2 a cup of dark chocolate chips to these because…. well I don’t think I ever need to give an explanation for adding more chocolate. These brownies are amazing, if you make them right. The first few times I made them, I overcooked them. Check them halfway through baking time and frequently after. If they feel set in the middle, you’ve overcooked them. Watch the edges and make sure they don’t get too dark. These brownies are gooey and soft, unless you overcook them.

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I’ve topped these brownies with peanut butter frosting and chocolate frosting and mint frosting, but I wanted to do something more fun. I decided to top them with Edible Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough from Wicked Spatula.  When you make this cookie dough, make sure you process it for a long time. If you don’t, it won’t be fluffy. If you keep it going, the dough turns out fluffy and soft just like regular cookie dough.

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The brownie and the cookie dough would have been plenty, but I wanted something to really send this over the top. I went with Salted Coconut Caramel Sauce from An Edible Mosaic. This sauce was my favorite part of the dessert. This sauce is great over ice cream, brownies or just a spoon. A massive spoon. A ladle really. It’s that good. This thickened up really well after a bit in the fridge. And it stayed soft and pourable right out of the refrigerator. I just drizzled this over the top of the cookie dough layer. I have a lot left over. Hmmmm… Maybe this would be great with just a straw too.

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If you’re looking for an awesome dessert to wow a crowd, this is definitely it!

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No-Sugar Grilled Pineapple Rings

When we lived in Utah, we had a Brazilian neighbor. Every time she saw us, she’d invite us in for Brazilian food, which happens to be AMAZING! The meat and veggies were delicious, but my favorite part was the grilled pineapple. As it heats up, the sugars caramelize and the juices come out. It softens but somehow stays crunchy. It’s one of the most satisfying things in the world. The only problem was, it was covered in sugar. I was so sad to learn that she made it by covering it in brown sugar.

Fast forward to now. One day I had a hankering for that sugary, warm, juicy grilled pineapple. I decided there had to be a way to make it without the brown sugar. After all, pineapple is naturally sweet, so there’s no reason to add more sugar.

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The key is to start with a fresh pineapple. Canned rings just won’t do the trick. You need to start out with firm, crunchy rings to keep the nice crunchy texture after you grill them.

Then all I did was melt some coconut oil, add cinnamon and salt and brushed it on the pineapple rings.

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Then I passed them off to my manly husband to cook on the bbq grill next to some juicy steaks. Since this is both healthy and sweet, it works as a side dish, or a dessert.

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