Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Chocolate Coconut Fudge Cake

For a recent girls' night, I brought this chocolate coconut fudge cake.  It is chocolatey and fudge-y.  What's not to like?  And I didn't feel guilty about enjoying the leftovers for an after dinner treat.

This cake uses 3 ingredients that I always have on hand:  bananas, cocoa powder, and salt.  The coconut butter, however, is a different story.  The stuff is expensive!  I kept looking at it, but I could never bring myself to buy it.  Instead, I bought some unsweetened coconut flakes to use in making my own coconut butter.  I ordered mine online then found some in my local Walmart the very next day.  Oh well!

Coconut butter is made the same way nut butters are made.  You put a bunch of unsweetened coconut flakes or shreds in a food processor and blend away, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides.  The coconut butter took longer to process than nut butters and required much more scraping, but it finally got very smooth and liquid like.  Once it's finished, you pour it into a jar and keep it in the panty.  It will get hard (as in I had to warm it up in the microwave before measuring out a cup to use in this recipe), but that is why it works well to hold the shape of this cake.  Warning:  I used nearly all of the coconut butter that I made from a 12 oz. bag of coconut flakes in this recipe.
Chocolate Coconut Fudge Cake
Adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie
Serving Size:  1 Slice
Servings: 8  *  Calories: 254  *  Carbs: 25g  *  Fat: 22g  *   Protein: 4g  *  Fiber: 8g  *  Sugar: 10g

4 very ripe bananas
1 cup coconut butter
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. salt

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a food processor.
  2. Once smooth, pour into a cake pan (8 or 9 inch).  Smooth the top.
  3. Let harden in the refrigerator overnight or freezer for a couple of hours.
  4. Slice and enjoy!  Be sure to defrost first if it was frozen.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Peanut Butter Mug Cake

It's challenge time again!  Who can go 5 days without sugar?  No sugar, honey, syrup, etc.  Just fruit if you need a sugar fix (like I usually need).  I know this can be rough at this time of year, but it is possible if you plan ahead and bring a sugar free snack.  If that is not possible, just enjoy the party!  But get back on the wagon the very next day.  The longer you go without sugar, the less you will crave it.

I've thought about the best ways to quit sugar a lot lately.  Cold turkey is certainly an option, but it can make you feel rather lethargic and grumpy for a day (or two or three).  When I quit drinking soda, I took it slowly.  I used to drink a Dr. Pepper every day with my lunch (which happens at 11 in my house).  So the first day of quitting, I wouldn't let myself have one until noon.  The next day, I pushed it back by an hour, so not until one.  If I could go longer than my set time, then awesome!  I actually found that I didn't need one on day 3 until dinner time.  I think this plan could really help with quitting sugar, too.  Just set a time, and push to or past that time before giving in to sugar. 

To help with this challenge, here is a new dessert and a story.

Sometimes I make waffles for my family for dinner.  And when I do, I usually need more egg whites than egg yolks.  I hate to waste things.  So I decided to make myself a little dessert using the leftover egg yolk.

This peanut butter mug cake is sweetened with just 1/2 a banana and applesauce.  I promise that you don't taste the banana thanks to the peanut flour.  I love that stuff!  It gives such a nice, strong peanut flavor to foods.

This recipe can easily be switched to a banana mug cake by replacing the peanut flour with a neutral tasting flour like all purpose or whole wheat.

Peanut Butter Mug Cake
Serving Size:  1 Cake
Servings: 1  *  Calories: 295  *  Carbs: 38g  *  Fat: 10g  *   Protein: 25g  *  Fiber: 7g  *  Sugar: 14g

1/3 c. peanut flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1 pinch salt
1/2 ripe banana
2 tbs. unsweetened applesauce
1 tbs. buttermilk*
1 egg yolk**
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

  1. Place all ingredients in a mug or small ramekin.
  2. Mash up banana and mix ingredients together until well blended.
  3. Cook mixture in microwave on high 1 minute at a time to make sure it does not overcook.  It should take about 2-2 1/2 minutes.
  4. Enjoy warm!
*I rarely have buttermilk on hand.  I simply mix some vinegar with my milk.  In this case, I put the tiniest splash of vinegar in my 1 tbs. measuring spoon then filled it the rest of the way with almond milk.  I let that sit while I combined the rest of the ingredients.  Then I added it in at the end just before stirring and nuking.

**If you don't have an egg yolk handy or you are worried about the safety of eating the egg when it is only nuked for a short period in the microwave, try replacing it with 1 tbs. oil or extra applesauce (if you would also like to reduce the fat).

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Pumpkin Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes

My boys finally tired of donuts every morning for breakfast.  Their next request was pancakes.  Luckily for them, I had a pancake recipe in mind to try out.  It is a lovely, fun twist on the grain free pumpkin pancakes.  These pancakes combine my love for all things pumpkin and all cinnamon rolls.

This recipe gave me an opportunity to try out a cinnamon roll filling using date paste.  And it was so easy!  In a true Lorelai Gilmore, "Who's cleaning that?" mindset, I simply put the date paste, cinnamon, and milk right into a plastic bag.  I sealed the bag closed then mashed away.  Once it was thoroughly mixed, I cut a hole in the corner and swirled away on top of the pancake batter.  See, no need to dirty up a bowl to make the cinnamon swirl concoction.

I found the time to try out various cooking methods for these pancakes.  Actually, when you have to make a new batch every few days, it's easy to find the time to try out new cooking methods.  I ladled the pancake onto both parchment paper and a silicone baking mat (they both worked fine).  Then I swirled the cinnamon mixture on top in a traditional cinnamon roll look.  I also poured all of the batter onto a jelly roll pan once.  From there, I zig-zagged the cinnamon mixture on top then took a knife and swirled the mixture in some more.  Like this:
I was all prepared to like the traditional circle pancakes from the ladle method the best, but the jelly roll pan option won out in my book.  I think swirling the cinnamon mixture in with the knife got it better incorporated throughout the dough.  Yummy!
Pumpkin Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes
Serving Size:  4 Pancakes
Servings: 6  *  Calories: 187  *  Carbs: 24g  *  Fat: 5g  *   Protein: 8g  *  Fiber: 3g  *  Sugar: 16g

Pancake Ingredients:
6 eggs
1.5 tsp. cinnamon
1.5 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or more cinnamon)
2 tbs. vanilla extract
6 tbs. date paste
2 cups pumpkin puree
2 tbs. baking powder

Swirl Ingredients:
4 tbs. date paste
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbs. milk of choice

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Mix all pancake ingredients together in a bowl. Pour into a greased 11 x 17 baking sheet. 
3. Mix swirl ingredients in a small bag. Cut a small hole in the corner of the bag and have fun piping the cinnamon swirl mixture onto the pancakes.  Swirl with a knife if desired. 
4. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350F.
5. Cut into squares and enjoy hot or reheat the next day.

Notes: For round pancakes, bake the normal way on a stove or ladle batter onto a silicone baking mat on a baking sheet or a parchment lined baking sheet. Swirl the cinnamon swirl mixture on top of the pancakes. Then bake for 12-15 minutes at 350F.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Date Paste

Date Paste and I are new friends.  I think we will become great friends.  Making it was really very easy.  This "recipe" is definitely not very rigid.  You can find lots of other instructions online for how to make Date Paste.  This is simply how I make mine.

I use whatever dates I can find in my local store.  I don't worry over paying more for the fancier medjool dates (that I would have to order online since I live in a small town).  It is my understanding that medjool dates are sweeter and softer dates.  The cheap dates are sweet enough, and I soak them for a long time to make up for the fact that they are not as soft.

Let's talk about equipment.  A food processor would be the easiest option.  Even a cheap one like mine would blend it all up nice and smooth very quickly.  But a regular blender or an immersion blender would also work.  One time, I used this funky hand mixer attachment I found in my cabinets.

Yes, one day my food processor was dirty, and I was searching for a solution that wouldn't involve washing dishes right then.  I found this little attachment, looked it up in the blender manual, and realized that it might work.  And it did!  The paste wasn't quite as smooth, but it still works just fine.  Moral of the story, is find what works because probably anything will!

Date Paste
Serving Size:  1 tbs.
Servings: varies  *  Calories: 28  *  Carbs: 7g  *  Fat: 0g  *   Protein: 0g  *  Fiber: 1g  *  Sugar: 6g

1 pkg. dates
Warm water

  1. Pack dates into a jar.  Make sure the pits are removed.
  2. Top dates with water.  Soak dates in the fridge all day or overnight.
  3. After soaking, drain water into a clean bowl.
  4. Blend dates using an immersion blender, regular blender, or food processor.  Add soaking water 1 tbs. at a time until desired consistency is reached.  For one 8 oz. package of dates, I added in about 8 tbs. of water.
  5. Cover and store in the fridge.

Grain Free Pumpkin Pancakes

While limiting my carbs, I tried banana egg pancakes.  Amazing!  I knew I wanted to adapt them for pumpkin.  It took a while.  I almost gave up on the idea.  But after eating many so-so or downright awful attempts, I finally found a winner.

I eat these pancakes plain. Seems like the most logical option when syrup is out of the question. But they would also be good topped with my Chocolate Banana Frosting, natural nut butter, or even this pumpkin nut butter (with no need to add her optional sweeteners). The latter option would really pump up the pumpkin flavor in this breakfast.  I love that stuff so much I really wouldn't know how to improve upon its flavor. 

"[They're] so fluffy!"
Grain Free Pumpkin Pancakes
Serving Size:  4 pancakes
Servings: 1  *  Calories: 148. *  Carbs: 16g  *  Fat: 5g  *   Protein: 7g  *  Fiber: 3g  *  Sugar: 10g

1/3 cup pumpkin
1 egg
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbs. date paste
1 tsp. vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. 
  2. Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.  
  3. Pour batter onto a parchment lined baking sheet to make 4 pancakes.
  4. Bake for 12-15 minutes at 350F.
  5. Enjoy!
Notes:  You can also make pancakes the normal way on the stove, but I hate standing over a stove then trying to flip the pancakes.  With the oven method, I get to multitask!  This baking method was a brilliant idea from Detoxinista.  She indicates that the parchment paper is non-negotiable.  I haven't tried baking these pancakes any other way yet.  UPDATE:  These worked just as well for me when I baked them on a silicone baking mat.

Monday, November 10, 2014

One Day No Sugar Challenge

We're getting real here.  I made it an entire month with no bread and no sugar.  I didn't even eat potatoes unless it was my only vegetable option.  You would think that the sugar habit would be kicked after one month.  You'd be wrong.

My month ended on October 31st.  So on November 1st, I decided to reward myself with a single piece of Halloween candy.  Just one, and it was a favorite:  Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkin.  Oh man, those are good!  But that single piece tasted so good that I gradually ate more sweets the rest of the week.  I am back to having good days and bad days.  And honestly, I am having trouble resisting the sugar urges at this point.  Sugar is so addictive!

I should be proud of my accomplishment, but I tend to focus on my downfall.  That is my big problem.  I have this perfectionist side of me that likes to point out everywhere that I have failed.  Take soda, for example.  In mid-June, I weaned myself off soda.  I told myself that I wouldn't drink any more Dr. Peppers or Diet Cokes.  In reality, I have had one or two a month since (except last month with the no sugar thing when I honestly had no soda.  Go me!).   The rational side of my brain knows that I should celebrate the fact that I went from 1/day to 1 or 2/month.  That's awesome!  But the perfectionist side of my brain says, "You failed."  And I listen.  And then I drown my sorrows in crap that I shouldn't eat.

I need help.  I need to know I'm not alone.  I need community.  So I am going to start issuing challenges.  Challenges to go a certain period of time without a certain food item.  Challenges to choose one thing to give up.  Challenges to get more active, etc.

We're going to start easy.  This first challenge is going to be a one day challenge.  One day of no sugar.  Start this tomorrow or finish today, I don't care.  But go one day of no processed sugar.  If it is going to be hard for you, make sure you've got fruit handy.  I heard a trainer at the gym one time say that if you think you want something sweet, eat a banana.  Then wait 5-10 minutes to see if you are still craving something sweet.  If that fails, chew some gum.  Preferably something minty that would ruin the taste of whatever you think you want to eat.

Will you join me?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Chocolate Banana Frosting

I needed a frosting recipe in my repertoire.

My boys eat either my Banana Donuts or waffles for breakfast.  They usually want something on top.  The waffles started with syrup.  Then I moved to chocolate peanut butters that I would buy at the store.  Then I tried plain peanut butter.  One enjoyed that, the other not so much.  So I knew I had to come up with my own chocolate peanut butter that would carry less sugar than the store-bought variety.

My search for inspiration started on Pinterest and led me to Chocolate Covered Katie (a favorite blog of mine).  She had a chocolate banana peanut butter that looked promising.  With just a little tweaking, it had the flavor we wanted and a bit more of a frosting consistency.

I used Smucker's Natural Creamy Peanut Butter as my base.  I would love to make my own peanut butter, but I need to get a new food processor before I take on that challenge.  Until then, this is my favorite peanut butter because it has no sugar added.  I was disappointed with it when I first opened it because of the massive amount of oil on top.  But now I keep it upside down in my fridge.  I have had no more problems with its consistency, and it spreads easily.

Chocolate Banana Frosting
Adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie 
Serving Size:  1 Tbs.
Servings: 10  *  Calories: 55  *  Carbs: 4g  *  Fat: 3g  *   Protein: 2g  *  Fiber: 1g  *  Sugar: 2g

4 Tbs. peanut butter
1 ripe banana
2 Tbs. cocoa powder

  1. Mash up banana.  You can use a fork or a small food processor.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
  3. Keep refrigerated.  Enjoy on donuts, treats, fruits, veggies, or a spoon.  Basically, I love it on everything!
Note:  I like to "melt" my banana just a bit by microwaving it for about 30 seconds.  Maybe it's my imagination, but I think it mixes better this way.

Warning:  Don't try to warm up this frosting in the microwave to attain a more spreadable option.  It tends to dry out (as you can see in the above picture).  It still tasted good, but the texture was not what it had been.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Banana Donuts

My boys love donuts.  They come by it honestly because I love donuts.  I have used donuts as both a special treat and a bribe in my house.  For my oldest boy's last birthday, I made him Funfetti birthday donuts that spelled out "Happy Birthday."  It was a huge hit!

But I knew that I needed to make a healthier donut for my kids to eat.  Healthier than the Funfetti ones, healthier than store bought, and certainly healthier than the donut shop.

Enter the no sugar added Banana Donuts.  These donuts are sweetened with a 1 oz. box of raisins and 5 bananas.

Very ripe bananas work best.  If you don't have any ripe bananas, there is no need to fear.  Spread the bananas on a foil lined baking sheet, and bake them in a 400F oven for at least 20 minutes. My bananas were good and black at that point, but I have also seen cooking times of 40-60 minutes.  Be sure to unwrap the bananas over your food processor so you don't lose any of the sweet banana juice that will come out.

To make donuts, transfer the dough in batches to a plastic bag, cut a good size hole in one corner, and pipe the dough onto baking sheet or pan.  You can use a greased donut pan, but I do not own one.  I use a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat.  I love my baking mats.  I got them for my birthday, and they make clean up such a breeze!  With this method, I can make whatever shape desired.  I tend to do letters and shapes because that is what my kids enjoy.  If you want thicker donuts, you can always double pipe them.  That is when you pipe more batter right on top of your original donut shapes.

Banana Donuts
Adapted from Housewife How-Tos
Nutritional Information:
Serving Size:  1 donut
Servings: 36  *  Calories: 69  *  Carbs: 10g  *  Fat: 3g  *   Protein: 2g  *  Fiber: 1g  *  Sugar: 3g

1 oz. raisins
5 ripe bananas
2 cups flour (white or whole wheat or mix)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tbs. oil
4 tbs. water
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

  1. Soak 1 oz. raisins in warm water overnight to rehydrate them.
  2. When ready to prepare donuts, preheat oven to 350F.
  3. Grease a donut pan or line a cookie sheet with a silicone mat.
  4. Blend drained raisins in a food processor.
  5. Add the 5 bananas to the raisins and process until pureed.
  6. In a medium bowl, combine 2 cups flour, 1 tsp. baking soda, and 1/4 tsp. salt.  Set aside.
  7. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat 1 stick butter, 2 tsp. baking powder, 2 tbs. oil, and 4 tbs. water until fluffy.
  8. Add 1/2 tsp. vanilla to the stand mixer and combine.
  9. Add the banana/raisin mixture to the stand mixer.  This mixture will smell sickeningly sweet.  Mix until well-combined.
  10. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.  Stop mixing when all ingredients are incorporated.
  11. Scoop batter into a plastic bag.  Cut a large hole in the corner.  Pipe batter onto donut pan or cookie sheet.  You can double pipe the donuts if you would like them to be thicker.
  12. Bake in the preheated 350F oven for 15-20 minutes.  Double piped donuts will take 20-25 minutes.
  13. Allow donuts to cool 5-10 minutes on the cookie sheet before moving to a cooling rack.
  14. Optional:  "Frost" the donuts with peanut butter or a no sugar added frosting before enjoying.  This is how my boys request their donuts.  Frosting recipe coming soon!

Note:  This makes so many donuts that I freeze about half of them.  The other half I keep in the fridge.  My kids eat these every day.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Candy Trade

I have limited my sugar intake off and on for a few months now.  Then I woke up one day and realized that if I truly believed that sugar was not good for me, I should believe that it is not good for my kids, either.

So I went to the pantry and threw out the last of a bag of Twizzlers that I had been slowly giving out in lunch boxes.  And later that day I had a discussion with my husband about what to do about Halloween candy.

Normally we do Trunk-or-Treating at our church.  I wasn't big on it at first because I didn't want to seem like that family that doesn't really "do" Halloween.  But we helped out when the kids were too little to trick or treat, and now it is just more convenient to not go house to house.  And the kids don't now the difference.  But this year, there is no Trunk-or-Treating to attend.  So do we really go collecting candy door to door?  And then what do we do with it?  I don't really want the kids eating all that candy from Halloween until Christmas.

My husband pitched the idea of doing something different with the boys on Halloween night instead of trick or treating.  We tossed around some different ideas and finally landed on one that the boys are pretty excited about.  On Halloween, they will put on their Halloween costumes and go with us to a restaurant of their choosing.  No McD allowed!  I want the meal to take up a significant portion of the night and to feel like a special treat.  Right now, they want to go to a restaurant where they get these cool light up cups.  We may even get dessert.  Yes, it will have sugar; but sugar is okay as a special treat.

I pitched the idea of doing our own Candy Trade.  A candy trade is where kids trade in their candy for money.  I got the idea when I heard about dentists in some towns doing it.  Why not do that ourselves?  We agreed on a price of 10 cents per candy (because without trick or treating, they won't get that much candy).  So we sat the boys down and told them that, if they wanted, they could trade in their candy to Mommy and Daddy.

The reaction?  Great!  Our oldest is excited and has already traded in 2 pieces of candy that he got from school.  Our youngest (who is only 3) doesn't really get it yet.  He was given a Kit Kat one day, and I asked if he would like to trade it in for 10 cents.  He said, "No, I like candy."  That's fine.  To each his own.  I'm hoping he will at least trade in some candy if he ends up with more than 1 piece at a time.

So there you have it, our first family tradition that is all our own and not borrowed from our past.  We are super excited!

What are your plans for Halloween?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Caramel Frappe

Sometimes I want a caramel frappe from the famous coffee shop.  But I live nowhere near a coffee shop.  So I made my own, much healthier version.

But first, a story.  Last week, I needed this drink.  My husband was out of town, and I had just gotten the boys down to bed.  Sounds simple, but it wasn't.  My 5 year old was throwing the biggest fit I have ever seen out of him.  He was kicking and screaming and bouncing himself all over his bed.  If I remember correctly, he was upset because I wouldn't let him finish a show that I had already warned him he wouldn't have time to finish.  I apparently ruined his day.

There may have been more.  I'm not sure.  The details are a little fuzzy now because this drink did it's job to help me unwind.  It may have also helped that I doubled the entire recipe.

I give you a Caramel Frappe that is sweetened with bananas.  This is a seriously easy drink.

Made with just 5 ingredients.  It starts with one frozen banana.  I often buy too many bananas so that I can slice up the extras and put them in the freezer when they get over ripe.  This way I always have bananas on hand for anything that needs ripe bananas.  And I always slice my bananas into 10 slices.  Always.  This allows me to just reach into the bag and grab any 10 slices to know that I have approximately 1 whole banana.  Then you had 1/4 cup milk.  I use unsweetened almond milk original or vanilla flavor.  Then I flavor it up with instant coffee granules, vanilla extract, and caramel extract.  It is a great late night snack.

Does it taste just like the drink from the coffee shop?  No!  I'm not trying to claim a copycat recipe here.  But does it quench my desire for that drink?  Yes!

Caramel Frappe
Adapted from Make the Best of Everything
Nutritional Information:
Servings: 1  *  Calories: 125  *  Carbs: 28g  *  Fat: 1g  *   Protein: 2g  *  Fiber: 3g  *  Sugar: 15g

1 frozen banana, cut into 1 inch slices before freezing
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp instant coffee (or 3/4 cup cold coffee)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp caramel extract

Put all ingredients into a blender or food processor together.  Blend until smooth.  This shouldn't take very long because the milk helps the process a lot.  Pour into a glass and enjoy!

In the past, I have topped this with some caramel syrup because that is one of my favorite parts of the coffee house version.  But that obviously adds sugar.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Hi, I'm Megan.  I am on a journey to discover how to combine my passion for baking with my new found distrust of sugar.  The beginning of my journey is hazy.  I had seen some things around (probably on Facebook) that indicated that sugar is addictive.  But I know that I was already wondering about the safety of sugar.  I knew my Diet Cokes were bad for me thanks to the artificial sweeteners (yet I was still drinking them).  What can I say, I'm human and I loved them.  But what about real sugar?  Does sugar harm the body?  Or is it just another food?

Then I innocently checked out a book from my local library, A Year of No Sugar by Eve Schaub.  It had a pretty cover, and the idea intrigued me.  Basically, it is about her year-long challenge to herself and her family to abstain from sugar.  It was a great read, and I highly recommend it.  That book convinced me that I needed to eliminate a lot of sugar from my life.  The first step for me was to avoid desserts except for special occasions (an idea I stole from the book and adapted to my life).  Then about a month in and after vacation, I stopped drinking my beloved Dr. Peppers and Diet Cokes.  I took it slowly because I didn't want my caffeine withdrawals to alienate my family.

Unfortunately, after vacation #2 for the summer, I seriously fell off the no sugar bandwagon.  I would do good for a couple of days, then I would give in to all sorts of sweet treats.  And the more treats I ate, the more I wanted a soda (evidence of sugar addiction right there).  After giving in to both sweets and a soda, I would sober up for my next attempt.

The cycle continued until October.  By then I had watched Fed Up.  A great documentary on the harmful effects of sugar and how it is being marketed to us and our children.  So now I am fully committed.  I threw out the last of my kids' candy.  I pledged to go the whole month without sugar (and grains, but the grains is a whole different story).  I'm not going crazy here.  There is still sugar in my Ranch dressing.  There is still sugar in barbeque sauces and ketchup.  But I am avoiding it where I can.

So here I am, starting a blog.  Why?  Because I've thought about it for a while.  I find myself writing posts in my head while baking.  I think up new dessert and food ideas constantly.  And if I come up with something yummy, I would love to be able to share it with everyone rather than keep it to myself.  So please, join me for this journey of transforming those yummy desserts scattered all over my Pinterest boards into something I am willing to feed my family.