We can't be post-Easter because we're still waking up to flurries and snowflakes around here in New England. I'm a lover of four seasons, but I'm all done with winter at this point. I would really, really like to see some consistent signs of spring around here. We had a beautiful holiday regardless of the wintry temps and little ones being a tad cold in their Easter best last weekend and I hope you all enjoyed the day too.
For our Easter dinner, I made a classic carrot cake for dessert. If you haven't checked out Mom on Timeout's carrot cake recipe, I highly recommend you do so. I only make carrot cake once or twice a year and this recipe is literally to die for...the name is quite appropriate.
I used one of my new favorite flours, Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1:1 baking flour, and it came out perfect. It's been a challenge to have left overs of this beauty around during the week as it kept calling my name, but there's carrots in it so it's all good, right?
Moving out of the sugar craze that the Easter bunny brought to our house (is it possible to walk by a bowl of Cadbury Mini-Eggs and not grab one? I'm not sure....), I whipped up some green smoothies with summery, tropical flavors in mind. Yes, I'm a bake-aholic, but I'm also head over heels for my Vitamix and strive for balance. Leafy greens are some of my favorite vegetables and I try to squeeze them in every day. Starting the day with a tasty smoothie is a great way to do it and it only takes moments to prep and then I'm out the door. I hope you like this recipe! How do you squeeze your greens in?
Tropical Green Smoothie
(servings: 1 smoothie)
-1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
-1/2 cup water
-1 cup chopped or crushed pineapple
-1 cup leafy greens such a spinach or kale
-3-4 ice cubes
Add the ingredients to your high powered blender with the coconut milk and water first. Start the blender on medium and increase to high until all blended smoothly. Pour, sip, and enjoy!
The internet world told me that we recently had National Muffin Day! Who doesn't love muffins? I don't think anything jazzes up breakfast quite like a muffin and the infamous Seinfeld "Muffin Top" episode is an all time classic that spoke some real hard truths because you can't split a muffin with someone by slicing it horizontally and giving someone the muffin bottom. That. Is. Just. Wrong.
The down side to muffins is that they can be a dangerous breakfast and clock in more calories, sugars and processed fats than a donut. This is one of the biggest reasons that I love to make our own at home so I can control the ingredients, enjoy the house smelling like fresh baked muffins, and savor one as soon as it's cool enough to eat. Today's recipe lightens things up by using a grain free coconut flour. I experiment with different types of flours regularly and grain free baking is an art and science that I'm still trying to improve upon. I am a Whole 30 graduate and although I never planned to eat completely grain free for life, I do clearly remember that I felt amazing when I finished the 30 day program and I don't feel as vibrant when my diet has too much regular flour.
This week's recipe is absent of grains but still full of taste. I hope you enjoy them and I would love to hear any of your grain free baking tips or ideas!
Grain Free Blueberry Muffins
(makes 8 muffins)
-1/2 cup coconut flour
-2 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-1/4 tsp salt
-1-3 tsp cinnamon, depending on your preference
-1 individual container plain greek yogurt
-1 ripe mashed banana
-3 TBS coconut sugar
-1/2 cup coconut almond milk
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix wet and dry ingredients (except the blueberries) in separate bowls. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Let sit for a few minutes to allow the coconut flour to absorb the liquids and thicken. Fold in the blueberries and scoop into a greased muffin tin (I use an ice cream scooper) and bake for approximately 22 minutes. It's very important to let these cool completely before removing them or they will easily break apart. Enjoy!
Somewhere along the way this week was National Peanut Butter Day! Chocolate and peanut butter has to be one of my favorite flavor combinations, but I was actually late to the peanut butter craze. Although I didn't grow up in Ireland, my culture was very influenced by that heritage and I don't remember peanut butter being a big thing over there way back when. The U.S. was where I came across those peanut butter cups that we all know and love and there is no turning back after trying one of those.
This week's recipe combines my goal of a lighter recipe that also hits the mark for a sweet tooth craving. One of the key ingredients keeping this recipe lighter is PB2. PB2 has become a staple in my pantry for baking, oatmeal, and smoothies. I've even added it to plain Greek yogurt to add some flavor and then top with a crumbled chocolate protein bar or bananas. It gives you all the peanut butter flavor with reduced calories and fat.
As you can see from my photos, we decided to take the cookies a step further by making little ice cream sandwiches with our Halo Top Peanut Butter Cup ice cream. If you haven't tried Halo Top yet, I highly recommend that you get in your car right now and go to the store to get some. Obviously, making ice cream sandwiches with the cookies is not mandatory, but I'm not sure why you wouldn't want to give it a try...at least once.
Grain Free Peanut Butter Cookies
makes 16 cookies
-1/2 cup PB2
-1/2 cup coconut flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp salt
Wet Ingredients & Sweetener
-1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
-1 tsp vanilla
-2 TBS + 1 tsp Truvia
Topping: 1/4 cup melted chocolate chips to drizzle
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients/sweetener in another. Add the wet to the dry, mix, and let sit for approximately 5 minutes to thicken. Using a small cookie scoop, scoop 16 cookies onto a pre-greased or parchment paper lined baking tray. Bake for approximately 14 minutes, remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet. Optional: Melt 1/4 cup chocolate chips and drizzle over the cooled cookies. Allow to set.
For the ice cream sandwich option, take the Halo Top ice cream out of the freezer 5-10 minutes ahead of time and allow to soften on the counter (read the information on the back of the container as there is more about allowing this ice cream to soften posted there). Once the ice cream is soft enough to scoop and spread, spoon a small cookie scooper portion onto a cookie and then top with another cookie. This is best done right before serving. Keep in mind that if you do decide to freeze the ice cream sandwiches for later or don't finish all of them that you will need to take them out ahead of time and allow to soften before enjoying as there are no artificial or chemical softeners in the cookies or the ice cream.
Have a wonderful week!
wife, mom, faith, fitness, yoga, baking and constantly cleaning my kitchen.