Gameday Guacamole

from threelayercake on flickr creative commons

  • 3 ripe avacados
  • 2 plum tomatoes, seeded (I highly recommend using fresh, but you can also use canned diced tomatoes)
  • 1 small onion, diced (if you prefer a chunkier guacamole, just give them a rough chop)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 lime
  • handful of cilantro
  • dash of salt

Cut your avocados in half, then score the flesh with a knife before sliding a spoon between the flesh and the skin to quickly release it into a bowl. Mash the avocado with a fork to your preference; you can also use a food processor or blender if you like really smooth guac. Save the avocado pits and set them aside to preserve the freshness of the avocado later!

Quickly seed your tomatoes by cutting them in half and squeezing out the seeds.  Dice ’em up roughly and add them to the mashed avocado. Dice the onion and garlic and stir those in, as well.

Cut the lime in half and squeeze juice into the bowl.  Roughly chop the fresh cilantro and toss it in. Mix all of the ingredients together. Finally, add a dash of salt to taste. Refrigerate your guacamole for at least an hour; serve with some tasty tortilla chips or simply eat with a spoon!

Help keep the guacamole from turning brown over time by pressing the avocado pits into it. You can also cover the guacamole with plastic wrap, touching the wrap to the surface.

Namas-tasty!

*Image from threelayercake on Flickr Creative Commons

Easy-as-Pie Slow Cooker Pumpkin Oatmeal

photo 1Happy first day of fall, readers!! Today is officially the autumnal equinox, and thus begins my absolute favorite season of the year.

Though we slowly lose our precious sunlight as the end of Daylight Savings Times approaches in November, the crisp, cool, “just-right” air still makes autumn a comforting time for many. And did you know that without the increasing darkness in the Northern Hemisphere during this time of the year, we wouldn’t be able to witness the beautiful golds, yellows, reds and oranges that are the defining features of fall foliage?!

photo 3According to National Geographic, plants can sense the waning daylight and deduce that winter is coming, so they begin to retrieve materials from their leaves before they drop off. Evergreen trees have ways to protect their needles from freezing, but leafy plants do not; therefore, they shed their leaves, typically after the first frost. Beforehand, trees such as the gorgeous Aspen that are characteristic of my beloved Colorado attempt to store up nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, much like bears packing in food before they hibernate for the winter. This natural process is what causes the springy green leaves to transform into dazzling displays of autumn color.

2014-03-02 10.43.28Enough of my rambling about changing leaves (although I do enjoy them so!). As many of you may have read last year around this time, I also absolutely adore fall because of the unique and comforting ingredients: pumpkin, apples, cranberries, I love it all! So I wanted to start the season right with a hearty recipe that is sure to keep you warm on the chilly fall days to come: pumpkin oatmeal! Simply throw a handful of ingredients into your slow cooker and let it whip up overnight. In the morning you’ll wake up to a thick, creamy and deliciously flavorful dish to rev you up for the day to come.

Easy-as-Pie Slow Cooker Pumpkin Oatmeal

Adapted from Around My Family Table

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 4 1/2 cups water (you can adjust this depending on if you like thicker or thinner oatmeal)
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree (about half a can)
  • 2 tsps pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsps pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4- 1/2 cup brown sugar

2014-03-02 10.33.18Combine all ingredients in slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Stirring occasionally if you can.

Season to taste with brown sugar and top with a few dried cranberries for an extra pop of fall color!

Namas-tasty!

(Bikini-Ready) Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

2014-05-26 21.03.32Howdy readers! I have to tell y’all, I am so so sOoOoO excited to share this recipe with you. Now that summer weather is FINALLY here, I’ve really been trying to maintain healthy eating and exercise habits and cutting out fatty foods. Key word here: trying. But let’s face it, the better we eat, the better we feel when it’s time to shed those clothes and bear our bikini bods… and that’s worth giving up the potato chips for, am I right?!

So, this is why I am unbelievably happy to have found this recipe for some seriously delicious cookies that are 100% guilt-free! Believe it or not, this recipe calls for no flour, sugar, oil, or flour. Zero, zilch, NADA. How is this even possible?!

These cookies use ripe bananas, peanut butter, unsweetened applesauce, and oats to create an awesomely moist and soft texture with a flavor that is to die for. Just add some spices to jazz them up and extra goodies like dried coconut and chocolate chips — as few or as many as suites your fancy!

Feel free to hit the beach or the pool and bring a couple of these waist-conscious snacks along with you. Just be prepared for the jealous stares 🙂

(Bikini-Ready) Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 C. reduced-fat peanut butter
  • 2/3 C. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp. vanilla (sometimes if I’m feeling a little crazy I substitute dark rum… sounds weird but adds a whole other layer of flavor!)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • Dash of ground cloves
  • Dash of ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 C. quick or old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 C. semisweet chocolate chips
  • If desired, you can also add 1/4 C. of nuts, dried fruit or unsweetened shredded coconut!

2014-05-26 20.25.43Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix the peanut butter, applesauce, vanilla, and spices into the bananas.  Add in the oats, nuts, chocolate chips, and coconut; stir until well combined. Batter will seem a little wet, but this is OK!Spoon a rounded 2 tbsp. of the cookie mixture onto the lined baking sheet, leaving an inch or two between each and flatten slightly. Place a few more chocolate chips on top of each cookie, if desired. Bake for 20-30 minutes and allow to cool slightly.

Namas-tasty!

Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

2014-02-01 09.17.49WOW, I don’t know about you but I’ve had about as much as snow as I need for a lifetime this winter! If I have to dig out my car from a mountain of snow one more time…. I don’t even want to see the movie Frozen, which everybody (well, mostly those of the age 3-11 demographic, as that’s pretty much the majority of the folks that I hang out with these days) claims is the movie of the decade!

Pretty much the ONLY advantage of cold, snowy, drizzly, wet, slushy weather is that I get to bake to my hearts content. Not only does it warm my kitchen (AKA my entire apartment, since it’s basically just one big room), but, as I like to think, it gives me a little extra insulation 🙂

I decided during the last storm to whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies. I wanted to make them a little more hearty (and healthy) by adding some oats and, again, substituting the vegetable oil for applesauce (yes, I know, there is still butter in the recipe. Sometimes you just have to indulge!). These turned out super yummy and were a major mood boost/substitute for sunshine; I hope you try them out at home as well!

2014-01-27 17.24.43Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups oats (I typically use quick cook oats but only had old fashioned on hand this time; you can use either. With old fashioned the cookies still turned out fine, they just have a slightly crunchier consistency)
  • 6 ounces (half a bag) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease cookie sheets.

2014-01-27 17.18.33Melt butter in the microwave and cool slightly to avoid cooking the eggs. Add the applesauce, sugar, brown sugar and eggs and mix well. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Fold the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Add the oats and chocolate chips and mix until just combined.

Drop onto cookie sheets in heaping teaspoon size dollops, about 1 1/2 inches apart.

2014-01-27 17.54.25Bake on the top oven rack until the edges just start to turn brown and the center is barely set–about 12 minutes or so. Time will vary slightly by oven.

Keep an eye on them, and rotate the pan halfway through if they look like they are browning unevenly.

Namas-tasty!

Guilt-Free Banana Chocolate Fudge Muffins

2014-01-15 20.14.07Happy hump day, readers! Today I decided I needed a little pick-me-up to get me through the rest of this busy week. Chocolate usually does the trick, but I wanted something that I could eat a couple of without instantly feeling the need to make a dash to the gym (which, much to my dismay, isn’t always possible thanks to this lovely — make that disgusting — weather Chicago has been experiencing lately).

2014-01-15 21.20.39You all know how much I love “healthifying” recipes by replacing oil and butter with unsweetened applesauce; these yummy, fudgy chocolate muffins accomplish not only that, but they allowed me to utilize some bananas that I had on hand that were slightly past my preferred stage of ripeness. Guilt-free and nutritionally delicious, eat one for breakfast, dessert or even a mid-day snack!

No-Guilt Banana Chocolate Fudge Muffins

adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

  • 3 large, very ripe bananas
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus more for topping

2014-01-15 19.55.03Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a muffin tin with baking cups. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mash the bananas until there are no more big lumps. Stir in the sugar, egg, and applesauce with a whisk. Fold the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda and baking powder into the wet ingredients. Lightly mix to combine (in order to obtain nice fluffy muffins, it is important NOT to overmix). Fold in chocolate chips. Don’t worry if the batter is slightly chunky.

Divide the batter between the 12 muffin cups, filling all the way to the top. Bake for 17-19 minutes or until a knife or toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

2014-01-15 20.14.25Once the muffins are out of the oven, top with a few more chocolate chips, if desired. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Muffins stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Namas-tasty!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

2013-10-21 22.21.04HELLO readers! Oh, how I’ve missed you so. I sincerely apologize for my brief absence; this week was the last of the current term in my Master’s program, and, needless to say, I spent the majority of it frantically finishing up final projects, presentations and classroom observations. Of course, I did what I do best to manage the stress: cooked through the crazy! There was, however, not a single spare moment to write to y’all about my triumphs in the kitchen.

BUT, that’s all changed now. I’ve got a nice long break from classes ahead of me, so I’m back and ready to share with you some truly awesome recipes! I mean really, I have outdone myself. But, first, I want to share the health(ier) baking recipe I promised a while back. There are the moistest and cakiest cookies I have produced in quite some time, AND I made them without butter and using homemade applesauce instead of oil! Needless to say, they were a huge hit. And so, ladies and gentlemen, I present:

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup homemade applesauce
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp milk
  • 1 TB vanilla
  • 1 11oz bag chocolate chips

2013-10-21 22.09.27Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine pumpkin, sugar, applesauce, and egg in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, and salt. Dissolve the baking soda with the milk and stir into the wet ingredients. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and mix well. Stir for about one minute. Add vanilla and chocolate chips and stir until combined.

2013-10-21 22.09.41Prepare a baking sheet by spraying with cooking spray. Drop cookies on by the spoonful. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Namas-tasty!

Super Easy (and Healthy) Homemade Applesauce

DSC02160As much as I love apples, just like any other fresh fruit or vegetable they tend to lose their quality pretty quickly if you don’t eat them right away. A couple of weeks after picking them, I found that the few remaining apples that I hadn’t been able to bake into a scrumptious dessert or meal were starting to get mushy and mealy. Enter: this fabulous applesauce recipe! Instead of letting the rest of my precious apples go to waste and simply throwing them away, I decided to boil those suckers down to (delicious) mush.

Since posting a plea to my readers for advice, a friend of mine from class has been helping me experiment with healthy cooking and baking (thanks Elizabeth!). This was the perfect starter recipe because I added absolutely no additional sweetener or flavoring. I got to witness just how far natural ingredients can go; the goodness comes exclusively from the apples 🙂  I was also able to use this applesauce to replace the vegetable oil recipe for my favorite pumpkin chocolate chip cookies to make these treats even healthier!

DSC02161Super Easy Homemade Applesauce from Elizabeth

  • 12-24 apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks (or 1 or 2 packages frozen apples to save time)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon (add/subtract to taste; fresh cinnamon sticks are recommended!)
  • 1 package driscolls (or other brand) fresh strawberries, cut into halves
  • or 1 package frozen peaches

For plain applesauce:

Put chopped apples, water and cinnamon into pot. Bring to boil, and let cook on medium heat until apples start to soften. Turn heat to low and let simmer (with lid on) until apples completely break apart, about 20-30 minutes. Let cool and refrigerate.

For strawberry applesauce:

Add apples and cinnamon and let them cook and soften until they are 75% to your desired texture (some people like chunky). Then add strawberries, stir occasionally and let simmer until desired texture is achieved.

DSC02172For peaches applesauce:

Add peaches to cinnamon sticks first (they take the longest to soften). After about 10-15, minutes add apples and continue to cook until desired texture is achieved.

Namas-tasty!