Does anyone else just all of a sudden get in the mood for baking sometimes?
The measuring and mixing, pouring and stirring, baking and cooling. The smells of something delicious coming together and the anticipation of taste testing. It’s therapeutic to me.
Last week as I was jotting down a bunch of things to nab at the food store and planning out what healthy snacks I’d make this week, I got bitten by the baking bug. And I didn’t feel like just following a recipe, I was in the mood for experimenting and getting creative.
Today’s recipe is a result of that baking bug. These cookies center around a few of my favorite things: the combination of chocolate + peanut butter & cinnamon.
Cinnamon is without a doubt my favorite spice. I’m constantly sprinkling some on my fruit, in my smoothies, and on my toast. It gives meals a bit of something extra, au naturel.
I also love pairing cinnamon with peanut buttery goodness. Cinnamon sprinkled on top of sliced banana, topped with peanut butter. Oats with baked apple chunks, peanut butter & cinnamon.
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, so today we’re chatting about healthy dessert recipes!
My hubby and I don’t get too crazy for Valentine’s Day. We’ll sometimes go on an adventurous date, like going kayaking in La Jolla as we did last year, or sometimes we’ll just have a nice dinner at home. To me, Valentine’s Day just serves as a reminder of what’s important in life. It should just be about spending time with the people you love – whether that be a spouse, your kids, your girlfriends, or even just dating yourself.
I’m not sure what we’ll be doing for V-Day this year yet, but if there’s one thing’s that for sure, it’s that I’ll be baking something fun surrounding the day of love…because I take advantage of any excuse to bake!
Baking is definitely a de-stressing activity for me, especially when I have time to get in the kitchen and just play around. As a healthy foodie, I like to substitute better-for-you ingredients into recipes to make them more wholesome. For instance, I’ll use maple syrup or coconut sugar instead of refined sugar, or I use oat flour instead of white flour. I love enjoying treats that I can feel good about eating!
I’ve rounded up 5 of my dessert recipes that would be perfect to make this Valentine’s Day, so let’s get to it!
1.) Chocolate Peanut Butter Brown Rice Crispy Squares. This healthier take on rice crispy treats has been a favorite in my household since I first posted the recipe on the blog last year. I mean, is there a better combination known to man than peanut butter + chocolate? In a word, NO! –> Get the recipe here
2.) Apple Pie Banana Bread. Made with oat flour and fresh cinnamon apple chunks, this banana bread is one of my favorite ways to use browned bananas. Sometimes I throw chocolate chips into the batter, but either way you make it, it’s delicious! –> Get the recipe here
Today I’m backing it up to a couple of days to last weekend. Any longtime readers may remember that when my hubby left active duty for the Marine Corps almost 2 years ago, I wrote a post about lessons I had learned as a USMC wife (read it here!). I talked about my experience as a military wife – a chapter of my life that was seemingly over (although I still referred to my man as a Marine – because once a Marine, always a Marine!) but I mentioned something in there about never say never to being a military wife again….
Well, it turns out that I’m now a Marine Corps wife again! This time around is a little different because my hubby is now a Marine Corps Reservist. He missed being a Marine, and it just sort of worked out that an opportunity opened up at the base really close to where we live that fit in with his other jobs, so here we are… back in the military life, only at this point, it’s not a full-time thing. Last weekend was his first training for the Reserves, which meant that I had a few days off of work to have some “me” time.
My weekend kicked off with a great hike with Harley just before sunset – literally, as we had to kind of book it back to the car before the park ranger had my car towed – and a homemade broccoli, ricotta, mozzarella & tomato pizza with whole wheat dough that I had nabbed at the farmer’s market.
Every time I get anything new for my kitchen, I get seriously excited. Some people may not understand my enthusiasm in the least bit, but kitchen gear to a foodie is like candy to a kid… Okay, I get excited in candy stores too, but you get what I’m trying to say.
So you can only imagine how great it was when I walked into Bed Bath & Beyond after my bridal shower a bunch of years back with thousands of dollars in gift cards. My bridal shower was on the east coast, and since I live on the west coast, most people gave me a gift card instead of shipping tons of presents.
My mom and me at my bridal shower…opening a Bed Bath & Beyond gift card
I wish I had a photo of the awesome madness of that shopping excursion…though I did just find this lovely photo of my face when I walked into my grandma’s house for what I thought was a lunch date, only to find 50 people in her kitchen for my surprise bridal shower:
Um yeah, I think my eyeballs bugging out of my head say it all… I was surprised!
Oh and did I mention that my husband was deployed at the time? So I went on a shopping spree at Bed Bath & Beyond alone. With a lot of money. And no supervision. Can you say troubleee? I walked out with 2 entire carts worth of kitchen home items and could barely contain my excitement.
What better way to start my day than by eating heart-shaped chocolate chip pancakes with strawberries? 🙂
While many people frown upon this holiday, I am a romantic person at heart, so I love a day devoted to love by nature. Sure, it’s a Hallmark holiday where many people very stereotypically buy flowers and chocolate and go out to dinner, but I want to talk about what Valentine’s Day is really and truly about: celebrating love and relationships. So let me ask you, what’s the most important relationship in your life?
If you thought of your partner, child, or mother, yes, I’m sure they mean the world to you. But what I’m getting at here is that the most important relationship you’ll ever have in your life is the one you have with yourself. No matter what happens with your romantic relationships, your friendships, and your family, the one constant person that you can rely on throughout your entire life is you.
So show yourself some love today, and every day of the year for that matter. Treat yourself to something special that’ll feed your soul (and maybe your belly — a Valentine’s Day cupcake works!). Embrace the unique person that you are and celebrate the wonderful things you bring to the world, and always remember that you’re worthy of love — both from yourself and from others. Knowing that and carrying it with you on a daily basis is life changing. From my experience, once you realize it, all of the stars seem to align and your life is never the same. As Lucille Ball said, “Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”
In honor of Valentine’s Day taking place in a few days, I have a delicious dessert recipe to share with you all today.
It all started when I heard about Davida‘s Valentine’s Day Bake Off. Naturally, I wanted to participate, but there weren’t any baking ideas immediately popping into my head….and then I thought of making a homemade version of Nutella. Since it’s V-Day, the idea of strawberries were also on my brain. Technically there isn’t any baking involved in this recipe, but I figure that there’s no room to be a stickler for rules when chocolate is involved, right? 😉
I think many people would agree with me when I say that Nutella is heavenly tasting. I think it’s slightly ridiculous that people see it as a “nutritious” thing to eat for breakfast, but I do not pass up the opportunity to get a crepe stuffed with fruit and Nutella when given the chance. Random Fact: World Nutella Day just passed on February 5th. I kid you not, this holiday exists!
In recent times, I satisfy my chocolate hazelnut spread urges by buying Justin’s chocolate hazelnut butter, which is deeeelish and also addicting, yet is better for you because the first ingredient is actual hazelnuts — unlike Nutella, where the first two ingredients are sugar and palm oil (Hazelnuts as the first ingredient in hazelnut butter?? Brilliant!). When I got the bright idea to try and make chocolate hazelnut butter myself, off to Whole Foods I went for some dry roasted hazelnuts….
You can also buy raw hazelnuts and roast them yourself if you’d like.
Other star ingredients in this butter include maple syrup, almond milk, sea salt and dark chocolate.
To make the butter, first pulse all of the hazelnuts in a food processor. After a minute, they’ll look like this…
…but you’ll want to keep going until the nuts form a hazelnut paste as pictured here:
The next thing to do is melt the chocolate, almond milk, and vanilla extract in a saucepan. I used dark chocolate discs for this recipe. After melted, I combined the chocolate in with the hazelnuts in the food processor, and added sea salt, maple syrup, cocoa powder and vegetable oil. I thoroughly mixed everything until it looked like the deliciousness below.
At first, I attempted to use the hazelnut butter to stuff the strawberries right away, but then quickly realized that right out of the food processor, the spread is a bit too runny. Case in point:
You actually could use the hazelnut butter as is if you’d like to simply dip fruit into it, or whatever else you people do with Nutella…
…but for the purposes of stuffing strawberries, what I did next was place the hazelnut butter in the freezer for about 15 minutes to let it harden up a bit.
While that’s happening, you’ll want to cut the stems of your strawberries off and scoop out some of the flesh in the middle with a butter knife, as your dog longingly looks on in hopes of nabbing one of the berries of course…
After the butter has hardened up a bit, remove it from the freezer and scoop some into each of your strawberries.
The cutest grandma in the world (mine of course!) always sends me little things for Valentine’s Day. Last week she sent me toffee and cupcake decorators for the holiday, so I used some of my decor to spruce up my hazelnut butter stuffed strawberries.
I find this to be a very pretty, Valentine’s Day-ish dessert, don’t you?
Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Butter Stuffed Strawberries
Author: Foodie Loves Fitness
12 large strawberries
1 cup dry roasted hazelnuts
6 oz dark chocolate discs, chips, etc. (You'll want to stay away from bitter baking bars though.)
1 TBSP cocoa powder
¼ cup, plus 3 TBSP maple syrup
½ cup (chocolate) almond milk
2 TSP vanilla extract
1 TBSP vegetable oil
½ TSP sea salt, plus more to taste
Place hazelnuts in a food processor and pulse for a couple of minutes until it forms a thick paste.
In a small saucepan, melt the chocolate with the almond milk over low heat, stirring often. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine.
Add the chocolate mixture to the food processor, and mix in the sea salt, cocoa powder, maple syrup and vegetable oil. Pulse again for a few minutes until everything is combined well.
Place the butter in the freezer for about 15 minutes to allow it to harden a bit. You'll want it to be not runny, yet still very easily spreadable.
Meanwhile, cut the stems of your strawberries off and scoop out most of the flesh with a butter knife. Once the butter is ready, remove from the freezer and use a butter knife to spread some into each strawberry. Serve immediately.
Question: What’s your favorite dessert?
This is a tough question for me! I love chocolate cake and ice cream/fro yo, but in recent time I’ve been liking fancy cupcakes. I think we can agree that for V-Day, strawberries and chocolate are where it’s at!
Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve recently been bombarded with Valentine’s Day chatter and advertising, and know that tomorrow is the so called day of love. While I do think it’s a Hallmark holiday, I’m a lover of love and enjoy any excuse to celebrate it. Unfortunately, tomorrow will be like last year’s Valentine’s Day in that I won’t be with my hubby. This marks the 3rd V-Day in a row that we’re apart, but I’m celebrating a different kind of love right now…. loving my precious grandma, whose cancer surgery yesterday was successful!! She’s in the ICU recovering and getting her lungs stronger from having pneumonia. My family and I are all obviously relieved and just helping her to take it one day at a time in getting better.
I Googled Valentine’s Day dog images before (guess I’m missing Harley girl whose hanging out in Cali with her dad!) and was practically squealing at some of the pictures. Here are my favorites:
So remember when I did a review about ENERGYbits algae tabs? If any of you were interested in trying out their bits but thought they were a bit too expensive, I have a deal for you! I recently received an email from the company about American Heart Month. In honor of this month and Valentine’s Day, they’re offering a 25% discount throughout all of February. All you need to do is visit www.energybits.com or www.skinnybits.com and enter VALENTINE into the coupon box at check out.
On a final note, with V-Day upon us and all of the focus being on showing others how much you care….
Although I do agree that today is a Hallmark holiday, I can’t lie… I just love love. And how could I not be happy for a day when I find these on my doorstep?
My hubby obviously put a smile on my face with those! I was thinking about it, and out of the years we’ve been together, we’ve been with each other for 3 Valentine’s Days and apart for 3 Valentine’s Days… Hmm, 50/50 isn’t too bad, right?!
Though my hot date tonight was volunteering with the doggies at the Humane Society, I did have a theme of chocolate going on today in celebration of the holiday. First, I made pancakes for lunch. Not just plain pancakes, chocolate chip pancakes.. with pumpkin! I even attempted to make them in heart shapes, because I’m cool like that. They came out softer because of all the pumpkin goodness, but they were tasty!
[Side note: Wow, that is one scratched pan I cook pancakes on! That’d be courtesy of Adam trying to cook clams on it one time..]
Chocolate Pumpkin Pancakes
1/4 cup old fashioned oats, dry (Quaker)
1/2 cup pure pumpkin (Libby’s)
2 TBSP whole wheat flour (Gold Medal)
1/2 TBSP pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup chocolate soy milk (Soy Slender)
1 TSP light brown sugar (365 Organic)
1 packet of Stevia sweetener
1 TBSP chocolate chips (Ghiradelli semi-sweet)
Warm skillet over medium heat and spray with non-stick spray.
In a bowl, combine all ingredients except the chocolate chips. Mix well.
Form 3 pancakes in the pan, then equally distribute chips to each cake. Cook until browned on each side.
Stats: 300 calories, 10 g fat, 12 g protein, 54 g carbs
Chocolate eats of my day #2: My dessert tonight is a few of these Trader Joe’s caramels:
Holy yum, they’re so good! You seriously only need to eat 1 or 2 and you feel perfectly satisfied.
I was reading Self magazine the other day and the editor was talking about self love. She made an excellent point in saying that we should strive to be as nice to ourselves as we are to our best friends. I was thinking about this idea with today’s theme of love. Sure, Valentine’s Day is usually centered around romantic relationships, but why not make it also about showing your friends and family how much you care about them? And yourself? We tend to be so hard on ourselves, and in reality, the most important relationship in life is the one you have with yourself. Go ahead and treat yourself to something nice just because you are fabulous. And remember to…
I’m off to go for chocolate eats #3 of the day: diet hot cocoa!