Nothing Says L-O-V-E Like Chocolate

one-bowl brownies
One-bowl Brownies

Healthier for your heart and made with love!

Nothing says L-O-V-E like chocolate–especially gooey chocolate brownies.  In the amount of time it would take to drive to the store and buy a box of mix, you can whip up these healthier brownies.  The added bonus?  They don’t have as much fat as regular brownies and no one will ever know (they won’t know you’ve hidden whole-wheat flour in them, either). Try these one-bowl brownies today!

How do I know the ones you love will love this healthier version of brownies? My family raves about them, and I’m not just talking about my husband our two daughters, either. As a teacher at boarding schools for the last 14 years, I’ve had the privilege of having an extra ‘family’ each school year–students we ‘adopt’ for the school year so they can escape the dorm occasionally and have a home-cooked meal.  Over the years, the most requested dessert at our weekly or monthly faculty family dinners has been what the kids affectionately call ‘goo’–aka cinnamon pecan brownies.one-bowl brownies

Cinnamon Pecan Brownies

Pre-heat oven to 350˚
Makes 16 brownies

2 cups of semisweet chocolate chips (1 bag)
2 Tbs  butter
2 Tbs unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

1. Heat the oven to 350˚. Line an 8-inch-square baking pan with aluminum foil (and spray the foil with non-stick spray).
2. Chop the nuts and set them aside.
3. Put the butter and applesauce in the bottom of a microwave-safe bowl, and pour 1 cup of chocolate chips on top of them. Microwave on high for one minute. Stir until smooth and then add the brown sugar and whisk until smooth. Next, add the eggs and stir until incorporated. Stir in the salt, cinnamon and flour until smooth. Fold in the pecans and the vanilla. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan.
4. Bake brownies at 350˚ for 23-25 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean).
5. Remove brownies from the oven and spread the remaining 1 cup of chocolate chips over the brownies and return to the oven for two minutes. If your family likes spicy, you can also sprinkle a dash of cayenne over the chocolate chips at this point :).
6. Remove from the oven and spread the melted chips until smooth, to form a frosting.
7. Refrigerate for 20 minutes (or, eat them hot and gooey with vanilla ice cream) to firm the chocolate, then cut into squares. Store at room temperature.

What about you?  Do you have any ‘tricks’ for hiding healthier ingredients in the things you bake?

Oatmeal Zingers

Oatmeal ZingersLooking for a cookie recipe for your chocolate-hating friends (yeah, those people DO exist!)? This oatmeal cookie recipe has half the fat of regular cookies and is chock-full of yummy things like dried cranberries, pecans and oats.

#Oatmealcookies--only with a zing! Click To Tweet

Preheat oven to 350˚

1 c. butter or coconut butter
2 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 c unsweetened applesauce
4 eggs
1 Tbs. baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 c whole-wheat flour
6 c whole rolled oats
1/4 c. orange zest (grate the peel of a large orange using the smallest holes on your grater)
1/4 c. flax meal (optional–it never hurts to add more good things to a cookie!)
1 1/2 cups of chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups of dried cranberries, chopped into smaller pieces

Beat the butter or coconut butter until it is fluffy. Add the brown sugar and the applesauce and beat for another minute. Add the eggs, baking soda, salt, and vanilla extract and beat for a minute. Mix in the flour, oats, flax meal, and orange zest and beat again until the dry ingredients are incorporated. Stir in the pecans and dried cranberries.

Place by tablespoon (or, if you’d like giant cookies, use a 1/2 cup ice-cream scoop) on a lightly greased/non-stick or Silpat-covered cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes.

©2014 Anita Ojeda

Pair Peaches With Jalapeños for an Unforgettable Pie

jalapeño peach pieJalapeños and peaches? In the same pie? Absolutely! The trick is making the jalapeños just a little sweet before adding them to the peaches–the results? Unforgettable!

Even if you’re not a fan of all things spicy, you’ll enjoy the fiesta of flavors.

Preheat the oven to 425. Make the whole-wheat pie crust first, so that it can be chilling in the refrigerator while you prepare the pie fillings

 

Whole Wheat Pie Crust

2 c. whole wheat flour (I prefer Wheat Montana’s Prairie Gold)
1 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. butter
1 small egg, beaten
1 1/2 tsp. vinegar
1/4 c. cold water

Pie Crust Instructions:

In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar and salt.  With a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Mix together the egg, vinegar and water, then add to the flour mixture.  Mix until the dough is moist enough to form a ball. Wrap the ball in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.  Divide the dough in half.  On a lightly floured surface (I put a little flour on some waxed paper) roll one half into a 12-inch circle. Press dough into a deep pie dish. Roll out the top crust (and place it in the refrigerator if it seems to fragile to handle).

Jalapeño-peach Filling:

2 jalapeños–diced very small (if you’re not sure about the heat, use just one)
1 Tbs. butter
1/2 c. brown sugar.

Heat the butter over medium-low heat in a saucepan and when it’s melted, add the chopped jalapeños. Sauté for three minutes and then add the brown sugar. Allow the mixture to bubble (it will seem dry at first, but keep stirring it) for about five minutes. ADD

6 cups of well-drained canned peaches–I haven’t tried this recipe with fresh peaches because I can’t afford them 😉
1 c. brown sugar
1/8 c. peach juice (save it when you drain the peaches) or water
3 Tbs. corn starch

Add the peaches and brown sugar to the jalapeño mixture and give it a stir. Mix the peach juice (or water) with the cornstarch until it forms a paste, then add it to the peaches and jalapeño mixture and mix well.

Bring the filling mixture to a slow bubble, stirring every once in awhile (you’re goal is to allow it to get hot enough to thicken before you put it in the pie).

I used this time to roll out the pie crust.

When the filling has thickened, pour it into the prepared pie crust and cover with the top crust. Trim the edges and crimp the sides together. Make sure you add some decorative vent-holes with a fork–because the filling is already hot!

Place in the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes (or until the pie crust looks golden).

Enjoy (it’s even better with a small scoop of vanilla ice-cream)

@2014 Anita Strawn de Ojeda

Scrumptious Date Bars

These crowd pleasers won't take a bite out of your day with prep time.

These crowd pleasers won’t take a bite out of your day with prep time.

Until I moved to Arizona, I had never met such a large concentration of people who didn’t care for chocolate–which posed a real challenge for when I needed to fix treats or desserts for my students. And then I remembered how my mom used to make date bars when we were kids. I threw together a batch one night when my husband invited two teenage boys over for supper and I didn’t have any dessert on hand. Both boys loved the results, and I hope you will, too.

A great #dessert for those who don't like chocolate--#date bars! Click To Tweet

This recipe is easy enough for kids to make with minimal adult supervision–and they’ll love the date bars when they’re finished!

 

Preheat the oven to 325˚
Grease a large (9X13X2) baking dish

Add these ingredients to a medium glass bowl:

1/4 c applesauce
1/2 c butter
1 1/2 cups date turds (ok, that’s what my kids call them–they are the chopped dates that have been coated in flour so that they don’t stick to each other)
1/4 c water
Microwave 45 seconds and then stir and microwave another 30-35 seconds–until butter melts–and stir well.

Add 1 1/4 c brown sugar and stir again and let it cool a little while you chop the nuts.

When the date/sugar mixture has cooled enough to touch, add:

3/4 tsp salt
1 Tbs vanilla
1 Tbs baking powder
2 eggs
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 c coconut sweetened coconut flakes
1 c chopped pecans or walnuts

Mix all of the ingredients together (the batter will be about half way between cookie dough consistency and cake mix consistency) and then spread evenly in the greased baking dish.

Bake at 325 for 35-45 minutes (time will vary depending on your baking dishes and your oven) until the edges pull away from the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool a little before cutting them into squares.  Store the leftovers (if you’re lucky enough to have any) in an airtight container.

Find more kid-friendly activities and recipes over at Generation iKid!

Sweet Potato Pecan Pie

Sweet Potato Pecan Pie

Sweet Potatoes, Oats and Pecans–it’s almost a breakfast food!

 

 

 

This week, we’re sharing a recipe for amazing sweet potato pecan pie. We use the white sweet potatoes, not the orange colored ones (they have a drier consistency). We hope you’ll love this rich but not-too-decadant pie!
Filling

3 lbs. white sweet potatoes
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 c. brown sugar
six eggs
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ginger
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves

Whole Wheat Pie Crust

2 c. whole wheat flour (I prefer Wheat Montana’s Prairie Gold)
1 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. butter
1 small egg, beaten
1 1/2 tsp. vinegar
1/4 c. cold water

Topping
2/ 1/2 cups chopped pecans
2 c. oats
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. butter, melted
1/2 c. maple syrup

PREPARATION INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 425, and start a medium-sized kettle of water to boil.  Make the whole wheat pie crust first, so that it can be cooling in the refrigerator while you prepare the pie filling and toppings.

Pie Crust Instructions:
In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar and salt.  With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  mix together the egg, vinegar and water, then add to the flour mixture.  Mix until the dough is moist enough to form a ball. Wrap the ball in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.  Divide the dough in half.  On a lightly floured surface, roll one half into a 12-inch circle.  Press dough into a deep pie dish.  Crimp to form decorative border.

Filling Instructions:
While the pie crust chills, peel and chop the sweet potatoes into large rounds and put the chunks in the boiling water (make sure the water covers the sweet potatoes).  When the water returns to a boil, reduce the heat, place the lid on top and simmer for about twenty minutes.

While the sweet potatoes cook, mix together the ingredients for the topping and set them aside.

When the sweet potatoes are tender (a fork is easily inserted into a chunk), drain the excess water and place in a large bowl.  Mash the potatoes with a fork or potato masher, and then add the brown sugar, sweetened condensed milk and beat on low until everything is incorporated.

Allow the mixture to cool whilst you roll out the pie crusts and place them in two deep-bottomed pie pans.

Once the pie crusts are prepared, finish mixing the filling ingredients (eggs, salt, spices and beat on medium for 2-3 minutes)

Pour an equal amount of filling into each pie shell (make sure you leave room at the top of the pie for the topping) and sprinkle half of the topping on each pie. Leftover filling can be baked in small custard dishes at the same time the pie is baking.

Place the pies in the oven and bake at 425˚ for 20 minutes.  Lower the temperature to 350˚ and bake for an additional 40 minutes.  The pie is ready when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

I linked up at #TheLoft

Butterscotch Oatmeal Cookies

Butterscotch-Oatmeal cookies

My students LOVE these cookies–which bewilders me because they don’t have chocolate chips!

 

My test crowd consists of students, grades 1-12, and when the kids come over on Friday nights, I have a hard time keeping the cookies on the cooling rack–average shelf life–thirty seconds! But I don’t mind serving these cookies to my crowd of kids, because they have half the fat of regular cookies, not to mention that they’re made with whole-wheat flour and brown sugar instead of refined ingredients.

Butterscotch Oatmeal Cookies

Preheat oven to 370˚

1 c. butter or coconut butter
2 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 c unsweetened applesauce
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

1 Tbs. baking soda
3 c whole-wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs. cinnamon
6 c whole rolled oats
1/4 c. flax meal (optional–it never hurts to add more good things to a cookie!)

1 12 oz. package of Nestlé Butterscotch Morsels

Beat the butter or coconut butter until it is fluffy. Add the brown sugar and the applesauce and beat for another minute. Add the eggs, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, vanilla extract and beat for a minute. Mix in the flour, oats, flax meal and beat again until the dry ingredients are incorporated. Stir in the butterscotch chips. Place by tablespoon on a lightly greased/non-stick or Silpat-covered cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes.

@2013 Anita Strawn de Ojeda

Chocolate-Mint Brownies

Healthy (er) #brownies disguised as decadence--so good, no one will know! http://wp.me/p2UZoK-ax via @blestbutstrest #chocolate #mint

If you’d like to start feeding your family healthier desserts, a good way to start is by using whole-wheat flour in chocolate things—they won’t know that you’ve abandoned the white flour ;). You can even toss in some flax seed to make them even better for you.

Healthy (er) brownies disguised as decadence–so good, no one will know! (tweet this)

Chocolate–Mint Brownies
©2013 Anita Strawn de Ojeda
Preheat oven to 350˚

Grease a 13X9X2-inch baking pan.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the following ingredients:

½ cup melted butter or coconut oil
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
3 cups of brown sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. peppermint extract

Add and mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moist, then beat for an additional two minutes on high speed:

2 ½ cups of whole-wheat flour
½ tsp. salt
½ c. unsweetened cocoa powder (I like to use dark cocoa powder)
2 Tbs. ground flax seeds (optional)

Mix in:

1 10-oz package of NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Winter Dark Chocolate & Mint Morsels (they’re selling them in a holiday addition right now). You could also use the Andes Mint chips or 3/4 cup mint chips and 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips.

Spread evenly in the greased baking pan and bake for 30-40 minutes (until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and the edges pull away from the pan).

Cool on a wire rack and dust with powdered sugar.

Why Not? Healthier Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies have half the fat of regular chocolate chip cookies!

These cookies have half the fat of regular chocolate chip cookies!


While making a batch of chocolate chip cookies, I asked myself, “Why not try to make them healthier? It can’t hurt!” And so I did. I LOVE cookies, but I hate seeing all that fat go into them. These cookies please the palates of teenagers (who don’t usually admit to liking something ‘healthy’), and you’ll find it easy to miss out on having one yourself if your house is full of kids. It’s a big batch of cookies—I like to make them monster-sized (using a large ice-cream scoop), which yields about 24 cookies, or you can make them smaller. Just adjust the baking time (less time for smaller cookies).

Why Not? Cookies
©2013 Anita Strawn de Ojeda
Preheat oven to 350˚

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the following ingredients:

3/4 cup butter or coconut oil
1 cup applesauce
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup agave nectar or honey
2 eggs

Add the following ingredients in order, and beat after each addition.
1 Tbs. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
4 cups oats (I used whole oats, quick outs would work, too)
1 cup shredded coconut
You’ll probably need to use a heavy wooden spoon to mix the last two ingredients in.

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped nuts

Drop cookie dough on a baking sheet (I use a non-stick Sil-Pat) with an ice-cream scoop and press flat before baking them for 15-18 minutes at 350˚ or until the edges are brown and the middle looks set. Remove from oven and let cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

Vegan Zucchini Bread

If you can wait a day, this yummy treat tastes even better!

If you can wait a day, this yummy treat tastes even better!

Fall is the perfect time for zucchini bread–especially when you don’t know what to do with all the zucchini your neighbor’s left in a ‘drive-by fruiting’ ;).

This recipe will please everyone in your family.  I like to make a double batch and freeze what I don’t need for later.

Preheat oven to 350˚

 

In a medium bowl, pour the boiling water over the flax seeds and let sit while you grate the zucchini.  Add the coconut oil, the grated zucchini and the brown sugar and mix well.

1/2 c boiling water
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/4 c coconut oil
1 1/2 c brown sugar
2 cups finely shredded zucchini

Mix the dry ingredients together, and then add the wet ingredients and mix just until incorporated.

3 c whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped nuts
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Divide between two 8″X4″ oiled loaf pans and bake at 350˚ for 55-60 minutes. Let cool in the pans for about ten minutes, then remove from pans and allow to thoroughly cool before storing (or, eat it all while it’s still hot!).

©2013 Anita Strawn de Ojeda

Monster Cookies-Tasty, Vegan and Gluten-free

These cookies make a wonderful protein-filled snack or a perfect way to end a meal.

These cookies make a wonderful protein-filled snack or a perfect way to end a meal.

Preheat oven to 380˚
Yields 24 monster-sized cookies

These monster cookies have a dash of cinnamon and they’re so good no one will know they’re vegan or mind that they’re gluten-free!

3/4 cup boiling water
1 cup flax meal (I find it’s less expensive to buy whole flax seeds and then put them in the blender to make my own flax meal)

In a small bowl, pour the boiling water over the flax meal and stir it. Set aside and measure out and beat together the following ingredients in a large bowl:

1 1/2 cups natural peanut butter (try to avoid peanut butters with added sugar or hydrogenated fats)
1/2 cup coconut butter
2 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 Tbs. baking soda
1 Tbs. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
Add the flax/water mixture to the mixing bowl and beat for an additional minute, then add:
6 cups of rolled oats (either quick oats or whole oats)
1/2 cup applesauce
2 cups of your favorite chocolate chips

Mix well. If you’re using whole oats, you may want to let the cookie dough sit for twenty minutes or so to absorb the moisture. Use a half–cup ice-cream scoop or a half-cup measuring cup to measure out the monster cookies on a baking parchment (or Silpat) or lightly oiled cookie sheet. Bake at 380˚ for 12-15 minutes. Carefully remove the cookies from the baking sheet onto a cooling rack. As the cookies cool, they will stick together better.

If you’d like to know why I eat the way I do, read my Healthy (er) Choices Manifesto.