TWO MORE DAYS. I’ve been counting down the days until our little gang makes our way to New York and reunites with Hailey. And now, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Hailey planned our NYC eating itinerary over a month before she officially became a resident. That means she planned our restaurant list TWO MONTHS IN ADVANCE.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m beyond excited; I’ve already perused each restaurant’s menu countless times and know exactly what I’ll be ordering.
As a way to hopefully prevent some of the damage I’m sure to do against my waistline, I’m doing a make-shift “master cleanse” this week. (I have a protein smoothie for breakfast, master cleanse for lunch, and a salad topped with lean protein for dinner). I’m currently on day two of this “cleanse,” and honestly, the only thing that keeps me from raiding the candy dispensers at work is thoughts of the lobster egg benedict at Jane Restaurant brunch.
I made these carrot cake bars over the weekend as a healthy alternative for my ever-present sweet tooth. Since I’m not a fan of carrots and dislike dates, you would think that I would hate these bars; but, I actually really enjoyed them. The best part? They are vegan! Just remember to pit your dates before you blend the ingredients, or you might end up with a “pit”iful toothache. 😉
1 Cup of Almonds
1/2 Cup of Shredded Carrot
1/3 Cup of Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
1/4 Cup of Raisins
10 Pitted Dates
3 Tbsp. of Honey
Place almonds into a high-powered blender and blend until it reaches a crumbly consistency. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until mixed. Press mixture into the bottom of a lined, 9-inch pan and chill for at least an hour. Cut, and wrap bars.
Makes 6-8 servings.
If you’ve been keeping up with our recent posts, it might look like Hailey and I are on a dessert binge. Well, you may be right. In the past week, I’ve had churros for dinner, Taiwanese sweet breads for breakfast (thanks Tiffany!), cookies for lunch and chocolate covered acai berries for anytime the sweet tooth hits … This post will be a good test to see if my mom actually keeps up with Hailey and my blog, as she is likely to strongly disapprove of my eating choices.
Well, don’t fret (Mom). In preparation for Hailey’s half marathon, our upcoming trip to Spain, bikini season and summertime in general, Hailey and I have challenged ourselves to get in the best shape possible. In addition to a couple evening runs a week, I recently started a squat challenge with my coworkers, working our way up to 200 squats by day 30. To make this a bit more interesting, we added a caveat: at the end of the challenge, whoever can do the most squats in a row will win a dinner of their choice. Competition with a food prize? I’m in.
Now, I can’t let this sweet tooth ruin my chances of winning. That’s where this recipe comes into play. With no processed sugar, healthy cholesterol and loads of potassium, it’s hard to feel guilty if I eat one or two (or three) servings. I might not able to walk after 30 days, but at least I can find solace sitting on my new sexy butt and thighs with this dessert!
Healthy Chocolate Pudding
2 Ripe Avocados
¼ Cup of Cocoa Powder
⅛ Cup of Pure Cacao Powder
2-4 Medium Frozen Bananas
1-2 Tsp. Agave Syrup (Optional)
Whipped Topping (Optional)
Fresh Fruit (Optional)
Cut avocados in half, remove the seeds and using a spoon, scoop out the avocado flesh. Using a high-powered blender, blend together the avocados with cocoa and cacao powders. Add one frozen banana at a time until you reach the desired sweetness.* (Note: I found that using frozen bananas not only helps cool the pudding quickly and naturally, but helps ensure everything is fully blended). If your sweet tooth is not quenched, add a few teaspoons of agave syrup and blend again. Top with whipped topping and fresh fruit.
Earlier this week, Cathy made her delicious Nutella-inspired chocolate-hazelnut spread. I’ve been eating it non-stop; it’s so great on a slice of whole wheat toast for breakfast, and its fairly guilt-free compared to the real thing. I promise there’s hardly any sugar, just protein goodness from the hazelnuts! I will admit that I took over a jar to my Nutella-loving French friends and they (being snobs, so typically French) said “Its good but…it’s not true Nutella.” I of course explained that while we can’t mimick the stuff exactly, our version is actually good for you. Take that, France.
The great thing is that this healthy spread can also be used for so many different kinds of desserts, in addition to eating it plain. I experimented with it a little this week, and whipped together an elaborate-looking Chocolate-Hazelnut Tart with raspberries to serve for dessert… but a little secret is that it’s really not complex at all. This tart features a whole wheat and sugar-free crust, with Cathy’s homemade “Nutella” as the star of the show.
1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
3 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, room temperature
1/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Milk
1 Cup Warmed Homemade Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread
Pre-heat oven to 350 deg Fahrenheit. Combine flour, butter, salt and milk in a medium sized bowl, mixing by hand. Press mixture into two 6-inch ramekins. Pour half a cup of warmed chocolate-hazelnut spread into each ramekin.
Bake for ~30 minutes, or until each tart forms a hard shell to the touch. Top with fresh fruit.
Makes two 6-inch ramekins.
I’m not really sure when I first tasted Nutella — probably during college at Hailey’s recommendation — but I know that at just one bite I was hooked. I’ll find just about any excuse to eat it. On toast? Yep. As a frosting substitute? Sure. By the spoonful(s)? Of course. I just love the stuff. Seeing as I’ll probably try to talk myself into eating it by the jar, I usually stay away from the Nutella aisle in the grocery store. (When you have a sweet tooth as big as mine, you need to take these extra precautions).
A little less than a year ago, I decided to remedy this situation by creating my very own chocolate-hazelnut spread. Not only is my take on this spread free of the extra sugars and oils and packed with protein, it is incredibly simple to make. I hope you like this delicious, nutritious, guilt-free take on chocolate-hazelnut spread.
2 Cups Hazelnuts, raw
1 Cup Organic Milk (we used whole milk as it was on hand, but any milk should do)
2-3 Tbsp. Sugar
1/2 Cup Cocoa Powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the raw hazelnuts in a medium-sized baking pan, making sure the nuts are spaced evenly. Bake the nuts for around 10-15 minutes, checking every 5 minutes or so to ensure you don’t burn the hazelnuts. Baking the nuts helps remove the skin more easily and, in my opinion, enhances the nutty flavor. When your kitchen starts to fill with a wonderful hazelnut aroma, take the nuts out of the oven and cool completely. Once cool, place the cooked hazelnuts in between two paper towels and roll against a hard surface to remove the hazelnut skins. This works best one handful at a time. Once you are finished de-shelling your nuts, blend them in a high duty blender with milk until smooth consistency is reached. Place in a bowl and whisk together (we used a stand mixer) with cocoa powder and sugar. Store in the fridge in a tightly sealed jar or eat immediately!
*Note: You do not have to remove all of the husk from the cooked hazelnuts, only that which comes off easily.
**Note: Depending on your blender’s capacity, your chocolate-hazelnut spread might come out a little gritty. Personally, I like it, as it reminds me of a chunky peanut butter consistency.
Check back soon for Hailey’s Chocolate-Hazelnut Tart.
I love wintertime in California. While the rest of the US is in the midst of one of the coldest winters in years, we are blessed with beautiful, cloudless days and 70-80 degree weather. That said, I’m sure with a little bit of persuading, you can “Tom Sawyer” me into flying out and shoveling your driveway. A little while ago, during one of these 80 degree weekends, my friend Jen and I made our way over to the Hollywood Farmers’ Market. If you ever have the chance, you must check this place out. Not only will you find a huge assortment of local and seasonal produce, but also poets, candle makers, dog trainers and even a whole alley dedicated to spices aptly named “Spice Alley.”
As it’s the season, we decided to grab some citrus on the way out, and that’s where I first came across the most beautiful Meyer lemons I’ve ever seen. Void of any blemishes and deep yellow-orange in color, I’ll admit, at first I thought they must be fake. After touching more than a few, I decided I must have them.
With all the amazing citrus fruits in season, we couldn’t limit this dessert to just limes. I hope you enjoy our twist on Key Lime Pie.