Recipe: Lemon Raspberry Greek Yogurt Muffins

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When life hands you lemons…MAKE MUFFINS!

It’s good to have a go-to recipe in your back pocket, whether someone stops by unexpectedly, you want to take a crowd-pleaser to an event or you’re looking for something special — yet simple — on a weekend morning.

Mine just happens to be lemon blueberry muffins; not only do I always seem to have the ingredients on hand, but they’ve never earned less than rave reviews (seriously, yogurt is the secret to tangy, moist, yummy muffins).

No blueberries? No problem. I experimented recently with a raspberry version that’s just as lovely — plus it’s lower in sugar and includes some extra nutrients and fiber thanks to the addition of wheat flour.

Lemon Raspberry Greek Yogurt Muffins

(recipe adapted from Running with Spoons)

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. juice from 1 medium lemon
  • zest of 1 medium lemon
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and prepare a muffin pan by spraying cavities with cooking spray or greasing them with oil. Set aside.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a separate large mixing bowl, combine Greek yogurt and sugar, mixing until the sugar dissolves and the mixture becomes smooth. Add oil, honey, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and lemon zest, mixing until well incorporated. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Gradually add flour mixture to yogurt mixture, mixing gently until just combined. Fold in berries.
  5. Divide batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups, filling about 3/4 of the way full. Batter will be on the thicker side, so use a spoon to scoop it in. Sprinkle with additional berries, if desired.
  6. Bake muffins for 20-22 minutes, or until top is firm to the touch and toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool in pan for ~10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Got any go-to recipes that you’ve relied on over the years?

Recipe: Best-Ever Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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If you’re looking for one of the most delicious, nutrient-dense treats out there, this recipe just may be the Holy Grail of chocolate chip cookies.

Full disclosure, though: They’re actually “lactation cookies” meant for increasing a nursing mom’s milk supply. But dads and everyone else, don’t worry — they will not spontaneously produce lactation!

Even if you’re not breastfeeding, these cookies deliver important nutrients that all of us need, such as zinc, fiber, good fats, iron, protein, B vitamins, chromium, selenium and various other trace minerals.

Not to mention, they’re absolutely delicious…

Best-Ever Chocolate Chunk Cookies

(adapted from HowSweetItIs.com)

Ingredients: 

  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups steel-cut oats
  • 1 cup unbleached organic all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cut whole-wheat flour
  • 5 tablespoons brewers yeast
  • 3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1 tablespoon wheat germ
  • 1/2 ounce unsweetened coconut chips/flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons organic unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons unrefined organic virgin coconut oil
  • 1 1/4 cups organic cane sugar
  • 1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips/chunks (I chopped up a few king size Hershey’s bars we had lying around, just to use them up)

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven the 350° F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together both kinds of oats, flours, yeast, flaxseed, wheat germ, coconut, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  3. In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and coconut oil on medium speed until creamy. Add in the sugar and beat on medium to high speed until fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl if needed. Add in the egg and egg yolk, beating until combined. Add in the vanilla extract and beat until combined again. Gradually add in the dry ingredients, beating on low speed until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips with a spatula until they are evenly dispersed.
  4. Form the dough into 1-inch rounds and place on a baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the bottoms are just golden. Let cool completely before storing in a sealed container.
If you have a great lactation recipe, please feel free to share below! 

Recipe: Three Ingredient Nutella Brownies

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While these aren’t exactly healthy, per se, they do hit the spot when you’re hit with a craving for super-fudgy brownies and have very few ingredients on hand.

Just three, to be exact: Eggs, salt and Nutella. Yes, Nigella Lawson is a genius.

And if Nutella’s not a staple in your pantry, well, then it’s a great excuse to stock up because this dessert is a surefire crowd-pleaser!

Three Ingredient Nutella Brownies

(original recipe here)

Ingredients: 

  • 4 extra-large eggs
  • 2 pinches of fine sea salt
  • 1 cup Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line the base and sides of an 8-in.-square cake pan with parchment paper.
  2. Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat eggs and one pinch of salt on high until mixture doubles in size and is pale and mousse-like (about 5 minutes).
  3. Place Nutella in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat for about 1 minute, stirring after 30 seconds, or until slightly runny.
  4. With mixer on medium-high, slowly drizzle all of the heated Nutella into the eggs until fully combined (the volume of the eggs will decrease).
  5. Pour mixture into prepared pan, sprinkle with another pinch of sea salt, and bake for 20-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Cool completely in the pan (about an hour) before removing from pan. Cut into 16 squares and serve.
Are you a Nutella fan, or no? If, so, what’s your favorite way to savor the spread?

Recipe: Zest Nutrition’s Cookies in a Jar

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When the ladies of Zest Nutrition whipped these little wonders out at their holiday party in December, it was love at first bite. And worth sharing now, even post-holiday, because I believe so strongly in their credo that “we deserve to eat food that tastes amazing and makes us feel good all year long.”

Since they’re so easy to make, I’ve been sharing them with friends who become seem to become equally obsessed (you’ve been warned). The first few batches were by the book, but I’ve since experimented by trying coconut flour in place of almond flour, adding half an extra banana and a tablespoon of chia seeds, and replacing the regularly-sized chocolate chips with mini morsels.

The Zest ladies also suggest swapping out the dried cranberries, chocolate chips and coconut for any other ingredients you like. Go wild, and indulge without guilt!

Cookies in a Jar

(original recipe here)

Ingredients (in jar):

  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Ingredients (to add):

  • 2 ripe bananas

Directions:

  1. Heat the oven to 350F.
  2. Mash bananas with a fork, then mix in jar ingredients until combined.
  3. Form cookies on baking sheet and bake for 20 min.

The best part? Each batch is perfectly proportioned for storage in your standard mason jar.

Mix ahead and save for a rainy day when cravings hit, or get crafty and share something nourishing — yet delicious — with your friends and family.

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Ever thought a vegan, gluten-free cookie with no refined sugar could be so tasty? Me, neither!

Recipe: Crock-Pot Apple-Pear Sauce

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While I’m on my apple kick, I figured I’d share another family-favorite fall recipe: Crock-pot apple-pear sauce, otherwise known as the gift that keeps on giving.

Not only do you get to have fun hitting up the orchard to collect bushels of fruit (or in our case, my in-laws’ backyard — thanks, guys!), but then you get to come home and reap the benefits of its deliciousness.

What I especially love about this recipe — well, besides the eating part — is that it’s practically foolproof. Three ingredients, loose directions, and in a few hours you’ll have some pretty amazing sauce to share (…or not).

Crock-Pot Apple-Pear Sauce

Ingredients:

  • ~20 small apples (your favorite variety)
  • ~10 pears (I use Bosc)
  • Cinnamon stick

Directions:

  1. Rinse, dry, peel and roughly chop enough of the apples and pears to fill your Crock-pot to the top. Add a stick of cinnamon.
  2. Turn Crock-pot on low and cook fruit until it starts to break down (a few hours), stirring occasionally.
  3. When fruit has cooked down (i.e. darkened up and gotten mushy), remove cinnamon stick and use spoon to break up any remaining large chunks.
  4. Let cool before eating. If desired, use an immersion blender to blend to a smooth consistency, but I like the rustic, chunky kind of sauce!

Hint: I like to have a few extra apples and pears on hand; as the fruit breaks down, it takes up less room in the Crock-pot (if you start with it full to the brim, you’ll end up with a half batch), so I’ll add more fruit as it cooks to end up with a full batch.

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Here’s the “before” — with fresh fruit and a cinnamon stick in the Crock-pot just as I turned it on. Resist the urge to add water or sugar (you’ll see why when you taste the finished product).

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And the “during” in which the fruit starts to brown up and break down. Be sure to stir regularly to avoid it sticking to the sides and bottom.

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And since I started this batch in the afternoon and added more fresh fruit before bedtime, I let it cook on low overnight so we’d wake up to a sweet surprise with breakfast the next morning!

Are you as apple-obsessed as I am in fall?

Recipe: Fully-Loaded Zucchini Banana Bread

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Ever have a moment when you see a shot of a baked good, and it looks so tantalizing that it literally stops you in your tracks?

Ok, maybe that’s just me. 

When blogger friend Carleeh Mulholland posted pics from her recent Banana Zucchini Chia Bread baking session, I suddenly found myself at the grocery store on my lunch break to gather the ingredients.

She had tweaked the original recipe, doubling it, along with adding a cup of zucchini, 1/4 cup of chia and a extra banana for oomph. I figured I could take it a step further by taking out some of the sugar, playing with some “healthier” flours and packing in some more fiber with wheat germ.

The result speaks — or rather, shows, in the image above — for itself: a super-moist, super delicious bread that had hubby sneaking seconds (and thirds!) as a late-night snack.

Loaded Zucchini Banana Bread

(adapted from LittleBitsOf.com & special thanks to Carleeh for the heads up!)

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 4 overripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 small zucchini, finely grated
  • 2 cups wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, beat together the egg, sugar, agave nectar and vanilla until combined. Add the butter and beat until smooth and the butter is fully incorporated. Beat in the buttermilk, bananas and zucchini.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the flours, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and wheat germ. Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the wet until all the flour is incorporated.
  3. Spray two loaf pans with non-stick spray, and pour half of the batter in each.
  4. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
How do you sneak healthy ingredients into your favorite recipes?

Recipe: Zest Nutrition Avocado Chocolate Mousse

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Usually when I see the words “gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free and vegan” to describe a recipe, I brace myself for the worst. But, once again, my friends over at Zest Nutrition have managed to create a super-healthy treat that’s incredibly tasty.

This silky avocado chocolate mousse comes from the kitchen of co-founder Anna Rosinoff, who grew up with “chocolate o’ clock” as a time-honored tradition in her family. So when she’s not applying her expertise in counseling and health promotion to develop workplace wellness programs, Anna’s brainstorming delicious ways to incorporate her favorite sweet into wholesome, nourishing recipes.

Don’t let the avocado throw you for a loop; with no refined sugars, un-pronouncable ingredients or bad fats, this dessert will pass a taste test from even the most discerning chocolate connoisseurs!

Zest Nutrition’s Avocado Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 very large, very ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened powdered baking chocolate
  • 2 TBSP vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar or honey

Directions: 

  1. Combine all ingredients in food processor.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Enjoy immediately, or chill in fridge for around 30 minutes.

Since Ben and I have a, ahem, healthy appreciation for chocolate, I thought it’d be best to start with a double batch of mousse.

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My bananas were just starting to ripen up, so next time I’ll look for some with spots to make sure they’re softer and sweeter.

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Next comes the cocoa and vanilla — and I used a little less than a cup of agave since it’s pretty potent.

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After the initial blend, scrape the sides of the food processor and blend again until there are no more lumps.

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It’s got a lovely pudding-like consistency, and there’s a subtle hint of banana, but you can’t even taste the avocado.

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Eat it plain, or top with nuts, berries or something crunchy if you want to break up the smooth texture (I opted for unsweetened shredded coconut).

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Do you celebrate chocolate o’ clock in your house?