almond + blackberry tarts, and living in Texas

almond + blackberry mini tart

I know, last year was a rough one for me and blogging. I apologize, and am determined to get back into the groove now that I’m settled in a new home for at least a year. (!)

The past year was about getting some more travel out of my system, going to school and figuring out where to go and what to make of my adult life. Turns out my next chapter begins with a move to Austin, TX, more on a whim than any real specific reason, but I think it was a good choice.

I brought my big furry beast with me and we moved in with a little furry beast and his human into a small home with a big back yard in south Austin. The house, pretty neglected and dirty looking when we first moved in, is really starting to grow on me. We broke it in with a delicious meal and bonfire with friends on a warm, starry night, and since then it’s really starting to feel like home.

home sweet home - austin, tx

happy ingredients

So, what other important activity must I do when breaking my new house in? Bake. Something chocolatey, something nuttty, something healthy…(ish).

I’m a big fan of using nut flours and butters in baking for the rich, buttery texture it gives, and, obviously, the nutty flavor. I’m also a big fan of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, and even more so, what I call the grown-up version: almond butter & blackberry sandwiches. Today I decided to convert this combination into little bite-sized desserts – or snacks, because they’re healthy :)

blackberries + almonds Continue reading

Nikki’s healthy cookies, revisited

favorite banana cookies

One of my first posts was my adapted version of Nikki’s Healthy Cookies from 101 Cookbooks, a “classic” healthy cookie of the blog world. Butter-less, flour-less, egg-less, and sugar-less, these continue to please as my go-to healthy cookie and friends still ask me for “that banana cookie recipe you always made.”

Well with time after time of baking these and my unending obsession with changing up recipes, I have for you my new and improved healthy banana cookie. It’s peanutty, banana-y, coconutty, puctuated with drops of creamy chocolate (or carob), and to me the flavors never get old. Substantial + healthy enough to eat for breakfast, ideal for a midday snack, and decadent enough to satisfy my sweet cravings…. what more do I need to say? :)

Get baking and have yourself some guilt-free deliciousness! Continue reading

treats for tara

So I’m not big on posting recipes that I copy exactly from someone else. Writing up my own creations (the few successful ones) or a recipe that I’ve at least adapted to make my own feels much more like an accomplishment.

But I’ll make exceptions when something turns out just so perfect and everyone’s begging for the recipe.

Like these…..

When my family went to Colorado to celebrate my sister’s graduation, she threw a little party featuring sumo wrestling and tasty food prepared by us. Two pretty great things.

Among many other nibbles, mom made cute shrimp gazpacho shooters…..

…and I contributed the sweets, of course. My favorite chili-chocolate-cherry bean cookies emerged from the oven sadly flat (blaming that on the altitude..), but these almond butter rice crisp treats certainly made up for it.

Continue reading

coconut flour cookies – gluten free & grain free

Not often does one get offered a giant bag of coconut flour because someone has just too much of it. So when my uncle offered me an extra bag he had lying around (my gluten-free aunt orders online in bulk because it’s cheaper), I was glad to take it off their hands :)

I left their home after dinner with arms full of goodies— coconut flour and bunches of collards and lettuces fresh from their garden. It’s been nice living close to them for 4 years of college; I never left without something yummy, usually homemade applesauce or jarred South Carolina peaches. mmmm.

Anyway, with more coconut flour than I ever thought I’d have in my possession (that stuff can be expensive!) I was dreaming up all the recipes I could add it to. And what did I settle on first? The classic chocolate chip cookie, of course. Except this one’s not so classic

I knew my aunt had been on a search for the best tasting gluten-free cookies, so I thought I’d add a homemade recipe to the competition. And it’s not only gluten-free, but grain-free, vegan, refined sugar-free, and very low in sugar overall. The baked cookie certainly has a different texture than the classic—a bit more dense, soft, and dough-like—but delicious in its own way.

I absolutely love these cookies and could easily just eat balls of the raw dough as well. I know my aunt enjoyed them, and even if you’re not avoiding gluten you should give them a try! A soft, dense, chocolatey, coconutty, just-sweet-enough treat, without any of the guilt ;)

grain-free coconut flour cookies, adapted from girl meets life.

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • ¼ cup almond meal/flour
  • 1/4 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 1 T agave
  • 1/2 T coconut oil
  • 1/4 t vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup almond or soy milk
  • 3-4 T dark chocolate chips (I use grain-sweetened or dark mini chips)
  • other options: cocoa nibs, coconut flakes, chopped nuts Continue reading

spinach frappe

This should really be called a banana mocha frappuccino, but I like to say spinach frapp just cause it sounds gross. Don’t get me wrong, I love my spinach. But who really wants it in their sweet blended coffee drink?

Leafy greens—fresh or frozen—turn out to be a great addition for smoothies and shakes. They add vitamins and fiber and substance to your smoothie without loading in the sugar, fat, or ice that waters down the flavor. Nor does it add any flavor of its own, so don’t worry about you frappucino tasting like a drinkable salad.

This homemade frappe has it all — sweetness from a frozen banana and vanilla soymilk, fiber from the spinach and banana, richness and antioxidants from the cocoa, a jolt of espresso, and extra protein (optional) from protein powder — without too much ice watering it down! To indulge in a mocha frappuccino for breakfast and not feel one bit of guilt? Mornings just got way sweeter. Continue reading

chili-chocolate-bean cookies

I don’t know why I’m still surprised when I bake a dessert with beans… and it comes out amazing. I mean I already showed you my success with the beet-bean brownies and the deep dish cookie pie, but somehow the concept never fails to fascinate me. Beans?! Not only are they what I often consume for protein in my meals—being low in fat and super high in fiber—but they can be used to replace a majority of the flour and butter in baked goods! I think what gets me most, though, is that they’re not simply a healthy substitution; beans make things like cookies and brownies so incredibly rich and fudgey and moist. I may never bake without beans again!

….I just won’t tell people this until after they taste my goodies :]

These rich chocolate cookies remind me of these double chocolate fudge cookies my mom used to make from a mix when we were kids. Everyone looved them, especially straight from the oven, all warm and full of gooey chocolate chunks. These bring me back to that same eye-rolling indulgent taste of fudgey bliss, but with a grown-up twist of spicy chiles, cinnamon, tart dried cherries… and of course our healthy little secret ;]

I also gave each cookie a generous sprinkle of coarse sea salt, which really brings out the richness and leaves you craving more sweet after each bite.

chili-chocolate-bean cookies, from My New Roots

  • 1 ½ cups black beans, or one 15 oz. can
  • 2 T coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup organic cocoa powder
  • 1/4 t coarse sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/4 t cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup, honey or agave
  • 2 eggs or 6 T egg whites
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate, or chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried cherries

healthy decadence

I showed you the magic of beets and beans in brownies, and now I give you a decadent deep dish cookie pie….. made with chickpeas!

The use of beans in desserts is becoming more common to me so I was not too skeptical about this recipe. And the beans proved themselves once again. Mom and I made this one night while watching the Biggest Loser (nothing like eating a decadent dessert while watching people lose weight… but hey, at least this pie is somewhat healthy!) and I think her more skeptical taste buds were impressed as well.

We made half the recipe since there were only two of us, and put it in a smaller round pan (about 8-inch). Remember this is a pie rather than a crisp cookie, so it may seem gooey and under-baked – just let it be :] Then let it sit for 10 minutes after baking, seriously testing your willpower while wafts of sweet cookie aroma float past your nose. I know it’s hard. But then you can dish it up with vanilla ice cream and indulge in this dense, moist, half-baked fudgey cookie. Guiltlessly, of course!

healthy deep dish cookie pie, adapted from Chocolate-Covered Katie

this is the halved recipe that we made in an 8-inch round pan. Our pie was not too deep-dish as you can see in the photo, so use a smaller pan if you wish. If you want more servings, double these measurements and use a 10-inch round cake pan or springform pan, as called for in the original recipe.

* this is also gluten free if you use gluten free oats, and vegan if you use dairy-free chocolate!

  • 1 can chickpeas or white beans (drained and rinsed well)
  • ½ cup old-fashioned or quick oats
  • 2 T unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 ½ T canola oil
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • ¼ t baking soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • ¼ t salt
  • 3/4 cups brown sugar **we used slightly less than ½ cup brown sugar, and ¼ cup erythritol [a natural calorie-free granulated sweetener] but I found it to be very sweet, so next time I’ll use ½ or 2/3 cup sweetener.
  • ½ cup chopped dark chocolate (we used Scharffen Berger 70%) or chocolate chips

Blend everything (except the chips) very well in a food processor. Mix in chips, and pour into an oiled or parchment-lined round pan. Cook at 350F for 20-30 minutes, or until edges are crispy and golden. Let stand at least 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Best served warm with cool and creamy vanilla ice cream.

Enjoy! -mich

This post is linked to Allergy Free Wednesdays