Tomorrow is the first day of May, and I can’t believe how fast the year is flying by. We had another chilly spell this week after all those tornadoes we had on Sunday evening. In fact, Sunday was spent huddled in the hallway with pillows over our heads and tornado sirens blaring in our ears. My poor car had hail damage twice in one weekend…Spring is beautiful, but spring storms are not!
So, I am ready for some warm summer weather and glorious sunshine! Nothing says summer like a cool, refreshing drink. Sipping a fruity drink, reading a book on a porch swing is the epitome of a summer afternoon for me. I’ve rounded up my top five summer drinks, that are also healthy too!
1. Pink Grapefruit Soda Pop
2. Vanilla Milkshake
3. White Tea Fruit Slush
4. Berry Chia Fresca
5. Skinny Kiwi Lemonade
As many of you know, I am from Texas. More notably, from a small country town where seeing cows in a neighborhood is not unusual. In fact, it’s quit common! So, while I was experimenting with this recipe over the past few months, each time I popped a pan out of the over, my husband said, they look like cow pies! Therefore, that is the official name now 🙂
I love baking with chocolate. As I mentioned in this post, I studied chocolate in college and all the chemical aspects of this divine ingredient. My husband can’t have dairy due to health issues, so I have been trying to come up with an alternative to his favorite, the chocolate chip cookie. These are more of like a brownie than a cookie, but they are light and fluffy. They definitely satisfy any sweet tooth. I got my inspiration from H-E-B grocery store because they have a “chocolate chewy” cookie in the bakery that is pretty good. Their cookie is more airy though, but the taste is very similar.
The secret is dutch process cocoa powder instead of regular. I will go in to depth on the blog soon about the difference between dutch and regular cocoa powder. But, for now, on to the recipe 🙂
“Cow Pie” Cookies
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup + 3 tbsp dutch process cocoa powder
- 2 cup pecan halves (could use walnut)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 or 4 egg whites (room temperature)
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350º. Line baking sheet with parchment (may even want to spray it).
- Chop pecan halves into small pieces and put in medium size mixing bowl, add the cocoa powder, powdered sugar and salt. Whisk together.
- Add the vanilla, and egg whites. Whisk together until moist and batter is thick. If the mixture seems incredibly thick (too thick to move whisk through), add another egg white. I always need 4, but egg size can fluctuate. Start with 3.
- Scoop batter with spoon onto prepared baking sheets with space between since cookies spread. (This should make about 24 or so cookies)
- Bake 12-14 minutes until the tops begin to crack and cookie is firm around edges. (Sometimes I have to leave them in 15 minutes depending on how much I over stir the mix :))
- Let cookies cool almost completely on the sheet, then transfer to cooling rack.
I use a cookie scoop to get the cookies to all look alike. The one I use holds a little over 1 tablespoon. I hope you enjoy this great chocolate cookie.
For my best friends wedding shower, we had a beautiful vintage theme at my parents home. It was very special since she and I have so many memories in that house (20 years worth). Her bachelorette was the same weekend (read about that here!), and we wanted to keep the vintage theme going. My mom spent about a month transforming her home into a beautiful landscape of vintage pinks, creams, and pearls. Normally, I am the friend and family member who bakes all the desserts (it’s the chemist in me), but I had absolutely no time to do so for this event.
I searched around on pinterest for something cute and easy. I found this fun recipe and decided to give it a try with a couple of changes. Now keep in mind, this isn’t healthy, but it is low in fat and very simple!
Cake Batter Dip
(recipe adapted from Eat Yourself Skinny)
- 1 Box of white cake mix
- 2 cups of vanilla Greek yogurt (non fat)
- 2 cups of light cool whip
- Sprinkles ( I used regular, pink, and crystal)
Mix together yogurt and cake mix, then add in cool whip to mix until combined. Chill for at least 2 hours(or longer), then sprinkle the top with beautiful sprinkles.
I wanted to give mine the illusion of an ice cream cone top, so I swirled it with spoons. It was a huge hit at the party!
The upcoming sultry summer days call for a refreshing, cold drink to enjoy on the patio watching the birds and soaking up the sun! One of my favorite drinks to enjoy is a vanilla milkshake, but not so much with all the fat and calories…
This vanilla “milkshake” is a great breakfast, snack, or even a night time treat. I read in a magazine years ago that adding some cottage cheese to smoothies was a great way to get more protein in, and I was surprised how THICK they were! Almost too thick to drink…so I decided maybe having cottage cheese as a base with some other flavoring would create more of a dessert. Many flavors are good, but I really love vanilla! And I promise, you won’t actually taste the cottage cheese once it is blended 🙂
Low Calorie Vanilla “Milkshake”
- 1/2 cup cottage cheese ( I like 2% with a brand that only has a few simple ingredients)
- 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 2-3 tsp vanilla extract (depending on how strong you want the flavor)
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
- 2 packets truvia
- 1-2 cups of ice
- Optional: 1 tbsp sugar-free dry vanilla pudding mix or your choice of sugar-free dry cake batter mix, or any other kind if you really want to make this rich (although this choices aren’t as healthy :))
Directions: Blend everything until smooth! I add the chia seeds last, then just pulse them in.
I love chia seeds as an added boost of nutrition to snacks like this. Chia seeds are full of protein and fiber. Chemistry fact → they contain ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) which is a plant based omega 3 fatty acid. There are numerous health benefits to ALA’s, but I love chia seeds in particular because they are filling and low in calories! They also help thicken the shake a little bit 🙂
Hope you enjoy!
One of my favorite things to do is bake…I love the science behind baking too (chemistry nerd :)) But that is a post for another day. Anyways, I am always trying to add healthy baking recipes to my repertoire since my husband has some serious health problems hindering him from enjoying his ultimate favorite baked goods (like my famous chocolate cookies, which I will post soon!). I have been making these bars for a few years, but I always do them differently, or add in different toppings. They make for an easy, healthy snack or even a quick breakfast.
The basic ingredients for the bars include oats, brown sugar, banana, egg, cashew milk, peanut butter, cinnamon, vanilla, baking powder, and a little salt.
Mix the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and the wet ingredients in a separate small mixing bowl. Add the wet to the dry, and last add in your smashed ripe bananas!
Your mixture may seem a little too wet depending on how ripe your bananas are, but that’s okay…it will firm nicely as it bakes. Press into a sprayed 9×9 baking pan. For this batch, I sprinkled some dairy free chocolate chips on top.
Bake 20 minutes at 350°, let cool. Then cut into squares.
Here is the exact details to recipe:
Banana Oat Bars
- 2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar* (see note below)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon (or apple pie spice)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cashew milk (or almond)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp maple extract (optional)
- 1 large egg (add 2 eggs for more cake like bars)
- 4 tbsp peanut butter
- 3 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
- 2 large ripe bananas
- Optional Toppings: chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, dried fruit, raisins, etc
- Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9×9 baking dish and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine first five ingredients (dry) until combined.
- In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients except for bananas and toppings. Add the wet to dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
- Add in your bananas and mix until combined. I like to leave some banana chunks in mine, but you can mix until creamy. Add your toppings.
- Bake about 20-22 minutes, or until bars are firm and baked through.
- Cut into squares.
**Note: I have also substituted other dry sweeteners like baking stevia.
Oh, and here’s the best kitchen helper…