White Chocolate, Raisin and Oat Cookies

 

White-Choc-Raisin-Oat-Cookies-MAIN

My mother-in-law’s chocolate chip cookie recipe is something held sacred among her boys.

I, however, can’t ever get them right, even when I follow her recipe down to the most minute details. And trust me, have had lengthy conversations about her exact process, and I still really can’t figure out how she makes them so perfect each time. I have decided to stop beating myself up and attribute my past failures to the loss of 4.5K in elevation. But I still try! And, I tell ya, every time I make them, I always get a lack luster “yeah… they’re…good! But they just aren’t the same…did you change something in the recipe?”

At first…no, I wouldn’t change the recipe. But then after multiple failed attempts, I started to veer off and blaze a new trail.

Side note/Fun fact: I can never stick to a recipe. I always have to add a little this or a little that to make it more *me.* This aspect of my personality drives my other half absolutely bonkers.

Lucky for me, my daughter thinks it is super fun. If it were up to her, we wouldn’t use a recipe (or logic even) for anything we make.

Baking-Kid

Bless her heart, she just loves to be in the kitchen with me.

Most days of the week, my daughter asks if I want to make cookies with her. I know that she is ultimately asking because she is Cookie Monster’s mini-me, but I like to give her the opportunity to help out as much as possible in the kitchen and pass my knowledge on to her as often as I can. It’s a good life skill to have! So we usually make a little something together a few times a week.

Today, I had a container of oat bran staring me in the face (purchased to make Honey Raisin Oat Bran Muffins) My MIL’s chocolate chip recipe calls for oats, so I figured I would start with her recipe as a base and make a few…alterations.

First thing I did was swap out the Old Fashioned variety for Oat Bran.

Now, there isn’t anything wrong with old fashioned oats, it is just a little different than oat bran. Since I am super-pregnant at the moment, I need all the protein and calories I can get, I decided to opt for the bran (and here’s why…)

First, let’s have a closer look at oats:

WholeGrainKernel_WGC_0When oats are harvested, their inedible hull is removed and you have Oat Groats. Groats are made up of three parts: the Bran, Endosperm and Germ  (Click here for more information on those layers). In a nutshell…The BRAN layer is the outside layer, rich in protein, fiber, antioxidants and B-vitamins. The ENDOSPERM is the large middle layer that is rich in starchy carbohydrates, and also contains some protein as well as small amounts of vitamins and minerals. The GERM is the innermost layer that contains lots of healthy fats and b-vitamins as well as some minerals, protein.

Old Fashioned Oats come from a processing technique that steams the oats and then rolls them flat, giving you all three parts of the groat, thus making it a whole grain. Oat Bran is not considered a whole grain, because it is just the nutty outer layer that is full of fiber and protein.

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Looking at the nutrients side by side, Oat Bran provides significantly more fiber and protein, and has a texture closer to flour, so it works well in baked goods. Not saying one is superior to the other, they are just different.

Getting back to these delicious cookies…

Some other swaps I made were changing half of the flour to 100% White Wheat Flour, substituting honey for part of the sugar, and adding cinnamon.

The result was surprisingly delicious, probably the best luck I have had with this recipe yet!

White Chocolate, Raisin and Oat Cookies

  • Servings: 26 Cookies
  • Difficulty: moderately easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Shortening*
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar, Packed
  • 1/4 Cup Honey
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 Cup Oat Bran
  • 1/2 Cup 100% White Wheat Flour
  • 3/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Cup (approx) Raisins
  • 1/2 Cup (approx) White Chocolate Chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream butter, shortening, sugar, brown sugar and honey in a mixer on medium-high speed for a few minutes, until light and fluffy.
  2. Add egg, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and vanilla. Mix well.
  3. Add Oat Bran and Flours until combined. Add Raisins and Chocolate Chips according to taste.
  4. Space cookies at least an inch apart on cookie sheet, as they spread. Bake for 10-14 minutes (smaller cookies 10, larger cookies will need more time). With a spatula, transfer to cooling rack and enjoy!

Cookie-Perfection

 

*I really am not a huge fan of shortening, because most contain partially hydrogenated oils (trans fat) and other chemicals that don’t belong anywhere near our bodies. But I do seldom use it in some baked goods because it does create a superior texture for cookies. Trader Joe’s doesn’t have shortening (that I know of), so you can use 1 cup of butter as opposed to part butter/part shortening. OR if you have some lard on hand, try that.  I use All vegetable crisco baking sticks because they have no trans fat (the oil has been fully hydrogenated to saturated fat as opposed to partially hydrogenated to a trans fat), but they still aren’t the best option. I haven’t really found an alternative, so if you have any tips or tricks to replace shortening in cookies – leave a comment below!

Healthy Whole Wheat Pancakes

Whole-Wheat-Pancakes

Here is the first video and recipe I shared with Nutrition Milestones, and it really is just too much fun to not post here as well. OJ and I were asked to make our favorite pancake recipe, which is basically just my father-in-law’s famous pancakes, with just a few healthy tweaks. Since filming this, I have also incorporated Non-Fat Vanilla Greek Yogurt to replace the buttermilk (not that there is anything wrong with buttermilk, it is just something I don’t normally purchase, and I am up to my ears with Non-Fat Vanilla Greek Yogurt!) I have also substituted honey for the sugar and added some cinnamon, added blueberries or chocolate chips, and all of them taste equally delicious!

Healthy Whole Wheat Pancakes

  • Servings: 10-12 silver dollar pancakes or 5-7 full size pancakes
  • Difficulty: easy
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IngredientsIMG_1714

  • 1 cup whole wheat white flour from Trader Joes
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil

whole wheat pancakes griddleInstructions

  • Mix together wet ingredients
  • Mix together dry ingredients
  • Then add wet to dry and mix until well combined.
  • Meanwhile, pre-heat your electric griddle to 350 (or a griddle pan on your stove at a medium high heat). Once hot, place a dollop of batter onto the griddle (1 Tbsp for silver dollar, 1/4-1/3 cup for full size).

Favorite Topping: Fresh Fruit and a drizzle of Trader Joe’s Organic Maple Agave Syrup Blend

The Mean Green Smoothie

The Mean Green Smoothie

I sometimes think that if pizza never existed, smoothies might be my favorite food. They are so versatile and you can easily customize the nutrition profile by adding different fruits, veggies, protein powder, nuts, etc. Lucky for me, my little one loves smoothies too, and asks for them almost as often as she asks for MnMs.

When you are making green smoothies, you can start with picking a green vegetable. This one calls for spinach, but I have also been known to throw some kale if I have some in my fridge. Then I pick some light colored, frozen fruit. I usually have bananas stocked in my freezer, so that is a given. Then I’ll add whatever TJ’s has in stock (they often run out of frozen mango), usually pineapple and mango. You can add other fruit, such as berries, but it turns the beautiful green smoothie into a brown color. Still delicious, but doesn’t really match the name. Then pick a protein, my go-to as of late has been non-fat vanilla Greek yogurt, but also have some Trader Joe’s Whey Protein powder in my pantry for back up. Using the sweetened Greek Yogurt gives a little but more robust flavor to the smoothie, which I like.

For the last month or so, I have been blogging and vlogging for Nutrition Milestones, which is a team of dietitians that provide nutrition services for people going through life changes, such as pregnancy, parenthood, weddings, medical diagnoses, etc. Olive and I recently shared with them our Green Smoothie recipe, take a look!

The Mean Green Smoothie

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 2-3 cups spinach, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup non-fat vanilla Greek yogurt (approx. Just use one small 6 oz container)
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen mango
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup Milk of choice or water

Directions:

  1. Put in blender and blend on high until smooth. If you need to think it out more, add additional water or milk.

Italian Style Stuffed Peppers

Background: I have been wanting to post a recipe for Stuffed Peppers for a long time on here. Only catch…I really didn’t have one that was just right. I would look up recipes online and they just wouldn’t be what I wanted. Some turned out  like meatloaf inside a pepper while others lacked flavor or didn’t have an ideal texture. One time I attempted to make stuffed peppers, the bell pepper was still very crunchy, so the next time I boiled the peppers before stuffing and baking, and that just removed some of the flavor.  I am happy to report that I finally figured it out (all by myself I might add!) and might have come up with the combination for the perfect stuffed pepper. Have you had any of these problems while making stuffed peppers in the past? Am I the only one?? Let me know in the comments below. 

Italian Style Stuffed Peppers with a simple side salad.***

Often, especially in January, I will ask my husband what he wants for dinner and his response is always “Something Healthy.” The first thing that pops into my mind is this delicious Veggie Quinoa Bowl that I make. Second is always Stuffed Peppers (and if you were curious what number three is, that would be my Lentil and Veggie Soup). The one thing that all of these dishes have in common is they are chock-full of vegetables.

Screen Shot 2015-01-17 at 8.03.53 AMI always have some 96% ground beef on hand. I prefer to use this over other ground meat options. Higher % fat ground beef just is too fatty and needs to be drained before proceeding. And, yes, if you were wondering, this equates to me using a lower fat meat because I am lazy. I also sometimes feel that ground turkey ends up being too dry, and I usually don’t use meat substitute unless I am cooking for a vegetarian (but even then, I usually would just use beans or lentils). The 96% Lean Ground Beef also has a long shelf life because of how it is packaged, and so you can have it hanging out in your fridge for a while. If you don’t use it quickly it also freezes really well (just de-thaw in the fridge the night before you want to cook with it). I will use this for Stuffed Peppers, Meat Loaf, Pasta Sauce, Spanish Zucchini, and Mushroom Burgers.

IMG_0121Pasta Sauce is also another item always on hand in my kitchen. I usually like to make my own pasta sauce from scratch using canned tomatoes, onion, garlic, basil and oregano (and SALT). Mostly just keep it simple, but when I want to impress, I’ll follow this Buzzfeed Recipe for the Best Tomato Sauce, Which is pretty dang good. But it is time consuming, so in a pinch, it is always good to have a simple jar of tomato sauce on hand. You can also quickly turn it into pizza sauce when you add a half jar of tomato paste to it. I recently learned a trick from my mother-in-law, which is to sautée onion and brown ground beef in a pan and then just add some Tomato Basil Tomato Sauce form a jar, and it will taste very home-made and is very quick and easy.

My favorite thing about making Stuffed Peppers is it is a completely standalone dish. You don’t need much else to go along with it aside from a salad and maybe a breadstick if you want (which…My favorite comes in the bread section of Trader Joe’s, or you could make some using their Pizza Dough, like this recipe from Stick Baby and the Snail). It also isn’t too terribly labor intensive, and you can easily forget it once it goes in the oven.

Italian Style Stuffed Peppers

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients:

  • Four Bell Peppers (Red, Yellow, Green, whatever you prefer)
  • 1 Jar of Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce
  • 1 lb 96% Lean Ground Beef
  • 1 Zucchini, Diced
  • 1 Bag of Sliced White Mushrooms
  • 1/4 – 1/2 Cup Organic Breadcrumbs
  • Salt, Pepper, Basil and Garlic Powder to taste
  • Mozzarella Cheese (fresh or shredded)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Brown ground beef in skillet, once cooked through and brown, add diced zucchini and mushrooms. Break the mushrooms up into smaller pieces (you can either cut them even more before you add them, or just break them up in the pan while they cook).
  3. Once vegetables start to look tender, add about a half cup of marinara sauce and mix well. Just make sure everything is covered, so add a little bit more if you need to. Let that cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add breadcrumbs and mix well. The texture of the mixture should stick together and be very clumpy. Add additional breadcrumbs until this texture is achieved.
  5. Meanwhile, while all of that has been cooking, add about half the jar of pasta sauce to a large pyrex dish (9X12 or large enough to hold all of your peppers) and spread evenly. Prepare the peppers by slicking them in half long ways and removing the stem and seeds. Place them skin-side-down in the pasta sauce.
  6. Add a little bit of mozzarella cheese to the inside of each bell pepper half (if you want to elevate this dish, use fresh mozzarella on the inside. I had some on hand and it was delicious). Then fill the peppers with the meat and veggie mixture. Should be enough to fill all of the bell pepper halves, feel free to push the meat-veggie mix down if it is overflowing. Top bell peppers with more mozzarella cheese.
  7. Bake for ~35-40 minutes at 375. Serve with a nice little salad and breadsticks or rice.

Pumpkin French Toast

PUMPKIN-french-toast

The other day, I walked into Trader Joe’s, and for the first time, I felt a little intimidated by the amount of pumpkin items on the shelves. I am a lover of all things pumpkin (well… most things pumpkin) and even I almost thought “they have gone overboard,” but something inside me just couldn’t mutter those words.

Seriously, I love fall: Halloween, Thanksgiving, shopping, crisp and cool air, apple cider, school starting and tourists leaving. The flavor of ‘pumpkin’ just really helps me feel like fall has arrived. Call it ritualistic if you will.

Pumpkin Stash

My Pumpkin Stash

I started with the Pumpkin PopTarts Organic Frosted Toasted Pasteries. They were amazing, but were admittedly an impromptu purchase that should have never ended up in my basket, and only did because I was starving. I am all about moderation, but these little guys have no place on your breakfast plate.

The next thing I purchased was the “Pumpkin Walks into a Bar” bar. I will try just about anything in that line of products because I think the title is just that clever. Fig has been my favorite, but the pumpkin was pretty delicious too. My first experience with this item was when I was coming home from Disneyland on Dapper Day, and was trying to make it back to San Diego before rush hour, so I skipped lunch and only had those bars in my car. They were so delicious, I ate two of them. The next time I had a whole one to myself (once I was properly fed), I felt it was a little too sweet for my liking. However, my 18 month old daughter LOVES these bars and goes nuts for them.

The other fancy item I tried this year was the Pumpkin Cornbread to go with my Black and White Chili. Without sounding like a broken record, I always find the cornbread at trader joe’s to be a little too sweet for my taste buds (and that is saying a lot!! I love sugar!!) and this was no exception. I was also missing out on the giant chunks of corn that come in the normal cornbread. It was delicious, but I think from here on out I would stick to the traditional cornbread mix. I DID however feel inspired to attempt to make pumpkin cornbread cupcakes with Maple Frosting out of this mix, so stay tuned for that.

Truth be told, I am a bit of a purist when it comes to my pumpkin. I much prefer just getting a can of old fashioned pumpkin puree and just adding scoopfuls to my recipes already in rotation. I purchased a can at Trader Joe’s on my last trip, anticipating I would make Taylor Switft’s Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies but ended up doing something different, but just as yummy.

pumpkin spice

If you go onto Pinterest, you’ll see close to a million recipes for Pumpkin French Toast…WELL HERE IS A MILLION AND ONE! But seriously, there is a reason why this is so popular: it is delicious. There are just some foods pumpkin just fits really well into (while there are others, like, say, Pumpkin Spice Pringles, that make me lose my lunch).

Another great part of this: my daughter loved it. But then again, I wasn’t really expecting her to NOT love it, because she is a hoover and eats everything, especially pumpkin spice things.

So, without further adieu, I present you:

Pumpkin French Toast

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 3 Slices of Milton’s Multigrain Bread
  • 2 Tbsp Organic Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/4-1/2 Cup Milk
  • 1/2 tsp Pumpkin Spice
  • Butter
  • Optional: Powdered Sugar and Agave Maple Syrup

IMG_2675Directions:

  1. Beat egg, add pumpkin puree and mix well. Add milk (start with 1/4 cup and if it looks thick, add more. I always try to put in as little milk as possible with my French toast). Finally add in the pumpkin spice (or if you are out, you could just use a mix of cinnamon, ginger, allspice and nutmeg and if you are trying to emulate the Trader Joe’s pumpkin spice, a pinch of clove too)
  2. GrillingHeat skillet on medium and add a pat of butter to the pan and let melt. I have tried to skip this step before,
    but the French Toast just gets stuck to the skillet, so, just do it and be liberal with the butter. You can always blot some off after.
  3. Dip bread (you can cut it in half if you like) in egg/milk mixture. Make sure each side is fully saturated.
  4. Cook French Toast a few minutes on each side until it starts to brown. Remove from skillet and top with powdered sugar and/or maple syrup.


**CUTE CULINARY ITEM ALERT**

powdered-sugar-spoonI had a little “me” time the other night, and I somehow found myself browsing the aisles of Crate and Barrel (which I could easily drop a couple thousand each time I walk in that store). I went to get a basket for my bathroom, but left with a quiche dish and the most adorable little powdered sugar spoon ever. I couldn’t pass it up, and was truly my inspiration for this post.

Black And White Chili with Cornbread Waffles

black-and-white-chili

Original Blog Entry Dated July 10, 2013:

If you have ever trolled my Pinterest boards, you might be wondering what the deal is with the waffles. Obsession, right? I have been looking up all the different things that could be waffled, and have been a little bit amazed with everything I have found. Cookies, cakes, apple pies, grilled cheese, grilled peanut butter and jelly, hash browns, tater tots, brownies and cornbread (just to name a few). And I wanna try them all! This past weekend, the hubs gotme a waffle iron for my birthday. The next day, we broke in the iron with a meal I have always wanted to try: chicken n’ waffles. It was delicious, and just made me want to waffle everything in my kitchen even more.

chicken and waffles

So, on to dinner.

I am a big fan of making chili and cornbread. Not only is it a super easy meal to make, it is actually pretty good for you! I double the amount of beans, which is an excellent source of fiber. It also is the perfect dish to make if you are trying to get more iron in your diet. The ground beef and beans are high in iron, and the tomato sauce is high in vitamin c, which will help you absorb the iron. Even better, is this recipe translates really well into a crock pot meal, which is how I prepared it below.

 

Black and White Chili

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

ground beef

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 1 cup frozen bell peppers, chopped or half of a red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 8 oz cans tomato sauce
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, undrained
  • 1 15 oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Directions:

chili doneBrown one pound of lean ground beef in a pan with chopped garlic. Add onion. Cook until onions are tender. Transfer to a crock pot (using a slotted spoon, trying to not bring any drippings).  Add the rest of the ingredients to the crock pot and stir well. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Tastes delicious as left overs. Freezes really well too!

Note- I have also made this where I don’t cook the onion and garlic with the beef, and there was more of a crunch, which was delicious. Both ways work.

Now, on to the fun part!

cornbreadTo make things easy, I use the cornbread mix from trader joes. It is sweet and has whole corn kernels, which make a delicious combination.

Mix according to directions (you will also need 1 egg, 3/4 cup milk, and 1/2 cup vegetable oil in addition to the box). Preheat waffle iron, and cook a half cup of batter at a time.

They turned out beautiful! Simply delicious. Would go well with some honey butter too! Mmmm… Honey butter…

If you are a fan of “end pieces” then you’ll die over these cornbread waffles!

Sweet Potato Waffles with Fresh Berries and Cream

sweet potato waffle

Last year for my birthday, I convinced my husband to buy me a waffle iron.

“But you never make waffles!” He would say.

“I know! That is because I don’t have a waffle iron!”

“But how often would you make waffles?”

“ALL THE TIME!”

I was really just saying whatever I could to get the darn thing, but now that I have it, I find that I really do make waffles all the time (and not just because waffles just-so-happen to be my toddler’s all time favorite breakfast food.)

The very first thing I made in my waffle iron was the whole grain waffle mix from Trader Joe’s. And, I thought it was awful. Very cardboard-y, pretty disappointing. I could do better (I thought to myself).

And so at that point, I set out to perfect a waffle recipe that did NOT use Bisquick (which is loaded with trans fat, one of the only exceptions to my “all foods fit” theory). My grandma and mom use Bisquick, so I couldn’t go to them for an amazing recipe that had been passed down from generation to generation. I was on my own for this one.

Sweet potato waffle ingredientsI tried whole wheat flour, I tried oats, I tried flax, I tried apple sauce, I tried using oil instead of butter…I think I went through every variation possible. Then I ended with this general combination, that included sweet potato in place of the fat (many recipes use a few tablespoons of oil or melted butter), and white wheat flour instead of dense whole wheat flour. I also added ground flax seed for a little healthy fat (since I had completely removed it with the sweet potato addition) and stuck with my 1% milk that I have in the fridge. I think coconut milk or almond milk would also taste great in this waffle, but, alas, I just don’t regularly stock it at my house (we are dairy drinkers around here).  In fact, sometimes I will even add shredded coconut to the waffle, for a little but of a chunkier texture, and it is great!

frozen toaster sweet potato waffles from the Fearless Flying KitchenThere are two things that I really LOVE about this waffle recipe:

  • You really don’t need to use any toppings. My daughter eats this waffle plain, and I do too sometimes. If you do feel like putting topings on, you really don’t need much. I sometimes like to fancy mine up with a tiny amount of agave maple syrup, diced berries and whipped cream. That just feels so decadent (but really isn’t that decadent, since it is a fairly healthy waffle).
  • frozen toaster sweet potato waffleEven if I make waffles for the whole family, there is always enough left over to make freezer waffles. I just use 1/4 cup (or a heaping Tbsp) of batter as opposed to a full 1/2 cup. The waffles come out in a square shape, just the right size for the toaster.

I also love that my daughter loves these, and I can feel good about serving them to her because they are full of vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains, and not too much sugar.

kid tested, and kid approved sweet potato waffles from the Fearless Flying Kitchen

Sweet Potato Waffles

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1blogger-image--1584073228 cup 100% White Wheat Flour
  • 1 tablespoon Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground Flax seeds
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 large Egg
  • 1 cup 1% Milk
  • 1 teaspoon Tahitian Vanilla extract
  • 1 Small Sweet potato

Directions:

  1. Preheat waffle iron. Cook sweet potato in a microwave by rinsing, poking with a fork, wrapping in a paper towel, and cooking for 5-7 minutes, until sweet potato is soft.
  2. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix wet ingredients in a separate bowl, and slowly add the cooked sweet potato (removing outer skin), mashing the sweet potato as you go. If you want less chunks of sweet potato, you could also mix the wet ingredients in a blender or mixer. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.
  3. Pour 1/2 cup of batter into preheated waffle iron and cook until ready.
  4. Top with fresh berries and cream or agave maple syrup.

Slow Cooked BBQ Chicken Pizza on Honey Whole Wheat Crust

Slow cooked BBQ chicken pizza on honey whole wheat crust from the Fearless Flying Kitchen

My husband has had a stressful week month year. The best way that I know how to provide comfort is through food. Pizza is one of my favorite meals, and I of course assume that it is every one’s favorite meals too. Normally, I purchase the pre-made whole wheat dough from Trader Joe’s. It is delicious and is a super easy weeknight meal. But I was in a mood to spoil, so I attempted my own version.

My favorite thing to make with the whole wheat crust is a BBQ chicken pizza. Now, I know half of you are probably grossed out right now. People have very strong opinions about BBQ on pizza. Love it or hate it, that is fine. I happen to love it. Mostly because I love just about anything on pizza.

I initially wanted to re-create a local favorite pizza served at Padres games: The BBQ Chicken Pizza.

For a while I would make this pizza with basic BBQ sauce , “Just Chicken,” red onion, cilantro and mozzarella cheese. Slowly I have been tweaking the recipe to BAM! Kick it up a notch. (did I just say that? Am I stuck in the late 90’s?)

Now, I make this pizza using leftovers from Honey BBQ Chicken Sandwiches and make extra sauce by combining BBQ sauce, Italian dressing, honey, and garlic powder. Then I chop the red onion and cilantro together and dice them pretty small, and then layer the red onion and cilantro in the mozzarella cheese It is pretty great!

honey whole wheat crust

But what really stole the show tonight was the home made crust. I thought back to a time in college, when we had to create a food product to market. My friends made a whole wheat pizza dough with flaxseed, and it was delicious. I called my friend, Rachael, and asked her what they did. She said to just take a basic dough recipe and do half whole wheat flour, half white flour and then add flaxseed.

Sounds easy enough.

But, of course, I can’t even just stick to one recipe.

Instead, I looked up about 10 different crust recipes and took a little bit from each one. I knew I wanted to use honey as a sweetener instead of sugar. I wanted to use 100% white wheat flour (as opposed to half white, half whole wheat). I wanted to add in the ground flax seeds to give an interesting texture and wanted to be able to make it in my kitchen aid.

I was able to accomplish all of that and, what-da-ya-know, it actually turned out! I love when that happens. I even had enough to freeze for a later time!


photo 2 (9)

I think my favorite part of the crust was the cornmeal on the bottom. I listed it as ‘optional’ in the ingredient list, but it really made it feel like a professional operation. So, without further adieu:

Slow Cooked BBQ Chicken Pizza on Honey Whole Wheat Crust

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Honey Whole Wheat Crust
  • 1 Cup BBQ Chicken (+ More BBQ Sauce as needed)
  • 1 Cup Mozzarella cheese (More as needed)
  • Handful Cilantro
  • 1 slice of Red onion
  • 1 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese

Assemble in the following order: BBQ sauce, BBQ Chicken, half of the cilantro and red onion, Mozzarella cheese, the rest of the cilantro and red onion, parmesan cheese. Bake at 425 for 12-16 minutes or until crust is cooked and cheese is melted.

photo 1 (10)

Honey Whole Wheat Crust

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups 100% white wheat flour
  • 2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 packet (2 tsp) active dry yeast
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp Cornmeal (optional)

Directions:
Dissolve honey, tbsp of flour and yeast in warm water. Stir and let activate over ~10 min. In the meantime, add two cups white wheat flour (or one cup white, one cup whole wheat) to stand mixer bowl. Add salt and flaxseed. Stir well. Create a well in the middle and add liquid once activated and frothy. Mix with dough hook by hand until combined, then attach hook to stand mixer and mix first on low, then ramping up to medium/high. Mix for about 6-8 min, until smooth and pulls away from the dough hook and sides easily. Add more flour or water a tsp at a time as needed. Once mixed, flour a work surface and divide dough in two. Work dough with hands into a ball. Rub a little bit of Olive oil on top of each ball and then cover with a clean, warm kitchen towel. Let rise for 45-60 minutes. Form into pizza with your hands (not a rolling pin. Let gravity do the work). Sprinkle cornmeal on parchment paper and place formed dough on top. Place desired toppings and then bake for 12-16 min at 425.

photo 4 (9)

Slow Cooked BBQ Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup BBQ sauce
  • 1/3 cup Italian dressing
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 frozen chicken breasts

Directions:
Combine together. Cover chicken breasts with sauce and cook on high in the slow cooker for 2 hours and then on low for 4 more.
If you need additional BBQ sauce for the pizza, combine just the first 4 ingredients.

photo 4 (10)Served with Watermelon chunks and Broccoli Slaw

Acai-less Bowl with Mixed Berries, Flax, Bananas, Hemp Granola and Honey

Acai-less bowl with mixed berries, ground flax seed, bananas, hemp granola and honey.

The Acai Bowl trend has begun to die down, which means cafes and coffee shops around the country feel comfortable with putting this item on their menu. Now, I personally love me a good acai bowl. I feel like I am doing my body a favor with giving it a whopping dose of antioxidants and fiber…and dessert… all at the same time.

Only thing with preventing me from eating Acai Bowls for every meal:  Acai is an exotic fruit from South America, thus making it a little on the pricey side. Most Acai Bowls I come across are easily $6-8. Also, Trader Joes doesn’t sell frozen Acai…or any acai that I know of. Becasue I love saving money any chance I get, I figured, why not try to re-create my beloved acai bowl with ingredients I purchased from Trader Joes in my fridge?

Challenge Accepted

Image

When you deconstruct an acai bowl, you will notice that most of them follow a similar set-up:

  • Sorbet-type texture base of acai and other fruits. Because Trader Joes doesn’t carry Acai, then neither do I! I did happen to have a bag of frozen mixed berries, which would have to do.  One of the great things about Acai is that it is loaded with antioxidants, but fruits like blueberry, strawberry, raspberry and blackberry are also jam packed with antioxidants, so I didn’t feel like I was being cheated nutritionally.  I also added some Organic Low-Fat Vanilla Yogurt (because I had it on hand…and for a little extra protein) and 1% milk (because it was the only thing on hand aside from water that would work as a liquid do blend the fruit. You could use any dairy or non-dairy based beverage. I am sure coconut milk or almond milk would be delicious). I also added half of a banana to make it just a little bit more delicious (save the other half for the top, see below). Blend it all together in a super blender (Vitamix or Blendtec or Ninja-type of blender) until smooth.
  • A crunchy topping. I normally don’t purchase granola because I just don’t think it makes sense to eat as cereal. Normally, you get a half a cup for 200 calories, and who can REALLY eat just a half a cup of granola for breakfast? Not me. If I have a bowl of granola for breakfast I easily have 1.5 cups, which, with milk, coffee, and fruit, my breakfast is easily over half my days worth of calories. BUT I went against what my dietetics compass was saying and bought some delicious hemp granola, for the sake of deliciousness.  I also always have Bob’s Ground Flaxseed in my fridge (because of the fat content), which I use in my pancakes, so I threw a bit of that on top as well, which helps boost the omega 3 content and add a unique flavor.
  • Diced Fruit. Banana (the other half) diced was all I went with this time, but when I have other fruit on hand, I will add that too. In the past I have also topped with blueberries and diced strawberries…pretty much more of what is on the inside.
  • Extra garnishes that make it taste damn good. I used a hint of shredded coconut and a drizzle of honey. You could probably skip this step, but it would take this from a 9.5 to about a 7…definitely worth the extra calories.

I’m not going to tell you this was the most amazing thing I have made in my vitamix (I’ll save that for another post), but it was pretty close. It is definitely refreshing, and delicious, and cheaper than purchasing an acai bowl from the cafe across the street. Because I was able to customize this too, I am willing to bet mine had a better nutrition profile than those heavy handed versions. Granted it might not have quite “as many antioxidants” as a traditional acai bowl, but I am perfectly fine with the amount I am getting.

Acai-less Bowl with Mixed Berries, Flax, Bananas, Hemp Granola and Honey

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • Acai Less BowlHalf Bag of Frozen Berry Medley
  • 1/3 Cup Organic Vanilla Yogurt
  • 1/3 Cup Milk (or Non-Dairy Beverage of your choice)
  • Half Banana

Blend together in your super blender (Vitamix on High) until smooth, like sorbet. Spoon out into a large bowl.

  • 1/4 Cup photo 2 (8)Hemp Plus Granola
  • 1/2 Tbsp Ground Flax Seed
  • Half Banana, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 Tbsp Shredded Sweetened Coconut
  • Drizzle of Honey

Assemble remainder of ingredients on top of mixed berry puree in order listed and enjoy.