Tag Archives: nutrition

Chewy Lime Zest Sugar Cookies (Dairy Free)

15 Mar

I spoke too soon and jinxed myself when I mentioned wanting the weather to stay sunny and awesome…so much for 70 degree t-shirt weather, now it’s rain, rain, rain!  We need it, but I’m still no ray of sunshine myself in the midst of all the gloom, if you know what I mean.  I took one look out my window today at the gray and drizzle and wanted to burrow under my blankets and cuddle the day away, only emerging for mug a few steamy mugs of coffee or hot chocolate.

 

Fall and winter before last, while I was still in school, I devised the most brilliant plan I’ve ever had to this very day.  One morning while untangling myself from the warm cozy depths of my 18 blanket-clad bed in search of the elusive coffee that feeds my spirit and brings my limp, sleepy body to life in the morning, I realized the absurdity of just what I’d been a slave to all these years.  No, the coffee is not the enemy here, if that’s where you think I’m going with this (it’s the giver of life).  Instead of going to the coffee, the coffee should be coming to me.  And so it happened- I promptly relocated my coffee pot to my bedside table.  The very next morning, I had coffee at the reach of an arm.  Done.

Now, I wish I could say this story was leading up to a declaration that I was able to accomplish the very same coffee situation with such ease on this particular dreary morning, but alas, I didn’t have the foresight.  Bedside coffee may be making a long-overdue return if the weather keeps up this way!  I realize this story has absolutely nothing to do with limes.  Coffee doesn’t even taste good at all with lime in it.  Also, at this moment all I can think about is chocolate, so there’s that.

 

Not only is there no coffee in this recipe, there is also no chocolate.  Ooof.

This weather is really doing a number on me!

 Chewy Lime Zest Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

* 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 tsp baking soda
* 1/2 tsp baking powder
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1 cup non-dairy margarine
* 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
* 1 egg
* 1 tsp vanilla
* 1-2 Tbsp non-dairy milk
* Juice of 1 lime
* Zest from 1 lime
* 1/4 cup granulated sugar mixed with zest of 1 lime (for rolling)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350*F. Line a cookie sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper.

Cream together the margarine and 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat in egg and vanilla, and then lime juice, 1 Tbsp non-dairy milk, and zest.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing on low speed between additions. If the dough seems too dry, add the second Tbsp of non-dairy milk, or a little more vanilla.

Scoop out 1-2 Tbsp size portions of dough and roll into balls. Roll in the sugar/lime zest mixture and place on baking sheet, about 1-2″ apart.

Bake 8-10 minutes, depending on your oven. Mine needed almost exactly 10 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the pan before transferring cookies to a cooling rack.

 

I can happily say, however, that these little cookies fit the bill for my green food-themed month perfectly!  What I really like about these cookies is that unlike most sugar cookies, they don’t require all of that rolling pin and cookie cutter drama.  Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place – Christmas cookies, heart-shaped Valentine’s day sugar cookies, my Noah’s Ark Frosted Animal Cookies *cough, cough*…

But this is not that time.  Nor that place.

 

This is the place of simple, yummy, chewy, lime-spiked sugar cookies that melt in your mouth and clear the clouds from the sky…

Ok, let’s not push it.  They’re just cookies, they can’t change the weather!

….But they will put a smile on your face! :))))

Super Bowl XLVI (aka Tom Brady Bowl) Guacamole & Baked Sweet Potato Fries

5 Feb


NOoooooOoooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

I think by now you can tell I’m a bit of a New England Patriots/Tom Brady fan, and by a “bit” of a fan, I mean I could care less about the team and feel like my heart is breaking right along with Tom’s.

I was so hopeful that history wouldn’t repeat itself and I wouldn’t end up once again typing on my computer as it short-circuits from the tears streaming from my eyes as I try to muster a congratulatory smirk in the general direction of all the Giants fans out there.  Hey, I never said I was a GOOD sport, per say…;p

Anyway, the one good thing that came out of the Super Bowl, and I mean aside from getting to stare at Tom Brady for several hours in tight, butt-hugging spandex, was the food!  I had some pretty awesome snacks lined up, and although they did nothing for the Patriots, at least I got to drown my anxiety in yummy treats like guacamole dip and baked sweet potato fries.  I know what you’re thinking, but game day snacks can be both delicious AND healthy, and you’ll never convince me that they have to be one or the other!  I know what you’re thinking again, and you’re about to throw this post in my face and say game day is over and you can’t use any of these recipes during the Super Bowl…but I assure you, you can eat this dip and these fries any dang time you want!  And also, there will be other games, duh!

Fresh Guacamole

Bursting with flavor and healthy ingredients, this guac is as perfect with veggies or crackers as it is with traditional tortilla chips!  I’m pretty heavy-handed with the garlic and lime juice because I love the bold flavors, but feel free to amp it up even more or tone it down if you prefer.

Ingredients:

* 3 avocados
* 1/4 cup salsa, or fresh-chopped tomato and jalapeno
* 1/8 finely chopped onion
* 2 cloves finely minced garlic
* 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro (optional)
* Juice from 1/4 of a lime
* Salt & pepper to taste
* Pinch of cumin

Directions:

Scoop out the “meat” of the avocado and mash into a bowl with a fork. Add in the salsa or fresh tomato and jalapeno, and onion. Stir in the garlic, cilantro, lime juice, salt, pepper, and cumin.

That’s it – simple! Enjoy with chips, crackers, veggies, whatever your little heart desires!

And now, on to the spuds!

 Martha Stewart’s Baked Sweet Potato Fries

These are slightly adapted from the baked fries on the Martha Stewart website here!  They’re more like a thick-cut steak fry than a thin, flimsy fry, in that they’re hunkier and  don’t get crispy all the way through.  Trust me, I don’t usually like fries, and won’t touch a regular potato “Jo-Jo”…and I think these are super delish!

Ingredients:

* 3 large sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2″ sections
* 3 egg whites
* salt, pepper, garlic, oregano, & basil to taste (I used Italian seasoning)

Directions:

Line a baking tray with parchment paper or a Silpat. Lay out cut sweet potatoes on a microwave safe plate, and microwave for 2 minutes. Flip and microwave another 2 minutes. Allow to cool while preparing the egg whites.

Separate 3 egg whites into a bowl and whisk until frothy. Once cool to the touch, dip each fry into the egg whites and allow to drain before arranging on lined pan in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, and basil. Bake for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and flip the fries. Bake another 10-15 minutes. Test for fork-tenderness, and crispiness, and bake an additional 5-10 minutes until brown and slightly crispy. Allow to cool before enjoying!

True, they’re not the most photogenic little fries around, but they sure are DELICIOUS!  They get the job done and are super healthy!

 

I snapped a few pics of the most important part of this whole Super Bowl thing.  Look at the concentration, the determination, the anxiety?! :

And of course for dessert, I suggest Tom Brady Martha Stewart’s coconut cupcakes & my awesome coconut buttercream frosting!!

Congratulations or whatever, I guess, New York Giants!…I still love you, Tom Brady!

Martha Stewart’s Coconut Cupcakes and the Frosting that Changed my Life

4 Feb

Over the past few years especially, coconut, and namely the type of fat it contains, has become overwhelmingly controversial in terms of health and nutritional value.  There is no disputing the impressive vitamin (most notably folate), and even more so, mineral (very high in manganese, with a good amount of copper and selenium) and amino acid profile of these fruits, known as “drupes,” hailing from the palm family, but the fact that they are comprised of a generous ratio of saturated fat to carbohydrate and protein is what concerns some health conscious individuals and experts.

True, saturated fat has been touted as the “evil” fat said to raise levels of “bad” cholesterol in the body known as LDL cholesterol, and contribute to obesity, and for the most part, that is accurate.  However, what is rarely mentioned is the presence of different types of saturated fats, which vary greatly based upon their size.  Saturated fatty acids, or triglycerides, appear in foods as short chain, medium chain, or long chain fatty acid chains.  The problem with the typical American diet is that it contains way too many long chain saturated fatty acids, found in meats, dairy, and even some plant sources of fat, which are tough for the body to break down and convert to energy.  Coconut, on the other hand, as well as palm kernel oil, contains medium chain saturated fatty acids, which are thought to be used by the body much differently.  According to some research, medium chain fatty acids are more easily oxidized by the liver to produce energy, causing less of the fat to be stored long term in the body.

The bottom line here is not that the saturated fat in coconut would be recommended over unsaturated fatty acids like those found in foods like avocado, olive oil, fatty fish, and various seeds which raise levels of “good” HDL cholesterol in the body, but that it serves as a better replacement for other saturated fats that are already in the diet.  So, don’t feel like you have to steer clear of coconut because of the fat content in order to feel “healthy”!  Some fat in the diet is absolutely necessary for a healthfully functioning body, and the satiety factor we need to feel full and nourished.

Make some healthy substitutions every once in awhile, like for instance, drink coconut milk occasionally instead of your usual 2% dairy milk, or bake with coconut milk rather than butter, and you could be doing yourself a favor with a little health boost!  Go ahead and make a batch of these coconut cupcakes and enjoy (*cough* Super Bowl Party!! *cough*)…I’m not claiming these cupcakes are health food by any stretch, but let’s face it, coconut tastes awesome, too – just don’t go overboard!

Or, if you prefer freshy, citrusy lemon, you might enjoy Martha Stewart’s Lemon Cupcakes instead!

Martha Stewart’s Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Buttercream Frosting

These are dense, hearty little cupcakes.  My favorite part of the recipe is that it includes ground coconut in the batter, and can easily be made dairy-free!  Ok, that’s one of my favorite parts, the other is the frosting.   The cupcake recipe is from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes, but the frosting is all my own… it changed my life…it’s THAT good! 🙂  Sprinkle with sweetened shredded coconut, unsweetened shredded coconut, coconut flakes, or just leave them as is!  I used sweetened shredded coconut since that’s what I had on hand, but I gazed longingly at the photo of Martha’s version with its large, glorious, luxurious-looking flakes, and wished I could have used those instead!  I urge you to do so, if you get the chance…and then send me photos!

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:
* 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 tsp baking powder
* 1/2 cup packed sweetened shredded coconut
* 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, or dairy-free butter spread like Earth Balance
* 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
* 2 large eggs + 2 egg whites
* 1 1/2 tsps vanilla extract
* 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk, from either a can or carton
* Coconut Buttercream Frosting (below)
* Sweetened or unsweetened shredded coconut or coconut flakes for topping

Frosting:
* 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or dairy-free butter spread
* 1/4 cup Coconut butter (the thick portion at the top of the coconut milk can, or pre-made coconut butter in a jar)
* About 2-3 cups confectioner’s sugar
* Dash of salt
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* 1/2 tsp coconut extract

Directions:

To make the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350*, and line standard muffin tins with paper liners.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Grind sweetened coconut shreds in a coffee grinder or food processor until finely ground, and stir into flour mixture.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or by hand, cream butter or dairy-free butter spread and sugar until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the whole eggs, egg whites, and vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Reduce mixer speed to low and add flour mixture, alternating with additions of coconut milk until everything is combined. Don’t overmix!

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each just about full. Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan half-way through cooking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and turn out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting:
Cream together the butter or dairy-free butter spread and coconut butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Slowly add in the dash of salt and confectioner’s sugar by the spoonful until course, crumbly mixture forms. Add in the vanilla extract and coconut extract. Beat frosting until smooth, adding more confectioner’s sugar if the frosting is too thin, and more vanilla extract, coconut extract, or splash of milk of choice if it’s too thick.

Slather with frosting, and top with coconut shreds or flakes at your own discretion….

…I’m still finding coconut shreds in places I didn’t know existed, so fair warning – Coconut bombs are a very real situation!

Disclaimer:

I am NOT a licensed or certified nutritionist or registered dietician.  I am NOT currently, but am on my way to becoming, a certified personal trainer.  I do, however, hold a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences with an emphasis in neurobiology, physiology, and behavior, as well as a strong interest in holistic and medical nutrition, especially as it applies to the prevention of disease, but PLEASE consult your doctor or a registered dietician for more comprehensive and tailored diet, fitness, and health information if you have health concerns or questions regarding any of the topics I discuss.  I am simply expressing my knowledge and opinions based upon my own research, reading, and education within the health, fitness, and science fields.

That being said, I hope you enjoy what I write and maybe learn something interesting along the way.  Thank you!