Simple Granola Bars

The key to avoiding inhaling terrible foods all week, necessitating a cleanse/detox/semi-starvation over the weekend to set yourself back to neutral, is being prepared.

These bars help.

Simple Granola Bars

They’re also insanely delicious.

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They could not be easier to make and are truly guilt-free. Unless you eat all of them at once. Then maybe you should feel a little guilty. Still forgivable.

Make these on Sunday and start your week off right … at least until Monday lunch hunger sets in.

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Simple Granola Bars

Recipe from Minimalist Baker 

  • 1 cup packed dates, pitted
  • 1/4 cup honey (or pure maple syrup)
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1 cup roasted unsalted almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • optional: chocolate chips, dried fruit, more nuts, vanilla, etc.
  1. Process dates in a food processor until chopped into small pieces. The dates will probably roll into a ball, then it’s done.
  2. Toast oats for 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven or until slightly golden brown (watch them closely). Can also use raw oats.
  3. Place oats, almonds and dates in a bowl.
  4. Warm honey and peanut butter in a small saucepan over low heat (or microwave for a minute). Stir and pour over oat mixture and mix, breaking up the dates to disperse.
  5. Once mixed, transfer to a parchment paper lined 8×8 dish.
  6. Press down until uniformly flattened. Cover with parchment or plastic wrap, and let set in fridge for 15-20 minutes to harden (I usually leave it overnight).
  7. Remove bars from the pan by lifting from the parchment paper overhang. They should come out easily. Cut into bars – as large or small as you’d like. I got 17 bars out of my batch. Store in an airtight container. They will last for at least a week.

Cookie Dough Cupcakes

These are special occasion cupcakes. Cupcakes for a day filled with so much celebration, you don’t even care that there are three sticks of butter in the frosting … yea, three.

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I get requests for these cupcakes from family and friends all the time, but I reserve them for only the most momentous occasions because they are so decadent and slightly laborious to make. But my god, are they worth it.

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The trick to these cupcakes is freezing the cookie dough, so when you bake the cakes, the center maintains that signature raw cookie dough texture that we all know and love. The frosting is a brown sugar buttercream and will change your life. Be ready for it.

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Cookie Dough Cupcakes

Recipes courtesy of Kevin & Amanda

Yields: 24-36, depending on the size of your cupcakes. 


For the cookie dough
  • 2 sticks softened butter
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2½ cups all purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips
For the cupcakes
  • 3 sticks softened butter
  • 1½ cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2⅔ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
For the frosting
  • 3 sticks softened butter
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 3½ cups powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
To make the cookie dough
  1. Combine the butter and sugars in a mixing bowl and cream on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 mins. Beat in milk and vanilla until incorporated and smooth. Beat in the flour and salt until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Using a small ice cream scoop, shape the dough into balls. Freeze on a parchment lined baking sheet overnight.
To make the cupcakes
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two or three cupcake pans with paper liners (original recipes yields 24, but I was able to make 36). In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and brown sugar. Beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir together to blend. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl on low speed, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, mixing each addition just until incorporated. Blend in the vanilla.
  3. Using an ice cream scoop, fill the prepared cupcake liners ⅔ full with the cupcake batter. Place a frozen cookie dough ball on the top center of each cupcake.
  4. Bake at 350 for 16-18 mins.
To make the frosting
  1. Combine the butter and brown sugar in a mixing bowl and cream on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the powdered sugar until smooth. Beat in the salt, milk, and vanilla extract until smooth and combined.
  2. Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with mini chocolate chips.
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Cookie Dough Cupcakes
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Blackberry Basil Jam

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When Kroger has blackberries on super cheap sale, you buy all of them and figure out what to do later. Here’s what I did …

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I am mildly obsessed with combining fruit and herbs, so when I decided to make jam I naturally had to think about what herb would go well with it.

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I was torn between basil and thyme, and don’t think I could have gone wrong either way, but basil turned out to be just perfect.

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Toast with salted peanut butter and blackberry-basil jam. :::drool:::

I found a good Giada recipe, but cut the sugar down because I enjoy the tartness of blackberries. This jam is perfect with peanut butter, on a cheese platter, with a spoon or on crackers, a la Joey Tribbiani style (:45).

Blackberry Basil Jam 

Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis


  • 3-6 oz. cartons of fresh blackberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 oz. basil leaves (or as much or as little as you like)
  • Juice from 1 large orange
  • Juice from 1 medium lemon


Place fresh blackberries in a medium saucepan and turn to medium heat. As the blackberries warm and soften, mash them lightly (and carefully) with a fork. In a food processor, combine the basil, sugar, orange and lemon juices. Blend until smooth. Stir the mixture into the blackberries and bring to a slow boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until the mixture is thick, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes.

Remove from the heat and allow the jam to cool for 1 hour. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to a week. Serve on bread, with cheeses, on top of peanut butter, layered in desserts … the opportunities are endless.

Banana Sweet Potato Bread

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Some things you just get a gut feeling about. When you have too many bananas, and too many sweet potatoes and get that gut feeling about a sweet potato banana bread, you go with that feeling.
Banana Sweet Potato Bread
I had no reason to believe that this recipe would turn out even mediocre, because I was sort of making it up as I went, but it turned out marvelously! I love naturally sweetening by using sweet fruits and veggies. Nature has so many options. Sweet potatoes, apples, carrots, beets … the list goes on and on. Can’t wait to see where the next surplus of produce takes me.Banana Sweet Potato Bread 2
Banana Sweet Potato Bread
Recipe heavily adapted from The Minimalist Baker
  • 2 large very ripe bananas
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup oat bran
  • 1/4 cup flax meal
  • 3/4 cup sweet potato puree (I just bake mine whole until tender and scoop out the flesh)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease or spray a loaf pan with nonstick spray. I like to put a strip of parchment paper that extends above the top of the pan for an easier removal at the end.
  2. Mash bananas and add all of the ingredients except the oats and flour, whisking to thoroughly combine.
  3. Add flours, oats, bran and flax. Stir to combine.
  4. Pour batter into the loaf pan and smooth the top. I added chopped pecans on top. Feel free to do the same, or chocolate chips stirred in would be wonderful.
  5. Bake for about 1 hour, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool on a rack. Then slice and serve.

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Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky Toffee Pudding

In the UK, pudding is a synonym used to denote the dessert course of a meal. When I served this dessert after dinner last night, I think my friends were a little confused by use of the word “pudding” for what is clearly a cake. I don’t think they were disappointed after tasting it though.

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I first had this pudding at the Schlafly Taproom in St. Louis and fell instantly in love. I have made it on several occasions since, usually in the winter months when everyone is less concerned about butter and sugar, but it’s good any and every time.

The cake is light, spongey and lovely. It’s almost magic how the dates dissolve into the cake during the baking process and become indiscernible from the rest of the ingredients. The toffee sauce though, is the real star of the show. I like to serve this dessert in a bowl, so everyone has a nice pool of sauce to be soaked up by the cake. I’m pretty sure you can spoon a brown sugar, butter, and cream sauce over anything and it would be incredible; but it’s especially good here paired with a light cake and freshly whipped cream. Enjoy!

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Sticky Toffee Pudding

Recipe from Daily Candy via The Schlafly Tap Room


For the pudding

  • 1 lb. dates, chopped in food processor
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 5 oz. unsalted butter
  • 1 lb. sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch salt

For the sauce

  • 1 lb. dark brown sugar
  • 1 lb. butter
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy cream

For the whipped cream

  • 1 c. heavy cream (or whatever is leftover from sauce)
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract


  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan with butter or non-stick spray.
  • Combine dates with hot water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add baking soda. Set aside to cool.
  • In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar on high speed for 3 minutes.
  • With mixer on low speed, add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla, flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • When fully mixed, add the dates and their liquid.
  • Pour batter into greased pan and bake until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean (30-45 minutes).
  • Cool on a baking rack before removing from the pan.
  • For the sauce, stir together the brown sugar, butter, and vanilla extract on low heat until blended and brown sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat.
  • Whisk heavy cream into the brown sugar-and-butter mixture.
  • To make whipped cream: pour leftover heavy cream into a bowl and add powdered sugar and vanilla. Honestly, I don’t really measure ingredients in whipped cream, it’s hard to mess up. Using a hand-mixer (or Kitchen-aid, or whisk) whip until firm peaks form.
  • Spoon warm sauce over a serving of the pudding and top with a dollop of whipped cream.

Black Bean Brownies

I’ve been wanting to try black bean brownies for a long time now. Everyone says you can’t detect the beans at all, and gee whiz, now that I’ve had them I can say … they’re right! I created this brownie recipe after researching tips from other recipes online and struck gold.

They taste even better than they look, and I’m fully aware of how good they look.

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Dense and fudgy with an intense cocoa flavor, these brownies are incredibly addicting and that’s ok – because they’re good for you too. If you’re like me, and always seem to have a can of black beans and bananas on-hand, make these immediately. This is not a drill. Go!

Black Bean Brownies


  • 1 – 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cover the bottom of an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper or spray with non-stick spray.
  2. Put all of the ingredients except the chocolate chips into a blender or food processor. Process until a smooth batter forms.
  3. Add the chocolate chips and fold into batter.
  4. Pour the batter into prepared pan and sprinkle more chocolate chips on top.
  5. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out mostly clean and there are cracks in the top of the brownies.
  6. Cool the pan completely and then refrigerate until chilled. If you used parchment paper, you should be able to lift the brownies out of the pan easily. Cut the brownies as you like. I got 16 squares out of my pan.

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Black Bean Brownies

Tangerine Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache

Tangerine Cake
For my Dad’s birthday, I didn’t want to make him the same ole’ tired yellow/white/chocolate cake that everyone has. I wanted to make something that I really thought he would like.
For as long as I can remember, my Dad has leaned towards the tart, had a fondness for the sour, an affinity for the tangy. While limes are a big deal in his universe, tangerines are too. As a kid, I distinctly remember my Dad ordering tangerine-flavored snow cones, which I always found bizarre because, who doesn’t want Tiger’s Blood? (If you don’t know snow cone flavors, then you won’t get this. I’m not a psycho, I swear, it’s a cherry/coconut-based flavor!)
Harkening back to memories of tangerines, which just happen to be in season right now, my gut told me to go with that. Now to find a suitable tangerine cake recipe …
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I really, really love recipes that embrace the whole fruit. I’ve made an orange cake before where you blanch and blend the citrus fruit whole, and it turned out wildly successful, so, why mess with success?
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(What is that pattern on the plate, you ask? Oh that’s just the impression my hungry fingers made in the chocolate when I swiped them with abandon through the excess ganache fallen on the plate. Worth it.)

Flourless Tangerine Cake

Recipe adapted from The View from Great Island
  • 3 large tangerines (or tangelos), to make about 1 cup of puree
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 3 cups almond meal/flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Chocolate Ganache (recipe follows)


  • Set oven to 350F
  • This is the most time-consuming part of the cake. Wash your tangerines and put them in a saucepan covered with cold water. Boil for 15 minutes. Drain the pan, refill with cold water, and boil again for 15 minutes. Then one more time, drain the pan, refill with cold water, and boil for 15 minutes. This boiling process removes the bitterness in the citrus skin.
  • Rough chop the tangerines and remove any seeds. (Tip: Do this in a bowl so you don’t lose any juice.) Put the tangerines in a food processor and process until completely smooth. You will likely have to stop and scrape down the sides a few times. You will die over the aroma that rises from the processor.
  • Set aside the pureed citrus.
  • Beat the eggs and coconut sugar until light and creamy. Fold in the almond meal, citrus pulp, and baking powder. Mix until combined.
  • Pour the batter into a greased (with coconut oil) 9″ pan (can use spring-form or whatever you have – I used a pie pan).
  • Bake for 50-60 minutes, until lightly golden and a toothpick, when inserted in the center, comes out clean.
  • Cool the cake on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan to finish cooling.
  • At this point, you can dust the cake with confectioner’s sugar, decorate with some citrus zest, or pour a bowl of cascading ganache over the top as I did. (Tip: The last option is strongly recommended!)

Chocolate Ganache

  • 12 oz. semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli bittersweet)
  • 1 tsp. coconut oil

Place both ingredients in a bowl and microwave for 30-second intervals, stirring each time until smooth and fully melted. You can also melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Pour the ganache over the warm cake, spreading to cover the entire cake. Devour immediately.

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Strawberry-Banana Spelt Muffins

This is a guest post from a talented chef with a great recipe for a unique twist on banana muffins.

Banana Strawberry Spelt Muffins

From Chef Thomas:

“I love eating bananas raw, but I am very specific about my raw bananas. They have to be all yellow, or yellow and green; no spots! Once the brown spots start to form, I just don’t like the flavor. But I can’t throw spotty bananas away, so what should I do? I guess I could make some sort of baked good… *twist my arm!*

But baked goods typically have a ton of butter and sugar … what about my diet? I decided to take a basic banana bread recipe and try to put a healthy twist on it.

As I started to throw ingredients together, I became bored with the idea of just plain old banana bread. I started to think of things that are usually combined with bananas and it hit me. Strawberries!! My first go at it, I used almond flour, strawberries, bananas, maple syrup, honey, coconut oil, etc. I used the measurements from an online recipe I found. I had really high hopes. I put the mix in the oven for sixty minutes. I was so excited as I paced back and forth, waiting for the bread to be done. The buzzer went off and I strutted to the oven, confident I would find an amazing loaf of strawberry-banana bread! I swung the door open and was greeted by a goopy mess. Disheartened, I left the loaf in for several more minutes before giving up…for the day. I would make this work!

I told Maggie what had happened and we began to brainstorm about how to make this recipe work. She told me not to use only almond flour because it well make for a very wet bread. Maybe we could put some oatmeal in there to soak up some of that moisture. Maybe add a bit more flour. Sunday she came over and we began to put our recipe together. We added a bit of lemon zest and some oatmeal to the banana mixture. We  used two cups of spelt flour instead of a cup and a half of almond flour. We put some chopped cashews in there for some texture. The mixture looked great, we had high hopes. Then we started talking about how we would cook this mixture. While banana bread is great, it is not the most practical form of food for those of us on the go. We decided muffins would be perfect! We threw them in and enjoyed a beer while we waited. As we swung the oven door down we were met with an intoxicating smell and the sight of perfectly cooked muffins. We put the muffins on a cooling rack and they taunted us, daring us to take a bite …

The next thing I knew, our friend Ruth was taking a bite of one and her face said it all. Maggie and I joined Ruth in pure muffin bliss. We had done it! We came up with an amazing strawberry banana muffin recipe. I hope it brings you all the same amount of happiness that it brought us!”

Strawberry-Banana Spelt Muffins

Yield: 20 muffins 


  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 7 strawberries, diced
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2/3 cup raw cashews (or any other nut you prefer)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease muffin tins.

In a small bowl, combine bananas, strawberries, lemon zest, and oatmeal. In a large bowl, combine coconut oil, honey, and pure maple syrup in a stand mixer and blend together for one minute, or until creamed. Mix in eggs, salt, vanilla, and then add oatmeal mixture. Slowly, add dry ingredients into the wet ingredient, mixing only until combined. Fold in cashews.

Pour batter into greased muffin tins, about 3/4 way full. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 mins, but keep an eye on them. The muffins are done when the tops spring back when touched.

Sweet Potato Brownies

Happy National Brownie Day!

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This yummy holiday also happens to fall right smack in the middle of final exams, so there was NO way I was going to miss celebrating this.

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This recipe for sweet potato brownies is truly one of my favorite recipes ever. Plus, I love the blogger that was the inspiration behind it! She has a ton of wonderful recipes, many of which I’ve tried, many of which are on my “to bake” list.

Since my obsession with healthy remakes of classic indulgences began, I really don’t enjoy the originals as much anymore. With sweet potato, dates, brown rice flour, almond meal, and raw cocoa, these brownies are not only insanely good for you, they taste absolutely incredible. There is so much nutritional goodness in these treats!

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Please enjoy the holiday with these brownies! You’ll feel happy, indulged, and amazing.

Sweet Potato Brownies

Recipe adapted from Deliciously Ella 


  • 2 medium to large sweet potatoes
  • 2/3 cup of ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup of buckwheat or brown rice flour
  • 14 medjool dates (no sugar added)
  • 5 tablespoons of raw cacao powder (unsweetened)
  • 3 tablespoons of pure maple syrup
  • Flaked sea salt to sprinkle on top
  • 1/2 cup semi or bittersweet chocolate chips (optional, though not, in my opinion)


If you haven’t cooked your sweet potatoes, obviously do that first. You can peel and steam them, or, do as I do, and throw them in the oven unpeeled at 400 for 45 minutes and scoop out the roasted potato and discard the skin.

For the brownies, set your oven to 350 degrees.

To a food processor, add the cooked sweet potato and the dates. Blend together until combined fully. This mix alone is truly delicious and can probably be made into breads, cookies, muffins … everything.

In a large bowl, combine the sweet potato-date mixture with the remaining ingredients.

Fold in the chocolate chips until combined. Note: if you cooked your potatoes right before making the brownies and your batter is warm as a result, you will need to chill it first so the chocolate chips don’t melt.

Line an 8×8 baking tin with parchment paper and spread the brownie batter evenly. Sprinkle salt over the top for a little extra pizazz. Bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out dry when inserted. Remove from oven and let cool for AT LEAST 10 minutes. This step is very important so the brownies can properly set up.

At this point, I like to cut myself a brownie to eat because, well, who could possibly resist a warm brownie? But then, I place the brownies in the fridge to chill so they cut more easily. This is especially important if you use chocolate chips because they will be very ooey gooey :)

Sweet Potato Brownies

Just look at that flaked Himalayan salt …

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Pack up and place in fridge for a healthy dessert anytime you want.

Healthy Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

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These cookies have revolutionized my late-night sweet cravings. I have made a batch of these every week for (muffled sound) weeks now, and I don’t feel guilty at all because they are super healthful!

The original recipe I began with used pumpkin puree as the fruit base, which was good, but not nearly as sweet as bananas. The sweetness is important because I have omitted sugar from the recipe (except what’s contained within the dark chocolate chips). I have also tried sweet potatoes which work just as well as bananas. These little goodies are the perfect way to indulge in something sweet, but still get some nutrition in too.

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They’re also very forgiving. I have been sloppy with measurements more times than not and they always turn out perfect. It’s important to know though, that these cookies will be soft when you take them out of the oven, and remain soft even after they’re cooled. They definitely need a few minutes to set up on the baking sheet after they’re cooked, but will hold their shape just fine thereafter.

I am obsessed with these babies at the moment and no one can stop me. So soft, so yummy, and so decadently chocolately.

You’d be a fool not to make these immediately.

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

Healthy Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe adapted from Chelsea’s Messy Apron 


  • 1/2 cup mashed bananas (or cooked and mashed sweet potato)
  • 2 tablespoons honey (more or less to preference)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (optional, but I like the spiced flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup oat flour (oats that have been blended)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (I like Ghirardelli semi-sweet or bittersweet 60%)
  • Note: I’m usually heavy-handed with the chocolate chips :)


In a bowl, mix together the banana, honey, and egg. In another bowl, stir together the cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and oat flour.

Note: Oat flour is made by blending old-fashioned or quick oats in a blender or food processor until they resemble a flour consistency.

Combine the wet and dry and mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Chill the dough for 30 minutes and then preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Using a cookie scooper, portion the dough out onto a cookie sheet. I usually get around a dozen cookies. Press the tops down to flatten slightly. Bake for about 8 minutes, or until set.

Devour and feel great about it!