Avocado Cookies

[donotprint]Cookies are a personal battle when it comes to making “healthy” snacks. When I first started investigating and experimenting, I tasted a lot of low-fat, low-sugar baked goods that were cookies in name but definitely not in spirit. Therefore, my official policy is that cookies should not be tinkered with and be allowed to do what they do best: deliver a luscious combination of fat and sugar.

I am nonetheless tempted to experiment from time to time. And simply because I’ve never eaten an avocado cookie before and avocados are so high in good-for-you fat, I’ve come up with this “healthier” cookie that I feel a little bit better about putting in my kid’s lunch box. Its taste is no where near a Toll House. But I feel like they are probably as close as I am going to get to a “healthy” cookie that my family still enjoys eating.[/donotprint]DSC01810

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

1 ripe haas avocado, pitted and skin removed
½ cup butter (1 stick), softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 large egg
½ cup low-fat milk
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, oats, coconut, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Mash avocado with a fork in a large bowl until there are no large chunks remaining. Add butter and mix very well with avocado. Add sugars and stir well. Add egg and stir. Finally add the milk and stir until incorporated. Add the flour mixture and stir until combined. Fold in chocolate chips (if desired).

Drop heaping tablespoons full of batter onto ungreased baking sheets or jelly roll pans two inches apart. Bake for 15-17 minutes near the center of the oven, rotating once if necessary. Once the edges of the cookies start to brown, remove from oven and transfer to cooling rack with spatula. Allow to cool slightly and serve.

These cookies will soften considerably if left out overnight. They are best stored in the freezer in an airtight container and thawed on demand.

Makes 38 cookies.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes

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Raspberry Rockets (a.k.a White-chocolate Filled Raspberries)

[donotprint]Surely I’m not the first person to have done this. But if you’ve heard of it before, don’t tell me. I’m busy being overly happy about my discovery. Oh, and the kids looovve these.[/donotprint]

 

20 raspberries
20 white chocolate chips

Wash the raspberries by holding them under gently running water or submerging in a bowl of water and agitating gently. Allow the raspberries to air-dry by simply putting them on a towel. Once dry, insert one chip into each berry with flat side of the chip facing you. Serve.

Makes 2 servings.
Prep time: 5 minutes

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Frosty “Cheeseburgers”

[donotprint] These are bit more time-intensive than I’d like. But I managed to make them with a house full of my own kids and some guests running around today. The only part that required much thought was making the chocolate mixture and then all I had to do was check on them in the freezer a couple times, and viola I had an extremely well-received afternoon snack.[/donotprint]

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3 tablespoons nut butter (such as peanut or almond)
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups crispy brown rice cereal
1 1/2 cups vanilla frozen yogurt, slighly softened

In a small saucepan, stir the chocolate chips and nut butter over medium low heat until smooth. Remove the chocolate mixture from heat. Add cereal to saucepan and stir with a rubber spatula until well coated.

Divide the cereal mixture between the cups of a muffin pan (preferably silicone for easier removal). Each muffin cup should be approximately 1/2 full. Cover and place in freezer for 30 minutes or until hard.

Fill the remaining half of each muffin cup with the vanilla frozen yogurt. Do not mound the yogurt; rather keep it somewhat level. Place the muffin pan back in freezer and allow yogurt to refreeze for approximately one hour or longer.

To serve, carefully dislodge frosties from the muffin pan using fingers or a knife to loosen the edges.

Makes approximately 8 frosties.

Note for Young Ones:
Right out of the freezer, these treats can be a little tough to eat. If your kids are on the small side, let them thaw for a minute or cut them up for them. In addition, roughly break up some of the rice cereal with a metal spoon as you are coating it with the chocolate mixture. That way it might be less likely to be rough on your little one’s mouth.

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Chocolate Banana Pops

[donotprint]My kids had a wonderful time making these and getting terribly messy in the process! This is the quickest way I’ve come up with to use up over ripe bananas lurking in the kitchen.[/donotprint]

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2 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 teaspoons cocoa powder (preferably dutch process)
1 teaspoon ground flaxseed
2-3 bananas cut into 2-inch thick slices
Popsicle sticks

Mix sugar, cocoa powder, and flaxseed in a small shallow bowl. Roll the banana slices around in the powder mixture until coated. Transfer to plate and insert popsicle sticks. Serve immediately. The banana can sometimes slip around on the popsicle stick, but just eat it and try another one.

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Almond Bon Bons

[donotprint]This is recipe that might not belong among the “healthy” recipes that are supposed to grace the pages of this blog. But, at least it’s fresh and homemade. Much better to indulge with these when your sweet tooth can not be denied.

Some people have asked me if they can replace the rice syrup with honey or corn syrup, to which I resoundingly reply “No!”. I really try not to use unusual ingredients unless I feel they are truly necessary. The bon bons would probably turn out fine with another sweetener, but the rice syrup gives the bon bons an oh-so-lovely carmel-like flavor. It is not to be missed.[/donotprint]

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1 1/4 cup whole almonds
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup organic almond butter or peanut butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed (optional)
1 cup quality chocolate chips

Grind almonds in a blender until texture resembles a course meal. A few larger chunks are fine. Be sure not to grind too long or you will make almond butter. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, warm syrup and almond butter over low heat until well blended and smooth. Remove from heat and add ground almonds, salt and ground flaxseed. With a sturdy spoon, stir until well combined and mixture sticks together and begins to form a ball.

Make one inch balls by hand and place on wax paper. Your hands will get greasy.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave. If using a microwave, use 20% power for 2 minutes and check. An additional minute at low power may be required. The chips will hold their shape. Stir with fork. If about half of the chips appear to have melted, keep stirring until all of the chips are melted. This may take a couple minutes. By keeping the chocolate’s heat low, the cocoa butter and chocolate solids are much less likely to separate and the chocolate will remain in temper.

If using a double boiler, be very careful not to let any water come into contact with the melting chocolate or it will sieze. Over low heat, stir constantly until 3/4 of the chips are melted. Remove from heat and continue to stir until smooth.

Using a fork, dip the balls in the chocolate one at a time until thoroughly covered. Place in airtight container on wax paper and allow to set for approximately one hour. Serve cold or at room temperature. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. These taste best when they are very fresh, but will keep for a week or more.

Makes approximately 30 balls.

[donotprint]Note: To learn more about tempering chocolate, read Mark Bittman’s article Chocolate Gets Hot But Holds Its Temper. Bittman makes it look easy in the video. I’ve tried tempering a handful times and was successful once. That’s why I’ve avoided the tempering process in this recipe. But I’m still fascinated by it and will conquer it someday.[/donotprint]

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Banana Burritos

[donotprint]Kids can easily help make these treats. Put your leftover banana half in the freezer for a smoothie. I use bread instead of frozen puff pastry because a) the ingredient list is a little daunting on puff pastry and b) the instant it starts to cool packaged puff pastry starts to taste like styrofoam. I figure the bread is healthier and more likely to already be in the kitchen.[/donotprint]

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4 slices soft whole grain bread
4 tablespoons cream cheese
1/2 ripe banana
4 teaspoons semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Cut crust off of bread slices and discard. Arrange slices on a flat surface and roll flat with rolling pin until they are as thin as possible.

Spread 1 tablespoon (or less depending on the size of the slice) over each of the flattened slices. Slice banana into discs 1/4″ (or less) thick and arrange 2-3 banana slices on one half of each of the bread slices. Top with 1 teaspoon of the chocolate chips on each of the bread slices.

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Fold over the bread, covering the bananas. Crimp edges closed with a fork.

Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool for 1-2 minutes (more if you are feeding a toddler) and serve.

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Chocolate Cinnnamon Pudding

[donotprint]I’ve seen some extremely “picky” eaters gobble up this pudding. The pudding is very sweet even without the agave nectar. When in doubt, leave it out. Enjoy![/donotprint]

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1 lb silken tofu
1 heaping cup quality milk chocolate chips
3 tablespoons agave nectar or maple syrup (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Put all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Stir until chocolate has melted. The tofu will break up into bits and not look terribly appetizing, but have faith. Transfer to blender (or use a hand blender) and process mixture until smooth. Scoop into small bowls or ramkins. Cover and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Serve.

Yield: 5 (1/2 cup) servings

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Granola Bars

This is an extremely flexible snack recipe that is sweet and satisfying. Replacing the honey with apple butter brings the sugar content down to a buzz-free level. But I do love the sweet, moist goodness the honey imparts. These bars freeze very well (separate layers with wax paper) and keep for up to a couple months.

2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup raisins or 1/3 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup honey or apple butter
1 large egg, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F

Mix oats, sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, flour, salt and raisins in medium bowl. Make a well in the center and add remaining ingredients. Mix well.Transfer to greased 9 x 13 pan and flatten mixture into pan with your hands.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until edges are brown. The majority of the pan may look under done. As long as the edges are brown, it’s okay. Don’t over bake or it will be dry.

Allow to cool slightly in pan. Cut into squares and serve or store in airtight container.

Yield: 24 bars (on the smallish side)
Prep-time: 10 minutes
Bake-time: 20 minutes

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Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

 

1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
3/4 cup buttermilk

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Mix oil and sugar in large bowl. Add egg and vanilla and mix again. Add bananas and buttermilk and mix well and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, flaxseed, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Pour flour mixture into banana mixture and stir until just combined. Add chocolate chips and stir to disperse chips in batter.

Spoon batter into greased mini muffin pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Move to wire rack to cool. Serve warm or cooled.

Yield: 36 mini muffins
Prep-time: 20 minutes
Bake-time: 10 minutes

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