Double Chocolate Zucchini Brownies

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A couple of friends of mine had an amazing organic garden this summer and I got an awesome GIANT Zucchini out of it – thank you, friends!!

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Yes, that Zucchini is as big as my KitchenAid Mixer. Since I had such a large Zucchini to bake with I decided to try out a couple of recipes. I experimented with one recipe, which I made up as I went, and it was not blog worthy/needs some adjusting. Then I had also found this amazing Zucchini Brownie recipe here on Pinterest that I wanted to make with what I had left of my giant zucchini and it was a success. The hardest thing about creating my own recipes is wasting quality ingredients when things go wrong, which is why I experimented with my own creation and tried someone else’s so I could still create something delicious out of this perfectly homegrown vegetable. I’m so glad I did! While this Brownie recipe is not completely my own, I did make some adjustments and below is the recipe I used to make these rich, fudgey, chocolatey brownies. Also, I think it’s important to mention that if I hadn’t put zucchini in this recipe, I would have had no clue it was in there. I didn’t taste nor did I feel any zucchini texture – the end result was so moist, rich, and slightly decadent. I even put these brownies to the test and brought them over to my dearest friend’s house the other day and her 2 sons usually hate 90% of my baking because it’s usually not sweet enough, which I totally get, but they loved these brownies and ate them all up! So these brownies are officially kid approved!

Another benefit to this amazing recipe, is that there is no oil or butter. The applesauce gives these brownies just what they need to stay moist and rich, along with the healthy benefits of the zucchini, these brownies will surely be a guilt free sweet treat.

I hope you all enjoy!!

Double Chocolate Zucchini Brownies

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup spelt flour
  • 1/2 cup whole grain pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I love to use Chatfield’s Natural Chocolate Chips)  and 1/4 cup extra for sprinkling on top.

Directions: 

  • Preheat oven to 350F and grease an 8″ x 8″ baking pan or dish.
  • Mix  eggs, vanilla, sugar, and applesauce in a large bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Add the dry to the wet and gently mix until the batter just comes together.
  • Add in the zucchini and chocolate chips.
  • Pour the batter into your prepared baking dish and sprinkle the top with extra chocolate chips.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • Enjoy straight out of the oven and store leftovers in the fridge!

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Homemade Nutella and Nutella Brownies

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Do you like Nutella? Then make this, right now! It’s such a simple, easy recipe, and the end result is so perfect. Not only do you get the rich hazelnut flavor that makes Nutella amazing, it’s also healthy and a great alternative to the Nutella brand.

I made my spread with a little texture, which added the perfect crunch to every bite. I love Nutella so much and for the most part the brand Nutella doesn’t have the worst ingredients possible, but there are 2 ingredients that I specifically question and would rather not consume if I can help it, those are Palm Oil and Vanillin. Both of these ingredients are questionable in my book. You can find a couple of interesting articles from this time last year that shed some light on the Palm Oil industry here and here. Then there is Vanillin, which is not the same as Vanilla, Vanillin is a byproduct of the pulp and wood industry – doesn’t that sound yummy. You can read more about it here and here. When it comes down to it, this homemade Nutella only has 5 ingredients, all of which are good for you.

Homemade Nutella

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups raw hazelnuts
  • 1-1/2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 unsweetened cocoa powder or raw cacao powder
  • 6 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup almond or soy milk

Directions: 

  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the raw hazelnuts on top.
  • Toast the hazelnuts for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes.
  • Remove the skin of the hazelnuts using a kitchen towel or paper towel.
  • Using your food processor or blender, blend the hazelnuts to your desired consistency.
  • Next, add in the remaining ingredients to your blender or food processor.
  • Blend until you’re happy with what you have. Of course, feel free to taste test at this point.
  • If you would like your Nutella to be smoother, add one teaspoon of coconut oil and blend some more.

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How do you like to eat your nutella? I love mine with strawberries, bananas, and raspberries. Of course if you want to take your Nutella a step further you can make some super yummy, low sugar, Nutella brownies.

Nutella Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup homemade Nutella
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of almond flour

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray an 8 x 8 with nonstick spray or coconut oil spray.
  • Using a stand mixer, mix eggs together starting at a low speed and increasing to medium-high. Whisk until the eggs are a light yellow color (about 6-8 minutes).
  • Warm your homemade Nutella slightly and add a little bit at a time to the beaten eggs.
  • Add almond flour and incorporate all the ingredients.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes, check doneness by placing a toothpick through the center of the brownies. If the toothpick comes out clean then take the brownies out of the oven.
  • Set aside to cool and enjoy! The original recipe for the brownies can be found here.

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Peanut Butter Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Cookies

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I’m one of those people at the grocery store who reads every food label. I’m not looking at the calorie count, instead I’m looking at the ingredients. I try my hardest not to buy food with added “hidden” sugars or anything that seems to contain a lot of the words ending in ‘ose’ (glucose, sucrose, fructose, maltose, lactose) then there’s also ingredients like rice and corn syrup. Don’t forget the higher up the ingredients are  on the list, the more sugar they contain. It’s a lot to think about when you’re shopping and you have to make a conscious effort to read everything if you’re trying to cut out as much sugar from your diet as possible. The majority of my grocery shopping trips result in me buying fresh fruits, veggies, and other essentials while avoiding the aisles with the processed boxed cookies, crackers, granola, cereals etc… even if something is organic or gluten free it most likely still contains way too much sugar. Hey, it’s how those giant companies hook us in and keep us coming back for more and more. Lets face it, we are all addicted to sugar or we are recovering addicts whether you realize it or not.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a normal weight adult should consume 25 grams or 6 teaspoons of sugar a day. The American Heart Association (AHA), on the other hand, suggests women should only consume 20 grams or 5 teaspoons of sugar per day, men should only consume 36 grams or 9 teaspoons, and children 12 grams or 3 teaspoons. Most cans of soda contain at least 40 grams of sugar, which if you follow the WHO or AHA recommendations you are exceeding your daily intake of sugar with just one beverage. I’m not a fan of pop aka soda or fruit juices (unless it’s freshly made juice), instead I stick to tea and water. For me personally, having decreased the amount of sugar I consume has done amazing things for how I feel and think on a daily basis. Of course I’ll enjoy a piece of cake or a nice cocktail at a party or wedding, but it’s not everyday and when I do consume a excessively sugary treat I do not feel well. This is one of the main reasons why I started to create and bake recipes that were a little more health conscious, so I can still enjoy my favorite desserts and not feel like I was just kicked in the stomach with an overly sweet, rich dessert.

The recipe I’m sharing with you today is one of my favorite cookie recipes of all time. I found a version of this recipe in a magazine over a year ago and I decided to recreate it to my tastes. These cookies can also be considered vegan if you swap out the chocolate chips for carob chips or dried fruit. The best part about this recipe is that while there is some sugar from the chocolate chips, banana, and applesauce there is no added table sugar. Another great thing is that the protein from the peanut butter helps to balance your blood sugar. I think in general it’s a good rule of thumb to pair something sweet like an apple or chocolate with peanut butter or some almonds. Of course, there are tons of articles online that you can read more about how to balance your blood sugar and I’m definitely not a doctor or a nutritionist, but these are just some of the ways I try to eat healthier and live a balanced life – inside and out.

My beau and I traveled last week to Colorado to do a little sightseeing, hiking, and celebrating as one of my dearest and oldest friends got married. I made these cookies to take along with us and I’m so glad I did. Next to my man, they were the perfect travel companion and they were the perfect energy boost after our flight or a nice pick me up after a long hike. I hope you all enjoy!!

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Cookies 

Ingredients: 

  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • dash of ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts*
  • 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chopped**
  • 4 tbsp ground flax seed***

*You can omit the nuts altogether or use one of your favorites.

**If you want to make these cookies vegan, swap out the dark chocolate for carob chips or if you’re not a fan of dark chocolate use semi-sweet chocolate chips instead. You can also used dried fruit as an alternative instead, like raisins.

***I love putting ground flax seed in a lot of my recipes, but you can easily leave this out.

Directions: 

  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Mix together in a medium size bowl using a whisk the mashed banana, peanut butter, applesauce, and vanilla.
  • In a separate bowl combine the oatmeal with the spices and salt.
  • Add the oatmeal mixture to your wet ingredients and stir to combine.
  • Then add your nuts, chocolate, and flax seed.
  • Spoon the cookie dough onto the lined baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between each one.
  • Bake for 20-30 minutes and allow to cool.

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 I enjoyed a cookie right out of the oven with a nice decaf Chai Latte. I hope you enjoy.