It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Not just because it’s the holidays but mostly because school is finally coming to an end! With just a few days of the semester left, I felt inspired to make a little dessert for the holidays. After giving it lots of thought, I decided to turn a classic holiday drink into a yummy treat you can easily make for a holiday party or to enjoy at home! This peppermint mocha tart is decadent and perfect for the holidays. It’s so incredibly easy to make and is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Whether you are a fan of peppermint or not, I am sure you will love this one. Not only is this tart easy but it’s also gluten-free, and vegan! Instead of using heavy cream like so many recipes during the holidays do, I used coconut milk to yield a creamy filling. Rather than using a graham cracker crust, I utilized nutrient dense walnuts that are packed with essential fatty acids, fiber, and a great source of protein.
Although I always aim to make recipes that are healthy, I do want to make a point that sometimes, the calories, sugar, or fat content are unimportant. The holidays should be about spending time with family while enjoying delicious food. You shouldn’t deprive yourself of the foods you want to eat during a holiday party because they don’t fit into your lifestyle. As I have said before, there is a time and a place for fun foods and rather than stressing out about your food choices, enjoy whatever makes you feel good and happy. Anyways, enough with the ranting for this simple and delicious recipe, let’s get into the details of what you will need to make it happen.
I don’t know about you, but whenever the weather surpasses 90°F I pretty much want to avoid hot/warm foods as much as possible. During the summertime, I tend to like more cold & crisp treats to help cool down as much as possible. With that being said, over the course of the last few weeks, I have been working diligently to perfect these popsicles so it tastes like a summer explosion in your mouth. After lots of trial and error, I finally nailed it. So much so, that I had to make 3 batches several days in a row because Adrian kept eating them even though I told him I needed to do the pictures for them. Mango has always been one of my all-time favorite fruits but I have to admit I don’t always buy them because they can be a pain to cut as they leak their juice all over the place and things can very quickly become messy. I figured these popsicles would be an easy solution to that problem so if you’re like me and don’t like the mess, you can still enjoy the delicious and juicy mangos this season.
Mangos are rich in Vitamins A & C which are powerful antioxidants that help to slow the aging process. They are also a great source of fiber which is important for proper digestion. In addition to the mango, I also added some lime juice which is also rich in Vitamin C but in this case, we just added it for tartness to contrast the sweetness of the mango.
Depending on how ripe & sweet your mangos are you may not need to do so, but I added in a bit of organic honey to boost the sweetness a bit. Before adding in the honey, I suggest tasting your popsicle mix to see if it needs additional sweetening. If so, add in small amounts and adjust to taste. Ever since I came across this honey at Ralphs, I have been obsessed with the flavor and don’t think I will ever go back to any other brand. I scored this on a special closeout sale which brought the price down to $3.99 which is much better than the regular $10 price tag. If you have a Ralphs near you, I highly recommend you track this honey down to try it for yourself. Anyways, this post is NOT sponsored but I just really really like the flavor of this honey so I figured I would mention it just in case any of you are interested. Nonetheless, you can use any honey/sweetener you’d like. I will quickly mention that organic raw honey has antimicrobial & anti-inflammatory properties that can be beneficial for those who suffer from seasonal allergies (Adrian has the worst). Although I have previously mentioned I like to utilize maple syrup more because it is minimally processed (if at all), if you can find organic & raw honey then there are also added benefits.
All in all, these popsicles take about 5 minutes to prep and are as simple as filling in the mold and allowing them to freeze overnight. Prep them in advance and you have a healthy & delicious treat the whole family will love!
Almost immediately after I posted the recipe for my orange-chia & chocolate chip muffins I started thinking about trying to make double chocolate muffins. A few days after I posted that recipe I got to work on developing this recipe and very rarely does it happen that after the first batch it’s perfect but this recipe was. The first time that I made it, it was an absolute hit from the get-go. I tried this recipe out on members of my study group for Ochem, my friend’s parents/sibling, and of course my loyal guinea pig Adrian who is the greatest partner a girl could ask for. After so much ranting and raving I decided to make another batch just to be sure of the quality and OH MY GOSH. This recipe is incredibly moist, filling, and decadent. If you’ve been with me from the beginning, you would know that there is always a catch with my recipes. I always strive to create healthier versions of classic recipes and this one, in particular, is completely free of refined sugar just as all my recipes on here typically are. As usual, I substituted refined sugar for wholesome and delicious dates. But this recipe is so special because I utilized dates from the community I grew up in. I grew up in a very small agricultural town called Brawley and in making your way to Brawley, there is an even smaller town called Westmorland. It is quite possibly the smallest town in California, but they are well known for their delicious dates. The particular shop I adore is called the Westmorland Date Shake and obviously based on the name, they are known for their amazing date shakes. However, I recently learned that they are now selling their delicious dates online that you can order which is why I am mentioning them for the first time in this blog. Their dates are superior BY FAR to those that can be found in the produce section of the grocery store and can now be conveniently ordered to your home! I mention this because I truly think the quality of their products made all the difference in this recipe. One of the greatest compliments I received for this recipe was “you don’t even need milk” and that is one of the greatest things a baker can be told. So if you’re not already intrigued to try this recipe then let’s discuss the nutritional value of it.
I usually don’t post recipes on the weekends because typically they are my only days off from work and school but this week has already been so unlike my typical week I figured why not. I have spent the last week studying EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. for all the exams I have coming my way. With that being said, I have been attempting to develop recipes MORE because for me cooking is a way to decompress and to relieve some tension. Nothing makes me happier than experimenting in the kitchen and boy was this recipe an experiment. The inspiration for this recipe started about 3 weeks ago when I was thinking about a cake my mom used to make because it was my grandma’s favorite. The cake is called Williamsburg cake and essentially it is a vanilla cake with orange zest, walnuts, and cream cheese frosting. It is absolutely incredible and one of my all time favorite cakes. Anyways, as I was thinking about it I thought what if I could make that into muffin form and of course without using refined sugar because that’s what I like to do. I love to healthify some of my favorite recipes and while I did that, I also made some tweaks and ended up coming up with a muffin recipe that isn’t exactly similar to my grandma’s favorite cake but they are SOOOO good.
After playing around with different variations I ultimately decided to swap out the walnuts for the more affordable chia seeds. Chia seeds are a great source of fiber, protein, and a variety of micronutrients (ex. magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, and manganese). On top of swapping out the nuts, I decided to switch out the all-purpose flour for some whole-wheat flour which adds in the B-vitamins which play a role in the health of our hair, skin, and nails. Last but not least, I decided to throw in some dark chocolate chips because who doesn’t love chocolate and more importantly because dark chocolate is a great source of antioxidants which help to fight signs of aging. With all that said, I have to tell you that this recipe is the product of lots of trial and error and about 3 “bad” batches. I spent hours in the kitchen trying to get it right and after the 4th or 5th time I finally got it right. So often prepackaged muffins are loaded with refined sugar which is not horrible from time to time but I wanted to provide you with a recipe that you could have for breakfast, as a snack or even as a dessert that would contribute more than a spike in your blood sugar. The orange packs a punch while the chia seeds give a slight crunch and the dark chocolate is unbelievable in combination with both. All in all these muffins are incredibly moist and will blow your mind. Get ready for the best muffin recipe you’ll ever try, I know that’s a bold statement but that’s how good these muffins are.
Part of my creative process in developing recipes is thinking of certain foods that I know people love the taste of and then modifying them to result in an equally delicious but much more nutritious treat than the more traditional version. If you can guess, today’s recipe was inspired by none other than the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Reese’s cups are one of those nostalgic childhood treats because I remember them being one of my favorite candies as a kid. I think most people can agree that peanut butter and chocolate are a match made in heaven which is why this recipe will satisfy that craving because we kept both but just made some small modifications.
School is finally over and I cannot tell you how relieved I am. After a difficult semester, the first thing I wanted to do was get back into the kitchen to test out some new recipes! This is one of the many to come and let me just tell you, I cannot stop eating it. Guys, these banana bars are so addictive and have been approved by some of my toughest critics (thanks Adriana & Dan). Not only are these banana bars delicious but they are also surprisingly nutritious! Free of refined sugar and loaded with fiber, vitamins, and minerals, this bar will make you think twice about healthy eating.