Red Velvet Protein Bites {Recipe ReDux}

Red Velvet doesn’t have to mean cake and artificial food dye. Beets lend the most beautiful reddish-purple to these protein bites, along with an earthy taste. Keep these bites in the freezer for a healthy, nutrient-packed-but-treat-worthy snack!

red_velvet_protein_bites

I know you’re probably already celebrating, but tomorrow is National Nut Day!! On this joyous occasion what else would you want to do besides eat some nut-tastic foods? Well, the ladies of Recipe ReDux are equally as nerdy excited about nuts so they tasked us with sharing a nut-filled recipe for this month’s post.

And who doesn’t also love a delicious protein/energy bite? They are a great way to disguise nutrition as a dessert. Us dietitians love to pull that shit. Healthy dessert? Me? Nahhh.

beet_hands

Well, if there’s one thing I don’t want in my dessert or any of my food, it’s artificial food coloring. I don’t understand why we need it. I mean nature is full of amazing colors and flavors and I quite prefer the natural-ness.

Which is why I’ve never been a big fan of red velvet cake. While true red velvet cake utilizes beets for the red color, most bakeries take the shortcut and use red coloring. And sadly, I can guarantee you that many Americans would choose an artificially-colored red velvet cake over a beet-colored cake. [Sighhh]

This recipe relies on the nutritious and humble beet to provide both a sweet and earthy flavor as well as a gorgeous color. I mean, just look at the number the beets did on my hands ^^.

red_velvet_energy_bites

Red Velvet Protein Bites

Keep these frozen as they maintain their texture best that way. These only have 2 tablespoons of sweetener for the entire recipe but pack lots of protein and healthy fats from the almonds (almond meal and almond butter).

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup vanilla protein powder, such as Gold Standard Natural
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 2 small beets
  • 2 Tbsp. honey, preferably local
  • 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp. almond butter
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash beets well and chop ends off. Then, dice beets and spread on a baking sheet. Bake until soft.
  2. Add beets to a food processor and process until smooth. Then add all remaining ingredients EXCEPT for dark chocolate chips and process until well-mixed.
  3. Line a tupperware container with plastic wrap, then pour beet mixture into the container.
  4. Heat chocolate chips in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until melted.
  5. Using a fork or spoon, drizzle chocolate over beet mixture. Stick the container in the freezer for 30 minutes, then cut into 1″ squares and store in freezer.

For more deliciously nutty recipes, check out these Cookie Dough Protein Bites, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Hazelnuts or one of my all-time favorite nut butter recipes, Toasted Coconut Cashew Butter.

Oh, and did I mention all the amazing nut-filled recipes from fellow ReDuxers? Click the link below for those (and look for even more tomorrow)! 

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Loaded Cheddar Apple Nachos {Sponsored Recipe ReDux}

I received free samples of Cabot Cheese mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe challenge sponsored by Cabot Creamery and am eligible to win prizes. I was not additionally compensated for my time.

Wowza. When Cabot Creamery tasked us with creating a lightened-up appetizer fit for game day and red carpet parties, I never dreamed that I’d create something as delicious as these Loaded Cheddar Apple Nachos. But I did guys, and I would love nothing more than to share the recipe with you.

It all started when two packages filled with Cabot cheese arrived at my doorstep…so basically the best gift you could ever receive. At first I was a little overwhelmed with all the cheese, but then I snapped back to reality and realized that there is no such thing as too much cheese. It was time to create a delicious recipe.

loaded_cheddar_apple_nachos

It’s all about the cheddar here, guys. I fell in love with Cabot’s Legacy Collection Alpine Cheddar. To me, it’s almost reminiscent of an aged Parmesan.

I also learned that Cabot’s cheddar cheeses are naturally lactose-free (can’t wait to tell all my lactose intolerance clients and friends)!

Even more awesome is the fact that Cabot Creamery is a family-farmer owned cooperative of more than 1,200 farms located throughout New England and New York. One-hundred percent of Cabot’s profits go back to their farmers. Can’t ask for anything better than that!

cabot_cheddar_cheese

I really do have to pat myself on the back for this recipe. It combines sweet and savory, lots of texture from the toppings and is warm and gooey and perfect for game-day parties. I hope you enjoy!

Loaded Cheddar Apple Nachos

Servings: 2-3

If you don’t have walnuts, use almonds or pecans. Don’t like cranberries? Try tart cherries or raisins. Drizzle with honey or maple syrup if you’re avoiding grain sugar. I used the ever-so-fast microwave method to make the apple chips, but if you’d rather bake them, you can cook each side in a 200 degree oven for about 1-1.5 hours.

loaded_cheddar_apple_nachos_baked

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 medium apples, such as Gala or Honey Crisp
  • 2 oz. Cabot Farmers’ Legacy Collection Alpine Cheddar, grated
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup crushed walnuts
  • 1 heaping Tbsp. brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon

loaded_cheddar_apple_nachos_ingredients

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Slice apples thinly using a mandolin or sharp knife. They look prettiest when you slice horizontally, though they are harder to control, so feel free to slice vertically if that’s easier. Don’t worry if you don’t get a perfect slice — slivers work just as well here.
  3. Line a large, microwave-safe plate with parchment paper. Working in rounds, lay apples on parchment paper in a single layer. Microwave for 3-4 minutes, or until edges of apples start to curl. Flip slices over and microwave another 1-2 minutes. Lay apples out on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and let sit. They will start to harden the longer they sit. Make sure to keep a close eye on the apples to ensure they’re not burning (ruined a few slices this way).
  4. Once all the apples are “chip-ified,” arrange them on the parchment-lined baking so that they overlap slightly. Sprinkle with cranberries, walnuts, cinnamon, sugar and then finish with grated Cabot Alpine Cheddar.
  5. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until cheese is melted and slightly toasted.

loaded_apple_nachos_unbaked

loaded_apple_nachos_baked

With all that cheese awaiting me in the fridge, there are bound to be more recipes coming. In the meantime, check out other Recipe ReDuxers’ Cabot cheese creations:

Cookie Dough Protein Bites {Recipe ReDux}

Who doesn’t like COOKIE DOUGH?? Well, I’ve healthified it for this month’s Recipe ReDux challenge — “Bars & Bites for Brown Bags.”

 

Whether you pack your lunch in a bento box, a brown bag or a retro cartoon character lunch box, don’t forget the bars and bites. Small squares or round bites can pack nutrition into a sweet or savory taste. Show us your favorite way to jazz up any type of lunch box.

 

While these would make a great “dessert” for a lunch box, they are quite perfect for a post-workout snack. Pair with a glass of milk and you’re golden.

This recipe was inspired by Juli from PaleOMG’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Protein Balls

protein_cookie_dough_bites

Cookie Dough Protein Bites

Yield: 20-22 bites

Besides having 6 grams protein per ball bite (“per ball” just didn’t sound right…), these cookie dough bites are gluten-free, can be made vegan by using a vegan protein powder and contain no raw eggs — because ain’t nobody got time for food poisoning.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup vanilla protein powder, such as Gold Standard Natural or Designer Whey (if making vegan, use vegan protein powder, such as Vega)
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 3 Tbsp. liquid coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp. honey, preferably local
  • 3 Tbsp. coconut or almond milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips, such as Ghiradelli 60% cacao chips

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Using hands, form “dough” into 1″ rounds
  3. Store in the freezer

 

These are seriously addicting, you guys. I made them yesterday and my boyfriend has already eaten all but two of them. So, if you have a significant other, family member or roommate who loves cookies and/or protein powder (the boyfriend loves both), I highly recommending hiding these things. They go FAST.

For more back to school bites & bars, click the blue guy below.

Bourbon Old Fashioned Reduction Over Bruleed Stone Fruits {Recipe ReDux}

Mmm, booze. Who doesn’t enjoy a cocktail every night on occasion?

Well, the folks at Recipe ReDux challenged us to go beyond the cocktail and use our favorite alcohol as a recipe ingredient:

From plain Jane vanilla extract to fancy-pants elderflower liqueur, we like to keep a little liquor in the kitchen. Show us how you like to cook, bake or mix-it-up with spirits, extracts and other alcohols. A splash of vodka makes summer sauces shine – and liqueurs brighten desserts: What’s your healthy recipe with spirit?

Bourbon_Peaches_Plums

I thought of about a thousand and one different recipes that I wanted to make, most of which involved raki, an unsweetened, anise-infused alcohol (similar to the Greek ouzo) that is the national drink of Turkey (where my dad is from).

After a failed search for raki, however, my plans changed. It became all about the bourbon, specifically, Maker’s Mark.

I will admit that I generally only like to drink clear alcohol (e.g. vodka, gin) but for desserts, bourbon can’t be beat for the amazingly rich, deep flavor it lends.

Now I love a bourbon caramel sauce over bread pudding (see my recipe for Bourbon Caramel Cake Pudding), but I wanted to lighten it up. I promise you, you won’t even miss the bread pudding on this recipe.

I don’t even like Old Fashioneds, but when you reduce all the ingredients to a sauce…perfection!

Bourbon Old Fashioned Reduction Over Bruleed Stone Fruits

You’ll want to put the sauce over EVERYTHING — ice cream, pancakes, waffles, into coffee, etc. Feel free to use whatever stone fruits you have on hand.

Old_Fashioned_Reduction

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 stone fruits, such as plums, peaches or nectarines
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup bourbon, such as Maker’s Mark
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 orange

Directions:

  1. Set oven to Broil.
  2. Cut stone fruit in half lengthwise (along the pit, like you would an avocado)
  3. Remove the pits
  4. Lay, cut side up, in a casserole dish. Peaches_Plums
  5. Sprinkle cut side of fruit with 1/4 cup sugar.Peaches_Plums_Sugar
  6. Broil for 5-10 minutes (make sure to check constantly), until you get a nice golden crust on the fruit.
  7. While the fruit is in the oven, add bourbon, 2 Tbsp. sugar and orange juice to a small saucepan. Heat on medium until the mixture reduces to about 1/4 cup.
  8. Drizzle “bruleed” fruit with Old Fashioned Reduction.

Bruleed_Fruit

Old_Fashioned_Reduction

Bourbon_Peaches_Plums

Check out more delicious, boozy creations from fellow Recipe ReDuxers by clicking on the link below.

Salted Wild Blueberry and Cinnamon Dark Chocolate Truffles {Recipe ReDux Sponsored Post}

By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the Wild Blueberry Association of North America and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

I’m lovin’ me some wild blueberries this week. I’ve always been a fan, but since the Wild Blueberry Association of North America (WBANA) sponsored this month’s Recipe ReDux, I have been putting my creative cap on to think of new and different recipes that feature wild blueberries. Dark chocolate, cinnamon and wild blueberries seemed like a great fit. As a general rule, I eat one or all of these things on a given day, so I figured it was only right to put them all together for the ultimate truffle.Image

I’m practically giddy over the antioxidants in these truffles. Wild blueberries are packed with more than twice the amount of antioxidants compared with regular blueberries. They’re rich in anthocyanins — the antioxidant compound that gives that the intense, deep purple color. Plus you’re getting flavonoids from the dark chocolate and even more antioxidants from the cinnamon.

And the bonus? These truffles come in right around 100 calories! If you’ve never tried wild blueberries, you better get on it. They can be found in the freezer section of many grocery stores (I usually buy them from my man Trader Joe). For the full list of where to buy wild blueberries, check here.

Recipe: Salted Wild Blueberry and Cinnamon Dark Chocolate Truffles

If you’re unsure about the cinnamon, you can omit. If you have a silicone candy mold, it works best for this, but you can also make it into delicious bark (see link below). These truffles make a great gift or stash them in the freezer for those times when you just need some chocolate.

Makes: 16, 1 oz. truffles

Melting_Chocolate

Ingredients:

  • 9 ounces good dark chocolate
  • 1 cup frozen wild blueberries, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt

Truffles

Directions:

Fill the bottom of a double boiler* with about two inches of water and bring to a boil. In top of double boiler, add dark chocolate and cook, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted.

Add thawed wild blueberries, cinnamon (if using) and honey. Stir until well combined.

If using candy mold, sprinkle a few granules of sea salt into bottom of each mold. Pour truffle mixture into silicone candy mold (or make it into bark, and sprinkle with sea salt once you’ve spread it out on a sheet pan). Place in freezer until hardened. Remove truffles from mold and enjoy!

*I am a deprived cook and don’t have a double boiler. As you can see above, I used a small saucepan (filled with about two inches of water) and brought it to a boil. Then I placed a medium-sized glass bowl over it. Voila! Makeshift double boiler. You should try it.

Wild_Blueberry_Truffles

Nutrition Information: Calories 108; Fat 7 g; Saturated Fat 4 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 149 mg; Carbohydrates 11 g; Fiber 2 g

For more delicious wild blueberry recipes from the very talented Recipe ReDux bunch, click on the little blue guy/link below.

Bourbon Caramel Cake Pudding

Confession: even dietitians need a treat sometimes. So when leftover cake scraps were offered to me, I figured I should take them and turn them into something even more delicious than cake: cake pudding! Carpe cake?? In case you are confused as to what cake pudding is, picture bread pudding, but replace the bread with cake :). Sounds decadent, and it is. I adapted a Cooking Light recipe for Bread Pudding with Salted Caramel Sauce, though, so it is at least a little better for you.

Bourbon_Caramel_Cake_Pudding

Bourbon Caramel Cake Pudding (adapted from Cooking Light – see original recipe below plus my tweaks)

Ingredients:

Cake pudding:

  • Bread pudding:
  • 5 cups (1/2-inch) cubed French bread (about 8 ounces) 2 1/2 cups each, vanilla and chocolate cake
  • 1 cup evaporated fat-free milk
  • 3/4 cup 1% low-fat milk
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon (I used Maker’s Mark Whiskey)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs

Carmel Sauce:

  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoons half-and-half, divided 6 Tbsp evaporated fat free milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Cooking spray

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°.
To prepare bread cake pudding, arrange bread cake in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 8 minutes or until lightly toasted.

Cake_Croutons

Combine evaporated milk and next 7 ingredients (through eggs) in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Add bread cake cubes. Let stand 20 minutes, occasionally pressing on bread cake to soak up milk.

Side note: wouldn't this be the BEST French toast mixture??

Side note: wouldn’t this be the BEST French toast mixture??

To prepare sauce, combine brown sugar, 3 tablespoons bourbon, and butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Simmer 2 minutes or until sugar dissolves, stirring frequently. Stir in 5 tablespoons half-and-half evaporated fat free milk; simmer 10 minutes or until reduced to about 1 cup. Remove pan from heat. Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon half-and-half evaporated fat free milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Keep warm.

Bourbon_Caramel_Sauce

Spoon half of bread cake mixture into a 9 x 5–inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Drizzle 3 tablespoons sauce over bread cake mixture. Spoon remaining half of bread cake mixture over sauce. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm sauce with bread cake pudding.

Source: Cooking Light January 2012

 

 

Chocolate Nutella French Macarons

French macarons are my latest obsession. Picture the most amazing sandwich, but replace the bread with two perfectly round, crunchy on the outside/chewy on the inside meringue-like cookies and replace the meat with filling of choice (ganache, buttercream, preserves…the possibilities are endless). Yup, I’m pretty sure that a macaron beats a regular sandwich by a landslide.

Now, if you know about macarons, you know that they are notoriously tricky to make. Between the egg white meringue and the fact that you have to pipe them to make those perfect little circles, I had my work cut out for me. Plus, this was my first time ever trying.

Though macarons often come in punchy colors, I’m not such a big fan of food dyes, so I wanted to think of another way to spruce up my macarons. Hmm, I do love some chocolate…

CHOCOLATE NUTELLA MACARONS! Chocolate cookies with a nutella shmear in the middle. Heaven! All in all a great first attempt at making macarons.

Find the recipe at yumsugar (extremely thorough and with great instructions). This saved my life – er, my macarons. The only alteration I made was to add 2 Tbsp of cocoa powder to the dry ingredients.

First, make the macoranage (the egg white/almond meal mixture). This should be the consistency of molten lava and should flow in one continuous stream from the spatula to the bowl (if it drips rather than flows, you need to continue to work the batter).

Macaronage mixture
Then fill your piping bag and pipe small circles onto a silicon mat. This is the only thing I “screwed up.” I should have used a larger tip on my piping bag. I used a smaller one and actually swirled little circles on rather than putting a circular dollop down. The latter would have created a puffier, taller cookie. Mine were flat…but other than that, they worked out.

Before baking

Make sure you rap the pan on the counter a couple times to settle the cookie. Also, it’s crucial to let it sit for at least 15 minutes so that the tops form a shell (so when you touch them they’re not sticky). Once that shell is formed, bake at 280 for 15-18 minutes.

After baking

See the feet at the bottom (the bubbly-looking part)? That’s what you want. The cookies should be easy to get off the sheet. If not, they need a couple more minutes in the oven. My first batch wasn’t in for long enough, and so as you can see, the bottoms got a little messy when I tried to take them off the sheet.

Spread some Nutella on the good bottoms (the ones that didn’t get stuck to the pan), and voila! Amazingly chocolatey French macarons. They had the perfect crunchy shell and smooth, chewy inside.

Chocolate Nutella French Macarons