Spooky Snacks and Healthy Halloween Treats

Happy What I Ate Wednesday! Jenn at Peas and Crayons is hosting another WIAW with this month’s theme of healthy– and possibly spooky–snacking!

Today I have a delicious and un-spooky recipe for biscotti from my mom’s cook book, Biscotti and Other Low-Fat Cookies by Maria Robbins. Since the holiday season of giving and receiving goodies is slowly coming upon us, any recipe from this book would be a great way to treat yourself (and your friends!) to something sweet without going overboard on the fat and calories.

I’ll do a quick run-down of some foods I’ve enjoyed this past week, starting with breakfast that my husband prepared for us on Sunday:

German breakfast: baked pretzels and sausages.

Here’s another delicious breakfast I tried as soon as I read the recipe. Created by Regan at The Professional Palate, It’s not really a breakfast, but it turned out that way after I drank my fill of this quick and easy dairy-free eggnog made with silken tofu:

Creamy and delicious!

I haven’t taken may photos of my lunches since they’re usually the same thing day in, day out (Chobani plain nonfat yogurt mixed with vanilla protein powder and fresh fruit). But since I was experimenting with tofu recently, I did have this the other day:

Tofu and steamed grated cauliflower make the bulk of skinny tofu patties.

And last night’s dinner after a tee-rrific run was pannekoeken:

Pannekoeken–Dutch pancakes–topped with sauteed apples, currants, and soon to be drizzled with dark amber agave.

I’ve been experimenting with pannekoeken for the past several weeks and will post a recipe later this week, so stay tuned!

Now…on to the biscotti!

mom’s biscotti book

I borrowed this cook book from my mom a few years ago and–like many of you moms and daughters know–it may take a while to make it back to its original owner. I know I should give it back because I certainly wouldn’t like it if someone didn’t return something they borrowed from me. But there’s sentimental value to this book that makes it difficult to part with. I love books in general, particularly second-hand books (browsing thrift stores is like a treasure hunt!) There’s already history to the book, it made fond memories for someone else (and really, can any of us associate a bad memory with our treasured books?) Pages might be marked up or dog-eared, and you might even find a memento like a receipt or business card used in place of a book mark…or something else:

Dukie (left) and Bear doing her business at the pond, circa 1989.

I made only four biscotti recipes so far, here is one of them. Biscotti are no more difficult to make than regular cookies. They use no butter so contain a LOT less fat, and are great for dunking in your coffee or tea. Aside from being a great coffee break snack, biscotti are perfect for sending to friends and family, just be sure to pack them tightly wrapped in foil and sealed in a ziploc bag.

I tried making them with spelt flour, which made them very crumbly:

Spelt flour biscotti: more crumbly, not good for shipping.

Not good for shipping, but still good for eating!

Below is the recipe for biscotti from Biscotti and Other Low-Fat Cookies by Maria Robbins. I hope you try it!

Chocolate Chip and Almond Biscotti

Chocolate Chip and Almond Biscotti

1 cup almonds, toasted (preheat oven to 350 F, spread nuts in a single layer on baking pan & roast until nuts are very hot and start to have a definite aroma, about 10-15 minutes, then cool.)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips mixed with 2 tablespoons flour (I skip the flour-mixing step!)
1 egg white, lightly beaten

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place 1/3 c of the toasted almonds together with 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar in the bowl of a food processor and process to a fine meal. Remove to a small bowl. Place the remaining toasted almonds and 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar in the food processor and pulse on and off to a coarse meal. Add this mixture to the other ground nuts.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, mix together the ground almonds, remaining sugar, flour, baking soda and salt. Add the eggs, egg whites and vanilla extract and mix at low speed until you have a dough that holds together. Remove bowl from mixer and stir in chocolate chips with a wooden spoon.

    brushing biscotti logs with egg white wash

  4. Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute or two, until the dough feels smooth. Divide into 4 equal pieces and shape each piece into a log about 12 inches long. Arrange the logs on the baking sheet, flatten the tops gently with the palm of your hand and brush the tops with the beaten egg white.
  5. Bake the logs for about 20-25 minutes, until the tops are firm to the touch and lightly colored. Remove baking sheet to a wire rack and let cool for about 10 minutes, until cool enough to handle. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.

    Bake, cool, slice, then bake again.

  6. Slide the baked logs, one at a time, onto a cutting board. Use a long serrated knife (bread knife) to cut each log diagonally into ½-inch slices. Arrange the biscotti, cut sides down, on the baking sheet. Bake the biscotti for 5 minutes on each side. (Note: I increased time to 7 minutes on the 1st side, then checked after 7 minutes on 2nd side. They will get crisp after a couple minutes sitting out of the oven, but if they are still not crisp, put them in for 2-3 minutes more and check again.)
  7. Transfer the biscotti to wire racks and let cool completely. Store the biscotti at room temperature in airtight containers. They will keep for about a month.

Yield: about 48 biscotti.

Don’t forget to check out what other WIAW bloggers are sharing at http://www.peasandcrayons.com/2012/10/what-i-ate-wednesday-92-even-more.html.

Happy What I Ate Wednesday! Jenn at Peas and Crayons is continuing our “Summer Staples” theme, and with the abundance some of you home gardeners may have, one summer staple is a vegetable that can be eaten raw, baked, fried, sauteed, and juiced: zucchini! As mentioned in yesterday’s Flavor of the Week post, zucchini is not my favorite veggie, so I am coming up with ways to make this extremely nutritious veggie more appetizing.

This morning’s breakfast was an experiment with zucchini muffins. The last time I tried making a chocolate zucchini cake it was horrible and actually had a fishy taste! I don’t know what happened but I never want to make another chocolate zucchini cake for a long, long time. So I decided to make breakfast muffins…with the chocolate sprinkled on top! The texture of the muffin is light and spongy, it’s moist, and has enough sweetness from both the brown sugar and chopped dates sprinkled throughout. Having chocolate chips on the top rather than stirred in the batter makes the muffins look like they’re bursting with chips, and you can easily make some plain ones by leaving them off:

Zucchini muffins, with and without chocolate chips

My lunches have still been the same fruit salads with yogurt:

Recycled picture, but all my fruit salads look pretty much like this!

This dinner was from a couple weeks ago. It’s steamed rice, venison burger, and a fried egg, all smothered with homemade giblet gravy. For those of you not familiar with Hawaii cuisine, this is what’s called a loco moco:

Venison Loco Moco with veggies

You can add steamed veggies, mushrooms, onions and it’ll still be a loco moco. Just start it off with rice, a burger patty (veggie is ok!,) a fried egg, and gravy. If you have homemade gravy, it’s even better (quick gravy: heat up 2  tablespoons oil in a frying pan on medium heat, add equal amount of flour, stir for a few minutes until light brown. Slowly add 1/2 – 3/4 cup chicken or beef broth and stir quickly with wooden spoon. Simmer for 5 minutes, add 1/4 cup white wine, simmer another couple minutes until desired thickness. Add salt to taste, serve.)

Here’s the recipe for Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins. Shredded zucchini adds moisture and bulk and helps to cut down on the amount of oil used. Spelt flour gives it a more grainy texture and is good for people who have a wheat intolerance (note: spelt does contain gluten, so make adjustments if you are on a gluten-free diet.) I picked the zucchini this morning and started making the muffins about ten minutes later, can’t get fresher zucchini than that! :)

Wheat-free zucchini muffins, with or without chocolate chips

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins
Reserve any leftover liquid or shredded zucchini, there’s lots of vitamins and minerals!

1 large zucchini
1/2 cup pitted and chopped dates (about 10)
1 1/2 cups spelt flour (wheat flour or gluten-free flour blend OK)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher salt (3/4 teaspoon table salt)
1 egg plus 1 egg white
1/2 cup oil (note: melt coconut oil, if using)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (note: Ghirardelli has gluten-free chocolate chips, Nestle does not)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pans with paper liners or grease with nonstick spray, set aside.

Peel outer skin off zucchini, discard. Using small holes of a box grater, shred zucchini. Place in basket strainer over measuring cup or bowl, pressing gently with spatula do squeeze out more liquid. You should get 4-5 ounces of zucchini juice. Soak dates in zucchini water, leaving strainer over the bowl/measuring cup, set aside.

Drink this later, it’s good for you!

In a bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in center, add egg and egg white. Beat with a fork or wire whisk, add oil and beat until combined, stirring in flour a little at a time. Add 3/4 cups shredded zucchini (you will have some leftover, save it for a smoothie!) and stir to combine. Drain soaked dates and add to batter, stirring well to combine (reserve liquid for your next protein shake or smoothie.)

Pour about 1/4 cup batter into prepared muffin tins. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top.  Bake for 15 minutes, cool for a few minutes before enjoying.

What’s your favorite home-grown veggie? How about your favorite farmer’s market find? I’d love to hear from you!

Happy Wednesday, everybody! Jenn at Peas and Crayons is hosting our weekly blog party and there’s LOTS of delicious goodies to be found! I’m pretty excited today because not only do I have another chocolate recipe to share this week, it is a raw chocolate chip cookie recipe, perfect for this month’s WIAW theme of “sensible snacking” and my Flavor of the Week, chocolate!

Last winter I became interested in learning about raw food dieting. Not sushi kind of raw, but uncooked veggies and soaked grains kind of raw. I won’t go into a lot of detail but here’s just three easy-to-remember health benefits to a raw (or mostly raw) diet:

1) more nutrition – uncooked foods (foods heated to less than 118 degrees farenheit) retain more of their vitamins and minerals. When cooked, the nutritional value is greatly reduced and you will have to eat more food to get the nutrition your body needs (so eating raw foods can help you maintain a healthy weight, too!)

2) easier digestion – raw foods contain lots of fiber and water to help your body with elimination.  You won’t have that bloated, over-stuffed feeling after finishing a meal and no afternoon slump.

3) increased energy – since raw foods are easier to digest, your body won’t have to “shut down” while its trying to digest your food, like it might do with heavier foods like a delicious bacon cheeseburger and french fries. (Ask my husband, he’ll tell you I pretty much always crash out after eating stuff like this for lunch.)

Even if you don’t go 100% raw, you can still benefit with a chocolate green smoothie for breakfast, a colorful veggie salad for lunch, and a normal-cooked dinner with some kimchee or sauerkraut on the side (also considered raw!)

Speaking of which, here’s some of the foods I had for BL&D over the pas few days…

On Sunday morning I pulled out my juicer and made some fresh carrot-apple-ginger juice and grape juice and garnished with mint and lemon thyme. Looks good, doesn’t it?  Served up in a champagne glass, it looks like an expensive cocktail!

raw foods: fresh carrot-apple-ginger juice and grape juice

The colors alone will energize you!

Breakfast that followed was a not-so-raw peanut butter toast with raspberry preserves and coffee (recycled pic):

Lunch on Tuesday was a mish-mash salad of veggies and fruits, plus some pulverized flax seed crackers that tasted better crushed than in cracker-form. I sat down with my bowl, got my camera ready and look who decided to stick his furry orange head into my shot:

Sammy is not a vegetarian…he was after my goat cheese!

Dinner was kind of up in the air, I didn’t know what to cook, didn’t want sandwiches and my husband probably wouldn’t have wanted salad. After running a few simple options through my head I decided to make pannekoeken (Dutch style pancakes) with cheddar cheese and mushrooms:

I can’t make ’em big without breaking them, so kiddie-sized it is!

I needed some greens with this meal, so ate a bunch of sugar snap peas:

I love raw peas in the shell, especially these fat ones!

Sugar snap peas aren’t the only raw & delicious food I had today. Remember those cookies I talked about in the beginning?  Those were made from a raw cookie recipe in Judita Wignall’s, Going Raw:

Going Raw: Everything You Need to Start Your Own Raw Food Diet & Lifestyle Revolution at Home, by Judita Wignall

Judita gives a lot of easy-to-follow information on raw dieting and makes it very user-friendly. There’s tons of mouth-watering photos that will inspire you to plan out your next grocery trip with veggies in mind, and maybe even try your hand at sprouting some grains! She has a ‘live and let live’ attitude that makes her book informative, not preachy, which is really great when it comes to talking about something like healthy diets. Plus, I love her gorgeous red hair!

She has several recipes that I like, including the Ice Box Chocolate Chip Cookies I’ll be sharing today. I didn’t change the recipe much except the substitutions I wrote in parentheses, and the instructions are not copied verbatim but the steps are the same.

Yum! These raw cookies are delicious and nutritious!

Raw Chocolate Chip Cookies
From the book Going Raw by Judita Wignall 

1 1/2 cups cashews
2/3 cup Medjool dates (about 6-7 large ones, with pits)
3 tablespons almond butter (I used 2 T peanut butter and 1 T coconut oil)
1/8 teaspoon sea salt (optional)
1/4 cup raw chocolate chunks* (I substituted Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips–not raw and contains dairy–and added dried cherries)

*Judita has a raw chocolate recipe in her cook book that is gluten-free and dairy-free, but you can use any chocolate you prefer

Directions:

1. In a food processor grind the cashews into a flour.

2. Add the dates, almond butter (or peanut butter and coconut oil) and sea salt and process until it sticks together. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides as needed.

3. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the chocolate chunks/chips (and optional dried cherries) with a spatula.

4. On a nonstick surface, roll out dough to 3/8″ thickness. Cut out with a small cookie cutter and freeze (not to worry, they won’t get rock solid.) Cookies will keep for 1 month in the freezer.

Raw chocolate chip cookies!

I almost forgot…look what else you can do with these raw chocolate chip cookies:

Mini ice cream sandwiches!

Check out these Mini Cake and Ice Cream Bites from last Thursday’s Recipe ReDux. They’re just as cute!

This recipe is also my first contribution to Cookbook Sundays, sponsored by Couscous & Consciousness.

CookbookSundays

Have you tried any healthy versions of classic recipes lately? What’s your favorite cookie? :)