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Posts tagged “Peanut butter

Chocolate, Fruit & Nut Energy Bytes

Chocolate Fruit & Nut Energy Bites

Chocolate craving! Time for something chocolatey good. With nuts. Yes LOTS of nuts. Oh and some peanut butter. Dried fruit in there … ah yes. And to add a little bit more healthy yumminess, some oats.

Roll it all into a little ball and what do you have? A quick, healthy snack. Not one you want to eat a LOT of at one sitting because they are a bit calorific, but something you can grab on the go when you need a little energy, especially before or after a good workout. An energy byte! (Terrible geeky pun intended.)

I like to eat one of these for a bit of dessert after a good meal, or when I am running out the door and need something fast to grab for a quick bit of energy. Or when you need a quick chocolate fix, but you don’t want to totally destroy your healthy eating plan. A little bit of chocolate and a few nuts every day are very good for your health.

Chocolate Fruit & Nut Energy Bytes

Chocolate, Fruit & Nut Energy Bytes

You could use a good quality dark chocolate in place of the almond bark and cocoa powder. I just didn’t have enough on hand, so I decided to make my own “chocolate”!

  • 2 squares of almond bark (or white chocolate)
  • 4 Tablespoons dark cocoa powder
  • 3 Tablespoons of Chocolate PB2 powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 2/3 cup nuts (I used a mix of peanuts and cashews)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped into bits
  • Coarse sea salt

Directions:

  1. Melt the almond bark in a medium mixing bowl in the microwave by microwaving on high for 1 minute, stir, microwave for 30 seconds, stir again, keep microwaving for 30 seconds/stirring until the white almond bark is completely melted.
  2. Stir in the dark cocoa powder, PB2 powder, vanilla and peanut butter and stir until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
  3. Stir in the oats, nuts, cranberries and apricot bits until everything is coated in chocolate. Form the mixture into balls and set on a tray. Sprinkle the bytes with a bit of coarse sea salt.
  4. Set it in the fridge until the chocolate is set, then transfer to a covered storage container. You can store these at room temperature or in the fridge, as you prefer. I like to eat them at room temperature so I’m not bothering to refrigerate mine. They aren’t going to last that long anyway!

Chocolate Fruit & Nut Energy Bytes

This recipe was shared at Katherine Martinelli’s Nut BloghopShare it SaturdayLunch Box Linky and Scrumptious Sunday.


Curried Red Pepper Aubergine Soup

Fire Roasted Red Pepper Eggplant Thai Curry Soup

I’ve been toying with the idea of making a thai-style curry soup with my aubergines … aubergine, isn’t that a fabulous word? It sounds so fancy and cultured to me. Usually I just use the word “eggplant”, but it doesn’t carry the same elegance that these beautiful purple vegetables really deserve.

Anyway, I came home from yoga class the other night STARVING and decided to begin the creation of the Thai curry soup. Somehow thought this would be a quick thing to do … I started up the grill because I’m really loving the smoky flavor from the grill and set a bunch of lovely vegetables on there for their “fire” roasting. Yes, I really did start up the grill just to roast vegetables. It didn’t take long to roast them … but then I got busy with other things and with the kids.

Hours later (just before bedtime), I finally sat down to enjoy a cup of my curried red pepper aubergine soup. It’s not that the soup really takes that long to make … it’s just that … well, I’m a mom … and I’m easily distracted (look! facebook!) … and my kitchen was already a mess so there was a bit of work to do there too … oh well, it got done eventually and I did get a bowl of soup and now I have a delicious soup I can quickly reheat for lunches this week.

Fire Roasted Red Pepper Eggplant Thai Curry Soup

Curried Red Pepper Aubergine Soup

Yields a little over a quart of soup.

  • 3 good-size Japanese Eggplant (the long skinny dark black purple kind of eggplant … or 1 large globe eggplant) … yielding about a cup of eggplant after roasting (a little more or less is fine)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 hot red pepper (or if you don’t want your soup to be spicy, use a bell pepper in place of the hot pepper)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled, chopped
  • 1/2 of an onion, peeled, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons Thai red curry paste (to taste)
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons brown sugar (or other sweetener of your choice … to taste)
  • 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon natural peanut butter
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Garnish: plain lowfat yogurt (or Greek yogurt) and fresh parsley or better yet, cilantro!

Directions:

  1. Poke the eggplant all around with a fork. Light up the grill and when the coals are hot, set the eggplant and the peppers right over the hot coals to roast. (A gas grill would work fine too … you COULD even roast them in the oven if you prefer …) Here’s a shot of my eggplant and peppers on the grill. I used these 3 eggplant, the red bell pepper, and one of the hot peppers in this soup. The other two peppers I’m going to put in a salsa (I think …)
    Roasting Eggplant & Peppers on the Grill
  2. You don’t want to burn them, but the skins of the eggplant will turn dark and the pepper skins should turn black. Turn the peppers and eggplant over to make sure you roast all sides. The peppers will be done very quickly. Pull the peppers off the grill and let them cool while you finish cooking the eggplant. Cook the eggplant until it is limp and soft.
  3. The peel on the peppers and the eggplant should come right off after roasting. Pull off the peel, chop off the top stems from the eggplant, and put the “good parts” of the peppers and the eggplant in a blender or handi chopper. Puree them until smooth.
  4. In a saucepan, sautee the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent, soft and starting to brown. Stir in the eggplant/pepper paste and the remaining ingredients. Stir everything together till it’s well mixed, bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes or until the flavors have had time to “meld”.
  5. When the soup is done, puree it in a blender (or use an immersion blender). I’ve heard of people cracking the glass of a glass blender with hot soup, so you might want to let it cool a bit before blending it if you are using a glass blender.
  6. Garnish with a dollop of plain yogurt and a sprig of fresh parsley and serve hot. Store any leftovers in a covered container in the fridge. This soup reheats nicely in the microwave.

Fire Roasted Red Pepper Eggplant Thai Curry Soup

This recipe was shared at Cast Party WednesdayThursday’s TreasuresFoodie Friends FridayFit & Fabulous Friday and Newlyweds Recipe Linky.


Chocolate Peanut Butter BonBons

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bonbons

Craving. Chocolate. Peanut butter. Nagging, nagging. Helllooooo. Chocolate. NEED Chocolate! Peanut butter. Mmm. Peanut butter. Nagging. Craving. Peanut Butter. Chocolate. CHOCOLATE!

Bonbons … Mmm. Bonbons. Yes. Chocolate. Peanut butter. Yes, yes, yes. Ah! Better.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bonbons

I feed my cravings with high quality ingredients and then I also try to lighten up my favorite decadent treats.  If they taste really good, I find I don’t need to eat large quantities of them. These are sort of like a Reese’s peanut butter cup, except they’re healthier.

Chocolate Peanut Butter BonBons

Heavily adapted from Baby Gizmo Blog. To reduce the fat, I used PB2 in place of half of the peanut butter, which is a powdered form of peanut butter with 85% of the fat removed. If you can’t find it at your local grocery store (in the health food section), you can order it online.

  • 1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (chocolate or regular … whatever you prefer/have on hand … I used a mix of both)
  • 1/4 cup flaxmeal
  • 1/2 cup PB2 (chocolate or regular or a mix of both … I used half chocolate/half regular)
  • 1/4 cup fat free half & half
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup light cream cheese
  • For dipping: good quality dark chocolate and mini chocolate chips … I am not sure how much I used because I grabbed some bar chocolate then added chips to it, but I would guess it would be about 1 – 1 1/2 cups of dark chocolate chips plus a cup of mini chocolate chips
In a handi chopper or food processor, grind the graham crackers into fine crumbs. Pour them into a bowl and mix with the remaining ingredients. Form the mixture into balls (makes about 24 or so), set the balls on a tray and set in the freezer for an hour or longer.
Set the mini chocolate chips in a separate bowl, then melt some dark chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler. To melt it in the microwave, microwave on high for 1 minute, then stir, then microwave 30 seconds longer and stir again. If it’s still not melted, microwave another 30 seconds and stir.
Lay out a section of waxed paper on a baking pan to set the chocolates on once you’ve dipped them.
To dip the bonbons: roll a ball around in the melted chocolate with a spoon, then poke it with a toothpick and shake gently to remove some of the chocolate. Hold the ball by the toothpick over the bowl of mini-chops and sprinkle with mini chips, then set on the waxed paper. Let the bonbons sit until the chocolate is set (in the fridge, if needed). Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bonbons

This recipe was shared at Melt in your Mouth MondaysManic Mondays, Fit & Fabulous Fridays, Foodie Friends Friday and Newlyweds Recipe Linky.


Peanut Butter Ice Cream {Low Fat}

Lowfat Peanut Butter Brown Sugar Ice Cream with PB2

I am a peanut butter fanatic. For as long as I can remember, I have cherished the taste of peanut butter. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were my favorite snack growing up … until as a teenager, I noticed I was putting on some weight. I asked my mom (the dietician) for some help and she gave me some materials to help me form a plan to get to the weight I wanted to be. That was when I checked just how many calories were in my favorite “little” snack, and decided that my beloved peanut butter just wasn’t fitting into my plans. I didn’t totally give up on my favorite snack, but I didn’t eat it very often anymore.

Many years have passed and my passion for peanut butter has not faded, but I still want to keep myself at a healthy weight, so I still take care to limit how much of my beloved peanut butter I put into my body. My son shares my fondness for peanut butter, especially when it’s paired with chocolate.

Recently a friend told me she’d tried PB2, a powdered form of peanut butter that has had 85% of the fat taken out. I was suspicious and checked, but they don’t use nasty chemicals or preservatives. It’s simply peanuts, without (most of) the fat. I thought I should try it in one of my favorite ice creams: the decadent peanut butter swirl ice cream from Saveur.

To lighten it up, I used PB2 in place of most of the peanut butter, I skipped the swirl part, swapped out the milk and a cup of the whipping cream for fat free half and half and replaced the 3/4 cup of white sugar with 1/2 cup of brown sugar. The result is a rich, decadent-tasting ice cream that has a LOT less fat (about 30% of the calories from fat, which is a good guideline to stick to in general) and a yummy peanut butter taste. Add a few peanuts on top and a bit of chocolate syrup and I’m in heaven. And I don’t even have to feel guilty about it!

Lowfat Peanut Butter Brown Sugar Ice Cream (with the magic of PB2)

Peanut Butter Ice Cream {Low Fat}

Adapted from Saveur.com’s Peanut Butter Swirl Ice Cream.

Note: there are 2 cups total of fat free half and half in the recipe … I separated them in the ingredient list to make it easier to follow the directions.

  • 1 cup fat free half & half
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup PB2 powder
  • 1 Tablespoon natural peanut butter
  • 1 cup fat free half & half
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

In a saucepan, stir together 1 cup of the fat free half & half with the brown sugar and cook over medium heat just until hot. While the milk and sugar are cooking, in a small mixing bowl, beat the eggs till they are fluffy and a consistent yellow (that is, no blobs of egg white floating about).

In a slow stream, add the hot cream mixture to the eggs, whisking or beating constantly as you do. Beat them a little more just for spite, then put the saucepan back on the burner and heat at medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes.

Remove  the pan from the heat and mix in the PB2 and the peanut butter using your mixer. Whisking the custard well while it is cooking helps keep the lumps out, but if you see any lumps in your custard, strain them out. If not, just let it set for a few minutes to cool, then beat in the cream and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until cold, 6–8 hours, then put it in your ice cream maker and freeze into creamy wonderful deliciousness. I like to add a little drizzle of chocolate syrup and a few roasted peanuts on top, but just a little … I didn’t want to spoil all the work I’d done to lighten up my peanut butter treat.

Lowfat Peanut Butter Brown Sugar Ice Cream (with the magic of PB2)

This post is an #icecreamlove post powered by Linky Tools

Click here to see all the other wonderful ice creams everyone is making this month …

This recipe was also shared at Melt in your Mouth MondaysMakin’ you Crave Mondays, Totally Tasty Tuesdays, Cast Party Wednesday, It’s a Keeper Thursday, Thursday’s Treasures,  Tastetastic Thursday, and Fit & Fabulous Fridays.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Chia Smoothie

(a.k.a. “Healthy Muck”)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie ... Health-ified

So far, I have a total of one smoothie on this blog. One. I guess if you count this one, that’s two, but it’s really the same smoothie (this one is a health-ified version of the other one), so does that count? I think it’s still just one.

I do really love smoothies … but I realized a while ago that many smoothies are packed with enough calories for a meal for a petite little middle-aged person like me. I like to maximize the enjoyment of my limited number of calories, and I tend to drink fast … so smoothies are not normally such a good dietary choice for me. I would much rather have a salad I can munch on for a long time … it satisfies my palate much better than a quickly-downed smoothie. For my son on the other hand, he is well over six feet tall and still growing … he loves smoothies and I’m quite glad to oblige him.

Anyway, the ONE smoothie that I do have on my blog is the cream of the crop. It’s my son’s favorite smoothie … AND the only smoothie I would choose to have to replace a meal, and I would enjoy every drop of it. My dad invented it. We used to call it “Grampa smoothies” up until my son’s friend said it looks like muck. So it was re-named “Muck”.

Anyway, I got a couple new ingredients to try out. First I won a bag of chia seeds from Lauren at Nutri-Savvy and Ruth’s Foods. I had never used chia seeds before, but I’ve heard they are a nutritional powerhouse: packed with Omega-3s, plus protein and fiber, they are even better than flax seed or quinoa. AND then a friend was telling me how wonderful PB2 is. It’s powdered peanut butter with most of the fat removed. I used to think that sounded just totally gross, but after talking to my friend, I thought what they heck: I’ll give it a shot. And did you know they have a CHOCOLATE version of PB2? Who can resist chocolate and peanut butter? Only 45 calories in two tablespoons? Um, yeah. I’m in. I found it in the health food section at our grocery store, but if you can’t find it there, it is available on Amazon.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Chia Smoothie

I expected that my health-ified version wouldn’t really be as good. And really, I can’t say it has the same rich decadence as the original, but it was pretty darn close. The chia seeds added a slight bit of crunch … but they didn’t change the wonderful chocolate peanut butter banana taste. And the Chocolate PB2 did EXACTLY what I wanted it to do: gave it all the chocolate peanut butter taste without all the fat, sugar and calories of peanut butter and chocolate syrup.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Chia Smoothie (a.k.a., “Healthy Muck”)

  • 1 1/2 bananas, frozen
  • 1 cup lowfat milk (I used 1% milk, but you can use skim or I am sure almond or soy milk would work well too)
  • 2 Tablespoons Chocolate PB2
  • 1 Tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put all ingredients in blender and blend till smooth. Pour into a nice tall glass (or two smaller ones) and enjoy! Drizzle with a tiny bit of real chocolate syrup if you like …

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Chia Smoothie

Chocolate-Peanut-Butter-Banana-Smoothie-Nutrition-Facts

Just for fun, I put it in the Calorie Count Recipe Analyzer on About.com and it gets an “A” for a Nutrition Grade!

With 10.6 grams of fiber and 17.1 grams of protein, not to mention 39% of your day’s needs for calcium and 26% of your vitamin C, it’s a fantastic way to start your day.

This recipe was shared at Fit & Fabulous FridaysWeekend Potluck, Manic Mondays, Totally Tasty Tuesdays, Cast Party Wednesday, and Thursday’s Treasures.


Chewy No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Bars

Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Bars

Have you ever seen a recipe online and think “I really need to make that someday” … and then seen different versions of the same thing again like 30,000 times and have that same thought every time you see one … and then one day you FINALLY do just break down and make it, and you think to yourself, “my gosh that was SO easy … why did I wait so long to make that?”

That’s exactly what happened with these granola bars. They are so simple to make, I literally threw them together while I was in a conference call (and it was one of the kind of calls I had to actually participate in, not just listen …). And they’re SO good! These granola bars are way more flavorful and chocolatey than any of those store-bought granola bars. They are nice and chewy with a little bit of contrasting crunch from the nuts.

Chewy No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Bars

Chewy No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Bars

Adapted from Couponing & Cooking. After I mixed up the peanut butter and honey from her recipe, I thought it was way too sweet, so I added more peanut butter and then up’d the amount of oats too. Also, I cut down the amount of oil. I’m not sure it’s really necessary at all, but remember this was my first attempt at making granola bars so I didn’t want to stray TOO far from the recipe!

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 Tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 cup high quality chocolate chips
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds (or other nuts)
  • 3 cups quick oats
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup finely chopped dried figs, apricots, or other dried fruit  (I used figs)

Directions:

  1. In a saucepan on medium heat, mix together peanut butter, oil and honey. Heat and stir until completely combined.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate chips and cocoa powder till the chips are melted and the mixture is smooth.
  3. Stir in the sunflower seeds, oats, and chopped fruit.
  4. Spray your pan(s) with cooking spray. I filled up 12 mini-muffin cups, then I pressed the rest into my 9×9 inch square pan. If you put this all into one 9×9-inch pan, they are going to be much thicker than your typical granola bar.
  5. Chill in the fridge for a while until they’ve firmed up, then cut into bars and enjoy! Store them in an airtight container in the fridge. (I think they’d probably be ok left out of the fridge too, but they will probably keep longer if you chill them.)

Chewy No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Bars

This recipe was shared at Newlyweds Recipe Linky, Katherine Martinelli’s Fig Bloghop and Fit & Fabulous Fridays.


Tropical Trail Mix Granola

Tropical Trail Mix Granola

I am SOoooo into homemade granola! I love love love love LOVE it! Ideas for different granola flavors are bouncing around in my head like crazy. The idea for this tropical granola sprung from a peanut butter trail mix cookie I used to make with tropical trail mix (come to think of it, I need to make those cookies again sometime for the blog …)

But not today … nope no siree bob … Today it’s time for GRANOLA! The perfect sweet healthy snack to munch on when you need a little boost of energy. That wonderful crunchy mix that is so welcome sprinkled on yogurt … or in a bowl with fruit and milk.  This granola is chock full of tropical fruits, so you don’t need to even add any more fruit … unless, of course, you want to. It is awfully good with a couple fresh strawberries tossed in.

You are going to love this stuff. I just know it.

Tropical Trail Mix Granola

Tropical Trail Mix Granola

Dry ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 3/4 cup peanuts
  • 3/4 pecans
  • 4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup flaxmeal or flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup wheat bran or wheat germ
Wet ingredients:
  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt (optional … you can lower the amount of salt or leave it out for a low-sodium granola)
  • 1/4 cup honey
And then mix in …
  • 2 cups mixed dried tropical fruit pieces (pineapple, coconut, mango, banana chips, etc.)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the oats, flax, wheat bran and nuts. Set aside.
  2. In a separate small bowl, mash the banana very well until it’s smooth (not too lumpy). Put the banana in a small saucepan with the maple syrup, and other wet ingredients. Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture is hot and bubbly. Stir in the honey and remove from heat.
  3. Pour the hot sweet sticky banana mixture over the nutty oat mixture in the bowl. Stir it all up until it’s well mixed.
  4. Spread all this wonderful stuff out into a thin layer on a large jellyroll pan (or other big flat baking pan with an edge to it). Set it in the oven and bake for about an hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. It should be browned to a lovely brown color and smelling fantastic. You can taste a little sample to see if it’s crunchy enough. If it’s not, bake it a little longer.
  5. Let the granola cool for a bit before stirring in the fruit. Store in an airtight container. It will keep for about a month or so. There’s NO way mine is going to last that long …

Tropical Trail Mix Granola

This recipe was shared on Totally Tasty Tuesdays and Newlyweds Recipe Linky.


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