Month: February 2016

Peanut Butter Donuts, Chocolate Covered!

      What lands a food on  the “no-no list”? The answer to this question depends on who is asking and more importantly who is answering. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of diets that include a list of foods to avoid. Most diet plans rely on such lists to ensure success. If you are a person following the plan and can’t avoid chocolate- covered candies for example, the plan will likely fail. . Taking a hard line  and excluding a variety of food groups amount to  the main downfall of a multitude of diet plans and fads marketed today. Over the years, one truth still stands:  balance is the key to healthy living. And that just not only applies to  talking about food, but overall, as in when individuals are able to work and still take time off for vacation, to eat  healthy meals but still enjoy chocolate in moderation – then they are able to maintain that lifestyle in  the long run.

Let’s answer the question we first posed at the beginning of this post (if you haven’t noticed, at times it’s easy to get lost in thoughts and get off subject when writing about food and health!). Usually a food that is high in sugar or  fried has too much salt or no nutritive value ends up on the “don’t eat” list. But we take that as a challenge! Instead of prohibiting these foods, let’s swap a few ingredients and revamp the recipes , so that it becomes something  we can enjoy every once in a while without guilt. You will see many posts to follow with this in mind, and I would love some suggestions from you for foods or recipes you’d like to see revamped.  First on the list is my husband’s favorite: donuts. The poor guy had to say goodbye to the sweet deep fried rings when he said “I do” to a nutritionist. Although we still indulge in the traditional donut a couple of times of year, that hasn’t been enough for him.

Thankfully, adding nutrients to donuts wasn’t extremely difficult. Donuts lack protein, but adding peanut butter to the dough significantly increased this recipe’s  protein content. For a better ratio of macronutrients, a slight decrease in sugar does the trick. The main issue of concern with donuts is the deep frying: the saturated and trans fats that result from this process may be extremely harmful to heart health. But the good  news is that baking a donut is pretty easy with a donut pan. They are available in either silicone or non-stick steel- like materials. Of course the texture of a fried donut will not be exactly the same as a baked donut, but when you crave a donut and are trying to stick to a better healthy-eating plan, these will do the trick! The sugar was reduced in this recipe to just ½ cup; for a sweeter version add another ½ cup of sugar and increase the milk to ½ cup. The dough will be very sticky, so using some non-stick spray really helps. ?  Try: What should be the next recipe that we make over?

~ Carolina

Skinny Peanut Butter Donuts  www.onceagainnutbutterblog.com

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Donuts

 1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/3 cup Once Again Creamy Peanut Butter

2 tablespoons sour cream

1 egg

1/3 cup and 2 tablespoons of milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup brown sugar

Dark chocolate chips

Combine peanut butter (Make sure it is soft. If stored in the refrigerator, take it out for 20 minutes to soften), sour cream, milk and vanilla. Mix well, then add in the beaten egg. Next, add in the sugar and mix it well. Lastly mix in the flour and baking powder. The mixture will be thick and sticky. Spoon into donut molds and place  a preheated oven at 350F for 8 to 10 minutes or until baked through. Melt dark chocolate chips and dip one side of the donuts into the melted chocolate. Decorate the donuts  with a peanut butter drizzle and enjoy! This recipe makes 12 mini-donuts.

Peanut Butter Carrot Cake Cookies

       This is my go -to recipe whenever the kids have to bring something to a bake sale, a team event or celebration. As you can imagine, a nutritionist has great expectations  when it comes to bringing treats to a party. Will it be something super- healthy but not very tasty? Will it have weird things in it, and no one will dare to eat it? And the answer to both these questions is no and well, sort of. It will be healthy, but  delicious! It will have some ingredients you may not expect in a cookie, but I can guarantee you that everyone will eat them and ask you for the recipe.

One of my goals when baking or cooking is to include fruits or vegetables – and sometimes both — in every dish.. In that hat way, you are never wasting the opportunity to increase your nutrient intake while also working towards the goal of at least nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day. This cookie fits the bill by including a whole cup of grated carrots. A good source of fat is key to a fluffy and moist baked good, so  the combination of peanut butter and  coconut oil in this recipe works very well. Once Again Peanut butter also adds the much needed touch of protein to this cookie. The flour you choose for your baked good also makes a difference when it comes to fiber. By combining oats and whole wheat flour, we are maximizing the fiber and decreasing the processed carbohydrate content in this cookie. And perhaps my favorite ingredient for these is the maple syrup. It sweetens without the need for any added white refined sugar at all. We call it a Peanut Butter Carrot Cake Cookie because the spices and ingredients are similar to that of a carrot cake, and the texture is that of is a soft and  chewy cookie.

For friends who are vegan, I have also made this recipe using a flax egg.. If you never made or used a flax egg before, it’s really quite simple, and can be very handy when you are about to make a recipe and realize you are all out of eggs. Combine one tablespoon of ground flax seed with 3 tablespoons of water. Stir  well and place in fridge to set for 15 minutes. After about 15 minutes, you will have a sticky egg-like substitute. Although I haven’t tried it yet, I have seen vegan bakers also use chia seeds instead of flax seeds.

Feel free to personalize this recipe to better fit your taste:  Add ½ cup of raisins, for example, or ½ cup of ground walnuts. This cookie also tastes better the morning after it is baked, which makes it  a nice treat as a breakfast cookie.

Peanut Butter Carrot Cake CookiesPeanut Butter Carrot Cake Cookies

1 cup quick oats

¾ cup whole wheat flour

1 ½ teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons of coconut oil

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup maple syrup

1/3 cup Once Again Creamy Peanut Butter

1 cup grated carrots

Combine oats, flour, baking powder, cinnamon in large bowl; mix well and set aside. In separate bowl, mix coconut oil (melted), egg (make sure it is at room temperature so it doesn’t solidify the coconut oil), vanilla, maple syrup and peanut butter. Mix  well and combine with dry ingredients. Lastly, add in the grated carrots. Using a small cookie scoop, place them on a   cookie sheet. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 10-12 minutes or until cooked through. These cookies will be soft and chewy, so store them in airtight container.  The recipes makes about 18 small cookies.

Slow Cooker Cashew Acorn Squash

Have you ever come across a vegetable, fruit or other foods that were  a bit intimidating to cook?  I certainly have, and still do at times! Professional chefs on cooking shows make it look so easy, but when I get home with a basket full of ingredients, and one of them is something I never worked with before, I know I may need a little help to complete the task. That help may come from watching YouTube videos on how to prep the item, or just a little glass of wine, as I go through the steps of the challenging recipe. In the end, the results are worth the work and make me feel quite accomplished by adding another skill to my cooking repertoire.Slow Cooker Acorn Squash www.onceagainnutbutterblog.com

Most of you may be quite familiar with winter squashes, but growing up in South America these were not common, and therefore, they still surprise me. For a while, whenever a recipe called for winter squash I would work around it, or substitute  potatoes. Thankfully my store also often sold already peeled and cut up varieties that I could use. But recently I was determined to tackle the squash after seeing a beautiful picture of an acorn squash on the cover of a good food magazine. When cooked whole, with skin, they can be a beautiful centerpiece to your dinner table adding color and aroma as well.

Slow Cooker Acorn Squash www.onceagainnutbutterblog.comThe slow cooker is a great option for cooking squash, pumpkin and potatoes. They reach a high temperature slowly and maintain the necessary heat to soften the hard textures of most winter squashes. “Keeping it simple” is my main approach when it comes to cooking; that’s why you’ll see this recipe only calls for a few ingredients. That’s really all it takes to bring  the earthy flavor of the acorn squash perfectly to your plate.

I should say that safety is first when working with squash. Use a sharp knife, and make sure the blade is always pointed away from your body. Work slowly and on a fixed cutting board. Choose a small to medium squash since those are a bit easier to handle. After washing it well I cut it up into quarters. It wasn’t as difficult as I imagined, but peeling it was out of the question for me. Besides, the presentation of the acorn squash, given the beauty of its the skin, is what makes it look so wonderful on the plate. Clean out the insides of the squash well and wash it again. My kids wanted to plant the seeds to see if we could get more acorn squash, and it has been about 3 weeks, and now we have a few little plants growing! It’s a warm winter in Florida (with temperatures above normal), so I am not sure if we’ll get a good turn out, but I was happy to let them play in the dirt and try to grow some food.

But back to cooking…. I added one tablespoon of cashew butter to each quarter and topped it with the turmeric and salt. I arranged the slices  at the bottom of the slow cooker, after adding just a little over ½ cup of water to the bottom of the cooker. This will help create steam and prevent the acorn squash from sticking to the bottom. The squash  was tender and ready in about 3 hours, and the house smelled amazing! We served it with a grilled salmon fillet and a fresh arugula salad. We ended up with beautiful colors and delicious flavor, and another recipe we are now adding to our meal planners. Next, we will be trying butternut squash!

Here are acorn squash’s nutrient facts: It contains beta-carotene, and is a good source of dietary fiber and potassium, as well as smaller amounts of vitamins C and B, magnesium, and manganese. A great addition to your plate!

~Carolina

Slow Cooker Acorn Squash www.onceagainnutbutterblog.com

Slow Cooker Cashew Acorn Squash

1 medium acorn squash
4 tablespoons of Once Again Nut Butter Cashew Butter
4 teaspoons of turmeric
4 dashes of salt
½ cup water

Wash acorn squash well, cutting off the tips and paring  it into quarters. Clean the inside and wash again. Add a tablespoon of cashew butter to each quarter and spread it evenly. Sprinkle each quarter with a teaspoon of turmeric and a dash of salt. Add the ½ cup of water to the slow cooker, and turn it on to high. Place the acorn squash in the slow cooker with the skin facing down. Arrange the quarters  at the bottom of the cooker and let them  cook for 3 to 4 hours. Check for tenderness to see if ready. Enjoy as a main or side dish!