Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sweet Treats, Clean Eats: Your V-Day Lucky 7!

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, I know many people will be out there, scouring the stores for the perfect Valentine's Day gift. While many might opt for the typical sugary, processed, artificial box o' chocolates without a second thought--- what about the health-conscious among us? Do we forego the tasty treats? Not if I have anything to say about it! Here's a list of 7 cleaned-up sweet treats to satisfy your Valentine's Day sweet tooth without the guilt!


1. Buckeyes


These buckeyes utilize peanut butter flavored protein powder for a nutritional protein boost, and eliminate many of the calories from traditional buckeyes by utilizing both oat flour and PB2 powder. Not to mention that this recipe uses stevia in place of sugar, and carob chips in place of chocolate. The end result is a delicious chocolatey peanut buttery treat!

1 Scoop peanut butter protein powder (I used About Time/SDC Nutrition)
1 Tablespoon PB2 (powdered de-fatted peanut butter)
2 Tablespoons water
3 Tablespoons oat flour (you can make this easily by putting oats in the food processor and processing them into a flour-like consistency)
2 Packets Truvia/Stevia

In a food processor, combine protein powder, PB2, oat flour, stevia, and water. The mixture will be very sticky and extremely thick! Take the mixture by spoonfuls, and roll into ball shapes, then place on a wax-lined baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the freezer until the balls are set.

1/2 Cup carob chips
3-4 Tablespoons unsweetened almond milk

In a double boiler, melt the carob chips. Add in the unsweetened almond milk, stirring together with the carob chips to combine fully. You'll want the mixture to be thin enough to be able to coat the buckeyes easily, but not too thin so that it won't stick to the buckeyes either. This was somewhere between 3-4 tablespoons of almond milk for me. Once melted, dip the buckeyes in the carob coating. I did this by dropping the buckeyes (one by one) into the carob coating, rolling them around to get them fully coated, then removing the buckeyes with a spoon. Lastly I placed each buckeye on a wax-lined baking sheet to be returned to the freezer to set again (do not let them freeze fully though). 

2. Chocolate Chip Cookie Fake-Outs


Reading the ingredients, you might be a little thrown off by the inclusion of chickpeas in a dessert recipe, but, trust me, the results are, nonetheless, delicious--- and the taste of chickpeas is undetectable! These cookies are peanut buttery and filled with sweet carob chip goodness. They're softer than traditional cookies, so be careful picking these up! Replacing flour with chickpeas, sugar with maple syrup, and chocolate with carob chips makes for a cleaned-up version of typical chocolate chip cookies!

1 1/2 Cups canned chickpeas, drained thoroughly
1 Teaspoon baking powder
2 Teaspoons vanilla extract (not imitation)
1/3 Cup PB2 (powdered de-fatted peanut butter)
3 Tablespoons water
1/4 Cup maple syrup
1/4 Teaspoon salt
1/2 Cup carob chips (you can also use dark chocolate chips or chopped baking chocolate)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Ensure that the chickpeas are completely drained by patting them down with a paper towel until try. Combine all of the ingredients, except for the carob chips, in a food processor. Fold in the carob chips. Take the mixture by spoonfuls, and place on a foil lined baking sheet. This recipe, for me, makes an even dozen of chocolate chip cookie fake-outs. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Be warned--- these cookies will be extremely soft! They won't be easily picked up without falling apart. If, however, you leave them out overnight, then the cookies set quite nicely, making them easier to pick up!

3. PB&J Protein Bars


Everyone knows that PB&J simply belong together--- and this protein bar recipe is no different! The protein powder adds a nutritional boost, and replacing sugar with stevia, jelly with no sugar added preserves, oil with unsweetened applesauce, and milk with unsweetened almond milk cleans up this recipe quite nicely. The end results are a delicious PB&J snack anyone would enjoy, with absolutely none of the guilt!

1/2 Cup vanilla protein powder (For me, this is exactly 2 scoops; I used About Time/SDC Nutrition)
1/4 Cup PB2 (powdered de-fatted peanut butter)
1/4 Cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 Cup egg whites (about 3 egg whites for me)
1/2 Teaspoon baking powder
1/4 Teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
5 Packets Truvia/Stevia
1/4 Cup no sugar added strawberry preserves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all of the ingredients, except for the strawberry preserves. Pour the mixture into a lightly oiled baking pan (I used a small bread loaf pan). Drop the strawberry preserves over the mixture by spoonfuls, then, with a fork, swirl the strawberry preserves into the mixture gently. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center, ensuring not to overcook the protein bars. 

4. Peanut Butter Protein Fudge



Oh, come on, who doesn't love fudge?! Truth be told, this is not a low calorie treat, so be careful to indulge in moderation. However, the inclusion of protein powder adds some nutritional value to what would otherwise be a dessert made up of only empty calories! The necessity for coconut butter in this recipe ups the fat and calorie content though, so--- again--- don't go downing the entire batch of fudge with reckless abandon!

2 Scoops peanut butter protein powder (I used About Time/SDC Nutrition)
1/2 Cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 Cup coconut butter

Melt the coconut butter in the microwave for 30 seconds. In a food processor, combine the coconut butter, almond milk, and protein powder. Spread the mixture into a foil-lined container (I used a 5x5 inch tupperware container), and refrigerate until fully hardened.

5. Carob-Covered Strawberries



Fresh strawberries, stems removed
1/2 Cup carob chips
3-4 Tablespoons unsweetened almond milk

In a double boiler, melt the carob chips. Add in the unsweetened almond milk, stirring together with the carob chips to combine fully. You'll want the mixture to be thin enough to be able to coat the buckeyes easily, but not too thin so that it won't stick to the buckeyes either. This was somewhere between 3-4 tablespoons of almond milk for me. Once melted, dip the strawberries in the carob coating. I did this by dropping the strawberries (one by one) into the carob coating, rolling them around to get them fully coated, then removing the buckeyes with a spoon. I then placed each strawberry on a wax-lined baking sheet to be returned to the freezer to set again (don't let them freeze fully though!).

6. Chocolate Bark



This chocolatey treat isn't true chocolate bark, but it's still delicious nonetheless. Largely made up of vanilla Greek yogurt, the end result tastes something like a creamy fudgesicle. The possibilities are endless with this one; you can add all sorts of mix-ins--- nuts, dried fruits, coconut, granola, crumbled pretzels, carob chips, and so much more. This makes for a truly customizable treat!

1 Cup vanilla Greek yogurt
3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 Tablespoons unsweetened vanilla almond milk
4 Packets Truvia/Stevia
Mix-Ins: Walnuts, Almond, Coconut, Dried Cranberries, Dried Raisins, Etc.

In a bowl, combine yogurt, cocoa powder, almond milk, and stevia. Mix in any ingredients you choose. I made one batch of coconut almond "chocolate bark," and another batch of dried cranberry walnut "almond bark." Spread the mixture into a foil-lined container to be placed in the freezer (I used 2 5x5 inch tupperware containers). Once frozen, break apart into large pieces to consume.

Note: this recipe was inspired by my Instagram pal, lilsipper (follow her on Instagram and like her on Facebook!) who made a non-chocolate version!

7. Single Serving Chocolate Power Cookie



No Valentine for Valentine's Day? Well then, I've got the treat for you--- a chocolate power cookie for one! Using mashed avocado and unsweetened applesauce for moistness, and getting a nutritional boost from chocolate protein powder, this chocolate cookie is an indulgence you won't regret eating. And--- as a bonus--- this chocolate cookie will be so good that you just might find yourself being glad you don't have a Valentine that you'd have to share this one with!

1/2 of an avocado
1/4 Cup chocolate protein powder (I used About Time/SDC Nutrition)
1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 Tablespoon unsweetened applesauce
1 Packet Truvia/Stevia
1 Tablespoon carob chips (or dark chocolate chips or chopped baking chips)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients except for the carob chips. Gently fold in the carob chips. Place the mixture on a foil-lined baking sheet, and bake for 15-20 minutes. Watch the cookie carefully, as it will become dry if you bake the cookie for too long!