Double Chocolate Protein Brownies

Yes, protein brownies.  Why?  Why not! Sure, you can save these for dessert just because, but won’t you feel a little less guilty knowing they have a healthy dose of protein and veggies? Oh, wait.  I forgot to mention the veggies part. Please keep reading. I hope I didn’t scare you away.  The batter alone is worth sticking around for–I promise!

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I made this on Saturday night for two reasons: 1. I wanted dessert BADLY. 2. My kids were sleeping so I could eat said dessert peacefully.  Moms, you know what I mean.  There is nothing like hiding by the garbage can or–true confession here–sneaking into the bathroom just to eat a cookie or spoonful of Nutella in hopes of snagging a sweet snack without your kids being aware.  They are always aware.  They will always find you. They will always throw an accusatory “What are you doing?” at you that makes you choke on your secret treat and to simply reply with a grumbly, mouth-full, “Nothing!” that sounds more guilty than your toddler does when you actually see him punch his sister. So alas, when my husband arrived back home on Saturday night from his quick kids-are-in-bed trip to Dunkin Donuts for our coffees (see, Dads hide treats, too!), he was surprised to find me mixing up some brownies. He was even more surprised to see half a zucchini on the counter.

Don’t be alarmed. These are good. Plus, they are dairy- and gluten-free and flourless.  I did use peanut butter, but if allergens are an issue, you can easily sub in sunflower seed butter.  You could also throw in the nut of your choice if you are a nutty-brownie kind of family.  We aren’t, so I left these to their fudgey goodness on their own.  You can hardly detect, let alone taste, the zucchini in the final product.

I did make it up to my kids, though. On a Sunday morning, I served these as breakfast.  Can you say #momguilt? But really, it was the only way I could keep from eating them all myself! Besides, there is no better way to treat yourself and your family than to a yummy, warm, wholesome breakfast on a Sunday.  I served them with some watermelon, scrambled eggs (for the kids–not me!), and yogurt.  Bed-and-breakfast worthy, if I do say so myself.

I have to give a shout-out to Cleanfoodcrush.com for this recipe idea.  I made some changes to better fit my family’s needs and also to fit the ingredients I had on hand and the end result was so yummy, I just had to share!

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Double Chocolate Protein Brownies

  • Servings: 9-12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A fudgey, healthy treat good enough for breakfast!

I adapted this recipe from Cleanfoodcrush.com to fit my family’s needs.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup all-natural creamy peanut butter (or nut butter of your choice)
  • 1/4 pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup all-natural unsweetened applesauce (I made my own.)
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 scoop vegan chocolate protein powder (I used vegan chocolate Shakeology)
  • 1/2 cup certified gluten-free old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini (do not drain/remove excess water)
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips, reserving half (I use Enjoy Life brand, which are dairy- and soy-free)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° and spray 8×8 glass baking dish or brownie pan with non-stick coconut oil spray.
  2. In your blender or food processor, blend rolled oats until a fine powder forms.  Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, use a mixer to blend together peanut butter, maple syrup, apple sauce, extract, and protein powder. Gently stir in remaining ingredients, minus half of the chocolate chips. (Don’t forget to add the oat powder–I almost did!)
  4. Add to the baking dish, spreading batter evenly.  Top with remaining chocolate chips.  Slivered almonds would also be delicious across the top!
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Lick the spoon and the bowl and everything in between.
  6. Allow to cool, then cut into squares and enjoy.

Please let me know how these taste!  If you want to give these a try but don’t have protein powder on hand, contact me as well and I will send you a serving size perfect for this recipe!

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Raspberry Almond Power Cookies

imageThese cookies happened by accident. I was making a quick attempt at my own energy bites and failed to carefully consider proportions. When I whipped everything together, the “batter” was far too liquidy to ever evolve into a perfect ball. I considered adding more rolled oats to absorb the moisture. Nah. I questioned chucking the mix all together and starting over. No way. That defeats everything my minimal waste cooking and eating philosophy stands by. I figured I would spoon cookies, drop them on a cookie sheet, throw them in the oven, and see what happens. I am so glad I did!

I love sweets and snacks. I worried when first delving into clean eating that I would be overwhelmed by my sweet tooth and would, inevitably, fail. That is not the case. I have grown to love the flavors of real food and, as I’ve written about before, love meals now. In fact, on my daughter’s Mother’s Day story that she wrote at school, she completed the sentence “My mommy loves to…” with eat the yummy dinners she makes. In 2015, that would have read “bake cupcakes” or “snack all day” or “eat only her side dishes.” My daughter notices my healthier eating habits. I know they are more likely to rub off on her since she sees me living by this ideal, that our nutrition matters.

So yes, I’ve conquered my sweet tooth and often have carrots with peanut butter or nonfat Greek yogurt with berries when I do have a snack. I still, however, love a good cookie and know its place in my life remains.

imageEating clean doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a decadent treat once in a while. I value balance. Balance means redefining your expectations each day to align with your own priorities. Forget anyone else’s expectations; focus on your own priorities and let go of the rest. That is balance. Most days, my priorities are self care, serving my family, and building my business. On any given day, I may spend more time on one of these tasks than I will the others or I may add something to the list. Some days, self care means fitting in my fitness and eating well all day. Once in a while, though, Mama wants a cookie–or 3–and that’s ok! These raspberry almond power cookies fit into this balanced lifestyle. Plus they are clean, they are full of fiber and healthy fats, and they are chocolatey.

Yes, chocolatey. Delicious, ooey-gooey, sweet and semi tangy, soft and kind of crunchy (pun intended) chocolatey cookies. You and your kids will love these when you want a different but home baked dessert or when you want a treat without much guilt. These also take little time to prep and bake and are one of the many ways to use those last few bananas before they turn.

You can easily up the ante and add protein to these cookies by trading out the cocoa powder for chocolate protein powder, but once in a while it is nice to eat a treat that is just that: a treat. You could also trade out the freeze-dried raspberries for freeze-dried strawberries. They would be equally delicious.

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These cookies are dairy free, contain no added sugar, and can be certified gluten free if you need. Yum!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 overripe bananas, smashed with a fork
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats (certified gluten free if necessary)
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup all-natural almond butter (or butter of choice)
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup freeze dried raspberries, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup almonds, chopped small
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life dairy free)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a cookie sheet with nonstick coconut oil spray.
  2. Smash two bananas in a mixing bowl. Add all ingredients except chocolate chips and mix well with a spoon. Sprinkle in a pinch or two of oats if too liquidy.
  3. Gently fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Spoon teaspoon-sized portions onto the greased cookie sheet. Cookies will not expand, so you do not need too much room between them.
  5. Bake 12-15 minutes or until firm. Allow to cool for one minute on the cookie sheet then for 5 minutes on a cooling rack.
  6. Serve immediately or store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

These unique flavors make for a scrumptious snack and a little pick-me-up when the days get long. Enjoy as is or alter to your liking. Please share your thoughts in the comments or send me your feedback. And don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter by leaving your email below! You’ll receive a free 5-day clean eating menu just by subscribing!

Lick-the-spoon Protein Cookies…and a Salad

I’ve missed cookies.  Cookies and ice cream are my two biggest weaknesses.  Since I’ve started drinking Shakeology every day, I no longer miss having a bowl of ice cream.  I have found so many recipe ideas online and just by playing around that I pretty much start each day with a chocolate or coffee milkshake.  This shake, though, is full of super foods and vitamins and the protein my body needs to burn fat, build muscle, and feel properly full.  But I’ve missed cookies. IMG_6953

Thank heavens for Pinterest and Facebook.  Between these two sources, I’ve found various recipes for energy bites and clean cookies that I am starting to satisfy these cravings with healthful, whole snacks.  Yesterday, I stumbled upon my favorite yet while mixing ideas from a few other recipes–and a faulty ingredient leftover from the weekend.

I am calling these Lick-the-Spoon Protein Cookies because you will do just that: lick the spoon clean after you finish portioning them on your cookie sheet.  They are eggless, so the batter is safe to eat raw, and they are gluten free if you use the right kind of old fashioned rolled oats. Plus, these took maybe two or three minutes to prepare.   Combine that with a 15 minute bake time, and I was munching on a few in less than 25 minutes.

What inspired the cookie creating?  I am currently running a Clean Eating Accountability group on Facebook and am on the lookout for some clean snacks to share with the ladies and one gentleman participating.  I found a basic recipe for banana oatmeal cookies that seemed simple and yummy enough alone, but the recipe lacked protein.  I have found protein to be so beneficial to my overall health and fitness that I wanted to make the cookies more worthwhile for me, my goals, and my participants.  Plus, I had just finished eating the most delicious and clean citrus chicken salad that I knew I could afford a cookie or two–the right cookie, anyway.

To up the protein ante, I added two ingredients: raw homemade almond butter and a little bit of chocolate Shakeology.  The almond butter addition came out of my desire to really live a clean lifestyle.  I attempted to grind down a cup of almonds for a Super Bowl Sunday snack, and my first attempt didn’t go well.  Instead of turning into a crumbly topping like I envisioned, the almonds became moist, dense, and chunky in my Nutribullet.  I succeeded on a second cup of almonds by using my blender instead, but the initial serving of almond “buttery” something just sat on my counter unused.  When I was mixing together the ingredients for the cookies and took a jar of almond butter out of my fridge, I remembered the forgotten blend from the day before and used that instead.  This added a crunch to some of the cookies as well, which I am not complaining about.

I added the Shakeology, and just a little bit, to add a chocolate flavor and some more health benefits, but this step can easily be left out or even subbed for cocoa powder if you aren’t interested in additional protein.

I’ll get to the actual recipe in a minute, but first, you have to earn it.  Here is the recipe for my clean citrus chicken salad.  I combined ingredients from various meals from the week to create an unplanned, accidental, delicious lunch that I cannot wait to have again today.

CLEAN CITRUS CHICKEN SALAD INGREDIENTS

I combined all ingredients in a bowl and enjoyed every bite.  This didn’t need any dressing, but if you find it to be dry, squeeze the juice out of one of the orange segments.  Keep it clean and light. 🙂  This salad will make you feel like you are vacationing in California–something my parents are currently doing–which this Jersey girl appreciated on a gray February afternoon.

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Drum roll, please. It’s cookie time.

Lick-the-spoon Protein Cookies

  • Servings: 12-18
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Cookies so good, you'll forget they are healthy!

Ingredients

  • 2 overripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup organic old-fashioned rolled oats, certified gluten free if necessary
  • 2 tbsp. almond butter
  • 1 tbsp. chocolate Shakeology
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips (I used dark mini chips)

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Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Coat a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray  (I used coconut oil spray and the aroma is to-die-for and also vacation-like!).
  2. Combine the bananas (I mashed mine with a fork), oats, and almond butter until smooth.  If you are adding the Shakeology or cocoa powder, combine that now as well.
  3. Fold in the chocolate chips.  Spoon even rounds onto the cookie sheet.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until firm.  Allow to cool for one minute on the cookie sheet and then for 3 minutes on a cooling rack.
  4. Store in an air-tight container in your fridge–if you have any leftovers!

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This is an easy and yummy dessert that even your kids can enjoy.  A cookie without butter and eggs isIMG_6957 my new favorite kind of cookie.  Share your thoughts below or of any changes you made to the recipes.  Cooking and baking should allow for creativity.  Have confidence to play around with recipes and you will find true joy in the kitchen!
If you do not want to make your own almond butter, I have found this brand works very well for baking, for my Shakeology, on apples, and on Ezekiel toast.  It does have a rather nutty flavor, but it spreads well and doesn’t separate.  

If you like this recipe and want more healthy lunch and snack ideas, join my next FREE 5-day clean eating challenge!