Roasted Garlic Parmesan Toast

This is a post about toast. A toast post.

I realize that you probably think toast is boring. Dry. Crumb-y. Crummy? Heck, I thought the same thing. But this toast is a delicacy! It puts regular old garlic bread to shame. To shame! This is a recipe you’re gonna want to make with every Italian meal you eat from this point forward. And it’s almost too simple to even be called a recipe. It’s more like a suggestion. An inspired idea that I highly recommend. Whatever. Just trust me and make it!

Part of the incredibleness of this toast may be the bread itself. I can’t vouche for other bread, but I’m guessing that your favorite crusty french bread will do just fine if you’re not up for bread baking. But I really hope you are up for it, because there’s nothing more satisfying than slicing into a piping hot loaf of homemade whole wheat bread.

Maybe it’s the comfort of knowing that it contains only five simple ingredients, none of which are additives, preservatives, or processed ingredients. But I think the biggest reason I love baking my own bread is because of what I call ‘the Little House on the Prairie factor’. I like to pretend I’m Ma kneading bread dough in a log cabin with a hot pot of stew over the fire while the girls play with their corn husk dolls.

You do that, too, right? I figured.

I’m fairly certain that everything in the world tastes better when covered in smashed up roasted garlic. Maybe even mustard greens (*shudder*). Still, I think I’ll let you test that one out. I’m sticking with bread for now. Oh, ALSO – if you’re feeling extra experimental, roast some halved cherry tomatoes along with your garlic and pile them on top of the finished product. Let me know how that goes, because I’m almost as obsessed with roasted tomatoes as I am with roasted garlic.

Roasted Garlic Parmesan Toast

Basic Whole Wheat Bread
Adapted from this recipe

Ingredients:
2 cups warm water
1 T yeast
1 T olive oil
1 T honey or agave
2 t salt
5 – 5.5 cups white whole wheat flour (or regular whole wheat)

For the toast you will need:
1 head roasted garlic (or more, 1 head will cover 2 pieces of toast)
Butter or alternative
Olive oil, for drizzling
Parmesan, for sprinkling
Freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt, optional

Instructions:
1. Dissove yeast and honey in warm water in a large bowl; allow yeast to proof (or foam) for about 10 minutes.

2. Add salt, oil, and 3 cups flour; beat for 2 minutes. Then, stir in the remaining 2 cups flour to form a stiff dough.

3. Knead until smooth and elastic; about 10 minutes (this is when you can pretend to be Ma).

4. Place in oiled bowl, turn dough to coat all sides, cover and let rise until doubled.

5. Shape dough into a large loaf and place in an oiled bread pan. Let rise for about a half hour in a warm place – preferably a place your puppy can’t get to! Thankfully, I caught this sneaky girl sniffing before she had a chance to get a taste.

6. Cut diagonal gashes on top of loaf and bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes. You can roast the garlic at this time too.

7. To roast the garlic, cut the top off of the head so the raw end of each clove is exposed. Cover the exposed ends in olive oil and wrap the entire head in aluminum foil. Roast for about 45 minutes until completely soft. I like to roast several heads at a time because it disappears quickly!

8. After the garlic has cooled, squeeze all of the soft cloves into a container and mash with a potato masher or a fork until it forms a slightly chunky spread, or longer if you want it to be completely smooth.

9. After the bread has cooled for about 15 – 20 minutes, cut into slices. Turn a frying pan or a griddle on high heat and lightly butter each side of the slice of bread. Grill until each side is crisp and golden.

10. Spread the smashed garlic onto the toast and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with parmesan, pepper, and salt, if desired. Eat slowly and savor every delicious bite.

This recipe came about by chance (or fate) last Sunday after I had baked bread and roasted some garlic for tomato sauce.  In the midst of the hustle and bustle of Sunday cooking I got the munchies and put the toast together on a whim…and was completely blown away. My life will never be the same.

I tend to exaggerate at times. This is not one of those times. You’re looking at life-changing toast.

Roasted, toasted, posted. BOOM.

Oh, one last thing! I can’t feature a picture of my girl puppy without also featuring one of my boy puppy. That would be favoritism. What kind of mother do you think I am?

~ Becky, a skinnyfat girl

A Skinnyfat Birthday!

That’s right, our blog is officially one year old! The time has flown, and it seems like just yesterday we wrote our very first post. But in that short time, we have changed so much. And I mean so, so much.

Fortunately, we still celebrate birthdays with cake. That’s one of those things that should never change.

When we created Skinnyfat, we had an entirely different mindset about food than we do today. Not just food, but life. Elesha and I have both grown so much, it’s almost as if we’re completely new women. It’s been a wonderful experience to share.

Just one year ago, eating was about restriction. It was about always being on a diet. It was about feeling guilty when we ate “bad” food. This blog was basically created because we saw ourselves as “too fat” and we thought we needed some type of food journal, a way to be accountable and “keep us in check”.

But this blog became so much more. The challenge of experimenting with new, healthy recipes created a deep appreciation and respect for simple, whole ingredients and the amazing health benefits that come along with them. Now, food is freedom! Healthy, life-giving whole foods are no longer something we eat because we have to or because we want to lost weight, but because they nourish our bodies, are delicious, and bring us true joy. No bad feelings are associated with food, and certainly no guilt, even when indulging. We have never felt so alive.

So even though Skinnyfat Girls was created in what I now consider a rather negative context, we are both grateful for what it evolved into and the positive effect it has had on our lives. Beyond that, it has positively impacted the lives of our families, friends, coworkers, and many of you faithful readers who have shared our health journey along the way. Thank you all for a wonderful year, and we’re excited for another one full of more great recipes!

If you’re celebrating a birthday soon, give whole wheat cake a try. It feels great to indulge without all the processed junk. Try subbing out ingredients in your favorite cake recipe: whole wheat flour for white, stevia, agave, and other natural sweeteners for sugar, coconut oil for butter, and so on. I “frosted” this cake with neufchatel cheese, firm silken tofu, banana, strawberries, and stevia all thrown into the food processor until smooth. Light and delicious!

And if you’re intimidated by layers, well, don’t be! It’s easy as pie! Though, I’m not sure the person who coined that phrase ever tried to make a good pie. Good pie is no piece of cake. Aaaaand we’re back to cake. If any of you would like this particular cake recipe, let me know and I will search for it. See, this birthday post was intended to include the recipe until I lost it. Fail.

I promise to be back next time with a brand new recipe for all of you. Until that time, eat cake and celebrate life! 🙂

~ Becky, a skinnyfat girl

Double Chocolate Truffle Muffins

This muffin idea struck me in the brain this morning while I was eating a vegan chocolate truffle for breakfast. I was pondering two equally puzzling questions, first “how could this possibly get any more delicious?”, and second, “how can I convince people it’s acceptable to eat truffles for breakfast?” Turns out muffins was the answer to both.

You see, if you want something to be more delicious, you simply add more chocolate. The amount of deliciousness is equivalent to the amount of chocolate: more chocolate, more delicious. The only thing better than chocolate is chocolate within chocolate. Double chocolate.

I’ve already made Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies. I’m fearful this whole ‘chocolate within chocolate’ idea could get out of control and I’ll wind up with some outrageous dessert called the Quadruple Chocolate Chip Chunk Brownie Cake Pie Mousse Muffin Cupcake Ice Cream Bar. With chocolate sauce. Wow, seriously, that actually sounds crazy good. It’d be like Inception, chocolate style. Once you get to a fourth level of chocolate it’s just complete chaos.

The great thing about these muffins is that they don’t contain butter, white flour, white sugar, or eggs, but you knew that, right? They’re completely vegan and not something you have to feel guilty about eating. While I do consider them dessert, I’d describe them as more bread-like than cake-like, and they’re not overly sweet. The only thing I’ll change when I make these again is that I’ll make them smaller; they were simply massive!

Double Chocolate Truffle Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

1/2 cup warm water
3 T ground flax meal
2/3 cup non-dairy milk
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup sucanat (if you don’t have any, substitute with another dry sweetener)
1 t pure stevia powder (I use Stevita)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 T + 1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup strong coffee
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
12 2-inch Vegan Chocolate Truffles (recipe found here)

Instructions:

First, make your truffles but don’t cover them in any toppings. Leave them plain and put them in the freezer to set. Combine the ground flax meal with the warm water, whisk thoroughly, and put in the fridge. Combine the milk and vinegar and let them mingle for a while until they’re good and curdled. Appetizing!

While those set, combine the dry ingredients. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add the hot coffee to the milk and vinegar and whisk furiously for about 30 seconds. Then add the melted coconut oil, vanilla, applesauce, and flax egg mixture and stir vigorously again. Now add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and beat with all your might for as long as your arm will allow, at least 1 – 2 minutes. This allows the batter to aerate and the muffins to rise well.

Spray your muffin pans with oil and scoop some batter into the bottom of each section. Set a truffle in the center and cover with batter.

Truffles covered in chocolate batter…yeah, it’s up to you whether or not you want to keep going at this point. I mean, I could honestly call it a day and be in heaven just eating this stuff with a spoon. Batter lovers, unite! Bakers, keep reading.

Put your muffins in the oven and let them bake for about 35 minutes. Oh my, look how puffy! And all without eggs. It’s a miracle!

I liked that cute one with the mohawk. However, I promptly gave him a haircut…with my teeth.

Let them cool for about 10 minutes, then top with whipped or coconut cream while the muffins are still warm so everything gets all melty and drippy and delicious. Sprinkle with some more cocoa powder for ultimate truffliness (I realize I’ve been creating words left and right; clearly, it’s one of my many gifts). Good grief, just look at them. You know you wanna slurp that up. I certainly did and was just the right amount of sticky and happy when the photo shoot was over. Then I sliced one of those bad boys open and poured hot coffee on it. It was a great idea. Apparently today is a great day for ideas.

Oh, gooey truffle center, you make my heart all a-flutter. I’m now certain that truffles were made to go inside muffins, we just never knew it until now. You’re welcome.

~ Becky, a skinnyfat girl

Avocado Paninis with Basil Mayo on Whole Wheat Focaccia

We eat a lot of sandwiches ’round here.

They’re quick and easy, perfect for those nights when we’re too ravenous to take the time to cook. They’re also super healthy if you use lots of veggies and a great whole grain bread. Yesterday, I got the hankering for a hearty, whole wheat bread and found a wonderful recipe that I hope you’ll try. Homemade bread makes the absolute best sandwiches! A panini maker doesn’t hurt, either. My gem of a sister-in-law got me a mini George Foreman for Christmas and I’ve been making great use of it.

If you’re not into baking your own bread (it’s quite a process!), I’ve put the sandwich recipe first so you can try it out with your favorite store-bought bread. It’s a delicious combination of flavors!

Avocado Panini with Basil Mayo

Basil Mayo:
Combine 2 T mayo or substitute (I love Vegenaise, a great vegan option, or olive oil mayo) with 1 T fresh basil, chopped tiny, a sprinkle of garlic powder, and a few grinds of fresh black pepper.

Sandwich:
Bread (duh)
Avocado, sliced or mashed
Tomato, sliced
Red onion, thinly sliced
Fresh baby spinach
Monterrey Jack or Mozzarella cheese

Spread the mayo on bread, pile on the sandwich fixings, grill, and enjoy! Simple and delicious.

The next half of this post is dedicated to those of you who, like me, are willing to wait 14 hours for a fresh loaf of bread.

Yes, I said 14 hours.

Fear not, brave soul! There isn’t a whole lot of actual work involved in making this bread, just a whole lot of waiting. You know how yeast works, right? You’ve gotta be patient with it. In this case, extremely patient, because we’re making a poolish, which is a pre-fermented dough that needs to sit for 12 hours. But you don’t have to do anything – touch it, move it, stir it, nothing. Just let it sit there. You can sit, too, if you want. Take a nap, even. It’s easiest to whip up the poolish before you go to bed and it will be ready in the morning. You can even extend the time the poolish sits to almost 20 hours if necessary.

Let’s go!

Whole Wheat Olive Oil Focaccia
Recipe (barely adapted) by Food Network

Poolish:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup steel-cut oats
3/4 cup water
Pinch active dry yeast

Whisk all your poolish ingredients together in a medium bowl, cover, and let sit at room temperature for 12 hours, or longer if refrigerating. When it’s ready, prepare the rest of your dough.

Dough:
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
2 1/4 t active dry yeast
2 t fine salt
1 3/4 cups warm water (about 110 degrees F)
1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Whisk the dry ingredients (flours, flax meal, yeast, and salt) in a large bowl. Stir in the poolish, water, and olive oil to form a loose, sticky dough. Cover with a towel and let sit for 30 minutes (I know, more waiting). The original recipe actually calls for two additional 30-minute rising periods, but I was too impatient and skipped them. The bread turned out wonderful, but feel free to stick to the original recipe and let it rise longer if you like.

Preheat the oven to 425 and spray your pans with olive oil. Divide your dough into the two pans – I used a springform pan and a square nonstick casserole dish! You can use whatever baking pans you have; it doesn’t have to look beautiful. The loaves should look like discs (unless using a square pan, obviously 🙂 ), about 2 -3 inches deep.

Topping:
1/3 cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
Dried herbs, optional (I used thyme)

Combine the olive oil, garlic, and herbs and spread evenly over the two loaves. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until golden brown, remove from pans and let cool. Perfect for avocado paninis!

My favorite thing about this bread is the glorious olive-oil and garlic-flavored crust. Extra virgin olive oil is where it’s at, people. It tastes divine. I put it on nearly everything I eat. Not dessert…but yeah, everything else. 

This sandwich would be good cold, but if you crispify it (trust me, that’s a word) you end up with an olive oil crunch layer that almost makes you forget about the taste explosion that is basil mayo.

On a side note, Elesha and I have decided to post every Saturday and Wednesday, respectively, so y’all will have a better idea of when to be on the lookout for new recipes. Also, be sure to check out our updated Recipe page and the Skinnyfat Recipe Makeover page. We’re so thankful for all of you and we look forward to sharing more food adventures with you this year, so keep reading!

But first, make a sandwich.

~ Becky, a skinnyfat girl

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies

December is the best month of the year, hands down.

To kick things off, we celebrate a very important birth – mine. Yep, I celebrated my 25th birthday on the first! The hubs threw me a surprise party so wonderful that I actually cried with joy. I’ve always heard that as you age you become more emotional, and so far it seems to be true. I cried while watching a Shirley Temple movie this weekend. Seriously?

Me and the hubs on my birthday.

When all the birthday hooplah ends, the Christmas hooplah begins, full swing! FedEx started delivering the holiday goodies to the office this week. First, Creme Brulee Almonds!

The next day we got a gingerbread cake. This was not just any old cake. This cake made all my molasses dreams come true. I hadn’t even realized I had molasses dreams. I also hadn’t realized how delicious gingerbread can be. This cake is incredible. Amazing. It’s magic cake.

As with most cake, the magic is made with refined sugar and flour, so I thought it best to eat just a small piece. Fine, two small pieces. Okay, three! Three small pieces! Thankfully, there are other people in the office to eat the rest because I probably would just eat it all by myself.

I’m really hoping FedEx brings cheese next week. Hey, we got some last year – it could happen! If not, another gingerbread cake would be acceptable.

The hubs and I have been doing a lot of juicing to offset all the holiday indulgence.

Besides some almonds and three small pieces of cake, the holiday indulgence I speak of is mostly cookies. I become cookie monster at Christmastime. Me want cookie…like, every day. And pluralize that cookie; me want 3 or 4. One of my favorite things in the world is snuggling up with a hot cup of somethin’ and warm cookies from the oven to watch a christmas movie in my fleece pajamas. Life can’t get any better that that.

Baking cookies every night is a great idea if your goal this holiday season is to put on ten pounds. That’s not my personal goal, but I still have trouble quenching the cookie monster within, so I did some experimenting with recipes and substituted the white, sugary stuff with healthier sweeteners and whole wheat. Success! I can now silence the cookie monster within without gaining ten pounds! Please remember that while these are a healthier alternative to regular cookies, they’re still cookies and should be considered a treat! During December, however, treats are permissible at least once a day, so you may want to stock up on flax seeds.

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from this recipe, makes a batch of 12 cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup cocoa (regular or dark; I used a combo)
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/2 cup butter or substitute, nearly melted (I use Smart Balance Lite)
1/3 – 1/2 cup brown sugar (if you don’t have either sweetener listed below, go with 1/2 cup)
1/4 t stevia (optional)
1 T raw sugar (optional for added sweetness or if you don’t have stevia)
1/2 t vanilla
1 flax egg (or 1 regular egg)
1/2 cup chocolate chips or chunks (I use 60% cacao bittersweet chips – low in sugar)
1/3 cup walnuts (optional, but definitely make the cookies nice and “chunky”!)

(For those of you who have never made a flax egg before, click here for step-by-step instructions. Easy peasey, lemon squeezy!)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If using a flax egg, make it following the instructions provided in the link above and put it in the fridge to set for at least 15 minutes.

2. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Beat butter, sugars, stevia, and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl until creamy. Beat in the flax egg. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto an ungreased baking sheet and spread the dough into a flat cookie shape (these cookies will not melt or spread, so they will bake in their pre-baked shape or a little bit puffier).

3. Bake for 9 minutes or until cookies are puffed and centers are set but still soft. Remove from cookie sheet immediately (so they don’t continue to bake) and let cool.

I like gooey cookies and these did not disappoint. I made two batches; one with a regular egg and one with a flax egg. The batch with the regular egg came out a bit too dry or “bread-like” for my taste (actually, those are the ones pictured), and I preferred the flax egg batch, which was much more gooey. I did notice that even the flax egg cookies had dried out a bit by the next day, so I recommend either making a smaller flax egg or eating the cookies the same day as you bake them. Also, if eating the cookies more than a day after baking them, I like to heat them in the microwave for 8 – 10 seconds.

So go ahead, feed your chocolate craving and enjoy the holidays!

~ Becky, a skinnyfat girl

Veggies-for-Breakfast Muffins

I have officially pulled myself out of the Thanksgiving coma. It was nice to live in a fog of mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie for a few days, but my body was definitely missing its giant helpings of raw fruits and vegetables. And I don’t even want to think about dessert for a few weeks.

That being said, let’s make muffins!

I promise I’m not contradicting my anti-dessert claim, here. These are not “dessert-masquerading-as-breakfast” muffins. They are not double chocolate chunk muffins. They are not gooey gobs of sugar and fat that destroy the good name of “blueberry” muffins.

No, they are made of fruits and vegetables, like all good muffins should be! This is a tasty breakfast idea for those of you who are getting tired of oatmeal (a.k.a WEIRDOS). This recipe is from VegNews and I followed it to a T (that’s how great the ingredient list looked!).

Veggies for Breakfast Muffins
Makes 6 giant muffins or 12 regular 🙂

Ingredients:

1/3 cup hot water
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/3 cup agave nectar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup grated zucchini
1 cup grated carrot
1 apple, grated
1-3/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small cup, add water and ground flaxseed, stirring with a fork. Let it sit for 5 minutes, until mixture thickens.

2. In a small bowl, combine agave nectar, maple syrup, vanilla, and applesauce. Add in zucchini, carrot, and apple. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. To agave mixture, add flaxseed mixture and stir to combine. Mix dry ingredients to wet, and stir to combine.


3. Divide batter evenly into muffin tins and top with walnuts, if using. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

4. Spread butter or jam as desired, serve, and enjoy!

My husband gobbled all of these up before I even had a chance to eat a second one! I guess I’ll have to whip up another batch; after all, you can’t eat too many veggies, right?

~ Becky, a skinnyfat girl

Mini Apple Cinnamon Empanadas

I’ve been thinking about tarts a lot lately. Fruit tarts, savory tarts, chocolate tarts, ugly tarts, pretty tarts, any and all tarts. I came home with every intention of making tarts (three ways, mind you), but at the end of the night I had 25 mini empanadas staring me in the face and not a tart in sight.

I don’t know how that happened. I must’ve been baking on auto-pilot again.

Fear not, fellow tart-lovers, they’ll make their debut. For now, let’s enjoy what tastes like a bite of warm apple cinnamon cheesecake wrapped in a whole wheat blanket. As it turns out, empanadas don’t have to be fried or filled with greasy meat to taste utterly sinful. Waistlines, rejoice!

Mini Apple Cinnamon Empanadas

Dough Ingredients:
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 T stevia (or other dry sweetener)
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup butter or alternative (I use Smart Balance Lite. You can also sub half oil of your choice. And please, PLEASE don’t ever use margarine!)
1/4 cup cold water

Apple Filling Ingredients:
3 – 4 large apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 – 2 T butter alternative
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1 – 2 tsp agave (optional)

Cream Cheese Mixture Ingredients:
4 oz tofu cream cheese (or neufchatel cheese, non-vegan alternative)
1 – 2 tsp agave (depending on desired sweetness)
1/2 tsp vanilla

Step 1: Prepare your dough. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sweetener, then cut in the butter (or alternative) with a fork or pastry cutter. Sprinkle the water and cut in until the dough is crumbly. Knead the dough lightly for a minute, form into a ball, wrap, and put in the fridge to rest for about a half hour.

Step 2: While the dough chills, peel, core, and chop the apples. Chop small pieces for smooth filling or larger pieces for a chunkier filling.

Step 3: Heat a pan to medium low and add the apple filling ingredients (apples, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and agave). Cook down, stirring frequently, until the apples are completely soft, gooey, and about half their original size. While they’re cooking, preheat the oven to 350F. In a bowl, combine all cream cheese mixture ingredients (cream cheese, agave, and vanilla), beat until smooth, and set aside.

This is the beginning of the cooking process; as you can see, they're not gooey yet. The aroma was irresistible, and I was burning my fingers so bad picking out apple chunks that I eventually just got a fork to eat them straight from the pan to spare my scorched fingers. These apples are dessert all by themselves.

(Note: Brandy would be an excellent addition to the apples. I was momentarily tempted to tell my husband that I was taking up drinking so that I’ll always have alcohol on hand just in case a recipe calls for it, but I must have caught another waft of buttery vanilla and lost my train of thought. All this to say that if you happen to have Brandy in the cabinet, please add a splash or two.)

Step 4: Remove the dough from the fridge and roll onto a floured surface until it’s about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out as many 4-inch rounds as you can (I used a large jar lid to do this; be creative if you don’t have the right tools!) and line them on a floured cookie sheet. Gather the leftover scraps of dough, knead together, and repeat the rolling and cutting process until all the dough has been used.


Step 5: Top the dough rounds with a spoonful of the apple filling and cream cheese mixture. Fold one side over and seal the empanada closed by crimping the edges with a fork.


Step 6: Brush the tops of the empanadas with a very light layer of non-dairy milk (optional) and add a few more sprinkles of cinnamon (if you’re a cinnamon freak like me). Bake for 20 – 30 minutes until slightly crispy around the edges. Let cool for five minutes and serve warm with a drizzle of coconut cream or a little scoop of non-dairy ice cream if you want to really indulge!

Warm, seasonal, and so darn cute! These little guys just took my cinnamon obsession to a whole new level. I’m beginning to think that in addition to calcium, manganese, and vitamins A and K, cinnamon may also contain a significant amount of crack. Autumn is the season of giving and generosity, so give yourself permission to be generous with cinnamon at all times. It’s critical to your health. 🙂

Here’s hoping autumn never ends!

~ Becky, a skinnyfat girl

Zucchini (and Friends) Bread

Now that it’s fall, I go weak in the knees for all things baked. So when I came across this easy (and adorably written) recipe, I knew I had found a quick cure for my bread craving.

After devouring a thick slice with melty butter (Smart Balance, really), I was satisfied…momentarily. I wanted more bread, but not the simple, yeasty bread I’d just baked. I wanted dense, sweet, gooey bread. Zucchini bread.

The recipe I used was really just a guideline. You won’t believe the nutritious goodies I’ve added! Besides zucchini, this bread will fuel you with banana, flax seed, applesauce, coconut, walnuts, and wheatgrass. Yes, wheatgrass.

Poor wheatgrass. It ain’t easy being green. One of the superest of superfoods, hardly eaten by the average American. And even then, it’s usually only consumed in green juice or powdered capsule form. Why are we such grass haters? Grass has rights, too. Give grass a chance.

I realize I sound like a hippy, but I promise I’m still talking about wheatgrass.

I saw a small bottle of wheatgrass capsules in the store last week for $28.99. No, no, no! It was all wrong! Instead, I bought a container of the fresh stuff in my local health food store for $1.89. Better, right? The fresh stuff has more of the good stuff in it, anyway. I think the reason people don’t buy wheatgrass is because they think “You want me to eat grass? Ew! Nasty!”. Well, think again, people, because this recipe allows you to reap the health benefits of wheatgrass and not even realize you’re eating it. No more excuses!

Zucchini (and Friends) Bread
Adapted from this recipe

Ingredients:

3 cups flour (I used half white whole wheat, half whole wheat pastry)
2 t cinnamon
1.5 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1 t salt
1/4 cup ground flax
1/4 cup finely chopped wheatgrass
1/2 cup applesauce
1/3 cup coconut meal (I have lots left from making milk)
1 very ripe mashed banana
1/2 cup milk of choice (I used coconut)
1/2 cup canola oil (or oil of your choice)
2 t vanilla
1/2 cup raw sugar (or other dry sweetener, or 1/4 cup stevia)
2 T agave (or other liquid sweetener)
1 cup shredded zucchini
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

NOTE: I realize you may not have every single one of these ingredients on hand. No worries, you can omit the wheatgrass, applesauce, coconut meal, banana, or walnuts if you don’t have them. You can even substitute other nutrient-dense foods in their place: carrots, squash, oats – get creative!

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the dry ingredients (the first six) in a large bowl.

Step 2: Mix the rest of the ingredients except for the zucchini and walnuts in a separate bowl. When mixed thoroughly, add the zucchini and walnuts.

Step 3: Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix thoroughly.

Oh YUM - look at the green bits!

 Step 4: Scoop mixture into a well-oiled bread pan.

Step 5:  Try not to eat too much of the delicious batter. I failed miserably at this step.

Step 6: Let bake for 1 hour or until you can put a butterknife in the center and it comes out clean. Let it cool. When I cut a slice a few minutes after taking the loaf out of the oven, it just fell apart. It tasted wonderful but it was just crumbs. I was devastated and thought I’d have to start all over. NOT THE CASE! 2 hours later I wanted another piece and it had magically bound together! Let it cool. Still, it’s very soft, so be sure to cut through it carefully so it doesn’t fall apart.

Pretty simple, right? The only hard part is all the waiting, but I promise you – it’s well worth it!

Hopefully all this bread will silence the baking monster within me for a few days. After that, I’ve got a couple cans of pumpkin in the cabinet begging to be put into Elesha’s pumpkin bar recipe, a pie, or maybe even brownies.

Fall is the best.

~Becky, a skinnyfatgirl

Carb hangover? Nevermore.

What is your biggest food temptation; the food that you know you shouldn’t eat, but it tastes so heavenly you could just forget yourself and enjoy one moment of pure tastebud pleasure?  My greatest love is dark chocolate, but since cacao is a superfood full of wonderful and incredible nutrients, I don’t bother about feeling guilty about consuming it.  So, if I’m not talking about chocolate, what could possible be such a big food temptation for me?  (Little hint: I want to visit this country, not for the gondolas, for the food).

Okay, that was a big hint, but you’re right, I’m talking about Italian food.  Do you love pasta as much as I do?  Oh my goodness, I can honestly say that I have never eaten an Italian dish I didn’t adore.  Fettucine alfredo, bowtie pasta, eggplant parmesan, the bread, gelato, do I really need to go on?  Unfortunately, Italian food can also be extremely fattening with loads of cream, cheese, and white flour.  Have you ever experienced a carb hangover from eating too much pasta?  I know I have.  You know, that bloated, heavy, uncomfortable feeling?  Now, I’m a huge believer in everything in moderation and the last thing I believe in is deprivation, but it’s so hard for me to restrain myself when it comes to pasta, so I have to be careful.

Now if I hadn’t had the skinnyfat mind makeover, I probably wouldn’t believe that it was possible to make Italian food delicious and healthy,  but now I’ve learned that whole, real nutrient-dense food can actually be way more delicious than the alternative.  Prime example? The best lasagna I’ve ever eaten.

To begin with…

These whole wheat lasagna noodles from Target have one ingredient.  ONE!  Whole wheat seminola.  That’s it and it’s looking like a pretty good start. 

Next you have fresh mushrooms (I’ve used shiitake mushrooms, which I like the best).

Grind or chop these up and moving on.  Next chop up fresh oregano, fresh basil, fresh spinach, fresh kale… Do you notice a theme here? 

Of course, you’ll also need cheese and tomato sauce.  I used half Daiya non-dairy cheese (If you haven’t tried Daiya, it’s the best non-dairy cheese out there and Target has it!) and half Italian blend cheese.  For my tomato sauce I used an organic garden vegetable marinera sauce, also from Target.

With all these delicious and wholesome ingredients, all that’s left to do is layer your lasagna! 

I always layer the bottom of an oiled casserole dish with the sauce first then the noodles.  On top of the first layer of noodles I put more sauce, then I put a thick layer of kale and spinach.

Then add your ground mushrooms, cheese, and sprinkle your fresh oregano and basil on top of the cheese.  Now layer and layer until you cannot fit anymore in!  On the very top layer I only put the layer of sauce, cheese, oregano, and basil.

Bake the lasagna at 375 for about 30 minutes until the noodles are soft and the cheese is melted.

Here is the whole recipe:

  • Whole wheat lasagna noodles
  • Tomato sauce
  • Cheese
  • Fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • Fresh oregano, chopped
  • Fresh basil, chopped
  • Fresh kale, chopped
  • Fresh spinach, chopped

I have been eating this all week and every day at work someone has commented on how good it smells.  Don’t tell anyone, but it tastes even better.

~Elesha, a skinnyfat girl

Strawberry Scones

When I was 18 I worked at my aunt’s coffeeshop. I consider it one of my favorite jobs ever, which is saying something, seeing as how I’ve already had over 10 jobs in my 24 years.  The Moonstruck Cafe; I have such fond memories of that place.


It was just barely big enough for the counter and a few small tables, but it had plenty of faithful customers. Everything was decorated in suns and moons, and my aunt had stenciled hundreds of hand-painted gold stars over the midnight blue walls. Ecclectic paintings hung for sale by local artists and hometown bands would come in and play live music on Friday nights.

Whether it was The Talking Heads or Duke Ellington or an old 80’s mix playing overhead, the musical selections were unpredictable and yet somehow always just right. The atmosphere was laid back and everybody knew each other. It was fun to see the regulars pull up – Teacher Tim, Steve the Green Tea Guy – and have their drinks ready by the time they reached the counter. It was cozy. It was home.

But my favorite thing of all was the scones. Blueberry scones. Selling that last scone was the happiest moment of the week, because I knew that in less than an hour I would take a fresh batch from the oven and escape into a rich, warm, blueberry scone heaven. Yes, being the owner’s niece had its perks. Free coffee was great, but nothing compared to free scones.

Before I knew it, we had moved out of state and my coffeeshop days were over…and I haven’t had a scone that good since. With that realization, I made it my mission to recreate scone bliss, only this time a healthy version. A daunting task; scones are all cream, butter, sugar, and white flour. But I’ve done my best, combined multiple recipes, and present to you my best attempt at a very nutritious and delicious scone.

Warning: turn back now if you like crumbly (DRY) scones like the ones you find in most coffeeshops. These scones are moist. Not dense, moist – because there’s nothing I hate worse than a mouthful of dry crumbs. Oh, and for the record, these taste nothing like the blueberry scones from Moonstruck. Completely different flavors, but even more satisfying. Trust me, I tested these on a number of people who are not fans of typical health food. Even my brother, whose favorite food in all the world comes from Taco Bell, came back for seconds and told me repeatedly how good they were.

Another great thing about this recipe is that you can use whatever berries are in your fridge. These can just as easily become blueberry scones, raspberry scones, or boysenberry scones! I just happened to have strawberries on hand, but you can bet my next batch will be blueberry.

One last thing: you’re going to be adding some vegetables. Beets and carrots, to be exact…because that’s just what we do around here. Don’t get me started about beets. Poor, underrated root! To be brief: Don’t want cancer? Eat your beets. 

Let the scone-making begin.

Skinnyfat Strawberry Scones

Ingredients:
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 T baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1 T Stevia (or sweeten to taste with your favorite sweetener)
1/4 cup cold butter or substitute (I used Smart Balance)
1/4 cup oil (healthy variety; I used coconut)
3/4 cup milk (the thicker the better. I use 1/2 cup almond milk, 1/4 cup coconut cream. Creamier means richer, moister scones)
1/4 cup finely shredded beets
1/4 cup finely shredded carrots
1 cup fresh strawberries (or berries of choice)

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 400. Combine your dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and soda, salt, and Stevia) in a bowl.

Step 2: Add the wet ingredients (butter, oil, milk, and cream, if using) to the dry ingredients. Cut in with a fork or pastry cutter until just combined.

Step 3: Shred the beets and carrots onto a paper towel. Press until most of the juice is gone and you have semi-dry vegetable shreds. You’ll go through a couple of paper towels.

Step 4: Add the berries, beets, and carrots and mix until just combined.

Step 5: Shape the dough into a round, very thick pizza shape on a cookie sheet (think deep dish pizza, only deeper!). It should be about 2 – 3 inches deep. Cut into 8 equal parts and separate the pieces about an inch apart so they have room to expand while cooking.

Step 6: Bake for 17 – 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. You can drizzle agave on top or add a glaze, which can be made by whisking together a bit of melted butter, sweetener, and vanilla. Serve with butter or jam, or devour them plain like I do. Scrumptious any way you look at it!

So grab a cup of hot coffee, that book you’ve been wanting to read, and savor a warm scone (or two). The best part? Now there’s no scone guilt, because – let’s face it – most scones are just a dense cake that managed to weasel it’s way into the breakfast food category. Enjoy the satisfaction of eating baked goods that are actually that: good for you. “Baked good-for-yous”, if you will. 🙂

~Becky, a skinnyfat girl

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