Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Purple Cookie Monster

Now before I begin to give you the steps in preparing this delicious and somewhat healthy snack, I must warn you that are dangers to making these cookies. Not only are you going to be tempted, but those around you will be tempted too. They are nutritious, yes, but if you have too many, you'll be in trouble. They are so addicting that I have to call these my little purple cookie monster creations...And yes, they are a very dark purple hue.

At one point, I had an extremely bad sweet tooth--I mean, it was so insatiable that even a Yoplait yogurt cup couldn't help me. I sought out to make a delicious and quick confection with the ingredients I had available to me, which ultimately made my confection experiment a 'vegan' one. Even the chocolate used doesn't have dairy... I have never baked vegan before, nor did I have an example recipe for referral. I took the few skills and knowledge I possess in regards to the composition of a cookie and went from there.

Having staved off of eggs and butter recently meant I had to find another way to add in the moisture...I went to my freezer and found that I had some organic frozen wild blueberries. I also have agave syrup, vanilla, and water on hand. Almond butter also came to mind as it has an amazing creaminess that I wanted to replicate in the cookies' texture.

So the dry ingredients felt less intimidating since I did already have flour, baking powder, stevia, (which is easily measured cup-per-cup comparably to sugar) unsweetened cocoa powder, salt, and oats! Chocolate and oats are so delicious together and the last time I had an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie was so easily forgotten because it has been so very long! I knew where to draw inspiration.

Yes, you can drool now.

The best part about these cookies are their low sugar and high nutrient contents. Using stevia and agave syrup together helps to curb the amount of sugar released into your blood, reducing a sugar spike. The blueberries also have amazing antioxidants and fiber. I even had a couple for breakfast the day after making them. One of my roommates is eating a vegan diet and is very conscientious of what she is eating, and the other eats somewhat healthily too. I got asked for seconds. That is a sure sign of making some delectable treats.

The recipe I threw together makes approximately 36 cookies. This a drop-dough cookie and a small teaspoon is about all you need per cookie. Each cookie has approximately 70 calories (yes, I carefully calculated this) and a few grams of sugar (I haven't calculated the sugar content though).

Pretty purple cookie dough.
The Purple Cookie Monsters:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2-3/4 cup stevia or sugar substitute (amount used depends on taste)
2/3 cups oats
1 TBS ground cinnamon
1 TBS baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup almond butter (I used crunchy, but you can use whatever kind you like)
2 TBS vanilla
2 TBS agave syrup
1 cup thawed frozen wild blueberries
1 1/2 cup pureed frozen blueberries

*for an optional topping: 2 squares semi-sweet bakers chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets.
Mix all dry ingredients together. Then add in the thawed blueberries. Mix.
Mix almond butter, vanilla, agave syrup, and blueberry puree together in separate bowl. Using a fork significantly helps if you do not have an electric mixer.
Cut wet ingredients into dry. Because the almond butter is a little tough, you may have to add a little water into the mix to help smooth out the consistency.
Use a tablespoon to measure out cookie dough and drop onto greased cookie sheet. Dough will not spread out much, so you can have as many as 15-18 cookies on a standard sheet.
Bake 10-12 minutes. They will be firm to the touch if cooked thoroughly. Remove from heat.

Optional topping: Melt semi-sweet squares on double boiler or in microwave on High for 1 1/2 minutes. Use teaspoon to apply. Optional garnishment: chopped nuts sprinkled on hardening chocolate.

This is a recipe that I had to carefully remember since I rarely like something enough to have to recreate it for the world in written form. I am so glad I did! Please let me know what you think if you do make them!

Staring at my yogurt cup,


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Fruit-Infused Oatmeal

Good morning and happy almost-summer to you all!

Today's yummy concoction is inspired by trying to eat healthily without excess sugar, and incorporating more vegetarian eating habits into my diet. It is very nutritious and delicious, not to mention, there's a huge variety of things you can do to change it up!

Experts say that eating oatmeal is extremely good for your health, particularly if you have cholesterol issues. Well, I don't know about you, but oatmeal can get quite bland and boring with the same old milk and sugar routine--even if you add in brown sugar and maple. With all that sugar, however, it starts to deplete the health benefits a little.

One of my favorite ways to add some variety to my oatmeal is to add fruit. I find that cooking it down a little reduces the tartness and brings out the natural sugars in the fruit. No need to even add any artificial sweeteners! Yay!


1 serving size of dry oats (quick cook or regular)
1 small fruit, chopped
1 serving size (about 1/2 cup) of favorite yogurt
*optional: Walnuts, almonds, or other favorite type of nut, chopped

Here are the instructions (given to you in the form of pictures). Enjoy!

With a little water in the pan, add in your oats. Cook on medium heat.

Add in your favorite serving of yogurt. It can be low-fat or even Greek. I used Yoplait's Strawberry Banana flavor. Continue to cook on medium heat.

Now add in some chopped fruit. I chopped up an apricot that was still a little tart. You can use berries or other varieties of fruit. Let this cook in the yogurt for a few minutes, especially if the fruit is a little tart and/or hard.

This part is optional, but you can chop up your favorite nut and add it into the mix as well for a little added protein and texture. These are hazelnuts. Almonds, walnuts, and even pecans work well.

Let everything cook together until the fruit is softened and has absorbed sugar from the yogurt. Reduce heat if necessary.

Now you're ready to eat! Have fun mixing flavors and fruits!
Oatmeal has 0 grams of sugar, so the only sugar you're eating is from the yogurt--the apricot or other fruits have natural sugars, which are better for you, nutritionally as they come paired with vitamins and minerals, not to mention, fiber. Greek yogurt would be great to use as well, but keep in mind that once you heat it up, the probiotics are depleted. It does have more protein than traditional yogurt, and if you buy it plain, you can add stevia extract for sweetness, and vanilla flavoring. Ta-da!

*A note for vegans: this recipe is easily interchanged with a vegan alternative to yogurt. Just find a coconut, almond, or soy-based yogurt and substitute that instead. 

Happy eating,


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

My Favorite Gluten-Free Bread...

I know, I know. It has been forever ago since I have updated this blog--between school, Simply Bellezza, moving, and church, I've come to find myself busier than I could have imagined.

So, if you are a follower who is not familiar with my more personal blog or my more personal YouTube channel, Emalyce89, then you have missed out on what this year has meant for me. I started off the New Year by attempting the ever-so-popular resolution to lose weight--a desired total of 75 pounds lost this year. I am down approximately 30 or so pounds and did so by beginning the first 35 days or so of the year with a book called The 17 Day Diet, by Dr. Mike Moreno. I won't go much into details about the diet or specifically how it works, but I will say that one of the big changes is to NOT eat any wheat products for the first two cycles (a total of 34 days). In the first month, I dropped a significant amount of weight and have since felt amazingly well. However, upon reintroducing wheat into my diet, I felt nauseated and bloated, in addition to actually gaining weight for the first time in the 2012 weight loss endeavors. Not good.

I noticed that whenever I ate any wheat products, I had these types of digestive symptoms; however, when I didn't eat wheat, I didn't have any digestive issues whatsoever. I linked that to gluten. I haven't been formally diagnosed with gluten-sensitivity, but I do notice an enormous difference. My mom was diagnosed with gluten intolerance (not Celiac's though) nearly six months ago. She had gone through her regularly scheduled colonoscopy to be told that she had numerous amounts of polyps forming throughout her colon. She has had digestive problems for years, including nearly fatal bacterial infections that started from inside her colon. Her doctor attributes these issues to gluten-sensitivity.

Since she and I have similar symptoms regarding gluten, I have come to the conclusion that I need to back off the wheat products and opt for products that are gluten-free and won't upset my sensitive tummy. So how to do that and where to begin?

Well, let's first talk about what gluten is.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat and other grains (such as barley), giving it the elasticity and chewiness that you would notice in a slice of white bread. For example, gluten is what gives breads the ability to rise since it holds gases that expand when reacting with yeast. Just as an added tidbit, gluten is not soluble in water, that is, it doesn't dissolve in it. I like to think of this as an oil and water solution--they just don't mix. Gluten will float out and off a ball of dough consisting of wheat flour. Pretty interesting, right?

So I wanted to share with you my latest and yummiest gluten-free discovery. It's pretty popular now, but either way, I think I'll share it with you.

If you are a sandwich lover like me, giving up bread sounds like being cursed to embrace salads for lunch ALL the time! Not true. There are a few different brands that carry gluten-free bread; it becomes more difficult finding one that actually tastes good without being as hard as cardboard.

My solution: Udi's White Sandwich bread.
Simple. Fluffy. Yummy.
It doesn't gum up at the top of your mouth either, which is the best part! (Especially if you are an avid eater of PB&B (that's peanut butter and banana) like I am!) The serving size is two slices (which is 140 calories). Their slices are about 3/4 the size of regular sandwich bread, which is fine as a dieter, being the perfect size for me, but for anyone else who wants to experience a fuller, larger sandwich, this will be a slight problem for you.  The rest of the pertinent dietary information: 3g of sugar, 22g carbs, 3g protein, 1 g fiber. It does contain eggs, so if you are vegan, this is not for you either.

Price: According to the Udi's website, it is $5/loaf; however, depending on where you purchase your groceries, it may be less. I bought mine at Fred Meyer for about $4.50.

I hope this helps you and if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below! I'll get back to you when I can!

Having a nummy day,