Pumpkin Peanut Butter “Buckeye” Balls

Is it really September already?? I’m not sure how every is feeling, but our August flew by. Jeff and I took a much needed relaxing vacation through California (more about that to come later!) and celebrated our 3 year wedding anniversary. I can’t believe it has been 3 years already! Last year was filled with so many exciting changes; I cannot wait to see what this year brings!

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I’m not sure about you, but in our household the start of football season is a big deal. Jeff and I are proud alumni of the Ohio State University (how many of you just cringed…), and the first game is always exciting and much anticipated as September rounds the corner. Our Saturday was very simple this weekend. We watched a lot of football and enjoyed a variety of snacks, dips, and ice cold beer.

If you know anything about Ohio, or Ohio State football for that matter, buckeyes are a tradition that most Ohioans look forward too. Buckeyes (the food, not the nut or football team) were present at our wedding, and I look forward to my grandmother making them each year for Christmas. While the original buckeye recipe isn’t exactly the healthiest, it definitely reminds me of home and is something that will always stay tucked away in my recipe box. These buckeyes are a little different, a little healthier, and have the perfect fall twist that helped me kick off football season!

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While I know not all football lovers cheer for my Ohio State Buckeyes, I am happy to share my Pumpkin Peanut Butter “Buckeye” Balls with you in hopes that they make your game day spread. These are quick, simple, and easy to make and can also serve as an easy snack for busy days or after school snacks for your kids. I hope you give them a try! Happy Sunday y’all!

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Buckeye Balls

  • Servings: 12-15
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup unsalted, unsweetened smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup organic honey
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • pinch coarse sea salt
  • 3/4-1 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions

It a large bowl, combine pumpkin puree, peanut butter, and honey. Stir with a fork or whisk until all peanut butter is smooth and well incorporated into the other ingredients.

Fold in oats, cinnamon, and salt. Mix until the oats are covered evenly, then sprinkle in the chia seeds. Mix lightly until the chia seeds are well incorporated. Try not to over mix. Chis seeds will start to form a “gel” that helps bond and hold the balls together, but this process can happen too quickly if over stirred and they will become gummy.

Once all ingredients are well incorporated, form small balls (about the size of an extra large gum ball) with your hands. Place on a large dish or cookie sheet and pop into the refrigerator. Re-roll after about 15 minutes, then place back into the refrigerator. Let harden for about 15-20 more minutes.

Once your buckeyes have become firmer, melt 3/4-1 cup of dark chocolate chips in the microwave or double broiler. If microwaving, stop and stir the chips every 20-30 seconds until fully melted to help prevent them from burning.

Dip buckeye balls into the melted chocolate about 1/2 way. Place back on dish or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and put back in the refrigerator for another 15-20 minutes before serving. Keep in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week!


Double Chocolate Zucchini Banana Bread

OK guys.. this recipe is seriously A-M-A-Z-ING. I was holding my breath as I cut into the first piece thinking, “this is going to either be really good or really terrible.” I have a bad history poor results when baking with cocoa powder, especially when I am coming up with a recipe from scratch.

I was so pleasantly surprised at how rich, moist, and chocolatey this bread came out! It is super light and airy with an a little bit of banana undertone in each bite. Having trouble getting your kids (or in my case…. my husband) to eat vegetables? This is definitely a recipe to try! A little hidden zucchini never hurt anyone!

I had a few taste testers before I decided if this was post-worthy or not, and I got nothing but positive feedback! Most of the ingredients you should have around in your cabinet. I haven’t tried making it with any substitutions (for example brown sugar instead of coconut sugar), so I’m not going to promise that the taste or texture will be equivalent if you choose to switch things up. If you like chocolatey… be ready for a pleasantly easy surprise! Let me know what you think!

Double Chocolate Zucchini Banana Bread

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients

  • 2 medium sized brown bananas (the gooier the better!)
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup pressed, shredded zucchini
  • pinch cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips + some extra for the top

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

Shred your zucchini (I used a regular grater, but you can use a food processor or whatever tool you have at home). Press in-between a few paper towels to get rid of some of the extra water. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mash 2 bananas until fairly smooth. Add 1 egg, coconut sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, and oil. Mix until sugar is well incorporated and cocoa powder is dissolved. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and zucchini. Mix together until zucchini is evenly distributed in the batter. Lastly add chocolate chips.

Grease a loaf pan with oil or spray of choice. Evenly distribute the batter and put a few extra chocolate chips on top. Bake for about 30 minutes. Put a toothpick in the center at about 25 minutes to see if it is done (you don’t want to over cook!). Likely, the full 30 minutes will be needed!

Let the bread sit and cool for at least 10-15 minutes before cutting to serve. Cover with tip foil or plastic wrap to keep for up to 5 days. Enjoy!


All The Christmas Goodies!

Good morning everyone!! It’s 2 days after Christmas, and I am tired and ready to get back to a normal routine! While the past few days have been amazing, I am ready to go for a run, meal prep, and cook an easy and simple dinner tonight.

The past few days have been filled with lots of yummy food, family, friends, and drinks. We spent our first Christmas morning in our new home, and it was so nice to be able to wake up and cook a delicious breakfast for Jeff and I. I think I have eaten more chocolate and cheese in the past 72 hours than I have all year!

I have 2 yummy recipes to share that definitely should make your holiday menu next year. One is an easy sweet and salty snack that your guests will love, and the other can be added to your holiday brunch. Like I mentioned, chocolate has been a key ingredient in my diet the past few days so you can expect it to be a key ingredient in these recipes as well!

I love breakfast food, so any time I get a chance to make it a little extra special I jump on the opportunity! While my usual breakfast consists of eggs, oatmeal, or a smoothie filled with fruits and veggies, special times call for something a little more fun and definitely on the sweet side. Jeff and I both have a serious sweet tooth, so why not indulge a little on Christmas morning?

Side note —- it’s ok to indulge during the holidays!! A day or two of eating foods that aren’t in your “typical diet” is not going to make or break your health and fitness goals of 2017. So don’t sweat the small stuff and enjoy what is in front of you!

The two recipes I’m going to share today are for my Christmas Reindeer Chow and Baked Chocolate Chip French Toast.

If I had to pick a favorite it would probably be the reindeer chow, but only because I’m a sucker for a salty and sweet combo. They are both super easy and can feed a crowd. I hope you all enjoyed your holiday weekend as much as we did! Merry Christmas and happy almost New Year! Let me know what you think if you give these recipes a try!

Christmas Reindeer Chow

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2-3 cups pretzel sticks
  • 1/3 cup red, green, and brown M&Ms
  • 3/4 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup lightly salted peanuts
  • 1 cup cinnamon Chex cereal (optional)
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbsp powdered sugar

Directions

Cover a large cookie sheet with wax paper.

Spread all ingredients out evenly onto wax paper. You can break apart some of the pretzels so all pieces aren’t so big.

Melt the white chocolate either in the microwave or with a double boiler. If microwaving, be sure to stop and stir every 15-20 seconds to avoid the chocolate from burning.

Drizzle the white chocolate on top of the pretzels, marshmallows, peanuts, cereal (optional), and M&Ms. Use as much chocolate as desired.

As the chocolate dries, sprinkle powdered sugar over the top of the ingredients. Let site for 15 to 20 minutes or until the white chocolate is fully dry. Once dry, break apart the mixture into bite size pieces. Some of the M&Ms and peanuts may fall off; that’s ok!

Put your Reindeer Chow into a large decorative or festive bowl for serving! Leftovers can be kept in a ziploc bag or air tight container.

Baked Chocolate Chip French Toast

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients

  • 1 loaf of freshly baked bread (I used a whole wheat loaf from a bakery)
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice (I used 1%)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (other options – fresh blueberries, blackberries, peaches, peanut butter chips, white chocolate chips, chopped nuts, etc.)

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut loaf of bread into large chunks. Set aside in a large mixing bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk 2 eggs, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Once the sugar has dissolved, pour milk and egg mixture on top of the bread. Massage the bread to assure all pieces are moistened.

Grease a medium sized baking dish that is shallow enough to contain any extra liquid that may not be absorbed. Evenly distribute the bread in the pan. Sprinkle dark chocolate chips on top (I pushed a few into cracks between the bread as well).

Allow bread to bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top starts to become golden brown and crispy. Serve warms with a side of fruit, nut butter, syrup, or honey on top.


Cranberry Chocolate Pumpkin Bars

Yes… they are as good as they sound! Hi everyone! I feel like I haven’t been on here in ages, but with good reason. I have some fun updates that I will share in a later post this week, but for now… the pumpkin bars!

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These are so easy, gooey, and delicious. I have eaten one literally every day since I made them and they are the perfect ending to any meal. The base of these bars are oats, whole wheat flour, pumpkin, and banana. They are sweetened up with a little dried cranberries and a few dark chocolate chips. They only take about 20 minutes to bake and last for ~1 week covered or in a sealed container (I keep them cold in the refrigerator).

These bars would be the perfect addition to a holiday brunch or get together with family and friends. They are not too sweet and provide just the right about of pumpkin flavor. I hope you give these lovely little bars a try! Happy December friends!

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Cranberry Chocolate Pumpkin Bars

  • Servings: 12-18
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 brown banana
  • 1/2 can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (not packed)
  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 egg
  • pumpkin pie spice (about 1/4 tsp)
  • cinnamon (~1/2 tsp)
  • pinch pink salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mash 1 banana with 1/2 can pumpkin puree. Add brown sugar and mix until it’s fairly dissolved. Stir in 1 egg, vanilla, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt.

Add dry ingredients (oats, flour, baking soda, and baking powder) and mix until all when ingredients are moistened. Stir in dried cranberries, walnuts, and dark chocolate chips.

In a greased baking dish, pour batter and spread out evenly. I used a square 9×9 baking dish. If wanting thinner bars, choose a larger size dish.

Let the pumpkin bars bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the edges start to pull away from the dish. Allow at least 10 minutes for cooling before cutting into squares for serving. Store in an sealed container or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.


Chickpea Cookie Pie

Well first off, sorry about not posting in a while! It has been a hectic few weeks and guess what…? I got engaged! So at least I had a good excuse for my absence right?

For today’s post, I thought I’d do a dessert. I chose this one mainly because I feel like it is way to good to pass up! Seems a little weird when you read the name right? I’ll admit, I was skeptical too. My luck with other dessert bean recipes in the past has been sparse, but I kept seeing different ones for chickpea desserts and couldn’t resist attempting one on my own. Boy was I pleasantly surprised! This dessert was inspired by Chocolate-Covered Katie. If you haven’t checked out her dessert blog and are a healthy dessert nut like myself, I would definitely look her up!

My one recommendation before you try this one… invest in a food processor! A blender won’t do the trick. I used a hand held food chopper and let’s just say I broke a little sweat by the end, so I would 100% recommend an electric food processor (probably a great future investment anyway!).

If I could tweak every dessert I have ever tried to be little healthier, I would, and I would eat them all day long! My sweet tooth is one of the worst I’ve seen (just ask my dentist!), so I would not recommend this recipe if I really didn’t enjoy it! Good luck, and happy baking!

Ingredients:
– 2 cans garbanzo beans/chickpeas, drained and rinsed
– 1 cup oats (I used quick cooking)
– 3/4 cup Truvia (or 1 1/2c sugar)
– 1/4 cup no sugar added applesauce
– 3 Tbsp canola oil
– 2 tsp vanilla
– 1/2 tsp baking soda
– 2 tsp baking powder
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, blend all of your ingredients, aside from the chocolate, together until smooth. Another recommendation I have would be to pre-chop your chickpeas in the food processor first before the other ingredients. This will just help you obtain a smoother consistency faster if that is what you are looking for. You may still have a few lumps here and there, but overall it should be pretty smooth!

Once your batter is to the consistency you prefer, stir in your chocolate chips. Spray your baking dish (or springform pan) with a little cooking spray. I used a square baking dish, but I would recommend a circular pie dish or the springform pan. I just only had square on hand!

Bake your pie for about 35 minutes, or until the edges and top are a little golden brown. Let cool for about 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving. Enjoy!

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