Posts tagged with Snacks

A holiday week snack perfect for the kiddos

Happy Thanksgiving week, friends. I hope everyone is warm and cozy and gearing up to devour some delicious seasonal treats on the big day (and then for a few days thereafter).

Last week, I shared an easy and tasty side dish perfect for bringing to dinner or adding to your own menu. This week, I've decided I’d share a recipe geared more to those inevitable holiday hours when everyone is around the house, looking for something fun to do, and trying to avoid eating all of the special Turkey Day food (both before and after the day itself).

Therefore, I present the perfect, healthy, kid-friendly snack for this holiday week (and the ones we’ll have in December): Tea-Time Banana Sandwiches.

These are easy, require no special equipment, and, by design, they include ingredients you probably already have around the house: bananas, peanut butter and chocolate. Because, if there’s one thing that’s no fun, it’s heading to the store for a single ingredient during the holiday rush.

Make a few with your kids while you enjoy the holiday hours together, and then make them again over winter break in a few weeks. They’re messy and won’t impress guests, but they’re good fun for the kids and the grownups, and they double as a not-so-bad cabin fever snack.

They're not pretty, but they're kid's play for children and grownups alike and require no special equipment to make.

They're not pretty, but they're kid's play for children and grownups alike and require no special equipment to make. by Sarah Henning

Tea-Time Banana Sandwiches

2 medium bananas or 1 large one

2 to 3 tablespoons peanut or almond butter

1/4 cup chocolate chips (or a chopped-up bar of regular chocolate if you don’t have chocolate chips)

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a double broiler (or a glass bowl mounted over water in a saucepan), begin to melt the chocolate chips over low heat. Meanwhile, slice the bananas into quarter-inch slices. Spread a bit of peanut butter on half the slices (this is awkward but fun) and then assemble your banana-peanut butter sandwiches.

When the chocolate has melted, use a toothpick (or just your fingers — no need to head to the store for just toothpicks!) to dip one side of the banana sandwiches in chocolate. Place each dipped sandwich on the lined cookie sheet.

When all the sandwiches are made and coated, place the cookie sheet in the freezer for at least 10 minutes. Then pull them out and enjoy.

You can store these in the freezer, but they probably won't last long enough to do so.

Variation: If you want a version without any refined sugar, swap the chocolate chips for 1/4 cup semi-soft coconut oil (too melted and it won’t coat properly), 1 tablespoon (or more) maple syrup and 1 teaspoon cocoa powder. Mix it together and use it to coat the sandwiches. You may need to freeze the sandwiches once first and then dip them in this mixture before returning them to the freezer.


Spooky good cookie dough bites

Delicious and healthy and perfect for keeping the candy monster at bay.

Delicious and healthy and perfect for keeping the candy monster at bay. by Sarah Henning

At this point in my life, I’m not one to overdose on Halloween candy. Up until a few years ago, yes. Now, not so much.

Mostly because if I start eating it, I won’t stop. So I don’t start (if I can help it).

But that doesn’t mean I don’t want something sweet on the holiday. I mean, who doesn’t? This is one of the most sugar-centric holidays we have in this country, and I’m a lover of sweets. I just don’t need to eat an entire bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (though I’d love to).

My newest favorite sweet treat happen to taste a bit like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups mixed with cookie dough, but they’re much, much healthier: Peanut butter cookie dough bites.

I plan on bringing these to some of the Halloween-themed functions I will be attending, and I highly recommend making them if you’re staring down the candy stash hours (or days) before the trick-or-treaters begin to show up. Eat a few and you’ll feel much better than if you overdo it on the candy, plus you’ll get a dose of good fat, fiber and flavor.

These days I tend to make a double batch of these any time I have a moment to actually “cook” them (funny how the baby loves to eat but would rather not give me time in the kitchen).

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites (adapted from “The Oh She Glows Cookbook” by Angela Liddon)

1 1/2 cups rolled oats or oat flour

1/2 cup almond flour

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 heaping tablespoons smooth peanut butter, almond butter or sunflower butter

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon sea salt (you might want a bit more if there’s no salt in your peanut butter)

2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips

If using regular rolled oats instead of oat flour, start by grinding your oats into a fine powder using either a high-speed blender, food processor or (my favorite) a coffee grinder.

In a large bowl, combine the coconut oil, nut butter, maple syrup and vanilla, and beat with a hand mixer until smooth. Add the almond flour, oat flour and salt and beat again until combined. If the mixture seems a bit dry, add a bit more peanut butter and/or maple syrup. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Roll the dough into small balls. If the chocolate chips fall to the bottom of the bowl, press them back into the dough when rolling. Place the finished bites on a plate or pan lined with parchment paper.

Freeze the bites for five to 10 minutes or until firm. Store the bites in the freezer in a freezer bag for quick and easy snacks.

Makes about 30.

Tips: Make sure all your ingredients are room temperature (I keep my maple syrup and almond flour in the fridge) because if ingredients are too cold, the coconut oil will start to solidify, making it hard to mix. Also, if you’re using the type of nut butter that requires stirring, make sure the oil is well-incorporated before measuring it out for the recipe.


Healthy doughnuts, part 2

Delicious, healthy doughnuts.

Delicious, healthy doughnuts. by Sarah Henning

When I last wrote about doughnuts, I told you I was really, really trying not to make doughnut making a “thing” for me. I’d had a doughnut pan literally for years and had avoided using it because I was sort of afraid of over-using it, if you know what I mean.

But here I am with another doughnut recipe.

I don’t know if only having two types of doughnuts in my repertoire counts as having a “thing,” but if we get to three, maybe I should slow down. But at least I can take solace in the fact that, again, these are healthy doughnuts. No refined sugar, full of omega-3 fatty acids from the chia seeds, and they’re insanely delicious.

In fact, they’re so delicious, we’ve made them three times in a week. The kiddo was a little suspicious at first because the chia seeds make them look a bit gray. But he was won over on the first bite and even stole part of mine after devouring his own quickly.

A few notes: If you don’t have a doughnut pan, a muffin tin works. And I happened to use Penzeys strong Vietnamese cinnamon. It’s so strong you’re supposed to cut the amount in a recipe by a third. I didn’t do that. Thus, if you make these and decide they need a little more cinnamon, add a touch more of the regular kind to the recipe the next time.

Out-the-Door Chia Power Doughnuts

3/4 cup gluten-free oat flour

1/2 cup chia seeds

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/3 cup pure maple syrup or other liquid sweetener

1/3 cup non-dairy milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Lightly grease a 6-cavity doughnut pan with oil (I used coconut). Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the oat flour, chia seeds, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

Add the maple syrup, milk and vanilla and stir until combined. The batter will be runny but this is normal.

Bake the doughnuts for 22 to 26 minutes, until firm to the touch. A toothpick inserted into a doughnut should come out clean.

Cool the doughnuts in the pan for about 10 minutes, and then carefully invert the pan onto a cooling rack. The doughnuts should pop right out — if they don’t, let them cool a bit more and gently pull a knife along the edges of the wells to loosen them. Cool the doughnuts completely on the rack.

— Recipe from The Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon


Healthy soft serve ice cream

Soft-serve without the crap.

Soft-serve without the crap. by Sarah Henning

Like many kids, my 5-year-old is very much into the PBS show “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” which, for those of you who don’t have kids, is a cartoon spin-off of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

As you can expect from a pedigree like that, “Daniel Tiger,” as the kiddo calls it, is full of the sort of wholesome lessons Fred Rogers taught kids like me back in the ’80s. You know, songs about brushing your teeth, being nice to friends, sharing, etc.

But Daniel Tiger also has something going for him I don’t remember from the original show: excellent eating habits.

Included in the rotation of fruits and vegetables Daniel eats on the show as a good example to the kiddos watching is something Daniel calls “banana swirl.” Basically: frozen bananas in a blender.

On one of the warmer days we’ve had recently, the kiddo was hot to trot on making banana swirl just like Daniel Tiger. Good thing I’ve been making it for years (so glad he noticed).

There are tons of recipes out there for banana soft serve — so many that I forget where I first saw it, but no matter whose recipe you use, it’s a delicious cold snack on hot days that won’t leave you feeling guilty.

Now, unlike Daniel Tiger, I make my “banana swirl” in the food processor. That said, if you have a very powerful blender and no food processor, you can try this recipe with that. I’m sure someone reading this will have a Yonanas machine, in which case you probably already know and love bananas as soft serve.

Raspberry-Chocolate Banana Ice Cream

Per serving:

2 frozen bananas, sliced

Thawed frozen or fresh raspberries

Chocolate chips

In a food processor, blend frozen bananas, scraping down at the sides as needed, until a thick, soft serve texture is achieved (usually about 5 minutes). Top with raspberries and chocolate chips to taste.

Note: This works best if you make several servings at once, though how many depends on the size of your food processor. My food processor is 9 cups, and the minimum number of bananas I can get away with is 6. That said, mine also has a 4-cup bowl insert, and I can usually use 2 to 3 bananas in there just fine.


Healthy doughnuts (seriously)

Cake doughnuts without the refined sugar. Delicious.

Cake doughnuts without the refined sugar. Delicious. by Sarah Henning

I love to bake. LOVE it. Thus, I probably have every type of baker’s tool lying around somewhere in my kitchen cabinets — Silpat, candy molds, springform pan, French spatula, etc. And I’ve used everything I own at one time or another save for a single item that I’ve had for years: a doughnut pan.

I’ve had this doughnut pan ever since the giant going-out-of-business sale of the Pink Box bakery in early 2011. I bought it for $3 with good intentions. And then it just … sat there. Mostly because I was scared to use it.

OK, not scared. Terrified.

Because I knew if I did, I’d start something. Something I might not be able to stop.

You see, I LOVE doughnuts.

But I barely ever have them because, well, we all know they aren’t exactly healthy. And because of my love of them, it’s better that I don’t indulge. If I do, that will almost immediately turn into me finding another excuse to have them. And another. And pretty soon I’m having doughnuts every Saturday morning. (This exact thing happened in the weeks after my son was born and went on for MONTHS.)

So, I’d never used my doughnut pan.

And I don’t know what got into me, but sometime when the weather was acting up and about 30 degrees colder than we all know it should be, I decided I’d pull out the doughnut pan and see if I could make something healthy with it. I mean, because I’m all for being stuck inside when it’s snowy and cold with baked goods, but I just don’t want them to be a sugar bomb I regret even days later.

My first attempt? To make pumpkin doughnuts by adapting my Sneaky Pumpkin Pie Bars.

And you know what? They totally worked. I even made them twice to make sure. But they turned out perfect, and one recipe filled the pan exactly. And they taste GOOD.

Sure, I may have opened a can of worms (Thinking of trying coconut donuts next!) but at least I know I can make something without refined sugar or junk with my terrifying doughnut pan. That warms my little baker’s heart.

Healthy Pumpkin Cake Doughnuts

½ cup pumpkin

½ cup raw, unsalted almond butter

⅓ cup maple syrup

2 eggs or 2 flax eggs (1 tablespoon ground flaxseed and 3 tablespoons water for each egg)

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt (less if you happen to be using roasted almond butter)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a six-doughnut pan well with with coconut oil. Set aside.

Put all ingredients except for the chocolate chips in a bowl. Stir well.

Pour batter into your oiled doughnut molds, using an ice cream scoop or spoon to make spills less likely.

Bake 25 minutes or until the the edges are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center doughnuts comes out clean. Let cool completely before using a knife to pry the doughnuts out of their molds.

These store well in the fridge, as the cold helps them set up a bit more, though I stored them in the freezer and let them defrost a bit before using. Serves 6.


Eat Your Veggies: (Healthier) cut-out cookies

Healthy and heart-warming.

Healthy and heart-warming. by Sarah Henning

For Valentine's Day, my little guy wanted to make something special.

He’d already devoured my deconstructed chocolate-covered fruit salad (turns out he likes white chocolate?), so we decided to make something else from scratch.

Ever since Christmas, he’s been constantly asking to make cut-out cookies, but we just hadn’t done it, mostly because I don’t want him to think it’s OK to eat Grandma’s sugar cookies all year long. I mean, they’re delicious, but they’re not the healthiest dessert imaginable.

So, I found a recipe on one of my favorite sites that is for a cookie with a base of almond flour and honey. I find these ingredients to be far healthier than flour and white sugar and butter. Add in a healthier version of icing, and we were off to the races.

Thus, we had a win-win-win: Kiddo gets his special cut-out cookies, Mom gets her nutritional preferences met and we both get to eat the heck out of a special holiday treat.

Of course, Valentine’s Day has passed, but there’s no reason you couldn’t make these for your sweetheart for another occasion

Almond Flour Frosted Sugar Cookies

For the cookies

2 cups blanched almond flour

1/4 cup coconut oil, softened (or use butter instead)

1/4 cup raw honey

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

For the frosting

2 tablespoons coconut oil, softened

2 tablespoons raw honey

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Pinch of fine sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, mix together the cookie ingredients until a thick, creamy batter is formed. If the dough seems dry, add a little bit of maple syrup to make it creamier.

Chill the dough for 30 minutes in the fridge

Using a cookie scoop, drop the batter by rounded tablespoons onto a baking sheet, lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. Press each bit of dough flat and then cut into desired shape with cookie cutters.

Bake for about 8 minutes, or until the edges turn golden brown.

Allow to cool on the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the frosting, simply cream together the coconut oil, honey, almond extract and salt until well combined. If the coconut oil starts to melt (it melts at temperatures above 76 degrees), briefly place the mixture in the fridge to help it set.

Frost the cooled cookies, and let them set in the fridge for a more solid-frosting.

Yields 24.

— Recipe adapted from


Ginger cookies with a healthy twist

These ginger cookies are healthy and tasty: A perfect January treat.

These ginger cookies are healthy and tasty: A perfect January treat. by Sarah Henning

So far this month, I've written about tricks for eating healthy, frozen food helpers, the pros of eating dessert and how to plan healthy snacks.

I thought I'd end this month's healthy eating pep talk with a delicious treat that works as both a snack and dessert. And — bonus — this treat has protein (from the almonds), healthy fats (from the almonds and coconut oil), iron (from the molasses) and contains no refined sugars.

Oh, and it's a delicious treat/snack/healthy choice.

I've been making these every couple of weeks since the fall and find the taste to be perfectly sweet and spicy and the texture is nice and chewy. In fact, the only downside to these cookies is that you have to wait 30 minutes for the dough to firm up.

But it's worth the wait. I promise.

Helpful note: You want to start with all your ingredients as close to room temperature as possible. This is because the coconut oil solidifies at 75 degrees. So, if you mix it with cold ingredients, it clumps a bit and this can drastically alter how your cookies come out. Trust me, I've been impatient before and the cookies I got were flat and off.

Grain-Free Ginger Cookies 1 1/2 cups almond flour

2 tablespoons coconut oil, liquid

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl, and mix until a thick batter is formed. Chill the batter for 30 minutes in the fridge to make sure it’s nice and firm before scooping.

Preheat the oven to 350 and drop the batter by rounded tablespoons onto a baking sheet lined with a Silpat, or parchment paper. Use a wet fork to flatten each dough mound, into your desired cookie thickness. If you’d like a sugar topping, try sprinkling a bit of low-glycemic coconut crystals over the tops before baking.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until firm around the edges, but still soft in the center. Allow to cool on the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Serves 12.

— Recipe from


Snack time

Trail mix: A satisfying and easy snack.

Trail mix: A satisfying and easy snack. by Sarah Henning

In the month of January, I’ve discussed several of the finer points of cleaning up your eating in the new year: shopping and dining strategies, the freezer as your friend and letting yourself eat chocolate.

Now, it’s snack time.

Acknowledging that, yes, chances are you’ll eat between meals goes a long way in the world of eat healthy strategy.

Because here’s the thing: When making healthy changes, a lot of us don’t plan on snacking. I’ve had many a moment over the years where I pack my lunch for work and don’t bring anything else because if I bring it I know I’ll eat it. And I figured that if I didn’t bring a morning snack and an afternoon snack, I would save myself the calories and cost associated with both.

The gaping hole in this logic: If you don’t bring something to snack on and you get hungry — and you know you will — you’re left with few choices:

  1. You could rush home to get the snack you didn’t bring, but chances are you won’t have time.
  2. You could just sit there with a hole in your stomach waiting until it’s a socially acceptable time to devour your lunch (Come on, 11 o’clock!).
  3. Cop for something decidedly unhealthy in the work vending machine/snack trough/nearest coffee shop.

We all know which answer is most likely to happen during a busy work day and it’s not good if you’re trying to make wholesale changes.

Thus, it’s a good idea to just go ahead and assume you’re going to need snacks to go right along with your newly healthy lunch and dinner. If you don’t eat it, fine. If you do: Don’t beat yourself up about it. You were hungry. You needed to eat. Eat.

My strategy for this during the workweek is simple: Fruit and nuts.

As I mentioned in my first “pep talk” post this month, I have a bowl on my desk that I fill up at the beginning of each workweek with fruit. Apples, tangerines, pears and bananas. Each piece has under 100 calories and is packed with fiber and various vitamins, which means one or two make a great snack.

For times when I need more than just a piece of fruit, I keep a mixture of raw almonds and walnuts in my desk drawer. Throw in a few chocolate chips and goji berries (or raisins), and you’ve got a homemade trail mix that’s both a great snack and a great little dessert.

Start there, and see if you can not only train yourself into accepting that you’re going to snack, but also teach yourself to do it in a healthy way.