Thursday, September 29, 2016

S'mores Cookie Cake Bars (Skinny)

Summer is ending, but that doesn't mean the summer treats are! I proved it by making these S'mores Cookie Cake Bars. The chocolate and marshmallow combination should never go out of season, and now it doesn't have to.

These are, believe it or not, healthy S'mores Cookie Cake Bars. They are gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free and butter-free. I know, how is there anything tasty even in these bars? I don't know how it works, but it just does! (Okay, I do know how it works. They're topped with chocolate chips and marshmallows, so the healthiness ends there.)

The bars are made with coconut flour, which might sound crazy or rare, but it can be found at almost any grocery store. It is gluten-free, and much healthier than regular flour. However, since these bars are made with it, they are much more cake-y and less like a tough cookie (no pun intended there, actually). They're dense and chewy and go perfectly with a glass of milk.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Cheesecake-Filled Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

I'm doing a happy dance, metaphorically and literally, because I just successfully baked one of my favorite recipes! I'm a huge lover of pumpkin, and since yesterday was the first day of fall, I celebrated by making these: Cheesecake-Filled Pumpkin Snickerdoodles. What a name.

Believe it or not, these are health-ified cookies compared to similar recipes. These are made with (white) whole wheat flour, reduced sugar, reduced fat cream cheese and no granulated sugar. Most recipes are made with all-purpose flour and more sugar, but pure maple syrup replaces a portion of the sugar in these, which not only makes them a smidge healthier, but also helps bring out the fall flavors.

These cookies are cake-y, soft, fluffy, flavorful and super moist from the cheesecake filling. Yes, all those adjectives were necessary to accurately describe them. They are perfectly coated in a brown sugar mixture, and they have just the right amount of pumpkin flavor. My personal favorite part is the cream cheese filling, though. It really stands out in these cookies. That being said, my boyfriend doesn't like cream cheese, and he still liked them. I told him I'd make these sometime without the filling so he could really enjoy them. So, that's always an option, too, if you know someone who isn't a fan of cream cheese (why are we friends with people like that again? Just kidding.).  

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Oat & Jam Bars

Does anyone else buy fresh fruit jam at farmer's markets and then have nothing to do with them? This could very possibly be just me, but when I buy fruit jam, whether fresh or from the store, I don't want to eat it on toast. And, I usually don't know what else to do with it.

So, a few weeks ago, I tried a new recipe to use some of the jam I have stored in the fridge. I had apricot, raspberry, strawberry, peach and pear all at once, so I thought I'd have some room for testing... And that's what I did - test some healthy and easy oat and jam bar recipes. 

I have now made these twice, and I love them. They are subtly sweet, hearty and filling. Besides the taste, they are SO EASY to make. You just stir a few things together in a bowl, bake it, top with the remaining ingredients and bake again. The total time is about a half hour, so this is great for a last-minute treat. 

Apple Crisp Cheesecake Bars

Fall. Fall. Fall. Fall. It's one of my favorite times of the year (almost)! Though I love spring and summer because of the heat, I can handle the fall season because of the fun foods. My favorites always include apple, pumpkin or candy corn. For this recipe, I went with an apple theme. 

Although, for this recipe, I wanted to make it a little healthier than most. I adapted this recipe from three others, which is more than usual for me. But, I wanted to make sure this recipe was the healthiest it could be while still remaining subtly sweet and tasty. I used (white) whole wheat flour, whole grain oats, reduced fat cream cheese, and, believe it or not, a largely reduced amount of sugar. This recipe could not really be made sugar-free, but I did try to make it as healthy as possible. Everyone deserved a treat sometimes, right?

I took these bars to a football tailgate, and they were a hit. There were hardly any left! If you love festive fall treats like me, make these Apple Crisp Cheesecake Bars! They are great for gatherings, but if you want this dessert for just a few people, it can easily be halved for an 8x8" or 9x9" pan. Happy (almost) fall!