Tag Archive | low sugar

small victories, big victories

Hi there, happy Monday and happy March! I know I’m a few days late, but I am still ecstatic that the calendar is no longer on February.  I kid-you-not I did a happy dance on March 1st. To me, March symbolizes the start of sunshine, spring air, tulips, brighter evenings, and most importantly, one month closer to Brandon coming home. Hooray!

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Anyway, February was a crazy month for me and I know March will be even crazier. My sister’s wedding is less than 3 months away, my classes are full-swing, and I start working weekends again verrrry soon.  For that reason, I’m making a diligent effort to take things day-by-day rather than looking ahead,  and I’m making sure to recognize each task accomplished off of my to-do list as an individual victory, even if it’s just a small one. I am a strong believer in recognizing accomplishments because my parents have always been big on this.  Growing up, whether we lost a tooth, learned the capitals of the USA, or scored in our basketball game;  every achievement was recognized, big or small. I remember those moments specifically because they made a point to celebrate them! It really helped me to slow down and live in the moment. Currently, if I think about the months ahead as a whole,  I start stressing out in a bad way. In order to start March off on the right foot, small victories are going to be big victories in my book. 

Recent victories:
-Aced my Chemistry 2 test = victory
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-Bought my bridal shower dress = victory

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…. just giving you a sneak-peek! : –)

-Attended Kimmie and Jimmy’s planning meeting/cake tasting and made some big decisions = victory
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(I helped taste, obviously!)

-Picked the bridal shower menu with Mom = victory
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-Concocted a delicious low-sugar no-bake dessert =  victory
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This recipe was too good not to share. I adapted the recipe to make it gluten-free (using gluten-free oats), dairy-free (using almond milk), and very low-in sugar, too. Plus, these are incredibly easy to make. Enjoy these for a healthy, Monday treat!

No Bake Low-Sugar Chocolate Nut Butter and Oat Cookies
Adapted from Sugar-Free Mom

Ingredients
½ cup peanut butter (almond butter or any sun-butter would work too)
4 tablespoons butter ( I used Earth Balance)
½ cup dairy-free chocolate chips (sugar-free or regular would work, too)
2 cups rolled oats (I used gluten-free)
½ cup milk (I used almond.  Any milk would work)
powdered stevia packets ( I used 2)
0ptional topping: ⅓ cup sugar free chocolate chips, melted

Directions:

1. Add the nut butter, butter and chocolate chips to a small sauce pan and heat on low, stirring until melted.
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2. In a large mixing bowl add the oats and milk. Then pour the chocolate nut-butter mixture into the oats.
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3. Taste the mixture, and if you think it’s sweet enough, skip the stevia. I wanted it sweeter, so I added it in.  Mix well.

4. Using a small cookie scoop, form the dough into balls and place them onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
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5. You can leave them in a ball formation and refrigerate them to harden, or flatten them into small discs. I flattened mine with a fork and I loved that they looked like a cookie but had a more substantial thickness to them! You could also drizzle melted chocolate over them if you choose to. (I skipped this step because I ran out of chips.)
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6. Refrigerate until hardened.

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A few of these are going into my lunch bag as I type! Have a great Monday, all!

Were your parents big on celebrating accomplishments?
Did you have any big/small victories this week?
What’s your favorite no-bake cookie combination?
Mine is chocolate and peanut-butter, no question!

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Easy Low-Sugar Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bites

The baking bug officially hit me this week and I  honestly couldn’t be happier about it.  It’s been so fun to find new recipes and experiment/adapt them to sugar-free and lower-sugar treats;  it’s becoming a new hobby of mine! So far, I’d say they’ve all been pretty successful, and these oatmeal raisin cookie bites were no exception. I stumbled upon these Cinnamon and Raisin Granola Cookies via Pinterest and was immediately intrigued.  Jennifer makes some great looking healthy recipes!

Anyway, since I’m a big oatmeal lover and an even bigger oatmeal-cookie lover, I  was excited to experiment with these, yet somewhat skeptical of how they would turn out due to the lack of butter and brown sugar in the recipe. An oatmeal cookie without brown sugar? Neverrr …or so I thought. I was proven wrong once I tasted the dough. These are chewy, full of raisins, and have just the right amount of natural sweetness. The only change I made was adding a half-tablespoon of protein powder in place of a tablespoon of maple syrup, since I thought this would bind the dough together a bit more. It worked! I’m calling these ‘bites’ because they’re a bit smaller than a traditional cookie, at least for my standards.
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The portion-size of the cookies can be whatever you want—I used an ice-cream scoop to spoon-out the dough for mine and simply flattened each slightly with a spoon before popping them in the oven. Remember, whatever portion you spoon-out for the dough will be the size of  each cookie, since they don’t spread.  I loved that these were easy to make and portable enough to eat pretty much anywhere, and you can enjoy a few without any guilt at all! I enjoyed mine with a side of vanilla ice-cream, but that’s an optional (excellent) addition.
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Low-Sugar Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bites
Adapted from this Peanut Butter and Peppers Recipe
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Ingredients

  1. 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (I used store brand)
  2. 1 tbsp. maple syrup (sugar free)
  3. 1/2 tbsp. protein powder (I used chocolate by Arbonne)
  4. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  5. 1 cup oats, ground (I used whole oats)
  6. 1/2 cup oats
  7. 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, ground
  8. 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  9. 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  10. pinch of salt
  11. 1/3 cup raisins

Instructions

  1. Preheat  the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit  (176 degrees Celsius). Then line your baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine the applesauce, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Mix well until combined.
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  3. In a blender or food processor (I used a blender), grind one cup of oats  until it is a flour-like consistency (this should take about 30-45 seconds max.)
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  4. Then add the oat-flour, oats, cinnamon, protein powder, baking soda, baking powder and pinch of salt to the bowl; mix until combined.
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  5. Fold in the raisins.
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  6. Scoop the amount of batter you’d like for each cookie bite into cookie-form and place on the cookie sheet, about an inch or two apart from one another. (I flattened each with the back of a spoon, so they weren’t so round). Then bake them for about 8-10 minutes or until bottom is lightly golden.
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We all loved these. Next time, I’m doubling the batch!
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Thanks again Jennifer for the recipe idea!

I’m off to enjoy the sunshine today, with the help of my new floppy hat.
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Another first for me, thanks to Sue! She insisted on getting it for me yesterday, and I’m already  obsessed with it! I just love the hat trend in Australia. Is it just me, or do big hats scream “royal”?! 
It might just be me…oh well, I love it!

Happy almost-weekend!

No-Bake Pretzel & Peanut butter fudge bars…OMG

I have to admit, I haven’t baked much since moving to Australia. I didn’t plan on this at all, especially since it is one of my favorite hobbies (second to shopping, of course). However, I attribute my lack of baking mostly to the fact that it is just so darn expensive to buy ingredients here. I’d also be lying if I didn’t admit that having a tray of desserts readily available for a household of two people is VERY dangerous. The mortifying realization of ‘where did all the cookie bars go? Oh wait…we live alone, I ate them’ has happened to me too many times to count. So when we have guests, I find it to be the perfect time to bake.
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Brandon’s Dad is a diabetic, so I was on the search of a low-sugar dessert that we could all enjoy. Did you think this was going to be a low-sugar recipe based on the title of this post? Probably not, but it really is! I found this recipe on Pinterest, and after I read the words ‘Peanut Butter Fudge Caramel Pretzel Candy Bars’ and saw the pictures, I figured it would likely be a winner. Pretzels, peanut butter, and fudge in one low-sugar recipe? SOLD. This recipe looks and sounds fantastic as-is, but I can say that adapting it to fit the ingredients I had on-hand proved to be pretty successful, too! I substituted chocolate protein powder for the vanilla, left out the butter extract, and opted to leave out the caramel swirl in favor of a sprinkle of sea salt on the top instead. Other than that, I followed the original closely.

I found these to be the perfect combination of salty and sweet. Oats & Pretzels on the bottom with peanut butter and chocolate on the top made each bite extra-special. Plus, these fulfilled my constant sweet and salty craving too, which seems to be a constant of mine this year. Seriously, a bag of pretzel m&m’s stand no chance around me. But these are WAY more fun to eat than pretzel m&m’s.
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  Obsessed, obsessed, obsessed. Make these as soon as possible!

No-Bake Low-Sugar Pretzel & Peanut Butter Fudge Bars
Adapted from Natural Sweet Recipes

Ingredients:

For the Pretzel Crust Base:
1 Cup Pretzels
1/2 Cup Oats (I used whole oats)
1/4 Cup Coconut Sugar
2 Tablespoons Chocolate Protein Powder (Or vanilla)
1/2 Cup Butter (very softened)

For the Peanut Butter Fudge Layer:
1 Cup Natural Creamy Peanut Butter
1 cup Sugar Free Chocolate (or any chocolate)
1/3 Cup Coconut Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Tablespoon Cocoa Powder

For the Topping:
3-6 Tablespoons Crushed Pretzels (depending on how much pretzel topping you want)
Sea Salt

Directions:
1) Line a 8 by 8 baking dish with parchment paper or spray it well with canola oil cooking spray.
2) In a food processor or blender, blend the oats until they become a flour-like consistency. Add in the pretzels and pulse them together until fine. (I used a blender and it worked great!)
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3) In a mixing bowl, combine the oat flour, pretzels, coconut sugar and protein powder. Add the soft butter and mix to combine well. The dough should be moist, but not too sticky. (If it seems too sticky, add a little more protein powder and mix well.) Transfer the dough to your prepared pan and press firmly and evenly into the bottom of the pan. Place this in the freezer while you make the fudge, for about 10 minutes.
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4) In a microwave safe bowl, add the chocolate and coconut sugar. Microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds or until all the chocolate and coconut is melted and combined. (Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn!)
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5) While the chocolate is warm combine I with the peanut butter. Allow the mixture to cool slightly for a minute or two and then add the vanilla and cocoa. Mix well. (Warning: this smell is intoxicatingly-good!)
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6) Pour the warm fudge mixture over the chilled base and return it to the freezer to chill for about 2 minutes. Meanwhile, crush up the pretzels. (I crushed mine up in a zip-loc bag!)  Sprinkle the pretzel mixture over the fudge layer, then add sea salt if desired. Return it to the freezer for about one hour. Then transfer them to the fridge, cut, and serve.
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The natural sweetness of these bars is shockingly delicious. Although this was my first baking experience with coconut sugar,  I’ll be using it again and again. I made these yesterday, and they are nearly gone today. A good sign? I think so!