Sugar Free Protein Brownies (a.k.a. What Happens When I Get Desperate and Bake in the Ancient Stove)

Guys this kitchen is killing me.

When my boyfriend walked into this kitchen he promptly informed me “I’ve seen ghettos with nicer kitchens.”

We recently moved, and let’s just say a kitchen reno was top of the to do list. Except we’ve been here almost 2 months and still haven’t ordered anything other than the stove. Which my mother has called a gift for me, and even though I won’t get to take it with me, it really is a gift for me. She knows how I feel about our circa 1960’s stove.

At the same time, grad apps have been very busy/stressful. Which since it’s been too cold to run (I missed easing myself into the cold and now I am a lazy runner) means I really have been itching to bake.

Alas. My recently fool-proofed scone recipe (coming very soon!) was not match for this stove.

My Apple Skor Cheesecake tragically fell prey too. The delicious cookie crust topped with apples and a rich skor cheesecake layer never stood a chance.

At this point I was ready to throw in the spatula and resign myself to frigid winter runs. And then came along the Oh She Glows cookbook! Hallelujah for no-bake recipes.  The cookbook includes 2 recipes for Glo Bars, I took the Classic recipe (exclusive to the cookbook from what I can tell – but I am not vegan and am in love with it! Go buy it. I will wait.), since I couldn’t find brown rice syrup I used a combo of maple syrup (1/4c), agave syrup (2T), and water (1.5T) per the internet’s recommendations. I also have a serious hate on for coconut so I used 1/4 cup cashews and I didn’t read so I ended up adding a quarter cup of cranberries (instead of the 2T sesame seeds. Me and sesame seeds don’t get along either).
My grandparents even liked them! Like asked to take some home level liked them. They find most of what I eat strange (for the record they find a lot of the new food trends like avocado and sweet potatoes odd). So you know they’re good.

Glo Bars a la city villager

Glo Bars a la city villager

As delicious as they were though, they were almost too easy. I needed to bake. Actually bake. With my crappy oven and newly purchased healthy ingredients. (I love sweets, but I have been trying to find healthy but still yummy baked goods recipes).

I am incredibly lazy in the mornings. Which means that I usually sleep as late as possible. Which means that I end up rushing around trying to get out the door on the time. So breakfast lately have been a sea of protein shakes and apples. I am starting to get tired of having shakes every morning. I contemplated smoothies but they felt like the same thing. Fortunately my boyfriend branched into the culinary world, with protein bars (with the exact same motivations) and has been patiently perfecting them for months.

Aaraf's "protocol" for his protein brownies

Aaraf’s “protocol” for his protein brownies

I took his recipe and tweeked it to the flavour and consistency I wanted but man are these bars are delicious and nutritious. Dates, bananas, and maple syrup give moisture and sweetness without fat and sugar. Carob chips and dried banana chips add a sweet surprise! I used carob chips because it seemed to be the buzz word and they are lower in calories and higher in protein. This was my first time using them and It is definitely a unique taste, feel free to use chocolate chips if that is more your style, just be aware that it alters the protein and calorie content. At first I wasn’t really sure how I felt about them, but they have really grown on me! With peanut butter, Greek yogurt, chia seeds, and protein powder, these are sure to keep you full all morning (29.5g of protein)! And I promise – they are beyond easy!IMG_20150222_155902

I used whey powder in these, which may surprise you because it is prone to making things dense and chewy but I promise you these bars are neither of those! The key is in your leavening agent – it is very important to use powder not soda. When cooking with dutch processed cocoa (such as the Fry’s cocoa used in this recipe), it is best to use powder, otherwise, use soda!

omnomnom protein. Chocolate-y cake-y delicious protein.

omnomnom protein. Chocolate-y cake-y delicious protein.

So hallelujah between the Glo Bars and these sweet treats – my mornings have been saved. (As an added bonus the new stove came in yesterday!!! It is beautiful.)

Please ignore my gross kitchen. It is pretty awful.

Please ignore my gross kitchen. It is pretty awful. 

Ingredients:

  • 6 scoops protein powder (I used chocolate flavoured whey)
  • 1/3 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup cocao powder (Dutch press like Fry’s)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 8 dates (pitted, soak in water to rehydrate)
  • 2 large bananas, very ripe, mashed (about 1 c.)
  • 1/2 cup nut butter (I used peanut butter, all natural)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 3/4 cup plain greek yogurt (I used 0%)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup carob chips
  • 1/4 cup banana chips, crumbled

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Combine the protein powder, oats, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder in a bowl.
  3. Puree the dates and bananas together. Add peanut butter and maple syrup and blend until combined. Add milk and Greek yogurt and beat well. Add eggs and beat for a minute.
  4. Fold in chia seeds and then add the dry mixture. Mix until just combined, being careful to not over-mix. Gently fold in banana and carob chips.
  5. Pour mixture in a lined or lightly greased pan and bake for 35-45 minutes.

IMG_20150222_173625

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“Nutty Canadian” Banana Muffins

A decadent muffin with peanut butter, bananas, and maple syrup. Yes. Maple Syrup. Heaven.

Johnny Depp Freaking outSo it’s that time of year folks – midterms are in full swing, and students everywhere are entering panic mode. As a fourth year, with a bad case of senioritus even my panic is a little half-assed and indifferent, but it’s showing up in the same stereotypical form as always.Not sure if I'm calm because Baked goods. I bought bananas about two weeks ago, with the intent of waiting for them to go brown so I could bake with them. This kind of procrastination takes a lot of planning folks. So I patiently waited every day for them to get just brown enough. Then I patiently waited to have five minutes to do something with them. Midterms are finally done, and while I had at least 10 other things awaiting my attention last night when I got home, these bananas were my first priority.

I needed to break the breakfast rut I’ve been in as of late, so muffins were top of my list of what to do with these very ugly looking but very delicious bananas. I  published a muffin recipe back in the fall, but I wanted something more decadent this time. Sneakily decadent. So sneaky that they ended up being healthy again. So I thought back to late summer, when to say thank you to my grandparents for coming down and helping with the taming of my backyard, I made them the most delicious peanut butter banana loaf. Now we’re getting really good. But there was still a certain, je ne sais quoi, missing. Standing with the fridge door open, it dawned on me – I AM CANADIAN! And out came the maple syrup. Perfect.

nutty canadian muffin two plateThe resulting muffin is sweet and rich, thanks to the peanut butter and maple syrup,  and still very healthy thanks to the oats, bananas, and yogurt. The peanut butter gives a hefty dose of protein, the milk and yogurt give a nice dose of calcium, the bananas are chock full of potassium, and oats have been shown to lower “bad” cholesterol. So yeah, I found a way to have my cake and eat it too.

As an added bonus, I took this chance to break out my beautiful new Ninja Mega Kitchen System. Using a food processor instead of a hand mixer made this easier than normal and ensured that there would be no batter flung into strange corners of my kitchen. Score one for me. You do need to make sure you don’t over mix once you’ve added the wet ingredients as you will end up with a tough, dense muffin, but it definitely saves time and effort.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups oats (quick cooking, not instant)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425F and grease 12 muffin tins.
  2. Mix egg, vanilla, and brown sugar in a medium bowl.
  3. Add peanut butter, milk, and bananas and combine until smooth.

    You'll get something like this!

    You’ll get something like this!

  4. Combine dry ingredients, except the chocolate chips, in the food processor and pulse a few times to get it all mixed together.nutty canadian dry
  5. Add the wet mixture to the food processor and mix until just combined. Remove the blade and fold in chocolate chips.nutty canadian batter from top
  6. Spoon into muffin tins, filling right to the top and bake for 5 minutes at 425F, then 15 minutes at 350F, or until toothpick comes out clean.

nutty canadian singler nutty canadian stackBon Appetit!

In Which I Question My Sanity and Consume Excessive Salmonella

Last week on pure impulse I agreed to bake some cookies for one of the philanthropic associations on campus. Probably partly out of a selfish desire to force JP to admit that, yes, my cookies ARE better than Grandma’s (as per our discussion in class). Thing I think neither of us was expecting was just how deep I would throw myself into this. If you’ve ever read the children’s book “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” you will understand what happened here. Except the mouse wasn’t asking for more, I just got a little excited and progressively started offering more. What started as an offer to make a batch of my Oatmeal Chocolate Cheesecake Cookies somehow became an offer to make 120 cookies (which actually made about 140, but don’t tell the philanthropists), divided between 4 varieties. It started so innocently. I figured well I only use half a tub of cream cheese for the Oatmeal Cookies, and I didn’t want to just take the easy way and bake off 80 of the same kind, I figured everyone likes variety and what if they can’t sell that many? So I decided ok, I’ll figure something else out to use the other half tub. So I sat and thought long and hard about what other ideas would be delicious and easy, and true to student style (though I’m gonna preface this by saying I’m really NOT a huge drinker), I found a way to bring alcohol into the picture in the form of Bailey’s Chocolate Cookies

But I didn’t stop there.

Sitting on the couch watching Secret Princes and imagining scenarios in which that turned out to be a thing with someone I knew, I had several Hallelujah moments. Not of the “aha! Aaraf is a prince!” variety, though of course he’s my knight in shining armor ;). I thought, I love cookies and cream – can I make a cookie doubly cookie?

Yes, Yes I can.

I decided to add this third variety of cookie after reasoning that I would have flour, sugars, and eggs left over – if I only bought ONE more brick of cream cheese I could make close to 100 cookies. But then we were back to the half brick of cream cheese problem.

Quality control = tasting before and after the dough is prepped (I took the duty of beater licking)

Quality control = tasting before and after the dough is prepped (I took the duty of beater licking)

Brushing my teeth, ironic given the fact that I was doing this thinking about cookies, I thought I love s’mores. There had to be a recipe out there. After searching through a couple recipes I finally settled on this one from the Six Sisters Stuff. It had the perfect mix of darling and ease.

For those of you keeping track – based on the average cookie yield of most recipes I was now up to 4 varieties totally approximately 120 cookies.

And because I have issues visualizing volume, I now have approximately 9kg of flour in my cupboard. Life lesson – just because it’s a better deal buying in bulk doesn’t mean you should. Though Costco has a fantastic deal on pure vanilla extract – just saying.

Thankfully I had a wonderful baking assistant, and we had Aaraf for quality control

So after that teeny tiny little offer to bake some cookies we ended up with the following:

I now have a very clear idea of what 120 cookies looks like

I now have a very clear idea of what 120 cookies looks like

What exactly did I make?

Bailey's Chocolate Cookies :) Yes. Cookies with alcohol.

Bailey’s Chocolate Cookies 🙂 Yes. Cookies with alcohol.

This was a pretty straightforward recipe, so I stuck mostly to this great recipe by Ali over at Gimme Some Oven. The only adaptations I made were to swap in cream cheese and yogurt for the butter, this meant that I also had to add some flour, but in the end I got a puffier cookie. For my version check out here.

Cookies and Cream Cheesecake Cookies :)

Cookies and Cream Cheesecake Cookies 🙂

I also made Cookies & Cream Cookies using a recipe from Acute Designs. Again, I stuck pretty much to the recipe, the only thing I did was swap butter for plain cream cheese, and add more Oreos and half a teaspoon more vanilla, because that’s how I roll. My version can be found here.

I'll take S'more? (bad pun. I know.)

I’ll take S’more? (bad pun. I know.)

In case you haven’t caught the theme yet – the only difference between this and the original? Cream cheese. Because cream cheese makes everything better. Since I use light cream cheese it’s also healthier for you than using butter. You can get the original recipe over at Six Sisters Stuff. I didn’t get quite the approximate yield of 40 but I most likely was just making them slightly larger than the original. I haven’t posted this separately because really I did the exact same thing – I just used half a brick of cream cheese instead of half a cup of butter and chilled the dough for 2 hours. Try it both ways – let me know – has my cheesecake addiction interfered too much?

And of course - the amazingly delicious Oatmeal Chocolate Cheesecake Cookies ;)

And of course – the amazingly delicious Oatmeal Chocolate Cheesecake Cookies 😉

Of course, I had to make the originally planned Oatmeal Chocolate Cheesecake Cookies!