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cocoa for coconut [cookies & coupon code!]

20 Jun

Spoiler: My mom says these are the best cookies I’ve ever made.

And considering the sheer number of cookie recipes on my recipe page (which I haven’t updated in like two months, oops), that has to be saying a lot.

But let’s backtrack, shall we?

A few weeks ago I was approached by the very-sweet Jen from Kelapo Coconut, asking if I’d like to do a review of their virgin coconut oil. Having experimented with coconut oil once before, I was more than happy to oblige. However, I was in the thick of finals so I had them send it to my home address and upon arriving was ecstatic to find this waiting in my dining room for me:

Ideas for different cookies and desserts bounced around in my head for weeks. While there are certainly plenty of savory ways to use it, I was obviously inclined to use in baking for that slight coconutty taste I found it lent to baked goods.

There are a bunch of reasons to love coconut oil that I’m not particularly keen on getting into now; suffice it to say it’s a delicious and more wholesome source of fat! Not to mention that it’s delicious. The Kelapo coconut oil was a little harder than I expected but blended beautifully into these delightful morsels of goodness.

These are chocolatey, dense, and just slightly coconutty. Aka perfectly delicious in every way. I am SO happy to have had the chance to try this product and experiment with something I might not have picked up off the shelf myself!

But should YOU want to try your hand at these cookies or any of the many recipes on Kelapo’s recipe blog, I am happy to announce that I was given a coupon code just for my lovely readers to use on Kelapo products. Just type in Nicole20 (case sensitive) into the code box when ordering to get a whopping 20% off your order!! The code is valid for a month, through July 20th.

These cookies, however, did not last even a day.

Cocoa for Coconut Cookies
By me :)
Makes 12-16 cookies; easily doubled!

1/2 tablespoon flax + 3 tablespoons water, microwaved for about a minute & stirred until eggy
1/4 cup Kelapo coconut oil
1/4 cup sugar
2-3 tablespoons cocoa powder (depending how dark yours is)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 cup chocolate chips
2 tablespoons cocoa nibs (completely optional, see below!)

The main offenders…

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Put flax & water in a small bowl or mug and let sit until thickened.

In a small bowl, beat together coconut oil and sugar until well mixed.  Beat in cocoa powder and flax egg until well combined. Add in dry ingredients up until coconut flakes; mix until thoroughly combined. Stir in coconut, chocolate chips, and cocoa nibs (if using).
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are set.

ENJOY!

Notice the use of cocoa nibs?

Well, I got to visit a chocolate factory last week and my friends bought these as a thank-you gift for my mother for hosting them… And of course I couldn’t resist tossing them into cookies. And pretty much everything else. The deep dark 100% chocolate taste is just irresistible. They don’t particularly SHINE in these cookies (too much other stuff going on) but they do add a pleasant crunch here and there. Totally optional though!

Ever tried coconut oil? What’s your favorite thing to do with coconut oil/any coconut product??

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angellic.

6 May

Thanks all for the kind welcome to miss Erika! :) She’s quite fab, right?! :)

Today I have a special little review for you after receiving this lovely package in the mail:

I happened upon the Angell bar website a few months ago and was eager to test their theory that they could get anyone to like white chocolate. I’ve always been much more of a dark chocolate fan… I like how reminiscent it is of coffee, and I love the bitterness juxtaposed with the sweet. To me, white chocolate is often cloying. So I was a little cheeky and it landed me a couple of these little guys:

Firstly, the back-up story. Angell is a husband-wife operation dedicated to perfecting healthier, organic candy bars that you don’t have to feel guilty about eating. The Snow Angell has 190 calories and its ingredients list is blissfully short:

Ingredients: Organic white chocolate* (organic cane sugar *, organic whole milk, organic cocoa butter*, organic soy lecithin (an emulsifier), organic natural vanilla), organic tapioca syrup, organic oats, organic dried coconut, organic honey, organic coconut extract with other natural flavors, sea salt. *Fair Trade CertifiedTM

And as the adorable stickers they sent me say, their motto is “eat no evil.”

How did it taste though? That’s the real question, right?

Honestly, they were delicious. Just a little chewy, sweet but not disgustingly so, and filled with totally natural coconutty sweetness enrobed in just a light touch of white chocolate.

I didn’t get to try the other flavors, but their website has me practically drooling over the Dark Angell. However, the Snow Angell was quite good and I would probably buy it myself… though my affinity still lies with the dark chocolate camp.

What can I say, I’m obviously a little dark & devilish. ;)

Do you like white chocolate?

salty [cornmeal cookies & roasted chickpeas!]

2 May

Oh, the joys of Urban Dictionary. I think I heard the term “salty” as meaning upset once about a month ago and had to investigate… Because otherwise I definitely just thought it referred to food.

Remember last month when I got to try some delicious mustard as part of the Foodzie Tasting Panel? This month I had a delightfully local treat: salt. Lemongrass & Basil Salt by Woody’s Gourmet, to be exact!

It was really cool to see that this product came from Campbell. As in, less than 20 minutes away from me. And while I’m definitely a sweet-toothed girl, I do love salty stuff too. This salt was amazing! It’s a Lemongrass & Basil flavor, though they sent me a couple smaller samples too that I forgot to photograph.

I wound up basically adding this to everything. On top of veggies. On my salads. On tofu. With nooch. With everything. I had about a million ideas of things to make (like socca crackers, perhaps?) with it and ran out of time to make some of them, but still wound up with two “recipes”. One sweet, one savory. ;)

Roasted Chickpeas for One

1/2 cup chickpeas
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
~1/4 teaspoon Woody’s Salt (or to taste)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and lightly grease a cookie sheet (or you can use aluminum foil!). Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss to coat. Spread evenly on sheet and sprinkle with extra salt if desired. Roast for 15 minutes, then remove, stir, and bake again until crispy.

Enjoy as a simple, healthful, flavorful snack!

And now the sweet… I couldn’t quite resist attempting to make some kind of cookie. These are certainly unconventional, but they’re not overly sweet and play on the sweet-and-salty taste. I rather enjoyed them! The edges were slightly crispy and the middles were nice and soft. Also, if you don’t have access to coconut oil, I’m pretty sure butter will work.

Salted Cornmeal-Cookies
Makes about 10 cookies, easily doubled! 

1/2 tablespoon ground flax, microwaved for a minute with 2 tablespoons water and whisked until gummy
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons oil
¼ cup white sugar
½ cup cornmeal
¼ cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon Woody’s Sea Salt, plus more to sprinkle

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a cookie sheet.

Microwave and whisk flax egg in a mug or small bowl, then let sit for a few minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together oils and sugar. Add in flax egg and mix well. Stir in dry ingredients until well combined; if it seems way too dry, add water by the tablespoon.

Drop by tablespoons onto cookie sheet and flatten with fingers, or the bottom of a cup. Sprinkle with extra salt. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.

Enjoy the cornbreaddy taste and the subtle hint of herbs!

What’s the weirdest flavored cookie you’ve ever eaten? These were kind of a stretch, but I liked them…

monday miscellany.

25 Apr

I need to get over my addiction to alliteration. Not that it’s likely to happen…

When school gets rough, I like to hit the bars. (I should also stop with my bad jokes, but that’s okay). And by bars, I mean granola bars, because I have no time to make fun snacks when I have two midterms and a presentation to work on…

So, without further ado/Sudafed-addled babbling (yes, I’m sick too! Joy), some reviews I’ve been holding up on for awhile.

1) Oskri Almond-Cranberry Protein Bar

This came in that fabulous package from my mom and was the first thing I tore into before my test. Oh my gosh. So good.

Not too sweet (though I could do with even less sweetness, but it’s not at all cloying) and with just the right amount of crunch from almonds and grains. Made with whole ingredients, and only 200 calories/pop (not GREAT but not half bad… 10 grams of all-natural protein too!)

2) A million Gnu Bars

I love Gnu bars… They’re sweet and chewy, albeit highly fibery (so people without a health-food-tooth like me might be slightly averse at first) and pack 13 grams of fiber into each little bar with only 130-140 calories, plus they’re fruit-juice sweetened!

 I was sent these almost two months ago, and kept putting off eating the second of any given flavor so that I could take pictures of the innards… well, that didn’t happen. So you’ll have to deal with the outside packaging. To be honest they all look fairly similar…

a. Not pictured: Banana Walnut

I actually bought a box of these independently, before receiving the products for review… and they were awesome. Banana-y but not in a fake way, and of course filled with fiber. I definitely would buy this flavor again, it’s kind of like a healthified, easy banana bread bar!

b. Lemon Ginger

I had heard good things about this flavor and while it was definitely a somewhat different and new combination for me, it was good. It wasn’t quite as “comforting” tasting as the banana or some of the chocolate ones, but the little kick from the ginger livened it up and balanced it out nicely.

c. Peanut Butter Bar

I had high hopes for this one… I LOVE peanut butter. Unfortunately it didn’t really taste like peanut butter to me… It tasted pretty fake. I probably wouldn’t purchase this flavor again.

d. Espresso Chip

I heard some people say they didn’t like this flavor so I didn’t exactly have high hopes, but I rather liked it! I didn’t think it was substantially different than the chocolate one, though the coffee kind of added a little bit of depth. But I just love anything with coffee, so I’m fairly easy to please.

e. Brownie (Not pictured… Oops)

Um, chocolate + fiber = love. Again, this is still really fibrous, but it’s a great snack or a guilt-free dessert. Particularly good slathered with some peanut butter (or peanut flour paste). But then again, what isn’t? Now I’m thinking I should’ve microwaved one and maybe even put ice cream on top… Maybe I’ll just have to buy more! ;)

f. Cinnamon Raisin Bar

They actually sell these at my school, so I eat them somewhat regularly. I like ’em. I probably prefer the chocolatey ones, but still. The raisins are plump and add just enough moisture… I might even like MORE cinnamon but that’s probably just me. A pretty good choice if some of the crazier flavors are freaking you out (and the cinnamon-raisin lends itself well to the fibery texture, since it kind of has a “healthy” connotation anyways).

g. Cranberry Orange

I actually like these, though apparently a lot of people think they taste a little fake. They also sell these at my school. While I will say they’re not quite as pungent and real-tasting as their Pure Bar counterpart, they are lower in calories and easier for me to obtain so I still eat them regularly. And a little of that citrussy taste always brightens up my day. :)

3. A non-review… but a discovery!

Um, the crazy-awesome people over at The ProBar have created heaven in a package: HALO BARS.

I have yet to try one but I’m absolutely dying do. Just listen to the description of the “s’mores” flavor: Outdoor enthusiasts at their core, S’mores are most content when they are actively exploring nature with friends and family. S’mores can really take the heat and work extremely well under pressure. Despite their hard exterior, they are almost always soft and gooey on the inside making them great life long companions to most any flavor.

I am SO all over anything vaguely marshmallow-flavored (they also have Rocky Road! and Nutty Marshmallow! I wouldn’t even know how to pick…) that’s good for me. And we’re all in luck because if you go to their shop and place an order, and write “BLOGGER” in the box at the checkout, you can get 40% off your first order! I REALLY want to try these. Really.

Okay, that’s enough babbling. I’m getting delirious and dreaming of s’mores…

What’s your favorite granola bar, and why? Do you eat granola-bar-type-things regularly? What’s your favorite Gnu bar, if you’ve tried one? What do you eat when you’re super-busy?

fiberlicious.

4 Apr

I’m braindead already so please excuse the ridiculous title. I may or may not be humming Fergalicious in my head. Please don’t judge?

Awhile back I was sent some lovely goods from FiberGourmet, a company that makes low-calorie versions of many of your favorite treats. Unfortunately I haven’t had time to try out the one I was most excited about, their whole wheat pasta, but I will definitely let you know when I do!

My loot also consisted of a few different bags of high-fiber snack crackers mimicking Cheeze-Its and Wheat Thins. I also got a microwavable cinnamon cake to try out. Nutritionally, they all looked awesome: 80 calories for the bag and tons of fiber, with 90 for the mini cake. But what about flavor?

Nacho Snacks

These were quite good. They had a little bit of that grainy feel as a result of the extra fiber, but they were also impressively filling. Normally I want to keep eating crackers indefinitely but I felt mostly satisfied by thsi snack pack. To me, they basically tasted like Cheese-Its with a little bit of spice to them.

Cheese Snacks

These were more “basic” version of the aforementioned Nacho Snacks. I thought they could’ve used maybe a bit more cheesy punch but they definitely hit the spot! I think most people who rely on Cheeze-Its will probably notice the grainier feel but for those of us who are more healthily inclined they’re definitely a great substitute.

Wheat Snacks

I think these were my favorite! They don’t have quite the same nutty taste as Wheat Thins or anything, but they’re unassumingly wheaty. Also, the somewhat “fiber”-y texture is less noticeable in these, because I wasn’t expecting a purely white-flour texture (as I would with Cheeze-Its).

They lent themselves quite well to being dipped in hummus… but I definitely ate most of the bag plain. Again, these actually felt satisfying and filling, which is highly abnormal for crackers.

Cinnamon Cake

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of this… Two little packets mixed together with water = cake?!

I do like the idea of a smaller portion-size of cake, though, because I can never justify baking an entire one…

The verdict? I liked it. It was light and sweet and satisfying and didn’t taste like fiber. I thought it was a little too sweet, though, and I purposely didn’t put all of the sugar topping (it looked like way too much to me, and turns out it was!).

Thanks FiberGourmet, for sharing your products with me! It was definitely fun to try them out and I would definitely eat them as snacks on occasion or when I need a cracker/cake fix.

Note: I received these products free of charge from FiberGourmet, but the opinions above are 100% honest and aside from the products I am not being compensated for sharing my opinion. :)

schoolhouse rock

31 Mar

Anybody ever watch that? That whole “conjunction junction” bit?

I actually didn’t. So sue me. Though the idea of memorizing things with music is really appealing to me… I tend to get things stuck in my head easily. Maybe Rebecca Black’s Friday can be considered a teaching tool as well, for four year olds learning the days of the week (because otherwise it definitely shouldn’t exist). But I digress…

The “rocking” schoolhouse I’m really talking about is Schoolhouse Kitchen. I was fortunate enough to be invited to join the Foodzie Tasting Panel by the lovely Jessica at Healthy Exposures (side note: I almost died I was so flattered). So every month, I get to try one item from the Foodzie box and try to come up with a recipe for it. This month? Schoolhouse Kitchen’s Horseradish Dill Mustard.

I love that Schoolhouse Kitchen is based on the notion of giving back. Proceeds go to education, specifically farm-based education programs. And the top of the jar is just too cute/wonderful for words.

The mustard itself was awesome. Tangy and sweet and just slightly spicy. I’m not a huge fan of mustard or dill but somehow I loved it. But what, you ask, did I make with it?

Well, seeing as it arrived today and our submissions are due tonight (silly me forgot to e-mail them my address in a timely fashion), I went with something quick and easy but still delicious: veggie burgers.

Black Bean Mustard Veggie Burger
Makes two patties

1/2 cup black beans
2 tablespoons Schoolhouse Kitchen Horseradish-Dill Mustard
1 egg white
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1 tablespoon flour
1/8 teaspoon salt (more to taste, depending on whether your black beans are salted)
1/4 cup diced veggies of choice (I used onions and bell peppers)
1/2-1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)
2-4 tablespoons breadcrumbs (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a baking sheet quite well.

In a small bowl, mash black beans very well. Add in mustard and continue mashing. Add egg white and stir until well mixed. Add in cornmeal, flour, salt, veggies, and nutritional yeast (if using). Stir together well (this will be a kind of goopy mess). If desired, add in breadcrumbs. If your mixture is far too liquidy (it should be pretty wet, but should kind of clump together pretty decently) then add another tablespoon of flour or cornmeal. Add more salt to taste.

Spoon mixture into two separate “patties” on baking sheet (as shown in photo above recipe). Bake for about 5 minutes, then remove and let set for 2 or so minutes. Flip patties over (they’ll be kind of delicate, so watch out) and bake for another 4-5 minutes or until relatively hardened.

Let cool and serve up on a bun of your choosing. I was unable to obtain lettuce and tomatoes, but I imagine that would be amazing.

Of course, you can also serve it up with some more mustard. Just to give it a little extra creamy kick.

As for me? I’m studying neuropsychology and I’ve never seen so many terms in my life… to the tune of “geniculostriate pathway” or “oligodendroglia” or “ventromedial system”.

Too bad there’s no song for that.

Did you actually do the whole Schoolhouse Rock thing? I was a Magic School Bus girl myself ;)

you know you’re a psych major when…

11 Mar

Freud is mentioned at least once a week in everyday conversation.

You meet people, hear about their family, and instantly start trying to figure out their parents’ attachment style.

You look at money left on the ground and wonder if it’s there for a psychology experiment.

You toss around words like “validity,” “reliability,” and “operational definition.”

You can discuss said words for hours on end.

When someone reads aloud the title of an article claiming that Facebook increases self-esteem, you want to know if the study it refers to was experimental in design or correlational, because correlation does not imply causation.

When you interact with children, you start labeling their different types of play, as well as their developmental stage according to Piaget.

You have an uncanny knack for finishing people’s sentences, because they’re predictable.

But the worst thing you do?

You turn baking into an experiment.

Just the beginning…

You see, I was redoing my granola bar recipe. And I knew I wanted to try some without sugar, and some with, to see how it would alter both the consistency and the taste. I also knew I wanted to do some with raisins and some with chocolate chips. Originally, I figured I’d make the sugary ones have chocolate chips, so the raisin ones would have no added, processed sugars.

But wait! Changing two different independent variables?! That creates a confounding variable! And we can’t have that. Because then we would never know if it was the presence of chocolate chips increasing the deliciousness, or the addition of sugar to the actual batter.

So we run a two-independent-variables experiment. And make four different bars. On one cookie sheet.

Yeah, don’t date a psych major. We’re crazy. And we can label exactly what kind of crazy too…

These are the same bars I tried a few weeks ago, but they still aren’t perfect; I’m working out some of the flavor issues. They’re very very grainy and without sugar aren’t terribly sweet, but I kind of like them like that. I will say that the chocolate chips are an almost-necessary addition and really make them delicious. The raisins… eh, so-so. I will continue tweaking, but I wanted to give some semblance of a recipe!

I was so excited to finally get to experiment with some of the fabulous things sent to me by Swanson Health Products. They sent me Chia seeds (which I haven’t played with yet!), Bob’s Red Mill ground flaxseed, wheat germ, tapioca flour, potato starch, and Vitamin D pills. This recipe incorporates the flaxseed and wheat germ, giving it a much more significant nutritional punch. I was given these products for free; if you’re interested in doing a review for them, they are an absolute breeze to work with and can be emailed at blogs@swansonvitamins.com

Flaxseed for dayyyyys…

All of the stuff shipped within a week and I was incredibly surprised at how soon it arrived in my little mailbox… I was also impressed with how low the prices were on their website, had I been actually paying for it! The huge bag of flaxseed I got would’ve cost me less than $5… More than 25% cheaper than retail price! Their website is also full of great products ranging from bars to vitamins and everything in-between. I’m looking forward to continuing to experiment with some of the items I got.

Now about those bars…

Crazy Lady Granola Bars
Makes about 20

2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (I like crunchy… and I might put more in the next round of tests)
2-4 tablespoons brown sugar (optional)
1/2 cup hot water + 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup peanut flour (or protein powder, or regular flour)
1/4 cup wheat germ
2 cups regular oats
2 packets stevia (or to taste)
~1/2 cup mix-in of choice (chocolate chips are delish!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 9×13 baking pan.

In a small bowl, combine flaxseed and hot water. Let sit for a few minutes, or until it’s somewhat gelatinous.. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mash banana (sometimes it helps to microwave it to make it loosen up all its delicious juices…). Add in peanut butter, flax mixture, and sugar (if using) and mix well. Add dry ingredients and stir until well combined; you may need to get your hands in there for a bit (if it’s way too dry, add liquid by the tablespoon). Fold in mix-in, then press the mixture into the baking pan.

Bake for anywhere from 20-30 minutes or until edges are lightly golden-brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 1-2 minutes, then cut while still warm. Allow to cool completely before removing from pan.

I would ask you to weigh in on whether or not I’m crazy but I’m pretty sure I know the answer. ;)

What’s your major/area of interest, and how are your quirks indicative of that?