Apricot-Banana Oatmeal Bites

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I wouldn’t call these cookies, but they satisfy a sweet tooth and come in cute little packages. The texture is crispy on the outside and oatmeal-like on the inside. This is the kind of snack I would serve to my all-female book club, but it probably wouldn’t fit in as well at a Superbowl party.

Be sure to use Turkish apricots if you’re worried about heartburn. If not, any dried fruit will work here. If you want the bites to be more gooey and less oatmeal-like, try reducing the oats to 1 cup. This recipe is very forgiving, so throw everything in the bowl and bake!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups oats (gluten-free if desired)
  • 1/2 cup nuts (I used pecans and almonds)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 overripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup dried Turkish apricots, chopped

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DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and move the racks to the top and lower thirds of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the oats and nuts until finely chopped.
  3. Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl until well combined. IMG_5924
  4. Scoop 1 heaping tablespoon of dough into your hand and roll it into a ball. Place it on the parchment paper and flatten slightly. Repeat with the remaining dough. IMG_5928
  5. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Then switch the cookie sheets and bake for 13 to 15 more minutes, until the bites are golden brown and the air in the kitchen smells toasty.
  6. Move bites to a cooling rack. Once cooled, store in the fridge or freeze for later.

Makes 20 to 24 cookies. Active time 15 minutes; total time 45 minutes. Adapted from http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/banana-oatmeal-snack-cookies

Sweet Potato-White Chocolate Cookies

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Who says nutmeg is a winter spice? These cookies have traditional fall flavors, but I’ve been eating them all summer. They’re so moist that each cookie feels like a piece of cake, and they always please a crowd.

This is a variation on pumpkin cookies with chocolate chips. I replaced the canned pumpkin with sweet potatoes because my farm share sends me piles of them; pumpkin would give you the same result, though.

I mixed in white chocolate and pecans to replace the chocolate chips so this recipe would be heartburn-approved. Both versions are delicious, but to be honest, I usually use semisweet chocolate when I make these for others! Total chocolate deprivation is not a sustainable lifestyle. These are some of the healthiest cookies around, so I don’t feel guilty about having a few bites of chocolate once in a while.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup whole-wheat white flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup mashed sweet potato (from 2 medium potatoes; directions below)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans (optional)

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DIRECTIONS

  1. Wash the sweet potatoes and prick them each several times with a fork. Put them on a plate and microwave for 7 minutes. Flip each potato and microwave for 6 more minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices together in a medium bowl and set aside.
  4. Use a dull knife to peel each potato (as shown here). Discard the skins, mash the flesh, and measure out 1 cup, setting aside any extra for another use.
  5. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and brown sugar until smooth and light in color, about 1 minute. Mix in the applesauce, oil, sweet potato, and vanilla until blended.
  6. On low speed, mix in half of the flour and then the other half after a few seconds. Work quickly, as the dough will form a sticky ball around the beaters. Finish mixing by hand if necessary.
  7. Mix in the white chocolate chips and pecans (if using) by hand. IMG_5905
  8. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop the dough onto the cookie sheets. You should have 14 to 16 cookies.
  9. Bake the cookies until the tops feel firm and a toothpick comes out clean, 15 to 16 minutes. Let the cookies rest for 5 minutes on the sheets; then move them to cooling racks to cool completely.
  10. To store, leave the cookies uncovered and unrefrigerated overnight. (Otherwise they will get soggy.) Move to an airtight container the next morning, and refrigerate if you haven’t devoured them all.

Makes 14 to 16 cookies. Adapted from http://baker-bookworm.blogspot.com/2010/11/pumpkin-chocolate-chip-cookies.html

Hummus-Avocado Veggie Sandwich

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Cold cuts make me shudder. Their slimy texture and uniform shape lead me to suspect that I’m eating fake food—and that’s probably true. But peanut butter sandwiches, to me, are for breakfast or for hiking, so I need lunchtime alternatives to deli meat.

This sandwich is simple, savory, and full of vegetables. You can substitute any veggies as long as they’re thinly sliced. I smeared each piece of bread with something creamy: avocado on one side and hummus on the other. A slice of cheese would be a good substitute for one of those, though.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pieces of whole-grain bread (gluten-free if desired)
  • 2 small carrots
  • 1/4 of an avocado
  • roasted red pepper hummus
  • dried oregano
  • handful of baby spinach

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DIRECTIONS

  1. Put the bread slices in the toaster. While you wait for them to toast, peel the carrots, and thinly slice them on a heavy angle. IMG_5941
  2. Spread one piece of toast with the avocado, and spread hummus on the other piece. Sprinkle oregano on the hummus.
  3. Fill the sandwich with carrots and spinach. Cut it in half and serve with any remaining carrot slices on the side.

Serves 1. Active and total time 10 minutes.

Raspberry-Avocado Smoothie

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As is obvious from the lag between blog posts, I haven’t been in the kitchen much this summer. The large box of produce I get delivered every other week from Boston Organics seems to make me cook less; I’ve been eating a lot of simple veggie wraps, salads, and smoothies.

I’ve heard that avocado is delicious in smoothies, but I don’t normally buy high-fat avocados. After getting one in the produce delivery, I experimented with eating a quarter of an avocado at a time. With a relatively low-fat meal, it didn’t cause any heartburn.

To store the rest of the avocado between uses, leave the extra flesh in the skin and wrap the whole thing tightly in plastic wrap. Be sure to push the plastic into empty space in the skin.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 banana
  • 1/4 of an avocado
  • 1/4 cup frozen raspberries
  • dash of vanilla
  • 1/2 cup soy or almond milk
  • 2 ice cubes
  • 1/4 cup vanilla yogurt OR more banana (optional)

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DIRECTIONS

  1. Place the first 6 ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth.
  2. For an extra-thick smoothie, add yogurt or more banana and blend again.

Serves 1. Active and total time 5 minutes. Adapted from http://www.texanerin.com/2012/04/raspberry-banana-avocado-smoothie.html

Carrot Cake Oatmeal Bake

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Carrots for breakfast sounded weird to me, but I’ll try anything that is promised to taste like carrot cake. (The unparalleled carrot torte from Konditor Meister is a constant craving of mine.) These oatmeal bars are filling and sneak in a serving of vegetables. Topped with a dollop of vanilla yogurt (instead of a heavy layer of cream cheese frosting), they provide a balanced and tasty breakfast.

I like to make these bars on a Sunday night so I have a quick breakfast ready for the workdays all week. This oatmeal bake would also make a wonderful brunch; serve it with fruit salad. If you mix up the ingredients ahead of time, you can pop the dish in the oven when guests arrive and be free to laze about and enjoy your morning.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups oats, gluten free if desired
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups grated carrots
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 cups 1% milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup, plus more for serving
  • 3 tbsp chopped pecans
  • 3 tbsp sliced almonds
  • 12 oz nonfat vanilla yogurt

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray an 8×8 baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Combine the rolled oats, baking powder, spices, brown sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl; then add grated carrots and raisins and stir to mix. IMG_5464
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, add the milk and vanilla, and mix well.
  4. Put the maple syrup, pecans, and almonds in a small bowl and mix to combine.
  5. Spoon the oat mixture into the baking dish in an even layer, pressing down with a spatula. Then pour the egg mixture over the oats and sprinkle the nut mixture on top. IMG_5465
  6. Bake for 40 minutes, until the oatmeal is set. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, and then run a knife around the edges of the baking dish. Cut 6 bars, and serve each one with a dollop of yogurt and a drizzle of maple syrup.

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Serves 6. Active time 10 minutes; total time 55 minutes. Adapted from http://www.greenkitchenstories.com/baked-carrot-cake-oatmeal/