Honey Peanut Bars ~ Like a Healthy Payday Candy Bar

Ladies and um, other Ladies (although surely there is a gentleman or three around here too):  We have a winner!

Thanks to all who put in their vote as to which of the new healthy snack recipes from our upcoming eBook we should reveal early.  It was a pretty close call on several.  I put Malachi to work making tally marks as votes came in (a great school project for him).  He had a lot of fun with it…

counting votes

Here’s how my afternoon sounded:

“Pizza Muffins are in the lead.  They’re going to win for sure!”
“Mom!  Peanut Bars have a ton of votes.  They caught up to Pizza Muffins.”
“I think Oyster Crackers are going to pull ahead!”
“It’s back to the Peanut Bars.  Why is everyone choosing that one?”

Yeah, Malachi doesn’t like peanuts.  ;)

When it was all said and done, the Honey Peanut Bars won by several votes.  Not to worry though.  Our 227 Healthy Snacks eBook is almost finished.  Then you’ll have access to all the recipes forever!  (Our goal is to have the book ready for you by Sunday night.)

I mixed up a batch of these Honey Peanut Bars tonight again, just because they sounded good.  Our older boys will probably finish them all off once they get home from basketball practice.  What a perfect post-workout/bedtime snack for them.  (With apples and cheese and whatever else they get out because…do I really need to explain?)

You should be excited to know that it only took about five minutes for me to mix these up tonight.  Their simplicity is of the many reasons I love them.  :)

Honey Peanut Bars

1 1/4 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts
1/4 cup roasted, unsalted almonds
1/3 cup honey
3 Tablespoons natural creamy peanut butter
1/8 teaspoon sea salt

In a small saucepan stir honey, peanut butter, and salt together over low heat until well combined.  Remove from heat.  Stir in peanuts and almonds.  Spread mixture into an 8×8 inch pan.  Chill for 2 hours.  Cut into bars.

Honey Peanut Bars - Better Than a Payday

Told you they were easy to make!  Go grab your simple ingredients and get busy on these bars.  You will love them as much as we do (well, everyone but Malachi).  Be watching for 227 Healthy Snacks – coming very, very soon!

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Low Sugar Peanut Butter Cake with Peanut Butter Cream Frosting

Hallelujah, this cake has less sugar than most breakfast muffins!  This isn’t difficult, of course, because who decided it was a good idea to stir a bunch of sugar, corn syrup, and white flour together and call it “breakfast?”  My apologies to all the donuts, poptarts, and poofy-puffs out there who just got their feelings hurt.  It’s really not your fault.

Peanut Butter Cake

Indeed, not only do I serve this for desserts or snacks, I have been known to serve it for breakfast.

Now I know what you’re thinking.  ”This girl makes cake for breakfast all the time!”  Okay fine.  You caught me.  (Other breakfast cake recipes:  My Original Breakfast Cake and Pumpkin Breakfast Cake)

We do quite a few breakfast cakes around here, and I keep inventing more ideas.  This is because breakfast cakes are easy and filling.  My current favorite way to make breakfast is to bake a cake the night before, frost it with stevia sweetened frosting, then wake up to a ready-made meal.  Pull out applesauce and fresh berries, and breakfast is served.

Here’s a little known secret about muffin and quick bread recipes:  The batter can usually be spread into a 9×13 inch pan and baked into a cake.  If you sub out white flour with whole wheat, replace the large amount of white sugar for a smaller amount of sucanat or honey, you have yourself a delicious and fun breakfast.

Serve meat or eggs with your cake if you need additional protein to start your day.  Always serve fruit with your breakfast.  (Sometimes I’m bossy.)

Low Sugar Peanut Butter Cake

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sucanat
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

In a small saucepan, melt together the butter and peanut butter.  Stir melted mixture into the sucanat.  Add eggs, buttermilk, baking soda, baking powder, and vanilla.  Mix well, then stir in flour and mix until smooth. Pour batter into a 9×13 inch baking dish.  Bake in a 350° oven for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Allow cake to cool before frosting.

Peanut Butter Cream Frosting

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup natural peanut butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Liquid stevia

Whip together all ingredients until thick and smooth, sweetening with stevia to taste.  Spread over cooled cake.

Low Sugar Peanut Butter Cake with Peanut Butter Cream Frosting

Before anyone else can say it, I’m going to.  ”Did you see how much fat is in that frosting?!?!”

Mm-hmm.  If it isn’t obvious to you by now by reading posts from this butter and coconut oil loving girl, it should be very clear to you how important I believe it is to eat plenty of healthy, real fats.  Our brains need fat to thrive!  (Why yes I have researched this for hours and hours.)  It just so happens I’m nourishing my brain by eating this cake with a thick layer of frosting.

The low amount of sugar in this cake (which I cut into 24 pieces, by the way) combined with whole grains and healthy fats makes for a very nourishing treat.  In case you’re wondering, the reason I use cream cheese and cream in my stevia sweetened frosting recipes is because when whipped together, those cream products provide bulk (taking the place of three cups of powdered sugar).  Also – it’s cream cheese and cream!  Does life get any yummier?

So there you go.  If you haven’t served cake for breakfast yet, do this.  Tell your kids I said, “You’re welcome.”

What’s your breakfast cake status?  Tried it yet?

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Homemade {Easy} Tapioca Pudding

You know what’s bad about feeding my family beans?  (Well, besides that.)  It’s that I almost always forget to soak the beans ahead of time.  This does not work, even a little bit, unfortunately.  Crunchy beans do not make good chili.

As you can imagine, then, when it comes to making Tapioca Pudding, I am never prepared.  Every recipe I’ve found calls for soaking the tapioca pearls overnight or longer.  Then, most of them tell me to cook the tapioca pudding for a bazillion minutes in a double boiler.

tapioca pearls

See, I’m just not into recipes that require all kinds of thought and effort.  Plus, I don’t even own a double boiler.  My rebellious ”yeah, I don’t want to go to the trouble to do it that way” recipe reading self sometimes gets into trouble.  Usually though, I find that I can take short-cuts and still turn out a good product.

Real food recipes become easy, time consuming tasks become effortless, and recipes with twenty-seven steps become no-brainers.  This is how this Tapioca Pudding recipe came to be.  I suddenly got hungry for the comfort food Tapioca Pudding…and I wanted some right now.  “Soak the tapioca pearls in milk then cook it in a double-boiler until Christmas morning 2019″ just wasn’t going to cut it.  What if?  I thought.  What if I just pour the tapioca into the milk along with my other delicious ingredients, and start cooking it in a plain ol’ saucepan?

But then the Follow All Instructions Exactly Police showed up at my door, so I’m actually writing this post from prison.

At least we can now all benefit from knowing this is super easy and delicious way to make Tapioca Pudding.  Here’s how I did it:

Homemade {Easy} Tapioca Pudding

1 cup tapioca pearls (unsoaked, booyah!)
4 cups whole milk
4 egg yolks (save the whites for something else)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup real maple syrup (more if you like)
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract

Measure tapioca pearls, milk, egg yolks, sea salt, and maple syrup into a medium sauce pan.  Use a whisk to cook and stir constantly over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes or until tapioca pearls have “popped” and pudding is thick.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Serve right away, or refrigerate.  This tastes great hot or cold.

Homemade Tapioca Pudding - Easy!

I have yet to convince my boys that Tapioca Pudding is the bomb-diggity of comfort foods.  You’d think me calling cooked tapioca pearls “eye-balls” would have at least intrigued them a little bit, but nope.  They think those tapioca things are weird.  My youngest actually suggested that perhaps Tapioca Pudding might taste good ”without those tapioca things.”  Oh well, more for me.

Do take heed of the “stir constantly” instructions in this recipe.  While I’m obviously always eager to break rules and go about cooking my own way without following recipes word-for-word, walking away from your cooking tapioca pudding would be a very, very bad idea.  Scorched milk, crunchy uncooked tapioca pearls, and black floaties in your pudding really will cause the I Told You So Police to show up at your door.  Ask me how I know.

Are you a fan of tapioca pudding, or would you rather it didn’t have those tapioca things in there?

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7 Healthy Ingredient Holiday Drinks You’ll Love

7 Healthy Ingredient Holiday Drinks You'll Love

There is something about special drinks at Christmas time that I just love!  Below, you’ll find 7 tried and true holiday beverages that you’ll love too…

Homemade Hot Cocoa

Homemade Hot Cocoa

Warm Vanilla Soother

warmvanillasoother2sm

Homemade Healthier Eggnog

Homemade Healthier Eggnog

100% Juice  Punch

Christmas Brunch Punch {with 100 juice!}

Chocolate Caramel Coffee Creamer

Chocolate Caramel Coffee Creamer

Chocolate Whipped Cream for Coffee

Chocolate Whipped Cream - Perfect For Your Coffee

Peppermint Cream Cocoa

Peppermint Cream Cocoa

What are your favorite holiday drinks?  Be sure to leave a comment on this post for a chance to win one of five $10 gift certificates to our Heavenly Homemakers Shop!

Be sure you don’t miss grabbing your free jar of coconut oil from Tropical Traditions.  This is my very favorite oil!

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Dark Chocolate Peppermint Mousse

chocolate mint mousse 3

This is one of the easiest treats you will ever make.  You’ll especially appreciate the final step.  Allow me to explain…

Many a recipe (including this one) will instruct us to:

    1. Mix ingredients.
    2. Pour mixture into serving dishes.
    3. Chill for at least two hours.

Is it just me, or does it seem that in order to follow the directions diligently we should mix our ingredients, pour the mixture into serving dishes, then promptly “put our feet up and do nothing for at least two hours?”  It says to “chill” right?  If we read this literally, I do believe we are being told to do absolutely nothing.  Relax.  Take a breather.  Chill out already.  For two entire hours (or more – don’t forget the “or more”).

Is anyone else thinking about Amelia Bedelia right now?  (If you haven’t read those children’s books, you’re missing out.)

Now I’m not exactly sure what to think about recipe instructions that say, “chill until firm.”  Rarely do I notice more defined muscle tone when I’m chillin’ in my chair for two hours or more.  ”Chill until it jiggles in the middle” – well now, unfortunately that makes quite a bit more sense.

I’ll be the first to admit that taking time to rest doesn’t come easy for me.  I’d love to “chill” after mixing up a recipe – but who will take care of all those dirty dishes?  Amelia Bedelia, perhaps?  If only.

While I’m sure we could have a lovely discussion about taking time to rest, washing dishes, or encouraging healthy muscle tone – I will now turn the conversation back to this new recipe I’d like to share, letting you know that in fact, once you mix it up, it needs to be poured into serving dishes and chilled.

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Mousse

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Mousse

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

Measure 3/4 cup cream into a sauce pan.  Heat until hot, but not boiling.  Remove from heat.  Add chocolate chips, stirring until melted.  Stir in peppermint extract and set mixture aside.

In the meantime, whip the remaining 3/4 cup cream in a bowl until firm peaks form.  Fold chocolate mixture gently into whipped cream.  Spoon mousse into 6-8 bowls or cups.  And finally, the instructions you’ve all been waiting for:  Chill for at least two hours before serving.

To be clear, this means that you need to put the mousse into the refrigerator for at least two hours until you are ready to serve it to your family or guests.  Before the pan and bowl get crusty, wash your dishes and wipe down the counter-tops.  Then hug your children, check the mail, return a phone call, switch out the laundry, get out meat for dinner, scrub the gunk off the floor, and re-hang the curtain that got pulled down.

After that, by all means, you should chill.

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Easy Peppermint Milkshakes

It’s easy, filling, healthy, and delicious – a perfect treat anytime, but especially during the Christmas season.  Serve a Peppermint Milkshake for a perfect side dish or snack!

Easy Peppermint Milkshakes

2 cups milk
1 Tablespoon real maple syrup
¼ teaspoon peppermint extract

Blend and serve!

We always add organic, farm-fresh raw eggs to our milkshakes for added nutrition.  I believe this simple recipe would work great with coconut milk as well.  :)

Easy Peppermint Milkshake

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Homemade (Real Food) Mint Oreos

This recipe needs no introduction.  It’s a homemade mint oreo.  What more do I need to say?  It’s happy, happy, delicious, happiness – perfect for a holiday gathering.

Besides the fact that these are made with whole food ingredients, perhaps the most exciting bragging point of these cookies is this:  After you eat one of these, you can smile at your friends without fear of having “oreo teeth.”  You know what I’m talking about, right?  Oh my goodness.

oreos 1

Allow me to introduce you to your new friend:

Homemade Oreo Cookies

1 cup melted butter
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup sucanat or brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour (less or more as needed)

Stir together melted butter, cocoa powder, and sucanat.  Add eggs, baking soda, salt, and vanilla until well combined.  Stir in flour.  Use a cookie scoop to place cookie dough two inches apart on a cookie sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes in a 350° oven.  Once the cookies have cooled, use the following filling recipe to create cookie sandwiches.

Filling

3 cups unbleached powdered sugar (more or less as needed)
2 Tablespoons melted butter
4 Tablespoons milk (more or less as needed)
Sprinkle of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

Mix all ingredients together with a hand mixer until smooth and it has reached desired consistency.  Spread filling onto cookies to form sandwiches like oreos.

Makes about 25 Mint Oreo Cookie Sandwiches.  Want just a “plain” oreo?  Simply leave out the peppermint extract in the filling recipe.

Homemade Mint Oreos

As you can see, some of mine are “regular” and some are “double stuffed.”  This is because I care so much about perfection and consistency while I slap on the filling.  Eh, life is entirely too short to spend time frosting cookies evenly.  I especially feel this way because no one – I repeat no one –  cares about perfect cookies when they are eating a Homemade Mint Oreo.  They are simply happy to be eating this treat.

Here is the part where I tell you to eat these in moderation, and to be sure to eat vegetables in great abundance before, after, and during your homemade oreo eating event.  (You knew this was coming.)  After all, eating these may not leave you with oreo teeth, but you could end up with other issues, including but not limited to a suppressed immune system and cavities.

Wow, do I know how to ruin a great cookie recipe post or what?  Never mind all the vegetable talk.  You just make this recipe and enjoy your homemade oreo cookies!!!  After you’ve eaten a large tossed green salad.

It has become clear that I cannot talk about sugar without encouraging vegetables.  Hey, at least I didn’t tell you to add spinach to the cookie dough or frosting.  Although now that I think about it…..
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Easy Pumpkin Pie Bars

Wow, Laura.  Another pumpkin recipe?  Really?

Actually, I used butternut squash puree in this recipe, so there.  But yes, it’s another pumpkin (aka butternut squash) recipe.  I told you I was on a roll with pumpkin recipe experiements.  I’m here to provide you with easy recipes – and also to force you to eat vegetables.  What better way than in a dessert?  (And in a salad, of course.)

You’ll notice that I loved the Shortbread Crust idea so much in the Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe that I stole the idea for this crust too.  This is basically Shortbread with Pumpkin Pie baked on top – all in a 9×13 inch pan.  No rolling of a pie crust necessary.  Easy, buttery, delicious – what more could we want?

Easy Pumpkin Pie Bars

Easy Pumpkin Pie Bars

Shortbread Crust

3 cups whole wheat flour (I use freshly ground hard white wheat for this)
1/2 cup sucanat (or brown sugar if you prefer)
1 1/2 cups melted butter

Stir flour and sucanat together in a bowl.  Add melted butter, combining well.  Press mixture into a 9×13 inch baking pan.  Bake in a 350° oven for 7 minutes. (It will only be partially cooked at this point.)  In the meantime, prepare the filling:

Pumpkin Pie Filling

3 cups pumpkin or butternut squash puree
2/3 sucanat
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon nutmeg
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup heavy cream

Whip ingredients together until smooth.  Pour over crust.  Bake in a 350° oven for 45-55 minutes or until a knife inserted into the bars comes out clean.

Have you had your fill of pumpkin this holiday season?

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Low Sugar No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake

One day when I was nibbling on a little piece of lightly sweetened and buttery Shortbread, it occurred to me: This would make a fantastic cheesecake crust.  Then one day when I was baking a pumpkin, it occurred to me:  I should use that pumpkin to make pumpkin cheesecake.  These were both very, very good ideas, if I do say so myself.

Why a shortbread crust?  I’m not sure why, but making a graham cracker crust for cheesecakes always seems like too much work to me.  Probably because that was always my job when I was growing up, so now I have deep-seated graham cracker crust baggage from my past.  That, and I never have graham crackers on hand and I don’t want to make a batch of homemade Graham Crackers only to crush them for a crust.  Seriously, who knew a graham cracker crust could be such cause for discussion that it would take up an entire paragraph when I could just be sharing this great recipe with you?

So Shortbread Crust.  I highly recommend it.  Stir the three ingredients together, press them onto the bottom of a dish, and bake.  You can’t go wrong, especially because this recipe includes lots of butter.  That, of course, makes it amazing.

No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake

Shortbread Crust:

3 cups whole wheat flour (I use freshly ground hard white wheat for this)
1/2 cup sucanat (or brown sugar if you prefer)
1 1/2 cups melted butter

Stir flour and sucanat together in a bowl.  Add melted butter, combining well.  Press mixture into a 9×13 inch baking pan.  Bake in a 350° oven for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Filling:

2 8-ounce packages softened cream cheese
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 cups pureed pumpkin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Real maple syrup or liquid stevia to taste (I used 4 droppers full of stevia)

Blend all ingredients together until smooth.  Pour over prepared shortbread crust.  Spread until smooth.  Chill in refrigerator for at least two hours before serving.

No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake

My system doesn’t handle much sugar any more (which seriously limits my cheesecake eating opportunities, woe is me).  Making this simple cheesecake with stevia (a natural sweetener, not a sugar or an artificial sweetener) is a fantastic option.  This treat is not super sweet, although you can make it as sweet as you like by simply adding more stevia, maple syrup, or even sugar if you like. Now that I know that stevia makes a cheesecake and shortbread makes a great crust, my cheesecake lovin’ self is happy and my graham cracker crust anxt is minimized.

What is your relationship with the graham cracker crust?  You should join me in loving a shortbread crust.  Easy, delicious, and full o’ buttah!

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Pumpkin Breakfast Cake with Stevia Sweetened Cream Cheese Frosting

If it’s made with whole grain, is low in sugar, includes an entire cup of healthy fat, has 4 eggs, and one of its main ingredients is a vegetable - you can use the words “cake” and “breakfast” in the same title.  Of course, nothing is stopping you from using the word “birthday” and “cake” in the same title for this very recipe.  After all, who says birthday treats have to be loaded with sugar?  I just love that this recipe is healthy and filling enough to be a great breakfast option.  I serve this with a side of applesauce and my family loves it!

You might look at this recipe and think that it is surprisingly similar to my Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins recipe.  That’s because it is.  ;)  I took the recipe, and made it into a cake with a stevia sweetened Cream Cheese Frosting.  See?  It’s not so hard to be creative in the kitchen.

Pumpkin Breakfast Cake2

Pumpkin Breakfast Cake

3 cups whole wheat flour (I used freshly ground hard white wheat)
1/2 cup sucanat
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 eggs
2 cups pureed pumpkin (or one 16 ounce can)
1 cup melted coconut oil (or butter)

Stir together flour, sucanat, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Add eggs, pumpkin, and melted coconut oil.  Spread batter into a 9×13 inch baking pan.  Bake in a 350° oven for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Allow cake to cook before frosting.

Stevia Sweetened Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces softened cream cheese
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Liquid stevia to taste (I use 2 droppers full)

Whip ingredients together until smooth.  Spread over cooled Pumpkin Cake.  Store in the refrigerator.

As you can imagine, I will be adding some pureed spinach to this cake next time I make it.  Why not, right?

Here’s another Breakfast Cake recipe our family loves.  Now tell me: What will your family say when you tell them you’re having cake for breakfast?!

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