Monday, April 30, 2012


You may have noticed I’ve been on a sugar-free kick lately. I’m not talking the artificial sweetener kind of sugar free, I’m talking about using natural sweetener. I’ve played around with various sweeteners such as agave, coconut sugar and date sugar, but it wasn’t until just recently that I’ve been using stevia in baked goods. I have had the impression for the past couple of years that I hated the bitter taste of stevia, but what I’ve learned is that there’s a BIG difference in flavor and aftertaste depending on the “brand” you buy. My impression two years ago was from the Sam’s Club brand. I did a little research from other blogs and many claimed the brand NuNaturals had the least bitter taste. Guess what? They were right! If you try hard to notice, you can detect a little different taste, but it’s not unpleasant. I gave one of these cookies to my sister, who had never heard a thing about stevia and said she couldn’t taste anything different. The sweetness is pretty concentrated, so you only have to use a little bit to get just enough sweetness in these cookies.
These are great for those times when you really want something sweet, but really shouldn’t because for the past several days, you’ve had dessert every night (yes, that would be me!) They would even make a great breakfast on the go! I added All-Bran to these to boost the fiber content, but to make them gluten-free, simply replace it with more oats.

Healthy Oatmeal Cookies {Sugar-Free & Gluten-Free}         makes 12-15 cookies
Recipe created by me

1/2 C. All-Bran Cereal (for gluten-free, substitute 1/2 C. oats)
1 1/2 C. Oats, divided use
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 Tbsp. Stevia
3 Tbsp. Ground Flax
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1/2 C. Unsweetened Applesauce
1 Tbsp. Molasses
1/4 C. Egg Beaters or 2 Egg Whites
Mix Ins: Raisins, Nuts, Chocolate Chips, etc.

Combine cereal and 1 C. of oats in a blender or food processor and grind until fine. Pour into a bowl and add remaining oats, salt, soda, stevia, flax and cinnamon and mix. In separate bowl, combine oil, applesauce, molasses and Egg Beaters. Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients just until incorporated. Add raisins, nuts, etc. 
Drop by rounded tablespoons onto greased cookie sheet and flatten slightly. They don't spread, so you can place them close together. Bake at 350 F. for 10 minutes. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Homemade Ketchup {Sugar-Free}

I have been wanting to try making ketchup for a long time, but had a stockpile of store bought that I felt I needed to use up first. Finally, we used the last drop the other day, so I got my chance. I was really curious to see just how much this would end up tasting like traditional ketchup. As you can see, the texture is not quite as silky smooth as I’m used to, but the flavor is awesome! And the best part is that I got to control how much sweetness to add. Not only how much to add, but also what type of sweetener used (no high fructose corn syrup here!). Oh yeah, and there’s a little added nutrition with the carrot puree! My 3 year old loves his turkey hot dogs, so I served it up as usual with ketchup on the side for him to dip and guess what…he had no idea the ketchup didn’t originally come in the ketchup bottle from the store that I washed out and reused. This ketchup should last a while in the fridge, but excess can also be frozen.

Homemade Ketchup {Sugar-Free}            Makes about 12 ounces
Recipe adapted from Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld

1/2 C. Carrot Puree*
1 Can (6 oz.) Organic Tomato Paste
1/4 C. Water
1 Tbsp. Pure Maple Syrup, or other sweetener of choice (optional)
2 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar or Malt Vinegar
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1/2 tsp. Dry Mustard
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Allspice
1/4 tsp. Chili Powder
1/4 tsp. Onion Powder
1/4 tsp. Ground Cinnamon

Stir all the ingredients together in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until the mixture has reduced a bit, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool before serving.
Refrigerate in an airtight container for a week, or freeze in individual portions (in ice cube tray) for up to 6 months. 
* Can use baby food carrot puree or make your own by steaming or boiling 2-3 medium carrots that have been peeled and chopped small. Puree in a food processor until smooth, adding a little water for consistency.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


White Cake with Creamy Topping

My mother-in-law’s birthday happened to fall on Easter this year, so I wanted to host the family meal so she could relax and enjoy her day. The usual crowd was cut in half thanks to Spring Break taking most of my side of the family to sunny California or to The Master’s Tournament in Augusta Georgia. Even so, I knew the dessert needed to be big enough to allow for seconds and thirds for my 4 growing nephews that would be there.

I saw this recipe on Real Mom Kitchen and knew it would be perfect. She uses a boxed cake mix, but I wanted to make it a little more special by using the white sheet cake recipe from Frieda Loves Bread. I don’t think I’ll ever use a boxed mix again! It turned out SO good! Everybody loved it, and the creamy topping was good enough to eat by the spoonful. Now I’ve got my go-to white sheet cake to go along with my go-to chocolate sheet cake.


White Sheet Cake With Creamy Topping and Strawberries              serves 24+

(Printable Recipe)

For The Cake:

1 C. butter

1 C. water

2 C. sugar

2 C. + 4 Tbsp. flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. soda

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 C. plain nonfat Greek style yogurt (or sour cream)

Put butter and water in a large bowl.  Heat in microwave for 2 minutes.  Stir until all the butter is melted.  Add sugar, flour, salt, and soda.  Stir with a wire whisk until smooth.  Add eggs and vanilla, beat well.  Stir in yogurt or sour cream until all is blended.
Pour into a 11”x17” baking sheet that has been greased.
Bake at 375ยบ for 18-22 minutes, until cake springs back when lightly touched or toothpick inserted in center comes clean.

For the Topping:

2 (8 oz) packages of cream cheese, softened

3 1/2 C. powdered sugar

1 (12oz) container of cool whip

Sliced strawberries or other fruit topping

With a mixer, blend cream cheese and powdered sugar together.  Add cool whip and beat until smooth and creamy.

Spread mixture on top of cooled cake.

Cut into pieces and serve with fruit topping.

Refrigerate any leftovers.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

CINNAMON ROLL BAKED OATMEAL {low-sugar & flourless)

Cinnamon Roll Baked Oatmeal

Yesterday was my friend, Val’s birthday, so I took her to lunch. She and I have a lot in common; one thing being our interest in food and nutrition. We got talking about all kinds of debatable views on various sweeteners, fats, organic meat, etc. She has been on a gluten free diet for the past 9 months or so and has just recently been adding whole grains back in to her diet to see what happens. Anyway, I told her about this recipe as a way to eat oats other than in just plain old oatmeal form. It’s one from a great blog, Chocolate Covered Katie. Her recipes are vegan, but easily adapted to be more “main-stream”. On her site you will also find other variations of these tasty little oat cakes such as Pumpkin Pie, Banana Bread, Oatmeal Raisin and Chocoalte Chip Cookie Dough. My kids just assume they are regular muffins because the consistency is so different from prepared oatmeal, and who could resist that “frosting” drizzle? I love them because they are filling, versatile, and not too sweet for a morning meal! So here you go Val, enjoy!


Cinnamon Roll Baked Oatmeal                                 makes 11-12

(Printable Recipe)

2 C. Oats

1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

2 tsp. Cinnamon

Sweetener to taste, such as 3-4 packets of stevia, 10-12 drops liquid stevia, 3 Tbsp. maple syrup or honey (this amount makes them just sweet enough for me and the kids)

1 C. Unsweetened Applesauce (you can also substitute pumpkin or mashed banana)

1 C. Milk or Water (I usually do a combination of the two)

1/4 tsp. Salt

Optional: A few Tbsp. flax meal, handful of nuts, unsweetened coconut, raisins or other fruit

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine raw oats, spices, applesauce, and liquid. Spray a regular size muffin tin with cooking spray and fill each cup 1/2 – 3/4 full. You should be able to fill about 11 or 12. Cook for 18-20 minutes, or more until it’s firm. Let cool slightly and run a knife around each muffin cup to loosen sides. Invert onto cooling rack and leave until cool to the touch. Turn right side up on cooling rack and set over a pan or tin foil to catch any drips of “frosting”.


1/2 C. Nonfat Plain Greek Yogurt

4 oz. Reduced-Fat Cream Cheese, softened

1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

3-4 Tbsp. Milk

Sweetener to taste, such as a few drops liquid stevia or agave

Combine all ingredients in a small food processor or blender. Mix until smooth. Drizzle over baked oatmeal cakes.


Nutrition Info:

1 standard muffin cup size oatmeal cake without frosting = (info is an approximation)

60 calories, 1 g. fat, 2.5 g. protein, 3 g. fiber