Archive of ‘Holiday and Seasonal’ category

Paleo Pecan Pie with a Secret Ingredient (Low Sugar, Gluten-Free)

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Before I wax poetic about Thanksgiving, let’s all take a moment to watch the greatest Thanksgiving commercial of all time, starring the two salt shakers pictured above. My life as a Florida resident was enriched every holiday season by the sentimental holiday ads from Publix grocery store. 

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How to make a Silky Smooth Pumpkin Spice Latte At Home (Better Than Starbucks!)

What’s the secret to making a silky smooth Pumpkin Spice Latte at home? 
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It starts with making your own flavored coffee creamer in your crock pot. Coffee creamers make it so easy to prepare fancy flavored coffee as you’re running (or in my case, doing that awkward fast walk to avoid spilling) out the door. Just pour n’ go!

Homemade Vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte

The best part about making your lattes at home is that you can control the sugar. The recipe below is low carb, sugar-free, and can even be made vegan and paleo.

So, how can we make a coffee creamer that tastes like pumpkin without any chunkiness from the pumpkin puree? I’ll show you how!

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Perfect Paleo Biscuits + Pumpkin Apple Butter (aka Fall In a Jar!)

These paleo biscuits will rock your world.

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 Slathered with Pumpkin Apple Butter, which tastes like a cross between pumpkin pie and apple pie, these biscuits will satisfy the fiercest of carb cravings.

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Sugar-Free Pumpkin Apple Butter make your house smell the best it’s ever smelled, getting you in the mood for pumpkin spice lattes and color changing leaves and knit scarves and all of the other seasonal accoutrements taking over storefronts and Pinterest.

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An Easter GIVEAWAY + Homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter Egg Candies (a.k.a. “Better-than-Reese’s” Eggs!) for a Healthier Holiday

My name is Lauren, and I’m a Reese’s peanut butter egg-a-holic.

Paleo Reese's Peanut Butter Chocolate Eggs

Earlier this month, I received a request from a reader, Deb, to create a healthier version of the highly addictive, seasonal candy that is the Reese’s egg. Knowing there are many low carb eaters out there who face the temptation to hoard these candies every Easter, I was determined to create a healthier alternative. It would be  dairy-free, soy-free, and paleo for my primal peeps and allergen-averse readers.

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Homemade Chocolate Candy Bark and my Kindle E-Book!

Boy oh boy, it’s good to be back in the kitchen! Back with a little something special for the holidays, of course. It’s sugar-free, dairy-free chocolate candy bark! Isn’t it purdy, lounging on a gold doily?

Sugar-Free,

G-l-a-m-o-r-o-u-s, baby!

Doilies are works of art, aren’t they? I see them as small, papery miracles. They make any food visually appealing. They make you feel like you have some sort of “eye” for decorating. They come in classic white, or SHINY!!! I’m a firm believer in their ability to make everything better. 

This festive candy is made with a smooth and sweet chocolate base that contains no milk, but all of the richness of traditional milk chocolate bark. This candy bark is one for your Christmas cookbook.

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Sugar-Free Sugar Cookies for a Healthy Christmas Treat (+ a GIVEAWAY!)

UPDATE: The giveaway is closed, and the winner has been contacted. Thanks for playing, everyone!

At the request of a reader, I wanted to share with you my sugar-free, gluten-free Healthier Sugar Cookies. That sounds like an oxymoron, right? Stay with me here. These cookies smell and taste just as good as the cut out cookies I’ve made every year since I was little using grandma’s recipe. The aroma of sweet cookie dough (i.e. buttery vanilla-y goodness!) filled the kitchen as I gingerly rolled out the dough.

Sugar-Free Sugar Cookies (Gluten-Free, Low Carb) for the holidays

I used my grandmother’s antique cookie cutters to cut the familiar shapes that remind me of so many past Christmases. The dough I worked with was sugar-free, but the steps for making the cookies, and the accompanying feelings of nostalgia were the same.

Antique Cookie Cutters

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Healthy Chocolate Whoopie Pies are here! Sugar-free, gluten-free, and finger-lickin’ good.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, Healthy Indulgences readers! School’s out and baking season is here. After a semester of new beginnings during which I moved back home to Florida and started my post-baccalaureate coursework, it’s time to get back in the kitchen and go on a baking spree. I’m trading in my calculator for my camera and ditching the library for the kitchen these next few weeks, bringing you holiday sweets and a couple of GIVEAWAYS!

Update: The lemon curd post and Gary Taubes summaries are on hold until the new year. We have many seasonal goodies to make over! Stay tuned…
To kickstart the baking bonanza, here are some sugar-free, gluten-free Healthy Whoopie Pies to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Gluten-Free Low Carb Whoopie Pies!

They’re all the rage, and perfect for an easy, kid-friendly holiday dessert. My version of these cakey cookie sandwiches with a sweet buttercream filling tastes every bit as good as the traditional dessert chock full of flour, sugar, and shortening! Made with ground almonds, a little oat flour, pure unsweetened cocoa powder, and natural sweeteners, you can feel good about indulging in these treats after your holiday feast. Actually, they’re wonderful any time of the year. In fact, you should make these right now. You need fuel to get through all that gift-wrapping and baking, right?!

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Healthy Carrot Cake with decadent Cream Cheese Frosting

Why have I made carrot cake over ten times in the past three days? To come up with a Healthy Carrot Cake that’s low in carbohydrates and gluten-free for you! This fragrant and flavorful cake is also dairy-free and nut-free, if you omit the classic add in of chopped walnuts. I promise you won’t miss the raisins in this nourishing carrot cake that’s not just healthy “because it has vegetables in it!” ;) The other bad stuff–those culprits named Sugar and Flour–are conspicuously left out of this recipe. All of that grating was totally worth it.

There is a teaspoon of blackstrap molasses–which is technically a sugar–in this recipe. It’s a thick, dark iron-rich syrup made from the sugarcane plant. This molasses is potent stuff, and contributes a rich flavor and coloring to the cake. You can leave molasses out to be completely sugar-free, but I think it’s worth the 4 grams of carbs.

You can bake the cake into a traditional rectangular loaf, or snack-sized mini muffins. Get creative and have fun with your sugar-free frosting! It pipes well, using a zip top bag with the corner snipped off.
Healthy Carrot Cake - Low Carb and Gluten-Free

A bit of food coloring can transform your homemade low carb treats into festive, eye-catching confections worthy of special occasions. Check the food coloring label for hidden sugar before you buy. I made the mistake of not checking the label of the Wilton gel coloring I used here, and saw it contained corn syrup, much to my dismay! That pesky Sugar manages to sneak in everywhere, doesn’t it? McCormick food colors, found in most grocery stores, are sugar-free. I’ve tried a couple of organic dyes, and unfortunately neither of them yielded satisfactory results. You need so little coloring for an entire batch of frosting that I’m not too worried about the health effects. If you have any recommendations for natural food dye, let us know in the comments, please.

The frosting is absolutely delicious any color you make it. It’s a new and improved Healthy Cream Cheese Frosting, with a special low carb ingredient that might be familiar to the Asian and Indian readers of this blog… 

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Healthy Chocolate Raspberry Mini Cheesecakes…

At last, I am posting the recipe that goes with the photo you see below! Apologies for the delay. Am enjoying the last days of Spring Break. The Floridian in me is pretty excited about it (hint: it’s a well-loved pie!), too.

Regarding comments, I’m sorry to say I cannot keep up with them for the time being. I am merely a student, with my top priorities being school work and other activities on campus. Please do not hesitate to email me. Go ahead and shoot me another one if I miss your first email! I will be creating a separate email account shortly just to respond to blog comments and questions, since they are currently mixed in with my school/work/personal emails. Thank you for your understanding.

At any rate, I hope you will give these easy, tasty cheesecakes a try. You can add what ever berry you like, or perhaps get creative and drop other goodies into the unbaked filling (low carb chocolate chips? sugar-free cookie chunks?!). The gluten-free nut crust could be tweaked with finely ground dried coconut flakes and perhaps a bit of buckwheat flour to make it nut-free for those allergic, but I will leave the experimentation up to you this time!


By the way, these cheesecakes were an entry for a contest sponsored by a sugar-free retailer that occurred ages ago. I have since tested the recipe multiple times, and the results have been met with “winning” ratings by my testers, although these tasty bites did not garner accolades in the official contest. The official contest winners were, incidentally, not low carb dishes. Doesn’t the low-glycemic crowd need love too? ;)

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Healthy Homemade Creme Eggs… Move Over Cadbury!

First things first: My iherb.com rewards code is NIN467. Thank you to BkBabe and the other readers who clued me in about this! Use it for your first iherb.com purchase, and get a $5 discount.

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It’s that time of year. That time when convenience stores have Easter candy displays set up. Even the most devoted healthy eaters can get nostalgic, seeing the colorful displays of packaged marshmallow and chocolate confections. Reminiscent of childhood candy baskets on Easter morning, these toxic frankenfoods certainly still have an allure for me. The single most tempting treat is Cadbury Cream Eggs, hands-down. As much as my tastebuds have adapted to subtle sweetness and natural sugar substitutes, I could still probably down a package of those goo-filled overpoweringly sweet candy eggs.

With a healthy dose of natural saturated fats and antioxidants from the organic cream, butter, and unsweetened chocolate, these homemade candies will allow you to have your seasonal treats while maintaining your healthy diet. I seriously cannot believe the power sugar holds over us at times. I believe due to biochemical individuality, it’s only certain individuals who are cursed with getting that “jolt” of happiness every time they eat sweet, carbohydrate-rich foods. The evolutionary adaptation that helped us to identify energy rich foods back when we were chasing around saber toothed tigers can be tortuous in this processed food-filled day and age!

My homemade almost sugar-free take on these well loved confections does not taste exactly the same, but is every bit as delicious and satisfying. The simple filling is light but rich, with buttery undertones. I even made a vegan version for you dairy-free folks! The combination of stevia and honey contributes just the right amount of sweetness to the creamy center, minus the gloppy powdered sugar/corn syrup consistency and cloying quality. My testers certainly gave these the thumbs up!

Now let’s compare these treats with the store bought sugar bombs…

Original Creme Eggs:
28 grams net carbs!

Healthy Creme Eggs:
6 grams net carbs!

Pretty crazy, huh? The little bit of really sugar in honey works really well here. I did not try a version with erythritol because a) I’m out, and b) I’m guessing there will be a cooling effect/grittiness that would be unpleasant in the creamy filling.

Now go buy some egg molds off of ebay ($5 including shipping!), and get candy making. Happy early Easter!

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Healthy Homemade Creme Eggs

Makes 8 large eggs

Ingredients:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted organic butter
1/4 cup organic heavy cream
1 tablespoon honey (add an extra teaspoon for a very sweet filling)
1 fresh organic egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon (scant) good tasting pure stevia extract
Pinch unrefined sea salt

Preparation:

Heat butter, cream, and honey, stirring over over low heat until butter is completely melted. Whisk in egg yolk and cook over medium-low heat until mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon (should take 3-5 minutes). It will leave a trail when you drag your finger across the back of the spoon. Remove from heat and add vanilla and stevia. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Taste and add a tiny pinch more stevia if necessary. If when cooking the custard you start seeing little tiny cooked pieces of egg white, immediately pull from the the heat and strain mixture. It will still be good. Chill until cool to the touch.

~4.2g net carbs per 1/8th of a recipe

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Dairy-Free/Vegan Filling

Makes 8 large eggs

Ingredients:
1/4 cup nonhydrogenated shortening
1/4 cup coconut cream (from canned coconut milk)
1 tablespoon honey (add an extra teaspoon for a very sweet filling)
Tiny pinch xanthan gum OR 1 fresh egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon (scant) good-tasting pure stevia extract
Pinch unrefined sea salt

Preparation:

Store coconut milk in the refrigerator for a few hours. Remove the lid gently, and scoop out the solid upper layer of coconut cream. Heat shortening, coconut cream, and honey, stirring over over low heat until butter is completely melted. If using xanthan gum, simply add the tiniest pinch you can hold between your fingertips, and whisk for a minute. It will thicken a little bit in the pan, but will become even more viscous upon cooling. Less is more here. It’s better to add too little xanthan then have it turn slimy because you’ve added too much. You can always add more when the mixture has cooled. If using egg yolk, whisk it into the warmed coconut cream mixture and cook over medium-low heat until it coats the back of a spoon (should take 3-5 minutes). Remove from heat and add vanilla and stevia. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Taste and add a tiny pinch more stevia if necessary. If when cooking the custard you start seeing little tiny cooked pieces of egg white, immediately pull from the the heat and strain mixture. It will still be good. Chill until cool to the touch.

Sugar-Free “Milk” Chocolate Egg Shells (or Chocolate Chunks)

Makes 8 egg shells

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate (Ghirardelli)
2 tablespoons powdered nonfat milk (I use Organic Valley)
2 tablespoons xylitol or 3 tablespoons erythritol
1/8 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract
2 teaspoons nonhydrogenated shortening (Spectrum Organic)

Ensure all utensils and working bowls are completely dry. Powder sweetener and powdered milk with the flat blade on a Magic Bullet, or your coffee grinder. Whir for at least one minute until it becomes an extra fine powder. Do not open canister immediately in order to allow the powdered mixture to settle. In a large microwave safe bowl, break chocolate into chunks, and add shortening. Heat chocolate mixture for 35 seconds on HIGH and stir. Heat in 10 second intervals, stirring each time, until melted and smooth. Dump in powdered mixture, and fold around the bowl with a spatula until smooth. It will look clumpy and thick at first, but you will be able to smooth it out. Reheat in microwave for 10-15 seconds. Fill molds, spreading chocolate up the sides with your fingertips or the back of a tiny measuring spoon. Chill in freezer, and repeat, only spreading chocolate around the top edges (which tend to be too thin since the chocolate sinks into the middle of the molds. Don’t worry if the inside looks messy–the outside will still look perfect. Smooth the top edges of the chocolate shells to ensure that they’ll fit together. Chill again. Pop out of mold using gentle pressure on the backs of the wells, along with rapping the plastic tray on the counter. Fill one egg half with filling. On another egg half, paint a thin line of extra chocolate along the top edges. Stick the second half over the first, pressing firmly to seal. Let set for five minutes. Eat!

For dairy-free chocolate shells, omit milk powder and decrease shortening to 1/2 teaspoon.

If making into chunks, pour into a pan lined with parchment and spread flat. Chill until firm, then chop into chunks.

~2g net carbs per 1/8th of a recipe

OM
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NOM!

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Check out this week’s Real Food Wednesday over at Kelly the Kitchen Cop for more information on healthful fats!

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