Well, healthy-ish! I love baking, and am always trying to come up with ideas of things the kids are going to actually eat but aren’t made 100% of sugar (there’s a time and a place for that). By using some whole grains and fruit, it’s often pretty easy to come up with baking that is somewhat good for you but tastes decadent. Don’t get me wrong … none of these are going to replace a salad! But taken in moderation, it’s a great way to indulge!
Before we get to the baked goods, I want to announce the winner of my bike-clock giveaway: Erin L. Congratulations, Erin! I hope you love your gorgeous new penny-farthing! I have a bunch of really fun giveaways coming up over the summer for my newsletter followers, so make sure you sign up!
I will also be sharing my best-loved family baking recipe, the one that my family requests near weekly and has never, ever let me down, in my upcoming newsletter, coming out Sunday. You won’t regret it (if your dream is to be a baking hero). I’m also including some recipe art, which I assure you is an actual thing, and the illustration I’ve made is downloadable!
Chocolate Fudge Tahini Cookies
These cookies were an intense surprise. I haven’t made tahini cookies before, but have certainly used the sesame paste in other dishes like hummus. I’ve heard tahini cookies can be a bit bitter if you’re not expecting it, so I went into this recipe with healthy skepticism. I figured I’d be the one finishing these off. Instead, I’m the one fighting off the kids to get at the last one. The chocolate helps!
These cookies are naturally gluten-free with an almond flour base, sweetened with maple syrup and have the taste and texture of fudgy brownies. Not only that but they are a cinch to whip up. A hard-core top seller here, I couldn’t recommend more! You can find the recipe at Nadia’s Healthy Kitchen, where you can find the original vegan, gluten free version. (pssst: I’m not vegan and used real eggs)
Lemon Vanilla Zucchini Loaf
This is a recipe I found while living in Geneva. It is not as well-loved as some in my roster, as some family members may or may not despise zucchini with particular passion. As my sister says: “Zucchini is a vegetable best hidden in other foods.” Hence: zucchini cake.
This one is particularly lovely. It is very moist, and the oatmeal makes it pleasantly chewy (not sure if that’s something you thought you needed in your zucchini loaf, but trust me it is.) The subtle flavours of lemon and vanilla do shine here, and I think this is an excellent healthy treat. The loaf uses oatmeal, almond meal and ricotta as a base.
I found my recipe at Donna Hay. One thing I would warn about is that it doesn’t freeze particularly well – as with many things loaded down with fruit and veg, freshness is key.
Chocolate Peanut-Butter Quinoa Squares
These bars use puffed quinoa as their base, and are sweetened with dates. I used peanut butter, but any nut or seed butter will do.
It involves a little more legwork as you need to use the food processor to mix up the ingredients other than the quinoa, then mix it all together. They come together like Rice Krispie squares, and have the same texture as puffed-wheat squares, childhood classics all around. This was another one the kids couldn’t get enough of! Find the recipe at Occasionally Eggs.
Coconut Date Energy Balls
I couldn’t have posted about healthy eating without at least one date ball recipe. The date ball is an old favourite when you’re trying to eat super healthy: they are sweet without being addictive, perfect to satisfy your sweet cravings.
I based this recipe based on this one I found at Nom Nom Paleo, Liar Balls. It’s a cute story why she calls them that, as she’s trying to copycat the addictive Lara Bars, and her kids called her out for it. That being said, they are great, and I made a few changes to match what I found in a freezer. A great thing about date balls is you can do that – they are no bake, so it’s just a matter of what you want to put in the ball, as well as getting the texture right.
Coconut Date Balls
1/3 cup macadamia nuts
1 cup unsweetened coconut, shredded
1/4 tsp sea salt
10 Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped (NB: if you are using Neglet dates, keep in mind they are much smaller and less moist than the Medjool. Use double the amount of dates and a tbsp of water to make it work)
Toast the coconut on a baking sheet in a 300F oven for 3-5 minutes (keep an eye on it, as it happens fast). Meanwhile, toast macadamia nuts over medium heat in a dry pan, shaking gently every minutes or so to prevent scorching (this will take about 5 minutes as well).
Put macadamia nuts in food processor and pulse until they are smaller bits (but not turning into butter). Remove to a bowl. Then place dates in food processor and mix until it has formed a sticky ball that whacks against the side of the work bowl (give it time, this will actually happen). Then add coconut and salt and process until it’s become, essentially, a sticky mess. Scrape into the bowl with nuts and mix. Then take out tablespoon-sized globs and roll into balls.
These are delicious, if you like coconut. I think they’re great, but they’re really rich, so I’m not tempted to have more than one!
This recipe has absolutely no business being on a list of healthy baking. I made it on the vague idea that it is: 1. naturally gluten-free as it’s made with almond flour, and 2. it is chock-full of carrots. Other than that, this is a full-blown cake, including the decadent cream cheese icing. I was actually giggling over the amount of sugar found in this one. As for how it did in the taste test, 3 out of 4 participants loved it. The fourth couldn’t be convinced that cream cheese belonged in icing and refused to try it. I was okay with this because: more for me! The recipe came from The View from Great Island.
*note: after having this in the fridge for a few days, I can report that this cake holds up, is immensely satisfying, and is extremely addictive. Use the recipe wisely.
Happy baking this month! And don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter, I am over the moon about the cute illustrative recipe I’ve done. Let me know if you want to see more downloadable illustrated art and I’ll make more of my favourites!