Mini Paleo Chocolate Angel Food Cakes using Banana Flour

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Now Foods. I received product and compensation for my time to create this recipe and share my honest opinion. 

What if I told you to eat the whole cake? Would you do it, could you do it? I think so! My Personal-sized Paleo Chocolate Angel Food Cakes are a light, low-cal cake treat that will satisfy your cravings and jive with your food tribe – be that Paleo, gluten-free, sugar-free, or diary-free.Paleo & Dairy Free Chocolate Angel Food Cake - personal sized

Each substantial-sized “mini” cake (made in jumbo muffin tins) has just 162 calories, 45g total carbs with 13 of those being dietary fiber (but no added sugar), 8g protein and less than  ½ g fat. Honestly, they are so big for being little, I’m often happy with just half! Read on to get the recipe and find out about the green banana flour I used in the batter. Continue reading

12 Ideas for Hosting a Healthy Holiday Breakfast or Brunch

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – it’s a season for eating and greeting and spreading good cheer! If you are hosting a morning get-together over the holidays, it needn’t be fancy or fussy to be successful. In fact, some of the best memories I have are sitting around in my pajamas after the stockings have been unstuffed and ribbons unraveled to share a leisurely breakfast with family and reminisce about the glories of yore.  When I’m in town, I also like to don my most festive “ugly” sweater and invite the neighbors over for a holiday brunch.

Check out 12 Ideas for a Healthy Holiday Breakfast or Brunch

by The Fit Fork at Foodie.com


I have to admit though, the thought of hosting breakfast or brunch sometimes intimidates me – especially knowing I’m not a graceful waker-upper. So, I like to have many of the menu items prepped ahead of time so I’m not running around like an overworked, grouchy elf in the morning. Make-ahead egg casseroles are ideal as are muffins and quick breads that can be baked a day or two earlier. Even pancakes can be cooked and kept in the freezer for a no-stress holiday breakfast celebration. Some of my favorite breakfast recipes are included in the Healthy Holiday Breakfast and Brunch collection I created for Foodie.com.

Snow Men Milk Bottles - Kid's Craft - TheFitFork.comIf your gathering is anything like mine, there will probably be at least a dozen kids racing around the Christmas tree high as flying reindeer jacked up on candy canes. I have an entertaining little activity that will slow down these busy bodies for a just a few minutes and also provide the opportunity to pump them with a wholesome glass of milk (soy, almond or whatever!).  These Snowman Milk Bottles are adorable and a super easy craft that most any youngster can make with minimal supervision – however, I suggest pre-cutting the felt and assisting with the glue gun lest there be no emergency room trips on a holiday. And, BTW, TheFitFork.com has not turned into a DIY Craft blog, but these were just too fun not to share!

Snowman Milk Bottle Christmas Craft - TheFitFork.com

Supplies needed for each Snow Man Milk Bottle:

  • Empty mini milk bottle (available at craft store or recycled Starbucks Frappuccino bottle)
  • 1 ½ inch x 8 inch piece of colorful felt
  • 3 black buttons
  • Glue gun or glue dots
  • Scissors
  • Striped paper straw

For the scarf, use scissors to snip ½” long fringe into each end of the felt. Wrap around neck of bottle and knot to one side; secure with glue or glue dot if needed. Glue three buttons down front of bottle.  Fill with milk and add colorful paper straw.

So, what do you like to serve on Christmas or holiday mornings?  Do you have a once-a-year special holiday recipe or do you stick with your standard-issue morning meal?

This post was sponsored by Foodie.com, however all recipes and editorial comments are my own.

Pardon Me, is That a Parsnip Apple Muffin?

Agave Parsnip Apple Muffins recipe thefitfork.com

When the kids came home from school today, they opened the door to a delicious scent – home baked muffins straight out of the oven! As I let them dig in and reveled in the rare compliments that seem to only come my way when I bake goodies, I chuckled silently under my breath. Yup, these muffins held a special secret — I snuck some parsnips in there!

apple veggies bowl

Despite the trickery, my recipe for Parsnip Apple Muffins is a winner with shredded sweet apple and bits of delicately flavored parsnip, a close cousin to the carrot. I’m always looking for new ways to add extra fruit and veggies to the family table. Personally, I could eat a huge plate of lettuce and vegetables with every meal, but sometimes it takes a bit more creativity to convince my children – for example, baking parsnips, carrots and beets into crunchy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside fries was a big hit (check out the Baked Root Veggie Fries Recipe here).

WholesomeSweeteners.com has lots of yummy Organic Raw Agave Syrup flavors.

WholesomeSweeteners.com has lots of yummy Organic Raw Agave Syrup flavors.

Instead of white sugar, I used raw agave syrup. I’ve been having lots of success using this lower Glycemic index ingredient in both raw preparations and baked goods – agave syrup adds sweetness, but without the huge blood sugar spike. I’ve also found that not as much agave syrup is needed to replace sugar; I’m happy with about ¾ cup agave syrup, or a little less, as a substitution for 1 cup of sugar.

Parsnip Apple Muffins Recipe

  • 4 large eggs
  • ¾ cup canola oil
  • 4 ounces unsweetened applesauce
  • ¾ cup Wholesome Sweetener Raw Blue Agave Nectar – Cinnamon*
  • 2 cups shredded fresh parsnips
  • 1 cup shredded apple
  • 2 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½  teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two (12-ct) muffin tins with paper liners or mist with baking spray; set aside.

In large bowl whisk together eggs, oil, applesauce and agave syrup. Stir in shredded parsnips and agave. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just combined.

Divide batter among muffin cups and bake until deep golden brown and toothpick inserted in center pulls clean, approximately 20 minutes. Cool muffins on a wire rack.

*If using unflavored Agave syrup, add 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon to recipe.

{Grace & Grit} Carrot Cake Muffin Recipe + Slim Down South Cookbook Giveaway

Slim Down South CookbookYay, I love cookbooks . . . I devour them like fiction and use them as inspired fodder for my own recipe creations.  Recently, Southern Living sent me a new one by Carolyn O’Neil, MS, RD called The Slim Down South Cookbook.  It’s all about eating well and living healthy in the land of bacon and biscuits. The title really spoke to me because I DO consider myself a southern girl with an extreme fondness for the regional cuisine. I remember my grandmother making FRIED chicken the traditional way, in a cast iron skillet filled with lard, and gobbling up gooey pecan pie with nuts harvested at home right under the trees.

southern womenBut, as dang tasty as it is, southern–style food has a reputation for being (errrr) less than healthful. This bad rap gets me madder than a wet hen — there are plenty of healthful southern recipes if you can see past the two-stick of butter ones. Thankfully, this on-point cookbook shares loads of healthy recipes, shows you how to make-over signature southern dishes with a lighter profile, and even how to tackle tricky eating situations (such as celebrations) with grace and grit.

crossfit girl bar

You bet your biscuits – southern women are strong!

I’ve been provided a copy of the cookbook to review and another to give away (entry at bottom of post)! Of course, this healthy cookbook is loaded with 120 nutritious recipes including creative spins on signature dishes of the South – my favorites include everything from Fried Green Tomato Sliders and Hoppin’ John Parfaits to BBQ in a Jar and Carrot Cake Muffins.  I’m sharing the recipe for Carrot Cake Muffins, hope you enjoy – and don’t forget to enter the cookbook giveaway!

Carrot cake reminds me of birthday celebrations for aunts and uncles when I was young. My mother always told us kids we had to have “grown up “ tastes to enjoy this veggie and fruit packed dessert but I now realize it was a ploy to keep  more of the scrumptiousness for the adults.  Yes, I’m up with the jig and have greedily learned the ropes — even my own recipe for Caramel Apple Carrot Cake is one that is downplayed with the young-uns.

breakfast carrot cake muffins

breakfast carrot cake muffins

However, I do like to make (and share) Carrot Cake Muffins with my whole crew of baked goods gobblers. This recipe, from the “Southern Living: The Slim Down South Cookbook,” sneaks in carrots for my veggie-avoider and pineapple for my fruit-avoider and is actually a quite sensible snack for a healthy diet considering there’s no cream cheese frosting in sight! If you are looking for more dietary modifications, you can always swap out half the flour for whole wheat flour or substitute an egg white equivalent for the whole eggs – I’ve done both with success.

Carrot Cake Muffins Recipe

From Southern Living: The Slim Down South Cookbook

  • 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 (8-oz) cans crushed pineapple, drained
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Mix first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; make a well in the center.
  2. Whisk together the next 3 ingredients; add to flour mixture, stirring until just moistened. Fold in shredded carrots. Place paper muffin cups in 18 tins and coat with baking spray; spoon batter into cups; filling two-thirds full.
  3. Bake at 350 F degrees for 20 to 25 minute or until a wooden pick inserted into the middle pulls out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 18 muffins.

For a chance t win your own copy of “Southern Living: The Slim Down South Cookbook,” follow the rafflecopter entry instructions below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Muffin Mania | Multi-Grain Peanut Butter Banana Muffin Recipe

jennifer fisher -thefitfork.com - multigrain pb banana muffins

It’s midnight muffin-making mania! Once again, I have stayed up way to late, but this time it is for the sake of having a healthy breakfast in the morning – after all, it’s still Better Breakfast Month! Two of my kids take a brown-bag breakfast to school to eat after sports practice. I often feel bad that they’re missing a hot meal at home (yes, I often scramble eggs, but that’s all I’m capable of at 5:45 in the morning). I feel even worse when I send them off with a meal where everything comes out of a wrapper – the protein bar, the fruit bar, the juice pouch and so on. New rule, only ONE wrapper per meal!

For this super yummy Multi-Grain Peanut Butter Banana Muffins, I tweaked a few recipes to make a new and improved muffin experience. In terms of baking concepts, I cut some of the oil and replaced it with a natural peanut butter – you could use any nut butter you like. I reduced a great deal of the white processed flour by substituting in whole wheat flour, bran cereal and flax seed.  There’s a whole lot of whole-grainy goodness going on in these morning, afternoon and night muffins. Another muffin recipe of mine you should try is the Berry Cheesecake Power Muffins, it has a totally different consistency (yet amazing taste) while these muffins today have a traditional texture.

jennifer fisher - thefitfork.com - multigrain pb banana muffin 2

If you haven’t put flax seed into baked goods before, you really should. There are three healthy benefits from sneaking a little flax seed into this muffin recipe. First, it adds extra fiber to the muffins, each tablespoon of flax seed has 8 grams of fiber. Second, flax seed is a plant-based source for omega-3, an essential fatty acid that provides and anti-inflammatory role in the body. Third, flax seed contains lignans, a compound that helps our body metabolize estrogen in a safer way. Studies have shown that consuming lignin may reduce the risk of breast and prostate cancer. Remember to use your flax seed in a ground state, that’s how you reap all the nutritional benefits.

I also have two cooking tips to share for this recipe. First, I used a little in-a-pinch baking solution my grandmother taught me. A great substitution for buttermilk  (which is so good in most muffin recipe but always ends up going bad in the fridge because who really uses it for anything else), is to sour your regular milk (even low-fat milk) by adding 1 teaspoon of white vinegar to 1 cup of milk. Let it sit for a few minutes to get to the right consistency.   The other tip is new to me tonight – and that is to spray muffin papers with cooking spray before pouring in the batter. This seemed like a weird thing to do, but I gave it a try – wow, the muffins didn’t stick at all inside the baking liners.

Next up in my Better Breakfast Month rotation, one of the quick and easy recipes from the gallery of Cooking Light’s Grab and Go Quick Breakfast ideas.  Fig, Applesauce and Almond Loaf (below) immediately caught my eye , but there are tons of other speedy and satisfying recipes on the site that will help make mornings easier.

1010p222-fig-applesauce-loaf-l

jennifer fisher -thefitfork.com - multigrain pb banana muffins IG

 

Multi-Grain Peanut Butter Banana Muffins Recipe

  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ¼ cup natural style peanut butter
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup bran cereal
  • 2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½  cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt

For Streusel Topping:

  • ¼  cup whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup rolled oats
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil

 

Preheat oven to 375 F degrees. Line muffin cups with paper baking cups and lightly spray with cooking spray.

In large bowl, combine oil and peanut butter together with a whisk or electric mixer. Add brown sugar, stirring until combined. Next add egg, cereal, mashed banana, Greek yogurt, and vanilla, stir until just combined (will be a bit lumpy).

In non-reactive small bowl, add milk and vinegar. Let sit for 5 minutes to sour, will look slightly curdled. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix together flours, baking powder, flaxseed meal, and nutmeg.   Stir this dry mixture into wet mixture alternating with soured milk. Repeat until ingredients are combined, but not over-mixed.  Pour batter into prepared muffin cups approximately two-thirds full.

In medium bowl, add streusel ingredients. Mix together until combined but crumbly. Sprinkle streusel on top of muffin batter.

Bake in 375 F degree oven for approximately 20 – 22 minutes or until top lightly browned and toothpick pulls clean when inserted into the middle.

Cool on wire rack.

Makes 20 muffins.

Prevent Bonk & Bodonkadonk with Berry Cheesecake Power Muffins Recipe

 

Imagine nervously waiting at the start line of the most important race of your life, a run that would be the final test of more than a year of dedicated, intensive training and one where you have put the reputation of your family, faith and country on the line. Now imagine that instead of carefully monitoring your diet and eating “clean” for maximum performance leading up to and on the big day, you are fueled on cheesecake and will be running in the nude.

ancient runners cheesecake

As crazy as it sounds, historical records reveal that cheesecake was served to athletes participating in the first Olympic Games in Greece back in 776 BC. However, the ladies didn’t have to worry whether or not a slice of this decadent dessert would give them a glycogen-depleting bonk or big ole naked bodonkadonk come race day – female athletes weren’t allowed to compete, nor were married women even allowed to spectate.

A dollop of whipped cream might not make you run faster, but it's fun!

A dollop of whipped cream might not make you run faster, but it’s fun!

But, let me stop my digression on discrimination here and get back to the cheesecake nutrition plan. I can’t imagine that a slice of cheesecake, such as we enjoy here in the 21st century, could be the best way to finish off a pre-race meal.  A single slice of Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple Cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory tops out at over 1,300 calories and 40 grams of fat per serving; even a low-carb, Splenda-sweetened slice of Original Cheesecake from the same restaurant has 570 calories.  Sheez, instead of the aforementioned cheesecake offender, you could eat more than HALF of my Whey Cool Strawberry Protein Pie.

But, don’t get me wrong, I love cheesecake. I just don’t eat it everyday and when I do indulge, I share a slice with a partner in crime. Since National Cheesecake Day is July 30th I wanted to honor this icon of the dessert cart in a more nutritious way.  I found a description by the rhetorician and grammarian Athenaeus on how cheesecake was prepared back in ancient Greek times. While it looked like the recipe was actually filled with healthy carbs and protein, the lack of measurements left me puzzled.

 “Take cheese and pound it till smooth and pasty; put cheese in a brazen sieve; add honey and spring wheat flour. Heat in one mass, cool, and serve.”

Instead, I came up with a cheesecake-inspired recipe with a healthy spin; a nutritious little nosh that could be enjoyed before running a race without any negative consequences on my gut or butt. Since I’m usually running and racing in the morning, a muffin was the perfect solution. Sized just right to take on the go, my recipe for Berry Cheesecake Power Muffins offers more than 8 grams of protein and less than two grams of fat – all for about 100 calories per muffin. jennifer fisher - thefitfork.com - berry cheesecake power muffins

Berry Cheesecake Power Muffins Recipe

  •  2 cups rolled oats, ground in a blender
  • 1 cup fat free cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar-free maple syrup
  • 1 cup egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp Stevia
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Remaining ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • ½ cup fresh strawberries, chopped
  • ½ cup fat free cream cheese
  • 1/2 tbsp Stevia

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.

Grind up oats in blender using pulse button. In pitcher of blender, add ingredients for muffin batter –cottage cheese, applesauce, syrup, egg whites, vanilla extract, Stevia, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Blend in blender until smooth and divide mixture up equally in a 12-muffin tray fitted with muffin liners (or coated with baking spray).

In a separate bowl, mix together cream cheese and 1/2 tablespoon of Stevia. Sprinkle blueberries and chopped strawberries on top of muffins; then dollop cream cheese on the center top of each muffin. The fruit and cream cheese will sink down to the middle during baking.

In 350 F degree oven, bake muffins for 20 – 22 minutes or until lightly browned.

Let cool before removing from muffin tins.

Makes 12 muffins.

Nutritional info: per muffin: Calories: 103, Total fat: 1.9g, Total carbs: 12.1g, Sugar: 2.7g, Protein: 8.3g

The berries and cream cheese is put on top of batter and it sinks to the middle during baking.

The berries and cream cheese is put on top of batter and it sinks to the middle during baking.