Friday, March 2, 2012

Friday Five: Real Food Homemade Indulgence

I try to eat mostly "real food" that follow these guidelines: This means we cook most of our meals so we know what ingredients go into them. Where we often struggle is with sweets. I still eat plenty of candy and other sweets that do not follow those rules, but we're trying to make our own version of many of them so we can keep those to a minimum. Below are 5 of my favorite recipes for homemade sweets that (mostly) meet the "real food" rules.

#1 Carrot Cake

Without the frosting, this is actually very wholesome. I cut the recipe in half and baked it in a loaf pan instead of a sheet or layer cake. The times I tried it, I used a whole apple finely chopped instead of canned crushed pineapple, but I think I want to try it with fresh pineapple sometime for comparison. Since this was my first time baking a cake from scratch, I used store-bought frosting but plan to make my own in the future.

We just found this recipe, and it is amazingly delicious and ridiculously easy. Jason made the version with agave nectar, which comes out a bit soft and fudge-like, but that's fine by me. We just ordered stevia drops and can't wait try that verstion because that's supposed to make them firmer/crisp. I don't think we'll ever buy chocolate bars or chips at the store again! :) 
  • Bonus - Chocolate Syrup: combine 1 part cocoa power with 2 parts maple syrup, mix vigorously until it combines. Keep it in the refrigerator and give it a quick stir before pouring over ice cream or other treat. 

This is the same recipe for homemade granola that I have shared in the past, but usually we make the cereal-like type. When made with steel cut outs, these hold together really well and you can cut them into bars. I usually only add the coconut to these and we've been using a bit less butter too. I added peppermint extract to the last batch, and I'm in love! Next I'm going to try spreading a thin layer of the homemade chocolate on top to recreate luna bars.

#4 Ice Cream

Ever since we got our ice cream maker, we never went back to store-bought. We will occasionally eat frozen yogurt by the ounce, but it's a rare treat and we still prefer our own. Our favorite recipe is absurdly easy and delicious: 
  • Ingredients: 2 cups half and half, 1/3c honey, 1/4c tsp peppermint extract (sub with your favorite flavor). You can also flavor with cinnamon, cocoa powder or other spices. Get creative! 
  • Directions: Mix all ingredients well, until honey dissolves into half and half. Put the mixture in the freezer for 15-20 minutes to chill, then put in ice cream machine for 20-25 min. It will be soft-serve consistency when it first comes out. We usually scoop it into a container and put it in the freezer to enjoy when its a little firmer, but sometime we dig right in! The honey helps keep it at a spreadable consistency after frozen. This makes about 4-6 small servings. We use our homemade granola and chocolate for toppings. 

This is the best and most flexible smoothie recipe I've found because it's really a formula where you can mix and match your favorite ingredients. I don't even measure most of the ingredients anymore.

  • My favorite version: apple slices or apple sauce, frozen berries, spinach, oats, coconut oil, honey, lime juice, pinch of salt

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