3-Ingredient Mango Frozen Yogurt

Mango frozen yogurt

I’m gonna come right out and say that Disneyland is missing a major opportunity.

Anyone who has been to Adventureland knows that you absolutely cannot have a complete Disney experience there without enjoying some Dole Pineapple Whip. You know, from the thatched-roof stand next to the Tiki Room where the line always stretches back to the I-10 (or at least to Sleeping Beauty’s Castle). I enjoy Dole Whip, with its cool, creamy texture and tropical sweetness, but I’m not quite as fanatical about it as some people I know. People go NUTS for this stuff.

So when I say Disneyland is missing an opportunity, here’s what I mean: there are other tropical fruits they haven’t experimented with that can be made into whips. Like mango! In this foodie’s humble opinion, this mango frozen yogurt (aka Mango Whip) is at least as tasty as the pineapple version served in Adventureland. It’s a zippy fresh fruit treat that, with only three ingredients, is ridiculously easy to make and surprisingly low in added sugar. If Disneyland tapped into this, the tiki stand could have lines that stretch all the way to the Pacific! Wouldn’t THAT be fun?

Mango frozen yogurt

Or, instead, you could just make it at home.

Mango frozen yogurt

Frozen mango + yogurt + powdered sugar + a blender, and in 5 minutes you’ve got the definition of refreshment in a bowl. So who needs Disneyland? (Ok, I do. I need Disneyland. When can we go back again???)

Adventure land

 

Print Recipe
3-Ingredient Mango Frozen Yogurt
A refreshing mango frozen yogurt with minimal added sugar.
Course Dessert, snack
Servings
(generously)
Ingredients
Course Dessert, snack
Servings
(generously)
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender or the bowl of a food processor and blend/process until smooth. Serve immediately.
Recipe Notes

Adapted from Eating Well.

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Almond Milk Nutella Pudding

Nutella pudding

Are you a milk drinker? If you are, how much milk do you drink a day? If you’re not, how much dairy do eat in a day?

At last year’s Nutrition and Health Conference in Denver, I heard a fascinating talk from Walter Willett, Department Chair of Harvard’s School of Public Health, about how much dairy we all actually need on a daily basis. The marketing messages we grew up with that milk “does a body good” and to get “3 A Day” servings of cheese, milk, or yogurt may have been simply that: marketing. Willett’s conclusion, based on numerous studies, was that one serving of dairy a day is probably plenty for most adults. We do of course need to be mindful of consuming enough calcium and vitamin D overall, but as an animal product, dairy has a pretty high calorie and fat price tag for the delivery of these vital nutrients.

While there’s still more research to be done on the merits (or pitfalls) of eating lots of dairy, and what fat percentage to choose when we do, since hearing Willett’s talk I’ve tried to simply become more conscious of how much dairy I consume daily. It’s led to the discovery that I’m a bit of a dairy-oholic. While drinking straight milk frankly grosses me out, my daily cheese/yogurt/ice cream consumption can overstep its bounds even before lunchtime.

Yesterday, for example… I was craving something sweet. The jar of Nutella in my pantry was seductively calling my name, but, wanting to at least maintain my illusion of refinement, I thought, what if I make something with the Nutella instead of just eating it straight from the jar like a desperate PMS-ing college student? Something like a pudding, perhaps! As I thought about my day of eating up until that point, however, I realized it had already been pretty dairy-heavy. So, while there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with dairy, would it be heretical to make a pudding without something other than regular milk, thereby cutting some fat and calories? Could it turn out creamy and delicious if you made it with, say, almond milk instead of cow’s milk?

Why yes, it could!

I didn’t miss a thing in this Nutella pudding using almond milk in place of regular dairy. When I asked my husband for his thoughts, he said it was very tasty, too, and didn’t realize it didn’t contain regular milk. (Though it should be noted that there is a small amount of dairy in Nutella itself. If you absolutely need to be 100% dairy-free, you would need to find a different chocolate hazelnut spread than Nutella–which is possible!)

So whether you need to limit dairy in your diet for some reason, or just don’t mind shaving off a few calories in your dessert, this pudding is your answer. Dollop with a dairy or non-dairy whipped topping to your preference.

Nutella Pudding

By the way, recently on one of my tours at the Halle Heart Children’s Museum where I work, I asked a group of second graders which animals provide dairy products. With utmost confidence, one kid raised his hand and shouted: “Ducks!” If duck milk ever becomes a thing, I’m gonna call it non-dairy and say you can make this pudding with it, too.

Print Recipe
Dairy Free Nutella Pudding
A Nutella pudding made with almond milk that's still creamy and smooth!
Course Dessert
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
Course Dessert
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, corn starch, cocoa powder, and salt. Add almond milk and bring almost to a boil over medium heat, whisking frequently to break up any lumps.
  2. When the mixture begins to thicken and almost boil, turn heat to low, add Nutella, chocolate chips, and vanilla and whisk until smooth.
  3. Pour into 4 individual bowls or ramekins, or one large bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Serve chilled with non-dairy whipped topping.
Recipe Notes

A Love Letter to Food Original Recipe.

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Showstopper Pumpkin Cheesecake

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Happy December! I hope your Thanksgiving was happy and, like we talked about in the last post, HEALTHY!

So…I hope you won’t hate me…or think I’m a big ol’ hypocrite…if my next post is about a ridiculously amazing, gingersnap-crusted, cream-topped showstopping pumpkin cheesecake.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Sorry? But not sorry?

Pumpkin Cheesecake

All I can say is that my approach to food is all about balance, and with that in mind, occasional portion-controlled indulgences like pumpkin cheesecake can absolutely be included. That’s my Official Nutritionist Stance on the matter. My Official Foodie Stance on the matter is that this cheesecake rocks my world.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

You may be feeling pretty over it when it comes to anything pumpkin-flavored now that it’s December, but let me encourage you not to trade all your gourds in for candy canes just yet. If a Christmas party or other special occasion is in your future this holiday season, THIS is the dessert you want to bring. For me, it is ALWAYS the dessert that people hover around, comment about, groan over in delight, sneak into their purse, etc. Last month I served it at a house concert we hosted and a week later, two people happened to mention separately that they were still thinking about it. (So am I.) It takes some time and effort, but really is not difficult to make for such a gorgeous and delicious final product. There are no unusual ingredients, no chef-level techniques, and–best of all for cheesecake–no water bath.

So this season, be the showstopper of the neighborhood Christmas party/work potluck/New Year’s Bash with something truly special. And for me, your nutritionist friend, enjoy it in moderation.

Print Recipe
Showstopper Pumpkin Cheesecake
This stunning cheesecake is always a hit!
Course Dessert
Servings
slices
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Servings
slices
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Make the crust: in a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, chopped pecans, gingersnap crumbs, and both sugars, then stir in melted butter. Press carefully into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Freeze for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Make the filling: in a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Add the cubed softened cream cheese and sugar and blend on medium speed with a hand mixer until no lumps remain. Beat in cream, cornstarch, vanilla, and bourbon (if using). Pour into chilled crust.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes or until the center is set. (If your springform pan tends to be leaky like mine, you may want to place a baking sheet underneath it.) Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, make the cream topping: in a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, sugar, and maple syrup. Spread over the top of the baked cheesecake, smoothing with a spatula. Bake another 5-10 minutes, then cool completely. Garnish with pecan halves and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  5. *Tip for serving: instead of a knife, try slicing the cheesecake using dental floss. Way less mess!
Recipe Notes

Adapted from Boston Uncommon.

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Gluten Free Halloween Candy Bark

Gluten Free Candy Bark

Tonight some friends of ours came over for what has come to be a tradition in our house around Halloween time: a creepy movie night. For years my husband and I hosted a Hitchcock movie night, then we tried a Twilight Zone Party, and this year, in honor of Gene Wilder’s recent passing, I really wanted to have a bunch of people over to watch the Mel Brooks classic Young Frankenstein. For those who have never seen the movie, it’s a screwball comedy with a dark twist, starring Wilder as the tortured grandson of Transylvania’s most famous mad scientist. Despite his insistence that he has no intention to replicate his grandfather’s experiments in reanimating corpses, history repeats itself and the younger Frankenstein returns to the family castle, where he ends up with a 7 1/2 foot raging monster on his hands …all suffused with the cheesy humor you’d expect from Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder. I grew up watching the movie with my mom and brother and thought it would be fun to enjoy it in the company of friends.

Gluten Free Candy Bark

The thing is, though, October always somehow gets filled up with events, Halloween parties, school work, and other commitments, and my best-laid movie night plans kept getting shoved aside. Before I knew it, we were halfway through the month and I hadn’t officially invited anyone–just had mentioned the possibility to one friend. I’m not one to give up on an idea where a party is concerned, though (see my Entertaining page for evidence), so as the days went by and we got closer and closer to Halloween, I thought, hey, even if we just have that one friend and her family over for the movie, it’ll still be a good time! This particular friend and her husband have two kids who go to the same school as ours and are great friends themselves, so it was a natural fit to have them join us.

Since this friend of mine has Celiac disease, I decided it would be nice to take the “What Can I Eat?” question off the table, so to speak, by making all gluten-free treats for us to enjoy during the movie. Cider bourbon cocktails for the grownups, caramel apple popcorn, and this gluten-free version of Halloween candy bark were on the menu. I typically make a regular Halloween candy bark after my kids go trick-or-treating, but now that they’re getting older, I have a feeling they’re not going to let me steal their candy this year. Guess I’d better really enjoy this pre-Halloween version, then.

With peanuts, M & Ms, and candy corn sprinkled over hardened melted chocolate chips, this rich dessert/snack couldn’t be simpler. Try it with any gluten-free candy on top for anyone in your life who needs to stay away from gluten. The Celiac Disease Foundation has a helpful list on their website of Halloween candies that are gluten-free.

And finally, a question…what’s your favorite creepy movie to watch this time of year? Or if you love Young Frankenstein like I do, what’s your favorite part? I have to go with the “Puttin’ On the Ritz” dance routine, hands down.

Gluten Free Candy Bark

Gluten Free Halloween Candy Bark
A Love Letter to Food Original Recipe

Ingredients:

1 24-oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips (you may need to check packaging to ensure they are gluten-free)
Lightly salted peanuts, coarsely crushed
M & Ms
Candy corn

Directions:

  1. Line the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13 inch rimmed cookie sheet or baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Place chocolate chips in a large bowl and microwave for 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until chocolate is completely melted. Spread melted chocolate evenly over parchment paper.
  3. Sprinkle with any amount of peanuts, M & Ms, candy corn (or other gluten free candy) you like.
  4. Refrigerate at least one hour or until chocolate has hardened.
  5. Remove from parchment paper and place on a large cutting board. With a chef’s knife, cut into pieces or wedges. I’d recommend slicing pieces fairly small, as the richness of even a small amount goes a long way.

Makes 1 9 x 13-inch pan.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

It was bound to happen. Today is the first day of fall, so you knew this was coming, right? I’m not talking about sweater weather (which at this point in Phoenix is just a glint in a hopeful–or delusional–eye), or even the upcoming election (which at this point is hovering like a black cloud of doom, let’s be honest).

I’m talking about Pumpkin Juggernaut.

Creepy pumpkin

I won’t abuse you by listing all the places you’re likely to see pumpkin products this fall. I’ve already done that, and I’m sure you’ve already seen the evidence seeping like an orange fog into your local Target…and Starbucks…and Starbucks-inside-Target.

This fall, I think we could all use a pumpkin public service announcement: pick your pumpkin products wisely, lest you experience Pumpkin Burnout. It is of course a wonderful flavor that can set a festive autumn mood, but you may have to pace yourself so you don’t end up wanting to hide in your home like a paranoid seasonal xenophobe, screaming “NO MORE GOURDS!!!” until the Christmas decorations roll out.  

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

These pumpkin chocolate chip cookies make a great choice if you’re trying to be selective, pumpkin-wise. They happen to be my husband’s favorite. He’s asked me to make batches of them for work (his company has an annual pumpkin bake-off) and I’ve served them to neighbors and friends. A larger-than-usual amount of baking powder makes them puff up fluffy and cake-like, and if you store them in the fridge, the cold chocolate-chewy pumpkin combination will convince you that straight out of the fridge is the ONLY way you will ever eat them again. They also freeze beautifully, just in case you get overwhelmed and need to save some for later, like February, when you’ve recovered from Pumpkin Juggernaut.

But for now, on the first day of fall, let’s just bask in the glow of dreams of changing leaves, apple cider, …or…wait…is that the glow of something giant and orange headed our way?

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

P.S. If you think you can handle more pumpkin without burning out, here are some other great ways to enjoy it!

Baked Spiced Pumpkin Oatmeal

Pumpkin Pie Smoothies

Pumpkin Chocolate Swirl Muffins

Pumpkin Butter

Pumpkin Sherbet

Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Adapted from Allrecipes.com)

Ingredients:

1 c. pumpkin puree
1 c. white sugar
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. milk
2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two large baking sheets.
  2. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin puree, sugar, vegetable oil, egg, and vanilla.
  3. In a smaller bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
  4. Dissolve the baking soda with the milk and stir into the dry ingredients.
  5. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir to combine. Fold in chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoonfuls on prepared cookie sheets.
  6. Bake 12-14 minutes or until tops of cookies look dry. Cool, then store in the refrigerator for best results.

Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies.