Archive for April, 2009

Walnut Chocolate Chip Spelt Cookies


I finally did it.

I jumped on the Dreena Burton bandwagon! And let me just say how happy I am to be here. The woman is a genius I tell you.

It’s not like I was avoiding Dreena and her recipes. She’s ALL over the blog world, and I’ve done my fair share of oohing and ahhing over her creations. But I’m careful with my pennies and always felt I should make more use of the cookbooks I have before purchasing new ones. I guess that belief slipped my mind when I saw eat, drink + be vegan at the bookstore the other day. I knew I had to have it. So into my collection it went!

The first ed+bv recipe I set my sights on was for the infamous Super-Charge Me! Cookies. OMG – they were like little balls of nutritious crack. I would have loved to share them with you all, but since Dreena hadn’t posted the recipe on her site, no dice! So to celebrate my newfound Dreena love, I found another one of her cookie recipes that was on the internet to modify and write about.


Oh, and wouldn’t you know, Dreena posted the Super-Charge Me! Cookie recipe this week? Go figure!  Or go make them.  You won’t regret it.


Here’s the recipe I followed to make Walnut Chocolate Chip Spelt Cookies:

1 cup spelt flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup Sucanat

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon molasses

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup grain sweetened chocolate chips

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350*F. In a large bowl, mix together spelt flour, baking powder, baking soda, Sucanat and salt. In a separate bowl, stir together maple syrup, molasses, vanilla extract and canola oil until well combined. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts. Place spoonfuls of batter on cookie sheets and bake for 10-11 minutes. Makes 12 cookies.


These cookies were YUM! After tasting my Maple Almond Butter Cookies and these, I am convinced that maple syrup = cookie perfection. It really adds a depth of flavor and keeps cookies wonderfully moist and gooey. Seriously, that stuff’s not just for pancakes.

The only thing I’d change about this recipe next time around is leaving the molasses out. I’m not buying that 1/4 teaspoon is making a huge difference when spread throughout 12 cookies. I mean, really, that’s 1/48 teaspoon in 1 cookie. You know? Other than that, A+.

What’s your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe?


The Official Sweet + Natural Playlist

Again, thanks to everyone for your submissions to The Official Sweet + Natural Playlist!  Check out all the songs below!  We are clearly a group with eclectic musical tastes, so there is something here to please every palate.  These tunes will surely get you twirling, rocking out, swaying, humming, singing and smiling – all while baking up a storm in your kitchen!  Click here to download the playlist for yourself.

The Official Sweet + Natural Playlist:
Submitter in parantheses

The Old Apartment – Barenaked Ladies (Angela @ Oh She Glows)

Tamacun – Rodrigo y Gabriela (Liz)

Send Me on My Way – Rusted Root (Emma)

Tangerine – Led Zeppelin (Lisa)

The Middle – Jimmy Eat World (Danielle @ A Year of Healthy Eating requested anything by Jimmy Eat World…this one makes me want to dance!)

Temptation – New Order (Gena @ Choosing Raw)

Slow Dancing In a Burning Room – John Mayer (Kati @ Living Well)

Let It Out (Let It All Hang Out) – The Hombres (Melissa @ Fitness NYC)

Mony Mony – Billy Idol (Melissa @ Fitness NYC)

Sour Cherry – The Kills (Melissa @ Fitness NYC)

Mannequin – Britney Spears (Melissa @ Fitness NYC)

Banana Pancakes – Jack Johnson (moprica + Meghan @ Help Meghan Run)

Do It Well – Jennifer Lopez (michelle rosborough)

Right Round – Flo Rida (VeggieGirl)

Escape (The Pina Colada Song) – Rupert Holmes (lora @ Honey Nut Lo)

Candy Girl – New Edition (Heather @ Hangry Pants)

The Mountain – Heartless Bastards (Alison @ Live Listen Cook)

Courtin’ In the Kitchen – Gaelic Storm (Alison @ Live Listen Cook requested anything by Gaelic Storm…this seemed appropriate!)

WannaBe In L.A. – Eagles Of Death Metal (Alison @ Live Listen Cook)

Cross Your Fingers – Laura Marling (Alison @ Live Listen Cook)

Misery Business – Paramore (Alison @ Live Listen Cook)

Gives You Hell – The All-American Rejects (The Sister…who is literally MY sister.  Is it sad that she feels she has to enter this contest to get baked goods from me?  Love you Amanda!)

Ensemble – Couer de pirate (Wiggs @ the beholder)

Ohh La La – The Ditty Bops (Wiggs @ the beholder requested anything by The Ditty Bops…I thought this captured my typical reaction after biting into a freshly baked cookie!)

Diablo Rojo – Rodrigo y Gabriela (Wiggs @ the beholder requested anything by Rodrigo y Gabriela…we already had one by him, so I threw in another!)

Suga Suga – Frankie J (Pearl @ a sweet pearl)

Is It You – Cassie (Sharon @ Snippets and Bites)

Upside Down – Jack Johnson (Troye Stadler @ In Joy, Troye requested anything by Jack Johnson…this choice was an ode to pineapple upside down cake of course.)

Waiting On The World To Change – John Mayer (Troye Stadler @ In Joy, Troye requested anything by John Mayer…this one always gets in my head!)

Unwritten – Natasha Bedingfield (Troye Stadler @ In Joy, Troye requested anything by Natasha Bedingfield…this one’s for my college girlfriends!)

One Sweet Love – Sara Bareilles (Troye Stadler @ In Joy, Troye requested anything by Sara Bareilles…this is one of my favorites!)

Spiralling – Keane (Hayley @ Hayley Bakes)

Back In Your Head – Tegan and Sara (Jessica @ Keep It Simple Foods)

Love Song – Sara Bareilles (Michelle)

Heart It Races (As Played By Dr Dog) – Architecture In Helsinki (Hayley @ Buff Chickpea)

Here for the Party – Gretchen Wilson (Amy @ Slow Down Food, You’re Movin’ To Fast)

Love Lockdown – Kanye West (Jessica)

Everything – Michael Bublé (Jenn)

I Was Made To Love Her – Stevie Wonder (Jenn)

For Once in My Life – Stevie Wonder (Jenn)

Easy – The Commodores (Jenn)

Ain’t No Woman (Like the One I’ve Got) – Four Tops (Jenn)

Be My Baby – The Ronnettes (Jenn)

(What A) Wonderful World – Sam Cooke (sarahdbelle @ Sarah’s Sweet Lips)

The following songs were also submitted, but unfortunately not on iTunes to add to the playlist.  Come on Def Leppard!  Whassup with that?

Pour Some Sugar On Me – Def Leppard (Kelly + Leslie @ Jackson’s World + Lauren @ food for living)

Highway To Hell – AC/DC (Kelly)

Turn to the Sky – The March Violets (chilton)

Enjoy the music!

On a separate note, please keep Jenna and her family in your thoughts and prayers.  And take some time today to tell your family and friends that you love them.

A Winner!

Thank you all for your submissions to The Official Sweet + Natural Playlist!  I’ll post the songs and a link to download them later today or tomorrow – just waiting on iTunes to publish the iMix!

In the meantime…I Random Number Generated all of your entries, and the winner of a Sweet + Natural baked treat is…

Sharon @ Snippets and Bites!

Congrats my dear!  I’ll e-mail you to get your goodie choice and mailing details.  Everyone else – check back later for some awesome tunes!

Welcome Wellsphere!

logowellspherehomeHi friends!

You may have noticed a new icon at the bottom right side of the blog, so I thought I’d do a little explaining!  I was recently invited by Wellsphere to join their HealthBlogger Network as a featured blogger in the Healthy Cooking Community.  That’s the fancy ID badge.  Very official.

A little about the site, for your learning pleasure:

Wellsphere is the fastest-growing consumer health website and is focused on revolutionizing the way people find and share health and healthy living information and support.  Wellsphere’s mission is to help millions of people live healthier, happier lives by connecting them with the knowledge, people and tools they need to manage and improve their health.

All sorts of different bloggers are members of the HealthBlogger Network – doctors blogging about treating medical issues, young women blogging about healthy diets and fitness, chefs blogging about tasty recipes.  Along with reading through the plethora of health info Wellsphere and its bloggers offer, there are lots of fun things to take advantage of – like setting up personal text message reminders or getting widgets to put on your own blog that provide your readers with healthy living or motivational tips.  Good times!  Go check it out!

Also, REMINDER that tomorrow is the last day to submit a song to The Official Sweet + Natural Playlist and enter to win a freshly baked Sweet + Natural treat!  Bring on the music!

Baking Playlist + A Giveaway!

Hi peeps!  Trying to keep the Easter candy love flowing, you know.  I actually really dislike those rubbery marshmallows, but they’re fun to microwave!

Read on for a proposition and a sweet GIVEAWAY!

Wiggs at The Beholder hosted a fun contest last week.  And I WON!  I think it’s because a bird pooped on me on Tuesday.  That’s good luck, right?  Or TMI.  You pick!  Anyway, she asked her readers to submit their favorite workout song and compiled them into an iMix for everyone to download and enjoy.  Check out the songs and how to get the mix-ity mix here.

So, this contest got me thinking.  I listen to music when I’m working out.  I listen to music when I’m walking hastily to and from work or leisurely around the city on a lovely day.  I listen to music when I’m relaxing on an airplane or primping for a night out.  I have a soundtrack for so many parts of my life.  But you know where the music is missing?

In my kitchen!

I never get my iTunes going when I’m baking it up in there.  That, my friends, is no longer going to be acceptable.  I need a baking playlist! You know – a collection of playful, happy, la-dee-dah songs that get you boogying in your apron and singing into your spatula.  This is where you and the giveaway come in…

Leave a comment and tell me a great song to get busy in the kitchen with! That’s entry #1. Bonus entry for linking back to this post on your own blog. We want all the songs we can get over here!

You have until Friday, April 24 @ midnight EST to enter your song. I’ll then randomly pick one winner and send that reader a batch of the freshly baked – and easily mailable! Sweet
+ Natural
treat of their choice.  For everyone else, no worries.  I’ll do something for you too!  All songs suggested will be made into The Official Sweet + Natural Playlist on iTunes – ready and waiting for your listening enjoyment.

Get those musical ideas flowing!  Can’t wait to see your suggestions!

Walnut Molasses Whole Wheat Bread

Friends, I am EXCITED.
There was a new development in the Sweet + Natural kitchen last weekend that makes me so happy!  I’m pleased, I’m proud, I’m itching to get back in there and do it again.
What on earth could bring such delight to my baking life?
I made my first loaf of homemade bread!
Wheeeee! Yep, we’re talking yeast, we’re talking kneading, we’re talking rising.  And whole grains of course.  I got in there with my electric hand mixer’s special hook and went at the dough until it was shiny and smooth.  I waited patiently for hours until it doubled in size.  I shaped the loaf.  And I relished in the wheaty goodness that emerged from my oven.  I am now legit, no?
This was such a fun accomplishment for me.  Bread from scratch has been on my list-of-things-to-bake forever, but I’ve always made excuses to avoid making anything with yeast.  It takes so long!  What if something messed it up?  Would my hours of effort be fruitless? I guess I just never had the patience – or extra time! – to devote a chunk of my day to an attempt.  Well, I found myself with that extra time one afternoon and figured it was as good a chance as any to give it a go.
With this recipe and my King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking book (courtesy of Dan’s sister – thanks Kate!) by my side, I was ready to go.
Here’s the recipe I followed to make Walnut Molasses Whole Wheat Bread:
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 tablespoons molasses
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl and mix until moistened and combined. Cover dough, let rest for 20 minutes then knead until fairly smooth (I did this in the bowl with the dough hook of my electric hand mixer for about 15 minutes). Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 1 to 2 hours, or until puffy and nearly doubled in bulk.  Gently deflate the dough, shape into a log and place in an 8  x 4-inch bread pan sprayed with cooking spray. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and allow dough to rise for about 1 hour, until it’s crowned about 1 inch over the rim of the pan.  Bake in a preheated 350*F oven for 45 minutes, tenting loaf lightly with aluminum foil for the final 20 minutes of baking.
It looks like real bread!  And tastes like it too!
Let me tell you, I was thrilled to look in the oven halfway through baking and see a monstrously tall crust growing from the pan.  It’s working! And I was even more thrilled when I cut into the loaf to reveal it’s crumby insides.  It’s dense, but soft.  Subtly sweet.  And has a slight crunch when you get a walnut bite.  It may not the prettiest looking thing – I like to think of it as “rustic” – but it’s mine all mine.
Have you ever baked bread from scratch?  How’d it go for you?


Peanut Butter + Jelly Bars



A good PB+J was hands-down my favorite childhood sandwich.  What’s not to love? Creamy, sticky peanut butter.  Sweet, fruity jam.  We were a Jif and white bread family.  And I always went for the grape jelly.  Unless there was a jar of my grandma’s homemade strawberry preserves in the fridge.  Smucker’s just can’t compete with that.

Throughout elementary school, the only sandwich I’d allow my mom to pack in my lunchbox was a PB+J.  By the time noon rolled around, it had inevitably gotten squished inside its Ziploc bag due to rough contact with a juice box or an apple.  Wonder Bread’s not really known for their sturdy slices after all. But I LOVED the squishing.  It turned my sandwich into a PB+J pancake – flavors mashed together, jelly oozing out the bread pores.  I loved it so much that I began to do some deliberate sandwich squishing.  When my packed sandwich wasn’t squished enough.  When I ate at home with no opportunity for naturally-occurring lunchbox squishing.  I thought I was genius.  Still think so.

My peanut butter and jelly taste has matured over the years.  Though I still partake in squishing from time to time, my current PB+J of choice is made with whole wheat bread, natural peanut butter and honey.  Much healthier and deliciously satisfying.  I’m still a huge fan.  So when Hayley suggested I make some PB+J bars, I was all over it.  She directed me to Ina Garten’s recipe, I made it Sweet + Natural and here you go…


My version of Peanut Butter + Jelly Bars:

1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening

3/4 cup turbinado sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 cup natural peanut butter

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup 100% fruit strawberry jam

Preheat the oven to 350*F. Spray an 8 x 8-inch pan with cooking spray and set aside.  In a large bowl, cream shortening and turbinado sugar for about 2 minutes.  Add vanilla extract, egg and peanut butter and blend until well-combined.  In a separate bowl, mix together whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder and salt.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and blend until just combined.  Spread 2/3 of dough into prepared pan.  Top with jam.  Drop globs of remaining dough evenly over jam.  Bake for about 45 minutes.  Makes 16 bars.


Why yes, that is gooey peanut butter and jelly goodness!

These bars rocked.  Perfectly peanut buttery and the jelly melted right into the cookie-ish layer.  No squishing necessary!  Be forewarned though…they may be made with natural and wholesome ingredients, but they are definitely a rich indulgence.  I’m already thinking about making a lighter version sometime in the near future…

Do you have a soft spot for PB+J? Have you ever made a peanut butter and jelly treat?



Honey Yogurt Cheesecake Bars with Cinnamon Graham Cracker Crusts


Any cheesecake fans out there? I love the stuff and it always reminds me of two things…

Thing #1 is my mom’s no-bake cheesecake – light and fluffy and so easy to make.  It was a go-to dessert in my house growing up.  My family would top their slices with cherry pie filling, but I always thought – and still do think – that that is SO not the way to go.  No putting fruit on my desserts, no sir.  I’ll take the cheesy goodness all by itself.

Thing #2 is The Cheesecake Factory.  Obvious, yes.  Impersonal, hardly!  I used to LOVE going to Cheesecake.  Hello Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple and Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Dough! My adoration for all things cocoa and PB indeed started at an early age.  Every time we went to TCF, I made sure to save room in my belly to fit a whole slice.  Then I’d roll myself out of the restaurant in a sugary, cheesy, sweet bliss.  Ahh…those were the days.

Anyway, Kristina from Stonyfield Farm recently contacted me to see if I’d like some coupons for free Oikos.  She had spotted me using Greek yogurt back when I made Yogurt Glazed Carrot Cake and thought I might be interested.  Umm…yes please!  I promised to come up with a fun recipe to spotlight my Oikos and – BAM! – cheesecake bars popped right into my mind.  Actually, cheesecake popped in there first, but I don’t have the right pan for that.  So bars it was!

Since Greek yogurt was to play a key role in these cheesecake bars, I let it be my inspiration as well.  I asked myself, what kind of cheesecake bars should I make? Well, I replied – does anyone else have conversations with themselves? what do I like to put in Greek yogurt? Ooh ooh!  I like honey and cinnamon and vanilla… And that’s pretty much how it happened.  Before I knew it, I had created Honey Yogurt Cheesecake Bars with Cinnamon Graham Cracker Crusts.


Here’s the recipe:


1 cup whole wheat graham cracker crumbs*

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon cinnamon


16 ounces Neufchatel cheese

1/2 cup honey

1 egg

1 egg white

1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

* I used MI-DEL Honey Grahams to make my crumbs – 100% whole wheat and sweetened with only honey and molasses.

Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Spray an 8 x 8-inch pan with cooking spray.  To make the crust, combine graham cracker crumbs, canola oil, honey and cinnamon until well-moistened.  Press mixture into prepared pan and bake for about 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside.  To make the cheesecake, beat together Neufchatel cheese and honey until well blended.  Add egg and beat well.  Add egg white and beat well.  Add Greek yogurt and vanilla extract and beat well.  Pour mixture on top of graham cracker crust.  Bake for 40-45 minutes.  Let cool and refrigerate for several hours or overnight before serving.  Makes 16 bars.


These cheesecake bars were uber cheesy and creamy and subtly sweet.  I enjoyed my bites with a bit of honey drizzled on top – just like in the pics!  Next time I might even add extra honey to the batter.  Yum!

Have you ever baked with Greek yogurt? How do you like to use it?


Blogger Dessert E-Cookbook

More to share from around the blog world!

Jenna at Eat, Live, Run is selling a Blogger Dessert E-Cookbook to benefit The Leukemia + Lymphoma Society via Team In Training.  She’s running the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco in October 2009 and has committed herself to raising $4200 along the way.  Pretty awesome!

There are over 60 sweet recipes in the e-cookbook from your beloved bloggers and blog readers.  I submitted a favorite myself!  Can you guess what it is? I actually just received my copy and here are some of the recipes I’m already drooling over…

Chocolate-Almond-Fig Spread Blondies – VeggieGirl

Peanut Butter Pumpkin Blondies – Heather + Mark @ Hangry Pants

Whole Wheat Coffee Cake Muffins with Date Nut Streusal – Vani @ Fit for Free

Banana Peanut Butter Muffins – Heather @ Heather Eats Almond Butter

Coco Nutty Banana Bread K

Coconut Butter Rum Pound Cake with Rum Glaze – Samantha

Vegan Irish Oatmeal Cupcakes with Warm Butterscotch Glaze – Janessa

Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding – Heather @ be well + take care

Molasses Chocolate Chip Cookies – Jess

To purchase the cookbook, head on over to Jenna’s Team In Training page and make a donation of just $10.  Then shoot her an e-mail at to let her know it’s in and she’ll e-mail you the cookbook!  Easy peasy!


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