Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Healthy Chocolate Hostess Gift Treats

Today I’m sharing a great idea for Healthy Chocolate Hostess Gift Treats. I’m always on the lookout for an easy, yet pretty hostess gift that I know the hostess will love to get. Sometimes it’s nice for the gift to be something fun or nice for the hostess to enjoy AFTER all of the company leaves. This one fits the bill. Perfectly. I wouldn’t mind getting a few of these myself.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Healthy Chocolate Hostess Gift Treats

Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Melt:

1 bar of dark chocolate (or a package of chocolate chips)

Using a spoon, make puddles of chocolate on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Top with:

Anything you want – I used some healthy, seasonal goodies:

Dried apricots, chopped

Pepitas

Sprinkles in fall colors

You could use other dried fruits like:

Cranberries

Raisins

Pineapple

You could use nuts like:

peanuts

walnuts

pecans

sunflower seeds

You could use candies like:

crushed peppermint

mini M &M’s

chopped candy bars

The sky’s the limit – get creative!

Sprinkle on the goodies and let the chocolate harden. I would store these in the refrigerator until you’re ready to give them as a gift.

I have the goodies ready to sprinkle onto the chocolate before melting the chocolate. Next I melted the chocolate in the microwave according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

I used a spoon to make the chocolate puddles on the parchment paper.

Then I sprinkled on the goodies: the fruit, nuts, and sprinkles. These are similar to the “barks” that I made recently – Minnesota Viking Bark and Autumn Bark.

Let them harden at room temperature, or do what I did and slide the parchment paper onto a baking sheet and put them into the refrigerator to firm up.

These are so pretty and so special and so perfect for a hard-working hostess – she’ll appreciate these tremendously, especially since they’re for her and her alone! You could put them on a piece of parchment paper on a paper plate (so they can go right into the hostess’s refrigerator) and either slip into a zip-top bag or cover with plastic wrap or cellophane, or do what I like to do – put some into a cellophane bag and tie with a pretty ribbon. Add a nice tag if you want, and you have a wonderful, delicious, chocolate treat for the hostess (or anyone special). Just remember to keep them in the refrigerator so they stay perfect for giving. Make up a few batches of these Healthy Chocolate Hostess Gift Treats and be good to all the hostesses coming up for you in the next few months!

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Maple Chai Spiced Pepitas

I saw today’s recipe for Maple Chai Spiced Pepitas on an episode of The Kitchen on Food Network, and they’re perfect for a healthy, low-fat autumn/Halloween/Thanksgiving treat. I’m watching my fat intake these days because of Ebenezer (my pancreas), so I’m always looking for low-fat snacks. I also think these would make another excellent hostess gift. We’re always looking for unusual hostess gifts this time of year – there are so many parties and gatherings to go to, and you need a supply of little gifts ready so you can just “grab and go”! Anyone would like this snack. I would LOVE to get these for a hostess gift. I like pepitas as a snack, and I like chai tea. The flavors are a bit sweet and salty – perfect! Another plus – this snack is so unbelievably easy to make –  simple dimple – I like that. I like that a lot.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Maple Chai Spiced Pepitas

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Add to a large skillet:

1 cup pepitas

Toast over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown and fragrant, 6-8 minutes. (I skipped this step and used roasted, salted pepitas right from the bag.)

Combine in a small bowl:

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Set aside.

Remove pepitas from the pan and return pan to stove top (or, if you use already roasted pepitas, just put the pan on the stove and add the following).

Add:

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon water

Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is combined and sugar dissolves, 1-2 minutes.

Stir in the spices and turn off the heat.

Add the toasted pepitas and toss until the seeds are evenly coated.

Pour over the parchment lined baking sheet and spread to cool completely.

Break up slightly, then store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to two weeks. (I had to let them sit overnight for the seeds to dry completely.)

This really is an incredibly easy recipe. Have your pepitas ready, mix up the spices, and get your wet ingredients into the pan.

Once the wet ingredients are heated and the sugar is dissolved, add the spices and stir it up.

Next, the pepitas go into the spiced mixture. Stir them up so they’re all coated.

Spread the pepitas onto the parchment lined baking sheet and let them dry. That’s it. Simple dimple. Easy peasy. They’re so tasty with the spicy flavor of chai tea. Yum. Sweet, spicy, and salty – how bad can that be? Try this delicious snack that’s also pretty healthy. You’ll love these Maple Chai Spiced Pepitas – they’re the perfect little gift or snack for fall/Halloween/Thanksgiving!

 

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Granola

Today’s recipe for Granola comes from my oldest daughter, who found it online. It comes from Food Network courtesy of Alton Brown, and it is amazingly delicious! When I was recovering last spring after my bout of pancreatitis, for some reason I was very picky about what appealed to me appetite-wise. Granola was one of those things. How weird is that? I don’t know why. Granola is good, and I like it, but it’s hardly one of my favorites. Well, I’m sticking with it as a once-in-a-while snack and breakfast treat. You might even say I’m addicted now. I think this recipe is one that will be a keeper for me. This one still has a bit more fat and sugar than I’d like to be eating, in general, so I may have to try some different things with the basic recipe. We’ll see how that goes. I mean, I still want it to taste as delicious as this recipe and not like cardboard. It’ll take some experimentation, I’m sure, but I’m game. Meanwhile, I’m hooked on this amazingly delicious Granola.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Granola

In a large bowl, combine:

3 cups oatmeal

1 cup slivered almonds (I used whole raw almonds, chopped – I like chunks)

1 cup cashews (I used walnuts)

3/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut

1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar (I used regular brown sugar)

In a separate bowl, combine:

1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons maple syrup

1/4 cup vegetable oil

3/4 teaspoon salt

Combine both mixtures and pour onto 2 lightly greased baking sheets.

Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even color.

Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl.

Add:

1 cup raisins (I used golden raisins)

Mix until evenly distributed.

I have to admit that I haven’t made actual granola before. It was pretty easy to do, and I’ll be making it weekly from now on. I did also try a batch with half of the amount of oil, brown sugar, and maple syrup. It’s not as tasty, but is still VERY good, and it’s lower fat for Ebenezer.

It’s pretty simple to mix it all up. Save any dried fruit for after baking or you’ll end up with hard little nuggets of who knows what.

This batch was big enough for 2 baking sheets.

It comes out of the oven all toasty and delicious.

Have you ever noticed on a box of granola that a serving is 1/2 cup? Seriously? This is too good for just a 1/2 cup.

This Granola is so good. It really is delicious. I keep using that word, delicious, but it is some SERIOUS delicious. The almonds, coconut, and brown sugar go together so well and is so tasty. I just can’t stop eating this stuff. There are worse things to be addicted to, but I guess you could say that this Granola is my newest addiction.

 

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Peach Smoothie

When peaches are in season, a Peach Smoothie is a great way to enjoy them while they’re here. In Minnesota, we get “crates” of them shipped here from other states where peaches are much more apt to grow, like Colorado or California. Peaches don’t grow so well here in this climate, although my husband swears that they had a white peach tree in their yard when he was growing up. Grandma and my mom always got boxes of peaches every August, and I have very fond memories of me and my sister eating peaches until we were sick. They were so good and they only showed up in August, so we had to enjoy them while we could. The crates are now made of cardboard, but the boxes that the peaches came in used to be made of wood, and Grandma’s family would get one of those crates every year and then preserve them for the winter by making things like Peach Jam, Canned Peaches, Peach Pie, Glazed Peach Pie, Peach Crisp, Peach Cake, the list goes on and on. They were also able to re-use everything about those old wooden peach crates. The crates themselves were used for storage in the garage or as a side table, because they had two separate sections that acted like shelves. We had two peach crates used for tables in our playhouse when we were growing up – they had been painted brown and came in handy for storing all kinds of necessities like doll clothes or books. One other thing – back then, the peaches that came in those crates were wrapped in pink tissue paper, and I think we all know what that was used for back in the days of the Great Depression when people used outhouses and couldn’t afford toilet paper. I have heard that for that reason alone, people would look forward to August and peach season!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Peach Smoothie

Put into blender:

1 peach, cut up

1 small container of vanilla greek yogurt

1 cup skim milk

6 ice cubes

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon honey

2 whole graham crackers, crushed (reserve half for putting around rim of glass)

Blend.

Put reserved graham cracker crumbs onto a small plate.

Wet the rim with a slice of peach and then put edge of glass into graham cracker crumbs.

Pour smoothie into glass, add a squirt of your favorite canned whipped topping and a straw.

Oh, how I love peach season!

I still use my old blender from the late 1970’s.

The graham cracker crumbs and cinnamon help to make this smoothie taste like you’re enjoying one of those above-mentioned recipes like Glazed Peach Pie or Peach Crisp!

This really is a healthy, delicious, and very pretty snack. While there are many, many things you can and SHOULD make with peaches right now, this is just one more way to use peaches. Your family will love this Peach Smoothie – I guarantee it!

 

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3 Ingredient Watermelon Lime Popsicles

I’m so excited – I made up a recipe for 3 Ingredient Watermelon Lime Popsicles! I’m sure you can find recipes somewhere online for this same thing – watermelon and lime are just so delicious together! It’s summer, and being a big popsicle eater as a kid, I wanted to try to make my own. Since I love watermelon and I love lime, why not put the two together and make a batch of popsicles with it? With only 3 ingredients, they’re pretty healthy, too!! I do like squeezing a nice little wedge of lime on top of a nice little slice of watermelon, so why wouldn’t they taste just as delicious when put together in a popsicle? I tried it. I liked it! I like these a lot better than the sugary, syrupy popsicles of my childhood – this recipe uses real fruit juice!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

3 Ingredient Watermelon Lime Popsicles

Fill bowl of a food processor or blender with:

watermelon, cubed (about 3-4 cups)

Add:

juice and zest of 1 lime

1 Tablespoon honey (or more to taste, depending on how sweet the melon is)

Blend.

Pour into popsicle molds or paper cups.

Freeze approximately 1 hour and insert popsicle sticks (otherwise known as craft sticks at your local craft store).

Freeze until firm (I just froze them overnight).

Don’t forget to zest the limes BEFORE you cut them in half. Oops.

I just put everything into my vintage 40-year-old blender.

Blend it up!

Pour the mixture into popsicle molds. I like this one that looks like an actual popsicle, but paper cups work just fine, too.

This batch made an even 10 pops – it filled the whole mold.

This mold has a lid to hold the sticks upright, but there’s a catch. If you don’t get the sticks exactly and evenly straight up and down, it’s very difficult to get the lid off. I’m thinking that it’s easier to leave the lid off and put the sticks in when the popsicles are frozen enough for the sticks to stand upright. Once they’re frozen, run the mold under a little warm water and they pull right out. I pop them into sandwich bags and back into the freezer for storage.

The mixture separated before freezing. I don’t know why it happened, but I’m ok with the two-toned look.

The popsicles are icy cold with the sweet flavor of watermelon and honey, and the tangy taste of the lime. Summer is short, so have some fun – be a kid again and try these healthy 3 Ingredient Watermelon Lime Popsicles!

 

 

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6 Healthy Snacks to Start the New Year Right!

Now that the holidays are over, and January is the month for fresh starts and resolutions, I thought it appropriate to share 6 Healthy Snacks to Start the New Year Right! I don’t know about you guys, but I indulged way too much over the holidays, and I need a reboot. Try these healthy, easy, and incredibly delicious snacks to jump start a healthy new you. If you’re not into being healthy, they’re just plain good – and they just happen to be good FOR you.

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Eggplant Pizza

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Infused Water

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Apple Chips

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2 Ingredient Pumpkin Muffins

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2 Ingredient Strawberry-Banana Ice Cream

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Healthy Homemade Potato Chips

 

 

 

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2 Ingredient Pumpkin Spice Muffins

In keeping with my pumpkin theme (into November), today I’m sharing a recipe for 2 Ingredient Pumpkin Spice Muffins. Recipes like this are all over Pinterest these days (as I well know from my 2 week-on-the-couch-pinning-frenzy). This is THE EASIEST recipe ever – not even kidding!!! 2 ingredients, that’s it! I love recipes like this, and I know Grandma would have, too – they’re so interesting. Who figures these things out? Someone with unlimited funds and an awful lot of time on their hands? Maybe it’s not really that hard to do. Who cares?! The point is – they’re delicious! This particular recipe came from a member on Weight Watchers Connect (their Facebook type thing on the app), so it’s a bit healthier than most. There is some sugar from the mix, but no fat because you use the pumpkin puree instead. Simple dimple.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

2 Ingredient Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Mix together:

1 box of cake mix (I used Spice Cake Mix)

1 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree

Bake at 350 degrees for  20 minutes.

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I mean seriously, you just mix the cake mix and the pumpkin puree – done. I’m sure you could add raisins or chopped apples or nuts to these, too.

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This makes a nice, thick batter. Into the liners and that’s it.

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I tried to get 24 muffins out of this, but I only got 22. Even though I want to be good and only have 1 at a time, when you make them this small, that’s really hard!

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A little secret about these muffins – try to wait and eat them the next day. They come out of the liners better and the flavor is better.

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These little hummers are delicious. They’re spicy and pumpkin-y and so, so good!

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I just can’t believe how ridiculous these are: ridiculously easy, ridiculously good, ridiculously perfect for this time of year! They’re perfect for breakfast or an afternoon snack. Make up a batch today – no, wait – make a double batch because they’re going to go fast and you’re just going to have to make more anyway.

 

 

 

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Warm Pumpkin Spice Drink

I love Halloween. I always have. I love the old-fashioned black and orange decorations of flying witches, scary pumpkins, and jointed limbed skeletons. I love the costumes, as Lucy says in It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, “in direct contrast to her own personality” to dress up in and hide behind. I love the crispy sound of dry, colored leaves blowing and tumbling along the street. I love the eventual stark and empty tree branches silhouetted against a cloudy and misty sky. I love the fields full of haphazard pumpkins and gourds on their drying, twisting vines. I love the smell of a burning pile of leaves raked up and out of the yard by the family on the golden afternoons in October. I love the kids as they ring the doorbell, so proud to show off their costumes and shout the customary “trick-or-treat!”, running through the neighborhood and ruling the world.

You can see the beginnings of my love for Halloween in this photo from 1963. I started young. I wasn’t quite 2 years old, but totally ready for Halloween and trick or treating at my Grandma and Gramp’s house! By the reach of that hand trying to get the door open, you’d almost think I knew that there was candy inside there! Ha!

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I wish I still had the 101 Dalmatians costume!! That trick-or-treat bag is almost as big as me!

My love of Halloween is equal to my love of pumpkin. The recipe for today is one of those pumpkin recipes that I found when I was sick and on the couch and spending way too much time on Pinterest. There are so many interesting things to make with pumpkin out there now, and as you can tell by my latest posts, I am determined to try as many as possible this fall. I am always on the lookout for a warm beverage to cozy up with and enjoy in the evening, so I don’t like it to be caffeinated and I don’t like it to have too much sugar in it. This one does the trick. I found this delicious Warm Pumpkin Spice Drink on the blog Apple of My Eye, and this was one I had to try.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Warm Pumpkin Spice Drink

2 1/2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk or milk of your choice

2 Tablespoons pumpkin puree (I used my frozen pumpkin stash)

2 Tablespoons maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

whipped cream for topping

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This drink really doesn’t have very many ingredients, but man is this good!

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I warmed it (I wouldn’t bring it to a boil) on the stove instead of the microwave.

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You can leave it plain, but I’m always one to gild the lily when I can, so I topped mine with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. I suppose if you really wanted to, you could add a splash of your favorite adult beverage to this.

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Kids would love this drink, especially this weekend before Halloween. Maybe this would be nice after a tough evening of trick-or-treating. I think adults would like this delicious drink curled up in front a roaring fire, in your jammies, wrapped in your favorite quilt. Just enjoy the warm deliciousness and drift off to sleepy land. Nothing more cozy than that! How are you going to enjoy this warm cup of coziness?

 

 

 

 

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Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

It’s October and we’re heavy into fall right now. This is the time for pumpkin everything. I was perusing Pinterest a few weeks ago when I was under the weather, and I found a lot of interesting pumpkin recipes. I felt like trying a few, and this was one of them. This recipe for a Pumpkin Pie Smoothie was on a blog called Shugary Sweets and you can find the original here. It’s a pretty healthy treat and a great snack. You could even have it for breakfast and add some protein powder if you like (as suggested by the blog where I found this recipe). Let’s give it a try.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cup vanilla greek yogurt

1 large banana

3 Tablespoons Milk

1 teaspoon agave or honey

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

4 ice cubes

1 scoop vanilla protein powder, if desired

Put all ingredients into the blender and blend.

Top with whipped topping and sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg.

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There aren’t a lot of ingredients in this smoothie, but it sure is tasty.

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It all goes into my good old 35 year old blender . . .

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and give it a whiz!

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Oh wow. This smoothie is so pretty, so good, and so good for you! Whip up one of these today and take it outside to enjoy the fall, all of those short-lived colored leaves, and the taste of pumpkin pie!

 

 

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Healthy Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Muffins – Sort Of

After the 6th day of the worst head cold known to man, making a permanent indentation on my couch, and pinning an incredible number of great ideas on Pinterest, I was going stir-crazy and it was time to get off the couch and make something. If that something happens to be good for me and is a great accompaniment to my daily gallon of tea or other warm beverage for my throat, all the better.

Have you noticed that people are obsessed with the pumpkin spice thing? I decided to try a recipe of my own. Well, using one that I already have, of course. A very good one. I reinvented the Oatmeal Muffin recipe of Grandma’s (one of my all-time favorites) using some of the huge stash of frozen pumpkin puree that I still have in my freezer. I just added pumpkin instead of butter in the muffins, and added the obligatory pumpkin pie spice. These Healthy Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Muffins didn’t turn out too bad, if I do say so myself. Oh yeah, and I’m calling them healthy, sort of, because of the lack of butter. There’s still plenty of sugar and sour cream in these. That’s why they’re only sort of healthy.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Muffins

2 cups oatmeal (plus extra for the top of the muffins)

2 cups sour cream

2/3 cup pumpkin puree

4 eggs

2 cups light brown sugar, packed

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

Combine oats and sour cream.

Stir in pumpkin, egg, and brown sugar until well mixed.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice.

Stir into oat mixture just until blended.

You can add 1/2 to 1 cup raisins to these – for a little added healthiness.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

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The pumpkin puree is a great substitute for butter. You really can’t tell the difference.

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I like to add the raisins, but you don’t have to.

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I don’t know why I had these gigantic cupcake papers, but they worked just fine. When I filled them, I used a 1/4 cup measure. A sprinkle of oats on top and they’re ready for the oven.

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They’re delicious and smell amazing!

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You can see by the color that they’ve got pumpkin and spice in them. The oats add a little extra crunch on top.

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Yes – these muffins are really good and go well with tea or any other warm beverage you like. I have to say they turned out pretty well – they’re really good and really tasty. Make a batch of these and join in the pumpkin spice trend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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