Monthly Archives: July, 2013

Pumpkin Cheesecake Dessert Hummus

Is there anyone else out there named “Sabine?” If that’s you, you probably know the pain of explaining the pronunciation of the name to those who are inexperienced with Sabines. This is my name, and all my life I’ve had trouble getting people to accept it. Whenever I first meet someone, they ask me my name and I tell them it is Sabine. They lean forward, wrinkling their eyebrows. “Sabrina?” They ask hopefully, since that’s so much easier to say than Sabine. I repeat my name several times, and time after time the poor confused individual makes a wrong guess: “Sabee?” “Sabina?” “Saveen?” Finally, I tell them to just say “bean” except with a “Suh” tagged on at the beginning. Then they finally get it.

Once people get how to say my name, they often decide it’s funny. I’ve had tons of people make fun of me for having a common term for a legume in my name. When I was a kid I would get a lot of grief over this every time I met a new immature child, who would undoubtably ask me if I liked beans, since they are in my name.

I must say I have always liked most kinds of beans: green, black, pinto, and garbanzo were always my favorites. I was never fond of lima beans (or jelly beans.) However, I used to feel ashamed of liking them, since they were in my name. But now I have gotten over that, and can enjoy beans with no problem. For example, today I used garbanzo beans to make a special sweet cookie dough dip, also known as dessert hummus.

This is a healthy dessert, and could even make a good breakfast. The whole recipe provides 60% of the daily value of Vitamin A, 12 grams of fiber, and 14 grams of protein.

This was intended to taste like cookie dough, with the flavors of pumpkin and cheesecake mixed in. It did taste like cookie dough, but also had a present flavor of something a little…beany. It didn’t taste too much like beans, but did give the impression of being a sweet hummus. It had a sort of exotic flavor, with the umami taste of beans blended into the sweetness of pumpkin, spices, and chocolate covered raisins. The cream cheese makes it even richer.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Dessert Hummus

inspired by Chef in Disguise and Chocolate Covered Katie

serves one to two people

dessert hummus: pumpkin cheesecake with chocolate yogurt raisins


  • 1 cup cooked garbanzo beans (I used Westbrae Natural brand; they are precooked)
  • 1 Laughing Cow creamy Swiss flavor cheese triangle
  • 2 tbls pumpkin butter
  • 1/2 tbl organic raw agave syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • shake of cinnamon
  • sprinkle of nutmeg
  • 2 tbls Sun Maid brand dark chocolate yogurt covered raisins

Directions: Place one cup of cooked garbanzo beans in a large bowl. Use a spoon to mush them as much as possible.

Place cheese, pumpkin butter, agave, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mushed garbanzo beans in a blender or food processor. (I used a blender, and it worked okay but there were still a few annoying lumps in the finished product.)

Puree until the mixture is homogenous and all the lumps are gone (at least, for the most part.)

Place cookie dough in bowl. Add chocolate covered raisins and stir them in gently.

Serve! (You can chill in the fridge for a few minutes if desired.)

pumpkin cheesecake dessert hummus with chocolate yogurt raisins

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Tart & Sweet Summer Float

Do you find yourself feeling the most nostalgic over things that never really happened to you? I think that is a widespread element of the human condition: if we can’t remember the shortcomings of a particular experience, it sounds better to us. We miss it more. For example, the iconic Christmas song “White Christmas” was written by a Jew. I personally find I have the most romanic views of things that have never happened to me at all. I imagine skating on a frozen lake would have great sentimental value for me. But if I really ever tried that, I’d probably remember the bitter cold and how the ice seemed to be cracking and how many times I slipped and fell, more than I’d be sentimental about it.

It’s the same way with food: I’m not very nostalgic for some of the things I used to eat, such as fried fish sandwiches and French fries: why do people make such a big deal over the fried stuff anyway? I don’t find myself missing that as much as I would long for s’mores, handmade around a campfire – which I’ve never tried. Or Root Beer floats in an ice cream parlor, which I’ve never had either. This is probably why I end up making healthy versions of these things, even though I’ve never tried the unhealthy version.

Instead of a Root Beer float, this is an Izze float made with real fruit. The ice cream has been replaced with delicious vanilla bean frozen yogurt. Instead of some kind of fudge topping, I added a spoonful of Nutella on top. It looks just like melted chocolate, but has a smidgeon more nutritional value!

Nutella, frozen yogurt, grapefruit Izze float

The liquid part of the float is tart, with the flavors of grapefruit and pineapple sweetened slightly by strawberry rhubarb jam. The sweetness comes from the frozen yogurt and of course the whole thing is made more worthwhile by the Nutella.

One thing I can be nostalgic about that I have actually experienced is summer. I love everything about the summertime, especially all the different fruits available at this time of year, so I tried to incorporate some of them into this healthy alternative to a Root Beer Float. Enjoy!

Izze and Frozen Yogurt Float

makes one large serving

Izze and frozen yogurt float with Nutella


  • 1 bottle of Sparkling Grapefruit Izze
  • 1/2 cup fresh sliced pineapple
  • 1 tbl strawberry rhubarb jam (I used Jackie’s Jams brand)
  • 3-4 ice cubes
  • 1 large scoop (about one cup) Stonyfield Farms brand Vanilla Bean frozen yogurt
  • 1 tbl Nutella

Directions: Pour Izze, pineapple, jam, and ice cubes into blender. Blend until well combined and frothy. Pour into tall glass. The glass should be on top of a small plate to catch any overflow.

Top with large scoop of frozen yogurt. Spoon Nutella on top of this. Pop a straw in there and get nostalgic!

grapefruit Izze frozen yogurt float with Nutella

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Apricot White Chocolate Oatmeal Pancake

single pancake with apricot, white chocolate, oatmeal

Even though the week of desserts for breakfast is officially over, I just couldn’t resist making yet another delicious, dessert-y breakfast. I guess this is what makes up the majority of posts on my blog, at least so far: single-serving, healthy sweets and breakfast items. And who could blame me? This is my favorite type of  breakfast, after all. It’s also very easy and requires little planning, unlike some other types of cooking. For example, I’ve been wanting to bake something for quite some time, and I just haven’t ever found the time. I also wanted to make a sort of salad yesterday, and after a run I went out and bought some brown rice, lettuce, and tomato. But I didn’t have enough money for any other ingredients, so when I got home I had to search for things I already had that would work well in the salad. AFTER finally figuring out a combination of ingredients that would work without needing to buy anything else, I read the directions to cook the brown rice I’d just bought: it needed to cook for 35 minutes. It was already past seven and I wanted to just eat and get on with my life, so I ended up just having some pretzels and cheese with a banana and peanut butter. Not much to blog about.

So that’s why I haven’t been posting too many things lately, other than the signature True Healthy Me dessert-y breakfast for one. Trust me, I have been trying to branch out and create some more difficult or unusual recipes. And hopefully that will happen sometime in the near future. But for now, just enjoy the easy, yet also delicious single-serving pancake! Who could resist tart apricot paired with sweet white chocolate? The oats and whole wheat flour make this a healthy and hearty treat. Topping it all off with a light drizzle of agave syrup gives an almost caramelized feel to the whole pancake.

I was going to mix some of the apricot and white chocolate into the pancake batter before cooking, but I forgot. It was fine piled on top as well, but feel free to try mixing it in if you prefer. And as always, it is fine to double or quadruple or whatever the recipe if you want to serve it to more than one person.

Apricot White Chocolate Oatmeal Pancake

serves one

apricot oatmeal white chocolate single serving pancake


for pancake batter

  • 3 tbls whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbl quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • light sprinkle of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp organic raw agave syrup
  • 1 tsp egg (I used Egg Beaters)
  • 1/4 cup Silk brand original coconut milk


  • 1 whole apricot, cut into chunks and/or slices
  • about one tablespoon white chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp organic raw agave syrup, for drizzling

Directions: Spray a small pan with nonstick spray.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, 1 tsp agave syrup, egg, and coconut milk. Mix well with a spoon. If desired, add some of the apricot and white chocolate.

Pour pancake batter onto pan. Heat to medium and cook for a few minutes, or until batter is bubbly. Flip the pancake and cook for another couple of minutes.

When done cooking, remove from heat. Place pancake on small plate. Top with remaining apricot pieces and white chocolate. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon of agave syrup. Serve warm.

Mmm-mmm, apricot goodness!

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Dessert for Breakfast! Day Five: Plum and Almond Upside-Down Mug Cake

This is the fifth and final “dessert for breakfast post.” I hope you enjoy! (I do a lot of posts about dessert-y breakfasts, so I guess it’s not really the last dessert for breakfast, just the last post in this series.)

I have made several breakfast cakes in a mug before. I have been using a recipe based on Chocolate Covered Katie. I love this recipe because it is so easy to customize, and I like trying different things. Today we have a seemingly random, but really very good and wholesome breakfast/dessert recipe.

I was thinking of making some kind of peach upside-down cake in a mug, but then I thought plum would be more interesting. It’s not technically upside down, since I did not turn it out of the mug. I don’t know if that would be possible. But basically it’s soft, warm plums at the bottom, covered by hearty whole wheat cake and topped with sliced almonds and a couple extra plum slices.

Plum and Almond Upside-Down Mug Cake

Serves one

plum upside down cake in a mug with almonds desserts for breakfast day five


  • 1 plum
  • 3 tbls whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbl organic raw agave syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbl + 2 tsps water
  • 2 tbls sliced almonds

Directions: Cut the plum into slices. I left it at slices, but I think the ones at the bottom should be cut into even smaller pieces, so they are easier to deal with.

Assemble the slices in the bottom of a mug as shown, reserving a few slices for topping if desired:

plums arranged in mug for desserts for breakfast day five plum almond mug cake

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, agave, peanut butter, vanilla, and water. Mix thoroughly. Pour this mixture over the plum slices in the mug.

Microwave for about 25 seconds. Then top with the almonds and microwave for another 20-25 seconds.

Remove from microwave and top with reserved plum slices. Wait a few minutes for it to cool (the plum at the bottom got quite hot when I did this). Then go ahead and enjoy!

plum upside down mug almond cake for desserts for breakfast day five

To see Thursday’s Dessert for Breakfast! Post, click here!

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Dessert for Breakfast! Day Four: Pumpkin Nutella Oatmeal Bowl

pumpkin nutella cranberry raisin oatmeal bowl for dessert for breakfast day four

Before around seventh grade, the adults let you believe whatever you want, as far as fantasy is concerned. I remember watching Disney princess movies as a little girl, and aspiring to be a princess when I grew up. I also knew mermaids and fairies existed, and hoped I would be the lucky human to encounter one. I wished we still had a Monarchy governmental system, rather than a Democracy. I wanted to be a princess and marry Prince Charming and wear pretty dresses and go to balls. I knew that today, the closest thing to royalty was being the president’s wife, and she didn’t wear ball gowns or get saved by a knight in shining armor. I used to wonder why society was different today, since it was obviously better in the 13th Century when we had princesses and magic abounded.

In elementary school, I was encouraged to believe in fairy tales and such, especially by one unforgettable teacher who lent me her book of illustrated fairy poems to read in class. While this was an act of kindness, it only allowed me to believe in fairies a few more years before the blow of the crushing news you receive once you hit middle school.

In seventh grade, you learn about ancient history, including the Dark Ages. You learn how only the royals and nobles had any sort of luxuries. And furthermore, luxury in those days consisted of swan’s neck pudding, cold stone chambers, and maybe around three or four hand-tailored dresses. As a princess, one had no rights and could not choose her own husband. And royal status could not exempt one from the Plague. Furthermore, common knowledge was so backward in those days that hygiene was practically nonexistent, and a toothache was a sign that the devil was inside you and needed to be let out by extracting the tooth. Anesthesia? No such thing!

Can you imagine being a lowly serf during the Middle Ages? Backbreaking work, constant fear of beheading/dragons (though those tended to target princesses), and all you’d have to eat in the morning was a humble bowl of mush. Nowadays we have the class to call it “oatmeal.” I am taking it one step further with this recipe to call it an “oatmeal bowl.” I wish I could go back in time to feed this oatmeal to the poor and oppressed during such a dark time. The delicious flavors of pumpkin, hearty spices, and indulgent Nutella (which hadn’t even been invented yet) would surely warm their hearts and souls. (Not to mention their stomachs.) Furthermore, Bob’s Red Mill 5 Grain Hot Cereal is much healthier than the mush I’m sure they had those days. It would fuel them for a hard day of toiling in the fields. (Or riding to a ball in a pumpkin, as the case may be.)

Thank heavens today we are advanced enough instead of hunting for swans to make into pudding, we can cook up a healthy, delicious bowl of oatmeal with nutrient-rich dried fruit. This oatmeal is perfect for breakfast or dessert (and a much better dessert option than anything made out of a beautiful bird.)

Pumpkin Nutella Oatmeal Bowl

serves one

dessert for breakfast day 4 pumpkin butter and nutella oatmeal


  • 1/3 cup Bob’s Red Mill brand 5 Grain Rolled Hot Cereal
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • generous splash of cinnamon
  • shake of nutmeg
  • 1 tbl golden raisins
  • 1 tbl dried cranberries
  • 1/2 tbl organic raw agave syrup
  • 2 tbls pumpkin butter
  • 1 tbl Nutella

Directions: Pour water into medium pot on stove. Turn heat to high until water is bubbly.

Add dry oats to water. Cook for a few minutes, stirring every once in a while. In between stirring, at some point add cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins and cranberries. Also add the agave and 1 tablespoon of pumpkin butter.

When oats are done cooking, remove from heat and pour into serving bowl. Add remaining pumpkin butter and 1 tablespoon Nutella. Swirl it around with a spoon. Wait a couple minutes for oatmeal to cool, and then enjoy!

dessert for breakfast day four nutella and pumpkin butter oatmeal

To see Wednesday’s Dessert for Breakfast! post, click here.

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Dessert for Breakfast! Day Three: Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake Brownie

The past two “Dessert for Breakfast” Posts have both been kind of fruity, so here’s one that’s extra indulgent and literally fruitless. Not that your effort to enjoy it will be fruitless, because it turned out quite amazing. But there is no fruit involved in today’s decadent creation. Just intense chocolate, sassy cream cheese, and sweet mini peanut butter cups.

You’ve heard of cheesecake brownies, brownie cheesecake, peanut butter cup cheesecake, peanut butter cup brownies… but has anyone ever heard of a peanut butter cup cheesecake brownie? I tried combining three of the most rich desserts into one…and making it healthy enough for breakfast as well. I’d say I was successful. This recipe only makes enough for one person, and really only a taste, but a taste is enough as it is rich and super-indulgent-tasting for the A.M. In terms of health benefits, this recipe is healthy because the cocoa and peanut butter provide fiber, and the agave sweetener has a lower in glycemic index than sugar. It may not be quite as healthy as bran cereal, but it is a small indulgence that pays off in the ling run: if someone were to offer you a huge wedge of cheesecake brownie later in the day, you would not even feel like it and it would be easy to say no due to your earlier taste of cheesecake brownie. As I stated previously, sometimes a taste is just right.

This is rich and delicious enough to be a dessert. The brownie part is not too sweet, but this is balanced out perfectly by the peanut butter cups. Come on, this is an excuse to eat candy for breakfast! What are you waiting for?

Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake Brownie

based on this recipe from

makes one serving

dessert for breakfast day three brownie with cheesecake and peanut butter cups


for brownie

  • 1 tbl unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp organic raw agave syrup
  • 1/2 tbl Peanut Butter & Co. brand Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter
  • 1/2 tbl warm water

for cream cheese swirl

  • 1 Laughing Cow light creamy Swiss spreadable cheese triangle
  • 1 tsp agave

for topping

  • 5 Reece’s brand mini peanut butter cups

Directions: In a little microwaveable mug or bowl, combine 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, 1 tsp agave, 1/2 tablespoon chocolate peanut butter, and 1/2 tablespoon water. Mix until all dry ingredients are thoroughly incorporated into the wet ingredients.

In another little bowl, combine the Laughing Cow cheese and 1 tsp agave. Gently use a spoon to mush the cheese triangle into the agave and mix.

Pour the cheese mixture into the brownie batter mixture and swirl around.

Microwave brownie for 30 seconds. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate until cool. (I refrigerated overnight.)

To serve, remove foil and top with mini peanut butter cups.

Bon Appetit!

peanut butter cup cheesecake brownie dessert for breakfast day three

To see Tuesday’s Dessert for Breakfast! post, click here.

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Dessert for Breakfast! Day Two: Piña Colada Pancake for One

Pineapple. The ultimate fruit of summer. Just the thought of a pineapple brings the image of blue skies and a turquoise ocean to my mind. Preferably with a beach hammock in some shade and very durable sunscreen to resist many hours in the sun and dips in the water without letting me cook like a casserole in the oven of someone extremely  forgetful and scattered. (I get sunburned after about two seconds in the sun.)

dessert for breakfast day 2 pina colada single pancake with cherry jam

As soon as I saw some pineapples for sale at my grocery store, I knew I had to get one. I’d never tried carving one before, and for a moment I wavered and considered the alternative to a whole pineapple: one of those little boxes of ready-to-eat pineapple chunks. But that fruit is not as fresh, and I have a feeling the plastic boxes are not environmentally friendly. The whole, unadulterated, juicy fresh pineapple fruit looked much more appealing, and no plastic was involved. So I went ahead and bought it.

It sat in out fruit basket for a few days. Every time I glanced at it I would wonder if it was ripe, or when I would get a chance to try carving it. It was so appealing…yet so daunting. Finally today I decided to try it. With some extra muscle power from my mom, the goal was accomplished and the golden, sweet fruit was on the table, ready for use. Whenever I think of making something with pineapple, my mind automatically drifts to the pineapple+coconut+cherry combo.

I have never had a real piña colada, but when I was in elementary school I used to eat a Yoplait low fat yogurt with my lunch every day. One of my favorite flavors was “Piña Colada,” even though I had no idea what a piña colada actually was at the time. No, it isn’t a dessert, but the flavors of pineapple and coconut go together so well and so sweetly I thought I’d combine them in a pancake, slather some cherry jam on top, and call that dessert for breakfast. Is it really a dessert? It’s good enough to be. Trust me, this pancake tastes so delicious you could pass it off as a dessert.

The batter is made with whole wheat flour, and only sweetened by agave with no refined sugar. I included a whole cup of pineapple in the recipe, which provides a good chunk of the daily value of Vitamin C and 2 grams of dietary fiber. Pineapple is also a good food to eat often because it is a good source of manganese. This mineral helps the body’s formation of connective tissue and bones. Research also suggests manganese aids the body’s metabolism of carbohydrates and fats. It also helps the cells absorb other nutrients, such as calcium. So make sure to eat your pineapple!

Shredded coconut is only good in small amounts, which is why only one tablespoon is included in this recipe. In large quantities, shredded coconut is high in saturated fat. But a small amount is a good fiber boost. Plus, it definitely contributes to the flavor of this recipe!

I have recently started using Crofter’s brand Morello Cherry fruit spread. Not only does it taste amazing, it is organic, sweetened with only natural cane sugar, and one tablespoon of the cherry jam provides 15% daily value of vitamin C. Finally! A jam with health benefits. Spread it on this pineapple coconut pancake for optimal summery taste.

Piña Colada Pancake for One

dessert for breakfast day two single serving pancake pina colada with cherry jam


  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp organic raw agave syrup
  • 1 tsp egg (I used Egg Beaters egg substitute)
  • 1/4 cup Silk brand original coconut milk
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks
  • 1 tbl shredded coconut (I used sweetened)
  • 1 tbl Crofter’s brand Morello Cherry Premium Fruit Spread (for topping)


Spray a small pan with nonstick spray.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, agave, egg, and coconut milk. Mix until combined. Add about 1/3 of the pineapple chunks and 1/2 the coconut and stir.

Over medium heat, drop the batter onto the prepared pan. Allow to cook for a few minutes. Slide spatula underneath pancake and flip to cook the other side for just a couple of minutes.

When done cooking the pancake, remove from heat. Place pancake on a plate and top with the remaining pineapple chunks, the jam, and remaining coconut flakes.

Now you’re ready for a refreshing piña colada – in family-friendly pancake form!

dessert for breakfast day two pina colada pancake and cherry jam


To see Monday’s Dessert for Breakfast! post, click here.

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Dessert for Breakfast! Day One: Baked Apples ‘n’ Cream Smoothie

dessert for breakfast day one caramel baked apple and cream caramel smoothie parfait

I like having dessert for breakfast, and it’s clear many people feel the same way. There’s a whole market for chocolatey, sugary breakfast cereals, and cafes commonly sell pastries such as cinnamon rolls and donuts in the morning. Pop Tarts are a perfect example of the unhealthy, but for some irresistible unhealthy dessert breakfast. Most dessert-y breakfast options are high in refined sugar and white carbohydrates, meaning they have a high glycemic index and will lead to a blood sugar spike and a crash later. Breakfast should provide fuel for hours to come, so it’s better to eat something filling. Furthermore, these chocolate cereals are highly processed with lots of gross chemicals that aren’t nutritional and don’t belong in one’s body. However, it’s enjoyable to have something dessert-like at breakfast, and people who are used to eating pastries and chocolate at breakfast don’t often like to exchange that for bran cereal and skim milk. Why not find a compromise, in between the two extremes: something that tastes like a dessert, but provides enough nutrition to fuel a productive morning and appease the conscience of health-concious individuals.

I often have breakfasts that are a healthy compromise, tasting like a dessert but being (at least mostly) healthy. My plan for this week is to explore some new ideas for healthy breakfasts that taste like desserts. As you will see, today’s recipe is a compromise: totally healthy apples, Greek yogurt, dried fruit, granola, high-potassium banana…and just a smidgeon of caramel sneaked in there as well! While caramel has no nutritional value, it complements the apples and makes this smoothie more enjoyable to drink. If you are skeptical of the idea of caramel for breakfast, you could try replacing it with agave or maple syrup.

caramel "baked" apples for desserts for breakfast day one baked apple and cream smoothie parfait

This smoothie is like a big, delicious parfait of warm baked apples and cool, sweet vanilla/banana cream. The apples are “baked” in the microwave, with homemade granola and dried fruit, and the “cream” is blended Greek yogurt with banana, making this smoothie healthy as well as decadent. Go ahead and try it – you’re in for a real treat!

Baked Apples ‘n’ Cream Smoothie

makes one smoothie

dessert for breakfast day one apple caramel vanilla smoothie parfait


for “baked” apple

1 medium Granny Smith apple

1 tbl granola

1 tbl dried cranberries

1 tbl raisins

1 tbl organic caramel syrup

for smoothie

1 banana

1 Oikos brand Greek vanilla yogurt

1/2 cup Silk brand original coconut milk

2-4 ice cubes


For “Baked” Apple: Cut apple into slices of medium thickness, and cut each slice into two or three chunks. Place apples in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 15 seconds. Remove and microwave the caramel syrup. Pour over apples and toss. Add the granola, cranberries, and raisins. Mix briefly. Return to microwave, and microwave for another 30 seconds or until apples are warm and somewhat soft. Set this aside.

For Smoothie: In a blender, combine banana, yogurt, coconut milk, and ice cubes. Blend until smooth.

Choose a glass to serve this in. Now first place about 1/4 to 1/3 of the apple mixture in the bottom of the glass. Add the smoothie on top (some apple pieces will float up). Pile the rest of the apple mixture gently on top of the smoothie. If you like, push some of the apple pieces down into the cream.

Grab your spoon and get ready to enter dessert/breakfast wonderland!

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Red Velvet Pumpkin Cupcakes with Chocolate Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting

Raise your hand if you like red velvet. Is that everyone? Yep. Good.

Can you guys believe there are people out there – no one among us, of course, but some people – who don’t like red velvet cake? Shocking, I know. They don’t know what they’re missing.

Red velvet is the most regal of the cake flavors, and one of the most interesting, with that flavor that’s not quite chocolate, not just sweet…it’s complex. Unfortunately, some modern bakeries like to ruin red velvet cakes by making them with just red food coloring, diminishing some of the interesting flavor. That flavor comes from the beets that are traditionally used to give the cake moisture, sweetness, and a special fruity twist you won’t get from red food coloring made out of chemicals. (Blech.) There is some dispute as to when red velvet cake came about, but one idea is that it was invented during the Depression Era when people didn’t have enough sugar, and so used beets to sweeten their chocolate cake. I tried using beets as well, with the great result of this amazing, flavorful cupcake!

red velvet pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese chocolate pumpkin frosting

I didn’t use any food coloring, and as a result my cupcakes were more brownish than a true red. I didn’t want to use the food coloring at most grocery stores that’s made of chemicals, so I went to Whole Foods to look for organic red food coloring. But they didn’t have it and I resolved that organic food coloring was most likely made out of chemicals as well, just grass-fed, cage-free chemicals. Which is great, but not as good as leaving them out altogether.

My mom is not a fan of red velvet (yes, it’s unbelievable) but she liked these cupcakes and described them as robust and somewhat fruity. I agree that they have a hint of fruity flavor, just enough to add a layer of depth to the taste. They are also dense and earthy, making them more filling.

Red velvet and pumpkin…does that sound like a weird combination? Perhaps, but it turns out to be a match made in heaven. These cupcakes are filled with sweet pumpkin butter, and topped with a delicious pumpkin cream cheese icing. Oh, and did I mention the icing has chocolate in it? I really just added the chocolate because the icing looked gross without it. But the chocolate definitely adds something to the cupcake. I’ve always thought red velvet should be paired with chocolate more often.

cupcakes red velvet with pumpkin cream cheese chocolate icing and pumpkin butter filling

These cupcakes really hit the spot, as well as being nice and satisfying. The flour is all whole wheat pastry flour, and they are sweetened mostly by agave with just a touch of brown sugar. I’m not sure it even needs the brown sugar, maybe it could be replaced with agave or muscavado sugar. The beets provide fiber, vitamin C, and folate. Research has also suggested that the betacyanin in beets that gives them their red color may also help prevent the growth of cancer cells and even help guard against heart disease. So hooray for beets! Here’s a way to sneak them into your (or your children’s) diet disguised as dessert. Much better then baking brownies with spinach mixed in – gross!

So go ahead and try this recipe for healthy cupcakes fit for a queen.

Red Velvet Pumpkin Cupcakes with Chocolate Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting

based on recipe from, also inspired by Desserts with Benefits

Makes 12 regular sized cupcakes

pumpkin and red velvet cupcakes with pumpkin cream cheese chocolate frosting


for cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s)
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup organic raw agave syrup
  • 5 small to medium beets, roasted, peeled, and pureed in blender (I bought some beets that were already roasted and peeled)
  • 2 tbls brown sugar
  • 2 tbls Peanut Butter & Co. brand White Chocolate Wonderful Peanut Butter
  • 2 separated eggs
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 2 tbls cherry jam (I used Crofter’s brand Morello Cherry Premium Spread)
  • 2 tbls plain coconut milk
  • 6 ounces Lucerne brand plain Greek yogurt

for filling

  • 1/4 cup pumpkin butter ( I used Kozlowski brand)

for frosting

  • 4 ounces low fat neufchatel cream cheese (I used Lucerne brand)
  • 2 tbls Libby’s Pure Pumpkin puree
  • 1 tbl agave syrup
  • dash cinnamon
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips


For cupcakes: To make buttermilk substitute, combine two tablespoons of coconut milk with 6 ounces of Greek yogurt. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a regular muffin tin with 12 paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder,  cinnamon, and salt.

In another large bowl, combine agave syrup, brown sugar, White Chocolate Wonderful Peanut Butter, egg yolks, and vanilla extract. Mix well with a hand mixer.

Pour this mixture into the flour mixture. Add your buttermilk substitute and the beet puree, and mix well.

In a small bowl, use hand mixer to beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold egg whites gently into batter. (Honestly, I was too impatient to wait until peaks formed, so I just poured the egg whites into the batter when they got bubbly and it turned out fine.)

Pour a little bit of batter into each paper liner, filling it a little less than halfway. Add about one teaspoon of pumpkin butter to the center of each cupcake on the surface of the batter. Cover this over with more batter.

Bake in prepared oven for 15-20 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean.

For Frosting: In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, 1 tablespoon agave syrup, the pumpkin puree, cinnamon and nutmeg. Gently blend with a spoon, trying not to break up the cream cheese into chunks. WARNING: This mixture will look unappetizing.

Place 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips into another small, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for about a minute to a minute and a half, stopping every 30 seconds or so to stir with a spoon.

When chocolate chips are melted, remove from microwave. Pour gross cream cheese/pumpkin mixture into chocolate and blend until it’s thoroughly combined and doesn’t look so gross. In fact, now it will look kind of good…

When cupcakes are completely cooled, spread frosting evenly on top of each one. Now the cupcakes are finally ready to eat – yum!

red velvet cupcakes with pumpkin and chocolate cream cheese pumpkin frosting


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pumpkin caramel pretzel peanut butter cup "ice cream" pie

October in July “Ice Cream” Pie

coconut milk "ice cream" pie with peanut butter cups, caramel, pretzel, and pumpkin

Do you have an ice cream maker? If your answer is no, then most likely either you are not interested in making your own ice cream, or you are interested but since you don’t have the means you have spent countless simmering summer days tearing out your hair over the trials and tribulations that result from not being able to make your own ice cream. It is a problem that inflicts a certain amount of drama yearly in every ice-cream-maker-challenged household. If you are one of these individuals without an ice cream maker, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about: you or a loved one has frantically googled “ice cream recipe no ice cream maker” and come up with some seemingly trustworthy website that tells you you can just freeze your own yogurt in a paper cup with a popsicle stick in it and make your own frozen yogurt pops. Said frantic individual has gotten busy in the kitchen, sweating and whipping and pouring ingredients into empty coffee cups with little popsicle sticks stuck inside. A specific number of hours later, the pops are removed from the freezer by some ravenous, hot, and foolishly optimistic hands. The pop goes in the mouth. The hand quakes violently. The failed “frozen yogurt pop” falls to the floor. Needless to say, it was either too frozen to even bite, it had a bad texture, or it tasted like nothing. The next day, probably grocery store ice cream was purchased, the afflicted individual wearing a glum look of defeat.

I have several times over experienced this disappointment. It is so annoying that all these websites claim you can make your own frozen desserts without any fancy equipment…when really it never turns out. I do love to make my own food, but usually try to steer clear of ice cream and frozen desserts because the ice-cream-maker-free tactics found on the internet tend to flop. Until I discovered this soft serve recipe on Blogging Over Thyme. The pictures looked so good, I decided to try it…and it turned out great! But, of course, I didn’t just make the recipe for the soft serve; if you know me you know I always have to change things up.

I made an “ice cream” pie! I’m calling it “October in July” because it’s pumpkin flavored, and I added caramel and candy which reminds me of Halloween. This is not really ice cream since there’s no cream in it; it’s made with Greek yogurt and coconut milk, but I didn’t want to call it a “coconut yogurt pie” because that sounds weird. I assure you, however, that this frozen dessert does not taste weird! I added a lot of different ingredients, but they all harmonize on a perfect chord: salty pretzels and sweet caramel are a classic, I’ve noticed before that pumpkin and peanut butter are a great combination, and the chocolate peanut butter cups just work magically with everything else! I think the coconut milk really gave it a creamy, rich texture and taste. Out of all the phony “ice cream” recipes on the internet, this one really works. And there is no bankrupting machine required! Just a blender (which you already have to make smoothies🙂 ) and a regular old pie pan. And the desire for ice cream that actually tastes good.

peanut butter caramel pumpkin pretzel peanut butter cup "ice cream" pie with coconut milk

Is this healthy? Well, it does contain Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups, which aren’t the epitome of health food, but hey! They do have some protein. At any rate, I think that is balanced out by the good things it contains. The coconut milk and yogurt provide calcium, protein, and many vitamins. The pumpkin is very high in fiber and vitamin A, with some protein as well. The pretzels also provide good old fiber. Not to mention the peanut butter, of course, with – you guessed it – more fiber and protein! I used mostly all natural ingredients here, with the exception of the pretzels and peanut butter cups because I didn’t have any natural alternatives available at the time. But if you like, try this with all natural pretzels and candies and see what you think! Overall, this pie is a healthy alternative to real, store-bought ice cream (with an emphasis on the cream) which is often loaded with fat and ingredients you can’t pronounce. The only pronouncement I have to make here is one of triumph – from now on there will be no more failed “ice cream” attempts crowding my freezer and making me miserable. And you too, can be liberated from the annual drama, by making your own pumpkin soft serve pie.

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Soft Serve Pie with Caramel, Pretzels and Peanut Butter Cups

makes one pie (about 8 servings)

pumpkin caramel pretzel peanut butter cup "ice cream" pie


for crust

  • 34 Rold Gold brand Tiny Twists pretzels
  • 4 tsps creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tbls organic raw agave syrup

for soft serve

  • 2/3 cup Silk brand original coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup Chobani brand plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup Libby’s 100% pure pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup organic raw agave
  • 1 tbl brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ginger


  • 2 tbls King’s Cupboard Cream Caramel Sauce (I found this at Whole Food’s market)
  • about 12 mini Reece’s Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups (the miniature kind that are already unwrapped)

Directions: First of all, line a pie pan with two large pieces of plastic wrap, ensuring that there is some hanging over the edges of the pan.

To make the crust: crush pretzels. I just wrapped them in a paper towel on top of a plate and used my hands to crush them. There can still be some pretzel pieces.

Now pour crushed pretzels into a medium bowl. Add 4 tsps peanut butter and 2 tbls agave, and mix. Pour this mixture into the pie pan on top of the plastic wrap. Use a spoon to spread it around until most of the bottom of the pan is covered, especially around the edges.

To make the soft serve: Place all soft-serve ingredients in the blender, not including the mix-ins. Blend for a couple minutes, or until thoroughly mixed. Slowly pour soft serve into pie pan on top of the pretzel crust. If some little pieces of pretzel pop up, do your best to push them down with a spoon.

Place pie in the freezer for 40 minutes. After that, remove so you can add the all-important…

Mix-Ins! First, measure two tablespoons of the caramel sauce into a small bowl and microwave for about 20 seconds or until it is liquid-y. Drizzle onto soft-serve, using a spoon to swirl it across the surface of the soft serve. Now distribute the peanut butter cups evenly across the pie’s surface, pressing them down slightly into the soft serve.

Freeze again for another hour and a half. (It could probably be less, that’s just how long I happened to leave it in the freezer. I’d say it could be as little as 45 minutes.)

When ready to serve, remove from freezer. Carefully lift pie out of pie pan using the plastic wrap, and set on a large plate. Wait about 5 minutes for it to thaw, then use a sharp knife to cut it into slices.

Chill out with a delicious, creamy slice of frozen goodness! You don’t need to wait until fall to enjoy pumpkin and caramel, and you certainly don’t need to wait until you win the lottery and buy an ice cream maker to make your own really wonderful frozen treat. Go ahead and make this recipe. Spare yourself the  merciless heat, the drama, and the defeat. This recipe actually works and will make your day!

peanut butter pumpkin caramel pretzel "ice cream" pie with peanut butter cups

Here are the different sources I used to help me develop this recipe:

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