Monthly Archives: December, 2013

It’s Not A Popularity Contest, But…

Around the web, bloggers have been compiling lists of their most popular posts of the year. I’m going to try a different approach with a compilation of my least popular posts and pages from last year to this one. Partly just because I like to be a contrarian. And partly because a lot of these neglected recipes were my personal favorites. Go ahead and check these out: they deserve a little love, too!

Here are the 13 least-viewed posts on True Healthy Me during the year 2013. Each one has only had one view this year! Titles of posts are above the tantalizingly professional pictures 🙂

Happy Veteran’s Day: Chocolate “Fudge” Oatmeal Muffins 

chocolate fudge banana oatmeal muffin

Best. Muffins. Ever.

Maple Pear Cookie Dough Smoothie 

maple cookie dough pear smoothie

What’s not to love about a refreshing and indulgent dessert smoothie?

Pumpkin Not-Cheesecake Cheesecake Brownies

sinless pumpkin cheesecake brownies

Cheesecake brownies…how can you resist?

Rockin’ Pumpkin Granola

pumpkin granola with peanut butter chips

Rock you healthy resolutions with this granola!

Vegan Very Berry Vanilla Almond Mini Loaves

vegan vanilla almond berry mini loaf

One of my all-time greatest recipes!

Baked Banana Caramel Pie Donuts

baked banana caramel pie donuts

Really old and unprofessional post. Please do NOT read this one!! 🙂

My Perfect Oatmeal

cherry almond blueberry oatmeal

Cherry Berry Almond Oatmeal.

The Cookies That Aren’t Cookies…But Taste Good Anyway!

cookies that aren't cookies but taste good anyway

Post about a recipe fail with some potential for greatness…

“Brownie Points” Cookies

chocolate chocolate brownie cookies

Made these before I knew all the secrets to healthy baking…they may not agree with your New Year’s Resolution, but they sure are a crowd-pleaser!

Fancy French Baked Potato

fancy "French" baked potato with apricot, cranberry and bleu cheese

Let’s get fancy!

A Delicious Resolution


The links to 3 new recipes are included in this post about New Year’s Resolutions.

The Great Cookie Baking Adventure

s'mores stuffed brownie cookies with walnuts

Strictly for chocoholics and s’mores-lovers who don’t mind making a little mess in pursuit of the most delicious cookies ever!

Cheese Omelette

cheese omelette

Yeah…I think the title of this page speaks for itself. If you have any kitchen experience, this page can be skipped. Try one of the more interesting ones above!

Remember, popularity isn’t everything. So check out these posts, and give them a billion likes! Happy New Year and I wish everyone out there a healthy and sweet 2014!


Easy Breakfast Burrito

breakfast burrito/wrap easy egg cheddar veggie bacon

First of all, happy New Year! What are your New Year’s traditions? In my family, we have a pretty laid-back New Year’s. Tonight we watched the ball drop on t.v. at 9:00 PM Pacific Time, then listened to (but were too lazy to go out in the cold and watch) the ensuing fireworks. Out of everyone in my house, my thirteen-year-old brother got the most into the holiday festivities. This evening, prior to the ball drop, a horrendous clattering began to emit from the living room. I went in to check out the situation, and found the din had been caused by the construction of this lego model:

2014 lego model built by my brother

Which, after receiving the highest praise for it, was crunched by a ball dropped by the creator in celebration of the New Year. (And promptly rebuilt so it could be destroyed again at midnight.)

I guess lots of people have big parties for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, and need to make creative and crowd-pleasing recipes to feed a ton of people. Those people need not read any more of this post. This is a recipe for the laid back type of New Year’s celebrator, who just plans to wake up late, watch snatches of the Rose Parade, and buy a new calendar. And wants an easy, healthy and delicious breakfast to fix just for themselves before hitting the calendar store. If that’s your New Year’s Day style – and it certainly is mine – then this breakfast burrito is sure to hit the spot. Made with crispy veggie bacon strips, fresh veggies, yummy cheddar and satisfying egg, all rolled in a hearty Flat Out flatbread, this wrap is both delicious and nutritious. With 22 grams of protein, it’s the perfect fuel to kick off your (not-so) action-packed New Year’s Day. Bon appetit, and have a happy and healthy 2014!

Easy Breakfast Burrito

makes 1 burrito

easy egg cheddar vegetarian bacon breakfast burrito


  • 1 Flat Out brand Light Original flatbread
  • 1 slice cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup collard greens
  • 4-5 Cherub cherry tomatoes
  • 2 Morning Star brand veggie bacon strips
  • 1 egg


Cook veggie bacon strips in microwave according to directions on package. Arrange cheese, collard greens, cherry tomatoes, and cooked veggie bacon strips in center of flatbread. Scramble the egg and place it on top of the other ingredients, as shown:

how to make an easy breakfast burrito

Fold wrap over and enjoy your breakfast burrito!

egg cheddar veggie bacon breakfast burrito easy

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Italian Breakfast Casserole

breakfast casserole Italian with Flat Out collard greens, Tofurkey, sun dried tomato, artichoke hearts, cheese

A Delicious Resolution


It’s that time of year again…time to make New Year’s Resolutions. Time to punish ourselves for our perceived shortcomings in years past, and set our minds to changing our entire personalities in the future, starting at precisely 12:00:00 AM on January 1st. Some will resolve to be a better person, others will resolve to improve their memory, and a huge mass of people will resolve to lose weight. These determined souls will undoubtably jot down their plans and goals on a piece of paper – or their Smartphone – and see a brilliant, shining future ahead of them in which they are changed people. And for a month or so, they make an effort to live up to those goals. The nasty resolver will begin to smile at acquaintances she hates, if she remembers and isn’t in too bad of a mood that day. The forgetful resolver will sign up for some free online memory-training program, but will keep forgetting to play the memory-training games each day. The weight-loss people will try numerous techniques, from buying some outlandish exercise equipment that looks like a torture device, to starting a fad diet, and everything in between. But the fact is that many of these people will end up relinquishing their resolutions by the next week, or month, or couple of months, having gained nothing from their attempts to change but bitterness and failure.

feeling like a failure

In my view, the problem with New Year’s Resolutions is that many people will resolve to change their entire being, attacking intrinsic elements of themselves. The only possible outcome of this drastic action is giving up on the whole thing (or getting a personality transplant.) Since a personality transplant is too expensive for the typical New Year’s resolver, there’s nothing to do but beat themselves up even more for being unable to become someone else.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t have a problem with making resolutions. I think it’s important to reflect on oneself, one’s place in the world, and to think critically about ways one could change for the better. But these changes should not be so drastic as to replace the whole person. I believe that, instead of a great existential change, we should resolve to make a change in our actions and their impact on others. For instance, instead of being nicer, the nasty lady should resolve to do specific, manageable nice tasks, like bringing cookies to work once a month or saying a cordial hello to that hated acquaintance if he says hello first. Who knows? Maybe after she gets in the habit of doing these nice tasks, she’ll be able to build up to nicer and nicer things until she becomes a truly saintly individual.

Or not. If she wants to be mean and nasty at home when no one’s looking, let her knock herself out. If some undesirable quality happens to be part of one’s identity, one should strive not to cut it away from oneself but to be mindful of it, and learn to express it appropriately. If you’re forgetful, start putting post-its everywhere telling you what to do so you’ll see them at the time you need to remember them. Starting small is the only way to build up to a big change of any sort.

A goal without a plan is just a wish

For the weight-loss resolvers, I say think of it as a journey and not a result. Any extra pounds that weren’t in urgent need of removal on December 31st will not be in any more urgent need on January 1st. And in case you haven’t heard the news yet, fad diets – don’t work. The only way to lose weight safely and permanently is with a doctor-approved, reasonable diet and exercise. Weight-loss resolutions should be thought of more as health resolutions, and gone about as a journey, not a destination, because if you want to keep the weight off for good, you’ll have to continue practicing healthy habits for the rest of your life.

person running sunrise

And again, resolve to change actions, not the self. Hating your body is not a healthy attitude and will never lead you to satisfaction. Instead of resolving to be thinner, resolve to make an appointment with a registered dietician to discuss what diet and exercise plan might be right for you. Have a plan, and stick to it. Focus on actions: the act of choosing whole grain breakfast cereal over candy crunch is a step towards a healthier lifestyle, and will probably end up helping you lose weight too. Don’t be discouraged if the scale doesn’t change right away – these things take time. That’s why every dieter needs a sustainable plan that they can thrive on long-term.

Furthermore, New Year’s is not the only time to make resolutions. Any time can be the perfect checkpoint to reflect on one’s life and what one could be doing better. Whenever I realize something missing from my actions or my life, I make a plan right away to correct that. Sometimes my plan works, and sometimes it doesn’t. But it’s much more likely to work if I set small goals, and focus on my actions and taking it one step at a time.

This year, I have a number of blog-related resolutions. They are as follows:

1) To use a wider range of ingredients in my recipes, and try new things. I just did this today with my Caramel Apple Cookie Butter Cookie Cake, which was the first recipe I’ve made using cookie butter.

2) To make more savory recipes, since at the present moment I feel like I’ve unintentionally created a dessert blog. Yesterday I made a great savory Italian Breakfast Casserole.

3) To make more family-friendly recipes, or at least recipes that serve more than just one person. (I’ve made enough mug cakes to last a lifetime!) A couple weeks ago I added some Yam Muffins to my grandmother’s holiday table, and my family simply raved about them.

And that’s about it! Notice how all these resolutions pertain to specific actions, which all will (hopefully) lead me to a loftier goal of having a better blog for all you guys out there. So with that I wish you a successful, healthy and happy New Year!

Caramel Apple Cookie Butter Cookie Cake

caramel apple cookie butter cookie cake with Reece's peanut butter chips

Italian Breakfast Casserole

breakfast casserole Italian with Flat Out collard greens, Tofurkey, sun dried tomato, artichoke hearts, cheese

Yam Muffins

yam muffins with pecan topping and currants

Photo Credits: (chronological order):

Stealing From the Dragon

Imagine sneaking into the depths of a dragon’s lair and snatching his precious treasure from right under his nose as he snoozed. Once outside, your heart would pump fast with exhilaration as you examined your bounty in the light. What was that dragon hoarding in his infernal cave? Gold? Jewels? You open your sack to reveal…collard greens?

Okay, so maybe leafy greens aren’t what you’d call a fortune. But they sure are a nutritional bounty, packed with fiber, folates and phytonutrients, low in calories, and free of fat. If I lived in the time of knights and dragons, when fresh veggies were often hard to come by, I’d probably pay a pretty penny for some raw collard greens. Not enough to buy you a castle, but maybe a small fortress. (This was before inflation cropped up.)

The reason I bring up this whole stealing business is because…well…I have a bit of a confession to make. It just so happens that I was making a breakfast casserole, and wanted to throw in some greens, but I didn’t have any of my own. So I stole some from the family dragon, Hades.

Hades bearded dragon baby red translucent leatherback close up

Baby bearded dragons have very particular dietary requirements, which are only satisfied very specific and somewhat pricey food items. For example, they need a lot of calcium, which can be found in collard greens. So my mom has been buying bags of the dark green leaves, and storing them away in a drawer in the fridge reserved for beardie food. I never intended to steal any of Hades’ food – honestly, I never thought I’d even want to dine on the same thing as a lizard. But I was getting sick of using the same ingredients over and over for recipes, and wanted to try something new to make for a more interesting blog post. And those leaves looked so green and healthy…and they matched the colors of the dark red tomatoes so nicely…so I swiped some. Just a tiny bit. I doubt if the dragon will even notice – he never eats his veggies anyway. My mom will just have to buy a new bag of greens a half a cup earlier, and she won’t notice either. So don’t tell anyone. Let’s just keep this our little secret. Okay? Okay.

Italian breakfast casserole with Flat Out and collard greens, sun dried tomato, Tofurkey

A little stealing was worth it for a lot of flavor in this recipe. This breakfast casserole is based on Italian flavors, with a flatbread “crust” that gets crispy edges in the oven, delicious sun dried tomatoes, flavorful artichoke hearts, peppered Tofurkey, and of course the nutritious collard greens. With the eggs, milk, and organic cheese, this recipe is high in protein. It is a healthy and tasty choice for any meal of the day: Breakfast, lunch, dinner, or somewhere in between. For a large family, consider doubling the recipe as this only made about four servings. Bon appetit!

And please do not feed this to your bearded dragon. 🙂

Click here for the full recipe!

Flat Out Italian breakfast casserole collard greens egg Tofurkey cheese sun dried tomato artichoke hearts

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The Internet, Ancient Gods, and Pizza

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Source: Collard Greens Nutrition info from

A Last Minute Holiday Recipe: Mini Mint Chocolate Cheer Scones


I call these scones “Mint Chocolate Cheer” because I made them during the winter holiday season, and they brought cheer to all who tasted them! With their colorful candies and adorable miniature size, they’d make a picturesque addition to a festive holiday table.


coconut dark chocolate candy cane mini scone


My inspiration for these scones occurred at dinnertime yesterday evening. We’d gone to Whole Foods market, where I chose some salad to take home. My mom, having recently eaten lunch, treated herself to a huge scone from the pastry section. So we sat across the kitchen table from one another, me nibbling my bed of greens while my mom feasted on this gorgeous pastry adorned with swirls of seductive chocolate. Something had to be done about this injustice! Health nuts are allowed to eat scones too…aren’t they?


My mom raved about the perfect taste and texture of the store-bought scone. It was like a dense muffin, she told me, crisp on the outside but soft and dense on the inside. “I’m afraid the only way to get that perfect texture is with a lot of butter,” she said with resignation. But I wasn’t about to be discouraged from my new lofty aspiration: to create some amazing scones of my own, bursting with chocolate, boasting the best texture of all the scones in the land, to grace my plate with the object of my envy. Oh, and completely free of butter.


With dinner concluded and my resolution set in stone, I turned to the oven to carry out my dream. As I made these scones with peanut butter and Earth Balance to replace the butter, whole wheat flour replacing half the all purpose stuff, and a light milk wash to substitute the traditional egg wash, I began to worry that my scones would fall flat. I’ve produced plenty of failed scones in my time, and sometimes wondered if it’s even possible to make healthy ones. When these babies went in the oven, my heart was filled with butterflies. Either I’d create something great, or I’d be scraping my charred dreams off the cookie sheet for the rest of the evening in sconeless solitude.


With the squeal of the oven timer, the results were in. And I’m pleased to report that they fell under the former category: the golden brown beauties tasted as lovely as the colorful candies I’d mixed into the dough. To top it all off oven-toasted coconut flakes graced each triangular triumph with some extra flair. Oh, and the texture was just right: a crisp, golden  exterior gave way to a dense, soft and satisfying interior. And since they’re healthy mini scones, all health nuts are free to bask in the glory of these perfectly delicious cuties.

Click here for the full recipe!

coconut candy cane dark chocolate mini scones

Spoiler Alert

currant pecan yam muffin

Imagine an adorable child, gazing with eyes full of light at the dude dressed as Santa beneath the giant fake Christmas tree in the mall. You regard this child with a bittersweet smile on your face, enjoying his cute innocence while knowing it is not to last. In a year or two, he will reach the age where he will no longer believe in that plump, red-suited guy letting kids sit in his lap…for the child will know that the real Santa lives at the North Pole, of course, and doesn’t usually grace a temperate-region shopping center with his presence. But we try to keep the truth from him as long as possible, for his own happiness.

I was once that innocent child, full of faith in magic and goodness of all kinds. But no one seemed to care to protect me from the harsh realities of the world. Quite to the contrary, it seems the adults of the world had a conspiracy to ruin stuff for me.

For instance, I never could play “Ring Around the Rosy” with the other children after I discovered what we were really saying was “we’re all poor Medieval serfs destined to contract the Plague and die!” Years later, when my mom told me how Island of the Blue Dolphins ended in real life, I couldn’t bring myself to finish reading the book. (Spoiler alert: the girl dies.) And when I found out Pocahontas fell ill and passed away soon after embarking on the voyage to England, that Disney movie began to leave me with a sour taste in my mouth: it ends on such an optimistic note, the girl gazing across the sunlit ocean with her lover…but that optimism was now clouded over with cynicism for me. Until last Thursday, I still had a soft spot in my heart for the book The BFG by Road Dahl. But somebody informed me that Dahl was an anti-semite, and now my love for those books of his that I read a billion times is tainted with regret. I’m surprised my blissful ignorance of that fact survived as long as it did.

With all this spoiling of what was good in the world for me, it’s no surprise I turned out to be an eternal pessimist. I try not to be, but it’s like a puppy trying not to be cute – not happening. Every time I pull a new recipe I’ve whipped up out of the oven, my first thought is “this is probably going to taste terrible.” I warn interested parties in the kitchen not to get their hopes up when tasting my freshly baked fare. And yet I’m pleased to report that there are a significant number of times where I’m pleasantly surprised, and the recipe is good enough to make it on this blog. For example, yesterday I baked some yam muffins as a side dish for our family dinner. Spoiler alert: they turned out beautifully. Just sweet enough,but not too sugary, and infused with the flavorful spices of the season, these deliciously moist muffins are topped with chopped pecans for maximum delight. Everyone at the family dinner enjoyed them. They did stick to the paper liners a bit, but other than that I had no complaints. In the health department, these muffins truly shine, with the yam providing vitamin C and B6, as well as fiber found in the currants, whole wheat flour, and of course the yam. The muffins are low in fat and use low-glycemic index agave and the natural sweetness of the yams as their principal sweetener, making them truly guilt-free!

Like a child’s sweet innocence, these yam muffins won’t last forever. So snap one up before they’re all devoured by the masses!

Yam Muffins

based on recipe from Will Cook For Smiles

Makes 12 regular sized muffins

yam muffins currants pecans


muffin batter

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 container Almond Dream plain non-dairy yogurt
  • 1 container Tree Top No Sugar Added Natural Applesauce
  • 1/2 cup organic light agave syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 medium yam, baked and mashed
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • dash cinnamon
  • generous splash nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup Sun Maid brand dried California Zante Currants


  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • pinch cinnamon


Muffin batter: Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners, or spray with non stick spray.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, almond yogurt, applesauce, agave, vanilla, and mashed yam. Beat with a hand mixer on medium speed until well combined. Add flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix with a spoon. Stir in currants.

Distribute batter evenly among muffin cups. They will be full almost to the brim.

Pecan topping: Toss together the chopped pecans, brown sugar and cinnamon. I recommend adding a tiny bit of liquid, such as vanilla or agave, to infuse the pecans more with sweetness.

Sprinkle this mixture over each muffin before placing muffins in prepared oven. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

yam muffins with pecan topping and currants

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Sources: nutrition info from

Choco-Lemon Mini Marble Loaves with Cream Cheese Icing

marble mini loaves lemon and chocolate with cream cheese icing

Are you losing your marbles this holiday season? I know I am, which is ironic because I don’t even celebrate Christmas. As a Jew spending my days in a pretty secular community, I sometimes feel like a lone fish in the open ocean, being swept this way and that by the powerful current of the holiday shopping craze. Should I be pulled in to the obligations of a holiday that doesn’t even have meaning to me religiously? Will my friends dump me if I don’t buy them all Christmas presents?

A number of kids at my school have been bringing holiday gifts for all their teachers. Suddenly I feel obligated to do so as well, even though I don’t even know what most of my teachers would want, short of an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii, which is a little out of my price range. I don’t want to be a kiss-up, but I also want that letter of recommendation at the end of the year, you know…

I was majorly angst-ing about all this present stuff yesterday afternoon, when I vented my feelings to some others and had to be told to relax. I took a deep breath and realized I was driving myself crazy over nothing. My friends respect my spiritual beliefs (and budget deficits) and will be perfectly happy with my participation in our communal gift exchange. My teachers will write me a letter of recommendation based on how smart and well-behaved I am, not how much of a teacher’s pet I am. Holiday presents are nice, but shouldn’t be as important as the sentiment behind them. The presents are merely a reflection of the deeper meaning of the holidays: reconnecting with family and friends, spreading joy, thinking of others. And gifts don’t have to be expensive – there are plenty of homemade solutions to the last-minute Christmas cram. Food gifts are a great choice, especially if you already have all or most of the ingredients to make a big batch of comforting, delicious holiday treats for all those loved ones on your gift list.

lemon chocolate marble mini loaves cream cheese icing

Traditional marble cake takes me back to my childhood, when I’d help my mother make kosher-for-Passover marble cakes in April. It was always a fun and cozy experience as my brother and I would take turns personalizing the cakes with artistic swirls and patterns of ochre-yellow and chocolate-brown cake, pop it in the oven, and play a game of “jumping chess” in the kitchen surrounded by the aroma of sugary carbs baking in the warm oven.

This week, I decided to put a healthier spin on the classic treat in the form of chocolate lemon mini loaves. These babies are made guilt-free with whole wheat and almond flour, agave and orange juice as the natural sweetener, and the omission of butter and oil for less fat. I also invigorated the flavors of the cake by marbling the chocolate batter with a lemony orange one, rather than the usual plain yellow cake. This creates a whole different feel, one that is much more awake and interesting. To make them even more indulgent, I topped these mini loaves off with some cream cheese icing. I only made a batch of 6 for my immediate family, but feel free to go crazy and make a ton for everyone you can’t afford to buy a present for! (Edible gifts are so much sweeter anyway.) 🙂

One thing’s for sure, these mini loaves sure will make you popular with whomever is around when you bake them. As soon as I had these out of the oven, both my parents had made their way into the kitchen and were waiting to snag a morsel! My ultra-picky little brother remarked that the house smelled good after I baked the mini loaves, and asked what was in them, but when he found out it wasn’t exclusively chocolate he lost interest.

If you want to please boring people who only like chocolate, consider leaving out the citrus part of these loaves and doubling the chocolate. It was certainly the best part of these loaves, aside from maybe the sassy smooth cream cheese icing on top (but I may be biased because I’m a bit of a cream cheese icing fanatic!) According to my mom, the chocolate portion was “rich yet light.” I found it to be a perfect balance of sweetness and intense chocolatey paradise. The citrus batter was all right, but it didn’t seem quite as moist as the chocolate batter, so I might add more orange juice or some citrus-flavored yogurt. I wished I had some lemon zest, but it was too cold and yucky outside for me to schlepp to the grocery store and get lemons, so I went without this time around. But if you’re less lazy, or are enjoying lovely weather, I recommend a going the extra mile with that little tad of lemon zest to really bring out the lemon flavor.

Enough of my blathering. Get ready to lose your marbles with these insane treats!

Choco-Lemon Mini Marble Loaves with Cream Cheese Icing

makes 6 mini loaves

lemon and chocolate marble mini loaves cream cheese icing


for lemon batter

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup almond flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

generous shake of cinnamon

1/4 cup orange juice (add more liquid for more moistness)

1 tbl organic light agave syrup

3 tbls lemon curd

for chocolate batter

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (I used Hershey’s)

1/4 cup almond flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 Yoplait brand Chocolate Mousse Style yogurt

1/4 cup skim milk

1 tbl organic light agave syrup

1 tbl Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

for mixing in

2 tbls lemon curd

for cream cheese icing

2 Laughing Cow Creamy Swiss flavored cheese triangles

1 tbl organic light agave syrup


Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Spray a 6-loaf mini loaf pan with nonstick spray.

For batter: In a medium bowl, combine lemon batter ingredients. Mix well, but be careful not to over mix. Distribute batter evenly to each mini loaf.

In another medium bowl, combine chocolate batter ingredients. Mix well, being careful again not to overdo it. Spoon chocolate batter over the lemon batter in each mini loaf.

For mixing in: Add a little extra lemon curd to each mini loaf. Swirl it in with a spoon, simultaneously marbling the two layers of batter together. If you really want the lemon curd flavor to come through, I recommend doubling the two tablespoons I mixed in.

Bake loaves in preheated oven for 17-20 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center of a mini loaf comes out clean.

For glaze: In a small bowl, combine two Laughing Cow cheese triangles and 1 tbl agave syrup. Gently blend with a spoon. Mixture will be a bit choppy.

Transfer this mixture into a ziplock with a small hole cut in one corner. When mini loaves have cooled, pipe icing on top as artistically as possible (considering that people might just snatch the unfrosted loaves from under your piping bag if you’re too slow!)

mini marble loaves chocolate lemon cream cheese icing

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The Ultimate Breakfast Smoothie

When people try to merge their favorite things together, the results aren’t always desirable. Sometimes they can be downright nasty: a disgusting example can be found in the kids’ show “Phineas and Ferb,” when the evil Dr. Doofenshmirtz invents a machine to combine his favorite ice cream and his giant pet cockroach – that moment still gives me nightmares!

In the foodie world, people are always using their favorite flavors as inspiration for innovation. Sometimes this leads to great creations that make the world a better place, like the idea of tofu cheesecake, for example. However, a lot of these inventive combinations get a little crazy with the calories and fat: seriously, who needs a double pretzel bacon sweet-potato-onion-rings cheeseburger with extra pickles on a sourdough bagguette?

One popular fave-food-fusion being served up across the country are bacon milkshakes. When my mom first saw an ad for this, she thought it sounded disgusting. I wasn’t so sure. I’ve never eaten real bacon, since we keep Kosher, but I’ve always loved Morning Star fake bacon. And who doesn’t love milkshakes? It was a reasonable concept. I decided I must try it for myself. But, unlike the bacon shakes whipped up at conventional restaurants, my version must be both healthy and delicious.

So I combined some of my favorite elements of a great, healthy breakfast into a breakfast shake exploding with nutritious fruit, Raisin Bran Crunch cereal, Morning Star vegetarian “bacon”, and Silk dark chocolate almond milk. This tall glass of icy rich chocolate, embellished with sweet cereal and crispy, savory veggie bacon was one of the most successful fave-food-fusions I’ve ever made! And of course, it’s healthy to boot. The calcium in the almond milk, multiple servings of fruit, and fiber and protein in the cereal and veggie bacon make this smoothie a guilt-free breakfast indulgence!

The Ultimate Breakfast Smoothie

(Chocolate Veggie Bacon Crunch)

veggie bacon chocolate pear raisin bran crunch smoothie


  • 1 banana
  • 1 single-serve carton of Silk brand dark chocolate almond milk
  • generous sprinkling of cinnamon
  • 3/4 of a large frozen pear (I cut up and froze a pear for about 24 hours before use. If you don’t have a frozen pear handy, just use a fresh one but add ice cubes)
  • 1/2 cup Raisin Bran Crunch cereal
  • 2 Morning Star brand veggie bacon strips


Place banana, almond milk, cinnamon, and frozen pear chunks (or fresh pear and ice cubes) in blender. Blend until smooth.

Add Raisin Bran Crunch cereal. Blend to taste (the more you blend, the more homogenous a mixture you will get. I only blended a few seconds to retain bigger flakes of cereal in the smoothie.)

Pour smoothie into a tall glass and chill in the fridge.

Cook two veggie bacon strips according to directions on package. When done cooking, remove smoothie from the fridge. Crumble in the veggie bacon strips. Now you’re ready to rock and roll!

veggie bacon raisin bran pear chocolate smoothie

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Banana Cherry Berry Baked Oatmeal

baked oatmeal strawberry banana cherry coconut

I know what you’re thinking: that I’m so late to jump on the baked oatmeal bandwagon. That that is so last year, and I might as well be wearing bell bottom jeans and doing my hair up in a beehive and telling you all it’s the hip new thing to do. And maybe you’re right.

Last winter, baked oatmeal recipes started flooding the internet. Don’t you remember? Baked oatmeal with apple cinnamon, baked oatmeal with pumpkin, etcetera, popped up in a billion places until a body could hardly open up a computer without being bombarded by blog posts filled with pictures of warm, aromatic oats straight from the oven.

I wanted to get with the program and bake some oatmeal of my own, but I just never got around to it until a few months ago when I tried a recipe and it just totally flopped and I decided it wasn’t really worth trying anymore because the trend had passed anyway. So I let go of any baked oatmeal aspirations…until today. See, I’d just been running in the freezing cold, gray morning and wanted a comforting, yet healthy breakfast to warm me up. I came across my notes from the last, failed attempt at baked oatmeal from this fall, and memories of those bloggers’ images of tantalizing, hot plates of sweet oats materialized in my mind’s eye. Oh, all right, I told myself. Just one more try. It might be good, and you don’t have to post it.

And…it was good. Scratch that, it was great. Scrumptastically fantabulicious. Soft forkfuls of spiced and sweetened oats, made even better with baked banana and juicy strawberries, and embellished with tart dried cherries and a touch of coconut flakes… What could be a better warm,  filling breakfast on a cold day? I felt like the flavors of summer were infused in this cold-weather treat, making it even more wonderful.

I like to think of myself as a fairly nice individual. It would just be outright mean of me to deny you all the yumminess of yet another baked oatmeal recipe. Regardless of whether the trend has passed or not, delicious is delicious, and I’m just going to go ahead and post this right now. Who knows, maybe I’ll spark up the trend again!

Banana Cherry Berry Baked Oatmeal

based on this recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie

serves 1-3

banana baked oatmeal with strawberry, coconut, dried cherry


  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats (I used Bob’s Red Mill brand 5 grain rolled hot cereal)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • generous shake of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbl organic pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 3 large strawberries, chopped
  • 2 tbls dried cherries
  • 2 tbls sweetened flaked coconut


Preheat oven to 380 Fahrenheit. Line a regular sized muffin pan with 3 paper liners, or line a cake pan with aluminum foil and spray with non stick cooking spray. (I did the latter, being fresh out of paper liners   😦 )

In a small bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir. Add the vanilla, maple, milk, and mashed banana. Mix. Add the chopped strawberries, dried cherries, and coconut flakes and stir.

Distribute oat mixture into muffin liners, or spoon a few equally-sized globs onto foil-lined cake pan. Bake in prepared oven for 18-20 minutes or until firm.

Bon appetit!

cherry coconut strawberry banana baked oatmeal

Seriously, this is not just a passing food fad, is it? Baked oatmeal has got to be here to stay!

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What Really Matters: Pie

no bake cookie pumpkin chocolate pie

One of the best things about the holiday season is the music. Upbeat, light-hearted yet sentimental tunes ring across shopping malls, blast from every radio station, and accompany every commercial from Thanksgiving to Christmas, permeating our brains and injecting into our consciences the message that our holidays just won’t be right if we don’t buy this, that and the other thing for our loved ones. So we dash to the store, sleigh bells jingling in our ears at top decibel level so we can’t hear the voice of reason, asking us if we really need to  spend so much money on the red and green onesie for Karl, or the porcelain nutcracker for Jemima…

Despite the sinister motives of stores and radio stations playing Christmas music this season, I can’t help but be swept up in the cheer and delight of a favorite holiday song. Even though I don’t celebrate Christmas, it’s almost impossible not to enjoy much of the music. (Sometimes I wonder if it’s laced with subliminal codes, hypnotizing us all into splurging during the single most profitable month for business across the country.) But like it or not, I’m under the spell! My Jewish family roll their eyes indulgently as I crank up Michael Bublé’s Christmas crooning, and periodically skip through the house belting out “Feliz Navidad” at the top of my lungs. Hey, it sure beats the “Dreidel song,” as far as I’m concerned.

And I’m not the only one swept up in the monsoon of holiday music. All the divisions of my school’s music program have winter concerts around this time, at which gifts are sold to benefit the music program. I play violin in the orchestra, and our concert took place just this last week. Not all the music we played was “holiday themed,” but as per age-old tradition, the grand finale was a recital of an orchestral arrangement of Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride.” Not sure why that one is a tradition here in SoCal, where Santa comes to ride some waves when he’s done dashing through the snow.

SoCal’s Winter Wonderland


But regardless of the song’s relevance to our school’s location, it has taken its place as one of the many things that make our orchestra a community. Each year, we all share a bonding experience of laughing to bust our guts while simultaneously cringing in embarrassment as the song is fairly butchered by audience volunteers, chosen by lottery, who get to ruin everything  conduct the orchestra and play the percussion to make the “whip” sound. I.e., aimlessly wave a stick in the air and distract the students; and make snapping noises with a thingamabob they never figure out how to use properly, respectively. But who cares? It’s always fun to watch from the audience as the students onstage tolerate this madness. And whoever is picked to be conductor becomes the celebrity of the night.

This year, both lottery winners were higher-level orchestra students. You’d think this would make for a somewhat professional approach, refined conducting skills, and proper timing with the whip, right? Wrong. I think the students were in a conspiracy to make us all laugh until we busted our guts. The conductor seemed professional, all right: he was a professional comedian. He danced on the podium like a circus performer after a vanilla latte, conducting like he was sewing an extra-large sweater and smiling like the paparazzi were on his tail. The student playing the whip played the whip quite well…just not really at the appropriate moments in the music. Ah, well. Everyone in the audience was laughing and shaking their heads, and in that moment I knew that this quirky little tradition is a powerful force in the orchestra community, bringing us together, making us love the orchestra program and connecting us all as a family of orchestra people. This is one of the most valuable types of holiday traditions: the type that reflects the people. It’s not about presents, or money. It’s not even about the guy in the reindeer mask that brayed like a donkey on his trumpet. It’s truly about warmth and family connections during the cold, bleak part of the year. And music is one of the ways we remind ourselves of these ideals. Even if that music happens to be a little crazy.

In the song “Sleigh Ride,” these holiday ideals are mentioned as the lyrics describe one of the “wonderful things we remember all through our lives:” a Christmas party where coffee and pumpkin pie are served. Now, it’s implied that the wonderful, significant memory comes from something a little more profound than a cup of coffee and a slice of pie. But we all know pie is truly central to the holiday spirit! Just as central as holiday ads and music with irritating jingly bells.

Seriously, it’s these little things that can bring us together in a big way, if we make them significant on a deeper level. If we use the highly commercialized holiday season as an opportunity to spend quality time with our loved ones, we will truly experience the warmth of the moment. Something as simple as a family meal can be an opportunity to bring us together (and to finally make use of those red and green placemats purchased on a whim last December.)

What’s for dessert? Why, a pie to share of course. Pumpkin pie was too cliché for me, so I tried making a no-bake chocolate fudge pie with a pumpkin layer in honor of the season. Personally, I think the chocolate layer was much better than the pumpkin; I wish that pumpkin flavor could have been brought out more. However, it still tasted good, especially when sandwiched between a delectable chocolate cookie crust and an upper layer of cool, smooth chocolate. The pie was just sweet enough, and the intense chocolate flavor really came out as opposed to the generic sugar taste of many mainstream holiday desserts. Try serving this to your family, and bond over pie and coffee for a meaningful holiday season! (You can also listen to jingly bell music if that’s how you roll.) Enjoy!

Pumpkin & Chocolate Cookie Pie

makes one pie

chocolate cookie pumpkin pie no bake


chocolate cookie crust

  • 24 Oreo-esque chocolate sandwich cookies (I used 365 brand from Whole Foods Market)
  • 1/4 cup Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter

pumpkin layer

  • 7 oz firm tofu
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tbl brown sugar
  • tiny pinch salt
  • 1 tbl nonfat milk
  • 3/4 cup pure pumpkin puree
  • generous dash cinnamon
  • semi-generous dash nutmeg
  • little pinch of ginger

chocolate layer

  • 7 oz firm tofu
  • 1 tbl unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbl nonfat milk
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tbl Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter
  • 1 1/2 tbl organic pure maple syrup


Line a 9″ cake pan or pie pan with aluminum foil.

For crust: Crush your chocolate cookies in the best way you can. For the real go-getters among us, this might mean hauling out the food processor and crunching away. For the lazier ones (like me) this can consist of dumping all the cookies in a bowl and slowly but steadily crushing them with your bare hands.

Whenever you get through with that task, melt the chocolate hazelnut butter. Pour into bowl of crushed cookies and mix until you have a sticky, crunchy, delicious cookie mess.

Spread crunched cookies evenly across prepared pan, covering the whole bottom of the pan and pressing some cookies against the sides.

Chill crust in the fridge for 40 minutes.

For filling: First, make the pumpkin layer. Chop firm tofu roughly for easier blending. Place into blender with other pumpkin filling ingredients. Puree until smooth.

Pour the pumpkin filling into the cookie crust, and spread it with a spoon so it reaches all edges of the pan. Return to the fridge for another 20 minutes while you whip up the chocolate filling!

For the chocolate filling, first melt the semisweet chocolate chips. Then, do just the same as you did with the pumpkin filling: chop the 7 ounces of tofu, puree in blender with the other chocolate filling ingredients, and pour over pumpkin filling. Spread this as well to reach all edges of the pan (a small amount of mixing with the pumpkin filling is okay.)

Return to the fridge yet again to chill until firm. The longer it stays in the fridge, the firmer and better this pie gets!

1. Prepare crust

chocolate cookie crust for no bake pumpkin chocolate pie

2. Add pumpkin layer

pumpkin layer no bake pumpkin cookie chocolate pie3. Add chocolate layer (I considered marbleizing, might have been an interesting idea or you can layer it like I did)

chocolate over pumpkin chocolate pumpkin cookie pie no bake

4. Chill as long as you can resist those chocolatey temptations… then chow down!

slice of pie pumpkin chocolate cookie no bake

Sources: I got the recipe for the cookie crust from What’s Cooking America, and the no-bake pie filling recipe  from Chocolate Covered Katie.

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