No Bake Chocolate Date Cake

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No Oven, No Problem

This dessert is great all around: gluten free, vegan, and no added sugar, but in this sweltering August heat, “no oven” are two of my favorite words. We live in base housing here in sunny SoCal where we apparently have an “ocean breeze” (are my fellow marine wives enjoying your breeze?!) so we do not have central air conditioning, but with windows open and lots of fans, it truly is manageable. That is until it comes time to cook dinner and I turn on our gas stove…then I feel like Ma Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie, and our food is seasoned with my sweat and tears. And if any of us have a hankering for dessert, forget it. You’re either getting nice cream, or you’re getting nothing.

Of course, you all know by now that I’m a chocoholic with a major sweet tooth (or teeth), so there’s no way I can go an entire summer with only one type of dessert. If I don’t feel like sweating unnecessarily, then I can just whip up one of these! So if you’re like me and wanting a treat without the oven heat, try my No Bake Chocolate Date Cake! (Or if you don’t mind turning on the oven, try my Wholesome Chocolate Chunk Cookies, too!)

No Bake Chocolate Date Cake

Serves six to eight. Or you can hog it all to yourself.

Ingredients:

  • 8 pitted Medjool dates
  • 3 tbsp 100% cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup nut butter of choice (almond or cashew lets the chocolate flavor shine, peanut makes it more chocolate/peanut butter…which is not bad!)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup almonds (optional)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (optional if you’re wanting extra sweet)
  • Optional toppings:
    • Shredded coconut
    • Chopped nuts
    • Chocolate chips
    • Chopped fresh fruit

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients, except toppings, in blender or food processor
  • Blend until all ingredients are combined; it should be a sticky consistency (with bits of almond if you used them), and all sort of in a ball
  • Press into pan of choice (I used a rectangular 3 cup Pyrex dish), or shape into balls or bars for individual servings
  • Top with desired toppings, pressing them down slightly into the mixture
  • Refrigerate a few hours until firm

Don’t be like Ma Ingalls, beat the heat with this no bake treat…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

Mustard Potato Salad

potato salad

It’s the middle of August, kids are going back to school, Labor Day is coming up; all of these facts can only mean one thing: summer is coming to a close. And I have the perfect side dish for you to bring to that final summer cookout! Healthy Mustard Potato Salad! Leave that supermarket potato salad that looks like yellow mush on the shelf, and bring this instead. Light yet filling, fresh, tangy, and herbaceous, it’s the side dish everyone wants. Bonus: this potato salad can easily be made Whole30 compliant if you use compliant mayo (like my Lemon Garlic Aioli) and compliant pickles!

I’ve talked about this before, but the poor potato gets a bad reputation for being unhealthy, when in fact, he (just assigned the potato a gender) is full of fiber and vitamins and minerals. You can read more details on the nutritional facts of russet potatoes in this blog post. In this potato salad I used red potatoes, which are also high in fiber, a little lower in calories, and high in potassium. However, russet potatoes would work just fine, too!

So slather on the sunscreen, slice up that watermelon, bring a big bowl of Mustard Potato Salad with you to the BBQ, and be prepared for everyone to compliment you hehe. (You would get double the amount of compliments if you also brought along my Wholesome Chocolate Chunk Cookies )

I mean, you can do whatever you want, but who doesn’t want to be crowned Queen (or King) of the Backyard BBQ?! That should be a thing.

 

Mustard Potato Salad

Serves six to eight, and could easily be doubled.

Ingredients:

  • 5 large red potatoes, cut into large chunks (I leave the skin on)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup yellow mustard
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 6-7 sprigs of fresh dill
  • 1/3 cup chopped dill pickles (either homemade or a store bought brand you like)
  • 1.5-2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Directions:

  • Cover potato chunks with water and boil until very soft
  • Drain and transfer to a large bowl
  • While still warm, mix with mayo and mustards
  • Add the remaining ingredients and combine well
  • Chill
  • Garnish with chopped scallions and dill

Get crowned Queen (or King) of the Backyard BBQ this weekend! Soak up your last few weeks of summer…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

 

Zoodles with Meat Sauce

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Mealtime Battles

No one likes the mealtime battles. You know the ones: toddler screaming and crying, mom and dad begging for them to take one more bite while praying for bedtime. In general, our 18-month-old, Zemirah, is a good eater, but we have mealtime battles over vegetables every now and then. However, we never have battles over zoodles! Also known as zucchini noodles, these little babies make getting Z to eat her veggies a dream! Enjoy some pictures of our messy eater unknowingly eating green vegetables.

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There are many options for vegetable spiralizers out there, but I just use the small, handheld one. It is cheap, easy, and small enough to fit in my “kitchen gadget” drawer. You can also buy pre-spiralized zucchini (and lots of other spiralized veggies!) to make this recipe even easier.

Bring this low carb version of spaghetti with meat sauce to your dinner table; I bet you won’t have any mealtime battles with this!

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Zoodles with Meat Sauce

Serves six or seven, unless your toddler eats as much as an adult, like mine does.

Ingredients:

For Zoodles:

  • Four medium/large zucchinis
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For Meat Sauce:

  • 1.5 lbs ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Eight mushrooms, sliced
  • One medium onion, diced
  • Three cloves of garlic, minced
  • 15 oz can of tomato sauce (no salt added)
  • 15 oz can of diced tomatoes (no salt added)
  • 6 oz can of tomato paste (no salt added)
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1.5-2 tsp salt, divided
  • 1 tsp pepper, divided
  • 1.5 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley

Directions:

  • Place ground beef or turkey in a large skillet, season with salt and pepper, and cook until almost cooked through
  • If using beef, drain fat, then return meat to pan
  • Add olive oil, mushrooms, onion, and garlic to pan
  • Once meat is cooked through, and mushrooms and onion are tender, add remaining ingredients, stirring to combine
  • Bring sauce to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 20 minutes
  • While simmering, spiralize zucchini
  • Dress zoodles with olive oil and seasonings
  • Serve a large helping of meat sauce on top of seasoned zoodles
  • Top with more fresh or dried herbs, if desired

I hope this simple, quick, and healthy meal can make its way into your weeknight rotation and end your mealtime battles. Give your toddlers disguised veggies…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

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Lemon Garlic Aioli

aioli

Before Whole30 I had never made my own mayonnaise or aioli, but after trying it, I will never go back! My husband is a mayo hater, and even he loves this aioli because it doesn’t taste “mayonnaise-y”, and it is a wonderful sauce to have on hand. You can eat it with burgers or roasted meats, dip your veggies in it, or use it as the base for dressings (such as my Dairy free Garlic Herb Ranch),and it’s great for mixing into chicken or potato salad! On top of being tangy and delicious, it is incredibly versatile!

You have a few options for oil, but you don’t want to use a bold olive oil as it will negatively affect the taste. I’ve tried a few different types of oil, but my favorite so far is grapeseed, as it is a light oil without a strong taste. Other good options are avocado oil, light olive oil, or even canola oil; you could also do a combination.

You will feel so fancy and accomplished for making your own aioli, and I hope it will soon become a staple in your fridge!

Lemon Garlic Aioli

Makes one cup.

Ingredients:

  • One egg
  • Juice of one lemon
  • One large garlic clove
  • One tablespoon of dijon mustard
  • Salt to taste
  • One cup of grapeseed, light olive, avocado oil, or a combination

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients except oil in food processor or blender, blend until combined
  • Add a quarter cup of oil in at a time, blending well (on medium-low or low speed) after each addition.
  • After all the oil is added, it should be a thick consistency, like mayonnaise. If it is still too runny, add more oil a couple of tablespoons at a time.
  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a week

I hope making this helps you feel like a whiz in the kitchen! Spread it on your sandwich or make some ranch…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

Wholesome Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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Comfort Food with a Wholesome Twist

This is my ninth post on A Pinch of Crazy, and my second dessert post. So considering that nearly 25% of my blog so far is desserts, I guess you could say I have a sweet tooth. If I’m being honest, it’s more like a sugar monster that tackles me every evening, force feeding me candy and cakes. After trying to starve the sugar monster, I realized that a life without chocolate is really no life at all. So what do you do when the sugar monster comes knocking and brings you a craving for chocolate chip cookies? You bake chocolate chip cookies, but with wholesome, real ingredients!

These cookies are scrumptious, but you don’t have to feel guilty about eating one (or two…or three) because there is no dairy, no refined sugar, and no flour. However, they are still treats, not exactly “low carb” or “low fat”, but the carbs come from oats and almonds, and the fats come from coconut oil and natural peanut butter. These healthy, wholesome ingredients are so much better for you than eating a cookie filled with white flour, butter, and white sugar.

Here is a comparison of the nutrition facts in one of my cookies and a Mrs. Fields’ cookie.

Molly’s Chocolate Chunk Cookies:

Calories- 88

Sugar- 6g

Fat- 7g

Carbs- 4g

Protein- 2g

Mrs. Fields Semi Sweet Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Calories- 280

Sugar- 25g

Fat- 13g

Carbs- 39

Protein- 3g

Not ragging on Mrs. Fields; those are some delicious packaged cookies, but homemade is always better, and in this case, healthier!

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One of the downsides of homemade cookies is, of course, the dishes. I hate doing dishes, and usually give that lovely chore to my wonderfully helpful husband, but I generally try to create as few dirty dishes as possible. So when making these, all you will need is one mixing bowl and a spoon! Woo!

The flour in my cookies is not traditional all purpose flour, or even whole wheat; it is a mix of almond flour (ground almonds) and oat flour (ground oats), which you can either buy or grind up your own. The chocolate I used was dark baking chocolate; the first time I baked them I used 100% cacao which was a little too bitter. The second time I used 66%, which added more sugar, but was delicious. I think up to 85% cacao would be dark chocolatey deliciousness! I adore these vegan dark chocolate chips from Enjoy Life in cookies, too!

I hope these Wholesome Chocolate Chunk Cookies make their way into your cookie jar, satisfying your sugar monster without setting you off track in your healthy lifestyle.

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Wholesome Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Makes 18 cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup oat flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter (or nut butter of your choice, this is my favorite cheap, clean peanut butter)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 3 oz chopped dark chocolate or dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 F
  • Prepare baking sheet with cooking spray
  • Combine first six ingredients in a large mixing bowl
  • Create a large hole in your dry ingredients (instead of getting out a second bowl for wet ingredients)
  • Combine the next five ingredients in your created “bowl”, trying not to mix with the dry ingredients
  • Once the wet ingredients are mostly combined, widen your stirring strokes to slowly incorporate the dry ingredients
  • Once well combined, fold in chocolate chunks
  • Roll about a tablespoon and a half of dough into a ball
  • Place dough balls about two inches apart on prepared baking sheet
  • Bake for 9-11 minutes until starting to brown
  • Let cool on sheet for a minute or two, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely

Next time your sugar monster comes around, bake these Wholesome Chocolate Chunk Cookies! If you do, tag me on Instagram (@mrsmollymills) or Facebook (Molly Mills). Incorporate some healthier treats into your lifestyle so you can enjoy life more. Eat your treats…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

Barbecue Meatloaf

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Awesome Sauce!

As a born and raised Texan, barbecue has pretty much always been a staple, and any good Texan will always have a good BBQ sauce on hand. Right there in the fridge next to the sweet tea (P.S. I hate sweet tea). However, during my two rounds of Whole30 I had such a hard time locating a delicious and “clean” sauce without spending 45 dollars and my left thumb. Finally, I found this amazingly tasty and simple barbecue sauce with no added sugars! I made a couple of changes, simply adding a little paprika and cayenne, and using a few less dates.

After making a batch of BBQ sauce, I wondered what to do with the leftovers. I had some frozen ground beef and thought I would try out a BBQ meatloaf. I rarely make meatloafs, but after making this I’ve decided it will be a staple in our home! We have a hard time getting our 18-month-old, Zemirah, to eat meat, but she loved it! And my husband, David, said it is his new favorite meal!

You don’t have to make the same BBQ sauce I did, and if you have a favorite, healthier sauce on hand, try it out and see what you think. Serve this with my Creamy Whole30 Mashed Potatoes and an extra spoonful of sauce (or in Z’s case, mustard), and you will have a happy tummy. I hope this meatloaf will be a hit around your dinner table and become a staple in your home, too!

meatloaf3.jpgBarbecue Meatloaf

Makes one meatloaf, will serve five.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs ground beef
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce, divided in two
  • 1/2 cup, plus two tbsp almond flour
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • Three eggs
  • One small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp ground mustard
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne, depending on taste

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 F
  • Prepare baking sheet with foil and cooking spray
  • Combine all ingredients, except 1/4 cup BBQ sauce, in medium mixing bowl
  • Mix with hands until well combined
  • Shape mixture into a loaf on prepared pan
  • Brush the top with remaining BBQ sauce
  • Cook for 35-40 minutes

A good sauce can really enhance a tired dish, but this is not your grandmother’s meatloaf. It’s spicy, sweet, and satisfying! I hope you make it soon…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

Creamy Whole30 Mashed Potatoes

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Dairy Free Mashed Potatoes?!

As I mentioned before, my husband is a marine, and he is a big guy. This is him getting home from a six month overseas deployment; Zemirah and I were so happy to see our favorite guy! One of the things I love most about him is his height; I feel so petite and dainty next to him. (You’re hot, honey, hehe.)

Anyyyyways, he almost always comes home from work really hungry, and let’s face it, a chicken breast with some steamed broccoli isn’t going to fill up a 6’1 hungry marine. The man needs his potatoes, and loves them in any and all forms: fried, mashed, roasted, baked, you name it.

I make mashed potatoes often because they’re easy and delicious…but not nutritious when they are loaded down with butter and cream. Potatoes have a bad reputation, but it’s really all the fixings we add that make them “bad”. In fact, one medium russet potato, with skin, has 10% of your daily protein, 16% of your daily fiber, and contains plenty of vitamins and minerals!*

David and I recently completed a round of Whole30 together (read about our journey here), and I ran into the problem of how to prepare David’s beloved mashed potatoes while staying within Whole30 guidelines. I tried mixing them with ghee, but then they just tasted like ghee. I tried just olive oil, but they were missing the creaminess of butter. Finally, I tried coconut oil and hit the dairy free jackpot! The only catch with coconut oil is that you have to find a mild oil that doesn’t taste too coconut-y, but I promise if you get the right oil, you will have the creamiest butter-less mashed potatoes!

These mashed potatoes will fill your need for a delicious dairy free side, and leave your belly feeling full and happy!

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Creamy Whole30 Mashed Potatoes

Serves six, but could easily be doubled.

Ingredients:

  • Four medium to large russet potatoes
  • Water for boiling
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, mild flavored
  • 1/4 cup of full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Directions:

  • Peel potatoes if desired (I like to leave the skin on, after a thorough washing, of course)
  • Cut into eighths for quicker cook time
  • Place potatoes in large pot and cover with water
  • Bring to a boil
  • Cover and let cook until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork
  • Drain
  • Mash potatoes
  • Combine all ingredients and mix!

This isn’t really so much of a recipe, just my suggestion for how to make the best dairy free mashed potatoes! I hope this helps you on your Whole30 journey, or just in your daily healthy lifestyle. No need to feel guilty eating mashed potatoes! Eat up…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

 

*nutrition facts

 

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