Walnuts are one of my least favorite nuts because they are pretty bitter unlike almonds, not very versatile. Search “almond recipes” and search engines will spit out tens of thousands of recipes whereas walnut recipes fail to yield as many. Walnuts are mainly used as an add-on in dishes such as brownies, salads, or crumbles, but if you are sitting at home with a giant 2 lb. bag of walnuts from a wholesaler, scratching your head not knowing what to do with it, you are in the right place because today we are making walnuts the star ingredient in Dolci di Noci. Dolci di Noci is a walnut cookie from Southern Italy that contains no glutinous product. The traditional recipe calls for only 3 ingredients: walnuts, eggs, and lots of sugar, but I have a reduced-sugar alternative recipe that is just as flavorful and ideal for an on-the-go snack.
Additionally, I decorated the cookies with a chocolate dip, an optional step that nonetheless elevates the presentation and flavor of the cookies. Enough with the rambling and on to the recipe….
Dolci di Noci
yield: 10-12 cookies (1-1.5 in. diameter)
- 1 3/4 c. coarsely ground walnuts (in food processor)
- 1 egg
- 3 tbsp. powdered sugar
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/3 c. chocolate chips for coating (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 355 F and prepare a greased cookie sheet.
- In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients together until a dough-like mixture forms. Dough should be semi-sticky.
- Lightly wet hands and roll dough into 1-1.5 in. diameter balls. Place on cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 10-12 min.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 min before eating or for 15-20 min before dipping in chocolate.
- In a small bowl, melt the chocolate chips in a microwave and dip half of the cookies into the chocolate. Place on a non-stick sheet to cool.
Place cookies in an airtight container and store up to 1 week. Cookies can be eaten cold or microwaved (if it does not have chocolate). These dolci di noci have become a favorite snack or breakfast of mine and are beneficial to health because walnuts decrease gut inflammation, fight against infections, and help lower blood pressure levels. Additionally, the cookies follow ketogenic guidelines for anyone who may be testing the ketogenic diet out.
It is so crazy that food and health geeks have discovered that the use of legumes in desserts is a tasty and healthy replacement for flour and oils. While all-purpose flour has little nutrition value, beans pack protein, Vitamin B-6, and potassium, perfect for all types of people, especially. If you shop smart, chickpeas are actually ridiculously cheap. At my local grocery store, the chickpeas are $1 for a 15 oz. can or $1 for a 16 oz. bag of dried chickpeas. Dried chickpeas are much cheaper for the amount you are getting so I do opt for the dried type. The recipe I made is not vegan, but I have included a substitution to where it can be made vegan.
The cons about dried chickpeas are that you must soak them and boil them, but with planning ahead, dried chickpeas have worked fine for me.
So how do I soak chickpeas? I have a water boiler that boils water in a mi. ute so I first wash the dried chickpeas under running water, then pour boiling water over the chickpeas and allow it to soak for at least 4 hours. The chickpeas are then good to go, so very little preparation is required. The longer you soak, the better, but do not soak past 24 hours otherwise the chickpeas will sprout.
yield: 14-16 bars squares (baked in a 9 x 12 pan)
- 1 1/2 c. cooked chickpeas
- 1/3 c. almond butter
- 1 large egg OR 1 flax egg for vegan option (flax egg= 1 tbsp. ground flax/chia + 3 tbsp. water)
- 1/4 c. + 2 tbsp. liquid sweetener
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1/3 c. dark chocolate chips (optional)
- Grease pan or line with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350 F.
- Using paper towels or a clean dishcloth, dry the chickpeas and place into a food processor along with all other ingredients except the chocolate chips.
- Pulse the mixture until it is creamy and fully incorporated.
- Pour in the chocolate chips and pulse for 5 seconds until combined.
- Pour batter into the pan and bake for 25 minutes. Once out of the oven, cool for 10 minutes before cutting in and enjoying the goodness!
Bars are best when fresh out of the oven and served with a glass of cold milk. Store in an airtight container and place in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Please feel free to make the vegan option. I personally like the non-vegan version better because it was a bit fluffier, but the vegan one is delicious as well. It is more dense and more fudgy.
I am actually allergic to several foods, including tomatoes. Ugh!! I know!! How do I eat pasta, ketchup, or so many other savory dishes with tomato? Luckily my allergy is mild and I can enjoy tomatoes without too much suffering. The best thing for me is simply to avoid them as much as I can (which is almost impossible). However, I have realized that in this food era where people are making cauliflower lemon bars, chickpea brownies, and other unconventional foods, pasta sauce does not necessarily need to be made from tomatoes. When coming up with ideas, I realized that naturally red-ish vegetables are pretty much limited to carrots and red bell peppers. Some day I’ll experiment a carrot pasta sauce but I experimented with red bell peppers and the result was an absolute hit!
Extremely creamy, flavorful, and bright with colors. It’s salty with a slight hint of sweetness from the roasted bell pepper. I am in love with this sauce and I have already made it twice since last week. I made a simple pasta dish but will use it in a lasagna recipe in the future. I cannot wait for you all to try this! Because I am not vegan, I tested out a vegan and a non-vegan version and they taste quite similar so I will be posting the vegan version due to a now-high demand for vegan recipes.
Roasted Bell Pepper Sauce
yield: 2 c. sauce
- 2 red bell peppers
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 1/2 c. non-dairy unsweetened milk
- 1 1/2 tsp salt (or more to taste)
- 3 tbsp. nutritional yeast
- Preheat oven to 475 F. Rub bell peppers with 1 tbsp. olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes until the outside is charred.
- Remove from oven and let bell peppers cool for 5 min.
- In a skillet, put 1 tbsp. olive oil and saute onions for 5 minutes until transparent and lightly browned. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Remove the skins from the bell peppers. They should come off very easily.
- In a food processor, place the bell peppers, garlic, onions, milk, salt, and nutrition yeast. Pulse until the sauce becomes incorporated and is a light red color.
- Remove from food processor and serve immediately with pasta OR cook for an additional 5 minutes on the stove top.
This sauce can be consumed straight from the food processor or can be cooked on the stove after. I have tried both and found that both taste great. I did like to cook mine additionally on the stove top to heat it up and slightly cook the garlic.
This sauce is a huge crowdpleaser and will satisfy all your pasta cravings! Impress your vegan friends and make this sauce right now!
As I continue with my journey to lower my gluten intake to ease GI discomfort, I find that my favorite carb alternative is oats. Many health gurus or bloggers utilize almond and coconut flour, but as a college student, I prefer to ball on a budget and almond and coconut flour do not come cheap! Oats on the other hand are extremely cheap whether you buy in bulk or pre-packaged, I can purchase rolled oats for about 80 cents to 1 dollar per pound.
I’ve baked several desserts and snacks using oat flour, but still struggle to process the oats into a fine flour, which is fine with me because I do enjoy the texture of the bigger oat granules in the desserts. However, I would like to make really fine oat flour so that I can experiment making yeast breads or other savory recipes. If anyone has tips on processing fine oat flour please let me know! It seems that no matter how long I process the oats, they do not turn into a fine flour.
Nonetheless, I am here today to introduce one of my new favorite recipes, Banana Bread Bars!! So healthy and delicious, and I could go on forever about how great these gems are. The best part is that these were made entirely in a food processor, but if you don’t have a food processor, feel free to do it by hand or use a blender. I did make them into bite size bars but feel free to bake it in a loaf pan… I just wanted to reduce the bake time from 55 minutes to 30.
Vegan Banana Bread Bars
yield: 12 bars
- 3 ripe medium bananas
- 1/4 c. granulated sugar (any sugar will work: granulated white sugar, cane sugar, coconut sugar, etc.)
- 2 1/2 c. rolled oats
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 c. nut/seed butter (I used peanut butter and could not taste the peanut flavor at all)
- 2 tbsp. ground flax/chia seeds + 1/3 c. water
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp. lemon juice or other acidic
- 1/3 c. chocolate chips
- 1/4 c. chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9 x 9 baking pan and set aside.
- Combine flax/chia and water to make a vegan egg. Set aside for at least 2 min.
- Place 2 c. of rolled oats in the food process and process for 45 seconds, until the oat flour forms. It does not need to be finely ground. Pour into a bowl and set aside. Set aside the other 1/2 c. of oats for later use.
- Place the ripe bananas in the food processor and process until smooth. Add in the granulated sugar, oat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nut butter, chia/flax mix, vanilla extract, and lemon juice. Process mix until fully combined. Add in chocolate chips, chopped walnuts, and 1/2 c. rolled oats and pulse for 5-10 seconds until mix is combined.
- Pour into the baking pan and bake for 30-35 minutes.
- Once removed from oven, cool on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes before serving.
Note: I do not have a huge sweet tooth and prefer that my desserts are on the less sugary side. In the recipe, I use 1/4 c. sugar and felt that the chocolate chips would make up for the rest of the sugar. I tested this recipe using 1/3 c. of sugar and felt it was too sugary for me but please feel free to adjust your own sugar levels based on your liking! For reference, using 1/3 c. of sugar felt like eating a store-bought vanilla cupcake. There is so much sweetness from the bananas and chocolate chips that I felt 1/4 c. would suffice.
These bars are ideal for breakfast or as a snack! It is basically a banana oatmeal baked into a square and contains ingredients that help lower cholesterol, blood levels, and saturated fat intake. Bars can last up to 2 weeks in an air tight container in the fridge.
Powdered peanut butter, or sometimes referred to by the common brand PB2, has gained widespread popularity within the last few years because of it’s crazy similarity to actual peanut butter while containing about only 12% of the fat. It sounds to good to be true, and in my opinion, it really was but it is true! PB2 is insanely tasty and while not as good as actual peanut butter, it is pretty much almost there. If I can get peanut nutrients without the oil.. count me in!
While playing around with a bottle of PB2 I purchased from TJ Maxx, I found that it works great in baking and making food items taste like peanut butter, but is actually not great for when you want to actually taste the texture of peanut butter. For example, I made a PBJ with peanut butter and was not a fan because it was too dry for my liking. However, smoothies, frozen yogurt, and baked goods are great ways to used PB2.
I’ve been trying to eat low-carb to hopefully improve GI comfort, so I experimented with a low-carbohydrate chocolate cake with the recipe adapted from SkinnyTaste.
Low Carb Chocolate Walnut Cake (Gluten-Free)
yield: 12 (4×3 bars)
- 1 c. powdered peanut butter
- 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/3 c. + 2 tbsp. honey or agave
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 c. water
- 1/2 c. dark chocolate chips
- 1/3 c. chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven to 325 F.
- Spray a 9×9 baking pan with non-stick spray or line the pan with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, combine peanut powder, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, water, vanilla, honey/agave, and water. Add dry to wet ingredients and whisk until smooth. Stir in dark chocolate chips and walnuts and pour into baking pan.
- Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until fully cooked.
- Cool on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes and then serve!
The cake is best served hot and is packed with protein! I take one or two bars to work to munch on when I am need of a snack.
A light and fluffy cake so tangy and zesty that you’ll want to eat all the time. The great thing about this recipe is that you can utilize all parts of the orange: juice, zest, and pulp, although I barely used any of the pulp. However, after I extracted some of the mandarin juice, I ended up eating the remains of the orange since food waste is not an option!
I used mandarin oranges for this recipe but feel free to use any other oranges such as navel, cara cara oranges, etc.
Low-Fat Mandarin Orange Yogurt Cake
yield: 1 (9 x 5) loaf
- 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
- 3/4 c. granulated sugar
- 1 c. whole milk yogurt + 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 4 eggs
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 4 tsp. mandarin orange zest
- 2 tbsp. mandarin orange juice
- 1 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 tbsp poppy seeds
- 1/3 c. chopped walnuts
For the glaze:
- 1/2 c. powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp. mandarin orange juice
- Grease loaf pan or line with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350 F.
- In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg. Add in sugar and poppy seeds and combine well. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, yogurt, oil, orange zest, orange juice, and vanilla extract.
- Add the dry mixture into the wet in 3 batches and combine well. Add in the chopped walnuts and bake in the oven for 50-55 minutes, until brown on top and toothpick comes out of the batter clean.
- Let loaf cool on a cooling rack for approx. 30 min before putting the glaze on + top with additional zest. Or you can be like me- I skipped the glaze because I could not wait and I went ahead and ate the loaf fresh out of the oven.
The bread lasts in the fridge up to 2 weeks and freezes extremely well. Feel free to make smaller servings such as muffins. I haven’t tried it yet but am certain they will turn out delicious as well.
I am constant on the run, and I typically snack on banana chips, dark chocolate covered nuts, granola, or pretzel chips. I chose these snacks because they’re “healthier” than potato chips, crackers, or other processed bars, but I realized I was actually gaining weight and not feeling satiety at all. When looking at the nutrition labels, I realized I was duped by words like “banana” and “dark chocolate”, because banana chips are seriously no better than potato chips, and that dark chocolate used on nuts includes a lot of oil and sugar. I should have known better, which teaches the important lesson that when you make your own food, you know what ingredients go into it, which is why I made my own on-the-go snacks which allowed me to customize the recipe to my liking. The protein bites were somewhat inspired by aussie bites, commercial protein bites most commonly sold in Costco. They’re very tasty but include some unfavorable ingredients like canola oil, butter, and refined sugar, and is low in all vitamins.
There isn’t too much to these protein bites except getting the proper consistency, reaching your desired sweetness, and adding your own desired ingredients. Personally, I like it to be less sweet and on the harder side, though some people enjoy a softer consistency. For recipe adjustments, I have included some suggestions:
||Add 2-4 more dates OR add 1-2 tsp. more water OR add 3-4 tbsp. more date water
||Add 2-4 more dates OR Add ¼ c. chocolate chips OR Add vegan sweetener
No Bake Protein Bites
yield: approx 16 squares (1.5″ x 1.5″ x 0.5″) OR 35 balls
- 12 pitted dates soaked in hot water (any kind works; I used Deglet Noor Dates because they’re cheaper)
- 2 tbsp. hot date water
- 1 1/4 c. uncooked old fashioned oatmeal
- 1/4 c. chia seeds
- 1/4 c. flax seeds
- 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 c. nut butter or nut-free butter (I used a combination of almond and peanut butter)
- Microwave 1 c. of water until boiling in a bowl and soak all the dates in for 5 min.
- In a food processor, put in all the ingredients except the hot date water and pulse for about 15 seconds. The mixture should come together and resemble very fine cookie crumbs. Add in the date water slowly, as needed, and pulse about 5 times until the mixture comes together.
- Form the mixture into bars or balls, and refrigerate. Refrigerating will help the bars/balls become more compact.
- Customize with dried fruits, chocolate chips, or nuts if desired.
Bars last in the fridge for up to 2-3 weeks. I have included the nutrition facts below. I recommend eating bars as a snack or as a part of breakfast, but never as a whole meal. Bars are high in fiber, protein, and omega-3s.
Honestly, I’m just drooling over here because I made brownies that ARE HEALTHY and GLUTEN FREE??? How is that even possible? I mean fats and eggs make a brownie good; they give it texture. A plant based one honestly sounds unappealing. I honestly am very impressed with my experimentation because I have failed numerous times attempting to make healthy dessert. Somehow, this turned out to be a miracle and it somehow worked. My mind is blown and I want you all to try these brownies some time!!! I love chewy brownies, so I used my knowledge of food science to make the brownies quite chewy. The chewiness comes from the maple syrup used, and gives the brownies amazing texture.
The only downside to these brownies was that I did used granulated sugar. If I attempt making these with a non-refined sugar, I will post an updated recipe. I was hoping maybe dates could be use instead, but I have yet to test that out.
Healthy Chewy Brownies (GF, Vegan, Low Fat)
yield: 8 x 8 pan brownies
- 3/4 c. oat flour (I used homemade; flour must be very fine)
- pinch salt
- 1/4 cocoa powder
- 1/3 c. + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp instant coffee powder
- 1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup + 1 tbsp warm water mixed together
- 2 tbsp flax meal + 1 tbsp water mixed together
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tbsp chopped nuts (almonds OR walnuts) OPTIONAL
- 2 tbsp dark chocolate chips OPTIONAL
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a small bowl. Whisk until combined, and then add the coffee powder. Whisk to combine.
- In a medium bowl, add the granulated sugar, syrup and water mixture, flax and water mixture, and vanilla. Whisk to combine thoroughly.
- Pour the dry mixture into the wet bowl in 2 or 3 batches. Whisk gently but do not overmix the batter. Toss in the nuts and chocolate chips, if applicable, and stir in.
- Pour batter into a 8 x 8 baking pan and bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until baked completely.
- Take the brownies out and cool for approximately 10 minutes. Dust with some espresso powder, sugar, or ganache and enjoy!
Experimentation comes with frustration, wasted time, and wasted money. When attempting to make non-conventional recipes, trial after trial is crucial to get the perfect amounts of ingredients since food is all about the science and measurements behind it. Vegan baking is particularly difficult since eggs aren’t allowed and the animal fats are not able to make the baked product moist. Instead, alternatives like plant oils are utilized, and plant based butter simply isn’t as fragrant as animal based butter. With that being said, I truly appreciate all the vegan bakers out there, in making delicious recipes that are harmless to animals and better for the body overall.
Today’s lemon poppyseed cake is a delicious dessert that typically would require eggs and loads of butter or oil, but not today. You have stumbled upon a much healthier recipe that you can indulge on day and night!
Low Fat Lemon Poppyseed Cake (Vegan)
yield: 1 loaf
- 1 c. all purpose flour
- 1/4 c. vegan yogurt
- 3 tbsp. vegan buttermilk (recipe HERE) OR 3 tbsp vegan yogurt
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/3 c. + 1 tbsp lemon juice
- pinch of salt
- 1/3 c. granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 tbsp poppy seeds
For lemon frosting:
- 1/4 c powdered sugar
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 355 F.
- Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, poppy seeds, and salt together in a medium bowl.
- In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, buttermilk, vanilla, and lemon juice and let the mixture sit for a couple minutes.
- Pour the flour mixture into the wet and whisk until fully incorporated. Do not overmix as this could result in a tough cake.
- Pour into a 8 x 4 loaf pan lined with parchment paper. Bake the cake for 25-30 min.
- Take the cake out of the pan and let it cool on a rack for about 30 min. Combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice and spread the glaze onto the cooled cake. Optional: sprinkle some lemon zest on the glaze.
The cake is best enjoyed after it is made, served with a cup of hot coffee or tea.
In making healthier dessert options, I’m hoping that more people can stop giving dessert a negative connotation. Dessert doesn’t have to be overly sweet and fattening. I believe that any store bought dessert tends to be far too sweet for my liking, which is why I no longer purchase desserts. I simply make them at home, alter it to cater to my tastebuds, save money, and have fun. It’s a win-win for me and I hope you all attempt to bake more at home.
I could talk for hours after hours about my love for Taiwan; from its mountains and seas to its night market and decadent dishes, there is just something so impeccable about this island. Taiwanese snack foods have become a billion dollar industry all over the world, from bubble tea, to bubble waffles, from Asian bakery bread to braised pork rice… people of all colors love Taiwanese snack food. With that being said, there’s much more to Taiwanese food than bubble tea and bread. I’m ecstatic to share a Taiwanese specialty called “Tri Color Egg”. The three colors are black, yellow, and white. As you may have guessed, yellow and egg come from an egg (of course), but what about the color black? There’s a unique oriental egg called the “century egg” which CNN and many other news outlet report as one of the most disgusting foods ever. It’s such a wonder how tastebuds differ from people to people, because I think the century egg is delightful. Perhaps growing up with the egg in my cuisine has been an advantage, but it’s really not as foul as it sounds. It looks horrid, like something the devil would produce, with its translucent black outer skin and its gooey, vomit-like yolk, but I recommend everyone to be adventurous and try it!
Perhaps you’ve been grossed out and don’t want to read anymore….. but tricolor egg is a beautiful dish that will WOW your friends and family. Come on, give it a try 🙂
Tri Color Egg
yield: (9 x 9 x 2 in circle or square cake pan)
Special equipment: steamer OR a large wok-like pan to steam, steamable plastic wrap, cake pan or casserole pan
- 10 eggs
- 3 century eggs
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp michiu (rice cooking wine)
- 8 tbsp water
- Line the cake pan with steamable plastic to prevent the egg from sticking.
- Separate the 10 egg yolks from white. In the egg whites, combine 1/2 tbsp sea salt, 1/2 tbsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp michiu, and 4 tbsp water. Whisk until combined, but do not whisk until too frothy.
- Pour the whites into the cake pan. Cut each century egg into 8-10 long slices and line them in horizontal lines in the egg whites. Steam the egg covered on medium heat for about 10-15 minutes, or until the edges have hardened and the middle is still jiggly.
- While the whites are steaming, whisk the egg yolks and add 1/2 tbsp sea salt, 1/2 tbsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp michiu, and 4 tbsp water. Take a chopstick or skewer and poke small holes on the edges all around the egg whites to release some steam and so that the egg yolk does not separate from the egg whites when poured in. Pour the egg yolk onto the egg whites and then let the eggs steam covered, on low for an additional 10-15 minutes.
- Once complete, remove the eggs from the steamer and let it cool for an hour before serving. when slicing the eggs, you want to slice vertically or against the way the century eggs were placed. Since the century eggs were placed horizontally, cut the eggs vertically to get the bejeweled effect from the century eggs.
Tri color eggs are best eaten with rice or noodles, accompanied by vegetables and other dishes!